Penang Travelogue – (Part 1): Snake Temple, Lee Clan Jetty 姓李桥, Chew Clan Jetty 姓周桥, Penang Road Famous Teochew Chendol, Joo Hooi Café and Ming Xiang Tai Pastry 名香泰餅家

Unlike many travel destinations where visiting once is enough, Penang gives me all the reasons to return again and again. A large proportion of population in Penang are made up of Penangite Chinese and this makes it even easier to communicate with the locals and travel around.

When I arrived at Penang airport, my first task was to purchase a local SIM card (1GB for RM$26). Knowing that there would be lots of traveling, transport cost was one of the major factors to take into consideration. With a SIM card, I would be able to get connected to local network and more importantly, explore Penang by Grab service instead of hailing normal taxis which could charge you exorbitant fees. I figured out that using Grab service would end up saving about 50% to 60% in transportation cost.

Snake Temple

My first stop was the Penang Snake Temple. It made sense to have this attraction in my initial itinerary as it was just three km from the airport in Sungai Kluang, Bayan Lepas. Built in honour of Chor Soo Kong at about 1850, legend has it that he was also a healer and sometimes gave shelter to the snakes of jungle.

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Being a tourist attraction, the snake temple has attracted locals to set up shops selling touristy items.

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Penang is well known for its street art. I was given a glimpse of some of the masterpieces at the entrance.

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The temple is filled with the smoke of burning incense and a variety of pit vipers. The vipers are believed to be rendered harmless by the sacred smoke, but as a safety precaution, the snakes have also been de-venomed but still have their fangs intact.

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I skipped the altar section and went straight to the snake exhibit.

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I was encouraged by the staff to feel the python and most probably, he would be asking me to carry the snake and take pictures for a fee which I declined politely.

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The snake farm was situated inside the temple. This was the spot to go if you were looking to get near to any kind of snakes.

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Venomous vipers, huge pythons and different types of cobras were found here.

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It was a worthwhile experience visiting the snake farm. I was a tad surprise that the snakes were quite active instead of coiling at a corner sleeping away.

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Albino pythons which the snake handler told me they do not bite humans.

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A huge python which I was cautioned not to touch it.

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A rare sight of an albino cobra spitting its venom. Did you see the venom on the screen?

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Another active cobra spitting its venom. I learnt that cobras which do not have “eyes” on the back of their hoods are usually able to spit venoms.

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Not a spitting cobra.

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The snake handler invited me inside the King Cobra’s house.

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He said this king cobra only dine on snakes.

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The king cobra was captured in Indonesia.

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Trying to get closer to this 3m long king cobra to snap a picture.

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The king cobra was getting stressed out and started to get aggressive. I am getting out of here..

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Other residents in the snake farm included quails.

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Cats. Shouldn’t they be allowed to roam around?

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An over 100 year old land tortoise.

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And many geckos. I thought the snake temple was worth paying a visit though one should not spend more than an hour inside.

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Outside the snake temple, there were 2 coffeeshops selling Chinese roasted delights and Indian dishes.

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Opening Hours: 06:00 – 19:00

Location: Bayan Lepas

Price Range: For Temple: FREE

Snake Farm: Adults – RM8, Kids – RM6

Lee Clan Jetty (姓李桥) Georgetown

Visiting the clan jetty is one of my checklist items. I have always wanted to visit these waterfront settlement housings located along the main road of Pengkalan Weld.

Clan Jetties map

Image Credit: Penang Discovery

While many visitors chose to flock to Chew Jetty (pretty touristy), I decided to pay Lee Jetty a visit first.

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As I stepped foot onto Lee Jetty, I paused on a corner observing the traditional houses built on stilts that made them looked as if they were forever stuck in a time capsule. Nevermind that I had to battle with the sweltering heat. It was an experience exploring these heritage buildings.

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The Clan Jetties are unique Chinese settlements that have been around since the 19th century. There are eight different clans that still reside here, with each individual jetty named after their surname. Look at the villages on stilts that house the descendants of Chinese immigrants.

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A girl returning to her jetty house after school.

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Various types of houses.

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An elderly resident stood at his gate and beckoned me to try out the ice cream. I did not try though.

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I reckoned if the owner turned this residence which was situated next to the sea into an Airbnb, there would be many bookings.

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Unfinished construction of bridge crossing.

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After Lee Jetty, I moved on. My next destination was the popular Chew Jetty which was about 5 mins walk from the Lee’s. Along the way, I snapped pictures of the streets.

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A Jambul song bird.

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Have you tried Penang white coffee before?

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A local coffeeshop outside the Tan Jetty selling cold beverages. What a perfect respite after soaking in the afternoon heat!

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Another food stall at Tan Jetty but there was nothing much to see there so I continued walking.

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A bicycle rental shop.

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A local “mama” shop.

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Selling cold beverage is one of the best options in Penang. Here is a lorry conveniently transformed into a drinks stall at a corner of the road.

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Chew Clan Jetty 姓周桥 Georgetown

As I mentioned, Chew Jetty is a touristy spot where you could see some of the wooden houses transformed into shops selling souvenirs and eateries.

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Hey, Ahmah and Ahsoon (Grandma and Grandson) at the entrance of the Chew Jetty. One of the factors contributing to the popularity of the Chew Jetty was due to the movie of Ice Kacang Puppy Love ( 初恋红豆冰).

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Image Credit: mm2

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When you are tired from walking, renting a bicycle is an option.

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A house that is pretty dated.

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More houses were built inside. While these traditional jetty houses were pleasing to the eyes, visitors would need to take note that some of them belonged to the locals and taking pictures of their residence were prohibited.

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As you delved into Chew Jetty, these touristy shops became a common sight.

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Street art souvenir post cards and apparels on sale.

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Note books with street art imprinted on the covers.

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Penang white coffee – I think you can find these in NTUC over in Singapore though you have to pay a premium for them.

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Back to old school days! Have you tried these ice sticks before? 🙂

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A hip café opened by youngsters selling fruity beverages.

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A stall selling durian puffs. Do give it a try if you are feeling peckish.

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A street dog lazing in the afternoon.

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On the right of this picture was a restaurant selling big bowls of ramen.

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It did seem ironic to me that this restaurant was selling Japanese ramen instead of local cuisines. After all, visitors wanted to visit Penang to try its famous local dishes right?

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So huge! Don’t think of trying it if you are not travelling with a food buddy.

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Boats lining up along the Chew jetty. It is a nice place to enjoy the scenery as well.

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As I completed my tour of the Chew Jetty, I popped by the coffeeshop near the entrance to try out their coffee.

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The smell of aroma coffee for RM1.10.

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 Address: Pengkalan Weld, George Town, 10300 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia

Penang Road Famous Teochew Chendol & Joo Hooi Cafe

Just directly opposite the Chew Jetty are the streets to spot all kinds of street art. As such, you would not need to travel by car. Just walk across the road will do.

However, I decided to visit Joo Hooi Cafe for my lunch and chendol. The Penang Road Famous Teochew Chedol and Jooi Hooi Café are located at Lebuh Keng Kwee

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I was snapping some pictures and in a matter of few minutes, the queue started to form again. You have the option to dine inside the café (or I called it as a coffeeshop as it was not air-conditioned) instead of standing under the unforgiving heat. I chose the former.

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Joo Hooi Café packed with customers on a typical weekday. If you are intending to visit Joo Hooi Café, you would have the chance to taste most Penang famous dishes such as Assam Laksa, Char Koay Teow, Lor Bak,  famous Chendol and Ice Kacang.

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Whipping up many dishes of irresistible char koay teow, I am sure she had won many fans.

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I ordered these 2 dishes – enough to fill up my empty stomach.

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The prawns tasted juicy and nice!

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Choose to gulp it down or savour at your own pace. On a fair note, I wouldn’t say the best Penang food are found here but Joo Hooi Café certainly provides a one-stop location for you to get a taste of local delights.

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There was this stall also selling char koay teow outside Joo Hooi Café. The owner plied his trade using his left hand.

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Each plate of char koay teow cost RM6, cheaper than that from the stall at Joo Hooi Café which cost RM7. A downside was that you would need to stand on the roadside to eat.

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Address: 475 Jalan Penang, 10000 George Town, Penang, Malaysia
Opening Hours: 11.30am – 5pm daily

Ming Xiang Tai Pastry 名香泰餅家 @ Penang Road

Stepped through the old shophouses (just beside Joo Hooi Café) you would find Ming Xiang Tai authentic Cantonese-style pastries.

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Fresh pastries of different flavours on display.

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Some notable pastries on sale include Trishaw Egg Tart, Salted Egg Tart, Salted Egg Pastry, Pandan Kaya Puff, Wife Pastry, Wutaro Yaki and Wedding Cookies.

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The most popular item at Ming Xiang Tai has to be the Ko-Cha Siew Bao which is selling at RM2.20 per piece.

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Take a bite on these Golden Pillows (stuffed with chicken meat). Each piece sells for RM2.20.

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I bought a few pieces and tried. Even after I left them overnight, they still tasted as nice!

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Stuffing inside the Golden Pillow.

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Stuffing inside Ko-Cha Siew Pao.

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Tastefully designed boxes fitting for gift giving.

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More than just eating, this trip to Penang presented the chance for me to explore pictorial worthy ambience. I took my time in Ming Xiang Tai and feasted my eyes on its rich interiors, decorated with traditional household items dating back to 1940s.

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There were many more places I covered which would be shared in subsequent blogs. If you think its good, share it!

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Address: 475-A , Jalan Penang George Town, Malaysia (beside Joo Hooi Café)

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Interested to visit Penang? Click here to follow Katong Kids Inc Facebook Page and stay tune for the next blog post.

All photos, information and opinions, unless otherwise stated, in this post belong to Katong Kids Inc. Reproducing or copying them for use on third party sites without our written permission are strictly prohibited. All rights reserved.

Finland Travelogue – (Part 5): SantaPark, The Home Cavern of Santa Claus in Lapland

A visit to SantaPark offers an exciting glimpse into the secret going on of Santa’s elves at the Elf School. How about decorating ginger biscuits made using Mrs Claus’s recipe, romping around in the Angry Birds play area (did I say correctly?) and joining other activities in the cavern?

Entrance tickets can be purchased online in this website or/and also at SantaPark ticket booth. Take note that each ticket is valid for two consecutive days. So when planning your itinerary, make sure to include SantaPark before the last day of your trip to maximise your ticket mileage.

A creepy and spooky long tunnel leading to the main entrance greeted us when we stepped into SantaPark, heightening our anticipation of encountering the elves!

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What is SantaPark About?

SantaPark is a Christmas-themed amusement park that is located just 8km from Rovaniemi and 2km from Santa Claus Village. It is a portion of a 12,000m2 population shelter so it is all underground in a large cave with 40m of rock overhead as you enter. Good to hear that it is the only place in the world that you can undercross the Arctic Circle is at SantaPark.

The activities you can expect to discover here:

Santa’s Office

Elves’ Post Office

Toy Factory Shopping Area

Elf School

Elf School Diploma

Elf Trainee Hat

SantaPark Magic Show (3 times a day)

Magic Train

Elf Workshop

Angry Birds Activity Area

Visit to Ice Gallery, Ice Bar and meeting with the Ice Princess

Undercrossing of the Arctic Circle

Mrs. Gingerbread Bakery

… and, you can take as many photos and videos with Santa, Elves, Ice Princess & Mrs. Gingerbread as you like!

Santa’s Post Office was the first stop when we entered in the amusement park.

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This is also the place to shop for souvenirs and see how the letters were being sorted before mailing. The souvenirs were mainly Christmas themed which were attractive to browse.

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Visitors can purchase greeting cards and send it to their friends/loved ones overseas. As you can see, the Christmas concept is pretty much the same in SantaPark and Santa Claus Village which we blogged here. Since you have flew all the way here, it is still worth to give it a try.

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SantaPark Activities

This is the point where you undercrosss the Arctic Circle to be greeted by a beautiful Ice Princess outside the Ice Gallery.

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Exploring the ice sculptures.

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The making of Santa Claus figurines at the Elf Workshop. The popularity of Arctic Circle has certainly travelled far and wide. We met fellow Singaporeans over here too!

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This was the part where we re-visited the Elf Workshop again after the crowds were cleared.

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Let’s display our masterpiece here.

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Mrs Gingerbread Bakery is the sweet spot for kids to decorate gingerbread cookies.

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Trying out calligraphy.

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We visited Santa Claus in his office. SantaPark trip was really valued for money as we can take as many pictures we liked with Santa.

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Just with Big and Small M 🙂

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SantaPark Café offers lunch in winter and mouthwatering delicacies. A friendly elf volunteered to take pictures with us. Did you notice anything special about her nose?

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During our visit to SantaPark, we noticed that they had Chinese-speaking elves on duty. This is definitely a life-saver for those visitors who do not speak English.

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Spacious café with plenty of sitting areas.

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This slide leads you up to the Angry Birds activity area.

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We believed we are not the first to ask. Why is Angry Birds activity introduced in SantaPark? Seems to us that it is out-of-theme…

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This part of SantaPark is more suitable for younger children, especially toddlers. More relevant to Big and Small M is the slide.

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The Magic Sleigh Ride was the part where we enjoyed the most. It was unfortunate that the magic sleigh was down when we arrived and the staff had a hard time trying to fix the train. Just when SantaPark was nearing to closing time, we received a good news that the magic sleigh was up and running. You can imagine how excited we were, including the visitors there, rushing to queue up for the ride.

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The magic sleigh takes around six minutes to complete each circuit of the 150m-long track where excited passengers pass through winter scenes and vistas, meeting elves and reindeer along the way.

Special video credit due to Korean Broadcasting System(KBS). They did an excellent job capturing the spirit of SantaPark. Watch the clip of the magic sleigh.

Ticket is valid for two consecutive days.

17.50 €/adult, 15.00 €/child (3-12 yrs), free for children under 3 years old. A trip to SantaPark is definitely worth it!

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Winter Season 2017

Opening dates

18th November 2017 to 13th January 2018

Opening Hours

18.11.2017 – 30.11.2017

Daily from 10.00 to 17.00

01.12.2017 – 07.01.2018

Daily from 10.00 to 18.00
*Exception: 24.12.2017 from 10 to 16!

08.01.2018-13.01.2018

Daily from 10.00 to 17.00

Location & Distances

SantaPark, the Christmas theme park is located right on the Arctic Circle, Rovaniemi – Finland.

SantaPark – Rovaniemi city center: 8 km (approx. 15 min. journey with bus line number 8 – Santa’s Express)

SantaPark – Rovaniemi Airport: 2 km.

We offer free parking for all guests.

Interested to visit Finland? Click here to follow Katong Kids Inc Facebook Page to stay tune on the next travel post.
All photos, information and opinions, unless otherwise stated, in this post belong to Katong Kids Inc. Reproducing or copying them for use on third party sites without our written permission are strictly prohibited. All rights reserved.

Finland Travelogue – (Part 3): Reindeer and Husky Sleigh Ride in Lapland

Our next itinerary is going to enjoy the company of arctic animals where we will visit local reindeer farms and husky kennels and take on a fascinating ride on a sleigh.

We had no idea where we were after snowmobiling for one hour. But one thing we knew, we were really deep into the forest.

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The coldness was unbearable and we were really glad to take a rest inside the log cottage.

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Our guide prepared an open fire for us to warm up, and our group got to enjoy warm refreshments and pastries before meeting the reindeer and husky dogs. Our guide also shared about Lapland with us, describing what we should know about arctic animals and their behaviour.

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Fire, the precious commodity during winter season.

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Reindeer Farm

Okay, we have read about reindeer in storybooks and seen them on TVs. Our impression of reindeer is that they are very much a part of Santa Claus’ life, transporting him from one place to another.

Reindeer don’t fly, but they do sometimes have red noses. These animals are part of the deer family, which includes deer, elk, moose and wapiti. Like others in their family, reindeers have long legs, hooves and antlers. An interesting fact to know is that male reindeer lose their antlers in November, but females keep theirs much longer. This means that Santa Claus’ reindeer must have all been female, since they are depicted as having horns on December 24.

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Reindeer tied to the trees. Watch out for the dungs on the ground when approaching them!

Reindeer are built for the cold. Their noses warm up air before it gets to their lungs and their entire bodies, including their hooves, are covered with fur. These animals can run very fast and some of them up to 80km/h!

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Let us pose for a picture before the ride.

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How far was the reindeer sleigh ride? Just a mere 500m. Our reindeer was pretty lazy as he stopped halfway and sauntered back to the starting point. However the best part was getting to ‘drive’ the reindeer by ourselves!

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The reindeer ride was not impressive. However, the memorable part was getting up close and personal to meet the reindeer, finally.

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Husky Safari

We visited the husky safari which was one of our anticipated itinerary. We loved dogs! The energy and joy of the husky dogs, who are born to run, is difficult to describe and petting the animals is also possible.

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At the husky safari, we learnt about how the huskies were trained from a young age and the role each of them played in pulling the sleigh.

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As you can see, husky bears a close resemblance to the wolf but they are pretty friendly and playful.

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After touring the husky farm, we were led to the husky sleigh ride. The huskies were raring to go and greeted us with enthusiatic chorus of barking when we approached them.

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The 500m husky ride was delightful as they leapt up and down the air in extreme excitement, pulling us across the snow. While some may see this as animal slavery, we tend to differ. The huskies really looked happy and excited in carrying out their duties.

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Posing for a family photo before we bid these friendly animals goodbye!

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Arctic Circle Snowmobile Park Oy is located in Santa Claus Village at the Arctic Circle in Finland.

Address:
Arctic Circle Snowmobile Park
Santa Claus Village
Joulumaantie 5
96930 Arctic Circle
Finland

Email:
Bookings and safari information
: info@snowmobilepark.com

Instagram: Arctic Circle Snowmobile Park
Facebook page: Arctic Circle Snowmobile Park
TripAdvisor: Arctic Circle Snowmobile Park

Interested to visit Finland? Click here to follow Katong Kids Inc Facebook Page to stay tune on the next travel post.
All photos, information and opinions, unless otherwise stated, in this post belong to Katong Kids Inc. Reproducing or copying them for use on third party sites without our written permission are strictly prohibited. All rights reserved.

Finland Travelogue – (Part 2): Airbnb Stay and Arctic Circle Snowmobile Park in Lapland

Travel like a tourist and live like a local. They need not be mutually exclusive and Airbnb has made it possible for us to enjoy a meaningful holiday with authentic, local experiences.

We were really blessed to meet a wonderful host who readily fetched us from Santa Claus Village to his Airbnb abode at no extra cost.

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Our host stayed near to Rovaniemi city. Along the way, he gave us a mini-tour of the city and stopped by a supermarket for us to do some grocery shopping.

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Our Airbnb Stay

Here we are, at our Airbnb and it was freezing cold. An interesting sight was the entrance to the house; in fact, there were 2 doors to access. We were curious why it was so but guess probably could be due to the freezing weather that it needed 2 doors to insulate the house from coldness.

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Some might thought the lighting looked spooky but we felt it was a nice touch.

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It was snowing all day and the cars were covered with snow!

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The size of the house was typical of a 3 room HDB flat and more than sufficient for us.

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The living room with sofa bed.

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Our host prepared coffee powder and cookies for us.

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Mini-kitchen.

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The bedroom with connecting bathroom.

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We were blessed to have a wonderful host. Not forgetting to pen down our appreciation for his great hosting!

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 Arctic Circle Snowmobile Park

Pure snow white provides for many opportunities to have fun. The Arctic Circle has no lack of snow activities to engage in. For the very first time, we got the opportunity to explore snowmobile ride in the snowy forest.

We booked the day activity program from the Arctic Circle Snowmobile Park.

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The group sizes are small and the speed and the length of the safari depend on each group. This is why this safari suits for families as well as for those who are looking for a real adrenaline boost.

Our guide first gave us a brief introduction to snowmobiling after which he lead us to the wilderness.

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Getting ready to move out…

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And off we go! The kids really enjoyed the ride which lasted about 15 mins.

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The Lapland is an amazing place to take on a fascinating ride through the winter forest.

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That was not the end. Come second part, we joined a bigger group and snowmobiled for about an hour into the wilderness. This excursion is available for everybody, but a driving license is required to ride a snowmobile for longer distances.

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This time round, Big and Small M had to sit under the blankets on a sledge behind the snowmobile.

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For a moment, we almost couldn’t recognise who she is! That was how freezing cold the Lapland is. Small M’s hair froze and became spider web. Snowmobiling in the wilderness and playing with the snow were already an experience in itself, but this safari would be taking us to meet reindeer and husky dogs in our next blog. Stay tune for more 🙂

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Arctic Circle Snowmobile Park Oy is located in Santa Claus Village at the Arctic Circle in Finland.

Address:
Arctic Circle Snowmobile Park
Santa Claus Village
Joulumaantie 5
96930 Arctic Circle
Finland

Email:
Bookings and safari information
: info@snowmobilepark.com

Interested to visit Finland? Click here to follow Katong Kids Inc Facebook Page to stay tune on the next travel post.
All photos, information and opinions, unless otherwise stated, in this post belong to Katong Kids Inc. Reproducing or copying them for use on third party sites without our written permission are strictly prohibited. All rights reserved.

Finland Travelogue – (Part 1): Rovaniemi, Santa Claus Village, Santa Claus Office and Snowman World

The unique charm of Lapland spills over to us. We spoke and dreamt that one day, we would have the chance to step our feet into Finland and explore Rovaniemi, the official hometown of Santa Claus, to experience how the locals celebrate Christmas. We arrived at Helsinki airport early in the morning and switched into another domestic flight to Rovaniemi.

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Stockholm and Iceland were really cold but they paled in comparison to Finland, where the weather was expected to be as low as under 30 degrees celsius!

Well, this travelogue on Scandinavia took longer than usual to publish as we had a hard time sorting out the pictures we took. All but thanks to the harsh weather conditions, we returned to Singapore only to realize that one of the SD cards was spoilt which resulted in almost 30% of the precious pictures we took, literally gone.

Here we were, at Rovaniemi airport. The entire town was coated with snow.

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Santa Claus Village

Rovaniemi is a true land of Christmas, as the town has a fine white Christmas and a magnificent wilderness which is home to Santa’s velvet-nosed, antler-headed reindeer. The main theme of visiting the Lapland is to meet Santa Claus. There is only one Santa Claus, but he can be met in 3 different places in the town, namely the Santa Claus Office, Christmas House and SantaPark.

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Santa Claus’ Main Post Office

The Santa Claus Village was pretty touristy. One of the attractions was Santa Claus’ Main Post Office where you could write postcards and send it to your loved ones.

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Pick a postcard of your choice, head over to pay at the counter and start penning down your Christmas greetings.

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The collections of greeting cards awaiting to be mailed throughout the world.

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We thought this is an inexpensive and must-try experience. Imagine the excitement on our girls when they returned to school after the holidays to hear from their friends about receiving the greeting cards, all the way from Finland.

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Santa Claus Main Post Office

Tähtikuja 1, FI-96930 Napapiiri
Tel. 020 4523 120
Fax. 016 3481 418
joulupukinpaaposti(at)posti.fi
http://kampanja.posti.fi/joulupukinpaaposti

The Santa Claus Village is an amusement park that was opened in 1985. There are accommodations available and open playgrounds for children to indulge in. It did look fun playing in freezing weather but the grounds were pretty slippery due to lack of friction underneath the boots.

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They had fun sliding down the slope.

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We didn’t dwell too long outside as it was freezing cold.

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Santa Claus’ Office

Next, we had the opportunity to get up close and personal with Mr Santa. Each day Santa Claus arrives at his office at the Santa Claus Village on the Arctic Circle in Rovaniemi. Here he greets visitors from all over the world, replies to letters and listens to the Christmas wishes of the children he meets.

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It was a surreal experience in Santa Claus’ Office. Visitors were reminded to wait quietly before stepping into Santa Claus’ room. It heightened our awe and excitement of meeting that “special” someone.

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Mr Santa was friendly and warm when we entered the room. He greeted us and carried himself well, sending lovely Christmas greetings and blessings to us. It was a short encounter with Santa but this experience would surely etch in our memories. We guess our only gripe was not able to use our camera to take photos with Santa Claus. As expected, visitors have to pay to get a copy of the photograph.

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 Snowman World

Welcome to the Snowman World! This snow and ice world is situated right next door to Santa Claus in Santa Claus Village. We highly recommend exploring this attraction as you get a once in a lifetime experience to see Ice Restaurant, Ice Bar & Gallery, Igloo Hotel and Snow Fun activities such as ice skating, ice sliding and extreme bag jumping.

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This is the Ice Bar where we can admire the animals and fairy-tale characters in an ice galley atmosphere. Surprisingly it was not as cold inside here as compared to outside.

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Try sipping over a cup of hot chocolate. You can also try their special beverages served from ice glasses!

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Visitors can enjoy the ice restaurant dining experience here. The dinner service includes entrée, main course and dessert.

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It is not a good idea to try this with kids around. For the adventurous, it would be very special to spend a night at the Snowman World Igloo Hotel where  you get to sleep in a room built entirely of snow and ice. You will be given a sleeping bag, designed for extreme conditions to keep your mind and body warm throughout the night.

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Every room has a different theme.

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A constant temperature of just below zero degree Celsius will remain inside the igloo, while outside temperatures may be extreme.

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All igloos are individually themed with ice and snow sculptures, and include a thermal sleeping bag. Shared bathroom facilities and a breakfast room are found in the main building.

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Would you like to try out this unforgettable experience at the Artic Circle?

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Step out of Snowman World and kids get to try out extreme bag jump tubing.

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It was really fun sliding down the hills but the challenging part was pulling the tube back to the hilltop. The kids were exhausted after 3 rounds and we decided to call it a day.

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Snowman World
Joulumaantie 5, 96930 Rovaniemi, Finland

The Santa Claus fairytale is alive everyday at the village on Arctic Circle. It has been a trip of rich learning experiences where we will get to discover more of the spirit of Christmas in Lapland.

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Interested to visit Finland? Click here to follow Katong Kids Inc Facebook Page to stay tune on the next travel post.
All photos, information and opinions, unless otherwise stated, in this post belong to Katong Kids Inc. Reproducing or copying them for use on third party sites without our written permission are strictly prohibited. All rights reserved.

 

 

Lost in Iceland Travelogue – (Part 5): Aurora Bubble Hotel in Iceland – The 5 Million Star Hotel

Our one and only accommodation in Iceland has been our campervan. Yup, no hotel accommodation booked. We did, however, tried to book a hotel before coming to Iceland. Iceland’s “Bubble Hotel” –  The 5 Million Star Hotel, is an unique lodging concept that has taken travel to another level.

Opened early this year, the Bubble Hotel is so popular that it is fully booked and many travelers who wanted to catch this experience have to be put on waiting list. Needless to say, we were not able to book it and experience sleeping in the nature. It was only by chance, at the eleventh hour, that a booking was opened that we managed to book it!

The Dream Bubble

An interesting part of booking The Bubble Hotel is that the exact location will only be given upon booking confirmation. A clue is that is located at The Golden Circle route, and of course, in a forest. The Bubble is a dome-like structure made from transparent plastic into which warm air is pumped at a steady rate, keeping it inflated, and warm.

For the adventurous travelers, you can get to experience sleeping under the stars or watching the aurora borealis dance when it appears to fulfill one of your lifelong dreams. There is no guarantee of seeing the lights but rest assured, you will have a magical night when they appear.

As there are not a lot of trees in Iceland, creating a “bubble” lodging in the forest, sheltered by the trees, is probably the best answer to satisfy a desire to sleep and relax safely in the woods.

Inside the Bubble

The bubble has a heating system with thermostat so the bubble stays warm all winter. It offers a no-frills lodging for us who just want to experience the most of the nature. We stayed in Bubble Asta which has double bed. There are four of us. After including the kids, we paid about ISK $44,350 and it was shown as SGD $587 in the credit card statement for one day stay.

After checking in, Big and Small M fell asleep almost immediately.

Just earlier on, we had a misadventure when our campervan fell onto a slope. All thanks to the kind samaritans, they managed to pull our campervan back to safety.

Rescue in operation. Thank you so much!

Views of our Bubble from the outside. The Bubble stays inflated with a noiseless ventilation system that continuously refreshes the air to prevent humidity and adjust the temperature based on thermostat settings.

On Site Facilities

Just a stone’s throw from our Bubble is a shared service house with two toilets and showers and a self-service kitchen. Free coffee is given 🙂

Live Your Childhood Dream

Coming to one of the most beautiful countries on earth, Iceland, is already a dream experience. To top it up with a stay at The Bubble Hotel makes the whole trip even more sweet. Come and experience a magical stay at The Bubble Hotel and hey, book early!

Click here to know more about The Bubble Hotel in the Facebook

Click here to book The Bubble Hotel in the website.

Click here to read blog post on Lost in Iceland Travelogue – (Part 4): Svinafellsjokull, Icelandic Horses and Strokkur Geysir

Click here to read blog post on Lost in Iceland Travelogue – (Part 3): Svartifoss, Skogafoss and Seljalandsfoss Waterfalls

Click here to read blog post on Lost in Iceland Travelogue – (Part 2): Hvannadalshnukur, Skeioararsandur Bridge Monument and Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon

Click here to read blog post on Lost in Iceland Travelogue – (Part 1): Renting a Campervan and 8 Tips on Self Driving in Iceland

Interested to visit Iceland? Click here to follow Katong Kids Inc Facebook Page to stay tune on the next travel post.
Disclosure: All photos, information and opinions, unless otherwise stated, in this post belong to Katong Kids Inc. Reproducing or copying them for use on third party sites without our written permission are strictly prohibited. All rights reserved.

Lost in Iceland Travelogue – (Part 4): Svinafellsjokull, Icelandic Horses and Strokkur Geysir

Iceland had always been one of our dream vacations. Exploring Iceland’s untouched and beautiful landscape has become an educational journey for us. The country is popularly visited during summer due to the mid-night sun effect where it never gets fully dark between mid-May and early August. Come winter, a muted light shines over the island for a few short hours each day. There are lesser visitors and the entire experience was just us and nature.

Svínafellsjökull

On our way to Golden Circle, we passed by beautiful Svínafellsjökull which is a breathtaking outlet glacier of the Vatnajökull glacier and the scenery and views are simply stunning. There are glacier tours available where you get to walk through a wonderland of glacial ice sculptures, meandering through ice ridges and the deep crevasses of the glacier.

There aren’t a lot of trees in Iceland (we only realized after our trip!). Iceland is a volcanic land and it is filled with many glaciers and countless other natural wonders.

The Icelandic Horse

One of the purest breed on earth, the Icelandic horse is a unique breed of smallish horses that came to Iceland with the first settlers from Norway 1100 years ago. Archeological digs in Europe have revealed that it is descendent from an ancient breed of horses that is now extinct outside of Iceland, where it has been preserved in isolation.

Do you know that once an Icelandic horse leaves Iceland it is not allowed to enter back into the country? All around the country, nearly every field seems to be filled with them, slowing grazing or play-fighting with each other. They are cute in their little own ways.

Icelandic horses have heavy double layer coats to help protect them from the harsh Icelandic climate. They come in many colors and can even appear in up to 42 different color combinations! Some types of Icelandic horses coats even change color by seasons. Best of all, Icelandic horses are super friendly. They will walk towards you readily and allow you to cuddle them. A road trip in Iceland is never completed without experiencing the therapeutic effect of Icelandic horses.

Strokkur Geysir

Strokkur (the churn) is currently the most energetic spouting spring in Iceland. It is a much-visited geothermal geyser that erupts every 8–10 minutes and reaches heights of 20 meters. According to history, it was set off during an earthquake in 1789, having then been quiescent for some time.

Big M was too comfortable resting in the campervan while we were on long road trip. The first thing she did when alighting from the campervan was to take a deep breath and inhale the wonderful and pure Icelandic air.

The Geysir is a popular tourist spot and one of the main attractions in Golden Circle. It was no surprise to see many visitors here.

Take a walk around the area and the smell of sulphur permeates the air. We remembered the time we were in Taiwan at 小油坑 Xiao You Keng experiencing sight of bubbling water and smouldering fumaroles on Yangmingshan which you can read in our blog here.

A bit of geography lesson.

The Strokkur Geysir erupts every few minutes so this is going to be a rewarding trip as we can get to see it erupting many times.

Waiting and waiting…

Picture time while waiting 🙂

Up and away to the heavens!

We waited and we filmed the action 🙂

It is worthwhile to note that most visitors focus on witnessing Strokkur erupting but may have missed out on other geothermal features such as mud pools, fumaroles and other geysers which are located around it. As the sun sets on the horizon, it created a dreamy effect on the landscape.

Geysir Center

Just across Strokkur Geysir is the Geysir Center. It was getting dark and this was probably the only place for us to explore.

A place to shop for souvenirs and clothings.

While we have our brands of winter clothing back in Singapore, we thought Iceland has its own high quality winter wear by 66°NORTH.

Fresh Icelandic Mountain Air on sale!

We had our dinner at the food court in Geysir Center. It looks pretty similar to Ikea’s dining concept.

The menu is special to us as it is uniquely Icelandic.

Traditional Icelandic lambmeat soup.

An idea of what we ordered. So many Icelandic dishes to try but our stomach are limited.

Fish of the Day

Chicken Nuggets.

Delicious chicken wings.

We just love traditional Icelandic lambmeat soup.

Dessert time! How about trying some Icelandic ice cream?

We felt Icelandic dishes are really delicious and what a perfect way to pamper our tastebuds on this road trip. It’s no secret that visiting Iceland could be pricey so be prepared to spend for a trip here. For example, the Fish of the Day cost about SGD $23, chicken wings/nuggets SGD $16 and Icelandic lambmeat soup about SGD $32 (assuming SGD $1 = ISK $56 from the rate at the airport).

There are many reasons to love this small Nordic country and discover why you should visit Iceland once in your lifetime. We found our reason and probably hope that we can be here again.

Click here to read blog post on Lost in Iceland Travelogue – (Part 3): Svartifoss, Skogafoss and Seljalandsfoss Waterfalls

Click here to read blog post on Lost in Iceland Travelogue – (Part 2): Hvannadalshnukur, Skeioararsandur Bridge Monument and Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon

Click here to read blog post on Lost in Iceland Travelogue – (Part 1): Renting a Campervan and 8 Tips on Self Driving in Iceland

Interested to visit Iceland? Click here to follow Katong Kids Inc Facebook Page to stay tune on the next travel post.
Disclosure: All photos, information and opinions, unless otherwise stated, in this post belong to Katong Kids Inc. Reproducing or copying them for use on third party sites without our written permission are strictly prohibited. All rights reserved.