Category Archives: Life & Style

Architectural wonders of Sydney

“Photos are a return ticket to a moment otherwise gone,” – Anonymous

To me, Sydney was always the typical buzzing busy big city of Australia. May have visit it few times in my 18 years of living in this beautiful country, but I have never been so impressed by Sydney. Perhaps I am perfectly brainwashed by Melbourne and its charm, that I refuse to see the beauty of Sydney.

When anyone think of Sydney, Australia, the first image that pops to mind might be the Harbour Bridge or the Sydney Opera House. Off course, both landmarks are fantastic examples of grand architectures that exist in this beautiful bayside city.

On my recent trip to Sydney, I believe I finally have a newfound appreciation for this city. Aside from the grand landmarks of Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge, I had two days to really explore the city on foot. I discovered many beautiful classic greco-roman style architectures, as well as the stunning Gothic style of Saint Mary’s Cathedral.

Art Gallery of New South Wales is definitely one of the most stunning art gallery I have ever seen. Located right in the middle of the vast area of Royal Botanic Garden, the Greco-style building with its own parthenon like front facade, looked majestic and slightly intimidating to me. The 145 years old building’s current design, the result of the 1882 destruction of the original Garden Palace by fire, intrigues me because of its sheer grandeur. The outside wall of the building lined by names of many famous artists throughout the ages, such as Botticelli and Bellini, which I thought was a nice touch.

St Andrew’s Cathedral, right in the middle of Sydney CBD, with its classic Gothic Revival style pictured below, has got to be a personal favourite of mine.

Since I stayed around George St, I walked pass the Cathedral almost every time. The beautiful stained glass windows are so stunning, as much as I don’t consider myself a religious person, I highly appreciate the biblical stories depicted on these windows.

I can’t possibly share about the stunning classical architectural buildings of Sydney without mentioning the Queen Victoria Building, pictured above. QVB has got to be the most beautiful shopping centre in Australia, such classic architecture to be housing various Australian and International retail giants. I never forget the day that Melbourne gave the Melbourne General Post Office (GPO) building to H&M, such a huge mistake, Melbourne’s GPO could have been what QVB is to Sydney. So for me, it was bittersweet to walk through this beautiful building and wishing that we have something similar to it here in Melbourne.

St Mary’s Cathedral, pictured below located near Sydney’s Hyde Park is every Gothic-architectural nerds’ dream! I am one, and walking past the Cathedral in the afternoon after one full gallery visit day, placed me on such a high emotionally and I could not stop smiling.

I was blessed with two beautiful sunny days to explore Sydney on foot, which helped me see the city in a different light. What a stunning place to explore and just, as Parisian called it, flaneur. Which is exactly what I did, walking endlessly with no particular destination, aside from my hotel room to rest my head at the end of the day.

Was there ever a city that you were so happily discover on foot, filled with beautiful buildings and sights to see? Share with me πŸ™‚

-k.

Singapore’s architectural landmarks: a love at first sight

“I don’t think all buildings have to be iconic, but the history of the world has shown us that cultures build iconic buildings,” – Frank Gehry

The opportunity to travel, for me, is the greatest blessing I have the fortune to be able to do in my life. Every time I travel, I am always reminded to say my thanks for the journey or adventures I’m about to have. Growing up with architects as parents, I am accustomed to notice and appreciate the beauty of buildings, the older the architecture the better. I believe this is probably the roots of my love and appreciation for the Arts. In all of our travels as family, or when I travel by myself, older architectural landmarks are a must-see.

Singapore is probably one of my most visited city. When I used to reside in Jakarta, Singapore is an hour away hence an easy getaway. Once I moved to Melbourne, Singapore is a transit airport on my way home. Ever since my best friend moved back to her hometown of Singapore, I have more excuse to visit this island nation. For the years I have visited Singapore, I am always stuck between the bustle of Orchard Road or Sentosa Island. During my recent visit there, I have decided to not go to my usual path and ask my bestie to take me to places in Singapore with old architectural landmarks. So my bestie and her awesome hubby took me to these amazing neighbourhoods…

Joo Chiat Heritage Town

Once a coconut plantation owned by a wealthy Peranakan – Chinese descends family, Joo Chiat Heritage Town is filled with colourful shop-fronts and ornate two-storeys houses. The vibrancy of these houses brings so much joy to my day. Many of them are private residents which means visitors will not be able to see any further than the unique facades of the buildings. While we were there, there aren’t many visitors but few locals taking selfie of their own. In one of the house, a group of elderly men and women gathered to socialise, playing card games or Mahjong, which made me so happy. It felt like I get to take a peek into their daily life, living in these beautiful houses.

The neighbourhood of Tiong Bahru

Tiong Bahru neighbourhood might not be a new discovery for many, but I am so happy to have discovered it this time around. The whole neighbourhood is filled with art-modern inspired buildings. Some of the outer facade of the buildings are made from exposed bricks which contrast the plain white wall. If you keep walking around the area, you’ll find unique cafΓ©s and adorable brunch places within these unique buildings.

One of the unique sights to see around Tiong Bahru are the murals, which depicts the everyday life of the many Tiong Bahru residences. The murals are spread around the neighbourhood and in order to find them, you do have to go on a mini treasure hunt.

Capitol Theatre

I adore old theatres, they always have unique characteristics and a unique story of their own. Wedged between modern building on both sides, Capitol Theatre feels out of place in the way that it exists amongst all the modernity. However, despite the oddity I am so happy to have stumble upon this theatre.

I am glad to have find these pockets of unique architectures during this trip. I feel that the short four days trip is so much more fulfilling than the many other times I have been to Singapore. One of the best thing about Singapore is the accessibility, therefore you can go to any of these places using Singapore’s amazing underground train system.

Do you have any Singapore’s travel stories to share? Leave them in the comment below please, would love to read it.

-k.

Seoul, I love you

“Travel makes one modest, you see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.”

Gustav Flaubert

It’s been a long time coming. I have missed this creative space that is “Lifestyle Monolog” and I thought it is only appropriate to pick up where we left off. After my amazing trip to Thailand in 2017, I was determined to continue my travels from that moment on. Before I catch you up on 2019’s travels, I would love to share with you the best travel experience I have had in a long time, the time I travel to Seoul, South Korea.

Seoul is one of the city that I have always wanting to visit, for the longest time. Perhaps it was all the Korean variety shows I have been watching, or all the Korean food I have been enjoying with my friends here in Melbourne. May 2018, after much spontaneity, I took my little sister from another mother and father, JQ on a 10 days adventure in Seoul city!

Life saving tips:

Buy your T-Money card, for all your public transportation needs. You can buy them at 7Eleven, in many cute designs, and top them up at any train station

Download Naver Map. Forget Google Map, it does not work as well as Naver Map. Best thing about Naver Map, it is in English and if you typed in your location and where you want to go, it helps to break down which station you should get on and off, and most importantly, which exit to come out from. Cause in Seoul, if you walked out the wrong exit, you could end up being further away from where you’re wanting to go

Download Mango Plate app. This is the best foodie app ever! Once you find the area you are wanting to dine in, it gives you a list of hot spots according to the local Seoul residents, who will give their honest opinions on this app

Take the subway train EVERYWHERE, definitely one of the best subway system I have ever been on. Taxi, unless you speak Korean, forget about it. Convenient, fast and clean, the only thing is exit and entry to some stations requires your expertise in Stair-Master, the steps are no joke

My pick of must-go places are,

1. Samcheong-dong

With the old traditional houses, Hanok, clustered around the hilly side of town, the area feels more like a village within a city. Many tourists walking around wearing the traditional Korean dresses called, Hanbok, it is not too hard to think that you have just stepped back in time.

In this area of Jong-no, two must see concept stores are GRANHAND Perfumery, for some unique and personalised scent and GENTLE MONSTER, for some really snazzy sunglasses. Actually, any GENTLE MONSTER stores are worth the visit, simply because they have such outrageous interior. I went to another one in Hong-dae area and it is as over the top. Worth it.

2. Ihwa Mural Village

Warning: another hike up and get ready to climb up some serious steps.

As an art enthusiast, I am always excited to see the Arts in all sorts of form. Public art such as, murals are always fun. During our visit, some of the murals have disappeared, however, it was all worth it as we get a different view of Seoul from the top of the hill. As it is a residential area, we get to see how the local elderly relax and enjoyed the ever slightly cool breeze of Seoul’s summer.

3. Namsan Tower & Namsan Folk Village

I do think that the folk village was created to satisfy the tourists, however it is still worth the visit after a hike down from Namsan. The tower is feasible literally from any point in the city, and it is fun to go up to get an overall view of Seoul from up high. But winding down at the folk village in the afternoon, after all the tourists are gone, were quite the highlight. I remember exactly as I sat down in one corner of this space, I told myself, perhaps one day I could live in Seoul for a little while.

4. Dongdaemun Plaza

Only recommended for those of you who enjoys vast modern architectures. It is essentially the place for Seoul Fashion Week and aside from the awesome Kakao Friends store, Dongdaemun Plaza is pretty empty. We spent a good amount of time in the Kakao Friends Store and five minutes walking around the building. We walked around to find great photo spots and onwards we went.

5. Common Ground

The concept is simple, grouped bunch of shipping containers like UNO Stacko and create a cool shopping/foodie complex within them. The area is clearly catered to the young Seoulites, evident from all the cute trinkets sold and the ever so cool streetwear clothing options. Highly recommend visiting DORE DORE cafe and enjoy their Rainbow Cake, highly sugary and addictive.

6. Leeum Samsung Museum & Hannam-dong Neighbourhood

Even if you don’t enjoy Arts the way I do, I would still highly recommend a visit to this private museum. The gallery spaces are divided into two, historical gallery filled with old artefacts and a contemporary side filled with local and international who’s who of the art world. I was pretty gobsmacked by the list of international artists included in their collection, notably Basquiat, Rothko, Kapoor, Richter and Hirst. Entrance are half price for students, including overseas university students as long as you showed your student ID, if not entry fee is around AUD$10, which is so very affordable.

Apart from the Museum itself, the area where it is located, Hannam-dong, are full of cool cafes and shops. I highly recommend a visit to ONE IN A MILLION cafe, their red velvet cake is too good to be missed.

One more area in Seoul I would highly, highly recommended is Iksan-dong. Hot spots such as MADANG CAFE and SEOUL COFFEE are worth the trip. The lack of photographs of this particular area is done deliberately, cause I think Iksan-dong is a part of Seoul that you have to explore without a pre-conceive idea of what it looks like. But if you happened to follow me on Instagram, feel free to scroll and get a little taste of Iksan-dong.

As I am typing this post, I am planning another Seoul trip in 2020, in my mind cause something about this city took a piece of my heart and I could not shake off my holiday blues. Despite my endless Korean food nights with my Korean friends in Melbourne, the feeling of being in Seoul is not something I can replace. A feeling that I definitely can not wait to experience more often, sooner rather than later.

Have you been to Seoul? Share with me your thoughts on comments below πŸ™‚

– k.

Ayutthaya, Thailand


“Not all those who WANDER are LOST” – J.R.R. Tolkien


Ayutthaya, an ancient seat of government for Thai royals, an old city of temple ruins and history. Merely few hours drive from the modern capital city of Bangkok, Ayutthaya is a stark contrast to the mega-metropolis. The moment you reach the area, you wonder if perhaps you have been transported through time. Ancient temples aplenty, it is definitely worth the day trip…

Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon… has some of the most beautiful white statues of Buddha. One of the larger ancient temples in Ayutthaya and a personal favourite to explore. The large temple ground is dominated by a grand center stupa, which are wrapped in yellow cloth, similar to that of a monk’s robe,


Wat Phanan Choeng… has one the larger Buddha statue in a sitting position, while Wat Pho near the Grand Palace in Bangkok has the larger reclining Buddha statue. It is an active temple where blessing ceremony happens on the daily. While I was there, I had the opportunity to experience this blessing ceremony. It is an amazing personal experience that I could not put down in words. Regardless of what your religious belief, the blessing ceremony is such an intense spiritual moment that can only be experienced with an open heart and mind,
Wat Na Phra Men… surrounded by few other temples which contain some of the oldest Buddha relics and statues, Wat Na Phra Men is a classic Thai temple architecture that can not be missed. The intricate ornaments and carvings of the temple rooftop is something to be admire,Β 


And while you’re exploring the beautiful ancient city, make sure you asked the local the best place to sample their most famous grilled river king prawn, which is actually the size of a lobster…

-love K.

Packing for a Week Getaway

Posted this flatlay of my packed carry-on few days ago on my Instagram, and thought it’ll be fun to share what I bring on my week getaway πŸ™‚ Can you tell that I’m way too excited about this trip… 

 

Since I’m traveling on budget airline, they don’t give you a check on allowance for luggage, you pretty much have to buy all the luxury basic normal airlines provided. Hence packing a check in luggage is an art form…

 
Loving these Uniqlo Ines De La Fressange’s shirts, they’re basic for any women’s wardrobe and so affordable. Plain tshirts are always a staple considering the warm tropical weather I’m about to face and lastly, my go-to plane outfit of jeans and stripe to,  
 
Jeans to wear on plane. Shorts, to survive hunid weather and a dressy pants for unexpected occasions. Love traveling with my Adidas, but let’s be real, in hot tropics you’ll thank whoeever invented ballet flats and sandals, 

 

Denim dress, stripe dress or general shirt dress are my go-to humid outfit. Always bring over the shoulder bag for the plane, a good sized that fits everything is always a good idea, and pack a clutch if you suspects a possible girls night out,

My basic skincare essentials, 

  

And the very minimum makeup tools possible, I don’t wear too much makeup on holiday, only basics neutral look. But red lipstick is a staple, it brights up your look especially after a long haul flight…

 
The tricks to fit them all,

  • Buy a travel liquid containers! You don’t need a full size facial washes and serums for a week’s trip, so investing in clear plastic bottles will save your life
  • Roll your clothes, not a new idea for sure, but rolling saves so much space
  • Stuff underwear into empty space, e.g. your clutch, that way you are maximising your cabin luggage space
  • Save samples given by makeup stores. Yes, if you buy products at any beauty counter, they tend to overload you with samples. Be sure to ask for useful samples that you can use while traveling
  • Be ruthless!!! Let’s be real, we’re not doing a fashion show while we’re traveling, unless off course you happened to be a fashion blogger. Cut down to apparel you can mix&match and will actually wear

Enjoy your flight and holiday, avoid all the waiting on the baggage carousel and definitely not paying anymore than your amazingly affordable budget air tickets! 
-love Karina.

Crystal Castle, Byron Bay

  
Crystal Castle

81 Monet Dr, Mullumbimby NSW 2482

(02) 6684 3111

This place is too beautiful for words, so serene and peaceful. It is a tranquil escape that leaves you rejuvenated. Highly recommended! 

   
    
    
    
    
    
   
You don’t have to believe in the teachings of Buddha or Hinduism, Crystal Castle offers a peaceful sanctuary for everyone. It is a quite place to reflect and relax. If you have the chance, I personally think it’ll be a good must-see.

-love Karina. 

Paris… with Emma & Roe

Paris… 

The city of light, the capital of France, the city that sparks romance and creativity… 

Ever since my first trip to Paris, I have been fascinated by the city, the food, the language and the people, especially their style choices. Through books and films, and an unhealthy number of Eiffel Tower paraphernalia, I continue to foster my love for Paris

Imagine my excitement looking at Emma & Roe page and find Paris related charms that I can call my own…  

  

Here are my tribute to one of my favourite city on earth, ParisLa belle ville…

  

    
    
   
If you are as obsessed with Paris as much as me, here are the links to my charm bracelet,

  
Sterling Silver Eiffel Tower Charm
  

Sterling Silver Arc De Triomphe France Charm
  
Black Leather Double Length Bracelet
Charms Images via Emma & Roe site.
-love Karina.