Monday, 10 August 2015

Celebrating SG50 in Batam

Yes I know, we spent our nation's Jubilee birthday overseas like a lot of other travel-loving Singaporeans. But that doesn't mean I'm not patriotic. See this pretty girl and that cute boy that I pushed out of my youknowwhere? I'm nation-building right here! *laughs*

Anyway, we know better than to tackle the mammoth that is the causeway so we chose to head to Batam rather than Malacca. I feel for those of you who got stuck at the causeway for 8 hours (though I can't say that I'm surprised). Let's just say I was happy to have found a comfortable seat on the ferry.

DAY 1

At the Singapore Cruise Centre waiting to board our Batam Fast ferry
Baby Boy just woke up from his nap so he was in a hyper mood. Not good when he is confined in a small space -_-
Watching the world go by..

After a comfortable ferry ride, we arrive at Harbor Bay Terminal (different from our usual terminal at Batam Centre). We took a cab (cost us 50,000 rupiah) to Novotel Hotel, our accommodation for the trip.

Novotel Hotel Batam
We were in our usual matchy matchy wear! :)

As it was still early and we can't check-in yet, we had lunch at the hotel's restaurant, The Square.

Clockwise from left: Girl enjoying her food and colouring;
The Square placemat;
Four different kinds of chili!
Clockwise from left: Rice with eggs and chicken;
Lasagna with cheese;
Cordon bleu with fries

The food wasn't too bad, there were some hits but also a few misses. Overall, it was satisfactory.

Our rooms were ready by the time we were done with lunch.

Clockwise from left: Standard size bathtub in the toilet;
King size bed! More than enough space for all three of us if Baby Boy doesn't want to sleep in the cot;
Nice size room with balcony for star gazing.
We requested for a cot for Baby Boy. It was pretty low, which is probably not advisable if you're bringing an infant with you. I can imagine breaking my back if I were to put a 5 month old baby in and out of this thing!

We headed off to the nearest mall, Nagoya Hill Shopping Mall, by cab. We didn't like it when we visited previously but it was the nearest mall to the hotel. It didn't turn out as bad as I had expected (maybe I have low expectations! *laughs*).

Nagoya Hill Shopping Mall

We decided to let the kids play in a very old school arcade that still used tokens like the good ole days! Each token only cost 1000 rupiah (about S$0.10) and most rides cost only 2 to 4 tokens. Cheap and good =)

Dunia Fantasi Arcade
Variety of different rides
Choo choo! This ride only costs S$0.30! Very cheap!

The only problem is, the arcade allowed people to smoke inside so the air was smoky. My eyes were watering and I almost can't breathe after being inside for just 15 minutes. We had to get out of there after a while because the air was so bad =(

But my girl had a blast (my boy not so much; maybe he was just as affected by the air) so we continued to play on. Never thought I'd see the day where I'll be excited to find out that our tokens ran out!

We did some grocery shopping at the supermarket and discovered that they had a lot of shopping carts with cars on them! Girl had a lot of fun riding in one!

Pushing a kid-friendly push cart

We also bought a lot of die cast cars that not only have doors that can open, they have engine sounds and lights! I even found one that looked just like my MINIbee (my yellow MINI Cooper)! Baby Boy loves playing with them =)

My die cast cars

We ended a long day with dinner at a Chinese restaurant at the top floor (can't remember the name).

Clockwise from left: Chilli crab sauce and buns;
Delicious bamboo clams;
Fried noodles.

The food is not bad, cheap and good! Only problem is the staff can't really speak much English so be patient with them and speak slower. By the time we got back to our hotel, we were all fast asleep in our beds cos we were so tired!

DAY 2

It was raining when we woke up this morning so we had to go shopping at BCS Mall instead of our original plan of sea sports, in hopes that the rain would stop eventually. To get to the various places that we wanted to visit, we booked a private 7-seater car for S$90.

We visited BCS Mall previously and liked it because of the relatively cheaper prices as compared to Batam Megamall. Mum-in-law loved the supermarket! She said in Chinese, "I can't remember the last time I bought so many things for less than S$1 each!" Super! =)

We found a nice Indonesian restaurant (located next to Timezone) selling very authentic Indonesian food. Cheap and good.

Clockwise from top left: The dining area;
Pandan leaf chicken;
Delicious fried eggs;
Can't remember what this is called but it wasn't too bad.

We left the mall at 2pm, delighted to find that the rain has stopped! It was time for sea sports! =)

Monkey Beach Hut Sea Sport Centre

We decided to get the Jetski-Banana-boat-Parasailing package at about S$62 per person. It wasn't our first time on the banana boat or jetski (my first time was when we visited Batam in 2011) but it was a first experience for my mum-in-law. She gamely took on the challenge, though she did get freaked out by the fast speed of the jetski!

Mum-in-law on the jetski
The only activity that my girl could take part in = banana boat
(this time, they brought the boat all the way out to sea, which scared my girl a bit!)

As the hubby and I didn't get to do parasailing when we were in Batam last year due to the rain, we were praying so hard that we could do it this time! Thankfully, we were not disappointed!

All excited to go parasailing!

We decided that the hubby would go first, followed by me and then the brother-in-law.

Hubby's turn
My turn! Weeee!

We were quite scared at first because the parachute went really high! Turns out it wasn't scary at all. It was amazing actually! Felt like we were flying!! =)

After an amazing time at sea, we were famished and couldn't wait to get to Kelong Restaurant Citra Utama for our dinner. We loved the food here so much previously that we wanted to introduce it to my mum- and brother-in-law.

Going up and down a very steep road
Kelong Restoran Citra Utama
Watching the sunset from the kelong
Watch your babies. Baby Boy saw the wood and thought it would be fun to climb it (-_-")
Clockwise from top left: mixed vegetables;
My favourite fresh steamed fish;
Tasty crayfish cooked with salted egg;
Fried scallops with garlic.

Ahh, what a great way to end another day at Batam =)

DAY 3

The next day, we headed to Batam Megamall for final shopping, eating and massages! Massages are seriously good for the soul!

Black Pepper crab at D'Costi. Very nice =)

We found the shopping too expensive as compared to BCS Mall and Nagoya Hill Shopping Mall though. Everything was at least 1/4 more expensive. Even Timezone increased its prices, with rides that used to cost 2500 rupiah previously now cost 4500 rupiah (almost double)! Although the rides are still considered cheap as compared to Singapore, we finished using the credits a lot faster than the last time we were here!

Carousel ride with Baby Boy at Timezone

We caught the last ferry back to Singapore, just in time to wish Singapore, "Happy Birthday!" before the clock struck 12. Although it was a trip of ups and downs, overall we still enjoyed ourselves.

Looking forward to more trips to come! Happy SG50 to all my fellow Singaporeans! =)


P.S: Visit MADPSYCHMUM TRAVELS for the rest of my posts on Batam, Indonesia and other travel itineraries! =)

Thursday, 6 August 2015

13 Things to Do in Tiong Bahru

If you're bored and have nothing to do, why not head down to Tiong Bahru? Besides the food, there are a lot of other things that you can do here =)

Tiong Poh Road


13 Things to Do in Tiong Bahru:

1) EAT @ Tiong Bahru Market

Tiong Bahru Market

For my recommendations of great hawker food at Tiong Bahru Market and other locations, check out my post on 10 Hawker Food You Must Try in Tiong Bahru! There is something for everyone I'm sure =)


2) EAT @ Cafes

Chilling in a artsy cafe
Used to be the favourite haunt of the girlfriends and I

If you've got a bit more cash to spare and want to enjoy the comforts of air-conditioning, head down to one of the many cafes in the area. There are many more, but here are 10 cafes you can visit.


3) EAT @ Tiong Bahru Galicier Pastries

Tiong Bahru Galicier Pastry

If you like traditional Nonya kueh and pastries, drop by this very famous pastry bakery along Tiong Bahru Road. Many cars love to stop at the side of the road and pop in to buy the pastries, much to the chagrin of other road users and buses! I personally love their kueh dar dar! Totally melts in your mouth! *yum*

Don't ask the shopkeepers too many questions though. Let's just say that they have the typical "resting bitch face" and are not the most friendly people in the world. Just buy and go and you'll be ok.


4) SHOP @ Yong Siak Street

Books Actually
Woods in the Books
Gardening supplies at Super Farmers
(Love their colourful watering cans! Too bad I don't have green fingers..)
All things strange and interesting at Strangelets

Yong Siak Street is looking more and more like Arab Street in that it is becoming more artsy. Besides buying actual art pieces, you can also shop for books, buy really cool gardening supplies and other strange knick knacks. Definitely a nice place to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon =)


5) PLAY @ a Tiong Bahru Playground

There are two playgrounds that my family goes to regularly: 1) a small playground next to Blk 49 Kim Pong Road (near to Tiong Bahru Market), 2) Tiong Bahru Adventure Park, which is located across the road from PSB.

Small playground at Blk 49 Kim Pong Road
(The only playground in the area unfortunately)
When my girl was younger, she enjoyed climbing up and down the stairs
Three years later, Baby Boy is doing the exact same thing!

Do note that this playground requires that you supervise your child a lot, especially if they are younger than 4 years old. This is because there are a lot of big gaps between steps, which a young child may fall through without adult's assistance. The playground is really small though so if you prefer a bigger playground with real sand, head to Tiong Bahru Adventure Park.

Tiong Bahru Adventure Park
Clockwise from left: Mum-in-law helping my almost 2 year old girl to slide down the slide;
Girl climbing up the stairs on her own;
Loving the swing! One of her first times swinging on a "real" swing without assistance (sigh, miss those days T_T)!
Clockwise from left: It's not hard to guess which is her favourite thing in the playground;
Rocking in a race car;
Spinning around in one of the few merry-go-rounds left in Singapore!

It's not hard to guess which playground my kids love more! =)


6) SHOP @ Tiong Bahru Plaza

Tiong Bahru Plaza is currently undergoing renovations right now so I don't have a photo. It used to be a really small mall but things could change after the renovations. In any case, a small shopping mall is better than no shopping mall!


7) HIKE along the Tiong Bahru Heritage Trail

Tiong Bahru Heritage Trail
Map of all the possible stops you can make to read and learn about the history of Tiong Bahru
Reading about the origin of Tiong Bahru at the Tiong Bahru Market stop
More information on the uniqueness of Tiong Bahru
Bringing Baby Boy on a little hike one afternoon
(it was very hot, which explains his cranky face)

Of course I didn't walk the whole way (not with a cranky Baby Boy at least) but it was still fun to stop by a few structures and read about the history and other interesting facts. You may want to sign up for a guided tour if you prefer to hear someone talk about it rather than read (more about that below).


8) EXPLORE the Graveyard

Photo credit: Cheekiemonkies
Photo credit: Cheekiemonkies

Bet not many of you know that the grave located on a hill just above the bus stop right next to Jubilee Church actually belongs to Tan Tock Seng! I walk pass the grave all the time and in all my 14 years I had never known that! Interesting isn't it?

If you want to read more about the Tiong Bahru Heritage Trail and the graves, Kelvin from the Cheekiemonkies has written a nice post about it.


9) EXPLORE the Tiong Bahru Air Raid Shelter

Photo credit: Gingerbreadmum

The Tiong Bahru Air Raid Shelter (which is no longer in use) is also part of the Tiong Bahru Heritage Tour. If you don't want to walk the whole route, this is also a great place to stop and learn about the history of the air raid shelter.


10) GO on a Scavenger Hunt

Screenshot of the downloadable Tiong Bahru Scavenger Hunt by Gingerbreadmum
(Used with permission)

My friend Adora from Gingerbreadmum has compiled a fun downloadable scavenger hunt so you can keep your kids engaged while you go on the heritage trail. Kills two birds with one stone if you ask me! =)


11) FIX Your Shoes

Handwritten sign advertising their shoe repair service
With examples of the kind of shoe repairs that they do

It's a sad truth but shoe repair is a dying trade as shoes are getting cheaper so people rather throw them away than fix them. If however you do have a pair of shoes that you want to fix, pop by this cute place =)


12) VISIT the Society for the Physically Disabled (SPD)

The SPD building
SPD Signboard

Consider popping by the Society for the Physically Disabled and show your support by being a volunteer (more information on how to volunteer here). You can also support by donating or buying stuff from their online store.


13) DONATE BLOOD @ Blood Bank at HSA

Photo credit: Health Sciences Authority (HSA)

Technically this is in Outram and not Tiong Bahru but it's only 5 minutes away so please, please help save lives by donating your blood if you can! Visit the Blood Bank @ HSA website for more details.


And there you have it! You'll not be bored when you're in Tiong Bahru. Tiong Bahru kakis, anything else to add? =)


This post is part of I Love My Tiong Bahru series, which is my way of bidding farewell to my favourite neighbourhood that I had called my home for the last 14 years. As I move to another neighbourhood, join me in celebrating Tiong Bahru! =)


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