Siena

Siena is a city where the architecture soars. Effectively a giant, open-air museum celebrating the Gothic, Siena has religious and secular monuments that have retained both their medieval forms and their extraordinary art collections. Often referred to as Florence’s longtime rival, this city of rose-coloured brick seems to have come out on top in terms of a more unified preservation and grace. With steep, twisting stone alleys and churches, palaces, and crenellated public buildings draped across its gentle hillsides, Siena is for many admirers one of the most beautiful towns in Italy. It’s a feast for the senses and an…

Mahalo

“Thank you” (in Hawaiian) for the warm welcome to Hawaii! I had a truly unforgettable stay. In Honolulu, I stayed for two nights at Halepuna Waikiki by Halekulani. The hotel opened only in 2019 and is the sister hotel of Halekulani, which is located right across the street. The boutique style hotel has 288 rooms, which I did not find too overwhelming with lots of guests, as the other hotels in Waikiki. The hotel is a block from Waikiki Beach and also a block away from the main shopping street. I flew to the island of Lana’i to spend the…

Art at Sensei Lana’i

I was awe struck by the wide variety of artworks at Sensei Lanai. One of the hotel staff mentioned to me that the collection is valued at $1 billion. Intentionally placed among expansive garden foliage, it is an impressive display of unique sculptures by world-renowned artists. The outdoor sculpture garden includes larger-than-life works by Jeff Koons, Fernando Botero, Jaume Plensa, Marc Quinn, Emily Young, Ju Ming and others.

Lana’i

The smallest publicly-accessible inhabited island in Hawaii, Lana’i is known as Pineapple Island because of its past as an island-wide pineapple plantation for Dole. Lana’i is only 14.5 kilometres away from Maui and as of 2012, the island is 98% owned by the chairman of Oracle Corporation. Aside from the three hotels in the island and the small town of Lana’i City, the island has no traffic lights, shopping malls, and only 48 kilometres of paved road. This is the perfect island for someone seeking tranquility and escape from everyday urban life. The Kolo’iki Ridge Hike is a 7.9 km…

O’ahu

It is my first visit to Hawaii and first stop for 36 hours is the island of Oahu or “The Gathering Place“. Oahu is the third largest Hawaiian island and home to two-third of Hawaii’s population. Hawaii‘s state capitol, Honolulu, is located in this island. I came across an art exhibit which was part of the Hawai’i Triennial 2022 and I was taken by Sun Xun’s art works, drawn on newsprint gathered in Hawaii in 2020 during the pandemic.

Obrigado

Within the first few hours of my arrival, I was reminded of the friendliness and hospitality of the Portugese people. And this would be the case for my whole 10-day visit. Obrigado – Thank you! Upon arrival in Lisbon, I went straight to the Oriente train station to catch the high speed three hour Alfa Pendular train to Porto Campanha station. I only had one night to spend in Porto and I stayed at the Intercontinental Porto – Palacio das Cardosas. The hotel is well located (beside the famous São Bento Station) and service was very friendly and professional. An…

Lisbon 2.0

Almost to the date four years later, I am back in Lisbon. The beauty of not getting to see all sights on the first visit is that there are more new things to see upon one’s return. Convento do Cormo (or the Convent of Our Lady of Mount Carmel) was built between 1389 and 1423 in the Gothic style. Considered by many to be Lisbon’s loveliest church, this convent has not had a roof since it fell in during the 1755 earthquake. A lawn now covers what was once the main nave.  Mannerist and baroque architecture dominate the São Roque Church,…

Douro Valley

Located in North Portugal, Douro Valley is a UNESCO World Heritage Site approximately 100 kms east of Porto. The Douro Wine Region Valley is the oldest demarcated wine region in the world known for producing its cultural treasure – the strong and sweet Port wine. The region has been attracting international wine aficionados since the 18th century and the terraced fields on either side of the Douro River is a wonder to look at. The Douro River is the highest-flow river of the Iberian Peninsula. It rises in Soria Province, central Spain, meanders south briefly then flows generally west through the…

Chillax

Tofino is definitely a great place for a much needed “chill + relax”. From Vancouver Harbour, I took a one hour scenic seaplane flight to Tofino Harbour. Do note that the seaplane flights are very weather dependent (particularly fog), so be prepared to adjust your schedules. From the dock, it is a short 6 minute drive to The Wickannish Inn. Fondly called The Wick by locals, this Relais & Chateux hotel lives up to all the hype and accolades it has been getting. Located on a rocky edge at the northern cape of Chesterman Beach, the hotel is casually rustic…

Tofino

Located on the west coast of Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada, the village of Tofino is situated within the traditional territory of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation. Surrounded by the vast expanse of the UNESCO Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Region, the town is a popular year-round destination which attracts surfers, storm-watchers, and nature-lovers, among others. Being homebound for more than 18 months made me crave to be close to nature – and to be reunited with the Pacific Ocean is a bonus. Meares Island – Big Tree Trail Meares Island is one of the islands surounding Tofino that features old growth…