Japan Travel Diary: A Weekend in Tokyo

After our stay in Kyoto and  Hakone, we finally arrived in Tokyo. What a city! There is plenty to see and do, so much culture, history, fashion and food! We accommodated ourselves in an AirBnB room in well-located Shinjuku and could access all of the main sights from there easily. Of course we visited many more places than listed here, but that would have resulted in a novel length blog post. Therefore, I’ve created a collection of my most memorable moments of this weekend:

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Friday: The Tsukiji Fish Market

About 15 years ago, I got myself a DuMont travel magazine about Japan. I just loved the pictures and articles, and what impressed me the most was the story about the Tsukiji fish market. I made a promise to myself to visit this market one day. And now, I did.

BlueGingerClub_Tokyo-1BlueGingerClub_Tokyo-12The full experience Tsukiji would include the tuna auction at 4.30am. We decided not to got for that as it would have ruined our entire sightseeing schedule, but as a compromise we headed to the market at 8am. Not so much of a hustle and bustle anymore, but a good time to take photos and catch a glimpse of the vendors’ daily routine (but take care of the lethal electro carts everywhere!).

BlueGingerClub_Tokyo-15 Any edible sea dweller can be found here. From pulpo to all kinds of fish to weird snails and eel, there is nothing which is not sold at Tsukiji. It is highly enjoyable to wander around, trying to figure out what kind of strange seafood lies in the eskies and to watch vendors cut up entire tunas. Pretty awesome. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves:

BlueGingerClub_Tokyo-5BlueGingerClub_Tokyo-9BlueGingerClub_Tokyo-2After that, it was time for 10am morning sushi! We just left the fish area and walk to the blocks surrounding the market where you will find a broad offer of sushi places. When you’re there, mark my words: order something raw and preferably tuna. You will never get better, fresher and more high quality sushi in your entire life. Had some green tea and a beer with that (if you can eat raw fish at 10am, you can also have a beer, right?). What can I say: I was a very happy girl that day.

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 Saturday:  Asakusa and Don Quijote

Another temple! Even though I’m kind of fed up with temples after travelling extensively in Southeast Asia in the past months, I’d strongly recommend this one: Sensoji. Located in Asakusa, this massive Buddhist temple is worth a visit. Moreover, the area around it is more than charming. Vendors sell traditional Japanese snacks like tako-yaki (fried squid nastiness but oh so good!), souvenirs and kimono accessories.

BlueGingerClub_Tokyo-19BlueGingerClub_Tokyo-34BlueGingerClub_Tokyo-36After the temple has closed and night has dawned, the district comes to life with many street restaurants where people rather come for a beer and some snacks to go with that than an opulent dinner. It’s a good place for chatting with friends, have a glass of sake (or the other) and enjoy simple foods such as okonomiyaki (weird but very delicious, savoury pancake filled with cabbage and other ingredients) or yakitori chicken skewers.ňÄ

Okonomiyaki and Yaki-toriBlueGingerClub_Tokyo-24When you are in this area, it is imperative to pay a visit to Don Quixote store. You want the sick Japanese shit? This is your place. From Sailor Moon mascara to all sorts of costumes, weird sweets, alcohol, purses, shower gels and kitchen utilities, there is nothing you cannot find there. Sugoi!
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Sunday: Lazy day in Shinjuku

On Sunday, our plan was to check out Shinjuku. So we strolled through Shinjuku Gyoen, one of Tokyo’s largest parks. You have to pay an entrance fee for the park which is quite an uncommon thing in my opinion, but you can spend hours in this well maintained garden. Also, you can access the glass house with is home to many cool plants for free, so it’s worth it.BlueGingerClub_Tokyo-43BlueGingerClub_Tokyo-40BlueGingerClub_Tokyo-41BlueGingerClub_Tokyo-42

  After that, we walked over to Hanazono shrine which hosts a temple flea market every Sunday. If you like flea markets in general, are looking for a bargain or are a vintage aficionado, this is your place! You can absolutely find some jewels in the junk. From ceramic to old photos and cotton yukatas, there are plenty of souvenirs to bring back home. And even though they have fixed prices, you can always haggle a bit and probably get a little something extra.

BlueGingerClub_Tokyo-37 BlueGingerClub_Tokyo-39Generally, there are some nice shops in this area, from high-end (Takashimaya) to brands for everyone (MUJI <3). After a shopping spree, we treated ourselves with a massive bowl of simple ramen. Carb overload! Ramen time!

… and other things

Here are some other places I really enjoyed in a brief overview:

BlueGingerClub_Tokyo-30 Meiji Jingu: A Buddhist shrine dedicated to Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken. I just washed my hands there.

BlueGingerClub_Tokyo-20Tokyo Skytree: Almost 650m high, this impressive tower has a wonderful platform from where you can get a sick view over Tokyo. On clear days, you can even see the Fuji-san (of course we did not, I just came to terms with the fact that I will never ever see that mountain!)

BlueGingerClub_Tokyo-51Harajuku: Holy crepe! This beauty was wolfed down by us at Harajuku, the area in which you can find Cosplayers, Gothic Lolitas and other crazy manifestations of Japanese youth culture.

BlueGingerClub_Tokyo-25Edo-Tokyo Museum: Why shouldn’t a sumo wrestler ride a bike! Took this shot on our way to the Edo-Tokyo Museum, which is, hands down, the best municipal museum I’ve ever visited. Strongly recommend it!

 

What are your favourites spots in Tokyo?
Share your tips with us:

Japan Travel Diary: Onsen-time and the Fuji-yama

I’m writing this waiting for my flight back to Singapore at Haneda Airport, reflecting on this wonderful holiday. I loved Kyoto, I enjoyed discovering Tokyo (more to come!), but my absolute highlight was staying at a traditional, Japanese guesthouse. I’ve shared the highlight of my stay with you:

Japan_Hakone-1-4Onsen Time!

A traditional, Japanese accommodation is called ryokan and offers you the full Nippon experience: sleeping on a tatami floor, beautifully arranged kaiseki style dishes (also served in your tatami room) and often an onsen. An onsen is a hot spa area which relaxes your body, mind and soul. The Japanese obviously invented spa before it became a thing in the Western world – and they did a perfect job! And the coolest thing: you get to wear a yukata (light cotton kimono) all day!

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Japan_Hakone-4Japan_Hakone-5Our ryokan of choice was called Suimeisou which is located in walking distance from the railway station Hakone-Yumoto. I think that the price of roughly 15,000-20,000 Yen is absolutely decent for the high quality dishes you’ll be served and the level of the service and facilities. I’d totally recommend it.

So, when we arrived, the onsen lady showed us our rooms, explained us how to wear the yukata, when our meals will be served in our rooms and when our beds will be made. She poured freshly brewed o-cha for us and offered us an azuki bean sweet. In a ryokan like this, absolutely everything is being taken care of; you just have to move your body to the onsen and back to your room again. After days of crazy sightseeing behind and a few more ahead of us, one day of doing absolutely nothing was pure bliss. (Also my foodie heart exploded when I saw the Japanese traditional dinner).

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Hakone & the Fuji-yama

On the next day, we headed to Lake Ashi to see Mount Fuji . Unfortunately, the weather was a bit cloudy so we could not get a glimpse of this iconic mountain. But actually, the area around Fuji-san is so incredibly picturesque, I did not miss it (which is a lie I’m telling to myself because who would not want to see it ūüėĄ). Anyways, we rented a swan boat and fought the waves of this windy day, went to see a shinto temple and wandered around the lake (Hakone-machi and Moto-Hakone). When you’re there, you could also visit Hakone-Sekisho, a rebuilt checkpoint from Edo-period. Hakone has much to offer for travellers who appreciate nature and picturesque views. And let’s be honest: who does not want to ride a swan boat.


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Overall, the stay at hakone will always have a special place in my heart – it’s my new happy place. Also, I already came to the conclusion that I definitely have to return to Japan one day and when doing that, I will most likely plan 2-3 days in a ryokan and exploring beautiful hakone, preferably in autumn when the leaves are red and golden.

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Japan Travel Diary: I fell in love with Kyoto

A trip to Kyoto is like travelling back in time – back to the golden age of a past¬†era of Geishas, tea ceremonies and life at court. Even today, it is not uncommon to see women strolling through the old, picturesque streets in¬†colourful, traditional attire.¬†I’ve shared my experiences¬†of Kyoto¬†in this¬†Japan travel diary:

Info: We stayed at Jiyu-Jin guesthouse, close to the railway station Kyoto. Pretty basic, but it was clean, central and the staff was friendly and understood basic English. I can recommend it for travellers who do not want to spend to much on accomodation and prefer to do most of their sightseeing by foot. Picturesque kamo river and Pontocho district are ony a stone’s throw away.

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Kamo river and Pontocho

Sitting at the riverside, drinking a cold beer and enjoying the summer breeze ‚Äď that‚Äôs what you can enjoy at kamo river. We were lucky to see a night market on the first day we arrived in Kyoto. Vendors would sell food and knickknacks in this vibrant atmosphere.

A bit further up the riverside, the street is full of restaurants which are beautifully decorated with Japanese lampions and with a view on the river (try to dine in one if these places!). Also, this district is very nice for a walk and offers many possibilities to enjoy good food or drinks in a traditional yet hip environment.
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Nishiki market

I SAW PARADISE. Nishiki market is also called ‚ÄěKyoto‚Äôs pantry‚Äú, and with great justice: the variety of pickles, sweets, fish and snacks is sheerly endless. I was in foodie heaven! My friend and I ate almost everything we could get our hands on. From kakinoha¬†sushi or grilled mackarel to o-nigiri riceballs and fresh, ruby red tuna on a stick. There’s also a¬†myriad of sweets which need to be tried by the curious tourist: from matcha mochi filled with azuki beans to little Japanese cream puffs, ice cream and other delicacies.

Japan_Kyoto-5Japan_Kyoto-6Japan_Kyoto-7Japan_Kyoto-8Japan_Kyoto-9But the market area offers more than food: you can buy china with pretty patterns, souvenirs and ‚Äď kimonos! I actually was just looking for a light bathrobe and ended up buying a white and blue yukata (‚Äěsimple‚Äú cotton kimono, mostly worn in summer) and a BEAUTIFUL green kimono. What did I pay? Merely 120‚ā¨, including the obi and bands you need to tighten it with. Apart from that, there are several pretty hip shops in the area where you can buy clothes, beauty products and shoes (ABC mart¬†offers a cool range of sneakers – I got a white pair of canvas vans for little money which are just perfect for travelling).

Japan_Kyoto-13Japan_Kyoto-12Gion

Starting in feudal times, the old geisha quarter has had a long history. A history of tea houses, kabuki theaters and also some redlight entertainment. This charming district on the east bank of kamo river has kept the charming vibe of many centuries until today. Japanese, no matter if old or young, still visit Gion wearing their light summer yukatas. And you can still indulge in the old arts like clay pottery or a tea ceremony.

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Japan_Kyoto-16Before our arrival in Japan, we had booked a tea ceremony at Camellia. The tea ceremony master explained all elements of the preparation of a proper cup of matcha in English. Very interesting! At the end, we even got to make our own cup! Of course I had to buy the equipment to make my own proper matcha at home soon. After that, we took a walk through the old streets and checking out the tiny shops.Of course there are also a handful of temples and shrines in this area. Strolling through Gion was one of the most wonderful travel experiences ever!Japan_Kyoto-21

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Daytrip to Lake Biwa in Otsu

Wanna see a big lake? I mean, a really big lake? Then you should check out Biwa-ko in Otsu. With a total mass pf 674sq km it’s a quite an impressive amount of water they have there.

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Take the train for approx. 20 minutes from Kyoto station to Otsu station which is included in the JR pass. You could take a boat tour there, but unfortunately, we did not have time to do that so we just went to see Mii-deru, an impressive temple complex situated in a breathtaking garden. This place must be perfect in autumn when leaves are golden and red.Japan_Kyoto-29Japan_Kyoto-33


Kyoto is one of the most charming places I’ve ever been to with its relaxed aura and long history. I will definitely come back one day to see more. Do you have any Kyoto travel tips? I’d love to hear them – please share your experiences with us:¬†

Japan Travel Diary: Wonderful Nara and Osaka

Wrapped sushi? A kiss from bambi? Udon madness? That’s what you can experience in Nara and Osaka! I had such an incredible day today, I don’t even know where to start! Read my impressions of Nara and Osaka in this¬†Japan travel diary:

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At the moment, we’re¬†staying at¬†a guest house in Kyoto for a few days as a home base. My friend and I¬†fell in love with Kyoto at our¬†first night wandering the streets of Gion, so we decided to spend more time in this city¬†rather than visiting other towns¬†near by and came to the conclusion to take only one day trip out of Kyoto to visit Nara and Osaka. Two cities in one day? No problem!

Nara

With our Japan Railway Pass in our pockets, we left our guest house early in the morning and grabbed a little snack on the way (edamame, o-nigiri rice balls and cold ouchi-cha tea for a 7/11 takeaway breakfast Р can I please stay here?). After a short while we arrived in Nara, which was the national capital in the 8th Century. Pretty old, huh. And Nara is said to have a damn big, old temple as well!

So we walked down the main street from the railway station to reach this Todai-ji temple, passing by several shrines and – BAMBIS! Woah ‚̧ I could not believe my eyes how tame they were! You could buy special¬†cookies and they would mildly attack you to get this little deer snack. But so cute! I even got a kiss on the cheek by one of my deer friends while I wasn’t paying attention while nibbling on an ice cream cone.
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Anyways – we arrived at the temple and it was truly breathtaking. Believe me, I’ve seen one or the other temple on my many trips in Southeast Asia by now and this one, dating back from¬†728, was top league: ¬†Huge, wonderful buddha statue; old, and charmingly not perfectly restored paint on the wood elements and the comforting smell of incense sticks in the air.Japan_NaraOsaka-4

Japan_NaraOsaka-3After such a cultural activity, it was finally lunch time. So, we went for kakinoha zushi! These little sushi wraps are a particular tradition in this area and wrapped in salted persimmon leaves which achieve an antibacterial effect. As a dessert I treated myself with a cone of delicious sesame ice cream while my friend was having sakura flavour. Noms!

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And then it was already time to go to Osaka.

Osaka

I have to mention one thing: it is INSANELY hot in Japan at the moment. (Says the girl who lives in Singapore!). So when we arrived in Osaka, we dragged our bodies through the stinging afternoon heat to reach Nijo castle.

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Japan_NaraOsaka-12Japan_NaraOsaka-11Situated in a picturesque park, this old castle from the Edo Period (1603-1867) was a must see visit for us. Unfortunately, apart from a nice view, the castle itself was not the best sight ever. Also the castle museum in there was pretty lame (holograms? CRT TV? Curation from the 80ies).

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After some shopping,¬†we decided to grab dinner and ended up in a wonderful udon noodle place near Osaka railway station. I’m a total sucker for Asian noodle soups and especially Japanese ones! Loved¬†my cold pot of chewy, thick udon noodles in a salty broth accompanied with umeboshi plum, grated ginger, spring onions and fried tempura flakes.¬†With happy bellies we set out on the journey back home.

Japan_NaraOsaka-16Japan_NaraOsaka-17A day well spent in Japan!

Traveling to Singapore: The Ultimate Insider Guide

You’re planning a trip¬†to Singapore? Brilliant!

So now you want to know how to make the most out of your stay¬†here. There is quite a bit to do, so it can be hard to plan your trip. So I’ve compiled a list of daytime and¬†nighttime activities¬†which includes my favourite restaurants, the most breathtaking places and hippest areas. These are insider tips¬†I have selected and shared with many of my friends who came to visit me – handpicked and tourist proof. Just mix and match and have a great time exploring Singapore.

Any questions? Leave me a comment below!


During the Day

The Shopping Spree (Orchard Road + Soba place)

Wanna do the shopping thing? Then you should go to ION shopping center. When there, visit Isetan Japanese Super Market – they have crazy food stuff there. TANGS and Takashimaya are high-end malls which are also worth a visit. Try a Singaporean Ice Cream sandwich from one of the vendors on the street!

Where to eat: Shimbashi Soba. One of my absolute favourite food places on this planet! They produce their own Japanese buckwheat noodles and have a wonderful menu including soups, cold soba with tempura as well as many vegetarian and I believe vegan dishes. (Approx. 25 SDG for meal + drink)
How to get there: Orchard MRT
Insider Tip: Orchard area is SUPER crowded on Sundays, try to evade that

The Chinese Experience (Chinatown + Hawker Center)

Visiting China Town is a must! Check out the Buddha tooth temple as well as the Indian Temple in Southbridge Road. Then, stroll through chinatown to buy souvenirs and weird snacks and fruits. Go to a fortune teller if you feel adventurous. Stroll through Duxton Hill nearby for a coffee at The Plain.

Where to eat: Maxwell Hawker Center. This place offers many dishes you just HAVE to try in Singapore! Try some chicken rice at Tian Tian, have a fresh dragonfruit juice and order my secret favourite, raw sliced fish (like a sashimi salad, available at the porridge stall).(Approx. 8 SDG for meal + drink) 
How to get there: 
China town, Outram or Tanjong Pagar MRT
Insider Tip:
If you’re feeling adventurous, try chicken feet, deep fried frog or grilled stingray in Smith Street (also known as Food Street)

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Relaxed & Hip (Tiong Bahru + Plain Vanilla)

Tiong Bahru is one of the areas¬†I love spending a lazy afternoon in! It’s actually one of the oldest areas in Singapore but has a handful of very nice and hip restaurants and shops. Must: go to Books Actually. They offer¬†a great selection of books and a room filled with vintage stuff – and they have a fluffy cat. What else do you need in life. Read my full blog post about Tiong Bahru.

Where to eat: Plain Vanilla¬†Bakery. If you like¬†cupcakey foodporn, this is your mekka. Plain Vanilla offers a wonderful range of cupcakes, tartes and cakes. Try the Rosemary Buttercake! And if¬†you fancy a “proper meal” before that, try one of the Chinese restaurants, PS Caf√© or Forty Hands! (Vanilla Bakery: Approx. 10¬†SDG for cake¬†+ coffee)¬†
How to get there: 
Tiong Bahru MRT
Insider Tip:
Don’t rush through Tiong Bahru. Take your time and relax the area,¬†wander its street and have a nice, long coffee break in one of the caf√©s. Besides, Chinatown is close by – you can combine these areas.

IMG_4208Artsy afternoon(SAM + Food For Thought)

Feed your soul with art! The Singapore Art Museum offers modern, mostly photography exhibitions. Not the most inspiring museum in the world but definitely worth a visit for the art-loving tourist Рespecially because of the old colonial style building it is located in!

Where to eat: Artichoke Cafe. Fancy a nice middle eastern place? HUMMUS <3? Complete your visit at the museum with a great lunch at Artichoke. Many veggie options available. (Approx. 25 SDG for meal + drink)
How to get there:
 Bugis MRT
Insider Tip: 
The SAM offers free tours which are usually pretty interesting. Check out their website for dates and times.

Singapore Explained (National Museum & FoodForThought)

Do you know what banana notes are? What peranakan is? Or how Singapore became independent? Then invest 2 hours of your stay to visit the National Museum’s current exhibition Singapura: 700 years. Even if you’re not the museum-kinda-girl or -guy, you will understand why Singapore is the way it is SO much better! Also, you can combine your trip with Fort Canning, a nice park which is directly next to the National Museum.

Where to eat:¬†Have brunch at Food For Thought first. Their breakfast is heavenly and also available in “vegetarian”. What I also like about the place is that it is socially responsible and they run a great campaign for raising money for clean drinking water for people in need. ¬†(Approx. 25¬†SDG for meal¬†+ drink)
How to get there:
Doby Ghaut MRT
Insider Tip:
The National Museum also offers free tours in a few languages

 Enjoying Nature (Botanic Gardens  + Pic Nic)

Inscribed as UNESCO World Heritage Site, this is an absolute must. I know that visiting a garden does not sound super exiting, but you will not be disappointed, promise! The Botanic Gardens are a beautiful fusion of English gardening style and lush, tropical flora (and fauna: you can see all kinds of animals including dinosaur style monitor lizards which are pretty damn cool!)

Where to eat:
This place is MADE for having a picnic there. So, grab some takeaway food or sandwiches on the way, steal a towel from your hotel room, open a bottle of wine, buy some strange fruit you don’t know and enjoy a low-key outdoor meal.¬†
How to get there:
There are several busses going there – I really suggest to grab a cab though.
Insider Tip:
If you like flower stuff, check out the Orchid exhibition. Apart from that, there are free classic concerts at the Botanic Gardens from time to time. Make sure to check out their website.

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In the Evening


THE WALK (Lau Pa Sat + Marina Bay + Gardens By the Bay)

Oh wow, I’ve done that with EVERY single person who came to visit me. It’s a classic. If you have one evening in Singapore only, that is the thing to do. You start at Lau Pa Sat which is an old, colonial style Hawker Center which offers a myriad of different foods – make sure to try some of the Sat√© meat skewers which are absolutely fabulous there! Many vegetarian options are offered for our green friends (Indian food stalls or Yong Tao Foo).¬†After dinner and nightfall, you just walk a few minutes to arrive at Marina Bay. It is truly breathtaking. Stroll along the bay walk whilst enjoying the modern architecture, to reach Marina Bay Sands Hotel. Make sure to enter the Lobby and have a look around ( and no, you cannot access the pool deck). Continue your walk to the Gardens By The Bay and be fascinated by the supertrees.

Where to eat: Lau Pa Sat Hawker Center, also known as Telok Ayer Market
How to get there:
Raffles Place MRT
Insider Tip:
You could have a drink at the Marina Bay Sands rooftop bar. However, if you feel like ending the day with a drink, I’d suggest 1-Altitude for that purpose, because you want to have a nice view ON Marina Bay Sands.

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A relaxed evening out (Pho Love + Singapore Sling at the Raffles Hotel)

After a long day of Sightseeing, you just might want to grab a quick dinner and treat yourself with a nice drink. Enjoy a chill evening at the Long Bar located in the elegant Raffles Hotel. The hotel is a BEAUTIFUL colonial building which will transport you back in time. Order a Singapore Sling (which was invented here), listen to the live band and nibble on fresh peanuts (you an throw the peanut shells on the ground!).

Where to eat:  
Nam Nam Noodle Bar. This Vietnamese “fast food” restaurant situated at City Hall MRT underpass offers really nice Vietnamese street food at¬†reasonable cost. Try a Pho soup, the Ban Mie Baguette or a Vietnamese Coffee if you’ve never had that before!¬†(Approx. 15¬†SDG for meal¬†+ drink)
How to get there:
 City Hall MRT
Insider Tip:
The Bar and Hotel also have a food menu. If you wanna go fancy, you can check out their selection here.

Let’s go for a beer! (Oriental Food¬†+ Haji Lane)

After your dinner (Nabins!), you should definitely check out Haji Lane for one beer (or many). There are several cool cafés and bars in the area, but my all time favourite is Blu Jaz Café. They often have live bands playing, you can sit outside smoking a Shisha and the food is also quite nice if you are still looking for a meal. If you have time, you should discover the area around Haji Lane a bit (Sultan Mosque)! Read my full blog post about Haji Lane.

Where to eat: 
Nabins. Arabian restaurant with a authentic interior: have a cozy seat on exotic cushions while you are dining on the floor. Shisha is offered. I strongly recommend the appetiser platter and the broad selection of exotic iced teas and drinks! (Approx. 25 SDG for meal + drink)
How to get there:
 Bugis MRT
Insider Tip:
Haji Lane is also nice during the day Рyou can do some serious shopping beyond mainstream fashion here! Make sure to stop by OM Café for a nice cup of coffee.

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Quick Bits

Hope you enjoy your stay ūüôā

The Most Amazing Food Places to Visit in Hong Kong

Hong Kong is said to be Asia’s world city. And I agree. This metropole has left me speechless: I just loved the hustle and bustle, the vintage flair, the old culture¬†and above all – the food. There is so much to discover!¬†It was not possible to tick every must-see site¬†off my list, but I saw quite a bit and¬†would like to share the food highlight of my trip with you¬†!

Hong Kong

  1. Nostalgia Breakfast at Mido Café
    Hong KongHong KongHong Kong
    This place could not be more Wes Anderson. Opened in the 1950s, Mido caf√©¬†has managed to preserve the flair of that time. Its nostalgic interior and pastel colours¬†and little “Amercian Diner Style” tables are incredibly charming.¬†The food itself was ok – they offer a huge variety of different Hong Kong dishes and (pretty cool) beverages as well as breakfast options. In sum, this is a place where you go to for the flair rather than the food.

    Mido Cafe
    Address: 63 Temple Street, Yau Ma Tei, Hong Kong
    Tel: +852 2384 6402

  2. Dim Sum lunch at Lin Heung Tea HouseHong KongHong KongHong Kong
    Dim Sum (or Yum Cha) are small, steamed or fried dumplings which are Hong Kong’s signature dish. And they are ridiculously¬†delicious! That’s why we set off for¬†Lin Heung Tea House. It’s far from fancy, but¬†that’s what makes it so lovely. Having lunch there¬†made my foodie heart melt and my camera’s memory card explode.

    When you arrive, you just take a seat¬†at one of the round tables, then you will be served a cup of steaming hot, Chinese tea. The waiter will not ask you what you’d like to eat, nor hand you a menu – because you have to get your food yourself here! Chinese aunties and uncles push their carts filled with piles of steaming bamboo baskets through the restaurant, so what you have to do is you¬†grab your little stamp card and fetch whatever your heart desires. Feeling adventurous? Try¬†chicken feet. Fancying a classic? Have Shu Mai. The varieties of Dim Sum are¬†almost endless.It is a must to visit this place!¬†I recommend to come in a group as this typically is a shared meal. Also, make sure to arrive not too late as Dim Sum are traditionally only served until late afternoon.

    Lin Heung Tea House
    Address: 160-164 Wellington Street, Central, Hong Kong
    Tel.: +852 2544 4556

  3. Comfy dinner¬†at Mak’s noodleHong KongHong Kong
    This is one of the best comfy dishes ever. Fresh, thin egg noodles and deliciously soft wan tan in a rich chicken stock. With some kai lan veggies in oyster sauce on the side. This will cure even the worst hangover you got from partying  too hard at Lan Kwai Fong the night before! The restaurant itself is charmingly vintage (1960s style)!

    Mak’s Noodle
    Address: 77 Wellington Street, Central, Hong Kong
    Tel.:+852 2854 3810

What are your favourite cafés, restaurants or food stalls in Hong Kong? Share them with us and leave a comment:

Exploring Singapore: Tiong Bahru

Forty hands for breakfast, a cat in a bookstore and graveyards. How do these things go together? You just have to explore Tiong Bahru to find out.

Tiong Bahru is one of Singapore’s oldest housing areas. Its name is very Singaporean – it’s a mix of Hokkien (Tiong) and Malay (Bahru) and ¬†translates to “Old Cemetery” – mainly because this area used to be a place where people¬†burry their dead.¬†This changed in the 30ies, and after reconstructing¬†the area it turned out to be¬†one of the more sophisticated, pricey¬†parts of Singapore. After WW2, the population in the area¬†tripled and it became more affordable again.¬†(If you’re interested in more about Tiong Bahru’s history, I recommend this page)

In the past decades, this area¬†used to be an area for elderly¬†people – until recently: Tiong Bahru has¬†developed a hip culture with nice caf√©s, bars and shops. It’s a beautiful mix of old and new. So I decided to grab my camera and¬†explore the area last Saturday – and came up with a brilliant plan of how you could spend a weekend day there!

1I immediately fell in love with the charming flair of this area. You can see the typical old white buildings, many wonderful mini-gardens and a few cafés here and there.Tiong BahrTiong BahruTiong BahruTiong Bahru
I continued to my walk through little alleys and streets. Close to the market, you there are see parts of the authentic, traditional culture with a variety of Chinese-Singaporean restaurants and tiny shops which sell everything from cheap clothes to kitchen accessories.

Tiong Bahru Tiong BahruTiong BahruTiong BahruAt a certain point, I became hungry, so I¬†headed to Yong Siak street to¬†treat myself with a nice Saturday brunch. I ended up at Forty Hands, which is a pretty cool¬†restaurant with amazing food (and nice vegetarian options as well). I had Eggs Cocotte on saut√©d mushrooms (which I’ll definitely have again soon) and my friend tried the falafel pita.

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Already being in Yong Siak road, I could not miss out on two other musts. The first one is BooksActually, a wonderfully curated, hip book shop Рwith a cat. They have a CAT! And what is better than books and cats on this planet? Not a lot. Except for cupcakes, probably. That is why we headed to the second target place: Plain Vanilla Bakery. This place is a mekka for the common hipster as well as foodies with a sweet tooth and an eye for aesthetics. We chose a Salted Caramel and a Carrot cupcake Рboth were a bit prettier than they tasted. The relaxing, clean atmosphere made up for it, though.

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IMG_4208 IMG_4213My conclusion: Tiong Bahru is a great place to spend a lazy day off. Exploring this area is totally worth it! Already been there? Share your favourite restaurants and hidden corners with us!

Places:

40 Hands
78 Yong Siak Street, #01-12, 163078
6225 8545

Plain Vanilla Bakery
1D Yong Siak St, Singapore 168641
8363 7614

Books Actually
9 Yong Siak St, 168645
6222 9195