Exploring French Riviera: Cote d’Azur

Nice

Traipsing along the iconic Promenade des Anglais, on a concrete path built along the coastline, be intrigued by its diversity – joggers, skateboarders, buskers, painters and people who are just sitting by the benches fixating their eyes on the gorgeous seafront. You wonder if these people spend their day away like this, but I will love to have this as my retirement plan any time.

As I made my way into the old settlements of Niçois, I find myself trapped between 4 to 5 storey high historical buildings, along unstable footpaths. Each exit or opening reveals a new side of Vieux Nice (the name of this area of Nice), with interesting shops, restaurants and even a church sitting in the heart of the residential area.

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At the end of Promenade des Anglais, Colline du Chateau, or the Castle Hill of Nice, is a must-visit and is situated right beside Hotel Suisse. For a short workout, climb up the Escalier Lesage with a 92-metre ascend, but you could also take the lift that brings you to the top. With a reasonable height gain, you get a gorgeous view of Nice along with the bends of the coastline. This is one photographic moment you can’t miss.

Just 5 minutes’ walk from Vieux Nice, you find yourself in a more modernised part of Nice. It starts with the Modern and Contemporary Art Museum, where angular structures meet curves and circles, hovering atop a busy two-lane road. Trams in the shape of a high-speed rail meander through the city, and it is one of the preferred ways to get around Nice among locals. High street fashion brands find themselves settling down here – the city suddenly feels so young and energetic.

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Monaco

Arriving in Monaco isn’t that difficult, both the SNCF train and bus service 110 takes you here directly from Nice. If you are taking the train, exit the station at the platform level, where you will find the small church of Saint-Devotte, the saint who is believed to have protected Monaco from natural disasters of the sea. Right outside this church along the main road, take local bus numbers 1 and 2 towards Monaco Ville.

This old town that rests above the rock (Le Rocher) is probably one of my favourite hideouts in Monaco. The colourful buildings, painted in pink, orange and red, give a cheerful vibe to the old town, where locals are humble and are always chilling inside small restaurants and souvenir shops.

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While you’re there, don’t miss out the opportunity to visit the Prince’s Palace of Monaco which is a functioning facility, with guards protecting the area 24/7. The change of guards’ ceremony at 11:55am everyday sees tourists crowding outside the palace, just like any other tourist attraction.

Another favourite spot of mine is Port Hercule. Either it is towards the Monte-Carlo side or directly below Le Rocher, as long as you will be sitting down somewhere facing the sea, it will be one gorgeous and picturesque view. If you’re coming from the Casino de Monte-Carlo, head to your right along the sidewalk and catch the view of the port, the rock and the Mediterranean Sea – money can’t buy this view for sure.

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Eze

Sitting approximately 400 metres above sea level on a cliff, Eze is a small artisan village overlooking the beautiful French Mediterranean. Regular bus services travel from Nice and Monaco to Eze in about 30 minutes, so does the SNCF train which stops by at the foot of the hill. While there is only one bus that takes visitors up every hour, I recommend taking on a memorable foot trail up to Eze, absorbing everything that nature has to offer.

The climb starts with an unassuming signage labelled ‘Sentier Nietzsche’, but soon after the path goes literally on a 35-degree elevation the whole way through. Upon reaching Eze, throw yourself into the scented world of Fragonard, a famous perfumery in the South of France. Not only can you make yourself smell better from the tiring hike, their scented products are perfect gifts for friends and family.

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The trip to Eze isn’t complete without visiting the medieval chateaus of Eze. The climb up to the castle reminded me of the scenes from Lord Of The Rings, where the characters were moving frantically when the evil forces were attacking. Jardin d’Eze or the exotic garden marks the highest point in Eze, overlooking parts of the French Riviera. For a lazy afternoon, continue along the maze-like footpaths inside the castle and enjoy the artistic vibes that the village has to offer.

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Cannes

I like places with traces of history left around them. But unlike the other 3 locations, Cannes exudes something more modern and glamorous, perhaps due to the influence of its annual Cannes Film Festival which brings international A-listers together every year in the month of May. The streets of Cannes are wider and high street fashion brands bring a youthful vibe to this small city.

Yachts docking at the port of Cannes, people sunbathing on the beach, joggers manoeuvring along the coastline… these scenes seem very déjà vu, as the vibes resemble Nice and Monaco very much. I was not super impressed by the city, but the glitz of the film festival definitely elevated the liveliness of Cannes. The red carpets, the crowd and a life-sized art installation of Cannes at the top of the old chateau made the trip a little bit more interesting.

Head to Journal for full story.

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-Jee-

 

20 Hours in Hong Kong – Travelogue

Arriving at the Hong Kong International Airport at 6 in the morning, with only 3 hours of intermittent sleep, it only makes sense to make wild and crazy decisions. How about creating a 24-hour travelogue? Yes, that meant 6am to 6am the next day. Unfortunately, I did not really accomplish what I planned, but 20 hours isn’t too bad right?

07:00

For a city that rarely sleeps, public transport operates early in the morning and ends pretty late at night in Hong Kong. For a more local experience, take their airport shuttle which brings you to most of the popular cities and towns in Hong Kong. I boarded the A21 which brought me right in the heart of Mongkok, my accommodation for the weekend.

08:30

Ranking at the top of my to-eat-list for breakfast is Australian Dairy Company. With HKD36, you get a set of macaroni soup coupled with a scrambled egg toast and a hot beverage. Of all the scrambled eggs that I’ve tasted, nothing can compare to the creamy texture of the eggs served at this local restaurant. While service can be rude and queues can go pretty long, I will still go through it again for the amazing breakfast here…

Head to Journal for full story.

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-Jee-

 

Exploring Singapore: Woodlands Town Centre Memories

I vaguely remember as a 10-year-old kid accompanying my family to the famous Sheng Siong outlet at the Old Woodlands Town Centre, a period where the hypermarket chain has yet to commence its rapid expansion, let not its signature baibei, baibei on its hit TV game show series.

The buildings were old and I didn’t really enjoy my time there. But it was quite a frequent trip for a few weeks due to the relatively lower prices the hypermarket was offering. I just moved to the newer part of Woodlands then, with not a lot of choices for marketing.

Didn’t know that in a few years, Woodlands Checkpoint will become a popular spot for Singaporeans escaping the heightened prices locally for cheaper and better quality food and shopping. To ease human and vehicle traffic, and to enhance the security of the borders at the causeway, Woodlands Town Centre will soon be bidding goodbye, giving way to a larger complex for the Woodlands Checkpoint…

Head to Journal for full story.

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-Jee-

 

New Zealand Diaries #5 – South Island Part 3

My 15-day South Island Trip was a blast! Driving 2543km around South Island, I’ve seen the best scenery, ate the best food, met the best people, and experienced the best I can ever imagine. From Wellington to Picton, Nelson to Cheviot, Christchurch to Lake Tekapo, Lake Pukaki to Mount Cook, and Queenstown back to Wellington again, there are just too many to share with you.

In the last part of this series, check out Mount Cook, Queenstown and Milford Sounds, with recommendations and personal tips! Click the link here to see the PDF file for a better reading experience. supersonts_newzealand_3
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New Zealand Diaries #4 – South Island Part 2

My 15-day South Island Trip was a blast! Driving 2543km around South Island, I’ve seen the best scenery, ate the best food, met the best people, and experienced the best I can ever imagine. From Wellington to Picton, Nelson to Cheviot, Christchurch to Lake Tekapo, Lake Pukaki to Mount Cook, and Queenstown back to Wellington again, there are just too many to share with you.

In Part 2 of the series,  check out Blenheim, Cheviot, Christchurch and Lake Tekapo, with recommendations and personal tips! Click the link here to see the PDF file for a better reading experience. supersonts_newzealand_2

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    -Jee-

New Zealand Diaries #3 – South Island Part 1

My 15-day South Island Trip was a blast! Driving 2543km around South Island, I’ve seen the best scenery, ate the best food, met the best people, and experienced the best I can ever imagine. From Wellington to Picton, Nelson to Cheviot, Christchurch to Lake Tekapo, Lake Pukaki to Mount Cook, and Queenstown back to Wellington again, there are just too many to share with you.

In Part 1 of the series,  check out Wellington, Marlborough Sounds and Picton, with recommendations and personal tips! Click the link here to see the PDF file for a better reading experience supersonts_newzealand_1 .

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-Jee-

New Zealand Diaries #2 – Picton & Cheviot

An unexpected journey

A journey becomes unforgettable when you least expect it to be. If you are a free-spirited traveller like I am, New Zealand, a country vast and limitless, is the perfect location for you to set yourself free. The beauty of New Zealand does not end with its natural landscapes, but continues to flow through its people: well-travelled, open-minded, and a true representation of a global citizen.

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One might think that Picton and Cheviot, being such small towns in the South Island, will be a boring place to skip past in your itinerary. But thanks to the extremely hospitable hosts, not only were these my best travel experiences yet, I left New Zealand making friends that I never thought I would.

Boats out!

Waking up in Picton with nothing planned for the day, our host Tim invites us to a fishing trip with his friend out along Cook Strait in the Marlborough Sounds. With the sun as a warm companion, the autumn winds didn’t seem so chilly after all. While Tim geared up in his diving suit to catch some huge lobsters, we stayed on the boat to learn the techniques to fishing well with his friend.

It was 4 hours well spent with glistening emerald waters and lusciously green knolls as the background. As socially responsible individuals, we caught 8 fishes and 6 crayfish, each measuring more than 33cm length for the fishes and 60mm width for the latter. These are the official guidelines from the Ministry for Primary Industries, in maintaining the balance in the marine ecosystem.

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As if catching seafood wasn’t exciting enough, eating fresh lobsters cooked to perfection tops it all up. The tender yet bouncy meat oozes its naturally sweet flavours after every bite. I volunteered to cook some Asian style food – ginger and spring onion blue cod, egg fried rice, and a chilli French beans stir-fry – with thanks to the ingredients bought by his wife, Anne.

Gathering for dinner with Anne and Tim at the dining table, it felt like we were truly embraced into the family. Experiences like these were costless but truly priceless.

Chateau de Cheviot

While most of us live in houses built by construction companies, our host Ellis decided to build a house he could truly call his own 12 years ago. A mixture of cement, wood and natural materials make up this incredible living space he proudly calls ‘The Tree House’. An adventurer at heart, Ellis is a true representation of hard work, perseverance and positivity.

Coincidentally, Ellis and his partner Sanna were embarking on a new treehouse project and invited us to be a part of it. With no agenda for the day, we agreed to be builders of the day, albeit with the wrong attire. From climbing up trees to measure the appropriate heights of the wooden pillars, sawing planks and mixing cement, it was a full-body workout without a doubt. But I never thought being a part of this rustic construction will bring about so much inspiration and accomplishment.

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The morning fog weaves through the hills and the trees, and I couldn’t resist walking out to the backyard barefooted just to feel in sync with nature while witnessing this dramatic entrance into a brand-new day. Approaching mid-day, the sun takes over and warms up the autumn temperatures. Then it was lunch with Sanna and Ellis talking about our passion for travel, and their pet dog lazing and basking in the sun. At night, Ellis brings us out again to show us the constellations above us, identifying certain star signs and the milky way. At the end of the day, I really wanted to stop the alarm clock so I will never have to wake up from this dream.

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