| Top 4 Things To Do In Singapore For When You’re On A Budget |

Still in awe from Singapore!

If you haven’t yet read the post about my trip to Singapore, you can read it here: | ROAD TO: Singapore |

Last week, I wrote about my experience in Singapore. If you don’t know by now, saving up for my trip to SE Asia has turned me into a tight purse – I like to save money here and there and go to the extreme extent of sifting through various online discount codes only to get 10% off a £5 item! It’s understandable, right? If I want to prolong my travels, I’m going to have budget and be mindful of my daily expenditure! For Asia, Singapore is an expensive country. The cost of living is pricey, and for those of you who have a big appetite (like myself) you better watch how much you spend on food and drinks! Everything adds up, and before you know it, you’ve burnt a hole in your pocket!

If you’re anything like me, and you want to make the most out of your experience in Singapore while keeping within a strict budget, keep on reading!



| ROAD TO: Singapore |

It’s been a blur!

On Monday 26th February, I flew to the other side of the world with nothing but a large turtle green backpack carrying a year’s worth of necessities. It’s been just under a week since I’ve gone away; I’ve already visited two countries, and it’s been an amazing experience!

Singapore was the first stop. It was the cheapest flight that I could have caught to get to SE Asia, and it had definitely topped my expectations. Singapore is just so… dynamic! While it may have a series of districts ranging from luxury living to simple lifestyles, the price of living is far from cheap! Considering the budget that I am on, and the short period that I was in Singapore, I was restricted to what I was able to do (you can read about my tips  for travelling with a budget in my next post!)


|5 Helpful Tips to know about Amsterdam|

header amsterdam canalBikes! Bikes everywhere!

Ah, Amsterdam! The city known for its complex canal routes, artistic heritage, and narrow houses! I recently had the opportunity to return to Netherlands as an ‘adult’, and while I never had much of an opinion of the city from my previous couple of trips as a child, I’d be lying if I said that my return to the ‘Dam was nothing special.

Having assumed that I’d already had background knowledge of Amsterdam, I was wholly unprepared for my trip. Don’t be a fool and do your research before travelling!

Without further ado, here are 5 helpful tips to know about Amsterdam – from the perspective of a returning adult:

1. Cyclists rule the public space
(Be careful!)

Ah, hitting it out with a bang! The bikes! Amsterdam is known for its eco-friendly cycle transport system. Therefore, when you land in the city of the ‘Dam, you better not expect anything less than a few hundred bikes everywhere you look. Everywhere!

Note: For those who think I’m emphasising the abundance of bikes in this river-city, during my trip, a friend had entertained me with this question:
“Do you think there are more bikes than people here?”
Does that paint a picture for you now?!

With the amount of bicycles throughout Amsterdam, there’s no doubt that there would be designated lanes for cyclists! Now when I say designated, I mean designated. Not the pathetic strip you call a cycle lane in the UK, but a thick path for 2-3 cyclists to travel together in a row!

As a sub-par driver in London, my experience with cyclists has formed negative opinion on them. This is heavily based on the fact that majority of the cyclists that I have come into contact with are jerks! You have a cycle lane! Use it! There have been plenty of instances where an unnecessary flow of traffic has been caused by a cyclist driving in the centre of the road despite having an empty cycle lane to the left of its path. Therefore, when I was greeted with lane-abiding cyclists in Amsterdam, it was no doubt that the riders left a positive impression! In saying that, the pedestrian crossings provided are almost pointless from the plethora of cycle lanes across the city.

So here is my advice, be safe when crossing and remember to look both ways! I had the tendency to look at the wrong side of the road due to my British road knowledge. Believe me, looking the wrong way before crossing is the last thing you need!

Note: Motorcyclists are also apparently allowed to use the cycle lane. Be careful, because they are intimidating!


2. Good customer service is non-existent
(Don’t expect a smile to come with your pancakes)

I know, I know, this is a generalisation. However, almost every store and restaurant I had been in had moderate-to-poor customer service. Most notably, I’d ventured into a vegan cafe where the employee had judged me for asking for a glass of tap water on the side of my large order. She had proceeded to charge me for the tap water (but why?! Water is free!)

In another restaurant, the employees gave the impression that they were pressed for time by pressuring my friend and I to order within moments of sitting down. Following this, the food was rushed out, and within moments of placing my chopsticks on the table, the same waitress had asked if I had finished with the meal. What’s the rush?! The restaurant had another hour before it was closing, and there were plenty of empty tablets available!

There has been plenty of other cases where the customer services had been poor. However, I would like to state that it wasn’t all too bad. Upon travelling from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport to the hotel based near Wibautstraat metro station, I had played the ‘dumb traveller’ role by paying only for the train ticket. Upon attempting to exit the barriers at Wibaustraat, I had faced the striking red ‘declined’ sign. The ticket attendant had kindly helped me in understanding the differences between using a train ticket, and having to buy a GVB ticket that can be used on the metro/tram/bus. While she had cautioned me on this mistake, she didn’t force me to pay for my journey from the airport to the metro station. In other words, a free ride!

Maybe it’s a culture difference, but my expectations of good customer service had went out the window during my trip to Amsterdam.

amsterdam acai bowl

3. You will feel small in this ‘big’ city
(Focus on the slanting buildings)

I’m 165cm, and I take pride in being above average for a female in the UK and in SE Asia. Now, it’s no surprise that Dutch people are tall with an average of 170cm for a female. However, my judgement isn’t based solely around the height profile of the Dutch… it’s the buildings! The houses tower over you as you walk along the canal streets. Although this may all seem figurative to you, once you place slightly more attention towards the houses from a distance, you can notice a general slant towards the roads.

At first, I was a firm believer that the leaning houses were the product of failed architecture. As my interior architecture knowledge had come into play, I was certain that the foundation of the canal houses weren’t built to be sturdy enough to sustain adverse weather and water conditions. However, upon further research and genuine curiosity, the leaning houses had more to offer than meets the eye.

Amsterdam was developed around a dam in the Amstel river, and it is recognised as the greatest planned city of Northern Europe. For that reason, the old centre is formed in the shape of a ring for the canals. The canal ring houses are typically very tall and very narrow, with large windows and decorative gable roofs. There’s a running theme with the flamboyant roofs, and it’s the hooks.

So how do the hooks fall into place with the leaning houses? As explained, the houses are extremely narrow, and so transportation of large goods (say for instance furniture) would have been near impossible to achieve from conventional lift and carry routes up the narrow staircases.

A pulley system was cleverly introduced as a means of delivering large objects from the outside into the upper floors. The leaning houses meant the facade would remain intact when the goods were hoisted upwards. Broken windows? Scratched goods? Not for them!

gable hooks amsterdam

4. Get ready to be exploded with a diverse culture
(Be open to different European cultures)

Being born and raised in South East London with a Chinese heritage, I have always been open to different cultures, characters, personal identities and much more. Having said that, some people in Amsterdam are just… out of this world! They are peculiar and bizarre in an interesting manner.

Here’s an example, I was sitting on the tram packed with with tourists and locals, and I was fortunate enough to be presented with a seat next to a scruffy-faced local in his 40s. Despite his appearance, he was a gentleman! Peter had welcomed me to the seat and introduced himself. The conversation revolved around his travels in UK during his mid 20s, and his adventures with growing the sweet herbs in his friend’s house (because why not, right?!) It had taken a 360 degree turnaround once he’d approached his current job title. In a roundabout way, he gracefully defined his title to be an exotic masseur whom ‘can make 60 year old women feel as if they’re 18!’.

Peter had proceeded to write his business card on his notepad linking his profile to the xHamster website.

Note: for those who are unaware of xHamster, it’s a widely known pornographic site. I think it to be unwise to link the website, so search with caution!

I know, Amsterdam are known for their red light district… but c’mon! It was an interesting conversation to say the least. Like I said, Amsterdam has an abundance of culture! It’s fun and it’s exciting, so get ready to be exploded with people like Peter!

coffee shop amsterdam

5. Diverse culture? What about diverse weather!?
(Bring a raincoat!)

Following on from point 3, the geography of Amsterdam is an important factor to consider. Amsterdam is 14 miles from the North Sea shore. The climate is mild, but let me tell you this – there is no dry season.

The day after I’d landed in Amsterdam, it was a sunny breeze – in other words, it was a perfect day to cycle. Unfortunately for me, I was too hungover tired to make the most of the day, and the rest of the week was met with a disastrous gush of wind slapping my face to and fro, and unpredictable rain ranging from a drizzle to a waterfall!

There is no guarantee of good weather at any time of the year! The weather can change drastically, and you’d be a fool to trust the sun in the morning. I was fortunate enough to have brought my rain coat and it had become a staple in my wardrobe from my day trips exploring the city centre through to my nights out!

My advice is that you bring a raincoat. It will save you the trouble of flipping your umbrella the right way round when the wind changes its course and drags you and your umbrella the other way! It’s lightweight and dries quickly, so you can stuff it into your bag once the sun shines again – trust me!

weather in dam

Forecast can be seen here

In hindsight, I should have really researched Amsterdam prior to departing as I’d caught the flu straight after returning to London! I hope this was an interesting and insightful post dedicated to Amsterdam.

For those of you who have an upcoming trip to Amsterdam, let me know how it goes!
Don’t forget to bring your raincoat!

|ROAD TO: Stonehenge|

stonehenge cover

Huewinn & The ‘Henge

I’ve recently read an article on planned alterations made to the A303/M3 route due to the excessive build up of traffic from the English heritage site: The Stonehenge.
(Article can be read here)

Coincidentally enough, I’d only just returned from my trip through the same road! Despite my enthusiasm, I don’t consider the Stonehenge itself to be anything of amazing value. However, the commute from Westbury to London via the A303/M3 route past the pile of glorified rocks is beautiful in its own way.

I have in fact been close up and personal with the stones twice in my lifetime (so far) – once as a child, and the second as an ‘adult’. I have segments of memories from my first visit to the Stonehenge as an 8-year old child. In my mind, my family day trip seemed to drag on for hours! I was a small girl with an audio headset and stunted legs trotting around the site impatiently waiting for my father to take the family home already! All in all, it didn’t leave much of an impression and the audiotape failed to grasp the attention of an 8-year old child.

This year, I’d returned to the Stonehenge to see if my opinion of the site had changed. It did, but for the worse. Man, I was disappointed! While I understand that your perspective as a child and as an adult are going to be different, I didn’t expect it to be so drastic! I was wholly underwhelmed by the meager size of it all, and what was estimated to have been a 2-hour trip around the site, turned into a stretched-out 30 minute circle around it. Once again, there wasn’t much of an impression left on me – and for the price that you’re paying?! C’mon!

stonehenge mono

Pencil study

Although I found Stonehenge to be anything but spectacular close up, it truly is a completely different sight when viewed from a 7mp/h speed on the carriageway. The sun hits the stones and it glistens like shards of crystals placed on a pedestal in an empty field. Despite the build up of traffic, it is definitely not something you’d like to miss. Albeit… spectacular! 

So the next time you, or anyone you know drives past the A303 transport build up, dedicate the next few minutes towards the beauty of the site from afar. Although you’ll be caught up in the tortoise-paced traffic, the free showing of the English heritage site is not something to be missed. Think about it, before you know it, you’ll be zooming off at 50+mp/h to get back on track to the destination you’re supposed to be going to!

(Plus, you may not get a chance to in the future if the planned works go ahead!)

stonehenge colour

Water colour overlay

So buckle up, and enjoy the experience while you can.

|ROAD TO: TOMORROWLAND 2017 – The Aftermovie|

braceletLive Today, Love Tomorrow, Unite Forever

This year, I was lucky enough to be part of Tomorrowland 2017.

The Official Aftermovie (below) has recently been released, and I am currently flooded with nostalgia.

As explained in my previous post, I wasn’t initially interested in Tomorrowland. Yes, the idea of going to an EDM festival abroad for a few days was exciting, but if I were to have invested in any festival, I would have chosen to attend either Coachella or Burning Man in America (both of which are still on my bucket list!)

Boy was I wrong.
Tomorrowland 2017 was absolutely amazing.
To sum it up, it’s like Disneyland for adults: Alice in Wonderland meets EDM.

While words cannot describe just how magical it is when you surround yourself in the world of Tomorrow, the Aftermovie does give a glimpse of what you’d expect both at the festival and within the Dreamville campsite. In lieu of the amazing lineup and acts, what I want to talk about in this post today is my experience with behind the spectacle:

The theme
The attention to detail is absolutely impeccable. In the recent years, Tomorrowland has introduced a different theme that has been implemented throughout the course of the weekend. This year, they had focused on the theme Amicorum Spectaculum, in layman’s term: a circus theme. While the sets included glimpses of circus acts throughout the mainstage to add a touch of Amicorum Spectaculum, what had enticed my attention was the not-specific-to-EDM circus acts that had been spread across the map of the campsite. Instead, it was ‘hush-hush’ acts that had stitched the theme in place to create a spectacular experience.

For instance, I’d ventured into a hidden-away grove featuring actors posing in theatrical stances reminiscent to circus acts in the 19th century (think American Horror Story: Freak Show). Everywhere I’d turned I would catch something that would have been considered out of this world in the early 19th century: the strong man, the bearded lady, the tattooed creature! Almost every act you could think of! The guest appearances were spectacular to say the least, and the depth they place into creating such an amazing performance was glorious to the eye. 10/10. Full points! circus act

The cleanliness
Oh man, the cleanliness of the facilities is something to brag about! Unlike the scene of British festivals such as Reading, Glastonbury and Creamfields, the grass fields in the camping section were decked with wooden floorboards to form a neater, cleaner and safer experience. Not to mention the porta-loos! Many-a-time, I had received Snapchat replies from friends asking why I was messaging them while in the cubicle… in all honesty, the cleanliness of the toilet transported you into the safest and freshest cubicle one would dream of from a camping festival.

In addition,  there were specific bins in recycling points at every corner (both within the campsite and the festival itself), and recycling kits handed over to you everywhere you turned! To further prevent unnecessary littering, there were an enormous amount of cleaners floating around the site picking up every speck of litter. Superb attentiveness towards the environment. 10/10!

recycle kit tml

Photo credit: Tomorrowland

The food stalls
Prior to going to Tomorrowland, I’d joked with my friend that the main reason that I was going was for the food. In other words, I’d already had in mind that it was going to experience a 4 day food festival. Despite (half) joking about this, the food venue did not disappoint. From your standard beef burger to the finest hipster-acai bowl – you name it, they had the taste of the world at Tomorrowland!

The only downfall was that the smoothie stall was never open in the evening after a tiring day of raving. Every night, the stroll back from the festival grounds to the camp site had me craving for a delicious and refreshing (albeit, overpriced) smoothie or sorbet to quench my thirst. Unfortunately, while the hotdog stands, kebab stores, and pizza queues remained opened for the boozed-junkies, the juice refreshments were nowhere to be seen. However, that’s a personal opinion and preference.

On a further note,  the currency exchange rate of €1 = 0.65Pearls becomes a blur in the midst of the cashless service festival. I quite often forgot that a 7 Pearl smoothie amounted to €4.55… Nonetheless, I would commit to paying for the overpriced smoothie any day. Believe me, it was most possibly The freshest squeezed mango, orange and banana juice smoothie of my life. 10/10 recommendation.

TML Food stores

Photo credit (top): Tomorrowland Aftermovie

The three main aspects that I have touched on today only give a glimpse of how spectacular the show was. If anyone is interested in knowing more about my experience, let me know in the comment section below! Alternatively,  you can contact me privately here.

I definitely intend on revisiting Tomorrowland within the next few years. Until then:
Live Today, Love Tomorrow, Unite Forever



braceletWe are the children of a miracle!

A few months ago, I had reluctantly signed up for  Tomorrowland 2017 tickets to help someone out. I’m not the biggest EDM fan despite the fact that 90% of the music on my tiny 8GB iPod are either electronic of house music. However, I have explained many-a-time that listening to sweetheart soft music or alternative rock doesn’t exactly pump me up during my gym workouts.

I mean, many people enjoy the idea of going to festivals, but I’ve always been reluctant because of the extortionate price for a ticket… and let’s not get started about the cost of travel to get there, the obligatory consumption of overpriced alcohol, and the tiring excursion from campsite to festival stage. It’s too much! Too much!

In spite of it all, I AM INCREDIBLY EXCITED!

TML close box

When I’d received the ‘ticket’, I was instantly enthralled by the intricate design of the box. The interactive piece opens out like the wardrobe from C.S Lewis’s Narnia, and the circus act begins once the door is opened!

TML open box

Tomorrowland is a cashless festival, and the only means of transaction is through the wristband! In other words: lose your wristband, and you’ll have no means of entering the festival and you’ll starve to death out there… this doesn’t work out too well for me since I seem to misplace majority of my belongings!

TML bracelet

I’m looking forward to see what Tomorrowland has in store for me! If there’s anyone who is going to Tomorrowland (weekend 2), give me a shout! I’d love to meet up!

TML design sketch

Till then, rave hard and stay young!