Tag Archives: travel

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.

Let’s talk about ChatThai, Sydney

“Food is our common ground, a universal experience,” – James Beard.

One of the best thing about traveling, for me, is the chance to enjoy great food. Street foods are always the best way to integrate yourself with the local culture, however, sometimes there will be that one exception and a place like Chat Thai in Sydney, is it. Chat Thai is everywhere in Sydney, but the one I went to is below,

Chat Thai

20 Campbell St, Haymarket NSW 2000

The first time I tried Chat Thai, is during my last visit to Sydney in 2015/2016. The food was so good and quite authentic to many dishes I have had in Thailand. So imagine my excitement when I saw my hotel’s location during my recent trip to Sydney, happened to be right across the road from a Chat Thai restaurant.

What I ordered?

  • Som Tum (Papaya Salad)
  • Grilled Pork Neck with Sticky Rice
  • Yen Ta For
  • Iced Thai Milk Tea, off course

Som Tum (Papaya Salad)

Simple dish, with complex burst of flavours in your mouth. The savoury, sour and spiciness came through cleanly with every bites. The crunchy nuts are definite texture you need to complete the whole dish

Grilled Pork Neck eaten with Sticky Rice

This has got to be my most favourite dish amongst the three. When I was in Bangkok, I am so obsessed with eating sticky rice with Moo Ping (grilled pork satay), readily sacrificing my possible digestive health purchasing these satay from random street food vendors with flies flying around. The flavours of Chat Thai’s grilled pork neck is the closest to moo ping, I have tried outside of Bangkok. The dipping sauce is sour, savoury and spicy with a touch of sweetness, which is so perfect to go with the sticky rice. A must try!

Yen Ta For (Spicy fermented tofu noodle soup)

Another favourite Thai dish of mine is Yen Ta For, perhaps because the scent and flavour transformed me back to Jatujak Weekend Market in Bangkok. Unfortunately, I was slightly disappointed with the one I had in Chat Thai. Personally, I think the Yen Ta For I had in Bangkok was such perfect balance of spicy and sourness. The Chat Thai version feels bland and does not have the certain “fermented” flavours. Despite that, I am grateful that they do serve this style soup, cause it is so hard to find in Melbourne’s many Thai restaurants.

-k.

Minimalism: Space . Light . Object. National Gallery Singapore

“It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, who is poor,” – Seneca

The world we live in today crave excess, reward the most extravagant and embrace the worship of material things. And I think some people believe, the more you have, the better. Arts have become one of those status symbol, the object of obsession for those who wants to convey a certain image in our excessive world. Thus the irony of an exhibition glorifying minimalism is not lost on me. This is a continuum of my previous post on Minimalism art exhibition I recently went to in Singapore and unlike part one, this one held in National Gallery Singapore is shouting excess in the most minimalist way.

Housed within City Hall and previous Supreme Court building, the National Gallery Singapore is the largest visual art gallery and museum for the island nation. The building played many significant role in Singapore’s national history, and many of the country’s historical documents are still stored within the building.

Compared to Minimalism exhibition in the ArtScience Museum, this one is much larger in scale and filled with the more traditional form of artworks, dominated by paint work and sculptures. The vast building provides an endless pockets of artwork which begins on the ground floor with Dan Flavin’s installation which resembles New York’s Empire State Building.

The first room that displayed a Rothko (far left in picture above), is accompanied by few other Rothko inspired canvas works. I do believe that Rothko always intended for his works to be displayed in groups, but the difficulties of the task does not elude yours truly, hence the grouping of his work with others is aiming for the same impact. A study of black and every possible shades of it, is perhaps an appropriate theme of this second pocket of artworks. The idea of Rothko expressing human emotions through his work by using only black seems dark and repressive. But what if, we can translate this as a language of positive emotions? How do you talk about black without associating it with negative emotions? If only black is understood as the beginning of something, before any other shades of colour were added.

Many of the artworks displayed are significant but not many captivates me the way Mona Hatoum’s does here (picture above). Appeared to float above ground, the wire is suspended from the ceiling and arranged in such a way to resemble a square. A forest of bard wire box that you can’t escape from. As you walked around the installation, you can’t help but feeling a certain pull towards the centre of the work. Barb wire have longed been associated with boundary lines to keep things out, but in this case, it feels a lot more like an enchantment that wants to draw you in.

What about this mountain of porcelain sunflower seeds made painstakingly by hand from the a small studio of specialists in China, each seeds are unique as with most hand-made work will be. Porcelain work has long been associated with the Chinese civilisation and history, and such an appropriate choice of material for the work that represents the ‘Made in China’ phenomenon. Is it a complimentary work by the artist, or is it a painstaking mockery of the inability of self expression in such oppressive environment? When view from afar, all the seeds looks homogeneous perhaps representing the view of the world of China as a communist nation. But when you look closer, each seeds are unique like that of the Chinese people or even perhaps Ai Wei Wei himself as the artist.

Perhaps it is an accidental silver lining that connects the two exhibitions, ending the show with the works of Olafur Eliasson. The room for one colour is a stark contrast to that of the previously colourful work at the ArtScience Museum’s exhibition. The neon lights that omits all other colour but orange, and with that we are back to black at the end of the exhibition.

-k.

Minimalism: Space . Light . Object. ArtScience Museum, Singapore

“A work will only have deep resonance if the kind of darkness I can generate is something that is resident in me already,” – Anish Kapoor.

Some of the greatest artists in the Art-world happens to be some of the darkest, depressed, lost and confused people of all time. Therefore, to compress the amount of arts under the banner of, “Minimalism: Space.Light.Object”, can be quite ironic. Despite that, Singapore’s ArtScience Museum, in conjunction with the National Gallery Singapore, managed to curate one of the most exciting exhibition on minimalism in the Arts I have personally been to.

Singapore’s ArtScience Museum is located in Marina Bay Sands, the building is an amazing architectural highlight amongst many located around the area. The building reminds me of the lotus flower, was designed by an Israeli-Canadian architect, Moshe Safdie.

At the time of my visit, aside from the minimalism exhibition, a fun and interactive exhibition created by TeamLAB was on show. The neon filled, colourful and interactive exhibition for children of all ages.

Now on to the “Minimalism: Space.Light.Object”…

Greeted by a giant sand-pit of a zen garden created by Mona Hatoum, I was instantly given a snapshot of what the entire exhibition is all about. As seen in the photograph below of the artwork, the arm moves clock-wise and constantly changing the texture of the sand’s surface. The work can be interpreted in any number of ways, according to each visitors’ understanding. I personally believe that this is the best choice for the first piece, as it symbolises that despite the simplicity of minimalist arts, there are always deeper meaning behind each work.

I adore the pop of colours in the works by Donald Judd and Olafur Eliasson amongst all the lack of them in most minimalist pieces. Eliasson’s installation, pictured below, has got to be my most favourite. The work is colourful and immersive, as you walk around the various neon coloured sheets, your perspective and your sight changed and filtered.

Overall, Minimalism is a well-curated exhibition. The way each artworks are placed in the sequence that have been decided by the curatorial team, gave the exhibition a flow that is easily followed by any visitors with various degree of understanding towards the Arts. Plenty of international names, such as Kapoor, Judd and Eliasson, but also loved that the curatorial team also involved a good mix of artists from Asia, mainly Taiwanese and Japanese artists. Forever grateful to be able to visit Singapore at the right time to see this great exhibition.

-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.

Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Bangkok, Thailand


“Art should be something that liberates your SOUL.” – Keith Haring


Truth be told, one the privillage of traveling for me is to be able to experience new cultures. Places that I love to visit the most while traveling are local market and galleries or museums. Having been to Bangkok few times before, I’m pleased to see the development of the city has extend to a brand new Museum of Contemporary Art.

The Museum is privately own and perhaps not the easiest place to get too. But with the developement and extension of Skytrain line, this place will be easily accessible in a few years. But for now, taxi is the way to go and it was worth the time to visit. The building is five level filled with outstanding work by Thai artists. The ground floor is their temporary exhibitions, while the rest are the Museum’s own private collection of artworks.


Above paintings are self-potraits of the great Thai artists whose work filled the Museum space.


What I gather from roaming around the Museum, as a predominantly Buddhist country, the artworks produced by their artists are influenced by the principles of Buddhism. The idea of life is a suffering, the enlightenement and reincarnation are all reflected in many of the artwork. The below painting is so striking to me when I saw it, as it strips a woman bare of all her worldly possession and asked us the viewers to reflect on what really matters. At the end of it all, we are skull and bones.Β 


The play of colours in the following painting reminds me of the great work of British modern artist, William J. Turner. Such a playful and positive body of works,Β 


One of the floor of the Museum were dedicated to Surrealist arts. I must say, Thai surrealist artists are very unique. As they are still influenced by Buddhist principles, the ideas portrayed in the paintings are familiar. The first thing I noticed were Dali’s influenced in all the paintings, down to the use of eggs as the symbol of universe,Β 


The following painting has to be my ultimate favourite, as it brings so much joy when you see it,Β 


During the time of my visit, I was lucky to see the exhibition on the late King Bhumibol’s life, which was very moving and filled with love and adoration from the people of Thailand to their late King.Β 


The Museum is well curated, they are divided into very enjoyable rooms of organised works of art. Not to mention, very informative security guards that not only direct you to what you should see first, but also a fountain of knowledge in the meaning of some of these paintings.

For more information, check out their website,

MOCA Bangkok

-love K.