TTDI: A Photo Series

Hey guys! Not much to write about, so here are some photos for a change. These were taken when I went poking around the neighbourhood near my workplace during lunch break. Not sure if the places are empty because of the pandemic, or whether they’re always this dead lol. 

Enjoy! 

Location: TTDI MRT and TTDI Plaza 

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Through The Eyes Of A Local : The Hidden Secrets Tour Melbourne

Melbourne is an interesting city, full of things to see and do at every corner. While it’s great to explore and discover hidden gems on your own, some travellers might prefer having a guide to show them secret spots that only the locals would know.

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Enter Hidden Secrets Tour Melbourne, a walking tour established in 2004 that aims to uncover a side of the city not usually seen beyond the usual tourist hotspots. There are several itineraries to choose from, depending on your areas of interest, and a tour will usually take around two to three hours to complete. Ideal for those who are short on time, or just want a quick glimpse into Melbourne as it is for Melburnians!

I was in town earlier this year for a media trip, and our organisers booked us a tour which was a good mix of coffee, food, arts and culture. Right from the get-go we got a map and a mug (which can be used for coffee along the tour), which I felt was really thoughtful of them (and environmentally-friendly as well!).

LANEWAYS

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Inseparable from the city’s identity is its laneways; narrow streets once used for horses and cargo. They gained a reputation for seediness in the days after the Gold Rush, but are now considered cool, hip places, filled with hole-in-the-wall eateries, bars, indie art galleries, jewellery stores, boutiques and more. There are over 40 laneways in Melbourne. Our tour brought us to AC/DC Lane, named after one of the biggest rock bands to come out of Australia.

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I came here on my own a couple of days ago, but it was nice to come back with a guide. Wouldn’t have noticed otherwise details like these shoes hanging from cables. Apparently since the laneways were known to be slums / shady places, the shoes were used to indicate that drugs were sold at a particular place!

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A short walk away was Strachan Lane, which was marked by a large mural by local artist adnate.

 

Koko Black

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Chocolate lovers will want to stop by Koko Black, which offers premium chocolates in a phenomenal range of flavours: you name them, they’ve got ’em. Started in 2003, you can find Koko Black’s flagship store in the Royal Arcade, as well as in major cities in Australia.

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Aside from nicely packed gift boxes that make for ideal souvenirs, the shop also carries individual pieces, each lovingly handcrafted to sweet perfection.

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Tasting board.

La Belle Miette 

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The sweet adventure didn’t end there, as our guide brought us a few doors down to La Belle Miette (Beautiful crumb in French), which specialises in macarons, bon bons and chocolate drageés. Everything about this cute-looking shop exudes Parisian chic, from the heart-shaped chairs to the cute storefront decor and elegant white counters within.

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Too pretty to be eaten! Expect top notch quality as only premium ingredients are used to make the macarons, such as pure fruit purees, vanilla beans, Girgar butter and chocolate exclusively from French chocolate house Cacao Barry and Belgian Callebaut.

Sensory Lab

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Our next stop was Sensory Lab, which felt like a true hidden gem. Tucked away from the main street, it was nevertheless packed with customers. Got a taste of awesome Melbourne coffee (which is world-famous, by the way!) in our mugs before moving on.

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More beautiful murals. It’s easy to stumble across these while walking around Melbourne – just pop into any alleyway and be surprised.

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The shops here are so picturesque / cool-looking I think I could dedicate an entire photo album just for them.

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This is an interesting one! The Waiter’s Restaurant is a pasta speakeasy that dates back decades; at least to the 1940s. The story goes that Italian, Greek and Spanish waiters would come to the restaurant after their shifts to play cards and drinks, hence the name. Its reputation grew, and soon became a meeting place for people from all walks of life, from politicians and journalists to the local gang members. The Waiters have served generations of Melburnians, and their signatures include ox tail, chicken liver and spaghetti bolognese. This sounds like one of those places I’d gladly queue up for !

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Another classic establishment founded in 1950, Pellegrini‘s reputation is legendary. Started by the Pellegrini brothers, the cafe initially served the Italian migrant community. But the shop’s close proximity to the theatre district meant it was soon pulling an intellectual arts crowd. The cafe was later sold off to another pair of Italian migrants, but the offerings and menu, as well as the decor, have largely remained the same.

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Arts is a big thing in Melbourne, as evidenced by its East End Theatre District, home to no less than six major theatre and production houses, some of which date back over a 100 years. Here, plays and world-class shows are regularly staged. Must be great to be a Melburnian and have such convenient access to all these great art shows!

With that, we concluded our Hidden Secrets Tour of Melbourne! It was certainly an eye opening experience, and we discovered many little gems along the way. Our guide provided plenty of information, although I did get the feeling that we were being rushed despite still being within the stipulated time – perhaps she had another tour to conduct. Anyways, I’d highly recommend booking one of their tours if you’re ever in the city. 🙂

Bookings can be made here.

The Secret Garden @ 1 Utama – The Botanical Garden On The Rooftop Of A Mall

It’s been years since they built The Secret Garden – a huge botanical garden on the rooftop of 1 Utama Shopping Centre – and while many are aware of this not-so-hidden secret, there aren’t many people visiting the place. WHY? 

My hypothesis is that our hot and humid Malaysian weather makes it uncomfortable to walk around in, since you start sweating the moment you leave any air-conditioned space. It’s such a shame, when you compare it to the experience of walking through parks overseas in spring or mild summers. But you gotta work with the cards you’re dealt with, I suppose. lol.

That being said, if you’re planning to visit The Secret Garden, try to go up in the evenings when it’s cooler; like how CH and I did when we were at the mall recently:

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Touted to be the largest rooftop garden in Southeast Asia, the garden covers over 2,700 sq metres of space and is home to about 500 species of plants, mostly tropical and cool climate. If you like plants, this is a great place to enjoy the greenery and take photos of beautiful flowers.

  • PS: If you’re a mozzie-attracting person like me, be prepared for bites.
  • PS 2: Not a botanist or avid gardener of any sort, so I won’t be identifying every single plant in this post lol. Enjoy the photos!

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Bunga raya aka the hibiscus, Malaysia’s national flower. Commonly found in red but also in other variants such as the above. Long stem, large petals. The red colour is supposed to symbolise courage, while the five petals represent the Rukun Negara (National Principles) of Belief in God, Loyalty to King & Country, The Supremacy of the Constitution, The Rule of Law, and Courtesy & Morality.

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Dancing-lady orchids, so called because they resemble the figure of women in large flowing gowns. NOW YOU CANT UNSEE IT

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Bougainvillea flowers are known as bunga kertas (paper flowers) in Malay.

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I think this was an English rose. Love the vibrant hue!

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The garden boasts nicely landscaped areas, with shady gazebos and tunnels covered in plants.

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More pretty but unidentified flowers lol

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Look at that breathtaking colour combo. Wow.

So the next time you want to take a break from the shopping at 1 Utama, spend a moment or two at The Secret Garden. Entry is free.

Secret Garden

7th Floor,
1 Utama Shopping Centre
1 Lebuh Bandar Utama
Bandar Utama City Centre
Petaling Jaya
47800, Selangor, Malaysia.

ADMISSION: FREE

Opening hours: 10AM – 10PM, daily

Bonifacio Global City, Metro Manila

Bonifacio Global City, also known as The Fort or BGC for short, is a central business district sandwiched between Makati and Taguig. After the hustle and bustle of downtown Manila, stepping into its commercial area, High Street, felt a little surreal. Clean and well-paved streets free from belching jeepneys, people walking their dogs or jogging, skyscrapers and high-end retail/restaurants reminded me more of Singapore than the Philippines.

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High Street was lined with Christmas decorations – trees adorned with Christmas lights, grass blocks trimmed into reindeer shapes, bubbling water features and landscaped gardens.

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The pedestrian-friendly retail center features shops, offices and residential blocks on both sides.

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During my visit, the Philippine Armed Forces was running an exhibition, with displays of tanks, boats, guns and machinery. Visitors also got to take pictures with army personnel, listen to talks, performances and handle the artillery (not loaded of course!)

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Communications equipment.

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Members of the public trying on safety vests and helmets.

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Bullets ._.

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Different rifles, submachine guns and guns used by the PAF. Not a big fan of guns, but I know some guys who would probably go ga-ga over these.

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I held the small one. It was surprisingly heavy. I guess that would be my weapon of choice in a zombie apocalypse – I’d much rather use a melee weapon anyway xD

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A giant Christmas tree and more light decorations around the district. There are also lots of nice murals around the city, but since it was night I didn’t get to capture any.

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BGC is a nice neighbourhood and I’m glad I got to visit, but it also highlights the extreme disparity between rich and poor in Manila. Hopefully, with development, there will be more of such places to offer income and opportunities to the less fortunate.

Accidental Blonde

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This is ash grey hair. 

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….This is definitely not ash grey hair.

 

 

I went to Setiawalk in Puchong to see if they have any good salons today, to get a new haircut for the New Year. Some were expensive, but there was a new one called Urban that had a relatively affordable price (RM100 for colour, RM30 for cut). Me being a cheapskate   bargain hunter, I went in. My stylist was a friendly Indonesian guy who did a nice haircut for me. When it came to the colouring, I picked out a darker ash grey.

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Original hair colour.

Imagine how stunned I was when I finally put my glasses back on and found that I had become… BLONDE.

I told him: “Wow, it’s so ….yellow.”

Stylist: Oh, it’s fine, you wanted a light colour right? It looks nice on you.

Me: Er, but it’s not ash grey at all

Stylist: Oh dont worry, after a couple of washes it’ll be fine. *laughs*

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…..

I know, if I wasn’t happy about the colour I could have asked them to recolour it (the salon owner did ask me if it was okay) *inner self screams: IT IS NOT OKAY* , but it was already late and I didn’t want to sit for another two hours when my scalp was itching and burning from chemicals. So I just thanked them, said buhbye and proceeded to cry at home lol.

This will be my one and only visit to Urban, sorry. I mean, the staff and owner are nice and all, but how can ash grey turn into fricking blonde?

The latest I can get my hair fixed is on Monday.. at C’s mom’s house. I’ve been doing my hair there since I was a kid, but her business has gotten so busy that sometimes I’d have to wait for weeks on end for an appointment.

For this hair rescue mission, I have no choice but to wait for Monday morning. D’:

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It doesn’t look bad here coz my front camera’s selfie game is on point, but when I look at myself in the mirror, the shiny blonde along my hair lining is so bright that I can’t help thinking how jejemon I look with the ratchet blonde hair lol. It also does not suit my skin tone at all.

In the meantime, I am wearing a beanie whenever I go out of the house.

MONDAY PLS COME EARLY PLS 

C’S MOM I AM SORRY I EVER THOUGHT OF GOING TO ANOTHER HAIRSTYLIST SOBS