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Posts Tagged ‘culture’

Everything London #35 – Olympics 2012

So glad to be living in an Olympic city second time around after Sydney 2000. Surprisingly, even saw the opening ceremony fireworks from my bedroom window. I’m still debating whether I should support GB Team, Aussie or China?!?! Whichever wins, I’m happy for!

Transport system is coping well so far and since everyone else is either working from home or flexi time I haven’t had to change my lifestyle to match.

Enjoying the numerous cultural and festive events around town to cater for all the tourists such as Wonderground by SouthBank. The Boom Boom Club show was really awesome and highly recommended.

London, you are so beautiful and amazing.

***Photo by journeyexplorer

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A trip like no other

I receive a message from my life buddy ‘Hey I’m just leaving the house now. So excited!’

‘Me too!! Can’t wait to see you soooooooooon.’ I reply back

When we meet we hug for a whole minute and our laughter echoes so loud in the lobby that everyone is staring but we don’t care. This is no ordinary meeting. Since our last message to each other, we both traveled to our local airport and took an 11 hour flight to a continent different to one that each of us lives in.

For me, travelling is so much more than just sightseeing these days. I have seen my fair share of cathedrals, museums, plazas, beaches and mountains hence I am more fussy with picking my travel partners. I want to enjoy and appreciate the time we have together rather than just ticking off the list of things to do and see. In fact, this time we didn’t even bring a guidebook. We enjoy roaming the streets of downtown and taking long walks to suburbs beyond. I had no expectations of our trip, because the important element was our quality time and life sharing. Indeed it was truly enjoyable with many pleasant surprises and I laughed so much in these few days than I ever did year to date.

***Photo by journeyexplorer

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Natural beauty is an oxymoron

In this day and age where going for a cosmetic surgery, medical facial, vein removal procedures or botox is like going for a haircut, natural beauty will soon be in extinction. I’m not even talking about those in the industry or on magazine covers, because we all know the power of media brain washes us to makes us feel like we don’t measure up. All the perfect skin, gorgeous complexion, ideal bodied portraits of people on TV we can push aside but even if men are going for manicure what is this world coming to? Should beauty pageant contests start having real vs artificial ratio on girls? Should mothers start buying nose job vouchers for their teenage daughters as their birthday or Christmas present?

Unfortunately, as much as we want to deny it, our world operates on appearances. Chinese people always says there are no ugly women just lazy women. I am the first to put my hand up to say I’m lazy on grooming sometimes, especially when I’m travelling. I was an unattractive pimple faced chubby girl in my prime age but I promised myself I’m going to be a hell of a hot 40-year-old women. At the moment I’m doing about 8 hours of exercise per week. It’s hard work but it also gives me the sense of achievement that I do not get elsewhere and also creates an endorphin addiction. I just feel sorry for those who get addicted to procedures done on them instead of working on it themselves. Because the more that’s done, the more that needs to be done. The more you gain your self-esteem from it, the more lowly you will feel without it.

Personally, I link weight and appearance management to success and personal achievement. Do you ever see a 350lb CEO or president??? NO! So if you want to look and feel good, work on it instead of being worked on.

***Photo by journeyexplorer

Special thanks my two male models on our Californian trip

30 hours in Luxembourg

Transport

The airport bus 9 or 16 en route to city centre goes past the business district where offices of banks and other multi national corporations lined the streets. Surprised to find Luxembourg is the largest private banking centre in the Euro zone due to its political stability backed by a good legal and regulatory framework.

Luxair serves food and drinks even during the one hour short flight from London city airport. Their staff is super friendly. You can check in your bag at no extra cost. You don’t have to pay to get extra legroom or to use the toilet. Thumbs up.

Eat

In the pedestrian area I stumbled upon a heart-felt soup cafe – a la Soupe, which was just perfect in the cool weather and after strolling around the city for half a day. Good range of healthy soups which are very tasty. Must go!

Surprisingly, Luxembourg has the most Michelin stars per capita of any city in the world. restaurant does not disappoint. The one we went to (and I’m gutted I forgot their name) served my fish soup from a mega teapot. Desert was refreshing – I had fresh strawberries with yogurt. The panna cotta was really nice.

Excursion

Vianden is a good day trip you can do with great transportation access from central station just for tourists, even though you have to change a couple of times but it’s easy enough to manage. You can buy a day ticket from the main train station which includes entry to the castle, chairlift ride and transport to and back. It was good to explore a bit of the country side views with fresh air and sunshine.

30 hours in Luxembourg was just right and it is perfect for a short sweet weekend getaway.

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Snowy Niseko@ Hokkaiddo – Japan

The Japanese are humble cultured so when they call themselves number two ski resort in the world that really says something. I have been skiing / snowboarding in Australia, Austria, Italy, France, China, USA and now Japan. Each time it’s a completely different experience depending on your age, fitness, weather, accommodation and of course people you go with as well.

This time was absolutely awesome. We stayed in a self serviced apartment with laundry and kitchen facilities which is always convenient. It is a little bit further from the chairlift and gondola but they have free and frequent shuttle buses to take you around so it’s manageable with all the gear.

I’m impressed with how they have organised their resort with good transport facilities like buses to nearby shops and supermarkets for your essential needs. Nightly buses to nearby towns so you don’t have to be ‘stuck’ in Niseko all day or all week. They even offer excursions to the nearby Sapporo and Otaru city for those who want to do some sight-seeing or souvenir shopping.

The weather was out of my comfort zone. Since it is famous for its powdery snow, it snowed pretty much everyday that we were there. But visibility was extremely low and it was hard for me to navigate where I was going. On the day where we decided to embark on a cross mountain adventure, I could hardly see 10m ahead of me with fog. Lucky everyone was dressed in very sharp red, yellow and green gear so it stands out a bit. Lucky their slops are very wide compared to the European mountains which is a big plus especially for beginners who want to learn and not be afraid of falling off the cliffs.

They have three mountains areas offered although if you are only there for a few days just Hirafu would be good enough. I’m impressed with the variety on ski passes as well, you can purchase by hours or days depending on your needs with a selection of just Hirafu area or all three mountains.

Japan has top-notch service with always well-mannered staff even on the chair lifts they treat you like royalty as you get on. After a tiresome day of highly active sport, you can relax in one of their hot spring or bath houses. Of course everyone knows I love Japanese food, I had my fair share of sashimi, sushi, sukiyaki, ramen, curry rice and ice cream made with Hokkaido farmed milk was the highlight.

There was a funny thing – I saw and met so many Australians there in the few couple of days I almost thought I was in Australia. Even the apartment owners and some shuttle staff were Aussie. I suppose Australia’s snow mountains aren’t that great and Japan would be an ideal easy to reach option.

Everything added together made a great trip but something complimented my week even more. We had 20 of us which were a fun, active, out-going, adventurous bunch. We had great laughs even on the 5 minutes chairlift rides. We sharing quality food during all three meals of the day and most nights we cooked which was quite homely. After that we had alcohol infused poker nights.

Nice apartment. Good food. Nice slopes. Good snow. Great company.

***Photo by journeyexplorer

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Your Place or Mine?

February 19, 2012 Leave a comment

It is not just about physical location but it has so many other hidden agendas.

It might reflect status or class depending on which area they live in or distance to travel from the nightclub which is in the centre of town. Travelling 2 hours on the train might not be ideal because the heat of the moment would have been lost or she just doesn’t look as attractive in the well-lit trains.

It might reveal who has the upper hand or who is the lead in this partnership since one person might have to turn up to work or their social event the next day in the same attire as they are wearing at this party.

It might just tell too much too soon. For example, their horrific bad habits such as not showering or brushing their teeth daily. Or ridiculously untidy living style as you might find sprays of dried urine on the side of their toilet bowl. One may also have secrets they don’t want to reveal such as photos of their ex in a crystal photo frame on their bedside table.

It may also be inconvenient for a closer circle of people as one may share a flat with 5 others and making too much noise in the middle of the night will cause gossip if nothing else.

***Photo by bgorsphotography

Speak their language

February 17, 2012 7 comments

When I visit any country, I learn at a bare minimum ‘hello’ and ‘thank you’ in their local language. It can give me a flavour of their culture. But more importantly, it goes a long way if you try to make an effort to break the ice especially when you are trying to ask for directions or something.

A friend once told me about the 5 different love languages being words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service and physical touch. I’m trying to learn and speak another person’s language so that what I’m trying to express can be received. It’s like every Saturday when I spend two hours one on one with my autistic little friend, most of the time I join him in whatever he is doing with the aim to make him comfortable in his world then he can reach out when he is ready.

I’m learning to appreciate and show appreciation with less complaining and judging. Life is short and it never offers ‘happily ever after’s. There are no money back guarantees or return policies. There aren’t any types of contracts / prenups that can stipulate terms and conditions with small fine print for you to read or check. Tsunamis or earthquakes may hit and whether you can be a survivor depends on your attitude and willingness to fight. When you have people around you to share your ups and downs, that is most precious. I want to simply be true and kind to those around me because that is the best way I’m telling them that I treasure them.

***Photo by bgorsphotography