Top 10 Instagram Moments from 2013

2013 was an amazing year. I don’t know if any other year will every compare, considering it was a year of great change. I lived in three different cities, visited 11 cities in nine countries, graduated from my MBA program, found a job that I love and relocated to Shanghai. I fully recognize that I probably will never travel that much in my life ever again. I definitely cherish every single moment of 2013. However, I’m excited for what 2014 will bring and for new Shanghai adventures.

It’s too difficult to rank my favorite moments of 2013, but I did want to capture 10 of my favorites (brought to you by the lens of my iPhone 4 and Instagram).

1. Invalides (Paris, France)

InvalidesI had just moved out of the suburbs of France and into Paris. After having a lovely brunch on a cold, snowy day, the Métro broke down and I had to walk home. What started out as a inconvenience, turned into an absolutely stunning walk and I got to capture this gorgeous shot of Invalides (which never would have happened if the Métro worked!).

2. Burj Khalifa (Dubai, UAE)

Burj KhalifaIt was my first trip to the Middle East and Dubai was such an eye-opening experience. I learned so much about the local culture and was also just stunned with the entire city. Everything was so opulent and it was more than I could have ever imagined. The Burj Khalifa is currently the tallest building in the world and I loved the way it was lit up at night with its own sparkling lights like the Eiffel Tower.

3. Château de Chenonceau (Loire Valley, France)

Loire ValleyI felt like I was on the set of Downton Abbey while wondering the vast halls and gardens during my Loire Valley Châteaux tour. It made me feel like a Pretty, Pretty Princess. The Loire Valley is definitely worth visiting and I personally enjoy it a lot more than visiting the palace in Versailles.

4. Victoria Harbor (Hong Kong)

Rubber DuckWho doesn’t love a giant, 6-story inflatable rubber duck? It was awesome to be in Hong Kong the same time as this wandering art installation from Dutch artist, Florentijn Hofman.

5. Arc de Triomphe (Paris, France)

Arc de TriompheThis was the night I found out that I was accepted for an amazing opportunity in Hong Kong and that I would be leaving the wonderful City of Light. It was such mixed emotions for me as I was excited to go to Hong Kong, but I was so sad to leave Paris earlier than anticipated. I took this photo right before hopping on the Métro. It wasn’t until afterward that I realized that I had captured a picture perfect “stolen moment” of a couple in love. I feel like this picture captured the true essence of l’amour and my own love affair with Paris.

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Celebrating my Birthday in Hong Kong

Mid-Autumn Lantern Festival in Hong Kong

Mid-Autumn Lantern Festival in Hong Kong

After celebrating my birthday at the Louis Vuitton family home last year, I thought it was going to be difficult to top that. However, I had the BEST day ever, starting with a half-day spa package at the famed Peninsula hotel, Mexican dinner and drinks with friends and celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival at the lantern festival in Victoria Park.

Hong Kong: Peninsula Spa

Peninsula Spa

The Peninsula Spa is literally the best spa I’ve ever been to in my entire life. My day went like this: swim in their pool, steam/sauna and relaxation room, 30-minute exfoliation, 90-minute aromatherapy massage and then 3-course meal poolside. Before this session, the best spa I had ever been to was the Mandarin Oriental in Las Vegas. This blew it out of the water.

Heaven on Earth at the Pool and Relaxation Room

Heaven on Earth at the Pool and Relaxation Room

Since I went earlier in the day, I had the WHOLE PLACE TO MYSELF. No one else in the pool, no one else in the steam, sauna or relaxation room. It was like JACKIE’S PALACE! I truly believe this is the most magical place in the world. If a unicorn and a leprechaun had popped out and starting walking down the halls, I would not have even blinked. That’s how magical it was.

The attention to detail was incredible. My masseuse, Charlie, was very considerate to my needs since I have severe skin allergies and she had a table of about seven different oils, each with a different purpose. The table that I got my treatment on was fully adjustable and heated. When I took a shower to wash off the exfoliation treatment, I stepped outside and the floor and my towel were both heated. I wanted to live there. I told Charlie that this was the best day of my life. She chuckled; I don’t think she realized the seriousness of my statement.

Peninsula Spa Food

My 3-Course Meal Included: Seared Scallops, Steamed Chicken and Pineapple Carpaccio.

The lunch was great because everything was super healthy and light. You choose an appetizer, main course and dessert. The meal came with a fresh fruit juice (I chose watermelon) and coffee/tea. It was the perfect meal because I didn’t want to be too full with my dinner plans in a few hours. On top of that, they surprised me with a candle with my dessert AND gave me a really nice bag as a birthday gift. This weekday half-day spa package is worth every single cent. If you are a HSBC Premier member, you do not have to pay the 10% service charge (huzzah!).

Mexican Feast at Brickhouse

Mexican Feast at Brickhouse

For dinner, my friends met me at one of my favorite restaurants, Brickhouse (20A D’Aguilar Street). Brickhouse is hidden down a dark alleyway just off of Lan Kwai Fong and they serve amazing cocktails and high-end Mexican food. My favorites are the fish tacos, watermelon feta salad and Mexican corn. They don’t take reservations, but I would highly recommend Brickhouse even if you have to wait!

Lantern Festival

Lantern Festival in Victoria Park

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Hong Kong: French Michelin Dining at Pierre

Blue Lobster Aiguilettes Served with Summer Cabbage and Frozen Raspberries

Blue Lobster Aiguilettes Served with Summer Cabbage and Frozen Raspberries

Pierre in Hong Kong is the famed restaurant inside the Mandarin Oriental, coming from French chef Pierre Gagnaire. Years ago, I had his six-course dinner at his restaurant in Las Vegas, Twist. It was an absolutely sublime meal and I was excited to repeat this experience at his two Michelin star restaurant in Hong Kong.

Inside Pierre

Inside Pierre

Beautiful Plate of Amuse Bouche and Bread

Beautiful Plate of Amuse Bouche and Bread

I came for an early birthday dinner celebration and partook in the seven-course summer tasting menu. The service was superb and they even gave me a menu to take home (perfect for my blog!). I apologize for the low-lighting photos. I didn’t want to disturb everyone’s meal with my camera flash going off at every course.

Pierre: First Course

First Course

Summer Tasting Menu by Pierre Gagnaire 2013

Crab meat, baby squids and cucumber coated with button mushroom jelly. Stuffed brioche with spider crab and grapefruit. Sardine infusion, olive oil sherbet.

Poached line-caught sea bass lightly salted with fresh herbs. Eggplant and coarsely chopped tomato; emulsified green bell pepper juice.

Borloti coco beans timbale thickened with velvety foie gras/green curry soup. Pan-sautéed girolle mushroom with fresh almond.

Blue lobster “aiguilettes” almost raw. Summer cabbage with parmesan/pistachio/frozen raspberry.

Roasted rump of veal flavoured with oregeno, sweet onion purée with smoked lard. Tiny artichoke poivrade, arugula and celery sticks. Minted garden peas ice cream.

Roasted goat cheese with rhubarb, elder flower jam/aged white balsamic vinegar. Fourme d’Ambert, stuffed Bergeron apricot with ricotta. Ossou-Iraty and aged Cantal, celeriac cream, Izarra granita.

Pierre Gagnaire’s grand dessert.

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Hong Kong: Healthy Eats at MANA!

MANA! Fast Slow Food

MANA! Fast Slow Food

One of my friends took me to MANA! Fast Slow Food (92 Wellington Street) this week and I loved it. I loved it so much that I had to return again later in the week. Located in the heart of Central, MANA serves delicious and healthy vegetarian food, complete with gluten free options too.

MANA Flat

MANA Flat

Their signature dish is actually a Lebanese lavash (thin flatbread), which they call a flat. At MANA, you can choose a wholemeal or gluten free flat and then pick up to 5 toppings to fill inside it. What makes the flat incredibly tasty are two things: 1) oven-roasted to order and 2) Zaatar, a mixture of herbs and spices used in Arabic cuisine. 

They have a whole slew of toppings to choose from. Some of my favorites include grilled tofu, roasted veggies and portobello mushrooms. The lavash is actually quite large and really filling.

Quinoa and Roasted Veggies

Quinoa and Roasted Veggies Salad

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Hong Kong Museum of Art and the Fatty Crab

Chili Crab at the Fatty Crab in Hong Kong

Chili Crab at the Fatty Crab in Hong Kong

It was an extremely rainy weekend in Hong Kong, but it provided the perfect excuse to check out one of Hong Kong’s museums. My friends and I went to the Hong Kong Museum of Art to see The Origins of Dao: New Dimensions in Chinese Contemporary Art exhibit.

Origins of Dao Exhibit

Origins of Dao Exhibit

Hanging Gourd

Hanging Gourd

For just 10 Hong Kong dollars (5 dollars if you’re a student), you can check out the contemporary art, Chinese painting, Chinese antiquity and calligraphy exhibits. It is totally worth it and you get a cool view of the harbor too.

The heads are creepy, but the harbor view is great.

The heads are creepy, but the harbor view is great.

My favorite: Please Proceed to 2F

My favorite: Please Proceed to 2F

The Origins of Dao is in town until August 18. Given that the rainy weather is likely to continue, I hope you get the chance to see it for yourself.

Fatty Crab Hong Kong

Fatty Crab Hong Kong

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