Melbourne, One of the Most Liveable Cities in the World

Actually, Melbourne has ranked THE most liveable city in the world seven years in a row until 2017, based on the Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) Global Liveability Index. Since, Vienna (Austria) has stolen the spotlight but Melbourne is still a close second. If it wasn’t that far away from Europe, it’s definitely a city I would see myself living in… It has a weather I can cope with and gives access to all sorts of Asian food due to its proximity to Asia. What’s more to ask?

A sunny day in Melbourne

Skyscrapers are rising everywhere in the city, we rented an Airbnb on the 62nd floor just to see what it was like. Maybe because of the height, we didn’t have any balcony – It would have felt quite dangerous anyway. This is the view we had from our flat:

View from our flat on the 62nd floor – We’re practically flying!

On top of everything that’s going on within the city (rooftop cinemas, high streets, artists coming from anywhere in the world… etc), I also love Melbourne because of its variety of food options. The iconic Queen Victoria Market offers tons of fresh products (it’s only the largest open air market in the Southern Hemisphere). It really is a paradise for foodies! There is a very strong Asian influence too so one of the things we miss the most is a Japanese chain you can find mostly in Asia-Pacific, a Pepper Lunch classic: beef, egg and rice that you sizzle yourself on a super hot iron plate…

Pepper Lunch

And if you want to find a place a bit quieter and further away from the vibrant city, Albert Park is the perfect place to go. You have a stunning view (probably the best view of the city?) and you can cycle around the lake in peace, away from the crowd.

We stayed in Melbourne during Christmas season last year… Which means we were able to attend the Test Match that traditionally happens on Boxing Day at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). It was Australia vs New Zealand last year. I’m not particularly fan of cricket but it’s worth going just for the experience. And why not order a hot dog just to feel like a local?

Boxing Day Test 2019 at the MCG

What I want to tell you next is probably my favourite experience in Australia: driving along the Great Ocean Road. It’s the largest War Memorial in the world, dedicated to soldiers killed during WWII: 243 km of zigzag road along the South coast of Australia. We did 12 hours of driving that day. In hindsight, we should have done it over 2 days, it’s a very long drive and stopping somewhere overnight would have allowed us to visit more places along the way.

It took us 7 hours of driving to reach the most popular spot in the Great Ocean Road just before sunset: the 12 Apostles. They were actually never 12 but 8 limestone stacks, created by erosion due to the extreme weather conditions in the Southern Ocean. They’re now only 7 as 1 collapsed in 2005.

The 12 Apostles

A little bit further away, there is a stack which used to form a double-span natural bridge but the first span collapsed in 1990, thanks to erosion. It used to be called “The London Bridge” (due to its resemblance to its namesake in London), but it’s now called the London Arch. I wonder what they will call it once the second span will eventually collapse too…

The London Arch

It’s impossible for me to summarise our 2 weeks in Melbourne in a single post, I would have too many things to say. But below a few more places to visit and some additional facts about this awesome city:

  • Some trams offer free travel to city sights and attractions, with audio commentary on points of interest along the route. A complete journey takes around an hour, it’s a free and easy way to have a quick overview and decide what you want to visit!
  • Eureka Skydeck will give you a 360° view of Melbourne, the lift takes you at level 88 in less than 40 seconds. And if you feel silly – I mean, courageous – you can also try the Edge experience: a glass cube which projects 3 metres out of the building, 285 metres up, while you’re in it. I still don’t know how I convince my fiancé to do it…
  • One thing you notice in Melbourne is the variety of street art. Graffiti, drawing, posters, stickers… Hosier Lane is famous for its colourful pathway that made Melbourne’s urban art scene known across the globe.
  • If you like mini golf, don’t miss Holey Moley Golf Club where the décor is impressive, from the sweet candy walls to the spooky room…
  • We spent Christmas day at Sea Life Melbourne and it wasn’t a good idea. Not because of the place itself but because it was super crowded that day… We kind of expected an empty attraction but it was all the opposite, Christmas is apparently not a day people stay at home in Melbourne!
  • At the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, you have an attraction called Punting on the lake where you feel like you’re in Venice. It’s very relaxing and informative!

Melbourne is indeed a very liveable city, I can’t find anything I don’t like about it. But maybe spending 2 weeks there is not long enough to have the full picture. If you live(d) there, I would love to have your feedback!

Big Girl x

Kuala Lumpur, Interesting Mix of Asian Cultures and Modern Architecture

kuala lumpur petronas towers

I’ve heard a lot about Kuala Lumpur (KL) but never thought I would ever go. It’s so close to Singapore that it would have been a shame not to include it in our travel plans. We stayed a full week in KL but I feel a long weekend would have been enough. We only visited the capital, we were attracted by its modernity and the famous Twin Towers. I don’t think it represents the rest of Malaysia very well though. To me, there are 3 main attractions not to miss in KL.

1. Petronas Towers

The most iconic attraction is obviously the Petronas Twin Towers. Every article you’ll find online about the best things to do in Kuala Lumpur would mention them. They used to be the tallest building in the world with its 452 metres high but since 2010, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai holds this title at 829 metres. The Petronas Towers can still claim the title of the world’s tallest twin structures though… This impressive building has 88 floors on each tower, linked together by a double-decker sky bridge on their 41st & 42nd floors.

Yes, it would be a miss to go to KL and not do this attraction (except if you have vertigo) but I wouldn’t say it was the highlight of our week. We queued for a long time and then had a very limited time at the top, everything was a bit too commercial for my liking and at the end they look better from outside than inside. It’s a fun experience to walk on the suspended bridge though, enough to give you a thrill! View of the other tower from the bridge (41st floor):

from suspended bridge on petronas towers

2. Batu Caves

No lift there, this time we had to climb these 272 colourful steps to access the Batu Caves. That was what I was looking forward to the most and it didn’t disappoint. As far as I remember, it doesn’t require too high a level of fitness. You can take your time when climbing, but looking down can make you lose your balance… Also you can’t always hold the handrail because of the mass of tourists going against you. Monkeys can be quite intimidating too! They’re not afraid of you and can be a bit aggressive (especially if you have food). The temple is considered an important religious landmark by Hindus, this is why you’ll only find vegetarian food around it.

batu caves entrance colourful steps

3. KL Bird Park

In such a tropical climate, you can imagine how beautiful the KL Bird Park is. I would recommend this place to all animal lovers, even if you’re not especially into birds. This massive park is the largest free-flight walk-in aviary in the world. It impressed me a lot because of all the freedom these birds can enjoy. You will find gorgeous peacocks on your path who will serenade you and try to seduce you with their beautiful colours.

peacocks at kl bird park

Bonus: Malaysian food is amazing

To me, the reason number 1 to visit Malaysia would be the food… Asian markets are amazing, but that’s at Jalan Alor that you will find the best and cheapest food in the city. My favourite meal over there? Roti Canai (see picture below). This flat bread is the best I’ve ever had, their technique is difficult to imitate. It’s served with various spicy sauces, it’s super tasty and you eat it with your fingers… No cutlery needed, obviously (don’t ruin it).

roti canai malaysian food

Other random facts about Kuala Lumpur

  • The capital can be as cheap or as expensive as you want it to be. You can go there on a budget or you can choose to live the high life, the city offers many possibilities.
  • It’s quite difficult to walk when there is no pedestrian access, sometimes you have no choice but to take a taxi. That’s why there are so many of them everywhere (not exactly eco-friendly…).
  • The mobile app you need in Malaysia is called Grab, it’s useful to book a taxi or to get food delivered (either option is incredibly cheap).
  • Skyscrapers are rising everywhere, it’s a dynamic city under development. Our air bnb was on the 32nd floor and it felt like it was the minimum level to be at, compared to the average height in the surrounding area.
  • Shopping centres are very expensive, to a point I have no idea how locals can afford it, compared to the cost of living. The most famous ones are Pavilion and Suria KLCC. If you like Japanese products, you will find an awesome area in Pavilion called Tokyo Street where you can find all sorts of things from Japan (food, accessories, activities etc). Definitely worth a visit.
  • The difference of temperature between inside and out can be really big. It’s very warm and humid outside, and the AC is very cold inside big shopping centres so take a jumper with you just in case, even if you already feel too hot wearing just a t-shirt outside.
  • If you want a nice view from high up, I suggest going to the Menara KL Tower instead of the Petronas Towers. At least you will have them in the view (which is actually better than being inside them) and there is a nice revolving restaurant serving local food.

To conclude, Kuala Lumpur is a very interesting city but maybe not on its own. Let me know in the comments if you’ve been there and what you liked the most!

Big Girl x