On packing lists and two month trips.

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When I first started putting together this post (just under 4 weeks ago), I was on my way to Tokyo, leaving the 98% humidity and 35C temps of Vietnam (thankfully) behind me. I’ve already spent the night on an unforgivingly hard chair in an airport thanks to a missed flight at Narita and a few days ago I left New York City where spring has definitely sprung, with some days hitting a max of 26C, the warmest since summer ended. This week, I’ve been traipsing glaciers and snowstorms in Iceland, where the average real-feel temperature has been a blistering 0C. The last leg of my trip involves spending time in Greece until mid-May for my first taste of a European summer.

So in light of my current travel situation, the idea of packing light to visit 10-12 cities with a million climate extremes seems laughable. Because I’m flying various airlines, my limit is 20kg of checked luggage, so packing for a two-month trip around the world has been about packing smarter, not necessarily lighter.

And by ‘smarter’, I mean packing a spare change of underwear in my carry-on.

My new-found fear of flying has nothing on my fear of packing too much for a holiday. I have these horrific visions (stemming from past travels) of lugging my suitcase up six flights of vertigo-inducing stairs to my Copenhagen airbnb, or walking 2km from my Paris hotel to the subway station negotiating cobblestoned paths and an erratic GPS that sends me astray the entire way.

Many of you have asked for a run-down of my packing list so I thought I’d put together a small insight + guide as to how I’ve packed for my two-month holiday.

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FIRST THINGS FIRST – PREPARING A PACKING LIST

My overarching goal is to ensure everything goes with everything – lots of easy, wearable and fuss-free items from pants and tops to shoes and dresses. This also always means I tend to stick to a very classic and neutral colour palette – grey, white, black, and navy, with the ‘colour’ I add being khaki, blush or mid-blue denim.

My other ‘deal-breakers’ include:

Shoes that I can walk all day in

Summery clothes that can also be worn for a wintery climate

Things that can be replaced + wouldn’t be devastated to lose or damage on my travels

Wrinkle-resistant items or those that require little ironing

In preparing my packing list, I always use Pinterest as my main packing list tool.

I first start by putting together a (secret) board of items I’m thinking of packing for my trip. This helps me to clearly visualise my packing list at a glance to see if I’m missing anything or have too much of something. I add items and/or refine or cull as I go along. For this particular trip, I created two boards – one for winter and one for summer. It just made it a lot easier to achieve a good balance of summer and winter items.

The second phase involves creating an inspiration board filled with travel outfits that could work for the nature of my holiday.

It doesn’t always happen but I try to complete my boards the week before I fly out. I start packing the day or two before – never any earlier as I find the wrinkles in my clothes are much harder to iron out.

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A TYPICAL IN-FLIGHT OUTFIT

When I’m flying 30+ hours, then walking my bedraggled self and catching a train to my hotel, comfort wins out every single time. I’m all about loose layers, relaxed silhouettes and comfortable, easy pieces, for a long-haul flight:

A merino or cashmere sweater

A relaxed long cardigan or an oversized slouchy coat

Acne Canada wool scarf which I use as a blanket

Black ponte pants or soft leggings

Porselli black ballerina flats (I slip off my shoes as soon as I get on a flight and put on a pair of soft cotton socks)

A large black tote bag

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WHAT I PACKED

WordPress would probably have a meltdown if I listed every single item in my suitcase right now, so here’s a good run-down of a good proportion of my packing list for this current trip:

COATS + JACKETS

Isabel Marant khaki down parka

Zara nude wool long robe coat

Balenciaga navy wool jacket

The rationale:

This is actually packing ‘light’ (for me) especially for such a long trip. I always pack a statement blazer for more dressy occasions and although it’s super heavy, the calf-length Zara coat keeps my legs warm when I’m only wearing one layer of pants. I’ve gotten the most wear out of this coat the most. The parka is virtually indestructible – I packed it specifically for exploring the fjords in Norway and Iceland.

I’ve bought a Uniqlo quilted down jacket on my travels which has proved to be indispensable to wear on its own or as a thin layer underneath my coat. It rolls up like a sleeping bag, too!

What I wish I packed:

Nothing. I think I’ve ticked all the boxes with these three options.  

KNITS + SWEATERS

Topshop charcoal grey coatigan

Isabel Marant merino turtleneck

Country Road mens’ grey merino sweater

Country Road grey knitted sleeveless roll neck

The rationale:

The Topshop coatigan is perfect for plane trips and can be easily layered underneath a coat. For wintery destinations, roll-necks and turtlenecks are essential. The Country Road mens’ grey sweater goes with everything.

What I wish I packed:

I may have packed way one too many grey knits (even though they are varying shades of grey… lol), so I kind of wish I had packed my classic mens’ black sweater by Country Road.

DRESSES

Bassike striped dress

Seed black silk trapeze tank dress

Alice McCall playsuit

The rationale:

Because it’s far less versatile than separates, I tend to pack the least dresses as possible. The Bassike stripes are ideal for in-between weather, the Seed black silk dress is my LBD that works on its own or layered in winter, and the playsuit is my ‘dressy’ piece for my summer destinations.

What I wish I packed:

Nothing, except for maybe my black Witchery jumpsuit. It’s just so heavy, though! 

SHOES

Chanel espadrilles

Porselli black ballerina flats

Birkenstock Arizona in black

Converse trainers

The rationale:

Shoes are always always, always the most challenging part of my packing list. I never want to travel with any more than three pairs of shoes but it never happens because, well, FOMO. For this trip, however, I made sure that every pair of shoe I packed could be worn all day without a hint of a blister.

One thing I always do is to place the insert from my Nike Frees into my shoes (like the Converse sneakers) for added comfort. It makes such a difference to shoes that don’t have a thick sole.

What I wish I packed:

My COS black Chelsea boots or Isabel Marant Dicker boots. It broke my heart to leave them at home this time – they are heavy and they just weren’t versatile or comfortable enough for me to wear through all seasons. Sneakers can make me feel so dowdy though and they’re not waterproof. I’ve almost caved into buying a pair of ankle boots on this trip…

BAGS

Celine Trio in navy

Celine Cabas in black

Everlane backpack

The rationale:

Only the ‘basics’ this time and I really wanted to go light on this – I even left the Le Pliages at home. Even though they’re super compact, all the weight adds up – it’s so important to remember this when you’re packing.

It’s also the first time I’ve ever travelled with a backpack and I swear I will never travel without one ever again. I haven’t yet figured out how to make it look less schoolbag-ish but when you’re travelling for 8 weeks, practicality trumps all.

I brought the Trio as it can be worn cross-body, and the Cabas doubles as a sturdy and expansive carry-on bag.

What I wish I packed:

A larger bag with a shoulder strap that fits my OM-D E-M1. I’ve hardly used my Celine Trio because it doesn’t fit my camera, and the Cabas is too impractical for all-day walking. Also, I wish I had brought my Longchamp expandable weekender – I’m really missing the practicality of a zippered carry-on bag! I’ll never learn…

ACCESSORIES

Acne Studios ‘Canada’ scarf in grey

Country Road black leather belt

Ray Ban oversized Aviators

Knitted grey beanie

Straw boater hat

The rationale:

The scarf doubles as a blanket on the plane, the beanie will keep my ears warm in Iceland, the boater hat works in both summer and (kind of) winter, and the belt is really my only accessory.

What I wish I packed:

My black wool fedora as it’s such a classic winter staple and (call me pedantic) but it just feels weird wearing a straw hat when it’s snowing outside.

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THE VERDICT SO FAR

So I’m at the halfway point of my two-month trip now and the general consensus is that I’ve neither packed too much or too little. If anything, I think I’ve packed slightly more than I probably need, even though when I departed Australia my checked baggage weighed in at roughly 13-14kgs.

My only major regret is not packing a pair of ankle boots because some destinations have turned out to be way colder, snowier and rainier than I anticipated. You can never predict the weather, I guess, and I didn’t own any boots that I could walk all day in plus be ok with trashing them in mud puddles!

At the end of the day though, I’d say 99% of what I’ve packed can be worn together so, and off the cuff, I’ve worn about 90% of what I’ve packed so far. So given packing smarter (as opposed to lighter) was my goal to begin with, my packing list has performed relatively better than others of mine in the past.

And in case you missed it, read my Spy Style post over at vogue.com.au for more of my packing tips + essentials.

Life in the slow lane.

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Fridays are for my favourite things: sunshine, waking up at noon, cups of tea, leaving things half done, and life in the slow lane.

They say time goes quicker in New York, whilst in Iceland, life is the complete opposite. I’ve been watching snowflakes fall to the floor from my bedroom window every day I’ve been here; taken the roads that are less travelled, sat by waterfalls as they crash to the ground and it’s as if the second-happiest country in the world doesn’t know a damn thing about time.

But the thing is, they’re completely okay with that. And so am I.

Life in the slow lane | in collaboration with Topshop

Travel Journal: Tokyo

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I always leave my heart in Tokyo.

The midnight vending machine run; the beguiling sense of order and chaos at Shibuya Crossing; the meticulously wrapped fruit and stationery; the simple fact that you can find good ramen on every street corner; and the way not many Tokyo-ites can hold a conversation in English but always try to – even if it means walking you 500m to the nearest subway station when you find yourself lost in this incredible labyrinth of a city.

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Truth be told, I love Paris for its architecture and New York City for its old-world, well-mannered grandeur, but I love Tokyo for everything. There is no other city that comes even close and no other place I could definitively say I love most.

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As with my other travel journals, my guide to Tokyo is by no means definitive. I’m the non-tourist tourist – I prefer to spend my afternoon at a café sipping coffee rather than line up for hours at a major tourist attraction. So with that in mind, the recommendations I’ve shared below is a snapshot of how I like to spend my time travelling.

This is my Tokyo.

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EAT

Ramen

Ippudo Ramen – in my opinion, some of the best ramen in Tokyo is right here. I’ve been countless times and it’s such a different experience to the chains in Sydney and New York.

4-10-3 Ginza, Chuo, Tokyo

Ichiran Ramen – ramen in your own booth, ordered from a vending machine. It’s a tiny restaurant in a basement and its main aim is to minimise customer contact as much as possible for the sake of efficiency. A classic and compulsory Japanese experience. If you have trouble finding it, it’s just a few doors down from Zara.

1 Chome-22-7 Jinnan, Shibuya

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Japanese the locals love

Maisen Tonkatsu – life-changing tonkatsu, not even kidding. Maisen has ruined eating tonkatsu anywhere else in the world for as long as I shall live.

4-8-5 Jingumae, Shibuya

Harajuku Gyoza – cheap but cheerful gyoza and, in my humble opinion, the best in Tokyo. Remember to order the mince beansprouts and pickled cucumber with your dumplings! Also, try to go for an early dinner or late lunch as queues form quickly here.

6-2-4 Jingumae, Shibuya

Café hopping

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Bread, Espresso & – people queue up for the French Toast and understandably so – it’s served in a cast-iron skillet (enough to share between two so for 650 yen it’s a bargain) and it’s also to die for. I did read somewhere, though, that it’s only served on the skillet for the 3pm run.  In any case, I’d jump on a plane to Tokyo just for this. The French Toast is only served before 10am or after 3pm and not in between so don’t try getting a table at 2:30pm then ordering the French Toast when it hits 3pm. You’ll be refused and told to go back outside to line up. It’s a Japanese thing, I think.

3-4-9, Jingumae, Shibuya-ku

Café Kitsuné – I love the matcha lattes here. Pricey at $6 a pop but it’s surprisingly difficult to get matcha lattes anywhere else in Tokyo (even from a vending machine).

3-17-1 Minami Aoyama, Minato-ku

Nicolai Bergmann Nomu Café – this breathtaking space is a sight for sore eyes. It’s a florist and café in one. Order the Scandinavian lunch set.

1F, 5-7-2, Minamiaoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo

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Sweets

Shozo Coffee Store – the cutest little store (try their famed madeleines) with an amazing courtyard at the back. Don’t miss it!

3-13 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo

Sadaharu Aoki – Japanese pastry chef who honed his craft in Paris. Make sure you try the eclairs!

Shinkokusai BLD, 3-4-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo

Rose Bakery – for the carrot cake, of course. Be sure to do a little window shop at Uniqlo and Dover Street Market after!

7F, 6-9-5, Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo

Snacks

Onigiri from the corner store – my most favourite part about visiting Japan is the convenience stores! I’m obsessed with having onigiri for breakfast. It’s hard to miss, but look for a Lawson, Familymart or 7-Eleven.

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Specialty Coffee

See my five must-visit spots in Tokyo on vogue.com.au. 

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SEE

Meji Shrine – a beautiful shrine in the middle of a forest in the middle of Harajuku. An experience like no other when in Tokyo.

Mori Tower – an amazing 360 view of the Tokyo skyscapers. On a clear day I think you can see Mount Fuji.

Sensō-ji Temple in Asakusa – go on Sundays when all the food stalls are peddling everything from Doraemon cakes to takoyaki.

Get lost in Omotesando – the best thing. I could spend hours walking around and dropping my jaw at all the architecture here.

Get lost in Daikanyama – one of my most favourite neighbourhoods in Tokyo. There are so many small cafes and shops hidden at every corner. Go here before everyone else does.

Ghibli Museum – I’ve only seen (though really enjoyed!) a few Miyazaki films, but this one is definitely something you shouldn’t miss if you’re a huge fan.

1 Chome-1-83 Shimorenjaku, Mitaka, Tokyo

Cherry blossoms – refer to my Hanami section below.

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Hanami in Tokyo

‘Hanami’ is Japanese for ‘cherry blossom viewing’ and it’s one of the most magical things you’ll ever experience if you visit Tokyo during March and April. It’s the happiest and most exciting time of year in Japan. The season doesn’t last long – two or so weeks tops, so it pays to research the best time to go!

When should I book my trip?

As far as Tokyo goes, the last week of March to the second week of April is generally a safe bet. I have visited Tokyo for the past two cherry blossom seasons and found that full bloom peaks around the 26th-28th March give or take a couple of days.  This year, I was in Tokyo 26th-31st March and full bloom fell the day or two after I arrived.

Because it’s the most popular time of year to visit Japan, it’s typical for hotels to book out a year in advance. Book your accommodation and flights as early as possible if you’re planning a cherry blossom trip.

Where is the best spot to see/photograph cherry blossoms?

If you don’t mind crowds and have a whole day to spare, Ueno Park is beautiful, vast, and jaw-droppingly gorgeous. It seems everyone and anyone in Tokyo is here at any one time!

For cherry blossoms with a lake view, visit Inokashira Park and Chidorigafuchi Moat of the Imperial Palace. Both of these parks also give you an opportunity to hire a row boat. I love photographing Inokashira after everyone’s gone home and as the sun’s setting – just before 7pm.

Nakameguro is probably my most favourite spot for hanami with its cherry blossom-lined canal and shops/cafes on either side.  It’s packed with tourists during blossom season though, so bear this in mind.

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SHOP

Omotesando – shop your Chanel bags, Church’s boots, and Dior earrings here. Don’t forget to comb the backstreets for cool little boutiques.

Minami Aoyama – Prada, Miu Miu, Diptyque, Acne Studios and tons more (including amazing architecture).

Found Muji – located near Omotesando, it’s the most inspiring and incredible place to shop a curated edit of one-of-a-kind Muji homewares. APC is also just around the corner if that’s your thing.

Margaret Howell – the Ginza store is beautifully merchandised and the sales ladies here are always so lovely!

Rag Tag – Japanese consignment stores are seriously amazing. I’ve found archival pieces from Balenciaga and Isabel Marant here for heavily reduced prices in immaculate condition as well as designer handbags for so low. It’s also shoe heaven here if you’re a size 36-38. For the best and largest designer handbag selection (think Celine, Chanel, Balenciaga, Prada, LV, Hermes), head to the Harajuku and Ginza outpost. For accessories and jewellery, Ginza wins. The Harajuku store is by far the biggest though in terms of all designers. Rag Tag Shinjuku has the most range of pre-owned Acne Studios. As you can tell, I’m such a discount shopper!

Nakameguro and Daikanyama – you can find all the indie boutiques here, stocking everything from Bassike and Isabel Marant to local Japanese labels.

T-Site -  the most incredible bookshop in Daikanyama, Tokyo. It’s so easy to spend hours here.

Muji – no Japanese retail experience is complete without a visit to this iconic and quintessential Japanese store. I love stocking up on wearable and chic wardrobe basics (Breton striped dresses and linen skirts) from Muji as well as stationery.

WEEKENDERS/DAY TRIPS

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Kyoto – it’s an easy Shinkansen (bullet train) ride to and from Tokyo. For me, two days is enough but I’m not fanatical about shrines as others! Arashiyama (the beautiful bamboo forest) and the surrounding parks/markets can be done in a couple of hours.

Hakone – a beautiful and serene escape from Tokyo, which you can combine with a trip to Mount Fuji. I’d love to stay at Hakone Ginyu next time, but it always seems to book out at least a year in advance during peak season!

Mount Fuji – I’ve done the Mt Fuji/Lake Ashi Viator day tour and highly recommend it. It’s about 13 hours in duration and it’s easy to get to and from Tokyo. It was inclement weather to go up to the 5th station but the sky was clear enough to see Fujisan in all its symmetry!

Visit an onsen – I’ve stayed at Manza Onsen Hotel and although it’s nothing overly fancy, it offers a truly authentic and charming Japanese experience. The all-you-can-eat Japanese buffet was a highlight, haha. The hotel offers bus transport to and from Tokyo from a bus terminal in Shinjuku. 

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ESSENTIALS IN TOKYO

Suica/PASMO metro transport card – budget around 1500 yen per day for moderate metro use. These cards can be purchased at all train stations or at the airport upon arrival.

Portable wifi – I’ve used Global Advanced Communications twice for my trips to Japan and highly recommend it. Order it a month online before your trip and have it delivered directly to your hotel on the date you arrive. The wifi works throughout Japan. I order the ECO Pocket WIFI 21mbps + extra battery. The cost was around AUD$70 for 11 days. It might sound expensive, but it’s really not as Tokyo is hugely difficult to navigate without the benefit of having wifi with you at all times – this far outweighs the cost.

Google Maps – absolutely essential when in Tokyo, but you will obviously need wifi to power it.

Basic grasp of the language – learning how to say thank you goes a long way in Japan!

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WHERE TO STAY

My favourite areas to stay include

Shibuya – a distinctively youthful and frenetic part of Tokyo that never ever sleeps. Close to all you’ll ever need, really.

Shinjuku – quite similar to Shibuya, home to the giant department stores, and a great base to explore Tokyo.

Shinbashi – an affordable option if you want to be close to Ginza, Asakusa, and the Yamanote line (to get to and from the airport).

Omotesando – close to boutiques and some of the coolest cafes in Tokyo. I’d try and book an airbnb here as there’s probably not much in the way of hotels.

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Hotels I’ve stayed at + recommend

Park Tokyo (Shiodome), Granbell Hotel Shibuya, Granbell Hotel Shinjuku, Sunroute Shinbashi (no-frills, tiny, but a great location). For those of you lucky enough to be not on a budget, try Claska or Park Hyatt.

Photography by Michelle Lau with OM-D E-M1 | in partnership with Olympus Australia

To see more of my travels, follow my Instagram + #seetheworldwitholympus for real-time updates and a peek at where I’m off to next.

What I’m wearing today: Oslo

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A quick snap of today’s outfit in Oslo.

We started the day off at noon with a trip to Birkelunden flea market, meandered through Grünerløkka in (a fruitless) search for coffee, then ended up at Fuglen where I experienced my first snow fall whilst drinking my coffee out on the pavement (magical!). The afternoon consisted of a quick visit to the beautiful opera house and an impulsive coffee at Stockfleths at the end of the day just because the sun came out. I’m already becoming one of those Europeans who gets so excited and runs outside to sun bake when the temp hits above 15C.

Sundays are eerily quiet in this small city. All the shops are closed so people either stay indoors or retreat to flea markets, parks, coffee shops, or spend their Sundays along the beautiful river. In a lot of ways, Oslo reminds me of Perth – it’s a distinctively relaxed city, where you can hear the tumbleweeds rolling through the city centre on Sundays, and everyone kind of wakes up real slow (and has no real problem about it).

Today’s outfit is an ode to the black turtleneck. I’m crazy about them at the moment, especially when tucked into denim with an oversized coat thrown over the top. This particular turtleneck I’m wearing is actually from Uniqlo’s heattech line which I swear by to stay warm in the northern hemisphere winters (or spring, funnily enough).

I wanted to wear ballet flats today (instead of my Converse) but with the amount of walking we did, these espadrilles seemed like the best compromise to make me feel a little more polished but comfortable. I’m also going to wear holes in my Scanlan low-rise boyfriend jeans (they’re the perfect ankle-grazing length and sit really relaxed on the hip) and this Zara coat from last winter has been pretty much superglued to me.

With all that being said, I’ve been in Europe for a grand total of six days and I’m missing the Australian sun so much already!

From Norway with love.

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Wearing Zara robe coat (tracked this one down from eBay), Maurie & Eve top and skirt, Porselli ballerina flats from My Chameleon.

Checking in for a hot second from Norway!

I’m currently bundled up in a cosy cafe in Bergen (Norway’s second biggest city, behind Oslo) determined to finish a deadline that I’ve procrastinated on for the past few days. Aside from our first day in Norway (above) the weather has been dreadful so it’s not such a traumatic experience having to coop up indoors and work.

As for outfit details, after calling practically every single boutique in Perth, I managed to track down this Maurie & Eve Gravity two-piece (top + skirt) literally the day before I flew out. As I harped on about in my latest blog post for Vogue, there’s something about matching sets that makes travelling in style a little bit easier. I also stumbled across this Chloe Paraty for $290 in a Tokyo consignment store last week! The leather is understandably a little worse for wear, but I’m planning to breathe new life into it by professionally dyeing it black when I get home.

In the meantime, we’ve decidedly been keeping our travel itinerary low-key and relaxed, so there’s been less sightseeing and more getting lost in the city’s winding, cobblestone paved roads. It’s been refreshing and so good for the soul.

Travel Journal: Vietnam.

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So 18 years have passed since my last trip to Vietnam. Back then, I was a pimply, tracksuit-wearing, makeup-inept teen, so much has (thankfully) changed for both myself and my native country in that time.

Whilst the palm-leaf conical hats, rickshaws and the food-on-a-stick epidemic has remained, the incredible cafe scene in Vietnam was a wonderful discovery. Who knew this South-East Asian country known more for brewing their coffee in a Moka pot could embrace the specialty coffee movement (and accompanying minimalist and concrete cafe interiors) that’s sweeping the world, one bearded hipster at a time?

It was a travesty I only had a few days in Ho Chi Minh and Da Nang to dedicate to some coffee exploration (the rest of my time was spent visiting relatives I haven’t seen in 18 years). That said, I managed to uncover some of HCMC and Da Nang’s best coffee spots so I thought as part of my Olympus Travel Journal for Vietnam, I thought I’d share them with any of you planning a visit to this part of the world soon.

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L’usine Cafeteria

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My favourite, hands down. They have two outposts, both of which are beautifully merchandised with a thoughtful edit of homewares (including Copenhagen’s Madam Stoltz & local Scandinavian-inspired wares) as well as clothing (think Kenzo, Cameo, and labels for both men and women).

Open daily 7:30am – 10:30pm / website

151/1 Dong Khoi St., 1st Floor, Hồ Chí Minh (features beautiful marble tables, larger retail store)

70 Lê Lợi, Bến Thành, Hồ Chí Minh (slightly smaller retail space, but still super lovely + photogenic cafe!)

The Workshop Coffee

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They take their coffee pretty seriously here, in an Aeropress/Chemex/Kenyan brew kind of way. It’s a beautiful space (floor to ceiling windows, amazing light, and free wifi!), with impressive latte art to match. The dubious ground floor is full of motorcycles, so once you get past that, head upstairs to the first floor where you’ll see the cafe.

Open daily 8:00am – 8:00pm / facebook

Address: 27 Ngô Đức Kế, Bến Nghé, 1, Hồ Chí Minh (upstairs)

 

DA NANG

Wonderlust Bakery & Coffee

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If you happen to be in this neck of the woods (Da Nang is towards central Vietnam) and you’re craving a matcha latte, head here. Not too sweet, the matcha has an authentic green tea twang.

Open daily 7:30am – 10:00pm

101 Trần Phú, Da Nang / facebook

Cafe Caricoli

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Okay, so my mother dragged me here because she’s obsessed with this old guy from YouTube who happens to be the founder/owner of Cafe Caricoli. The coffee here is more of the traditional Vietnamese than specialty kind (i.e. drip coffee sweetened with condensed milk). To my surprise though, it was all kinds of amazing. The beans are selected by hand and roasted in-house. I absolutely recommend it if you’re after traditional local coffee with an emphasis on quality and provenance.

Open daily 6:00am – 10:00pm

2 Duong 3 Thang 2, Da Nang, Vietnam / tripadvisor

 

Photography by Michelle Lau with OM-D E-M1 | in partnership with Olympus Australia

To see more of my travels, follow my Instagram + #seetheworldwitholympus for real-time updates and a peek at where I’m off to next.

Travel Journal: KLIA Minimalism.

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I have this thing with airports. I almost always hate them with a passion – my Type A, hyperactive, impatient self has too little attention span for waiting. But on the other hand, I’m a believer that airports see more sincere kisses than wedding halls.

On Christmas Eve a few years ago, I was picking up my husband from the airport when I realised that the arrival hall of any airport the day before Christmas Day must truly be one of the happiest places on Earth.

So it didn’t feel right to start my Olympus travel journal without sharing these quick snaps I took at KLIA2 airport with my OM-D E-M1 (whilst running for my departing plane, no less). I don’t usually photograph airports ever as I’m so pre-occupied with getting to my destination on time and in one piece, but as soon as I landed at KLIA2, I drew an audible and incredulous gasp at how put together the arrivals and departure terminals at KLIA2 now looks.

KLIA2 is the new, rejuvenated home for all low-cost carrier flights, leaving all horribly tedious layovers at drab LCCT in the past (which has now become a cargo hub). And needless to say, this one took me by complete surprise.

With the afternoon sunbeams flooding the minimalist, grey and white interiors (fact: this kind of thing never goes out of style) it was as if KLIA2′s departure hall spoke an insouciant charm that knows the way to my heart.

Photography by Michelle Lau with OM-D E-M1 | in partnership with Olympus Australia

How to pack light and travel in style.

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For the past ten days I’ve been working on planes, car trips, hotel rooms in five different towns and cities, every single day and night all the while sick with a virus that I caught off my husband and trying not to divorce my parents at the same time (whom I’m currently travelling with during my Vietnam leg). The wheel on my newly minted Rimowa also snapped off yesterday so my last night in Vietnam couldn’t have come soon enough.

For a few hours last night though, I was finally able to switch off work for the first time during this holiday, having caught up on nearly all of my deadlines and projects. I’ve almost forgotten what it’s like to have the laptop shut and not have it glare at me from across the room.

Sometimes when I have a few hours spare, though, I go a bit crazy because the notion of ‘spare time’ really is non-existent in my life these days. It’s like I have no idea what to do with myself (I don’t even know what it’s like to sit on a couch and relax anymore) so I swing between polar opposites. Case in point: after a leisurely dinner last night at L’usine, I painted my nails a dodgy Rouge Noir-dupe and took a pair of questionable hairdressing scissors that my husband packed to chop two inches off my hair in my equally questionable hotel room in Ho Chi Minh City. The bathroom is a hot mess but my hair seemed to survive the trauma of being hacked into.

So what has this got to do with how to pack light and travel in style? Not much, probably, but with a flight to catch at 8am and my husband tossing and turning next to me as I (not so silently) type away, all I can manage is one schizophrenic post today.

Which brings me to my latest post for Vogue. I’m doing a series of packing posts in light of my travels – and you can read the first of them here.

A few of you have asked what exactly I’ve packed for a two month holiday so I’m planning to try and write a follow-up on the plane today (told you I don’t know what rest means anymore…) which I hope to share on this blog over the coming days. I’ll also be posting my Vietnam travel journal for @olympus_au this weekend but for now, you can follow my real-time updates on Instagram to see where I’m off to next. Hint: it’s my favourite city in the entire world. Not even exaggerating.