Baku is a an interesting modern city, in contrast with the old city. The oil-rich boom town is growing rapidly and is becoming the world’s fastest growing cities, investing in key infrastructure projects, such as transport and urban development. Making Baku a global competitive city alongside Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore, London, Switzerland and Germany.
Around Baku, you’ll notice there’s a little part of Barcelona, Rome and Paris in urban areas of Baku, characterised with Western European influence – Art Nouveau, Haussmann, Venetian and Neo-gothic elements were widely used to encapsulate Baku’s romantic and eclectic vision of traditional Azerbaijani architecture.
After 48 hours in Baku, we toured the city’s best attractions, cultural experience, food, the city has to offer. Here are my key highlights from the visit.
Mountainous backdrop, fresh air, crystal clear waters. Welcome to Tai Mei Tuk in rural Tai Po!
Tai Mei Tuk, better known as Plover Cove, is a great place to spend a day with friends or family, or alone with a dog, to do all sorts of fun activities including hiking, barbecue, boating, cycling and droning (I think drones should be banned there). One of Hong Kong’s hidden gems, Tai Mei Tuk is best known for its natural beauty, rich history and culture, and off-the-beaten track cycling routes and hiking trails, offering brilliant views out over the sea with numerous islets, natural reservoir, mountainous backdrop and old villages. My village in Tung Tsz is located just 10 minutes away, you can easily tell why Tai Mei Tuk is my favourite place to go cycling.
Cycling has been my favourite weekly leisure-time exercise, there are no gym facilities or park gym in rural Tai Po, I would suspect the nearest gym is a few miles away. I love cycling in my own company at my own pace, listen to my favourite iPod playlist, enjoy the views and longer dose of fresh air. I ride my trusty bike Tokyobike CS, which I bought as an investment choice, from Bike The Moment Store in Kwun Tong. An easy classic-style town bike that combines style and practicality, and it’s incredibly light. My vava vroom!
As mentioned earlier, my village is located in Tung Tsz below the foothills of Pat Sin Leng mountain range, which stands a mid-way point between two cycling attractions; Sam Mun Tsai and Tai Mei Tuk. And I’d use my home as a pit stop for toilet break, who would want to use the village’s public restroom with a hole in the ground? A HOLE IN THE GROUND, particularly for ladies, who would dare squat in an uncomfortable manner, unless you’ve pre-packed a SheWee for long cycle journeys or hiking trips. Me, no.
I would always encourage my friends to leave the hectic life in the city and venture into a more open scenic view in rural Tai Po. It costs only $80 (£7.50) to hire a bike for up to 4 hours which isn’t that bad. Bearing in mind, there are restaurants, snack cafes and barbecue sites (and proper public restrooms) for a more civilised environment.
This is the most photographed view point from the end of the Plover Cove dam, my window through paradise, a breathtaking panoramic views over the reservoir, coastline scenery, Pat Sin Leng mountain range, a glimpse of the Goddess of Mercy white bronze statue, and hardly any people around! The dam gets packed on weekends, so I’d suggest come here on weekdays for the leisurely quiet ride and watch the sun as it disappear gradually below the horizon.
A wonderful friend of mine Stephen Cheng (as pictured above with his dog Alfie), is an accessory designer and founder of Kleks Design, kindly gifted me this lovely unisex backpack. I’d been looking for a practical, non-branded work backpack that would fit my purse, water bottle, camera and lenses, collapsible reflector and random junk. This backpack is perfect, it’s stylish, comfortable, durable and practical with multiple pockets and adjustable straps, fits everything I need on the go. Also great day bag for cycling, shopping and commuting to work.
|| My top iPod playlist ||
London Grammar – Wasting My Young Years, Stay Away, Interlude, Truth Is A Beautiful Thing.
Hurts – Wonderful Life, Better Than Love, Miracle, Exile.
Others: Kieza – Hideaway, Years & Years – King, Calvin Harris feat. HAIM – Pray to God, The Chemical Brothers – Go, Bat For Lashes, Moon And Moon, Iamamiwhoami – Chasing Kites.
|| Other places to see and cycle in rural Tai Po ||
People normally take the Tai Wai to Tai Mei Tuk (via Sha Tin) route, which is a 23km, one way, that’s a 3 hour bike ride for a slower pace rider. There are several bike hire kiosks located in Tai Wai, Sha Tin, Tai Po and Tai Mei Tuk, and fees is varied from location to location. I’d recommend spend a whole day in Tai Mei Tuk.
Tung Tsz – check out Shuen Wan Temple and its stunning architecture. Tsz Shan Monastery and Goddess of Mercy statue on Universal Gate Road, visitors are required to book a month in advance. (click HERE for Goggle map)
Organic strawberry Farm on Ting Kok Road – perfect pit stop for strawberry picking with family and friends after a long day of cycling.
Sam Mun Tsai – passing through the ugly luxury apartments of Beverley Hills, you’ll find a tranquil fishing village and floating village with small cafes and seafood restaurant, there’s a walking path leading to Ma Shi Chau Nature Trail, a protective area for ancient rock formations from the Jurassic period. (click HERE for Google map)
Sha Lan Village – a small secluded village next to Sam Mun Tsai with a private pebbled beach (as pictured above), my short cut through the village back to the main cycle path on Ting Kok Road towards Tai Mei Tuk or Tai Po town center. Perfect spot to catch your breath, catch freshwater crabs, or soak your feet in the water.
|| How to get to Tai Mei Tuk ||
Best way to get to Tai Mei Tuk is by bus from Tai Po Market MTR station, or get a taxi.
Catch a 20C mini bus or 75K double decker bus from Tai Po Market MTR station to Tai Mei Tuk bus terminus, the journey takes approximately 30 minutes to 45 minutes to reach the destination. Expect long queues on busy weekends. Alternatively, take a taxi or Uber.
The warm spell and brief heatwave we’ve been experiencing last month was a rare occurrence, it was the hottest June on record for 40 years, later, the weather turned unsettled and cold towards the end of June. People made most of the fine day barbecuing in the back garden, replenish Vitamin D in the park, or bake all day at a seaside.
It’s a perfect time to visit Mayfield Lavender Field in Surrey, a 15 minute drive from my sister and brother-in-law’s place. As it’s typical with English summers, we went on a cool crisp but cloudier morning. The lavenders weren’t in peak bloom at the time we arrived there, but we managed to enjoy the stunning visual, overwhelmed by the pungent aroma filling the air. I loved watching my niece B waddle like a penguin, trailing through the sea of purple lavenders spilling over the path as I followed behind her or behind me, there were a lot of bees hovering over the lavender flowers, thankfully they weren’t bothered by us or us bothered them at all, even when B almost tried to catch them. Oh the innocence! My sister Helen (B’s mummy) brought her home baked matcha and white chocolate cake for us to snack on later, picnics weren’t allowed in the field, we managed to grab a quick shot of the cake next to the lavender before it attract the bees.
I couldn’t recommend a short trip there enough, great for kids to roam around free and a spot of photography. Best time to visit Mayfield Lavender Field is during the peak bloom season in July to mid-August, entrance fee is £1 per person, parking space available.
Last year I was invited on a trip to explore Baku in Azerbaijan with Fairmont Baku for a few days. I arrived in Baku late evening after a long but very comfortable flight from London, via Ankara. 7.5 hour flight may seem short but the hour long single file queue at the immigration was a nightmare, it was quite frustrating for some passengers, the queue have certainly tested my patience which the British have a reputation for. I arrived in the city not knowing what to expect, feeling excited and nervous at the same time, will I like the food here, will I be bored, is the city safe here? You just need to wait and see.
Upon my arrival at Fairmont Baku, still bleary eyed from the long journey. My eyes immediately drawn upwards to the grandeur crystal chandelier. I was jaw dropped and in awe of the stringed diamond-like pendant necklace hung majestically from the ceiling in the hotel lobby, marvelling at the beauty whilst being checked-in, it was certainly a welcoming treat.
Fairmont Baku, part of the Flame Towers complex. The three flame-shaped towers consists of luxury apartments, leisure and retail facilities, commercial office blocks and a hotel, standing at 620 ft tall, it is the tallest skyscraper in Baku. What caught my attention was the geometry design inspired by Baku’s history of fire worshiping, the complex curve design, was said to be the most challenging structures ever constructed. The Flame Towers are completely covered with the LED screens, illuminating at night displaying the movement of a flickering flame. The imposing towers dominates the skyline of Baku and it’s certainly the most impressive modern architecture.
Located in the heart of Baku, Fairmont Baku boasts 318 guest rooms, including 19 serviced apartments spanning over 33 floors, and array of Fairmont Gold options. Key features are; exquisite dining from chic bistros to juice bars and fine dining experiences, spa by ESPA, a fully equipped health club, rooftop pool and outdoor pool, exclusive IMAX cinema located within the Flame Towers, and spectacular views of the Caspian Sea.
I stayed in a lovely Fairmont Gold Premier Room, my home for the next 48 hours. My room was very classy and spacious with stunning views overlooking the city and Caspian Sea. A private bedroom and separate living area, perfect for doing yoga in the comfort of your own private space in your hotel room, a large bathroom with exclusive Le Labo bathroom amenities with its award-winning scent, Rose 31. Everything was perfect and just what I expected.
It feels like a life-time ago when I last visited Hong Kong for Chinese New Year in February this year, the year of the Rooster. I didn’t think that on this special occasion, it would be the last time I would see my grandpa alive, he passed away 4 weeks later after I returned to London. He died from respiratory failure caused by smoking. RIP grandpa.
I haven’t posted about CNY on the blog before, yes it’s 5 months too late and out of date, thought I’d share these visuals with you first whilst I’m trying to accumulate amass of HK photos and video clips for the next posts later.
So, I recently spent my CNY in Hong Kong for the third year running, with or without my siblings (they’re scattered all over the place), nor with or without my parents (they’re separated). I was really excited about being able to witness the traditional festivities at my ancestral village again, catching up with close relatives, spending time with loved ones, and of course, the star of the show, it’s the mouthwatering Hakka food! Celebrating CNY at the ancestral village is always busy and erratic, older Hakka people pay great attention to their traditional ways of celebrating the new year and certainly not the easiest customs to remember, new year celebrations last up to 15 days, with each day carry its own special meaning. I have to admit, I’m suck at remembering it. My job was to help my family with chores and follow the customs; clean the house, buy flowers and plants at a flower market, decorate the house with red cut-out papers, prepare food for the family reunion dinner, giving and receiving red envelopes, greet relatives with new year wishes, and eat, eat, eat!
I haven’t realised until now, how much time has flown by so quickly these couple of years. I went travelling here, there and almost everywhere, I’ve been busy working on commissioned based work and shooting with my favourite bloggers, helping my sister out with her kid, my niece Bethany, who is now 20 months old. The state of mental lethargy and unproductive lead to setbacks in blogging and whether the state of blogging ever had existence – hey, the blog is alive and slowly kicking, but neglected. Two years have gone by, the most amazing thing of all…this hopelessly smitten auntie.
As part of the Sweetie Redefined campaign with Links of London, I wanted to share a story with these beautiful Sweetie charm bracelet, dedicated to my wonderful niece Bethany with whom I’m utterly, utterly smitten with.
Truthfully, I was never into charm bracelets. In fact, 6 years ago, I purchased one by mistake. Unimpressed with my selection, the charms were meaningless with no story to tell. This collaboration with Links of London, I knew it’s going to be a special project. My style is constantly ever-evolving, from clashing floral print, double denim, to trying-to-look-smart-and-sophisticated kind of style. I wanted a charm bracelet that appeals to both genders of all ages that defines the life of every person and their style genres. As a 30 something woman, I’m never too old to wear a charm bracelet.
The Sweetie bracelet comes in sterling silver, 18kt gold, and 18kt rose gold with an expandable circumferences. I have always worn rose gold bracelet to suit my warm skin tone, I chose sterling silver bracelet to give my wrist a pop of colour. I must admit, I struggled to pick which charms to adorn my bracelet with. Less is more. Each charm must represent something that happened to my life and my niece’s life, or the things we’re fond of, that symbolises our close bond and the beautiful way in which they tell a story. Here are the charms I personalised the bracelet with and why I chose it;
Amulet 18kt Rose Vermeil Self Discovery Charm – ‘A powerful symbol of authenticity and self-confidence, earthy, Labradorite takes centre stage’. I’ve learnt so much about myself, not as a person, but an auntie to dear niece, Bethany. She taught me about love, patience and how to be fun with a kid.
Sterling Silver & 18kt Yellow gold Vermeil Tea Pot Charm – You know me, I love drinking English breakfast tea. I drink tea a lot when I’m around with Bethany and it keeps me sane all day long. She noticed my habit before she can even walk, thinking what is that warm brown liquid that makes you say ahhh after taking a sip. I taught Bethany how to make a cup of tea, I repeat the process when I need a cuppa. She thinks it’s fun and it helps her to memorise words and order of things, from smelling a tea bag, pour hot water in a cup, milk and sugar, and stir. Now I drink decaf. Sometimes I let her dip her finger in my warm tea to have a taste (no harm done). I find her hilarious sometimes, and I laugh a lot when I think of her and tea.
Sterling Silver Shooting Star Charm – Like all newborns and young toddlers, they love a good traditional nursery rhymes, like ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’. Bethany’s mum (my sister) and I first sang the song to her when she was a few weeks old, she had colic at the time. No matter how tone-deaf our tunes were, a singsong tone helps calm a baby down. We still sing the song to her, but in an animated way.
Bethany is wearing a similar Sweetie bracelet in a child size personalised with animal charms. My hope is that someday Bethany will always enjoy looking at the charms, as well as a reminder of our wonderful fun times being together, our strong auntie-niece ties, and that represent her childhood.
The Sweetie bracelet and charms are available online and in-stores across the UK.
In collaboration with Links of London as part of their Sweetie Redefined campaign. Thanks for Bethany‘s parents for letting her be part of the meaningful campaign. All words and opinions are my own.
Home away from home. I consider Amsterdam as my third home, after Hong Kong. Partly because my late paternal grandfather and dad lived and worked there for a few years before my time, my distant Dutch-Chinese relatives from both side of the family resides in Rotterdam and Amsterdam, I don’t remember the last time I visited Holland, only a vague memory of the tulip fields, windmills, China Town, canals and miniature park. Wish I visited the city more often, like Paris and Hong Kong, I have friends and relatives here. I’m so happy that I finally decided to come as guest of Hotel Pulitzer Amsterdam, despite my short stay there, I managed to explore a little bit of the town.
Amsterdam is a bike-friendly and bike-congested city, and easy to get lost, otherwise manageable if you’re a regular visitor to the city. Hotel Pulitzer provide its very own Pulitzer bike for guests to wizz around town, make sure you know the basics of highway code, most importantly, the hand signals – left turn and right turn. I had free time to explore the city and a quick shopping before checking out of the hotel. So, I’ve sampled amazing street food at the indoor food marketlocated at a former tram depot De Hallen Amsterdam, which also houses a cinema complex, boutique hotel, and lifestyle stores. There are abundance of cool lifestyle concept stores in Amsterdam that stock a range of fashion, interior, homeware, and lifestyle goods, be sure to check out Anna + Nina (Kloveniersburgwal 44), and Nuvo Niche (Prinsengracht 232), Sukha (Haarlemmerstraat 110), Store With A Home (Haarlemmerdijk 26), and many more. Take a stroll along the canals, the smell of cannabis drifting in and out from coffee shops, dive through stalls at an outdoor flea market (Noordemarkt); antiques, jewellery, rugs, art, kitsch items, bric-a-brac, vintage fashion, as well as organic fruit and vegetables, grains and mouthwatering goods such as cheese, and if you have a time to spare discover your own signature scent at Otentic (Keizersgracht 233).
There’s so much to see and do in Amsterdam, plus the city’s history of art and design, museums, culture, and quirky places yet to explore. Until next time!
A while ago I was invited to stay at Hotel Pulitzer Amsterdam for their Grand Re-opening party. A newly-restored hotel located in Amsterdam’s chicest neighbourhoods overlooking the Prinsengracht and Keizersgracht canals, the 400 year old canal buildings of 25 interconnected houses converted into Amsterdam’s finest hotel. Combining Dutch’s historical elements with contemporary style, preserving 17th century architectural features. Designed by the genius interior designer Jacu Strauss, former senior designer at Tom Dixon’s Design Research Studio, Strauss commented; “There is a real understated sophistication about Amsterdam and I have loved immersing myself in the city to influence my visions for the hotel. Pulitzer Amsterdam is the ideal place to start exploring the Dutch capital, each canal house has its own story to tell and I am proud to be instrumental in bringing these to life.”
Strauss brought his beautiful visions to life, and showcasing the building’s deep heritage and architectural splendor. There is no perfect flattery description to complement the hotel’s uniqueness, each room is magical with a story to tell and inspire, like, ‘Phoenix, rises from the ashes’, all integrated to one word. Reborn.
Here are the key highlights during my stay at Pulitzer.
| Pause |
A lovely-handsome garden terrace-cafe for breakfast, lunch and coffee with a touch of luxury and tranquil green oasis – the big windows, a serene courtyard, and the interior with plush green velvet chairs, brass finish, emeralds green bistro tables, and mouthwatering light dishes, sweet and savoury treats perfectly displayed on Carrara marble bar, makes this place an ideal place to meet friends for breakfast or coffee. A worthy visit for any foodie and interior lover.
| Saxenburg Room |
There are 6 venue rooms designed to hold meetings and scaled events at a capacity – Wester Church, Garden Room, Saxenburg Room, Saxenburg Galleries, Merchant Rooms and Copper Rooms. My favourite, the Saxenburg Room. An elegant venue room from a bygone era – it’s Pulitzer’s most opulent, by far the most enchanting and romantic salon room in the hotel. The whimsical room boasts a painted ceiling, grand chandelier, and a view of the garden. Adorned with 18th century artwork and the stunning Louis XV style mantelpiece from 1750. The room is perfect for weddings, meetings, private dinners and cocktails, and Vanity Fair style photoshoots!
Indeed the most romantic and heart melting suite, a tribute to lovers the world over. In the center of the room lies a free standing bath tub with a view of the whole room to admire of, eclectic mix of period furniture, historic architectural features and modern detailing, and ensuite marble bathroom to die for. Sprinkle a handful of rose scented petals in the bubble bath with a glass of bubbly, a perfect moment to enjoy a spot of relaxation, and create your own love story to remember and cherish.
Turn a corner, you find a charming gentleman-style bar in the style of Art Deco, Pulitzer’s Bar. Sip on classic cocktails and finest beverages, a drink with a history and story to tell. The interior is sleek and stylish, dark, relaxed and very inviting with a small cosy room next door. “Every inch a gentleman – an outstanding drink and comfortable chair can make his day.”
| Restaurant Jansz |
Pulitzer also introduced a brand new restaurant, Jansz.An effortless and quintessential Dutch all-day dinning restaurant, ‘serves simple yet beautiful’ crafted dishes inspired by classic European cuisine. The interior is elegant, romantic with a contemporary twist such as pastel pink curtains, Carrara marble table tops, plush velvet seats, Tom Dixon industrial-style lighting, copper finishes, dark oak floorings, dark and rich coloured wainscot features.
| My Room / Classic Room |
A 2 night stay at this lovely spacious Classic Room located on the first floor overlooking the garden shaded by trees. Every room in Pulitzer comes with a tall headboard reflecting the gables of each canal houses. Other design elements includes exposed ceiling beams, eclectic mix of vintage furnitures and modern items,very comfortable Queen sized bed, cool writing desk, a decent sized marble bathroom with Le Labo amenities. I’m a breakfast in bed kind of a person who likes to enjoy the last bit of experience and catch up with some news on tv or laptop in my own room.
| The Tourist |
The best way to explore the famous canal and city is by foot, by bike and by boat. You can’t leave the Pulitzer without sailing through the canal in style on a luxurious salon boat. Step aboard the Pulitzer’s classic salon boat named ‘Tourist‘. The boat captain provides a live commentary while enjoying the views of the historical buildings of the Golden Age and see the city has to offer.
Stay tuned for part 2 of my trip to Amsterdam with Pulitzer and the city has to offer.
Kit Lee was a guest of Hotel Pulitzer Amsterdam.
Click HERE for more informations on the hotel, rates, boat tour and what’s on offer.
Although it seems nice, I don’t celebrate Easter. Not since the annual Easter egg hunt days and dabbing poster paints and glitter on to polystyrene eggs when I was at school. Receiving and giving Easter eggs is still quite nice. Until now. Today, I’m an auntie to my 18th month old niece, doing fun things with my niece is important for us to stay connected and spend time together when I’m not around in London. Easter is a time of new beginnings, new life, new venture, and celebrate the start of spring with friends and family. I want to take this opportunity to do something fun, for the sake of the blog, my creative fingers are itching. Time to get creative.
So yeah, my first DIY in 2 years. I have been inspired by all things DIY marble eggs that has been floating around on blogs and Pinterest, love how beautiful they look in pictures. There are different methods of creating marbled-effect easter eggs, using; nail polish, shaving cream or whip cream with food colourings, natural dyes, and the likes. I decided to the nail polish method. Thankfully, I have a collection of old nail polishes that has been sitting on the shelf gathering dust, spare gold leaf and organza ribbon from previous DIY project. As this was an experimental DIY project, trial and error, very messy, cracked eggs, and frustrations along the way. My patience was definitely tested. In the end it was fun, probably never do it again. Below are the links of instructions which I find very helpful.
Instructions on how to blow-out an egg*, here.
Instructions for nail polish marble eggs, here.
Instructions for gold flecked eggs, here.
Instructions for hanging Easter eggs, here.
*My advice to blow-out an egg is, don’t use free-range egg and organic egg! The yolk is too thick to break up and blow out well. Best to use barn/caged egg. Alternatively, use plastic egg, wooden egg or polystyrene egg, if you’re not too keen on the traditional method.
The result is beautiful! I hung the marble easter eggs on the apple blossoms branches, freshly-cut from my garden. One egg fell and cracked from the branch as I was trying to re-arrange the eggs and angling them in different way, you can see the blue egg hiding beside the vase. What do you think? I appreciate your feedback.
Spring is here, and what better way to celebrate to indulge in delicious carrot cake! My super talented sister baked a toddler-friendly carrot cupcakes on the day of her birthday, it’s super healthy which consists of natural ingredients; ripped bananas (to replace sugar), desiccated coconuts, plain flour, coconut oil and organic carrots. Topped with diary lea cheese frosting and decorated with sugar-free sprinkles. It was delicious and little Bethany is a big fan.