Sunday, January 24, 2016

Melbourne 2016 - Royal Exhibition Building

Since it was Christmas day and most places were closed, we decided to go for sight seeing. First stop, The Royal Exhibition Building!

The Royal Exhibition Building is a World Heritage Site-listed building in Melbourne, Australia, completed in 1880. The Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens were completed in 1880 for Melbourne International Exhibition.  It later hosted the opening of the first Parliament of Australia in 1901. Throughout the 20th century smaller sections and wings of the building were subject to demolition and fire; however, the main building, known as the Great Hall, survived. It is a testament of the optimism, enthusiasm and energy of the people of Melbourne in the late-19th century.


It received restoration throughout the 1990s and in 2004 became the first building in Australia to be awarded UNESCO World Heritage status, being one of the last remaining major 19th-century exhibition buildings in the world. The Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens were inscribed on the World Heritage list in July 2004, becoming the first building in Australia to achieve World Heritage listing. On the same month, The Royal Exhibition Building was also added to the Australian Government’s National Heritage List. The list recognises and protects their most valued natural, Indigenous and historic heritage sites. It reflects Australia’s spirit and ingenuity, and its unique, living landscapes.


Today, the Royal Exhibition Building is a campus of Museum Victoria and the gardens are managed by the City of Melbourne. It is the world's most complete surviving site from the International Exhibition movement between 1851–1914. It sits adjacent to the Melbourne Museum and is the largest item in Museum Victoria's collection. Currently, it hosts various exhibitions and other events and is closely tied with events at the Melbourne Museum.


The eclectic design was inspired by many sources. The dome was modeled on the Florence Cathedral, while the main pavilions were influenced by the style of Rundbogenstil and several buildings from Normandy, Caen and Paris. The building boasts many of the important features that made international exhibitions so dramatic and effective, including a dome, giant entry portals, versatile display areas, axial planning and complementary gardens and viewing areas.


Photo Credits: Hafiz Yusof and Amin Ayub

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Talking Toes - Reminding You To Stand Tall, Always

I used to think the design of socks don't really matter because to me it was just like any other undergarment. Nobody sees them! It was out of vanity I decided to wear something more daring underneath. For pun's sake, please don't start imagining anything amorous!

Likewise for socks, I started to to think about colours and designs not only out of vanity, but for protection and comfort. Talking Toes have been giving me comfort in so many ways. Talking Toes is the first premium sock label in the world to inspire through quotes on socks.


When I first got to know about Talking Toes, I thought 'Hey, that's cool!' because it was pretty common to see t-shirts or decorated decals with inspirational quotes. I don't mean to undermine or downplay the latter but sometimes, the one who needs inspiration or words of encouragement is myself. It's not going to be easy reading your shirt sanely by wearing it.

Talking Toes has a wide range of classical and stylish designs, keeping up to date with the latest style and yet keeping you pepped with all its inspirational messages. It is a fashionable way to encourage your loved ones, especially with its limited edition designs for festive occasions. Personally, it provides me great self-affirmation before putting on my shoes to step out of the door.


When it comes to comfort, Talking Toes socks not only carry comforting messages, their socks are made of finest combed cotton. It's really soft and its make gives me the confidence to walk around without shoes with its reinforced weaving on its toes and heels. Its grip on my legs allow me to walk a mile further on my travel!

Here's a funny story - I was in Sydney for New Year's eve and we were having a picnic at Mrs Macquarie's Chair (to date I still can't pronounce it properly I don't know why!). Since the weather was hot and dry, I walked around the grass patches without my shoes, with my socks on (because the grass makes my leg ticklish). The guy neighbouring me saw my socks and that became the topic of our idle banter that day! I was actually very irritated that afternoon because of the heat and the crowd. That somehow, got all those negativity out of my mind!

Good news for those in the States and Australia, Talking Toes socks are available in San Francisco and Melbourne!

Talking Toes aim to make your day feeling inspired and empowered. Let's hope they produce more of those for us to wear. May we always be reminded to remain sanguine in our darkest times!

To find out more about Talking Toes and its retailers, log on to www.talkingtoes.com.sg.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Melbourne 2016 - Riding on Joyous Occasion

We arrived in Melbourne on the evening of 24th December, Christmas eve! The flight was, meh. It was nothing like what most people swear by really. So much for quality! Very grateful to arrive safely because I don't think some of the staff could work under the slightest pressure anyway.


The weather in Melbourne was welcoming! I was told that it was going to be summer but since it was just the beginning of summer, we got the leftovers from the previous season. Most days when we were there it was very cooling! Throughout my fourteen days there, it was only hot less than a week!

Most places were closed by the time we reached because it was Christmas eve. You will not have much to do unless you are into empty streets on Christmas day. For me, I took the opportunity by taking tonnes of photos! Although most shops were closed, there were some eateries that were open and people still flock the streets of Melbourne to enjoy the sights and sounds of the night. There were shows around and come midnight, most of them gathered at St Paul's Cathedral to witness Christmas carol performances by the choir.


We were from Federation Square to check out if there were any concerts or gigs to enjoy but we missed it! Our eyes were treated with this cute lego Christmas tree. Pretty amazing! Across Federation Square is St Paul's Cathedral, one of the oldest churches in Melbourne. The location for the cathedral marks the place of the first Christian service held in Melbourne in 1835.


St Paul's Cathedral was open to public that night to mark one of the biggest highlights of 2016 calendar; Christmas. I was considerably fortunate to witness how different culture and different religion celebrate their festive occasion in their localised ways.


St Paul's Cathedral is an Anglican cathedral in Melbourne opened in 1931. It was built in stages between 1852 - 1926. To date, it is one of the City of Melbourne's major landmarks.


St Paul's Cathedral has hosted many significant occasions in national, Commonwealth and international history. It has done many state funerals and has played host to many distinguished foreign dignitaries.

Pope John Paul II once paid a visit to St Paul's Cathedral in 1986 in recognition of the dialogue between the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches in Melbourne fostered by their respective former archbishops.

The streets were really empty on Christmas day. It was like a ghost town! At one point I thought that was how Melbourne is - a dead but full running city. There were some shops open and mostly who were out were tourists. It was quite relieving to be in a town where there's not many people around. I don't have to squeeze, I don't have to walk against people who can't thread properly, and the best part, I can take any photos I want without having people obstructing me!

It was quite hot that day. What's intolerable was not the summer heat but the Australian bush flies! I was one of those on the streets to give the Aussie salute. It's a pretty seasonal salute if you get what I mean!


Things got better at night with Christmas coloured lights lighting up the facade of renowned landmarks! As most of these landmarks were built in the 18th century, its rocky facade gives it a very grand and classy effect against the red and green lights, reminding everyone of the festive occasion.


H&M's building looks stunning! It is one of Australia's most important public buildings. Known as Melbourne's GPO (General Post Office), it has stood there for more than 150 years and has dramatically transformed from being a postal hall to retail complex.

The neo-Renaissance style building went through a lot of physical changes between 1859 - 19077. A century later in 2007, it ended its postal services and was turned into a retail mall. Hence, a huge, historical home for the only H&M in Melbourne!


Boxing Day was crazy in so many ways! All retail were open with so many sales and discounts! There were so many people in some shops that you have to queue to enter! Sale items were tossed everywhere, and you have got to be quick. It was a crazy workout. We hopped from one shop to another (we had to be quick because shops closes early in Australia), and had to be swift and decisive in our purchases. Just as our army motto says!


Stay tuned for the next update! Have a wonderful week ahead!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Betancourt Nutrition's B-Nox Androrush - Good Rushes for More Reps

I'm sure most of you gained a few kilos from feasting last holiday season. I myself brought home some holiday weight and thankfully that did not get accounted into the baggage allowance. Nevertheless, I'm really grateful for my gains. Whew!

What's your new year resolution? For me, there's many to share and one of them is to keep fit and be stronger than ever. Although aesthetically I will probably change for the better, to me that is just a small prize as compared to other achievements. I need all the strength to be part of my dragon boat team otherwise I wouldn't be able to keep up!

Here's a problem I face most times before workout or training. I simply dread the start because it feels like all the energy is drained out of me. I don't think it is out of disinterest because it's quite a journey from home to gym yet I still make my way there. I am just guessing it is out of poor diet!

When I was in Melbourne, I was actually propelled by how the people there are into healthy living despite labelling themselves as foodies. Enter any supermarket you will see tonnes of organic fruits, organic Australian made products, and everything that's simply healthier. Sunblocks are cheap too! The roads even have a dedicated cyclist lane. Even their Indonesian food is less oily, less salty and less spicy. So much so it was too bland for my liking.

Healthy living is evident in Australia when you see everyone flocking into Chemist Warehouse on boxing day stocking up on supplements and other health products. They are so cheap that renowned brands like Blackmores ran out of stock!

It is now my resolution to eat and live healthily because it made me more energetic! It's like an engine living on high octane fuel. However, living the Singaporean lifestyle, I simply do not have the time to cut fruits and prepare such a hearty healthy meal to keep myself energized. I have to resort to supplements to fill in the gaps in my diet in order to perform better!

One must always remember though, supplements are not meal replacements!

I have been trying out Betancourt Nutrition's pre-workout B-Nox (Bullnox) Androrush which I consume before every workout now, to see if it gives me the energy boost I needed. So far, it has been working well for me!


You can get Betancourt Nutrition's products from Elite Pro Nutrition (EPN) here and use discount code ZY 10 for 10% discount on all non-promotional items! They are the exclusive distributor of Betancourt Nutrition supplements. They have promotional sales now and then, so keep a look out on EPN's shopping portal!

B-Nox Androrush is the first nitric oxide pre-workout to offer a testosterone boosting blend to enhance aggression and the pump during exercise. The effects are intended to amplify each set that you perform. It made me feel alive with increased strength and improved endurance, all driven forward by the sophisticated formula in this pre-workout.

Betancourt's B-Nox Androrush formula claims to support androgen levels as you train, promotes lasting neuro-emotive energy that could help in bigger pumps that lead to more muscle, and strength endurance.

It contains the essentials like branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) which can help to protect your muscles against the catabolic effects of dieting - so that you don't lose muscle while dieting, testosterone blend, beta-alanine that raises muscle carnosine concentrations, beet root that helps in improving strength, hypertrophy, and performance in resistance-training, as well as L-Arginine (AAKG) for exercise tolerance and circulation. Its combination of the best ingredients is something rare to find in others when it comes to pre-workout.

The Bullnox pre-workout is Betancourt Nutrition's flagship product and have not been reformulated since its launch. It is so remarkably effective that it is most times sold out in its official website. :/

How does B-Nox Androrush work for you?

Apart from boosting energy, B-Nox pre-workout dilates the blood vessel, providing passageway for oxygen-rich blood cells to  reach the muscles and tissue, providing a larger amount of carbohydrates, proteins and various muscle-building hormones. Therefore, allowing for bigger pumps that consequently brings in muscle gains.

B-Nox to date have been a major help for me. It provided me with motivation, energy, and endurance to push myself during my training!

B-Nox Androrush does make me feel like turning into beast mode, but it's probably too early to say beast mode because I look too tame to even use that term. However, it does help me in enduring heavier weight. The formula also gave me that adrenaline rush or rather excitement during workout. It's going to take quite some time to learn how it reacts to my performance because it's hard to tell if what's going on is psychological or biological.

What I can be sure is this, it helps in synchronizing the mind and body into the same channel of wanting to achieve more in each set. In workout, we have got to have both! It's like, you can't workout well if your mind says go but body says no. That's when all the injury starts to occur and so on... Don't you think?

I usually drink about an hour or less before my training. As I want to avoid the possibility of crashing, I regulate my intake. At times, I also drink it all at once. Either way, I do not experience any crash, but the former intake although having regulated the absorption, by means not enough for the optimum boost. For me, I would have preferred to take it all at once and provide me with the hundred percent boost. Only downside, after some time, the effect wears off faster for the latter. It also depends on what you would like to achieve on that day too anyway.

Betancourt has a team that is in charge of flavouring because they know how important flavour is to us. Especially for me! The fruit punch flavour I got is delicious! They have so many flavours to choose from which you can check out at EPN online store but I swear by the fruit punch flavour. It's so nice I almost went for two servings. Which I sometimes do depends on the intensity of my workout. Will update you guys on the other flavours. You can also try it for yourself! Fruit punch flavour has been a popular choice and is usually sold out!

You can get Betancourt Nutrition's products from Elite Pro Nutrition (EPN) here and use discount code ZY 10 for 10% discount on all non-promotional items! They are the exclusive distributor of Betancourt Nutrition supplements. They have promotional sales now and then, so keep a look out on EPN's shopping portal!

A word of good caution. Although the direction says mix one serving thoroughly in six ounces of water, it's a little bit too concentrated and sweet for me so I usually add a little bit more water. All the better for hydration during your workout! So far adding a little bit more water for one serving has not changed the effectiveness of B-Nox.

To find out more about the contents of Betancourt's B-Nox Androrush, log on to www.epn.com.sg. Apart from its contents, you can also find out the recommended intake for different levels of workout intensity from beginner to advance. Remember to use discount code ZY 10 to receive a 10% percent off  on non-sale item purchases. Free delivery for orders above SGD$40!

Elite Pro Nutrition (EPN) Pte Ltd is a one-stop sports nutrition portal for the bona fide fitness enthusiast. With health, fitness and sportsmanship as the three key pillars of the company, they seek to redefine physical limitations. To find out more about the brands they carry and the athletes they support, log on to www.epn.com.sg.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Glamping with Glamping Hub - Keeping Glamour in Camp

One of the best highlights of my trip in Australia is no other than glamping! As some of you would have learnt through my social media post, glamping is a portmanteau of 'glamorous' and 'camping' and there is no other way to describe this luxurious five star camping experience than to book your stay with Glamping Hub yourself! I assure you glamping is that escape you’ve been meaning to take. It’s that little break from the hustle and bustle. It’s a moment by yourself in a secluded terrain. Glamping is a way to connect with your surroundings without having to rough it.


Launched in 2012, Glamping Hub is the world's leading curated online booking platform dedicated to unique accommodations in nature. Here, you can find incredible accommodations all over the globe. Everything from tree houses in Spain, tipis in Texas, and California luxury trailers. Before planning your trip, have a look at the list of glampsites and let your imagination roam free! Among their sections you will find the latest trends in glamping construction.

You can check out Glamping Hub website here for more details! They have tonnes of glamping locations to choose from all over the globe. You can find out more about collection of glamping sites in Australia here. You can try other glamping places but as for now, when it comes to Melbourne, I am pretty comfortable with the one here for several good reasons!

It was through Glamping Hub's collection of glampsites we got to know our hosts which has an adorable story to its beginning.

I had a really bad morning on my glamping day. The car rental company gave us so much problem, so much so I almost felt like breaking down. The staff were rude and probably racist (rude awakening really) so it came to no surprise on how we were treated. It is a shame that it came from a reputable company but after much research, they are actually quite notorious among others. I was utterly enraged by how I was treated and left hanging without transport - with no resolution from them or whatever.

Long story short, we got ourselves a chauffeur instead.


The journey to Daylesford (a spa town off Melbourne) took about one and a half hours, almost two (because we got lost for a bit). It is nestled in the hills of the Hepburn Shire, approximately 130km from Melbourne city. As the location is remotely exclusive, there are no other transport options except private vehicle. So you can imagine how almost disappointed I was if I had no car and had to give this a miss. Most other car rental companies were actually out of cars to rent out since it's peak period. One rental company had a car and wanted to charge us with a four digit figure. Are you kidding me? It's not even continental. We were very fortunate because we got ourselves an Audi that came with a driver. None of us had to drive but to just sit back, fall asleep and control the music playlist. We only woke up when were close to our destination and were not too sure which path to enter because all paths look the same! We finally found it though because the road sign was written so small and its colour camouflaged against the hills.


My friend even commented that they should have put a big billboard but a place so exclusively luxurious that is so close to nature shouldn't be too commercialized. Wouldn't want too many people to spoil the tranquility!


Since the driver is local, it really cuts down the time to find our way there. Jarek was actually quite surprised that we arrived earlier than expected because I called him saying I would be late - because we had to spend more than an hour searching for a way to get there. That car rental company is so going to hell but on the upside, we arrived safely, and on time!


We were greeted by Jarek and he orientated us around the facility, showed us where's the bathroom, where's our tent and its insides, and shared with us how they started.

It all began during a camping expedition along the banks of the Murray River as Jarek told me. There, Jarek and Eva (the hosts) stood right in the middle of Australia’s longest river engulfed by corridors of river, red gum forests, and dry natural bushland. The beauty of the outdoors was so spectacular to them that it sparked the idea of combining outdoors with a trace of luxury. The way Jarek desribed to me on how it was nice to have a hot shower waking up in the morning just makes me want to do the same when I was there!

Although the weather was bright, it was actually quite cold so hot shower is pretty much a luxury in such wilderness.

Hence, a year since their expedition, their own brand of glamping was born and opened its doors to adventure lovers, who wants to keep glamour in check! You can check out their place here!


Each canvas tent is fully furnished with the essentials and all the comforts for you to enjoy. Plushy queen size bed, fine bed linen, onsite cooking facilities, access to hot showers and even power points for you to charge your electronic essentials! The entire place is ecologically friendly! Its electricity runs on solar power. It was mentioned that the power stored could last us through the night, so I tested its limit by charging all my devices. True enough, it works!

Our tent is also equipped with tonnes of kitchenware which seems underutilized and I'll tell you why! We did not let that go to waste though! We used it in the evening later for our dinner.

Our glamping ground is actually very, very ideal for a romantic getaway as it shuts you away from the hustle and bustle of city life, allowing you to connect intimately with your other half. It is not that hard to figure out why couples go there as part of their honeymoon itinerary. The place is so obscure and quiet, pristine and away from the disturbance of modernity. For once, I was not distracted by anything else but the beauty of the scenery surrounding me. Honestly, I didn't even bother to update my social media until before I went to bed. And maybe if you are quiet and lucky enough, you can hear kangaroos mating. Haha!

So that probably answers why the kitchenware are underutilized, because something else is cookin'!


We were located minutes away from Daylesford village, which boasts some of the best fine dining restaurants, art galleries and boutique shops all in the centre of Victoria’s spa country. If you fancy cooking, you can drive over where there's Coles supermarket. We strolled out to enjoy the scenery along the way while waiting for our cab to the supermarket. Because there's only one way to get in, we were bound to see our cab when it arrives. The sunset, cold wind and hilly terrains make a perfect climate for an evening walk. I just couldn't get enough of the stunning vista. The idea of having an evening run strucked but didn't think it was that feasible since the gravel path was quite rocky and could cause injuries.


We bought some food for barbecue. We decided it would be best to cook, and enjoy the quiet night by the fireplace and gazed at the stars. If the sky would have been darker, we could have seen the Milky Way so clearly but there was full moon. It was still beautiful though! It was so cold at night that we could create vapours from our breath! I quite like the barbecue because there, we did not only get to eat, we got some warmth from the cooker! Everything was so convenient. Plates, fork and spoon, glasses were all ready. There's even OFF spray on standby just in case there were annoying bugs around.


After that sumptuous salmon spree and a few glasses of sparkling grape juice, we brought over snacks to the fireplace which was lit up by Jarek himself. We city boys just do not know how to start anything that does not involve switch and gas. Yeap, I can't even start a barbecue pit with charcoal and fire starter. There were a few fire wood there so we just needed to add on - which is as far I can go in keeping the fire alive. We sat there keeping ourselves warm while gazing at the stars. It was the most wonderful experience I have ever felt.

It was indescribable really.

You know how noisy some of us could get, that was the moment I really did not want to say nor hear anything, but the rustle of the leaves blown by the soft wind, and the crackle from the campfire. The view at night albeit the absence of streetlights was brighten up by nature is simply stunning. The sky was clear. Glittering stars illuminate the skies and the full moon has never looked so bare. It was so perfect that no camera could justify this magnificent beauty you see with naked eyes. The warmth that came from the campfire just makes everything feel so comfortable and safe although the only divide between the wild and us is a line of barbed wire.


It was so tranquil and spiritual I became very grateful for the view although it was something intangible and temporary. It was 2am and we needed some sleep! We did some packing for the following day before deciding if I should shower or not. It was so cold, I wasn't sure if I could put myself under running water. The weather had been dry, I did not sweat at all and since it was late and way too cold, I decided to do just the basics instead. Man, the bathroom is chic!


The shared bathroom has a ceiling window for daylight to pass through, the insides are all cladded with white tiles ala Scandinavian and its toiletries were all Australian made. The bathroom is so huge it provides ample space for movement around and the water pressure is so good that the morning I woke up, I had a satisfying warm shower. After all, I need to shed my dead skin to apply a fresh layer of sunblock.

Then came breakfast! While waiting for our driver to arrive, we were served with a nice box of breakfast set. It had croissants, bread, fresh fruits which I finished all except for the kiwis, cereal, milk and jam all nicely put in a jar as well as a flask of hot water for tea and coffee. Very exquisite taste to have Australia's T2 premium tea! We dined outside of our tent just to enjoy the view before we go off!


After our breakfast we took a stroll out along the path and it was just in time before we turned back, the driver came. We didn't really do the full exercise. Instead, we got the driver to drive us back because we need to take our bags! For the record, we walked for a kilometre before turning back. For a walk on vacation, that's like covering ten kilometres don't you think?


If anybody ask me what should they do in Melbourne, this is the one thing that I would strongly and confidently recommend or even encourage to do! Especially city people like Singaporeans who barely get to see the stars and enjoy quiet time.

You can check out Glamping Hub website here for more details! They have tonnes of glamping locations to choose from all over the globe. You can find out more about collection of glamping sites in Australia here. You can try other glamping places but as for now, when it comes to Melbourne, I am pretty comfortable with the one I stayed here!

Wishing all of you an amazing stay there!