Archive | September 2014

Otaru, Hokkaido

// 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,  Day 3 and Day 4’s  itinerary is already shared in previous posts! Day 2’s post is here, Day 3’s post is hereDay 4’s post is here and Day 5’s post is here!

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One of the highlights in our Day 5 itinerary is the visit to Otaru! There is something about Otaru which left me yearning for more of Hokkaido. Perhaps it’s the food, or maybe it’s the vibe, I left wishing we had a lot more time to wander around the shops and streets of Otaru!

Otaru is popular and fame for a few things, and here are some which we get to squeeze in our two hours time here.

Otaru Music Box Museum

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Otaru Music Box Museum is one of the landmarks in Otaru, right in front of the museum; there is a steam clock which was gifted by Vancouver. Look out for the steam clock to find the museum. This place is more of a giant maze of music box shop and less of a museum. On the first floor of this building, there are many types of music box on sale while on the second level, the more exquisite, expensive antique music box are on display and also on sale!

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In my younger days, I remembered my mum having a plastic red vintage music box with a spinning ballerina and I was fascinated by it! She used it to keep her jewelleries and we can only see it during festive where we were given gold to wear. So prior to this trip, I was determined to go hunt for a music box at Otaru Music Box Museum. In the end, he gifted me a simple wooden music box with a spinning ballerina for my birthday! I love it! Will share the picture another day.

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Glass wares

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Along the shopping street of Otaru, you can also hear the sweet chimes of the glass wind chimes hanging around the streetlamps. Otaru is also popular for their mouth blown and hand crafted glass wares and accessories. There are many shops which sells pretty mini glass figurines like these.

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LeTao Cheese Cake

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Hokkaido is famed for their light fluffy cheesecake and we had the best one in Otaru. Le Tao Cheesecake is really good and probably one of the best Japanese cheesecake I’ve tried. Yums.

If you are traveling in a big group, you can get a big one like this to share!

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The cheese tart has nothing to rave about so you can probably give it a missed.

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Cream Puff from Rokkatei

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You would believe that in Hokkaido, there is an affordable cream puff that is better than any cream puff I’ve tasted. The cream is fresh and tasty and it only cost 85 Yen! It even comes with a free coffee!

There are many other interesting sights and eats in Otaru which we didn’t have a chance to try. For example, the famous Hello Kitty cafe where you can take home the limited edition cup and saucer. I’m not a fan of Hello Kitty and so we didn’t pop by the cafe.

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We were too full to try this interesting looking ice cream!

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I also came across a dried seafood store in Otaru and bought some dried Hokkaido scallop for my mum. There are 3 grades of dried scallop sold in the store. The top grade are the ones which are dried in a nice full form, the second are the ones which are slightly chipped off and out of shape, while the last are the small bits and chucks of dried scallop. They are all sold by weight. The best grade is generally used for gifting while the worst grade is used for personal consumption. After all, when you cook dried scallop in soup, there are often mashed up and broken into small pieces. I got the second grade for my mum!

 

Lighthouse Trail by Singapore Heritage Fest2014

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A while back during the Singapore Heritage Festival 2014, National Heritage Board opened up free tours to visit the Raffles Lighthouse on Pulau Satumu which is usually off limit to the public. As part of the itinerary, we had a chance to sail by Sultan Shoal Lighthouse which I didn’t even know existed!

Due to overwhelming response, the good people at National Heritage Board organized more tours to ensure all individuals who tried registering in the middle of the night get to go!

Even though it is a free tour, it was well organized and a very enjoyable tour. The coach and ferry ride was comfortable and they even provided some light snacks!

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We had a nice chat with the lighthouse keeper who shared on their island lifestyle! It is a pretty relaxing job where you get to enjoy an entire island! Haha.

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This is the Raffles Lighthouse! It is so pretty! You will notice that there aren’t any photos which is taken from afar as there is this red communication tower on the side of the island and it is of high security! We were not allowed to take or post any pictures of the communication tower!

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During the tour, we had a chance to walk around the island and enjoy the sea breeze!

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On the island, there is also a small museum which holds some of the artifacts and story of the lighthouse. The highlight of the trip is when we were given the rare access to go up the Lighthouse!

 

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This is the view from the top! From the lighthouse, we were able to see Pulau Senang. We were lucky to have bumped into a retiree participant who were sharing his experience on the days back in the 60s in Pulau Senang. If you look hard enough or with a binoculars, you can still some buildings on the island.

Unknown to many of our generation, Pulau Senang has a dark history. I was very intrigued by the story and decided to do some digging in Google. Here are some interesting history of Pulau Senang

“Pulau Senang was a penal experiment where prisoners were allowed to roam freely on the island. It was thought that detainees could be reformed through manual labour.

The settlement started on 18 May 1960, when 50 detainees arrived with Superintendent Daniel Dutton. Over the next three years, the number of detainees rose to 320, and they transformed the island into an attractive settlement.

Believing that through hard work, the detainees could be reformed. Dutton removed arms from the guards. On 12 July 1963, a group of some 70 to 90 detainees rioted and burned down most of the buildings. They hacked Dutton to death and killed two other officers. 58 people were accused of rioting and murdering Dutton and officers Arumugan Veerasingham and Tan Kok Hian.

Because of the large number of the accused, a special dock had to be constructed for them. The case went to trial on 18 November and lasted an unprecedented 64 days. On 12 March 1964, the seven-member jury found 18 of the accused guilty of murder, 18 guilty of rioting with deadly weapons and 11 guilty of rioting. The remaining 11 accused were acquitted. Those found guilty of murder were sentenced to death, while those found guilty of rioting with deadly weapons were sentenced to three years of imprisonment; the rest to two years of imprisonment.

Most of those involved in the rioting were members of secret societies who were detained without trial and had no hope of leaving the island. As a result of the riots, the penal experiment came to an abrupt end.”

– Wikipedia

More details of the history of Pulau Senang can be found here. Definitely an interesting read to learn more about Singapore!

We enjoyed ourselves in this tour and am looking forward to more of such tours in the future!

Tioman Trip Part II: Snorkeling!

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In this second post on our recent Tioman Trip, it is when it gets exciting! Snorkeling! The highlight of the trip. In our full board package, there is a complimentary half day snorkeling trip to Renggis Island and Marine Park. In additional to this 2 spots, we also went on our own to snorkel at another snorkeling spot which is at the extreme right of our resort, I suspect it’s the Tomok Island. Our conclusion? The best spot was the snorkeling spot at our resort and the worst was the Marine Park!

As you can tell from the map above, there are many diving and snorkeling spots in Tioman! It is actually very popular among our Singaporean divers as it’s a cheap and accessible place!

I’ve zoomed in on the areas which we visited! Our resort is at Kampung Paya, we visited the Renggis Island and the Marine Park.

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Renggis Island

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You will notice that the pictures for Renggis Island turned out better as I used the underwater mode, but in the other two location, I tried auto mode which looks bad.

Renggis Island is basically a small rock island with some trees on it. In the water near to this island, there were many fishes and if you bring some bread along, all the fishes will be surrounding you. Too bad we didn’t bring any bread along but we are shameless enough to just follow a little boy and his family who brought along 4 loafs of bread. Yes! 4 loafs! Haha. I think the boy is more terrorize by us than the fish. I kept snapping photos right in his face and unaware that I was floating and swimming too close to him at some point in time. Haha.

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There aren’t many corals to look at but there are many fishes! This is another young chap which we terrorized! He broke the bread into small pieces and stuffed it into a plastic bottle! Smart one!

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Marine Park

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This was the worst of the lot. I seriously wonder where did all our RM 5 Marine Park Fee goes to if this is what they call a marine park?! The ones in Redang which I visited more than 10 years back looks better. Haha.

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Boo. I’m so flat and fat.

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The only difference you have at the Marine Park is that, the fishes are huge. Plus there is a floating platform which you can go jump around at. Some efforts can also be seen at the Marine Park where they create these concrete blocks to allow corals to grow in and this I learnt from my Langkawi trip earlier this year.

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The visibility at the Marine Park is also not the best as the ground was very sandy.

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Snorkeling Spot nearest to Paya Beach Resort (Suspect it’s Tomok Island)

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The last and the best spot which we went on our own. If you are staying in Paya Beach Resort, do venture there on your own! When facing the beach, it will be on your extreme right. There is a bit of a swim out from the beach, and the spot is behind the island! There are so many corals and different kind of sea creatures like sea urchin, sea cucumbers, corals and what looks like giant clams. There were also a lot more varieties of fishes!

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In my earlier post, I shared on my experience in the booking of our Tioman trip with Discovery Tours & Travel and also our stay at Paya Beach Resort. You can check it out over here.

Tioman Trip Part I: Review of Discovery Tours & Travel and Paya Beach Resort

Last weekend, we headed to Tioman for our final holiday of 2014 before our hectic work starts during festive peak! The next holiday will only happen after Chinese New Year in 2015, and that’s in March onwards. Boo!

Anyway, back to our short 4 Days 3 Nights holiday to Tioman. Here is the first part on the review of Paya Beach Resort, Tioman! You can read more on our snorkeling experience in Tioman over here!

Review of Discovery Tours & Travel

We booked our holiday online through Discovery Tours & Travel and it was hassle free. The website allowed us to make payment, upgrade our package to full board and extend 1 day all at the same time. After making the booking and payment online, the sent us our receipt, 3 booking vouchers for land transport, ferry and hotel booking. A week before the booking, as there are some changes for our ferry timing, they also resend the vouchers to our email. A day before, they even texted us to remind us of the location, time and contact person to board our coach! When we returned, our ferry got delayed, but their tour guide waited patiently at the ferry terminal for everyone and ensured everyone has arrived before departing from the ferry terminal back to Singapore! The only down side? The coach provided was uncomfortable as it was a 40 seater coach. The pick up location was at DFS Galleria Scotts road at 6.30am and the drop off location was either at Woodlands Checkpoint or Newton Circles Hawker Centre at around 9pm where we had our late dinner.

Review of Paya Beach Resort, Tioman

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We opted for the most expensive room in Paya Beach Resort and am happy with the space in our Deluxe Suite. Here is an honest review of the place. When we opened our door, this ugly and dirty looking couch greeted us. It is a sofa bed which opens up to a single bed. But gosh, it is one hideous and dirty looking thing. So if you are thinking of booking the Deluxe Suite for a group of 4, think again.

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We were then terrorized by this ugly, dirty looking sofa which can sleep another 2 in the living room. In the living room, there was also a TV, a balcony facing the beach, and a toilet with shower facility. This was the worst of the so call suite. In the end, we used this space to put our luggage, and it did serve us well!

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It did get better when we get to the bedroom.

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The king size bed is huge, clean and comfortable and that is all that matters.

In the bedroom, there is another toilet. A semi outdoor area facing the beach. The jacuzzi tub was spoiled when we were there, but their technician promptly fixed it with a new pump. Their rain shower is great and the idea of showering in a semi open space with the sound of waves is liberating.

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There is another balcony facing the swimming pool in the bedroom.

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Overall, it is a comfortable stay. But, there were a few annoying traits for this resort.

  • Crazy Towel Control: They have a strict control on towels. There were only two bath towels given to us and if we need new towels, we need to bring them to the reception, go back to our room, and wait for the housekeeping team to bring us the towel. Yes, what’s wrong with them right?! When we check out of the room, we also need to show them the two towels, before we get our deposit back! This has brought us lots of inconvenience as it’s a beach resort, and we really need more than one. If we don’t ask for a change of towel, their housekeeping team do not change our towel. Is there some sort of towel thief lurking around?
  • No Phone: To make things worst, there is no phone in the room. Yes you heard me, no phone. So whenever we need a change of towel, or when our jacuzzi tub is spoiled, we had to walk to the reception to get help and go back to our room to wait.
  • Mozzies in the room: We brought our our electric insect repellent but after days of smelling that, our throat became dry. Once we switch of the repellent, we saw mosquitos in the room and was bitten too! Even though they claimed to conduct fogging every Thursday, mosquito is inevitable as they have a huge forest behind their resort filled with mosquitos!
  • No Wifi: YES! Isn’t it a nightmare? There is no Wifi in the room and not just that, the Wifi in the common area is extremely weak. It took me a long time to connect to Whatsapp and I could only upload 2 photos onto Instagram. Boo! But in the end, it was a great time to disconnect from work and the Internet world. So if you ideal holiday is to be unreachable, this resort is great!
  • 4 TV Channels: There were only 4 TV channels in there, HBO, CNN, sports channel and one other which I can’t remember. I’m glad I brought a book there and finish reading it on the trip.

The resort is pretty old as well and I won’t call our room a suite, it is probably just a huge chalet room. The only resort why we upgraded to Deluxe suite was because, only Deluxe room comes with a fridge and my traveling companion needs to have a daily intake of cold water. Don’t ask me why.

So how much does all these cost? It wasn’t expensive, in fact, if you can make do with cheaper rooms, it costs very little! We each paid SGD 407 (approx US$ 321) for our 4 days 3 nights package tour and it included the following.

    • 3 nights stay in Deluxe Suite (ahem chalet like), we extended 1 day to make the trip more relaxing
    • Daily buffet breakfast. If you are not picky, it is actually decent with fruits, veg, bread, cereal, eggs station and some cooked food
    • 1 lunch and 2 dinner. If you go during the peak period e.g school holidays or weekends, it will be buffet, otherwise it will be set meal. Don’t expect too much, the food was alright and it keeps you full.
    • 1 session of half day snorkeling trip to Renggis Island and Marine Park (will be sharing more in the other post)
    • 1 session of Guided Rock Fall walk. We tried to trek at the forest behind with vague instruction from the activity centre but couldn’t find the rock fall. Ended up getting bitten by mosquitos even though I was armed with many repellent accessories to prevent it.  You name it, I tried it. Ranging from repellent bands, spray, the latest Off personnel protection battery operated gadget and Sonic phone apps and yes, all these doesn’t work. They have some commandoes mosquitos in the forest.
    • Return Coach transport between Singapore and Ferry Terminal
    • Return Ferry transport between Ferry Terminal and Tioman

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A RM5 fee for Marine Park was not included and the rental of snorkeling gear was also not included. There were also a few meals not included were we didn’t have much food options.

Other than these, there weren’t much activity. The activity is to just laze by the beach, snorkeling and relax. We went for an hour full body massage and it was about SGD 50 if you do it between 10 am to 3pm, it wasn’t mind blowing or cheap but was definitely relaxing.

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We wanted to join their other paid activities like going to the Asah Waterfall at their Mukut Village, but they required a minimum of 6 person to join the tour.

Would I visit Paya Beach Resort again? Maybe as it was a cheap holiday with great snorkeling spots. But perhaps only with a big group of friends where we can play some board games or talk during the down time and go on their other paid activities!

A Special Gift for Baby Seth and a deal for all!

Taking a break from my holiday posts (yes, I do lead a normal lead, and I do wish I’m a full time traveler), I’m here to share a great deal for all mummies or friends of soon to pop mummies!

You know social media works when someone like me knows exactly what to get for a friend’s baby shower! Back in March 14, I read Lady J’s post on a perfect present for her friend’s little one and I thought it was the perfect gift! I didn’t bookmark the page or note it down but I thought, wow, if I have a kid, I would love this too! And just two weeks back, when I was cracking my head to source for Baby Seth’s present, Lady J’s post on MyBabyGift popped right into my mind! Talk about brand recall and “Top of the Mind” brand!

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“MyBabyGift is a luxurious baby gift boutique offering Personalized Premium Baby Hampers & unique babies gifts , both for babies and mummies. All gifts are elegantly presented in our MyBabyGift signature gift box. Our products are not only beautiful, they are also highly practical and durable! We spent considerable time researching, selecting and testing every product we sell. All products are 100% super soft cotton. The baby’s name is delicately embroidered on selected products and your baby gift is beautifully wrapped in our special signature box with a classic satin ribbon.”

– Extracted from MyBabyGift

There were many reasons to get a gift from MyBabyGift and I’m sure many of you can relate to them! Before I begin, I think I’m sounding like I’m writing a proposal to convince my boss to pick my marketing strategy! As a matter of fact, I thought I need a lot of convincing from the man to get this, but he just nodded and say, go ahead. Haha. And oh, to clarify, I didn’t received any monetary benefits from MyBabyGift but I did enjoy a $10 off their hamper using an offer code listed in their Facebook page!

So here are my personal reasons for picking this gift!

Baby’s Mummy is a Glamorous One: If you know my friend, she is one glamorous and stylish babe, you know her child can’t settle for an ordinary gift. It must be special! Extraordinary! Look at her baby shower’s picture! She has a dessert table for Seth’s One Month Old Party! This is even more glamorous than a wedding! Haha.

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Grabbed from Seth’s Facebook (yes, this dude has a facebook page!)

Gift Differentiation: Many friends will be gifting baby clothes and toys, but after receiving 20 – 30 gifts from different friends and relatives, the receiver may not remember who gave what after a while. I want Baby Seth to remember, Auntie Serene bought her a towel with his name on it! I think it’s cool, but maybe not Baby Seth 20 years down the road.

Special Keepsake: I heard it’s really really fast for babies to outgrow their clothes and toys and soon, the regular gifted clothes and toys will be passed down to others, donated or kept in storage. But which mum will give away a towel/jumper/blanket with their precious little one’s name embroidered on it! I won’t! I will probably keep them for as long as it last!

A Romantic Gift: Some of my practical mummy friends prefer supermarket vouchers while others prefer cash, yes, baby can be expensive! I heard they drink a tin of milk within 2 weeks and used up diapers like toilet papers! Gasped! So yes, gift vouchers and cash is good, but leave those to their relatives! I believe this is one luxurious gift which even the practical mum will love. It is something that a new mum may not have the heart to splurge on but will be thrilled to receive! I know I would! Gosh, why am I getting excited about this.

Yet still Practical: It is after all still baby clothes and necessity, we are not talking about diamonds you know!

I don’t have to leave my home: This was one of the best reason! Everything was settled online, I bought the items using my iPhone in a car ride on a Saturday, received them within 3 days! Best of all, it included a card with my message, packed really nicely and delivered to my place! It is best for friends who are overseas and would like to send a gift to your friends in Singapore too! They deliver to hospital or home!

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Look at how delighted Sue Ann (she is still a hottie, can’t believe she just popped!) is when receiving her gift! She squealed in joy and said, this was what Fann Wong received too!

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Haha. Yes, Fann Wong received this for her Baby Zed too! Haha.

When we left her place, the man commented that, seeing how happy the mummy is, it was money well spent. What I forget to tell him was, that’s our Sue Ann. Ever happy and bubbly Sue Ann.

Seeing how thrilled my friend is with the gift, it got me really excited to want to share this deal with my friends! So I unabashedly asked the folks from MyBabyGift if they would like to spread the love to others!

So here’s a special deal for you:

Enjoy $10 off all hampers on http://www.mybabygift.com.sg by using the coupon code SbR (valid until 31 December 2014).

Ok, back to her baby shower! OMG. So beautiful!

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Grabbed from Seth’s Facebook

Look at these close up shots of the desserts. OMG. They looked and tasted so good.

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Grabbed from Seth’s Facebook

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Grabbed from Seth’s Facebook

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Grabbed from Seth’s Facebook

I am really happy for her and am thrilled to have a new addition to SSSS girl’s group! I’m sure Seth will join us in many of our outings and it will be SSSS + s group! Haha.

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Grabbed from Seth’s Facebook

May the Lord bless Seth with lots of happiness, wisdom, and great health! And may the little one brings lots of joy and laughter to both Sue Ann and Tim! Congrats again!

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In case you are looking for the deal, here’s the deal again!

Enjoy $10 off all hampers on http://www.mybabygift.com.sg by using the coupon code SbR (valid until 31 December 2014).

Wedding Picture Taking in Hanoi by the locals

During our Hanoi trip on a bus ride, we spotted an interesting sight. There were 7 local couples taking Pre Wedding Pictures at a Western style building right in front of Louis Vuitton. It is a strange sight indeed and especially weird with all the onlookers staring at you!

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Overnight Junk Cruise in Halong Bay

The second part of the trip is the highlight of the trip! A junk cruise overnight in Halong Bay, it feels like heaven when just sailing on the junk in the middle of Halong Bay without Wifi. Yes, no internet connection, no TV in the room, just conversations and a breathtaking view.

We started with a small boat sending us to the main junk!

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Our room is much better than expected. This Victory Star Cruise by Bai Tho Cruises is one of the more luxurious one in Halong Bay. Our colleagues went on an earlier trip and theirs was terribly warm and old. As we traveled with our CEO, we got upgraded for free. Haha.

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This was the view at our balcony. Ahhh. This is life.

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We were also blessed with beautiful cloudy and cooling weather! Our colleagues who went a few months before us in May complained that it was so warm that they perspire every where they go. We went in July and it was supposed to be even hotter than in May, but we were lucky that it was a rainy week right before we landed in Hanoi!

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The meals are all included as well and it was great!

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Vietnamese spring roll! Yummy.

After lunch, we visited Sung Sot Cave. I love caves and this cave has 3 chambers and the last was spectacular! It’s huge and I was awed by it.

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Ignoring my oily face as it was not an easy feat walking and climbing the cave, look at the top left hand side where I was pointing, doesn’t it look like a male genital! Haha.

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This is the last chamber of the cave and it is really beautiful.

After visiting the caves, we were brought to Dao TiTop Island. There were two options, (1) to go swimming by the beach or (2) to climb up a small hill.

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I would suggest to skip the swimming and go straight up the hill. The beach was small, crowded and pathetic! The 99 steps up the hill is worth the climb.

I didn’t have a nice picture of the island, but grab this off someone’s blog here. Beautiful pictures!

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So from the picture above, you can see that the beach is tiny and climbing up the hill to the pavilion up there, will give you this view.

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Hundreds and thousands of islands in Halong Bay!

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After touring the cave and island, we got back to the cruise, showered and were ready for dinner!

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We also saw sunset during dinner. Absolutely stunning.

After dinner there were pretty much nothing to do, so we tried Squid fishing at night. No one caught anything except the staff who caught one during our dinner. It was said to be a windy night where the current is too strong the the visibility of the water not clear enough to caught the squid. It is not exactly fishing, it is more trying to hook the squid!

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Thankfully for the staff who caught a squid, we saw one of it! Haha. We also caught a tiny crab which happens to be climbing up a rope.

The next morning after breakfast, we took a quick tour to the Monkey beach on a small boat.

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This reminds me of the caving adventure we went on in Phuket! Phuket is way way better, you can read on it over here and here.

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You can also choose to rent a canoe to explore the area on your own.

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And there, the monkey. As it was drizzling a little, most of the monkey were hiding in the forest.

A quick highlight of our Hanoi city tour

Right before our Hokkaido trip, we went on a 4 days 3 night Hanoi / Halong Bay trip with our company and before I completely forget about this trip, I shall do a quick blog of some highlights. The number of pictures in my phone is accumulating and I really need to start blogging before my next trip! I’m going Tioman in the coming weekend! Weeee. Saving

So. In this first post, I will be sharing some of the sights in Hanoi city and in the second post I will be sharing on Halong Bay.

Like many Asian cities, Hanoi is a bustling city filled with life!

In Hanoi, we visited and watched the water puppet show. It is an interesting cultural experience but I personally find it too draggy and the show is too long. It was interesting for the first 15 – 20 mins. Haha.

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Another interesting place in Hanoi is to visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and if given a chance, you should go in to take a look at Uncle Ho while he rest there peacefully. His body is preserved and protected in there and it is available for public viewing for a limited time each day.

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Old Quarters in Hanoi is great for buying souveniors, paintings and knock off sports bags. It is great visiting either in the day or at night!

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At night, this place is equally lively!

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There are many tourists and locals in the middle of the Old Quarters enjoying beer and street snacks while people watching. Just next to the Old Quarters is  a small park and lake where you can tour around and enjoy some peace in this busy city.

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Here are the things I bought from Old Quarters and supermarkets. Some souvenirs, snacks, a comfortable printed pants for travelling and sleep and a knockoff North Face bag for my helpers.

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Hong Thai Travel: 8 Days Hokkaido/Tokyo: Day 5

// 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,  Day 3 and Day 4’s  itinerary is already shared in previous posts! Day 2’s post is here, Day 3’s post is here and Day 4’s post is here!

Day 5 is the last day in Hokkaido and we were so sad to leave Hokkaido. In this Hong Thai package, we didn’t see much of Hokkaido as we only spent 4 days in Hokkaido. It is a pity but we will be back!

In Day 5, we started at Hokkaido Seafood Market and had a chance to pick our additional seafood and pay for it on our expenses for lunch! Yummy! Will share more pictures in a separate post of the crabs and sea urchin which we tried.

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This was in the standard seafood steamboat lunch which was not bad a deal, but we couldn’t resist topping up for more!

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After lunch, we headed to Otaru and I love this place. It’s beautiful, plenty of cafes and good food, we ate cheesecakes (again!), ice cream, cream puffs, shopped at Musical box museum and just walk around the different shops. Wish we had more time though, I can spend a whole afternoon here! Will share more in a separate post too! Look out for it or follow my blog by clicking on the button on the right for more updates.

Someone in our tour group was late after visiting Otaru as he was lost and his family couldn’t find him. After searching for almost 30 – 45 minutes, he finally appeared and we were too late for the second sight. The Olympic Ski Stadium. It is still upsetting as we can only visit the Ski Stadium after dinner as the dinner reservation cannot be pushed back, and that means, we can’t take the chair lift as it is closed by then. DAMN.

Anyway, after Otaru, we headed for dinner. We were still full from our seafood lunch and plenty of food at Otaru! We had another indulging dinner where we ate Wagyu beef, abalone and a BBQ buffet. Gosh. The wagyu beef steak is amazing.

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After dinner, we then headed to Okurayama Ski Jump Stadium, it is a beautiful sight and if you are here in winter, it will be amazing.

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Li Xiao Lu Shopping Street was not part of our Itinerary and it closes really early! If you can see, the clock states 7.30pm and most of the shops are all closed! The tour guide brought us here for some food souvenir shopping as they offer for up to 10% discount off the retail price for some of the items and it is cheaper than in the airport. So we decided to buy them and pack it into our luggage.

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After dropping our luggage and loots in the hotel, people who are not tired went on to Sapporo’s Red Light District’s Susukino which is famous for Ramen and of course, sexual services. It is definitely interesting as the way they allow their customers to pick the girls is very professional and high tech! It was an eye opener. Ramen is great as well!

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Old Hakodate Post Office and Red Brick Warehouse, Hokkaido, Japan

//Two weeks back, 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. Last week, I’ve also shared on the places of interest we visited in Day 4 of our trip. In this post and more, I will be sharing in details on some of the sites we visited in Day 4 with a lot more pictures! So stay tuned!

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On the fourth day, we were also brought to the Hakodate-Meijikan, Old Hakodate Post Office, over here, the buildings are more western influenced and it is currently now converted into a small shopping mall, selling mainly souvenirs to tourists.

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There is a strange old man showcasing his pet rabbit on a table. The pet rabbit is also very tamed and simple ignore all the ooo and ahhh around it. Haha.

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Spotted these cute owls and resisted them! My room looks like a bird park now, or more accurately an Owl Park and I need to stop spending and adding clutter to my room! Haha.

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Inside the post office is also a mini bear museum which we didn’t buy the ticket to enter. This picture shall suffice. Heh.

Just next to the Old Post office is a cluster of warehouse, the Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse. The shopping isn’t great and it is more for tourist to take a break with some cafes in there and to take pictures of the pretty brick warehouse!

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We also spotted the Pure White Corn in one of the seafood warehouse, and their Japanese name which is written in Kanji (Chinese Character) is loosely translated to “Snow Spirit”. Heh. This was when his mum bought her second corn of the day!

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In the warehouse, we also went to try the already too famous Snaffles Cheesecake of Hokkaido. Even though the chain is now in Singapore, it tasted better in Hokkaido then the ones in Singapore! Haha.

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The buildings are all too pretty!

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On the way back to our tour bus, we spotted this.

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There is a no trespassing sign, but seriously, that guy has got a bus in front of his porch and who can resist not taking a photo with it?! So guess what I did? I ran in and took a quite picture and ended up looking too nervous in the picture. Damn.

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Fort Goryokaku and Goryokaku Tower, Hokkaido, Japan

//Two weeks back, 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. Last week, I’ve also shared on the places of interest we visited in Day 4 of our trip. In this post and more, I will be sharing in details on some of the sites we visited in Day 4 with a lot more pictures! So stay tuned!

After lunch, we went to Fort Goryokaku. It is now converted into a park and declared as a Special Historical Site. It is also home to the Hakodate city museum which we didn’t see. This place is also the favourite spot for cherry blossom viewing and if you are here in spring, you are in luck!

“Goryōkaku was designed in 1855 by Takeda Hisaburō. His plan was based on the work of the French architect Vauban. It is shaped like a five-pointed star. This allowed for greater numbers of gun emplacements on its walls than a traditional Japanese fortress, and reduced the number of blind spots where a cannon could not fire. The fort was built by the Tokugawa shogunate to protect the Tsugaru Strait against a possible invasion by the Russian fleet. Goryōkaku is famous as the site of the last battle of the Boshin War (Goryōkaku no Tatakai). The fighting lasted for a week (June 20–27, 1869).”

– Wikipedia

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My favourite was going up Goryokaku Tower where we can see the overall view of the Fort! This is my first time seeing a star shaped fort and it is definitely interesting! There are many star shaped fort around the world (mainly in Europe) and there were pictures shared in the Tower too!

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Isn’t the view spectacular! I was really wowed and mesmerized by this view.

At the Tower, there is also a Ice Cream chain – Milkissimo – which is popular in Hokkaido. It can also be found in the airport if I am not wrong. Their ice cream is yummy and the reason why ice cream in Hokkaido is exceptionally good, it’s because they get their milk locally and it is all fresh! No wonder I’m all fat and chubby after the trip. Rawr

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Mt Showa Bear Ranch and Mt Showa, Hokkaido, Japan

//Two weeks back, 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. Last week, I’ve also shared on the places of interest we visited in Day 4 of our trip. In this post and more, I will be sharing in details on some of the sites we visited in Day 4 with a lot more pictures! So stay tuned!

After fruit picking, we headed to Mt Showa Bear Ranch. Over here, we get to feed the bears with cookies and watch them wave and play among themselves. The premise seems clean and there were playgrounds are tubs for the bears to play and cool themselves down.

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They remind me of the Disney movie “Brave”!

“The Ussuri brown bear , also known as the black grizzlyis a subspecies of the brown bear found in the Ussuri krai, Sakhalin, the Amur Oblast, northward to the Shantar Islands, Iturup Island, northeastern China, the Korean peninsula, Hokkaidō and Kunashiri Island. This subspecies is thought to be the ancestor of the North American grizzly bear. Ussuri brown bears crossed to Alaska 100,000 years ago, though they did not move south until 13,000 years ago. The Ainu people (native of Hokkaido) worshipped the Ussuri brown bear, eating its flesh and drinking its blood as part of a religious festival known as iomante.”

Wikipedia

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That’s a pole dancing bear right there! Haha.

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Bears who are hungry will be waving at you for food, while the rest just chill and bask in the sun.

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The more playful and aggressive bears are kept in cages. Poor thing!

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Just next to the Bear Ranch is Mt Showa, the youngest active volcano in Hokkaido. We can see that it is still steaming and there are definitely activities in the volcano!

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There is a fruit stall outside the bear ranch and we got ourselves a white corn! You can read more about the Pure White Corn in this article. It is the first time I’m eating a corn raw, yes you heard me, RAW. And it tasted so good. It’s milky, sweet and like bubble milk tea in a corn! The juicy is also milky white. We all got insanely excitement after eating them! His mum ate 3 during the trip after discovering them.

Fruits picking, Hokkaido, Japan

//Two weeks back, 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. Last week, I’ve also shared on the places of interest we visited in Day 4 of our trip. In this post and more, I will be sharing in details on some of the sites we visited in Day 4 with a lot more pictures! So stay tuned!

In the morning of Day 4, we visited a fruit farm and had a lot of fun picking and eating fruits at the same time. The farm is supposed to be an organic farm, and we are encouraged to pick and eat at the same time. We don’t even have to wash the fruits! There are many types of fruits grown in the farm, but because of the season, we are only allowed to pick plums and blueberries. The honey peaches are almost in season, but not sufficient for us to go crazy picking them. That’s a pity!

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Our guide demonstrating gladly how the picking and eating is done. Basically, pick, rub off the natural white powder on the surface of the fruit, pop the entire plum in your mouth, enjoy and spit out the seed.

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When we were told to start picking, we ended up taking a lot of pictures and got “scolded” by the guide! He told us to not just take pictures, but to start picking and eating! Haha.

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On the left: Fruit with natural white powder On the right: After rubbing it off.

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It is extremely sweet and juicy! I think if my family is here, they will go crazy! Especially my mum! Haha. It is the day where I ate the most plums! I think I ate like 4 plums! That’s not a lot considering there are people who ate a lot more. Haha.

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Look at the bright red! We were told to pick fruits which is dark red in colour. The redder it is, the sweeter it is.

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Next we took a quick ride on the bus to the blueberry farm, own by the same family. The farm is huge!

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For blueberries picking, the trick is to pick those which are really fat and plump!

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After eating the sweet plums, the blueberries are really sour! We decided to secretly pack some blueberries for breakfast the next day! Blueberries go well in yogurt!

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Even though we didn’t get to pick the honey peaches, we can get them at a bargain! Each packet is 450 yen, which is approximately SGD5.50. What a bargain, considering that they are fruits from Hokkaido and they are really overpriced in Singapore! There are two types of peaches and the one in yellow is crazy sweet! We bought a packet to share! Sugar overload. Heh.

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At their fruit stall, we also noticed that there are many yellow umbrellas hanging on the ceiling and there are so many bird’s nest! Not the kind you eat but it’s barn swallows! When we asked the lady tending the stall, we were told that they have been allowing the swallows to reside at their stall for many generations, and since it was a practice started by the great grand parents generation, and all is well in the family, they decided to just maintain it. The reason for having yellow umbrellas? To catch the young swallows who are learning to fly! Such an interesting sight.

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The little ones asking for food!

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Definitely a great experience and one of the many highlights of the trip!