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Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Taiwan 8D7N Free & Easy Tour - MaoKong (猫空)

Finally.. into our last league of our 8D7N free and easy tour in Taiwan. It took me longer than expected to finish this but that's alright because it has been a wonderful journey recalling our wonderful trip back then and we are going for another exciting trip this December!

Visiting MaoKong (猫空) on our second last day in Taiwan. The quaint village, popular for tea culture is situated at the top of a mountain. It is also a great place to catch the scenic view of Taipei city.

We took the Wenshan-Neihu (Brown) Line to Taipei Zoo Station. 



Take Exit 2 to Maokong Gondola Station 

It is about 350 meters walk to the entrance of Maokong Gondola Taipei Zoo Station.

Maokong Gondola was built in 2007 and it is Taipei City first gondola system. Since then, it has been a popular attraction providing stunning views of Taipei City.


Mountain view

View of Taipei 101




View of Taipei City

Maokong - 猫空



It was a sunny day and we just need to have an ice-cream first before we start our walk.

There are a few walking trails at Maokong and many like to come here to hike as well. Unfortunately, due to time constrain, we did not walk very deep and far into the trail.

猫空樟树步道 - This is the nearest trail to the Maokong station. It is also very well paved and easy for us to walk. Unfortunately, there are not many trees along the pathways to shelter us from the heat. An evening walk by this path should be more relaxing.


Awesome scenery along the trail


View of Taipei 101 within our sight.

This is the furthest we walked as we need to U-turn and head down to Taipei 101 later that day. Would suggest you set more hours aside if you plan to explore Maokong.

Trying to have some fun shots as we got tired of walking :)


Jump shots at Maokong Station

We took the "Eyes of Maokong Gondola" aka crystal (glass bottom) cabin on our return trip. Not for the faint-hearted especially those fearful of heights. However, the experience is indescribable as you get a clear view of the landscape through the see through glass as it climbs over the mountains.



Astonishing view of Taipei city. I can imagine how gorgeous it will be when the lights lit up at night.

Maokong Gondola Cabin



We will miss the scenery from the top. If you are not sure what to do at Maokong, check out this link which included a few sample travel plans that might suit you on your next visit.

Check out our Taiwan 8D7N itinerary

Maokong Gondola 
Website - https://www.gondola.taipei/

Visited in Nov 2016

Friday, August 3, 2018

[SG] - Japan Park Singapore 2018

[Media Invite]

Japan - is always one of the top country on our kiddos' mind when it comes to the next destination of travel. Apart from being a big fan of Japanese cuisine, the children grew up playing Vanguard cards, watching manga and our girl is deeply immerse in anime.

JAPAN PARK SINGAPORE, an all-in-one Japan event allows you to experience Japanese food, travel, traditional culture, entertainment, sports at the same time! Held at Suntec Singapore Exhibition & Convention Centre, the 2-day convention brings an assembly of the best offerings from Japan’s 47 Prefectures curated into 6 Zones, namely WA-Shiok Gourmet Festa, Discover Japan, Technology & Lifestyle, Omakase Stage, Kids Sports and CharaExpo Mini.

JPSG 2018 Group Photo

Check out the timetable so that you won't miss your favourite event! Catch Joseph Schooling at JPSG tomorrow at 1pm! If you are into cosplay, do not miss the talk show by Kaname & Enako on Sunday!

Learn about the 47 prefectures at JPSG

CharaExpo Mini Zone

Our boy grew up with Vanguard ! We still hold the first edition of the cards when it started in 2011. Time flies!

WA-Shiok Gourmet Festa - Do not miss out Keisuke's booth serving Queen & King Ramen on Saturday and Sunday respectively! Do note that there are only 500 bowls each day! Head for this first to avoid disappointment.


This bowl of Queen Ramen is filled with goodness! The soup base is made with chicken broth and 5 kinds of clams giving a very rich seafood flavour! Served with thick slices of Kagoshima Black Pork Chashu, every bite is simply heavenly! Did I mention the fish ball with clams is so tender and tasty?  Not forgetting the Osyter Confit, Mussel steam with sake and onsen egg that is made to perfection.


Thumbs up for Queen Ramen!

Ginza Lion's Roast Beef Don - perfect for those who like rice bowl

Lots of roast beef slices top with wasabi sauce and egg. 

Teppei Syokudo - Chicken Nanban served with rice is also pretty delicious. Good choice for the little ones. 

Omakase Stage - A series of performances (including talk shows, songs and dance, Sumi Art Live Drawing etc) will be happening at the stage area during the weekend.

We are privilege to catch the Japanese traditional dance performance by legendary figure, Nishikawa Ukon along with his students.


The children also enjoyed live performance by Kiwako Ashimine, an aspiring 20 year old Okinawan singer.



Discover Japan - Fell in love with the Daruma when we passed by Takasaki booth! If only I can bring one back home :) 


Do you know that Daruma's eyebrows are represented by crames, its beard by turtles and its round shape represents happiness? Notice that the eyes are white? Colour in the right eye (as it is facing you) with black ink. This is called "Kaigan", meaning the "eye opening". Once your wish is fufilled, colour in the other eye of your Daruma to show your appreciation, thus "opening" both its eyes. Each colour also has a different charm. For example : Red is for safety, good fortune and victory while a blue Daruma represent successful life, independent and job securement.


We heard a lot about Ninja, but never knew there is actually a city of Ninja! At Koka City booth, you can also try your aiming skill with the shurikens. 

What attracted me more are these cuties! Aren't they adorable!

Lifestyle & Technology - Learn the discipline and process of Japanese Tea Ceremony at the SAMURAI Room. 


Play, Get and Taste a selection from 47 prefectures at Japan Park Singapore 2018!

JAPAN PARK SINGAPORE 2018
Date: 4 - 5 August 2018
Location: Suntec Singapore Exhibition & Convention Centre, Level 4, Halls 403 and 404
Admission: Ticketing Prices applies

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Highlights of Singapore Garden Festival 2018

WELCOME BACK - Singapore Garden Festival 2018!  Held once every 2 years, this is our family's favourite floral event that we would not miss. Roaming through Gardens by the Bay for more about 3 hours, we managed to cover most of the main SGF highlights! Check out where you can start from and what you can expect to see in this year's festival.

We expected a huge crowd to visit SGF2018 and availability of car park is limited. Lucky for us, we managed to get a parking lot near the Meadow Carpark.


We purchased our tickets from the ticketing booth at Meadow Carpark, and began our walk from the entrance of THE MEADOW .  

Beautiful scent of the orchids welcomed us as we walked through 'The Mountains'.  



We moved on to check out the designer works at Balcony Gardens before proceeding to the Flower Field. Taking a family photo with the iconic Gary the Grasshopper is a must on our SGF visit.




Benny the Bee at the flower field filled with sunflowers

It is a beautiful day and the little garden gnomes are out at the gardens to play as well. 


We entered into the Floral Windows of the World showcasing exquisite exhibits designed by local and international floral designers.

Test tubes has become a favourite medium of displaying the floral. I love to see the different combination and effects it can brings out.

Every exhibit is unique and creative. It gives you a different visual perspective from different angles.



I like this colourful piece as it is vibrant and hopeful.

I probably have been seeing and smelling too much durians lately that I immediately felt that this exhibit is a perfect representation of floral surrounding the spiky durian fruit.


 Other exhibit at Floral Windows to the World


Among all the exhibits, this is my personal favourite - Breakthrough. I love how the flowers break their way through the ground to reach the light. A very uplighting piece.


Students from local tertiary institutions also participated in the Landscape Design Challenge. Check out who won along the way to the Fantasy Garden.

Fantasy Garden is my next favourite area to visit because of the beauty and creative landscape  created by renowned local and international gardening luminaries which never fails to enchant me.

'African Thunder' won my heart immediately and its definitely without any doubt my favourite landscape installation thus far! Designed by Leon Kluge (South Africa), you have to stay to watch how a series of thunder rolls over the dry grassy savannahs and transforming the sky with streaks of fire, followed by rainfall that brings life to the dry landscape. The rain triggers an explosion of colour on the savannah, giving life to the arid landscape.



Did you spot an angel in the garden?


What is within the 'mountains'? Enter to find out. Every landscape holds a mystery and the wildest of imagination. 


We moved on to the at Learning Garden to learn more about pollination, how seeds are dispersed and more!





We are blessed with a cloudy afternoon and the sun is not too hot. From the Learning Garden, we proceed on to the Therapeutic Garden where you can take a seat and catch some rest before entering the Supertree Grove through the Floral Canopy.


Penjing & Artistic Stone Exhibition & Competition has moved to the outdoor this year. Nevertheless, the collection of penjing is still as astonishing. Every pot has so much delicate details within and we cannot imagine how much effort, love and care the owners have undertake to look after their pots. To shape each Chinese word would takes years!


Gold Award winner - Looks likes a miniature of a huge tree. If you look closer, there are so many little branches hidden within the green leaves.

Grand Champion and award winning bonsai by Mr David Leow. The densely structured branches and young sprouting leaves stood out from the rest!

After spending much time at the garden, toilet break is very much needed. Remember to hold on to your ticket stubs and get a chop/stamp so that you can re-enter to continue your visit to the SGF if you accidentally exit the area.

We walked through the Lost Forest which felt like a mini forest maze. Don't worry as there are signs to direct you to Secret Garden of Edibles

It is pretty dark and small in the Secret Garden of Edibles so you really have to keep your eyes open and look around you. Though it is not a big area, you will find chilli, radish, grapes, apples, pears and more within.

The furry fruit (left image) is actually an eggplant! Pear tree (right image) can also be found within. A gentle note that all fruits found within are real!

Horticulture & Community Gardening


Community Garden Edibles Competition - Don't be surprised that our local gardeners can also harvest huge food crops! SGF2018 features the largest wintermelon, pumpkin and even tomato! Does this interest you to grow edible plants in your home?

My Home Garden - I love to have plants in the house but after many attempts, I must admit I do not have green fingers. Even terrariums which I though would be a good start seems to fail on me. Still, its really inspiring to see the lovely displays that can be put in our homes.

I am always intrigued by the floral table series in every SGF. This year, they featured a water fountain dining concept which I thought is very creative - apart from its practicability and amount of time and effort it takes to clean and maintain.

Do not miss picking some gardening tips by the local farmers on your way out. :)

Marketplace - Our final stop of the day! The Marketplace is a free zone accessible for all and  public does not need to pay admission fee to enter. Unlike previous years, we did not make any floral/fauna related products. Instead, Hubby bought leather belt and I got myself a leather wallet! Still, we enjoyed shopping in the air-condition shelter.


We did not enter the Flower Dome this time as we were famished and tired after walking for more than 3 hours within Gardens by the Bay. Will try to be back again to visit Orchid Extravaganza Floral Display at the Flower Dome next time.

Click here to view the listing of the Stage Programme happening during SGF2018.

Tips: 

1) Travel to Gardens by the Bay by public transport. As SGF often attracts a huge crowd (especially on the weekend), carpark availability is limited.

2) Tickets to the Singapore Garden Festival also includes admission to the Flower Dome at Gardens by the Bay. Recommend that you visit early in the morning, have lunch and return to the Flower Dome after lunch.

3) Wear comfortable clothing and footwear as you will be spending many hours at the gardens.

4) Keep yourself hydrated and energised! Bring your water bottles and food to provide you with the energy boost needed to keep you going throughout the day!

5) Be ready for the unpredictable weather! Bring along your caps and umbrella in case of rain or shine.

6) Bring your cameras/mobile devices and standby your battery packs or mobile charger. Lots of photography opportunities and the last thing you want is your camera or mobile phone's battery going flat.

7) Ensure you get a stamp/chop prior to exiting the ticketing area. This allows you to re-enter in case you exit the ticket zone.


SINGAPORE GARDEN FESTIVAL 2018
Date: 21 July - 3 August 2018
Location: Gardens by the Bay (The Meadow, Supertree Grove, Flower Dome)
Show Opening Hours: 10am to 10pm daily
Conservatories Opening Hours: 9am - 10pm daily

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