Our hectic week in Melbourne

During the one week September break, we took the troop to Melbourne for a cousin’s wedding along with the entire clan. The kids couldn’t wait to go on holiday with their cousins and this was Kate’s first time taking the plane. The day before we left, #3 was brimming with excitement and said, “We’re going to Melbourne tomorrow! Aren’t you excited mummy?” I told her flatly that I had absolutely no expectations of this trip and was thinking of it as a work trip so anything extra would be a bonus. I have learnt that this works out much better than looking forward to a holiday and ending up pretty much being overworked and exhausted and not being able to see or do the things I wished I could have. I have learnt that disappointment comes from unmet expectations. And besides, travelling with an extended family of 30 people sounded pretty… unpredictable. Tempers? Tantrums?

Thought of checking Kate in as well

The wedding was beautiful and the weather was glorious. The wedding venue had accommodation for everyone and even a hall with a fully equipped kitchen. My father-in-law prefers to cook as he feels that outside food can’t compare to home-cooked food. So here we were on vacation, with everyone pitching in to cook and clean. Just to get dinner ready for the clan, it took 2 hours of preparation and 2 hours of washing and cleaning up. After 2 days of that, everyone agreed unanimously to eat out.

The kids asked to see kangaroos and koalas, so we went to the nearest wildlife sanctuary where they could get up close and personal with the animals. Kate was absolutely fearless and followed the lone kangaroo deep into where a whole lot of huge kangaroos were hanging out while the adults kept their distance.

Feeding the wallabies

We stayed in the Mornington Peninsular area as we found an accommodation there which could fit 30 people under one roof. Turns out they added bunk beds in an outdoor quarters and thus managed to fit 30 beds in the house. But it was good fun as the kids had lots of company to play hide and seek with and the adults could sit around and chat instead of all heading back to their own hotel rooms. In the vicinity, there was this Enchanted Maze Gardens where the kids had a great time zooming down the tube slides and finding their way out of the mazes.

There’s so much to do for children and families in Melbourne and it’s a really lovely place for families to vacation together as the activities suit both young and old. A rare chance to have 3 generations of relatives on horseback together. After an hour of horse riding, we were supposed to head to town where we were going to spend the last 2 days. But the hubs told me there was a change of plans. They wanted to go go-karting. Again.

The littlest is 7 and the oldest 60+

The hubs said that #1 insisted on going go-karting again as they enjoyed themselves tremendously the day before. I told him that I would not allow her to have her way when we were on holiday with so many other people and their needs have to be considered as well. He sheepishly muttered, “But we (the guys) also don’t mind”. I see. Put the blame on the kids. How convenient. But there was no way I was going back there to wait for a couple of hours. Thankfully each family rented their own car which made it that much more convenient. So while the males sorted it out on the tracks, the ladies checked in to Crown Hotel and had a head start on shopping. Win-win situation.

On our drive back to town, we passed this awesome playground which the kids enjoyed tremendously. By its unique structure, I knew there was something different about it. I read the plaque and was intrigued to learn that this was a community project. The kids designed their dream playground, the adults and kids rallied to raise funds by cookie bakes etc, the local companies contributed materials, and everyone chipped in to make this a reality. Wow. The power of synergy. Maybe we should moot this idea to the authorities to build a dream playground by East Coast Park.

Playground by the sea

The kids had a wondrous vacation, and they especially loved the ‘air-con’ weather. I was pretty exhausted by the end of the 9 days… and I dreaded the cold weather. But surprisingly, the holiday turned out really well and there was no disagreements or issues travelling with the whole family spanning the ages of 1 to 74. It was a great family vacation, but I was glad to be boarding the flight home. I probably need a week to recuperate from this trip.

Praying for a safe flight home

And as you can imagine, handling winter clothes for 6 kids, shedding jackets off and on as the weather fluctuates wildly in a day, by the end of it, it really didn’t matter what Kate wore, as long as she was dressed.


Oh dreads, I can’t quite kick up my feet and rest. Kate has a running nose from the cold and whines to be carried and #3’s PSLE is in 5 days and I gotta make sure she is not spending her time dreaming of her trip in Australia. She keeps telling me that instead of a dog, now she wants to buy a horse.

Sure. Just keep dreaming, just keep dreaming…
~ www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

The inspiring story behind the Golden Gate Bridge

We’ve all seen countless photos of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, but did you know there’s an inspiring story behind its construction? This was a bridge which everyone said shouldn’t be built and couldn’t be built. By the sheer determination of one man, Joseph Strauss, this engineering feat was accomplished. Not only that, but in those days, for every $1 mil of construction, 1 life was lost. This bridge was to be constructed at a cost of $35 mil and he vowed that he would not lose 35 men. He invented a movable safety net which was constructed under the bridge and in the course of the 5 year construction, 19 men fell into the safety net. These men subsequently formed a club which they called “The halfway to hell club”. Unfortunately, 11 men lost their lives when a chunk of concrete fell and was too heavy for the safety net to withstand. Thanks to one man who made the extra effort, 19 lives were saved, and 19 families were shielded from devastation. I’m sure if we all had a vision and persevered, great things can be done too. Ah, I’m inspired to ram up my engine. There’s so many things I want to do on my bucket list but just have to find the time.

Most photographed bridge in the world

As the boat made it’s way back to Fisherman’s Wharf, we passed Alcatraz, the high-security prison which held the most notorious criminals. It is no more in use and has been converted to a museum and tourist attraction. As I looked out across the waters, the stark contrast of what the bridge and the prison stood for hit me squarely. Imagine, as little babies, there is so much potential ahead of each and everyone of us which could be used for good or evil. As parents, we have such great responsibility to ensure our children go out into the world and bring positive change instead of destruction.

Alcatraz island

The last time I’ve been to San Francisco was about 30 years ago. How it has changed. We passed this futuristic building in Anaheim. Guess what it is? A church! Looks more like something out of Batman. It is in fact the largest glass building in the world.

Used to be Crystal Cathedral

As part of of our pilgrimage to Mexico and California, we visited the many missions along the West Coast. Our first stop was downtown L.A. where we visited the largest Catholic church in L.A. I really liked the beautiful wall tapestry depicting the saints. 

Cathedral of our Lady of the Angels

We met up with Corrine May as she is currently based in L.A. and were looking forward to hearing her sing. However, the 80-year-old docent was so enthusiastic in sharing with us about the history and significance of the various details that he exceeded his tour of the church by more than an hour. How come we don’t feel patriotic like that about our own country?

On our drive up to San Francisco, I fell in love with Pebble Bay. It is home to some of the most renown golf courses in the world and I can definitely see why. Dreaming of retiring here…
17 mile drive

The majesty of the Pacific Ocean is just breathtaking. I could sit here all day. Listening to the sounds of nature. Breathing in the essence of life. Feeling a deep sense of peace. Being humbled by the vast expense of the ocean and being reminded of how little we are in the scheme of things. Writing poetry. Dreaming. I’m getting carried away…

Hello lil’ fella

There are lots of candy stores everywhere, and honestly I have never seen that much sugar on display before. Glad my kids were not with me. I’m sure Kate would have quietly popped a couple in her mouth while no one was noticing. 

Sugar high, anyone?

I just had to take this photo to show my kids. They watch Spongebob and keep going on about crabby patties and crab shacks. They were tickled to see a real one.

I couldn’t leave California without a visit to the beach. Although we were on a tight schedule, I woke up early in the morning and called a cab from our hotel to Pismo beach. The lovely lady cab driver was kind enough to pick me from the same spot 2 hours later. I had the beach almost entirely to myself and it was such an uplifting experience to sit there on the sand, taking in the sight. There is something about the sound of the waves which is so soothing and calming to the spirit.

Swings with a view
It’s been 3 months since I’ve been back and I miss my trip already. Singapore is such a concrete jungle that being in the midst of nature and vast expanses of space is not a usual part of our day or even our week.

Ok I’ve decided. Starting from this year-end school holidays, I must make an effort to take the kids to venture into our surrounding islands every school holiday or long weekend as they don’t even know what their souls are yearning for. All that buzz, all that rush. A nature detox is what we need.

Linking up with:
www.ajugglingmom.com


~ www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Hello Kitty Town – Johor

We took the 4 younger kids across the causeway to Nusajaya (Johor) to spend an afternoon at The Little Red Cube and they had so much fun. It took us about half an hour to get there by car as it was smooth crossing the causeway at 1pm on a weekday. This is the first Sanrio Hello Kitty Town outside of Japan, and the kids were excited to take Kate there as they had enjoyed the Hello Kitty Land in Tokyo a few years back. I was surprised that even #3 who is already 12 enjoyed herself. We spent 4 hours there until closing time and they weren’t done playing.

Lots of Hello Kitty merchandise on sale

FIRST FLOOR:

The 1st floor houses Hello Kitty town where there is a mix of activities such as simple cookie decoration, dressing up for a photo, a live show, a little playground, and Black Wonder – an interactive dim arena where they have to solve a mystery.
Spinning cup

You need this activity card as some of the activities can only be carried out once and they will give you a stamp.

Keep this with you

I think this was called jewellery making, but it’s more like just getting a free Hello Kitty necklace because there’s really nothing much to make. Thankfully we did not have to queue for this. A friend’s daughter queued for half an hour thinking she could create some jewellery, and was disappointed when it was simply putting the chain into the pendent loop.

Kate’s clasp broke by the time she got home
Kate ate her cookie plain while waiting for them to decorate theirs

Kate was mesmerised by the 15 minutes show as she has never watched a live show up close before. The music is rather loud so you might want to sit further back if your kids are young.

Song and dance routine


SECOND FLOOR

The 2nd floor houses a little arcade, a playground, Angelina Ballerina Dance Studio, Barney stage for a live show and more which the kids didn’t have time to explore. The older kids spent about 45 minutes at the arcade itself as they were thrilled that the games were all free!
Kate the referee

The arcade games are suited for kids as they are all of a mini version. #5 did a victory dance every time he managed to shoot a hoop and Kate would cheer him on.

“Go, gor gor, go!”

The 2 older ones were still not done at the mini arcade so Kate and #5 went next door and played in the playground. Even though it was not very big, the 2 of them had lots of fun racing up and tumbling down the little slope repeatedly.

As quick as her little feet can carry her

There was a couple fast asleep on the bean bags and everyone who walked past peeped in and sort of jumped back in surprised. While the kids were busy running around, I was sitting there being entertained by this reality ‘just for laughs gag’.

They must be exhausted running after their kids


THIRD FLOOR

They spent the longest at the 3rd floor which had lots of rides. The Malaysia school holiday had just ended last week so the place was quite empty. There were no queues and the kids went on the rides to their heart’s content.
“I’ll be your co-pilot, gor gor”

Bumping buffer’s steamies ride

Bertie the bus

Thomas the steam engine winds around a 2-story indoor playground. It was a really decent indoor playground and they played there until closing time.

Knapford station

Sodor indoor playground

Adjoining the indoor playground is a proper lounge. Ah, I should have known. Next time I’ll bring my reading material and relax here while the kids take care of Kate.

Parent’s lounge

We will definitely be back as we don’t have to drive all the way up to KL where we take the kids every year to have similar fun at Berjaya Time Square. That one is great if you have a wide age range (like if we take all 6 kids), but if it’s just those below 12, this is more than sufficient to entertain them. It is also newer and cleaner, and the kids would love the different characters like Hello Kitty, Barney and Thomas. I guess the kids could play for half a day because there were 4 of them. If you only have 1 or 2 kids, invite another family along and I’m sure the kids would have a swell time.

There are a couple of eateries outside of the amusement area such as Sushi King, Taiwanese snacks, and Starbucks. If any of the adults decide not to enter, the eateries extend to the back and is a nice place to wait as it overlooks the bay.

Eateries overlook this bay

Sane tip: Avoid the Malaysia school holidays as when it is crowded, you spend a great deal of time queuing up for a simple activity and it is quite frustrating. I heard that the Johor school week has recently been changed. The kids now attend school from Sundays to Thursdays. So it might be ok to go on a Sunday. However, if it is crowded, you could also go against the grain of the crowd and start on the 3rd or 2nd floor.

Another thing is to be prepared for a jam on the causeway. As the kids were famished, we decided to have dinner there before we headed home, and we were caught in a 2 hour jam home. I didn’t bring an extra milk feed for Kate as I didn’t expect the kids to play for so many hours as feedback from many friends was that it was not that fun. Thankfully, she didn’t kick up a fuss when we told her to just close her eyes and sleep first and we would give her milk when we reached home.

Save tip: Definitely go for the 2 park pass. For another S$15 each, they get to play at the other 2 floors. Friends who only went to Hello Kitty Town itself said it was boring and not worth the visit. Bring your own snacks as the food there is very basic. Kids below 3 enter free.
Hello Kitty Town
Nusajaya Johor
The Little Red Cube
(10 minutes away from Legoland)

Operating Hours:
10am – 6pm daily

Entrance Fee:
Hello Kitty Town alone: RM75 (Adult/Child)
Hello Kitty Town + Little Big Club: RM110 (Adult/Child)
Kids under 3: FREE

~ www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Mexico City – Pyramids, Volcanoes and fried worms too

Besides visiting churches and the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, we took time to visit Mexico’s grandest archaeological site known as Teotihuacan or the City of the Gods. Skulls of children have been found buried in the pyramids, presumably as human sacrifice to their gods. I didn’t think I could climb to the top, but after seeing the other people in our group who are in their 60s doing the climb, I was encouraged and managed to reach the top with much huffing and puffing. Another reminder that I need to start on a regular exercise program.

Ancient city of pyramids
We went into the city for lunch and did a city tour. This meteorite fell in Chihuahua, Mexico. Didn’t think meteorites were so big.
Meteorita De “El Morito”
Such adorably pruned trees

We couldn’t believe our eyes to see this kid carousel which uses real life horses. Poor animals.

On our trip, we chanced upon 2 church weddings. The Mexican people go all out to dress up for such occasions and even the little boys are in tuxedoes. Several people from our group started inching closer and closer to take pictures of them, and instead of finding us a nuisance, they warmly invited everyone to get into the photos with the bride and groom and their families.

Beautiful flowers for a church wedding

We also witnessed a girl and her chaperons on her way to church to celebrate her coming of age. This is celebrated when she turns 15, with Mass and a reception for hundreds of guests thereafter. Again, our mob surrounded them and started whipping out phones to take pictures. They must have been in a rush to head off to their celebration, and the guys were feeling really hot in their suits, but they patiently posed for us. I’m sure if the reverse were the case, we would find the tourists bothersome and intrusive and would probably give them dagger looks to make them feel uncomfortable. It was a simple but powerful lesson to me, that we have to learn to be more gracious and to embrace life and unexpected things that come our way, instead of always being in a rush and being ‘kan cheong’ about everything.

Coming of age celebration

Very elaborate interiors of churches
Spotted this street performer with incredible jumping and balancing skills. He jumped from the top of one black stump to another all the way to the end.

Street vendors cooking pancakes on the sidewalk
Lots of sculptures all around town, for both aesthetic and practical purposes.

This was the first post office which was built in 1904, and is still in operation today. Grand.

First post office

Cutesey gelato

Someone in our group ordered this plate of worms and ants eggs which was a first for most of us ignorant ones. Have to say the worms were nice and crunchy.

Fried worms, anyone?

Some of us commented how sad it must be for the locals to live like this. However, we came to an even sadder conclusion that our children of this generation, despite all the material things they have, may well experience less happiness in our stressful society than these children who are free to run and roam.

I left Mexico with a sense of how fortunate the people are to have warmth, community and faith imbued in their culture. And how their children seemed so well loved by parents and grandparents. Their passion for life and love also touched me deeply. Isn’t it sad that we are lacking in such important aspects, without even knowing we are lacking in it?

Active volcano in the background
We had a lovely Mexican tour guide who explained everything very well to us. Here’s his email if you’re planning a trip to Mexico.

Francisco Gonzalez: fransergoz@hotmail.com

For the other half of our pilgrimage in Mexico, click here.

For what the beauty of nature did to my soul, click here.

~ www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Thankful… for the beauty of nature

As part of our pilgrimage, we visited some Missions in California. The peace and tranquility of the Missions brought such calm to my spirit which I so badly needed. Being in contemplative silence, the beauty of my surroundings penetrated deep into my soul. How lovely it would be to live here for a couple of days every once in a while. Somehow I lost my spectacles here. Well I guess when I get too burdened by our busy lives, I can close my eyes and look through the lenses of my glasses and re-live the quietude of my time there. 

Mission San Luis Rey

Thanks to the time difference, I woke up early in the morning and headed for the beach. So nice to have the beach almost entirely to myself. Sitting on the sand and listening to the waves crashing on the shore was wonderfully therapeutic.

Pismo beach – California
On our drive up to San Francisco, we enjoyed the scenic tour of the 17 mile drive. We stopped for photos of this lone cypress tree which has been featured in many movies for being, er, lonely. What struck me was the vast expanse of the ocean in front of me. Made me feel the awesomeness of the universe and recognise just how tiny we are in this dance of life. Very humbling. 
17 mile drive – Monterey

On returning home, many friends remarked how fresh and radiant I looked, and that my happiness was palpable. How did I manage to survive the past 15 years with hardly a break from the kids! If only I could take such a wondrous breather every year to renew and recharge.

I am absolutely thankful for the 2 weeks away where life stood still and I had time to smell the roses.

Beautiful huge roses

Thankful Tuesdays:

“He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has” – Epictetus


Thankful… for the hub’s cooking
Thankful… for #5’s cooking and caring of Kate
Thankful… for #3 in so many ways
Thankful… for sister-in-law #1

Thankful… for our helper
Thankful… for my family
Thankful… for my mum-in-law
~ www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Mexico – Our Lady of Guadalupe

My mum and I, along with a group of pilgrims, travelled all the way to Mexico to visit the place where Mary appeared to an Aztec indian named Juan Diego almost 500 years ago. She asked him to pick some roses and put it in his tilma (their cloak in those times) to present to the bishop. He found a variety of roses blooming, which are not native to Mexico, and which could not have been growing in the freezing winter. When he opened up his tilma in front of the bishop, the flowers fell to the ground and an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe miraculously appeared on his previously plain tilma.

The original tilma

Till today, almost 500 years later, the image is clearly imprinted on the tilma even though the fabric which was made from agave fibre should have disintegrated after 20 years. Researchers have concluded that the pigment used is from no known source, not animal, vegetable nor mineral. A bomb went off in 1921 where glass was shattered and a metal cross bent, but the image remained untouched. When researchers enlarged the image by 2500X, they found the image of 14 people depicted in the pupils of Our Lady’s eyes.

Mosaic replica in Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in L.A.
At that time, the Aztec indians practiced a religion where they offered human sacrifices to their gods. After Our Lady’s apparition, 9 million people were converted to Christianity in that year. The tilma is kept in this Basilica which makes this the most visited Catholic pilgrimage destination in the world with more than 6 million people visiting it on the weekend of the anniversary of Our Lady’s apparition every December.
Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Sitting atop the hill where Our Lady appeared is an experience forever etched in my mind. The serenity and beauty from up there enveloped me with a sense of peace, that whatever happens in life, both the good and the bad, can be embraced. For the past few months, I’ve been having this nagging feeling that as a mother, it’s hard to know how to parent your children well. The things you say to them, the things you don’t say, the messages behind your words and actions all have a profound effect on your children, and their children in future. I left Guadalupe with a sense of tranquility which I hope will carry me forth into our daily living. And to know that I have our blessed Mother by my side to turn to for wisdom and guidance in my motherhood journey gives me comfort.

Tepeyac Hill where Our Lady appeared in 1531
“Know for certain.. that I am the mother of the true God. I will offer all of my love, my compassion, and my help to the people. Of all of those who love me, of those who cry to me.. here, I will hear their weepings and their sorrows, and I will remedy and alleviate their sufferings, necessities and misfortunes.” – Our Lady of Guadalupe


We also visited the Basilica of Our Lady of Ocotlan where Our Lady appeared to Juan Diego Bernardino in 1541. There was an epidemic in the region and she promised him healing waters from a miraculous spring. Till today, the spring is still producing water. We went down to the well to collect the holy water.

Steep walk down to the Well
Well of Miraculous water at Ocotlan

Another miraculous place we visited was the Convent of the Holy Cross which is a UNESCO world heritage site. There was a battle between the Spanish conquerors and the local Indians and the agreement was that if they were defeated by the Spanish, they would embrace Catholicism. The Spanish were on the verge of defeat when the sky went dark and a fiery Cross appeared with the apparition of Saint James. The Indians accepted defeat and the city of Santiago was established.

Convent of the Holy Cross

In the courtyard of this Convent stands the Tree of Crosses. Around 300 years ago, Fr. Antonio Margil stuck his walking cane in the ground. The cane started to sprout and grow into a tree. This tree bore no fruit nor flower, but instead it grew thorns in the shape of crosses! Botanists had tried to grow this tree elsewhere but to no avail. It was amazing to see this tree firsthand.

The Tree of Crosses

I found the Mexican people to be extremely warm and family oriented. On the weekends, we saw entire extended families out on a leisurely boat ride where they would pack their own picnic and enjoy the idyllic afternoon.

Lunch on board

Before we left for our pilgrimage, we were shown a video of Our Lady of Guadalupe and there were many miracles documented where terminally ill children were cured. The video looked like it was made many years ago, and I asked our Mexican guide if miracles are still happening to this day. He replied with great vehemence, “Yes of course! We hear of them all the time.” I told him that was so wonderful. In a country like ours, miracles don’t happen anymore. He replied with even more enthusiasm, “They do! You must open your hearts and minds!” Ah, wise words from a Mexican great-grandpa.

Jalpan de Serra

Our guide offered to take us for a swim in this beautiful river where the locals go, but none of us went. Sadly, living in a city state, we have forgotten how to appreciate the simple wonders of nature. I’m sure it would have been an unforgettable experience if we had taken the plunge.

Mision Conca

It was such a luxury to wake up in the morning to the cool air and this breathtaking view. The 2-week break away from our hurried life did wonders for my soul.



For my other post on more things we did in Mexico, click here.

For the 2nd part of our trip where I was touched by the beauty of nature, click here.


~ www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~



A glimpse of Vietnam

Written by #1 (she accompanied her grandma on a trip to Vietnam)

We visited the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. This is a must-visit place for anyone visiting Hanoi. His body has been preserved and locals and tourists alike queue up to pay their respects. It was quite an experience. Strict code of dressing is enforced, with no tank tops or shorts. 

Very impressive compound

Went around the city in rickshaws. 

Grandma enjoying her ride
Had a chance to visit a school in the village. They have a huge gong which they use to summon the children at the start of class.
Primary school in the village 
We were given a tour of the villager’s homes and they are using this to filter something, I’m not sure what.
Spartan homes
They start a fire to smoke their meats and corn.
Smoked ham?
The kids in the village are kept out of mischief by this simple method. They are being entertained by the dogs.
Such happy children
They harvest their own corn for sale.
Freshly harvested corn

These ladies are all prepared to tout their goods to tourists. They will rush towards the vans and when you alight, they will walk side by side with you and strike up a conversation in English. They will tell you that you will make them happy by buying their handicraft. We ended up buying from them. They are mostly old women or children. 

Spot the baby

Traditional fruit seller trying to sell her fruits to tourists by the river.

Gamely poses for the camera
We visited this cave named ‘Surprising cave’ that was hardly surprising. Perhaps I’m still not able to appreciate such beauty.
UNESCO-declared World Heritage area
An old woman hawking her wares.
Beautiful seashells

This used to be the capital of Vietnam. Think it is the red river, if I remember correctly.

Sampan ride

Vietnamese noodles are a staple of their diets. We were served this as an appetiser at almost every meal, but a smaller portion.

Yummy Vietnamese noodles

Road-side beancurd seller selling beancurd with ginger syrup.

US$1 per cup
Nice!
This is at the Hanoi club which is only for expats. Golfing range where they hit the balls into the river. Cool!
Wonder how the balls are retrieved

Sane tip: It was really nice of #1 to accompany her grandma on this trip even though she was initially reluctant to as she was not sure what to expect of Vietnam. In the end, she enjoyed herself.

Save tip: I have realised that there’s a lot to see regionally and that when the kids are young, there’s no need to take them on far and expensive holidays.

~   mummy wee – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore  ~

Hong Kong

We took a short trip to Hong Kong to shop and eat, but as it turned out, we did a bit of shopping, and a lot of eating! When we arrived, the hubs took us to the famed Michelin-star dim sum restaurant, Tim Ho Wan at Central (IFC Mall) as it was the most convenient branch. He had eaten there before and raved about the food being cheap and good. My verdict? Cheap, definitely. But good? Definitely overrated. The only dish I really liked was the pork ribs. Their char siew bao has been so hyped up that I expected more, so was thus disappointed. Being a Michelin-star restaurant, it was a somewhat novel experience dining there. Everyone around us whipped out their cameras at every dish, and it felt as if we were surrounded by food tasters or bloggers. Many were consulting travel books and foodie-books. And probably more than three-quarters of the customers were foreigners. We were literally elbow to elbow with the other diners, and from their conversations, we could tell that they were Chinese nationals, Japanese, Singaporeans and Caucasians. 

Shrimp dumpling, pork ribs, prawn roll, pork bun, chicken feet, fried dumpling 

There was a wait of about 30 minutes. Totally not worth the wait, I reckon. However, at about S$30 for the 4 of us, and being a Michelin-star restaurant, I can see why there is such a long queue. My friends from Hong Kong tell me that the only branch that is worth trying is the one in Mong Kok. Although, I still think we should not have such high expectations as the higher our expectations, the greater the disappointment! I’m really glad I didn’t queue a few hours for the Plaza Singapura branch when it first opened although the hubs kept persuading me to.

Tim Ho Wan at Hong Kong Station

After we checked in, we strolled around Tsim Sha Tsui as we wanted a carefree holiday with totally no agenda. We did a bit of shopping and while we were walking in one of the malls, we stepped out onto the verandah to be greeted by this beautiful sunset. We hung around and took in the atmosphere and the perfect cool weather. Ah, life is good.

View of sunset from Central shopping centre (I think)

The next morning, we decided to spend the day over at Hong Kong island as the hubs wanted me to try the excellent food there. First up was breakfast at a famous wonton mee stall. As it turned out, it was not opened yet. The kids were starving so we crossed over the street to another wonton mee stall. We ordered 2 bowls to share so that we had the stomach for the other shop later. One was a regular wonton mee and the other was a mix of 3 different toppings. The wonton was huge and yummy, and the fresh sliced beef was a nice addition. The handmade fish ball wasn’t quite to our taste though. But overall, it was a fine breakfast and now when I eat wonton mee, I wish I was eating there!

Wonton mee S$4 

Apparently, this stall was opened in 1998 by the ex-employee of the original famous wonton mee stall. At about S$4 per bowl, it was reasonably priced as the serving is quite big. While I was writing up this post, I found out that the 2 most famous wonton mee stalls in Hong Kong are these two on Wellington Street, and that most reviewers actually prefer this one. So we had stumbled upon the best wonton mee in the world!

Tsim Chai Kee Noodle 

We checked out the shops in the vicinity, and soon it was 11 o’clock. Time to have our 2nd breakfast! We trooped back to the famous stall and I sat down to see just how wonderful their wonton mee can be. Well, the noodles are nice and thin and the broth is not bad, but I still prefer the other stall’s huge wonton and sliced beef that went well with the noodles. The girls loved the kailan here, though they hardly eat that back home. But wonton mee at S$6 for such a tiny bowl? I would never eat it again.

Wonton mee, kailan, beef tendon noodles

This is what the frontage looks like. Again, I saw more tourists than locals here. And I even recognised the Singaporeans from the next table!

Mak’s noodles

We were really full from the 2 breakfasts, and were ready to hit the shops. We strolled around and came to Pottinger street. The girls were excited to see this colourful stall which sold wigs! They have always wanted to have coloured hair (must be the influence from the TV stars) and even asked me if they could dye their hair pink or purple, which of course, was a definite no-no. So a wig was the next best option. I think the hubs and I allowed them to buy it only because we were in a holiday mood.

#4 in her new wig

After walking for half the day, I was really tired and wanted either a massage or a foot reflexology. We saw a signage and went up the 8th floor of a building to this outlet. I was half expecting a dingy place and was pleasantly surprised to find that it was clean and very, very comfy! 

So relaxing

After our hour of rest, it was time to go for lunch just in case they closed before the dinner session. The kids chorused, “Eat again?! But we just ate our lunch!” We told them it was part 2 of breakfast. We went to Yung Kee back at Wellington Street, yet another famous restaurant, or so the hubs says. This one is famous for it’s roast goose. We limited ourselves to just 3 dishes as we were not even hungry to begin with. The goose did turn out to be quite nice, and generally the standard of the dishes were not bad.

Salt and pepper pork ribs, roast goose, baby kailan

I had quite enough of walking, and unfortunately, my wound started to hurt as well, even though my caesarean was a year ago. So we decided to take a cab to Victoria Peak for some scenery. 

View from the Peak

The view was nice, but be prepared to jostle elbow to elbow with a huge crowd, all of whom are also trying to get the best view for a great picture. This place must have been nice several decades ago, when you could have a quiet moment with your loved ones to enjoy the scenery and cool air.

Bubba Gump

As we were leaving the Peak, we saw a huge crowd hanging around this restaurant. Wondered if the food was good, although there was no way I was going to queue for some Western food in Hong Kong! Which turned out to be a good thing. We hopped into a cab as I could hardly walk much further by then and the taxi driver recommended a good place for dinner not too far from our hotel. It’s called SuperStar Seafood Restaurant over at Tsim Sha Tsui.

Super yummy roasted pigeon

I have to say that this was the best meal of our entire trip! I am still dreaming of the superb roasted pigeon. The taxi driver said that “this restaurant has been here for ages, and in Hong Kong, if your food is not good, how to survive so long?” So true, so true… 

Korean shell fish

On the 3rd day, the hubs thought that the girls had enough of shopping and eating and volunteered to take them to Ocean Park or Disneyland while I had the day to myself to shop in peace. Surprisingly, they refused, and said that they have had enough of theme parks for a while and would rather spend the day with us eating and shopping. So we started our 3rd leisurely day with a simple dim sum breakfast at a cha chan ting. I have always been insistent on them having big hearty breakfasts, and it’s so easy to find substantial food early in the morning here in Hong Kong.

Steam carrot cake, char siew bun, shrimp cheong fun

I was recommended by the waitress to try their most popular drink and I must say I absolutely loved it. 

Mango sago drink

We spent the day walking around the malls near our hotel (Kowloon Hotel) and chanced upon this oh so chic cafe. I was intrigued. Was it for babies? Did they serve gourmet baby meals? Were the mums all decked out in designer wear while the babies actually behaved themselves? Turns out, it was just a chic cafe, serving ordinary food to ordinary people.

Chic cafe

While I was busy shopping, the hubs was busy checking out a good place for lunch. I told him I didn’t feel like eating dim sum again. He came back all excited and said he had found the perfect restaurant for lunch. Shabu shabu hot pot. Oooh, yum! The kids were excited too. But guess what? While making it up to the restaurant, we got way-laid by the posters at this seafood restaurant touting their signature crab dish and we both felt the urge to eat crab.

Crab surrounded by garlic garnishings

I still didn’t get enough of the fantastic pigeon from last night’s dinner, so I had to order pigeon. It was disappointing. I was bench-marking it to the other one and I concluded that not all restaurants in HK serve excellent pigeon. 

Clams and roasted pigeon

#3 and #4 bought clothes for themselves and for the rest at home. We always make a trip to the supermarket whenever we are on holiday to see the different food offerings they have. We got some snacks to take home for the others.

Some of our shopping 

When we asked the taxi driver what was the best food he would recommend around our hotel, he said we had to try the dai pai dong (open-air stalls which are dying out in Hong Kong). We stumbled upon a wet market type hawker, and ordered their instant noodles with fresh sliced beef. I don’t eat instant noodles and don’t allow the kids to do so as well, but l must say that sitting amidst the smelly and shabby stalls with the locals was quite an experience. And when 2 chaps in business suits came by the hawkers gave them a roaring welcome and we could feel the camaraderie amongst the people. 

Noodles with slice beef

We walked around before dinner and chanced upon this corridor of lights. It must have been done up by Disney. It looks like a child’s dream castle, complete with glittering chandeliers and well adorned christmas trees. Quite a sight.

Christmas lights

They have all sorts of Disney characters on display and lots of tourists were busy snapping pictures.

Disney christmas deco
As we didn’t get to eat Shabu Shabu for lunch, we were all looking forward to hot pot for dinner. It was a satisfying meal on a cool winter evening.
Shabu shabu

On our last day, we went to Landmark mall as we had to take the train from there back to the airport. The displays of all the high-end brands are really beyond what we see here in Singapore. They go to such an extent to dress up their stores. There were even tiny droplets of ‘snow’ falling from the ceiling from this store!

Cool display

The hubs couldn’t resist having a last meal of his favourite roast goose so we went back to Yung Kee. I have to admit I enjoyed it very much too. He even ordered one whole goose to take back home for the others to enjoy.

“Not again?!” said the kids

We made our way towards the train station and the malls are all interlinked and we came upon this mall which must have been an Armani mall. All the floors were carrying different lines of Armani. The girls couldn’t believe their eyes when they saw an Armani flower shop.

Chic flowers anyone?

We crossed the bridge back to IFC mall and had a few hours to spare before our flight. The Apple store was huge and there were lots of people sitting at computers. I wondered what was going on, and saw that the tables were labelled ‘Personal training’, ‘Open training’, and even ‘Genius’ training! I should have stayed longer and signed up for the latter..

2 story Apple store

The hubs had to have his last Tim Ho Wan meal before leaving for the airport. This time, I agreed with his choice, not so much because of the food, but because of the convenience. As this branch is located in the MTR station, there is even a check-in counter for our baggage right there. So we didn’t have to lug our luggages all the way to the airport. 

Beef balls, glutenous rice, shrimp dumpling, pork ribs, pork bun

A girlfriend wanted us to get her a goose too so we bought another one from the airport. In the end, we didn’t manage to pass it to her but as we had relatives over the next day, we finished both the goose. Well, our verdict is that the one from the airport tastes even better than the one from the famous Yung Kee restaurant! 

Roast goose well packed for the ride home

Anyone know of other good food in Hong Kong, do leave me a comment! I’ve realised that most ‘famous’ eateries are actually overrated.

~   mummy wee – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore  ~