Monthly Archives: August 2012

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The One With Summer Palace – Elegant Restaurant, Mediocre Fare

It has been months since my dinner experience at the Summer Palace at the Shangri-la. Back then the weather has just started to carry pleasant, wintery chill, when you’ll be excused to take the flamboyant quota up a notch with trendy jackets and stylish scarfs.

Not the horrible, horrible humid summer we are all experiencing right now, when the only piece of clothing you will want to wear is, well, nothing.

Early Christmas Dinner At Summer Palace

Back to Summer Palace. It was an early Christmas dinner, a celebration of sorts. Back then, I didn’t know this was a potential Michelin-starred restaurant. But I should have known. With it’s elegant banquet hall styled up with Chinese arts on gold embossed walls, it evokes in mind the splendid grandeur of Hong Kong’s Chinese heritage. Everything at Summer Palace is never understated, from its ornately carved wood panels to sparkling silverware and oriental teacups.

In fact, so much so that it indeed get awarded a Michelin star in 2012, a recognition indeed!

We ordered the set dinner for two, which serves some of the best highlights of the restaurant as recommended by many foodies. It took quite a while before the first dish was served, so we amused ourselves with our early Christmas presents :D

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The One With A Luxembourg Experience

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In the blink of the eye, my time in Luxembourg has come to past.

It has been a captivating two days in this city. Despite its tiny size and small population, Luxembourg packs a punch when it comes history, culture and arts. It was once the land of the Frenchs, and the Germans, and the Belgians. The mix of influences left its mark on the city, and the people of Luxembourg struggles to find its own identity.

Though desperate not to be involved in the various world wars, Luxembourg was dragged into some of the worst fights this region has experienced, and this was apparent from the multitude of fortresses, underground tunnels and military towers dotting the city. Amazing, bearing in mind that only 10% of what was once built to protect Luxembourg from invading army.

And yet… amongst these military structures, lie some natural beauty and rich culture that are almost untouched. The medieval castles, the many churches (some with almost unimaginable icons ever, a total Dan Brown moment), the languages… Luxembourg was determined to stand tall among other European giants.

And stand tall it it did. Luxembourg is the second richest country in the world, only after Qatar, and slightly ahead of Singapore. The country economy was first built on the steel industry, and now banking.

With such a diverse and complicated background, Luxembourg came out very much differentiated from many other European countries I have visited. Apart from its rich culture, there are many modern developments, most notably the EU quarter and the amazing Mudam Museum (one of the many, many museums here). Yet the people seem relaxed and enjoying life here, immersing them daily in good food, great wine (the vineyard we visited served one of the best champagnes I ever tasted) and arts-on-the-road.

I grew to love this city; Luxembourg is one of the few places I have visited which I want to live and work at. Apart from Santorini, Essaouria and Illulisat, this will be another place which I would love to visit again.

The One With Summer In Luxembourg City

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Luxembourg is hot, hot, hot.

That is the only conclusion I can glean in the past 24 hours since I arrived in this city. Where was the pleasant European summer? The cab driver cheerfully told us the temperature was soaring right to 35 degrees.

It was boiling hot, and it doesn’t help that our “economic” hotel, Park Bellevue, did not come with airconditioning. Opening the windows at night to tempt in nonexistent breeze was a futile exercise; instead we attracted hordes of insects eager to share our bed.

The lack of sleep explains this grumpy update.

But Luxembourg more than make up what it lacks from the weather with its beauty. Everywhere I go, I see turreted castles, medieval buildings and steel towers. With summer in full force, the locals were out enjoying the sun, many nursing endless pints of beer at the Old Town while listening to park performances. I had way too much beer, but hey a man go to do what he got to do in face of such relentless heat, non?

We wandered around Old Town aimlessly, using the guidebook only to find Chiggeri, the fusion restaurant purportedly serving some of the best food in this city. We weren’t disappointed; the tasting menu was stellar, and the historical building it was housed in was fascinatingly decorated. It was like dining with modern royalty.

I still don’t understand why a summer in European is preferable to winter. From the chilly Greenland to boiling Luxembourg…. I know which one I like better in a heartbeat.

The One With The Brussels Experience

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For the first time in my life, I experienced a country in less than 24 hours.

Our flight from Reykjavik was delayed for an hour, much to our dismay. Not only that we had only two hours of sleep – the guesthouse we stayed in was in a “party area” of city, and the noise was unbelievable – and we woke up early to catch the coach into the airport.

After three hours, we arrived into sunny Brussels, a total contrast from the cold of Greenland and Iceland. Some deft map maneuvering later, we found ourselves at Sheraton Hotel! Yes, we booked us some 4-star room in Brussels to pamper ourselves after days of basic accommodation.

The weather was so good (and I don’t mean the soaring temperature, it’s too hot!) that I had to get out of the room and explore town.

The Grand Place was my destination of choice, as of many tourists coming into Brussels. This city square was surrounded by a collection of grand, curious buildings, such as the magnificently spired city halls, as well as guildhouses adorned with baroque gables, gilded statues and elaborate symbols. The square is also alive with cafes of all variety, where tourists and locals enjoy their time in the sun with pints of endless beer.

I wondered into the Belgian Beer Museum, which was a total tourist trap and totally not worth my five euros. After that I ventured out into the outer rings from the square itself, into many alleys and backroads to experience, among others, fine Belgian waffle with ice creams, the famous “pissing boy”, a straight wedding on a gay street, as well as a trio of talented musicians busking on the street.

Soon my lethargy caught up with me, so Liping and I headed for dinner at the famous Chez Leon for some of the mussels this food had ever have.

Time was by then almost eight p.m. so these two tired travelers walked back to the hotel, and within an hour I crashed onto my oh-so-comfy bed.

The One With Travel Guides & Resources To Ilulissat, Greenland

In writing up my blog posts on my trip to Greenland, I realised I dig through my travel knickknacks and compile a useful lists of tour agencies, restaurants, hotels, accommodations, and tourist attractions in Ilulissat. While I can’t vouch all these information will be accurate when you read this, but I hope this will serve as a starting point for you research into useful travel information on the beautiful Ilulissat.

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The One With Last Day At Greenland

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So now it has dawned on us, the final day in Greenland. It was a brilliant morning; the sun shines, the sky blues, the spirit cheers. I have been incredibly lucky with the weather, for it has been raining for a solid three weeks prior to my arrival.

A lucky penny, I am.

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The One With Ilulissat Kangerlua – The Hike To Holms Bakke

I didn’t believe it at first.

When one of the tour guides told me yesterday how Ilulissat Kangerlua produces icebergs everyday, pushing them down into the sea, some times choking up the entire Disko Bay making it impossible for boats to pass, therefore a threat to tourism. I looked around the gigantic icebergs floating lazily around me, and I thought, well, it couldn’t get any worse than this.

Hiking Trail in Ilulissat

So today we went off to a thrilling hike from Ilulissat Kangia, which will take us all the way up the mountain to see the Icefjord. The starting point was at this old helipad at the outskirt of town, which was a snap to get to by taxi from our hotel. Plenty of tourists were congregating at the base station, so I thought, well, there’s certainly strength in number, so there is little risk hiking up a mountain in Greenland, right?

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The One With Icebergs Excursion At Disko Bay – A Tale Of Midnight Sun, Restaurant Ulo & The Ilimanaq

The Excursion to Ilimanaq

These were literally the tips of the icebergs.

After spending two years traveling down some 50 kms crashing into each other, flipping over, breaking apart and exploding into air, these icebergs were a natural wonder too big for words to describe.

Sights of Disko Bay

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The One With First Impression of Ilulissat

This was it. This was the reason why I worked hard all those months, saved all those money, and traveled these many miles to Greenland.

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The iceberg-studded Disko Bay was certainly a sight to behold. It was drizzling when we arrived, but that didn’t dampen our spirits upon seeing the town of Ilulissat and the enchanting Disko Bay. The icebergs were a bit dirtier than expected, but hey, I can’t expect everything to be pristine white, right? These monstrosity of nature were thousands of years in the making, and I am certain it will continue to enthrall me for many years to come.

Inside Air Greenland!

Today was very much spent on the road, getting in and out of town. The flight experience from Nuuk to Ilulissat was very comical. Long story short, we were two of the six passengers onboard on an direct flight into town.

Restaurant at Hotel Icefiord, Ilulissat

After a somewhat uninspiring meal at the restaurant of Hotel Icefiord, where we will be putting up at during the entire time we are in Ilulissat, we are ready to call it a night and be rested for the big adventure tomorrow!

See more of my Greenland 2013 posts:

The One With Travel Guides & Resources To Nuuk, Greenland

In writing up my blog posts on my trip to Greenland, I realised I dig through my travel knickknacks and compile a useful lists of tour agencies, restaurants, hotels, accommodations, and tourist attractions in Nuuk. While I can’t vouch all these information will be accurate when you read this, but I hope this will serve as a starting point for you research into useful travel information on the beautiful Ilulissat.

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