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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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Habitat by Honestbee: Uniquely Shopping and Dining Experience for Family

Just by word of mouth is enough to draw us to explore Habitat at Honestbee. The newly-opened supermart prides itself as a multi-sensory, tech-meets-food grocery and dining experience like no other. See, smell, hear, touch and taste fresh flavours and food items from across the globe – all in one habitat by honestbee.

When we arrived, many curious and eager shoppers were crowding at the entrance, opening or setting up their “Bee Pass” to enter/exit habitat. Yes, first of its kind experience. You do not need to bring any physical wallets and there are no ATMs to be seen as well. Just your “Bee Pass” will do.

Potted plants for sale after entering Habitat.

We read that Habitat occupies the space of slightly larger than a football field. Upon stepping into the compound, we were greeted with so many shoppers (probably their first time).

A long queue was forming at the coconut stall. Amazing, each fresh trimmed coconut was selling for only $0.95! No wonder they are the best sellers. We thought it’s a worthy buy, at least not spending more than $4 on bubble tea.

Big & Small M made a beeline to take a mandatory photo with the friendly bee when it came by.

Exploring the section near the entrance before our hunger pang strikes. According to Honestbee, the produce were sourced directly from farmers and established producers from across the globe.

Cute cup noodles from Korea and Japan.

If you are observant enough, you get to see peoples’ orders are packed quickly and transported by these conveyor belts.

 Dining here is akin to having design thinking, digital marketing and digital awareness coming alive right in front of you.

And so, we had our lunch here. To order our food, we can’t order direct from the stalls. The only way to order is through your Honestbee app under “Habitat”. E-receipt is emailed to you and via the app, you can track your order and receive notification that your food is ready to collect.

Honestly, Habitat wasn’t as big as we thought it was. Probably much of the space was taken up for storage or collection/packing. It would be good if Honestbee can introduce stationery or some electronic items in the future to make the shopping experience more fulfilling.

Finally managed to find seats after waiting for quite a while. This is Little Neck Clams and Bacon.

Milk Made: Frozen shakes & bakes.

Tiger Beer battered fish & chips.

Crumble Vairhona Chocolate.

Poofy Pancakes served with vanilla chantilly cream, maple syrup and fresh berries.

Australia Grass-fed Flank Steak. Served with roasted chat potatoes, roasted plum tomatoes, herb salad.

Cute and shiny utensils. They are actually made of plastic 🙂

We have a soft spot for fresh bakes.

Free tasting at the Lazy Loaf counter.

Exploring the remaining sections. Fresh seafood are a hit with shoppers. The best part was that you can pick your seafood and the masterchef will cook it for you.

While almost everything is automated, we still need human assistance to help us figure out how to complete our purchase.

Scan our order and the trolley will check out and be automatically rolled into the packing area.

In case you are wondering whether you need to “rush” to the collection point after checking out your trolley, there is no need to. You can still dine or shop additional items and when ready, just proceed to the collection point to collect your honest purchase.

At the collection point, served by robot courier!

Shuttle bus is also available between Harbourfront to Habitat at Honestbee.

Address: 34 Boon Leat Terrace S(119866)

Bus: 10, 30, 30E, 51, 143, 175, 176, 188, 188E

MRT: Labrador Park, Pasir Panjang

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D’BUN 利满: CAFE@356 in Joo Chiat

True-blue foodies are willing to travel great distances in search of good eats. In the heart of Joo Chiat, there are no lack of culinary hotspots and most recently, D’bun (the bun specialist) newly opened Cafe@356, a cosy, homely concept that delivers the best home cooked flavours.

We know the weather can be unforgiving in the afternoon, with the sun scorching down on us. With the air-conditioned ambience, the cafe provides a great respite for customers.

Not forsaking its traditional product offerings, one can expect to find authentic light-bites. The owner shared that they aimed to make their foods with fresh, subtle and natural tasting flavours. As such, the products from our kitchens are hand made in small batches using quality ingredients.

From the way they are, the products simply doesn’t need any further embellishment.

With the mid-autumn approaching, would you like to try D’Bun Mooncakes which are baked fresh using fillings blended so that they are not overwhelmingly sweet and come in several traditional varieties. The suite of mooncake comes in these styles – snow skin, traditional baked and baked pastry.

Trying out their ever popular freshly made buns. Your first bite will be a revelation. We are not sure if they are absolutely addictive, but you just can’t give it a miss.

CHAN2 (1)

Absolutely love these light-bites, served in pretty generous portion! The soya-bean milk is a thirst-quencher.

Their shop cannot be easily missed when you step into Joo Chiat Road.

Main Branch
358 Joo Chiat Road
Singapore 427603
Open Daily 8am – 10pm
T: +65 6345 8220
F: +65 6344 8110

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Katong Point: Choice Cuts Goods + Coffee Lifestyle Concept Cafe

Slowly but surely, Katong Point is going to be developed into a favourite hunt for the cafe-hoppers. Located at Level 1, Choice Cuts Goods + Coffee is a lifestyle concept shop/cafe/bar that offers a relaxed DIY atmosphere to enjoy specialty coffee, craft beers, or to browse through the selection of vinyl records.

When coffee is your way of life, the specialty coffee that comes in a hand-stamped takeaway cup will make you love it from the bottom of your heart. Beneath the aroma features a blend of the finest beans from Brazil, Honduras, and Ethiopia that gatecrash their way into the menu. The cafe also offers teas from T2, organic hot chocolate, organic sodas from Melbourne Soda Co., spiced chai and matcha lattes.

Fashion isn’t just about big names. Check out the various apparel designs that suits your personal style.

Choice Cuts touts itself as a place for coffee, beers & music lovers who have a penchant for anything funk and soul inspired. Brought to you by the DJs from Matteblacc / Blaccsmith.

Like-minded folks with penchant for vintage records will surely love this.

Choice Cuts will also be serving up new breakfast items:
– peanut butter & jam, banana toast
– smashed avocado marmite cheese melt
– granola bowls: vanilla bean greek yoghurt, with choice of matcha w/ banana & blueberries or peanut butter chocolate w/ mango & blueberries
Our healthy range of artisanal baked goods from Muncha Bunch will also available:
– Chia Seed & Goji Berry Energy Bar
– Carrot Cake Turnover
– Banana Bread with Walnut & Chia Seed
– Flourless Almond Beetroot Brownie

Carrot cake muffin

Banana Walnut Chia Seed Muffins.

Chia Seed & Goji Berry Energy Bar.

Need that specialty coffee to perk up your weekend, Choice Cuts is now open at 9am.

Address: 451 Joo Chiat Road, #01-07, Katong Point, Singapore 427664

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/choicecutsgoods/

Instagram: www.instagram.com/choicecutsgoods

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Affordable Western Food You Must Try at Katong Point: STREETS OF LONDON

The Katong restaurant and cafe scene never stops to attract hungry food lovers. While there are many eateries to choose from, we would like to recommend a wallet-friendly cafe (important consideration) offering no-frills, authentic dining experience right at Katong Point.

Streets of London cafe offers a scrumptious menu that includes fresh and delicious dishes and hey, talk about Instagram worthy food!

A peek at the menu which will definitely pique your interest. The spread includes the ever popular Fish and Chips, Pasta (with seafood option), Baked Fish, Babyback Ribs, London pride IPA Chicken and many more. What a way to experience communal dining in Katong without spending a bomb.

Driven by his passion for food and cooking, Chef Thomas takes pride in delivering freshly-prepared comfort meals for customers to indulge everyday.

We thought Streets of London has a very beautiful and large interior that bodes well for a good family (kids’ friendly) and friends’ gathering, not to mention a suitable go-to-spot for the Millennial to hang out. The decor looks cosy, calm and hip to customers.

Cute miniatures all the way from London just made it hard for anyone to resist whipping their phone out to take a quick picture. For the Instagrammers, Streets of London cafe certainly meets the criteria to be one of the most instagrammed place in Katong (Joo Chiat Road).

A healthier choice – Baked Fish ($12.80).

Mid-joint wings  marinated with a touch of Green Devil IPA, an American IPA style beer (7 pc for $8).

Did we forget to mention you can enjoy fabulous food and drinks at Streets of London with no GST and no service charge? Yup, you don’t need a silver fork to enjoy great food – all at the Streets of London cafe!

STREETS OF LONDON

Address: 451 Joo Chiat Road Katong Point Mall 01-01 Singapore

Contact Info: 9754 7716 | streetsoflondon.co@gmail.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Streets-of-London-305385316190806/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/weibinthomas/

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Travel to Vietnam: Ben Thanh Market @ Ho Chi Minh City

A must-see attraction in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City, Ben Thanh market is a bustling attraction where tourists could just shop and taste real Vietnamese food. There is a number of vendors displaying eye-catching local handicrafts, apparels, souvenirs, silk fabrics, embroidery and brocade and many more cute gifts that tourists can bring back to friends and family.

Vendors and food stalls in the market food section that offers guests dishes freshly made to the order. Here, one can taste various kinds of local dishes.

The food court is open from dawn and the most vibrant at nightlife. Starting from 7 pm daily, over 170 stalls concentrate along Phan Boi Chau Street and Phan Chu Trinh Street.

Goods for daily use. Looking nice but Ben Thanh market is known for inflating the prices up to two or three times the original value.

Shops selling spices, grocery, cosmetics and colorful candies and great Vietnamese coffee bean/powder.

It is no secret that Ben Thanh Market is possibly the most visited place in Ho Chi Minh City. While it may not be the best location for shopping, every tourist knows their trip to Ho Chi Minh City cannot be completed without a visit to Ben Thanh market to experience Vietnam at its original.

Address: Ben Thanh Market, Lê Lợi, Phường Bến Thành, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam (Intersection of Le Loi, Ham Nghi, Tran Hung Dao Avenues and Le Lai Street, Ho Chi Minh City 70000, Vietnam)

Nearby Attractions: https://www.skyscanner.net/trip/ho-chi-minh-city/things-to-do/ben-thanh-market/nearby-things-to-do

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Eatbook.sg – Your Singapore Food Guide

You are feeling hungry and not sure where to go. Wouldn’t it be good to delve into a food site to discover the latest food places whipping out delectable dishes at affordable prices? A brainchild of local cooks, Eatbook.sg is a brand new food site which curate and create the best food hunts in Singapore with videos and honest reviews. Continue reading “Eatbook.sg – Your Singapore Food Guide”