Friday, June 29, 2012

A New Beginning

Now that we have signed the paperwork, it's safe to announce that we are going to have a very exciting second part of 2012.

We are going to be moving, yet again! But this time round, it's kinda permanent and we hope to sink our roots down for a bit in a space we can call our own. (Finally! We never move into any of our properties, for some reason or another.)

The search for a new home started when the apartment that we live in was put up for sale by the landlord. After countless viewings, it was finally sold about a month back.  The new owners came by one day and were pretty honest about their renovation plans so I told D to get his act together and start househunting.

Everyone knows that the current property market is pretty volatile. While the volume of transactions have slowed down, the truth is, prices are still holding constant. You will find that most owners are not willing to lower their selling point.

We had a few areas we were looking at.

D had a few requirements.
  • It had to be close the the kids' schools.
  • Not too far from town.
  • Freehold and preferably has a view.
I like high floors and an unblocked view. And hopefully, it's a corner unit. A reasonable floor area so that there's space for the kids to grow and no wastage of space like bay windows. A good sized kitchen was important too.

Shortlisted a few developments and spent a few weekends househunting. I was about to call it quits as we didn't see anything we liked or felt akin to. So I told D that I was happy to just sit back for a bit and perhaps rent for another year.

That is, until my girlfriend, who's househunting too, sent me a link to a newly listed unit.

To cut the story short, I rang the agent to arrange a viewing. We were the first peeps to view the apartment. We loved the space and had such a good vibe. D offered in the afternoon. We gave a cheque in the evening. The agent confirmed the sale the following day. And it's such a deal!

It was the fastest transaction ever. And had such a good story behind the sale too. (but that's for another day.)

I'm really excited cause it's in an incredible location. (It's in the exact stretch that I wanted but thought we couldn't afford.) We are five minutes from everywhere. And we can still afford to wake up a lil later to send the kids to school.

So yes! I'm looking at IDs and contractors now. If anyone has a good one to recommend, I would love to hear from you. Thanks in advance. =)

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Everybody sing, "M I C K E Y M O U S E!!!'


I don't know what is it with kids and Disneyland.

But it really is the happiest place on earth. (for them, at least!)

What makes me happy is seeing how their eyes light up when they step foot there. There's a skip in the walk and big generous smiles all over.

I actually don't mind HK Disneyland because the size is perfect for little kids who can't walk too far. Plus, it's a nice reprieve from the busy urban life there. It's also easily accessible.

Here are some highlights for me.

Lil Miss K is going... "WHAT IS TAKING SOOO LONG?!!"
Seeing the look of pure excitement from the eyes of a 2.5 year old.
Dancing in the Streets!
Toyland was beautiful! They did really well with the decor.

Sent K on his first 'Viking' ride.

Shopping up a storm!!


What I didn't like was how some of the neighbourly tourists behave. They love trying to cut the line using a multitude of excuses and pretences. They don't get the idea of personal space and always (ALWAYS!) bump into you when the queue is moving forward. Don't even get me started on how rude they are. I'm generally quite tolerant but man! You gotta have some ettiquette, people.


I told D that the next time round, we'll try to head there on a weekday. =) Perhaps, we would avoid these unpleasant situations. 

8am


Mornings are sacred commodities around here.

Right after the school pick up, the husband and I would usually head for a morning cuppa.

He's away this week so the school run has been rather lonely.

The temptation to just go home and hop straight into bed was alluring but being such a habitual person, my caffinated inner being always drives towards a cuppa joe. =)

And so I spent this morning at the new Kith outlet at Park mall, with the morning news (oh CHC!) and a takeaway cup of latte.

The morning light was gorgeous. The cafe had a to die for fitout. The morning traffic had such comforting buzz. I had a lovely lil chat with the lady who ran it (and she remembers my name for a coffee card!)

I savoured the quiet moments as I flipped through the papers and sipped my drink. With no distractions.

And I thought, life is good.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Dim Sum Times


I think we had some of the most delicious yum cha this trip.

On Saturday morning, we woke up and headed down to Man Ho Restaurant (Wan Hao, as we know here in SG). It was still early at eleven am and we had pretty much the entire place to ourselves. D ordered up a storm (as usual) and we ate till our stomachs almost exploded.

I loved the service. There was a manager who had an enormous stack of Disney stickers and he kept coming over to fish some out to give to the kids. Plus, they were very attentive and were quick to assist when we needed stuff. Happy days.


The highlight was definitely the egg tarts. It was silky soft with a really flaky crust. Somehow, it seemed like only egg whites were used. Yumz! Loved it!!

Man Ho Chinese Restaurant
88 Queensway
Hong Kong
+852 2810 8366



D had always wanted to try Tim Ho Wan. We were unsuccessful the last two times because the queues were insanely long and we had a flight to catch on those days. This time round, they've expanded to 4 stores so we had more choices.

We went to the one at Hong Kong station, under the IFC mall. The wait was rather reasonable. I think we only had to wait for 30 minutes for a table. Service was fast. And because you fill in the order form, the food comes out pretty fast as well.


I adored the Polo Char Siew Pau. I've eaten this heaps here in Singapore but seriously, I think this is the reason they were awarded a Michelin star for. It's light with thin crust of sweet crumble on top, which is different from the thick crumbly crusts I normally have. It was a perfect little number that I enjoyed every bit of it.

Tim Ho Wan (original store)
2-8 Kwong Wah St,
Hong Kong
+852-23322896 
 
 
 
Tsui Wah is normally the first stop of my HK trips. I live for their Nai You Bao. It's this crusty little bun that is smeared with butter and has condensed milk drizzled all on it. It's sin city but yet so divine.
 
We like the store at Wellington street. It's spacious and it has quick service. Whilst you are there, you should try their ice lemon tea, ice milk tea, and baked rice. Yumz!
 
Tsui Wah
G/F-2/F, 15-19 Wellington St., Central, H.K.
Open 24 hours
 
Our room wasn't ready when we checked in so we headed over to Pacific Place for a bit of a bite. The husband wanted to try something new so we went to Ye Shanghai.
 
It was packed to the rafters with the office crowd when we got our table. My husband got really excited over the menu and ordered so much (again!)
 
I woudn't say it's pure Shanghainese food. It's a lil bit modern with the typical chinese restaurant offerings. Food was decent. Their soy bean drink was amazing. Dense and a tinge of sweetness. It was perfect.
 
I particularly enjoyed their mapo tofu. The flavours of the smoky sichuan chilli comes through and gave it an extra twist. Loved it!
 
 
Ye Shanghai.
Shop 332, 3/F, Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Admiralty
 
 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

HK Snapshot

When D told me that we had to be in Hong Kong the weekend past, I asked if he needed to check his temperature cause we just got back from Europe. Plus, I didn't wanna leave the kids behind for another weekend.
So he upped the ante by suggesting that we should bring them along!

Why not?!

We were just in HK with them last September and so it's just easier bringing them out this time round cause they are familiar with the place.

We like Hong Kong. I do, because I love the food and the shopping. (Oh IFC!!) The kids love it for Disneyland. So hey! We had the perfect equation. =) Plus, they love taking public transportation. It's the biggest thrill for them so it made it even better.

Waiting for Daddy at the bank.
There was some business stuff we had to settle the first day. And then right after, it was vacation mode.




We stayed at JW Marriott this time round. And we loved it. The room was spacious. We had a great view of the Peak. Room service was top notch. And it's in such a convenient spot. Plus, Pacific Place is just next to it. Need I say more?


Man Ho had these egg tarts that were unreal! Sooo good!
This time round,  we yum cha-ed, checked out Causeway Bay, brought the kids to try new yummy food and of course, Disneyland.

There's still so much to do there. Four days seemed too short to be honest.

Food and Disneyland, up next.

Monday, June 25, 2012

A Quick Escape

We did a last minute escapade to the land of yum cha and shopping malls over the weekend!

Will update more later but for now, this doesn't get old! Kids and Mickey and Minnie Mouse. :) Ahh! It makes the trek there all worthwhile.

More on Europe soon too! Promise!!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Of Narrow Alleyways and Gondolas

Boats Docking at the Grand Canal
Venice, oh Venice!

You were everything I thought it would be. Coming up right after Paris, I was so afraid that we would have higher expections than usual.

But, truly, you did have a charm. Too much, in fact!

We loved walking through the little laneways, discovering every little nook. There's always a surprise at every corner. I always wonder where the alleyway was going to bring me to.

Rialto
We saw the most beautiful sunsets at the Rialto bridge. It was incredibly spectacular and such a sight to behold. One can only feel quite privileged to be there once in a life time.

Every morning, we would wake up to the view of a busy Grand Canal. Where island hopping is just a doorstep away at the convenience of a water taxi. We loved standing at the balcony and soaking all of these in . It's truly a sight like no other.


Hanging at St Marco
Best of all, I got to do it with the one I love the most! =) Life is good!

Monday, June 18, 2012

A Day in Champagne

We spent a lot of time in Paris shopping. So much so that the boys got so bored so on the fourth day, all of us took a road trip to Champagne.

We stopped by the town of Reims to get some information and chanced upon a medieval festival of sorts. Everyone was in some kind of pagan wear.


It was the last thing anyone of us expected to see. Like a step back into time. Lol! Still we managed to get some pretty cool toys for the kiddos.


And we went to see the old Cathedral at the center of the town. You cannot miss this cause it's possibly the tallest building in Reims. And it's massive.

With my personal Viking.

We carried on to the wineries and, instead, found that unlike Bordeaux, you don't actually see the vineyard and the winery. Instead, we found a row of Haussman buildings containing cellar doors all lined up in a street. What?!

Turns out most of the wine are produced elsewhere and it was only cellar doors there. You can opt to do a tour at Moet and Chandon for $19 Euros to see the process and visit the manor where the family used to reside but we've been on enough wine tours to go on another one. (Poor D has to skip this cos he was outvoted. =( Sorry hun! )

Instead, we went across the road to the Jardin des Moet where the Moet Family's garden was. It was huge and very pretty, with a big lake in the middle. A little conservatory sits at the end of the plot and back in the days, they had more fruit trees there.


With that, we headed to Ay where we hoped to see more wineries but it was so quiet that we decided to call it a day.

On top of the vineyards at Ay
Funny hey?! I was telling the gals that we are probably the only people who went to Champagne and didn't even sip a taste of it! Oh well!!

An early morning in Paris

Jet lag meant that we woke up really early (4AM!!) the second morning we were there in Paris.

So we made use of the time difference to face time the kiddos.


It was so good seeing their faces and their usual funny antics. Beats a regular phone call any day. Gotta love how technology is these days.

And since we couldn't get back to sleep after, I got D to wash up so that we could go for a walk around the city.



We grabbed a quick cuppa and a croissant from the corner shop and went on our way.

And breathed in all of the Parisian sights we loved.

It was a wet and cold morning but there's something about the quiet streets with slight traffic zipping past and joggers passing by. For once, we didn't feel the sting of being overly cluttered by the tourist mass. And we took our time to stroll and just soak it all in.


Ponte Invalides
The closest we got to the Eiffel. =)

And by the time we reached Rue Cler, we were a lil tired and wanted to put our feet up so we went to a corner cafe and got a steaming hot Americano brekkie. A bargain as well!! Loved how the day started.

All these for 20 Euros. =)

Friday, June 15, 2012

Angelina, Paris


It was raining and cold in the city of lights that day and I was looking for a bit of TLC in that muggy dreadful weather. A hot chocolate sounded like a brilliant idea.

So after Jardin du Tuleris, we walked along Rue Ravioli and went in search of Angelina, reputed home of the best hot chocolate in Paris.

It wasn't far and before we knew it, we were standing at the entrance.

We got seated really quickly, which was lovely.

A lot of their customers ordered an early morning tea set which included scones and baguettes and a hot drink. But we already had a bite so we settled on just drinks. D had an expresso whilst I ordered the hot choc.

Within minutes, we each got our beverage. Angelina's hot chocolate is nothing that you've tasted in Singapore. It is thick and strong with a bittersweet tinge. Accompanying it is a dollop of fresh cream served in a separate cup.

I wasn't very impressed but that's because I do like a strong milky based hot chocolate much much less concentrated than the ones that they serve but if that's your kinda thing, this would be totally up your alley because I can taste the quality of the chocolate they use. =)

What, hunni? We didn't bring the kids??

It is also not the cheapest tea place you walk into but just for the experience, I would say why not? After all, we are only in Paris so often that it's nice to always sample what you've always hear about but have not had the opportunity to try. =)

Bonjour, Paris


It's been three years since we last went to Paris.

It was our first stop in Europe then. And I thought it would be nice to revisit again. It was not a difficult choice with the places to see and the shopping to be done. (although it took a lil bit of convincing for the husband to agree cos he likes exploring new places)

However, it turned out that we spent our time shopping up a storm in the city and, therefore, missed out on the museums and landmarks. Truth be told, we didn't really miss it because we've been to most of the places we wanted to see the last time round. And this time, we really soaked up the street culture.

If I may, I would say shopping in Paris is beyond amazing. There is so much to see and plenty to choose from. My girlfriend and I had such a good time shopping that the boys got so bored after day 2 and asked to be excused to go see a flea market.

We stayed at a lovely little boutique hotel near Madeleine. I highly recommend the location because it is within walking distance to both the big malls like Printemps and Galleries Lafayette and Rue St Honor is in the opposite direction. In fact, we didn't take the metro much, which really saves a lot $$.

Paris was cold and wet this time of the year. Which is really strange and I totally regretted not bringing my trench coat. =( But still we managed to walk quite a bit this trip. And being jetlagged, D and I got up early one morning and took a lovely little walk through the city. It was quiet and little tourists were around, which is what we loved!



We stopped by the Jardin des Tuleries when we touched down. A garden at the edge of the river, it's was really lovely for us to rest our feet after a long flight. It had gorgeous rows of trees which line up the edges of the garden, guiding us as we walk along. The green steel chairs were spread out all over for us to sit and enjoy the view of the Eiffel.


A really good way to start our trip off!

Next up, will be the famous hot chocolate most people talked about.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Back!!


Mornings in Paris.

Twelve days and two airport dramas later, we finally got home.

It has been an incredible trip and it does get more special as the years go by because it's precious time away with my favorite person in the world.

They say parenting is an all consuming job and it really is. So time away from the kiddos is something I treasure with the hubs. We love traveling. Perhaps with all the level of commitment of raising newborns and toddlers has significantly lessened, we have a bit of time on our hands to explore new places and have a good time just being us.

We spent a good week in Italy and some days in Paris. And can I say that I don't know how am I going to another italian restaurant in Singapore again after all the delicious pasta and tiramisu in Florence as well as Tuscany.

Our days in Europe were spent indulging in the food culture of both countries, wandering through the narrow alleyways of Venezia, visiting the original "Lido" theatre, sipping lots of vino and coffee,  shopping up a storm in Paris, soaking in all the sights and driving through the hills of Tuscany. It was magic!

Europe is still so beautiful. Although they can do a lot better with their transportation network and room rates. =) But I guess we can't ask for everything to be perfect.

Anyway, I'm done rambling. More posts coming up on different parts of the trip. But for now, I'm gonna hit the sack and adjust back to local time. Ciao!

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Bonjourno!

Hello from Firenze, birthplace of all things renaissance!!

We've been on our annual vacation sans kiddos for the last week and it has been really good catching up with our friends and spending some us time together.

The babies are all well taken care of by my folks and sister but we can't wait to go home and see them. Can I just say that FaceTime is a lifesaver. We've also bought a massive amount of pressies for them. Parental guilt 101.

But yeah! Will catch up on blog posts when I get back so I'll leave you with a picture of the beautiful Duomo.

Ciao!
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