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

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

#yenkaitravels #Hokkaido

Time flies and it’s almost time for my Hokkaido trip. To be honest, i have the feeling it will be anticlimatic in comparison to my Europe trip, but nevertheless, there is food and tranquility to look forward to, not to mention the extremely hot weather in Singapore that i’m so so happy to leave behind.

I spent much of the past week working out the final details, such as the shortlisted places to visit, the restaurants to visit for every single meal, and the corresponding GPS coordinates of all these places (the nearest parking lot). Having done these, i have some extra travel tips to offer for those of you travelling to Hokkaido. Continue reading #yenkaitravels #Hokkaido

North-South highway lunch stop – Panchor

Today i found my new favourite lunch stop along the North-South highway – Hin Thoy restaurant at Panchor. It is easily accessible from the North-South highway – merely 8 minutes from the Pagoh toll exit.

Panchor is a quiet village by the Muar river, and i love the sense of serenity here. This was much more pleasant than the other nearby towns, Yong Peng and Tangkak, and even Pagoh.

All quiet on the river promenade
Exceptionally calm waters

Continue reading North-South highway lunch stop – Panchor

Europe one month itinerary

The highest concentration of nations is found in none other than Europe, which means you can experience the highest diversity of culture in the shortest time here. Europe also offers much in terms of places of historical significance, natural landscape, food, shopping and more, which is why you keep having to go back.

There are millions of permutations when planning for a Europe itinerary. Here’s how I am going to do it this time:

Days 1 to 8

Villa d’Este http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1025

Italy. I have been to Rome twice, yet there are many places near Rome I have not visited, such as Necropoli della Banditaccia (UNESCO heritage site) and Civita Di Bagnoregio. No trip to Italy is complete without a visit to The Mall, the famed luxury goods outlet centre. This would be my fourth time there. Continue reading Europe one month itinerary

How to get a Russia Tourist Visa in Singapore

St Basil’s Cathedral is the first thing that comes to my mind at the mention of Russia. The iconic cathedral with multi-coloured onion domes is something i thought i should behold someday. Well, the day is coming soon. I have just obtained the Visa for entry into Russia for tourism.

What deters many from visiting Russia, besides the distance, is probably the difficulty in getting a Visa. Yes, Russia is one of the few countries for which a Visa is required for a tourism visit with a Singapore passport. Vfs handles the application for Russia Visa in Singapore, and their website provides comprehensive information on how to do so. Continue reading How to get a Russia Tourist Visa in Singapore

Hokkaido 9 days itinerary

It took 3 days to work out this itinerary and book all the hotels, so you could say a trip to Hokkaido is actually not difficult to plan for. I do still need to work out details like where to go for meals, finding exact view points to see, as well as to book a rental car (that will be another blog post), but once the accomodation reservations are done, the rest are less worrying.

All my itineraries are planned with the same basic assumption – that i will never visit there again. This itinerary covers all attractions that are significant in Hokkaido, including places that seem less attractive, like Hakodate. I guess everyone has different preferences and pacing when it comes to how they do a trip, and few people will do it like i do. Nevertheless, i believe i have tips to share that may be useful for reference and consideration.

My trip happens in mid June, and unfortunately, the timeframe is in between the Pink Moss and the Lavendar bloom. Some people might be going to Hokkaido specifically for these. If so, to catch the Pink Moss, you need to be there mid to late May, and for Lavendar, mid to late July. Continue reading Hokkaido 9 days itinerary

North-south highway lunch stop – Ayer Hitam

Today i drove a little faster (okay way above the speed limit actually) and got to Ayer Hitam at 1230pm (in just 2.5 hours from KL), just the right time for lunch. Ayer Hitam is just off the highway, making it a convenient lunch stop.

If you Googled for Ayer Hitam food, you’ll invariably find Tang Chuan among the top search results. Tang Chuan sells Pau and other Dim Sum, not quite the staple people will usually choose for a lunch meal. We certainly did not feel like having Pau for lunch. After doing a quick survey, i settled for Meng Heng, located at the corner unit of the row of shops across the road.

For completeness sake, let me quickly mention that the Kopitiam next to Tang Chuan, called New Mui Thye, had two stalls open at lunch time, selling chicken rice and noodles. The corner unit at the other end of the same row of shops as Tang Chuan sold Wanton noodles. The two shops directly across the road from Tang Chuan sold mixed economy rice (什菜饭), and these two took in the lion’s share of the local lunch crowd. None of these eateries looked appealing, honestly speaking, and from intuition, i felt there was something about Meng Heng that seem just slightly more convincing.

Screen capture of Restoran Meng Heng from Google Street View.

Meng Heng sells various types of noodles, as well as mixed economy rice. I just found out they have been around for more than 60 years. Okay. Wow.

We ordered three types of noodles, and they did not disappoint.

Curry pork ribs. The curry has an obvious Tumeric taste, and overall, it was rather tangy, which i think is characteristic of Johorean curry. The pork ribs were very tender.
Laksa. Came with pretty good (stiff rather than soggy) fish cake.
Minced pork noodles. This was very fragrant and tasty.

The noodles used was chewy flat yellow noodles, a welcome change from the more common soggy round yellow noodles. There was a lot of (too much) oil in the noodles but no obvious taste of lard, which sat well with me as i do not like a lot of lard in my food.

I don’t have a photo of the coffee which we did order, but as mentioned in the news article, it was pretty good. Yes, despite the coffee being a little milky, as is typical of the coffee around this region (from Batu Pahat to Pontian in the south), there was enough of aromatic coffee taste to convince me i was drinking coffee instead of milk.

Just so that i can check Ayer Hitam off my list of food to try along the North-south highway in Johor, we went to sample the Pau at Tang Chuan after finishing our meal at Meng Heng.

Unfortunately, they don’t sell the glutinous chicken rice anymore

I would say the Pau were indeed nice. We sampled the big Pau and the Char Siew Pau. Both were more savoury than sweet, which suits my preference just nice. The filling were juicy and tender. The coffee from here, however, was no match to Meng Heng’s.

There was a steady stream of customers, and i think the internet lent a huge helping hand

To conclude, i would say Yong Peng is still the best place to do lunch along the North-south highway if you’re not in a hurry.