Road Trip Through Australia’s Gorgeous South West – Spring 2017

Sugarloaf Rock, Western Australia Western Australia Cape Leeuwin, Western Australia

It’s been a long time since you’ve last seen me here, and daaaang, so much has happened since! This year has been a roller coaster ride so far. Now that I’ve got a smidgen of time, I wanted to update the blog with a quick travel post about a recent road trip I embarked on this week. Just covering half of the adventure for now — snapshots from Busselton down to Augusta. I’ll try to cover Augusta to Albany at a later date! And just a quick note about our driving soundtrack: it included the likes of Mitch King, The Black Keys, and City & Colour, among others.

We started the drive on Monday, from Perth down to Busselton. Yeah, we made the famous jetty — longest in the Southern Hemisphere at an impressive 1.8 kilometres — our very first stop. On the way there, we passed beautiful wildflowers of all colours, cows and woolly sheep grazing by slow-moving rivers, mobs of kangaroos hanging around (and when I say “mob”, I mean about 300 kangaroos in a group, being lazy and not doing much), tranquil wetlands shrouded in mist, wild lilies growing in clumps under low-hanging trees, and even a number of one-hump camels by the side of the road. The flora of Western Australia is quite different to South Queensland (where I grew up). It was certainly an eye-opener of a drive!

Busselton Jetty, Busselton

Western Australia Western Australia

I’m not kidding when I say the jetty is almost two kilometres. It snakes its way across the protected waters of Geographe Bay. We weren’t graced with anything remotely resembling terrific weather when we first pulled up, but the skies cleared eventually and, after a filling meal of roasted seasonal vegetables tossed in rosemary salt and lavender honey at The Goose, the grey waters and gloomy clouds made way for hues of blue in the end. Lucky us!

Blackhurst Park, Dunsborough

Western Australia Western Australia Western Australia

You’ll stumble upon many parks such as this one when traversing Geographe Bay Road in the coastal town of Dunsborough. Blackhurst Park looks out toward the beautiful blue waters of Dunn Bay. There’s a little boat ramp here for fishing and boating enthusiasts to come and go as they please.

Meelup Beach, Dunsborough

Western Australia Western Australia

Another little nook for beach lovers, Meelup Beach is a sight for sore eyes. With white sand and tranquil waters, it’s no wonder we spied a few elderly couples strolling along the shore, as well as a mother and her two kids enjoying a picnic on the beach here. That said, the winds were pretty harsh along the seafront — I have no idea whether these people were actually having much fun.

Cape Naturaliste

Cape Naturaliste, Western Australia Cape Naturaliste, Western Australia Cape Naturaliste, Western Australia Cape Naturaliste, Western Australia Cape Naturaliste, Western Australia Cape Naturaliste, Western Australia Cape Naturaliste, Western Australia Cape Naturaliste, Western Australia Cape Naturaliste, Western Australia

The twilight hues at Cape Naturaliste are incredible, so visit when the sun starts to go down for an unforgettable view. This is one of the end-points of the Cape to Cape Track. You can start at Naturaliste and make the trek to Leeuwin (about 80km from one end to the other; it’ll take you several days). Along the way, you’ll be graced with sweeping vistas and imposing terrain. If you’re just dropping by the cape for a look, you’ll want to keep a weather eye on the horizon for great spouts of water! September is the perfect month to be on the lookout for migrating whales in the distance.

Sugarloaf Rock

Western Australia Western Australia

Sculpted by the sea, Sugarloaf definitely looks imposing even from a distance. Sure, it’s just a rock, but it’s a rather pretty one, surrounded by shallower waters that glitter in the sunlight. If you love bird watching, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for red-tailed tropic birds that nest in the area from September to February. They’re the type to grace the skies with their aerial acrobatics.

Canal Rocks, Yallingup

Western Australia Western Australia

This giant outcrop of granite gneiss rocks, with their intriguing rugged ‘canals’ carved right into the stone by the rough sea, is a fantastic place to get your fill of salty breezes and cold sea spray. It gets pretty blustery down here at this remote coastline, but the swelling and surging waters of the Indian Ocean rushing up and crashing against the granite rocks in a cacophony of loud static is something to behold, especially in stormier weather.

Cape Leeuwin

Western Australia Western Australia Western Australia Western Australia Western Australia

The nearest settlement to Cape Leeuwin is Augusta, which is a small town that boasts a brilliant view of the Blackwood River leading into Flinders Bay. You’ll definitely want to stop by the majestic Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse, where you’ll be able to see the exact spot where the Indian Ocean meets the Southern Ocean. This is the tallest lighthouse on mainland Australia, and it is still operating today! If you’re willing to climb several flights of stairs to the top, the view from the balcony of this limestone lighthouse is absolutely breathtaking. It does get gusty up there, though, so be careful of your phones and cameras! Observe the playful seabirds frolicking in the wind, and make sure you take plenty of pictures!

Old Water Wheel

Western Australia

You’ll find the Old Water Wheel just a short distance from the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse. This historic water wheel was built in 1895 to supply spring water to the lighthouse cottages. It is now fully calcified, making it look like ancient stonework. With dramatic backdrops of the sea to the west and rolling green hills to the north-east, you’ll definitely want to take a few Instagram-worthy shots here.

The Datai Langkawi: The Tropical Paradise You’ve Always Dreamed Of

The Datai Langkawi The Datai Langkawi The Datai Langkawi

There are so many things we loved about The Datai Langkawi —

The fact that it is surrounded by lush virgin rainforest. The abundance of wildlife, including tame dusky leaf monkeys and cheeky macaques intent on climbing through the guestroom balcony window. The constant cicada noises that echo through the surrounding forest. The balmy sea breezes that cocoon you in tropical bliss. The sound of calm waves washing along the shore by the Beach Club. The sunbirds and swallows and hornbills that drop in to say hello. The resort’s dark wood furniture and modern touches here and there. The pretty orchid blossoms that are thoughtfully placed throughout the bedroom and bathroom. The little green frogs in the lilypad pond by the Lobby Lounge that insist on hopping all over the place — up pillars and down corridors. The panoramic view of the Thai islands belonging to Tarutao National Park in the distance (we were that close to the border!). The two swimming pools — the smaller ‘family’ pool by the beach and the larger one that the lobby overlooks. The fancy breakfasts each morning at The Dining Room (think DIY cocktails and à la minute signature dishes, among a decent buffet spread). The much-needed peace and quiet. And, as a cherry on top: the fact that there is high-speed wifi pretty much everywhere. Including down at the beach, and at every far-reaching restaurant of this sprawling place, so you can do your work wherever you are!

The Datai Langkawi The Datai Langkawi The Datai Langkawi The Datai Langkawi The Datai Langkawi The Datai Langkawi The Datai Langkawi The Datai Langkawi The Datai Langkawi The Datai Langkawi The Datai Langkawi The Datai Langkawi The Datai Langkawi The Datai Langkawi The Datai Langkawi The Datai Langkawi The Datai Langkawi The Datai Langkawi The Datai Langkawi The Datai Langkawi The Datai Langkawi The Datai Langkawi The Datai Langkawi The Datai Langkawi The Datai Langkawi The Datai Langkawi The Datai Langkawi The Datai Langkawi The Datai Langkawi The Datai Langkawi The Datai Langkawi The Datai Langkawi

(Oh. Bring sunscreen and insect repellent!)

Photo Diary, 23 April : Joo Chiat Road – Koon Seng Road – Tembeling Road (Singapore)

Singapore Singapore Singapore

It’s always a pleasure exploring areas of this country that we’ve never been to. Joo Chiat and its surrounding streets are pretty photogenic. Koon Seng Road is famous for its vibrant shophouse style terrace homes, many of them decked out in Peranakan tiles and traditional embellishment, so that was a treat to photograph. As with most old neighbourhoods, it didn’t surprise me that we managed to locate a few grungier side roads and back alleys with the usual chaos of peeling paint, air-con compressors and abandoned furniture.

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Weekends with Angie & James | Part X: Easter Staycation @ Hotel Fort Canning, Singapore

Hotel Fort Canning Hotel Fort Canning Hotel Fort Canning

Hey, long time no blog! I’ve decided to keep going with the Weekends Series (no, I haven’t been lazy, don’t look at me like that). Something a little different from our usual routine (or maybe not so different, since we love our staycations) – we checked ourselves into the elegant Hotel Fort Canning for a couple of nights over the Easter long weekend. Never heard of HFC? It’s one of Singapore’s lesser-known colonial style hotels (lesser-known because it’s tucked away in a lush heritage park instead of located along the streets of the central business district, so people never really get to see it in all its sprawling glory).

Hotel Fort Canning Hotel Fort Canning Hotel Fort Canning Fort Canning Park

I highly recommend this gorgeous hotel to anyone wanting to just hide away from the city and surround themselves with nature. If you like birdwatching, get up early and head out into the park to get your fill of Singapore’s intriguing birdlife. That said, beware of territorial birds – we almost got caught in the crossfire between two warring red junglefowl.

Fort Canning Park Fort Canning Park Fort Canning Park Fort Canning Park Fort Canning Park Fort Canning Park Fort Canning Park

Surprisingly, I managed to get back into my writing groove during our stay, so I guess my brain isn’t quite dead yet. I was so ridiculously inspired I managed to write upwards of five thousand words of something decent over the span of just a few hours.

Currently listening to:

Whisk & Paddle @ Tebing Lane, Singapore // For nature lovers with a penchant for waterfront dining

Whisk & Paddle, Singapore Whisk & Paddle, Singapore Whisk & Paddle, Singapore

In the middle of nowhere, set amongst a backdrop of lush greenery, located on the banks of the tranquil Punggol Serangoon Reservoir, Whisk & Paddle ticks all the away-from-the-bustling-city boxes, plus they dish up some good grub and lip-smacking beverages to make any discerning foodie want to fork out some serious cash here. With such an extensive menu and plenty of tables to go around, it’s the perfect place to bring a group of friends for a hearty brunch. And yes, that’s pretty much what we did over the weekend.

Whisk & Paddle, Singapore Whisk & Paddle, Singapore Whisk & Paddle, Singapore Whisk & Paddle, Singapore Whisk & Paddle, Singapore

Although quite a mission to get to, a few of us from the Cafe Hoppers team gave the much raved-about waterfront cafe a try. And it was worth the effort – I got to try a glorious Black Sesame Latte (S$5.50 – characteristically gritty, but pleasantly palatable), and we quite enjoyed the spacious al fresco dining area, which teemed with life. While the cafe also provides guests with an indoors seating area (complete with a galaxy of colourful exposed light baubles overhead and even a cosy sofa corner with cushions), try to sit outdoors if you can – it’s warmer, but the vibe is much more intoxicating.

Whisk & Paddle, Singapore Whisk & Paddle, Singapore

As for the food, you’ll see that Whisk & Paddle offers simple and hearty fare that all brunch lovers will approve of. From perfect scrambled eggs to obligatory smoked salmon, bacon on waffles to full breakfast spreads (pork sausage, roasted cherry tomatoes, sauteed mushrooms, the lot), and of course an extensive drinks menu filled with quintessential cafe must-haves like flats whites and earl greys, along with curious oddities like gula melaka lattes and matcha & rose lattes, you’ll probably have a hard time deciding what you want. And no, they don’t just serve brunch, they’ve got pastas, pizzas, bar snacks, and an intense dessert menu for the weekday lunch and dinner crowd to indulge in.

Whisk & Paddle, Singapore

Multigrain Toast with Scrambled Eggs (S$8.50)
Includes choice of Smoked Salmon / Honey Baked Ham / Streaky Bacon / Sautéed Mushrooms.

Whisk & Paddle, Singapore

Whisk Breakfast Pan (S$19.80)
Eggs of your style, smoked pork sausage, streaky bacon, Lyonnaise potatoes,
roasted cherry vine tomatoes, sauteed mushrooms, 2 slices of toast and French butter.

Whisk & Paddle, Singapore

Prawns & Kelp Spaghetti (S$21.80)
Spaghetti, tiger prawns, kelp, chilli padi, garlic and Italian parsley.

Whisk & Paddle, Singapore

Italian Carbonara (S$8.50)
Spaghetti, garlic, egg yolk, bacon, parmesan cheese, poached egg and crispy parma ham.

WHISK & PADDLE
10 Tebing Lane
Singapore 828836
Opening hours:
3:30pm – 10:30pm (Tues to Fri)
9:30am – 10:30pm (Sat, Sun & Public Holidays)
Closed on Mondays, except for Public Holidays.
Official Website


Exploring the surroundings

“Home is people. Not a place. If you go back there after the people are gone,
then all you can see is what is not there any more.”
Robin Hobb

All of us explored the area after brunch. We walked along the reservoir and eventually got to the famous red bridge, which supposedly leads to Pasir Ris. Which makes sense, geographically, but it’s still interesting to note, because I don’t really associate Punggol with Pasir Ris. But, yes, they are literally neighbours. One day, I will do a proper exploration of the place.
Punggol Promenade Riverside Walk Punggol Promenade Riverside Walk Punggol Promenade Riverside Walk Punggol Promenade Riverside Walk Punggol Promenade Riverside Walk Punggol Promenade Riverside Walk

Japan 2016: Enjoying the crisp Autumn air of Nakameguro in November

Meguro River, Nakameguro, Tokyo Nakameguro, Tokyo, Japan Nakameguro, Tokyo, Japan

Since we’d already been to all the essential must-visit spots around Tokyo over the last few years (y’know, Shibuya, Shinjuku, Asakusa, and all that), we made it our priority this time around to avoid the well-trodden areas and to hit up more obscure parts of the city. Cue Nakameguro, which is pretty famous for its cherry tree-lined river and tranquil streets.

The area around the Meguro River is enchanting in Autumn, when the hidden late morning sun shrouds the quiet walkways in silver light. While Nakameguro certainly is a bit of a ghost town on weekdays, James and I quite enjoyed the peaceful atmosphere, plus it was something we probably needed at the start of our week-long finally-some-time-away-from-work vacation in Japan.

Nakameguro, Tokyo, Japan Nakameguro, Tokyo, Japan Nakameguro, Tokyo, Japan Nakameguro, Tokyo, Japan Nakameguro, Tokyo, Japan Nakameguro, Tokyo, Japan Nakameguro, Tokyo, Japan

After a quick photowalk around the area to satisfy our wanderlust, we stopped for lunch at a ramen joint. Nogata Hope was a good choice, though I’m not so sure what their restaurant slogan means…? “Hope your good “Ramen” life” indeed. If you’re thinking of visiting the Nakameguro area and need a good meal, I recommend this place. They serve up some pretty good gyoza dumplings too! I don’t recall if they had an English menu (we deciphered the Japanese on our own), but you can probably just point to what you want or ask the staff if you aren’t sure what to order.

Nakameguro, Tokyo, Japan Nakameguro, Tokyo, Japan Nakameguro, Tokyo, Japan Nakameguro, Tokyo, Japan Nakameguro, Tokyo, Japan Nakameguro, Tokyo, Japan

Other blog posts about Japan you may like:

Hiking up Mount Takao (高尾山, Takaosan) will literally take your breath away

Dōtonbori (道頓堀) – A Food Lover’s Paradise in Osaka, Japan

Visiting Shirakawa-gō & Staying the Night in a Traditional Gasshō-Zukuri Farmhouse

Temple Hopping in Kamakura (Engaku-ji & Meigetsu-in)

First Impressions of Kawaguchiko, Yamanashi Prefecture

Hitting up Wimbly Lu Chocolates for a matcha latte + an update about life

Wimbly Lu Chocolates, Singapore

Celebrating the last chill weekend before everything gets all hectic again. In a couple of days, we’ll be heading to Kuching for an overseas wedding, then hopping straaaight into the Christmas fray back in Singapore right after that. The fam’s all coming to join us from Down Under on Christmas Eve and everything’s going to be loud – and James will no doubt want to host an ambitious Christmas dinner or something crazy. Looking forward to it all, but for now, I think I’m happy just having a laid-back Saturday. In other news, I’ve rekindled my fondness for matcha lattes.

Wimbly Lu Chocolates, Singapore Wimbly Lu Chocolates, Singapore Wimbly Lu Chocolates, Singapore

I wrote a blog post about Wimbly Lu Chocolates back in February – have a look if you’re interested in knowing more about the cosy little cafe! ;)

Wimbly Lu Chocolates, Singapore