#ProjectMNYC | Coney Island

Seaside beach town is not the first thing that springs to mind when we think of New York.

Pre-visit, I hadn’t heard of Coney Island. I was surprised to find that New York’s playground is only an hour from the city.

Grab your swimwear, sunglasses and lilo. I’m going to take you to Coney Island (yay!).

Famous for the Luna Park amusement hub, the Wonder Wheel and Cyclone roller coaster — if you’re a big kid like me, it’s the place to bring out your inner child.

This a follow-up from my Aqua post — where I pretended to be a mermaid for the day.

Ok, so the beach is no Bali — but in the summer, it’ll do a good job of charging your batteries after a long week of working in the city (which is what you need if you work in NYC).

Coney Island is famous for and home to the Nathan’s hot dog.

I had to try one of these bad boys for myself.

It is really good. Big, hearty and delicious. I’ve always said that there’s something different in the meat in the US in regarding the taste, texture and flavour, and this hot dog didn’t let me down.

Feeling naughty, I had chilli fries to go with it, I’ve fallen in love with this US classic since I demolished them in L.A. I mean, come on! Fries, creamy cheese and tomato soaked mince. I could just roll in it; it’s delicious.

Smiling (and pleased with ourselves) with our candy floss, teddies and hotdogs, we hesitantly trotted back to the subway to make our way back to the city.

Everyone has that place that brings them back to their childhood. C’mon spill! Where’s yours?

Location: Coney Island, New York

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#ProjectMNYC – Brooklyn Brunchin’

Dear fellow Brunchers,

I’ve always thought that London did Eggcellent brunch.

But oh no, no no. New York. Brunch in New York. It’s something else.

It makes sense; brunch is a New York institution. I would have had a strop if it wasn’t all cracked up to be. Ha, get it? OK, no more egg y̶o̶l̶k̶s̶ jokes.

Every weekend the NYC streets are jam-packed (on toast) with hungry (Bloody) Mary’s. I love a good melt-in-the-mouth eggs Benedict (my favourite) with creamy avocado on sourdough bread, topped with those hipsters chia seeds and the whole shebang. In London, I’ve noticed that all the little benedicts compete for creativity (dependent on what cafe you decide to go to on your brunch day).

My New Yorker cousin Amy ushered me to a little place called Colonie in Brooklyn.

Best brunch I’ve had by the way.

Amy told me that ‘Bottomless Brunch’ (hehe, bottomless) is very popular. New Yorkers love their breakfast with all-you-can-drink Margaritas, Bloody Marys, Mimosas or Sangria. I physically cannot handle more than one drink (my friends call me one-shot Wong) but who doesn’t love unlimited top-ups of anything?

Amy had the ‘Biscuit Benedict’. Sublime smoked ham & hollandaise, this type of sunshine is just the wake up call you need.

The ‘Mushroom & Asparagus Scramble’ is like a pick & mix bag of breakfast goodies stacked on top of each other. I, of course, opted-in for added chorizo (I was ready to eat my arm that morning). Paired with eggs: it’s crunchy, fluffy, comforting and works well together.

I love Brooklyn: quaint streets lined with inventive restaurants, stylish bars and eclectic shops. It’s just so damn cool.

A typical Brooklyn inventive hipsterish hang-out is Royal Palm.

It’s a retro Shuffleboard bar. It’s got a 60’s vibe and you feel like you’ve walked into an all-American diner/bowling alley.

 

 I know this is a Brunch post, but I have to share with you this ramen I had in Brooklyn.

The story starts with an octopus salad and a hint of lemon. It ended with a crispy + squishy happy ending.

A generous amount of Pak Choi and a good meat to noodle ratio = happy Monica.

But, the real key to a good ramen is the broth. Spicy and fragrant, it was Souper.

I’ve already shared this waterfront view in Brooklyn with you in my Yellow post. But, I love it so much; here it is again. It doesn’t need much of an explanation so I’ll end this post and leave you to the city.

Brooklyn, you melt my heart.

Your’s truly,

Fellow Bruncher. x

Location: Brooklyn, New York

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#ProjectMNYC | Taking New York

Welcome to New Yawk baby! Watcha twaking bout? (You should read that in the Godfather voice, just FYI.)

Who wouldn’t want to go to New York? Seriously, though, if you come across a weirdo that doesn’t, send them this post.

If you grew up watching F.R.I.E.N.D.S – then you must go and take me with you – so I can go again.

Anyways, it’s time.

Time for what? You may ask.

“Ooh……. New York. Ooh……. New York. Grew up in a town that is famous as a place of movie scenes. Noise is always loud, there are sirens all around, and the streets are mean”.

“If I can make it here, I can make it anywhere, that’s what they say. Seeing my face in lights or my name on marquees found down on Broadway”.

Alright, I’ll stop pretending that I’m crawling all over the karaoke, whilst, forcing you to sing – before you take the microphone off me.

At JFK airport, we discussed whether our booked Airbnb could potentially be a catfish. Like a Tinder date, we prayed that our match looked like the advertised photos. We (‘like totally’) wanted the New York apartment experience, but we had one hurdle.

I got stopped by the Mr Border Control man. I thought to myself, “Oh s**t, what have I done?”. He said, “Mam, I’m going to need to seize your apple”. (He desperately tried to keep a straight face).

Yes, that’s right. I had my apple seized, in the Big Apple.

While the others wet themselves, I managed to wriggle myself in.

And while you’re at it.

2. Head to Washington Park. Unfortunately, it’s not home to the F.R.I.E.N.D.S fountain, but lots of people (like me) hop into it and pretend it is anyway!

3. Ah, the Empire State Building. Try imagining New York City’s skyline without its towering spire. Our New Yorker buddies showed us the ropes and ushered us up to a rooftop bar for epic views. You know all those movies you’ve seen set in New York? You’ll end up pointing at everything saying, ‘ahh, I saw that’ and ‘ahh, and that one’.

4. Times Square is mesmerising: it’s bright, loud, chaotic and has the best Broadway shows.

5. Wall Street is a pretty cool spot to check out. Have a stare off with the bull and then walk to Wall Street to see where bankers destroyed the economy. Try and go on the weekend or during work hours to avoid the wolves – who come out to play.

6. There’s City Hall for if you decided you wanted to get married.

7. On a hot day, a stroll on The Highline is actively encouraged. It’s a mile long walkway built up high on the old New York Central Railroad. And don’t forget to stop for some gelato along the way!

8. Brooklyn Bridge is a must. Head to this romantic, iconic suspension bridge for the ridiculous views.

9. Don’t forget to meet The Statue of Liberty. She’s really friendly and kindly let me poke her torch.

10. We paid our respects to The World Trade Centre. Send your love at the two memorial fountains – in memory of a dark tragedy in New York’s history.

We had a friend who let us sneak into the top of a new building.

The view is just, breathtaking.

11. I overheard a little nugget from a local that The Rockerfella Centre gives you a better view of the skyline than from the Empire State Building. Let me know what you think?

12. Grand Central Station looks exactly like in the movies; it felt surreal to see this it as a functioning train station. (I don’t know why I always thought it was a film set.)

By the way, I love 7Eleven. We need it in the UK.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And that’s that!

I know. I took a zillion pics (it’s in my genes). There is just too much to do in New York.

And that was just the touristy stuff! (I’ll be writing a post soon on the local gems so watch out for that.)

What’s your favourite spots in NYC? Any hidden gems that I missed?

PS, if you’ve been reading my Blog, you might of noticed that I’ve done a switch-a-roo from Vietnam to New York. Just to let you know, my backpacking adventures will be back very soon. Hasta la vista!

Location: New York
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#ProjectMVietnam | Hoi An

Hoi An is my favourite place in Vietnam.

A vibrant little town with picturesque historical homes, pagodas, rows of trinket stalls and street-side cafes, all by a beautiful river filled with small fishing boats.

The perfect place to explore on a bicycle.

In 1858 – 1945 France colonised Vietnam, a country still filled with sprinkles of French hints today.

The two influences that that caught my eye happen to be two of my favourite things, food and style. The French brought over their love of snails, baguettes and patisserie. The traditional Vietnamese dress, ‘Ao Dai’ is partly inspired by Victorian-French fashion.

In Hoi An Old Town, you can buy a ticket which gives you access to six vestiges of interest and you choose which sites you want to explore.

These beauties caught our eyes (and our cameras).


 Every monument has so much history to drink in!

 Michaela brought some delicious fruits from a very excitable lady. She kindly gave me some to try, I’ve never had those fruits before, I basically ate the lovechild of an apple and grape.

 Hoi An is a well-known destination to buy hand-made, custom-designed clothes. You can get anything made, from suits to shoes.

I’ve never had a dress tailored-made for me. It’s about £20 – £100 here.

HELLO MONICA’S NEW DRESS.

It’s time to get creative.

For the consultation process, heaps of catalogues are placed into your lap. It’s actually a homemade book filled with images from the ASOS website, which made me chuckle. You sift through them for inspiration and if a dress picks your fancy, you can select that design to be custom made.

Well, at the fraction of the price and tailor made to your shape who can complain?

Then, you select your material from a full range of dreamy silks, cotton and chiffons.

 Then they do their thing and measure you up.

Guess how long it takes for them to make you a brand spanking new outfit?

Go on, have a guess.

One. Day.

And, half a day if you’re in a rush.

No excuses for wearing your Birthday suit because you, ‘don’t have anything to wear’.

When you do pick up your clothes, you go for a fitting. If it needs tweaking, they’ll do their alterations for you to collect on the same day. I couldn’t resist having a lace dress designed as I was need of a nice LBD, sadly, I forgot to take a snap.

Couldn’t stop staring at this lady in red, though.

 Michaela and I found this amazing little cafe owned by a French lady.

The French know how to do a good coffee shop and the Vietnamese love coffee. Put them together and this is what you get.

 Before setting off on this trip, I told myself that I will only eat the national dish of the country that I’m currently residing.

Time passed and I started to crave sandwiches, kebabs and shockingly, Nando’s. There’s only so many noodles & rice that you can scoff before you have a relapse.

I also really missed pesto.

When I saw chicken & pesto sandwich on the menu…

I was filled with joy, pure joy. And I didn’t even feel guilty about it.

Michaela ordered the ‘Ca Phe Sua Da’, a chilled black coffee that drips into a bed of condensed milk. I got the thumbs up.

I had a naughty peanut butter smoothie; I don’t regret it at all. Look how happy I am.

Michaela skipped the sandwiches and opted for the kale smoothie. Green goodness in a jar.

After a long day of exploring, it was time to go for a dip and to fall asleep by the hotel pool.

If you like food, clothes and learning about history, Hoi An is calling for you.

Location: Vietnam – Hoi An
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Wanderlust

Floating high above the waves, my body drives through the air like a white cloud over the ocean. Surrounded by layers, upon layers, of endless shades of blue in the sea and into the sky. My yellow bikini mimics the sun, pushing the island farther and farther behind.

Through rose tinted sunglasses, I’m living in a realm of vivid colour. The horizon bisects sheets of fire, the beautiful kind.

It’s the only time in my life where my current experience is quite literally a magical romantic novel, with me in love with the earth.

I know, I’ve handed you a plate of the finest cheese there, but it’s how I felt at the time, in paradise.

Eight months ago, I decided to quit my job to travel the world. Welcome to my blog post on real Wanderlust.

It’s a personal post, but I’m happy to share my experiences and to remind myself of why I did it. I’ll re-read this post when I’m a little old lady.

Why did I just pack up my bags and leave home? Here are eight reasons:

Dreams

I was a miserable, and grumpy cat. I needed to make a drastic change. Quitting and leaving is a significant risk. Things just kept happening, and they pushed me to the point where I had to do something about it. I have always believed in signs. If you aren’t living life as you should, the universe will make it clear somehow. If there’s an opportunity, you’ll find out.

I hadn’t done the one thing I wanted to do before my next Birthday. Every day, I woke up and I asked myself (whilst poking my island desktop computer screen): if the world ended tomorrow, would I of been happy? Had I done all the things I wanted to do? Have I ticked enough of my bucket list? The answers were no. Always, always, chase your dreams.

Adventure

I crave adrenaline. As a kid, theme parks were my second home. I was a naughty and weird kid. I always had a “bright” idea. Travelling allows you to express yourself and channel your creative outlet. It enables you to do amazing things all the time and every day. Our world is filled with ventures that if you take the plunge to do, you’ll remember forever. My bucket list was extensive but to a name a few, I wanted to go temple hopping, visit an orphanage, cuddle a koala bear, skydive, jump into the ocean and visit at least one world heritage site. I’ve now done all of those things and loved every second.

Culture

Travelling allows you to see that there is the world out there and that there is just so much more than your everyday routine. Learning about other cultures changes the way you think. Your mind will open. You’ll learn that diversity is a strength and the spice of life. Travelling at least once for a good amount of time will change your perspective forever.

#ProjectMfood

Not just because I’m a food obsessed individual, but food is an essential ingredient of human life – survival, culture, tradition, lifestyle and relationships. Go and explore a hodgepodge of ingredients and intoxicating aromas. I’m still salivating over fresh, and fragrant broths in Asia. I shamelessly ‘Foodstagram’ because my images remind me of how I felt at that time. And yes, that hashtag above will link you to my foodporn Foodgasms.

Poverty

I wanted to see poverty. We’re very lucky but sheltered in the Western world. We see media behind tinted glass. I saw struggles that you wouldn’t think were possible. Being present physically in a third world country is a real eye opener.

Heritage

I wanted to explore my heritage. If you’re an ethnic minority living in a multi-cultural society, go and visit where your parents are from — you will learn so much about yourself.

Appreciation

You’ll appreciate your friends and family a lot more; you’ll appreciate the comfort you never knew you had.

Future

Lastly, it (hopefully) helps you figure what you want out of life. Once you’ve seen what’s available in the world, it makes decision-making so much easier. You can decide whether you want to relocate abroad, continue travelling, volunteer or go home.

While backpacking, I started to blog and this was my first post. I said I would let you know if it was the right decision. I can confirm wholeheartedly; it was the best decision of my life.

Am I suggesting that everyone should travel? Well no, it’s not for everyone. If all-inclusive package holidays to Shagaluf is your thing, then go for it, but it won’t be life-changing. Travelling is physically demanding and will throw you out of your comfort zone. If you’re not willing to engage in another culture, then travelling will not work for you.

Yes. Of course, I asked myself “what if I get kidnapped, like in that film, Taken?”, But when you get there, everyone else is in the same boat as you. It’s safe if you’re smart. Always be vigilant.

Everyone has different dreams and aspirations: you may love your job, have the itch to start a business, buy a house, start a family — all of these things are life-changing experiences that people do in their own time. Do what you want to do. It’s never too late to follow your dreams.

If you are going travelling, have a wonderful time and take lots of pictures. You may be homesick at first, but it wears off, I swear.

Every day is different, exciting and you’ll want to live it with intensity. You’ll meet so many people from all over the world from diverse backgrounds and cultures who will have many stories to tell you. It all happens so fast. I get so excited when I hear that someone has decided to go backpacking.

Have so much fun and don’t forget to Skype your parents from time to time.

There’s a lovely quote by author J.R.R. Tolkien that pops up a lot, “Not all those who wander are lost”.

In Asia, I travelled with G Adventures on the Indochina Discovery and LOVED it. Dare to book your dream adventure? If you’re heading to OZ, pop into your local PeterPans branch, while hopping onto their free internet, I booked several tours with them as they always had the best deals. I booked all of my hostels through Hostel Bookers and Hostel World.

Ps. If you’ve already headed off and think you have a little nugget of wisdom to share, please leave it in the comment section below. I would also love to hear your adventures whether in you’re in the planning stage or you’ve just landed home.

Location: Zi World

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