Friday, September 04, 2015

Travelogue : San Francisco

Happened to be in San Francisco on the same day as my old friend Sherry so that was exciting!
We bunked in together for 2 nights & went sightseeing on the one full day we had.
Also, all pictures below are from her camera!

We decided to pay for a Hop-on-Hop-off tour bus which cost 35 USD :X

Kinda pricey really & as I said to Sherry, it would probably have cost us less to take cab from point to point. Most of the touristy spots (I'll list them below) are located very near each other, which makes walking between them the easiest mode of transport.

The only exception would be the Golden Gate Bridge, so essentially we paid 35USD to have an open-air/top-down ride through the Golden Gate Bridge! Quite an exciting experience so I'm undecided on the final conclusion of whether the tour was a waste of money or not.

So anyway that day we covered:
Fisherman's Wharf
Ghirardelli Square
Lombard Street
Golden Gate Bridge

First stop was the Fisherman's Wharf!

Fisherman's Wharf Pier 39 are almost synonymous & they pretty much consist of lots of restaurants! The specialty here would be the clam chowder, which can be found on the pier.

Sherry also tried this very famous fish & chips place called The Cod Mother & she highly recommends it! It's a casual sorta-food truck & is located a bit further in Fisherman's Wharf (not along the pier).

Another point of interest would be the sea lions suntanning on floating wooden platforms!
Kinda cute but also pretty noisy & sometimes smelly haha.
From the edge of the pier you can also spot the island of Alcatraz.

P.S. Alcatraz tour tickets are usually sold out, so book in advance!

From here we began walking towards Ghirardelli Square.

A small beach! You'll actually see people swimming here, which is sort of strange because so many people are walking past all the time & it's right beside big ships & restaurants.

Arrived at Ghirardelli Square! Ghirardelli is a chocolatier & at Ghirardelli Square you can find both his dessert restaurant as well as his chocolate shops (along with other unrelated shops & restaurants).
Quite a nice place to check out!

As the shop awning says; we had to try it!

There can be quite a queue here but luckily when we arrived we managed to get a table almost immediately. There was a queue when we left though!

I'm actually not a huge fan of sundaes (don't like chocolate syrup) but it really was pretty good!
The Original one cost us 11.50 USD but they have many other concoctions that sound yummy.

From here we began making our way towards Lombard Street!
Lombard Street is actually quite long, but one section of it is the famous Crookedest Street!

To get there it was quite an uphill climb... San Francisco is crazily hilly!
Anyhow we made our way up the area that is known as Russian Hill.

Had a great view of the harbour though!

Finally reached the top & opposite us we could spot Coit Tower - another tourist attraction! It was most recently featured/mentioned in the movie San Andreas (based mostly in San Francisco).

Coit Tower is named after a lady called Lily Coit & the city built this tower in her honour after her passing to commemorate all her efforts in supporting the San Francisco firefighters.
(See, I do listen to tour bus guides...)

And here's the famed Crookedest Street in the World!

Naturally the traffic going down it is pretty slow (precisely what it was intended for), especially as you'll spot lots of tourists driving down it with a GoPro/camera in hand to film the descent.

The entire crooked section is lined with really pretty flowers though!
There are also houses lined along the way & I can't imagine the ruckus they must face from tourists climbing up & down the steps on the sides of Lombard Street.

And also, I learned the next day that a shooting had occurred the day we were there :O
A Thai tourist had his camera snatched from him & when he gave chase, the robbers shot him!

This happened about 12pm & traffic was closed till about 3pm while police searched for the suspects.
We arrived shortly after at about 3.30pm & everything was back to normal & everyone was painfully oblivious & none the wiser :O

From here you can spot how uphill & downhill it is! After this we walked downhill back towards Fisherman's Wharf & waited to get picked up by our Hop-on-Hop-off bus, which arrives every 30 mins.

And finally for our last stop - the Golden Gate Bridge!

I actually visited the Golden Gate Bridge in December 2014, where I cycled 2 hours from Fisherman's Wharf right up the Bridge. It was a crazy uphill trip so by the time we made it to the Bridge we were pretty tired! We only cycled about 1/3 of the way on the Bridge itself (which is very long, by the way) before calling it quits as the idea of cycling back across the Bridge wasn't too appealing either.

This time I had the tour bus to bring me across & back!

We sat on top to get a good view but it was crazily windy! Any loose items on you at this point WILL most certainly fly off. The view is fantastic but I was miserably cold... The wind permeated every bone in my body *dramatic* My teeth were chattering & my eyes teared from the wind whipping across my face... But I guess the view/experience was quite worth it!

The only person crazily happy about the wind haha.

Here's the view from the other side of the Bridge! 
The tour bus will stop here for a few minutes at this lookout point for everyone to take pictures.

And I guess that's about it for touristy stuff!
The bus dropped us back near Union Square, which is the big shopping area.

If you haven't tried these eateries before, they're worth a visit:

All-American diner/breakfast food & mean pancakes! It's apparently not THAT popular with locals, but I feel the food is pretty good, there's a huge variety so that's great for groups & prices are very reasonable (about 10-20 USD per person).

Cheesecake Factory
Serves many, many mains as well as cheesecakes of course. The food here is very rich & comes in huge portions, so it's great for sharing! The Caesar salad is good, as well as the pastas.
Pretty pricey though, dinner for the 2 of us came up to 70USD (2 mains + 2 cheesecakes)!

The Cod Mother
The fish & chips place Sherry mentioned to me & it seemed pretty life-changing for her haha.
I saw how it looked like & it's basically a permanent food truck with a decent-sized eating area (an open-air space with wooden picnic tables), reasonable pricing as well since it's casual dining.

So that's for the major touristy things in San Francisco!
You can also check out Chinatown & Little Italy, but these are more just areas to walk through with nothing specific/in particular to see. I passed by both on the tour bus & that seemed enough.
Oh yes & of course Alcatraz (both day & night tours available), which is a bucket list item!

If I had to pick just one spot to visit, I'd say Fisherman's Wharf! Very bustling, lots of food & street buskers & from here you can spot Golden Gate Bridge + Alcatraz from afar hahaha (if that counts).

Oh & you can take a ride on one of the 2 tram lines left (which is now just a tourist attraction rather than an actual form of transport), which costs 7USD! For me I simply took a picture with it when it was stationary... One end of it can be found near Union Square (be prepared to queue).

Okay that's it for this post! Impressed with myself for remembering all these details :D


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Hitting my mid-twenties

The last few years I haven't been doing much for my birthdays as I guess I never really thought it was that big a deal. Strange, as when I was a child my mom was always pretty big on birthday parties for me & would put in lots of effort into making fun-looking food & games for my friends & I!

Maybe I got my fill of birthdays when I was a child haha. But I think I'm lucky that I got to experience that when I was growing up overseas, because for Asians it's usually more of a close-knit family dinner affair rather than rowdy kiddy parties.

Anyhow, the last time I celebrated my birthday was for my 21st, so I decided to do something this year!

Officially hitting... mid-twenties

I can no longer pretend to have "just" legally become an adult.

I spent my birthday weekend (24th & 25th July) with a staycation at Grand Hyatt!

They put me up at the Grand Club Deluxe Room, which comes with a little living area so that was great for my little birthday get-together!

But my favourite part definitely has to be the bathroom!
The bathroom is so big & grand; though I didn't get round to even using that bathtub haha.

Changed into my birthday outfit to go down for dinner!
But before that, we also spent some time taking pictures of my pretty birthday cakes & sweet treats!

Spoilt me had TWO birthday cakes hahahaha.
I'm not usually that much of a sweet tooth person, but I was suddenly in the mood for it & what better excuse than a birthday? Om nom nom nom!

This white & floral cake was kindly created by the in-house Hyatt pastry chef!

Isn't it so pretty? Frankly I didn't expect much as it's not exactly Hyatt's specialty (compared to an actual bakery) so I thought it would be a more generic cake, but we were all very surprised to see this!

My other cake with super cute ombre pastel pink layers & dripping purple cream is by Creme Maison Bakery! The floral cupcakes are by them as well & I loved it! They're able to do any form of customisation & you should really check out some of their very cute designs on their Instagram!

Creme Maison Bakery

Also had these bear macarons by The Macaron Shop, as well as normal pastel macarons!
They have a whole bunch of other cute character macarons such as Elmo & Hello Kitty :O

The Macaron Shop

Birthday outfit!

Floral crown // Topshop
Crop top // Tobi
Clutch // Saint Laurent
Necklace // Chanel
Flats // Primark
Crochet skirt // Oh Vola

Oh Vola

Fun fact - the Chanel necklace was my birthday gift last year from Yutaki, Qiuting, Wendy & Shuyin!

This year Wendy & Shuyin couldn't make it because they were in Osaka!

So for dinner it was just Yutaki, Qiuting, Miyake & I & we headed to one of Hyatt's many restaurants, 10 Scotts, for the buffet dinner!

Buffet ANYTHING is super exciting hahaha.

I actually really love grapes as well as the very sweet melon pictured above!
Grapes are possibly my 2nd most favourite fruit, with the first being apples. I can easily finish a whole supermarket box of grapes in one night.

The buffet dinner included this special set-up of various small treats ranging from dim sum to prawn burgers! Each set has 2 persons' portions, so for the 4 of us we got 2 of these stands.

Pictured is the pumpkin soup! 
But there was also mushroom soup (everyone's favourite), which I had 2 bowls of!

It's astonishing how filling all these small varied items can be...
We were so stuffed at the end & couldn't finish everything!

Omg Qiuting had like FOUR helpings of this special prawn dish!
It was really good but I can't believe she literally took FOUR plates hahahaha.

And to end of... we had this really refreshing berry cocktail!

Thankfully it didn't taste too strongly of alcohol & the berries really complemented it.
But Qiuting & Yutaki have the worst alcohol tolerance ever so they became red-faced & hyper after just one glass each *facepalm* LOL

When you're trying to take an OOTD & your friend photobombs you.

Snuck a shot of Yutaki posing for his OOTD!

Group pictures! Thank you to the 3 of you for spending my birthday countdown with me! :D

To be honest, I was a bit moody that day because I'm not really into this sort of hosting-gathering thing (unless you count just letting people come to my house) so I was a bit out of my comfort zone. And to make matters worse, everyone had something on before my birthday gathering! So I was quite sad thinking I was going to be there alone in the room for the afternoon until everyone could come in the evening, but the 3 of them turned up together earlier than I expected :)

Also, it so happens that my boyfriend's mom shares the exact same birthdate as me LOL.
Never in my (short/long) 25 years have I met someone with the same birthday until now.
So yeah he couldn't be there with me that early either!

Oh yes if you're wondering what I got for my birthday...

Qiuting & Miyake got me a new pair of Ray Ban sunglasses as I lost mine in New York! T_T
Qiuting also gave me an angbao to defray the cost of the staycation hahaha (I tried to reject but she was super fierce wtf; being "adults" means we now give angbaos haha).

And Yutaki gave me new camera lenses for my DSLR, which I used for many of the pictures in this post! It has the ability to do that whole, front-sharp & back-blur thing which instantly makes my pictures look 50x more professional hahaha omg love itttttt!

Like this below!

New earrings my boyfriend got for me! I didn't even realise he took these pictures of me till I uploaded everything to my laptop. He likes the new camera lens too; like I said, it instantly makes us feel more professional lolol #AYGPhotographer

Waited till the next day to get pictures of my lovely bouquet of flowers!
Omg the mix of pinks, greens & whites is so pretty!
This bouquet is from the sweet girls at Fleuriste! Fleuriste also offers a floral subscription service where they will deliver flowers to you on a regular basis depending on your preference & schedule!


My Creme Maison Bakery cake! I had asked for matcha strawberry flavour & was really surprised that I could really taste the matcha! They have a ton of other really unique flavours as well that you should definitely try out!

The inside of the Hyatt cake! Not only pretty outside but also yummy inside!
Don't know the exact flavour for this but I think it may also have some strawberry!

Here's how the stems of the flowers are poked into the cake if you're curious!
Looks like SO MUCH work :O

Spent some time at the pool that day before dinner! :D

I really like the whole chair-in-the-water concept.
I mean it just seems very shiok if you get what I mean; lounging but still keeping cool!

Also, the restaurant in the background is the poolside BBQ grill where we had our dinner!
More on that below.

Red monokini specially designed by my friend Sophia Chong, owner of The Juice Market!
This piece also comes in black, navy & khaki & I bravely ventured away from always picking black...

The Juice Market

After washing up was BBQ buffet (yes, again) dinner at Oasis.
Oasis features all-you-can eat BBQ meat & seafood!

Even had Peking duck! I love Peking duck but sadly it's pretty uncommon in Singapore!

Had so many fresh oysters & prawns that weekend :) yum yum yum

Here's my cut of steak which was really good! You can ask the chef to grill what you'd like to your desired doneness & mine was done perfectly. Really tender with flavourful seasoning.
Was great eaten on its own although the buffet does consist of sides like salad & potato gratin.

And last but not least... the staff surprised me with another birthday cake!
Super sweet of them & it was really an unexpected touch to end the evening.

The service at Hyatt was really fantastic & I remember how I was greeted as soon as I got out of my Uber car. I guess the staff deduced from my small suitcase that I would be staying at Hyatt, so they came up to me right away in Hyatt's driveway & offered to assist me in my check-in.

Everything was handled very smoothly & promptly! Hyatt's convenient location in the middle of town is also great (I spent the night celebrating at Zouk & also stopped by the nearby 7-11 for snacks)!

If you'd like to check out Hyatt's hospitality as well, you can take a look below at some of the ongoing deals for their room & restaurant reservations!

Hyatt Room Stay

Buffet at 10 Scotts

BBQ Buffet at Oasis

Grand Hyatt
10 Scotts Rd

Thank you for having me Hyatt!

As for how's life been since turning 25... I officially feel older. Somehow 25 sounds SO much older than 24! Or maybe it's just a matter of getting used to. But 24 sounded like it was still on the cusp of adulthood. 25...? Mid-twenties. OH & I have now officially progressed on to the next checkbox on every survey/form there is out there hahahaha.

You know how forms ask you to mark your age range & it's usually something like this:

# 12 - 17
# 18 - 24
# 25 - 40

Something like that. I distinctly remember the 18 - 24 category because I always felt it was unjust to lump my age group with teens still taking pocket money & studying LOL #indignantyoungadult

So I guess now that I'm in the next age range, I'm officially in the you-should-be-working category, which is how I interpret the 25 - 40 age categorisation for surveys.

Which I am. Working I mean.

Time has really flown by & I'm both in a hurry to speed it up & in a haste to slow it down... A decade has zoomed by since I won New Paper New Face :O Even university seems so long ago. But at the same time I need time to pass quicker so as to amass savings, settle down, get on in life... Can't I be 25 years old with the prospects/social status of an established 35 year old? Dammit.

I do realise I talk about this whole growing up thing a lot... I guess I both anticipate & dread it.