Jaipur, India: Amber Fort

Planning a trip to Jaipur, India? You can't miss Amber Fort (aka Amer Fort), one of Rajasthan's great fortress palaces. Here's everything you need to know before you go.




LISTEN UP! AMBER PALACE, AMER FORT...HOWEVER YOU CALL IT, THIS IS A GEM YOU MUST VISIT IN JAIPUR

Much like the power struggles between the Rajput rulers and invaders to control Rajasthan, my ordeal to reach its capital city, Jaipur, is one for the classics. Replace Turks, Afghans, and Mughals with a) drama at Kuala Lumpur International Airport when my mother realised that she didn’t have the entry requirements for India (fun fact: the “IDN” on the back of your Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation membership card stands for visa-free access to Indonesia, NOT India), b) drama at Mumbai Airport when I found out that the stacks of 1,000 rupee notes I brought for this trip have been invalid for a while and no bank would exchange them, and c) drama when I realised I couldn’t go to a bank anyway because it was Republic Day and nobody would be working all weekend. Incredible India, indeed! But I rose to the challenges and made it to Jaipur, where for a hot minute all my frazzled nerves were soothed by the historical charms and beauty of the Pink City. The star attraction of which would be, naturally, the UNESCO Heritage Site that is Amber Fort, also known as Amer Fort and Amber Palace.

February 20, 2018

Jaipur, India: Amber Fort

LISTEN UP ! AMBER PALACE, AMER FORT... HOWEVER YOU CALL IT, THIS IS A GEM YOU MUST VISIT IN JAIPUR Much like the power s...

Phnom Penh, Cambodia: 10 Things to Do With 24 Hours in Phnom Penh


10 Things to Do With 24 Hours in Phnom Penh, Cambodia




PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA in 24 HOURS: 
THE 10 PLACES YOU MUST SEE, STAY, AND EAT AT


There are very few occasions in which I like to be proven wrong. They all involve pleasant surprises especially when it comes to managing travel expectations. More specifically, when a layover city turns out to be more than a place to pass through but rather a destination in itself. That was what happened last Christmas. The plan was to fly to Siem Reap, Cambodia via the capital, Phnom Penh. What I thought was going to be a simple stopover (maybe just a cocktail at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club, a few lazy hours at one or two museums) turned out to be an extremely enriching experience of culture, history, food, food for thought, and shopping..all of it clocked in just 24 hours, with time to spare. Suffice to say, I had a Phnom-menal time, and you can too. Here are my 10 Things To Do with 24 Hours In Phnom Penh, Cambodia...


February 16, 2018

Phnom Penh, Cambodia: 10 Things to Do With 24 Hours in Phnom Penh

PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA in 24 HOURS:  THE 10 PLACES YOU MUST SEE, STAY, AND EAT AT There are very few ...

Phnom Penh, Cambodia: Malis and Topaz, 2 of the Capital's Best High End Restaurants

My review of two of Phnom Penh's best high-end restaurants - Malis and Topaz by Thalias.



MALIS AND TOPAZ: TWO OF THE BEST HIGH-END RESTAURANTS IN PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA


Ayo sis*! I’ve found the Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield of Phnom Penh’s restaurant scene. Like the Sweet Valley High twins who have so little in common, these two restaurants exist almost side by side - separated by a 5 minute walk on the same street in downtown Phnom Penh - and belong to the same family (Thalias, a leading company in the Cambodian hospitality industry), yet seem like polar opposites: one being a revival of an almost-forgotten traditional Cambodian cooking style, and the other being French haute cuisine that is classic and unlikely to ever go extinct let alone out of vogue. Like the Wakefield twins, the two restaurants have more in common than their personalities suggest: both Malis and Topaz represent an era in Cambodian history, both are two of the most highly-rated restaurants in Phnom Penh. Want to keep it in the family next time you’re in the city? I got you, fam...


MALIS RESTAURANTTOPAZ RESTAURANT 

*I’m stanning Aja for All Stars 3, can you tell? She levelled that pussy UP!

February 12, 2018

Phnom Penh, Cambodia: Malis and Topaz, 2 of the Capital's Best High End Restaurants

MALIS AND TOPAZ: TWO OF THE BEST HIGH-END RESTAURANTS IN PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA Ayo sis *! I’ve found the Jessica and Eli...

Jaipur, India: A Spectacular Sangeet Party for an Indian Wedding in Jaigarh Fort

Jaipur, India: A Spectacular Sangeet Party for  an Indian Wedding in Jaigarh Fort



AN EPIC WEDDING PARTY AT AN 18th CENTURY FORT IN JAIPUR, INDIA

“Everything is bigger in Texas”? Darling, no. Everything is bigger in India...at least as far as weddings are concerned. My non-Indian friends, have you ever had the immense pleasure of being a guest at a traditional Indian wedding? Amazingly, despite enjoying a rather eclectic friendship circle across several international cities including my hometown, the mulitcultural Kuala Lumpur (incidentally, there are 2 million Malaysian Indians - that’s 7% of our population), at the ripe ol’ age of 30 I had yet to partake in the festivities of an Indian wedding. So when the invitation came from one of my long-time friends - the first friend I ever made in London, actually! - to celebrate her nuptials in Jaipur the proper way ie. several hundred guests on at least a three-day bender of feasting, drinking, and dancing; the RSVP was a resounding YES. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity in more ways than one (I mean, most people would be so lucky to get married only once) and you can be sure I‘ll be there with bells on!

What follows are photos I don’t remember taking (even if I faintly recollect the scenes) of one of the most the most exciting evenings I’ve ever had: a night of colour, celebration, chaos all set in an 18th century fort in the hills of Jaipur, India. Oh, and there were elephants, too. I told you, everything is bigger in India!

February 01, 2018

Jaipur, India: A Spectacular Sangeet Party for an Indian Wedding in Jaigarh Fort

AN EPIC WEDDING PARTY AT AN 18th  CENTURY FORT IN JAIPUR, INDIA “Everything is bigger in Texas”? Darling, no . Everyt...

Siem Reap, Cambodia: What to See, Eat, Do, and NOT To Do

SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA: HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OUT OF A SHORT STAY (AND HOW DO IT IN STYLE AND CONSCIENCE, TOO!)




SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA: HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OUT OF A SHORT STAY (AND HOW DO IT IN STYLE AND CONSCIENCE, TOO!)

Now, I’m all for slow-living and taking it nice and easy (as the glacial pace I take to respond to Whatsapp messages will attest to) but sometimes, time is a luxury that money just can’t buy. What’s a girl to do, eh? That’s no excuse to dive into a whirlwind tour of a city unprepared. Luckily, I live life in the fast lane and do the research beforehand so others don’t have to. If you’re planning a short (3 or so days) trip to Siem Reap and don’t want to scrimp on comfort or culture, keep reading my guide on Where to stay, What to eat, What to see, What to do and most importantly, What NOT to do.

January 29, 2018

Siem Reap, Cambodia: What to See, Eat, Do, and NOT To Do

SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA: HOW TO MAKE THE MOST  OUT OF A SHORT STAY   (AND HOW DO IT IN STYLE AND CONSCIENCE, TOO!) No...

Siem Reap, Cambodia: Park Hyatt Siem Reap

Location meets Luxury at the Park Hyatt, the only luxury hotel in downtown Siem Reap


Location vs. Luxury: Why not both? Park Hyatt - one of the very few luxury hotels in downtown Siem Reap - proves to be unbeatable for both its prime position and its commitment to 5-star quality. 

January 25, 2018

Siem Reap, Cambodia: Park Hyatt Siem Reap

Location vs. Luxury : Why not both? Park Hyatt - one of the very few luxury hotels in downtown Siem Reap - proves to be u...

Siem Reap, Cambodia: Banteay Srei, the "Pink Temple"

Seeing red at the Pink Temple of Siem Reap, Banteay Srei aka The Citadel of The Women.


 
THERE’S MORE TO BANTEAY SREI - AKA THE “PINK TEMPLE” 
OF SIEM REAP - THAN MEETS THE EYE... 

It is a known fact that yours truly does not like to get out of bed for less than a $10,000 view in the morning. So imagine my consternation when, after an early wake up call and bumpy, dusty hour-long drive into the heartlands of Siem Reap, the famous pink temple that is Banteay Srei - also known as The Citadel of Women - was a lot less the ‘millenial pink’ I expected than it was ‘overcooked salmon’. B*tch, HUE better work. Was my pastel colour-motivated trek into the wildnerness all for naught? Happily, it was hardly a wasted journey, for I had serendipitously discovered a temple that was far unique to the others in Angkor for a myriad of reasons...

January 22, 2018

Siem Reap, Cambodia: Banteay Srei, the "Pink Temple"

  THERE’S MORE TO BANTEAY SREI - AKA THE “PINK TEMPLE”  OF SIEM REAP -  THAN MEETS THE EYE ...   It is a known fact t...

Siem Reap, Cambodia: Ta Prohm, the "Tomb Raider temple"

Feeling the Lara Croft fantasy at the "Tomb Raider temple": Ta Prohm in Siem Reap, Cambodia





FEELING THE TOMB RAIDER FANTASY AT 
TA PROHM IN SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA

It is indisputable that the centuries-old temples of the ancient city of Angkor in what is now called Siem Reap is what put Cambodia on the map of many a wanderluster. Two places immediately come to mind: the iconic Angkor Wat (itself on the flag of the Kingdom of Cambodia) and Ta Prohm, famous for its ruined walls intertwined with giant tree roots. In the second part of my Cambodia photo diaries, I walked among the remnants of history and learn what makes the “Tomb Raider temple” so unique.

January 19, 2018

Siem Reap, Cambodia: Ta Prohm, the "Tomb Raider temple"

FEELING THE TOMB RAIDER  FANTASY  AT  TA PROHM  IN  SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA It is indisputable that the centurie...

Siem Reap, Cambodia: Why sunset is better than sunrise at Angkor Wat

Siem Reap, Cambodia: Why sunset is better than sunrise at Angkor Wat


SO NICE, I WENT THERE TWICE - ANGKOR WAT IN THE MORNING VS. THE EVENING (AND WHY SUNRISE AT ANGKOR WAT IS OVERRATED)  

With peak season in Cambodia (November to January) coming to a close and savvy travellers such as yourself (you clever thing, you) looking into visiting Siem Reap in the less crowded, less expensive off-peak season that is May to October, it seemed timely that my first Asia travel story of the year should be of arguably the most famous of Cambodian monuments - the instantly recognisable and incomparable Angkor Wat. You know by now, of course, my 2018 mission to see all the South East Asian countries I've yet to visit. With Vietnam, Singapore, my native Malaysia, Thailand, and now Cambodia under my belt, that leaves just six countries to go. I can't think of a better destination to kick off this year's travel stories with, so here are the first of my photo diaries from Siem Reap, Cambodia, and my observations on why sunset trumps sunrise at Angkor Wat.

January 17, 2018

Siem Reap, Cambodia: Why sunset is better than sunrise at Angkor Wat

SO NICE, I WENT THERE TWICE - ANGKOR WAT  IN THE MORNING VS. THE EVENING  ( AND WHY SUNRISE AT ANGKOR WAT IS OVERRATED ) ...

Turning the (Passport) Page: my 2017 Travel Review and my 2018 Travel Plans


Before I turn the page to a New Year, here is a look at my show reel of 2017, followed by the upcoming attractions and my travel wishes of 2018. 

BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE IRREPRESSIBLE (IF SHORT-LIVED) "CAN-DO" SPIRIT THAT SEEMS TO DO THE ROUNDS EVERY FIRST WEEK OF JANUARY AND INSPIRED BY THE FIRST #TRAVELLINKUP OF 2018


LAKE BLED, SLOVENIA'S MOST FAMOUS AND ROMANTIC BEAUTY SPOT.
2017. 12 months. 14 Countries. 34 Cities. 
A carbon footprint the size of Bigfoot.

You just can't keep a wanderluster down. You can take away her passport while dragging your feet about whether to grant her Indefinite Leave to Remain, but she will pull some strings to get her application approved in neck-breaking record speed even in the wake of all the post-Brexit immigration scramble. Not even a tangle of Home Office red tape couldn't hold me back, let alone recovering from cosmetic surgery. Less than a week after waking up from going under the knife, my year of travel kicked off. Seeing friends in Australia...conquering Hong Kong in 24 hours...a Mother's Day weekend in Prague...the failed detox program in Chiang Mai that we shall never speak of again...my epic 3 week road trip across the Balkans...Autumn in Japan...Winter in South Korea and Cambodia, and finally; ushering in the New Year in Singapore.

Oh, the places I've been (in 2017)...

๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡พ  1. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (several times in 2017)
๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡พ  2. Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia (twice in 2017)
๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡บ  3. Sydney, Australia 
๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡บ  4. Melbourne, Australia (twice in 2017)
๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡ฐ  5. Hong KongHong Kong 
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฟ  6. PragueCzechia 
๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ญ  7. Chiang Mai, Thailand 
STARI MOST, THE ICONIC BRIDGE OF MOSTAR, BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA.
CONTEMPLATING THE COLOURS OF CINQUE TERRE IN ITALY.
FEELING THE HAPSBURG YELLOW FANTASY IN ZAGREB, CROATIA
๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡น  8. ViennaAustria 
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฎ  9. MariborSlovenia 
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฎ  10. LjubljanaSlovenia  
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฎ  11. Bled, Slovenia 
๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡ท  12. Zagreb, Croatia 
๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡ท  13. Plitvice, Croatia 
๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡ท  14. Trogir, Croatia
๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡ท  15. Split, Croatia
๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡ท  16. Dubrovnik, Croatia
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ฆ  17. Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina 
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ฆ  18. Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina
๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ช  19. Kotor, Montenegro 
๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น  20. Florence, Italy  
๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น  21-25. Manarola, Vernazza, Corniglia, 
Monterosso, RiomaggioreCinque Terre, Italy
๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น  26. Portofino, Italy
๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น  27. Pisa, Italy
๐Ÿ‡ฏ๐Ÿ‡ต  28. KyotoJapan 
๐Ÿ‡ฏ๐Ÿ‡ต  29. Tokyo, Japan
๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ท  30. Busan, South Korea 
๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ท  31. Seoul, South Korea
๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ญ  32. Siem Reap, Cambodia 
๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ญ  33. Phomh Penh, Cambodia 
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฌ  34. Singapore, Singapore

_____________
A SLICE OF WILDNERNESS ON LANTAU ISLAND, HONG KONG
LEAN IN - I'VE GOT SOMETHING TO SHOW YOU IN PISA, ITALY...
THROWING SHAPES IN YOYOGI PARK, TOKYO, JAPAN.

Upcoming travel stories...

I have a back catalog of travel photos and travel stories from Japan, South Korea, Cambodia, and Singapore that I really ought to get cracking on with. Expect in the New Year: a review of Japan's best new luxury hotel The Four Seasons Kyoto, as well as 24 Hour Guides to Kyoto, Tokyo, Busan, Seoul, Singapore, and Phnom Penh. Siem Reap's many beautiful temples gets their own series, including tips on how to beat the crowds at Angkor Wat for the perfect souvenir photo. 


Quality over Quantity

In this age of the competitive social media humblebrag, clocking 34 cities and 14 countries in a year of perpetual travel comes across as #GOALS but honestly, beneath the glossy facade the cracks are showing. Travelling all the time is exhausting, especially when you realise you've spent more nights in hotel rooms than you have in all of your homes combined. So, this year I choose quality over quantity. To give myself room to breathe, I'm going to limit myself to no more than 12 countries and 24 cities. 



SUNRISE IN BAGAN, BURMA (YES, I STILL CALL IT BURMA)
My New Year's Travel Resolution for 2018:
South East Asia & Malaysia.

Look, here's the tea - it is the height of bourgeoise to make your gap yah in South East Asia  a point on your resumรฉ, be it LinkedIn or Tinder. Nothing reeks of pretentiousness more than the multiple photos of wearing the same beads in your hair, dusty pair of flip flops, and elephant-print pyjama pants for months on end while you wax lyrical about how the locals helped you find your spiritual awakening ("They are sooo poor and have sooo little but they're sooo happy!"). Especially if you're a white person on a "poverty tourism" binge. For a Malaysian who grew up in the '90s whose sensible upbringing verges on pearl-clutching hysteria, the rest of South East Asia* are our less-prosperous neighbours whose only notable exports are cheap domestic help (yeah, nobody does casual classism like Malaysia). 

*all of SEA except for wealthy, modern Singapore - their best-known export is their bastardised, overly sweet version of Malaysian street food. Sorry 'bout it. 

For the affluent Asian back in the day, the travel destinations of choice were usually European countries - what we deemed to be exotic and faraway. Naturally, a lot of the beauty in our backyard went ignored, which is a bloody shame - one that I fully intend to rectify in 2018. 

THE GATEWAY TO HEAVEN IN BALI, INDONESIA
IN THE LAND OF GODS AND MONSTERS IN LAOS
BEING A ROYAL PAIN IN THE ANGKOR AT PHNOM PENH ROYAL PALACE

Of the 11 countries in South East Asia, I've already visited 5: Singapore, Cambodia, Malaysia (my native country), Thailand, and Vietnam. This leaves me with 6 countries: Indonesia, Philippines, Burma, Laos, Brunei, and Timor-Leste (East-Timor); the capitals of which I hope to have traversed by the end of 2018. In keeping with the "closer to home" theme, I'm also hoping to get to know my own country outside of the metropolitan bubble that is Kuala Lumpur. I've visited (and blogged about) 9 of the 13 states in Malaysia, which I'm terribly chuffed about, but I'm still 4 states short. No matter, it's a new year, begging to be filled with fits, foibles, and passport stamps!

My 2018 Travel List

South East Asia:
1. Bali, Jakarta, and Yogyakarta; Indonesia
2. Manila, Cebu, and Boracay; Philippines
3. Nyapyidaw and Bagan, Burma
4. Vientiane, Laos
5. Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei
6. Dili and Atauro Island, Timor-Leste

...and in Malaysia:
7. Mulu Caves, Sarawak
8. Alor Setar, Perlis
9. Kota Bahru, Kelantan
10. Negeri Sembilan

Here's wishing you a bigger, better, brighter, and more well-travelled New Year. x
January 01, 2018

Turning the (Passport) Page: my 2017 Travel Review and my 2018 Travel Plans

Before I turn the page to a New Year, here is a look at my show reel of 2017, followed by the upcoming attractions and my travel wish...