The Nai Harn, Phuket

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View from The Nai Harn

I’ve just returned from a long weekend in Phuket with hubby – it’s our only holiday this year without the little one. The last time we were there was nearly six years ago, when we had our minimoon after our wedding in Malaysia. We can’t seem to remember much of Phuket, but I’m sure that it hasn’t changed that much – beaches, great massages, seedy Bangla Road, etc.

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What a beautiful hotel

The highlight of this trip was our stay in The Nai Harn, a secluded resort by one of the nicest beaches in Phuket. The hotel is the successor to Phuket’s first five star hotel and was re-opened last year after months of renovation. It is probably one of the most beautiful hotels I’ve stayed in and immediately brings to mind the white and blue colours of Santorini. The best thing about the hotel is the view – pretty much everywhere would give you panoramic views of the sea. We stayed in the Grand Ocean View Room, which is very large and includes a big balcony overlooking the sea and across to the beach. Upon our arrival, they had provided us with a complimentary bottle of red wine and a bowl of fruits, which is a nice touch. Continue reading

Having a great time in China

In my first post on Beijing, I talked about how my initial encounter with Beijing was pretty shocking but I ended it by saying that it only got better from there. Even though the first week was challenging, I had a ball of a time for the rest of my stay there. There were lots of reasons for this, but I think a lot of it had to do with my mindset. Here are some of the key reasons I had a great time:

Just do it!

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Kung fu lessons (sorry for the poor quality, it’s a screenshot from a video)

I doubt any of my friends or family (and certainly not my hubby) would describe me as adventurous. But knowing that I was only in Beijing for three months, I wanted to make the most of it. So I tried my best and threw myself into it despite the language and cultural barriers. I signed up for kung fu lessons which was great fun. I got to know a local university student who became my language partner and also gave me an insight into a local student’s lifestyle and view of the world. I also got used to life in Beijing such that I had my favourite cafés and restaurants and a daily routine that I was comfortable with. I lowered my expectations and tolerated the smelly traditional squat toilets, barely noticed the pollution and became very fit from all the walking required in Beijing. Continue reading

A trip down memory lane

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Beach in Batu Ferringhi

Last Friday, we packed our bags and headed to the airport for a long weekend in Penang, an island in Malaysia. We met my parents and sister there, and spent three days hanging out with them. Penang is my dad’s hometown and most of my uncles and cousins still live in and around Penang. It is one of the popular tourist destinations in Malaysia and is especially popular with local tourists as it’s famous for having great food. Continue reading

Rendezvous with Beijing – my first encounter

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Check out the crowds at the Forbidden City – and this was not even during the peak season!

As mentioned in my previous post, I spent three months in Beijing during autumn 2012, under the pretense of studying Chinese (Note: I’m a Malaysian Chinese, but grew up learning Malay and English). Prior to this, I’d never been to Beijing and only visited China once, around Shanghai and Hangzhou.

Even before my trip, I was already learning the hard way about how things work (or don’t work) in China. One of my key tasks was to arrange my accommodation. It was easy enough to book a nice hotel in Wangfujing, the city centre for the first few days before school starts, but when it came to trying to book accommodation on university campus, I was getting nowhere. Even though my rubbish Chinese was part of the issue, the main problem was the inefficiencies at the university. Continue reading

Sunshine and good food in Sorrento and Capri

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Port at Sorrento (and Mt Vesuvius in the distance)

During our trip to Pompeii, we stayed in Sorrento which is a beautiful and romantic town in Southern Italy. Of our many trips to Europe, this is one of the top five places that we’ve visited. There are two areas in Sorrento – the main tourist area on top of the cliff and the port by the water. While Sorrento is a tourist resort, it does not feel too commercialized and has preserved a rustic and laidback atmosphere. I love the narrow cobbled streets filled with shops, restaurants and cafes, the beautiful Roman architecture with grand villas along the cliff, with terraces overlooking the sea, and amazing food and wine. Continue reading