Travel Inspiration: A Death Defying Swing

Casa-del-Arbol-swingSure, playground swings are fun but have you heard about the Swing at the End of the World? Located at La Casa Del Arbol (The Treehouse) in Ecuador, this swing is 2600 metres above sea level and actually hangs off a steep slope. The view is breathtaking but would you dare?Casa-del-Arbol-swing-2I can’t help but imagine one of those strings suddenly giving way and then, well, need I continue? 

PS. Other travel spots you must check out.  

(Photos from Places to See in Your Lifetime)

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My Favourite Hotel in Penang?

noordin-mews-penang

This could very well be my favourite hotel in Penang. I’m on a perpetual hunt for hotels with character and charm. I’ve stayed at a lot of 5-star hotels around the world (thanks Mom and Pa) but I usually find that one room doesn’t differ much from the next. Boutique hotels, on the other hand, are quite special! I had read about Noordin Mews while doing my internet search for places to stay in Penang and was dying to give it a try. The place look gorgeous and the price, just right. So when Jon and I decided to make a short trip there, I immediately booked a room.

noordin-mews-penang-roomI’m very happy to report that we were not disappointed! We chose to stay at the Mews Downstairs which is just beside the pool and lush tropical garden. I literally felt like I had been transported to some faraway place – maybe the swinging 60s in Shanghai? – as the hotel is decorated (albeit subtly) in such a style. noordin mews penang 4noordin-mews-penang-3It would be great for a quick getaway with just your sweetheart or with the whole family. There’s such a relaxed vibe about the place. Breakfast was served the next day and gosh, was it a wonderful way to start the day. As you can see, I ate a lot!

breakfast-at-noordin-mewsDuring the day, we walked to nearby streets. Being huge fans of art, Jon and I strolled (first under blazing sun and later, in pouring rain) to Armenian Street. It’s only about a 15 minute walk away and definitely worth checking out. At night, we asked the staff at the hotel to recommend the best spot for Char Kway Teow. To our delight, he whipped out a map, started explaining and drawing directions for us to follow. Follow we did and in less than 10 minutes, we were enjoying some of the best food we’ve had in Penang. Feeling a little stuffed, we sat by the pool for hours after dinner… dreaming about the future : ) Candles were lit everywhere and I couldn’t help but feel so blessed.

I tell you guys, go stay at this place! You’ll love it.

PS. This isn’t a sponsored post. I simply love Noordin Mews this much.
PPS. More travel stories.

Luxurious Resorts For Cheap

slideshow_oceanHave you heard of The Luxe Nomad? It’s a dream come true for travellers. The website offers the most wonderful selection of hotels and resorts at huge discounts. Fancy your very own swimming pool or personal butler? Looking for a private island or even a stay at a chateau in France? No problem. The good folks behind The Luxe Nomad has it all and they’re offering these places at up to 70% off the usual rate. No kidding. ow we can all live like kings and queens (for a few days, at least)!

Here are my top three picks of resorts on sale now:

rayavadee 1 rayavadee 2rayavadee 4rayavadee 3{Rayavadee in Krabi, Thailand}

japamala resort 1 japamala resort 2 japamala resort 3 japamala resort 4{Japamala Resort in Tioman Island, Malaysia}

song saa private island 1 soong sa private island 2 soong sa private island 3 soong sa private island 4 soong sa private island 5{Song Saa Private Island in Sihanoukville, Cambodia}

Which would you stay in? I’m ogling that private island. How wonderful! Thumbs up, The Luxe Nomad!

Vacation Rentals: One Fine Stay

one fine stay londonIf you’re anything like me, you’ll love One Fine Stay. It’s a great site that curates a collection of high-end homes and apartments, giving them the hotel makeover, for you to rent and enjoy while traveling. Each place comes with all the perks of a hotel, maybe more. You’ll find great linen, extravagant toiletries, towels, free wifi – but with the perks of living in someone else’s place while they are out of town – a more spacious place, a kitchen to cook in and so on. And check this out: You even get a free iPhone to use while you’re on holiday to call your friends and use Google map. How cool! You might be in a foreign city but this will certainly make you feel right at home.

Here are two of my favourite places…

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Travel: The City Of Siem Reap

I’m still daydreaming about our wonderful holiday to Siem Reap. Forgive me for going on about it but those 5 days were so relaxing and fun! We ate a lot, and worked our legs adventuring around the temples but also spent days just walking around the streets of Siem Reap. When we got tired, we stopped for a beer and/or juice and then carried on again. With just a small map, given to us by the hotel, we opted not to travel by tuk-tuk (the common mode of transport) and instead, walked everywhere. I’m so happy we did because this way, we got to discover so many cool spots and meet people. Of course, a trip to Siem Reap isn’t complete without a proper tour of Angkor Wat but the town itself has so much to offer.

alleyways-in-siem-reap bicycles-for-rent-in-siem-reapIf all the walking kills your feet but you’d still rather explore the tiny alleyways, then rent a bicycle for less than $1 a day. It’s a great way to cover the city.

coffee-shops-in-siem-reapshopping-in-siem-reap

There are a million lovely restaurants scattered around town but a trip wouldn’t be complete without some hawker food. Just make sure to check that the place looks clean before you order. Shopping is also something you shouldn’t miss out. The markets are full of cookie-cutter t-shirts and traditional Cambodian pants (I got myself a pair and am loving it!) but if you stray off the beaten path, you’ll find great boutiques offering one-of-a-kind pieces and interesting designs.

As night draws close, the city becomes even more vibrant. Jon and I went during monsoon season so it rained almost every day. This meant that the moats surrounding Angkor Wat were filled to the brim and looking even more beautiful. Plus, the days were much cooler than usual which made for an even more comfortable walk around the temples. But, roaming around the city got a little messy.

siem-reap-town3tuk-tuksStill, that didn’t deter us. I simply brought out my trusty umbrella, rolled up my jeans and carried on. As a bona fide tourist must. Every travel website and book will tell you to visit the Old Market during the day but be sure to check out the markets at night when different shops open for business.

pork-sausages salted-fishThen stop at a cafe to simply sit and take it the sights and sounds. Or, as many tourists do, go for a “fish massage”. We found this sign hilarious.

drfishsiem-reap-town1me-in-siem-reapAhh, Siem Reap! I will miss you.

Travel: Eat + Drink

Angkor Wat was fabulous (we’ll save that for another day) but Siem Reap has some serious food to offer. I feel like all we did, besides roam those ancient temples, was eat. Breakfast was served each day at the hotel and we couldn’t have been happier with the quality of food and spread offered. A selection of local fresh fruits, homemade jam, croissants, honey and yogurt, eggs cooked to your liking, strips of bacon… I could go on. The staff were also so friendly and attentive that it just made the experience much more memorable.

breakfast-at-navutu breakfast-at-navutu-2Sometimes we ate so much for breakfast that we skipped lunch, belly’s still full. But as evening drew close, we’d jump into our Tuk Tuk and head out to town. You don’t have to venture far from Pub St and the alleys close by to discover great culinary options. Sure, we could have had fish & chips or a steak but we decided to eat as the locals do and ordered mainly Khmer cuisine. Which was amazing!

pork-dishgreen-curry-dishamok-+-khmer-kitchensweet-+-sour-tonle-sap-fish-+-khmer-kitchenThe famous Amok (delicious fish curry cooked with egg) became Jon’s favourite. After having ordered the dish in at least four different restaurants, we can safely say that Khmer Kitchen serves up the best Amok in town.

khmer-kitchen street-with-restaurants-in-sieam-reapPub St is really packed full of inviting restaurants, coffee shops and bars. Happy hours are unheard of here. There are only happy days. A mug of beer costs just US 50 cents! We’re not kidding. But beware, an order of Anchor beer might get you a can of Angkor (the local brand) which tastes a little stronger and sweeter. As for me, well you know, I had to order coffee.

coffee-at-red-pianoBut it was served rather interestingly. Instead of milk on the side, there was coffee. Perhaps this is done so you can control how strong you want your coffee to be. In any case, it was good and I was happy!

happy-with-coffeeAnd then! One night, the electricity went off all over town. It was pitch dark. Waiters came around with candles to light up the place and after the initial shock, everyone calmly settled down to a candlelight dinner.

blackout-in-siem-reapWhat a fun holiday! Have any of you been to Siem Reap? Which restaurants are your faves? Do tell…

Back Home

angkor-watOur trip to Siem Reap was truly magical. Everyday was perfect. But now we’re home and I realise that no matter how much I love going away, it’s nice to be back in my own home. We’ve got loads of wonderful stories and photos from our trip in the next couple of days. Wondering around temples built in the 12th century was truly breathtaking. I almost couldn’t believe I was standing amidst such history and culture. Can’t wait to share!

PS. I apologise for not posting our usual Favourite Links This Week series last weekend. There wasn’t any time to find gems on the web as we roamed about the city but the series shall make a return : )

Here We Go!

leaving on a jet plane

It’s here! The day has arrived. I’m actually humming the tune to “Leaving On A Jet Plane” because I’m that excited! I realise the lyrics are a little sad but the “I’m leaving on a jet plane” part is what I’m focusing on. I do so love to travel! And this time, I get to share it with you. We’ll have lots of good stuff coming your way once I’m back – full recaps and recommendations from my trip to Siem Reap : )

Everything on my lists (both of them) are ticked off, my bags are packed and I’m ready to go (See, I’m even writing with those lyrics. That darn song is in my head for good). I’ve replied all important emails and taken care of last minute work. So we’re off to the airport and our adventure begins. Yay!

Have an awesome day, my lovelies.

(Photo from Twin Fashion)

Travel Essentials

The days are drawing close and we’re getting more and more excited about hopping on a plane and beginning our holiday! In fact, packing has started. I’m one of those people who write a very precise list of everything that needs to be packed. God forbid I forget the hand phone charger or toothpaste! Horror! I also make a list of to-do’s before departure – water the plants, turn off electrical appliances and more. Here are some of my must-have items when going on a trip.  Travel-Essentials

1. A simple tee shirt dress that doesn’t crumple and looks really pretty.
2. Take a candle along for your holiday and make your room/bathroom smell amazing. Simple pleasures!
3. This leather tote by Fossil is big enough for the necessary umbrella, water bottle, book, sunscreen and more.
4. A great book to get lost in. You may remember that I loved Jeannette Walls’ last book and haven’t had the time to devour her latest, Silver Star. But not anymore!
5. You can’t forget a bright bikini!
6. Or a pair of sunglasses (esp ones like this with tortoiseshell frames).
7. Super comfy shoes that you can walk hours in. I’m packing my Converse. Bonus: They come in such amazing colours.
8. Last, but certainly not least, suncreen is a must. I cannot stress that enough. Must, must! And don’t forget to reapply ever so often.

Cambodia, Here We Come!

Buddhist_monks_in_front_of_the_Angkor_Watold market in siem reap

Vacations! I’ve got a massive love for visiting new places – taking in the sights and sounds, trying yummy (and sometimes, a little strange) food, observing fascinating cultures and meeting all sorts of people. My grandma and mom have probably visited more than half the world (maybe more) and I think they’ve passed the holidaying gene down to my sis and I. My list of must-see places is ever growing.

Angkor Wat has been on that list for as long as I can remember but pretty soon, I’ll get to cross that off. Jon and I are heading to Siem Reap for a short trip this week. Yay!! We’re both so excited. We can’t wait to explore the scores of temples and learn the history behind each one. It’ll also be great to just relax and unwind. Our lives can get rather hectic with running a business, meeting clients, and (for me) finishing my PhD so we knew we wanted a hotel that was a little away from the hustle and bustle of the city. After much research (see, I put my PhD skills to everyday good use), we settled on Navutu Dreams Resort & Spa which looks like an oasis! I mean, just look at these photos…

navutu dreams and spa cambodianavutu dreams and spa room cambodia

Have you been to Sieam Reap and visited Angkor Wat before? Any tips or suggestions on where to go, what to eat, perhaps the best spa? I’d love to hear! Am super excited : )

(Photos from Wikipedia, Demotix and Navutu Dreams Resort and Spa)