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Category: holiday edition

Australia 2014; Photo Diary & Where-To-Gos

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So I went back yet again this year to Melbourne for a vacation and yet again had the time of my life (apart from a couple of food poisoning attacks which I shall spare you all the gory details of).

I only titled this post “Australia 2014” and not “Melbourne 2014” because I spent a considerable amount of time in New South Wales and out on the Great Ocean Road. I can’t put my finger on it, but something about Australia and the rustic charms of her countrysides and spirited allure of her cities that make me feel more at home than I am in my own bedroom.

 I found myself incurably attached to my camera with its black lacey strap wrung around my wrist and my finger perched on the shutter release–just in case something interesting pops up. And so it was…for the entire trip.

Forgive me, for I am still a novice behind the lens.

 You had to be there, because I doubt my pictures would ever do it justice. But then again, it’s hard to take an ugly shot when whatever you’re taking a shot of is absolutely stunning.

Do watch the video that I’ve put together of my trip (which I will put down below) and I really hope you’ll like it!

Anyway, I’m obviously not an expert at all things Melbourne–not even close–but I did come up with a list of places to eat at and visit, just from my own experiences and what I enjoyed best. Hope this could give ideas to any of you that may be traveling there in the near future!

For Food

Like true Singaporeans, we sought out the best cafes and restaurants in the city (with the help of local friends) of which I have 3 recommendations:

1 – Rockpool by Neil Perry
An elegant restaurant by the Yarra River that has a great ambience and reasonable prices given its “celebrity-chef” factor. I tried the seafood pasta here and I can honestly say that that dish alone would be enough to bring me back every time I’m in town.

2 – Conservatory at the Crown Casino
So I dined at this restaurant on Friday evening, when they have a special weekend buffet for about $100 pp. Rather pricey, I’ll admit…but they don’t stinge on the good stuff. Almost everything from sashimi to lobsters, steaks and asian noodles. It’s a definite must-try for me!

3 – The Night Market at Queen Victoria Market
Only on Wednesday evenings, the market is lined with exotic food stalls and quaint hand-made souvenirs and much more. It can get a little crowded, and you may leave smelling like smoked duck and wine, but it all adds to the rustic experience that I love.


For Shopping

And it goes without saying that I went a little crazy… So you all know by now that I’m not really one for exclusive brands and I do enjoy my street and high street fashion stores best. I went to the malls that had all your typical brands and tracked down all the factory warehouses in godforsaken parts of town. And to make your lives easier if you are like me, I’ve compiled a list of the best places to shop at (pre-scoped for you by yours truly).

1 – Bridge Road
One of my favourites because of the “brandless” and unique shops that have all the fashion forward designs for a fraction of the price. It has a similar concept to Haji Lane here in Singapore, or Chapel Street in Melbourne (but Chapel St is more for up-per markets and fat-ter wallets). Along this old-fashioned row of shops was where I found the Cotton On factory outlet that literally had nothing over $30 storewide with shoes selling at $2, and numerous 10DOLLAR stores where (I’ll admit, had some really hideous stuff but) you can pick out two or three items that are more than worth your money and time. You can also find tons of cafes and restaurants that are perfect for taking a break in between credit-card swipes! Sadly, many of the shops are beginning to vacate because the rent is too high and not enough people are aware of this street for it to do well, so go soon (before it becomes just another road)!

2 – Highpoint
It’s my favourite mall, I feel. Kinda equivalent to Vivocity in Singapore. It’s a little out of the way, but has literally everything under the same roof (not to mention a cinema and tons of places to eat). So here you’ll be able to find the usual Topshop and Zara, Australian-originated fashion brands like Bardot and Sportsgirl, as well as cheaper discount stores that are almost always on sale. You could spend days in this building.

3 – Direct Factory Outlet
(at South Wharf & Essendon)
This is where all the rejects go…the clothes, not the people. Samples, end of season’s and faulties all go here to be sold at usually less than half the price. Most of the time, if there is a fault in the item, it’s barely noticeable. You’ll be able to live with it a lot better knowing you paid less anyway. Here, you can find many sportswear brands like Nike and Adidas, fashion brands like Dotti and Bardot, and lower-end, quick-fashion street stores like Factorie. I went to both the DFOs at South Wharf (by the Yarra River) and Essendon (near the Airport). I have to say I prefer South Wharf just because it’s nearer the city, people are nicer, it’s closer to accommodation and closer to food. But it is extremely crowded on a daily basis so if that’s not for you, then Essendon may be better.


For All Things Tourist-y

I feel like I’ve done one too many touristy things during all my visits to Melbourne from visiting all the museums in the heart of the city to travelling out to Phillip Island to watch a parade of penguins waddle back to their little penguin families. But there are a few places that I would gladly re-visit–on a vacation or on any ordinary given day.

1 – Melbourne Museum
I do love my museums…and this was a classic, must-see museum if you’re in town. Besides the museum itself that has all the elements that a good museum possesses, the area it’s in is populated with budding musicians busking on the grass with their bands and banjos. The exhibition hall nearby also seasonally houses interesting stores selling interesting things (that are sometimes edible) with street food trucks parked outside–an all round pleasant in and out-of-museum experience.

2 – Immigration Museum
This museum I visited on my latest visit to Melbourne and stuck out to me out of the other museums I’ve been to. It’s interactive, modern and housed in the historical Old Customs House. It showcases stories of Australia’s immigration history in unique and engaging displays.

3 – Melbourne SEA LIFE Aquarium
Though it couldn’t compare to Singapore’s own aquarium in size, I quite enjoyed the trip to the Melbourne aquarium this December. There were a lot of unique displays and viewing areas (that were obviously catered for young children but I relished just the same). The one highlight of the aquarium, I’d have to say, is the massive 18 feet crocodile (approximately 3 times the length of James Franco, Harry Styles, or Brad Pitt–whatever floats your boat) that they had captured not too long ago and affectionately named Pinjarra. Shivers.

4 – Great Ocean Road
So this is about a 2 hour drive outside of Melbourne (depends how fast you drive) and takes about a good day or two if you plan to have a good look-see. I went with a tour company that took us to the 12 Apostles, BBQ lunch by the lighthouse, koala spotting and bird feeding and  down to the beach all in one day. And like the true adrenaline junkie I am, I went for a scenic helicopter ride over the 12 Apostles and Great Ocean Road which, up to date, has been the most fun and amazing thing I’ve done–ever. It made jet-skiing in Batam and water rafting in Phuket and bungee jumping in Africa feel like child’s play (I’m exaggerating, those gave me quite a rush as well). A definite must the next time you visit Victoria.

So that’s about all I have compiled from my visits to Melbourne/Australia. I can’t wait to go back again, though I doubt it’d be anytime soon (because next year is hell year).

I do want to make a special mention to all the buskers that I had the pleasure of watching while I was there who not only impressed but inspired me greatly. And one musician in particular whose music resonated with me and my own ideas of how I’d like the music I make to be–whose gentle guitar sounds and hums pulsed through my head even ages after I’d left the street.

If you like Ben Howard, Bon Iver or Matt Corby kind of music, I’d highly recommend you to check him out. If you don’t, check him out anyways. His name is Max Fotheringham (bought his album off his guitar case on Bourke Street and realised you can’t really find it online).

But he is the lead singer of the band Amber Isles (link below) whose music I also love–and can listen to for free. Their sound mildly resembles (or at least, reminds me of) Vancouver Sleep Clinic and M83.

So I’ve come to the end of my post. Hopefully it won’t be too long until I see you next but until then, have a merry merry Christmas and a joyful New Year!

A

Amber Isles: https://soundcloud.com/amberisles

Australia 2014 Video Diary:

How to Pack for Vacation (for the fashion conscious lazy person)

Hey guys! I know it’s been awhile since my last post but hopefully I’ll be posting more often now.

I’m just going to go ahead and assume that most of us are on holiday already and if not, are going to be on holiday soon-ish… Anyway, I’ll be off to Melbourne in a week’s time and I have yet to pack my bags because I am, well, lazy––but I am also particular about what I wear there so I am against last-minute packing.

God knows I love organising information so I just thought that this post would be a nice way of sharing with you guys how I go about packing and planning outfits for a vacation (just to make things easier for me while I’m there). And also, how to pack to make the most out of a limited amount of clothes and accessories and look stylish with minimum effort!

Just some tips to start:
– take into consideration the nature of your holiday (e.g. mostly relaxing on the beach, a lot of walking through the city, long car rides)

– remember items outside of your regular outfits that you may need depending on your holiday activities (e.g. yoga pants, swimsuit, hiking boots)

– research on the weather and climate of where you are going beforehand so you’re well prepared

Now, we’re ready to pack!

1. Set a Frame

So if you usually don’t even know where to start, this is a really good way to begin choosing items to bring along. I like setting a “frame” or two for my outfits (more, if your vacation is longer). What this means is that I choose a couple pairs of shoes that are appropriate for wherever I’m going and whatever I’ll be doing, and match them to one bag––and there we have it, a frame to work within.

If you have, maybe, a watch or a certain necklace that you always wear without fail, include that into your frame. After the frame is set, choose clothes that complement and go well with the frame.

This helps a lot in preventing situations where you realise your dress doesn’t match with the shoes or your bag doesn’t match with your jewellery.

So for example, if you’re headed to a tropical island getaway, your frame could be as such:

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And then you can start filling it in with clothes that fit the frame:

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While if let’s say, you’re going to a bustling city during winter, your frame would probably include a warm coat. And since people  usually only take one coat along with them, they’ll be wearing that almost every day so the frame could be something like this:

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And filling it up could look like:

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Or maybe if you were going on a farm stay in the country side, and you could be going for the softer, more feminine and comfy kind of look:

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And if you filled that up:

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As you can see, you are able to create a variety of looks that are still cohesive using the same “frame”. Remember that things like shoes, bags and outerwear are bulky items and take up a lot of space in your luggage and you won’t want to bring too many of those. Therefore, you’ll want to make sure that most of the clothes you pack will match with the one coat, or the couple pairs of shoes that you take with you.

2. Pick a Colour Scheme

When packing for a holiday, it will always make getting ready a lot easier and quicker if you have a designated colour scheme that you are working with. This helps prevent clashing colours or patterns and increases the number of outfit combinations that you can choose from.

As you can tell in the three “frames” above, I’ve worked with a different colour scheme each.

For the beach holiday outfits, I worked with lighter shades of blues and greens, and incorporated a lot of whites and light greys. For the winter city outfits, I used darker shades of reds and greys, and used a whole lot of black. And lastly for the countryside outfits, I used beige that complemented navy blue really well, and set a reddish-brown for the base of every outfit.

The colours all depend on personal preference (what you like and what likes you) and sometimes, the context in which you’ll be wearing them.

Personally, I like packing majority neutrals (e.g. white, black, grey, beige) and then throwing in some statement pieces within my designated colour scheme (e.g. red tartan, blue velvet, denim).

Sample colour schemes:

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Usually, for those holidays that are about a few days long, I stick to one colour scheme while the lengthier holidays give me room to work with one or two more.

Explore the infinite range of colours and decide from there how wide or narrow you’d like your scheme to be. Remember that many shades of blue can blend into green and many shades of red overlap with purple etc. You can even form a colour scheme based on pastels, or neons etc. instead of just individual colours.

Be aware of what colours look good together to you and which colours definitely do not match. For example, to me, neon colours (like in sports/athletic wear) look best with solids like black, white and grey, and look absolutely hideous with earth tones like brown or red (shown below).

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vs.

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Gold & Silver

I’m also extremely particular about matching all the metallics in my outfit from my rings and necklaces all the way to the buckles on my bag. (Basically, if my bag has gold studs on it, I wouldn’t wear a silver necklace.) I rarely (never) mix metals on a regular basis so I like to maintain that while on holiday as well.

The neutrals like white, black and grey work with both silver and gold (and everything in between) while pastels typically look better with silver-toned jewellery. Take note of what looks best on you and incorporate that throughout your outfits.

Here’s how to figure out what looks best on you according to your skin’s undertone!

3. 3 Ways

I’ve always liked the golden rule of three… So after deciding on the first outfit that will be going into the luggage, try using one component from that outfit to create three more outfits. And from there, pick another item from those outfits to create a different three.

Choosing versatile pieces gives you flexibility and opens up the possibilities to choose from. It’s also handy in those day-to-night situations where you need to get changed quickly from a day event to a nighttime event without completely starting from scratch.

Here’s an example of how a neutral, black basic halter top can be used to create different looks:

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And then using the same grey skirt from the last outfit:

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And using the same crop top from the last outfit:

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Or the same white trousers in the middle:

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And here we have it, 12 different outfits using 5 bottoms and 5 tops.

If you noticed, I also stuck to the colour scheme of monochrome and pastels across all twelve outfits.

While on holiday, you may have limited luggage space and have to make the most of what you bring so choosing clothes that can mix and match help make your life a lot easier. Of course, you might not end up rewearing each item so many times, but it’s just to provide you with more options when deciding how to wear them.

* Keep in mind that you’ll possibly (or if you’re like me, then definitely) end up buying more stuff during your trip (so make space, or be prepared to buy another luggage)!

So that’s basically how I go about planning what to pack for my all my vacations!

On a side note, I’m soooo excited for this trip. Will be staying at Uncle Stan’s B&B again near town so I’ll have a lot of shopping opportunities. Also ordered two sets of Triangl bikinis which delivered to his place awhile back so I can’t wait to finally try those on too. I’ll probably still take forever to (over)pack for my trip since Melbourne’s weather is sort of bipolar so I’ll have to pack for almost all seasons…

I hope this helped you guys pack for your own getaways, or at least, was enjoyable to read.

A x

batam 2014; lookbook & photo diary

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Day 1: Turi Beach Resort + BBQ dinner

I got a few airbrush tattoos before the trip just for fun (they all ended up fading over the weekend because I was always in the water)… I overpacked, as usual, but yeah I was thinking of writing a post on How To: Pack For Vacation that could help a lot of people (especially myself). So let me know if you’d like to see that!

We took a short ferry ride to Batam on Saturday morning where we checked into Turi Beach Resort only 5 minutes away from the ferry terminal. I looooved the vibe of the resort with all the dark wood and dim lighting, it felt like living in the middle of the rainforest. The pool was also by the beach and our room had a sea view so I was really happy with the overall stay there.

Outfit details:

sheer floral crop top – H&M
denim high-waists – American Apparel
sandals – ZU

cut-out tunic – A&F & DIY
bikini top – Zara
bikini bottoms – thrifted

maxi dress – F21
necklace – thrifted

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Day 2: Town + Nongsa Beach Resort

We took a short trip to town and got a really good massage, followed by the cheapest Starbucks lunch I’ve ever encountered, then headed back to check in to Nongsa Resort & Marina. Instead of dark wood, the room was clean and polished and the entire resort had a country club kind of vibe that gave it a whole new experience. Even the pool had a “cleaner” and simpler look and I had fun with my mom’s underwater camera functions.

I’ll have to say that I preferred the food over at Turi though. I figured that out when a family of four cats watched us while we were having dinner and I didn’t mind sharing a nibble of my seafood with them one bit. If only you guys had seen the way the littlest one was looking at me…

Outfit details:

tank top with lace back – Zara
lace tulip shorts – Ice
rings – Lovisa
sunglasses – F21

palm bikini – Ripcurl
knitted cardigan – Factorie
sandals – thrifted

backless cami – Bershka
pink cut-offs – Brandy Melville

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Day 3: Snorkeling + canoeing + jet skiing

We walked to the end of the jetty before jumping into the ocean and beginning our 1 hour snorkel. To be honest, the experience was nothing compared to my school trip to Tioman island cause the water was sort of cloudy, and I couldn’t get many clear photos or videos. Also, my mom’s waterproof phone case turned out not to be so waterproof and her phone got completely drenched. :(

Canoeing though, was pretty fun (when I wasn’t going in circles) and it reminded me so much of the mokoro-pulling I did back in Africa *sobs*.

The highlight of the entire trip had to be jet skiing. It was the most exciting and fun experience for me, a little terrifying even. There were a few times I was at full throttle and was almost thrown into the water (mind you, we were pretty far out into the ocean). But yes, I’ll be looking forward to doing that again soon hopefully and I would definitely recommend it as an experience to try at least once.

Outfit details:

bikini top – Zara
bikini bottom – Ripcurl
crochet halter – Zara

crop singlet – Bershka
lace tulip shorts – Ice
floral kimono – H&M
necklace – Factorie

That was pretty much how I spent my long weekend, hope you enjoyed this post! Also, check out the video I made below and subscribe to my channel :) (yes I’m finally considering).

MWBF: Africa 2014

So I departed from Singapore in the early hours of the 26th of last month along with 40 odd more students and teachers from my school. It took us about 11 hours, a little bit of turbulence and an even little-r bit of sleep (at least in my case) to reach Johannesburg, South Africa. I don’t think I’ve felt days pass quicker than while we were there, but I enjoyed every share of it.

The people, both whom I went with and whom I met there, have all intertwined themselves sweetly and hauntingly into my consciousness. I don’t expect myself to remember every incident that happened while I was there but I won’t forget the interactions I’ve had with the people and their brushes, no matter how small, with my African experience.

The road trips, and hours and hours of blasting music in the bus with the windows open and shades on; the dozens of empty soda cans and chip packets. Travelling from country to country and crossing borders sometimes meant that we would spend an entire day on the bus but I can happily say that my bus mates always made the best of our time on board. Never thought that I would actually develop an emotional attachment to a vehicle, but in the case of our bus, arbitrarily named Yousouf, it was almost a tearful goodbye.

The camping, swatting insects in our tents and constantly feeling sandy; eating out of the bus and spraying copious amounts of dry shampoo into our hair. I think we’ve all become pros at pitching and un-pitching tents in under 10 minutes and grown immune to the presence of bugs in our sleeping quarters. I learned to appreciate at least 3 simple things that I so often took for granted back home:
1 – my bed
2 – my nightlight
3 – my toilet bowl
I must’ve given up on feeling clean within the first 2 days, but it was great fun with even greater people.

The wildlife, weather and culture. There couldn’t have been a better place more unlike home to escape to. I remember constantly switching between my beanie and sunglasses and hoodie-whoring the whole trip. Driving past countless wild horses, cows and occasional elephants grazing by the side of the road, waving at random strangers out the window and have them wave back. The up-close-and-personal encounters with the animals (both planned and unexpected), and the breathtaking sunrises and sunsets we had the pleasure of witnessing every day.

There are waaaaay too many memories for me to regurgitate onto here, and I don’t think that my vocabulary is diverse enough to even do them justice… so I shan’t try any further. Enjoy the pictures (some were taken off Facebook so credits to the respective photographers) and the videos that I put together. I’ve also made a playlist on 8tracks of the songs that remind me of the trip and mashed up 2 of the songs so do check that out if you’re interested! :)

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melbourne 2013; bloom

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Did a little shopping at queen vic market in the morning (it was chilly so I threw a sweater over my playsuit). Then headed to Brighton Beach in the afternoon where it was incredibly sunny and I burnt myself again. It was also extremely windy so I gave up on my flower headband cause it kept flying off my head haha.

playsuit – jay jays, sweater – cotton on, ramones bag – cotton on, headband – factorie
Hype this look on LookBook here!