Thursday, May 26, 2016

Bangkok - Vana Nava Water Themepark

When you travel to Hua Hin, then you have to visit the water themepark – Vana Nava.

For those staying with InterContinental Hua Hin, this trip will be included in your booking with the hotel. And the hotel will arrange private pickups to and fro to the themepark.

If you have been to Adventure Cove in Sentosa, then this is not much of a difference. Similar rides, lazy river, wave pool, kids’ water playground, etc.

Boomerango
Turn and turn and turn when you experience weightlessness shooting up then down the wall at up to 45km/h before splashing down into a pool over 20m below. At 179m, this is the longest slide in Thailand!

 

Freefall
Looking for some defying gravity slides? Try this one that takes you 18m high then drops you straight down at up to 50km/h. Be sure your swimming wears are secured tightly.

AquaLoop
Still looking for faster slides? This slide is the only vertical looping slide in Thailand. And it can speed up to 60km/h for the real thrill seekers.

Abyss
Not brave enough enough for the single-pax rides, or simply too boring to scream alone. Then the Abyss is suitable for up to 6 people soaring up to a height of 28m, share four to five near-vertical spins and then plummet into a huge funnel at speeds of over 45km/h.

I think you have the idea of the ‘fun rides’. Here are some other activities for you.

Ropes Course
Standing at 13.4m tall, this is definitely not for those with acrophobia or simply fear of heights. However, all safety precautions are taken seriously, so it is suitable for all ages too.

Surf Zone
Imagine the seas in Australia, the waves and the sun, and the surf board! Pit your skills on this surf simulator, with the on-site team to guide you as you maneuver on either body boards or surf boards.

RainFortress
The number one place all kids will rush to in all water themeparks. Seven different slides that splash down to a child-friendly pool, where the big giant bucket awaits you with immerse amount of water.

Only less than 30mins, the girls are already so tanned. Remember! Put on lots of sunblock!!

Another sure hit activity for children.

AquaCourse
Hailed as the only one of its kind in Thailand, this obstacle course of ropes combined with water guns, will surely be fun and entertaining for all kids. Just think of how to get them down after you get them up.

 

After all the running around, sit back and relax in either one of these places.

Lazy River
About 345m long, bob around the entire park checking out on the various parts like the tropical jungle landscape, caves, waterfall, under bridges, etc. probably a good idea to take the lazy river to check out what rides have you missed or which ride has a shorter queue.

If one of your plan is to get a tan, why not do it in style? On a rattan bed located all over the place. If only, the ground is like the sandy beach, the experience would be complete (with a small umbrella cocktail).

Coconut Beach
I don’t really understand the meaning behind the name, but you get the idea. It’s the wave pool. Plenty of beach chairs for suntanning. Plenty of floats for all to share, single or double-seated. Enjoy the waves and regain some energy or let your heart rate return to normal (after all the exciting rides), before you go for the 2nd, 3rd, 4th round.

Lots of food and eateries scattered around the place. No worries on being hungry.

Signing off with a selfie! Hope you have a good time when you visit.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Food Art with Samantha Lee

Before I attended this event, I didn’t know who is Samantha Lee and no knowledge about Food Art. All I know about food is the basic 3-steps of living: Cook – Eat – S***.

Without any expectations, we were at Holiday Inn last weekend, waiting for the event to start and to meet the lady who is going to teach us about making food look artistic.

 

It was a private event for 16 families plus the staff of Holiday Inn.

 

Turn out to be, Samantha Lee is an internationally acclaimed Food Artist, who creates food art with the daily ingredients we see and make it more interesting for kids. She is a mother of two, hailing from Malaysia and her Instagram has more than over 700,000 followers.

 

At first the kids were a bit reluctant to go forward and see how Samantha does the creation, but soon, even the parents are all crowding around her table to take photos and videos of her work.

And Jayne had one of the best spot, which is why even Kless handed over her camera for the little girl.

Samantha started creating food art back in December 2008 to help her eldest daughter eat independently and adventurously, and that is when you started to get her ideas and shared publicly on IG since 2011. Even Dailymail UK commented her creation as, “Art that looks good enough to eat!”

Since she was teaching kids and art-nerks like myself, the 3 dishes she demonstrated were relatively easier and can be done within minutes. Even the ingredients are easy to prepare. No fanciful stuff.

‘Plttafish’ from Vege Pita Burger

 

‘Grabby Crabby’ from DIY Lettuce Cups

 

 

‘Squiggly Sheep’ from Spaghetti Bolognese

 

Demonstration time looks easy. Now it’s time for the girls to give it a try. The team was headed by the Main Chefs who diligently stood at the front table for 15mins, taking in all the ‘kungfu’ from the master.

The Kuan Sisters!

 

Assisted by the Junior Chef, Kless Lee.

We were given a star award by the master, Samantha herself!

 

Maybe Kless will start to do a series of Food Art Bentos for the girls in the days to come. For me, I’ll stick to my Ramen and Steak.

  

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Bangkok - Hua Hin

It is becoming more popular for visitors to Bangkok to visit Hua Hin. This is not a new shopping mall or night market, but one of the eight districts of Prachuap Khiri Khan Province. By road, it is 199km south-south-west of Bangkok.

There are a few ways to get from Bangkok to Hua Hin, all depending on your level of comfort and budget.

Minibus or Minivan to Hua Hin
Cheapest way is to take the public minibuses. These minibuses or minivans can be found at Victory Monument, leaving approximately every half hour from 4am to 6pm. In practice, the minibus or minivan will depart once it is full. Price is expected to be around 180Baht (S$7), time travel is 2.5-3 hours. One thing to note, if you are carrying bulky luggage, then the driver may ask you to buy an extra seat for it. Each minivan usually accommodates up to 10 pax per trip.

Train to Hua Hin
Most trains leave Bangkok to Hua Hin from Hua Lamphong and Bang Sue Railway Stations, between 8am to 10pm daily. However, the traveling time is around 4 hours, price at 100Baht (S$4). Read on many travel sites, traveling by train to Hua Hin is really not the best option, with longer traveling time and not so comfortable seats, this option is not the best.

Taxi (private cars) to Hua Hin
Private taxis are easily assessable in Bangkok. This is also my personal recommendation for traveling to Hua Hin. Prices ranging from 1,800Baht (S$70) to 3,000Baht (S$116), traveling time is about 2.5 hours. Do your own research, but we hired Mr Toom who is quite well known for his good services, reasonable charges and very reliable.
Mr Toom 081-482-7148
toom@39msn.com.

Chartered plane to Hua Hin
The only way I heard of if you want to fly in from Bangkok to Hua Hin, is to book with
InterContinental Hua Hin Resort. The hotel provides a chartered place service for 50,000Baht (S$1941) one-way, which is only a 35mins journey. The plane sits 6 guests, so if you are traveling with friends, that is approximately 8,400Baht (S$326) per pax.

 

So we were staying in InterCon Hua Hin, but we definitely did not chartered the private plane.

A spacious connecting room for our family of four. The girls had their own beds and open concept bathroom.

 

The pool view we have from the rooms.

Kless and my room has a slightly different layout, with a separate living space from the bedroom, this becomes our common space for meals or TV time.

Too bad the bed was queen size but the pillow selections was a pamper.

The bathroom was also an open concept for us, personally I still prefer to have some privacy when I’m taking my bath.

We were housed at the new wing – BluPort Wing. So to get to the main building, we need to cross over via the connecting overhead bridge, which makes the stay a bit more exclusive.

Taking a stroll from our rooms to the beach after a nice meal.

 

The girls prefer the cooler water at the pool, which is also safer cos the waves along the beach was pretty rough.

Thankfully both Kless and I are not the adventurous type, we are happy to just take photos of the people trying out the Para-sailing acts. For the adventure-seeking peeps, this is sure a hit.

We are cool with just a selfie.

A good night’s rest and breakfast beckons.

There are a few note-worthy places to visit in Hua Hin.

Santorini Park Cha-Am
Classic whitewashed buildings with colorful painted windows. (photos from the web)

 

Cicada Market
Art, handmade crafts, all in an open air market. The market is only opened on Friday-Sunday. (photos from the web)

 

Plearn Wan Shopping Village
Plearn Wan is a themed shopping complex located not far from Klai Kang Won Palace. The unique brown wooden building features cafes, shops and some guestrooms decorated in the 1960s Thai style. (photos from the web)

Kless and I visited the Hua Hin Railway Station while the girls spent their afternoon at the hotel’s Kids Club.

Check out the old railway train counter. Seriously, I didn’t think I would see this again ever since the Tanjong Pagar Station was closed in Singapore.

We arrived just in time to see a train pulling in. Surprisingly, there were a lot of people who alighted.

There were a few shutter bugs like us too.

And since you are there, if you are looking for some souvenirs or maybe just a cup of coffee , try out the Hua Hin Coffee Station. Don’t expect gourmet coffee but good enough to quench the thirst or addiction.

 

Traveling back home or to some other places.

Last but not least, is the Hua Hin Night Market. Situated in the centre of town between Petchkasem Road and the railway line, the market encompasses one street and comes to life after 6.30pm.

The fish spa here is only 100Baht for 15mins. It was so good, the girls tried it for 2 nights in a row.

Like mentioned, the night market is not as big as those in Bangkok, but little as it may seems, the products are actually much more unique and we spent more here than the markets in Bangkok.

Just right up the market street, we found a tucked away little room that sells drinks. Fruit juices and various types of cocktails. A prefect place to rest the tired legs and enjoy some quiet time.

In fact, the girls spent their resting time talking about their school lives like a couple of adults.

It was a great trip again to Bangkok and Hua Hin. Any trip with the family is always a blessing.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Bangkok Trip 2016 - Talay Zaa

Since 2011 we have been traveling to Bangkok every year. The city has fast become our yearly pilgrim, for shopping and massage. But in the recent years, we have come across some nice restaurants in Bangkok and opened a new found interest to look out for good food besides the usual Tom Yum traditional Thai food.

If you have read my blog post in 2015, you can click on the link you have not. You would have read about this seafood restaurant I have visited, Ping’s Thai Teochew Seafood Restaurant. So hooking up with the boss, a very nice Singaporean lady, we were blessed to visit her chain of restaurants and this time we tried the newly opened Talay Zaa, situated at Suan Lum Night Bazaar @ Ratchada (MRT Ratchadaphisek Station Exit 2 or MRT Lad Phrao Station Exit 1).

Talay Zaa is different because it tailors more to the locals’ flavor and cost. In fact, “Talay” means Sea and “Zaa” is just like the sound of cooking, like frying something in hot oil. In other words, Talay Zaa means Seafood Explosion.

So what signature dishes can you expect to have?

Grilled fish with salt. Have you seen those stalls along the streets in Bangkok that are usually packed with people eating their grilled fish with lots of salt on top of it? This is the same but with more hygiene. From me who doesn’t really fancy fish cooked this way, this is something not to be missed. There is absolutely NO SMELL at all! Except for the freshness of the fish and the addition of the Thai chili sauce. Highly recommended!

Oyster Omelette. Taste pretty much like what we can find in Singapore, but the only difference is the size of the oyster and how fresh it was. Good to try if you are a fan.

Sotong in spicy & sour Thai style. This is another dish you can practically eat and down 2 bowls of rice just like that. The sauce is amazing to go with rice, and the sotong is fresh. One of my favorite seafood anytime.

Tom Yum Soup. No Thai food is complete without this. Enough said.

The talk of the night, the highlight of all highlights. I was super excited that we are served cockles. Plus it was served just lightly blanched with special Thai sauce. The best “hum” ever! It was so big and nice. Must try!!

Have I gotten you hungry? Now you have another place to consider when you visit Bangkok. Come back for more next Thursday!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Rochor Centre - Part of History Shared

Part of Singapore’s history and part of mine.

Rochor Centre used to be the place when I was young, following my mother to visit my Aunt staying somewhere nearby. We would take a bus from Woodlands and stop near Rochor Centre, change to a Rickshaw and continue on for about 15mins. Yes, back then Rickshaw rides were still a mode of transport rather than just a form of tourist attractions.

So when I heard that Rochor Centre is going to be demolished soon to make way for the construction of the North-South Expressway. I knew I have to bring my girls for a tour before it’s gone. Depositing a part of my history to my family.

Rochor Centre was built in 1977, with a total of 4 blocks. The first three floors consist of shophouses and offices, the fourth floor is the void deck and the residents stay from the fifth floor onwards. The top floor is level 17. With the decision from LTA and SLA, the residents will be relocated to Kallang Trivista, near Kallang MRT Station.

The uniqueness of Rochor Centre has to be the 4 different vibrant colors for each Block 1-4.

When we were there, we saw quite a number of photography enthusiastic roaming around taking photos either for personal or project use.

Saw this metal grill under one of the blocks and the ladies took up their poses like a pro.

Walking around the estate, you will find some old-fashioned paintings or murals at the void decks. Though old but very interesting.

Anyone knows which swimming pool is this?

And the this MRT replicate is simply amazing. So real!

I was treated to a very nice melancholic flute music by this resident.

I don’t think my mother ever took a photo at this iconic place before.

My proud photo of this beautiful place with my beautiful family.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Running for a Cause - NTUC Income RUN 350 & Unlabelled Run

Some runs are unnecessary, some are for a reason. Glad to run in 2 races in the past one week, run for a greener future (NTUC Income RUN 350) and for the ex-offenders (Unlabelled Run).

NTUC Income RUN 350

When I told a few friends that I was running the 350 Run, their natural response was “You mean the 360 Run, is it?”. I have to admit, when I first heard about the run, I did thought the organizer wrote wrongly too. 350 means nothing but 360 is like a full circle (more meaningful). That is when I realized how uninformed I was.

350 refers to the recommended parts per million of carbon in the atmosphere that scientists believe is de rigueur for the Earth’s sustainability as we know it. Today, this number is around 400ppm. We have hit a climate milestone, as this is the first time in 800,000 years that the level hits 400ppm.

NTUC Income RUN 350, organized by Young NTUC is in support of 350.org – an international campaign dedicated to building a movement to unite the world around solutions to the climate crisis – the solutions that science and justice demands.

This is the first run that I have participated that provides busing services (for $6/pax) from various locations all around the island to bring us to the race venue. That’s nice.

Running from F1 Pit Building, means the scene will be fantastic.

With my running shifu, Ben Ang, before the race. I didn’t realized that we are both quite tanned.

Mandatory photo after a race, with our hard earned medal and banana.

 

Praise God, I managed to clock 62mins for the 10km run, my personal best since I started to run this year.

 

Unlabelled Run 2016

This run has been postponed once last year due to haze. Back then I was not into running yet, so I was not so keen to run in the race at all, plus paying to run has never been part of my belief. But when the race was rescheduled to this April and when brother Johnny from The New Charis Mission came to share about how this unlabelled run will be a means of showing our support to the ex-offenders, I was totally bought it.

The Unlabelled Run is organized by The New Charis Mission (TNCM), a non-profit organization that aims to raise awareness of their work informed by the values of Hope and Change. With a vision to bring new hope and opportunities to those in despair and neglect, TNCM seeks to enable the disenfranchised through targeted programmes, tools and refuge.

This run was also special because this is the first time I am joined by my CG members for a run. Can you see our excitement but also tired face? 630am at East Coast is not easy.

Another first is my old friend Jonathan (extreme left) who came and joined me after hearing I am participating in this race. He has not been running for almost 4-5 years and this is the first race. Then there is George (middle guy) who has not been running in a race for more than 20 years! And he sportingly signed up with me to run. Salute!
FYI, I am the youngest among the three, I’m 42 =)

Another photo right at the starting line.

We did it! Happy for Jon and George to complete the 5km race without any major problem.

All 8 runners for the day.

And the supporters aka wife & family.