Thursday, 31 October 2013

Our search for wedding videographer

Hubby initially thought it's okay that there's no videographer for our actual day wedding. But no! I want! Because I wanna see how my hubby 'perform' during the gate crashing. I already think I will feel very left out and lonely waiting in the room, so how can I miss his 'performance'! Lol *evil grin*

After watching many wedding videos and contacting a few shortlisted ones, we settled for Forest Productions.

Forest told us that they can secure the date for us only after they receive a deposit. As we are overseas, we can't meet up with them now. We are afraid it might be too late to secure the date when we are back in Singapore, so we paid the deposit since we have already seen a few of their videos and are quite firm in engaging their services.

Hmm, but we are a bit unhappy now. Before we paid the deposit, they are fast, prompt and friendly in responding to our emails. So we thought 'their customer service not bad eh'.

But after we paid the deposit, their reply became slower. For example, they promised to email me once they received my deposit via bank transfer, but they didn't until I emailed them to ask again. They also said they will send me the receipt by that week. But again, they didn't. I waited for a few days after that week before sending an email to them again to ask for the receipt.

We feel there's different attitude before and after paying the deposit so we are a bit worried about their service standards now.

Anyway, I will post my experience after I meet up with them when we are back in Singapore.

Hope all will be well~

Monday, 28 October 2013

Conversation with hubby..

Hubby: Jia, next time in our Seng Kang 乐乐窝, we also cook our dinner at home okay?

Me: Huh? Go back Singapore, I need to work, how to cook? By the time I squeeze the stupid MRT, reach home already 7 plus liao. Then take out the meat to thaw and cook, you wanna eat supper instead of dinner is it? Aiya, Singapore not like here ma, Singapore everywhere also can find hawker center, just buy lor, easier.

Hubby: ...

Me: Ohh!

Hubby: What?!

Me: Unless I dun need work in Singapore, then I cook for you la. Like here, I can thaw the meat at 4, start preparing at 5 plus and have dinner at 6 plus.

Hubby: No! You have to work in Singapore.

Me: Okay, then cannot cook lor.

Hubby: We cook during weekends?

Me: Weekends meet up with friends, go back parents house, family gathering. 2 days very fast over liao lor. Where will have time to cook?

Hubby: ...

That's the reality.. :'(

How we cook Laksa.. Success!

Yeah! We tried cooking Laksa using the Singapore Laksa packet we bought in Brussels.

- Singapore Laksa packet
- 300grams of prawns
- Fish cake
- Bean sprouts
- 2 hard-boiled eggs
- Tau Kua (Beancurd)
- 300ml of coconut milk
- 250ml of prawn stock

1. Boil the prawns. Take out the prawns when it's cooked and keep the prawn stock for later use.

2. Prepare coconut milk with the coconut milk powder. We could only find packet of coconut milk powder here so need to prepare the coconut milk ourselves lo.

3. In a pot, add some oil and fry with the Singapore Laksa packet paste for about 3 mins.

4. Add the coconut milk and the prawn stock. Got some Laksa feel already.

5. Add bean sprouts, tau kua, fish cake and egg. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 mins. Then, add in the prawns.
We couldn't find tau pok here, so used tau kua as substitute.

6. Pour the Laksa stock over the noodles and it's done!
We used spaghetti instead of the thick bee hoon because we couldn't find it here. Verdict is thick bee hoon is definitely many times nicer and suitable for Laksa. Spaghetti with Laksa is a bit weird.

Yums! We are so proud of our final product, though the credit should go to the Laksa packet. Lol..

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

24 Hours in Romantic Paris..

Arrived at Paris Charles De Gaulle Airport and took the RER B train to Gare Du Nord station. The journey was around 30 mins and cost 9.50 Euros per person one way. Hmm, another expensive city.

Public Transport
Public transport in Paris is quite difficult to understand. It took us a while to know that not all the lines on the map are Metro lines. The lines can be for Metro, trams or train, differentiated by colors, numbers and thickness of the lines on the map. And one station can be so big that we walked like 10 mins in order to change from one line to another.

The single trip ticket in Paris is not as expensive as London. One trip within the Paris city is 1.70 Euros. If you are confident that you and your travel mates will take 10 trips in Paris, you can buy a bundle of 10 tickets at 13.30 Euros. We bought the 10 tickets bundle and saved some money.

Beautiful both at night and in the day, but it was much more romantic at night. I love the night view of Louvre more. What about you?

How can I not have a romantic photo at the Louvre

Arc De Triomphe
Arc De Triomphe is actually in the middle of a super big roundabout, located at the end of the shopping street, Avenue des Champs Elysees. It's big, but that's about it.

Saw the building of LV along the shopping street

Eiffel Tower
Another famous attraction not to miss when in Paris. Again, I think Eiffel is prettier and more romantic at night. You can actually go up to the top of the Eiffel Tower to have a panoramic view of Paris at 14.50 Euros per pax. Otherwise, can also choose to just go up to level 1 or level 2 of the Eiffel Tower at a cheaper price. But the queue was super long when we were there. Considering we only have a day in Paris, we gave that a miss.

Beautiful bridge
Not sure what is this bridge. But it's pretty, so took pics lor. The interesting thing about the bridge is that the 4 golden angels at the top of each column are different. Their poses are different and they are also holding different things.

Montmartre, Sacre Coeur
To get to Montmartre via public transport, alight at Anvers Metro station and follow the signs to "Butte Montmartre". There's a flight of steps to climb to get to Sacre Coeur. Alternatively, there's a funiculare to ferry people up to Sacre Coeur. Ticket for the funiculare is the single ticket used for Paris public transport.

Sacre Coeur is a beautiful church built on the hill of Montmartre. At the foot of the church, we could see the city view of Paris, but it's the not so nice view of Paris. To view the Eiffel Tower and the beautiful part of Paris city, we had to pay a fee of 6 Euros per person to go up to the church. So we the 'giam giam' couple, didn't get the super nice view lor as we dun wanna pay money. Lol.

These are the steps to climb to get to Sacre Coeur. If lazy, just take the funiculare la. We took the funiculare up and walked down. The steps are broad and thin, quite easy to climb actually. Lol.

The not so nice view of Paris, looks like the industrial and residential estate, can't see Eiffel Tower :( 

Sacre Coeur front view.

And our day at Paris had to end. It's time to catch the RER B train to airport. It was really squeezy and scary during the peak hours, the situation was worse than Singapore's. People will squeeze and push just to get into the train, my feet dun even have space to put properly and my body was literally lying on someone else. That's how bad it was. Not to mention that we still gotta keep checking our pocket, bags and wallets to ensure our valuables were intact. We are now very careful about pickpockets after hubby's phone was picked in Milan Metro. It's so stressful and suffocating throughout the whole journey. Okay, I get to appreciate taking public transport during peak hours in Singapore more, I just hoped Singapore dun get worse and please dun reduced to this state.

Anyway, 24 hours in Paris is definitely not enough la! This time really just 走马看花. We decided to add a day in Paris in our itinerary because the flight back from London to Milan was so expensive that it was cheaper if we took the flight from London to Paris and then Paris back to Milan. That's why we so rush lor.

Next time if I have the chance to visit Paris again, I wanna go Palace of Versaille, heard it's very beautiful, watch a Moulin Rouge show, eh, think the show KIV first because the price scares me, and of course, the magical Disneyland!

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

A rushed weekend trip in London

The trip started with beautiful scenery when we were on the plane.

We were admiring the scenery and I got quite emotional, when I saw how beautiful the world was. Somehow, I just thought how nice would it be if everyone could enjoy this beautiful world peacefully, freely and happily. No evil thoughts, no killings, no restrictions whatsoever. Anyway, after a while, my mind wandered off and I suddenly got an idea, which when I told my hubby, he said I am silly Jia. I want my ashes to be spread in the Alps after I die, because I really love snow capped mountains leh.

Anyway, when we arrived at London Luton airport, we took the airport transfer, National Express, to London Central. The cost is 10 pounds per person one way for the 1 hour journey.

We alighted at the Baker Street stop and took the famous London Underground Tube to our hotel. We booked the Ibis hotel which was located just beside Wembley stadium as it was cheap, only around 70 Euros per night for a double room. We couldn't find any hotel or hostel at this price in London central area on that weekend night.

London Underground 
We have heard about London Underground but it's our first time seeing and taking it. Erm, to be frank, it's quite different from what we thought it would be. The shape of the Underground Tube was quite cute, it really looked like a tube, round round. But it was not spacious nor modern, and the lights in the Tube would go on and off at times. The most shocking thing we saw was sparks on the railway tracks when the Tube left a station! Initially I thought there're people taking photos with flash in the station, but no, it's sparks ignited from the railway tracks like a bolt of lightning in the tunnel. Initially we were quite scared, but after a while, we got used to it because we saw the sparks quite often, so it should be safe la.

Inside the Underground Tube

View of the Underground Tube from outside.

There's another type of tube, the Overground Tube, which travels above ground. These are more spacious and modern.

Travel Tip: Oyster Card
If you are going to take public transport in London, you must have an Oyster card. Buying the single ticket can easily cost you 4+ pounds for one short journey. But if you use the Oyster card, one journey is only 2+ pounds, around 40% savings.

The best thing about the Oyster card is the daily cap. For example, if you only travel within zone 1 and 2 on a particular day, the daily cap is 7 pounds. Once you traveled up to 7 pounds that day, your subsequent rides will be free, provided all your rides traveled are also within zone 1 and 2. We kept taking the Tube and bus to travel around London to save our walking time and we hit the cap, so our subsequent rides were free! Yeah! I love this system. Lol.

The Oyster card requires a deposit of 5 pounds which will be returned to you when you return the card at the information counter of any Tube station. Click here for details on the Oyster Card.

Tower Bridge
We visited the beautiful Tower Bridge on the first night. Love the night view of the Tower Bridge. It's so spectacular. And that's the moon at the top right hand corner of the photo.

Free Walking Tour
The next morning, it was cold, rainy and grey. We braved the rain and followed the free walking tour which started at the Wellington Arch at Hyde Park Corner and walked all the way to the end point at the Houses of Parliament. We regretted taking the walking tour because there's not enough time for us to take photos at the attractions covered by the walking tour.

Though the guide was diligent in giving us the history and background of London and the monuments we visited, he was too detail and long-winded in some aspects, like giving a super detail account on how traitors were being tortured and executed in the old days. Erm. We were standing in the rain with cold winds blowing while listening to his story, and that made the walking tour even less enjoyable. Anyway, if you are interested, click here for the website of the free walking tour.

Here are a few photos we took during the walking tour.

Wellington Arch

Our free walking tour guide 

Buckingham Palace

Queen Victoria

I dunno what is this..

London Eye at the back

Elizabeth Tower & the Big Ben

Side door of Westminister Abbey. We didn't walk to the front door. The guide told us that it was beautiful inside, but it was closed when we were there on Sunday. 

How could we not take photos with the red telephone booth..

And the London cab.. Harry Potter somemore.. Lol..

Natural Science Museum
That afternoon we went to visit the Natural Science Museum. It's a good place to shelter us from the rain and most importantly, it's free entrance. So happy! The museum was interesting, exhibiting how the solar system was formed, how Earth was formed, how life came about, the precious minerals in the Earth and many more. We could not finish the museum that afternoon, it's so big! There're many other museums such as the Science museum, Victoria and Albert museum in that area. I think even if we spend one full day there, we also won't be able to finish the museums. But I would love to visit the Science museum the next time if I will be and have time in London again.

To get to the museums, take the Tube and alight at South Kensington station. Then follow the signs and walk to the museum you wanna visit.

Nice design. The beginning part of the museum on how the Earth was formed.

Out of the museum, we walked around and saw these buildings.

Royal Albert Hall. Looks grand.

Across the road from the Royal Albert Hall, we saw this. At first glance, we thought it was a Thai temple. Lol.

Kensington Palace. Eh, dun look like a palace to me. It just look like a rich man's house at most.

Watching Musical 
Seems like the one thing that one must do when in London is to watch a musical with discounted ticket! I love the word 'discounted'. Lol! At Leicester Square, there were many booths selling discounted tickets. I guessed we bought them quite late that day, there're not much choices left for us and the price was also not very discounted at 39 pounds a ticket for the musical 'Dirty Dancing'.

The musical was quite nice. Other than singing, there's dancing too. Photography was not allowed in the theatre. Hubby took a quick pic of the theatre during the intermission and was warned by the staff. Anyway, we were quite hungry while watching the show, but we dun wanna spend pounds to buy food from the bar so we ate bananas that we brought during the intermission lol. Quite a nice experience to have banana in London musical theatre! Wahaha.

After watching the musical, we roamed around Picadilly Circus.

London Chinatown is very near to Picadilly. Still 中秋节 mood lol.. 

Oh. Nearly forgot to mention. We tried our luck for London To-to at Ladbrokes.

The name not auspicious leh. We were really broke in the end.

Just a weekend at London is definitely not enough, and the weather sort of dampen our spirits. Would love to spend more time here if hubby was able to get longer leave. We haven visit the outskirts of London such as Stonehenge, Windsor castle, Greenwich etc, we heard from friends that these places are worth a visit. If I happen to be in London again in future, these will definitely be on my list!

Thanks for reading. Going to Paris next.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Foodie in London..

Before going to London, I was told that everything was so expensive in London, including food. So I searched through the net, hoping to find some cheap and yummy eats recommended by bloggers or Tripadvisor, and there're some hits and misses.

1. Bone Daddies Ramen Bar
Found this from a blogger's post and we were expecting a really yummy ramen, comparable to those we had in Singapore. We ordered the Shoyu ramen and the Tonkotsu ramen.

Shoyu Ramen

Tonkotsu Ramen 

Verdict? Hmm.. The ramen looked good when they were served but we were quite disappointed when we tasted it. The noodles, cha shu and the tamago eggs were good. It's the soup that disappointed us. The soup of the shoyu ramen was too salty, while the soup of the tonkotsu ramen lacked the rich aroma and fragrance of  the pork bone stock. The texture of the soup was also too sticky, not as smooth as we hoped it would be. Personally, I think the most important factor for a good ramen is the soup. Oh, it's also not quite the kind of ramen we had in Singapore. It has some additional ingredients. For example, there's some raw green leafy vegetables and diced onions in the shoyu ramen.

With the price of 9 pounds for the shoyu ramen and 11 pounds for the tonkotsu ramen, I would say it's not expensive for London standard. So if you would just like to have some hot ramen soup in the cold weather, it's still a nice place to go. One thing to note, the ramen stall is always queuing. We were there at 4 plus in the afternoon and we still queued for 15 mins.

2. Four Seasons Chinese Restaurant
This restaurant was famous for its roast duck, and for us who missed Chinese food so much, we definitely couldn't miss it. We ordered the roast duck and Cha Siew (Chinese BBQ pork). We wanted to order the roast meat too but it was sold out. Sad..

Four seasons' roast duck definitely live up to its name! It was super delicious. The skin was crispy and the fats melted in my mouth. Yums. Very sinful but heavenly. The Cha Siew was also super yummy, the meat was tender and flavourful. The sauce, we could eat the rice just with the sauce. It's a pity that the roast meat was sold out as I think it should be super yummy too. In my opinion, the standard of the roast duck and Cha Siew are hard to find even in Singapore. Oh my! I am drooling.

It has 3 branches in London. One is near the Bayswater tube station and two in London Chinatown. We went to one of the Four Seasons in Chinatown.

3. Gerrard's Corner Restaurant
We didn't plan to have any meals here. We just stumbled upon this restaurant after meeting hubby's friend in Chinatown. It turned out the dim sum was really delicious and authentic!

Lor mai kai, cheong fun, dou hua, fried carrot cake in this picture. We also ordered xiao long bao, egg tart, feng zhua etc. But when the food came, we were too excited and forgot to take pics. Haha..

Look at the oozing salted egg.. Long time no see such 正宗的流沙包!

4. Holmes Fish and Chips
This stall was like a 黑店 (a stall that cheat $$). We decided to try a plate of fish and chips here because it was raining outside and we saw the price stated on the board outside the shop had a promotion for baby cod and chips for 5.50 pounds. The fish and chips was just average. But what really pissed us off was when we made the payment, we were charged 8.60 pounds. The boss insisted that we ordered regular fish and chips instead of the baby cod. Okay, even so, from the price list, large fish and chips costs 6.70 Euros. I dun  understand how it came up to 8.60 Euros. All the boss did was act blur and didn't even bother to explain to us. Okay, we were lazy to argue with them. We got a bus to catch to go to the airport. So, my advice is totally boycott this shop.

That's all for the food we had in London. Look out for the next post, our London trip!