Friday, June 16, 2017

Palace of Versailles, France

Palace of Versailles (pronounced as Ver-Sai) is a grand and beautiful palace/château just 20km south west of Paris. Foreign leaders and dignitaries are also often hosted here whenever they come for French official visit. It is actually very easy to get here by train from Paris but lack of maps and instructions in English may make it complicated for first timers. Versailles is accessible by RER C trains. There are various RER train stations in Paris all running in different directions. Depending on which station you enter, you may actually need to take the train in the opposite direction and then change again at the station few stops later. The best stations to board the RER C trains are at Invalides or Champs de Mars Tour Eiffel. Here, you don't have to change trains. You need to buy ticket at the vending machine. A round trip ticket only costs around 7 euro under the Paris (Outer Region) selection. Once you entered the gate, you have to look for the correct platform. Look out for RER C train platform going for the direction of Versailles Château (Rive Gauche). The same platform will have trains going in west directions like Versailles Chantiers or Versailles Droit. So make sure you check the arrival board on the platform and only board trains going to Versailles Château (Rive Gauche), also abbreviated as VICK on the same screen.

Versailles is just a short walk from the station once you arrive. You can safely follow the crowd, cross the road, turn right and there is a ticket office where you can purchase your tickets. Then you can follow the crowd again to the palace. If you missed the first ticket counter by turning left instead after crossing the road, you can still buy ticket from the building on the left at the palace itself. Remember only join the long queue at the entrance if you have tickets.

The palace is huge. If you would like to learn its' histories as much as possible, then I suggest you plan a whole day event here. Half day in the morning for palace interior, and then another half afternoon in the huge garden. You can have a picnic here if you would like.

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Mini Travel Log: New York, USA (4)

Instead of the usual Statue of Liberty mainstream tour, this time I took the road lesser travelled. I explored to the east side of Manhattan. Right from midtown Times Square, I walked east until I reached the United Nations Headquarters. One would wonder such important building where world leaders meet is not open for any visitors due security reasons. I was wrong when I spotted the visitor pass office opposite the UN building. I took the chance to walk in and was happy to discover that the UN building does open for visitors. One only needs to provide an ID or passport for on-the-spot pass approval. However do note that on certain days, the building will be locked down from any visitors when there are any high level meetings between important world leaders. You are advised to check the UN website here: http://visit.un.org/content/tickets#individuals for dates of closure and also online ticket purchase if you would like.

After going through security checks at the main gate, you are free to roam around the compound of General Assembly area. Inside the General Assembly building, you need to purchase the guided tour ticket for visit to the meeting rooms. Limited tickets are on sale at the counter for different timings and languages. Therefore you are advised to purchase them online or you could arrive earlier to purchase at the counter before it runs out of tickets of your preferred timing or language.

The tour lasts about 40 minutes and depending on your luck, some meeting rooms are not open to the public if there is a meeting in progress. I was very lucky as the security council meeting had just concluded and I managed to visit the iconic Security Council room as well as the General Assembly room.

I spent the rest of the afternoon by taking the Roosevelt tram to Roosevelt island. The tram station is just a few blocks away from the UN building. This iconic tram ride is one of the recommended attraction for visitors to New York. On Roosevelt island, you'll get a scenic skyline view of East Manhattan including the UN building. You can have a nice stroll at Four Freedoms Park at the south end tip of Roosevelt island. If you can spend longer time here, you'll get to watch the sunset as the city lights come to life.

Also on this island at the southern tip, there is a Smallpox Hospital ruin which is also a heritage site. Some say this is the most haunted place in New York. So go visit if you dare. I was there on Tuesday and unfortunately it was closed. It is only open on Wednesdays till Sundays.

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Related link: Mini Travel Log: New York, USA (1)
Related link: Mini Travel Log: New York, USA (2)
Related link: Mini Travel Log: New York, USA (3) 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Club Med Cherating

I just had a holiday at Club Med Cherating with my family. Club Med Cherating is located in Kuantan which is about 3.5-hour drive from Kuala Lumpur. This resort is fully self contained. The price that you paid during reservation includes all meals and drinks including beers and alcohols; though the more expensive liquors and cocktails are chargeable. It is full of energy and you can feel the warmth and friendly atmosphere the moment you set foot at the resort entrance. This is thanks to their energetic staff members (Gentil Organisateurs). During the day, the GOs have various duties ranging from reception to activity coordinators. You can always see their smiles as they make sure your stay is always above expectations. During the night, the GOs will even perform shows and other social activities. This resort is very child and family friendly. They have daycare and nurseries where you can put your kids and babies should you need some alone time. You can join all kinds of day activities for free ranging from archery, racquet sports, obstacle courses, jungle trekking and pool activities. Or, you can just laze around or get drunk by the pool/beach with their unlimited drinks. I must say the food at their restaurant is delicious with many varieties daily. During your meal, the GOs do come by to socialize, sometimes sharing your table if you don't mind for some pleasant conversations over a meal. Should you need more privacy, you can also take a train shuttle to the Zen pool for adults only relaxation pool overlooking the ocean. Here is also the place where you can have fine dining for dinner at the Rembulan restaurant. Rooms are a bit old but kept clean. Beware of monkeys so do make sure you lock your windows or refrain from leaving belongings unattended by the pool. Overall, my family and I had a wonderful time at Club Med Cherating. I do recommend this resort as a family holiday destination. Try book weekdays and avoid weekends as this resort is also popular among local companies to organize weekend getaways and team buildings for their staffs over the weekend.

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Mini Travel Log: London, UK (6)

I was looking around for cherry blossom trees (sakura) during spring time in London. It is not easy to find as this is not their native tree and they prefer their magnolias, camellias, daffodils and crocuses. Kew Gardens has the largest concentration of cherry blossom trees, both the pink and the white blossoms. However if you prefer somewhere in central London, then you can find a couple in Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park and Regent's Park. I only walked around Kensington Gardens and could only find the white blossoms. If you want to see the pink blossoms, then you may try in Regent's Park the next season.

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Related link: Mini Travel Log: London, UK (5)
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Monday, February 13, 2017

HUDLY: Drive Like Pilots Fly

I bought myself a very cool birthday gift. The state-of-the-art heads up display by HUDLY. It displays vital information from your car and also mirrors your handphone screen in front of the windscreen. With less heads down and less distraction, it makes driving safer.

I hope you like this video review. If you would like to buy one for yourself or loved ones, use the referral code below for USD25 off retail. There is no better deal out there. Hurry up and don't miss out this deal.

Follow this link: https://gethudly.com/. At the check out page, you can apply this code: HOONGJI25



Thursday, December 08, 2016

Mini Travel Log: New York, USA (3)

When I strolled down Central Park in New York during summer, I promised myself to come back here during autumn. There were rows of trees planted neatly along The Mall and Literary Walk towards Bethesda fountain. I knew it would look awesome during autumn. I was right when I had the chance to come back here last month. The golden leaves here are just out of this world.

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Related link: Mini Travel Log: New York, USA (1)
Related link: Mini Travel Log: New York, USA (2)

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Mini Travel Log: Frankfurt, Germany (3)

There is this park, Palmengarten that always intrigues me whenever I'm in Frankfurt. It requires an entrance fee of 7 euro which had turned me away everytime I was here. Few weeks ago, I arrived into Frankfurt during the golden autumn week. I would like to capture some golden autumn shots so I made the decision to visit this park. It was the best decision made and money well spent. The autumn color inside this park is really beautiful. I do recommend visitors to come here and see the golden leaves inside the park during autumn season.

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Related link: Mini Travel Log: Frankfurt, Germany (1)
Related link: Mini Travel Log: Frankfurt, Germany (2)

Mini Travel Log: Sydney, Australia (3)

When it is good weather in Sydney, it is really pleasant to walk around under the blue sunny skies. This is my second outing with my new Sony A6300 camera and I'm starting to get the hang of it. Seems like the trade off between camera size/weight to an unnoticeable downgrade of picture quality is worth it. I'll just keep my post short here and let the pictures do the talking.

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Related link: Mini Travel Log: Sydney, Australia (1)
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