Exploring the world one bite at a time

Category: Asia (continent) (Page 1 of 3)

The continent Asia

Singapore Zoo: “Excellent Zoo”

Very beautiful zoo that takes pride in showing the animals in their natural habitat. No cages whatsoever, you get to enjoy the animals up close and personal. I got a chance to encounter a snake. 🙂 The panda’s are an absolute highlight and don’t forget the night safari which is a very special experience.

Information
Singapore Zoo
Mandai Lake Road 80
Mandai
Singapore 729826
Singapore
http://www.zoo.com.sg/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singapore_Zoo
https://twitter.com/tweetwrs?lang=en

Visited October 2013. You can find my review about Singapore Zoo also on TripAdvisor.

The Japanese onsen experience

If you’re looking for Japan traveling tips, please read my previous article.

In this article I would like to talk about Japanese hot springs. When visiting Japan soaking in the naturally heated water of an onsen really is a must. I hardly can think of anything that is more relaxing after a day filled with activities.

When my boyfriend and I went on a bike tour through the beautiful landscapes of Hokkaido, we stayed in lots of traditional ryokans, which all had an onsen. Although we weren’t exactly experienced bike riders, we never once had a muscle ache. Up till this day I am still convinced that the steaming hot bath we took every evening helped prevent any pain. And sure, the water of some onsen is considered to be good for your health.

Be warned though, most onsen are separated by gender and in rural areas you’ll find some people staring at you, strange foreigner. It happened to me more than one time that I had one half of the bath to myself, while the rest of the Japanese women preferred sitting as far away from me as possible. Actually I didn’t mind. More room for me! 😉

One very important rule to remember when visiting an onsen: it is considered very (VERY) rude to enter the hot bath without washing yourself thoroughly beforehand. Most of the bathing facilities offer shower gel and shampoos, but you can, of course, bring your own. The washing is done on a little stool and make sure to wash of any remaining soap, so that you can enter the communal bath squeaky clean.

More on onsen etiquette:

Some absolutely beautiful onsen to visit:

Batu Caves: “Situated 13 km outside of KL”

Beautiful natural caves with an impressive gold colored statue. The hindou temple inside the cave wasn’t that special, but the location definitely is, with the wild monkey’s roaming the stairs looking for foods to steal from tourist. You also should visit the dark cave. We took a 45 minute tour in the dark cave and got an excellent explanation about all the creatures living there.

Information
Batu Caves
Gombak
68100 Batu Caves
Selangor
Malaysia
+603 – 6189 6284
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Batu_Caves
http://www.malaysia.travel/en/my/places/states-of-malaysia/selangor/batu-caves

Visited October 2013. You can find my review about Batu Caves also on TripAdvisor.

The Helix Bridge: “Impressive architecture”

The architecture of this bridge is quite stunning. The bridge itself offers great views of the Marina Bay area. At night it is beautifully lit. A top photo spot!

Information
The Helix Bridge
Between Marina Bay (Marina South) and Marina Centre
Singapore 038981
Singapore
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helix_Bridge
http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/infopedia/articles/SIP_1045_2011-06-30.html

Visited March 2015. You can find my review about The Helix Bridge also on TripAdvisor.

Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia: “Beautiful art in a gorgeous building”

To be honest, I visited this museum because I was mostly interested in the architecture of the building, but the islamic art presented was of a very high quality en very beautiful indeed. The museum offers clear explanations of the objects shown. The view from the terrace is also definitely worth the visit, plus I was very impressed by the beautiful decorated domes in the building.

Information
Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia
Jalan Lembah
Kuala Lumpur 5048
Malaysia
http://www.iamm.org.my/
https://www.facebook.com/Islamic-Arts-Museum-Malaysia-113339608737115/
https://twitter.com/IAMM_KL

Visited October 2013. You can find my review about Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia also on TripAdvisor.

Tatsu Japanese Cuisine: “Excellent Japanese cuisine”

We ate her twice during our stay. We were very impressed by the quality and authenticity of the food. The first time we took a course meal which was absolutely delicious. In the weekend, you can have an ‘all you can eat’ menu. You can choose from all kinds of different menu-items the ones you prefer and as much as you like. Definitely worth a visit!

A tip for management: the airco is set to a very low temperature. I had to put on an extra jacket to not be cold.

Information
Japanese restaurant Tatsu
Intercontinental Hotel
165 Jalan Ampang
Kuala Lumpur 50450
Malaysia
http://kualalumpur.intercontinental.com/dining/tatsu-japanese-cuisine
https://www.facebook.com/intercontinental.kualalumpur/

Visited October 2013. You can find my review about Tatsu Japanese Cuisine also on TripAdvisor.

Travelling to Japan: Where to start?

In recent years I have visited Japan twice. The first time I went to Japan with my boyfriend, my brother and his girlfriend. We took a fairly standard trip around Japan. The second time my boyfriend and I attended a wedding in Tokyo and afterwards we went on a bike tour in Hokkaido. Something totally different, but a truly unforgettable experience. Never have so many people stared at me in my life. 😉

Since Japan is a country where tourism is on the rise, I frequently get asked about my experiences there by people who would like to explore the country by themselves. So that’s why I decide to combine some of my tips for traveling to Japan.

In general:

  1. Look into buying a Japan Rail Pas. It is not always the cheapest way to get around Japan, but you can’t travel to Japan and not experience the marvel that is the shinkansen (Japanes bullet train).
  2. Book at least one stay in a ryokan. An authentic Japanese experience you simply can’t miss out on: sleeping on tatami mats, enjoying bathing in an onsen (women and men strictly separated).
  3. If you’re lost or don’t know how to do something, ask help. Japanese people are very friendly, they will always try to help you the best they can. Don’t know how to buy a ticket to your destination. Give your wallet to a Japanese bystander and they will do the purchase for you and even accompany you tot the right train track.
  4. Visit a traditional Japanse onsen. But make sure to clean yourself thoroughly before entering the hot pool. Japanese people don’t want any filthy people in their baths.
  5. Don’t forget to take part in a traditional Japanese tea ceremony. Drinking tea isn’t as straight forward as you thought!
  6. Go for food in a traditional Izakaya and ask for recommendations. Be adventurous about your food. I have hardly ever had a bad meal in Japan. Don’t worry about food hygiene, Japanese cooks know what that are doing. Remember: Japanese food is so much more than sushi. Tip if you like sushi, but don’t want to pay too much: kaiten sushi.

When to visit?
Most websites will say: in spring, so you can enjoy the cherry blossoms (sakura) or in autumn so you can enjoy the beautiful red and yellow colors of the leaves. But if you asked me, each season has its own charm. I would love to return to Hokkaido in winter, to participate in a snow festival. Be warned though, summers on Honshu can be very hot and humid.

Useful websites:

Transport:

  • Japan Rail Pass. If you’re not sure if it’s worth buying a rail pass, use the Japan Rail Pass Calculator.
  • IC cards are rechargeable cards that can be used to to pay public transportation fares and to make payments at vending machines, shops and restaurants. Examples are Pasmo and Suica.
  • Domestic flights: domestic flight are rather cheap in Japan.
  • Busses
  • Or you can always rent a car. Don’t forget your international driver’s licence! And be warned: in rural areas signs won’t be translated in English. Oh and one more thing: in Japan they drive on the left side of the road.

Where to stay?

What to eat (besides sushi, of course):

  • Okonomiyaki: a kind a savory pancake
  • Sukiyaki: a hot pot dish
  • Japanese Noodles: ramen is of course the most known dish in Europe and the United States, but don’t forget to try the soba or udon noodles.
  • Gyoza: those dumplings are one of my favorite dishes
  • Teriyaki: who doesn’t love the sweet taste of teriyaki?
  • Kushiyaki: skewered and grilled meat, seafood or vegetables. Also known as yakitori (although this term is mostly reserved for chicken skewers).
  • Wagyu beef: if you can afford it
  • Mochi: a Japanese rice cake. Traditionally eaten at New Year, but available year round. You can also have mochi ice cream, which is very good.
  • Do try some Japanese fruit: so much tastier than the fruit we are used to!

Please let me know in the comments if you have any further questions.

Kusu Island: “Nice little island”

A charming little artificial island worth visiting if you have some time to spare. The journey to and from the island is not that agreeable since you are trapped inside the ferry with no possibility to go outside and enjoy the ride. The cabin of the ferry is drenched by the stench of the fumes from the motor. But it is the only way to get to the island, so you’ll have the endure it.

Kusu Island itself is very beautiful. If you want to spend an afternoon on a quiet beach swimming and enjoying the sun, this place is perfect. There are two temples on the island: Tua Pek Kong Temple and Keramat Kusu. Both very different but well worth the visit, although you’ll have to climb more than 100 stairs to get to the second one. We got a yellow ribbon tied around our wrist at the second one and received a blessing for good health and luck.

Kusu Island means Turtle Island, so naturally there are lot of turtles on this island.

When you don’t plan on spending the day on the beach, two hours are enough for visiting this cute little island.

Kusu Island, Kusu Island, Singapore 000704, Singapore
http://www.visitsingapore.com/see-do-singapore/nature-wildlife/singapore-islands/kusu-island.html

Visited March 2015. You can find my review about Kusu Island also on TripAdvisor.

East Coast Park: “Great place for fun activities”

We spent a full day in East Coast Park enjoying some kayaking, biking and the excellent hawker center over there. If you love to do something active, East Coast Park is a great place. You can do lots of water sports (kayaking, kite surfing, fishing, sailing,…), you can go biking along the beautiful bike roads and you even can rent roller blades. This beautiful park stretches along the East Coast of Singapore and offers lots of opportunities to just relax and enjoy yourself.

East Coast Park, Along East Coast Parkway and East Coast Park Service Road (Bedok), Singapore 455486, Singapore
https://www.nparks.gov.sg/gardens-parks-and-nature/parks-and-nature-reserves/east-coast-park

Visited March 2015. You can find my review about East Coast Park also on TripAdvisor.

Pulau Ubin: “Beautiful green island”

Such a nice island to take a break from the busy city life. It will take you some time to get there if you prefer traveling by public transport, so you might consider taking a cab to the ferry terminal. From there one small boats which can only hold 12 people will take you to the island.

This island gives you a feel of how Singapore must have been before all the sky scrapers started appearing. Nice and green, with lots of wild life. We saw monkeys, pigs, birds, butterflies,… So beautiful. The sensory walk offers explanation about the flora on the island, which is very diverse.

I really recommend renting a bike. The bikes are rather worn out, but the bike roads aren’t difficult whatsoever. If you like mountain biking: there is also a mountain biking trail, which really didn’t look that challenging.

I had some excellent black bean crab at Pulau Ubin, so no need to pack your lunch bag. Fresh seafood is abundant on this island. Also, try a coconut, really refreshing.

I highly recommend visiting this island.

Pulau Ubin, Pulau Ubin, Pulau Ubin 000701, Singapore
http://www.visitsingapore.com/see-do-singapore/nature-wildlife/singapore-islands/pulau-ubin.html
+65 6542 4108

Visited March 2015. You can find my review about Pulau Ubin also on TripAdvisor.

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