[europe grad trip] green hills and blue lakes in Switzerland!

(Oops this post is like 1.5 years belated HAHA I just found it in my drafts. It only covers Bern & Interlaken, we also stayed in Lucerne for 1 night and went to Geneva which was pretty chill and nice. Zan and I also did tandem paragliding in Interlaken!!! No motivation to write about them in detail now lol so I’m just gonna post this.)

On to the country that I was most looking forward to and that looking back, was my favourite part of the trip. The country where the grass seems greener and lakes are always amazing shades of blue. Switzerland!!!

I can’t remember why but we stayed a day in Bern although it’s a very small city and doesn’t have many attractions. Saw the clock tower and bear pit, then randomly walked around the area a bit. Fun fact: Bern is the capital of Switzerland and the word Bern means bear. Their city mascot is a bear and they have a “bear pit” (that’s literally what it’s called) in the middle of town. 

We were just chilling by the river while Nick flew his drone, and once in a while we’d randomly see a group of people floating down the river! Cool stuff, like the lazy rivers at water parks but 100 times better.

At Interlaken, we stayed at Balmers Tent Village because it was the most affordable accommodation there. And affordable means ~50sgd per person to sleep in tents! Big canvas tents with bunk beds inside, not the camping kind. It was a bit cramped and the second night when it rained some bugs crawled into our tent lol. But overall I found it pretty okay, wouldn’t mind staying again given the price in comparison to other places. They had bbq pits too so we bought stuff from the supermarket across the road for our bbq dinner there!

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We got the Swiss pass and one of the activities covered was a boat ride in one of the lakes, so we figured why not?

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There were loads of paragliders!

The boat journey turned out to be quite long (it goes one round around the lake with multiple stops) so we decided to just get off at the first stop and take a boat back in the other direction. But before going back, we took a super refreshing dip in the water first 8)

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After that we went to Harder Kulm, the tallest mountain in Interlaken which isn’t actually that tall. But it has a cool lookout point where you can pretty much see the whole of Interlaken and its two lakes!

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This wasn’t included in the Swiss pass but it wasn’t too expensive, worth it for the great view and the rollercoaster-ish ride up and down xD

The next day was the big day, to go up the real mountains~ One of the main reasons why we got the Swiss pass is to cover the cable car up the Schilthorn, otherwise it’s really expensive on its own. If I remember correctly, the journey was like: bus to Interlaken train station, train to Lauterbrunnen, another bus to the cable car starting point, and then a couple of cable cars to finally reach the top. But all the public transport is v on time and efficient (the buses are timed to sync with the trains) so getting around was relatively painless!

There’s a revolving restaurant at the top, and everything is James Bond themed cos one of the movies was filmed here. It’s quite cool having the theme song being played as you go up in the cable car xD Honestly for these kind of places, I think photos can never do the place justice because it’s the 360degree view + the nice weather and windy-ness + the feeling of being on top of the world that makes it special! And with photos you’re only capturing one part of the view. But I still tried anyway hahaha, here’s my pano of the surroundings:

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The second-highest cable car stop has this adventure walk around the side of the mountain which was funnn. But not for the faint-hearted or those scared of heights!

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After that we headed over to Grindelwald to do the Pfingstegg Rodelbahn aka toboggan ride!!!!

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it’s kinda like the luge where you can control the speed of your kart, but the path is just this metal track
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It was mad fun!! I went first and damn fast so there are no photos of me hahahaha. These two photos are taken by joshua

Dark clouds were starting to gather as we did the toboggan ride, but it was so much fun that we all decided without hesitation to go for a second round! Luckily we were just in time too, they stopped the booth after we bought our tickets. This was one of the highlights of the trip for me heh :DD would definitely recommend it if you’re going to Interlaken or around the region.

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a random plot of graves that we saw on the way back. so pretty!! pretty sure their “spirits” would be content with such amazing mountain views too haha

 

[london 2019] part 2: lake district adventures + cambridge + warsaw

After 5 days in the city, I headed to the Lake District to spend 3 days surrounded by nature! Planning for this part was quite hard cos I really didn’t know what it would be like, and I didn’t want to drive by myself so had to rely on the infrequent buses around the area.

Took half the day to get there, by train from London to Oxenholme then transfer to Windermere. There are a lot of YHA hostels around the whole area, I stayed at YHA Ambleside cos it seemed like a nice quiet place & convenient enough to get to. I planned to do some hiking but didn’t know any specific routes beforehand; luckily the hostel staff helped suggest some routes around the area!

Lake District

Day 1: Attempted a walk up to Wansfell Mountain in the afternoon. The view along the way was nice! But as I got higher up it became very windy cos the mountainside was all exposed plains, and I didn’t have warmer clothes to layer on. Plus I didn’t see anyone around for a long time and the clouds were getting a bit dark… Didn’t want to get stranded there alone in the cold LOL so I decided to turn around and give up on reaching the peak.

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start of the trail, at some waterfall

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(possibly) the point where I turned around

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[london 2019] part 1: city & harry potter

(It’s been exactly 2 months since I came back from my trip hahaha but better late than never!)

I went for my first solo trip on 28 Sept – 7 Oct, to London and the Lake District! I’d always thought of visiting the UK while I have friends (ie. mostly cecilia and sean, plus some of my jc classmates in cambridge) studying in uni there, but unfortunately never got around to planning it until this year, when cecilia already graduated and left london. I asked around but nobody else was able to go during this period (all the rj guys on exchange) and I figured going by myself would be doable + less troublesome than trying to find other time that more ppl could go so… solo trip it was!

Anyway so overall it was a fantastic trip and a great adventure!! I spent 5 days in London visiting touristy places and doing harry potter things, 3 days in the Lake District chilling and hiking and appreciating landscapes, 1 day trip to cambridge with sean and meeting other old friends, and had an extra free afternoon in Warsaw, Poland as a stopover on my flight back. Each of the segments was pretty different but I enjoyed all of them!

London

Natural History Museum

I liked this so much that I visited it twice! From the gorgeous building exterior (I hadn’t expected anything cos I mean it’s a museum, you go for the stuff inside so I was really surprised by how nice the whole building is) to seeing the huge blue whale fossil when you first enter.

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[mulu 2019] caves, camping and pinnacles

During the March holidays, my family went on a 5-day trip to visit Mulu National Park in Sarawak. Before the trip I’d only heard of Mulu from my uncle’s family, who had gone there previously and enjoyed seeing the caves and bats (what Mulu is famous for). But, my parents decided to up the challenge by adding in a trek up to see the Pinnacles, which is this surreal-looking limestone formation:

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from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7-rxMLx_Qls

For the trek, we would have to stay at a base camp for 2 nights and bring+cook our own food, so before the trip we had to plan out and buy all our food supplies for the days at the camp! We also read that the trek is pretty intense so the sis and I got dragged to bukit timah hill/ macritchie for training on a few weekends before the trip…

Day 1: arrival & bat exodus

Mulu is actually not very far away from Singapore if you look on a map, but there’s no direct flight so we had to take a flight to the city of Miri before changing to a smaller propeller plane to go to Mulu. The flights took a total of less than 3h and before we knew it, we’d reached the tiny airport in Mulu!

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[europe grad trip] Munich & day trips

Suddenly having motivation to complete my grad trip posts because I’m starting to plan for my next trips this year heheh. So from Prague, we took a 5h morning bus to Munich, which was the longest city we stayed at (4 nights). But we rented a car and went for a couple of day/half-day trips!

Bad photo but really nice place! We stayed at Wombats City Hostel in a 6-person room, it was very spacious and had good kitchen facilities/shared areas too.

We spent the first afternoon in town, exploring Munich Residenz and Marienplatz. Residenz is an old palace, now turned into a museum, and it’s hugeee. I think we went because it was on a “top things to see in Munich” list but honestly it’s so big and grand that after walking through the first few huge halls and super-grandiosely-decorated rooms, everything looked the same to me. But it was a cool tour of how royal people live, although I can’t imagine having to walk through so many corridors just to get to dinner or to get out of the house.

The glockenspiel at Marienplatz! We paid to go up the tower for a bit, which was nice for escaping the crowd.

Of course, we had to experience a German beer house. The Hofbräuhaus sells beer in 1 litre mugs!!! Nick took on the challenge and finished a whole mug by himself, the rest of us shared hahaha. The atmosphere was cool, with everyone enjoying themselves drinking beer and women in traditional costumes going around selling pretzels and a live band too. It may be touristy but still a great experience!

Picked up our cars the next morning and started on our journey to the real life place that inspired Disneyland’s sleeping beauty castle: Neuschwanstein castle! It’s so popular that when we reached at 2pm, the earliest tickets we could get for the castle tour was like 5+pm :x but all was good cos we took the time in between to have lunch and chill by the lake…

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[europe grad trip] Copenhagen & Prague

Soo it’s been a while since I graduated, but I’ve been wanting to blog a bit about my grad trip and share some photos.

We wanted to go around different countries but only had 2 weeks (+ Joe and I added on a few days since we didn’t have to start work yet), so after much discussion we decided on this itinerary: 2 days in Copenhagen -> 3 days in Prague -> 3 days in Munich -> day trip to Hallstatt -> 1 day in Bern -> 2 days in Interlaken -> 1 day in Lucerne -> 3 days in Paris. I think we initially had this romantic idea of taking trains around, but we soon realized that it was not that cheap :( In the end we flew from Copenhagen to Prague, took bus (much cheaper and similar timing) from Prague to Munich and Munich to Bern, and train within Switzerland and to Paris!

Copenhagen, Denmark

We wanted to see the Scandinavian lifestyle and experience the cycling culture that Copenhagen is famous for. Well, there really were bike lanes everywhere and a lot of people cycling around – I think it helps that the city is super flat and the weather is cool!

I loved the colourful buildings at Nyhavn:

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[cali 2018] part 3: san francisco & the bay

Finally on to the last part of our trip! We spent one night in San Francisco, then 3 nights at Mountain View for Google I/O. One day was just enough to cover the main tourist attractions – Fisherman’s Wharf, Coit Tower and the Golden Gate Bridge, plus we dropped by the first Swensen’s store which had really good icecream!! We decided to skip Alcatraz island because we weren’t very interested in seeing a prison haha.

We reached SF around 5+pm and immediately drove to our hostel (Green Tortoise, was great and would recommend), checked in and dumped our luggage, and then rushed to do our module bidding which was at 6pm 😂😂 After that we headed to Fisherman’s Wharf to return the car and met some of our friends for dinner! Had yummy fish and chips at some restaurant overlooking Alcatraz island.

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The next day we started off with a walk to Coit Tower.

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I was amazed by how the roads are in a perfect grid! And some of them are so steep that the pedestrian walkway at the side is a looong flight of stairs.

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This is Coit tower! The windows at the top are the lookout level.

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[cali 2018] part 2: winding roads and giant trees

Oops, finishing up my trip posts has been on my to-do list for some time but the last few weeks have been busyyyy. But it’s recess week now and I’m super free so gonna write about the next part of our trip before I forget! We decided to go to Sequoia National Park over the more famous Yosemite mainly because Yosemite was a few hours further away, and from looking at the photos Joe and I concluded that Sequoia = giant trees while Yosemite = giant rocks. And we were more interested to see the trees so yup.

So we set off in the late morning from FJ’s place and drove northwards. Most of the way was on highways that seemed to go on forever, like gmaps would literally say “continue straight for 100km”. The journey was supposed to be a 3.5h drive I think but we ended up taking around 5h including lunch, toilet and petrol stops :/

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Once we entered the park from the Ash Mountain entrance it became windy mountain roads~

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There was some event celebrating native American culture which we didn’t have time to go see, but because of that the park’s entrance fees were waived that day! We didn’t even know there were entrance fees LOL but yay for free entry :D

Anyway, the park is named for its Sequoias which are the giant redwood trees. And they’re seriously hugeeee.

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[cali 2018] part 1: city of angels

I just spent my 2 week term break in California with Joe! For some reason (probably cheaper airfare) we only flew off on Wed morning, and had to come back for start of school so we actually only had 9 full days there. And we packed a lot into those 9 days – visited Los Angeles, Sequoia national park, San Francisco, and Mountain View for Google I/O – so it was a really fun, but tiring trip.

Day 1: Universal Studios Hollywood

Our flight left Singapore at 2am on 2nd May, but because of the 15h time difference, after an insanely long flight, we landed at LA at 6am on the same day. Luckily we were staying with FJ so she picked us up from the airport! We crashed at her apartment for an hour before taking an Uber to Universal.

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The first thing we did was the studio tour! Since unlike USS, USH is actually located at a real movie studio site, so the studio tour is a tram that goes around the sound stages and filming sites.

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An outdoor city scene:

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There was some cool jaws and king kong “4D” experiences too!

After the studio tour, we went to Harry Potter World aka the part I was looking forward to most!!

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It’s Hogsmeade!!

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[thailand dec’16] markets & temples

Went to Ayutthaya, Bangkok and Chiangmai (ABC!) for my family’s end of year holiday!

Most of the trip can be summarised in 2 words: markets and temples LOL. Pretty much all my photos are of temples cos I didn’t want to carry the dslr around for the other stuff.

Highlights of the trip:

Food: had lots of mango sticky rice and thai milk tea! We ate at night markets/ roadside stalls quite a few times also, was v yummy and cheap 8) Most memorable was the first night in bangkok where we all went around to buy different stuff and ended up with too much food hahaha. The pork leg rice at chiang mai was goooddd too

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