Hong Thai Travel: 8 Days Hokkaido/Tokyo: Day 4

// To recap, we signed up and went for Hong Thai Travel’s 8 Days Hokkaido / Tokyo tour package and in this post and the upcoming posts, I will be sharing them via the days (e.g Day 1, Day 2 etc) but if some locations interest me enough, I will share them in details in a post on its own! This is so if anyone is researching on Hong Thai Travel’s tour package, you can have an idea on what to expect. So stay tuned!

The overview of the tour package can also be found here. Day 2 and Day 3 itinerary is already shared in previous posts! Day 2’s post is here and Day 3’s post is here!

Day 4 was a fun filled day with plenty of activities! We started off at a plum and blueberries farm and had lots of fun picking and eating as we go! Haha. I will be sharing more pictures in a separate post for this sight!

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Next up, we went to a Mt Showa Bear Ranch and had lots of fun feeding them!

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Just next to the Bear Ranch is Mt Showa, the youngest active volcano in Hokkaido! Will share more on the Bear Ranch and Mt Showa in other posts.

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During this trip, our itinerary didn’t include visiting any flower farms in Furano so the tour guide decided to stop by a sunflower field for us to take pictures!

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As we have some time in between, the tour guide decided to stop us at a Seaweed information center which was outside of the itinerary! At this place, it shows us how seaweed was collected and processed and there were lots of seafood products on sale.

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Lunch was yummy with Hokkaido scallop being the prime ingredient, we had grilled scallop, scallop in soup, scallop in rice and a stuffed squid. The rice was really good.

We then proceeded to Fort Goryokaku which was beautiful! A pretty and peaceful park and if you are here during the cherry blossom season this entire park will be in pink! My favourite was going up Goryokaku Tower to see the overall view of the Fort which is a star shaped fort! Will share more pictures in other posts!

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Hokadate Meiji-Kan (Old Post Office) was not listed in the itinerary but it turns out to be a beautiful place! I love the vibe of this place and there is a building selling pretty stuffs! Stay tuned to check them out in a separate post!

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After visiting the Old Post Office, we went for the worst dinner ever! It was a buffet with some hot food and BBQ but as Japan is under a nuclear energy crisis, the place didn’t turn on it’s air conditioner or probably turn to a temperature which was not cooling and we had a stuffy, warm and smelly dinner.

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Immediately after dinner, we head up to Mt Hakodate via cable car and the queue is crazy long! We queued up for almost 30 minutes before boarding the cable car and it was crowded! But we are not complaining as the view and cool breeze is enjoyable!

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After a very long day, we finally checked into our hotel which was spacious and clean!

Jigokudani or Hell Valley, Hokkaido

//Last week, I shared on an overview of our long awaited Hokkaido/Tokyo trip via Hong Thai Travel and I also shared on some of the places of interest we visited in our Day 2 and Day 3 of the trip. In this post and more, I will be sharing on some of the sites we visited in Day 3 in details with a lot more pictures! So stay tuned!

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I love visiting natural sights and it thrilled me to see a natural phenomenon which is not available in Singapore (come on, we only have Bukit Timah Hill) and something I’ve never seen before. So when we are at Hell Valley, I was thrilled.

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It is a valley with hot steam vents, sulfurous streams (means smelly) and other volcanic activity! It is also th emain source of our resort’s hot spring waters in the area of Noboribetsu.

Apparently there are many walking trails through the forests above Noboribetsu and if you follow them for 30 minutes, you get to Oyunuma, a sulfurous pond and nearby mud pond. Also, flowing out of Oyunuma, there is a river where you can enjoy a natural foot bath! But in a group tour, we do not have this luxury of hiking up to see them, but instead was given some time to walk on the wooden platform to the centre of the valley!

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Beware, if you are someone who pukes easily after smelling rotten stuff, please stay away! It smells like hundreds of rotten eggs all around you! I had to press my nose with a wad of tissue to survive the walk! Clean air is something we don’t appreciate until it’s taken away!

Shiraoi Ainu Museum,Hokkaido

//Last week, I shared on an overview of our long awaited Hokkaido/Tokyo trip via Hong Thai Travel and I also shared on some of the places of interest we visited in our Day 2 and Day 3 of the trip. In this post and more, I will be sharing on some of the sites we visited in Day 3 in details with a lot more pictures! So stay tuned!

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In the Shiraoi Ainu Museum houses a replica village of Ainu houses along a lake. Ainu people are the indigenous people of northern Japan and every hour (starting 15 minutes after the hour) there is a free performance with traditional Ainu folk dances and songs demonstration. Some of the performance are simple lullabies while others are chilling performance before the killing of animals.

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There is also a museum at the village showcasing the lives of Ainu people. It is a little creepy when we visited as there aren’t anyone else there and the thought of the movie, The night of the museum popped out. Heh.

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The other section of the village was an area with bears and Hokkaido dogs in cages, which I thought was pretty unnecessary. The cage is small and the living condition was not exactly the best. It is definitely interesting for tourists to see live animals but they could improve their living area. As for the Hokkaido dog, can’t it be trained and be allowed to run freely?

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Outside the village, there are also some souvenior shops selling wooden crafts and they even cut a tiny piece of wood to let us smell them. It is a nice fragrant!

Ishiya Chocolate Factory, Hokkaido

//Last week, I shared on an overview of our long awaited Hokkaido/Tokyo trip via Hong Thai Travel and I also shared on some of the places of interest we visited in our Day 2 and Day 3 of the trip. In this post and more, I will be sharing on some of the sites we visited in Day 3 in details with a lot more pictures! So stay tuned!

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In this post, I will be sharing on the second spot we visited in Day 2, the Ishiya Chocolate Factory. Ishiya is the brand of the famous “White Lover’s Chocolate” which in the past can only be bought in Hokkaido and was never imported. But because of its growing popularity, it can now be found in Tokyo airport and in Singapore whenever there is a Hokkaido fair.

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Even though the place is called a factory, it is more of a mini theme park than a factory. The owner of this place, created a happy and chirpy place and other than housing a mini showcase factory, there is also a rose garden, and some exhibits of his collectibles e.g antique tea cup sets, chocolate boxes, toys and gramophone etc.

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According to the guide, some tour agency only brings their customers to the rose guide and does not include the entrance ticket to visit the collectibles and the factory. So if you are coming with a tour, do read the itinerary carefully!

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We spotted an apple tree at the rose garden! Haha.

His collections are very extensive and it is like a mini museum in there.

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Beautiful antique tea cups.

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Love the floor tiles! Haha. Sorry for being random.

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These are my favourite. Antique chocolate boxes. Look how intricate these chocolate boxes are, chocolate in the past are luxury items and cocoa beans are really expensive. This fact I learnt from a Nutella event, where the creator of Nutella wanted everyone to enjoy having Chocolate spread, he created a Chocolate – Hazelnut mix as Hazelnut was cheap than and chocolate was only for the rich. I can imagine how expensive chocolates are in the past just by looking at the boxes.

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Beautiful vintage posters.

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Here’s where the factory begins.

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The factory is so beautiful as well. But of course, this is only a showcase factory where they produces limited quantities each day. They’ve got another full scale factory somewhere else in Hokkaido.

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After touring the factory, you can also see and buy these beautiful hand crafted sugar crafts. These are too expensive and pretty to be eaten.

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Children can also sign up for workshops! Now sure how though, it’s all in Japanese.

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The antique toys collection continued before we end the trip with some Ishiya soft served ice cream! If you are trying them, get the duo flavours one with milk and chocolate! Yummy.

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This won’t be the only ice cream you see as eating in this trip. Haha.

Hokkaido Jingu (Hokkaido Shrine), Japan

//Last week, I shared on an overview of our long awaited Hokkaido/Tokyo trip via Hong Thai Travel and I also shared on some of the places of interest we visited in our Day 2 and Day 3 of the trip. In this post and more, I will be sharing on some of the sites we visited in Day 3 in details with a lot more pictures! So stay tuned!

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“Hokkaido Shrine enshrines four kami including the soul of the Emperor Meiji. A number of contributors of the Exploration in Hokkaidō such as Mamiya Rinzō are also enshrined.”

” Emperor Meiji (明治天皇 Meiji-tennō, November 3, 1852 – July 30, 1912), or Meiji the Great (明治大帝 Meiji-taitei), was the 122nd Emperor of Japan according to the traditional order of succession, reigning from February 3, 1867 until his death on July 30, 1912. He presided over a time of rapid change in the Empire of Japan, as the nation quickly changed from a feudal state to a capitalist and imperial world power, characterized by Japan’s industrial revolution.”

In his reign, Japan fought and win during 1894, the Sino-Japanese War; where Japanese victory establishes Japan as a regional power with control over Qing Dynasty and Korea. And also in his time, 1904–1905, the Russo-Japanese War; Japanese victory earns Japan the status of a great power.

- Extracted from Wikipedia

So with all these history, our tour guide advises us, all Chinese from various parts of the world to not worship in this shrine. Buying the pretty amulet is also not encouraged as it is also inviting blessing from Emperor Meiji. This is definitely a history lesson as I’ve visited so many temples and shrines in Japan but was unaware of who they are worshiping. According to the guide, there are many Buddhist temple in Japan and those are alright. For example, my favourite temple in Asakusa worships Goddess of Mercy and the temple in Nara which worships Buddha. So these, according to the guide, is alright for us to worship there. But not Meiji Shrine in Tokyo and this.

With that, the idea of buying those pretty exclusive Hello Kitty amulet as souveniors is gone!

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Now back to the touristy pictures. Like in all temples and shrines in Japanese, visitors are encouraged to wash your hands and rinse your mouth before entering the temple.

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If you look carefully at the structure of the temple, doesn’t the roof resembles those ancient Japanese armour or helmet we see in anime?

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But no harm taking some pictures of these pretty Rilakkuma Wishing Board! Too cute and only seen in Hokkaido Shrine.

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Gah, my arms is huge! That’s the consequences of not going for my combat classes regularly.

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Pretty entrance towards the shrine. These are cherry blossom trees and when in full bloom, this corridor will be bursting in pink! Awww, I can only imagine.

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The shrine is so peaceful and the air is cooling and clean!

Near the entrance to the temple near the carpark, there is a shop selling handmade pastries and in there, there is free pastry given to all visitors. It tasted a little like red bean mochi pancake.

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There are also free hot green tea provided at the little hut.

Hong Thai Travel: 8 Days Hokkaido/Tokyo: Day 3

// To recap, we signed up for Hong Thai Travel’s 8 Days Hokkaido / Tokyo tour package and in this post and the upcoming posts, I will be sharing them via the days (e.g Day 1, Day 2 etc) but if some locations interest me enough, I will share them in details in a post on its own! This is so if anyone is researching on Hong Thai Travel’s tour package, you can have an idea on what to expect. So stay tuned!

Day 3 was a fun filled day with plenty of activities!

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We woke up bright and early for breakfast before heading to Hokkaido Jingu / Hokkaido Shrine. As the intended Naebo Yukijirushi Factory is full, we were brought to Hokkaido Jingu instead. It was a peaceful shrine and it is the only shrine where you can get Hello Kitty embroidered amulet. Great for Hello Kitty lovers, however the guide told us not to pray at this shrine as this shrine was build for the then Emperor Meiji who was involved in many wars. I will be sharing more pictures in another post!

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We then proceeded to Ishiya White Chocolate Museum which also deserves a post on its own!

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After Ishiya White Chocolate Museum, we visited Tokei-Dai, which was the first western university in Japan. All of the campus building were destroyed except the main building which houses the oldest clock house in Japan. This wooden building dates back to 1870s!

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After visiting 3 sites in the morning, we stopped for our lunch, DIY tempura lunch which was a disaster. Whoever came out with this idea is seriously insane. In the middle of our table is a hotpot filled with boiling oil, we gingerly put in the sticks of flour coated ingredient, but was scalded by oil popping out from the pot! OMG! I got scalded a few milimeters away from my eyes which resulted in a light scar. I could have been blinded! I know I’m just being a whiny drama queen, but this was a bad idea.

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After lunch, we headed to Sapporo Beer factory where we were walked through the beer making process and treated with 2 glasses of Sapporo beer! Great for beer fan!

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We then headed to Shiraoi Ainu Village to learn more about their aboriginal cultures. Will share more of this place in another post too!

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Another highlight of the trip, is to visit Hell Valley, a spectacular valley just above the town of Noboribetsu Onsen. It displays hot steam vents, sulfurous streams and other volcanic activity and is a main source of Noboribetsu’s hot spring waters. I’m a geography student back in my school days and I love visiting sights like these. A warning though, it stinks really bad. I almost give up the walk but press on with tons of tissue covering my nose! Will share more of this place too!

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We were then checked into a hotel where we need to sleep on Tatami at the Noboribetsu town. The lake view out the window is spectacular and there is an in-house hot spring public bath at the hotel. The facility is very much like a public swimming pool and I wasn’t tempted to soak myself in there. We were then served with in-house traditional dinner which wasn’t too bad.

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During summer, the lake in front of the hotel has mini fireworks display, and it was great to enjoy a cool walk by the lake watching fireworks! This is life! And this concludes the second day of our 8 days tour!

Hong Thai Travel: 8 Days Hokkaido/Tokyo: Day 2

// To recap, we signed up for Hong Thai Travel’s 8 Days Hokkaido / Tokyo tour package and in this post and the upcoming posts, I will be sharing them via the days (e.g Day 1, Day 2 etc) but if some locations interest me enough, I will share them in details in a post on its own! This is so if anyone is researching on Hong Thai Travel’s tour package, you can have an idea on what to expect. So stay tuned!

Day 1 was counted as departing from Singapore’s Changi Airport and Day 2 transiting in Tokyo. Day 2 was the most painful of all. The journey to Hokkaido was treacherous. Ok ok, maybe I am exaggerating a little. The overnight journey via Japan Airlines to Tokyo wasn’t that bad. It definitely wasn’t SQ standard, the food was not fantastic, but it was comfortable.

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Food served on Japan Airlines

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After 5 odd hours on the plane, we finally reach Nippon land! Oops, that’s me looking tired without makeup. My bad.

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We had almost 5 hours to transit to Hokkaido and it was a long 5 hours. Ate some crappy expensive curry rice at the Airport.

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Thereafter, we started shopping and walking around their domestic airport. Bought a small pack of Tokyo banana to share before hopping back on to continue our journey to Sapporo, Hokkaido!

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The first stop to visit in Hokkaido was Sapporo city. It in the late afternoon and yes, the transiting and traveling wasted most of our first day. We were brought to Odari Park where we get some time to walk about and shop in their underground shopping street.

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There are Zakka stores like these at the underground shopping street that has many pretty household items!

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There is a departmental store selling all yummy treats and we got ourselves the popular chocolate coated freeze dry strawberry to try! Yums. Love the sweet and sour combination.

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There was also a supermarket at the underground shopping street, and we can’t wait to have a taste of the famous Hokkaido melon!

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Shortly after the walk about at the underground shopping street, we were brought to enjoy a steamboat buffet. Nothing to rave about as the soup was practically water. There wasn’t any taste at all. There were unlimited shabu meat ranging from chicken, pork, beef and lamb but everything else is non refillable. Yes, very strange, vegetables and noodles were chargeable but not the meat. Strange ya?

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After dinner, we were whisked to our hotel and it gosh, the bed looks inviting. It was a pleasant stay and the room is spacious and comfortable.

That concludes our non eventful Day 1.

Overview of Hong Thai Travel: 8 days Hokkaido/Tokyo (Aug 14)

It has been a really long time since I last blogged and it only goes to show that my life is filled with fun filled activities! I hardly find the time to sit down in front of my Mac to blog nowadays! On top of my usual 3 days of yoga per week, I’ve got to go for 3 sessions of chiropractic therapy per week. Gosh. Anyway, I’ve got lots to share, first up will be on my Hokkaido/Tokyo trip via Hong Thai Travel, Hanoi trip with my company, Lighthouse Tour organized by National Heritage Board and upcoming in September, a short getaway to Tioman! Hehe. If you miss me on WordPress, you can follow me on Instagram here! Just search for somethingboutrenes!

Back to my Hokkaido/Tokyo trip via Hong Thai Travel, due to some last minute arrangement and family constraints in terms of traveling period, we decided to go with whichever tour agency that has a confirmed departure during our intended travel period. In the end, we signed up for Hong Thai Travel’s 8 days Hokkaido/Tokyo tour. It is technically a 7 days trip as the 1st day is counted in as departing from Changi Airport and overnight on the plane. So in my blog here, the first day of activity with transiting at Tokyo Airport is considered as Day 2. Booo.

Pros
Generally, the hotels provided in the tour was comfortable and spacious, unlike typical Japanese hotels which I stayed in most of the time. The food arranged was also wide in variety with opportunities to try Hokkaido’s crabs and top up for expensive food. The tour leader (a Hong Konger) was a typical uncle, he was also rather caring and self sacrificial in bringing the group around during his free time. He also brought us to one or two more additional sights which is not in the intended itinerary when time permits.

Cons
Some of the down sides, like all other package tour, most of the places we went to were touch and go, we didn’t get to enjoy enough time to truly soaked in the atmosphere. As the group is a rather some group of 20, there were no local tour guide allocated to us. So in the end, details of local cultures and history were not shared during the trip. We also picked a wrong package of squeezing both Hokkaido and Tokyo in one trip as we didn’t get to see much of Hokkaido in the short span of time, but yummy Ichiran Ramen and shopping in Tokyo more than made up for it. The route in this package also did not cover Furano which is famous for their huge flower fields and Lavender in June/July/early August. Lastly, it was not the best season to visit Japan, Summer in early August in Hokkaido is still bearable with occasional cool breeze but Tokyo was crazy warm!

So if you ask me if I would recommend this package tour of 8 Days in Hokkaido/Tokyo if given a choice, I would not recommend. I would love to visit Hokkaido on a free and easy pace in the future but as we were traveling with parents and in a group of 6, logistically speaking, package tour is the way to go.

During the trip, the trip was not planned according to the above itinerary, the flow of sights was ammended but all the sights stated was covered. In the upcoming posts, I will be sharing them via the days (e.g Day 1, Day 2 etc) but if some locations interest me enough, I will share them in details in a post on its own! So stay tuned!

Creamier Ice Cream Parlour at Toa Payoh, Singapore

Tucked in the corner of a mature public housing estate in Toa Payoh, there is an ice cream parlour gaining popularity for it’s waffle and handcrafted ice cream. The sweet buttery scent of waffle can be detected a few shop units away and as you approach the store, you will be greeted with a huge crowd queuing up for their ice cream and tons of people squeezing in their tiny cafe. I beg I don’t have to tell you the name of the cafe and everyone from all over our tiny island would have known which cafe I’m talking about! It’s Creamier and we thought it is finally time to give them a try!

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Creamier
128, Toa Payoh Lorong 1. #01-835, Singapore 310128

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Their ice cream is good, not too sweet, smooth and yummilicious flavours. Their waffle is worth all the raves but their queue and crowd is pure madness. Would visit them again? Probably but not on a Friday or Saturday evening.

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Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall (中正纪念堂), Taipei, Taiwan

I am in so much trouble, there are still so many backlog posts for my Taiwan trip and I am traveling to Hanoi on 26 July and Hokkaido in 31 July! We are also planning a Tioman trip in September! Haha. Our friends are teasing us and asking if we are changing our job to full time traveler and how I wished that’s true.

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Back to sharing on our Taiwan trip! We decided to wake up early one morning to visit Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall since our hotel  (Hotel 73) in Taipei is only 5 minutes walk away!

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Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall (中正纪念堂) is a famous monument, landmark and tourist attraction erected in memory of Chiang Kai-shek, former President of the Republic of China. It is open and free entrance to public between 9am to 6pm.

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We decided to head there before 9am to witness the grand opening of the bronze door and the entrance of the guard and guard changing performance. The usual guard changing happens every hour but the opening is a performance not to be missed!

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ABRACADABRA! TADAH!

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After watching the opening performance and taking the obligatory picture with Mr Chiang, we headed down to their art and history exhibition hall which is also free and open to public!

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Penny University at Katong, Singapore

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A few weeks back, we happened to be in the east during one of the weekends to run some errands. It was a crazy day where we get to Simei to buy facial products, Tampines to get a bed from Courts, Ikea to get some containers and delivering the containers to my office in Bedok there after. Decided to take a break after all the rush before visiting my parents in the North West, we stopped by Penny University at Katong for an afternoon snack.

PENNY UNIVERSITY

402 EAST COAST ROAD
SINGAPORE 42899

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This is me when I’m running errand, bare faced in T-shirt and specs. Heh.

Mid day break at Penny University was an excellent decision! Even though we were both not coffee drinkers, we love their brunch and we love how each dish is not overpriced! Here is a quick review of some of the dishes we ordered! Yums.

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Double Poached Eggs on Toast (SGD 6.50). If you love Poached Eggs and Marmite on toast, you will love this!

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Citrus Moroccan Chicken (SGD 6.50). This was an interesting dish that surprised us. Love the combination of a savory flavouring e.g Cajun infused with citrus and mandarin oil. The spice and the tang in a salad makes it great combination!

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Vanilla Infused Greek Yogurt with Granola (SGD 6) and berries! Even though I can probably prepare this at home, we just can’t resist yogurt with granola and berries.

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How can we complete a meal without dessert. We tried resisting their Lemon and Strawberry tart but failed terribly. It was good. How can I say no to lemon tart? Especially one with strawberry chucks in the bottom!

I know the amount of food we ate no longer sound like a snack. Haha. But it was all good. Yums.

Affordable Yoga Accessories from Fuzzy Flex

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Loving this henna design yoga mat bag from Fuzzy Flex!

Do you have trouble finding an affordable entry level Yoga mat and yoga accessories? I love Manduka’s yoga mat and our studio uses their pro series mat but gosh, they ranges between SGD 100 – 150! Because of the outdoor yoga event, I had to hunt for a yoga mat of decent quality. I used to own cheap yoga mat sold in Watson for SGD 10 during promotion but gosh, they are heavy, stink when you first use it and their grip is non existent. Recently I bought a new mat at Bedok Mall FairPrice Finest store and love that it is light, used eco friendly material and at an affordable rate of SGD 49! The fuzzy flex yoga accessories are designed in Singapore but made in China (are you even surprised? heh) and they offers free delivery in Singapore. If you are looking for an affordable yoga mat at a decent quality, you can probably give them a try! Here are a list of retailers they are sold in or get them direct from their website!

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Using their Yoga Mat and Mat towel!

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Do I look like a yoga hippee here! Heh.

Note : Yoga accessories featured here are bought and paid for on my own. No monetary rewards were given. All views expressed are purely of SomethingBoutRenes’s own.

Real Yoga’s Outdoor Yoga at Singapore Botanical Garden

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When most of you are still in bed this morning at 7.30 am after watching Argentina and Netherlands winning the game, there are whole lot of people at Singapore Botanical Gardens! There were seniors practicing Tai Chi, enthusiastic tourists, early morning joggers, dog walkers and us, the yoga lovers!

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Our studio organized Monthly Outdoor Yoga which is free for all to attend, and this month, we were at Singapore Botanical Gardens. I love practising in the outdoor! With crisp clean air, clear blue sky and birds chirping in the background, it was liberating! Looking forward to joining the next Outdoor Yoga! If you are keen to participate this free event open to all, you can check out our studio’s website here or their facebook page!

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Guide to Surviving Night Safari, Singapore

Last year during my birthday, I celebrated at the Singapore Zoo and River Safari with free admission for birthday girl! This year, we celebrated his birthday at the Night Safari! I realized that many of my friends do not know of this awesome promotion when I shared some pictures online! So here’s any shout out! For all Singaporean and Permanent Resident of Singapore, on your actual birthday, you will be entitled to free admission to all 4 major parks; Singapore Zoo, River Safari, Night Safari and Jurong Bird Park! If you have the strength and stamina, you can visit all of them in one day for Free! Haha. You can read more in my old post here.

In this post, because I have insider information (birthday boy used to work in Night Safari during his school days), I’m going to share a simple and insider guide to survive the Night Safari while it is still fresh in my head! We went on a Wednesday night and even though it is a weekday and non school holiday, it is crowded with throngs of tourists and tourists who came via tour group! If you choose to visit on a Friday or Weekend evening, there are additional Tiger / Lion feeding show which we missed out on. But nevertheless, it will be a great guide to share over here! Our trip was seamless and we went through the entire park smoothly without any frustration! Night safari is definitely recommended to visitors who want family friendly night activities!

So here goes!

(1) Aim to reach the park around 7 – 7.15pm
On a less busy day compared to weekends, this will give you ample of time to grab your tickets and go for the first animal show! On a weekend evening, you may want to reach even earlier to beat the crowd! The park opens at 7.30pm but the ticketing booth opens at 5.30pm!

(2) Go straight for the 7.30pm Animal Show

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If you happen to reach earlier, you will then grab a good seat at the animal show! We got there at around 7.30pm and all that is left are front row seats which is fine by us! What’s not to like when you get great view of the animals and for kids, you get a better chance to be picked to go on stage!

(3) Immediately exit the park and go back to the entrance near ticketing counters to watch the Thumbuakar Performance at 8pm

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Not sure why, our performance was only a quick 10 minutes show. Perhaps only on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, will they show the full performance. Do remember to keep your tickets as you need them to enter the park after the show!

(4) Go for the walking trails

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Ok, it is at this point where people gets all frustrated. Usually most people will go for their tram ride first and the queue to the ride is really long! That’s because most of the tour groups will only go for the animal show followed by the tram ride, and that can be really frustrating for the rest of the free and easy visitors! So my advice is, go for the walking trails where it is extremely peaceful (at some point it is so dark it can be creepy) and get up close and personal with those nocturnal animals! My favourite would be the newly added Wallaby Trail where we get to get really close to the Wallabies! To walk the entire walking trail, it will take about an hour or two, depending on your pace!

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Fishing cat!

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Wallaby!

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The romantic and breathtaking night view you will get while walking the trail.

(5) Take the tram!

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After you have completed the entire walking trail, it will bring you back to the entrance plaza and here’s when you can relax and rest your feet on the tram! During the tram ride, you get to see some animals which are off limits to visitors who are walking the trail!

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(6) Complete your night with some sweet treats!

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We had to reward ourselves with some ice creams at Ben & Jerry’s as the birthday boy gets a 10% discount and after surviving through the walk and heat, we had to enjoy some ice cold sweet treats!

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Self Planned 9 Days 8 Nights Taiwan Family Tour Itinerary

I’ve got one reader who stumbled upon my blog and am asking about my Taiwan trip which I planned for the family! It will take me a long while before I share on all the sights and places we have visited so I’ve decided to share the itinerary and details of our trip over here! It includes all the costing, hotels, tour guide driver and flight details. Yes, I know it looks like an official and professional itinerary, I am just in love and crazy about planning our holiday! Haha. It is probably good to share them here and for my own future reference as well!

Let me know if you choose to download the document and find it useful! If there are any interesting sights which I missed out during this trip, do share as well! I may go back to Taiwan next year or the year after!

Download my Self Planned Itinerary here -> Taiwan Trip 10 – 18 May

Rock Formation at Ye Liu, Taiwan

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Many people told me that Ye Liu in Taiwan is overrated and extremely touristy but since most of us have not been there, I thought we should go see it on our own.

My conclusion? It is an interesting place but yes, it is really too touristy. In order to take picture with the famous Queen Head, there is a line to queue and it is guarded by a staff.

As I’m a geography student during ‘O’ levels, all natural phenomenon is interesting to me! Haha. From most of the pictures I saw, I expected the area to be sandy and muddy. But surprisingly, all the brownish ground is hard and solid. No slushy and sandy ground.
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This is not the queen but one of the princesses I think.

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It is beautiful if you can just enjoy the place and ignore the crowd. Our tour guide driver also pointed out two fossils on the ground. As these formations were under seawater million years ago, you can see some interesting fossils of creatures/plants.

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Lomo’Instant Camera by Lomography on Kickstarter

I used to own a Diana Mini Lomo camera until I spoiled it. I had trouble changing and putting on new films, often left the unfinished films in the camera and got really lazy to send the films in to develop into photos. I love the vintage and whimsical look but really dread taking pictures randomly just so I can quickly send them in to develop into photos. It also cost a lot to develop films nowadays and there were so many damaged or overexposure ones which I can no longer retake.

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I’ve heard of the Lomo’Instant Camera by Lomography on Kickstarter in May 2014 in a video but it never occur to me that I can pledge a sum and sort of pre-order one! It was only until last night when Alphania shared with me and I am so glad she did!

I no longer have to wait to develop a lomo picture and no longer have to take random pictures just to complete the film! The camera will have lomo effect but on a Instax print!

I love the idea of Kickstarter where creators try to raise funds and get people to pledge some money and if the goal is reached, the creator will then use the money and make it happen. It is an interesting way to fund individuals or projects which may not be materialized without the funds. There is definitely some risks in funding these projects as it may all go down the drain should the project fails.

But Lomography being a reputable company for making lomo cameras, many were sold with their latest project! They aim to raise USD 1 million and they reached the goal last night! If you wish to support this project and secure one of the cameras, you have less than 45 hours to go! If you support them through this project, you can get free FREE Close-Up lens, selfie mirror, colour lens, and camera strap! All because they hit the various milestones in their fundraising!  They aim to deliver the product by end November 2014 and I am keeping my fingers crossed! I got the San Remo one! Pretty!

If you are living in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore, instead of paying USD 25 for shipping and handling, you will only need to pay USD 15. I almost missed out on this until Alph told me. Read up here on how to do that. If you didn’t managed to get a package which comes with Fisheye and Portrait lens, you can add them for USD 30. Read up here.

 

 

Hua Shan Creative Park 1914, Taipei, Taiwan

It has been 2 weeks since I last blog and I really need to stop procrastinating and get down to penning down my Taiwan trip before I forget them!

In this post, we went to Hua Shan Creative Park 1914 in Taipei, Taiwan! I really love this place because of the vibe, it is a place where creativity flows where there were many interesting exhibits. But we went with my parents which is not the best company for modern art. Haha. We arrived too early and most of the shops/exhibits/flea market stalls only open after 11am – 12pm!

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While exiting the nearest train station, spotted these mosaic walls of a primary school. So pretty!

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If you see this structure, you are almost there!

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Isn’t this beautiful! The entrance of Hua Shan Creative Park 1914, it used to be a wine factory but was later converted to a creative space where there were galleries, exhibits and events.

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There was a beer event but tickets were sold out before the event day!

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A cute little tea house.

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Ignoring my failed attempt in having a creative pose, did you notice the root of the tree is surrounding the door frame?

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There were a few free exhibits but my favourite would be the one featuring art done by Aboriginals.

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There are a few gift shops and stores selling unique items too!

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I love all flea markets and especially those with handmade crafts and we are lucky to chance upon one there!

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Bought some of these pretty bands!

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Really pretty leather crafts but they are too pricey for my pocket.

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This store is my favourite! Timetraveler 1888 makes clocks which are laser cut from vinyl records. I got one for myself featuring Wizard of Oz but I really fell in love with the above cat one! But too bad I’m not quite a cat person (CW, you will probably love it!). The clock is really fragile and I got to handcarry them home! I got mine at close to SGD 68!

Cycling Around Family Owned Farms in Hualien, Taiwan

When on a holiday, I love wandering around and exploring the area in bicycle/scooter! When we were told that the Flower Happiness Bed & Breakfast in Hualien provides bicycle for us to ride around, we were thrilled! We made an effort to wake up early and went cycling around the various family owned farms!

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This is the view we get when we step out from our room the next morning! Wow!

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Early morning without makeup and extremely chirpy! Haha.

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Various lettuces and local greens! Most of the fruits and vegetables found in Hualien are locally farmed. According to the tour guide driver, he shared that when the Japanese colonize Taiwan, the people were given only 2 main topics to study on, agriculture or medicine. A lot of them took up agriculture and that explains why Taiwan fruits and vegetables are highly sought after internationally just like Japanese’s fruits and vegetables! We tried many of their fruits in Taiwan and there were so deliciously sweet! Yums.

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Chatted with one of the locals and found out that he once worked in Malaysia before! He had great impression of Singapore and love our stable political scene, clean and secure environment! I have to agree with him!

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I got permission to take picture with the zucchini he planted! Should have bought some from him! Fresh zucchini for breakfast. Haha.

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Isn’t it beautiful! I love rice paddy fields! You will noticed that there are many graves up on the hill and while cycling, we explored a little too far and found ourselves in a graveyard. Nothing eerie happened but I was uneasy with the idea of cycling in there and got out pretty quickly.

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Spoke to another farmer and he was upset that the tomatoes he farmed got sick and died.

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Sneaked into another unattended farm to take picture of melons!

Flower Happiness Bed & Breakfast, Hualien, Taiwan

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Flower Happiness Bed & Breakfast (website)in Hualien is another Minsu stay which left a great impression! The rooms are spacious, prettily decorated and clean and the air is clean because it is in an area with lots of family owned farms! The best of all, we were served with desserts and coffee/tea once when we got there and their Tiramisu is good! Love their homemade porridge breakfast too. They even provide bicycles for us to ride around the neighbourhood! Wee!

The only issue we had is that in general, Hualien has lots of mosquito during summer. RAWR. Haha.

Here are the pictures!

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Model Piano perfect for phototaking!

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The bicycles are not in the best conditions with some rust and all, but it worked fine for us!

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The owner is building another Mushroom house to expand his Minsu business!

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Where we had our high tea!

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High Tea Desserts!

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Breakfast area!

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Simple and light breakfast!

This is one of the rooms we got, it is a room for 4 but was available so we got upgraded!

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It is so spacious that my sister and I did yoga at night in the room! Haha.

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This is the other room!

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Came with a tub and slightly more fancy!

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The view we all got! Mountains everywhere and clean fresh air! Will share in the next post on our cycling adventure!

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