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13 Days Chengdu and Chongqing Tour – Day 8 Chengdu Panda Research Base

Great Breakfast at Sofitel Chengdu Taihe

Our sleep in the luxury suite in Sofitel Chengdu Taihe was indeed sweet. We hardly felt like getting up. In fact, we didn’t really feel like exploring the city after checking in the day before. It was great to be pampered here, especially upgrading to this suite with access to the club floor for afternoon tea and evening cocktail.

We had been in the land of the pandas for a week now. Today, we would get to see some real life pandas. It was about time to meet our lovely friends, the symbol of China. But before that, we had to get some breakfast. We had the option of heading up to the club floor with more privacy or the restaurant below. We decided to head down to the restaurant to join the crowd.

Over at the restaurant, we could still find a table that was unoccupied. The staff attending to us was friendly and helpful. The restaurant had a French theme deco, very pleasant and lovely. Buffet spread was great, a wide selection of western and local food dishes. It was definitely five-star standard food serving.

We went around collecting food we liked and they were good. Except the noodles I got from the noodle station was a little too spicy even though I had told the chef to serve with less chilli. This is Sichuan after all so I can understand. Unless I give local food a miss, I’ll have to get use to spicy food.

Heading to Chengdu Panda Research Base

After breakfast, we returned to our room to get ready. Soon, we left Sofitel Chengdu Taihe. We crossed the main road and walked along the park beside the river towards the left. The morning was quite cooling and the park was quiet with occasional cyclists cycling past. After crossing the bridge at the traffic junction, we entered Xinnanmen MRT Station. Continue reading 13 Days Chengdu and Chongqing Tour – Day 8 Chengdu Panda Research Base

4 Days Hong Kong City Break (2017) – Day 4 Tung Chung Residential Area

Tung Chung Residential Neighbourhood

We woke up to a very cloudy morning. From our windows, we could see it was wet outside. Our sleep was pretty good in Novotel Citygate Hotel. Departure flight out of Hong Kong was 2.50 pm. So we still had the whole morning to explore Tung Chung neighbourhood.

By the time we were ready, we walked through the quiet Citygate Outlet Mall and headed towards the residential neighbourhood via a covered walkway. It was drizzling this morning as we made our way to the mall in the residential area. Good thing there is this covered walkway.




This neighbourhood is made up of blocks of very tall residential apartment. There are so many blocks now since our last visit five years ago. This place is now pretty developed. The population density here is very high. Amenities have to cater to this large population residing here as not everyone is interested in high-end brands outlet shopping at Citygate Mall.

Hong Kong Breakfast in Tung Chung

Once we reached the residential mall, we went into a busy Hong Kong Restaurant for breakfast. The restaurant was rather packed. But we still managed to get two seats and shared tables like everyone else. It was a typical Hong Kong ambiance and speaking Cantonese would be great to get things done although the staff can speak Mandarin as well. Continue reading 4 Days Hong Kong City Break (2017) – Day 4 Tung Chung Residential Area

4 Days Hong Kong City Break (2017) – Day 3 Tung Chung and Sham Shui Po

Morning Scene at Causeway Bay

We had another great night sleep in the luxurious Park Lane Hong Kong Pullman Hotel. In a few hours, we would be leaving Hong Island and head over to Novotel Citygate Hotel at Tung Chung near the airport. From there we hoped to visit Lantau Island. After a great breakfast experience at Tai Hing Restaurant the previous day, we decided to head back there for breakfast one more time.

So we left the hotel and walked towards Times Square. The streets were wet after an overnight shower. It was still drizzling a little when we made our way to Tai Hing Restaurant. Office staff were hurrying to work. The pace of life is pretty fast in Hong Kong.

We arrived Tai Hing Restaurant and this time, we had a little more space as the restaurant wasn’t fully occupied yet. We settled down and ordered the same breakfast sets of lotus leaf glutinous rice and noodle soup. Like the day before, we enjoyed this simple but satisfying breakfast.

Continue reading 4 Days Hong Kong City Break (2017) – Day 3 Tung Chung and Sham Shui Po

4 Days Hong Kong City Break (2017) – Day 2 Authentic Hong Kong

Rise and Shine at Causeway Bay

The Park Lane Hong Kong Pullman Hotel was indeed a great hotel to stay in the Causeway Bay area. We had a great time shopping around the hotel but more importantly a great night sleep in luxury in our very modern nicely furnished room. In fact, we didn’t feel like getting up early. But missing out on the happenings in Hong Kong for morning breakfast would be a pity. We wished to see the authentic face of Hong Kong and not just the usual touristy places which we had already visited in the past.

After pulling away the curtains, we thought we could catch sunrise from our room windows facing east, but the weather wasn’t too good after the recent typhoon. There were fast passing clouds turning the scenery outdoor gloomy but bright again from time to time when the sun managed to pierce through some clouds. The city view and the partial sea view were quite pretty whenever sufficient sun light brightened up the place.

Authentic Hong Kong Breakfast

Having spoken to one of the concierge staff the previous evening, we had some idea where we might want to sample Hong Kong breakfast. So we left the hotel and went out to explore the surrounding. The city was quiet but people were on the move. It was time for the locals to get to work. Their quicken pace on the streets was understandable.

We walked past Entrance E of Causeway Bay Station and then crossed the main road towards Times Square. After walking through a few streets, we spotted a traditional Hong Kong restaurant where locals were having breakfast. So we went in and took the remaining table with two seats. Like any typical Hong Kong restaurant, it was a little cramped inside. The restaurant was however, bright, modern and clean.

Continue reading 4 Days Hong Kong City Break (2017) – Day 2 Authentic Hong Kong

4 Days Hong Kong City Break (2017) – Day 1 Hong Kong Island

Hong Kong City Break Itinerary

It had been quite a few years since we visited Hong Kong, so we thought it would be a good idea to head to Hong Kong for a city break to celebrate our wedding anniversary in June. Moreover, airfares to Hong Kong have been pretty affordable flying on budget airlines. In addition, we had our Accor Plus free stay to use up for the year, hence we took advantage on this and booked those expensive Accor Group hotels in Hong Kong for the trip.

So our airfares via Jetstar was just about $135 per person. Flight timings were very good too.

Singapore to Hong Kong 10.10 am to 2.10 pm

Hong Kong to Singapore 2.50 pm to 6.40 pm

Accor Hotels booked were The Park Lane Hong Kong Pullman Hotel in Hong Kong Island for two nights and then the last night in Novotel Hong Kong Citygate near the airport. There was nothing much to prepare so this trip was really easy. Anyway, other than shopping and dining, what else was there to do with some other sight-seeing activities depending on the weather.

Jetstar Flight to Hong Kong

The day soon came and our flight to Hong Kong was a breeze. We were quite worried about our flight as Hong Kong was hit by a typhoon just a few days before our departure. But mainland China was more badly hit where Hong Kong just some skirmishes. We were very glad it was over by the time we left for Hong Kong. Continue reading 4 Days Hong Kong City Break (2017) – Day 1 Hong Kong Island

10 Days Free and Easy Europe Tour (2017) – Day 10 Amsterdam

Last Day in Europe

Finally, we woke up to the last day of our Europe Tour. Our departure flight out of Amsterdam to Zurich was 8.05 pm. Connecting flight from Zurich to Singapore was 10.45 pm. So this left us with an entire day to explore Amsterdam one last time before saying good bye to this beautiful city.

As for breakfast, we consumed all those food we bought from the supermarket since this was our last day in Europe. Coffee and tea were self service in our room. Although breakfast was simple, it was good to get us started. It was still pretty quiet on the street when we looked out from our room windows. We decided to explore some attractions nearby before returning to check out and then leave our luggage with Hotel CC. We would then explore attractions further away from the hotel.

Exploring Attractions near Hotel CC

Out on the street so early, we encountered the same situation the day before. The streets were filthy and smelly. However, city cleaners were already out on the streets getting into gear with their cleaning up operation. Auto street sweeping machines were deployed and the streets would be ready to welcome visitors quite soon.

This morning, we walked through the red light district which was pretty dead at this hour. The first place we visited was the Oude Church. This was quite a sizeable church but what was the church doing right in the red light district, we failed to figure out. Anyway, this 800 year-old church is one of the main attractions here. This is a significant historic building. It was closed when we were there but we would probably not pay to enter the building. The church building was however, pretty nice.

We then crossed the canal and then another canal and enjoyed the quiet neighbourhood. As expected, the streets were quite empty. It was still very early and shops were not open yet. This was a rather different experience as we had a very excited busy and noisy day in Amsterdam the day before.

We continued walking to find the Nieumarkt and reached an open area in another quiet neighbourhood. To our disappointment, this market wasn’t open on the day of our visit. So we walked back towards the main train station enjoying canal sights and a peaceful morning in Amsterdam. Continue reading 10 Days Free and Easy Europe Tour (2017) – Day 10 Amsterdam

10 Days Free and Easy Europe Tour (2017) – Day 9 Rotterdam to Amsterdam

Rotterdam Holiday Inn Express

We woke up to an exciting day as we prepared to head to our final destination – Amsterdam. As usual, we went to the restaurant for the Express Breakfast. We liked the clean and pleasant ambiance there and the breakfast was pretty good even though it was just an express breakfast. With breakfast done, we went back to our room, did some last minute final packing and then returned to the lobby to check out.

The staff were really friendly. Holiday Inn Express was a great place for us to spend two nights here with very reasonable hotel rate. The location of this hotel was great being so close to the train station. We got to explore Rotterdam and Utrecht the past two days. Staying over in Amsterdam would cost us more than three times the cost for accommodation for these two nights.


Rotterdam to Amsterdam

We then left and walked to the train station to head to our most expensive accommodation in Amsterdam. That was why we only stay one night there. Very quickly, we reached the train station. We had already purchased train tickets the previous day so we went straight to the platform and shortly after boarded a train to Amsterdam.

The journey was just an hour and the ride was pleasant. We were eager to get to Amsterdam early to spend more time exploring this great city. Once we got out of the train station, it was a very great feeling. This city was gorgeous. We walked towards the left to head to Hotel CC not far from the train station. We soon walked into a side lane but found the street filthy and smelly. A moment ago we were awed with the sight of this wonderful city but now taken by surprise with this darker side of the city. Continue reading 10 Days Free and Easy Europe Tour (2017) – Day 9 Rotterdam to Amsterdam

10 Days Free and Easy Europe Tour (2017) – Day 8 Utrecht

Waking Up in Rotterdam

Morning came quickly. We liked it better staying in modern Holiday Inn Express Rotterdam than the quaint old world charm Domstern Hotel in Cologne. We slept very well. Our stay in Holiday Inn Express came with express breakfast so we went to the restaurant about 7.40 am shortly after waking up to another sunny summer morning.

The restaurant was at the further end of the lobby and lounge area. It wasn’t crowded when we arrived. The ambiance was pleasant, restaurant was presentable and clean. Breakfast selection was not very much but more than sufficient. After all, this was just an express breakfast and we were more than satisfied even though this couldn’t be compared to the German breakfast we had the day before at Domstern Hotel in Cologne.

After breakfast, we returned to our room to rest a while and then prepared to head out to visit other cities in the Netherlands. It was a bright and windy summer morning as we made our way to the train station. We went to the train office, took a queue number and waited for our turn to purchase our train tickets. Unlike the previous evening when I came to enquire about train tickets, the office was pretty busy this morning.

Rotterdam to Utrecht

Finally it was my turn to speak with the staff. Since it was already a little late, we just purchased return train tickets to Utrecht. We probably didn’t have sufficient time to visit Leiden. We also bought train tickets to Amsterdam for the next day as well as train ticket from Amsterdam to Schiphol Airport for our departure day.


So we entered the train station and went to the correct platform to wait for our train to Utrecht. The train station was very busy. Staff were deployed to help passengers with questions concerning their train journey. It was a pretty easy affair for us and soon we boarded our train and were on our way to Utrecht.

Actually, we came to Rotterdam via Utrecht the day before so we knew what to expect. The journey to Utrecht was pretty short, just 40 minutes ride away. By now, we were into the 8th day of our Europe Tour and the summer weather was getting much warmer. Apart from some chills we experienced in Vienna and Berlin, it was very good so far.

Utrecht Train Station

Very quickly we arrived Utrecht Station. This station was very pleasant. We then made our way through the mall connected with the station. We approached the tourist help desk and were attended to by a very nice lady staff. She gave us all the information we needed as well as a map.

Before leaving the train station, we did some shopping at the fashion shops here. My dear wife and son bought stuff at Bershka and Stradivarius. It was about time to do some shopping as we had just another three more days in Europe before leaving for home. With shopping done, we exited the train station. Continue reading 10 Days Free and Easy Europe Tour (2017) – Day 8 Utrecht