Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Tailor, Farming and Food - Hoi An

Landing in Hoi An wasn't much of shopping for us, but more of food exploration. There really isn't much to shop especially when you talk about fashion, design or being modern. We got around to eating, trying their local delicacies which were really good! And if you are shopping around, do remember to bargain! We managed to bargain down to more than 70% for some items. It's crazy how prices are marked up high for negotiation.

If you had like some tailored wear, then it is also best to visit a tailor shop the first day you are in Hoi An. Give 3 days of buffer to get your clothes complete. You will have to go for fitting in between before collecting your final pieces. I came with designs, wanting to explore outfits for our family of five, but they didn't turn out well. And I didn't feel it was as cheap as I had thought or read around. We spent USD170 for our set of five pieces.

It was probably difficult to visualise something big, base on the fabric samples provided. We had to fit a single fabric type for both man and woman, boys and girl to get a family matchy set.

The ladies' tailored design

The boys and man tailored design

Looks like the pieces will sit in our wardrobe for some time before we look at it differently again. Nonetheless, the daughter loves hers alot! My only comfort.

Our friend had a few tops and bottom tailored, and they turned out perfect for her! It really is about choosing the right fabric, design and colour. But I feel the pricing can get you some good fit off the stores too. So tailor something you really think is unique, which may come with some risk though.

Fabric varies stores to stores. Most prints and patterns are not be fashion looking to me, choosing a single colour will be a safe choice. 

Fabric designs

We tailored our pieces at Kimmy. Probably the only tailor store that is air conditioned! Their pieces are all tailored within store. The good part is that, no middle man is involved. Who you speak to is likely the person who sees through everything.

KIMMY CUSTOM TAILOR STORE
70 TRAN HUNG DAO STREET, HOI AN, VIETNAM
(+84) 235 3862 063 | INFO@KIMMYTAILOR.COM
OPEN 7 days per week – 8am - 10PM
Telephone: (+84) 235 3862 063 
Email: info@kimmytailor.com


VEGETABLE FARMING
Doing Hoi An is very much equivalent to going back to the primitive ways of living. We did farming on 2 separate days. On the first day, we booked a vegetable farming tour with Tra Que Garden. The tour package comes with a tour around their vegetable farm, introducing the types of plants they have, as well as the traditional and modern farming methods. After which, there was buffalo riding, hands on planting, foot and shoulder massage, followed by an awesome lunch spread! Our guide spoke good English and was very engaging. 

Love those hats provided

Buffalo riding

Vegetable planting

In for foot spa!

We really loved this tour, and the kids enjoyed it thoroughly! The package includes pick up and return to hotel. Totally worth it! We highly recommend this tour. Lunch provided was really really good!

Tra Que Garden
USD 22 per pax
Half price for kids, 6 to 10
Free for kids below 6
Thôn Trà Quế, Đường Hai Bà Trưng, Xã Cẩm Hà, Hội An, Quảng Nam.
(+84) 902 866 603 – Mr. Hòa (Jamie)
(+84) 934 861 007 – Mrs. Hiền (Helen)
info@traquegarden.com

 
RICE FARMING 
We spent another day with Hoi An Village Experience, where we took on their Farming and Fishing life experience tour. The package tour included, pick up and return at hotel, lunch/dinner (depending on the time tour you booked), buffalo ride, basket boat ride, rice plating and bicycles! Yes, we cycled. It was a decision we pondered for long. Considering a toddler in tow and our inactive nature in sports, I wasn't sure if we can cover a 7km cycle! The kids trained for it though, we did a few cycling weekends to prep for this day. 

Only thing was, you will be riding alongside a massive traffic of motor vehicles. This did freak Jazz much, and we dismounted after a 3km ride. At the paddy field. Not too bad, I thought. There wasn't a small enough bicycle for Jare, so he pillion-ed behind the man. While I took Juboy on a child seat behind my bicycle.


Alongside motor vehicles

Into the paddy field

Our guide was really nice to have arranged taxi to transport us to our next destination, from where we dismounted. At no additional cost.

Our first stop was at the rice paddy to meet the buffalo and do some labour work. After which we took a taxi to embark on our basket boat ride to 'fish' for crabs. Then we did some walking to our guide's house for lunch.


Even with a napping baby

Buffalo feeding

Planting in the paddy

Basket boat riding

The basket boat ride was a hot and sleepy one. The swaying of it must have stimulated that of rock a bye baby effect. Do not forget those shades and sunscreen! If not, those Vietnamese hats provided are good too. We caught some crabs along our ride, but they are definitely not meant for lunch.

After embarking from the basket boat, we took a 5 minutes walk to our guide's house. Where he gave us a go on his antique rice grinder, and thought us how to cook crispy pancake (Ban Xiao). Lunch was at the mean time prepared for us.

Grinding rice water

Cooking crispy pancake

Lunch!

Lunch was great, but we thought it was not as delicious as the one we had with Tra Que tour. After lunch, we were transported back to our hotel with an arranged taxi. By then, you will definitely appreciate the air con in your room!

Most tours comes with drinking water. You may carry light.

Hoi An Village Experience
Price: 700,000 vnd (approx SGD 41)/ person (Group Tour)
Children from 5 to 11 years old pay half price
Time: From 8:30am to 1.00 pm or 2:00 pm – 6:30 pm


FOOD
Street food may not be advisable for consumption, as advised by the hotel. And especially that you are traveling with kids. Nonetheless, we did try a few street at the night market. We went for those that needs to be cooked over high heat, but ice cream, the kids needed it!

Street food galore

Other than the very satisfying meal at Tra Que, two other restaurants, Morning Glory and Thanh Phuong are much worth the calories too! 

Vietnamnese coffee we had at Morning Glory was very good. Left us a memorable taste.

These are the delicacies we ordered at Thanh Phuong. Chicken rice which our friend ordered was amazingly good. Just don't think Hainanese when eating it. It's a total different twist. White rose, crispy pancake and fried wanton were good too. But its pho was not to the kids' liking.

Food galore at Thanh Phuong


A few shops from the right of the restaurant, we had our foot massage. It was so rejuvenating!


Morning Glory Restaurant
106 Nguyen Thai Hoc Street, Hoi An, Vietnam
+84 (0510)  2241 555


Thanh Phuong Restaurant
29 Nguyen Phuc Chu, Hoi An, Vietnam
+84 510 3910 877
(Near Hoi An night market)


So yeap, this sums up our Vietnam vacation. It definitely is not the most conducive travel if you have young children along. It depends much on your level of comfort. The streets are always crowded with humans, having a stroller along is almost impossible. Road crossings are chaotic, with no proper traffic lights. It is always a dare challenge when crossing a massive road!

The kids did enjoy themselves thoroughly, especially farming! Travelling with buddies made it even more enjoyable! I realised that we have always been travelling to the developed countries with mega theme parks and malls, but not much to the less developed countries where there is no big shopping malls, no theme parks, not even a supermarket in sight or a baby care room. So if you run out of diapers, I have no idea where to get them. Pack sufficiently!

And when changing room is not in sight, you will have to make do with the next ideal place to change diaper. We spotted a bench.

When your toddler took a poop and there's no changing room

It was a good opportunity to experience and discover more during this trip! And with this, we end our three part adventure update to Danang and Hoi An, Vietnam.

Other part series:
1. Bana Hills, Danang
2. Hoi An, Vietnam - Sunrise Premium Resort


Friday, 20 July 2018

Hoi An, Vietnam - Sunrise Premium Resort

After our stay in Bana Hills, we took a cab over to Hoi An. You can book a cab at the hotel lobby of Bana Hills. It was about a 45 minutes drive before we arrived at our next hotel, Sunrise Premium Resort. The weather changed from a comforting cool to a heating warm as we went down hill. Much like our daily weather here, in Singapore. 

Hoi An is an Ancient Town that is an exceptionally well-preserved example of a South-East Asian trading port dating from the 15th to the 19th century. Its buildings and its street plan reflect the influences, both indigenous and foreign, that have combined to produce this unique heritage site. It has great scenic views both day and night. 

Day view

After sun view

The town has retained its traditional wooden architecture and townscape in terms of plot size, materials, façade and roof line. Its original street plan, with buildings backing on to the river, with its infrastructure of quays, canals and bridges in its original setting, also remains. The historic landscape setting is also intact, consisting of a coastal environment of river, seashore, dunes and islands. 

Traditional Architecture



Japanese Covered Bridge

DAY 1 - Sunrise Premium Resort
We checked in to Sunrise Premium Resort with welcome drinks for all. A wonderful hotel with great spread of breakfast buffet. We are usually good to fit us all in a room with additional bed when travelling, but the hotel was adamant about having us all in the room we booked. The maximum they allowed in a room was 4. They insisted that we should book 2 rooms. We pleaded and pleaded before they allowed us all to check into that one room. I didn't understand how a 2 year old toddler would make up an exceeded head count?! Thankful we got it through.





Fruits were complimentary in our room. My monkeys went crazy over the bananas. They were not replenished the next day though. 

The hotel had very awesome pools for kids and adults. The main pool is open to all, but lap pool is only for adults, or teens above 12 years old. There is also another toddler pool with toys and floaties within the kids' club. Our kids preferred to play at the main pool though.

The kids' club is a wonderful place to park our kids, while we get some peace to our ears. Pick up a copy of their scheduled activities, just so you know what will interest your kids most. 

There is also an activity schedule for the grown ups like aqua aerobics and yoga. Schedule timing may be found on a chalkboard near the main pool.  




In front of the lap pool is the beach. The beach is partitioned from the ocean by rocks and a cement wall, so it isn't exactly the usual perception we have of beach. The kids spent some time sand playing here. We brought some sand toys from home. 

Don't forget to slap on generous layers of sunscreen! It gets really hot playing out there.

Great sky view, but hot!

Parted beach

Shelter is just so essential!

Most hotels in Hoi An, are not air conditioned at their lobby. It is only upon entering your room, that you get to cool yourself after a warm day out.

After checking in, we took their free mini shuttle bus to Hoi An old town, where the hustle and bustle is. You do need to pre-book your space to get on the bus. For your return as well.
 
And yes, we highly recommend this hotel if you are visiting. It has all you need for family with young kids. Even if you decide to stay in and not venture out, it is a wonderful place to relax. The food choices offered for their in room dining were delicious too! Its pho was one of the great tasting after having tried around. Great breakfast, free shuttle to town and even to Danang airport! Just remember to pre-book.

We went undercover to bring you our experience during our hotel stay. #notsponsored

Next up, our shopping and eating experience in Hoi An!


Address
Sunrise Premium Resort Hoi An,
Au Co, Hoi An Town, Quang Nam Province, Vietnam


Other part series on:
1. Bana Hills, Danang
2. Tailor, Farm and Food - Hoi An

Monday, 16 July 2018

Ba Na Hills, Danang (Vietnam)

We did a 7D6N Vietnam - Danang and Hoi An with our friends, Angs, during the June holiday.

We spent 2 nights in Danang, at Bana Hills Mountain resort. It is located in the Truong Seon Mountains west of the city Da Nang, in central Vietnam. The place was founded by the french colonists in 1919. Home to French, the resort was a recreational place for French visitors who would come to enjoy the villas, clubs, bungalows and restaurants. The place was unfortunately ruined after the World War II. 

It was restored and remodeled by investors in 2007. A popular local and foreign attraction in Vietnam today. Thanks to its altitude, about 1500 metres above sea level, we got to enjoy cool and fresh air throughout our stay. Day time was quite alright for us, but night was cold. About 15 to 20 degrees Celsius in the night.  

We booked our hotel stay with Mecure. The only hotel as of 2018. Our hotel booking did not come with cable car ride, it needs to be purchased separately at the foot of the hill. Another way up would be by car. Enjoy the cable car ride, it is the longest and highest non-stop cable car in the World!


Hotel Room

There are many activities you can do within your stay:

1. FRENCH VILLAGE
It is the 'town' you are welcomed daily the moment you step out of your hotel. A place built to the romantic and elegant taste of a unique and ancient french architecture. It is unbelievably beautiful and assuredly a great place for photography. It was however, much crowded on the days we visited. We did it over the weekend. It may be better during weekdays. Most local tourists do their one day getaways over the weekend here. We know crowd aren't great for photography.

A better time for photos would be the evening, when most crowd make their way down hill. When most shops and restaurants close at 5pm. With a handful opened for those still lurking around.


View from hotel

Awesome architecture

Front of Cathedral

Unique architecture

Great view

Lovely walk


2. FUNICULAR
This railway train brings us from Ba Na station to Le Jardin d'Amour Garden. A fun and simple ride to get the kids a little thrilled. 

Funicular

Service hour: 8am to 6.30pm (Till 5pm in low-peak season) 

3. LE JARDIN D'AMOUR GARDEN
There are 9 gardens in this mega garden. Each garden is themed to different feelings of love and classical art. It is less crowded with ample space for the kids to roam and expel some energy. The kids loved playing in the garden maze.

Le Jardin D'Amour Garden

'Cable car ride'

Play with me?
Awesome Hand statue

4. FANTASY PARK
The largest indoor entertainment park in Vietnam. Within it consists of games, shows, kiddy rides, theme park rides, not exactly equivalent, but mostly. There were bumper cars, arcade games, playground for toddlers and mostly satisfying for any child. 

Everything is free to play in here, subject to minimum height for some rides. No additional charges unless otherwise stated. Which explains why cable car ride fees are rather exuberant for the locals who are making their way up. 

Pros and cons. You can play till the cows go home! But free play can also mean a long wait for your turn at popular arcade games. After watching a boy 'game over-ed' and 'played again' four times, I decided to ask if my son could play. Trust me, you may have to do this at the park.


Fantasy Park

5. WAX MUSEUM
We skipped this. Doubt it was any exciting. After all, we have a wax museum in Sentosa. 

6. ALPINE COASTER
Alpine coaster is outdoor, not within Fantasy park. Jazz had really want to do this thrilling ride, but the queue was snaking long! Considering that the ride takes only 1 or 2 riders per play, it moved steadily slow. We knew we were not game to queue. Moreover, the younger boys weren't able to ride. It opens from 8am to 5pm. We tried checking it out at 8.15am, it was just as long as any other timing of the day. Oh well, it is said to be the top favourite of all visitors.


Alpine Coaster


7. CARNIVAL SHOW
From parade to street entertainment, performers are frequently seen hanging around French Village.

Carnival Parade

8. HOTEL'S RECREATION
The hotel's facilities are sprawled all across French Village. While French Village is also open to non hotel guests, access to use the swimming, kids and sports room are strictly for hotel guests only. You will require your hotel's access key to enter.

There are pools for adults to swim and toddlers to wade. To swim in the night (pool closes at 10pm I think), you will need to brave the cold to walk back to your hotel. Not too far of a distance though. The robe in the hotel room was good for that brisk walk. Good thing, water in the pool is heated. Our little swimmers feedback that there was some funny smell in the pool. I didn't verify that though.

There was also nightly movie screening by the pool. Just a projector and screen, not some high resolution images though.

The kids' playroom room are more for toddlers to really young kids. We didn't stay long, it wasn't well ventilated, and there was a stench of stale air lingering.


Kids' playroom

Kids' playroom

Heated pool

Slide fun

9. RESTAURANTS
Breakfast was included with the booking of the hotel. We needed to settle lunch and dinner out of the hotel. We did Vietnamese lunch at French Village, not sure what its name was, but pho was really good! And probably the best tasting one we had throughout our stay in Vietnam. We also tried the dinner buffet in the hotel and another Japanese buffet out of the hotel, which we belatedly realised they weren't good at hosting buffet. There was variety, but not satisfying in quality.

Vietnamese food may be the best bet in there.




10. STREET SNACKS
Surprisingly, street snacks were yummy! We tried their sweet potato ball, custard puff and mango smoothie. All good!


Street Food

These pretty much summed up on what you can do in Ba Na Hills. Spending 2 nights at the hotel was just nice for us, but I am sure 1 night or even a day trip may be good too. A tad disappointed that the family bunks room we booked were unavailable upon check in. We were given 2 connecting rooms instead.

The place was really beautiful and made even more enjoyable with its cool weather. However, I find most facilities and attractions, even our hotel rooms looked like they were due for a major clean up or renovation. Even though the place was built in 2007, it did not look well maintained. Expect too, a difference in culture. I was watching the parade gleefully before a lady gave my shoulder a sudden strong tug just to make way for her view. I was literally shocked! I looked at her and went speechless. It looked like a norm to her. Shoving and pushing seemed almost ordinary in there. So yeap, that was my experience.

After Ba Na Hills, we booked a taxi at the hotel's reception before heading down hill. It was a 45 minutes ride to Hoi An. 

Coming up on next post, our stay in Hoi An, Sunrise Premium Resort and tailoring, food and farming in Hoi An.

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Tales of Grimmsneyland by ANDSOFORTH

Brought to you by ANDSOFORTH, Tales of Grimmsneyland is the first multi-dimensional immersive and interactive theatre experience catered to young audiences in Singapore. Discover the magical world of fairy-tales with your very own Fairy guide who will lead the way through Grimmsneyland.


With Fairy godmother in training as guide, you explore the wonders of this strange land and its inhabitants.

Travel through 5 different rooms in groups and play the role of village families in these familiar and often-told stories. Interact and play, be a part of the story alongside with the characters from the fairytales - the tinniest Mermaid, Mirror Mirror (First name Mirror, last name Mirror), Napping beauty, The Fabulous Fairy Godmother and Snow White.


Join them as they flip the fins off little Mermaid, pick the lentils out of cinders with the Fairy godmother, awkwardly awake Sleeping Beauty and dance with Snow White in the forest. An amazing fairy tale adventure your child will never forget! 

The show is an excellent and interactive way to introduce children to various aspects of  performance arts and to the power of imagination and creative drive through the stories of the brothers Grimm, in a more modern context and twist on the classic tales. 




Filled with games, dance, fun and fanciful characters, this show is sure to enchant and delight all little children with valuable lessons on self esteem and respect of others.

Suitable for age 4 and above and for both boys and girls!

Read here on our previous experience with 'Wonderland', another sold out show by ANDSOFORTH. 


Get your tickets here!

Dates: 28, 29 Jul, 04, 05, 09 and 10 Aug
Time Slots: 10.30am, 11am, 11.30am, 2pm, 2.30pm, 3pm
Price: $35 per person
(Intimate group of 30 per time slot)
Duration: 1h 30 mins
Venue: 16D Lorong Ampas, GS Building S328778


*Children younger than 7 years old will require parent accompaniment