The Last Minute Trip ‘ 18: Hong Kong

Processed with VSCO with g3 preset

Fulfilling a last minute request (2 – 3 weeks before) by my dearest friend to go on a girl’s trip was one of the best things I did this year. Destination changed from Taiwan to HK due to the monsoon season and the short 5 days we have. And for the friends who know me well, HK was never on my list as it’s just a city just like Singapore.

mkt

Alhamdulillah, the trip really taught me that it is not the destination, but the person you are sharing the journey with. You can be travelling in the most amazing country but if your travel partner is the most difficult person, you just can’t wait to take the next flight out!

So, off we flew on 21 October! Cathay Pacific flight was full but surprisingly a pleasant one.

Day 1, 21 Oct

Similarity #1 – we have a bad sense of direction (ok, she’s better). HAHA! I can’t recall how many times we circled the same area, when Wanchai88 hotel was just there right in front of us. (Read my review here)

hotel

Friends warned me that hotels are small in HK, but alhamdulillah the room we had was smartly designed. When two people can pray at one time and there are space for luggages, that is spacious enough!

Food fuel #1: Islamic Centre Canteen @ Osman Ramju Sadick Islamic Centre, Wan Chai

I left it to the travel partner to chose all the dim sum. Not disappointing at all. It was comforting to wash all the dim sum down with a hot cup of water cress honey. Must try!

islamiccanteen

Our bus ride adventure started when we were looking for our IG-worthy location we saw, “Sai Wan Swimming Shed” (Mount Davis). We gave up after we went uphill and downhill. Similarity #2: we won’t risk our safety for IG/FB shots! 

This is just what we got. Not even close.

HK.jpg

Heading to Ladies Market was more of ticking it off our checklist. We couldn’t think of any other places to get souvenirs. I think we were there for less than an hour 🙂 Similarity #3 – we are not shoppers, but foodies!

Food fuel #2: Ebenezeer Kebab 

I love the spicy sauce on my platter of meat and fries!

ebeneezers

Symphony of Light – what light show?! Hahaha. Do not waste your time waiting for this “show”. Perhaps it happens only for special events. We did had a good girl’s talk over a cup of coffee in a cold weather. Great wind down. Reminds me of my frequent me-times during younger days at Fullerton and Raffles Place. Similarity #4 – coffee is our perk-me-up! 

light

Day 2, 22 Oct

central1

Heard much about the Central and Police Married Headquarters (PMQ). We went up (and down) the longest outdoor covered escalator system in the world, Central-Mid Levels escalator.

central-mid-escalator

Different vibes indeed. Even met a very nice lady at Jamia Mosque along the way. Love the many beautiful surprise spots 🙂

central2

We saw a couple of Middle Eastern restaurants but were unfortunately non-halal.

central4

Love the artwork! 

central3

Jamia Mosque

Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset

mjd1

mjd3

PMQ features their local designers from apparels to bags to shoes! So expect not to pay a low price. You are paying for their creative work, guys!

Ma’s Restaurant: Shop A, 21-25 Cheung Sha Wan Road, Kowloon

This became our favourite place despite the crowd. The food is more expensive but it is so worth it (yes, including the quite long bus ride to and from hotel due to traffic)! Save the best photo for later.

We had a long day, clocked in greater miles of walks equivalent to a few weeks of walk at Botanic Gardens hahah! “Zoning out” over a cup of mint tea and coffee, and just people watch was definitely our kind of thing.

coffeetea

Day 3, 23 Oct

We were up early for Disneyland! One place that I can’t imagine myself to be in but well, I enjoyed myself surprisingly. The timid me even took the scary rides! If there is a long queue, get the fast pass for Iron Man Experience and Hyperspace Mountain.

You will spend at least a day at Disneyland. So bring your prayer garb and mat to pray at their prayer room which is located next to Explorer’s Club (halal).

disney

We went Indian for dinner at Aladdin’s Mess. It was a filling delicious meal of briyani and naan. The masala tea could do with more milk and spice. I love a spicier chai.

aladdinmess

Day 4, 24 Oct

The Peak – it can get really crowded. We were there very early before 10am I think, before the mall is open.HK Photos4

Yick Fat Building – Had a tough time finding this place. Maybe it’s just us! Anyway, this place has been featured in a number of movies, including Transformers.
yf4

yf3

yf2

yf

Famished, we took a bus down to Islam Food at No. 33-35 Tak Ku Ling Rd, Kowloon City, Kowloon. They have another outlet nearby but smaller.

islamfoodWe prefer the dim sum and spicier noodle from Ma’s Restaurant. The spicy noodle here reminds of Maggi Curry.

Ma’s Restaurant – to end off our last night, we had dinner here again. We were dressed down – no sneakers, just sandals; and took the camera load off me! Never felt so good.

mas1Day 5, 25 Oct

The only itinerary for the day was to have our final dim sum at Islamic Centre Canteen, just a few bus stops away.

Will I come back to HK? Yes, with good food and great travel partner! If it’s not for you babe, I think I will probably never have travelled to HK. I am glad we made it happen.

fly

 

Advertisements

Krabi, 22-25 April 2015

krabi1

“I think one travels more usefully when they travel alone, because they reflect more.” – Thomas Jefferson

For this Krabi trip, I intentionally did not craft my usual comprehensive itinerary. I just wanted to pack and go with the flow! We were both looking forward to food feasting. It was meant to be our first trip together – me and Sis Izzah. We even splurge on a Anyavee Tubkaek Resort in Tubkaek, about half an hour drive from Aonang.

Anyavee Tubkaek

Well, HE had other plans. My travel partner fell terribly ill the night before. She couldn’t get out of bed. In the morning, it was too late to change to someone else’s name. Mum was not that independent to travel, so it was just me flying off to the island for the first time.

Krabi-Apr15

It was awkward initially, walking around aimlessly in Aonang in the late afternoon. After a while, I got used to it. I wished I had a “makan kaki” (dining companion?) to gobble down all the food I see on the menu.

I realised something in this solo trip.  The Caucasians seemed indifferent towards this solo traveller and would readily strike a conversation. My fellow Asians (ehem…especially from the same country) would give me a look like “Poor thing, Why is she here alone?” and “Oh no, fellow Singaporeans. sigh…”

One night, I went out to town in the resort’s shuttle with a Malay couple. I smiled at the wife but she chose not to acknowledge (or perhaps she didn’t really notice). I sat in the first row, minding my own business.  When we alighted, I actually stopped to smile again and wanted to wish them “have fun!” but again was ignored.

Past 9pm, we were supposed to gather at one spot. I arrived earlier so I took a seat at the bench by the roadside. Half an hour later, seeing this couple walking towards the spot, I made space so the wife could sit. But nope, she signalled to the husband to sit at the pavement.

I then allowed them to board the van first.
Husband: “Sit at the same place.”
Wife: “No I want to sit in front.”
Husband: “We were at the back.”
Wife: No, I want to sit in front.”

So of course, the husband gave in. It was awkward witnessing this. No good night, no smiles. Oh well….

So what did I do in Krabi?aonang1. Chilling and people watching at Aonang beach. Enjoying the breeze while munching on warm chocolate crispy pancake.

krabi4

2. Fulfilled my cravings for Tom Yam (not spicy enough for me), Stir Fried Beef Basil, Mango Salad and refreshing cold coconut drink at Aonang.  The highlight of my food hunt was when my Muslim driver brought me to a mini food bazaar, away from the touristy area, to get my (CHEAP!) Padthai, Mango Sticky Rice and Fried Chicken Wings (tasted like home). Krabi3
3. Catch up on my reading while others were snorkelling during the island hopping. Great to see fellow solo travellers.

island

Scenic
island1

4. Took my time at breakfast. Stunning view!

anyavee2

5. Laze on the bean bag by Tubkaek beach for a good 4 hours. Reading, pondering, “listening” in to the serenity

tubkaek
6. Pampered myself to foot reflex on the last night at the resort’s spa. Awesome! No photo as I fell asleep!
7. Watched the beautiful sunset at Tubkaek beach just outside my villa

sunset

What did I learn from this short getaway?

We can plan a very detailed plan and what we deem as best, but if Allah decides otherwise, then His is the best plan. Though, it is hard to swallow and heartbreaking to face at times. Life is indeed full of surprises.

Perhaps this was the ME time I had been asking for since last year. An away time for time for myself with Him. I recited the Quran with much serenity and peace, without any distractions.

Would I return to Krabi alone? Nay….it would be more fun with Sis Izzah and other friends so that I can try out more activities like white water rafting, ride on the ATV and hunt for more food!

(By the way, I was the only Asian in the shuttle van to the meeting point for island hopping. The rest were all Spaniards! Freaky that I was just thinking that it’s almost a year ago that I left Spain. Of course, we clicked immediately!)

Yogyakarta, 4 – 8 February

Finally, the Suaidis are in Jogja (Yogyakarta), one of my favourite places. A second time for the lil bro and myself.

borobudur2

At the highest level of Borobudur, I heard the beautiful sound of azan (Islam’s call to prayer) from a nearby mosque. An atmosphere I really miss. Here in Singapore, I could probably hear the azan when I’m at the entrance of the mosque.

Here are some snapshots!

Accommodation

We stayed in Sheraton Mustika Yogyakarta for a night, just for experience’s sake. A grand hotel with huge rooms and amazing landscape. Breakfast was a huge spread, and the restaurant has a magnificent view of the Merapi.

sheraton1

Processed with VSCOcam

My favourite place to stay in Jojga is The Phoenix Hotel – MGallery. A colonial building dating back to 1918, it definitely has its charm and character. I love hotels with character, no matter how small. Be up early for breakfast because it has one of the hugest spread I’ve ever had.  The hotel is about 13 mins walk to Malioboro or you can just take the beca (trishaw) in front of the hotel.

Must visit! 

Many new hotels have lined up the streets down to Malioboro. Sure has changed a lot over 2 years. A shopping street in Jogja,  Malioboro is the the place to get the cheapest batik shirt of S$3 to more than S$50, batik bags and skirts, bamboo products, souvenirs and other knick knacks.

If you need to escape from the heat, escape to Malioboro Mall for a JCo break. Treat yourself to a foot reflexology at one of the massage parlours. It would cost you less than S$10.

One of the days, we went for our first Mount Merapi tour on 4WD. Looking at the destruction, it made me realise if He wills, it will happen when He wants it to happen. Not within our control to say “wait, I’m not prepared.”

A reminder to treasure your loved ones and there’s no time to waste.

merapi1

A reminder of how short life is.

merapi2

Another place recommended by my best friend, which I missed the other time, is Parangtritis Beach.parangtritis3

beach2

It is about 1.5hr drive from Jogja. Truly in love with this place.

parangtritis1

Simplicity of lifeparangtritis2

I witnessed the most beautiful sunset ever right here (not that I’ve seen that many).

parangtritis5

There were no buildings and lights to obstruct the view. It was pitch black but the rays from the orange sun painted the sky and water so beautifully. It was too spectacular, it moved my heart to tears of gratitude. I wished I had a good camera to capture that magical moment.

parangtritis4

I revisited a few places:

Borobudur

borobudur4

A challenge for mum, even myself, to climb up the steps!
borobudur

borobudur3

Kraton (Jogja palace) – this time with a friendlier and reliable guide.

kraton5

The performance

kraton3

kraton1

The loyal guards
kraton2

Taman Sari Watercastle (again disappointed that I didn’t get a good shot at the underground mosque cos of the crowd).

sari

I called it the Alhambra of Indonesia. sari1

The grand entrance
sari2

Batik Winotosastro for a basic batik workshop (Rp50,000 only). The whole family enjoyed the session.

winotosastro1

This mbak was here the last time I came here!winotosastro2

Kotagede Mosque an interesting mix of architecture pre and post Islamic times.gede1

The unique architecturegede2

This time we drove to Solo, another Batik paradise. About 1.5 hours drive from Jojga. I enjoyed my time at Mangkunegaran Palace where we get to meet a 90+ year old lady who is sort of the “jamu (traditional herbs) lady. She sure doesn’t look her age! We bought traditional jamu body scrub (lulur) from her. 

Hunt for treasures at the Triwindu Antique Market. (Read the interesting article in the link.) I was excited to find a wooden jewellery box to store my watches. Mum bought herself a gift too – a traditional mini clay stove for making traditional delicacy over charcoal (which I can’t remember its name now). I can’t wait to return here when I have my own home so I can grab the rustic batik stamps.triwindu

Food glorious food

Sekar Kedaton in Kota Gede – the Iga Bakar, Mee Jawa, Avocado+Orange juice. Food tastes as good as it looks.

sekar

Abhayagiri Restaurant – restaurant with a view of the Prambanan temple. The food is priced higher than Sekar Kedaton. Personally prefer the food at Sekar Kedaton.

Chocolate Monggo – chocolates a staple in my weekly menu. So I consider them food 🙂 I’m salivating just thinking about the dark chocolate with candied ginger! If you love dark chocolate, you must get these Chocolate Monggo! Purchase directly at their showroom in Kota Gede. Much cheaper than in supermarkets. These are premium locally made chocolates. Good gifts for loved ones too!

Street Food – so far I have no tummy problem. Jojga has plenty of street food like Rojak Es Krim, Kopi  Joss Arang (charcoal-infused black coffee), bakso, nasi kucing (small serving of rice), and many more. You won’t go hungry for sure!

The People

One of the nicest, polite and hospitable people I’ve met, are here in Jogja. No one in Malioboro would persistently pester you to buy their stuff. (I can’t say the same for peddlers in Borobudur though).

Getting around

I engaged for Pak Rini (Kama Holidays) to drive us around, except to Malioboro since it’s walking distance from the hotel. Hospitality at its best.