Hello from shanghai!

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IMG_2470.JPGSo.. I’ve relocated to Shanghai for a job opportunity here. So far so good, having met my family and catching up on the past year.

Tonnes to do before I could settle down. Hopefully all goes well!

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White Christmas – Stockholm’13

Stockholm! And that will remind you of Ikea, so you kind of get an idea what this city is about.

Since we’ve touched down in Stockholm first, therefore this was the European city I’ve been to! And when we first saw the streets and buildings of Stockholm, we were really impressed by the urban fabric that Jay said to me ‘And London is voted as one of the top liveable cities?!’

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Streets of Stockholm and yes you can tell by now I am fond of taking streets of the cities I’ve gone to.

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So Christmassy!

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Hallwylska Palace
Hamngatan 4, Stockholm, Sweden

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Gamla Stan, The Old Town
Which is just round the corner of the palace where you can get souvenirs, coffee and some trinkets from the street!

It was a very short time at Stockholm so I probably can’t comment or write too much about the city yet 🙂

Ok next up, the main highlight of our white xmas trip, Lapland Rovaniemi!!

White Christmas – Helsinki’13

My friend Jay and his friends planned a white xmas trip to the Northern Europe and got me to join. Tbh, I’ve never thought of traveling to that part of the world but I was glad I did. It was an unique experience having met Father Santa on Xmas day itself, crossing the arctic circle and traveling by land, sea and air. I must say an experience of a lifetime, not to mention the awesome company that made the trip.

We flew to Stockholm first, took an overnight cruise from Stockholm to Helsinki and spent a night there. Then we took a 15 hour train(!!) into Lapland – Rovaniemi.

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Holiday Inn, Helsinki. Haha that was the best accommodation of the trip!

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Musiikkitalo- Helsinki music centre.
Mannerheimintie 13A, 00100 Helsinki, Finland
The Scandinavian architects and designers are known for their minimalism and functionality approach, epitome of the phrase ‘less is more’. This building subsequently inspired me for my major project with their treatments for the space!

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Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma.
Mannerheimplatsen 2, 00100 Helsingfors, Finland

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Along the streets while we find the church in the rock. Yeahhh Helsinki is one of the cleaner Europe countries I’ve been to!

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Haha as the church is at the basement beneath the rocks, we climbed the wrong way and went ABOVE the rocks! Very awkwardly, we hurried down to where we were supposed to enter, almost hoping we don’t fall on the way down.

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Temppeliaukio Church – Church in the Rock
Lutherinkatu 3, 00100 Helsinki, Finland

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Chapel of Silence.
Front of Kamppi Square.
This chapel is built in the middle of the city centre, said to provide a place for contemplation amidst the hustle bustle. And also, a community area (as seen on the last image) for people to linger and gather. This is what I like about Europe, people are conscious about lifestyle and are more inclined to start an initiative towards a social issue. I personally like the concept of this chapel a lot, even though I don’t adore the form too much!

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Actually I think this was taken around 5pm. Ahh definitely not a fan of winter, more sun please! Still, I think Manchester has a better Xmas market haha (right Caroline?)

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Museum of Finnish architecture.
Kasarmikatu 24, 00130 Helsinki, Finland

It was a pity we didn’t get to visit Alvar Aalto’s house though..

Foodwise, I’m not a fan of Scandinavian food and the Chinese food there is not fantastic. And it is true that the Northern Europe is more expensive than any other parts of Europe. Their Macdonalds is one of the most expensive I’ve had so far, even more expensive then in uk ( which is already very exp ). Next up, Stockholm!

London – December’13

London! The name that makes you go wow!! Yeah of course I also got wowed over the fact that I get to have a day of stopover before embarking on my epic Northern Europe trip (as referred to by my friend) but.. It was the Murphy’s law realized at its truest for me. I had my train stopped and delayed for an hour ON THE TRACKS because of some random trespasser. According to the PA system, he was suspected to be hiding in the bush (??) and the train will not move until they are clear..
and then a very weird guy beside me started chanting. It was really creepy.

After which the big storm came on that night when we were supposed to visit winter wonderland. There u go, yeah I missed it. And according to my Londoner friend.. It doesn’t really pour like this in London. And then our train to Gatwick got cancelled. We counted, it was about 10 consecutive unfortunate events which my friend said, was bad luck on yours truly. Hahaha. So my impression on London became wow, wth? Haha. But I grew to love it a lot la, after my next few visits here(will update more on that later)

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St Pancras station! Known for that non existent platform Harry potter ran into. And also, the main station where most trains drop at (euston as well) . I love that organic ceiling btw.

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For those thinking of taking up those popular summer courses of CSM, here’s a peak on their campus at granary square, just behind st pancras.

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Fortnum and mason! It was so Christmassy there with orchestral playing at one of the levels, all the Xmas decors and yes, go have afternoon tea at The Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon 4th floor, which was opened by HM the Queen! I haven’t got to try so let me know if it is worth the rave!

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Then of course, it is the must see Big Ben and London Eye. I recently saw the back portion of the Big Ben, amazing really. Because I didn’t think too much of the front portion as shown above.

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Burger and Lobster! I would say worth going! But please go in advance to get a seat, they don’t take reservations for less than 4pax and 60% of their seats are kept available for walkins. The restaurant’s busiest hours are between 6-7pm. Why do I know so clearly? Because they wrote me an email rejecting my reservation lately and this was what they told me. #jusysaying

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Ahahaha ready for my white Xmas holiday and better luck ahead!

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This was after my white Xmas holiday, anyway it is common for us to fly from London to Europe because it’s cheaper. These were taken at Oxford Circus Regent Street where all the shops are – shoppers please take note! And we had tea at The Cafe which Jay told me celebrities frequent that cafe. So we went there, hoping to be star struck or scouted (just kidding) haha but the cakes are really nice la. Try the one with an orange tube in the middle of the cake, nice!

Next up is my epic Northern Europe trip, stay tuned cause I’ve got to run and pack now!

Chester – November’13

To Chester for some pre-xmas shopping! Chester is also about an hour train ride away from Manchester, see so convenient!

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Along the streets of Chester, man look at the crowd! It was surprising cause yknw other than London, uk is quite sparsely populated which makes the people living here (ie me) getting crowd phobic, after being here for awhile.

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Visit central perk cafe! A cafe here that is inspired by the coffee shop in Friends 🙂

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While walking along streets of Chester.. Honestly I’m not a fan of winter, everywhere just looks grey brown and dead..

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But there were some on going pre Xmas events that day that made the place livelier!

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Main objective of the trip! Cheshire oaks designers outlet stores. They’ve for brands like Adidas, Amani, Burberry etc and even whittard(our favourite tea shop) so we’ve got some real steals here! It is about half hour bus ride in from the city and I think it is possible to spend a few hours here so come early!

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Christmas market! I was really really excited and fascinated with Christmas markets because that was so new. It’s not like pasar malam in Singapore ok. For fans of Xmas like myself, Xmas markets are like the epitome of living through Xmas (actually ok maybe just the pre Xmas, my Xmas trip coming up next). My friend Caroline and myself even had the crazy idea of going to every towns and cities in uk to check out their Xmas markets haha. BUT, imo Manchester has one of the best Xmas market around!!

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🙂

York – November’13

We’ve heard a lot about York being one of the most beautiful town in UK and so one weekend, we decided to do a daytrip there which is also about 1.5 hour train away from Manchester. Haha despite its horrible weather, Manchester does have a good strategic location being in the middle of UK.

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Rare moments when Peggy is out with us haha.

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The first thought that came to mind was, ‘ no wonder the rave about this place’. It was such a huge contrast from Manchester (yeah of course) and it has this quiet charm to it and I thought that was because of the medieval heritage and buildings. But first stop, had to try Betty’s when in York!

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Us, while queuing for Betty’s, they are known for the wait so be prepared!

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Betty’s worth a try, although I didn’t think it was fantastic..

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Streets of York.

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Clifford Tower and view from top of it!

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York Minster, the largest gothic cathedral in Northern Europe. Maybe because Xmas was coming, looking at the cathedral in chilly winter winds with orchestral music playing in the background was like a reminder that everything was going to be ok, yeah well I was pretty down and stressed out that time.

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5pm and it was dark like 9pm already!

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My friend recommended me to Drakes for their fish and chips. It was indeed one of the better fish and chips I’ve had so far but because I’m not a fan so ..

I hope to get ahead with blogging about my trips as I realise it is quite hard to recall now that it has been almost a year!

Blackpool – October’13

So.. The first town I travelled within uk happened to be.. Blackpool. It is about an hour and a half train from Manchester both Northwest of Uk. Ha nothing wrong with that place but the weather was such a downer. We were drenched and wet on the journey back home and actually we were already by half of the trip because we had no umbrellas. We went too far off the beach and then the rain just came….
Well, not all of us though. Some of them decided to go to the water amusement park and they said it was pretty fun.

To be honest, the beach was nothing fantastic. But the town itself does invoke certain kind of nostalgia, bringing you back to the old 60s theme parks with bright lights.

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Haha we had to stopover at Preston so I’ve been to Preston! Only recalled when I saw this photo..

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Some of the photos we took along the way.. Ahh at that time we just got to know one another or rather I just got to know them as they were classmates since July. Feels kind of surreal looking back and now, a year has passed and we are like family now!

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And that is the famous roller coaster from the Blackpool Pleasure Beach!

I can’t write too much about this place because we didn’t get to do much there due to weather. But still, if you are one who loves amusement and theme parks, then this place is worth a go (of course check the forecast beforehand, the weather forecast for that day we went would be thunderstorm man) Oh although I heard Alton towers is really more exciting!