Holiday Inn @ Batam

Oh, what a 4D3N getaway to Batam for our June holidays!

Dear1 and I have never been to Batam before (can you believe it!?), plus we wanted a relaxing holiday for this June holidays (relaxing holiday means no trip planning, no exploration, just plain relax and do nothing), PLUS Batam was supposed to be our 10 year wedding anniversary getaway last year (but we decided that a 2D1N trip for just the two of us was too costly, hence we replaced it with a indulgent dinner at PS Cafe instead), so here we went!

Day -3:

  • Baby1 had her first piano exam.  It was soooo nerve-wrecking for her!

Day -1:

  • Baby1 had her piano recital.  We’ve planned the Batam trip to be right after her piano exam and recital, so that she can wind down after that, sounds like a good plan! :p

Day 1:

  • 1030: We left home and took 188R which expressed all the way to Harbourfront
  • 1110: Reached Harbourfront and we had Yakun for an early lunch.  Mothercare was having sale so Mummy had to buy some essentials, heehee!
  • 1310: Cleared the customs.  Wow, what a breeze, basically nothing to clear at all.
  • 1410: Finally the ferry departed and Baby1 and Baby2 KOed quite immediately.  We took Sindo which will stop at Sekupang first, then at Waterfront Terminal. The ferry was blasting aircon, and there wasn’t many passengers at all.
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View of Waterfront Ferry Terminal, it is that traditional looking building on the right.

  • 1535 SGT (= 1435 Batam time): Reached Holiday Inn @ Waterfront, which is really a 2 min drive from the terminal.  The hotel and rooms were clean and very spacious, albeit a bit old-fashioned in style.  To us, cleanliness is most important.
  • 1600: Brought the kids to Panda Kids Club to play in the spacious playroom while Dear1 and I figure out what’s for dinner.  We wanted to order delivery from Bella Italia, but we could not fulfill the minimum $100 for them to deliver over.  Went out to have a look at the row of shops beside the ferry terminal.  Delima, which was recommended on the Internet, looked too shabby.  Headed back to hotel’s Terrace Cafe.
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Our 2 bedroom suite at Holiday Inn Resort.

  • 1800: Kids dine free!  Each adult portion costed >$10, and the kids’ portion was very small.  But overall the food was nice in a quiet environment.
  • 1900: Karaoke! We booked the minimum 1 hour package, and got 1 more hour free for IHG members.  The entire system was in Korean, and Mandarin and English songs were sooooo limited.  Baby1 took some time to get used to singing; she was hogging the mic towards the end!  Baby2 warmed up to the mic immediately, but after that decided that she preferred to dance while Jie Jie and Mummy/Papa hogged the mics.  Papa managed to find the titles of a couple of the Frozen OSTs and we had lots of fun singing to these familiar songs!
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We had a great time karaoke! We even managed to find some popular OST from Frozen, Despicable Me, Tangled, and Zootopia.

Day 2:

  • 0630: Rise and shine!  For the first time in all our holiday trips, we decided to include hotel breakfast for this trip, and luckily we did!  There’s nothing outside the hotel, the hotel’s breakfast buffet spread was sumptuous and decent, and we do not have to rush to go out early in the morning every day.  Thumbs up!
  • 0800: Pool opens from 8am till 9pm.  Hmm, but by 8am, the sun’s pretty hot, and why is the water slide still not open!?  Anyway, all four of us had fun playing with our water guns, sitting on the banana boat, and just splashing around in the pool. By 9.30, the sun’s pretty hot, so it’s back to room to shower.
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Papa ordered a latte for breakfast and it was served with a fancy foam art. Nice!

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The Panda Kids Club was usually empty, which meant we had the place all to ourselves!

  • 1030: Went back to Panda Club to play.  Today, we saw more children, probably about 8 others (there was only 1 yesterday and she was heading home today).  There’s supposed to be face painting during this time on a Sunday, but the attendant did not appear at all.  The staff did appear yesterday, and only after we asked did she gave us the Panda Club Program Sheet.  And only after we asked again did she bring out the materials for the Activity which was Paper Weaving.
  • 1130: We cycled over to Dragon’s Inn for dim sum, which was supposed to be the best Cantonese Dim Sum in Batam.  Very decent dim sum and not salty at all.  Oh no, Baby2 struggled to keep her eyes open, means it’s time for her afternoon nap.
  • 1300: Mummy went off for a 1 hour Body Scrub at the Tea Tree Spa while Papa stayed in the room and watch while the kids napped.  Mummy came out sparkling smooth and soft, bling bling!
  • 1415: Now it’s Papa’s turn for a 1 hour relaxing Balinese/Javanese Massage.
  • 1700:  Rise and shine for all 4 of us (Mummy and Papa got sooo tired from the massages too!).  Went over to the Games Lounge where we played table soccer, chess, darts and pool (kids not allowed for the last 2).
  • 1800: It’s dinner at the Terrace Cafe again where Kids dine Free, heehee.
  • 1900: Back to room and watch tv, bath and prepare for the night.  Mummy and Papa took turns to nurse Baby2 who had developed a fever since this afternoon, oh no.

Day 3:

  • 0630: Wakey wake up!
  • 0700: Time for breakfast!  Baby2 enjoyed the soya milk while Baby1 munched on cornflakes.  What simple delicacies for them!
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A view of the main pool that we played at every morning after breakfast, a relaxing holiday indeed.

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Papa and Baby2 chilling out at the pavilion, watching mummy and Baby1 playing on the banana boat.

  • 0830: Since Baby2 was running a temperature, she cannot go swimming today.  Mummy and Baby1 had one-to-one time splashing in the pool while Papa and Baby2 lounged around in the pavilion and at the poolside benches.  Just before we came out from the pool, we allowed Baby2 to join Jie Jie with the water guns cos she looked so left out.
  • 1000: Shower time again.
  • 1100: Took the hotel shuttle bus to Nagoya Hills shopping mall.  Normal guests will need to pay a fee, but we had it complimentary as Papa is an IHG member.  We had initially wanted to go yesterday, but the shuttle bus was already fully booked when we checked in on Day 1.
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Baby1 and Baby2 gaming away at the arcade at Nagoya Hills.

  • 1130: Reached Nagoya Hills and had A&W curly fries and waffles with ice cream.  Yummy! After lunch, we walked around and found that Nagoya Hills really did seem quite boring.  Mummy bought some cheap pyjamas (SGD 4.80 each!) and dresses from this big clothing store Sunboss where shoppers buy clothes in baskets.
  • 1420: Time to force the kids to take their afternoon nap.  We wanted to go to Caffeine Cafe but couldn’t find it anywhere! (Turns out that it was along the shop-houses across the street!)  Decided to settle down in Bistro Godiva where there’s an aircon area and tried to coerce the kids to sleep on the cushy sofa.  Eventually we gave up.  Why don’t they sleep!?
  • 1520: Okay, let’s get moving then.  We decided not to enter the Hypermart as Security says we need to deposit our big diaper bag.  Went over to the Pharmacy next door and picked up 4 individual packs of Cool Patch (they don’t sell in bigger packs).  After that, we got SGD 5 worth of tokens and played many games in the Arcade.  We could have purchased $10 and get $5 bonus, but I don’t think we can play $15 in the rather small arcade.  Baby1 had lots of fun playing Air Hockey, Hammer Weasels, some punching fish game, Drums, Shoot Basketball, and even Car Racing, while Baby2 was contented with just riding on the elephant and the train. Mummy had fun with Drums too! For $5 in tokens, we even accumulated 88 points which we exchanged for a total of 4 pretty hair clips.  Not a bad deal after all!
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We arrived for an early dinner at Wey Wey seafood so that we could return to our resort before dark.

  • 1700: After getting a box of some Batam Layer Cake (aka kueh lapis), we hailed a cab and set off for Harbour Bay which is just a 5 minutes drive away.  The cab driver agreed to wait for us and drive us back to Holiday Inn after dinner. There’s a whole row of seafood restaurants here, and we settled on Wey Wey.  The seafood here is really nice! By 6pm, many more diners had arrived to dine al-fresco beside the seas in the setting sun, how ambient!
  • 1820: Dinner done and we headed back to hotel so that the feverish Baby2 can have an early night.

Day 4:

  • 0730: We slept in a bit this morning and had a later breakfast, hoping to catch the water slide when it will finally start at 10am later.
  • 0900: Today, it’s Papa’s turn to go swimming with Baby1.  Baby2’s fever had finally subside overnight, but we didn’t want her to catch a cold. During breakfast, Papa chatted with the staff and found out that we could have asked the Pool Staff to turn on the waters at the slide.  ‘_”  So we did that, and Baby1 had lots of fun with Papa going down the gushing water slide while Mummy took the trishaw and peddled Baby2 around the hotel’s compound.  Afterwards, all 4 of us took turns on the trampoline beside the pool.
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A last look from our room balcony of our relaxing getaway~

  • 1015: Shower time, and we even finished watching The Incredibles on Disney Channel while waiting for Check Out at 12noon.  Throughout these 4 days, the kids watched lots of Disney Channel whenever there’s free time in the room, something which we usually do not allow when we are at home.  :p
  • 1230: The hotel shuttled us to the ferry terminal where we sat there waiting for the ferry until 1.20pm. Once onboard the ferry, both kids KOed immediately again, heehee…
  • 1600 SGT: Reached Singapore and grabbed 5+1 Mr Bean pancakes before taking bus 188 home.  We just needed to reach home before 5pm to be in time for swimming class at 5.45pm.
  • 1715: Bus reached destination!
  • Total cost of getaway: $1217.40

It was a simple holiday this time.  Not much trip planning, no exploration, no trying to squeeze in too many things to do or too many places to visit; just relax and enjoy the simple things with Baby1 and Baby2.  We hope that their sights have widened yet a bit more, and their childhood fills with many more happy experiences with Mummy and Papa.

– Dear2

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Desaru 1 Day Trip

It’s the school holidays!

Baby1 entered Primary One this year, so this year marks the first year when our family holidays have to be planned around the school holidays, groan…

2 weeks before the March school holidays, when we finally got Baby1’s ballet exam schedule, Dear1 and I started to brainstorm about a holiday trip.

Cruise – (Royal Caribbean) too expensive.  Plus school holidays are even more expensive.  Not to mention the (local) crowd.

Fly – Hmm, we can’t be flying every school holidays right!?  That’ll mean March, June, September PLUS December.  No budget lah.  Also, we stay in Bukit Batok, and Changi Airport is in the East.  Travelling across Singapore is not efficient leh.

Staycation – What about not going out of Singapore?  That’ll mean staycations in hotels or chalets.  But at minimum $200+ per night, just to go swimming and/or use the hotel/resort facilities which are usually not suitable for our young kids, it’s cheaper if we just go swimming at public swimming pools, or stay out late the whole day, and DRIVE home after that.  I’m sure the total cost is much much cheaper than $200.

Boat – What about to the nearby island resorts, Batam or Bintan?  But even though Indonesia, good and clean resorts are not any cheaper too, hmm….

Drive – That’ll mean to Malaysia.  But after our 2015 Cherating self drive trip, I have a phobia of self drive in Malaysia; tail-gating brings a different meaning to distance on the Malaysian’s so-called highways. What about going on a tour package then?  Baby1 and Baby2 are now 7yo and 4.5yo, so they should be better able tolerate long bus rides (I hope so)?  So Dear1 and I looked up some tour packages to nearby Malaysia and Desaru looks near yet fun enough.  But a 2D1N package including 1 night accommodation doesn’t come cheap, plus we’ll really be sleeping for the night, and bathing, so hotel facilities won’t really be used at all. What about a day trip then?  Looks reasonable, except that we will have to be at Chinatown for pickup at 6.30am, and will reach Chinatown again at 11pm. It’ll be a challenge to reach Chinatown by 6.30am, and it’ll be a bigger nightmare to reach Chinatown at 11pm and take another 45min to reach our Bukit Batok home and bath the super cranky, tired kids.  Hmm…

We happened to chance upon private hire cars, and that seemed like a brilliant arrangement, except that it’s more expensive than having 40 people on a coach.  We decided to ask the gramps along too, and Ah Gong proposed to engage a Malaysian local private car company at SGD 350 for a 8-seater car. Deal.

On the day of our 1 Day Desaru Trip:

8.20am – The car picked up Ah Gong and Ah Ma at their block, and by 8.35am, our family climbed in too.  It’s a comfortable 8-seater, and it’s a Chinese driver.

9.30am – Woohoo, we’ve cleared the Woodlands customs, kudos to Ah Gong’s time planning.  He’d arranged for this pick up timing so that the Singapore to Malaysia customs should be fairly smooth at this time.  But I suspect the driver probably had a long stuck when he entered Singapore earlier.  Since the time was early, Ah Gong decided to bring us to the Kota Tinggi Waterfalls.

Visiting Kota Tinggi Waterfalls requires a ticket

First time seeing a waterfall up close for Dear2, Baby1, and Baby2. We saw only 3 groups of people playing in the water there.

10.40am – Omg, it’s a pretty long drive here.  But the waterfall is amazing!  It’s the first time that myself and the kids come so close to a waterfall.  There’s a little fall and 2 taller ones.  We hiked up, listened to the water gushing down, and put our hands into the stream to feel the impact of the cold streaming water.  Sensational!

11.30am – Okay, gotto move out.  Ah Gong directed the driver to a famous Bak Kut Teh stall (强记肉骨茶), but alas it’s not opened!  Next option, some nice Chinese zichar restaurant, so we drove back to the town centre near the waterfall.  Alas, not opened too.  We decided to just eat the Ah Boy Bak Kut Teh beside.  But now, it’s already 12.30pm, and we had to wait for 3 tables to be served before us, groan…

Getting ready for the hourly fruit farm tour. There were only 2 families in our group. In fact, we saw the other family earlier at Kota Tinggi Waterfalls.

2.05pm – We reached the Desaru fruit farm where the kids had a short nap in the car en-route here.  We took the next tour bus which was at 2.30pm, and after a 2 min drive, the Guide brought us around the fruit farm and mini zoo where she walked and explained so quickly that most of us were just nodding and kept straining to see exactly where on the plant is she pointing to.  Nonetheless, we saw pineapples, long beans, banana, papaya and many more fruits and vegetables, smelt basil in our palms, and chewed some leaf which was actually sweet!  The kids had fun feeding the fish and goats too; RM 2 for a BIG packet of feed , you’ll not dare to go Farmart again for the SGD 5 small packet of feed.

We found out that there are round papayas, as well as long papayas.

3.45pm – Back into the shade, and we ate the fruit box which came included in the package.  Baby1 had such fun enjoying and trying the various fruits in the box – watermelon, banana, honeydew, jackfruit, jumbu, passionfruit, guava.  Great job Baby1!  We like it that you are brave and adventurous to try all the different (unknown) fruits.

4.50pm – We reached the Ostrich Farm after a 30 min drive here. Wow, an ostrich egg is really huge and heavy, and an ostrich is really taller than Papa!  The kids had fun taking turns standing on ostrich eggs, stroking the ostrich, and riding the world’s fastest bird.  We also listened to Mandarin ah gong explained the uses and potency of ostrich, though Baby1 and Baby2 probably catch no ball throughout his whole Mandarin presentation.  They had fun knocking ostrich eggs on their heads, and feeling the paper-thin ostrich eggs membrane though.

One day old ostrich at the entrance of the farm.

A friendly ostrich greeted us as we entered. There were a couple of free roaming ostriches around. Two followed Dear1 around when one of the farmers handed a bucket of corn to Dear1.

5.50pm – Opps, how time flies, and we hurriedly left the ostrich farm.  There was a mis-communication and Ah Gong brought us to a seafood restaurant.  But how on earth are we going to order, wait for the food to be cooked, eat, and travel to the resort’s firefly cruise in 1 hours’ time!?  We quickly grabbed some Malaysian biscuits and went in search of fireflies.

7.15pm – OMG, the driver is absolutely clueless about the location!  Throughout the whole day’s drive, we kinda realised that this driver is not at all familiar with JB.  He took us to a blocked road which he was supposed to have come here a few weeks back.  What the!?  He quickly made lengthy inquiries with other drivers who pointed us to another location.  Along the way, he even dared to suggest that we head back to Kota Tinggi firefly place.  Super OMG. Luckily Dear1 had GPS on and we tried to steer ourselves towards the river.

7.40pm – The end of the small dark road led us to a restaurant.  There’s 2 Singapore cars here, so we should probably be at the right place?  We hurried in.  Phew, this is indeed the correct place, and the first boat will leave at 8pm.

We quickly purchased our ticket at the restaurant counter and waited for our cruise.

This is a view of the cruise boat. The lights were switched off once we sailed so that we can see the fireflies. It was too dark to take pictures of the glittering fireflies along the river banks. The beautiful scene lives only in our memories.

8pm – Each of us got seated comfortably on the large cruise boat, and admired the tiny twinkling lights as the boat sailed silently along the river.  The boatmen occasionally splashed water at the trees to disturb the fireflies, and even caught 1 firefly for us.  Another one landed on Baby1’s hair and palm, geez!  Papa caught 1 too! It was an amazing 30 min experience.

9.50pm – We finished dinner at this restaurant.  No more driving in search with this driver.

10.45pm – Reached Woodlands customs via one of the newer highway.  Hmm, this highway is indeed faster.  We exited the Malaysian custom fairly quickly, but omg, there’s a long queue of Singapore cars on the causeway entering the Singapore customs.

11.15pm – Finally cleared the customs.

11.30pm – Bukit Batok sweet Bukit Batok.

It was a fun-filled one day trip, short of not eating nicer foods, the driver being super inexperienced, and the dirty toilets.

Happy holidays!

– Dear2

Japan 2016 – Part 4 Kidzania and Disneyland

We arranged the most fun kids activities for the last league of the trip, in case the kids can’t have enough and want to have more for the remaining part of our trip, disrupting our plans.  So last league it shall be.

We’ve been to 2 Kidzania thus far, and every time it was fun!  But today we’d only had a very small window, being a long travelling day out from Kinosaki Onsen. Although we set off in the morning, by the time we reached LaLaport Toyosu, with our luggage in tow, it was 4pm.  We bought the two-hour tickets, with an additional one hour thrown in for us (gee..), and left all our luggage at the Kidzania luggage hold (nice! as we couldn’t find any luggage deposit at the mall or the train station).

A very familiar Kidzania City, this time in Tokyo. We saw quite a lot of school kids here.

A very familiar Kidzania City, this time in Tokyo. We saw quite a lot of school kids here.

The activity stations in Japan’s Kidzania are slightly different from the ones in KL or Bangkok.  In Japan, each activity spans about 30mins, and younger children can participate in most of the activities.  Longer time means that the kids get to enjoy the role longer and have more time to understand the profession.  At 3.5 years old, Baby2 had a wide selection of professions to choose from, which means that Dear1 and I did not have to split up to take care of Baby1 and Baby2 separately like the last times.  Also means that the two sisters get to participate and have shared experiences together too.  Nice!

For the 3 hours, the girls role played four professions – ANA Flight Attendants, Takyubin delivery man, nursery taking care of newborns, and as Department Store Sales Assistant.  At the end of the day, they went to the bank to cash out the initial 50 Kidzos.  The bank even gave them each a wallet to keep the monies.

Waiting outside the TA-Q-BIN store. Baby1 and Baby2 were the only 2 "workers" and so they received the full attention from the staff who was also trying his best to speak English to the children.

Waiting outside the TA-Q-BIN store. Baby1 and Baby2 were the only 2 “workers” and so they received the full attention from the staff who was also trying his best to speak English to the children.

The children got to take a ride in the TA-Q-BIN delivery van.

The children got to take a ride in the TA-Q-BIN delivery van.

The age limit typically starts at 3 years old which makes Tokyo Kidzania much more child friendly than the other we've been to. Also, the longer duration for each activity meant more time for the children to be immersed in their job.

The age limit typically starts at 3 years old which makes Tokyo Kidzania much more child friendly than the other we’ve been to. Also, the longer duration for each activity meant more time for the children to be immersed in their job.

By the end of the day, both kids were tired and hungry, and we towed the luggage in search of the Mystays Maihama hotel which will be our one night stay before we head to Disneyland tomorrow.

We were up early next morning, and dropped the luggage at the Disney Welcome Centre before entering Disneysea which opened at 8.30am.  It was a bit of a walk from our hotel to Disneysea, but all that to save money as one night stay in Disney Hotel costs ~$650 and we really only needed the room for sleeping at night. :p

Doing early check in at the Welcome Centre. Our luggage will be forwarded to our rooms but we still had to carry our valuables. Poor Dear1 carried around his laptop for the whole day.

Doing early check in at the Welcome Centre. Our luggage will be forwarded to our rooms but we still had to carry our valuables. Poor Dear1 carried around his laptop for the whole day.

Dear1 and I had been to Japan Disneyland during our 2008 honeymoon, and had brought Baby1 to Hong Kong Disyneyland in 2011.  Since Disneyland is the happiest place on earth, we scheduled today to be Disneysea first, and saved the most most most fun part for tomorrow!  Boy, it was a good plan indeed.

Disneysea looked cooler and more adult-like as compared to Disneyland.  Everywhere it’s waters so there’s a lot of walking to get from one land to the other.  As a newer park compared to Disneyland (this year, Disneysea is celebrating its 15th anniversary), the robots here are more advanced compared to those in Disneyland.  Dear1 and I were quite awed by the technological advances, keke.

Dancers parading at the morning show.

Dancers parading at the morning show.

For the kids however, the technology did not seemed too impressive.  Perhaps it was the theme that inclined towards older kids as well. For instance, we made sure to rush for the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea as our first stop for the very popular Fast Pass. Alas, it was a long round and round and round down until we reached the dark dark Underworld, and being dark and scary, the kids’ very first impression of Disneysea was not so impressed.

20000 leagues under the sea was the first ride that we went to. It was a bit too dark and scary for the children.

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea was the first ride that we went to. It was a bit too dark and scary for the children.

Dressing up with many Disney character hats at the shop. Hello, Chip and Dale!

Dressing up with many Disney character hats at the shop. Hello, Chip and Dale!

There weren’t many colorful or fun rides suitable for kids too.  The Flying Carpet Ride was perhaps the most colorful ride in the whole of Disneysea, LOL.  We also enjoyed the fuzzy logic ride of the Aquatopia.

The children enjoyed the Flying Carpet so much that we went twice.

The children enjoyed the Flying Carpet so much that we went twice.

Aquatopia was fun with its random movements.

Aquatopia was fun with its random movements.

We had Chandu's Tail for a snack when the children got hungry. Keke.

We had Chandu’s Tail for a snack when the children got hungry. Keke.

For dinner, Dear1 specially made a reservation at Mickey Cafe where we’ll get to dine with Chef Mickey, so by 6pm, we took shuttle bus over to Disney Ambassdor Hotel.  The dinner was considered over-priced as the buffet spread was neither sumptuous nor delicious – it was just a very so-so buffet.  And Chef Donald, Daisy and Minnie only came by our table to take pictures a total of 3 times.  Overall, I’ll give this a miss the next time if we come to Disneysea again.

We reserved Chef Mickey for dinner.

We reserved Chef Mickey for dinner.

Minnie gave us a surprise by popping up from behind our sofa seats.

Minnie gave us a surprise by popping up from behind our sofa seats.

Chef Donald came to say hello too. We had interactions and photos with Donald, Daisy, and Minnie throughout our dinner.

Chef Donald came to say hello too. We had interactions and photos with Donald, Daisy, and Minnie throughout our dinner.

We timed the dinner seating to be leisurely ahead of the fireworks, so that we could return to Disneysea for the much-anticipated fireworks.  By this time, both kids were tired out, and both of them fell asleep along the way.  Dear1 and I considered to check in to the Hotel now, but Disney’s fireworks is a must-see! So we painstakingly carried both sleeping babies back to the park, only to hear the announcement that fireworks display has been cancelled due to bad weather, boo hoo!  It was probably due to the strong winds which we had been feeling the whole of today, sobz!

Heading back to Disneysea to catch the evening show.

Heading back to Disneysea to catch the evening show.

Goodbye Disneysea. We had great fun today.

Goodbye Disneysea. We had great fun today.

We took the monorail over to the Disney Hotel to do check in, which was just a stone’s throw away from Disneysea, keke. This morning we had dropped off the luggage at the Welcome Centre, so we needed to do the proper check in now.  The kids stay fixed at the mini tv at the hotel lobby while papa did the check in and waited to collect the items which we had purchased from the stores earlier this afternoon.

The Disneyland Hotel was spectacular. It really felt like we were returning to our castle after a long and fun-filled day.

The Disneyland Hotel was spectacular. It really felt like we were returning to our castle after a long and fun-filled day.

We booked the Twinkle Bell Room, and boy was it cute!  The room’s furnishings were simply cute and I’ll highly recommend Disney Hotel to families wanting a memorable hotel stay!

Our Tinkle Bell Room!

Our Tinkle Bell Room! There is one more cozy bed on the right, outside the picture, where Baby1 slept for 2 nights.

Look at the giant pencil used as the leg of the bedframe.

Look at the giant pencil used as the leg of the bedframe.

Next morning, we were ready at the gates of Disneyland by 9am.  As usual, it was crowded to the max, keke!  Today, we had a lot more fun at the colorful and lively park.  We couldn’t get enough of the  Monster Inc Ride, Go Kart Ride, Spinning Teacups, Carousal, Small Small World, various parades and shows, and we even had a go on the Roller Coaster.  Yes, roller coaster!  We kinda tricked Baby2 into thinking that only brave children gets to go on this, so when she passed the minimum height requirement and got a wrist band for it, it boasted her confidence so much that she can proudly recount afterwards how she cried but was only whimpering, when she was really scared throughout the ride, clutching mummy’s arm tightly, haha.

Waking up the next morning and being greeted by the wonderfully sculpted garden outside our window.

Waking up the next morning and being greeted by the wonderfully sculpted garden outside our window.

Getting ready to enter Disneyland. Hotel guests have early entry, but there were so many fellow hotel guests.

Getting ready to enter Disneyland. Hotel guests have early entry, but there were so many fellow hotel guests.

The iconic Cinderella's Castle.

The iconic Cinderella’s Castle.

We had the chance to see 3 parades in 1 day. This was the morning Easter Parade.

We had the chance to see 3 parades in 1 day. This was the morning Easter Parade.

Spotting Tinkle Bell during the regular day parade.

Spotting Tinkle Bell during the regular day parade.

Like yesterday, today Dear1 made early dinner reservations at the Golden Horseshoe.  This was so much more worth it!  The Show was super entertaining, the dancers were superb, the meal was more high class, and we got to bring home a Mickey handkerchief as part of the magic show.  After dinner, the fireworks was again cancelled today though the weather was much warmer today, sigh… We watched the dazzling display of lights at the Night Parade, and bid goodbye to Disneyland (and Japan). We went back to our Tinker Bell Room for one last night before setting off to the airport early next day.

We reserved a dinner show at the Diamond Horseshoe.

We reserved a dinner show at the Diamond Horseshoe.

Mickey shaped food for the children.

Mickey shaped food for the children.

The show was very entertaining, and we had pretty good seats, second row from the stage.

The show was very entertaining, and we had pretty good seats, second row from the stage.

A handkerchief as souvenir from the dinner show.

A handkerchief as souvenir from the dinner show.

This is the roller coaster that we all took together. Brave Baby1 and Baby2!

This is the roller coaster that we all took together. Brave Baby1 and Baby2!

The third and last parade of the day, the Electric Parade. And farewell to Disneyland and Japan.

The third and last parade of the day, the Electric Parade. And farewell to Disneyland and Japan.

So, that was our 13-day Japan trip. Dear1 and I gave ourselves a pat for planning such a fun trip for the family.  We got to have different experiences in this trip, got to eat many yummy authentic Japanese food, and most importantly, both Baby1 and Baby2, and ourselves of course, have such fond memories of this trip.

Love you, Dear1!

– Dear2

Japan 2016 – Part 3 Kinosaki Onsen

Taking the early morning ~3hr train from Shin-Osaka to Kinosaki Onsen.

Taking the early morning ~3hr train from Shin-Osaka to Kinosaki Onsen.

Kinosaki Onsen is a small area with many onsens, and the locals are known to hop from one onsen to the other after their dinners.  Hmm…. I find this inconceivable.  Since Dear1 was so keen on this, we’ll just have to go have a look. And luckily we did!  All of us had so much fun and nice memories here!

Lots of ekiben to choose from for breakfast at Shin-Osaka station.

Lots of ekiben to choose from for breakfast at Shin-Osaka station.

We had a hearty breakfast on the train before the children took their morning nap.

We had a hearty breakfast on the train before the children took their morning nap.

We had ekiben in the Shinkansen (which the kids learnt what a bullet train is now, keke) and changed a couple of trains before finally reaching our ryokan, Morizuya.  As the room was not ready yet, Baby2 had her nap at the nearby shelter where Baby1 played at the playground.

We arrived at Kinosaki Onsen. Wah... It really is a peaceful and relaxing town.

We arrived at Kinosaki Onsen. Wah… It really is a peaceful and relaxing town.

Baby1 went to play at the local playground while Baby2 took a nap.

Baby1 went to play at the local playground while Baby2 took a nap.

At 3pm exactly, we checked and were awed by the large selection of colorful yukata, waist bands, hair accessories, bath bags and slippers provided by our ryokan.  Not to mention the unfamiliar instructions of the dos-and-don’ts when you visit any of the 7 complimentary onsens.  Bravely, we set off prettily for the first onsen, clog-ging cautiously down the street. Wow, by then, it was about 4pm and you really start to see men and women and kids dressed in yukata coming out and clog-ging down to the various onsens.  What an interesting sight!

Our room on the second floor of Morizuya, overlooking the main street.

Our room on the second floor of Morizuya, overlooking the main street.

We got to choose from the wide variety of colourful yukatas. There is only 1 standard design for males.

We got to choose from the wide variety of colourful yukatas for the girls. There is only 1 standard design for males.

Hmm… perhaps let me share some of the (embarrassing) lessons I’ve learnt from the total 5 onsens we’ve visited here.

  1. First and foremost, don’t be embarrassed!  Japanese onsens are stripped fully naked.  But your body and mine are just outward physicals, you have what I have, so there’s nothing fascinating about some one else’s bodies.  That was what I frantically briefed Baby1 and Baby2 just before we stripped down, LOL.  In case they start to stare or worse, comment at anybody, opps!
  2. Of course, the male and female baths are separate, so our plan was for me to bring the girls along to the female bath, and Papa goes (enjoy) himself at the male’s.  So I had to (1) enjoy the soak, and (2) bath three people afterwards.  Sounds busy ya, haha.
  3. I was really trying to enjoy the hot soak, but with a scared Baby2 not daring to enter the hot pool, and a cautious Baby1 whom I had to continuously encourage to enter, albeit inch by inch, I had probably a maximum of 10 mins soak at each bath before we had to go.  But at the end of the 5 onsens, Baby2 can proudly say that, hey, she had entered ONE pool, and Baby1 excited recounted her various “swimming” experiences.  :)
  4. Inside the pool, no hair accessories and no towels please.  Initially I had thought the ladies were looking at us constantly because I was the only mummy handling two very cute little girls.  But luckily one brave auntie came up and reminded that no towels in the pool that I realised to my deep embarrassment what the stares were about!
  5. I said luckily because that incident happened at the first Onsen.  Subsequently, after shedding my embarrassment, I was better able to enjoy the experience. Another auntie kindly told us that the outer pool was cooler, so it’ll be easier for the little girls.  Thanks for the tip!  Otherwise I would never have thought of bringing the kids outdoors into the freezing wind.
  6. However in one of the bath, the water was so hot that everyone’s skin were scorched red.  Again, luckily I did not insist that Baby1 enter the pool.  I barely could enter only up to knee height!
  7. The bathing process was part of the onsen experience too.  After the soak, people will have their full bath here.  And so we followed suit.  We each got a small stool, like the locals do, and washed and bathed seated down.  Interesting!
  8. After bath, it was suiting up again.  Yukatas are a large piece of clothe secured only by the strings and waist band.  And we had to trot back to the ryokan in this, so better secure tightly!  Times three of that, please, for myself, Baby1 and Baby2.
  9. By the time we came out from the bath, Dear1 will be relaxing at the resting area waiting for us.  Ah, what a relaxing bath.
  10. And we repeated this 4 times over 2 days.  Before and after dinner, on our 2 nights at Kinosaki Onsen.  And 1 last time at our ryokan before breakfast on the last day. :p

Our Day 1 dinner was a wonderful kaiseki spread.  The food just kept coming in, and we were worried that we’ll be too full to go bath after dinner.

The beginning of our kaiseki. We didn't take much photos throughout the dinner. Just keep eating and enjoying the sumptuous meal.

The beginning of our kaiseki. We didn’t take much photos throughout the dinner. Just keep eating and enjoying the sumptuous meal.

After dinner, we strolled along the street in the cool night breeze.  And after we tucked the kids to bed, Dear1 and I had some cold beer on our balcony which overlooks the street,  watching people clog down the streets to their onsens.  Nice~

After dinner, we went to our second bath at Ichinoyu.

After dinner, we went to our second bath at Ichinoyu.

The next day, we took the Kyoto Tango Railway to Amanohashidate which is one of Japan’s top three most scenic sights.  We had wanted to rent the bicycles, but they didn’t come with any suitable for kids, so we cross the (harbour) by ferry.  Took the (tram) up the hill (chair lift are not suitable for our young kids), and bent over to see the “path leading to heaven”.  It was an amazing sight!

We took the special TENKU-NO-SHIRO TAKEDA-JOSEKI train from Kinosaki on our way to Amanohashidate.

We took the special TENKU-NO-SHIRO TAKEDA-JOSEKI train from Kinosaki on our way to Amanohashidate.

The sandbar connecting the 2 land masses is one of the top three scenic spots in Japan. This is the view from Kasamatsu Park.

The sandbar connecting the 2 land masses is one of the top three scenic spots in Japan. This is the view from Kasamatsu Park.

We wanted to cycle across the sandbar but couldn't find suitable bicycles for the children. So we just went for a short walk along the sandbar instead. Those are pine trees.

We wanted to cycle across the sandbar but couldn’t find suitable bicycles for the children. So we just went for a short walk along the sandbar instead. Those are pine trees.

Back at Kinosaki, we went for our third at Kounoyu before dinner.

Back at Kinosaki, we went for our third at Kounoyu before dinner.

In the evening, it was bath, dinner, bath and beer again, keke!

On our second night, we had winter crab soup for dinner. The sashimi was super fresh and delicious too. Yumz.

On our second night, we had winter crab soup for dinner. The sashimi was super fresh and delicious too. Yumz.

Dinner for the kids too.

Dinner for the kids too.

The next morning, we woke up slightly earlier to have a bath at the onsen inside the ryokan, before checking out to embark on the last league of the trip – fun activities for the kids!  Stay tuned!

– Dear2

Japan 2016 – Part 2 Osaka

Umihotaru is like a building in the sea, along the expressway that links Kisarazu to Kanagawa. We stopped at Umihotaru for lunch.

Umihotaru is like a building in the sea, along the expressway that links Kisarazu to Kanagawa. We stopped at Umihotaru for lunch.

After we left Mother Farm, we took a bus to Umihotaru where we stopped for a quick lunch before checking in to Shin Yokohama Kokusai Hotel and had dinner at the nearby Ramen Museum.  In this trip, we would experience 5 different kinds of accommodations in 6 ‘hotels’ – Farm stay, hotel, home-stay, ryokan and theme park hotel.  Each style is quite different from the other, and I think we all had fun with the various experiences!

The Ramen Museum is essentially a rustic ramen foodcourt.

The Ramen Museum is essentially a rustic ramen foodcourt.

Yummy ramen for dinner.

Yummy ramen for dinner.

The next day, we took started our 7 Day Japan Railpass and took the Shinkansen from Shin-Yokohama to Shin-Osaka. Shin-Osaka was our base for 4 nights. Being a home-stay, this is the only chance for us to do major laundry washing and drying. We had tactically planned this for the middle part of the trip so that we only have to pack half the amount of clothes for the 2 weeks trip. Brilliant!

We happen to catch a view of Mt Fuji during our Shinkansen ride from Shin-Yokohama to Shin-Osaka.

We happen to catch a view of Mt Fuji during our Shinkansen ride from Shin-Yokohama to Shin-Osaka.

Day 1 of our daily trips was to Dotonburi.  This was a super touristy place – lots of shops and lots of (Chinese) tourists.  Being not so into shopping, we spent the time eating instead.  Gyoza, okonomiyaki, takoyaki, Pablo cheese tarts, macha ice-cream, and finally super yummy udon, wow, all the delicious authentic Japanese foods, we like~

Visiting the iconic Dotonburi for shopping and dinner.

Visiting the iconic Dotonburi for shopping and dinner.

We saw lots of macha flavoured food along the shopping streets. It was yummy.

We saw lots of macha flavoured food along the shopping streets. It was yummy.

A simple kitsune soba dinner at Kawafuku was delicious.

A simple kitsune udon dinner at Kawafuku was delicious.

On Day 2, we traveled out (of course by Japan rail pass) to visit the Golden Shrine, Bamboo Forest, had Tofu spread at Ine, and visited and the Red Tori Gates.  As there wasn’t much travelling in between the places of interest on this day, Baby2 has her afternoon nap at the Tori Gates , while Baby1 went around taking photos on her camera with Papa.  Good one-on-one bonding time between father and daughter.  :)

There is too many people at Kinkakuji to have a good time there.

There was too many people at Kinkakuji to have a good time there.

Yudofu is a cuisine at Kyoto. I thought it was decent. Dear2 thought it was "exotic".

Yudofu is a cuisine at Kyoto. Dear1 thought it was decent. Dear2 thought it was “exotic”.

Visiting the bamboo forest after lunch.

Visiting the bamboo forest after lunch.

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Photo taken by Baby1 at Fushimi Inari Shrine.

Day 3’s morning plan was a bit messy and hectic.  The initial plan was to go to the Mosaic Ferris Wheel near Kobe Harborland, then rush down to Kobe Sannomiya for some much-raved Kobe beef.  At the Mosaic Ferris Wheel, we saw a long queue of kids entering the Anpanman museum, but finally decided just to visit the shops in search of Classmate J’s birthday present.  By the time we reach Sannomiya, the designated restuarant was full (we didn’t make a prior reservation, sobz) and we settled at an over-priced and very average restaurant.  For the second half of the day, we conquered the 6-storey Himeji Castle.

On our way to the Mosaic Ferris Wheel. Anpanman Museum is on the right.

On our way to the Mosaic Ferris Wheel. Anpanman Museum is on the right.

Wow. Who knew Anpanman Museum could be so much fun. We bought an Anpanman and a Shokupanman.

Wow. Who knew Anpanman Museum could be so much fun. We bought an Anpanman and a Shokupanman as snack.

We visited Himeji Castle after lunch. Children took a nap on the 40 min train from Kobe to Himeji.

We visited Himeji Castle after lunch. Children took a nap on the 40 min train from Kobe to Himeji.

We climbed all the way to the top. Well done children!

We climbed all the way to the top. Well done children!

For Day 4, we took the rail to Nara.  Nara is an area with many many many shrines.  From our honeymoon experience, Dear1 and I concluded that all the shrines are more or less the same (keke), so we decided to just skip the shrines here and head straight to the fun part – deer feeding at Nara Park.  Before we head over, we made sure that we are in queue for the awesome Unagi spread at Edogawa, the day before’s disappointment of not eating mouth-salivating Kobe beef still brews sorely for us.  After a satisfying lunch, it was finally feeding, where the kids had much fun being chased by the hungry deer. Dear1 even got licked by one persistent deer, eeks!!

Yummy unagi rice at Edogawa. Certainly one of the best meals of the trip.

Yummy unagi rice at Edogawa. Certainly one of the best meals of the trip.

Bought the famous mochi at Nakatanidou. Also saw the mochi pounding performance live.

Bought the famous mochi at Nakatanidou. Also saw the mochi pounding performance live.

Feeding the deers at Nara Park. The deers recognized the biscuits right away and chased after us. They also knew when we were out of biscuits.

Feeding the deers at Nara Park. The deers recognized the biscuits right away and chased after us. They also knew when we were out of biscuits.

For the afternoon, we went to Yodobashi-Umeda and Hankyu shopping mall at Umeda.  There were shops and shoppers everywhere, but we had long decided that lugging 2 kids along is never an enjoyable experience for us 4.  However we have to join the Japanese crowd at (depachika) for dinner purchasing!  You see all these people peering at the exquisite foods and wonder that they can’t all be tourists like us too!?? We joined the long queues and bought a wonderful spread of the local delicacies, some for dinner, and some for souvenirs to bring home.  Coincidentally, today Dear1 realised that there’s a supermarket nearby our accommodation.  What the!?  We had been searching high and low for days for one, and only discovered this on our last city day, LOL.  After dinner, we strolled over and stocked up with more local tidbits to bring home as souvenirs, just nice as we had to pack the luggage today too.  This concludes the city-stay part, which means no more major shopping from this point on.

We bought Bake Cheesetarts and other yummy and exquisite snacks at the basement supermarket at Umeda.

We bought Bake Cheese Tarts and other yummy and exquisite snacks at the depachika at Umeda. Also bought takeaway dinner to eat back at our apartment.

Visited the supermarket nearby our apartment after dinner. Everything was so much cheaper. If only we had discovered this gem earlier.

Visited the supermarket nearby our apartment after dinner. Everything, such as canned coffee and yogurt drinks, was so much cheaper. If only we had discovered this gem earlier.

Setting off to Kinosaki Onsen tomorrow~

– Dear2

Japan 2016 – Part 1 Mother Farm

We went on a 13 day trip to Japan during May.  By far, the longest trip for our family of 4, without helpers.  The initial plan was to go on a month-long trip during end of the year, but we couldn’t decide if it’s gonna be Europe or US (since both seem to be equally dangerous constantly), plus Baby1’s Primary School uncertain plans, hence we brought forward all the plans to pre-June so that we have the second half of the year to settle all the Primary School stuff.  We settled on Japan also because to use up the Yen that we had leftover from our honeymoon 7 years ago.  Due to the radiation fears, as far away from Fukushima as possible, heehee.

As usual, Dear1, the holiday-enthusiast took charge of the entire planning.  From accommodations, to flights, to where to go, and what to eat, and how to travel, Dear1 handled it all.  Along the way, Dear2 helped to fine tune certain details, like placing the most fun theme parks to the end of the trip, or making sure that Dear1 catered sufficient nap times (not like that last disastrous Perth Fremantle day-trip), and luggage-packing.  This style of complementing each other seemed just nice for us.  :)

To document down the wonderful memories of the Japan trip, it is a definite that we post it here.  So I’ll start off with our first 3 days in Japan – to Mother Farm we go!

Mother Farm, here we come!

Mother Farm, here we come!

Being seasoned parent-travelers, the flight itself is part of the fun for the kids. So no-no for night flights.  As Japan was a 7 hour flight away, we woke up in the wee morning hours for the 7am flight, and touched down at 2pm.  Took the rail to Kimitsu Station, ate a yummy dinner of tonkatsu at Katsuhana, and flagged a cab to Mother Farm. Alas, the taxi driver didn’t seemed to know that Mother Farm actually has a ‘hotel’.  He brought us to the main entrance of the Farm, but by then it was pitch dark and of course all the visitors had left and the Farm was closed. We circled around and there didn’t seemed to have another entrance anywhere.  He helped us call the Farm’s lobby.  The first call was unanswered and we started to panic; luckily the staff picked it up at the second attempt, and we safely checked into the ‘hotel’ via the same main entrance.  Inside, there were 7 houses, and ours seemed to be only one of two occupied.  *sweatz*

The path leading to our cottage for 2 nights.

The path leading to our cottage for 2 nights.

Next morning, we woke up to beautiful weather.  We joined the first Farm Tour where Baby1 got to feed sheep nibbling from her palm and we saw how sheepdogs chase sheep and how sheep huddle to each other.  We watched the Sheep Show, the Duck Show, the Piggy Race Show, chased after the gigantically slow turtle, and plucked 2 baskets of fresh tomatoes.  There was a strawberry-picking session too, but we completely missed the 1-hour window for it, urgh. Towards the late afternoon when all the activities have wound down, we sat back and enjoyed the cool Japan breeze on the slope overlooking the gorgeous fields and sky, and took lots of photos amidst the sea of purple flowers in spring-bloom.

The itinerary for the guided Mother Farm Tour.

The itinerary for the guided Mother Farm Tour.

This giant tractor drove us around the farm during the tour.

This giant tractor drove us around the farm during the tour.

The very entertaining sheep show.

The very entertaining sheep show.

Many local kids participated in the piggy race. Instead of encouraging the piggys along, many of the kids got chased by the cute piggys.

Many local kids participated in the piggy race. Instead of encouraging the piggys along, many of the kids got chased by the cute piggys.

The view from our lunch spot. We had some curry rice, mutton, and alcohol-free beer.

The view from our lunch spot. We had some curry rice, mutton, and alcohol-free beer.

Dear1 ordered the Manchu-BBQ spread for dinner. The restaurant offered to send this to our house as we really were the only diners there.  Luckily we did not take up the offer.  The BBQ was sizzling non-stop!  Our room would have smelled terrible after this, LOL.

As per our usual night time routine (even during holidays, yes), we were ready for bed by 8+pm. The kids were quietly playing when suddenly Dear1 and I felt the house trembling.  “What was that?” Both of us were very puzzled.   It took the both of us a full minute before we realised that we were experiencing an earthquake. OMG.  At the restaurant earlier, we were aware that we were the only family in that restaurant which can hold probably 200 tables.  And we had noticed that all the visitors had left the Farm when it closed at 5 just now.  So. we. are. alone. here!

Being both our firsts, Dear1 and I tried to rationalise our next steps.

Risk of house collapse – Only tall concrete buildings have a major risk.  Ours is a one-storey, looks-like-wood-cottage, so this seemed unlikely to fall on us.  The main door doesn’t seemed to pose a risk of blockage too, as again, only the roof is above our heads.

Gas leaks – Nope, not cooking anything now.  And there doesn’t seemed to be any neighbours around us.  Even if we have to run, we’ll just run outside, where there. basically. is. nothing. outside. except. dark.

Call the lobby – The lobby probably knows that we are the only people here, since we. are. the. only. people. here.  Foreigners some more, so I believe they’ll call if there’s anything.

Hide under table – Yes, we have a dining table, but one that seemed to hold more hazards than any falling objects.  We quickly cleared the kettle and glasses and shifted all the chairs away.

Torchlights, handphones, escape routes, kids, all in place, and we packed everyone to sleep, but fitfully the whole night, constantly waking up to see if the walls still tremble like earlier.  Dear1 had checked the earthquake alert websites – tremors measuring 3.1 were felt nearby so this was probably the same waves.

Next morning, we woke up to the sounds of pita-pata raindrops. By the time we finished our hearty breakfast at Makiba Cafe, the rain was still not abating.  Some visitors who came earlier, left, after seeing how it’s gonna be a rainy day today.  We were soooooo lucky!  From our previous farm trips, we learnt that you need to stay at least 2 nights in order to cover all the farm’s activities. But what happens if your only full day at the farm is a rainy one like today?  Basically, there’s nothing that you can do in a farm on a rainy day, boo-hoo. We felt really thankful.

Today, we’ll be travelling from Mother Farm to Shin-Yokohama (via Umihotaru) where we’ll stay for a night before embarking to Shin-Osaka tomorrow.  Shin-Osaka will be our base for the next 4 nights where we utilise our Japan railpass fully by making daily day-trips out from Shin-Osaka.  Stay tuned for the next post!

– Dear2

Things we throw during our trips

We travel roughly about twice a year, so we’ve accumulated a fair bit of traveling experiences. One of the ways that we’ve been optimizing our packing is by bringing overseas items that we don’t intend to bring back (i.e. to be thrown away overseas). There are several advantages to doing this:

  1. We will have more luggage space on the return leg. Good for packing and bringing back our shopping goods from overseas.
  2. We will have less dirty laundry to handle.
  3. We tidy up our house at he same time.
  4. It is liberating. :)

So here’s a list of things we’ve thrown overseas:

  • Shoes / Slippers / Sandals – Footwear takes up a large amount of space in the luggage. Usually, I would have my covered shoes, and maybe a pair of sandals for comfort at the hotel. Depending on the situation (i.e. conference, cruise formal dining), I may need a pair of formal shoes as well. I’ve thrown away an old pair of formal shoes in France before. Dear2 have thrown away multiple pairs of sandals and flip-flops over the year (the earliest I could recall was our Bintan trip).
  • Socks – For our most recent trip to Japan, we decided to get rid of our my old army socks. So I gathered all my green army socks (7 pairs in total) and pack them into our luggage. Then, at the end of each travel day, my socks would go straight into the hotel dustbin.
  • Toothbrush / toothpaste – Packing the toothbrush was always a last minute item, the one that we would pack only after the final brush on the morning of travel. This meant the toothbrush was always wet, and also sometimes forgotten. Instead, just pack the old toothbrush early and start using a new toothbrush as home. On the last day of the trip, throw that old toothbrush away. Same thing for toothpaste, pack the old tube, and start using the new tube at home, then throw away the old tube at the last hotel.
  • Towels – Towels are big and bulky and takes up a lot of luggage space. However, old towels becomes thin and worn and not so comfy anymore, perfect for bringing overseas. And don’t bring them back.
  • Lotion / Moisturizer / Shampoo – These items frequently have non-rectangular bottles which are difficult to pack efficiently in the luggage. So, we usually bring just enough for our trip and throw away all the bottles after our last bath. This frees up lots of luggage space for our overseas shopping goodies, which usually *do* come as rectangular boxes.
  • Disposable underwear / pull-up diapers – Packing dirty laundry back into the luggage is always a problem. This is because we separate the dirty laundry from the rest of the luggage by packing them into plastic bags first. This process of packing into plastic bags implies less efficient use of space within the luggage. Also, hygiene is an issue if the dirty laundry remains unwashed for longer trips. Instead, we use disposable underwear on our trips. They are lighter, smaller, and easier to pack, and they do away with the dirty laundry problem. Cotton disposable underwears are quite comfortable. For the same reasons, we let Baby2 wear pull-up diapers as her underwear even-though she is already diaper trained.
  • Bottle brush – Another thing that we take the opportunity to throw and replace during a trip.

With these throwaways, we usually have more space in our luggage for shopping. Besides, it feels great to throw out the old stuffs!

-Dear1