Day 1 – Offenbach/Frankfurt

My family and I arrived at Frankfurt Airport around 6.45am on October 7th, 2013. After claiming our luggages, we went straight to Avis counter as my husband had booked a car online (paid for a week rental using debit card) but the process didn’t went well as Avis needed a credit card to verify the booking at the counter. As my husband and I only have debit card, we had to cancel the rental. My husband had wrote a refund claim e-mail as I wrote this and that will take about two weeks to clear. But nonetheless, at least we know what to expect if we were to rent a car in Europe again.

avis

We took a taxi to Offenbach as taking the train was out of the option as we had big luggages and a box full of books to carry. We reached the place we rented around 9am. Had to wait an hour for the owner to come as check in time was at 10am.

waitingBoy, it was cold!

The owner, Dr. Mai, is a Muslim Egyptian doctor staying in Frankfurt with her family for 15 years already. She showed around the fully-furnished apartment and told us that we were free to use everything and thank God for the washing machine and electric cooking stove. These are top on the list when you have a family travelling with you.

thehouseDr. Mai’s house is awesome!

I am very thankful to have found Dr. Mai on Airbnb. I got a very cheap deal renting the place from her as the rental was not based on pax as what the hotels in Frankfurt (perhaps in Europe) are charging. There were other places listed on Airbnb around Frankfurt but all were not within my budget so I opt to stay outside the city. Anyway, staying at any hotel in Frankfurt during book fair can go up to €300(and more) per day!

My family were all tired and they took a little nap before exploring Frankfurt.

sleepAfter sitting on 12 hours flight.

We went out later in the afternoon around 5pm and took the train to Frankfurt city. We walked to Offenbach OST (10 minutes walk) and paid around €15 (one way) to reach the main station, the Frankfurt Am Main Hauptbahnhof.

hbfFrankfurt Am Main Hauptbahnhof.

The boys were already hungry (we had nasi impit and sambal ikan bilis for lunch at the apartment) and having visited Frankfurt last year, I know a nearby Halal place to have dinner. We went to Thai Fun at Elbestraße, about 5 minutes walk from hauptbahnhof.

thaifunYassin shared fried rice with his dad while I had rice with chicken and mushroom. Azmi had rice with tomyam.

onphoneBusy with phones! It was either they were tweeting or sharing photos on Instagram. Haha! We bought a prepaid data plan earlier and shared connection. I will blog about this on a separate post on ‘how to plan a trip to Frankfurt with your family’. Sounds good? Stay tuned!

And that was all for Day 1. We took the train back to Offenbach and paid another  €15. Yikes,  €30 altogether.

Stay tuned for Day 2 tomorrow!

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I’m back from Frankfurt!

Oh I miss my blog! I tried to update my blog from Frankfurt but didn’t have enough time to do so. Frankfurt was great! I had 3 days to spent with my family and they rest were spent at book fair. I missed the zoo and Main Tower as I had to be at the fair. But my family did had a great time there.

I will blog about places in Frankfurt individually but at the meantime, here are some photos from our trip:

fra01Me reaching up for autumn leaves.

fra02Yassin, Azmi (my stepson) and my husband.

fra03Our home for 10 days.

fra04Yassin and Azmi in front of Hauptwache old police station, now converted to restaurant.

fra05Yassin and Azmi hugging giant ice-cream.

fra06Having coffee at Romer.

fra07Crossing Baseler Straße.

 

 

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Bukit Gambang Safari Park

Bukit Gambang Safari Park is really a good place to take kids and I am glad that my son, Yassin, suggested the place. We really had a blast and will revisit the park when it fully opens next year. Currently, the safari park is on it’s pre-opening stage and offers ticket at a cheaper rate since March 2013.

Yassin-and-lion-statue

Sprawling across 138 acres, the Safari Park currently has four areas that we can visit: Wild Savannah, Simba Hill, Foreign Village and Night Jungle. Other areas under construction are Forest Land and Land of Predators.

Wild Savannah

First region we visited was the Wild Savannah which is only accessible by taking a tram. This is an area where animals roam freely and we were advised not to open door or windows for safety purpose.

Wild Savannah is divided into few areas and those we visited was African Savannah, Tropical Rainforest and Australian Outback.

We spotted these animals:

NyalaNyala.

WildebeestWildebeest.

zebraZebra.

ElandEland.

impalaImpala.

emuEmu.

tigerTiger.

Simba Hill

After making rounds around the region on a ram, we were sent back to the station. Later we went to Simba Hill by foot. By escalator, actually, hehe. Simba Hill is where a couple of rare White Lions reside. White Lion is a rare colour mutation species in the lion family. The DNA – recessive gene causes the colour of the lion range from blonde to near-white. These lions may live up to 20 years and weigh up to 250kg for males and 182kg for females. These lions spend up to 20 hours per day resting and the remaining time is left to feed or walk around.

white lionFemale White Lion. The male was sleeping somewhere.

Foreign Village

Later we walk up the Hill and reached Foreign Village. This area is divided into small areas like Petting Kingdom, Malayan House, Saddle Castle, Farm House and many more.

Here we interacted with animals like Llama white kangaroo, Alpaca, Llama not to mention ‘kampung’ geese!

Malayan-House

Malayan House – Replicating the Malaysian typical ‘kampung’ house environment.

geeseJust outside the Malayan House, we were able to see the ‘good old day’s’ animals which are not often seen in our concrete jungles.

llamaMe interacting with a Llama at Petting Kingdom.

Swiss-goatPretty Swiss goat at Farm House. It was smiling for the camera 🙂

cuddleAnother Swiss goat that likes to be petted.

horseYassin petting a horse.

And that was all. We did planned to go for the Night Jungle but after having dinner, Yassin fell asleep like a baby. We will take that trip another time as we got a set of free tickets for next visit.

If you like to visit Bukit Gambang Safari Park, here are some useful information:

Tickets:

Adults: RM38; Children: RM18 (with MyKad/MyKid)

Adults: RM68; Children: RM48 (without MyKad/MyKid)

* FREE Admission for children below the height of 90cm

Operating hours:

Daily operation hours: 2.00pm – 10.00pm daily

Night Jungle: 6.00pm – 10.00pm daily

Website: Bukit Gambang Safari Park

 

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Top 8 Tips on planning your first trip to Hong Kong Disneyland


I have been asked by few friends to share tips on how to plan the first trip to Hong Kong Disneyland. Here are my Top 8 tips I crafted from my experience for planning a Disneyland vacation, and related link to assist you:

hkdl

1. Read information about the resortHong Kong Disneyland is located on reclaimed land in Penny’s Bay, Lantau Island. The park consists of six themed areas: Main Street, U.S.A., Fantasyland, Adventureland, Tomorrowland, Grizzly Gulch and Toy Story Land. There are two themed hotels in the area: Disneyland Hotel and Disney’s Hollywood Hotel.

DH
Disneyland Hotel.

2. Where to stay – It is advisable that you stay at either Disneyland Hotel or Disney’s Hollywood Hotel for easy access to the parks. Shuttle bus is provided free to the parks. Click on hotel link to find out more about the room rates.

 

 tickets

3. How to get the tickets – If you stay at the above hotels, you can get the Room and 2-Day Ticket Package. Check out hotel offer to learn more. Else you can book 1-Day or 2-Day tickets online.

train

4. Disneyland Transportation – Hong Kong Disneyland is located on Lantau Island, and is accessible via an array of convenient transportation options. From the airport you can take taxi for HKD100 (four passengers). If you want to experience the MTR, take the Airport Express. Buy tickets for four at a discounted rate of HKD150. Get down at Tsing Yi and take the orange line to Sunny Bay. From SunnyBay, take the pink line to Disneyland. Alternatively you can take a bus from the airport to Tung Chung for HKD3.80 for adult and HKD1.50 for a child (concessionary). Buy tickets to Disneyland at Tung Chung station at HKD13.50 for adult and HKD6.00 for a child (concessionary). From Tung Chung you have to get down at Sunny Bay and take the train to Disneyland.

You do the math and see which is cheaper.

 pancakes

5. Disneyland Dining Plan – For Muslim,  Halal food is available at both hotels upon request and if you are not around the hotel, look for Tahitian Terrace located at Adventureland. Tahitian Terrace serves Singaporean Laksa Rice Noodle Soup, Black Lentil Set, Roasted Lemongrass Chicken Steak with Rice, Penang Fish Curry with Rice and Penang Fish Curry with Rice. All food served here are certified by The Incorporated Trustees of The Islamic Community Fund of Hong Kong.

Alternatively, you can also opt for fish, fries, tofu or vegetables at some of the restaurants available in the park. For buffet breakfast, the hotels normally have international meals like baked bean, bread, rice porridge, scramble egg, pancakes, waffles, etc for you to choose from.

paradestitch

6. Best Disneyland Attractions – Disneyland has a ton of attractions, and it is advisable that you take 2 days to explore all the theme parks. But if you have a 1-Day pass, here are some suggestions of what not to miss:

a) Flights of Fantasy Parade: Begins in Fantasyland, near the entrance of Storybook Theatre 3:30PM

b) “Disney in the Stars” Fireworks, Sleeping Beauty Castle, Main Street, U.S.A. 8:00PM

c) “The Golden Mickeys”, Fantasyland 12:30PM 1:45PM 4:00PM 5:00PM 6:15PM

d) Character greeting and photo opportunity: Main Street, U.S.A Town Square 10:00AM – 5:30PM, Fantasyland Fantasy Gardens 12:00PM – 6:30PM, Sleeping Beauty Castle 10:00AM – 5:30PM, Tomorrowland 10:30AM – 5:30PM, Toy Story Land 10:30AM – 6:00PM, Grizzly Gulch 10:30AM – 5:30PM.

e) Disney’s FASTPASS attractions: Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, Space Mountain, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Use your ticket to get a FASTPASS ticket located outside the attractions.

Please check the Daily Calendar to see if the timings are the same.

Please check the park map and print it out for your guide beforehand. Alternatively, you can get the park map from hotels or from the City Hall situated at Main Street USA.

shopping2

7. How much to bring for shopping – I spent about HKD1011 (Approximately RM405) to buy merchandise as below and hope this can be your guide of how much to bring for shopping:

a) Buzz Lightyear Sword – HKD125

b) Mickey Original T-shirt for adult – HKD205

c) Mickey T-shirt for kid – HKD195

d) Mickey T-shirt for baby – HKD168

e) Mickey 3D Pen – HKD38

f) Disneyland iPhone 4s casing – HKD150

g) Minnie Mouse Hair Clips – HKD50

h) Mickey Acrylic Keychains 4pcs – HKD80

 

8. What’s the weather like – It is important that you know the weather before packing for this trip. Here are list of seasons and the average temperature:

a) Spring (March to May) – Temperature and humidity are rising. Evenings can be cool. Average Temperature: 17oC – 26oC

b) Summer (June to August) – Hot, humid and sunny, with occasional showers and thunderstorms. The temperature can exceed 31°C but high humidity levels can make it feel even hotter. Average Temperature: 26oC – 31oC

c) Autumn (September to November) – There are pleasant breezes, plenty of sunshine and comfortable temperatures. Many people regard these as the best months of the year to visit Hong Kong. Average Temperature: 19oC – 28oC

d) Winter (December to February) – Cool, dry and cloudy, with occasional cold fronts. The temperature can drop below 10°C in urban areas. Average Temperature: 12oC – 20oC.

So there you go. Happy planning your visit to Hong Kong Disneyland!

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Disney’s Hollywood Hotel

This is the continuation from previous post.

Waking up Yassin was easy as I promised him the night before that he gets to go to swimming pool if he wakes up early. After taking shower, we went to Chef Mickey to have our international buffet breakfast. We had the usual; bread, eggs and what not. Chef Mickey was not in sight, we guess he was busy preparing breakfast.

chefmickey

After breakfast, we headed straight to the swimming pool. The water was warm and Yassin had a blast swimming and playing on the slide.

swim

After Yassin finished swimming, we went to the garden area to get some shots. And let me take this chance to show you around the hotel.

Disney’s Hollywood Hotel is one of two hotels at Hong Kong Disneyland Resort and it is themed to 1930s Hollywood. The hotel has 600 guestrooms each with the “garden view”, the “sea view” or the “park view” that overlooks the Hong Kong Disneyland Park.

DSC_0003

Decorations around the hotel include classic cars from the 1930s, a pavement decorated as a strip of film, names of roads and highways in California, the El Captain sign and even the ‘world famous’ “HOLLYWOOD HOTEL” sign.

 classiccar

hh

The hotel itself has a very art deco style, and is themed to the 1930 golden age of movies.

lobby

lift

There are five restaurants in the hotel. Chef Mickey (the main restaurant) has an international cuisine buffet, while Hollywood & Dine has quick-service food and beverages. Studio Lounge is a full-service bar with specialty drinks and snacks. The Sunset Terrace opens seasonally, with outdoor BBQ cuisine. The Piano Pool Bar sells drinks to guests sitting around a piano-shaped pool. The Piano Pool also has a side toddler pool, with a slide.

There’s a gift shop called Celebrity Gift that sells plush, toys, pins and stationeries near the lobby area.

As for its accommodation, Disney’s Hollywood Hotel offers A-List rooms. There are three captivating room types, each designed for the comfort of a family of four. Room types are according to outside view: Garden View, Sea View and Park View.

Amenities include one king-sized bed or two double beds in all rooms (non-smoking rooms available), flat-screen LCD TV, in-room high speed internet access, free wireless internet access at hotel lobby and dining locations, guest parking spaces, guest limousine service, in-room safe, cribs upon request, laundry and valet.

room2

coffee

toilet

toilet2

room3

Before we left the hotel, we did some shopping again at the Celebrity Gift shop. We took the shuttle bus and headed to Disney train station. We waved to the trees, the people, the hotel and everything we saw on the way to the station.
‘Goodbye Hong Kong Disneyland…until we meet again’ was our last words before setting our foot on the Disney train that took us to Tung Chung station.

Next post: My tips on how to plan for your trips to Hong Kong Disneyland!

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Art & Places: Whale and Dolphins Sculpture, KLCC Park

This Whale and Dolphins have always been intriguing to me. My son loves them and I bet other kids love them too!

whale01My son (right) and his cousin Idham admiring Whale and Dolphins.

whale
Whale up-close.

dolphins
Dolphins.

Whale and Dolphins were created by Australian sculptor, John Underwood in 1997. This multi-layered sculpture consists of a 6 meter high whale and two 2.5 metre dolphins. The concept reminds me of three dimensional topography charts.

One might be wondering why whale and dolphins? As a mother to a kid whose fascination with these animals is humongous, I think I know why Underwood built these animals here. Whale and dolphin can only be found in certain part of the world but certainly not in Malaysia. He is bringing these animals to the local kids in the form of art. This is to let kids appreciate both the animal and art. This sculpture will spark questions of where the animals came from, the taxonomy, the ecology, the evolution, anything there is to know about them. It is our duty to educate our kids about these animals and maybe someday we can take our kids to see the real ones around the world.

Bring your kids here to enjoy the shallow swimming pool while admiring great public art. Location: KLCC Park near Petronas Twin Towers, Kuala Lumpur. View map.

 

Some reference are from: Arcawam

 

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7 parks and gardens to visit with kids in KL

Parks and gardens can be magical places for kids. They offer kids the chance to be close to nature, to smell the fresh air, to enjoy the beautiful colors and best of all to just be themselves; run, jump and run some more!   I have some favourite parks and gardens in Kuala Lumpur (KL) that I have visited and below is a list of 7 parks and gardens that I like you to visit with your kids. A trip to the parks and gardens can open up a whole new world of nature appreciation.

PBG
Perdana Botanical Gardens.

1Perdana Botanical Gardens | Perdana Botanical Gardens has always been my top favourite spot with family. Sits on a sprawling 101 hectares of land right in the heart of the city, the 133 year-old park gives visitors the ambiance of being in a tropical rainforest. It has been the most popular public recreational park in Kuala Lumpur.

Take your kids here and learn the name of plants, trees and flowers with them. Walk (or ride on bicycle) on the trail with them and get that sweat out. Look up and see different kind of birds. Enjoy the train ride around the gardens with them. Let them be themselves at the playground. Visit the waterfall and get to see fish and insects. The activities and things to see here are endless. Visiting hours: Mondays to Sundays, 7am to 8pm. View map.

KLCC Park
KLCC Park.

2KLCC Park | The beautiful park is inspired by the talented Brazilian master of gardens, the late Roberto Burle Marx. Spread over 50-acres, here you can find combination of trees, shrubs, structures of cement, stones and wood as well as various water features not to mention elements of shapes. About 1900 indigenous trees and 66 species of palms have been planted at the park to encourage bio-diversity. Part of the park is also designed as haven for birds and other local faunas.

The main attraction for kids here are the playgrounds and children’s pool area. There are also public amenities such as shelters, benches, rest areas, drinking fountains, public toilets as well as 1.3 km jogging track encircling the park. The children’s playground opens everyday from 7am to 10pm and as for the children’s pool, it opens from 10am – 7.30pm during weekdays and 10am – 9.30pm during weekend and public holiday. It closes for maintenance on Monday. Please take note that only kids below 12 are allowed to use the play structures. Eating, drinking and smoking are also not allowed here else the guards will blow off their whistle. View map.

 Ecopark
KL Forest Eco Park.

3KL Forest Eco Park | KL Forest Eco Park is one of the oldest permanent forest reserve in the country.  It covers an area of approximately 11 hectares and is the only remaining tropical rainforest in the heart of the city of Kuala Lumpur. It was gazetted in 1906 and was formerly known as Bucket Weld Forest Reserve. In 1934, it was gazetted as a Wildlife Reserve and Bird Sanctuary. In 1950, a pristine section of about 5 hectares was gazetted as a Virgin Jungle Reserve.

KL Forest Eco Park functions as a Green Lung as well as a recreational area for city dwellers. Here you and your kids can see and learn names of the rich variety of flora that flourishes within the forest includes rare herbs, creepers, ferns, climbers and giant bamboo grasses. Visiting hours: 7.00am to 6.00pm daily including weekends and public holidays.  View map.

Titiwangsa

4Titiwangsa Park | Titiwangsa Park is a recreational park for family with a large lake as its main attraction. This 95 hectares park offers aquatic activities like boating and canoeing, two playgrounds areas for children, a remote control car track, horseback riding, football field, badminton court, tennis court, squash court, jogging tracks, cycling area, pavilion, food stalls, a stadium and golf-course. Visiting hours: Mondays to Sundays, 7am to 10pm. View map.

Butterfly Park
Butterfly Park.

5Butterfly Park | Butterfly Park is the largest butterfly garden in the world spanning over 80,000 sq ft of landscaped garden with over 5,000 live butterflies, exotic plants, butterfly-host plants and ferns. Contributing to Butterfly Park’s beautiful landscape is a uniquely designed hydro-pond built with a limestone path right in the centre. Other attractions here are Japanese koi fish, fresh water turtles, live insects and an insect museum where you and your kids can learn names of insect and butterfly species. There is also a nursery and breeding area for the butterflies as well as a souvenir shop near the exit selling local handicrafts, fridge magnets, t-shirts, caps, bags, framed butterflies and many more. Visiting hours: Mondays to Sundays, 7am to 10pm. View map.

Permaisuri lake
Permaisuri Lake Garden.

6Permaisuri Lake Garden | Taman Tasik Permaisuri is a recreational park that boasts a synthetic jogging track, reflexology walking path, topiary gardens, floral arch trellises, children’s playground, gazebos,man-made island, a variety of jogging routes, ornamental fountains, a 7-tiered flower terrace, a tropical flowers garden and a herb garden.

Nestled between the concrete jungle of Kuala Lumpur City Center and the many highways that serve this area, this park has a large catchment of residents staying around Cheras, Ampang, Bukit Jalil and adjacent neighborhoods. Visiting hours: Mondays to Sundays, 7am to 8pm. View map.

wonderland

7Science Wonderland | Located at National Science Center at Bukit Kiara, Science Wonderland is an educational park that encompasses all aspects of science, technology, innovation and nature. The wonderland consists of Focal Point, Activity Arena, Waterplaza, Interactive Zone, Subterranean Journey, Garden of Nature, Pocket Garden, Herb Garden, Aquatic Life and Pre-Historic Garden. Visiting hours: Mondays to Sundays, 9am to 5pm. View map.

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