To start off the week, I thought I’d do a post that I’ve been wanting to do for a while (but also DREADING!). I’m sure most of you already know that I love to travel and explore the beautiful world we live in. I’ve been blessed with a life that has allowed me to experience so many new cultures and wander through the beautiful landscapes of so many places. So, as you can probably already tell, today’s post is going to be my 4 favorite places in the world. I’m just going to preface this by saying that it was nearly impossible to come up with a list of only 5 places (also this is in no particular order); every place I’ve ever visited could have a place on this list, but I did it, so here it is!
I’m just going to start out with an obvious one, my beautiful little tropical city/state/island/country of a home (I think I got everything, haha!). To be 100% honest, growing up in SG I don’t think I appreciated it as much as I should have. I went through so many stages where I was so bored and just couldn’t wait to get out of there. But as I got older and reality began to set in that my time was running out, I began to realize how much beauty there was all around. I’m not going to ramble on for too long (trust me, I could write pages), but I will link some of my past SG blog posts below. All I’m going to say is that SG is one of my most special, unique, and colorful countries in the world, and I have been beyond blessed to be raised and shaped by this place that will always be in my heart.
2. Lake Nojiri, Japan
Every summer, my family and I travel to Lake Nojiri in Northern Japan where we own a lake cabin/house. The cabin has been in my family for over 50 years (my dad also grew up going there in the summers), and is a very special place for us. There’s nothing fancy about it at all (we just got running water and a flushing toilet 2 years ago), but it’s the most magical place in the world. It’s one of those places where reality just takes a back seat and you spend your days swimming, boating, cooking and eating. On a typical day, we usually wake up fairly early, eat breakfast together, spend time by the lake either swimming, lifeguarding or tanning, and then spend our afternoons shopping and getting everything ready for dinner. Our cabin is on a hill looking down on the lake, so the sunrises and sunsets are absolutely stunning. One of my favorite days of the year is はなびたいかい (hanabi taikai- the firework festival); we drive down to sit on the docks, bundled up in sweatshirts and blankets while we watch the beautiful hour-long fireworks that reflect alluring fireworks on the calm waters of the lake. Just being able to sit there with my family with nothing else to worry about is such a special thing, making this place so near and dear to my heart.
3. Phuket, Thailand
Phuket has appeared a lot in my photos, but I don’t think I’ve ever explained why we go to Phuket so often or why I love it. The flight between Singapore and Phuket is only about an hour and 40 minutes (and super affordable!), making it the perfect destination for a quick beach getaway. Phuket is filled with gorgeous beaches, shimmery turquoise water and amazing food (most importantly, haha). We typically wake at around 8 (that’s late for us!) and have a leisurely breakfast before we head down to the beach for the day. Then in the late afternoon, we head back to the room to shower and get ready for happy hour and dinner. We almost never eat dinners at the hotel (since the prices are usually marked up), so we catch a tuk-tuk (a motorcycle-driven taxi) and head to some of our favorite local places for some really good Thai food. All we need is 3-4 days in Phuket to feel re-energized and ready to go. Once my family leaves South East Asia, quick little Phuket trips is one of the things I’ll miss the most!
Favorite restaurant: http://www.eatbargrill.com/welcome/
Favorite hotel: http://www.lemeridienphuketbeachresort.com/
4. Paris, France
When I was a freshman in high school, I had an amazing opportunity to go on a week-long trip of a lifetime to Paris for a language immersion program. We paired up and home-stayed with families who opened up their homes for this purpose. We were expected to get from the house to the school (or wherever else we were meeting) by ourselves on the metro (and again on the way home). The mornings were spent at a language school working on our French, and the afternoons were spent walking around the city and doing everything you would do in Paris. Some of my favorite things we did were going up the Eiffel Tower, taking a boat ride down the Seine, walking through Montmartre up to the Sacre Coeur, attending a Macaroon baking class, and shopping on the Champs Elysees (and of course the incredible amounts of cheese, pastries and bread that was consumed). What stuck with me the most about this trip was that the further away I got from being in Paris (afterwards), the more I appreciated it. While I did absolutely LOVE it while I was there, I was amazed with how much stuck with me. It’s been four years to the day since I was there, and cannot wait to get the chance to go back! (Disclaimer: this was before I took infinite amounts of photos everywhere I go, so enjoy this one of me by the Eiffel Tower eating some cotton candy:)
Singapore Blog Posts:
Top 10 Travel Tips post: https://swimeatlove.com/2017/03/18/top-10-travel-tips/
QQ Kopitiam is a small Singaporean cafe/restaurant located across from the Pasadena City College on Colorado Blvd. A Kopitiam (Kopi for short) is a traditional coffee shop found in many South East Asian countries, including Singapore. As most of you know, I’ve lived my whole life (up until now) in Singapore, and was in serious need of some comfort food.
The restaurant is located on fairly quiet street, but stands out from the big, red sign. Staying true to traditional Kopi style, before getting seated at your table, you order your food at the counter and pay right there. There was an older couple, the wife running the cashier and the husband running the kitchen, who owned the place. As soon as we walked in, the lady quickly welcomed us and starting listing off suggestions. She suggested the Laksa (rice noodles in a coconut, curry soup) and Hainanese Chicken Rice (steamed rice with chicken boiled in a ginger broth), both of which are famous Singaporean dishes. Once we ordered (I ordered the Laksa), I started up a brief conversation with the couple and found out that they were both Singaporean and had only been in business for around four years. We chatted for a little bit about where in Singapore we lived and what our favorite Singaporean dishes were.
Laksa is a dish that Singaporeans feel very close to, as it’s served at every Kopi and Hawker stall (Singaporean style outdoor food courts). It is loaded with pungent ingredients including curry leaves, lemongrass, and sambal (a type of chili sauce), making it an acquired taste. Foreigners (or tourists) often have a hard time handling the aroma and flavor of laska, but for Singaporeans it’s a bowl of comfort.
I would 100% recommend QQ Kopitiam for anyone in the area, whether you’re Singaporean or not (the friend I went with wasn’t Singaporean and she loved it!). If you stop by QQ Kopitiam, let me know in the comments below and tell me what you think.
Website (Yelp): https://www.yelp.com/biz/qq-kopitiam-pasadena
Number: (626) 696-3179
Address: 1491 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91106
Hours: Mon-Fri: 11am to 7pm
I’m not usually the person who gets crazy excited about going to Disneyland, in fact the last time I was there was 10 year ago, but a few months ago my friend and I were talking about what to do for her birthday, and Disneyland seemed to be the perfect choice (after all, we do live 45 minutes away). Since the next time I go to Disneyland will probably be in another decade, I decided to write this blog post full of Disney favorites, tips/tricks and photos.
If you’re just going to Disney for one day, it can be hard to choose what to do and what to prioritize, so here were some of my favorite rides to ride and things to do that I would prioritize over other things. My favorite rides were Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, It’s a Small World (I know I’m a 5 year old inside haha!), Matterhorn (my favorite time to ride this is at night, especially during Christmas, because you get an amazing view of the whole park lit up), and Splash Mountain. All of these rides are the ones that typically have long lines, so be prepared to wait or spend an extra $10 on tickets to get fast passes (will talk about this later). Other than the rides, Disney is full of fun things to do and places to go. During our day at Disney, I would say we spent only about 50% of the time riding rides, and the other 50% walking around, eating and soaking in all the Disney vibes. With me being me, one of the things we did that I loved was starting our day at the Starbucks on Main Street. I know this sounds super basic, but I absolutely loved the vibe inside the Starbucks (even though the prices are slightly marked up). The store was PACKED and got me excited for the day ahead (I also would not have gotten through the day without my daily coffee). Other than Starbucks, the other food I would highly recommend trying is the Beignets and Mint Juleps in New Orleans Square. We decided to stop there for an afternoon snack around 2:30pm and ended up sitting there for an hour talking, taking pictures and enjoying our snack. It was a perfect little break from a crazy day. My last favorite, pretty obvious, is to end the day by watching the fireworks in front of Cinderella’s Castle. Disneyland is such a magical place and the fireworks that are perfectly times and choreograph to match all of the classic Disney songs is the perfect way to end a day at Disney. And of course, don’t forget to take tons of pictures throughout the day!
Knowing how much we were spending on tickets, food and transportation for a day at Disney, my friends and I wanted to make sure that we were getting the absolute most of the day. For starters, we decided to add an extra $10 onto each of our tickets to get fast passes. What that allowed us all to do was to use the app to book our fast passes for the rides. We were able to use about 10 fast passes throughout the day (which probably saved us a total of 4 hours from waiting in lines). Another tip if you are going to Disney is to designate one person to book the fast passes by making a “party” on the app. All you have to do is have one person add each person to their “party” and each time they book a fast pass, it automatically gets booked for everyone in the group. And when you get to the ride and get into the line, only that one person has to scan their phone and it scans for everyone in the group. Another tip that was super helpful was to go on the busiest/most popular rides earlier in the morning. We got to the park at 8am, right as it opened, and the majority of the people there were families with young children who weren’t exactly rushing for Space Mountain and Splash Mountain. The lines for the bigger, “scarier” rides are much shorter in the morning than they are in the afternoon/evening.
Photos: Because if you didn’t Instagram a photo, did you really go to Disneyland?!