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London Travelogue – (Part 1): Gatwick Airport, Covent Garden, Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus, Chinatown Gate and Trafalgar Square

This is our first trip to London and we were told that it is an extremely expensive city for vacation. All this while, we thought it wouldn’t be possible until we discover some London hacks that made our trip a reality.

For once, we realised apart from travelling with the usual prominent airlines there are actually options to travel with budget airline to London for an affordable price of $1.1K in total for 2 adults / 2 childs (one way) – Norwegian airline.

Journey to London

Norwegian airline offers a direct flight from Singapore to London without any stopovers. To ensure further comfort, inflight entertainment are available. Ear phones were not provided.

The inflight meals were simple and nothing fanciful.

As we booked the flight early, we managed to get the best seats which gave us more room.

The 14-hour flight was surprising smooth without any turbulence and we arrived at London Gatwick airport by 5:40am.

If you are travelling to London Zone 1 or 2, we would recommend you not to take the express train which cost about $20 per adult. Our travel from Gatwick to Islington/Highbury was horrid as we needed to change platforms during the morning peak hours.

Towing 4 big luggages with us up and down the subway stairs without elevators and waiting for multiple trains before squeezing in was no joke. The weather was about 10 degrees but we were already perspiring. We would recommend booking the airport transfer (Blackberry cars) instead as the price was almost the same with no hidden charges.

The train ride brought us to the Victoria station where we would need to buy Oyster cards to travel in the London Underground, or the “Tube”. In simple terms, this is a version of our MRT. London is segmented by 9 zones with the touristy areas being in Zone 1 and 2.

Image result for london map zones
Photo Credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/London_fare_zones

The morning crowd at Victoria station were beginning to build up.

We had our breakfast here before continuing our journey to the Airbnb.

This was already the third train ride. We were tired.

Finally arrived at Highbury & Islington station.

But not before taking a 5 min bus ride and another 2 min walk to our Airbnb apartment. For all the hassle, it would be wiser to take Blackberry cars next time.

Covent Gardens

Covent Gardens is one of the ultimate Instagram spots in London. An iconic area with thriving street arts, we heard that it is usually crowded with tourists. However, it was not that bad.

The streets were easy to explore and it was not uncommon to take a pause every now and then to soak ourselves in the historic architectures. Covent Garden is a popular tourist spot such that Din Tai Fung has recently established an outlet here.

Something similar we have seen back home.

The locals love coffee so much and very often cafes would be packed with people. The scent of fresh coffee permeated the cafe and we couldn’t help but to order a cup.

Address: 13 Floral St, London WC2E 9DH, UK

Leicester Square / Piccadilly Circus

As Covent Garden is located centrally, it is near to Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus. Google maps may not be reliable. Having these street directories made it easier for us to find our way around.

We were in for a treat during winter as Leicester Square Christmas Markets was up and running.

Not a fan of shopping but food tasting was our theme during this trip. Unlike the States, Christmas markets are common throughout Europe and UK.

Didn’t stay too long in the Christmas markets as some strangers kept looking at our belongings. We decided to leave and go into M&Ms World for safety reasons.

Address: 1 Leicester Square, London WC2H 7DE, UK

Have you been to M&M’s World? It is situated directly opposite Leicester Square Christmas Markets.

The bright, colorful storefront would inevitably draw anyone in. The staff were friendly and helpful, even if you are not buying anything.

Abbreviation familiar to a tween.

Address: Leicester Square, 1 Swiss Ct, London W1D 6AP, United Kingdom

London Chinatown is close to Leicester Square. The nearest underground stations to Chinatown are Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus. Bus available are 14 / 24 / 27 / 29 / 134 / 168 / C2.

Eat all you can for $10.50.

We dined here over the next 2 days as the price was cheaper compared to other restaurants. Some restaurants open till 3am.

Address: 10 Wardour St, London W1D 6BZ, UK

Our jet-leg started to kick in. One final stop at Trafalgar Square before we ended the day. The attraction here is surrounded by museums, galleries, cultural spaces and historic buildings.

Trafalgar Square is a public square in the City of Westminster, Central London, built around the area formerly known as Charing Cross. Its name commemorates the Battle of Trafalgar, a British naval victory in the Napoleonic Wars with France and Spain that took place on 21 October 1805 off the coast of Cape Trafalgar.

Address: Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DN, UK

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Recommendation – Why You Should Rent Traveler WiFi Router for Overseas Travel

Our overseas trips have been much dependent on buying SIM cards at airport terminals or tapping into free wifi connection at hotels or cafes. In our recent travel to UK and the States, we decided to rent a portable WiFi router from Traveler Wifi to give it a try for the first time and after trying it out, we are very impressed and will definitely tick it as a travel essential in the future.

These are the top 5 reasons why you should be using Traveler Wifi:

#1 – Hassle Free with Worldwide Connection

Traveling across different continents require us to purchase multiple SIM cards which can be a hassle as it could only be tagged to a mobile device. With Traveler Wifi, it offers secured global coverage which support 4G networks. We are looking for hassle free and plug-and-play connection. All we need to do is to switch on the wifi router and it can automatically be detected in the network after keying in the password provided.

#2 – Long Battery Duration

We were told that Travel Wifi router offers up to 15 hours of connectivity. Based on our experience during the trip, it could easily last 13 hours without a single charge (with 3 mobile devices connected) before we returned to the hotel which we will change to hotel’s wifi. The pocket router could also be charged from a powerbank when we are on the go.

#3 – Cost Savings

The wifi router can connect up to 5 smart devices at the same time! It offers unlimited data with fair-use policy. If daily data usage exceeds 500 MB, router speed will slow down but can still connect and use. Data usage count is reset on daily basis. This provides cost savings when comparing to purchasing a SIM card which can only connect to 1 smart device and not forgeting you may need to figure out how to activate the SIM card.

#4 – Multiple Service Counters to Collect

To make collection easier, Traveler Wifi has different service counters conveniently located at the following locations:

Service Counters Islandwide: 

(NO reservation required; customers can rent Wifi Routers directly at any of the retail service counters)

  • Orchard Road
    • Lucky Plaza, 304 Orchard Road #B1-108 (Perfumes & Cosmetics Gallery: 11:30am-9pm daily; Friday 12.30pm -2pm – Closed)
  • Chinatown
    • People’s Park Centre, 101 Upper Cross Street #08-19 (Incredible Odyssey: 11am-6pm; Sat & Sun – Closed, Public Holiday – Closed).
      [you may message 91065688 before coming to Chinatown service counter]
  • Lavender
    • 322 Lavender Street (Gap Year Hostel: Daily 8am-8pm)
      [Please note only for Singapore WiFi routers rental/return at Lavender service counter]

#5 – Happy Memories

Big & Small M were probably the biggest beneficiaries of this trip. With Traveler Wifi router, they were allowed to use our mobile phones during the long road trips to keep themselves occupied.

We drove from San Francisco – Silicon Valley – Big Sur – Solvang – Santa Monica – Las Vegas – Los Angeles which we will blog about the journeys later so stay tune. These would not be possible without the wifi router which was certainly a life saver as it provided us with google map directions during the long, long and long drive.

And we went places before hitting the books after the holidays.

From London Bridge and Tower Bridge.

To New York – Statue of Liberty.

To San Francisco – Golden Gate Bridge.

To Silicon Valley – Googleplex.

To Las Vegas – Bonnie Springs Ranch.

And Los Angeles – Hollywood Boulevard.

Enough said. First time using wifi router and we were convinced of it’s convenience. Planning your upcoming trip soon and need a wifi router? Do not forget to check out Traveler Wifi!

 

Traveler Wifi

Website /  Bookinghttp://traveler-wifi.com/cms

Instagramhttps://www.instagram.com/travelerwifi/

Service Locations: http://traveler-wifi.com/cms/service-locations

Call for Enquiries) –

(65) 94877330 (General Enquiry) – [Mon-Fri : 9am – 6pm]

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What’s Out There (And In Here): Traveling By Yourself To Broaden Your Mind

There’s nothing quite like getting out there, on the road, and traveling the world, viewing proceedings from the ground floor. But, when you are thinking about planning a long journey around the world, stopping over in many countries, are you going to do this by yourself, or with a group of friends? Usually, we would think about going as a group, but if you really want to experience the world first-hand, going around the planet on your own is the best way for you to broaden your mind. It’s been said a million times before, that travel broadens the mind, but if you really want to expand your horizons, mentally and emotionally, you have to explore the world by yourself, and so, how can travel broden the mind better when you are by yourself?

You Find Out What You Are Made Of

There is nothing quite like going somewhere by yourself, and having to rely on your skills and instincts to get you around. We can either feel intimated by a big and scary world, or we can embrace it, and really get involved. What you learn when you are travelling by yourself is that getting from one place to another isn’t as stressful as we once thought. In fact, even if you don’t speak the language, there is always help available, and you realise that a new environment isn’t scary and alien. And, even if you encounter a few difficult scenarios, you have to think that little bit more to get yourself out fo those situations. And once you’ve done this, you can realise exactly what you are capable of. By throwing ourselves into new situations, we embrace the whole sink or swim attitude to life. By doing this, and realising that when we make a little mistake that the world doesn’t cave in on us, we build our emotional strength.

You Develop Your Confidence

The stronger we get in an emotional sense, the more confident we feel. When we are stuck in our hometown, in a dead end job, or we are used to a certain pattern of living, we can feel somehwat hemmed in. Once you break out of all of these constructs, and you being to travel the world by yourself, you can reinvent who you are. This is one of the most enlightening feelings we can have in life. By going to a new country, we can completely change our personality, or try on new ones. Instead of being a shy and retiring person, or being a nosey loudmouthed person, we can’t try on a new “suit” and see how this different personality fits. And that’s a great thing when you are going from place to place, and relying solely on your instincts to get you by, in many ways, you might realise that the person you were isn’t the person you’d like to be. By going from place to place, and making new friends, even just for a night, you learn how to adapt to new situations quickly. You realise that these moments we have in life aren’t always about lifelong friendships, it’s about learning from others, and figuring out who we really are. These is no better way to understand who you really are than travelling and putting yourself into these new and exciting situations.

You Can Start Again

And by putting on a whole new personality, you may find a way of life that suits you more than the one you are used to. A lot of people travel from place to place, and they encounter so many new and exciting ways of living, there can be the temptation to stay in one place, possibly for the rest of your life. But the great thing about travbelling is that you can spend as long as you really want to in one particular place, and you can even rent a property, just so you really know in your heart of hearts if this is a place that you’d like to stay for the foreseeable future. Links like https://www.rumah.com/rumah-disewa/di-area-semarang-idjt28 shows you the various types of houses that are for rent in Central Java, and, on the opposite end of the spectrum spending prolonged periods of time in these places may help you realise where home really lies for you. By going all around the world, you may finally understand that there is no place like home. In this respect, you can start your life over again with a clean slate, wherever you end up, because you’ve been out there, and experienced what the world has to offer, and you’ve found what is really important to you and what you actually want out of life, whether it’s an adventure, or the simpler things.

You Learn New Skills

Naturally, as you explore the world and find new cultures and approaches to life, you learn how to navigate public transport, find great food recommended by the locals, and learn new skills within yourself. Coping skills are one of those all important tools that we need in life to tackle new and exciting horizons. Whether you learn through fellow travelers, or you naturally stumble upon new skills that you wouldn’t have considered before, these are all things you can utilise for your adventures across the globe. While something like meditation can be beneficial in every  aspect of our lives (https://alifeofproductivity.com/meditation-guide can give you some of the basics), when you are travelling across the globe, you need to find a way to relax quickly, but still have your wits about you. After a while, this idea of expanding your comfort zone means that you will thrive in situations that used to stress you out completely. By learning new skills, it’s not just about making these serve you well during your travels; you will learn how to implement them in other areas of your life, long aftet you finished your excursions. And this is the true benefit of broadening your mind while you travel.

You Will Feel A Great Achievement in Life

Last, but not least, you will feel a great sense of achievement. After all, you’ve learnt how to navigate “alien” worlds, discovered how to trust your instincts, and you’ve learnt how to apply so many new skills to get by, all of which adds up to a momentous achievement. And, these skills you learn are what will help you live a better life. Heading out across the world by yourself is a major undertaking for anyone, and many people will voice their concerns, but you will get to the core of who you are and what is really important to you. Whether this is by experience new cultures so you can look at the world a little differently, or these experiences you have accumulated has finally made you realise that home is where you will thrive, it’s hardly a surprise that the travel bug is something that so many people can’t shake. Some people don’t like to experience new things, they are more than happy in their bubble, but it’s these people who may not necessarily achieve much in life. Yes, this is a grand statement, but if you are missing something in life, or you want to discover what is out there as well as in you travelling is the simplest way to achieve so much. It’s been said before that travel broadens the mind, but it’s not just because you learn about new cultures, by going out of your comfort zone, you finally get to grips with who you really are.

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Road Trip: Pacific Coast Highway

It is not often we can get a chance to be across the globe. As evidenced by the beautiful scenic pictures that keep cropping up in our trip planning, the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) promises unique landscapes and plenty of places to stop and explore. However, we are still toying with the idea of whether to take a domestic flight or drive along the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH).

The distance stretches up to 800 km and it does not seem possible to complete the route within a day without exploration.

A tad daunting, perhaps.

An initial thought was making interval stops before hitting Los Angeles (LA). That means shortening the time we have in LA, an itinerary that we felt are not conventional to many travellers as they prefer to spend more time in LA with the availability of amusement parks. After some research, it seems hard to miss out attractions along PCH.

All thanks to Outdoor Blueprint, they made trip planning easier with these attractions laid out neatly.

SAN FRANCISCO

San Francisco Road Trip Guide
Image Credit – http://www.outdoorblueprint.com

MONTEREY BAY

Monterey Bay Road Trip Guide
Image Credit – http://www.outdoorblueprint.com

BIG SUR (Limekiln State Park)

Limekiln Big Sur 26
Image Credit – https://californiathroughmylens.com/big-sur-attractions

Big Sur Road Trip Guide

Image Credit – http://www.outdoorblueprint.com

SAN LUIS OBISPO

San Luis Obispo Road Trip Guide
Image Credit – http://www.outdoorblueprint.com

 

POINT CONCEPTION (The Santa Barbara Channel)

Image Credit – https://exoticwinetravel.com/santa-barbara-urban-wine-trail/

Point Conception Road Trip Guide

Image Credit – http://www.outdoorblueprint.com

If you have driven across Pacific Coast Highway before, do feel free to share your travel hacks.

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7 Cool Things to Do with Your Girlfriend in Singapore

Someone says that Singapore is a technology miracle, another one claims that it is the front window of Asia because it is an energetic and inspiring place, which has managed to become one of the best. Singapore is many-faced and magnificent like Ukrainian girls. You can choose many different epithets for the island-city-state of Singapore, but all of them will surely be vivid and not ordinary. Singapore remains one of the greenest cities in the world, having so many astounding futuristic buildings and attracting a big number of people from all over the world. So, what can you do with your girlfriend in Singapore?

1. Look to the Future

The future of science fiction movies will come in Singapore very soon when the first spaceplanes start landing in the airport Changi, and robots say, “Next in line, please!” You should surely look at the steel baobabs of the Gardens by the Bay. In the evening, the lights are turned on, and the magic garden begins to shimmer with colored lights, just like in the Avatar. At an altitude of 22 meters, supertrees are connected by the sky bridge, from which the domes of futuristic greenhouses are visible.

Image Credit: Great Eastern

2. Relax on the Beach

When the brain melts because of the heat, you can escape from the stone jungle to the beaches of the tropical island of Sentosa. You can visit each of them during the day because a free tram runs along the coast. If both of you prefer a relaxing holiday in the hammocks under the palm trees, go to Tanjong beach, and if you want to suf and play volleyball, go to the beach of Silos. You can also visit the mangrove thickets of the island of Pulau Ubin. In this Singaporean village, you can ride a bicycle through rubber groves, eat grilled shrimps and look out for rare birds from wooden bridges.

Image Credit: tanjongbeachclub.com

3. Update your Wardrobe

In Singapore, you can find ten boutiques per square meter because local people like brand-name things. Good dressers with packages of Chanel and Louis VUitton go from one showcase to another. If you do not have enough money to buy a Prada handbag, go to Bugis Street, and you will buy the same but from Chinese masters. tripadvisor.jp

Image Credit: tripadvisor.jp

4. Shake the Paw of the Lemur

The Singapore Zoo is one fo the most advanced in the world. More than 300 species of animals walk freely through the rainforest. Here, you can have breakfast with organutans, feed the giraffe or dwarf hippo during lunch, and watch the dinner of predators in the evening. Both of you will be excited like kids.

Image Credit: visitsingapore.com

5. Take a Photo on the Edge of the Abyss

Only a lazy person did not see the pictures of the hotel Marina Bay Sands on the Internet. Three 200-meter towers, crowned with a gondola, perfectly fit into the landscape of Singapore’s space harbor. Many people go here to take a photo in the famous swimming pool on the roof, here the water seems to pour over the sides to the abyss. What a stunning view of the bay you will be able to enjoy there!

Image Credit: dailymail.co.uk

6. Look at Singapore from a Height

To see whole banana-lemon Singapore at your feet, don’t miss a chance to ride the Ferris Wheel. From the height of a 55-storey building, you will be able to distinguish even the Indonesian islands on the horizon. In the evening, the city lights up with millions of light bulbs, and you feel like superheros on top of the world. If you have a special evening, you can book a separate booth with champagne and dinner for two.

7. Try “Star” Noodles on the Street

Chinese rice with slices of duck is friend in soy sauce on every corner of Chinatown, but you need to stand a kilometer line to try noodles with chicken from the street chef Chan Hong Menga, his street tent has been awarded a Michelin star. If you are fond of spicy chili, go to the Indian city block.

Image Credit: tripadvisor.com

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Sleepwiz Eye Mask: Sleep Better Effortlessly

One of the most useful essentials that one should have would be the eye masks. It is known that poor sleep can interfere with every aspects of our life but with SleepWiz™ eye masks, you can sleep as soundly on a brightly lit environment as you would at home in your comfy bedroom.

SleepWiz™ eye masks are specially designed to create the ideal environment for us to get some good rest so that we can wake up relaxed, refreshed and rejuvenated. Making a name for itself, SleepWiz™ was also featured in BuzzFeed and The Huffington Post as a recommended hack to fall asleep quickly.

For the Side Sleepers

Everyone has a propensity toward one position or another, but side sleepers are the most common of the variations. It is not common for side sleepers to find themselves tossing and turning more than back sleepers which could lead to poor sleep.

SleepWiz™ has introduced an eye masks for the side sleepers which include:

Luxiere™ 100% Silk Eye Mask for Side Sleepers

Image Credit: SleepWiz

For the Back Sleepers

SleepWiz™ has introduced an eye masks for the back sleepers which include:

ErgoDream™ 3D Ergonomic Eye Mask for Back Sleepers

Image Credit: SleepWiz

Why Sleepwiz?

We had the opportunity to try and after using for 2 nights and we felt it was comfortable for the following reasons:

 A restful night to feel refreshed the next day – The luxiere boosts melatonin levels naturally without the use of pills or chemicals while the DreamWeave technology makes the eyemask impenetrable to light, allowing for longer deep sleep phases, while retaining the natural fibre’s luxurious softness

            Comfort and practicality – by using thin dual straps that ensures the mask stays in place which is useful if you’re a side-sleeper or tend to move a lot when you sleep. The extra wide design also makes it adaptable to faces of different sizes.

                    100% mulberry silk – to ensure your skin stays hydrated and reduce fine lines 

SleepWiz™ eye masks are light, flexible and practical. It certainly doesn’t take up much space. Hey, did we mention this makes a good travel essential items during your road trips? Free shipping within Singapore is provided. You should get one too!

SleepWiz

Websitehttps://eyemask.sg/

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/OfficialSleepWiz/

Instagram: hello@eyemask.sg

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Bali Travelogue – (Part 1): Holiday Inn Resort Bali Benoa, Bali Collection and Discovery Shopping Mall

This was our first family trip to Bali which is one of more than 17,000 islands in the Indonesian archipelago and is located just over 2 km from the eastern tip of the island of Java and west of the island of Lombok. The island is currently home to about 4 million people. Continue reading “Bali Travelogue – (Part 1): Holiday Inn Resort Bali Benoa, Bali Collection and Discovery Shopping Mall”

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Finland Travelogue – (Part 7): Helsinki City and Christmas Market

Much has been said about escaping to the capital of Finland, Helsinki to be soaked in the atmosphere of Christmas. Just before we headed back home, we had the opportunity to explore Helsinki city and the Christmas market.

Come winter season, there are only few hours of daylight and it is not surprising to see most of the pictures taken were dark. Continue reading “Finland Travelogue – (Part 7): Helsinki City and Christmas Market”

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Penang Travelogue – (Part 1): Snake Temple, Lee Clan Jetty 姓李桥, Chew Clan Jetty 姓周桥, Penang Road Famous Teochew Chendol, Joo Hooi Café and Ming Xiang Tai Pastry 名香泰餅家

Unlike many travel destinations where visiting once is enough, Penang gives me all the reasons to return again and again. A large proportion of population in Penang are made up of Penangite Chinese and this makes it even easier to communicate with the locals and travel around.

When I arrived at Penang airport, my first task was to purchase a local SIM card (1GB for RM$26). Knowing that there would be lots of traveling, transport cost was one of the major factors to take into consideration. With a SIM card, I would be able to get connected to local network and more importantly, explore Penang by Grab service instead of hailing normal taxis which could charge you exorbitant fees. I figured out that using Grab service would end up saving about 50% to 60% in transportation cost. Continue reading “Penang Travelogue – (Part 1): Snake Temple, Lee Clan Jetty 姓李桥, Chew Clan Jetty 姓周桥, Penang Road Famous Teochew Chendol, Joo Hooi Café and Ming Xiang Tai Pastry 名香泰餅家”

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Finland Travelogue – (Part 2): Airbnb Stay and Arctic Circle Snowmobile Park in Lapland

Travel like a tourist and live like a local. They need not be mutually exclusive and Airbnb has made it possible for us to enjoy a meaningful holiday with authentic, local experiences.

We were really blessed to meet a wonderful host who readily fetched us from Santa Claus Village to his Airbnb abode at no extra cost. Continue reading “Finland Travelogue – (Part 2): Airbnb Stay and Arctic Circle Snowmobile Park in Lapland”