Hello Kitty and Little Big Club Land 14 December, 2012Posted by dear1dear2 in Dear2, Leisure & Games, Travel & Discovery.
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We planned a Legoland trip last Sunday, but it started to rain even before we stepped out of the house in the morning, so we changed to the wet weather plan to Hello Kitty and ‘Barney’ Land instead. What a brilliant plan!
We wanted to avoid the crowd and aimed to reach at 10 am sharp when the gates open, but by the time we board our car, it was already 9.30am. Fetched the grand parents at Taman Jurong, crossed the customs, tried to follow the posters on the road, ended up in Legoland instead, and we finally reached Hello Kitty and Barney Land at 10.30. Though it was only officially opened one week earlier, the morning was already packed with lots of people! Dear1 wanted to look at both the lands, so we purchased the tickets at RM110 per pax. A single Land would cost RM65 each. In the end, a Malaysian auntie offered to purchase the both lands tickets for us at a discounted RM85 while Baby1 and Baby2 got in for free.
Took the escalator up and we were stunned by the crowd at Hello Kitty Land. “Up first”, I said, so we went into Barney Land on level 3. A very wise choice indeed. Most people would go to the first Land first if they have tickets to both, so Barney which was on the higher floor was pretty empty earlier in the morning.
On the first floor of Barney Land, there’s a Pingu Room with some arcade machines, a Barney House with some slides and stuff, and an Angelina Ballerina Room where Baby1 had so much fun ‘dancing’ on the stage in the tutu and mouse ears. We even had to drag her out of this room so that we can explore the upper floor.
Upper floor was even more exciting. There’s a Windmill (ferris wheel), Helicopter, Train, Bus, Bumper Car and Cradle Drop rides, all of which Baby1 was just eligible except for the Bumper Car which she is not old/tall enough to ride. We had a go at all of them when the queues were not very long yet, haha, that’s the strategy of going early cos most families are usually out from late mornings onwards.
After lunch and the mini Barney show which again Baby1 enjoyed tremondously singing and doing the actions together with the cast on stage, we went to check out Hello Kitty Land. It was already 2+pm and the clock is ticking down. It’s nap time for Baby1 and she’s showing signs of tiredness.
Alas, Hello Kitty Land was very disappointing (luckily). Though most of the crowd had adjourned to Barney Land (which was very very crowded when we left – oh my, look at the queues for the rides!) now, the snaking queues at Hello Kitty Land looked very bad – they were not moving at all! Jewellery Making, Cookie Something, Nail Art… No wonder the queues hardly move. We didn’t even want to try the queue at all, and proceeded right for the Teacups ride instead. There’s no queue at the Hello Kitty House, either, so we went in. Hmm… Very lame.
Baby1 had some fun in the Indoor Playground structure while waiting for the mini Hello Kitty Show which she didn’t finish watching. “Not exciting”, she said. There’s also a Black Wonder room where you’ll be given a lamp to follow some clues but we skipped that as it was really time to go home.
Overall, the trip was really fun. It was our first self drive trip (Dear1 has always wanted to do one, and we finally did it!). The Second Link was fairly empty though it still took us 1 hour from Puteri Harbour, Malaysia to Bukit Batok. We had the grandparents with us too so the all-Malay road names and signs did not pose a problem, otherwise we might have panicked without any GPS or Malaysia’s road maps. I also learnt that driving to Malaysia is not just about a passport – you will need a Touch and Go card for the tolls, and maybe a Malaysia’s cashcard for the carpark charges. There wasn’t an ‘ERP’ at the Little Red Cube building so we are not sure if parking is free, or just that the system is not ready yet, like some of the lifts there. The Baby Room is commendable too - 2 spacious and clean rooms on each level with tables and chairs – just right for our little Baby2 who pooed twice during the time there.
It’s a great place for a day’s family outing – all the rides, activities and shows are free, and you can play all day from 10am to 6pm. For families like us, I’ll recommend Barney Land only as Hello Kitty Land is really very over rated – small, un-interesting and more adults than kids there. At Hello Kitty Land, you can only do each activity once (except for the Teacups), huh.
I’m still targeting to go Legoland soon, but probably after the December holidays.
Royal Caribbean – Voyager of the Seas 12 June, 2012Posted by dear1dear2 in Dear1, Dear2, Travel & Discovery.
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It was a much anticipated wait for Dear1 and Dear2 for the Voyager of the Seas! First, it was bigger the Legends of the Sea, secondly we had just nice memories of the Legends, then it was the inaugural port at Singapore, and finally it was the maiden cruise from the new Marina Bay Cruise Centre, how exciting!
Alas, the 4D3N trip to Port Klang was more disappointment than fulfillment.
1. Too big a ship (aka too many people?)
Yes, this ship is much bigger, but bigger also means it can carry more passengers. 3000+ pax seems like an awful lot of number – there’s longer queues at the restaurants, food counters, rock climbing, lifts (yes, incredibly every lift seems to be packed and we all got irritated with the waiting and waiting….), pools, BINGO, photo taking etc etc etc. We even had to stand throughout the Ice Show even though everyone’s supposed to be able to fit in with the carefully planned schedule. Oh well…
2. Bad crowd
On the Legends, the crowd were more laid back. Things moved at a slower pace. Relaxing slow, not waiting slow. This time, everything felt like a big rush. Everywhere we went, there were people moving, rushing, snatching. The crowd felt more rowdy than before. There was also a lot more foreigners, from Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, China, India, etc. Probably they’re here to catch the biggest cruise ship to dock in south east asia.
3. Retro…… Themed?
Hmm.. There doesn’t seem to be a central lobby on this big ship. Instead there’s this aisle called the Royal Promenade where live bands are staged. Even the Captain’s reception is held there too with everybody’s dressed up drinking champagne on this street. The shows feature some old school western pop which Dear1 and I can’t appreciate, and we finally conclude it’s because of the era…. The shows are probably tailored to the western crowd since the ship just arrived in Singapore.
4. 3N too short to feel pampered
We reached the new terminal at 10.30am on Day 1, finally board at 12.30noon, had a casual ‘fine dining’ on that evening itself, 1 proper Fine Dining on Day 2, 1 more casual fine dining on Day 3, and it was disembark at 9am on Day 4. Too short, too rushed for a short, pampering getaway…
5. Salty pool water!
Yucks! We didn’t believe it when they say the pool water was salty, but it really was, and VERY indeed. Is it sea water, or is it too much urine in the pool. I dread to think further… We didn’t swim in the pool during our stay on the Legends, so we didn’t know cruise pool water is salty.
6. Non-existent Royal-Tots
We were told and we read that there was going to be Royal-Tots programs for 18-36 mths on this ship. That was one of the reasons we booked this cruise. However, our room attendant told us there wasn’t such a program onboard. Eventually, we found the program sheet from the Ocean Adventure attendant. We followed the program and made our way to the Conference Room where it was held and found it empty. We visited the Conference Room again at a later scheduled time and found it occupied by another company’s event instead. We called the guest service operator and was told no Royal-Tots program was scheduled. So who is right? Disappointed…
7. No drinking water?
Our room attendant told us the water from our stateroom toilet is not portable. Even after boiling. He recommended us to get (free) drinking water from the Promenade Cafe. Imagine throughout our cruise we had to bring bottles to the Promenade Cafe to fill. We saw other cruisers doing it too. For Baby1′s milk, we had to bring our thermal flask and ask the restaurant staff to fill with hot water from the kitchen. We also simply ask for room service for a flask of hot water once. Stateroom water not portable? Then why is there a kettle in the room?
Disappointed. It was a good $700+ per pax (SGD2130.82 total) for a short 3N holiday. The food (fine dining) was great, and so were the friendly staff and the fantastic shows – even Baby1 sat still throughout all the shows. The taxi experience to Aeon (Jusco) was interesting too – that uncle who coordinates the taxis and his boy are still there! And how they have improved their taxi booking system in these 2 years, haha! But for $700, it could have been spent on a holiday that feels more like a holiday, haiz…
Well, there was a big surprise (and disappointment). When we checked in, we discovered that we were upgraded from our Oceanview Stateroom (deck 3) to a Balcony Stateroom (deck 7)! We didn’t know why we were upgraded but Dear1 postulated that it was because we were Anchors & Crown Gold Members (i.e. because we had cruised with Royal Caribbean before). Nice! But because of the last minute room change, our luggage had already been checked in to our previous room number. Luggage crew confusion ensued and it wasn’t until multiple communications with the onboard crew and 9pm that night that we finally received (retrieved) our luggage, haiz…
We enjoyed ourselves, just that it didn’t live up to our expectations.
Mariner of the Seas is coming to port inaugural in Singapore next year (2013). As big as the Voyager but newer. Would we go on cruise again…?
- Dear2 (Dear1 added some too)
Landing in Shanghai 21 November, 2011Posted by dear1dear2 in Dear1, Travel & Discovery.
I will write about some of the observations that I have made during my time in Shanghai.
I landed at Pudong Airport in the mid afternoon. Well, the first thing that caught my eyes was that the immigration card was really easy to fill in; no extra questions about bringing in animals, plants, etc.
The immigration check took some time, and so did the luggage collection. Once I stepped out of the arrival hall, however, I was greeted by a horde of people. There were just lots and lots of people lining the walk-out aisle, holding up name boards. Some of them were simply holding hotel names, I wonder who they were actually expecting. Anyway, the crowd did gave me a little surprise and it almost felt like I was a movie star, except without the flash photography.
I made my way past the crowd and went to the tourist information counter. A man approached me to try to sell his taxi service. Naturally, I ignored him as it is likely to be a scam. I then made my way towards the Maglev station. There, I bought a one way ticket for 40RMB (discounted price for passengers who landed on the same day)
It was my first ride on the Maglev train, and a rather short one at that. The train accelerated to 430km/h before decelerating to a stop shortly thereafter. I think the entire trip was less than 10mins. But wow, the ride was really smooth, and the train felt really fast. The tracks even tilted at the bends to accomodate the fast moving train.
At the Maglev station, I needed to walk to the next building to take the city metro (Longyang Road Station). It was here that I first noticed there wasn’t any lifts around. That meant taking trains in Shanghai with luggage is definitely a bad idea. Luckily, my luggage was light, so no big problems for me.
It was at Longyang Road Station that I first encountered the bad and the good of the people here. I had wanted to buy a Shanghai Public Transportation Card (as oppose to a single trip ticket), so I approached a young lady in the queue, asking if I could buy the Transportation Card if I joined the queue. To my surprise, she promptly turned away, raise her hand to cover half her face so that I can’t see her, and snorted “I don’t know”. I maintained my poker face, but in my mind, I was thinking WTF? However, in a split second, another young lady further front in the queue turned towards me and asked what I wanted to know. Ah, a kind soul! And she replied that I could indeed purchase the Transportation Card if I joined the queue.
And so I did. When my turn came, I was greeted by yet another surprise. The sale cashier told me rudely that the card was not sold there, without even looking at my face when she talked. And she ended her conversation right there. I asked where I could purchase the card. She pretended to be deaf. I asked again, and she hastily replied, “Line 7″. Line 7 was in the next building. Nay, I decided not to risk it, I’ll just get a single trip ticket.
I went to the ticketing station and read the English instructions, and slowly went about my purchase with the machine. Suddenly, someone approached from behind me, and attempted to help me insert my flimsy dollar note into the ticketing machine. At first, I rejected. But after numerous attempts and the machine still refused to accept my note, I decided to let him give it a try. He, too, took numerous attempts, flipping the note in every orientation, but he succeeded eventually. I thanked him and walked off.
This was when he sprung the trap on my unwary mind. He rushed before me and show me a nicely laminated note, written in English “I am deaf, please contribute and help” (to that effect). Again, in my mind, WTF? I was caught offguard once again. Overcame by embarrassement, and regretting accepting his help earlier, I reached for the small change and gave him a 10RMB note. On hindsight, I realized that I wasn’t very accustomed to the local currency and purchasing power yet. For it was only some time later that I calculated and realized that I might have been too generous. Sigh… Silly me.
I was lucky to board a train that was rather empty, so I had a seat. And I noticed that the seats in Shanghai don’t have “buttock shapes” delimiters. Meaning, a row of seat is simply a flat bench, without clearly demarketed seat widths. I managed to get a corner seat along one of the long benches and I began to observe how other people handle this situation. (On a later trip on the metro, I also noticed that the newer rolling stocks did have the “buttock” delimiters.)
Well, rather unsurprisingly, people entering the train simply rushed in with tenacity without giving others a chance to alight first. Once in the train cabin, they literally run to grab any empty space on the seat bench. And if there was some empty spaces between seated passengers, the incoming person will give a shout and motion the seated passengers to make way for him. Wow. Culture shock. But I can appreciate such behaviour. After all, in such a competitive and crowded society, I expect only the fiercest will survive.
I alighted at my stop, People’s Square Station and started making my way to my hotel. It was here that I noticed a middle age man ransacking a dustbin. It turned out that he was searching for drinks. I watched as he picked up every can, packet, cup of drink he could find and emptied whatever remaining contents into his mouth. I raised an eyebrow. Really? No money for water? But he looked quite able bodied as he stomped off in an agressive walk after his ‘feast’.
A little further along, I noticed this time an old lady, searching a rubbish bin. Nope, she wasn’t collecting metal tin cans. Neither did she eat or drink anything she found. In the end, she left empty handed, so I wasn’t quite sure what she was looking for. A begger? I’m not so sure.
After I checked in to my hotel, I walked outside again for dinner. I spotted a BreadTalk shop along the streets and decided to give it a try just to see if it tasted any different. There was an alfresco section just outside the shop so I decided to sit down and just people watch while I eat my bread. Unfortunately, just minutes after I sat down, I would be harrassed by a begger. He kept asking me for loose change. Well, I just pretended I couldn’t understand Mandarin. I quickly left after gobbling down my bread. So much for people watching.
Several days later, while walking along Nanjing Rd, I would be stopped by an unassuming young lady. I thought that she had wanted to ask me for directions. Nope, I was wrong, she’s a begger. And she followed me for almost the next 100 metres or so begger me to buy her food and pleading for my charity. I just ignored her and walked on, no sympathy required here.
During my stay, I had the opportunity to visit the riverside where the Oriental Pearl Tower could be seen. The riverside promenade was well renovated, spacious and clean. However, I was taken aback by just how crowded it was there on a Monday and Tuesday evening. The riverside walk just wasn’t serene at all, it was rather noisy with too much activity going on.
The last thing I will talk will be my experience with the people. Sad as it was, the fact is that there are far too many PRC in Singapore. Everywhere in Singapore, you see and hear PRC in the roles of cashier, waiter, house keeper, cleaner, sales personnel, drivers, or simply pedestrains. And it saddened me that I experienced that same familiarity in Shanghai. I did not feel the sense of travel and the sense of being in a different geographical location. It all felt just the same, as if I had never left Singapore. Nope, it wasn’t heart warming at all.
It is heart breaking.
For just this last reason alone, I will not want to visit China for a holiday. There is simply no sense of travel being in a place not that different, in more ways than one.
A Trip Alone 14 November, 2011Posted by dear1dear2 in Dear1, Slice of Life, Travel & Discovery.
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I woke up at 7am, and gazed at Baby1 sleeping next to me. My eyes watered involuntarily at the thought of not being able to do the same for the next 5 mornings. I was going to Shanghai for a conference for the next 5 days. It would be the first time I had to travel without my family.
I was on a morning flight, so that meant I had to ready myself to set off for the airport soon. Initially, I had hoped to leave the house before Baby1 woke, but that was not to be. Baby1, with her well tuned bio-clock, woke up as usual at around 7.15am. That meant I had a bit of time to interact with her before I had to leave.
Maybe her baby sense told her something, but I found Baby1 unusually quiet and solemn this morning, her baby hands lightly stroking my back while I carried her. Maybe she saw my watery eyes.
My bags were packed the day before, so there was no last minute rush at all. However, the timing was tight and I really had to leave for the airport. Dear2 and Baby1 accompanied me to the void deck, my parents were there to drive me to the airport. A kiss to Baby1 and a kiss to Dear2, and I boarded my parents’ car. I wondered if Baby1 understood, she did looked rather puzzled, with just a touch of unhappiness. My eyes watered again.
Suddenly, I remembered seeing this Japanese girl on the Keisei Skyliner on our way to Narita airport during our Japan trip. She was carrying a large luggage and tearing most of the way on the 1+ hour train ride. As an observer, it was easy to tell that she was leaving her family and probably won’t be back in a while. Today, I felt that I could better appreciate her feelings that day. Eventhough my trip was short, I think the emotions are similar, strong and deeply rooted.
Today, I had learnt yet another valuable lesson of life, and gained a drop of wisdom.
Making Rice Balls 5 October, 2011Posted by dear1dear2 in Dear2, Food & Beverages, Travel & Discovery.
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When Dear1 and Dear2 went on our Japan trip in 2008, we had triangular-shaped rice balls for breakfast in the business hotel on our first morning there. They came in various colors – green, red, purple, how weird. Wrapped with pickles within, or diced pickles all around, top with a steaming bowl of miso soup in the early morning, it was a fascinating morning meal for us both.
When we went to Taiwan earlier this year, while waiting for our pancake to be ready fresh, there were 2 other office ladies ordering rice balls on the other half of the road side stall. Hmm… We wondered what was it, so we ordered 1 ball to go as well. Hot and steaming, wrapped with some crunchy crackers and floss and a whole load other stuff in that gigantic rice ball, it was a surprisingly yummy breakfast for us.
One fine day, Dear1 had an idea to make rice balls for our own breakfast as well. A trip to NTUC and it seems that the short grain Japanese rice only comes in 2.5kg bag. No choice, I’ll just have to make lots of rice balls to eat. Buy some frozen fish finger fillet, 200g of pork floss from Bee Cheng Hiang, the medium hard type ones cos there were the soft fluffy ones, the very crispy ones, and the medium hard ones that was a nice in between. With 1 big pack of bite-sized seaweed left over from our Korea trip, we are ready to make rice balls!
First, oh, we gotto soak the washed rice for 30min before cooking. After cooking, we gotto leave it for a further 15min, hmm… Oven bake the fish fingers, prepare a piece of cling wrap over a rice bowl, lay some rice on it, top with the fish fingers and GENEROUS servings of the pork floss, cover with more rice, wrap the whole cling tightly, compact it nicely into a ball shape first, then shape it into a triangular one, finally remove from cling wrap and lay it on a piece of seaweed. Tata, we have a nice rice ball (or triangle)!
First attempt at making rice balls and I was pleasantly surprised at the outcome. Baby1 took a few bites too, and she seems to like it too. Some refinements needed though. Firstly, the rice has to be laid real thin without exposing the inner ingredients. Too much rice to ingredients ratio makes the ball a tad too plain for savours. Then, the pork floss has to be real generous. Again, the ball won’t taste nice if there’s too little ingredients within. Next, don’t make the ball too big. Too big means not easy to handle with all the stuff spilling out from within. Finally, remember to compact the rice real tight, otherwise the triangle won’t be able to stand up nice and proud.
Happy making rice balls, yum yum!
Korea 2011 – Musings 2 September, 2011Posted by dear1dear2 in Dear2, Travel & Discovery.
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Dear1 and Dear2 have been trying for Baby2 for the past few months, so when Auntie Menses reported again, we decided to take this window of opportunity and go on a holiday. That means we have the next 2 weeks to decide, plan and book the holiday!!
Confirm that we want to go Korea, book the air tickets online, did research on hotels and make the bookings, bought the travel insurance, took out our Korean won and USD which we had changed earlier, and packed our luggages. Scramble to settle stuff at work, email the siblings on our flight and accommodation details, forgot to notify NS status on being out of county, and in 1 week’s time, we were off for our holiday. Kudos to Dear1 for doing all the research on attractions, air tickets and hotel in just 1 week’s time, most of which were very well arranged indeed. :)
We took the overnight flight to Korea, in the hope that Baby1 will sleep throughout the flight there. And since we can ask for early check-in in the hotel, we can go straight to the hotel once we reach Seoul. The flight will touch down around 6+ in the morning, take a 1 hour airport shuttle bus to CALT, and from there, there is a complimentary shuttle to the hotel, very nice. *Perfect arrangement*, except that Baby1 didn’t really sleep all the way through the flight as we have imagined, groan…
Ibis Seoul Ambassador is a very nice business hotel where the staff speaks reasonably good English. There is even a roof top garden though a bit miniature. But it is located right in the middle of 2 subway stations including the one at COEX Mall, both of which at least a 15 mins walk away. By the time I reach the subway station with Baby1 on the Beco, my legs were already tired out. Luckily the taxi rates in Seoul are not expensive, so we use that mode of transport quite frequently.
For food, we ate in a couple of places where the English menu is available, so it was yummy spicy tofu soup, or ox-tail soup with rice, or cold buckwheet noodles, or ramen, or simply just fastfood. The spread of kimchi and preserved vegetables was interesting; I even got used to eating kimchi radish and preserved green chillis. One kind assistant even demonstrated to us how to serve the free flow kimchi from it’s pot, and to season the ox-tail soup with salt. No wonder my first bowl was so tasteless!! Price wise, it’s really not very expensive, compared to Japan. Here, you can have a hearty meal at around 9,000 won, which works out to be about SGD 10. Not very expensive, considering that there’s lots of kimchi (aka vegetables), compared to Japan which is SGD 10 for just a bowl of Ramen.
On shopping, outside the hotel, restaurants and popular markets, most retailers cannot speak English, or probably very little of it. But don’t worry. If words cannot work on the price of an item, the shopkeepers will just show you the amount in real cash. Money transcends all languages, LOL. Dear1 even manage to negotiate down $2 off a pair of Baby1′s shoes at the Myeong Dong market, LOL!
The subway experience is definitely my proudest experience out of this trip. At first glance, it’s really very complicated. The subway grid is real messy with so many lines in various colours. There might be a English name for each station, but with hundreds of them on the map, it’s hard to locate where you are and where you want to go. Many places require that you do transfers too, so you need to decide which station to transfer at. And upon alighting the train, you’d better find the correct directions to led you to the right platform before you even start climbing the stairs up. Oh how interesting!!
Koreans are very fashionable. This summer, it was big black glasses (for both the men and women, some even without the lenses!), and hot shorts for the ladies. The shorts look orbit to me though, big and flair with a cutting that looks like what I wore in the 90′s, yet you can definitely tell that it’s in season now. And every where you go, there’s boundless shops that sell skin care products. Everyone’s fair and well-kept, except for their generally not-so-branded-looking clothes. Probably the Koreans have too many clothes that they need to keep for 4 seasons, so it seems like they don’t really go for branded clothes and shoes (unlike us superficial Singaporeans).
Finally, do be careful when you walk alongside Koreans, cos they don’t really watch where they are walking. True, in fast-paced cities including Tokyo, people tend to walk fast, but Koreans do walk as if they own the roads, bumping into people without so much as a glance. Somewhat like Hong Kong-ers except that Hong Kong is overly crowded for you to walk big.
Korea is pretty baby-friendly too. Though the subway stations deter strollers by all that stairs, you can rent a stroller at most malls, and baby-changing facilities are pretty easy to find too.
It was a nice trip for our family. Though short and tiring, Dear1 and Dear2 definitely had enjoyed ourselves and had fond memories of Seoul.
Till our next trip, let’s keep our fingers crossed that our Baby2-making is heading progress.
Korea 2011 – Baby1 20 August, 2011Posted by dear1dear2 in Baby, Dear2, Travel & Discovery.
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Dear1 and Dear2 can’t bear not to bring Baby1 along if we go on holidays. 7 days is a long time. What if she misses us during this period? What if she can’t sleep without mummy and daddy around? So, when mummy and daddy goes on a holiday to Korea, Baby1 comes along.
But Baby1 is a fussy baby. At 18 months, she sleeps less and wants to do more things rather than just stay still. And at 10.4kg now, Beco-ing her along is not a light affair anymore. Hence Dear1 decided that this Korea trip will be more free and easy – Dear1 listed down all the possible attractions that we might want to visit, but which day do what, we’ll decide accordingly on the day itself.
First, let’s talk about the flight. We took the bassinet seat for Baby1. Yes, she can sleep better in the bassinet, provided that it is not during take off, landing and when the seat belt sign is on which happens quite frequently. And having the screen right next to the bassinet on the Singapore Airlines (SIA) flight means that we cannot watch any movie during the 6 hours flight, cos we don’t want the flickering screen to disturb her. No movies is fine actually, except that Dear2 don’t dare to sleep either. What if Baby1 gets abducted while I have my eye shut!? I’d better keep an eye on her! So it was taking turns to sleep for Dear1 and Dear2….
Next, on the hotel. Cleanliness and spaciousness is really important, and here I am very pleased with the Ibis Seoul Ambassador hotel which we stayed in. Plenty of storage and table space in the room, and the shower area in the bathroom is spacious enough for Dear1 and Dear2 to comfortably bath Baby1.
Now, on sight-seeing with Baby1. During our Taiwan trip, she slept quite a bit in the Beco as we went sight-seeing on foot. She practically fell asleep everytime we put her in the Beco. We attributed that to the weather being cold, and she was only 1 year old that time. On this trip, she slept quite a bit again. Hmm… Was she bored by the walking? When she woke up, I made sure to let her walk about a bit so that she gets enough circulation and breeze.
Being a fussy girl, Baby1 has never let us eat in peace in restaurants. Usually before the food is even served, she’ll start crawling out of the feeding chair already. This was one big problem that we already foresaw before the trip. To get around this problem, we either (1) take turns to eat while the other parent brings out her to walk, (2) eat while she fell asleep in the Beco. Interestingly, we had some restaurants that have bench-style seats, even with cushions, or the typical floor style in Korean restaurants, so Baby1 was able to have some nice sleep and mummy and daddy enjoy our meals in peace, or (3) eat cup noodles or buy take aways to eat in the hotel. :(
Seoul is a rather baby friendly place, unlike Hong Kong. Here, baby wearing is very prevalent, maybe because some of the pavements are not exactly wheels friendly, and also because there’s so many stairs in the subway stations. Strollers are commonly available for rent in the malls though. We exchanged our passport for free rental of the stroller at COEX Mall and at the N Seould Tower Observatory. At Lotte World, it was rental at 3000 won for an Iglesia. We wanted to rent one at the Baby Fair too, but alas we found out too late, and the queue for the Iglesia was so very long because of overwhelming response.
On taking transport, this again is a headache for our fussy one. She hates being still, so it was MRT once she hits slumberland so that she don’t fuss in the train again. On buses and taxis, pray that the vehicle continue motion, else it was very much “uncle drives” and “almost there” to stop her fuss. Haiz…
Baby1 fell sick on day 5 of our 7 days holiday. We wanted to bring her to see the local doctor, but the nurses can barely understand English to attend to us, much less the doctor. And even if we manage to see the doctor, do we dare to feed her the medicine or allow a jab? So it was a scramble to return to Singapore as soon as we can so that she can see someone familiar. Meanwhile, I had packed 2 pieces of the cool patch (and left the remaining 2 more at home), and a new bottle of paracetamol. This experience taught me to bring all available medication and first aid in preparation, because it was so hard to get that 1 more pack of cool patch because the Koreans in stores can’t speak English!
The flight to and fro was a near disaster too, so one lesson that I’ve learnt is “never take over night flights if you don’t want to chance into wailing babies to disturb your sleep”. Before the plane takes off, Baby1 will usually keep her eyes wide open, be it already 12 midnight, long past her usual bedtime. She can even spot the far away mini playground in the boarding area of T3 while waiting for boarding! We took the experience from the first flight and keep her entertained with stickers from the toy pack provided by SIA. Phew, it was hard to make her keep sticking the stickers on mummy, den on daddy, den on herself and over and over again during the 30min descend. But we made it. :)
We love Baby1. Though she is fussy, but we still love her nonetheless, and it makes all the hard work more worth it when she smiles at us.
Korea 2011 – The Sights 19 August, 2011Posted by dear1dear2 in Baby, Dear2, Shop till you drop, Travel & Discovery.
Dear1, Dear2 and Baby1 went on a 1 week trip to Seoul, Korea last week over the National Day holidays. We flew on Sunday, and was supposed to return on the following Sunday for our 7 days free and easy trip, but came back earlier on the Friday overnight flight as Baby1 caught the cold bug there. I shall split our Korea experience over the next few posts, so let’s talk about the sights that we have visited there.
There’s a reason why Lotte World gained numerous awards – it’s really cool!! Big, or I would say, so EXTREMELY big is the interior once you enter. You can’t even see the far end of the building. There are hot air balloons cruising overhead, there’s a huge ice skating rink right in the middle below (though this is not part of Lotte World), there’s lots of kids and families, lots of attractions, and a huge stage on the other far side – all seen when you enter. And we have not even went outside for the outdoor park, and inside the various holes for more attractions, and upstairs where there are more rides and even the Folk Museum outside. Lotte World is simply fun!!
However, do note the limitations for the Passport ticket. This supposedly include all attractions, but excludes Game Attractions and rides which indicates that children under certain age needs to pay.
Gyeongbokgung Palace, Insa Dong and Dongdaemun
On Wednesday, we took subway Line 3 to the palace, and after the 1 hour English guided tour which starts at 11am, it was a short walk to Insa Dong. The palace is huge – really like the mock up we saw at the Folk Museum the day before, except for its real stone paths and sand walks. And no jokes about the stairs, it’s really steep. Insa Dong was lively, and we walked the way to Dongdaemun in the hope of getting some lunch along the way. Surely there must be food from all the shops I see ahead? We walked until our legs nearly gave way before we finally found a Korean food eatery. Luckily for us, Dongdaemun was just round the corner after we finished our meal.
Dongdaemun is a market, a wholesale market from what we gather. Shops and shops that sell clothes to metal poles to buttons to plastics, all in various shapes and sizes. The Cheonggyecheon Stream runs up here too, so we took the stairs down and strolled along the stream like the other local Koreans. There was a grateful breeze down here where you can hardly hear all the noise and bustle upstairs.
Baseball Match @ Jamsil Sports Complex
We took a cab from our hotel to the stadium. It was the Doosan Bears (home ground) versus some other team. Dear1 says that watching a baseball match is what a Korean packaged tour will never bring you to, so here we were. We spotted 2 Ang Mos buying tickets, and went up to inquire on the ticketing. First, you need to determine which team you are supporting, cos that determines which side you sit. Then you point to the grid and say which seat you want. Paid, and bingo we went searching for the entrance in the huge complex. Before going in, the Koreans will buy a pair of cheering ballons (1000 won each for the reused ones sold illegally outside, 2000 won each for the authentic new ones sold in the stores) and a box meal for the 3 hour match.
The game was exciting, more so becos of the mood and atmosphere. We left at 4 of 9 rounds, and the game ended only at about 11pm while we watched it live in the hotel room. Keke.
Namsangol Hanok Village and Namsan Park
Next morning, we took a subway to the village. Unfortunately on this day, the rain came back again (the typhoon was still looming on Monday when we reached Korea, and cleared the next 2 days after). Hence a brief tour of the village and we were off to Namsan Park on Bus 2. First time taking a Korean public bus, we were very nervous, but off course you’ll just alight when everyone alights on this tour bus. After alighting, what next? Just follow everyone uphill!! It was a steep uphill climb and we reach the bottom of the Observatory very soon.
The Observatory was just very ‘observatory’. The only familiar landmark we spotted was the Hanok Village which we came from earlier. Then we went to the Teddy Museum. Surprisingly, this museum is very cute indeed with all the animated teddy bears dressed like real people in the familiar palace!
Before we descended the park, we made sure that we leave a ‘love lock’ locked there too, just like the Koreans. :)
From the same bus station, we took Bus 5. This bus stops at Namdaemun (2 stops) and ends at Myeongdong. Ermm… “What if we miss the Namdaemum stop, cos there are 2 stops listed?” Dear1 asked. ”Then we’ll just go right to Myeongdong”, I replied. True enough, the first Namdaemum stop doesn’t look quite like a market we want to go, so we alighted at the next one where some teens got off. This market is quite unlike Dongdaemun; it’s more like the Shilin Night market where there are rows and rows of shops selling clothes and local produce and street food. Interesting!!
From the market, we took a 1 stop MRT to Myeongdong (we learnt our lesson from Dongdaemun, no more walking please). This market is totally mind-blowing. Soooooooo many people, and its extend is soooooooo very huge. Chinatown in KL, and even Mong Kok seems small compared to this. Definitely a must visit if you are in Seoul!!
On Friday, Baby1 started to feel feverish, and so we packed our bags for the night flight home. On this day, we hang around in COEX Mall for the Baby Fair and Aquarium. Though it requires registration and a 5000 won entrance, the Baby Fair was very impressive judging from the crowd already there at 11am. The Aquarium was more disappointing for its 17000 won entrance fee – it’s small and stuffy, though the interesting use of daily household items as tanks for the fishes makes this aquarium different from the rest we’ve seen.
Though a short trip, it was really interesting and eye opening for us. I shall talk about the other aspects of the trip again.