Saturday, 5 August 2017

The Chiang Mai Trip, Thailand

Alison had always wanted to pay Chiang Mai a visit and we took the June school holiday opportunity to fly there. Just like Penang, I last visited this mountainous city more than a decade ago. The vast difference is that Penang has changed much but Chiang Mai has not. The temples, elephants, night markets, people and food felt so familiar and I was glad the old city has retained it's rustic charm. You cannot see many high rise buildings. The Thais respect their temples and it's always disrespectful to build infrastructure that rise above any of the 300 over temples in Chiang Mai.  

Wat Chedi Luang
We would visit the more famous temples like Wat Chedi Luang, Wat Phra Singh and Wat Phra That Doi Suthep . My daughter loves the elephants at Maesa Elephant Camp  and we had a whale of a time playing with the baby elephants๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜. There are many online debates on the controversies of riding elephants but personally I feel that it takes tremendous budgets to feed and maintain the huge appetite animals. The money must come from some revenue. 

Family Photo at Maesa Elephant Camp
We also took the opportunity to visit Doi Inthanon National Park. It housed the highest mountain in Thailand (2565m). The temperature at the peak was around 15 degree Celsius when we visited and we had to pinch ourselves to remind ourselves that we were in Thailand, which was always hot and humid. The imposing King and Queen Pagodas that are situated near the summit were sight to behold. Shrouded in mist when we visited there, the area emitted a feeling that we were somewhere in heaven. The equally impressive Wachirathan Waterfall was somewhere we would always remember. We spent sometimes enjoying the spectacular sight and cool breezes created by the water dropping from a height of almost 80 meters.

Many readers would know by now I am a "Temple man". In my itineraries, there would always be the presence of temples. But if you observe carefully enough, there is another destination I often included in my plan. Yes, Zoo is always another regular feature. We visited the Chiang Mai Zoo and enjoyed our day there. The park is massive and Charlotte enjoyed herself a lot feeding sheep, giraffes, emus elephants and deer.

I specially created a 7 mins plus video to summarize our amazing trip in Chiang Mai. Hope you enjoy it and give a thumb up!!!

Below is a brief plan of our 6 days visit. As usual, drop me a mail  if you want a more detailed itinerary. Please give us a Like at our Facebook Page before your request ๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿ˜‰. Let us know if you are looking for a good local driver. We can recommend the one that we used for our trip.

Day 1
-Arrived at Chiang Mai International Airport
-Checked in U Chiang Mai Hotel
-Night Bazaar

Day 2
-Wat Chedi Luang
-Wat Phra Singh

Day 3
-Maesa Elephant Camp
-Wat Phra That Doi Suthep

Day 4
-Doi Inthanon National Park
-Ping River

Day 5
-Chiang Mai Zoo
-Shopping at Central Plaza

Day 6
-Checked out U Chiang Mai Hotel 
-Return to Singapore

For Your Pinning 


Saturday, 8 July 2017

Travel Photos Series#24-Sunset at Mount Faber

View from Mount Faber
We had been planning to do a family trek up Mount Faber and finally did it on 3 June 2017. At the top of the hill, we could see beautiful panoramic view of our Singapore city๐ŸŒ†from various prospective.

One of the views that would etch deeply in my mind was the sunset view from the highest point of the hill. It overlooked the residential area of Telok Blangah. The area used to be a village and Singapore has grown beyond many people imagination to what we are today.

I always remind Charlotte never to take what we see and have as granted. We were, not very long ago, a less developed country like a lot of others.

๐Ÿ”บ We recently have a collaboration with Gogoprint. They are a print business and can help you to produce business cards, brochures, postcards, posters, leaflets and flyers etc at reasonable price and send to your residential area or office for free. 

We ordered postcards from them with our unique "Sunset at Mount Faber"๐ŸŒ„photo (see above photo) and we are happy with the quality and resolution of the print. Please can go to their website for more information.

We are holding a small contest here ๐Ÿ˜Š. Tell us what you feel proud about your country (use comments column below)  and the top 3 comments will receive a free unique"Sunset at Mount Faber"postcard from us.  

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Trip to Penang, Malaysia

Street Art-Children on Swings
During my daughter March school holiday, we embarked on on a short vacation to nearby Penang. I had been there before more than a decade ago but much has changed since my last visit. The now world famous Malaysia state's popularity has been ever rising since its capital George Town gained Unesco World Heritage site status on July 2008.

Pinang Peranakan Museum

Leong San Tong Khoo Kongsi
We booked into family theme Hard Rock Hotel for our 5 day trip. Top on our list are the Street Arts (especially the ones by Ernest Zacharevic), Malaysia largest Buddhist temple-Kek Lok Si and Gurney Drive Hawker Center where all the famous Penang delicacies can be found.

Chew Jetty

Kek Lok Si Temple
We would also visit other places of interest like the Penang Hill, Pinang Peranakan Museum, Dhammikarama Burmese Temple and more. Alison quenched her shopping thirst at Gurney Plaza, Gurney Paragon Mall, 1st Ave Mall and Pranglin Mall :-)

Penang Hill

Famous Biscuits
Below is our trip plan:
(For a detailed itinerary, please Like our Facebook page and contact me by Email)

Day 1

-Arrived at Penang
-Checked in Hard Rock Hotel
-Pinang Peranakan Museum
-Leong San Tong Khoo Kongsi
-Street Art At Armenian Street
-Chew Jetty

Day 2

-Water activities at hotel
-Kek Lok Si Temple
Dhammikarama Burmese Temple

Wat Chayamangkalaram
Day 3

-Penang Hill
-Dhammikarama Burmese Temple
-Wat Chayamangkalaram
-Gurney Paragon
-Gurney Plaza
-Gurney Drive Hawker Food Centre

Day 4

-Water activities at hotel
-1st Ave Mall
-Pranglin Plaza

Day 5

-Back to Singapore
Gurney Drive Hawker Food Center

Street Art-Children on Bicycle

Have you visited Penang before? Share your stories in the comment column!

For Your Pinning

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Tips for Hiking at MacRitchie Nature Trail

Due to certain reasons, we did not travel a lot for the Year 2016. But we discovered a new found interest-hiking at the different natural reserves in Singapore! For the past few weeks, we hiked at Sungei Buloh Nature Reserve, Bukit Timah Hill Nature Reserve and most recently the MacRitchie Nature Trial. Apart from keeping ourselves fit, the hikes also opened our eyes to the natural wonders of the protected areas. We saw wild animals and plants in their natural habitats and learnt to appreciate the sound of the forest. For this article, I like to bring you all through our experience at MacRitchie Nature Trial.
MacRitchie Natural Hiking Trail
MacRitchie is made famous by it's reservoir, natural hiking trails and the Tree Top Walk. The later is a 250 m suspended bridge overlooking the rainforest below and the afar Upper Peirce Reservoir.If you are lucky enough, you can even also catch sight of the animals roaming among the trees. I will not be making a comprehensive coverage for our visit but will focus on the tips and "not to be missed" to look out for if you intend to pay a visit.

Where to start/end
We made two trips to MacRitchie recently and commenced both our hikes from the Venus Drive Carpark. But the end points differed. The first hike ended back at where we began and the second trip ended at the MacRitchie Reservoir (you can start your hike from here, pass the Tree Top Walk and end at where you start or at Venus Drive Carpark). The total distance for the first hike was about 6-7 KM and about 10-11 KM for the second.

Time to hike
The good time is early morning from 8 am or afternoon at about 4 pm where the sun is not at it's harshest. But you may wish to start off a bit early at noon if you wish to pay the Tree Top Walk a visit. The bridge actually closes off at 5 pm sharp. (We missed this place by minutes for our first visit and only got to visit only on our second visit!)

Things to prepare
Wear light-Although protect by the trees'shades, the humidity of Singapore will get into your skin. Wear light clothing for good cooling.

Good hiking shoes-Invest in good hiking or track shoes. Many natural path are rocky and slippery (especially after rain!). I saw two cases of people spraining their ankles and not able to continue their journey.

Insect repellent-This is a must. There are savage mosquitoes (and other insects) preparing to feast on your blood if you do not put on the proper repellent. Apply to your exposed skin before making your trip into the forest. The plastered type of insect repellent also suffice.

Water and food- Bring enough water. You can top up your bottle only at the Ranger's station. Ration your drink! For food, bring some snacks along to fill your stomach if hungry strikes. There are no cafe or restaurant in the natural reserves :-)

Zoom Camera-This is only for the photo enthusiast. If you wish to get a great shot at the wild life without disturbing them, cameras with zoom lens will surely minimize your frustration of not getting a great shot with a normal one.  

Umbrella-This is of course save for rainy days :-). There are limited shelters and you do not want to be caught in a storm in the rainforest.
Wild Life at MacRitchie
Natural Stream
About 10 mins from the Venus Carpark entrance, you will come forth a natural stream that is rare to find in Singapore. Take a stop here and observe carefully the habitats here. You can easily spot fishes and tadpoles in the stream. If your eyes are sharp enough, there are many furry squirrels hopping and scurrying among the trees here. Obviously, living near stream makes live convenient for these little mammals when they wish to quench their thirst.If you have little ones, you can play a game with them on spotting the number of squirrels in the surrounding here.

The Ranger Station
You know you are near the Tree Top Bridge when arriving here. Many people take this place as a resting place before and after walking the Tree Top Bridge. You can top up your empty bottles from the water coolers on site and relieve yourselves at the public toilets. This is also a good place to sight the monkeys. They will be among the nearby trees and the building roof. The reason is obvious-whenever there are humans, there will be food. Do not expose your snacks to the monkeys. They can become very aggressive when they see your food and will try all means to steal them from your possession.

The Tree Top Walk
This destination serves as a highlight for many people hiking here. You have to reach here before 5 pm or the Ranger in charge will actually shut the gate to the bridge. Do not think you can sneak in as there is simply no way past the gate after it is locked. In fact, a signage at the Ranger station will advise you to change your mind if you are already past the 445 pm mark. You do not want to waste your effort to overcome the slope before the Tree Top Walk.

You know you reach the entrance of the Tree Top Walk when  you see a set of stairs leading downwards with signboards showing you the animals you get to see at the bridge (if you are lucky and sharp eyes enough!). It will lead you to a sheltered gate which serves as the starting point of the 250 m bridge. A ranger is stationed there to ensure no more than 30 people load the bridge at one time.

When we were there, I saw other "guardians" perching on the railing of the bridge. The monkeys were waiting patiently for people to walk past them before snatching anything they could lay hands on. We had a difficult time getting past them as they tried to grab any of my loose items from me at any possible opportunity. Ensure you secure your items and put your backpack/bag to the front.

The bridge is meant for one way traffic and single file movement. If you want to get pass the person in front, he/she has to step side way. On the bridge, we get to see the bird's eye view of the rainforest below us. This is the only place in Singapore where you can get this kind of panoramic sight of the natural reserve. A long flight of steps await you when you accomplish the 250 m bridge walk but you will not regret your decision to visit the Tree Top Walk.
The Tree Top Walk
MacRitchie Reservoir Park 
Depend on your hiking plan, you can start or end at the MacRitchie Reservoir Park. The park offers you a scenic view of the MacRitchie Reservoir and if you are energetic enough, can opt for a Kayak adventure on the placid water. Watch out for Monitor Lizards which like to hang around the water!

We will continue to visit MacRitchie Nature Trail and add on more tips which we find helpful. Enjoy your hike :-) !

For Your Pinning

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Travel Photos Series#23-The Bird on the Stick

On the last day of Year 2016, I brought my family to Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve. Not many tourists know of this "secret hideout" which is surprisingly rich in wild life in our little country. We got to see many migratory birds which flown here from all over the globe to seek refuge from the harsh winter during this period of time.

I managed to capture this photo on this sea bird perching on the inserted sticks of the sea coastline, looking intensely into the water and waiting patiently for the right moment to strike for it's food. A research later revealed it is a Von Schrenck's bittern. Amazingly, it breeds in China and Siberia from March to July, and Japan from May to August and spends it's winter in South East Asia. In this case, it is in our humble Singapore.

I am pretty impressed by this little bird's determination and patience to being manage to make this far from where it is originated. We have much to learn from this little specie.

Last but not least, I like to wish everyone A Very Happy New Year 2017. May All Your Wishes Come True!

Photo taken on 31 Dec 2016.