Monday, September 29, 2014

Hello Taiwan 2014 ! Day 1 - Inhouse Hotel << 薆悅酒店 >> & Shilin Night Market << 士林夜市 >>

Our yearly vacation, this time as promised to Xav, we headed to Taiwan for a 8d7N stay. I can say it was a breeze in terms of Vera's meal preparation especially (Read HERE on how to travel light with a baby) and transportation. Travelling around with one baby, one pre-schooler, two big luggages and a small luggage, the most important area that we would all be looking at, will be nothing but hope for a trustworthy and reliable driver. We engaged the Taxi service from Tour Taiwan based on Princess Dana and my sis' recommendation and yes, their service was great !

Why would we say so because I had friends asking me for feedback on the service of Tour Taiwan after looking at the number of places we managed to visit and also at the same time complaining to me about their bad experiences with other drivers whom they booked randomly online. So basically what contributes to the good feedback from us :

1. Safety on the road - Xiao Li was a very careful driver on the road, driving skills pretty good if you can imagine me feeding Vera porridge with her sitting on my while I fed with my other hand. No jerks nor hard breaks and of course, he does not drive like a F1 driver which I can assure you.

2. Thoughtfulness - Wenny was very thoughtful to prepare a colouring book for Xav and a pack of Mochi for us to snack on during the journey. For longer journey, Xiao Li would stopped over for toilet breaks and allowed us to purchase some snacks to standby incase we may feel hungry.

Coming to the next question, if you are going to ask me if the driver smokes ? Yes he smokes but we are pretty fine with it. But Xiao Li is unlike the drivers who will smoke and drive at the same time. He would distinguished off his burning cigarette when he spotted us walking towards when we return to the vehicle at the end of the visits.

Some of my friends told me that the drivers whom they hired, smoked and drive with the windows opened  ! So you can be assured at least our experience with Xiao Li was great !

3. Punctuality - Xiao Lee was very punctual and would be waiting for us by the spot as communicated upon before hand.

4. Communication : This is the best for those who can't speak Mandarin, Wenny can communicate in English via watsapp. Totally no language barrier when you need help in planning and communicating. You can contact Wenny , a very helpful lady via Watsapp at : +886 975 720 272

The flight was about 4 hours and yes Vera was a little cranky on and off. But she was easily soothed with the help of her snacks. We were picked up upon touching down at Taoyuan International Airport and sent to Inhouse Hotel which is located just right at Xi Men Ding.

Lobby lounge

Internet services for the guests

A pretty thoughtful gesture from Inhouse
Our lodging for the night, joining two beds for all the four of us.

Love this table top for washing ! Big enough for the milk bottles to fall in here.

A pretty roomy bathroom, with the bathtub on the right, shower room and toilet cubicle on the left.

And the toilet bowl comes with a washing system like those in Japan.

View from Level 2 cafe

What I like about Inhouse is, their daily breakfast menu will surely have a dish or two different each day. But western and porridge fare remain the same. Staff are pretty friendly too !

After the unloading, we headed straight for a cup of bubble tea, then to Ah Zhong for the rice noodles. More than a decade ago when  I first ate the rice noodles but I have to say the standard has dropped but nevertheless, it was great to just stand by the roadside and chomped down the noodles.

Finally, Mee suah to fill the tummy a little.
From Ximen Station, we took a train to Taipei Station then to Jiantan Station, where  Shilin Night Market is.

A popular destination after dark,  Shilin Night Market is a must come when you visit Taipei. We were in Taipei for five days and have concluded that the food here is the best among all that we have tried. By 6pm, the crowd started to come in.

To him it's like the giant version of the HK Egglets
We came upon a shop that sells western food. I ordered beef steak and I had two very generous portion as shown below with some spaghetti served at the base of the hot plate coupled with an egg.

This portion is less than $10 sgd

If you are heading to Shilin Night Market, these are the stalls not to be missed ! It is along the same road , near to the Temple. The chicken sticks were really nice and springy and of course the sausage is equally tasty ! Totally fresh and I would not mind having one whole stick to myself !  =P

This was recommended by my friend, LM. She told me it's a must try ! We managed to locate this stall right in front of a Chinese temple. The queue was scarily long but this is the best after having to try from other stalls and from other night markets.

Commonly found game stalls in night markets
Marksman Junior in the making
We made our way through the crowd and came to the sheltered Shilin Night Market. How about trying to fish for some prawns ? Per round, we were given seven "rods" (sticks with hooks) to fish for the prawns. It has no limitation to how many prawns you can fish. So long as the fishing is done with the seven given sticks.

concentrating real hard
BBQ your catch !
Not a lot but happy with his catch for the day
Some interesting vegetable we saw- honey bitter gourd !

We rounded up our Mid Autumn Festival night walk at Shilin Night Market. Onward to Cingjing next ! We checked out of Inhouse on Day 2 and left our remaining luggage with them as we be checking in on the night of Day 3 when we returned from Cingjing.


This is our 8D7N Hello, Taiwan 2014 itinerary :
Day 1 - Inhouse Hotel  薆悅酒店 & Shilin Night Market  士林夜市
Day 2 [Part 1] -  Cingjing, Lu Ma Ma 清境  魯媽媽 
Day 2 [Part 2] -  Cingjing , The Evergreen Grassland 清境 清境农场 & Starry House 觀星園景觀山莊
Day 3 - Day 3 Cingjing 清境  >>  Taichung 台中
Day 4 - Hot Spring Thermal Valley 地熱谷 >>  Dan Shui 淡水老街 >> Mengjia Night Market 艋舺夜市

If you have been reading our posts, do follow us on Facebook and Instagram for future updates !

Disclaimer : Do note that this is not a sponsored post. We paid for all food and lodging as well as the services from Tour Taiwan. All opinions are of my own as I always believe that good stuff must always be shared!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Quickfix - "Yakiniku Don "

My very own version of "Yakiniku Don " I marinated the beef slices with the Premium Black Bean Soy Sauce Paste and sliced half an onion into strips.

Ingredients :
- beef slices
- onions
- Sugar (Optional, I did not add any though)

Pan fried the onions till fragrant and add in the beef slices. Do not overcook the beef slices, top and serve on a bowl of piping hot white rice.

A  quickfix dinner when am on single mum duty for days ...... It's pretty nice and the 6 years old love it. =)

Some of my quickfix dishes here :
Otah Omelette
Wagyu Beef Steak
Sliced Fish Soup

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Friday, September 19, 2014

[Review] Travels of Little Rice Grass

This book is about one of the most important staple food for the Asians, which is taken by most of us on a daily basis.

It began at about 10000 years ago when a wild grass was growing in marshes of Yangtze River in China, early humans gathered the seeds to eat and 7000 years ago, people started to grow these seeds for food.

Travels of Little Rice Grass shares with you the adventures that little rice grass went through. With the early humans through the rivers, mountains and across many lands, it became a cultivated plant, feeding the mouths of millions around the world. This is known to us as RICE !

How important Little Rice Grass was! Harvest and festivals were held to honour it. The different parts of the plant (seeds, husk and hay) can be used for different purposes. Without rice, many people in Asia will be go hungry.

There is also a Chinese poetry which teaches us that every grain if rice comes from the hardship that the farmers went through to get it harvested.

锄禾日当午, 汗滴禾下土。
chu he ri dang wu, han di he xia tu
shui zhi pan zhong can, li li jie xin ku

In English, it simply means " Hoeing of the crops at high noon, the farmers' sweat dripping down onto the soil, beneath the hoe. Everyone should know that every single grain of rice on the plate is the hardwork of the farmers."

I have always reminded Xav not to waste food especially the rice as it takes a lot of hardship from planting to harvesting.

A pretty good read and if you do own a Pen Pal Whizz, Travels of Little Rice Grass is compatible! (Download the audio file here)  If you are still undecided of which pen to get, here is my list of differences between Pen Pal Whizz and Leapfrog Talking Pen.

I have also reviewed the following which are compatible with Penpal Whizz :
I.Love.Reading Magazines
Jo's Early Readers
Emily Lim's Toy Tales Award Winning Series
Classic Fairy Tales in Chinese

If you have been reading our posts, do follow us on Facebook and Instagram for future updates !

Disclaimer :  We were given a copy of The Little Rice Grass by JLB Educational Technology for review purposes.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Baby, let's travel light !

Before the arrival of Vera, we used to be able to squeeze all (Daddy + Mummy + Xav) our barang barang into one big luggage whenever we travel. Some people feels that travelling with a baby is just like moving house because it seems like you need to bring everything from the house!

I personally find that travelling at a different age group has it's perks. When we first brought Xav out on his first trip to Bintan when he was 6 months old, he was still a breastfed baby then. All I brought was a breastpump to pump out at night if he did not wake for his feed. It was pretty much a breeze with no jar food to lug along and the luggage space gradually freed up as the diapers got lesser by the time we were ready to return.

Xav's second trip was to Hong Kong. That time, he was on semi-solid and I am pretty much not wanting to feed him with jar food. I prefer to prepare fresh food for him. This was what I have prepared for his meals.

Back to 2014, Vera went on her first flight to Taiwan but her second trip out of the little red dot. Her first trip was to Johor and I find it quite easy as well as I was still breastfeeding her then, I did not bring anything along to pump, direct latch is the best. I don't even need to bring bottles.

She is now on her semi solids but I did not packed fresh food for her this time round. How did we travel light and of course, the nutrition is slightly compromised for these eight days.

How to make sure we travel light:
1. Pack milk sachets instead of checking in that big tin of milk powder. You can try requesting from the staff when you visit the PD, they will generously give you some packs or you can consolidate the sachets from each visit. =P

2. Disposable bibs or super light weight, foldable bibs. This foldable yet duper light weight bib from VabySg August subscription box, came into very good use.

3. Thermos Flask

Thankful for this thoughtful gift from Amy. I did not bring any travel cooker this time round. This round was smarter, usually our breakfast will be provided by the hotel. Before we left the café, we usually scoop some plain porridge into the thermal flask and keep it for Vera's lunch.

Should there be any steam fish available, we will flaked some and mixed into the porridge.

Otherwise, we will pay the café or the stalls that sell porridge just to cook some plain porridge for us.

4. Food Packs

We bought some Pigeon food packs and some organic vegetables puree and mixed into the porridge if we did not managed to find any suitable dishes for her. Same as the milk sachets, the number of packs will be reduced and luggage will feel lighter by the end of the trip.

5. Baby Carrier

We did not bring a Pram this time, taking into consideration the places we will be going, the terrain etc. It is definitely challenging to push a pram up to the hills to feed the goats and to squeeze into the forever jam packed night markets.

I just brought along a baby carrier which came in time from Tao Bao. Thanks Amy for helping with the purchase as I still could not figure out how to shop there.

These are five simple tips to travelling light ! Do share with me if you have other tips as we are planning for another trip in another month's time.

If you have been reading our posts, do follow us on Facebook and Instagram for future updates !

Disclaimer: This is NOT a sponsored post. All opinions are of my own.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Language Power 蓝格子, 跑啊!

I am looking much forward to attend this talk hosted by 张美香 (Eeva)  when I received the invitation.

Now that Xav is much older and will be attending official school next year, all the more I would like to balance up his ability to comprehend and speak in Mandarin.

Since he was a new born, we conversed in English with him until he is about 3.5 years old before I exposed him to the second language, which is only used between the daddy and me. I further reinforce him to start conversing in Mandarin at about age 4 with me and my mum so that he will not totally reject this language.

Initially, I felt very weird as I am so not used to speak in Mandarin with him. But as we went along, things got so much better. You should have hear how my English potato spoke with a English slang when he speaks Mandarin. I have even come up with a monthly series of how to make learning Chinese more fun ! Here is my list of Chinese Fun posts.

This talk will enlighten you on how to improve your child(ren)'s Chinese, if you are still looking for ways to go about doing it.

This talk will be held at :
Venue : Resort World Theatre (Sentosa ) , next to Universal Studio
Date : 20th September 2014
Time : 3-5 pm

Tickets can be purchased from Sistic or direct from Rediffusion, hotline : 62883321  
For those of you who can read Chinese, below is what was quoted on Eeva Show Facebook Page:

现代人时间宝贵, 要把时间花在对自己最有意义, 最有益处的事情上, 即使是朋友也是一样, 不可只是捧场。
所以,我把为什么你应该来看我的演讲秀的理由列下来, 希望你看看, 9月20日我们蓝格子,跑啊! (Language Power)见!!

2。你会体会到, 你的孩子或自己是否用了最好的方式与语言相处?
3。我们会一起明白, 在新加坡学习语文真的如此痛苦吗?
4。你有机会听见自己 是如何在"运用"着自己的声音能量和语文能量。
8。新加坡的小学生最直白的心里话, 在那天会告诉你。

Disclaimer : This is a media invitation, no monetary compensation is involved.
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