Asia, Birch Memorial Clock Tower, Car, Diary of a Foodster, Eat, Food, Gerbang Malam, Ipoh, Katong Kids Inc, Kek Lok Tong Cave Temple, Kellie's Castle, Kids Activities, Malaysia, Memory Lane Flea Market, Perak Guan Yin Tong, Photography, Restoran Sun Yeong Wai, Shopping, Sin Eng Heong Kedai Biskut, The Idea Box, Travel, Vacation, WEIL Hotel

Ipoh Travelogue – (Part 2): Railway Station, Birch Memorial Clock Tower, Memory Lane Flea Market, Perak Guan Yin Tong, Kellie Castle, Kek Lok Tong Cave Temple, Restoran Sun Yeong Wai, Sin Eng Heong Kedai Biskut and Gerbang Malam

Why you should visit Ipoh? When I arrived at the small-sized Sultan Azlan Shah Airport, I had the impression that Ipoh had nothing much to offer. But dwell in this lovely town and I realised this is one of the most rewarding destinations in Malaysia.

With diversified of attractions and things to explore, you will find no lack of Ipoh Apartments to book via Traveloka.

Come Day 2, I woke up to the beautiful and scenic view of the city and mountains from the WEIL Hotel. We had our itinerary planned and wasted no time to get to where we need.

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Ipoh Railway Station

Most of the attractions are located in close proximity to each other, so travelling is easy. We hopped into our rented car and made our way to one of the historial landmarks – Ipoh Railway Station. Did we mention that it is just 3.5km away from the iconic WEIL Hotel?

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Ipoh’s railway station was completed in 1917 under the British colonial administration. Along with the Old Railway Station in Kuala Lumpur, it is one of the most beautiful examples of colonial architecture.

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The War Memorial right in front of the Ipoh Railway Station to honour the prisoners-of-war (POWs) who died building the Thailand-Burma death railway.

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This railway station was once featured in the Hollywood film, Anna and the King, starring Jodie Foster and Hong Kong superstar Chow Yun Fat.

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If not for this visit, I would not know that this grand old building houses the railway station and the now closed Majestic Station Hotel Ipoh which had up to 100 well-appointed guestrooms!

The Ipoh Railway Station served by the new, fast, KTM Electric Train Services (ETS). All passenger train services to/from Ipoh are on the new KTM Electric Train Services (there are no KTM Komuter trains from Ipoh).

Most ETS services run on the KL Sentral Railway Station, Kuala Lumpur to Ipoh route. Click here for the ETS timetable from Ipoh to KL.

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The building seemed dated and affected probably by lack of proper maintenance but it is still worth a visit when you come to Ipoh.

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Address:

Birch Memorial Clock Tower

The Birch Memorial Clock Tower (Malay: Menara Jam Peringatan Birch) is a clock tower situated in Ipoh, Kinta District, Perak, Malaysia.

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Unveiled in 1909, the clock tower was constructed to commenorate James W. W. Birch, the first British Resident of the state of Perak.

The clock tower has been overlooked by many tourists who prefer to flock to touristy attractions. On closer look, it is well preserved and I feel it is necessary to visit this place and understand the cultural heritage of British colonialism.

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Address:

Memory Lane Flea Market

I reckoned many of you may not consider visiting a flea market, giving the excuses of sweltering weather and old and filthy goods.

I do not agree.

As we approached Jalan Horley, we just couldn’t help but thankful to have the opportunity to travel and mingle with the locals.

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Open every Sunday morning, it is known as “Memory Lane” or fondly referred to as “Loken” or “Pasar Karat” (rustic market) by the locals.

A stall selling cold drinks, a perfect respite from the blazing sun!

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Located in Jalan Horley, it is the place to go to for rare and secondhand items at reasonable prices.

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While the folks are working hard for better days, the kids enjoying themselves at the back of the car.

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Yes, we remembered these old school, childlike games that will not break the bank.

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Cute tote bags with different themes and designs going at RM10 each.

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What a place for collectors to purchase rare stamps dating as far back to Straits Settlements period. An interesting visit to Memory Lane for us. We could find many second hands and used items that we thought were well extinct. Definitely the place to visit on a Sunday morning to trigger memories of the old days.

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Address:
Jalan Horley, Kampung Jawa, 30300 Ipoh, Negeri Perak, Malaysia

Perak Guan Yin Tong

On our way to Kellie’s Castle, we chanced upon Perak Guan Yin Tong.

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Built beside a limestone hill, this ancient Buddhist temple honors goddess of mercy Kwan Yin Tong. This would be a place for believers to visit.

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And kids could entertain themselves feeding the ever hungry fishes.

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Address:

Lot 3851, Sungai Pinang Besar, Pangkor, Perak

Kellie’s Castle

We drove a little further up and arrived at Kellie’s Castle.

Kellie’s Castle is a castle located in Batu Gajah, Kinta District, Perak, Malaysia. While it may look complete on the outside, the ruined mansion was unfinished on the inside.

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It was built by a Scottish planter named William Kellie-Smith either a gift for his wife or a home for his son. Work on the castle started in 1915, but was unfortunately halted a few years later with Kellie’s sudden death and the castle was never completed.

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Nevermind about the hot and humid weather. Kellie’s Castle is one of the most Instagram worthy spots in Ipoh.

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It was an interesting experience exploring the castle’s hidden rooms. Be prepared to climb flights of narrow stairs to reach the top where you could get a panoramic view of the plantation and castle ruins.

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Opening Hours : 9.00am – 6.00pm
Admission Fee :
* RM 5 (foreigner)
* RM 4 (adult)
* RM 3 (secondary school students)
* RM 2 (primary school students)
* FREE (child aged six and below)
Address:
31000 Batu Gajah, Perak, Malaysia

Kek Lok Tong Cave Temple

The Kek Lok Tong Cave Temple is a tourist attraction situated in the natural and picturesque area of Gunung Rapat in the south of Ipoh – the capital of Perak state in west Malaysia.

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We heard so much about Ipoh being famous for its limestone hills and we could finally see it right in front of us!

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Confucius was a Chinese philosopher and politician of the Spring and Autumn period. It was believed that one would get smarter praying to Confucius. What do you think?

Although there is a lot of marble tiling, there are still lots of natural large statactites.

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This place features golden statues of Buddhist and Chinese mythological deities.

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Take a walk here to experience the calming ambience of this lovely cave.

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Address:
Pesiaran Sepakat 3, Tmn Endah Jaya, 31350 Ipoh, Negeri Perak, Malaysia

Restoran Sun Yeong Wai Roasted Duck Ipoh 新扬威烧鸭饭店

We love roasted duck and if we were ever to visit Ipoh again, we are 1000% sure to visit Restoran Sun Yeong Wai again!

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Passed down from father to son and established in Ipoh for more than twenty years, Sun Yeong Wai is now a brand closely synonymous with Roasted Ducks, barbeque and roasted dishes.

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Yummy!

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Address:

63, Jalan Mustapha Al-Bakri, 30300 Ipoh Perak

Sin Eng Heong Kedai Biskut

While we were dining, we wondered what was happening behind us.

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Started in 1961, Sin Eng Heong is one of the oldest biscuit shop in Ipoh.

Sin Eng Heong Kedai Biskut was attracting a long long queue of customers despite the overwhelming heat. They have the best kaya puff in town, so popular that you have to be prepared to queue up to 2 hours.

We got into the queue while the family was still eating. Impatience got the better of us and we walked out after 45 mins.

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Address:

64 & 66 Jalan Mustapha Al-Bakri, Ipoh 30300, Malaysia

Gerbang Malam

Come the night, I took a walk down Gerbang Malam. While the pasar malam was smaller as compared to Memory Lane, there was a food street at the other end.

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It was nice walking down the street looking at the stalls and cheap products.

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Where cables were going for as cheap as RM1 each.

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The salted-baked chicken is one of Ipoh’s most famous delicacies. The chicken is marinated with ginger, rice wine, and other Chinese herbs such as female ginseng and wolfberries, then it is wrapped in paper and baked with salt.

Many visitors come to Ipoh to taste none other than their kai see hor fun, consisting of super smooth flat rice noodles (kuey teow) produced in Ipoh, shredded/sliced poached chicken, chopped spring onions, boiled shrimps, and garnished with chopped red chillies.

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Another version..

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They produced tasty chicken and bean sprouts. A must-try dish in Ipoh!

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All these for RM21!

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So what to do in Ipoh? Simple travel and eat is the way to go 🙂

Address:

Jalan Dato Tahwil Azar, Taman Jubilee, 30300 Ipoh, Negeri Perak, Malaysia

Click here for Ipoh Travelogue (Part I) – WEIL Hotel, Concubine Lane, Ipoh Booth Cart, Thean Chun Coffee Shop (天津茶室), Kong Heng Square, Burps and Giggles, Yum Cha Tea Bar and Tong Sui Kai 糖水街

Just simple travel. 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.

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Ipoh Travelogue – (Part 1): WEIL Hotel, Concubine Lane, Ipoh Booth Cart, Thean Chun Coffee Shop (天津茶室), Kong Heng Square, Burps and Giggles, Yum Cha Tea Bar and Tong Sui Kai 糖水街

Think of Malaysia, think of Ipoh. Located within the state of Perak, Ipoh took our breath away and we were just drawn by its slower pace of life as we took a short break away from Singapore.

This trip was so impromptu that we only had a couple of days to come up with the itinerary and we thought the trip went pretty well! In this blog series, we will cover some of the best cuisines in Ipoh, well-preserved historical landmarks and quaint cafes that make you fall in love with this town.

Instead of hopping into a dreaded 8 hours journey by coach, we took the budget airline and arrived at Sultan Azlan Shah Airport after an hour flight.

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The airport was relatively small and you would probably be visiting these two booths – Car Rental and Purchase of SIM Card.

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I bought a 6GB plan for RM35, which was more than sufficient for a 3-day use.

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We rented a MPV which cost about SGD100/day. The car park was just in front of the airport so picking up the car was a breeze.

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We would be staying at the WEIL Hotel. Apart from just 6km from the airport, this beautiful hotel is adjoined to the Ipoh Parade Shopping Centre and had so many reasons why visitors should be staying there.

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Concubine Lane

Our first stop was exploring the Concubine Lane, which was along Lorong Panglima and is the busiest among the three lanes today with shops and restaurants. As cliche as it may sound, one of the must-do activities in Ipoh is the heritage walk around the old town area.

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It was no surprising that the street was packed with tourists since it was a weekend.

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Brightly colored umbrellas.

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It might sound sinful, but what a shame it would be if a visit to Ipoh was completed without trying some of their unique desserts!

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We sampled the Honey Ice Ball (RM5 per ball); an ice ball bigger than the size of a fist shaped with shaved ice then drizzled generously with gula melaka (palm sugar syrup).

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Kuma Brand‘s rainbow cheese toast (RM13 per toast) certainly captured our hearts! Brushed with butter on the surface, the bread was being toasted to golden yellow.

The fun part of it? Stretching the cheese to your heart’s delight.

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We tried the cold dessert at Tau Fu Fa, which was a great respite from the sweltering heat. To create the traditional atmosphere, long and squatting stools were set up for dine-in customers.

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Their bean curd literally melts when you eat it. A must-try dessert shop at Concubine Lane.

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Panglima Dua Lima, a charming little cafe housed in an old shophouse serving freshly prepare Ipoh white coffee.

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The cafe was coated with attractive interiors. Old wall, wooden furnishing and displays of old school items added a rustic charm to this place.

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Address:
30000 Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

Ipoh Booth Cart

Situated on the upper floor of the corner shop lot Restoran Sun Yoon Wah was Ipoh Booth Cart. We wouldn’t know of this place (opposite Concubine Lane) if not for the banners placed outside.

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This place catered to a few booths or kiosks selling souvenirs and drinks.

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Hey, admission is free!

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Thean Chun Coffee Shop (天津茶室)

Thean Chun Restoran is highly recommended in the media and they are famous for their “Kai See Hor Fun” aka Chicken Kuey Teow Soup, egg caramel custard, chee cheong fun and satay.

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We were very full but capturing pictures is a must!

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Address:
73, Jalan Market, Ipoh, 30000,
Ipoh, Perak, 30000, Malaysia

Kong Heng Square

Nestled amidst Ipoh Old Town colonial buildings is Kong Heng Square Artisan Market (KHSAM).

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An area rejuvenated with rustic blend of old and new architecture and shady trees, has been given a new “life” with burgeoning local arts, crafts and eateries. It is a hub where passion meets creativity.

I fell in love with photography few years ago and felt that Kong Heng Square actually was a good spot for photo-taking.

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Previously a decrepit and abandoned space, Kong Heng Square has been rejuvenated into one of the cool hangouts in town.

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Can you believe on top of this building is actually a hotel?

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New Star Salon, an old school barbershop that have stood the test of time.

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We heard much about Burps and Giggles and glad that it was conveniently located at Kong Heng Square.

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Customers are greeted with great ambience and the cafe is furnished with eclectic decorations.

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Yum Cha Tea Bar

The Bubble Tea world is on a rage. We heard that Yum Cha Tea Bar is selling White Rabbit Bubble Tea here.

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Traditional Tea House / Wood Craft Workshop

As evening beckoned, we chanced upon this interesting tea house as we went to collect our car.

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The friendly owner invited us to tour his premises.

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Every bit of the interior was lovely and filled with charm.

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According to the owner, this place was used to host wood craft workshop and corporate sharing sessions.

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Tong Sui Kai 糖水街 or “Dessert Street”

Tong Sui Kai 糖水街 or literally “Dessert Street” is one of local’s famous food spot with many stalls selling local delicacies such as rojak, cockles, noodles and many others.

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Chicken Wings at RM2.70 per piece.

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Wanton Noodle (Stall 44) at RM10 and Ice Kacang at RM5.

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Memories of Ipoh on our first day.

Why not try Ipoh when planning your getaway? I am in love with Malaysia. Looking forward to explore this beautiful country again.

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Address:

Jln Sultan Ekram, Taman Jubilee, 30300 Ipoh, Negeri Perak, Malaysia

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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.

California, Chinatown Gate, Christmas, Diary of a Foodster, Eat, Education, Food, Growing Up, Katong Kids Inc, Kids Activities, Las Vegas, Lombard Street, Photography, San Francisco, Shopping, Travel, Travel Blog, Traveler Wifi, Uncategorized, Vacation

California Travelogue – (Part 2): San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park, Maritime Museum, Ghirardelli Square, Lombard Street and Chinatown

Soak into the sights, sounds and smells of San Francisco. We did a tour of the Fisherman’s Wharf neighborhood, San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park. The Park includes a magnificent fleet of historic ships, a Visitor Center, Maritime Museum, Maritime Research Center, and Aquatic Park Historic District.

It was an easy tour as the place wasn’t huge.

A short walk further down was the Maritime Museum which was located in the Aquatic Park Bathhouse Building.

Ghirardelli Square is a convenient stop for chocolate and ice cream while already visiting at Fisherman’s Wharf.

No trip to San Francisco is complete without tasting sweet chocolate from those chocolate dream-makers at Ghirardelli. Ghirardelli’s sundaes are real special.

We did not drive during our stay in San Francisco. Instead, we walked, walked and walked.

As you can see, the roads here were steep and it was a test of endurance and good form of exercise.

This picture is a good example to get a sense of how steep the streets were.

We did have the chance to see the splendor of the West Coast, here was what San Francisco looked and felt like.

Strolling down one of America’s crookedest streets in the form of Lombard Street is a blessing! The steep, hilly street was created with sharp curves to switchback down the one-way hill past beautiful Victorian mansions.

Lombard Street is definitely one of the most photographed spot in San Francisco. Tourists just couldn’t resist its charm and uniqueness.

 This street has eight tight hairpin turns through the neighborhood where guests can either drive, or walk, down for an interesting adventure.

After exploring Lombard Street, we walked to the Chinatown.

San Francisco’s Chinatown is the oldest one in North America (surprisingly well maintained) and covers 24 city blocks.

Trying out the delicious and yummy dim sum!

We finally found the the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory after getting lost! Located in Ross Alley, formerly called the “Street of the Gamblers”; the little factory here makes fortune cookies.

We had no idea why it was so popular among tourists. In fact, we don’t think there is anything special about fortune cookies. Nevertheless, it was a pleasant sight watching the lady sitting at the assembly line, folding and filling the cookies by hand.

Big and Small M at the Dragon Gate, the official entrance into Chinatown on Bush Street, where Grant Avenue takes you into the heart of Chinatown.

Another Macy’s in San Francisco 🙂

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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.

 

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Jin Yu Man Tang Dessert 金玉满堂甜品 – The Flow @ East Coast

Katong’s little known world of desserts is quietly gaining popularity. Just when you thought the area is all about the famous 328 laksa and Katong throws out a little surprise.

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Jin Yu Man Tang Dessert 金玉满堂甜品 which serves up local Chinese, HK, and Taiwan-style desserts is located at The Flow.

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As it is facing Hotel Indigo and Holiday Inn Express, it is a convenient place for tourists and locals to check out.

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Customers can choose to dine at the second floor.

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A cute little swing for photo-taking.

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Apart from desserts, Jin Yu Man Tang Dessert 金玉满堂甜品 also serves light food in the likes of snacks and noodles.

Their menu includes:

Snacks 小吃

Noodle

Double Layered Milk Pudding Series (Cold / Hot) 双皮奶系列 (冷/热 可选)

Peach Gum Series (Cold / Hot) 桃胶系列 – 孕妇慎用(冷/热 可选)

Gum Tragacanth Series 雪燕系列 – 孕妇慎用(冷/热 可选)

Fried Custard Series 炒蛋奶 ( 新鲜美味 / 即点即炒)

Sago Milk Series (Cold / Hot) 西米露系列 (冷 热 可选)

Chinese Herbal Jelly Series 龟苓膏系列

Grass Jelly Series 凉粉系列

Taro Ball & Grass Jelly Series 芋圆仙草系列

Mango with Mini Rice Ball Series 芒果小丸子系列

Milk with Clear Jelly Series 牛奶水晶系列

Hot and Cold Desserts Series 糖水系列( 冷 热 可选)

Tea / Drinks Series 茶 / 饮料系列

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The Flow

66 East Coast Road 01-03

Singapore 428778

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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.

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Singapore Attraction – Time Out at National Orchid Garden

The Singapore Botanic Gardens is a 160-year-old tropical garden located at the fringe of Singapore’s Orchard Road shopping district and is the country’s first UNESCO Heritage Site.

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A great place for family outings!

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Why should you be here? Yeah, to explore the National Orchid Garden and take pictures of beautiful orchids.

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This blog post will be flooded with many pictures.

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Visitor Information

Opening hours

8.30am – 7.00pm daily (last ticket sales and entry at 6.00pm)

Admission Fee:

$5.00 for adults

$1.00 for students

$1.00 for senior citizens (60 years and above)

Free for children below 12 years

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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.

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California Travelogue – (Part 1): San Francisco Cable Car, Powell Street and Fisherman Wharf

After our New York trip, we took a 6.5 hour flight to San Francisco.

San Francisco, in northern California, is a hilly city on the tip of a peninsula surrounded by the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay. It’s known for its year-round fog, iconic Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars and colorful Victorian houses.

Our first impression of San Francisco was its cleaniness. The tram was really clean and a big contrast to NYC in which it was not crowded.

Thanks to our friends staying in California, we were recommended to take the BART train to Powell Street.

So clean and fresh!

We would be staying at Axiom Hotel, which was just located above the Powell Station. It took about 2 to 3 mins walk to the hotel.

The reason we chose Axiom Hotel was it’s close proximity to the train station. The place was centralised to every tourist activities but we were cautioned that it was near to the Tenderlion neighbourhood where the streets were shady and you wouldn’t want to bump onto people you wouldn’t want to meet. Glad that there was a right soul who walked up and told us not to cross the street, else we would be venturing into the neighbourhood. Yes, the google map did fail us at times.

Cute robot to attend to our needs.

Burger King was beside our hotel.

We were glad that the cable car station was outside our hotel. During peak hour, the queue could linger till late into the night. The ticket cost $7 each.

We are going to the Fisherman’s Wharf. Fisherman’s Wharf, on the northern waterfront, is one of the city’s busiest tourist areas. Souvenir shops and stalls selling crab and clam chowder in sourdough bread bowls appear at every turn.

The streets of San Francisco was just amazing. It would take a lot of energy just to walk up the slopes and they were appearing at every junction we stopped.

Slopes again. How to survive without owning cars here?

No experience is more uniquely San Francisco than a ride on a cable car. A must-try experience here!

It’s convenient to travel here and we don’t really need to drive.

The Ross store is a great place to find cheap stuff.  

Love these laundry buckets so much (only $13) but how to bring back home 😦

The crab meat and prawns were very juicy. It cost about US$70.

Spent the afternoon exploring the streets.

If In-N-Out Burger comes to Singapore, it will beat all the fast food restaurants hands down.

Our favourite pasttime. Buying a loaf of cheap bread when visiting the harbour to feed the birds.

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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.

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London Travelogue – (Part 5): Stevenage and Emirates Stadium

We were greeted with light rain on our final day in London. The sky was cloudy but we were determined to end the day fruitfully.

With most of the main attractions covered, we took it easy today and googled for nearby places to explore.

The rain started to pelt and we took shelter at a train station.

Hopping onto the train with our Oyster cards, we had no idea where to go. Since we were not driving, taking a train ride to see the surroundings might be a good idea.

Thanks to the rain, the weather were freezingly cold and we were loving it!

The train took us into the countryside and we passed by hills, seen cattle grazing and lovely houses.

We were kind of lost and didn’t know where to alight. The train captain was surprised we had no destination in mind and recommended that we visit a little town by the name of Stevenage. Stevenage is a town and borough in Hertfordshire, England, 28 miles north of London.

Alas, oyster card is not valid here and we had to pay a fine of about $50. The staff was friendly and chatted with us while he prepared tickets for us to exit.

A lovely little town to explore. Maybe not that fantastic for sightseeing but it was an ideal place to buy cheap loots.

Stevenage was pretty much like Bedok neighbourhood where you could find rows of shophouses.

Delicious germany sausages..nice to try in such a cold weather.

Yes, everything’s $1!

A haven for shopping.

The Iceland store. Wait till we see how cheap the items were.

How we wished we were living over here. It’s near impossible to find such prices over in Singapore. These items were not junk qualities either.

At the other end of the town, there were restaurants and a large Cineplex.

Had our dinner here. The chicken looked kind of dry.

We headed back to our Airbnb but before that we suddenly realised our place was near to Emirates Stadium! And so we alighted from the train and followed the signs to Arsenal.

It took about 15 mins to walk from the train stadium. Along the way, we came across houses and they were so beautifully lighted and decorated with Christmas props.

The residents living in these houses were probably the most blessed of all. Just 20m in front of the Emirates Stadium, they could attend EPL match at their convenience every week!

They might not appreciate soccer but it was a worthwhile visit to the famous soccer club.

This capped off our London trip and we booked a Blackberry Car to the airport at 1am. No hidden cost and the driver was professional. The next time we visit London, we will definitely book with them again. Next up, we will travel over 3500 miles or 8 hours of flight time to New York City!

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London Travelogue – (Part 4): Camden Market, Stables Market, Oxford Street, Hamleys and Harrods

When searching for quality markets to visit in London, the name of Camden Market will inevitably appear in the most recommended places to explore. We heard there were few hundred stores here and thought it would be a nice place to have our breakfast in the morning.

We walked about 15 mins from the London Tube to reach Camden Market.

Anything that is colourful and bright will capture the kids’ attention. Camden High Street is lined with shoe stores, leather shops and vintage clothing and vintage vinyl.

Being a tourist attraction, do not expect to find cheap stuff here.

Finally reached the market!

The labyrinth of shops led us to various food vendors.

Craving for Asian food, Thai delicacies were just so yummy.

It didn’t take long before these furry friends were in front of us yearning for little treats. Bad idea to toss some crumbs, only to invite more of them to come.

Next to Camden Market lies the Stables Market. Over here, there were many boutiques and pop up shops.

Venturing into the narrow alleys was fun in itself as we browse through the apparels and home goods.

An interesting spot for photo-taking. We had a hard time waiting for the right moment to take pictures 🙂

The popular Pret A Manger sandwich chain that are scattered all over London. This time trying it and we ended up dining there for at least three times during our stay.

We found ourselves at Oxford Street, a major road in the City of Westminster in the West End of London, running from Tottenham Court Road to Marble Arch via Oxford Circus. It is the Ochard Road of Singapore and jam-packed with people everywhere we went.

Where you can find the sleek lines of Apple’s products here.

Hamleys is the oldest and largest toy shop in the world and one of the world’s best-known retailers of toys. With Christmas round the corner, they were showcasing all performance to bring in the crowds.

The streets were awashed with buskers singing or playing musical instruments.

Finally we had the opportunity to take a photo here at the main Oxford street.

As night fell, we were treated to a magnificent Christmas lights extravaganza with a dazzling array of fairy lights and decorations. Everyone was soaked in the joyous mood, holiday spirit of London.

London underground station Marble ArchBond Street & Oxford Circus, Central Line, Zone 1
At Oxford Circus station you can also use Bakerloo Line and Victoria Line.

Next, we explored the Harrods. This is a department store located on Brompton Road in Knightsbridge, London. It is owned by the state of Qatar and no wonder everything here was so, so expensive!

Our favourite section was the food halls on the ground floor which were the most popular departments at Harrods. This is where you can find a wide range of fine delicacies is offered in 4 huge halls.

Although items were way too expensive, the effects of Brexit weren’t felt at all. The mall was filled with so many shoppers that one would not see any spirit of recession.

To get here, look out for London underground station Knightsbridge, Piccadilly Line, Zone 1.

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London Travelogue – (Part 3): Big Ben, Westminter Abbey, London Eye, St James Park, Buckingham Palace and Hyde Park Winter Wonderland

A visit to London is never complete without sighting the Big Ben. Well, we knew that London’s Big Ben has stop chiming as it is undergoing major renovations from now till 2021. But still, it is a mandatory stop for every tourist.

 A brief walk down appears the Westminster Abbey, London church that is the site of coronations and other ceremonies of national significance. It stands just west of the Houses of Parliament in the Greater London borough of Westminster.

We did not enter though as sunset was nearing and we had a fair bit of itinerary to cover for the day.

Caught the view of London Eye from the other side of the river. London is fairly concentrated and there are many visitors at these major attractions. When taking pictures or pausing by, it is best to find a ‘safer’ spot as you never know when pickpockets will appear.

It was an never ending stroll to Hyde Park to immerse ourselves in the christmas market and amusement park. Stopping by along the way of interesting sights.

St James’s Park includes The Mall and Horse Guards Parade, and is surrounded by landmarks such as Buckingham Palace, Clarence House and Whitehall.. It is a beautiful place to take a breather and for kids to get up close and personal with nature and creatures.

Big and Small M are growing up and akin to their peers, they are thrilled to achieve the insta-worthy shots.

The animals were so tamed, making the experience so surreal. When did we see birds and squrriels coming up to you for treats in Singapore?

The key takeaway for us about Buckingham Palace is that it is recognised around the world as the focus of national and royal celebrations as well as the backdrop to the regular Changing the Guard ceremony.

The Buckingham Palace flower beds, also known as the Memorial Gardens, were created in 1901 as part of Sir Aston Webb’s overall design for a memorial to Queen Victoria after her death that year.

Situated in London’s Hyde Park, which spreads over 630 acres in the centre of the capital, entry to the Hyde Park Winter Wonderland is free. It is located in close proximity to London underground tube stations including Hyde Park Corner, Marble Arch and Green Park.

We did a lot of walking just to reach here and did not go away disappointed. This place was really, really huge and it would be wise to remember prominent spots in case you get lost.

The weather wasn’t that cold but the firepit did add to the christmas atmosphere.

The kids were just like “WOW” everywhere we went and they did had their share of fun in riding the roller-coaster. On a fair note, while the park was huge many of the entertainment and rides were actually replicates.

Visiting this free-to-enter event in winter, you will have lots of fun and you can do many activities there, including ice skating, ice bar, circus shows, an observation wheel and a traditional German Christmas market. Check out this place when you drop by London during winter.

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London Travelogue – (Part 1): Gatwick Airport, Covent Garden, Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus, Chinatown Gate and Trafalgar Square

This is our first trip to London and we were told that it is an extremely expensive city for vacation. All this while, we thought it wouldn’t be possible until we discover some London hacks that made our trip a reality.

For once, we realised apart from travelling with the usual prominent airlines there are actually options to travel with budget airline to London for an affordable price of $1.1K in total for 2 adults / 2 childs (one way) – Norwegian airline.

Journey to London

Norwegian airline offers a direct flight from Singapore to London without any stopovers. To ensure further comfort, inflight entertainment are available. Ear phones were not provided.

The inflight meals were simple and nothing fanciful.

As we booked the flight early, we managed to get the best seats which gave us more room.

The 14-hour flight was surprising smooth without any turbulence and we arrived at London Gatwick airport by 5:40am.

If you are travelling to London Zone 1 or 2, we would recommend you not to take the express train which cost about $20 per adult. Our travel from Gatwick to Islington/Highbury was horrid as we needed to change platforms during the morning peak hours.

Towing 4 big luggages with us up and down the subway stairs without elevators and waiting for multiple trains before squeezing in was no joke. The weather was about 10 degrees but we were already perspiring. We would recommend booking the airport transfer (Blackberry cars) instead as the price was almost the same with no hidden charges.

The train ride brought us to the Victoria station where we would need to buy Oyster cards to travel in the London Underground, or the “Tube”. In simple terms, this is a version of our MRT. London is segmented by 9 zones with the touristy areas being in Zone 1 and 2.

Image result for london map zones
Photo Credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/London_fare_zones

The morning crowd at Victoria station were beginning to build up.

We had our breakfast here before continuing our journey to the Airbnb.

This was already the third train ride. We were tired.

Finally arrived at Highbury & Islington station.

But not before taking a 5 min bus ride and another 2 min walk to our Airbnb apartment. For all the hassle, it would be wiser to take Blackberry cars next time.

Covent Gardens

Covent Gardens is one of the ultimate Instagram spots in London. An iconic area with thriving street arts, we heard that it is usually crowded with tourists. However, it was not that bad.

The streets were easy to explore and it was not uncommon to take a pause every now and then to soak ourselves in the historic architectures. Covent Garden is a popular tourist spot such that Din Tai Fung has recently established an outlet here.

Something similar we have seen back home.

The locals love coffee so much and very often cafes would be packed with people. The scent of fresh coffee permeated the cafe and we couldn’t help but to order a cup.

Address: 13 Floral St, London WC2E 9DH, UK

Leicester Square / Piccadilly Circus

As Covent Garden is located centrally, it is near to Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus. Google maps may not be reliable. Having these street directories made it easier for us to find our way around.

We were in for a treat during winter as Leicester Square Christmas Markets was up and running.

Not a fan of shopping but food tasting was our theme during this trip. Unlike the States, Christmas markets are common throughout Europe and UK.

Didn’t stay too long in the Christmas markets as some strangers kept looking at our belongings. We decided to leave and go into M&Ms World for safety reasons.

Address: 1 Leicester Square, London WC2H 7DE, UK

Have you been to M&M’s World? It is situated directly opposite Leicester Square Christmas Markets.

The bright, colorful storefront would inevitably draw anyone in. The staff were friendly and helpful, even if you are not buying anything.

Abbreviation familiar to a tween.

Address: Leicester Square, 1 Swiss Ct, London W1D 6AP, United Kingdom

London Chinatown is close to Leicester Square. The nearest underground stations to Chinatown are Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus. Bus available are 14 / 24 / 27 / 29 / 134 / 168 / C2.

Eat all you can for $10.50.

We dined here over the next 2 days as the price was cheaper compared to other restaurants. Some restaurants open till 3am.

Address: 10 Wardour St, London W1D 6BZ, UK

Our jet-leg started to kick in. One final stop at Trafalgar Square before we ended the day. The attraction here is surrounded by museums, galleries, cultural spaces and historic buildings.

Trafalgar Square is a public square in the City of Westminster, Central London, built around the area formerly known as Charing Cross. Its name commemorates the Battle of Trafalgar, a British naval victory in the Napoleonic Wars with France and Spain that took place on 21 October 1805 off the coast of Cape Trafalgar.

Address: Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DN, UK

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