Sunday, September 18, 2016

From home with love: Introducing IKEA's SVÄRTAN Collection

Hello again friends! Here’s a new post from home to share with you guys! I’ve teamed up with IKEA to share with you guys their latest, limited edition collection, SVÄRTAN. Inspired by India, this collection takes a different approach from the traditional vibrantly coloured designs that we often associate with India. Instead, it explores moody tones and textures, which have been created by Swedish textile designer Martin Bergström, working alongside Indian fashion students. 

My spaces in my home are always brightly lit and coloured. I’ve loved incorporating these SVÄRTAN pieces to keep my space simplified for the season of Spring! And that’s the beauty of them, the subtlety and versatility! Shades of grey work well pretty much anywhere, but it’s the textures I’m really loving. My favourite piece has to be the marbled bed linen, which I’ve paired with my usual white linen. I also love my newly hung poster, and candle holder. Here’s some photos from my working corner and bedroom. What do you guys think? If you love, get in quick as stocks are very limited!

 Feel free to check out the entire collection here, folks — SVÄRTAN COLLECTION

Saturday, September 17, 2016

A stay at Island Shangri-La, Hong Kong

I spent my birthday hotel hanging in Hong Kong & Tokyo with my girl, Isabel of Pretty Frowns. We had so much fun exploring both cities, as we were hosted by Cathay Pacific & The Shangri-La Hotels. We stayed in one of their gorgeous suites, with stunning views over the beautiful city of Hong Kong. Plus breakfast in bed? I don't think it could have been any better! Here's some photos captured during our stay in our Hong Kong room, and also some of my favourite spots from our trip!

So, our Hong Kong adventure was so much fun! Firstly, I haven't been to Hong Kong in over ten years, so I was really excited to explore it, as I hardly remembered what it was like! I know I barely scratched the surface this trip, why is why I can't wait to get back, but here's some highlights from my five day trip to this wonderful city.

The Peak
On my first night in Hong Kong, I met up with my good friend Bryant, and we drove up to The Peak. For views, the peak is insane! It has one of the best views over the city. The only problem is that it is packed with tourists with selfie sticks, so be prepared to battle them if you'd like to take photos, let alone enjoy the view. 

Yum Cha at Central
Okay, so I had a lot of Yum Cha in Hong Kong, pretty much for breakfast & lunch everyday... Not complaining! Chinese is one of my favourite cuisines, possibly because I grew up eating it almost everyday, it's quite hard for me to get sick of it. We did experience one that was a little different from the traditional Yum Cha, from a restaurant called 'Yum Cha' in Central (confusing, I know!). Here, they do the cutest dim sums, and really unique asian dishes! To be honest, the cute buns are not that great taste-wise, but I feel like you have to order them just to try, hehe! However, I really enjoyed all the other dishes we ordered, and we ordered a lot to feed four people!

Oddies Foodies
I'm a dessert gal, so of course I'm sharing this one with you. This was so highly recommended to me by friends and on snapchat, so I made sure I got my fix of these HK Egg Waffles. They are really delicious and I would definitely recommend them. Make sure you get the 'Night Wolf'!

Flower Markets
Found this market place while exploring the Kowloon side. I don't know about you, but I love a good florist, so I've thrown this one in for something different. I mean, I never really buy flowers while travelling, but I always love people watching in local areas like this one. 

Emack & Boleos
Of course, another dessert spot. This is more fun over taste. If you want a gigantic cone of ice cream too big for your hand, you need to get to this spot, Emack & Boleos. 

Cheung Chau
Last but not least, my personal favourite, I took a day trip out to Cheung Chau with my friends Bryant and Oscar. This involved taking turns cycling each other around the Island on our not-so-stable group bicycle, eating fresh hot Chinese sausage buns, and also taking a moment to pause, cliffside to enjoy the calm ocean views with new friends. I'm so grateful that these guys brought me here. Oh, and if you do go, make sure you have the local sago desserts with peanut balls. Soooo good! 

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Mexico: My top tips, and travelling with Southern Cross Travel Insurance

Last month I was fortunate enough to visit several regions in the Yucatan Peninsula, in Mexico. This has been on my bucket list for some time now, and I'm so glad I made it - it's definitely one of my favourite places that I've visited this year. 

Firstly, before visiting Mexico, I'll admit that people did have a few 'horror stories' to tell me. I've now learned to simply listen, and do my best to not let these stories allow me to pass judgment on a place before visiting myself. 

I'm always very careful when travelling, and am much more alert overseas than I am at home. However, in some cases things don't always go to plan. This is why I'm so thankful for travel insurance, which I always book with Southern Cross Travel Insurance. It has over 30+ years of experience in the industry and the online process to purchase is incredibly simple. It also offers online medical screening so if you're like me and travel a lot, you won't need to visit a doctor. 

Also, if you’re like me then you might be the type of traveller that doesn’t really stick to a regimented itinerary – where’s the fun in that right? While I’ve never had to claim anything from my insurance, knowing I had insurance has always given me piece of mind. So if you're going somewhere with a few 'horror stories' of its own here are my tips keeping on the safe side when travelling without going overboard! 

No brainer – buy travel insurance! Must must must. It can be overwhelming trying to find the right type of insurance which is why I’ve gone with Southern Cross Travel Insurance. It’s both the distributor and provider, which means it doesn’t sell through any intermediaries and underwrite their own policies – no middle man! 

Another good tip is to simply let people know your travel plans and register to SmartTraveller. I made sure to register and tell my family and close friends of my Mexico trip just in-case anything happened and so I would be easy to locate! 

Book all of your experiences using a licensed tour operator. You don’t have to keep to an itinerary when you travel (like me!) but that doesn’t mean you should book any of your activities with unlicensed tour operators. It's much better to be safe than sorry.   

For those of you travelling soon, use 'MILKTEA' for a 10% discount code when booking through SCTI. (Australian readers only, expires 30th September 2016)

Once you have that sorted, here's my favourite things we did in Mexico!

Visit a Cenoté

We visited three Cenotes in Mexico. Cenote Ik Kil, Cenote Sac Actun, and a cenote close by to our resort. Cenote Ik Kil was much more touristic than I thought. It it located in the middle of a resort, complete with carpark, entry fee, lifeguards, lockers, bathrooms, and built staircases. I definitely did not expect this! It does take away from it's appeal as a natural cenote, but I would still recommend a visit as it is stunning from inside. 

Cenote Sac Actun, while it caused a bit of drama to begin with, I loved this experience. The guided tour costs 30USD, but as it is a private around this beautiful cenote, I'd do it again for sure. The cenote is naturally preserved and is a stunning the whole way through. 

Cenote Ik Kil

Cenote Sac Actun

The Mayan Ruins in Tulum

I do love learning about the history of places when I travel to new places, we did an hour guided tour at the ruins, and would recommend it to other visiting. If you plan ahead, pack swimming gear, as there is a gorgeous beach here that you can swim in! I'd go back to do this for sure! 

Chichen Itza
As one of the new seven wonders of the world, need I say more? We hired a car to visit Chichen Itza, as we wanted to explore in our own time. We visited Cenote Ik Kil afterwards, as they are only fifteen minutes apart by car.

Coco Bongo
Ah, Coco Bongo. I highly recommend it to people looking for a party in Cancun. It's a funny experience, much like how you have to experience Robot Restaurant in Japan. It's simply a 'must do'. If you saw my snapchats from that night, then you'd definitely understand! This club is insane. Tickets cost around 80USD, which includes unlimited drinks for the entire night. The 'show' starts at 10.30pm and goes until 4.00am. 

 Everyone comes to the Yucatan to escape and relax. Stay in an all inclusive resort, and lay by the beach for an entire day. I'm not one to normally do this, as I love to pack my days with activities and adventure. BUT, it's kind of compulsory here. Haha. One must simply. Chill. Out.

Blog post in collaboration with Southern Cross Travel Insurance

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Portugal Photo Diary

We spent our first few days in Lisbon, and stayed at the Four Seasons. Firstly, Portuguese people are some of the nicest people I've ever met. Is it odd that I consider Lisbon the San Francisco of Europe? As you'll see below, Portugal's 25 de Abril Bridge is just like the one in SF. Plus, trams are a common mode of transport to get up and down Lisbon's very hilly streets. Okay, that's pretty much as far as it goes, but I found the vibe to be quite similar! The Uber drivers are especially nice, I guess they have to be ... but I feel like they are nicer here than in other cities. To get around, we did a lot of walking, and Ubered when we couldn't be bothered walking anymore, haha! On our first morning, we took a sidecar tour around Lisbon for three hours. I would highly recommend this to anyone! It was so nice to ride through Lisbon in the breeze. During our sidecar tour, we were taken to eat the famous Portuguese tarts from Pasteis de Belem which, which pumps out over ten thousands tarts ... per day. We were also blessed with such amazing weather during our entire trip. The streets and architecture are so rich in life, colour and history. Our sidecar driver took us around to see some historically significant building in Lisbon, including the oldest bookshop in the world. Little things like this make me fall in love with a city even more. I can't wait to return to roam the streets some more! Oh, and the seafood. Yum! Also, I think we ate seafood for almost every meal... hehe - not complaining! On our last night in Lisbon, we went to Park Bar, which is located above a carpark, you can see the whole city from up there, so I'd definitely say go there for some sunset drinks!

Following Lisbon, we hired a car and drove down to Lagos. On the way down, we took the route without tolls. This took us five hours! It was fine, as we had nowhere to be, but it did make us arrive quite late. We stayed in this Airbnb, with the loveliest hosts, José and his wife, who work in the tourism industry. They went above and beyond to make sure our stay was enjoyable. To be honest, our time here was such a magnificent blur, I had to really back track to remember everything we did. I've just made a little list below of thing I recommend.

Things I recommend in Lagos: 
Sunrise at Ponta De Piedade, Acai Bowl for breakfast at Super Coffee & Crafts, order a seafood Cataplana for dinner, chill on the beach at Praia Do Camilo, have a swim at Praia Dona Ana, bar hop in the town strip - all the bars are next door to each other in the town centre so it's great to get around town!

Sadly, I didn't make it to Benagil Cave, as it was fully booked. If you want to do this in peak season, make sure you book well in advance!

We drove back up to Lisbon, taking the toll route, which took two and a half hours, and had a few hours to spend somewhere before flying out. We chose to visit Sintra, as I had heard good things about it. Sadly, our time was cut a bit short as we were involved in a minor car accident upon entering Lisbon. (Don't text and drive people!) 

While we only spent a few hours here, I love love loooved it. When I visit Portugal again, I'll be sure to stay in Sintra next time. Sintra is full of castles, and life, culture and history, and we managed to visit Quinta Da Regaleira, to see the famous well and walk around before returning our car back in Lisbon.

I'll be back for sure, Portugal!

I didn't know much about Portugal before travelling there, as my friend had planned most of the trip. I think having no expectations is always best when travelling to new places, which is probably why I loved Portugal much more than I expected. I'm so happy to finally share these snaps with you all. It was a 'true' holiday, as I wasn't concerned about taking photos, or working on any jobs while I was there. So here are some random snaps from my phone and camera that I took along the way

Flying over Lisbon

Ice pops from UAU in Lisbon

Breakfast with a view from the Four Seasons
Sunset at Park Bar in Lisbon

Fruit popsicles from Paletaria
Quinta De Regaleira
Praia De Camilo

Ponta De Piedade

Sunrise at Ponta De Piedade