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Haji Lane is a well-known street in Singapore that reminds me just a touch of the SoHo neighborhood in NYC. A stroll along this narrow street will charm you with its rows of trendy boutiques and quaint cafes. What makes this neighborhood unique is its eye-catching street art with images that literally pop from the walls. What's more, you can experience the different flavors of Haji Lane depending on the time of day. During the day, the boutiques are fun to browse through, even if you don't end up buying anything! Plus, the cafes are great for a daytime catch-up session with friends. By nightfall, Haji Lane transforms from a shopping district into a spot for night time revelers. Bars invite passerbys with live music performers in a cozy, intimate setting. One of my favorite places is Bar Stories. There is no menu, you simply describe to the mixologist what tastes you're in the mood for in your drink and voila, they create a concoction just for you. (Psst, just a tip - request something with fire.)

This past weekend, I had a great time shooting with a talented young photographer. Many thanks to Utek for this photography collaboration. Check out his photoblog on www.youtakephotos.com or his instagram account @utekkie.
T-shirt: sheinside.com / Boyfriend jeans: Gap / Pumps: VNC (Bangkok) / Cuff: Mumbai shopping / Ring: House of Harlow / Shades: Bangkok street shopping
You know you will visit a place again when you leave wanting more. That's how I felt on my first trip to Australia a few weeks ago. Despite a 10 day trip to the land Down Under that consisted of visits to Sydney, Melbourne, and the Yarra Valley wine region, I felt like I had just scratched the tip of the iceberg. So many places to still see and explore in this vast country!

Let me let you in on a little secret: Traveling with kids isn't easy. Thus, we kept this vacation relatively simple in terms of the types of activities planned since we were traveling with the little one. So sadly, I didn't visit the Outback or rough it up Blue Mountain or climb the Sydney Harbor Bridge this time. But that doesn't mean we didn't have a good time. We opted for more child-friendly activities and a less hectic pace of taking in the sights. It proved to be worthwhile: happy kiddo = happy traveling parents! The first stop was Sydney. We strolled along Bondi Beach and neighboring beachfronts. We checked the box with a visit to the Opera House followed by an afternoon of walking along the harbor and downtown area. Then there was a day trip out to Chowder Bay with its seafront cafes and restaurants. All very doable in a four day visit if you're traveling with a family, or even otherwise.

(More on what we did in Yarra Valley and Melbourne in future posts so check back soon.)

A trip to Sydney is incomplete without a visit to Bondi Beach
Opera House on a hot summer day
Sydney Harbor Bridge
Took part in Australia's fine coffee culture
Fell in love with this cafe/bar in Chowder Bay. Check out the East Coast Lounge for sure if you go!
A view of Chowder Bay
Henderson Waves is the tallest and probably the most unique pedestrian bridge in Singapore. Mimicing the shape of an undulating wave, it passes through a lush green belt and connects two major parks that sit atop a hill. It took a while for me to figure out exactly how to access the bridge. But once I did, I was rewarded with an unobstructed and spectacular view of the island. Due to the unique wave-like design of this bridge, there are lots of quiet corners and hidden recesses...ideal for cozying up with a book or enjoying some chill time with family and friends. I did see lots of brave souls jogging up the hill to cut across the bridge as well, so this bridge isn't just for the lazy. :)

Photography credit to the talented Dee. You can check out her photography at adinanur.wix.com/deennaphotography.com and on Instagram at @deedinna. Thank you so much Dee, it was lovely working with you!
Tank top: Gap / Shorts: Zara / Blazer: F21 / Layered necklaces and rings: Jolie & Deen / Clutch (pictured below): Kate Spade

Henderson Wave Bridge
Kauai is known as the Garden Isle of Hawaii. True to its name, the island is surrounded with scenic beauty that is lush and pristine. It's one of the more quiet of the Hawaiian islands where everything flows at a slower pace. But don't mistake this for an island that is boring. Far from it! Last December, my husband and I made a week-long escape to Kauai. Surprisingly, it was a bit chillier than I expected but that didn't stop us from doing the requisite lounging by beach. Kauai has numerous beaches and among the popular ones that we checked out were Poipu Beach, Donkey Beach, and Maha'ulepu Beach (this last beach is actually very secluded and difficult to get to so be warned!). We were also lucky enough to catch an up-close sighting of an endangered monk seal basking in the sun at Poipu Beach.

You can make your trip to Hawaii as relaxed or as active as you want. We opted for a balance of both. So besides beach bumming, our itinerary included an ATV tour through a private ranch/jungle where we got to see where movies like Jurassic Park and Indiana Jones were filmed. Also memorable was our helicopter tour of the entire island and a visit to a chocolate plantation where we got learn about the process of chocolate-making and sampled different varieties of dark chocolate (scroll to the bottom of the post for names of these tours).

Of course, no trip to Kauai is complete without seeing the rugged Napali Coast, the Fern Grotto, and the Weimea Canyon (labeled the "Grand Canyon of the West"), whether it's by boat, helicopter, or car.

We were also going to do mountain tubing down a river passing through an old cotton plantation. It sounded super fun but unfortunately, I fell sick towards the end of the trip. So it was a bummer that we couldn't go. Ah well! As they say, always leave something for next time...

Frolicking on the beach!

A contemplative moment with a friendly stray dog

Sampling local fruits at the Steelgrass Plantation

I finally got to see what a cacao tree looks like. These cacao fruits are the source of chocolate!
All set for a rough, tough and muddy ATV ride through a private ranch and jungle 
This scenic backdrop is where movies like The Descendants and Jurassic Park were filmed

This is a part of the road called the Tunnel of Trees
Breathtaking vistas from the helicopter tour
A view of the rugged Napali Coastline from above
ATV Tour: Kipu Ranch Tours (www.kiputours.com/waterfalltour.php)

Chocolate plantation: Steelgrass Plantation (www.steelgrass.org/chocolate)

Helicopter ride: There are plenty of different companies that offer this but we loved the Blue Hawaii Helicopter tour company

Tip: You can't get around the island without a car as public transport is limited. So a car rental is highly recommended.
It's great to be able to see how Chinese New Year is truly celebrated...or at least how it's done in Singapore. Weeks before the actual holiday, decorations were put up, storefronts got a facelift with new displays, Chinese New Year goodies hit the shelves everywhere, and anything and everything red popped up! I've really enjoyed being able to experience it and learning about how this festival is celebrated. For example, did you know that among the rituals to usher in the new year is to do a thorough cleaning of the house, change the bedding to red-colored bedsheets, and decorate the house with prosperity oranges to invite good luck and positive energy?

Just a few days before the long CNY weekend, I took a stroll around Chinatown and soaked in the festivities and colorful decorations. If you go in the evenings, it's even more beautiful with all the Chinese lanterns lit up along the streets.

As the year of the goat/ram comes upon us, I wish you all a very Happy Chinese New Year!
Street intersection at Chinatown with rams leaping into the new lunar year
Chinese lanterns sweep above the city streets. When lit up at night, they are even more striking
Prosperity oranges
Baked goods, cookies, and candies that take over the shops for Chinese New Year
Decorative lanterns
Walk through the crowded lanes of Chinatown and you're sure to catch a glimpse of the shophouse facades
A close-up of the charming vintage shophouses of Chinatown