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Hong Kong/Macau/Zhuhai/Guangzhou

31 Dec

It is a pity not we have not been travelling much this year. In fact the Hong Kong/Macau/Zhuhai/Guangzhou trip that we took in late September/early October was the only vacation we have taken in 2014. Nevertheless, we have had a couple of staycations in between so it wasn’t too bad.

Lau Fu Zi

Lau Fu Zi

We have been to Hong Kong many years back. I remember taking my little sister along with us. She was in secondary two that year and today she is already a married mother of two and that was how long ago.

Anyway, I have been too ambitious while planning this trip. It was a bad idea to have squeezed in so many places in a week and the frequent shuttering from one city to another was a little tedious. I have also prepaid for all our accommodation and thus, we were not able to stay in a place longer than our initial scheduled timeframe but nonetheless, it was quite a learning experience though.

sunset in Guangzhou

sunset in Guangzhou

Guangzhou

I have known very little of Guangzhou before this trip. Touching on the grounds of Bai Yun International Airport twice does not counts. Both times were on transit, one occasion to Sanya and the other to Chengdu.

I used to be a huge fan of a local actor, Qu Yuwu. He is from Guangzhou and I have always been dreamy of his hometown but this trip has changed my thoughts entirely.

We were lost the minute we stepped out of the train station. I was two hundred percent sure that the hotel that I have booked is within the vicinity but the absented-minded me had forgotten to translate the name of the hotel and address into Chinese and we have approached at least of people for directions. Many have shrugged and shook their heads, some said ‘wo bu zhi dao’ (I don’t know) and the others pointed us North South East West.

We finally hit the jackpot and found our hotel down the bend less than 100m from the station an hour later but when I cheerfully approached the reception with our booking, the lady behind the counter grabbed it before I could speak and proceed with the registration head down. It was only half way through her writing that she asked for our passport and deposit. Even so, she did not even bother to look up and make eye contact. Then she mechanically handed us the key and breakfast voucher and murmured that the breakfast that was inclusive with our room booking is only available for one person and the other has to pay! And that it, she considered herself done and left us!

While in the room we found that the safe could not lock so we rang the housekeeping. The same lady attended to us picked up our call and sent someone over. The handyman pounded on the door and grumbled loudly as he worked on the safe and then left without having a word. After he left, we saw that the safe still could not lock and we rang the housekeeping again. The same lady picked up the call and before I could finish my sentence, she snorted, “the safe is spoilt and I don’t have any room to change so you better make do with it” and hang up!

Gosh, I wasn’t even asking for a change of room or anything! What’s wrong with her? Fortunately this lady is a legend. While the majority of the people that we have encountered there weren’t exactly friendly or helpful, they weren’t as rude either.

saw this inside Ikea in Guangzhou, it says "make sure you talk talk with them" haha!

saw this inside Ikea in Guangzhou, it says “make sure you talk talk with them” haha!

 

Zhuhai

The train ride from Guangzhou to Zhuhai was a real eye opener. There was no law and order, everyone was pushing and squeezing and people were shouting and talking at the top of their voice. The group of seated passengers where I stood, ate throughout the journey. They would pass the food around and then throw their waste conveniently onto the floor.

The location of our hotel is good. It is near the border as what we wanted but unlike the impressive pictures that we saw online, the hotel is very old and run down and our window opened to a flight of stairs. Everything in the room, including bottled drink and toothbrush has a price tag and condoms are strategically placed in the bathroom and bedside tables, all for sale.

Zhuhai is very much like Guangzhou, a wholesale heaven but the weather was terribly hot. It was much hotter than any day in Singapore and at 35 degree Celsius, all I wanted to do was to take cover and hide.

 

Macau

Bad timing. It was China’s Golden Week holiday and the entire place was flooded with people from the Mainland. Weird as it seems, they were filling up drug stores and pharmacies and loading baby milk powder rather than of trying their luck in the casinos.

Like its neighbor Zhuhai, the people in Macau aren’t very friendly either but hack, this place is a gem! There is so much vibe, so much to see and so much waiting to be discovered! If I have known it earlier, I could have omitted the rest of the places and spend the entire week here.

sunset

the umbrella revolution

Hong Kong

We were there during the early days of the Umbrella Revolution. Some roads were closed and many tourist populated places were affected. We were surprised at we were done with Ladies Market within five minutes because many vendors were not opened for business but that’s okay, we aren’t much of a shopper anyway. Instead, we visited all the sites of the demonstrations and the protest has fuelled some food for thoughts. I salute these hot-bloodied youths and admire their courage and love of their own country and nation yet, being a politically immature Singaporean, I couldn’t take my stand. Such protest would have been stopped even before it could start in Singapore.

I was stopped by the custom while having our luggage checked at the airport because they have detected a little piece of Victorinox Swiss Army in one of my pouches. Instead of simply discarding the item, the custom officer has tried to help by calling the airline ground staff to come over to pick them and safe keep for me while on the plane. We waited for a long time but the staff did not turn up and so to avoid missing the plane, I decided to forego my most precious travel essential and hurried our way to the boarding. However we were still too late. The ground staff told us that the gate has closed two minutes ago and the plane has flew off without us.

And the drama did not stop there. Since we were considered officially departed, we will need the immigration to grant us re-entry but the immigration officer on duty refused to release us. He demaned for concrete information of our next departure date and flight details but for Christ sake, why he just couldn’t understand that we would need to get out from there in order to go over the counter to book another flight? So there we were, struck inside the freezing arrival for the next couple of hours before we finally have had our next flight confirmed and free to go. But we have no where to go in the wee hours and since ours were the first flight in the morning, we camped at the airport and slept a bit on the chairs at Burger King.

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Stayaction: Holiday Inn Express Orchard Singapore

16 May

I know, I know, I shouldn’t push the blame to an innocent cat but I don’t only share the same birth date as Garfield, I bear its personality trait: Procrastination. And I have procrastinated too much, and for too long. I have intended to put up the post during my stayaction but because of my procrastination, it was half written and have struck in my C drive till now.

4Feb2011resized

Anyway after the disastrous family trip to Taiwan back in September 2013, I have decided to reward myself with a little stayaction at Holiday Inn Express Orchard Singapore.

Checking into the hotel on a Friday, I have the entire afternoon on my own and I love it! Though Holiday Inn Express is nested right in the bustle of Orchard Road, my cozy room is tranquil of peace and I simply love being alone in the solace and quietness of this unfamiliar space.

Holiday Inn Express Orchard Singapore

1 front

With 221 well designed room for the frequent travelers in mind, Holiday Inn Express Orchard Singapore is more of a business hotel so there isn’t any sort of luxurious spa, posh swimming pools or swanky gym but with the whole of Orchard Road within reach, that isn’t necessary and I greatly appreciate the spacious room, comfy bedding as well as the free wifi throughout the hotel and the option of Express Start or Grab & Go Breakfast provided by the hotel.

The main lobby

The main lobby

The Breakfast Area

The Breakfast Area

My Spacious Room

My Spacious Room

My Work Corner

My Work Corner

The View From My Window

The View From My Window

My Favorite Cozy Corner

My Favorite Cozy Corner

Garden By The Bay

5 Aug

1 garden

I have wanted to visit Garden By The Bay for a long time – not that I am one who could truly appreciate flowers or so to speak but because I have heard so many praises of it. My sister-in-law especially, has been talking about it endlessly like a broken recorder ever since her visit several months back. And boy, she is so right, this garden is amazing! We only have enough time to visit the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest but I am already falling in love with the place so much that I am contemplating of getting an annual membership so that I can go as often as we want!

1 garden by the bay

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Flower Dome

Flower dome 2

Entering into a world of perpetual spring, this cooled conservatory replicates the cool-dry climate of Mediterranean regions like South Africa, California and parts of Spain and Italy.

Flower done 1The first thing that got me squealed was the vast amount of cactus species.

cactusBesides the more common ones that are available in Singapore, we have also recognized some of the variant from Africa because our brother-in-law who is doing ministry work and resides in Africa had previously brought some home for us to plant but unfortunately, none of it has survived.

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Cloud Forest

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Entering the misty cold tower with an enthralling in the 35-metre tall indoor waterfall, it is as though stepping into a realm of mountains and be surrounded by diverse vegetation and rare plants.

cloud 3

IMG_0262We are mythically on cloud 9! 

end

Much as I have wanted, we have missed out the opportunity to tour the outdoor gardens that day because I couldn’t stand the burning sun and we didn’t have time to stay till the evening but I am not complaining because that has given me an absolutely valid excuse to go back again soon!  

The Fullerton Bay Hotel

28 Jun

I have passed by a huge Cai Shen with the 12 horoscope prediction for the year 2013 near the Rochor Food Centre at the beginning of the year. Being born in the year of the pig, I headed over to the pig’s section to read my fortune out of curiosity. According to the prediction, it isn’t promising for the pigs in this year of the snake but I shrug and thought, ‘Oh never mind, I am not a pig, I am a wild boar anyway.’

Time flies and taking a good half of 2013 along with it at a blink of the eyes. Looking back at the past six months, I saw myself waking up smiling on some good days and frowning at the setbacks on bad days. i have my fair share of happy and not-so-happy moments but overall life has been good and I count my blessings to enjoy a little beach holiday retreat in Phuket in March, a pack and go trip to Taiwan in April, a stayaction at Fullerton Bay Hotel in May and last weekend, took my sister and her two little ones on their first trip to Genting Highlands in Malaysia.

Singapore is a tiny island and it probably takes less than an hour to drive from one end to the other but Singapore is also a beautiful island with lots and lots of hotels peppered within that makes escaping from the usual scene and holidaying at our own backyard very tempting. I love stayaction and have greatly enjoyed the hospitality of Wangz Hotel, Park Regis Hotel and Orchard Hotel but then stayaction can sometimes be even more expensive than hopping over the neighboring country for the weekend and thus, I especially treasured this precious opportunity indulging the weekend at The Fullerton Bay Hotel.

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the walk towards the hotel

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view from the rooftop pool

The Fullerton Bay Hotel
Strategically located within the CBD, The Fullerton Bay Hotel  is being named one of the World’s Best Hotels by Travel + Leisure USA and the Best New Business Hotel Worldwide by Business Traveller UK magazine. Stylishly built alongside the spectacular view of the Marina Bay Waterfront, we were pampered luxuriously by the hospitality of the hotel.  We simply love our plush and  spaciously comfortable room and especially enjoyed the quiet moments watching sunrise and sunset by our balcony that overlooked the glittering water of the river.

With Marina Bay Sands, Marina Square, Suntec City, The Esplanade and Raffles City all conveniently around the corner, shopping and other activities outside the hotel vicinity are aplenty but who would want to leave the comfort of the hotel when there is a luxuriously self-contained room, an immaculate rooftop gym, swimming pool and jacuzzi pools that offer a glorious city scrape view, plush restaurants for exquisite dining experience and wireless Internet access anywhere within the hotel all awaiting for your access? Seriously we don’t and we have enjoyed every single minute of staying in.

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love the bed!

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fun time

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Clifford Restaurant

With the grandeur of very high ceiling and plush interiors, Clifford luxuriously serves European, French and Western Cuisine with a view overlooking the waterfront and we have the pleasure of enjoying a set dinner and breakfast here.

Our set dinner had scrumptiously consists of:
Bread basket – besides the warm mini baguette, we love the generous portion of tuna spread. 
Appetizer: Lobster & Scallop Carpaccio w Lime Black Truffle Dressing & Fragrant Shiso –  the thinly sliced lobster was good but the raw scallop takes time to appreciate.
Soup: Soupe d’Onions Gratinee – a rich and tasty traditional rich onion soup with melted gruyere cheese croutons. 
Main: Signature Duck Confit with truffle potato mousseline, black garlic sautéed broad beans field greens
Desert: Lemon Tart with Lemon cream, black berries, Italian meringue
Petits Fours:  Kueh Lapis, Mini Macarons, Black Sesame Chocolate and TWG Tea 
page

The gastrointestinal dining experience aside, my husband was extremely impressed by the attentiveness of one really sweet and beautiful waitress. This dynamic Korean lady was one of the waitress serving our section during dinner the night before and we were quite surprised to see her doing her round during breakfast the next morning. With the restaurant almost full and so many guests to handle, we didn’t expect that her to remember us, yet she had cheerfully stopped by our table for a quick chat and greeted us by our first name!

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the beautiful Korean waitress – hubby’s nomination of the best service award

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the night is still young..

The Spa Artisan

No stayaction is complete without a pampering spa retreat and we were blessed with a couple’s Japan Spa Journey at The Spa Artisan over at the historical The Fullerton Hotel. With fresh plants lining the walls of the hallway and soothing music piping at the chic and cozy lounge area coupled with the skillful hands of the masseuses, it is little wonder why The Spa Artisan has been awarded the Best Luxury Boutique Spa from the World Luxury Spa Awards 2013.

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After choosing the essential oil for our massage, our 2.5 hours Japan Spa Journey began with feet soak, a head to toe scrub, shower before falling asleep under the healing touch of the therapist to conclude a memorable weekend at the hotel.

Taipei ~ 台北之行

4 May
https://lifelittletales.wordpress.com/

名字叫台湾

四月十五日二零一三年,中午十分的我满怀期待的踏出挑园机场。托着行李在机场公车站等着车的当儿我赫然发现台北的天空並没有很蓝,人们也没有想像中的亲切但空中飘来的冷风卻令我振奋非常。
https://lifelittletales.wordpress.com/在接下来整个钟头摇摇晃晃的车途中, 我望着窗外,脑海浮现的是林青霞、秦汉、秦祥林的<我是一片云>的电影片段、岑凯伦以及琼瑶唯美言情小说的各个情节;而耳边也仿佛响起了潘安邦的<外婆的彭湖湾>和追着<阿美阿美>的刘文正。毕竟我是产于七十年代的孩子,而这些就是我对台湾最初的认识。尽管经过岁月的洗礼、时代的变迁,台湾始终是我自懂事以来最向往的地方。
 
爱客发酒店
在上机下机、上车转车,下错站、走错街折腾了大半天后,终于抵达了下榻的旅店。座落在西门町的爱客发商务旅店在网上广受好评,而当初选择这旅馆的理由就是贪图它的地点方便。虽然刚踏进门时对于无窗无柜的房间感到有些许无所适从,但逐渐习惯了以后就觉得living in a suitcase 其实也没什么。人的基本需求其实可以很简单,房事原来可以是一张被单一张床就足够了。
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台北夜市
去台北怎么能不逛夜市呢?我们到了台北的第一站就去了士林夜市。从西门乘地铁到台北车站再转站到剑潭, 我们到达士林夜市时以是夜幕底垂,人潮汹涌而逛夜市的指定动作就是吃小吃,所以我们入乡随俗,沿街边买边解馋;把蚝仔煎、蚝仔面线、豪大大鸡排、胡椒餅、炸章鱼等著名街边小吃通通往嘴里送。在绕了一圈又饮了仙草、泡泡荼饮料等,后很快的我们又发现原来那里还有个底下美食坊!唉,只可惜这时我们的肚皮都快涨暴了!

https://lifelittletales.wordpress.com/

https://lifelittletales.wordpress.com/

https://lifelittletales.wordpress.com/

https://lifelittletales.wordpress.com/

https://lifelittletales.wordpress.com/

https://lifelittletales.wordpress.com/

在台北第二晚我们也去艋舺夜市逛了一圈;尝了综艺节目介绍的甜不辣也体验了在街边吃牛排的滋味。与士林夜市相同,街边小吃多,游戏档子多,人潮旺,但这一区似乎有更多年长者在活动。
著名的甜不辣

著名的甜不辣

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NT130 的街边吃牛排, 还附送汤哦!

北投温泉
从北投到新北投的捷运不但外观鲜艳逗趣,每个包厢都有不同的主题,真的好kawaii!
 
北投温泉区的温泉旅馆与澡堂众多,我们卻选择了千禧汤作为我们的泡澡初体验。较便宜的费用倒是其次主要还是为了想真实的体验一下当地人的平民生活情趣;毕竟旅行的意义就在于此嘛!公共温泉的设备很简单,就仅有有一排淋浴室、一排排自助寄放箱以及数个不同温度的汤池。少了隐私,不识水性又非常在意满身赘肉的我其实要在众目睽睽下穿着泳衣泡汤实在感有点变扭,所幸几乎每个人都沉浸在自己蒸气腾腾的世界里而亲切友善的工作人员也让人感觉很自在。浸泡在40度c的汤池里,我一边享受悠闲的泡汤之乐,一边看着工作人员穿梭在来若不绝的访客中,友善的向第一次光顾的顾客讲解须知、热情的和老顾客们寒暄,感觉很温馨。
 
离开温泉时天色已渐晚所以错失了观赏北投林泉内里和湖山里的温泉源头的机会让我有点小失望不过我还是很庆幸体验了有生以来第一次的在露天温泉池泡汤饿滋味。

新北投的捷运站

新北投的捷运站

千禧汤

千禧汤

CIMG0713Beitou淡水
因为张淸芳的<men’s talk>,让我对淡水满是期待。

淡水那一天没有太阳;天空朦朦的,有种雾里看山的诗意。走在淡水街道上,我发现这小镇布满了异国风味浓厚的建筑物而这一座座古建筑物都彷彿在诉说着一个故事,一个历史。徒步到了提边,正在钓鱼的老伯伯笑问我从那儿来,我要他猜,他猜了老半天也没猜着。我说我是新加坡人,他却睁大眼睛摇头说没可能。哈!

相较于台北夜市,淡水的小吃更趣致;特长的冰淇淋、各式口味的铁蛋,还有黑黑的墨鱼香肠、口感特别的虾子香肠,这么不叫人垂涎三尺呢!看着在河边公园嬉戏的小朋友和悠哉溜狗的居民们,这样的淡水我好喜欢!

danshui river

golden waterbank

在提边钓鱼的老伯伯

在提边钓鱼的老伯伯

冰淇淋巨无霸!

冰淇淋巨无霸!

 
渔人码头
说实在的我对于渔人码头没有什么深刻的印象,或许是因为我们到访的时间是中午而没法目睹它在黄昏,在夜晚的美吧。感觉在渔人码头

跟我们自家的Punggol Marina 有点相似。我倒很喜欢那段从淡水到渔人码头沿途的风景线,很小镇、很实在。

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九份
九份,因为电影<悲情城市>而成为一个广受欢迎的观光景点。我没有看过<悲情城市>但我却在从台北乘火车到瑞芳再换乘巴士到达观海亭后就即刻爱上这个山城迷人的景色。
 
沿山路徒步往基山街;发现这頂蓬店宇相接,店与店紧邻,4米不到的老街,其实蛮商业化的,做的是游客的生意。既然来到九份怎么能不尝一尝赖阿婆芋圆和其他具有特色小吃呢?不过说实在的其著名的芋圆或是花生冰淇淋都能有满足我挑剔的味蕾;我倒是喜欢在沿街而上那里的许多茶坊以及边饮茶边赏景的乐趣,而从茶坊居高临下望出的那幅美如画的夕阳五彩的黄昏浪漫美景也让我久久不能忘怀。
往基山街的路

往基山街的路

依山而建的小城

依山而建的小城

美如画的景色

美如画的景色

著名的赖阿婆芋圆

著名的赖阿婆芋圆

花生冰淇淋

花生冰淇淋

 
后记
基本上我觉得台北城市的生活和我们的没差,同样的行色匆匆也个个手机不离手。不过我倒觉得台北的人们在公共场所很自律;比如说会在乘自动浮梯时会靠右、在等捷运时会排队、不舒会带上口罩,超赞!台北人的环保意识强,街道和洗手间都很干净、交通系统也很健全方便,我尤其喜欢中央商业区的自行车出租的概念!一点令我纳闷的是为什么像西门町这么热门的旅游旺区里的商店都迟至11、12点才开门呢?
中央商业区的自行车

中央商业区的自行车 

虽然这一趟我终于圆了我逛诚品书店一梦,但我始终对没能在那有限的时限里游览更多的地方感到有点懊恼;所以我更期待九月份再次游台湾。
诚品书店

诚品书店

台湾我们到时再见咯!
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