My Time Capsule: 2017

26.9.17

Estonia: Tallinn Haunted Story, Seagull & Almonds

Estonia, October 2016




I'm not a morning person.
Funnily when I travel, I don't mind at all getting up early even before the sun rises.
On the second day in Tallinn I woke up at 5 am feeling energised despite the long haul flight from Singapore on previous day. I was overly excited because when picking me up at the airport, Nikholai - my cicerone told me that he was going to take me to the Short-Gate tower which is infamous for its black monk ghosts. Me likey spooky thingy! 😍


roasted nuts vendor 

But first Nikholai took me to Kohtuotsa viewing platform on the northern side of Toompea hill. It offers charming view over the red roofs and towering spires of the Old Town with the Gulf of Finland as a background. It was soooo mesmerising that I shed happy tears. If you love exploring a place when the streets are empty and quiet (like I do), you should really consider to visit Tallinn during autumn. There was no one else around in the viewing platform which normally is packed with visitors. And those colourful autumn foliage was the icing on the cake.


freshly roasted assorted nuts 

The aroma of caramelised sugar with a hint of cinnamon tickled my nose. In one corner I noticed there's a wooden food chart and a woman in a medieval attire was roasting some almonds. Snacking time! My mom, my sister and I spent a good 15 minutes choosing which flavours to buy. Cherry cinnamon cashew nuts, cinnamon caramel peanuts, gourmet almonds and more variants to choose from. I opened a the pretty package of the roasted almonds to taste it. It was crunchy and the coating wasn't overly sweet just the way I like it.

"Pa, please hold this package for me." I handed the almonds to my Dad as I needed to get some cash from my bag. "Try it, Pa. It tastes really good."

"Sure!" He replied and walk away towards the terrace. After paying, I turned around trying to find my Dad......and my jaw dropped when I saw what he was doing.


I turned around and saw this!!! 😱😱😱

He was feeding a seagull with my yummy and precious caramelised almonds! NOOO!

"Pa! Why are you giving my almonds to that bird?" I whined as I saw the bird gulped my €2 delicacies greedily. "We are not supposed to feed the wildlife, you know?"

"But this poor guy is hungry. No worries at least I left some for you. Here!" He chuckled and handed me back the package.

"Yeah rite, Dad! I have only 5 almonds now including the crumbs." 😭😭😭

It's a good thing that on the way to the Short-Gate Tower, my attention was distracted by gorgeous architectures along the way. It didn't take long for me to forget about the almond tragedy.


that lil' thief savouring my almonds



Walls of Tallinn was constructed around the 14th centuries to fend off invaders. The 5 metres tall walls are connected with multitude gates and towers. Some towers have interesting stories behind its closed door. Such as the Virgin's Tower which was used as prison for prostitutes. And another one that stuck in my mind is Kiek in de Kök Tower, simply because I found the name kinda amusing. Errr...kick in the cock? Ouch! 😂 Actually Kiek in de Kök comes from German words which means peek in the kitchen. A legend said about some soldiers who often peeked from the top of the tower into the windows of Lower Town Kitchen.
(Disclaimer: Don't worry, no medieval cocks were harmed in this tower).

I'd really love to explore all the towers, sadly due to limited time I could only visited a few of them. In particular I was interested the most about the Short Leg Gate Tower. It is believed to be the most haunted building in the city!

We were just passing the gate when Nikholai pointing up something above me. I looked up and my soul jumped out my body. A faceless dark monk was staring down at me! I breathed a sigh of relief upon finding out it was just a statue. Phew! It looked sooo real, it gave me chill.


staring down fiercely at me



The Short Leg Gate Tower would be locked every night to keep the lower town out of Toompea Hill which was reserved for noble or higher social people only. Apparently also meant to keep out the ghosts from the Danish King's Garden. Infamous frequent sightings are a floating woman in medieval dress, lions, life size ships sailing through the walls and the Black Monk ghost. Rumours said that the monk's name was probably Justinius, a novice set on becoming a monk and was killed in 1233 before he could repent for his sins as a executioner's apprentice.


black monk ghost

a cafe in the city wall tower, how cool!

Kohvik Dannebrog, the Tower cafe

Before continuing our Old Town walking tour, Nikholai took my sister and I for a morning exercise by climbing some killer steep stairs to Kohvik Dannebrog. It's a cafe nests at the top of the old city wall tower. We didn't order anything because Mom & Dad were waiting at the courtyard. It would be too challenging for them to climb those old stone stairs. The cafe has a lovely settings and pretty view from the terrace. So it's definitely worth the leg and bum workout.


Vana Tallinn, a rum based liquor 

view from the terrace

climbing the steep stairs



Kohvik Dannebrog Cafe

gorgeous view from Kohtuotsa 

I can now safely say that I've been to Tallinn and met the infamous black monk ghost (well, kinda :p). As one of the most perfectly preserved medieval city in Europe, a bunch of terrifying dark stories  can be easily found around the city. I wished I could stay longer here. This city is charming and intriguing at the same time. I know that I have made many promises to other cities around the world to revisit. But hey, Tallinn you are right on top of my list. Please always stay as you are. xoxoxo


27.8.17

France: A Bubbly Afternoon At Champagne Pommery

Reims, July 2014




Though I'm not a wine drinker ( sadly I always get abdominal pain after drinking alcohol.), I do love visiting vineyard or doing cellar tour. That afternoon after spending sometime at the magnificent Notre-Dame de Reims, I needed to find out about the other 'must do things in Reims'. Half way to Visitor Centre, I saw Yener, my super helpful chauffeur was waving his hand to me.

"Hey, Debbz! I got you some of these brochures from the Tourist Centre." He greet me with a wide smile on his face. Apparently he did all the research while I was having lunch at a nearby restaurant. How thoughtful! "While in Reims which is famous for its champagne, why don't you do a cellar tour?"

"That's a great idea! Which company would you recommend?"

"Well there's plenty companies here but I've pick some for you which have tours in English. And the one in Pommery will start in about 30 minutes."

"Then Pommery it is! Please take me there now. Merci!" Enthusiastically I hop in his black Mercedes Viano and off we went.


Champagne Pommery


The House of Pommery began in 1856. Madame Pommery discovered she was expecting a child, at the age of 38. This miraculous pregnancy, more than 17 years after her first, would change the Pommery’s lives forever. To provide for his baby daughter, Mr Pommery decided to go back into business. But the wool industry was in crisis. However, the Champagne trade was booming…
In 1858, when she took over as head of Pommery et Greno upon her husband’s death, Madame Pommery began expanding her company with a focus on creating wines that were like no other. She was driven by the constant standard for extreme quality. She was aware of the importance of grape origin to wine quality; over the years, she built up one of the finest vineyards in Champagne.
upside down elephant by artist Daniel Firman

le Grand Foudre

The Pommery blending barrel is one of the largest in the world. The huge barrel holds 75.000 litres or equivalent of 100.000 bottles. To celebrate the ties of friendship by Pommery between France and America, this giant barrel was sent to St. Louis for exhibition at the World's Fair.

The sculpture on the Grand Foudre represents France in the form of a young woman, offering a glass of Pommery to America, depicted astride a sphinx like creature with a head of an Indian. Above on the left you can see the statue of Liberty in the port of New York. And the ship bringing the Grand Foudre to the New World, on the right side. The base recreates panoramic view of Reims, dominated by its famous Cathedral that I visited earlier.
Inscribed in the wood is the artist's signature "Emile Galle Nancy 1904".


116 steps down 

The first glimpse of the 50 hectares estates just blew my mind. Yener drove in lower speed as we passed through a pair of gilded gates and a huge well kept garden. As I hopped off the car, my jaw dropped. The neo-Gothic style building was sooooo grand I thought I was brought to a palace. I looked at my outfit and felt 'blah'. I should have dress nicer instead of this set of tank top, ripped jeans and sneakers. Oh well, never mind. A princess will still a princess without her ballgown, jewelled crown and glass shoes, right? I pulled my best smile and walked towards the entrance.

After registering and choosing the type of tour, I joined another fellow visitors (around 8 of them) and we were guided to what looked like an infinity steps. Okay it's actually only 116 steps but it looked dramatic with the lighting and the old musty smell walls.




another art installation

they used these baskets to transfer wines

It's been said that the cellar is the deepest in Champagne region (about 30 m deep) and there's around 120 massive cave connected by 19 km of tunnels. During the tour, not only I learn a thing or two about champagne production, I also enjoyed the art installations throughout several caves. Yup, Pommery is a supporter of contemporary arts. The tour was fun, eclectic and quirky at the same time. Quite different experience from the vineyard tour I did in Canada, the Summerhill Pyramid Winery.


more than 2 million bottles are kept in this cellar



super cool lights tunnel



and 116 steps up

meet Madame Pommery

‘I wanted this estate to read like an open book, telling the story of the changing world around it and the passage of time. Leave your mark here as I left my eternal trace. May it be worthy of respect for this champagne that is now our shared soul, one that bears—now and forever—the memory of our art’. Madame Pommery


Champagne Pommery

Now come to the best part: Champagne tasting! After hundreds of steps up and down and walked around the labyrinth like cellar I think I deserve a sip of cold champagne. Obviously I'm not an expert so I can't really elaborate in details but the champagne tasted pretty delicate.

If you ever plan to explore Reims, make sure to put cellar tour on your list. There are many Champagne house to choose so if you have ample time, you might want to visit more than one to learn their uniqueness and to compare their products. For me Champagne Pommery was an interesting twist on the traditional cellar tour. Tchin tchin!



DOMAINE POMMERY  
5, place Général Gouraud
51 100 REIMS - FRANCE
Tél : 0033 3 26 61 62 56


Tours are guided in English, French and German. Ticket starts from €13
More information and reservation please contact domaine@vrankenpommery.fr or book here 


9.8.17

Travel Updates: Malaysia & Singapore

July 2017




I gained 3 kgs in 10 days only! FML 😢

I shall blame you, Penang food - for being too delicious! It was my first visit to Penang so naturally there's a long list of local delicacies I wanted to taste. Oh well, I guess 3 kgs is nothing compares to the unimaginable amount of food I had been nomming.


always window seat for me

Planned everything on last minute since Mom has been feeling unwell the previous weeks that we decided to take her for a health check up in Penang and Singapore. First destination was Penang then we did a road trip to Cameron Highlands via Ipoh then to Kuala Lumpur before heading to Singapore as the final leg. After all who needs an apple a day if you could travel everyday to keep the doctor away, right? Never mind, I created that one, lol 😜



Western Road Christian Cemetary

I managed to do a little research before departing about must visit place in Penang. I instantly fell in love with the pictures of the Old Protestant Cemetery and the Western Road Christian Cemetery. Both are very old and have some artistically beautiful gravestones and statues. But there's one specific grave that I was looking for which has a dog sculpture on it. The story behind it made me tear up. It's the Malaysian version of Hachiko.


Legend has it that the dog kept coming back to this grave after his beloved hooman passed away, and continued to stay at the grave. After the dog had died, symphatisers erected a statue of the dog and placed it on the grave. A loyal furry friend of Andrew who died on 7 July 1931 at the age 43 years old 😢



Reclining Buddha temple

Only a brief visit to both temple in Pulau Tikus which are Dhammikarama Burmese Temple and Wat Chayamangkalaram is a Thai Temple famous for its large Reclining Buddha. Too bad I couldn't really explore both temples because it was nearly the closing time.



best place to eat like a local

Eat where the locals eat. I couldn't be happier to meet Mr. Kim, our new local friend in Penang. Upon finding out that my family are a huge fans of food, he steered his car to this eatery on a narrow street in the heart of Georgetown. I wouldn't be able to find this place myself! There's a group of stalls that serve some authentic Penang food such as Lam Mee, Wonton Mee, Char Kway Teoy, Sui Kow and else. It's good to mingle with the locals since I honestly think the people in Penang are generally more friendly than in KL. They would casually greet me and ask which nationality I am. Some of them were curious because I don't look Chinese nor Indonesian enough. One of them even thought that I'm an American. Whatttt! Perhaps it's my hair colour or my physique, lol!



Wonderfood Museum

If you are a food lover like me, the Wonderfood Museum is a must visit while in Penang. Not only there's numerous of gigantic-but-oh-look-so-real food replicas to take picture with, visitors can also learn the history of Malaysian food. It's fun and educational at the same time! In some parts of the museum, I was stunned and came to realise that our eating habits may have huge impact on the environment and wildlife. Such as the cruelty of shark hunting for the shark fin soup, etc.  



Penang delicacies, so sooo yummy!

Only few from tons of food I got to taste. And of course 3 days in Penang is not enough, I barely scratch the surface! There are more food I'd like to try but my tummy couldn't take it anymore, lol. I loved almost all the food I tasted specially Lam Mee, Prawn Mee, Wonton Mee, Ai Yu Bing Jelly dessert and the local Black Thorn durian. Oh! And the Chinese pastry in Ming Xiang Tai is soooo heavenly. I regret it now that I didn't buy more Trishaw Egg Tart and Ko-Cha Siew Pao before leaving Penang. Boohooo 😢



heritage trishaw ride

I wanted to tell you that the 1 hour heritage trishaw ride was an awesome experience, unfortunately the heat was way too harsh for me. It was so soooo hot that it felt like I was being burnt alive (got some serious sunburn after). If you don't suffer heat intolerance like me, I'm pretty sure you would love the trishaw ride. The route passed by the heritage part of Penang including several stops at the famous Penang street arts, Chew Jetty and bakery shop.



St. Anne church


my super awesome new friend, Mr. Kim


Anyway special shout out to Mr. Kim who had been really helpful to accommodate our interests. He even took us to durian farm where we tasted probably the best durian in our life! He knows Penang so well, inside out and will give you some honest recommendation about which places are the best to visit and to avoid tourist traps. If you ever plan to visit Penang, do look for Mr. Kim and you may rest assured that you will love your trip so much. You can contact him through Penang Taxi Service. You're welcome! 😁


durian farm


crossing the Penang bridge


Kek Lok Tong temple in Ipoh

On the way to Cameron Highlands, we had a lunch stop in Ipoh city for their famous Bean Sprout Chicken aka Taugeh Chicken. Also had some takeaway of Ipoh's Salt Baked Chicken which had a long queue in front of the vendor. Since we already visited the Kek Lok Si temple in Penang, Mr. Tan, our chauffeur suggested us to visit Kek Lok Tong temple in Ipoh. Didn't regret it at all because the limestone cave tempe is sooo pretty!



the Lakehouse in Cameron Highlands


Putrajaya, Kuala Lumpur


solitaire class bus 

It's been ages since the last time I went for a road trip and border crossing between Malaysia and Singapore. Probably more than 15 years ago. Out of curiosity I thought I would give it another shot and see how it looks like nowadays. Booked Transtar First Class Solitaire, the Ultimate 18 individual seater double decker coach with the massage couch, tray table, tv and all. A bit dated but comfortable nonetheless. It was a pleasant trip until we arrive in Singapore border and had to face a crazy long immigration queues. Took us more than 2 hours to get through. So lucky the bus was still waiting for us. Phew!



front seat for me, yay!


Singapore!


cute yet sinful pastries 

Spent my 2 days in Singapore mostly in the hospital but still managed to stuff myself silly with all those pretty and scrumptious patisserie from Tiong Bahru Bakery and Chateraise. I'm back home now and have to endure physical tortures from my personal trainer at gym to shed all those excess fat I gained. God, please have mercy on meeee! 😭😭😭


PS: I'll be back soon and write more blog post when this soreness of muscle has subdued a bit. Tchusss!

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