At this moment, you might be looking for best cameras to purchase for your upcoming trip. I own a Canon 7D MKII which for me is a great semi professional camera and I always have it with me, especially when I’m traveling. However, my recent travels made me realise bringing my DSLR along with me could become such a burden…Why? 1. I always ended up taking so much time going through the Airpot security gate, 2. Sometimes I forgot to charge the batteries, 3. Time consuming, 4. Weight etc.
With that in mind, I figured I should just stick to my iPhone instead of spending more money on compact/ mirrorless camera to solve my problems. Hence, my recent trip to Korea was an opportunity for me to leave my comfort zone and test my skills on phone photography.
In this endeavour, other than my phone of course I needed an editing app. Theres variety of options out there that you can get for free or pay for. Hence, on my own interest I chose VSCO as my main editing app, its pretty decent and easy to work with. In attempt to explore the app more in depth, I paid the extra $20 to access the full features.
With that sorted, I was learning and getting used to the process on the go and my thoughts? It wasn’t that bad! I’m no professional when it comes to this kind of stuff, I have friends who could do a better job than me 🤣. Surely it has it ups and downs; for instance sometimes it doesn’t work that well when it comes to low light. Quality wise, its not something that you would sell as stock images… duh 😜, but it doesn’t really matter that much since I only upload them on social media to share to my friends.
Prior to this, it would take me forever to process a photo and post it online but now, I could do it right there and then. Of course, I’m not completely abandon my DSLR, I still need it and would use it for my future trips. This endeavour helped to be fond with an alternative, my phone.
The implication that I’m trying to address here is that, smartphone’s mirrorless camera has changed the game in social media photography with its feature and technology getting more and more impressive every year without some of us even realising it. As a photographer, I often get asked for recommendation on what camera should one get for personal or travel use. Now I could say, don’t bother! If you’re not making money taking those photos, stick to your phone. It’s as good, instant, no extra weight and less complication.
So few weeks ago, I just finished my school semester and have the whole summer for myself. Normally we would get a summer job and do the usual stuff. But I figured, I haven’t been travelling for awhile now and I’m in need to see the world. So I got a quick free lancing job to get some cash for my travelling expenses, and started planning my trip to Beijing, China! Also because the airlines was having an offer at that time too.
Being a student with limited income, of course I had to go cheap. Hence, I spent appx $600 for the flight (return) and $250 for my stay. — I stayed at a shared Airbnb, and it wasn’t that bad honestly. Getting there was a little bit dodgy of course, it felt like straight up from a horror movie with lights flickering at the lobby and no lights at all on the ninth floor. Other than that, the host was nice, patient, prompt and provided all the essentials even though she barely speak English and I had to communicate with her through Wechat and translation app.
I know I said I planned my trip earlier, well… it wasn’t much of a plan really 🤣. Thanks to my friend though who lives in Beijing, she helped me out by sorting my tours for me locally and help me get started with some useful insights and showed how the subway works. I know, some people say its no brainer but I felt more confident with the insights I got from her.
The Forbidden City 故宫
Yess, The forbidden City or Gùgōng , a typical tourist destination. The place is massive and beautiful. I often seen it on movies and photos, but I never thought I would actually be there physically. It took me almost 2 hours to go through everything and there were a lot of people even though, some people say it could get way crazier on the weekends. I was curious with the histories behind this magnificent landmark, so I got myself one of those ‘Automatic Guide’ device for $8– its one of those electronic device that comes with earphones, guiding you through the landmark. I find it pretty insightful and probably cheaper than hiring a tour guide.
The Great Wall 萬里長城
The highlight of my trip, ‘The Great Wall of China or Wànlǐ Chángchéng’ 😍! Who would exclude this destination in their itinerary? No one! Getting there, I took the easy way– I paid for a tour bus called Mubus (all they did was drive you there [to and fro, 2 hours each trip] and purchasing your tickets. The bus ride cost me $26 including entrance ticket, excluding cable car ride and any other access that you might want such as ski lift and toboggan ride (more on this later) because there are few ways to get to the great wall as well as getting down too.
So there’s 3 ways that you could get to the wall that I know of:
Ski Lift [access to tower 6].
Cable car [access to tower 14]🚠.
Toboggan slide [only getting down, access from tower 6].
As I said before, there’s different ways you could use to get up and down from the great wall. I had a long conversation with Leo, the tour bus guy about my options, because I really want to get on the Toboggan slide too (who wouldn’t want to slide down through a mountain ) and since I came with the tour bus, of course theres time limit (10am- 2.30pm) and I need to be smart with it. I guess thats the down side of getting a round trip tour bus. To make it time efficient, I ended up strategising my experience without getting left behind. Bear in mind that the great wall is huge and have 20 towers in total. Hence, I purchased tickets for these access– Cable Car [to and fro], Ski Lift [one way] and Toboggan slide.
Basically, I started with getting up to tower 6 with Ski lift, took some pictures etc– then went back down 30 minutes later with the Toboggan slide (pretty cool and insane) and then finally went back up again with the cable car to tower 14. Now of course by now, you realise I skipped few towers, well… 14 towers in total. But, it only get interesting from tower 14 onwards, thats where you’ll get the best view and it gets better and better as you walk up to the top. I’m not a hiker myself, and walking from 14th to 20th tower took me almost 2 hours and it had my legs feeling like its falling apart haha. Ultimately, it was quick and fun! In total I spent $77 in total for the whole experience.
Temple of Heaven 天壇
I often get recommendations to visit the Temple of Heaven or Tiāntán, well I can see why now, cuz its massive and beautiful to experience. It took me roughly 2 hours to explore everything it has within the historical landmark and the admission fee was priced for only $6. I don’t see why one should miss it. The temple was opened to the public since 1918, you could see the locals would come with their families for a walk, jogs, or even play card games at the park. I can see why one would spend their morning or evening here at the park area, it could get peaceful and quiet that comes with a nice view.
The rest of my tip
I spent my remaining days and time exploring the locals such as Gulou East Street (Gulou Dong Daji), Houhai riverside, National Art Performance Centre, Tiananmen Square, Beijing Olympic Park and 798 Artzone. These destinations were brief and quick and didn’t require a lot of my time. Gulou East Street is where I got some vintage merchandise and some interesting food and traditional bites.
If you are a fan of arts, you’ll probably wanna do a quick visit at 798 Artzone and that exactly what I did. They have heaps of cafes, shows and exhibitions for us to visit. I didn’t attend any shows and purchase anything other than a cup a coffee, but its a nice a place for a quick a visit if you have extra time in your hand and snap some insta worthy pics.
and…just like that, I ended my quick trip to Beijing!
I’ll be listing down some tips based on my experience 🙂 If you are interested, keep on reading friends 💃🏻.
Get ALIPAY for hustle free transaction: The ‘cashless culture’ in Beijing or in China in general is bigger and much efficient than any other country I’ve been to. From massive retails store all the way to the street vendors are practicing cashless system, even ordering food too! I’m all about making my life easy, and ALIPAY solved my struggles in making a transaction with the locals and when I ran out of money, I didn’t have to look for ATM machine or currency exchange– I just load money to the app in seconds and done!
Why not WeChat pay you wonder? That was my first option, however you need to attach it to a Chinese credit card or some sort to make it work. While ALIPAY actually provide a ‘Tour Pass’ which you easily load money from your attached credit card.
Get a Translation App (iTranslate): If you know how to speak Chinese, don’t bother at all. If you don’t and often get anxious in communicating with the locals like me, you might wanna consider to download iTranslateapp on your phone or any similar ones. In a “non- touristy” place or area, the locals might have troubles understanding WTH you’re trying to say.
When I was all by myself, the app helped me to figure out the basic on how to request for something, or even play it out loud for them through the app.
Use the Subway: When your’e travelling within the city, the Subway could be your convenient option to commute and cheaper too. If you’re confident you’ll be using the public transport often while in Beijing, consider getting their e-card. During peak hour, the stations could get really busy and the queue for the ticketing machines could get really long. Doing so, it could make your commuting faster and easier.
Lastly, definitely enjoy your trip!
If you’re curious how did I ended up stranded in the Airport for a day, well… its quite dumb and this is what would happen if you got careless like me. My flight departs at 12:40 am, I arrived at the gate, around 11.30 pm or so, yeap I wasn’t late. Around 12 am, I got hungry and decided to get some bites and right after that I had to go to the toilet real bad. By the time I got back to the gate, I realised they have changed the gate, I wasn’t sure if they have announced it because I didn’t hear it, at least not in English.
I ran to the new assigned gate which took me 5 minutes, and by the time I got there they literally just closed the gate and didn’t wanna let me get on the bus. Just like that, I had to stay at the airport for another day till the next flight. The whole process of going back to the ticketing counter to sort out my flight and getting back my luggage was frustrating, because I didn’t speak the language and the instructions given by the staff was confusing and a lot of hand gestures and pointing.
I learned that being multilingual could have been beneficial in so many ways by now 😅.
Extended to 28th February due to popular demands and its ending soon this week! Celebrating 90 years of Mickey with 90 original artwork curated by Eddie Zammit and Produced by Radio Velvet at Melbourne Central from 17th November to 28th February.
If Mickey was part of your childhood and you’re into art, you should definitely give Mickey Mouse Arthouse a visit that features 90 unimaginable local and international artists such as Jamie Browne, Confetti Studio, Vince Frost, Justine McAllister, Travis Price, George Rose, and plenty more in one place (Melbournecentral.com.au, 2018).
I personally experienced the exhibition and really enjoyed it 😆. Now, I may not be an expert in judging what good art is, but looking at all those creative work I never thought I could see Mickey in various form of art. It’s also somehow relatable for us who grew up with Mickey is part of our childhood with a mixture of pop arts. Your kids probably find it unusual but for my age it somehow makes sense.
Don’t worry about going home empty-handed because they are giving you a chance to win Mickey print that valued up to $300. All you gotta do is post your best snap on Instagram along with #MickeyArthouse by 28th February 2019 and make sure your Instagram is public as well. Learn more here(Melbournecentral.com.au, 2018).
Another alternative for you to get range Mickey Arthouse merch is by purchasing them on the location throughout the exhibition (open daily till 5.30pm).
DATE 17th November 2018 - 28th February 2019 Admission Free Location Behind Shot Tower, Melbourne Central
From traditional map to google map and now to this! You may want to own this creative and playful maps to show off to your families and friends. Jenni Sparks Hand Drawn Maps is probably one of the most creative and interactive hand-drawn maps that I have come across to; with its feature pointing out the city’s hot spots and highlights.
You probably heard of Jenni sparks before but if you didn’t, well she’s one of the most inspirational illustrators worldwide based in London. Hand drawn maps are one of the well-known artwork by Jenni Sparks as she had drawn multiple cities maps and highlighting their hotspots, such as New York, Paris, Berlin, San Francisco and of course Melbourne!
Commissioned by Everamade, Jenni Sparks spent a thousand hours of research that she acquired to map the city by visiting, photographing, taking notes, and of course, the hours to draw the map itself (Jennisparks.com, 2018).
You can get yours now here with a price starts at $178. If you wanna find out more about Jenni’s work, you can explore at her platform- Jennisparks.com.
Lets talk about food first, if you’re a fan of granolas, coffee and yoghurt then Kopenhagen Coffee is where you should be right now. You don’t have to worry about eating unhealthy because they sure will serve you various healthy food choice 😋.
Our first choice we went with ‘Queen Routine’ (RM30) menu, a Queen of Denmark breakfast style serve with piece of freshly baked spelt bread with cheese + spelt bred with sliced avocado + Greek yoghurt and granola with fruits and honey + velvety smooth scrambled eggs. Omg, just writing about it made us craving for it again 😅. If you’re not familiar with spelt bread, it’s a kind of bread that is made mostly out of organic wholemeal spelt flour, yeast, sugar and salt and may be modified accordingly.
For our second choice we went with ‘Aarhus Alternative’ (RM20), named after the second biggest city in Denmark, AARHUS. On your plate you will be serve with smashed avocado mixed with feta cheese, drizzled with their homemade chilli oil on their healthy spelt bread + tomatoes and spring onions.
How often do you mixed your avocado with cheese and get that perfect texture for your sandwich? And lastly for our coffee, we settled with Piccolo (RM11), a Brazilian and Columbian beans brewed together to give that nutty and heavy taste 😋.
Clearly Kopenhagen Coffee is not just a place for you to fill your tummy, but also a place where you can relax, read books and work if you’re a digital nomad with wifi provided and that is exactly what we did! We spent hours slowly enjoying our meals while reading and working ☺️.
Not to mention the interior is perfect as decent amount of lights shining in through the windows, minimalist and woody furniture concept which is very calming and warming for our eyes to see 😍.