Keep Calm & Paddle On

A Mallard drake in Lucerne, Switzerland.

I have a confession to make: I am obsessed with ducks. Every time I travel, these cute little fellas find their way into my photo collection. Like this Mallard Drake I found on his way out for a suntan in Lucerne.

Why the obsession? You see, in sunny Singapore where I come from, ducks are rare sightings (except the ones on the dinner table). But in the northern hemisphere, ducks are so commonplace you can apparently find them in any park, pond or lake.

Interestingly, seeing these ducks made my day more than any great historical building or impressive museum. Watching them sail the waterways with their oh-so-cute ducklings put a smile on my face. Impromptu pet therapy at work, I guess.

Then again, sometimes it’s the simple things that make a vacation great. We need not try too hard to plan the perfect vacation always. We should just go with the flow, keep calm and paddle on like our feathered friends.

Read more about my trip to Lucerne in:
Lucerne: Small Town Charm

The Hunt for a Red Box

A red telephone box on the streets of London.

When was the last time you used a payphone? Do you even know where to find one? Then again, it probably doesn’t matter. Who still hunts for payphones these days, right?

And yet, they do. In London, at least. For the red ones. Out of all the British icons, the Red Telephone Box has to be one with the humblest beginnings. Born out of necessity and painted red simply to make it easy to spot, it is now one of the most-photographed items in London. Tourists pose with it like they would a celebrity and spotting one on the streets can be as exhilarating as riding the London Eye.

But true to the smartphone era, these red telephone boxes are slowly disappearing off the streets. They won’t disappear totally though, which is a relief, because I can’t imagine London without them. It would be like a missing jigsaw puzzle piece: the picture just ain’t complete.

Read more about my trip to London in:
London Part 1: Old Favourites
London Part 2: River Thames & Hyde Park

Starry Starry Night

An Asterina starfish on the aquarium wall at the Oceanographic Museum, Monaco.

“Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight. I wish I may, I wish I might, have this wish I wish tonight…” Like a twinkling star in the dark blue sky, this little fella makes an unexpected appearance, warming the hearts of those who chance upon it.

Only that this star resides not in the sky, but plastered on the aquarium wall at the Oceanographic Museum, Monaco. Say hello to the little Asterina Starfish. Though its presence is not the most welcomed in marine aquariums, it is most welcomed on my camera screen.

Read more about my trip to Monaco in:
French Riviera Part 3: Monaco

The Romance of Travel

The Eiffel Tower in Paris.

If the Eiffel Tower could walk and talk, it could have been the protagonist in a drama. One with many twists and turns, a story of rags to riches, a tale of rising from adversity. Ok maybe I exaggerate…

You see, the Eiffel Tower was almost never born. There were protests over its design and many questioned whether it was even possible to build a tower so tall. Even when it was brought into this world, there was a limit put on its lifespan – a mere 20 years. Fortunately, it escaped its fate of being dismantled with a new job transmitting radio and television signals. Gradually, people warmed up to it and the tower is now a symbol of Paris.

Today, millions all over the world flock to see the Eiffel Tower and clamour to have a picture taken with it. At 131 years and counting, the Eiffel Tower still stands tall overlooking the city of love and romance. Not bad for a metal tower that was meant to be a temporary exhibit.

Read more about my trip to Paris in:
Paris Part 1: City of Lights
Paris Part 2: Hidden Gems

A Gaudí Double Take

Chimneys on the rooftop of Casa Milà, Barcelona.

Like masked warriors getting ready for battle, they stand sentinel waiting for their next order. Guarding their charges with their lives, they spew hot air at enemies that approach. Wait… What?

“They” are actually chimneys on the rooftop of Casa Milà, an apartment building in downtown Barcelona, Spain. Born out of the imagination of Antoni Gaudí – the master of Catalan Modernism – these chimneys would not look out of place in a museum.

In fact, all the structures on the rooftop have been “disguised” in one way or another. So, next time you head there, be sure to take a good look at the staircase exit you entered from. Otherwise, you may not find your way back out! Just kidding…

Read more about my trip to Barcelona in:
Barcelona: Gaudí’s Playground

Go With The Flow

The Grand Canal in Venice.

There is something extremely calming about water. To be specific, water in motion: flowing rivers, waterfalls or even just listening to the rain fall and watching it puddle by the roadside. I can spend an endless amount of time (too much time perhaps) staring at water, watching it go on its way and listening to the music it makes.

Perhaps that’s the reason why I love Venice. There seems to be more water than land there (occasionally true when it floods) and a trip to relax at the water’s edge is literally at your doorstep. How nice it would be to end each day with a picturesque scene like this…

Read more about my trip to Venice in:
Venice: A City Like No Other

The Edge of the World

Cape Point, South Africa.

So… this is what being on the edge of the world feels like. The knowledge that there is nothing between you and the horizon on the far end. The feeling that you can ride out into the sunset and enjoy miles and miles of clear blue skies and deep blue seas. The realisation that humans are so insignificantly small compared to Mother Nature. It would be the perfect place to sit and relax, to savour the sea breeze and contemplate about life… if not for the boisterous tourist crowd.

Welcome to Cape Point, South Africa, the southwestern-most point of the African continent. Of course, we all know the earth is round and riding out into the sunset will eventually get you to Antarctica. But hey, we could all do with a little bit of imagination sometimes…

Read more about my trip to Cape Point in:
Cape Town Part 1: Table Mountain & the Cape of Good Hope