Most of my beloved readers and followers might be interested to know this, or maybe not. But, during the course of my 2-weeks in Europe, we experienced the best and worst (sort of) of both worlds. Maybe I’m still not the expert on such matters, anyhow, I would like to share my 2 cents worth, just for discussion sake.
1) Location, location, location
Throughout my stay, the number one question before I book a hotel or staying via couch-surfing is — location. This is a must especially if you are planning to leave early for a flight or that you’re planning to get around easily without lugging your suitcases along the cobblestone pathways.
My preference is to stay near the departure point, especially if the departure time is awkward, e.g. 7am Eurostar to Amsterdam from Paris. If that can’t be done, usually if you’re traveling by plane, no one wants to stay near the airport, you can choose to stay near the train station. But those places might be a little seedy for your safety, although I need to stress here that I never felt so when I was around Europe. Another choice would be at the interchange point for the Metro (underground) or tram stops. An example would be the République Metro stop in Paris, it interchanges with no less than FIVE different underground routes.
For those that prefer to call themselves travelers (instead of tourists), couch-surfing locations might be suitable. These are usually in the suburbs, and you get to mingle with the locals, waking up to the sounds of the neighbourhood. Although, like us, you might even find such locations right in the middle of the city. Nearer than the hotels!
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My thoughts on the recently concluded 13th General Elections 2013.
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Dove, the beauty products company, hired Gil Zamora, a FBI-trained forensic sketch artist, to help with a social experiment on self-perception. The premise of the idea was that Zamora would sketch the person according to how she described herself, then he would sketch another picture of the same person but from a stranger’s perspective.
Want to know what happened? Watch this. Or read this.
This social experiment opened the eyes of the few women who were featured in the video. They often see themselves as sad and less beautiful than as described by strangers. We are often our harshest critics. I’m not sure how many did Dove chose for the project, but they only showed us some of it, say around 10 different persons in the video. What I would like to know was there anyone who saw themselves differently? Or that the description by the stranger was actually not what the real person looked like. The outliers if you would.
Someone would probably highlight that the Dove advertisement actually promotes a different kind of beauty subconsciously. If you pay close attention to the description by the strangers, they often focus on the eyes, the skin tone, the facial shape and what is perceived by the stranger to be ‘beautiful’. Whereas the person themselves would usually describe things that the normal stranger didn’t notice, moles, freckles and their age. Dove seemed to be highlighting the fact that being thin, fair-skinned and young is far more desirable than the rest.
I wouldn’t condemn Dove based on such facts, but just so you know, there are other things beside beauty that are as equally, or more, important. Beauty is after all only skin deep.
Follow me as I round-up the remaining dishes that I savoured during my short trip to the island city of Singapore.
Located on Killiney Road, a mere 200-metre walk from the Somerset MRT station, lies Killiney Kopitiam. I was here on a working day and the place was packed with people enjoying their breakfast before heading off to work. So do check your schedule first, unless you have plenty of time to wait.
The procedure is simple, queue up to order, pay the amount, find a place to sit and wait for the food to arrive. Still not sure what to order? Killiney is famous for its kaya and butter toast bread. Still don’t trust me yet? I have the picture to prove it.
Kaya Toast & Milk Tea
Lai Kee Dim Sum
It is hard to find affordable dim sum in a place such as Singapore, but this man (Ah Lai) managed to do so. On top of that, he has 4 branches throughout Singapore. But for those who have a problem with maps and walking, these places will be hard to find. After doing my research, I found that the Bukit Batok branch was the nearest to the public transport (Bukit Batok MRT), hence that was where I headed to.
Lai Kee Dim Sum (Bukit Batok Branch)
Dim Sum isn’t your traditional hawker dish, the famous ones in Kuala Lumpur and Ipoh are shopfronts. Prices could range from S$4-$5 per basket, Lai Kee managed to keep theirs to around S$2 per basket. But then, you don’t get to have it in an air-conditioned area. You might feel that S$2 per basket is spare change, but the average person would probably order at least 2, and if there’s two of you, it could be up to 4-5 baskets.
Siew Mai (pork) & Har Gow (prawn)
These bite size delicacies are usually meat-filled wrapped in flour or vegetables. They are also served piping hot.
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I finally made the plunge early this year by buying my first ever smartphone — the iPhone 5. I have been an Apple fan boy ever since they made those neon coloured iMacs but back then, as a student, it was an unaffordable splurge to get an iMac. It wasn’t until they made the 4th generation iPod that I finally came to own one of Apple’s products. That was then followed by the 2008 iMac, which I have now changed to the 2012 iMac.
I am not going to go into an in-depth review of the iPhone 5 capabilities and what-nots, those you could probably glean from the various tech-related blogs and websites out there which are fully devoted to researching the pros and cons of each Apple product. What I am about to share is my opinion from a layperson’s first contact with a smartphone which fortunately (or unfortunately for Samsung fans) turned out to be the iPhone 5.
I bought the 32GB white version and my first impression was the weight. Compared to my previous phones, this was the only phone which after one month of using, I was still sub-consciously touching my pocket to see if it was still there. The extra screen space is also good for reading and for browsing the Internet. Camera-wise, it is easy, since you don’t have to lug around the huge DSLR of yours everywhere. My only gripe would be the battery life, but since I have never had a smartphone before, I’ve found out that it is actually quite common to charge the phone at least once a day (used to be once every 3-4 days with my old phone).
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I forgot to list down a few unforgettable things whilst in Amsterdam for 3 days.
There is a variety of cuisine to choose from due to the Dutch being masters of the sea and trade back in the early days. They brought back a lot from the different cultures they met during their conquest. To any visitors going to Amsterdam, you won’t run out of choices for food.
Even if you don’t cycle in Amsterdam, the city is not too big to venture out on your own two feet. The streets in between the canals surrounded by nice Dutch architecture will make you go ooh and aah once in awhile. And if you’re anywhere near the ‘9 Streets’ area, that is the place to start walking.
Abundance of museums
Other than the Van Gogh, the Rijksmuseum and the Anne Frank’s House, the rest of the museums can be considered as eclectic or worse, a tourist trap. It would not be a problem if you have the Museumcard or the iAmsterdam card. But if you don’t? Be aware that Amsterdam boasts about 100-150 museums just in the town area alone. Sex museum? Check. Handbags museum? Check.
Smell of marijuana/pot
Probably it is just me and the fact that these things are banned in my country. But whenever walking past the shops or person, the smell is just too much. Although it is not nauseating, it isn’t your eau de toilette either.
I have no idea whose brilliant plan it was to place public urinals around the city. Worse of all, most of them are overflowing and the trickling of piss can be seen around the immediate vicinity, not to mention the smell. A big turn off for such a fine city.
Why don’t you share some of your experience about Amsterdam in the comments below.
Whilst at Munich, we stayed at Hotel Condor, which is within walking distance from Munich Hauptbahnhof. The area around the hotel is full of clubs and casinos but we were never bothered throughout our 2 nights’ stay. We initially wanted to stay at Hotel Eder but they were fully booked and surprisingly, they recommended this hotel.
Hotel Condor (click to enlarge)
Tip: Prices for the weekend is slightly higher than the usual room rates. If it falls on a day when there is football, expect to pay more. Or you could even find yourself without a place to stay.
The room itself is just nice for the both of us and our huge luggages. We were at the top floor, hence the small balcony on the right. One surprising thing which we found out about the balcony door is that it can be swiveled in two axis. You can open it just like you would for any door, or you could even flip it horizontally like a window. Impressive!
Sunny room (click to enlarge)
We had a shower instead of a bath and due to the sunroof, we were able to wash all our clothes which we kept from Paris and Amsterdam at one go and hung them all out to dry. It was godsend to see the sunlight.
The sunroof in the WC
The room came with complimentary breakfast and they were also kind enough to offer us breakfast on the day of arrival even when we haven’t checked in yet. If I am not mistaken, it was a continental breakfast. The only drawback which I could think of was the small lift, it was just big enough for the both of us with our 2 luggages. So to those with huge families, you would be spending some time going up and down these lifts.
All in, it was a good place to put our feet up during our time at Munich, the staff was courteous and they could speak English, which was a must for us!