Chiang Mai, the hidden gem in Thailand

Hello, I’m back!

It’s been a while since I have blogged, maybe I have very little to talk about, or perhaps just too lazy to ‘be in the moment’ and document things a little lesser. Either WAY, I’m back – and fresh from a family vacation to Northern Thailand, Chiang Mai.

Traveling from anywhere in Asia, Chiang Mai is a great short weekend destination, and definitely have tons to offer. Here is a short guide on how you can spend 3 days in Chiang Mai at ease.

#Traveltips : Do go on a weekend, as I loveeee the Sunday Night Market. 1.5km of markets with very unique, different things to see, buy and eat.

There are tons of markets in  Chiang Mai, but most isn’t really worth the time (yes, I went to a few for a peek but to no satisfaction post going to the night market!).

Day 1 : Arrived in time for lunch or dinner, and fit in the night market! Wonderful place to eat, shop, and experience!

Day 2 : Start in the center – walk around the old town and you will be seeing temples after temples..but probably not all in 1 day! (You can, but it might be really tiring and you miss the little things that makes each unique!)

Day 3 : Take an excursion outside the city! We chose an Elephant sanctuary tour to get close to elephants without harming them in the making. Avoid riding them!!!! *check it out on Klook, or there are plenty of travel sites that offers them.

Day 4 :Back to temple time and go up the famous Doi Suthep! On a good day, you should be able to see the entire city pretty clearly. If you are into a good view, head up there!

I’ll be adding more details around each individual day and amazing food we have tried and tested, so check out my other posts on Chiang Mai!

Love,
Alyvds

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Matsusaka beef : Matsusakagyu Yakiniku M, Osaka

Anyone who knows me knows I’m a big foodie, and visiting Japan definitely satisfy much of that!

Two years back, I have made a trip to Kobe to experience the hyped Kobe beef, and the hype was indeed true. This time around, we set our goals to try out Matsusaka – the Japanese black beef, to see if we need a pitstop to Kobe. Boy, we were not disappointed. In fact, it was so great, that we did it twice!

We picked Matsusakagyu Yakiniku M, and picked the platters to share.

We chose the platter for tasting with 6 different parts that comes with vegetables as well.

Firstly, to grill the wonderful meat and vegetables, we use the fats for Matsusaka beef.

Amazing food in the making.
The garlic rice was awesome. Really simple, and great.

To mix it a little, we ordered the Japanese Black pork as well. It’s pretty good but no match for our love of Matsusaka beef.

Japanese black pork.

The room (all dining are private) was really small, so unfortunately the moment we ask if there was any table – the waiter eye us from top to bottom. We were lucky we fit the bill.

The second time, we visited the branch –  .We ordered the same platter, but with a few different parts in it. Just as good, just as fatty(the right amount) and delicious.

Their Yuzu sherbet was also really delicious, and I completely forgot about my reservation note – to celebrate my Mum’s birthday. The waitress came in with an awesome birthday cake/dessert – and made that day a really special evening.

Top notch on the services, and food – amazing and memorable.

#Traveltips : Make reservation to avoid disappointment ; because despite having quite a few branches, each can accommodate perhaps not more than 10 groups of guest.

Check them out : http://www.matsusaka-projects.com/english/
Price :~ 15,000 -20,000 yen per person.
Ambience : Cosy 
Rating : 4.8/5.0

Cheers,
Alyvdseats

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Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan

On the last day of our Japan trip this year, we have a good half day to kill. I have always been a huge fan of Aquarium, and Osaka’s Kaiyukan is something special.

We took a short boat ride from Universal Studio via the Captain Line, and the ticket was slightly reduced when purchasing it with the Kaiyukan’s entrance fee.

The moment we enter, we were greeted by a beautiful walkway; tunnel-shaped tank with amazing rays and fishes.

Next, we took a quick escalator, going all the way up to the top, and move your way down slowly. Firstly, we saw the Japanese forest and see some of the tiny small-clawed otters, salamanders and crabs- before moving down towards the jewel of the aquarium.

The beauty. Star of the Aquarium.

From sea otters, seals, sea lion, capybara, penguins, to whale sharks. WHALE SHARKS!!!! The aquarium is definitely amazing to walk around , and the interactive exhibits was great for kids and adults(yes, touching sharks and rays, seeing ringed seals so close – that was amazing!!).

It takes a good 2 hours around the aquarium on a weekday ; possibly a little more over the weekend. I’ll definitely come back again in the future!

Look at Patrick Star~~~

#Traveltips : There are tons of luggage storage locker ( cost 700 yen for a big one) so it is quite convenient to make this our last stop before flying! Bigger and easier storage would be the ones before entering the aquarium outside the souvenir store.

Check them out : http://www.kaiyukan.com 

Location : 1-1-10 Kaigandori, Minato-ku, Osaka City 552-0022

Hours : 10.00am – 8.00 pm
Fee : 2,300 yen for adults, 1,200 for kids.
         2,700 yen with Captain Line ferry ride ,  one-way

Cheers,
Alyvds

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#easyrecipe | Fried noodles with scallops

So happy to be back in the kitchen after eating out a lot these few weeks. I usually improvise with what I have in the fridge, so here goes – a simple recipe for fried Mee Sua (it’s healthier than yellow noodles, and the texture are pretty good in soup or dry) with scallops or any seafood you like!

I’ve prepared the ingredients as below, and you can start cooking from clockwise.

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Use the ingredients from clockwise.
  1. Heat the oil, and lightly fried the onions. Next, add in the corns as it takes longer to soften. The mushroom goes next, as it gives up quite some water into the mix which helps getting everything cooked evenly.
  2. Add in a pinch of salt, tiny pinch of garlic powder to the mix, and let it cook for 3 minutes.
  3. Add in the vegetables (kai lan in my case) and 1 spoon of oyster sauce and mix well.
  4. Toss in the scallops, and flip it around for another 3 minutes or when the color and texture changes.
  5. Add in the egg(s), and break it under low heat, before adding in the noodles.
  6. Stir and cook for another 3 minutes, and it’s ready to serve. Quick and easy!
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Walah~ simply fried Mee Sua.

#Cookingtips 1 -Make sure the heat is maxed when add in vegetables – as some vegetables on low heat may give up a bitter taste.

#Cookingtips 2- Cook the noodles in boiling water separately for 3 minutes before running it under cold water to remove the powdered taste from the noodles that would add thickness to the sauce. It helps to give it a more chewy structure as well.

Enjoy~!

Love,
MiniChefAlyvds

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Tendon Itsuki | Singapore

Fancy some great tendon ?  You don’t have to go all the way to Japan for it! Ginza Tendon Itsuki ; one of the best tempura place I’ve had in Singapore situated at the friendly Tanjong Pagar.

There are only 2 mains on their menu, the Specials and the Vegetarian.

Specials : 2 juicy chicken breast, 2 big prawns, with assorted vegetables.
I think you know what’s in the vegetarian option.

 

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The set comes with Chawanmushi, Miso soup, and unlimited vegetables. Green tea is amazing here!
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Chef at work~
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The star of the show~!

The art of eating at this place .. #FoodieTips

  1. You have tons of time to queue, otherwise good luck! (Go early, like 11.30am for lunch of 5.30pm for dinner. You would probably make it in time into the restaurant but they won’t take you without a full party)
  2. You don’t need to be anywhere else, because you smell like what you eat. Oil!!!  *they do provide Febreeze at the cashier counter,if it helps*
  3. They only accept cash – so don’t go without!  

PS : If you are still hungry (highly unlikely), head across the street for some Korean Bingsu (more to come about that)!

Ginza Tendon Itsuki
101 Tanjong Pagar Rd, 088522
Hours: 11:30AM–2:30PM, 5:30–10PM
Price : $$

Cheers,
Hungry Alyvds

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Wildlife spotting along Kinabatangan | Sandakan

Continuing our experience in Sabah with an amazingly easy and rewarding trip to Sandakan. (Check out Kota Kinabalu  too! )

I would say it is one of the best wildlife spotting experience I have ever had, thanks to an amazing group of guides( ours called Lat!) that went above and beyond to ensure we have the most memorable trip.

First and foremost, we start our trip at the conservatory for both Orang Utan, learnt a little about Sepilok’s conservation efforts and Orang Utan’s characteristics, and move on to the Sun Bear Conservatory, which was right next door.

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Wonderful orang utan in action! @sepilok – before going to Kinabatangan
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Wonderful, tiny little sun bear!

It was a pleasant ride the whole way with active engagement and funny facts and encounters from the guides. Onward, to the real deal.

We stayed at a lodge along the Kinabatangan river. The stay, experience and meal are all inclusive, and we went out on boats 3 times a day.

We saw tons of proboscis monkey, macaws, hornbills, wild Orang Utan (believe it or not , it is not the easiest thing to spot in the wild !) , different species of birds, crocodiles and snakes hanging above our head during our boat tours, and more. Wild boars running around the lodge area, as well as tree frogs on our door frame.

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Wild boar alert ! found during lunch~

You can say the whole thing was pretty WILD, and we love it. (shame that we were a little too far from the pgymy elephants 🙁 but someday I might return! )

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Spotting reptiles and birds along the river
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Quick stop to enjoy birds flying around us with a cuppa and biscuits…7am in the morning~
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Dominant male Orang Utan spotted in the jungle. #raresight
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Proboscis monkey, Proboscis monkey everywhere!
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A lucky still of a speedy Kingfisher!
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Its brown, but its rich!
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A misty morning at the lodge.

#TravelTips : Mosquito repellent (obviously) and binocular is a must! Pack light, and forget about snacks – you will be well fed if you are on the tour!

It was an unforgettable, easy trip that went above my expectations, so long you aren’t bothered by wildlife, mosquitoes, and none-ACed room

#TravelTips : Sandakan have this really unique Seafood Bak Kut Teh, so I’ll definitely be back for that!

Price per adult : ~RM 1700 (3D2N itinerary)
For more adventures , check this out!

Cheers,
AdventureAlyvds

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Kota Kinabalu | Island hopping

My in-laws were in town for about 2 weeks. This time around, Stef and I would liked to show them the beauty of Malaysia. We have decided to do a trip to Kota Kinabalu for the islands, Sandakan for the wildlife, and Kuantan – my home sweet home for a quick stroll. #visitmalaysia

First stop: Singapore – Kota Kinabalu

It was easy to get around Kota Kinabalu, taxi was cheap – and getting to the islands are super convenient. We walk to the Jetty from our hotel ; and chose Sapi Island for day 1.

Sapi Island was beautiful. The boat ride was slightly disappointing looking at the amount of rubbish and plastic bottles along the way , but the island itself was beautiful with pristine water.

There wasn’t too many shades, and the bigger part of the island was closed off. However, the snorkeling experience was breath-taking.


Day 2 : We chose Manukan island, and the cost and time took to the island was similar ( #Traveltips : there are no set pricing for the boat rides, so prepare to negotiate slightly below ticket price if you wish )

Manukan island is slightly more touristy as there are resorts on the island with better facilities in general. The beaches are nice, and I personally preferred the private beach as it is more beautiful to snorkel in. (#Traveltips : Beware of sea urchins, they are big and everywhere)

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It was easy and relaxing if you are en route to something else like climbing the mount KK or wildlife spotting.

Boat ride : RM 25 per person
Snorkel set : RM 20 per set
Conservation fee : RM 30 (you can go multiple islands with it )

#TravelTips : Haggle! Costing of boat ride dependent on your negotiation skills, but it’s not too much anyway.

Love,
TrippinAlyvds

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Rawa Island

For our annual company trip, #hootcamp, and this year it was at the wonderful Rawa Island, 30 minutes boat ride off Messing. I have been to plenty of islands in Malaysia, and this is definitely one of my favorite.

Let’s not talk about the journey to get there, as whatever that might be, pleasant or not ; it’s totally worth it once you’re there!

The island itself is small, with only two resorts ; one family friendly, the other party-animal friendly. We stayed at the family friendly one of course ( it looks much nicer and the food was amazing – check below for a variety )

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A whole lot of goodness!

The water was pristine, slides are super fun, and you can get amazing thai massages there ( it’s a must do!). There are peacocks everywhere and a resident beagle that is super adorable and friendly at parties.  Plenty of hammocks and beach chairs by the beach as well.

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#nofilter #noedit
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The gorgeous fun slide on the left~!

You can hike around the island in less than 30 minutes, but be prepared to go up hill quite a bit to see the full view of some island in the vicinity.

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The climb was worth it!

The favorite part of my trip was simply the snorkeling experiences. I can literally sit down on the ground, wear my goggles, and see fishes swimming around me. That’s how clear and how healthy the corals are. I did about 2 hours of snorkeling sessions too and spotted tons of amazing clams, sea cucumbers, corals, and fishes.  My only regret was that I did not bring an underwater camera to show what I mean.

The theme of the party was #pinktropics ; so the photos are amazing (all without any filter).Sunset was beautiful from the deck tucked along the hiking trail too. It was a great place to bond, simple and not overly luxurious – which makes it suitable for a quick getaway.

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Sunset from the deck~!

All and all, it was only a short trip from Singapore, and definitely a place I would revisit!

Cheers,
Sun-kissedAlyvds

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