Travel

Travel is a very subjective matter – everyone has different preferences and appetite for adventure. My preference is for food, sightseeing and light shopping. I also prefer to pack as many places to visit as possible into the itinerary. I call this Fast Travel. As for adventure, i don’t bungee jump nor scale any mountain, but i do take a rental car wherever and whenever it’s cheap to do so (it usually is). I will share with you what was worthwhile and what’s not on my trips, as well as tips that may be helpful to your trip planning.

North-South highway lunch stop – Simpang Renggam

Simpang Renggam is less than an hour from JB, so it makes sense as a lunch stop when driving up north from JB if one were to leave JB before noon.

There are ample eateries in Simpang Renggam, and we chose Restoran Tai Kai Hock (大家福酒楼) since they are quite highly rated on Google. They are basically a Tze Char restaurant and the standard is above average.

Their signature dish is the crispy duck, and indeed it is pretty good. Overall the food is value for money, and well worth stopping over for lunch.

 

Raining cats and dogs in Hat Yai

This was the first trip ever I had to change my itinerary due to adverse weather. It slipped my mind that when we went to Krabi last year, we heard news about flooding in southern Thailand. The weather in Krabi was really good, while on the eastern coast, the monsoon wreaked havoc. History repeated itself this year.

My plan was to drive to Koh Samui from Hat Yai. Hat Yai is too boring for 4 nights, and there isn’t much to see around the region as well. The coastal route would take me from Nakhon si Thammarat to Donsak pier in the shortest time possible. Unfortunately, i had to turn back as the road was closed due to flooding.

Road-turned-swimming-pool

Continue reading Raining cats and dogs in Hat Yai

North-South highway lunch stop – Bukit Gambir

Bukit Gambir is under 2 hours from KL and 1.5 hours from JB, so it could work as a lunch stop from either direction. It is a sizeable town, comparable to Yong Peng, and offers quite a few dining options during lunch time. It is very near Panchor, and easily accessible from the Toll booth.

I Googled and found a restaurant that has unfortunately already shut down, but just behind to it, there is a Tze Char restaurant that probably has been operating for a long time – Bee Hiong Guan. It is housed in a purpose-built building, and the high ceiling made it feel breezy and airy. It is very clean too. Continue reading North-South highway lunch stop – Bukit Gambir

Tour of my ancestral land – Part 3 – Fuqing and Fuzhou

The only clue I had when searching for my grandfather’s hometown was my surname. As the Chinese proverb goes, that sounds like searching for a needle in the ocean bed, right? Fortunately, in the olden days, Chinese families, those with the same surname, stick closely together. An entire village would consist of families of the same descent. And so, just by searching using my surname, I managed to find two villages in Fuqing where people with the same surname as mine lived.

To be honest, i felt that my chances were pretty low on actually hitting the jackpot, but it would be good enough for me just to get a feel of the place. Continue reading Tour of my ancestral land – Part 3 – Fuqing and Fuzhou

Tour of my ancestral land – Part 1 – Xiamen

For a long time, I had in mind to bring my father to his father’s birthplace. It finally came to pass. My grandfather came from Fuqing, Fujian. Since then, none among my relatives have gone back to visit, so nobody has an idea what the place is like. Not sure about you, but I find it intriguing to get a glimpse of how my ancestors lived.

When I chanced upon a cheap flight (S$280) to Xiamen, without second thoughts, I went ahead to book. If one keeps procrastinating, it will never happen.

Here are some tips on organizing a free-and-easy trip in China: Continue reading Tour of my ancestral land – Part 1 – Xiamen

Grabbing a taxi in Bangkok

Probably the best way to grab a taxi in Bangkok is to Grab one (as in to use the Grab app). It was certainly a convenient way to get a six seater taxi, which is now available abundantly.

The other advantages are – not having to fumble over communicating the destination to the driver since it’s already specified through the app, not having to worry if you don’t have small change to pay for the ride, and less chance of being taken for a ride (money wise). Continue reading Grabbing a taxi in Bangkok

Long Weekend Johor Getaway

So, where were you over the long weekend just passed? For a cheap getaway, nothing beats crossing over to neighbouring Johor. This time, we ventured up the east coast which we haven’t been to before (not counting Desaru that is). This turned out to be an excellent choice since the north-south highway was jam packed with holiday makers who ended up getting caught in multi-hour traffic jam.

The islands off Johor east coast, especially Tioman, are the popular destinations in this area, but we avoided those as we wanted to avoid crowds. Instead, we headed to Rompin, where there is a decent beach that is not busy. Continue reading Long Weekend Johor Getaway

Hokkaido trip report card

I took more photos of food than sights in Hokkaido, so that tells you something. Granted, i was there right smack in between flower blooming seasons of which Hokkaido is famous for.

After landing in New Chitose Airport, we picked up the rental car and headed to Mitsui Outlet Park. This was a last minute added-on itinerary. Food options were decent here. Thereafter, we went to Takino Suzuran Park.

I was imagining i could see the entire hillside full of flowers, but it as completely bare! I later found out from a poster that the flowering season ended just THE DAY BEFORE, on 11 June. All was not lost, thankfully, as there was a very interesting children’s playground within.

A disappointing sight. No flowers, Nada.

Continue reading Hokkaido trip report card

Taobao product recommendation – Self inflating sleeping mats

In preparation for my one month Europe trip, i got these sleeping mats. I would attempt to book twin or double hotel rooms without adding on extra bed for my kids, who are at age 4 and 5 respectively. As you can imagine, doing so saves me a lot of money and pays for the sleeping mats after just 2 hotel bookings. Continue reading Taobao product recommendation – Self inflating sleeping mats

Hokkaido food review part 2

Seafood

Although you can get seafood from any part of Japan, Hokkaido justifiably lays claim to having a special association with seafood. Prior to visiting Hokkaido, the seafood we ate, when visiting the other parts of Japan, were limited to Sushi and Bentos.

While in Hokkaido, we had the priviledge of trying a few things we never did before, such as Uni (sea urchin) and crab (see part 1). I just found out that the summer months actually fall outside of the sea urchin harvesting season, but you will still get to eat them since they are farmed.

Uni Murakami was the restaurant specializing in Uni that i chose to sample this interesting sea creature. The squishy stuff actually tastes pretty good! It’s like one of those wonder ingredients that a Michelin 3 star restaurant would use.

3 way seafood Don. Obviouly, this was cheaper than getting a bowlful of Uni.

Continue reading Hokkaido food review part 2