La Vie en Transit

#005: London II

London, England
06 — 09 October 2014

So happy and excited to be back in London after three months! Unlike the first time I was here, I made sure I had plans for the precious 48 hours I had.

After touching down on Heathrow, I went to TKTS at Leicester Square to purchase tickets for ‘The Phantom of the Opera’. TKTS is between Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus station.

TIP: Check their website before heading down to see whether your musical is available for sale. There is also a map on their site, guiding you to the booth.

[http://www.tkts.co.uk/whats-on-sale/]

There are plenty of half-priced booths around Leicester Square, one right in the tube station at Leicester Square. I was told by the booth that Phantom doesn’t go on sale which is absolutely not true. Better to do your research before purchasing ‘em tickets!

Since the show starts at 1930hrs, I had plenty of time to roam around. Leicester Square is a fantastic location for sight seeing. First stop was to Trafalgar Square. All I could think about was that Harry Potter’s final film’s premiere was held there. And from Trafalgar Square, I walked through Whitehall where the Horse Guards Parade was located, towards Westminster Abbey.



While the
Big Ben and London Eye seem to be on a ‘Must See’ list for first time tourist in London, I was simply unimpressed. But well, you’ve never been to London until you see the Big Ben isn’t it?

Two pals enjoying the view in the cold.

From Westminster, I walked towards Covent Garden. A place I planned to go mainly because of Alex Chennick's 'Take my Lightning but Don’t Steal my Thunder' art installation and the many restaurants there. Shake Shack, Jamie’s Italian, Big Easy.. to name a few.

Covent Garden is beautiful. I love the balance of high-end brand stores and flea market. I was contemplating hard where to have dinner at and settled for Big Easy since I will be heading to Dubai this month (they have Shake Shack there) and Jamie’s Italian was easily accessible for me since they have many outlets.

'Take my Lightning but Don't Steal my Thunder'

It’s easy to get lost around Covent Garden. There’s too many shops and shopping to do. It’s like a huge Haji Lane (for lack of better place to describe).

Neal’s Yard was also one of the places I wanted to visit. I had a little difficulty finding the place since it was located in the middle of an alley. It’s colorful and different from other buildings there but again, nothing impressive.

Made my way to Big Easy Bar-B-Q & Crabshack located at Maiden Lane. Ordered the daily special ‘Lobster Festival’ which is a whole lobster with fries. Exactly the same as Burgers & Lobsters but you get a free slushie.

The service was impeccable! I was served by Abril. She made sure I was well-taken care of asking me whether I wanted Ketchup/Mayo sauce with my fries and when I was finished with my meal, she gave me a dessert menu. The restaurant was quite packed by the time I finished by meal. 10-10 I would go back again! Big Easy 1-0 Burgers & Lobsters.

Trafalgar Square; while walking to Her Majesty’s.

From Maiden Lane, I headed to Her Majesty’s Theatre. Very traditional, old and intimate theatre which is what I love. The seats are similar to what you get on an airplane which is uncomfortable for tall people but just nice for me. What I dislike about the seats were that I have to lean forward to see the stage which is really a pain. My tickets were priced at £35.00 with a face value of £50.00. Grand circle, third row from the front. I was able to see most of the stage except the orchestra. They are very strict about no-photography during the performance including intermission but I managed to sneaked in one during intermission after the Chandelier crashed. Food and drinks are allowed in the theatre.

My heart and hands were itching to get one shot during the ‘Masquerade' scene but I have no guts. The number was absolutely stunning.. just perfect. A spectacle. I was quite worn out by the time Christine sang 'Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again' and the lady beside me fell asleep. Overall it was a fantastic show although Sofia Escobar didn't have a delicate voice like Emmy Rossum's.

Many people have asked why I chose Phantom over Les Misérables which is a much bigger production and probably a better musical (to them, maybe). But whatever, I don’t give a shit about Les Misérables because I don’t like the story line, period.

Lovely experience. I just wished I had someone who enjoys PFTO to share the experience with. The closing credit song (film) ‘Learn To Be Lonely' is so appropriate for me.

It was quite late when the show ended but I managed to brave the cold and walk towards Westminster to catch the Big Ben and London Eye when it’s dark. Afterwhich, I made my way back to hotel.

Perhaps the reason why I am able to accomplish much more that what I planned was because I was alone. Before ending this lengthy post, I have to add that I was able to get to places seamlessly because of the iPhone app, City Maps 2Go Pro. I didn’t have to ask a single human being for directions and I did not get lost, at all.

All photos taken by iPhone.

#004: Schloss Nymphenburg Munchen

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Scholoss Nymphenburg
Munich, Germany
30 July — August 3 2014

On my second day in Munich, I went to Schloss Nymphenburg (Castle of the Nymph). The palace was also the birth place of King Ludwig II of Bavaria.

From my hotel, I took a subway to Laim station. The Germans have so much faith in their citizen. There is no ‘gate’ to the subway station and anyone can just enter the subway without buying a ticket. However, if you don’t have your ticket validated, the conductor may fine you.

It is about 50-90 seconds from station to station, making the journey really fast.

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Left: Subway Station
Right: Opposite the bus stop, Liam Bf.

After getting off at Laim Station, walk through a tunnel filled with bicycles and cross over to take the bus to “Schloss Nymphenburg”. I believe all buses goes to the palace: 51, 151, 168. I had trouble with taking the bus since I’ve got no idea how to purchase a ticket or get my ticket validated.

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Left: Bus Stop information at ‘Liam Bf’.
Right: Newspaper stands at ‘Liam Bf’ bus stop.

It took about 15 minutes from Laim Bf. to Schloss Nymphenburg.

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After getting off, you will see the ‘lake’ leading to the palace. Incredibly picturesque. There were children feeding the ducks by the lake which was both beautiful and adorable.

It is €11.50 for a combination ticket to Nymphenburg Palace as well as the other garden pavilions. If you don’t intend to go to the pavilions, admission charges for the park is free. You can purchase the ticket as well as other memorabilia at Nymphenburg Palace’s lobby.

If you intend to visit the various pavilions, please download this map of the park (click here) because it will set you back €2 to get a map of the place which is really not worth the money.

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Steinerer Saal or Stone Hall is located in the central pavilion. They don’t allow DSLR or cameras, bag packs or food into the pavilion. I was quite pissed off by the security guard because he didn’t allow me to bring my small bag pack and DSLR because there were other ladies carrying their huge sling bags. He even asked where I was from. Discrimination?

Ended up putting my bag in the locker which is free. And hiding the DSLR in my jacket like how I use to sneak food into the cinema theater. It worked! I mean, how can I miss the opportunity of taking photos of the beautiful place. I was even more pissed when I saw a lady carrying a DSLR with her stroller. I mean, C’MON?! There’s so many things you can put in the stroller and he barred me from bringing my small bag pack.

I was floored when I entered the hall. The ceiling fresco and chandeliers, the baroque style of the hall. I’ve never seen such opulence before.

King Ludwig I’s Hall of Beauties is located on the South of the pavilion. The Queen’s Bedroom, the birthplace of King Ludwig II is also located here. Honestly, it was the ugliest room in the entire park/palace. Such an awful shade of green, there’s nothing alluring about this room. I don’t have a good picture of this room but I promise you, you’re not missing out. Google it.

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The royal carriages and sleighs were kept in the Marstallmuseum, South Wing of the palace. This museum made me feel like I am a poor person but it also made me feel incredibly blessed to be able to be standing there and seeing such incredible carriages.

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The amount of extravagance is second to none. If I were transported back to 18th century, the horses were probably better dressed than I am. The horses’ saddles and accessories were kept in glass displays which is bad for photographs because of the reflections. No amount of Fendi or Chanel can ever compare.

There were also lots of porcelain pieces on display but since I am not really interested in them, breezed through them and headed to Amalienburg; one of the places I was really excited to visit and boy, I was not disappointed!

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Amalienburg is a pleasure palace and a hunting lodge. The highlight of this pavilion was of course the Hall of Mirrors. Decorated in European Rococo style.

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Badenburg, House of Bath is further down from Amalienburg. This was probably the least interesting pavilion for me. However, I do love the Chinoiserie seen in one of the rooms.

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Before walking over to Pagodenburg, I spent some time by the lake and had some cherry tomatoes which I brought since I didn’t have breakfast. Love the serene and laid-back environment. There was a guys sitted on my left reading a book while an old couple on my right watching the ducks. I wished I had more time to idle like them.

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Lucky to capture this shot while having my cherry tomatoes!

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Monopteros, The Apollo Temple

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While walking from Badenburg to Pagodenburg, an old German couple talked to me in German telling me there’s an ‘Owl’ on the tree. At first, I didn’t quite understand what she was saying until she lent me her binoculars. Lucky to capture this.

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The Eighteenth-Century Chinoiserie room with a Chess table at Pagodenburg, was one of my favorite rooms in the palace. There were lots of Chinese porcelain designs across the room.

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Lastly, Magdalenenklause or Magdalene Hermitage. The outward appearance was really rustic compared to the other pavilions and I had expected it to have baroque or rococo styled interiors like the pavilions but I was so wrong. When I stepped into the pavilion, I was surprised. It was designed as a ruin with a private chapel. Incredibly alluring.

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Took a slow walk back to the main entrance and went into one of the small gardens where I witness this cute scene.. Cheeky boy!

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I spent a few hours there. To be exact, 1130 - 1545. I have not walked the entire park but covered all the ticketed pavilions. Would I go there again? Absolutely! Perhaps during winter. It would b quite a sight with snow covering the roofs and pavements.

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Took the train back to Odeonsplatz to visit the Residenz Museum. I was upset I did not have enough time because the museum closes at 1800hrs and I was there at 1700hrs. Only made it to the Cuvilliés-Theater.

Just before I left for Munich, I spent some me-time catching Phantom of the Opera at home so this theater reminded me of the movie which I enjoyed so much. I was fortunate to be the only one in the theater for a good 5 minutes. Shame that we are not allowed to go to the box seats. Will try that the next time I’m here.

It’s €3.50 to go into the Cuvilliés-Theater which is really not worth because the combination ticket cost €13.00. But well, I’ll be back for sure!

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Walked to Pinakothek der Moderne. Decided not to purchase a ticket since they were closing. After looking around, I was convinced I am not missing out since I don’t really fancy what they offered. But if you’re keen, the entrance fee is only €1 if you go on Sundays.

Balla Beni or better known as the ‘Best Ice Cream in Munich’ was around the area (directly opposite Brandhorst Museum). Ordered the lemon and mint flavor together with another fruit flavor which I can’t remember. It was quite okay. Perhaps I should have gotten the chocolate instead. The best ice cream I had is a Nougat flavored gelato from MEC3 if I didn’t remember wrongly. Best ever.

Well, this concludes my 48 hours in Munich, Germany. Such a beautiful place. Almost everyone there speaks English which is a major plus. However, the food isn’t really to my liking. All in all, I can’t wait to be back in Munich. I had so much fun.

Red eye flight back to Singapore. Caught ‘The Other Women' as well as 'The Lion Men’, the latter was so enjoyable. I didn’t managed to get sleep because there was a crying baby but I did managed to capture this…

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All photos taken by Canon 650D/iPhone.

Good men can be found among rogues.

Before I continue with my travel post, this past week at work was so good it deserves a mention. It actually left me grinning ear to ear.

Quote from ‘The Grandmaster’,

風塵之中,必有性情中人。
Good men can be found among rogues.

Such a great film! Love the costume of the women at the brothel and their elaborate accessories and waving hairstyle, the ‘Chinese-Gatsby’. Not to forget how hot Chang Chen is. You should catch it, love all the Kung-Fu action. But Donnie Yen will forever be my Ip Man.

Sometimes when things are going so smoothly, you tend to be complacent and think that it will always be so smooth sailing. But well, I guess I need to prepare for the storm that’s coming. Make sure my ark is able to weather the storm.

Perhaps when I’m down, I will read this and encourage myself.

#003: Guten Tag!

Munich, Germany
30 July — August 3 2014

The flight up to Munich was such a lovely one! The 12 hours felt like a 4 hour flight and I was really excited to conquer the city having planned my itinerary for the precious 48 hours I had.

It was around noon when I found out that there were some problems with the subway (.. accident, death, faulty track?), had to changed my plan of going to Nymphenburg Palace to the following day.

Had Bratwurst with Sauerkraut with German Beer (of course) at Hofbräuhaus München for lunch and headed to Marienplatz/New Town Hall for sight seeing! Absolutely love how the pink flowers adorned the Gothic architecture.

Inside St. Peter’s Church, 1 minute walk away from Marienplatz.
To get the Bird’s Eye View of the town area, it’s 2€ and about 300 steps up St. Peter Church’s Bell Tower. Well worth the money and energy. (PS/ Bring a bottle of water.)

HeliggeistKirche (Church of the Holy Spirit) was right beside St. Peter’s. I knew there was an origami installation going on but I was still floored when I entered the Church. Easily the most beautiful Church I’ve ever seen. There were lots of greeneries which complemented the interior. My photographs can’t do any justice to the beautiful, you gotta be there to experience the beauty of the Church.

Planned to catch the Rathaus-Glockenspiel which starts at 5pm, so I had about an hour in between. Missed the turn at Liebfrauenstraße and walked all the way to St. Michael’s Church which I didn’t plan to visit. Love the high alter and baroque architecture.

Walked over to FrauenKirche (Church of Our Lady) to see the “Devil’s Footprint”. Was really lucky because they closed the gate shortly after. This is also the only Church that had stained glass.

The Rathus-Glockenspiel was quite a disappointment for me. If you didn’t manage to catch it, there really isn’t much to lose out on. It’s just bells and life-sized figurines moving around. You can catch it on YouTube too, full HD zoom included.

TheatinerKirche (Theatine Church of St. Cajetan) is further down from Marienplatz, I had trouble finding the entrance to the Church because there were major construction going on. (Yellow structure in the first picture.)

I would have paid another 2€ to climb St. Peter’s Bell Tower to catch the sunset. But the sun doesn’t set until around 1930-2000hrs and the tower closes at 1900hr.

Bought some cherry tomatoes and strawberries on my way back to the hotel. The tomatoes were so sweet and delicious but the strawberries were disappointing.

My guide to the Churches in Munich using Google Maps. 5 Churches in half a day, time well-spent I guess? Next post on my visit to Nymphenburg Palace!

All photos taken by Canon 650D/iPhone.

#002: Down Under

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Adelaide, South Australia
12 July — 13 July 2014

Red eye flight to Adelaide. No sleep but managed to catch the sunrise onboard. What an absolute beauty. (Unfortunately, there’s no photo.. next time!)

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Outside the Adelaide Parliament House

When I landed, it was freaking 8°. I am not well-travelled and this is the coldest I have been to. Having not prepared well for my London trip, I did research on what to do and the places to visit.

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First stop: Mortlock Wing, State Library of South Australia
It was about 5-7 minutes walk away from where I stayed and boy it was cold. Bearable cold with the sun brightly shining.

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It was such an incredible and humbling experience to be standing in front of the 130 year old library and museum. Reminds me how far I’ve come and the difference a year can make. Spent a good 30 minutes there. Shame I didn’t have a good camera to do the library justice.

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A bridge between modern architecture and the French Renaissance.
(Outside State Library of South Australia.)

Had lunch at Two Bits Villains which was located in Adelaide Arcade, one of the places I planned to visit. Ordered a Sloppy Joe and a rose mint tea. The burger was horrible but the tea was lovely. Overall, disappointing experience.

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Since it was the weekends, the shops and supermarkets closes at 5pm. There wasn’t much I can do besides going back to the library again (lol). I’m glad I made the decision to go back because while walking pass Bonython Hall, University of Adelaide, there was a couple taking wedding photos which was so beautiful! Another couple was taking photos in the library too but it was quite annoying because I can’t take photos.

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Bonython Hall by day and night.

For dinner, I planned for some smoked Goolwa Pipis at Street ADL by Jock Zonfrillo but can’t seem to find it on the menu. The place was packed so I skipped that. Headed opposite to San Churros for some Churros. Since dinner is ridiculously expensive here, I settled for Churros for Two and mojito which I brought back home.

Overall, Adelaide was a wonderful experience although the weather was a little too cold for comfort. If I have the chance again, I will revisit the State Library with a proper camera in hand.

Food here is expensive. And the airport is so strict with carriage of food items. Maybe I’ll try the Thai restaurant at Blythe Street the next time I’m here or I’ll just whip up a meal from the supermarket. Whole chicken for 9AUD? Sounds like an idea.

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#001: First time in London!

London, England
02 July — 05 July 2014

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The 13 hours day flight was tiring, managed to get only an hour of sleep in between. Stayed around Shepherd’s Bush area, that place is beautiful. Had my first meal at Thai restaurant, Busaba Eathai. Ordered a spicy Tomyam Talay (Seafood with vermicelli noodles) and Lemongrass Tea; tea was decent but the dish was horrible and that was £7.50. Myojo or Nissin cup noodles’ broth beats them hands down.

Lesson #1: Never have Asian food in Western country, you’re better off with Fish & Chips.

The following day, headed to the Mayfield Lavender Farm. Took an overground to West Croydon (Overground) then Bus 166 at the bus terminal which was over an hour’s ride. An English lady on the bus was kind enough to tell us which bus stop to alight even though we know the bus stop (Oaks’ Park).

imageimage"The Old Fox & Hounds"
When you get out of the overground, you’ll see this pretty shop house. Take a left and turn left at the junction to the bus terminal.

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Spent about an hour or two there. They were selling all sorts of Lavender-infused items; oils, cupcakes, ice cream, scones, etc. Ordered a Lavender-Elderflower soda drink which was absolutely refreshing and delightful (must try!). Also bought the ice cream and a Lavender Lemonade which wasn’t too bad.

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Headed to Marble Arch to shop at Primark, the shoes and bags are so affordable! Walked around Oxford Street, spotted this very cute Magnum display at Selfridges. Something funny happened when I was taking this photo.

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Wanted to try Burger’s & Lobsters so badly, I took the tube to Knightsbridge. Delightful dinner, perfect way to end my night in London. Shame I didn’t walk further down to Harrods since I didn’t research much about Knightsbridge area (What was I thinking?!).

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Final hours of London.. Early morning walk around the perimeters of Westfield. (Above photos are two of my favourites from the trip!) Had breakfast, did a little shopping and 13 hours later. Finally, home.

Overall, I love London! There’s are too many things to do, too little time! Hopefully my next trip will include Duck & Waffle and maybe London Bridge since it’s near the restaurant.. or Big Ben, Westminister, Tower Bridge, Portobello Market, Camden Market, Jamie’s Italian (and the list goes on and on and on). It’s a shame the transport is so expensive! It was about £20 travelling to and fro the places.