Thursday, January 29, 2015

Away Notice - Ishikawa, Japan

a stunning pic taken by the International Garden Photographer of the year 2008 - Claire Takacs

So JS u need to practice to snap pix in the cold and snow. While Monkey needs to layer her body with fats to keep warm. Oh that's so easy to do :))) hehehehe. I just need to stuff things into/around my body. Food and HeatTech clothings.

It's snowing right now in Ishikawa and certain parts of Japan. That would be lovely, reminded me of our trip to Kyushu last year :))))

The famous Kenroku-en Garden at Kanazawa. I can't believe it we are goin all the way to the West Cost of Japan just for this!!!! One of the 3 great gardens of Japan. It's only during Winter there's Yukitsuri - long bamboo perched from below to support and protect the trees and shrubs from snow.

Snow are heavy yo!!! Yeah so those conical shaped bamboos tied with ropes are not permanent features, just during winter to protect all the beautiful pine trees. Gosh this pic cold.

 the famous Winter Illumination event at Shirakawago.

This destination was added much later on into our itinerary. Because there's only 7 days a year you could see this winter illumination, and since we are like errrr 2 hours away...why not? Declared a UNESCO heritage site in 1995, I guess it should be worth goin? After JS saw all these pics, he went to do some not-so-lil for clothes....but for more photography gadgets.

Now we have more gadgets and props to bring along vs winter clothing

and this exclude the lil drone-camera *the same one that was found, crashed on the ground of White House......yes Mr. Obama's white house*.

I can't imagine if we have to pack that 4 propeller drone camera onboard. IShhhhhhhhh. No doubt it's a fun toy and could fly up in the air to snap beautiful pics but it's really difficult to transport, oh well in my opinion coz JS said there's a special cabin size luggage bag just for this. I rather have a cabin size luggage bag space for my japanese snacks. See!! the different priorities in our lives :D

Winter also marks the season for this!!!
Ohhh yumms...I.AM.SO.GONNA.EAT.YOU!!!!

All the japanese snow crab are caught in the Sea of Japan. That's where we are heading. We are dead serious foodie. If u wanna enjoy something, just go to the source :))))

While Mr. JS doesn't believe in buying all these yummy food back *instead Monkey would be the one ta-pau-ing anything and everything home*, his philosophy would be, there's alwiz another time, and if u wanna eat it again....COME BACK!!! :))))

He said it so simply but hey there's so many other destination to go to, plus we are still slaves to our respective career so I don't think we could just catch a plane like boarding a bus and off we go!!!!

well....unless....unless both of us retire and roam the Earth together.
But this can't do for the moment. :)))) we have got more plans upcoming!!!!

 *pic taken from Beniya Mukayu, we will be staying at this ryokan*

oh look at those roe!!!! I am coming for u Snow Crab!!! U wait for me the mean time pls work hard and continue to produce more roe.....hihihihihi..... :))))

Both Mr. JS and Monkey are so looking forward to this short makan and sight-seeing trip. It would be for quite a while more before we can travel as much as we used to.

Well in life, there's alwiz opportunity cost. If u wanna roam the Earth everyday, u gotta let something go. So if u want that something so much, u gotta travel matter how much u enjoyed it :)))
PS: NO I am NOT pregnant!!!

Stay tune for more of our adventure in the Prefecture of Ishikawa. :))))))

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Le Mole by Gerald Passedat, Marseille

We wanted to catch another sunset from our balcony before heading out for dinner, and so we did. Isn't it beautiful? The rocky islands, the criss-cross patterns on the sky created by the busy jetliners crossing the Mediterranean Sea. In Japan they called it in imperfection and asymmetry.

Then we headed off in our pick-up limo to the restaurant, also helmed by the property owner Monsieur Passedat at another place in downtown Marseille.
WOW!!! MUCEM is a beautiful museum next to the Port. Le Mole restaurant is located on the top floor. We could already see it, brightly litted with an elevator dedicated just for the restaurant.
for security reason, we had to beep the intercom at the entrance of the neon light elevator before the glass doors were opened.
the concept here is minimalist, bare and futuristic too. The Artemide Mercury were decked around the ceiling of Le Mole. A few years ago, we almost bought this design but bcoz the concept of our home weren't similar, we changed to other designs from Artemide. But it's a really funky and clever design. Each set of Mercury has a "droplet" of bulb that shines back to the "Mercury" to reflect lights down. 

there's even a KiosQue selling simple and light food like sandwiches and salads. What a good idea for a picnic by the harbour. But Le KiosQue is only open during the day.

Couldn't resist all the bread here, crusty, with beautiful aroma fr the wheat. The only place that we can find such similar bread in KL is from DC Restaurant and Yeast. Oh ok, will try to blog bout these 2 places soon. I have many postings lining up behind. -_-

Appetizer of grilled sea prawns with confit of its oil, on top of root vegetables mash which was extremely velvety. It's so fine!!! and this place was supposed to be a casual dining restaurant. I could imagine it would be so beautiful dining here during the day, with the view of the sea, and occasional sunlights penetrated through this "Cube" of architecture designed by Rudy Ricciotti.

*pic taken from the web*
 The other facade MUCEM. Very intricate eh? The bridge links it to the old medieval fort.

it's really very organic and I lurve how the lights played shadows with this structure of fiber reinforced concrete.

Even at nite it's this stunning.
And we were dining inside this Avatar liked cube :)))))

We had a lovely flora white wines from Bandol, which is located between Marseille and Cassis. Though nearer to the Mediterranean, it is famously known as wine from Provence. But seriously, after our trip to this region of France, we enjoyed Provence wines more than we should...hahahaha yes it's so easy to drink, you could have it for breakfast/lunch/aperitif with your grill fish or sandwiches :)))) It's just so light and aromatics. 

and bcoz I mentioned salad...I gotta have a small portion to pair with my wine :)))) So u see it's all about the drinks...the food are accompaniment sometimes hehehehehe

JS had raw slices of fish with crunchy pickled greens. Simple and as usual, he's a calories counter.

Beautifully pan seared sea bass with seasonal mushrooms served with a very umami jus. Don't be deceived by the food here.....the taste was definitely not simple. Pretty complex for such a fatty fish. yummmness~~~~~

and I wanted Pork Roulette with even crispier skin :)))) Ahhh so simple and good portioning. There are certain evenings, when we can't eat that much. Age is catching up hahahahaha. I guess we are very picky with our food these days.

Wherever we go, there must be some certain portion of vege on request. This one came with the main course. Vegetables blanched in fish stock and mirepoix. Mirepoix is the flavour base in french cooking, consisted of mainly onions, celery and carrots. It's made into stocks for almost everything.

By the way there's a rooftop garden where Chef planted herbs and vegetables here in MUCEM.

Finally we shared a dessert

spot the resemblance? hehehehehe we then looked out the window and spotted the very same design. :))))

After our petit four JS was contemplating if we should walk home or not?
actually I don't really mind but bcoz the restaurant has got such good service, they've already prepared our transport for us to be chauffeured back to the villa, also own and run by the very same owner Monsieur Gerald Passedat. 

Marseille Cathedral was just outside, looking even more stunning at night :)))

I'm so glad we came here despite all the stories of Marseille not being safe. Frankly everywhere around the world, there's bound to be danger, including Switzerland. I have so many friends got pick-pocketed there. Not to mention Paris and London and Barcelona are dangerous too. So really, everywhere is dangerous, u just gotta watch out and take care of yourself, your belongings and stay alert at all time.

For more information on Le Mole:
Le Mole by Gerald Passedat
1, Esplanade,
MUCEM, Marseille,


Monday, January 26, 2015

Olympia le-Tan

How cute is this????????
Alice in Wonderland!!!! I WANT!!!!
This latest creation is only available through pre-order though and everything was a massive sell out.

For those who are wondering what is's a beautiful limited edition handmade book clutch by Olympia Le-Tan. Isn't it adorable? Alice in Wonderland is retailing at Euro 1,335
Then there's Cinderella!! according to Olympia Le-Tan Cinderella is the greatest love story ever since Snow White. Olympia has got deep obsession with books, all thanks to her influential father, the famous French illustrator and painter Pierre Le-Tan. Like father like daughter :)))

He has been doin works for big names in publishing houses like Vogue, Tatler, Harper's Bazaar, Town & Country, New York Times and also illustration works for fashion houses like Gucci and Lanvin to huge luxury lifestyle retailer like LaFayette. He also did covers for music albums.

So it's true eh? Talents need to be instilled and built. You can't just be born with it alone. 
The latest collection from Olympia Le-tan revolves around the Walt Disney's theme. Her designs are whimsical, playful and yet chic.
Her Fall Winter collection was so playful!!! I love love love every single piece of it :)))))))))) If only I can get hold of my hands on them.....everything was a massive sold out again.
Monkey only managed to purchase the madhatter rabbit book clutch!!!!  It's crazy I tell you. I mean, I was crazy when I found it at Le Bon Marche - our favourite departmental store in Paris. :)))) Do u know that Le Bon Marche is now owns by LVMH group? I love love love the supermarket section so so much. U can practically get anything and everything at the Grand Epicerie section/building of Le Bon Marche.

Ok back to Olympia Le-Tan....Monkey couldn't decide based on those few choices and designs available. Each piece is handmade by Olympia herself and numbered accordingly. It depends, certain pieces only 10 or 15 or 85 pieces worldwide. The How's Tricks? Book clutch was only made for 77 pieces. 
It's a simple clutch with 100% brass material and wrapped in 100% cotton. So exquisite!!! Monkey squealed in delights and JS rolled his eyes.

Oh that would be exactly how he behaved with his wines and whiskeys. So stop rolling ur eyes Mr. JS.

JS: "WAT? It's not even leather and it cost Euro 1,200 for this clutch that looked like a book??"
Oh u won't understand....but despite all that, JS said he'll buy it for me. Wow what a double bonus for me. First I found Olympia Le-Tan and then JS bought it for me :))))
Baby Wei, Marssssh and Monkey at AugustMan event

and I took her out to play at her first event a few months ago. Now I am so in love with it, I wanted more.....
Olympia Le-Tan also designs very beautiful ready-to-wear. Love her chic cuts and prints :))) These are pics from her very latest Spring 2015.

Now I can't wait to lay my hands on more of her creations. We only have got a problem now Houston. Monkey needs to save money again. Argh!!!! why can't money grows like taugeh? Fast and easy~~~ I need to work harder for more. Motivations in life :))))

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Massif des Calanques

The amazing natural beauty of France - the Calanque d'en Vau
*pic taken from the web*

Massive and steep valley created from erosion and rise of sea level....of limestone, dolomite and other mineral stones. I was beyond words looking at those pics while doin research of Marseille. The locals said you have not visited Marseille, if you did not go and see the calanque.
*pic taken from the web* of Calanque d'En Vau

Thing is, there isn't only one calanque, there's roughly about 24 accessible ones along the 20km coast stretching between Marseille and Cassis. You could catch a calanque cruise that departs from the port of Marseille. Basically it's a medium size cruise boat that carries like errr 150 people, or you could charter your own private boat....or if u are adventurous and FIT, the best way would be to kayak ur way there in small groups....and if you are afraid of water, you could go for an 8 hours hike.

so there's no excuse to miss the Calanques, all options are available at all budget/cost. Monkey was too ambitious, thinking that we should hike along the calanque and have a lunch picnic....once we arrived at Marseille...the SUN was too much. The UV ray was so strong, I could just get a perfect tan sleeping on my sun lounge chair for 40 minutes. But that kind of heat is just so enjoyable, bcoz the air was cool, the heat of the sun just touches your skin so slightly, u feel like u are in a tanning bed. AWESOME.

before JS knew wat's gonna happen, and where we are heading to....Monkey changed the plan and chartered a private speed boat instead. He wasn't too keen that we gonna spend half the day out in the sea....but wat we were about experienced, threw him off his skin and Monkey by her tail. 

the view from our huge balcony at Le Petit Nice Passedat......this was sunrise. It doesn't matter if it's sunrise or sunset, but it's alwiz spectacular. Now that the beam of the sun piercing through the valley made it even more's as if Mr. Sun is making a grand entry to a new born day.

I was still wondering who's beautiful villa was that, perched on the rocky hill. Weather wasn't looking fantastic that morning and both of us were :(((

More like Monkey  :"( sniff sniff
while JS >:-( this better be worth it!!!!
our private boat was already waiting for us below our villa. That's the beauty of having a smaller boat, I don't have to get to the port at the city centre to board those ferries, queueing in line with throngs of tourists...instead the boat came to us and it can berth anywhere it wants. :)))

the sea was pretty calm that morning as our speed boat made breaks on the surface as it sped its way to the National Park. Yes it has been declared a national park in 2012 for its uniqueness.

The sun played peek-a-boo with us. Now u see it, now u don't!!!

Ile Maire, a little beautiful limestone island....humans are not allowed there and the habitats are protected. There was a tiny lil abandoned house, built by an old man who lived there many years ago before it was declared a National Park. If you are lucky, you could see his 3 mountain goats living on this island, which used to be connected to the mainland by a short hanging bridge. It's actually quite near to the mainland, you could swim across.
helloooo meeeeeekkkk goatie goatie where are you????
There were so many types of birds living on this rocky island. You could hear them. Thousands and thousands of them. I am so glad this has been a designated no-go area to protect the habitats. If it's in Asia....gone were the birds, ended up being spit-roasted yummy poultry served in restaurants.

Our dearie Skipper Laurent took us to the off-the-beaten-track il Riou, another rocky formation of huge island in the middle of the sea, far from the mainland. The formation of stones here were so amazing. You could see the layers after layers of cemented pebble conglomerate.

The shapes, its height, and secret caves amazed us. There were so many habitats living on this rocky island!!!!

Skipper Laurent took us into these secret passages. According to her, in the ancient time, the sea pirates often hide inside here, away from whoever and also from the rough sea/weather. I am so glad we chartered a private speed boat to get here. Anything bigger than this boat won't be able to get in. But most of all we are so thankful to have Skipper Laurent, she's so experienced, full of knowledge and speaks really really good English. She's Parisienne by the way, once she has moved down South, she never want to go back.

Skipper Laurent then skillfully maneuvered  the boat deeper into this rocky island. OMG one could really get lost here. It's so calming to be inside here, you could just hear the birds!!!!

Skipper Laurent: "Would you want a quick swim? We have time?"
I wished we could, but we were eager to check out the most beautiful Calanque of them all - Calanque d'En Vau.

She's right, it's so safe here. I felt like I'm safely encased in a cocoon, away from everything else. Monkey was enjoying herself so much, she lied down staring at the would be so beautiful at night too, starry starry night~~~~ but wouldn't it be so scary bcoz it's gonna be super dark at night!!

Skipper Laurent took us to another island with a beach. The sea was so turquoise!!! There's some vegetation on this island too. Bcoz most of these islands are rocky formation, it's almost impossible for any tree to grow around here.

Hello Fishie Fishie sekalian!!!!

Skipper Laurent: "Do u want a swim? the water temperature is perfect!!"

errrr not with those fishes, they looked hungry and famish.....and I'm not a fish spa kinda person.

We spent some time talking to those fishes and about the environment. Skipper Laurent is so passionate about her work, the sea, the habitats and conservation. :))))

What a BIG TREAT!!! Skipper Laurent brought us to this spot!!!
Ladies and gentlemen, this is the very same spot that Jacques Cousteau made his first dive with his newly invented SCUBA equipment, the regulator.

It plunges down 30 feet straight from all these rocky formation. I dare not even dip my feet in for fear of heights. Yes, I'm very afraid of heights, even inside water.

This is the Calanque de Port Miou, the closest calanque to Cassis town. It deep in, about 1.5km and also very deep in terms of depth, hence about 500 boats and yachts moored here, protected from the Mediterranean Sea especially during harsh weather.

Most of the stones here were broken down with dynamites and served as a huge quarry since 1900. Do u know the base stone of Statue of Liberty came from here? this very same place??? unbelievable. I already felt this lil leisure boat tour is so fulfilling, almost like a school field trip!!!

*pic taken from the web*

the most beautiful, most steep, most stunning calanque of them all - Calanque d'En Vau.
Monkey kept on insisting this must be in the itinerary and Skipper Laurent assured me we will definitely make time for this.

and finally we arrived!!!!! it's so narrow and I don't know how those tourist ferry could come in. Later I realised they could only stay at the opening of the calanque, and can't get in any further. 

a lil pristine beach is on the inside, rock climbers were everywhere scaling the vertical limestone rocks. Monkey could only yelp in amazement.

"We are here!!! woohooo we are here!!! It's so beautiful!!! We are here!!! OMG I am gonna cry~~~I still cannot believe it we are here!!!!" and skipped and rocked the boat
Both Skipper Laurent and JS -_-" x 10000000

just look at that!!! so so so so stunning!!!! can u see those rock climbers???
I love those trees too!! wat are they? what species are there? Tell me?

Skipper Laurent was so patience entertaining my endless queries.

that satisfied and contented look on her face.....JS said this's so priceless.
It was such a beautiful experience.

Monkey again lied down on the boat, smiling goofily like silly. Aaahhhhh We were here...we were

JS -_- sigh...wat to do with this gal.

As we exit this stunning calanque, we thought that this would be the end of our tour...but there's more to see and to do!!!!

Ladies and gentlemen, this is the exact spot to the Cosquer Cave.
U got to be kidding me???? this wasn't really part of the deal but we got to the exact spot!!!

the entrance of the cave is located 36m below sea.....with a even longer tunnel, about 175m. It was only discovered in 1985 by a French diver - Henri Cosquer, apparently it wasn't made public until a few divers was lost inside this labyrinth and died inside the tunnels/caves in 1991.

during the Paleolithic period, when the sea level was lower, this cave wasn't submerge in the sea. Early civilisation evidence were left behind with ancient art paintings on the wall dating 25,000 BCE. Oh, that's really very old. Today the cave is closed to public and only available to the French Ministry of culture for commissioned works and further studies.
check out those Rock Climbers. It's a recreational activity here in Marseille. Every scalable rock that I could see, there's bound to be ppl climbing it.

they were climbing around this rock, to get to the other side.....
Skipper Laurent challenged Monkey to swim through the opening...Gah it's so deep down there I'm not gonna do it!!! All the rocky lime stone formation plunges down to the sea, there's no sandy bed for u. So instead of swimming across, let's take the boat to the other side of this opening.....hehehehe..

WAHHHHH this is so so beautiful!!!!

Skipper Laurent let out a beautiful smile, as if saying goodbye to the beautiful nature for the day.

they should have shot Lord of the Rings here....hahahaha

Skipper Laurent brought us to another Calanque to this Blue Cave. It's quite deep and she dived in there before and this cave earned its name for one reason. It's really very very blue inside. :))))

Then we have a quick toilet break at one of the calanque that's civilised. Hehehehe. Calanque Morgiou. 

aaahhh so good to be able to stretch my legs again.

there's small lil chalet for rent here. You gotta rent in advance bcoz it's full during peak period.

fishing boats everywhere. Oh speaking of fish, reminded me of's time to nom nom nom

When it comes to lunch/food....that face....hiak hiak hiak. Skipper Laurent then took us to another calanque - Calanque Sormiou.

Nevermind that we didn't manage any picnic on the boat or by the beach. This was considered a beautiful picnic for me already!!!!

Skipper Laurent was still busy tying up the boat, in case it floats away. Oh nvm, here the water isn't that deep, I won't mind swimming out there to get the boat back here. tee heee hee...but before I can do that I need food.

Will blog about our picnic lunch here at a separate posting.

After our healthy scrumptious local lunch of grilled seafood, it's time to continue our excursion :)))

more caves and more sights. :)))

WOW it's so high!!!! this is like 30 metres!!!
the planes made criss cross pattern on the sky.
It's a happy day :))))

We stopped by at another fishing village, our last destination.

by 3pm we reached Marseille and we could see our villa from here!!!! near to the arched bridge!!

the huge Passedat signage greeted us. Hey I can see our balcony!!!!

Skipper Laurent stopped us at the lil staircase that swimmers used to get access into the sea. Ohhh wat a day it has been. JS was very happy too. It's been a revelation and educational trip for us :))))

If you would like to find out more about a visit to the calanques, be it on foot or by boat, click on the below's link: