Jan 28, 2017

10 Phrases I survived on in Paris

In Europe, French is one of the most spoken languages. In France itself, it is particularly helpful if you know a little French. On my very first day in Paris I was a little culture shock because the locals hardly speak English. Communication was one huge problem I had there. To solve my problem, I took half hour to learn very basic French in my hotel room at night. The next day, I practiced it on breakfast.

Here are the phrases I use the most and have it at the back of my head at all time:

Good morning. Pronounced as bon-jur. I bet you know this greeting. It helps if you end it with a higher pitch to sounds more enthusiastic and also a sign that you are happy to meet the person. This is probably the most used phrase.

Good evening. Pronounced as bon-sua. Same concept as bonjour but use it in the evening.

Je ne comprends pas 
I don't understand. Pronounced as je-ne-kom-prom-pah. When the conversation goes awkwardly too French, I will use this phrase and immediately they will switch to English.

Parlez vous Anglais?
Can you speak English? Pronounced as par-leh-vu on-gleh. They will try their best to speak in English, but there is still very thick French accent.

C'est combien? or Combien ca coute?
How much is this? Pronounced as seh-kom-bien. I use this so many times when paying for my shopping or food.

No. Pronounced as non. Whoever approach me I will just say Non, especially when those souvenir sellers coming to me. Whatever they say, my answer is always no. Never yes.

Thank you. Pronounced as meh-si.

Sorry. Pronounced as pah-don. When trying to get through the crowd, the French always say sorry (pardon) and not excuse me (excuse moi). I don't know why it is like that, but it works everytime you're trying to squeeze through the sea of human in those tourist attraction places.

Un deux trois quatre cinq six sept huit neuf dix
One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten. This is so important whenever I'm asking for the price of the item I want to buy and also when ordering food or buying tickets. 

Au revoir
Good bye. Pronounced as uh-reh-vua. 

In a typical shopping scene, my conversation went like this.

Me: Bonjour! 
Shop keeper: Bonjour! 
Me: Combien ca coute? (Pointing at the item I want) 
Shop keeper: C'est huit euro.  
Me: (Pay 8 euros) 
Shop keeper: (mumbling some French). 
Me: Pardon. Je ne comprends pas. Parlez vous Anglais? 
Shop keeper: (starting to speak in English).

I learn my French from Youtube. The very basic video that I learn from is from <<this link>> and I learn my numbers from <<this link>>. I took half hour to master the two videos and French isn't that hard, to be honest.

Learning new thing is one of the things I look forward to everytime I travel. And now I'm wiser with the additional French that I know.  

Au revoir! 


Jan 25, 2017

How to survive Boxing Day at Harrods

I'm pretty sure you have heard about how great the deals are during Boxing Day in London and out of curiosity, I wanted to see it for myself. Went unprepared, unarmed and with no expectation, I marched to Harrods at 10am on Boxing Day.

As I approached the departmental store, there was a massive traffic jam. There was already a long queue outside Harrods, approximately 200 customers, loaded with cash and ready to spend it on things that marked with 'sale'.

I found the side door and went into the departmental store and went in without queueing. Why did the people lining up when there's a door for direct access?

Tips #1 - Never line up in a line without knowing what the line is for

Turn out, they were lining up for the perfume section which only opens at 10:30am. And it requires a ticket to enter the perfume section on Boxing Day. I believe the ticket is issued with purchase before Boxing Day. Without the ticket, you are not allowed to enter the perfume section.

At 10:00AM, the crowd wasn't that bad. I head straight to the food section (note that Harrods separate the departmental store into different rooms) and found the Harrods Cafe. I prepared myself with some hearty brunch to fight the Boxing Day war.

Tips #2 - Get some food

There are many restaurants, cafes and contemporary food outlets. You will be spoilt of choices. There's even Godiva & Disney cafe in Harrods! To stick to the simpler option, we went to the Harrods Cafe (also the very first cafe that opened on that day). The smoked salmon bagel was great and the roasted beef baguette is even better. We also ordered a set of scones because, you just have to eat scones while in London.

Initially, I do not have a shopping list. I was there to experience the Boxing Day crowd. When the shoppers start piling up, I begin to have a panic attack. All I wanted to do is to get out of the place as fast as I can. At the same time, I couldn't leave Harrods without rewarding myself with something. So I begin to draft my shopping list in my head while having my brunch at the cafe.

Tips #3 - Prepare a shopping list

In my mind, I wanted to get Givenchy Antigona bag, Chanel purse, Jo Malone perfume, Gucci Soho bag, Charlotte Tilbury lipstick, Huda Beauty Eyeshadow Palette & lipstick, Christian Louboutin lipstick, La Mer eye cream and some confectioneries.

In the end, I had to cross out half of my list because (1) I couldn't get into the section where the product was placed, (2) I couldn't find the location of the product and (3) they're sold out.

Harrods is a huge place to shop. The building is made of a lot of sections and it is very easy to get lost. To make the matter worse, the Boxing Day crowd are uncontrollable. That brings me to the next tips:

Tips #4 - Download the Harrods app

There's a free wifi available throughout the departmental store. You can download the app on your mobile. The app allows you to check the places of the product you are looking for, the price and the general map of the store.

Tips #5 - Skipping queue 

Each section/brand is barricaded and you have to queue outside the barricade to get into the section. One way to get into the place faster is to know what you are going to buy already. There will be a bouncer (or guard) standing at the front of the line. Just walk to him, show him the photo of the product you want to get. Pretending not to speak English also helps. By the grace of God, he will let you in. Proven from my experience at Gucci. It didn't work at Givenchy though.

One of the benefits of shopping at Harrods for tourists is the tax return. The store is a patron to Global Blue and they also have the facility to assist your tax refund at their store located at level 4 (or 5, I can't remember, but the apps able to bring you there in seconds). Expect a super long queue at the tax refund office.

Tips #6 - Split with your shopping buddy and get a minion to queue up for you at the tax return office

To save some time, you can ask someone to queue for you at the tax office. You will need to show your receipt in order to get your queue number. Purchase item #1, then get someone to queue for you, while you shop for item #2, #3 and so on.

Harrods is a great departmental store because it has wide range of products and you can get anything under one roof. However, the crowd during Boxing Day was mad. In fact I see people arguing, snatching from each other or even pushing to get their way through. I personally think it isn't worth the time if you do not have any specific item to purchase. You won't be able to stroll and take your time to try out the stuff. Even if you have a list of items you want to buy, you might not get it.

Contrary to popular belief, not everything is on sales. I bought the Gucci Soho and it is under their regular item range and there was no discount. Initially I wanted the red one, but it was sold out and had to opt for the black one. I went to Givenchy and the price for the Antigona bag is also a regular price item. That's when I decided I had enough of shopping.

I'm on a losing end to fight in the war of Boxing Day shopping when I saw the army of China tourists coming in. And not surprisingly, they have better spending power than us (maybe not you, but me). 

Jan 22, 2017

My Travel Beauty Essentials

Packing for my trip isn't that hard, I always stick to the basic clothing. But when it comes to selections of beauty products, I have a huge headache to deal with. Should I just stick to the usual stuff I use? Or should I bring different types of moisturizer just in case my skin changes? Do I need 3 lipsticks or just 1 will do?

Anyway, these are the beauty products that I heavily use during my trip. And if you are traveling to Europe around this time, you might benefit from it too.

Ted Baker Makeup Bag

This makeup bag had been serving me more than 3 years and counting. I remember I bought 2 of it because it is the prettiest makeup bag I've ever seen. I gave one of it to my best friend, because I really don't need 2 of it. It is spacious to fit all my makeups and skincare on the go. And it is also super durable. If given a bath, it will still look brand new. The price was around RM250 each, which I thought was expensive for a makeup bag. But now I think it's worth every penny.

Mary Kay Satin Lips Shea Butter Balm

I'm not a lip balm user when I'm in Malaysia. A tube of lip balm can last me a few years. But in winter, my lips need lots of it. The Mary Kay Satin Lips really helps to keep my lips smooth. I didn't experience any lip chap even though my lips were exposed to temperature below -4 degrees. I apply this right after I shower and leave it for half hour. And then I will use a tissue paper to blot out the product leaving a thin layer on my lips before I apply my lipstick on. 

Too Faced  Melted Velvet Lipstick

A lot of people commented on my red lipstick. It is the Too Face Melted lipstick in the colour Velvet. It photographs really pretty because of the sheen and the vivid colour. To be honest, it is not the lipstick you would appreciate to wear during winter. When the wind blew my hair across my face, it drags the lipstick off and left red trails on my face. It bleeds after awhile. Not the best lipstick to travel, but it photographs well.

Linden Leaves Body Oil

This is my biggest savior during my trip. I have eczema and this is one of the reasons why I don't like being in winter weather. This body oil eliminates half the damage to my skin. I applied it right after I jump out of the shower, the oil keeps my skin moist throughout the day and reduced itching. Although it is a body oil, it doesn't have the oily texture. Once applied on the skin, the oil just absorbed into the skin. I got this from the #IWillBeOkay beauty bag. I still have a quarter left after using it for 3 weeks and I'm saving every drop for my trip to Paris this March. 

Kiehl's Calendula Facial Wash

For the record, I totally forgotten my facial scrub and toner. So I relied on this facial wash alone to do the cleaning on my face. After the whole day out on the street, I am amazed that this Kiehl's Calendula facial wash can clean my skin completely. I didn't experience any breakouts (which is what normally happens whenever I travel). I got this from a gift-with-purchase from Kiehl's.

Zoeva Bamboo Luxury Set

There are a few hit and miss with these brushes. The face brushes are great, but the eyeshadow blending brush doesn't blend well. What I love about these brushes is the case actually. It protects the brush shape and the cylinder opens up into 2 brush holder cups. I put it on the hotel toilet and they display my makeup products nicely. I also put the eyeliners, mascara, eyebrow pencil and lipstick into it. For the girls who are always on-the-go, I do recommend you to get this brush set, not just because of the case, also it has all the brushes you need for everything.

Megurhythm Eyemask

This eye mask is a savior when it comes to dealing with jetlag. I put this on before sleeping on the plane, when I'm extremely tired and when I couldn't sleep a wink. I can't explain the science behind it, all I know is I wake up with a fresh pair of eyes. In my opinion, this is a traveler's must-have.

Face products trio

A few people also commented on my photo that I look radiant. I personally believe it is the face products that I use. They are the Marc Jacobs Genius Gel Foundation, NARS Reflecting Loose Setting Powder,  and the Hourglass Iridescent Strobe Lighting Powder. I've said this many times, and I'm going to say it again. The Hourglass highlighter is extremely nice for photographs. It is expensive, but who cares? It makes me look like a celebrity and it can make you look like one too!


This is not a beauty product per se. It's an anti-bacterial spray. I am extremely cautious with bacterias when I'm traveling because I don't want to get sick. I clean my plane seat and table with it, I sprayed my makeup brushes with it, I spray it on my pillow and basically I went on a bacteria holocaust throughout Europe with this. As a result, I didn't get sick and able to enjoy my trip well. I didn't see the bacteria dies, but I think it does its job well. Highly recommended.

Bath & Body Works Hand Paraffin

Forget hand cream. Up your game with hand paraffin. Normally this is only available at manicure salon. But I found it in Bath & Body Works, which is nice. It conceals the moisture of your skin better than hand moisturizer. And it lasts much longer because of the wax base. I call this the heavy dury hand cream which is great for traveling. You don't have to reapply it. Recommended!

Jo Malone Blackberry & Bay

The thing I love about Jo Malone is it comes in a smaller size, a sleek bottle which takes up very little space to stuff in the bag. My scent (as I call it) the Blackberry & Bay, is a fresh scent that suits every occasion. It doesn't matter what I wear, or where I go, at anytime of the day, this scent is right for the moment. If you have not try any of Jo Malone's fragrance, I do recommend you to try it yourself. Their perfume is one of a kind - made from fresh ingredients and it doesn't have the top note, middle note rhythm. They have a wide range of scent, go and look for your own scent.

P/S: Remember to join my Amsterdam, London & Paris giveaway <<here>>. 

Jan 20, 2017

Things you have to do in London

There is a sense of familiarity once you touch down London. It's like an old friend that you have always known. Living in the Commonwealth country all my life, learning British history in school, watching English movies, listening to The Beatles when I was young and grow up listening to the Spice Girls, I've been exposed to England at very young age. The moment I touch down in London, I feel connected.

There are a lot of London bucket list online where you can follow and tick off one-by-one. However, I'm not going to dictate your life on where to go and what to see. Instead, this is a guide for you to build your very own bucket list. These are the things that (in my opinion) you should not miss when you visit London to have the quintessentially British experience. You can even do three items in one event below. It is not a bucket list, but just something you can follow.

Eat Fish & Chips

You probably have heard of the good ol' fish & chips in London. The thing is, there are different ways of preparation and cooking of the fish & chips. It really depends on your taste bud. I prefer crispy and thin batter type. I had my first fish & chips at the Blue Boar (Tothill Street, Westminister), which is a contemporary British pub/restaurant dining. Another good place for fish & chips is Pier 1. Some batter are made of beer, if you have concern on halal food, please ask the waiting staff before ordering.

Fish & Chips at the Blue Boar, GBP15 for this

Visit a park & have picnic

Although London is a metropolitan city, it doesn't compromise on the environment. Lushest greenery parks are available throughout the city. Strolling on the park is one of the favourite local activities throughout the day. You can find family playing by the lake, readers sitting on the bench and joggers doing their usual rounds. The most visited park is the Hyde Park, the largest royal park in London. Many popular events are held here throughout the year, and the most promising event is the Winter Wonderland happening in December. If you do not have the time to explore Hyde Park, the St. James Park is located conveniently right next to Buckingham Palace where you can do a crossover visit when you go to the palace. Other than that, there's also Regent's Park located near the zoo.

Sakura tree at Hyde Park

Have English Breakfast

Really, there is no such thing as English breakfast. But the classic breakfast (bacon, egg, baked beans, sausage and sauteed mushrooms) are known as English breakfast right now. Check out the best place for traditional English breakfast here.

Visit a pub

Going to the pub is a social activity in London. In the olden days, before the invention of TV and internet, the pub is where the locals share news and be seen. There are a lot of pubs all over London. Check out the Time Out Best Bars and Pubs in London. I went to the Churchill Arms located at Notting Hill and arguably the prettiest pub in the hood with quirky interior. Surprisingly, this pub has one of the best Thai Restaurant in London. What a combination...

Churchill Arms pub at Notting Hill

Go to Market

Although the markets in London are turning more commercialized and tourist-y, it is still a great experience to visit one. The popular markets are Portobello Market (Notting Hill), Camden Market (North) and Marylebone Farmers Market (Central). For antiques shopping, visit Portobello, for cheap souvenirs visit Camden and for fresh produce visit the Marylebone. Grab some snacks at the market too. They're cheap and delish.

Go to a football stadium

What's life without football? Maybe you won't think about it, but to the locals, their home team is everything they live for. The stadiums nearby the city are Stamford Bridge (Chelsea) Stadium Emirates Stadium (Arsenal) and Wembley Arena (close to London Designers' Outlet). Go for a stadium tour to understand the game and why is it such an important game throughout the world. If you can, catch a game. It is pretty difficult to get the ticket, but your concierge may be able to help out. (Tickets are available for sale for club members only and often sold out within few hours).

Shop at Harrods/Liberty

Harrods and Liberty are the two prominent departmental stores in London in terms of its historical value to the city. Liberty started as a trading market where merchants from different countries trade their specialty products. And Harrods have been serving the rich and famous in the olden days. The two stores are keeping up with time and now they have some exclusive designers item where you can't get elsewhere. Harrods have a lot of exclusive deals with the local brands such as Burberry.

Shop for Vintage stuff at Notting Hill

London has a large number of rich residents for a long time compared to the other parts of the world. Therefore, you can find a lot of valuable vintage products in the curio stores. The place that particularly attracts these priceless collectibles is at Notting Hill. There are a lot of vintage stores scattered around the town and it isn't hard to spot a good one based on your interest. There are stores that cater specifically for vintage clothing, furniture, toys, records, jewelery or bigger store that has everything.

Visit a museum

Even if you are not a fan of museums, you will find a museum that you will like. I particularly love the Natural History Museum where the movie Night in the Museum was inspired from. It makes me feel like I walk through a dinosaur park. Every section of the museum excites me. The mummy room is particularly eerie and interesting at the same time. And the center piece of the museum is a large dinosaur skeleton that is so mind boggling. Despite being one of the most expensive city to visit, London has many free museums such as Tate Modern Museum.

Skating rink outside the Natural History Museum

Eat scones

Say scones... Did you just say sko-uns? Well, it is pronounced (rather unmelodicaly) as skhorns. Like many other great inventions by the British, the scones is one of their influence. Scones are now available at every afternoon tea menu. Eating it in London gives a different feeling because, first, they're made fresh here and served with fresh strawberry jam and cream, secondly, you will get an original scones from the original recipe.

Scones at the Harrods Cafe

Something about the Queen

Everywhere you go, you will see the Queen's portrait. Highly celebrated as one of the best leaders of our time, Queen Elizabeth II is the true icon of England. Even her portrait is printed on the money here. Go visit the Queen at Buckingham Palace. Not literally though, because you won't be able to get in anyway. But you can enjoy the scenery of the palace, observe the changing of the guards and walk in her park. The changing of the guards ceremony does not happen everyday. However, you can check out the schedule at the front of the palace. The best place to view it is from the statue podium in front of the palace. Get the highest step for the best view.

Buckingham Palace shot

Take the tube

The tube (or subway) of London is one of the oldest and the best intercity train in the world. We all can agree that the British are very good in building the best railway system. Also, the tube is one of the daily mode of transport of everyone here. Experience the culture at the tube - musicians playing on the walkway, homeless refugees seeking for donations, weird characters loitering around and normal characters rushing with their daily schedule. It is a scene that you just have to see it yourself.

Have English Afternoon Tea

The English Afternoon Tea is a must-to-do. Besides a daily meal for the British, the afternoon tea invites a whole different agenda to your not-so-simple high tea. First, learn the proper table manners of savouring the afternoon tea. Secondly, pay attention to the menu selection and also the tea made for pairings. Thirdly, inhale in the surrounding environment and take to heart the finest china use during your afternoon tea. Check out the best place for London's afternoon tea here.

Watch a West End show

The West End is like the Broadway of New York. There are a lot of amazing shows that worth spending your money for - The Lion King, Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, Matilda, Dreamgirls, Mamma Mia and The Wicked are the ones that I have watched. Check out and book the show title and times here.

With the cast of Wicked

Spot filming location

London is famous of its city skyline, landmark buildings and beautiful sceneries that have been featured in a lot of blockbuster screen. There are a few movie tours which you can follow and the most famous one being the Harry Potter filming location tour. You can follow the free tour provided by Strawberry Tours for the most iconic Harry Potter filming locations.

Go out of the city

You can't say you have been to England without exploring the country side. The nearest country sides you can go to from London for a short trip are Oxford, Bath, Salisbury (where the Stonehenge located) and Brighton (for the beach). The country side are easily accessible by train or bus. You can even take a road trip by renting a car for the ease of moving around. The country side has a lot of nature to offer with guaranteed relaxation on the road.

Take photo at iconic locations

How can you not take photos at the iconic locations in London? These iconic places are Big Ben, London Bridge, Westminster Bridge, the Parliament, Buckingham Palace, St. Paul Cathedral, the Eye of London, the Shard and the underground tube station signage.

Take a Sunday Roast

The Sunday Roast is a traditional British food. Like the name suggests, it is typically served on Sunday particularly after church. Right now, it is served throughout the week and all around the clock. The roast comes in different types of meat, the beef being the popular choice, served with mashed potatoes, vegetables and Yorkshire pudding.

Skyline view of the city

You have many options to go to for a panoramic view of the city. The St. Paul Cathedral rooftop is one of the free option, but with limited view because the building isn't that high. For a view that you won't be disappointed, take the Eye of London gondola. The Gherkin and The Shard are the commercial buildings that has magnificent view of the entire city.

View from The Shard

Learn history

In London, people appreciates history. History aren't meant to be learn only in school books. It can be learn through observations, through your five senses and through conversation with the locals. You will appreciate what you see if you understand a little bit of the history of London. If you don't know where to start, take a tour at the Tower of London or get a double decker bus guided tour. 

Jan 19, 2017

Hotel Review: The Majestic Hotel Kuala Lumpur & Its Afternoon Tea

The trip to Kuala Lumpur was an unplanned one. With plenty of choices of hotel, we opt for a location which is away from the hustle and bustle of busy traffic but still within the range of KL city. The Majestic Hotel is probably the best choice since it is a stone throw away from KL Central (for easy public transport access) and far enough to keep away the crowd.

Check-in was pretty easy and fast as well. We got our key in less than 10 minutes. The standard room was above our expectation in terms of the size of the room. A king sized bed sits magnificently in the center of the room. There's also a huge lazy bed right next to the window for a comfortable resting.

What awed me the most is the bathroom with a modern bathtub as its center piece of attention. It comes with a TV and also duo wash basin. The shower has duo function - hand held shower and also rain shower. I would say this bathroom is fully equipped and there's nothing more I can ask for (except if they can provide a bigger counter for all my makeups and skincare, that would be a bonus).

The room also has its own study which is nice to have but under utilized. It quickly turned into a storage zone for all my shopping bags and packed food. The large wall mirror also helps a lot when I needed sunlight to do my makeup.

The breakfast was OK. Not much of a variety but good enough to feed a hungry beast in the morning. The hotel also has shuttle service to KL Central and Bukit Bintang, which is really convenient for the guests. The day after I returned, I received a feedback form on my email. I answered honestly. Part of my dissatisfaction was the breakfast which we found tiny stone in the food. The response from the manager was immediate. I always think that the feedback form is only a procedure and never thought that the staff will look into it so seriously. This proves that the staff at The Majestic Hotel really do care about the service they provide to ensure that their guests are satisfied with the hotel.

If you're looking for a hotel that has spotless clean room with modern luxury furniture, The Majestic is where I would recommend. The rate per night is approximately RM500.

While staying at the hotel, I also called up some friends to catch up for an afternoon tea. While exchanging our stories and keeping up with what's going on with our friends' life, it is nice to have some sweets and pastries to go along with the conversation. The Majestic Hotel is one of the well-known location for afternoon tea. There are a few sections where you can choose to have your tea - the Orchid Conservatory, the Tea Lounge or the Drawing Room.

Instead of the usual pastry tray, the foods are presented in a unique rack. The menu of the day is the same for all the guests, except that you are able to choose the tea that you like. Before serving, the staff will give a brief explanation of the types of pastries and sweets. It was really distracting with all the unfamiliar jargons and noises behind which prompted me to suggest them to print out a list of the items and the explanation instead of mumbling it out.

In my honest point of view, it wasn't the best afternoon tea that I've tried in Kuala Lumpur. The food was mediocre. The quantity given was random. We ordered 3 sets, but some of the item came with 1 piece and our tray was filled with 6 scones! The red velvet cake was really good but they served us 1 piece only, which we had to fight for it.

Still, the Majestic Hotel is one of the popular spot for afternoon tea. I must stress that the ambience and hospitality were fantastic. Albeit not getting a table in the Orchid Conservatory, we still enjoyed each other's company at the Tea Lounge. With all the British colonial accent surrounding us, you can't help but feel like you've been transported back in history. True elegance and majestic.

To secure your table for the afternoon tea, do make your reservation a week before. The tea lounge gets really crowded and walk-in customers can hardly get a table because everyone is taking their own sweet time enjoying the tea.


Jan 14, 2017

How to buy Laduree Macaron & Laduree Kuala Lumpur Opening Soon

I cannot contain my heart, it's going to pour out macarons. And I may shed tears of joy at any time right now! Behold, I bring you the greatest news to kick off 2017....

LADUREE is opening in MALAYSIA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

*At this point you may scream your lung off*

When in Paris, the top of my to-do list is to go to Laduree and grab a box of macaron. I just have to do it. So I did. It's like an obligatory visit for girls when you're in Paris. You can forget about Chanel Rue Cambon, you can forget about Tour Eiffel, you can even forget about The Louvre, but you cannot forget about Laduree...

Trying to look cool, but I'm just controlling my scream inside

You may ask what is this irrational fanatic craze over Laduree. I don't know. And I know I am not the only one. Laduree have spread their wings to a lot of other countries - Japan, UK, Belgium, and even our neighbour country, Singapore. Their presence in Kuala Lumpur brings me huge happiness. It makes me feel like my life is complete, now that I have access to macarons packed in pretty boxes.

Purchase this Laduree Rose Blush from <<here>>

Let me tell you how things work in Laduree, just in case you would want to prepare for your greatest experience in indulging it:

First, you have to know that Laduree has a lot of products under their wings - bakery, restaurant & cafe, stationery, beauty and home interior. They separate the brand under different houses:

Laduree - Bakery
Les Marquis de Laduree - Chocolate boutique
Les Secret Laduree - Stationery & Gifts
Beaute Laduree - Home fragrance
Les Merveilleuses - Cosmetic & Skincare

Now they are venturing into literature as well. Don't be confused. Let's just focus on the bakery. They have a lot of other pastries in their bakery but the famous one is definitely the macaron.

  1. When ordering, the first thing you need to let the shop assistant know is, how many pieces you want, 1 or 3 or 6 or 9 or 12. This is to prepare them for the box. 
  2. Boxes are provided for 6 pieces and above. If you order 1-3 pieces, they're going to pack it in paper bag. The have variety of colours and box design which makes you feel like you want it all.
  3. Then, they will ask you which box you'd like to have. Lastly, pick the macarons flavours that you want from the display. Take note that they also have special flavour for the day. You may be given the flavour menu while you are still queueing up on the line. That will save you some time to decide which one to go to. 

You may experience extreme long queue at Laduree Champs-Elysees. Don't be surprised if you have to wait an hour to be on the queue just to get a box of macaron. It's normal. But there's one trick to skip the queue, which is to pre-order it online. Pick your box and macaron online, and have it request to deliver to you (in Paris only). Alternatively, you can opt for pick-up by appointment. That saves a lot of your time.

Why Laduree is so famous:

  1. It's all about branding. Having really pretty packaging and corporate identity that reflect Paris in a very detailed form has gained fans all over the world. 
  2. The macaron itself is an art of baking. Some says macaron is invented by Louis Ernest Laduree himself. 
  3. It is a brand that made popular by a lot of celebrities and movies (the macaron appeared in Marie Antoinette movie and Gossip Girl series); and is portrayed as the Rolls Royce of macarons.
Now, where is this Laduree going to appear in Malaysia? The location is at Pavilion, Kuala Lumpur.

Photo from Places & Foods travel blog. Do check out the blog for amazing travel tips & first hand news on happenings.

I can't wait!!!! Long live Laduree!!!! 


Jan 13, 2017

The Other Side of Amsterdam

In a typical fashion, Amsterdam has always been a city that is known for the Red Light District and weed legalization. Those who visited Amsterdam before can agree that there are so much more that the city can offer. For example, it is a city that is inspired by art everywhere you go. There's Van Gogh Museum, pop up exhibition of Banksy & Andy Warhol. When you have a city that is moved by art, you will have a culture that is so rooted by inventiveness.

This is the other side of Amsterdam...

Me, hoping to drop a Boom Clap but baby, it's cold outside

Oude Kerk

This is the oldest building in the city circa 800 years old. It is a breath taking monument located right across the Red Light District. It seems peculiar to have the good and evil living as neighbours, but this is the characteristic of Amsterdam - tolerance for difference, possibly a good place to travel for gay partners. Just like other big churches, it has a lot of hidden secrets. Request for the audio guide at the entrance counter for some juicy stories.

Can you hear Phantom of the Opera playing behind me from that organ?

Possibly the most artistic shot I took at Oude Kerk


The national food of the Dutch is pancake. They eat it for breakfast, it's like our roti canai. Unlike our ordinary pancakes, the Dutch reimagined the recipe and invented hundred of different ways to cook the pancake. One of the recommended place to have it is in Pancakes Amsterdam. The have 3 outlets, the best is at Berenstraat 38, 1016 GH Amsterdam. It opens from 9am to 6pm. They serve Stroopswafel (Dutch cookies) and present to you a small wooden clog keychain after you pay. It's kinda tourist-y but the price and taste aren't. That's the best thing.

Walking around

I stayed at Hotel CC, Warmoesstraat (street name) which the best spot for walking to most the city attractions. It is walking distance to Oude Kerk, Red Light District, Dam Square, Amsterdam Centraal, Royal Palace, Anne Frank House, and Magna Plaza. Basically I can cover all these location within a day and that save me a day worth of transportation. At night the street turns lively with restaurants, bars and cafe serving foods from around the world. You can also walk to Amsterdam Centraal and catch any kind of transportation.

Grand Palace

My reaction when I see a real Christmas tree that is this huge!

One of the thing I like to do is to wake up really early for a walk and see how the city gradually wakes up
View from my hotel room

Heineken Experience

Take note that Heineken Experience is not the Heineken factory. Do not expect to see how your beer is made, however, you can definitely learn how it is made here. Nonetheless, it is an extremely fun place to go. In fact kids are allowed as well. The tour starts with the walk of fame (boring) and you will come to a section where they place mock machines to explain the beer making process. Then you come to a section with high technology games and activities where you can send your photos or videos you made directly to your email. It is free! And the enjoyable part of all is there rooftop bar where you fresh Heineken beer are served.

The game section

The beer making process section
The beer is so good that my hair flies

Rijksmuseum & Van Gogh Museum

You need a day or at least half a day to visit the Rijksmuseum & Van Gogh Museum. The reason why I group the two of it together is because they're located side by side. The I AMSTERDAM sign is located here. And Van Gogh Museum is best to visit on Friday evening because the foyer will turn into a club scene with mind blown entertainment (no extra charge).

Canal Cruise

My experience of the canal cruise was really bad because we didn't know what to expect of it. First of all, we took the water colour cruise, which is a ride that brings you to all the lights installation on the water. This cruise is one of the winter highlight of the city. We found out later that the light installation has a better view from the street because you can stop at the area and take nice photos instead of passing it by on the water. Secondly, we went at a wrong time, which is during night. I recommend you to take the day cruise because you have a clearly view when the sun is still bright. Thirdly, we were seated at the wrong seat - in front where the window panel is raise. My vision was blocked by the window panel and my only choice is to stretch my neck and raise up my butt to get a good view. Lastly (possibly the worst thing that happen during the cruise), was a bunch of kids monkeying at the back of the boat. We couldn't hear the tour clearly. Although being complained a few times, the parents did very little to control the kids. They were literally screaming their lung off, laughing like a bunch of hyenas and jumping on the boat. Hashtag: WORST RIDE EVER! FYI, I slept during the cruise.

Quick Tips:

  1. Amsterdam is very safe for solo traveler despite its reputation for prostitution and weed.
  2. You can smell weed in every corner of the street, if you are sensitive to the smell, there's nothing much you can do about it.
  3. Don't bother to get the Holland Pass because it restricts your visit to the category they set. Besides, it doesn't save you much money anyway.
  4. If you go unprepared with an itinerary, grab a copy of the Tours & Tickets booklet from the Tours & Tickets outlet. They also have pop up stalls all around the city. The booklet gives you discount vouchers. And you can purchase tour packages directly from them at a very low rate. Also, they include free pickup service for their bus excursion. The booklet is also available in some of the hotel lobby. City map is included inside the booklet as well.
  5. Tram is the easiest way to get around the city. Purchase the ticket opposite the Central Station. Google Map is your best friend to find out which platform and which train to board.
  6. They're moving into cashless trading. Prepare your card everytime you want to make payment.
  7. Buy your attraction tickets online to skip queue. You can do that early in the morning in your hotel before going out to hitch on the wifi.
  8. I stayed in Hotel CC. Super awesome location, but extremely small room.
  9. Speaking of room, they have really small restaurants with small chairs. For those with bigger butt (ahem.. like me) be prepared to feel uncomfortable. Tipping is not necessary but welcomed.
  10. Plan a trip to Zaanse Schans, a typical Dutch village. It requires a day to explore the place. Best way to get there is to purchase a tour package at Tours & Tickets. It cost only 49euro for 6 hours tour which includes the windmill demonstration, clog making experience, cheese factory, boat trip to IJsselmeer, Dutch village and a meal. Extremely worth it.
  11. The I Amsterdam sign isn't worth it to visit because it is just a sign. It is located outside Rijksmuseum and you can expect busy crowd flocking around for the best shot. It is not easy to get a good shot because it is a big sign and you can't possibly fit it in the frame unless you have a good wide angle camera. Plus, you will get lots of photobomb in the photo. Not many people know this, but there's another I Amsterdam sign at the Schipol Airport with lesser crowd. To get a good shot, go to the Schipol Airport one, conveniently once you arrive or right before you fly out.