The View : Arc de Triomphe de l’Etoile

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After a late lunch at L’entrecote, we took the liberty to climb 284 steps up a dimly lit spiral staircase, arriving at the top of L’arc de Triomphe right before the sun had set. Rooftops and city streets glowed in the warmth of the setting sun as we stood high above the centre of L’étoile, one of Europe’s busiest roundabouts, overlooking parts of Les Champs-Elysées, the Eiffel tower and Sacré Coeur.

The crowd began to thin out as it got dark, and all that remained were little echoes of cars touting their horns and random chatter from a few remaining tourists. The next six days were spent exploring the beautiful neighborhoods of Belleville, St Germain,       Montemartre and seeing that it was our first time in the City of Light, we took in our fair share of museum and art gallery visits.     We can’t wait to explore Paris and environs all over again, perhaps during the Euro Cup in 2016 with our son.

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HANGZHOU FROM DAWN TO DUSK

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Few words are needed to describe just how picturesque Hangzhou is, and out of all the towns and cities I’ve been to in Eastern China, Hangzhou struck me as the prettiest and most romantic. Visiting in the midst of winter made for a more dramatic landscape and even in the absence of blooming fields and magnolia trees, it was surely no less beautiful in December.

I took a slow walk along the West Lake, strolling past sleepy willow trees covered in light frost to see the lake glow and come to life at sunset. The lake, formed gradually from a gulf, marks the end of the Yangtze river down south, where the canals, waterways and lush land give way to the hilly interiors of the Zhejiang province. A view almost too beautiful to take in, take your time here and you’ll be sure to fall in love with Hangzhou too.

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BANGKOK

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Bangkok is by no means an unfamiliar place, yet we always find something new to do each time we visit. A sweet two-hour flight away and we soon found ourselves exploring the city again, searching for new restaurants to eat in, and new places to visit.

We wandered around the quiet corners of town in the early morning, peeking through half-closed shutters and walking along little back lanes. Chinatown is serene in the morning. Quiet and placid, we saw street vendors leisurely setting up their stalls and locals running errands, unperturbed by the hustle and bustle that typically surrounds the larger part of the city.

With just the weekend to spare, we chose to stay in the heart of Chinatown for a change. I flew in 10 hours earlier to do some   wandering of my own, and found myself a little lost in search of our hotel. My taxi driver, as clueless as I was, had to make countless loops in Yaowarat to find the exact street our hotel was situated on. Restless, I agreed to get dropped off as close-by as possible and fortunately found someone kind enough to show me where our hotel was. A kind lady left her shop unattended and walked with me right up to the adjacent street where I finally caught the sight of our hotel’s hazy signboard – very thankful, I was! By dinnertime, Kenneth arrived and we headed to Thonglor, stopping by quaint dessert shops after dinner before we finally called it a night. After a slow breakfast the day after and an entire morning spent at Chatuchak, we found ourselves packing up for home. A longer visit next time, for sure!

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We stayed in the Mu Dan Suite at the Shanghai Mansion Hotel in Yaowarat, Chinatown

If you’ve been here, what did you like most about this city? 

Want to see more of Thailand? Follow us on an adventure to the remote, quiet island of Ko Lanta, the cooling hilltops of Chiang Rai or find out what to do on the island of Ko Samui

SCENES FROM NORTHERN THAILAND

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I spent a few days in the rugged landscapes of Thailand’s northernmost province. It was an organized trip, I was in good company, and we spent most days exploring the town, which sits quietly over silent hilltops and the flat alluvial plain of the Mae Kok River. We woke up to serene, misty vistas each morning and made our way to a local Karen village and neighboring temples glistening in the glow of the sun.

A visit to a local monkey and elephant school was part of our planned itinerary – It was my first visit and I vowed to myself that it would be my last.

In the evenings, we explored local night markets, sitting on low stools and benches tucking into hot soupy noodles sprinkled with chili flakes, a befitting meal as it got colder as the sun went down.

Time flew by, and here I am writing this post almost seven years later. It was my first attempt at film photography and I’m so glad to be able to share these photographs here. Welcome to PassageBlue and thank you for reading my very first post.

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Want to see more of Thailand? Visit the wonderful, quiet island of Ko Lanta and swim through Emerald Cave, or head over to Ko Samui in the Gulf of Thailand, where you can go on day-long excursions to the beautiful island of Ko Nangyuan and the Angthong National Marine Park