Liberty & Phoenix Swing 2014

Gosh!  June has gone by in a flash.  Was probably one of the busiest month at work and the 2-week trip to the US meant I was extra busy before (to clear as much work as I could before I went on leave) and even busier after (as I sought to go through 1000 unread e-mails).

 

The US trip was great though.  This being my first overseas West Coast Swing (WCS) trip, I was pretty thankful that I was travelling with a group of easygoing folks.  Having my longtime friend and instructor, Zee, also helped!

 

Here’re the highlights of the trip!

Liberty Swing (New Jersey)

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Sleepy-eyed, 5 of us set off from Changi Airport on 26 Jun 2014.

 

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I got an entire row of seats to myself on Delta! Heehee.

 

Singapore had a table to ourselves!
Singapore had a table to ourselves!

 

I got into the semi-finals of the Novice J&J... was quite happy with the result... though when I viewed the video.. I was quite appalled!  So many things to correct!
I got into the semi-finals of the Novice J&J… was quite happy with the result… though when I viewed the video.. I was quite appalled! So many things to correct!

 

Food portion in the US is bigggg.  And one wonders why the people there are so obese...
Food portions in the US is bigggg. And one wonders why the people there are so obese…

 

Elements @ Camelback Mountain (Phoenix)

Joyce, one of the ladies I was travelling with, did good research and found this restaurant called Elements.  It scores on both the food as well as the views!  (I think it’s one some travel list’s Top 35 Restaurants with a View or something).  It’s DEFINITELY worth going!

Beautiful view of the pool framed by mountains!
Beautiful view of the pool framed by mountains!

 

More views!
More views!

 

I love the light of setting sun against the mountain!
I love the light of setting sun against the mountain!

 

Honeydew Cucumber Sour - super refreshing!
Honeydew Cucumber Sour – super refreshing!

 

Tuna tantare - this was really delish!  The fresh tuna with the different herbs - there was an assault of taste!
Tuna tantare – this was really delish! The fresh tuna with the different herbs – there was an assault of taste!

 

My diver scallops main - the succulent scallops combined with the flavourful couscous was heavenly!
My main – the succulent diver scallops combined with the flavourful couscous was heavenly!

 

This was my favourite of the desserts we ordered to share.  I think this was the salted caramel ice-cream & laval chocolate cake.
This was my favourite of the desserts we ordered to share. I think this was the salted caramel ice-cream & laval chocolate cake.

 

Nightfall at Elements.  I really like the pic of the crescent moon (taken with my Nokia 808).
Nightfall at Elements. I really like the pic of the crescent moon (taken with my Nokia 808).

 

Phoenix 4th of July Convention

JW Marriott Camelback Resort & Spa - really beautiful hotel.
JW Marriott Camelback Resort & Spa – really beautiful hotel.

 

My wonderful roomies at Phoenix!
My wonderful roomies at Phoenix!

 

The balcony offered fabulous views!
The balcony offered fabulous views!

 

Such pretty clouds!
Such pretty clouds!

 

My first experience with a dust storm!  The thundering wind was quite an experience.
My first experience with a dust storm! The thundering wind was quite an experience.

 

The representatives from Singapore!  Cheers to everyone!
The representatives from Singapore (and 1 Korean – haha)! Cheers to everyone!

 

Will I go on another dance trip again?  Yes I would!  But first, I really need to brush up on my dancing.  Felt quite inadequate at the socials though at least I take comfort that my following was good!

From Philly to NYC

Am typing this while on the Amtrak train from Philly to NYC. It was a great visit to Philly. Loved the visit to the Masonic temple and the Eastern State Penitentiary. Lovely city and I can’t wait to share my photos when I get back.

One thing I observed was that the vagrants in NYC tend to be Blacks but in Philly, most vagrants were Whites. I’m assuming Philly, which was one of the first cities to abolish slavery, had something to do with it. Maybe having more free Blacks historically also meant more who were hardworking and keen to earn their own keep. But I’m not sure. This is purely my conjecture.

Anyway, here’s wishing the Malay community Selamat Hari Raya and HAPPY NATIONAL DAY SINGAPORE!

Shanghai (2 – 4 Jun 2013)

Finally got down to sorting out my Shanghai photos. A lot of which turned out to be historical buildings. Haha. Can’t help it. I like old buildings. This was my 2nd trip to Shanghai though the 1st didn’t really count because I saw nothing apart from the airport, my hotel & my Shanghai office. Hence, when I was tasked to go Shanghai again, I decided to fly in 2 days earlier to do a bit of exploring.

It’s quite easy to get around Shanghai thanks to the cheap taxis (avoid the dark and bright red cabs – at least that’s what I was warned and I adhered to it) and vast metro network. The residents are also a lot more civilised than other Chinese cities – I could really see why Shanghai is considered “tier 1”. Food wise… nothing great actually. I got to try some traditional Shanghai dishes – only liked the rice cake in black sauce gravy, the xiaolongbao and the guotie.

One thing I observed was that the PRCs are very hardworking and will persist in their attempts to earn money. For example, the taxi touts I met at the airport who tried sooooo hard to convince me to go to the 3rd floor when the real taxi stand is on the ground level. In fact, majority of the tourists were convinced and went up to level 3. When I insisted on taking the escalator to the ground level, they followed me all the way and tried non-stop to convince me that I was headed the wrong direction.

From a S’porean point of view, if I were the tout, I would have given up once the person takes the escalator down to the ground level. And that’s the difference – the more comfortable your life is, the less persistent you are. It’s probably good to learn this “never say die” attitude from them. I think the first generation of S’poreans who came from China probably had this mentality too. But it’s been lost as we become more and more a nanny state, expecting the government to do everything for us. I’m quite ashamed.

Here’re some pics I took from the touristy places I went.

 

SSAW Hotel near Yuyuan station - great value for money!  Love the room!
SSAW Hotel near Yuyuan station – great value for money! Love the room!

 

Quaint building at French Concession area.
Quaint building at French Concession area. 

 

The famous shady trees everyone talks about when they mention the French Concession area
The famous shady trees everyone talks about when they mention the French Concession area 

 

Soong Ching Ling's former residence.
Soong Ching Ling’s former residence. 

 

Dining room
Dining room 

 

Dr Sun Yat Sen's photo
Dr Sun Yat Sen’s photo 

 

Kitchen
Kitchen 

 

Living room
Living room 

 

Front of Soong Ching Ling's residence
Front of Soong Ching Ling’s residence 

 

Soong Ching Ling's cars
Soong Ching Ling’s cars 

 

The Bund
The Bund 

 

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Customs House 

 

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HSBC Building 

 

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Narrow streets of Tianzifang
Narrow streets of Tianzifang 

 

Yuyuan - a famous classical garden located in Anren Jie, Shanghai. It was finished in 1577 by a government officer of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) named Pan Yunduan.
Yuyuan – a famous classical garden located in Anren Jie, Shanghai. It was finished in 1577 by a government officer of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) named Pan Yunduan. 

 

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Yuyuan - a famous classical garden located in Anren Jie, Shanghai. It was finished in 1577 by a government officer of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) named Pan Yunduan.
Yuyuan – a famous classical garden located in Anren Jie, Shanghai. It was finished in 1577 by a government officer of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) named Pan Yunduan. 

 

Qibao Ancient Town
Qibao Ancient Town

 

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Fu Lu Shou sculpture at Xintiandi
Fu Lu Shou sculpture at Xintiandi 

 

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Shikumen building – Chinese and Western style house hybrid of the early 20th century particular to Shanghai. Developed in the early 1900s to meet the housing demands of booming old Shanghai, they are urban Western adaptations of traditional Chinese courtyards.

Wouldn’t mind returning to Shanghai for another holiday!  Too many places left unexplored!

Hong Kong (30 Aug–3 Sep 2012)

Can’t believe it took me till 3Q 2012 to go HK!  So glad I went.  Love the food & the shopping!  Realised Esprit’s pricing in Singapore is really expensive.  If you see the price tag, it lists the item’s price in HKD & SGD (among other currencies).  The thing is, even though the exchange rate is now about HKD6.2 to SGD1, the price tag still uses a rate of HKD5 to SGD1!  I guess Esprit didn’t bother to update their Asian pricing policy since it’s in their favour anyway.

Apart from eating & shopping, I also did a bit more touristy stuff like visiting the Avenue of the Stars & watching the HK Harbour Light Show.  The last time I went for this was in 2007 but it’s been a long time since I saw the harbour without haze (think the last I had a clear view was in 1998!)  It rained on & off while I was at the light show but it’s ok.  Had some rather decent photos anyway. 

Here’re some selected pics from my trip!

Love the fresh & tender kai lan and springy wanton noodles from Mak’s Noodle:

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The zha jiang mian from Mak’s Noodles is good too. The gravy’s slightly sweet but with a spicy aftertaste:

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Never saw such huge Po Chai Pills before!

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The Maxim Bakery & eatery at Kimberley Road is not bad too.

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Food from some random cha chan teng around Tsim Sha Tsui area – not comparable to my favourite Kam Moon Court, which has closed since 2011. Sad smile

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Agnes B Cafe @ K11 (Hanoi Rd):

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The curry fishballs from 7-11 are actually better than the ones at Granville Rd!

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Mango dessert from Hui Lau Shan!

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Almond flavoured egg pudding from Australia Dairy Milk Company. This is reeeeeally good!

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Tsui Wah’s famous fish ball & fish puff noodles. Pretty yummy.

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The iced yuanyang (in the background) is the best ever! The toast… was so-so.

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Pork & preserved veg noodles. Looks plain but tastes good.

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Tsui Wah is famous for its curry, a recipe left behind by some Malaysian chef. Gotta say the curry was pretty good & mildly spicy. Slurp!

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Dimsum from my favourite Che’s Restaurant.

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Chicken wings in Swiss sauce, beef horfun & roasted pigeon (my fave) from Tai Ping Koon:

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Statue of Bruce Lee along Avenue of the Stars

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Night shots of the harbour taken from Avenue of the Stars.

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All pics were taken by my trusty Nokia 808 Pureview.  Love the phone man!

Hong Kong, Again!

I’m going Hong Kong for the 2nd time this year!  This trip was decided rather hurriedly.  My mom was moaning that she hasn’t confirmed any holiday plans… and she even contemplated following my aunts on a tour to HK… which I thought was ridiculous since they all speak fluent Cantonese and HK’s such an easy place to get around.

So I offered to accompany my mom to HK – if she pays for the hotel.  Heeheehee.  My mom agreed.  Smile with tongue out

Anyway, gotta pay off some credit card bills quickly b4 I catch a nap.  My flight’s at 6:30am!

Japan, Nov 2010 (Part 7)

We did a day trip to Otaru.  Really beautiful little town.  Reminds me of those towns you see on Christmas cards.  Absolutely lovely!

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One of the shopping alleys in Otaru.

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Winter… one of the rare times Winnie is fully clothed…

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Some eatery in Otaru.

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Otaru Canal by day.

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Chef cooking our tempura lunch!

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I love scallops!!

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Fantastic cakes!

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Beautiful shops.

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Otaru Canal by night.

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One of the best sushi I’ve ever had… from Waraku in Otaru.

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The ingredients dwarfed the rice!

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Loved the tuna!

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Scallop sushi like no other!

That wraps up on long awaited post on Japan. Hahahaha.  Smile

Japan, Nov 2010 (Part 6)

Photos from Shibuya & Shinjuku… more eating & shopping!

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I’ve forgotten the name of this restaurant but they specialised in omu rice. The food was good! Loved the salad starter too!

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Various types of omu rice & baked rice.

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Yummy…

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The famous 4-way crossing at Shibuya

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My first meal coupon meal!

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Tokyo is really pretty during Christmas (Shinjuku area).

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All the shops are lighted up.

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Mosaic Street, Shinjuku

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Delicious tonkatsu!

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I loved this yuzu salad dressing!!!

Ok… my next post will be the last on Japan…

Japan, Nov 2010 (Part 5)

Meiji Shrine & Harajuku… the Japanese love to dress up… whether it’s the traditional way… or in an outlandish manner!

(Captions found below pics)

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Entrance to Meiji Shrine

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Lots of kids in traditional garb.

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Love the detail on their gowns!

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Ok.. so some kids were cuter than others…

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Obasans in kimonos

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Saw a ceremonial dance.

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Traditional Shinto wedding

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Harajuku

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Cosplay in action

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It’s crowded on Sundays…

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More cosplay in action

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Dinner at Watami

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Grilling our own stingray!

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*Slurp*

I think I’m going for Japanese dinner tonight…*drools*

Japan, Nov 2010 (Part 4)

The great thing about Tokyo is that there are so many facets to it.  There’s the vibrant city life with all the lights & shopping, and laidback neighbourhoods like Daikayama where there’s this really delicious waffles place, and Canal Cafe, the most scenic cafe I’ve been to ever!

(Captions are for the photos above)

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Daikanyama’s such a pretty neighbourhood!

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Saw this really cute stone house on our way to this waffle place.

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The waffles were DELICIOUS!

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Soooooooooooo good…

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They had savoury waffles too!  (Yes, the 5 of us ate THAT many waffles.  Hehe).

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Entrance to Canal Cafe.  This place looks straight out of a story book!

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Funny sign near the counter where customers place orders.

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Such a peaceful cafe.

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Really love the deck.

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So tranquil even fearsome predators lay back, relax & enjoy an iced coffee.

Hehe.

Japan, Nov 2010 (Part 3)

Sightseeing in Tokyo…

Just a note: the captions belong to the pictures above them.

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Tokyo street @ sunset.

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Imperial Palace, Tokyo

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Traditional Japanese women

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Ginza area, Tokyo

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A local buying breakfast at Tsukiji Fish Market.

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Corn on the cob, anyone?

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Really crowded at Tsukiji Fish Mkt in the morning!

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Yummy breakfast!

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Sedap!!

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Asakusa, Tokyo

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Love the trinkets on sale!

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The temple at Asakusa

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More pics taken from the temple grounds.

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Tokyo Tower

More pics coming up in Part 4!!