Tokyo 2019 Day 3 – Tsukiji Market, Ueno Park, Nezu Shrine, Maricar, Asakusa Shrine, Skytree

Started day 3 early despite sleeping late the night before. For breakfast, I had planned to have that at the famous Tsukiji Market. Although the inner market where the auction for the giant tunas used to take place had moved to Toyosu Market, the external market was still intact. I didn’t know what time the market would be opened but couldn’t wake up earlier than 8am, I quickly packed my bags and checked out with all my baggage.

Headed to the subway Shinjuku-Sanchome to dump all the bags into a locker since that was the nearest location to my next accommodation and took the train to Tsukiji. It was a 20mins ride and I proceeded to walk in the general direction according to the Google maps. After walking for a while, I realised I overshot and had to track back. Apparently the markets were not very obvious from the main roads. Then as I took one of the smaller street in, I found it lined with seafood restaurants, some of them still not opened at 8plus in the morning. Resisted the temptation to just go into any restaurant, I walked onto a street that was marked as the Tsukiji Outer Market and was surprised to see not many stores opened. I thought I was in the wrong place and proceeded to walk South East but there was nothing. I went back to the few stores where there were also a couple of customers around and started to order some food.

Temple near the Tsukiji Market
One of the statue there
Finally a familiar crab

There was a brightly lit store that had urchin for sale, and ordered one dish of seared urchin to start. The urchin placed on a wooden plate of sorts and the lady used mobile flame torch to go over the top of the urchin, giving a slightly charred texture. Didn’t had time to take any photos of the process because my camera didn’t work as it was too cold and by the time I took out my phone after fiddling (and cursing) the camera, she handed me the delicious urchin, for Y1000. Took my time (of course need to take photo) with this delicacy that tasted slightly crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, and it was quite a huge portion! Satisfied with the first dish, I proceeded on to the next stall where there were more people gathered around a stall with a couple of seafood choices on display and a makeshift bbq stove.

Seared urchin store


Yummy urchin!

Y1000 yet again for pointing at one of the scallop that the staff went ahead to cook with 2 mini flamethrowers. Then adding some soya sauce and cutting up the scallop into bite size pieces, I was handed a plate of steaming hot and delicious scallop! After the scallop, I went on to one of the corner shops that seemed to have just open for business. The chefs were busy cutting up slices of sashimi and packing them, while another was making sushi. On the signboard overhead was a Otoro sushi, 3 pieces for Y1500. I didn’t hesitate, having heard from a colleague previously that that was the best part of the tuna, hence the price so I had to try it. Immediately the chef got down to preparing the sushi, skilfully slicing 3 pieces of tuna of the same dimensions and pressing them onto the rice. I had the opportunity to see the size of a giant tuna head that was placed in one of the fridge while waiting for my sushi to be done.

Variety of seafood for BBQ

The sushi looked different, not the usual plain red tuna sushi that I was used to. The taste of the sushi was unexpectedly different too! I couldn’t get a hint of the usual tuna taste at all, and it was really platable. Very quickly, I gobbled up the 3 pieces, dipping into the soy sauce that was available there and yearned for more. Having already spent Y4500, I thought I should stop.

Look at the size of that
Super yummy Otoro sushi
Sushi store


I visited the tamago store last, and spent Y100 for a solid piece of tamago, soft and warm and delicious too. During this time, people were already starting to stream in and other stores were also starting business. I explored the area a bit more and found out that the little alleys from the street into the buildings actually led to more restaurants inside, and I could have spent my time there to have a sushi breakfast, in front of the chef but I am already full (and spent my money) so I left for the station soon after.

Tamago store
Cheap and good!
Outer market with a lot of closed shutters
Line of sushi restaurants inside the building


My first visit today was to Ueno park and then to Nezu Shrine, a shrine with many of the red wooden gates known as Torii. Upon arrival at Ueno station, I proceeded to walk into the giant park. Winter wasn’t the best time to visit the park since it did just looked normal to me. The freezing temperature was wreaking havoc on my camera and it couldn’t be operated most of the time. Frustrated, I depended on my iPhone to take the pictures but had to minimise for fear of it running out of battery before the end of the day.

Ueno shopping mall
Statue in Ueno park
Walking in the park

Within the park, I found myself walking into a Toshogu shrine, an old shrine that was dedicated to the founder of Tokugawa shogunate. Not a big place to explore but definitely one that had historical significance. After walking out, I followed along the path and went past the Ueno zoo that was housed within the park. I decided to exit the park (and there were quite a couple of museums within the park itself but I hadn’t plan to visit it) and walk to Nezu Shrine.

Flame of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Kept alive to remind the horrors of nuclear war
Lanterns at the shrine
Pagoda nearby
Panoramic view of the shrine
Charm to bring home
Ueno Zoo

From the map, there was a Nezu subway station that was closer but I thought I could just walk from Ueno park since it looked near on the map. After some good 15 mins of walking, that brought me past many small streets of residential places, I finally find myself at the shrine. There were already many visitors there, including a bunch of school kids that were out there on excursion. I took my time to appreciate the buildings taking photos and such before heading to the long footpath of Torii. And this place would be the best instagram worthy place to get that shot with the Torii all lining up behind. It was here that I splurged on some charms for my family, including for health, studies and happiness, at Y500 each.

Directions to Nezu shrine
Entrance to Nezu Shrine
At the Nezu Shrine
Main hall
Long line of Torii gates
Stream beside the shrine

I was done with visiting and proceeded to the train station to get to Naka-Okachimachi station. From there I took a walk to one of my favorite Japanese brands, Evisu. I was expecting something really flashy but I was surprised to find the store in a rather quiet part of the street and the entrance was dull. I would missed it if not for the recognising the godly faces on the doors. After entering the store, I was awed by the large variety of products that was available for sale! The staff approached me and asked if I was looking for anything (again with Japanese before switching to Eigo) and I was brought to the 2nd level that catered for jeans. I also found out that the store only has number 1 and number 2 jeans, those that were extremely costly in Singapore.

Store hidden from sight
Recognisable when up close
Demin heaven

I had to get something since I was already here and she helped with giving me some sizes to try on. I was shocked that I had to wear a 36″ waist (normal 30″) due to the extreme shrinkage after wash and was assured that no further shrinking will happen. The number 1 was made in the traditional method of sewing and I was able to customised what I wanted to have on my butt pockets. All in, I paid a hefty sum of Y41k (no tax rebate available), but I guessed its something I was willing to spend on which would last me for years plus it was customised!

Customising my jeans
With something from Japan
Demin products for purchase on the 2nd floor

As I went back to the station to proceed to Akihabara for my 2pm Go Kart experience, I stumbled upon the Ameyoko street. Curious what was being sold there, I stepped into one of the store specialising in cosmetics and found the bunch of products that Wifey wanted, including the Shiseido products! I knew this was going to be the place where I would settle the shopping for family back home. Walked on to another store and found one (Silk Road Cosmetics) that sold SK-II items, where the initial store did not carry. The price was pretty decent (compared to online) and had tax refund so I just went ahead to buy it. I was informed by the store staff that the pharmacies would carry the rest of the other items that I was looking for but I was trying to get to Maricar and left for the train ride to Akihabara station.

A shopping street worth visiting
Ameyoko Street
Magazines store that carried Anello
Silk Road Cosmetics got SKII

For the ride, I had to proceed to another building for the drive off but it was a pretty short walk from Akihabara station. Upon reaching, I found 2 other people already suit up in costumes. Settled the administration with the staff, found myself a spongy spiderman suit and I was suited up too. There was a locker available to place my bag, so I only carried a phone and my camera with me. The staff pushed the 4 go carts onto the street and after the briefing, we mounted onto our rides and then it was a freezing one hour roundtrip to Asakusa and Skytree before going back. It was kinda fun riding a go Kart on the street and in a silly costume sometimes drawing attention of the pedestrians. After downloading all the photos from FB messenger, and a hardcopy souvenir photo, I boarded the train to return to Ameyoko for the rest of the shopping.

At the other store for the short loop
Did a selfie at the red light
The guide’s shot
And one as a postcard to bring home

Sticking to the advice given by the Silk Road Cosmetics staff, I walked further to a pharmacy named Matsumoto Kiyoshi store to get the rest of the items. The store had 2 floors full of cosmetics related stuff and there were staff that could speak various languages, catered for tourists. With the photos given by Wifey, I managed to check off all except one which was some horse oil face mask of a particular brand. I even got myself some hand cream to apply on my cracked fingers (due to dryness of the weather) which I thought worked really well.

The store that had it all

It was past 4pm and I was racing against the setting sun to go visit the Asakusa Senso-ji Shrine. This was the one with the famous huge lantern and upon arrival at the station, I made a beeline to the Shrine after walking past a sheltered walkway. There were just a lot of people, granted the popularity of this tourist attraction. Made my way into the main temple to pray, the Japanese method (throw coin – bow bow – clap clap – bow) and also tried to get myself a Omikuji, the one that one uses a container of sticks with numbers and shaking one out to get the fortune read. Unfortunately, I scored a bad fortune and ended up leaving this paper onto the rail that so as not to bring it home.

Nice sheltered walkway shopping to Senso-Ji Shrine
Hozomon Gate
Gate and Pogoda
Instructions on Omikuji
Bad Fortune!
One of the racks to leave bad fortune
Main Hall
Panoramic view from the Main Hall
Huge Lantern at the Main Hall
Another view of the compound

After exploring the surroundings, I took the main walk path back to the main gate that was on the main road, passing through rows of shops selling souvenirs and food. Got myself a little red lantern souvenir before ending up at the main gate, where there was another huge lantern (There were actually 3 in total which I didn’t know!).

Souvenir street to the main road
Kaminarimon Gate
Asahi beer office in the distant

I walked in the general direction to try to get to the subway for my next destination, the Tokyo Skytree. However, I got lost where I was able to see the surroundings of Asakusa, mostly more shopping. A quick check of the Google map and I was back on track to the station. Hopped onto the Skytree train and walked directly to the ticketing counter with my Klook QR code. At the ticketing counter, they printed out the tickets for me to proceed to the observatory deck.

Another huge Don Quijote
Walking towards Skytree
Station for train to Skytree
Stairs to Skytree
Ticket counters
Retrieved the tickets

Again, this was a busy place as it was another popular tourist attraction. We entered the lift and as with other tallest buildings around, the elevator climbed quickly causing the ears to get blocked once in a while. I took the option of only accessing the lower observatory but had more than an eyeful of Tokyo city all lighted up at the 360 degrees observation deck. There were a lot of people but enough space to get close to the windows for photos. There were also multiple displays with professional photography service as well which I avoided. One of the highlights of the visit was a 10min video presentation of a game Kingdom Hearts above the windows as it went all the way around the floor. There were various cartoon characters showcased, many of them from Disney and familiar to all.

Tokyo night view from observatory
360 view of Tokyo city
Kingdom Hearts show
Familiar Disney characters – Monsters

While on the way back to ground level, I had to go a floor down to take the lift where there was more viewing space then the one above. There was also a cafe at this floor and a small section with a see-through glass floor for those daredevils to look down. A short queue for the lift and soon I was back at ground level.

See through floor all the way down
Souvenir store

There was an integrated shopping mall called Solamachi with retail and restaurants but I was interested in only one of the store, the Pokemon Center. At the Pokemon Center, which I needed to google to find out its location, was a store with tons of Pokemon soft toys and merchandise. I couldn’t decide whether to get a sleeping Eevee or a sitting one and eventually chose the sleeping one to encourage my boy to sleep. Also go him a pair of Pikachu socks, cos he liked both Pokemon but I couldn’t get both soft toys since he had too many soft toys at home. There was also the HelloPika toy that he was interested in but it was selling about the same price back in Singapore so I decided against buying it.

Huge shopping mall
Ground floor shopping
Pokemon Center
One of the displays
Varieties of soft toys

During my search for the Pokemon Center, I noticed a familiar name that I had googled before that had a pillow that my mother was looking for. It was in another mall across Solamachi so I just walked over to Nitori at Central Square Life to find the pillow and sure enough, it was available. Asked the staff for assistance to retrieve the pillow and paid before heading back to Solamachi in search for dinner.

Central Square Life next to Skytree with Nitori

There was a food court available amongst the many other restaurants and I ended up with having Ramen from Ippudo Express for Y1030 to ease the hunger from the lack of lunch all the way to dinner time. Then it was a long way back with all the goods that I bought to Shinjuku-Sanchome station.

Food court at Skytree
Inside food court
Ramen from Ippudo Express

Picked up my bags from the station lockers and I headed to my accommodation for the next 2 nights, Hotel & Spa An. It was a love hotel which I only realised it after the first day in Tokyo (should have known when it’s mentioned adults only!) when I mistakenly walked to the accommodation which offered rest rates (a couple of hours). The reception was behind a counter where I could only see the hands but checking in wasn’t difficult as they got one of the staff to meet me and inform about the details of the room, which when described, I was in awe – It had a sauna, a jacuzzi and KTV!

Hotel & Spa An

With the keys, I went up to the top floor on the 6th and the first impression I had was that it felt more like a suite then anything else! (A massive space upgrade from the capsule that I had for the 2 previous nights) Upon entering, I see a luxuriously designed room, lots of space, a big bathroom with the said facilities, totally happy that I made a good choice staying here. And it didn’t felt like a love hotel (thought it would looked be simple dingy rooms in Singapore context) at all.

Bed and couch
Instructions on Mist Sauna
Bath and Jacuzzi
Separate toilet
So many amenities
and more
Dispensing fridge
Free stuff
Huge TV with VOD
and KTV
Portable song entry and very updated
Gifts from the hotel, Shuriken and spoons

The only complaint I had was the lack of storage space though it had a small locker for important items. I spent some time on the KTV that was amazingly updated with new songs (but not on the original MTV) before having a video call with the family back home using the wifi. Then it was soaking in the Jacuzzi before checking out what was on TV (there was free VOD movies, and lots of porn on VOD or normal TV) and then to sleep on the huge bed.

Anaheim 2018 Day 13 – Disney California Adventure Park

Awoke at 9 on the day of theme park visit. Figured that we spent so much (much more than on the tickets) on the room, might as well make the most use of it. With a young kid, optimizing theme park visit wasn’t top priority, thus even when given an option for an earlier visit of 1hr before official opening as a guest of the hotel ( which was ridiculously early at 7am) we couldn’t be bothered. Wasn’t easy to get K out of bed and we tried to optimized the packing for the check out. I moved some of the smaller non essential items to the car first and have mommy and K go over to the club for breakfast on the second floor. There was a simple buffet spread and a couple of choices for food and a big TV that was showing Brave. We left at about 10am after breakfast, as I went back to the room to bring the luggage to the bell.

Morning view from the room
Beach Comber club
Inside the club room

Walking to Disneyland was at least a 10min walk, through some car parks and through Downtown Disney District (a street with some shops including Starbucks and Sephora). There was a tram that could take visitors direct to the park but it was for Disneyland instead of California adventure park.

Downtown Disney District

We bought tickets via Klook that was slightly cheaper than those offered online and chose one park visit instead of hopper. There weren’t much time anyway and we thought that Disneyland would be mostly the same as those closer to our part of the world (eg. Hong Kong). Our print outs were exchanged for tickets that were tagged to photos taken at the entrance. Then we entered the park.

Californian Adventure Park entrance

Wanted a stroller as I wouldn’t be able to carry K thru out and was told that it would be outside the park next to the entrance of Disneyland. Didn’t expect re-entry to happen so soon and went out alone to queue for the stroller, rental at $15 the whole day. They had other accessibility options for rent too, like personal mobility vehicles.

Stroller rental

Returned to find mommy and K at the shop. Walked to the Disney Jr dance party for our first show. The floor was almost full and we had to sit to the sides. Then the show began and some kids were already out at the front dancing with the performers. This interesting show brought together physical dances from the dancers, interaction with digital presentations on screen and physical presentations using bubbles and fake leaves, and characters coming from screen to on stage, something like a 4D show. Amusing to both kids and adults.

Tram inside the park
Inside Disney Junior Dance party
And Mickey arrived in his roadster costume!

After the 30mins fun, we went to the Hyperion theatre to watch a rather professionally done Frozen musical. Again we were the last bunch of those people there and ended up at the top balcony, offering a birds eye view of the stage. It was pretty good with the visual effect and the singing, only thing was the characters were not the same dimensions as that in the animation.

Walking towards Hyperion theatre
Elsa with the song
Olaf and the others

Afternoon was spent having a quick lunch getting chicken box from Poultry Palace for 10ish, and walking around the Incredibles section to find the characters which we couldn’t see. Queued 50mins for midway mania which was pretty fun, where we were in seats that moved from screen to screen with guns to fire at the screens. Then we proceeded to Cars area to queue for an outdoor ride at Maters’ farm and snapped a photo with a talking Lightning. Sat down for some popcorn and ice cream before moving on.

Groot at the Guardians section
Poultry Palace
Inside the box
Midway Mania
Mr Potato Head
Moving seats
Cars Land Winter version
Mater ride
Outdoor ride that swings around
Lightning parked for a photo shoot
K talking to Lightning with moving eyes!
Cars land
Place to buy snacks
Ice-cream cone
Casa Della tires
Xmasy at Radiator Springs
Long queue for this ride which we didn’t queue for

K then fell asleep in his stroller, rejecting my offer to take the Ferris wheel or the other rides. We then walked to the Elena of Avalon show, a street song and dance show.

Elena of Avalon street song and dance

K woke up a little annoyed due to the lack of sleep but quickly recovered when he saw a Buzz lightyear bubble maker that mommy bought him. Instantly became his favorite toy, creating bubbles along the way as we strolled through the rest of the park going through Grizzly peak, an American theme area.

Huge bear statue at Grizzly peak
Old American town theme

We returned to the Hollywood area to line up for a photo session with Spider-Man and K acquainted with some kids in the queue and played till we met Spidey.

Disneyland at night, with the Xmas tree in background
Neon lights at Hollywood studios

Spider-Man was really into character, as the friendly neighborhood superhero and it was amusing when he talked about the bubbles coming from the Buzz in K’s hands. We took our photos professionally and with my iPhone and then proceeded to walk towards the exit.

Friendly neighbourhood superhero
Santa spotted

Near the entrance, we saw lines queuing to take a photo with Mickey and Minnie. Walked a bit more to look for Goofy but couldn’t see him and eventually lined up for Minnie (K’s preference). The short line was about a 10mins wait but Minnie had to leave by 630pm and so we did a selfie instead (K was naughty and hit Minnie’s nose).

We got out of the park way before closing time and returned the stroller but re-entered the park to walk through Californian hotel via Grizzly peak as the distance felt a little shorter than the route we took to entrance in the afternoon through the Downtown Disney District. The hotel looked more grand than the one we stayed as we strolled through its lobby.

Jazz performance on the street of Buena Vista

Retrieved the luggage from the bell after snapping a photo of the giant Xmas tree they replaced Goofy in the same position and we were on our way to dinner at Roscoe’s House of Chicken & Waffles, where we had chicken, waffles, corn bread and soup.

Lounge at the Disney hotel
Goofy’s replaced with the tree
Apple juice in a cute bottle

After dinner, we drove to our accommodation for the night, Homewood Suite Anaheim by Hilton. The suite was big and had the comforts of a hotel and a nice kitchen came with it. It was the best of worlds for families who wanted to prepare meals. The only small issue was that there wasn’t detergent nor an electric flask/kettle. Got my hot water from hot water flask at the dining area in which the reception on duty helped to replace and the cool water from the water cooler.

Living room
Sink outside toilet
Toilet and bath

Night was a combination of bath time, washing up of utensils and then it off to bed after some time watching Disney Jr channel, the cartoon theme of the day.

Hong Kong 2017 Day 3 – Ngong Ping and Citygate Outlet Mall

Third day in Hong Kong and we slept in a little more. It was much more tiring than I thought, underestimating the effect of the growing K against overestimating my capability as I aged. We only woke up at 8ish and K at 9am, after switching on the TV for some time and letting the cartoons wake him up naturally.

Everything was pretty smooth up to the point where he wanted to watch more TV instead of leaving. Whined and cried until we had to leave him in the room to force him to obey. We could have stayed longer if there was the luxury of time.

We walked outside to explore the external facilities and found deco that mimicked a scene of Hollywood, with the famous sign. We took a photo with the ocean behind us and took K to the playground that instantly removed his grouch from the morning while I went to do the check out. It was pretty quick since there was no queue and we got to keep the door cards for remembrance.

Lift at Disney Hollywood Hotel
Retro car at the hotel compound
Panoramic view from the compound
Hollywood Hotel sign
Garden path behind the hotel
Playground within the compound
Hotel Swimming pool
Entertainment for the young at hotel lobby
Room cards for souvenirs

Back at the playground K finished his round of slides, tremendously happy and we went to the shuttle bus to bring us to the train station. There was a UNICEF run that morning and thus the roads were blocked with a line of traffic built up. Thankfully there wasn’t much of an impact and we were soon at the MTR, paid a HKD15 per person to Tung Chung.

It was already 11am by the time I checked in my bags into lockers at Citygate outlet malls (HKD10 for 2 hrs, first 6hrs and subsequently doubled after that). There was only payment by notes and I paid HKD20 for it.

Exit C towards Citygate Outlets
Lockers at the basement

Went back through the MTR station to buy some breakfast from a bakery and proceeded to exit B on the other side, in the direction of the cable car station. Had our bread out in the open before a short stroll up the escalator and joining the queue at the prebooked line where again I have gotten my tickets from Klook. Since we had to redeemed at the counter, we had to wait again for almost 25mins before we got our tickets. Again it was a combination of a popular destination plus Sunday that summed up to the waiting time.

Map showing route to cable car station
Citygate outlets
Aroma bread for breakfast

The cable car line was again long but because the cable cars were coming in fast and furious, we cleared the line in no time, in about 10mins. Luckily we didn’t take the crystal cabin as it took a much longer time since the frequency of the cable cars were much lower but the line was long. We shared the cable car with another 2 groups as each one could take up to 10 people. Just before the cable car left the station, the staff would take photos for each group.

Ngong Ping cable car
Queue to Klook counter
A lot of people during the weekend
Map of cable car route
Tickets to cable car

The journey took about 25mins crossing seas and climbing mountains. Along the way we saw trekkers taking the footpath making their way up. The view would have been awesome if not for the mist that shrouded the skies, blurring everything. We saw the Big Buddha seated on top a hill and we knew we were almost there, arriving at the station at about 1225pm.

Much shorter queue for standard cable car
View from cable car
Big buddha and temple seen from cable car

Walking through the modern ancient Ngong Ping village, we quickly used the restroom there before heading towards the Big Buddha for the arduous climb up many flights of stairs to the top. It was a lot of hard work especially carrying a 11kg load on my shoulder. Took a few photos along the way, enjoyed the scenery for a bit before descending down, equally challenging and quite painful for my ankles which was probably inflamed due to gout.

Ngong Ping village
Xmas display at Ngong Ping
Walking through the village theme street
Tree with hanging wishing oranges
Gate towards the Big Buddha
Free roaming cows
Steep climb to the top
Panoramic view from the buddha
Close up view of the Big Buddha
Many flights of steps climb down

Then we wanted to visit the Wisdom Path, a place where the running man visited when they were in Hong Kong (a scene mommy remembered but I didn’t have a clue). The sign indicated a 15mins walk which shouldn’t be far. We saw a few free roaming cows along the way and then it was a footpath through the forest. We reached a clearing and then on the right were many tall pillars with inscriptions on it. Frankly I liked the majestic view of it and the nice weather and blue skies made walking there very much worth it. A short rest later, we took the return journey, distracting K with finding small sticks for him to break so that he could walk himself, which he did amazingly all the way back to start of the path.

Wisdom path
Walk through the forest
Clearing near the pillars
Many pillars of wisdom

We skipped the visit to Po Lin monastery since it was already 140pm. Went into a Ngong Ping 360 shop to get some souvenirs before going to a wishing board to hang a wish tag (given by the shop). Then it was lunchtime at Zen Noodle cafe, where we ordered fried rice and ramen plus a big plate of xiao bai chai so that K could have some vegetables, at a price of HKD250.

Ngong Ping Village map
Wishing board
Zen noodle cafe
Fried rice

By the time we left for the station for the return trip down, it was already 250pm, and the line was much shorter. This time round the crystal cabin cleared faster too since there was a much shorter queue. So the better idea was to take a standard cabin up and a crystal cabin down, if anyone would like a taste of the crystal cabin. It didn’t matter to us and again it was with 3 groups when we boarded the cable car.

The mist had cleared revealing the the blue of the skies and the nice scenery around. K was just as excited going down as when he was going up, talking really loudly and really chatty.

View on the return cable car
View of the waters on return

Back on the ground K was beginning to feel tired so we tried entering a restaurant with long cushion seating to get him to sleep but he didn’t want. We decided and we would carry him till he dozed off which happened really quickly and then returned to the same Urban city diner and let him lay on the seat while I had some coffee and mommy carry out her shopping first.

Urban Cafe

There wasn’t free WiFi so I relied on my data roam to keep me entertained until mommy came back, half an hour later. She had a pair of jeans that she wanted to get and would combine with mine for an additional discount. Then placing K’s head on a rolled up jacket, I left for my shopping time.

Crowded Citygate

As the website of Citygate mentioned that there was free handphone charging so I went to the counter whom advised that the charging station was across the bridge at the other building. I proceeded to walk to the other building as approached the information counter there, expecting to see some lockers with charging cables. But when the staff brought me there, I was disappointed to see that it was an open area with 4 miserable cables, all fully utilized. Waste of time, I went back to start my shopping.

A sucker for jeans, the Evisu outlet was the store that I spent a lot of time there, and I scored a pair of jeans with 70% off plus a 10 that mommy wanted to get ( only thing was I had to return to check with her if that was the pair she left at the counter). After paying, I returned to the restaurant as K had woken up. We paid for the drinks and went to the 10th floor where 10th Avenue was, the entire floor dedicated to shoes.

Lift to 10th Avenue
At the 10th Avenue
All the shoes shops

As I was looking for both a pair of running shoes and a pair of shoes for the new year, we all bought at least a pair from there. After K changed his diapers, we went to Hugo boss where I got myself some shirt (the cheaper ones, they were really comfortable). That was the end of my shopping experience but it had already added up the weight to lug back to the hotel.

Inside Citygate

Claiming the bag left in the locker, I had to pay an additional of HKD50, in which I paid 60 as I didn’t have a 10 dollar note and there was no change given. Bought the tickets back to TST station for HKD19.5 each and we were on an hour journey back, including the long walk within the station (so thankful for the travelators as my back was breaking). We went to iSquare to visit a Maxim cake shop to get a small piece of cake for K as it was his actual day birthday and then returned to Citadines. Checked in was quick as the staff knew who we were as we had initially stayed there and gave us the keys.

Receipt from the locker
Maxim’s cakes

This time around, we were one floor higher but with the exact same design. We put everything down, rested a bit while K watched a video and then proceeded to a diner called Sweetheart Garden restaurant just across the street for dinner. Although mommy wanted to visit a Cha Chan Ting, we had to settle for this since it was almost 9pm already. Mommy ordered a sumptuous pork chop with fish and fried egg rice and a black pepper pork chop served on a hot plate. K shared the rice with mommy and I took pork chop.

Separated toilet and wash basin
Small desk
Kitchenette equipment
Living room
Goodies from the outlet mall
Garden Restaurant
Soup and bread
Fried rice with egg and cutlet
Chicken chop on hot plate
Milk tea and red bean dessert

Halfway through, mommy and K returned to the room first as he said that he wanted to go poo. Left myself to finish whatever was on the table and paid around HKD 216. Retrieved our luggage and from reception and also our delivery from Door Door, super delicious nougat shop, and brought everything back to the room.

Went to reception to borrow a lighter for lighting up Ks candles but was informed that there wasn’t one available but the staff could lend it to us as she was a smoker. Went to get it from the reception was told to return it only at check out, a nice gesture. Back at the room, we sang a birthday song for K and he blew out the 3 candles after multiple attempts, the 4th time this month he was celebrating (school, and with the grandparents). After a few mouthfuls of cakes, it was bath time, storytime and bedtime.

My ankles were still painful after taking some pills but the tiredness overtook the pain and drove me to dreamland quickly, a eventful day at Lantau island.

Hong Kong 2017 Day 1 – Arrival at Hong Kong and visit to the Peak

K’s birthday trip to Hong Kong started early on Friday morning. To catch that 955am flight, the parents woke at 630 ish while K had the slightly luxury to wake 15mins later. Having down a bottle a milk, getting dressed dazed but knowing that he was going to get on a plane helped get him out of bed way faster than a normal school day. Dad drove us to the airport taking the PIE, and while we were aware that K might puke in the car, he didn’t – traffic was light and we got to the airport in slightly more than half an hour.

We helped ourselves with the printing of the luggage tags and drop the luggage at the new hi tech looking bed drop and then we were through the departure and the immigrations. Sat ourselves at Pret A Manger (been a while since we visited) for some drinks while K had his chiffon cake for breakfast and plane watching for entertainment. We were also given by the Changi staff a airplane-neck pillow, which K enjoyed playing with.

Hi tech auto bag drop

Before proceeded to the combined gates (A1-A5 I think) area, we changed his diapers at one of the diaper changing area. Older now, he initially chose to lie on the koala fold down table and to buckle up but later we got him to stand up since he was going to use diaper pants.

Boarding happened soon after and there was a long line to the plane. We settled quickly before K started his marathon viewing of Baby First, something he remembered where he was watching it on another flight before. There was a water spill incident at the seat in front of us and the passengers in front had to be reseated somewhere else, good because K was always kicking the seat in front.

The child food came after K downed a 250ml but his appetite was a little surprising as he munched down the entire bread with butter plus a big amount of the egg omelette. We had to stop him from eating some more fearing that he would vomit everything out if he didn’t feel well. The fear was for nothing as he managed well, even though he didn’t sleep at all.

Avengers colouring set for the kids
Child’s meal
Uncovering a smooth omelette underneath

I managed to catch Pirates of the Caribbean Dead: Dead Men Tell No Tales, and K had the baby TV and his scribble pad, and a change of diapers at the seat later, we had landed in the cool (literally) country of Hong Kong, 20mins late (since we took off 25mins late due to the busy flights at Changi).

Cloudy, weatherman was right

We got to the immigrations and there was a long snaking line that took about 15mins to clear. There was another passenger with the same name as K at the next counter which we found amusing as we didn’t know it was that common. Picked up the luggage at the belt immediately after clearing the immigrations and my “reservoir” and we were outside trying to hunt for voucher booklet but didn’t see any. Later we boarded the urban taxi heading towards Tsim Sha Tsui, HKD306 and 45 min later, we arrived at the narrow one way street for our accommodation, Citadines Ashley.

Xmas deco along the path
Red for urban taxi into Hong Kong
No queue

One of the staff on seeing us struggling, me trying to keep the change that the driver gave me and at the same time negotiating with 2 luggage, came out to help. Showing the voucher I had in my iPhone wallet, check in was easy. Before we knew it, we were at the 18th floor of this hotel.

Spacious living room
Separate sink outside
Kitchenette stuff
Hob for cooking
View from window extending camera
What we could see

K who was awoke after getting off the taxi, drank a packet of milk before we went back to napping. Both parents rested too but it was a short nap before mommy got up to cook soup and went downstairs to get some egg tarts while I lazed in bed. Eventually, K woke at about 510pm and had some snacks before we left for our first attraction of this trip, the Peak.

Having bought the tickets on Klook, we were supposed to meet up at exit K at Central MTR. If was 10mins walk from our accommodation to Tsim Sha Tsui station and then a short 5mins ride to Central. It was peak hour and as the ticketing kiosk was crowded, it was challenging to get tickets, someone even tried to cut out queue which we told them off, only to find the machine’s notes “eater” faulty. To make it easier, we went to the counter which had a queue but was at most a 2 mins wait.

The MTR wasn’t packed like a sardine even though it was busy, there were even seats. We got to exit K in no time and it was easy to spot the 2 guides holding small orange Klook flags. Getting behind a queue, I gave my phone to the guide that returned me with 2 ARV tickets (A adults, R return and V for train and sky terrace). Since K was under 3 I didn’t get him one. There was 3 groups of people segregated by languages, biggest being Chinese (unsurprisingly), and English and Korean, making it a 100 people crowd. At 615pm ( the last time slot for group booking on Klook), we started walking to the Tram station.

Klook group at the entrance with the orange flags
Klook tour group sticker
Our tickets to the Peak

This was when it started to become a bad idea. When I booked the tickets (SGD 17 each), I forgotten that it was a Friday evening. This was peak time for the Peak. The short 5mins walk to the station became 10mins as the street was packed with people and cars with tourists and people getting off work. We got to bypass a few buildings like the HSBC bank building and Cheung Kong center (owned by the richest man in Hong Kong) before we found ourselves lining behind a very long snaking queue alongside garden Road.

Huge Xmas tree at HSBC building
Office of the richest tychoon in Hong Kong
The queue was crazy!

The wait was as long as 1hr and I immediately regretted going on this trip, wondering when K could have his dinner. From about 640pm I stood in the queue while mommy and K walked about at the fountain and joined later as we were about to go into the station itself, and finally only boarded at about 740pm. And it was chaotic, even though we had a kid and people were reminded not to push, there was still a lot of pushing. Mommy managed to get onboard first and chope seats while I came up slightly later with K, after pushing through the crowd past the small doorway of the tram, feeling disgusted of the lack of civil mindedness but wasn’t surprised at with a predominantly big group of Chinese tourists.

Fountain at the Peak station
At the entrance
Some of the exhibits
Tram arriving
Inside the tram

Getting off at the station, we went through the “market” place and then getting info from the guide, we went in search of food. There was Madame Tussaud that we didn’t get tickets for and a free “trick eye museum” of sort that we bypassed, a Jap restaurant, Bubble Gump and Hard Rock that we saw but ended up at Chinese restaurant called Lu Feng which didn’t have a queue and most likely have fried rice that K could have with his soup.

Marketplace of souvenir store
Multi storey mall at the Peak

We were brought upstairs that revealed a nicely designed interior and had beautiful views of the city but were told that it was fully reserved. Ordered Ying Yang fried rice (2 flavors on the same plate) and a beef fried hor fun. I thought it tasted pretty good and K had a bit of both but was quick to give up eating saying he was full. As usual, I had to eat up the leftovers but it was quite nice in my opinion.

Lu Feng restaurant
Restaurant with a view
Retro style design
Beef hor fun
Ying Yang fried rice

After some fussing in the restaurant for not wanting to walk while i paid for the HKD340 ish dinner, we proceeded to use the locked toilets (key to take from counter) before heading to the topmost 6th floor where the tickets were once again used for entry to Sky Terrace 428. At that time it was again crowded and we had to wait for our turn to move closer to the balcony to take photos. I had never learnt to take a photo for people with a brighter background, and the flash just dimmed the view behind. In the end, the shot came out with very grainy mommy and K, worse without a stand. Taking the view was fine but funnily the iPhone was not able to shoot well.

Night view from the Peak

After a short walk around and a photo of K doing the heart shape pose (his fave pose currently with all his birthday poses being the same) in front of a heart shape display, we left the chilling winds and proceeded to another round of waiting for the tram back to ground level. This time the queue was much faster and in about 40mins, we were on the tram, again after much shoving. We couldn’t get a seat but a nice tourist offered some space to share with K, which he took unwillingly after mommy made him sit.

Tram station at the Peak

The steep descent made us had to hold on tight and since the tram was facing one direction throughout, the seated people were moving in the backwards direction, slided back into the seat.

We went back to the same way we came, now the streets emptied of the crowd and it was a quick walk to Central MTR. We boarded an empty train as the previous one just left and arrived at TST station on a crowded train as passengers boarded at the stop in between. Went to iSquare mall to the Supermarket by Jason’s to buy meat and vegetables for making soup the next day, the supermarket was still busy – 10pm and people were still going in to buy stuff. Paid about HKD130 and we walked back to our hotel, going through the busy street that had probably only getting started for the Friday night.

Supermarket at iSquare

Once back, I rested a while and had a free can of coke from the fridge. Carrying K on my shoulders made my shoulders kinda sore. Bathed K in the bathtub before he was watching a bit of discovery channel, drank his milk and played his pencil tablet while the parents prepared the day bag for Disneyland the next day and bathed.

It was 12mn before lights off, K didn’t even asked for story book and soon we were all off to lala land.

Johor Bahru 2017 Day Trip – Thomas Town, Hello Kitty Town and Puteri Harbour

It was a typical weekend but we decided on impulse to visit our neighbor Malaysia for some getaway fun for our boy, specifically Thomas Land. After spending some time online to compare the various deals (online promo was RM88 for Hello Kitty and Thomas town but earliest tix available was the next day, Klook was slightly cheaper than a day tix, Mileslife only had Hello kitty in return for giving more miles on top of card miles and finally Maybank had one promo till end of the year, 30% off 2 parks tickets), we were on our way. Went over to forex for some SGD$100 at 3.07 rate at the market, we drove to the 2nd link after topping up my petrol to 3/4 tank.

The Singapore checkpoint at the 2nd link was slightly busy but we managed to clear in about 15mins. It was about 1215pm then, when we met with a massive jam, apparently so many people were going to Malaysia at this time (and it wasn’t even the long weekend). We had stayed on the no mans land for some 2hrs, reaching the immigrations at past 2pm. While on the way struggling towards the checkpoint, to save us some time, K had his lunch in the car.

GPS indicated 29mins additional – understatement!
Traffic jam.
All the way till the Johor checkpoint.

Because I didn’t have the Touch N Go card with me, I had to purchase one as there was a VEP fee to pay using that card. The officer at the counter told me to get out of the car and walk to VEP counter to buy the card. Leaving the car (which felt a little awkward and a little sorry for the car behind me), I went to the VEP counter where there were a few people who was at the auto machine, either buying a card or topping up. I bought the card for RM10 and topped up another RM50 at the same machine that luckily had English and a staff there to help, I hurried back to the car where the officer was done with our passports, tapped for a RM20 VEP fee before driving on.

The drive was the same route to Legoland and it was a short 15mins to Puteri harbour, passing one toll gantry where we had to pay RM7.50 toll before exiting at 312. Further down the road past Legoland, we soon arrived at a building where hotel Jen and Thomas town was. Drove down two levels and parked there, apparently without a need for carpark tickets or fees (at our time of visit).

At Puteri Harbour
At the theme park entrance

While mommy visited the toilet after holding it in for the whole journey, I went to the ticketing to get the tickets, a Maybank promo of RM175 for 2 adults for 2 parks as K was under 3 and thus free. There was a Safra card promo too but since I didn’t have it with me and was there for the Maybank promo (which the staff didn’t know about and thankfully I screen shot it).

The ticketing counter inside the building
Two tickets for the adults
Giant Hello Kitty design

We were given the wrist band and after a bag check, we took the lift to the 3rd floor. Thomas Town occupied the entire 3rd floor with a cafe and the rests were rides and a huge indoor playground. K got on top of the Bertie the bus ride before taking a Thomas train then went round the small track 2 times before indulging in the huge indoor playground (it was meant for 4 and older but I followed closely) for a good half an hour of climbing and sliding while mommy went for lunch.

Bertie Bus ride that went round and round
Thomas Town Panorama
Knapford station, all aboard Thomas the train
Thomas the train ride
Parent’s lounge area, to take a break from all the fun
Thomas and the other trains within the indoor playground
Obstacles in the playground
And tight lanes that were sometimes difficult to squeeze pass, as an adult
Slides of course
Game coupons for Hello Kitty town

When mommy came and took K to rest at the parents lounge and have milk, I went to the cafe there for some Mee Goreng for RM17, and proceeded to 2nd floor to see what’s there. To my surprise, there were many other playground there meant for K’s age and even a small stage for shows. At that time, Bob the builder was also having a show where parents and kids all gathered in front of the stage to watch sitting on comfy bean bags. There was also an arcade area.

Mee Goreng plus egg lunch
Bob the builder show
At the 2nd level
Indoor playground meant for smaller kids
Pingu the penguin
Arcade inside
Mini maze at Barney’s

I proceeded to the first floor and walked around the Hello Kitty Town. By comparison, it was a lot quieter in the sense of the activities, where it was more suited for kids preferring less physical activities. There was a Hello Kitty photo session ongoing and a show about to start with a queue forming. There was a cafe there too. I didn’t spend a lot of time there before joining the sleeping duo at the third floor. I managed to get online for awhile with my phone catching a whiff on hotel Jen wifi signal (no free wifi in Thomas town) before ending up on the couch back at Thomas town, typing this note while waiting for K to finish napping.

Hello Kitty Town entrance
Hello Kitty Town engulfed in pink
Indoor playground in Hello Kitty Town
Cinnamon roll cafe in Hello Kitty Town

A quick 1.5 hrs nap and he woke up. A little dazed, his little engine kickstarted quickly when I mentioned that there is more to see one level below. After changing out his diapers in public, we went down one level where the assorted characters of Bob the builder, Barney and Pingu could be found. With only 45mins to closing, we went to the indoor playground of Bob the builder, a playground meant for 3 to 12, more suited to K’s age. He immediately went for the ball pool, moving half submerged through and climbed for the slides. A couple more times at the slides and he had enough. There were giant puzzles to play with but he wasn’t interested. Barney characters were out and about for photos and we took a family pic before having a go at Barneys maze. The last stop at this level was at Pingu arcade where the games were for free. K wasn’t interested in most, though the parents had a little fun with the basketball while he was trying to do the rolling bowling.

Barney the mascots

10mins left and we went to level 1 where Hello Kitty town was. Almost everything was close and K was disappointed not being able to go to the indoor playground there (again!). We lined up at the shooting game in the last bit to utilize the coupons (using a toy gun to shoot at targets and win some stuff) but was too late as they had to do a hard stop at 6pm. We pleaded for the staff to let K shoot one shot as he was looking forward to it and cried when we said the game stall had closed. He did shoot once but it wasn’t on target.

We got to the ground floor and walked through the souvenir store, again being rushed to leave the place. There was quite a big section of Hello Kitty merchandise and a small section of Thomas the Train but we didn’t had much time anyway to shop, not to mention buy.

Thomas the train section in the store
The much bigger Hello Kitty section

Outside, there seemed to be programs of some sort going on but we weren’t participating due to the Mid-Autumn festival. Walked to the waterfront where rows of stalls were put up for bazaar but really not much to see. The view was also a typical yacht harbour.

Puteri Harbour panorama
Right next to the harbour
Bazaar stalls with lanterns for the mid-Autumn festival

Before leaving, I took some photos, bought a white coffee from Old Town white coffee, used the hotel Jen free wifi to load the map before we headed for home. Going home was rather easy and quick, the only grouse (due to my stupidity) was I missed the petrol station to fill up, not realizing that the R&R sign was the point to turn in from the highway.

Clearing the immigrations was fast, compared to the jam in the morning, and while we were traveling through the no mans land, we saw the morning jam extended till now! What’s with the traffic I wondered. Clearance was fast at Tuas since there weren’t many cars returning.

It was a really long day trip even though the theme parks were only opened for a mere 8hrs (10am-6pm). The fatigue came from the long wait at the queue going into Johor coupled with lotsa climbing inside the indoor playground. Overall it would be worth it to just pay for a single park with the Safra discount as we didn’t have time for the Hello Kitty town. Anyhow, it wasn’t that expensive to begin with (compared to places like Pororo park) just that it would have been better if we had left early and took in the whole 8hrs. There were quite a bit of games and entertainment ongoing other than the rides on offer. Those who preferred creative activities would prefer the Hello Kitty town since there were crafts rooms and cookies baking rooms, all were missed due to lack of time. In consideration of the jammed up nonsense going in, maybe a staycation at hotel Jen might not be a bad idea.