Thursday, 4 December 2014

12 hours in Yokohama, Japan (What to do in Yokohama?)

Thursday, 4 December 2014
Away from the busy streets in Tokyo, Yokohama proves to be soothing to the mind and soul (I guarantee ;)). I highly recommend a day trip here for those that plan a visit to Tokyo for more then 4-5 days. Easily top one of my favourite places for families and couples alike, let me take you through what you can do in 12h! 
Tokyo has an extensive metro line which makes traveling very convenient (though super pricey imo). Taking the JR line to "Shin-Yokohama" station, our first stop was to visit the Ramen Museum located here!
After several attempts with the selfie stick, a group of handsome Japanese boys offered to take our picture hehehe *blush*
1) Shinyokohama Raumen Museum
From Shin-Yokohama, walk straight after you exit and cross a long bridge to reach the ramen museum (Takes about 10-15mins with several turns). Do ask for directions at the station! They will give you a map that leads you there.
Tickets for the entrance are rather cheap so don't fret about it if you're traveling on a budget ;)
Basement of the Ramen Museum where there are tons of ramen shops featuring the best ramen from all over Japan! Be sure to come here with an empty stomach as there are tons of shops to choose from (We were spoilt for choice seriously)
From the list of shops available from the map, we chose the miso based ramen (craving for something salty that day) and I ordered the small bowl (570yen=~SGD$6) without meat. Boy was I not disappointed. The soup was calling out for me and I finished it before I had half my noodles LOL.
Would recommend you guys to order the small bowl and not be greedy cos you can always go another shop and try another delicious bowl (the choices are endless).

The Yokohama Ramen Museum is a must-visit for all the hungry ramen lovers. Not so much a "museum" one would expect (There wasn't much history or educational stuff around) but just different ramen shops around. However, the whole place is situated in an old Japan environment, which means you'll be stepping into a different era that will blow your mind (great for pictures too).

Address: 2-14-21 Shinyokohama, Kohoku Ward, Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture 222-0033, Japan
Opening Hours: 11am to 10pm

2) Chinatown
From the Ramen Museum, our next stop was to visit Chinatown, a place Yokohama was pretty famous for (Having a large number of Chinese-Japanese residing here).
Compared to the Chinatown we have in Singapore (being Asian and Chinese myself), I was honestly not too impressed. But for those who are interested in the Chinese culture, you'll be happy to know that there are lots of large bold majestic buildings everywhere that are good for photo taking ;)
And because Japanese make everything about them (especially their food) seem nicer, there were lots to see and eat even for an asian like myself HAHA.
You can find thrift shops, hand painting, name painting and all sorts of Chinese food and handicrafts here! 
We didn't stay that long (snapped some pictures, visited Daiso for a snack) and we left to our next destination. Estimated time needed for Chinatown will probably be about an hour or so.
If you're in a mad rush for time, you can skip this place completely. However, it is not that far from the other "must visit" attractions here in Yokohama so squeezing in a 45 mins walk around Chinatown will be perfect^^
From the Ramen Museum, ask them for directions to Chinatown, they will give you a map (or you can just snap a picture of it).

Address: Yamashitacho, Naka-ku Yokohama City
Opening Hours: 10am to 8pm
Directions: Shinyokohama Station --> Kikuna Station (Change train here) --> Motomachi-chukagai Station (Total 21 mins)

3) Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse
We decided to walk from Chinatown towards the Red Brick Warehouse. The walk takes about 20-30 mins (we stopped for pictures) and the view in front of us was just amazing and so worth it.
Yokohama is the second largest city by population followed by Tokyo and it developed rapidly as Japan's prominent port city following the end of Japan's relative isolation in the mid-19th century, and is today one of its major ports (credits: Wikipedia)
So with the help of google maps, we arrived at the Red Brick Warehouse! It is not a mini shopping area inside as well as a boutique hotel at the opposite side. It is near the port so you can see lots of ships/boats around! Bought a pretty Yokohama badge as a souvenir over here hehehe <3
Perfect for all you #ootd people too LOL
The rest of the remaining day was left to explore Yokohama (We followed the direction of the big ferris wheel) and ended up at the theme park! The ferris wheel lights up beautifully at night and there were so many pretty buildings around. Felt a little like Singapore's CBD at night <3

4) Shinagawa
We left Yokohama around 730pm and headed towards Shinagawa station for dinner. 
This is such an amazing sushi joint. Everything on their conveyor belt cost only 100 yen (SGD$1.20) and I really mean everything :O Of course, don't compare their sushi with those you tried at Tsujiki Fish Market (that is another level all together) but for the price, this is A M A Z I N G.
Just take a look at their extensive 100 yen menu. Of course, expect to wait for at least 15-30 mins. We arrived around 8-ish and waited for around 20 mins before we got our seat. When you arrive, you'll see lots of people queueing outside/inside. Proceed inside and ask for a queue number first before queueing! For the whole extensive menu do check out:

Address: Japan, 〒108-0075 Tokyo, Minato, Konan, 2−17−1, 京王品川ビル2F
Opening Hours: 11am-1045pm
Station: Kitashinagawa Station

This is the chronological order of how I planned my day at Yokohama (and Shinagawa) but of course you're free to change it however you want! If Yokohama isn't on your list, you should still visit a Kura Sushi joint if possible. Great for those traveling on a budget.


Tuesday, 7 October 2014

A Cat Village named Houtong 猴硐

Tuesday, 7 October 2014
In the midst of trying to clear all my back dated travel adventures as more people are asking me about the places I've been to in Taiwan! It seems as though Taiwan is becoming a very popular destination for eh? Hahahaha its a good choice choosing Taiwan! I've been here for 6 months now and I haven't regretted my decision yet (hopefully not anytime soon cos I still have 3 months left HAHA) 

Been to Houtong 猴硐 some time back when I was traveling around Taipei (North part of Taiwan) as I heard it was a cat village! When I was in Japan this August, I heard a lot about cat cafes but never visited one cos it was pretty expensive. I think a visit can cost up to 3500-5000Yen (SGD$40-60) including food as the money is used to maintaining their cats! If I'm not a student traveling on a budget I probably would have paid to play with the little kitties <3

So anyway, back to Houtong (got this bad habit of drifting HAHA) where it's a pretty reasonable price to pay for a train ticket from Taipei Main Station to Houtong Station. I can't remember the exact cost but it was anywhere around 50-70NT (SGD$2-4)! Many people will take Houtong as a stop over destination before visiting Shifen 十分 (the place where you release the lanterns) as it is on the way!
 We were greeted by lazy cats sleeping and lying around as we exited the station
 Doesn't he look a bit like Garfield?
 Idk but this kitty looks scared to me, doesn't it? Or maybe I was just bothering her afternoon nap LOL.

Of course, it will take you probably 30-40 mins if you're just there to take some pictures, feed some cats and leave. However, there is a row of cafes that have their own residential cats that are friendly to play with. We picked a cafe that looked cosy and went in to have a drink! The little kitty below is only a few months old and super hyperactive (as with all children alike yes?)
Below are more pictures of the adopted cats from other cafes! 
 THIS IS MY FAVOURITE PICTURE. Like omg? How cute is the cat sticking out its tongue while sleeping?!?!?!^^
 Grumpy white kitty
Over the years as this place becomes a residential area for many kitties, cat lovers built houses for these stray cats to live in. Many shops within Houtong also adopted some of these cats. I will suggest this place only to people who love cats or if you're not in a rush for time simply because there are really only cats in this area. 
However, don't hold your expectations too high if you're hoping to see hundreds of cats swarming to you for attention! There isn't that many! The good thing is, if you're afraid of cats, you can still visit this place as they will not attack you or come too close for comfort HAHA. They are super friendly but not very proactive as there are many tourist everyday showering them with love. Go if you are planning a chill day in Taiwan!
 A rare dog appears and I heard its often bullied by the cats!
I guess its the cat in the bottom picture >:(

As mentioned earlier, Houtong is often a place for people to stop by before visiting Shifen. However, if you planned your trip such that you visited Shifen along with Jiufen, do not worry about having nothing to do after Houtong! 
What I did was that I visited Houtong after lunch and chilled at the cafe while playing with the kitties till evening before heading over to Keelung! The night market there is fantastic. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND a visit there. 
You can take the train down from Houtong to Keelung (its about 15-25 mins). You will need to change train at Badu Station and you will reach Keelung one stop from there. 

A little bit more about Keelung Night Market:
It has one of the most delicious street food I have tasted while in Taiwan. I've visited every single night market in Taipei and I can safely say, if you visited any 3, you would have visited all and tasted all. Keelung Night Market is a different attraction all on its own (in terms of layout, type of food they sell etc.) So be sure not to miss it if you do have a little bit more time to travel out of Taipei! 
There is a Kuokuang 國光 bus from Keelung station straight to Taipei in 30-45 mins! Be sure to take that instead of the train as it is half the time back! 
Be sure to look out for my Keelung Night Market post too! ;) *winks*


Monday, 22 September 2014

Believe it or not, but an Owl Paradise do exist!

Monday, 22 September 2014
Hi everyone! Its been a long time since I last blogged about my life and I've got so much to share hehehe :3 In this one month of disappearing I've been traveling to Japan, Tokyo and around Taiwan!

Thanks for all the messages asking me to start blogging soon so I'll start off (hopefully I have enough time to continue) with the most memorable/exotic/special/cool experience I had in Tokyo, petting/carrying owls! (YES REAL LIFE OWLS!) Omg I know right, I totally felt like Harry Potter that very second *squeals* For those that find owls creepy, I understand how you feel cos when I first laid eyes on them, I was super afraid and I hid behind my bestie Emily oopsy!
Just look at their creepy eyes staring at you!! And this was at the entrance greeting us as we went in :O
But that was only for the first 10 seconds and for the next remaining 59 mins 50 seconds (we're given one hour of "play time") I went googoogaga over them, in other words I went CRAZY over how cute they were!
In an attempt to make the "hoot hoot" sound, I actually scared the poor little guy :( LOL sigh so much for wanting to be an #owlwhisperer
Show casing our favourite owls from the little shop house! These two owls aren't on good terms and they will fight if we put them too close to each other and hence the "gap" if anyone actually noticed!

Some of the more precious moments we had with the wide range of owls as seen below! I think there were about 20 of them ranging from mini owls the size of your palm, to huge ass ones the length of my arm :O
I thought I fared pretty well in the scale of bravery when I let the owl stand on my head (susceptible to peepee and poop poop ok)
Medium size owl suitable for the ladies to hold!
Mini owl suitable for kids to hold! I know it seems scary even for adults but check out this kid (and look at how small the owl actually is!)
Of course, there are huge owls for the guys to try as well although they are usually a little harder to control and their gust of wind will blow you away (no kidding)
& of course, Emily the brave tried to tame it while the humji me took a photo for her :( (Look how huge the owl is la, I was damn scared sigh)

I took a lot more photos but I think the pictures doesn't do justice to the amount of fun we had experiencing the owls first hand! If you are traveling with children or simply people who like hands on experiences, I will highly recommend this place cos I absolutely loved it!

If interested, head over to Fukuro No Mise ( located at Tsukushima Station when you're in Tokyo! Sadly the website is in Japanese and hence it will be difficult for you to navigate unless of course you understand Japanese!
To make things easier for you, I've put the directions on how to get here as well as the timings:
Address: Seven Star Mansion 1F, 2-6-7 Kiba, Koto-ku, Tokyo.
How to get here: Take the train to Tsukishima station. Walk out of Gate 10, and the cafe is across the road, a few blocks ahead.
Opening hours: Sun 12-6pm, Weds and Thurs 2-6pm, Fri 2-9pm, Sat 12-9pm. Closed Mon and Tues. English speaking staff every Friday.
Entrance fee: 2000 yen (~$20), which includes a drink.
I suggest going on Friday as there is an English translator that will explain the rules for petting/handling the owls. I suggest you pay attention to it or you won't be able to hold the owls properly for pretty pictures!
NOTE: I went on a Friday and while they open at 2pm, please be there by 1145am! Start queuing outside the shop even if there is no one around! Many don't know this but you can start taking your queue number from 12pm onwards for the 2pm slot! If you go any later you might have to take the 3pm onwards slot or worse, you have to come back another day! :O
After taking your queue number for the 2pm slot, you can head to Nakanishidori, just a few blocks down for some monja-yaki (its pretty yummy and famous!) or head to Sumida River a little further down if you still got some time left!
Acting like a tai tai walking down Sumida River LOL

Although it is called an owl "cafe" by many, they don't actually serve food or have an extensive list of drinks to choose from. Hence I'll say that the 2000yen is actually an entrance fee for one hour to the owl "museum" instead! Nonetheless, best 2000 yen spent in Tokyo!
Check out my Instagram @triciawonggg or hashtag #trixmeetstokyo for more of my Tokyo adventures!
If there's something I missed out, just comment in the box below! Share with me your Tokyo adventures too^^

Friday, 25 July 2014

Taipei Food Edtion: What's brewing in Dongmen Station/ Yongkang Street

Friday, 25 July 2014
Ask about Taiwan and you will hear all about the wonderful, delicious food that will immediately get you salivating. Being the foodie I am, I went on a hunt for good food here in Taipei. Unfortunately (or fortunately), Taipei itself is hugeeeee and there are tons of cafes every few steps that its hard and almost impossible to try out every single one of them within a short spam of time.
Hence, I have classified my food posts into districts/stations so that it will be easier for you to know where are the local specialities in that area. Enjoy!

1) Ding Tai Feng 鼎泰豐
This is the famous Yongkang Street Dingtaifeng, simply because this is apparently the very FIRST that was opened in Taiwan. You probably heard of it already if you did your research on Taiwan, Taipei cause this is the "MUST GO" for all who chance upon this city (or so they say).
Hence, in the span of 10 weeks in Taipei, I visited this very branch 6 times. Yes, SIX times omg HAHA because each group of friends all requested to have lunch/dinner here. I'm not complaining (I love chinese food actually) I'm just saying its a crazy number of times HAHAHAHA.
So anyway, below are the few items you should order:
i) Drunked Chicken 280NT (Probably the most expensive dish you will order there HAHA)
I really love the Drunked Chicken Dingtaifeng Taipei serves. Not sure how many of you tried the one they serve in Singapore but it is often blend and tasteless, like eating cold chicken, not drunked chicken HAHA. But here they serve really flavourful ones and you can really taste the wine yumz
ii) Xiaolongbao 小笼包 (200NT for 10, 100NT for 5)
This probably needs no further introduction. Difference bettwen the ones served here and in Singapore: The skin doesn't tear (hence the soup won't flow out) before you put them into your mouth unlike some I tasted where my (lack of chopstick skills) resulted in a dry hollow xiaolongbao by the time it reaches my mouth HAHA.
This is the only two dishes that I'll really recommend as there's nothing else that is really particularly special. So if you really must go, don't have too high hopes about getting EXTREMELY good chinese food. Its good no doubt, but not really "to-die-for" like how some have describe it to be.
Oh, have I mentioned that you will have to wait around 60 mins?
How to go:

Address: 台北市信義路二段194號 (Start of Yongkang Street)
MRT: Dongmen Station, exit 5. Once you come out, walk approximately 20 steps straight and you'll see tons of people queueing

2) Kao Chi 高記

Credits to:
This place has often been overshadowed by their competitor DTF (who's at the start of the street). Like I mentioned earlier, it takes you 60 mins to get into the Ding Tai Feng on Yongkang Street. If you're sick and tired of waiting in the hot sun during summer, in the rain during typhoon season, or in the cold during winter, you should really try out Kao Chi. I've seen the menu and they serve not only food similar to DTF, they even have dimsum for those who are fans of it!
Kao Chi is really popular amongst locals and if you were to let a local choose between the two, most will tell you Kao Chi. Unfortunately, I hadn't had the chance to dine here as all my friends always choose DTF over this and I can't possibly come here alone (I'll get sick eating 10 xiaolongbaos on my own HAHA) Will update once I tried it though. Hehehehe. Let me know if its really better then DTF for those who went too^^

How to go:
Address: 台北市永康街5號 (5 Yongkang St, Taipei City)
MRT: Dongmen Station, exit 5 (On the left when you walked into Yongkang Street)

3) Smoothie House
If you're in Taiwan during summer, you'll understand what I mean when I say its HOT.
In situations like this, you'll appreciate a nice big bowl of shaved ice.
This is their Mango shaved ice with Panna Cotta and it is amazinggggg. I do admit it is pretty overrated with the long queues and exhorbitant prices HAHA. This cost around ~190NT (SGD $8), almost twice the price of what you will pay for somewhere else (and of course, less famous).
They have two shops almost side by side in Yongkang street (永康街) and it is less then 5 mins walk from Ding Tai Feng and even nearer to Kao Chi. This will be a good place to have a "appetizer" while waiting for your queue number to be called in Ding Tai Feng.

How to go:
Address 1: 台北市大安區永康街15號 (No.15 Yongkang St., Da-an District, Taipei City 106)
Address 2: 台北市大安區永康街9號 No.9 (No. 9 Yongkang St., Da-an District, Taipei City 106)
MRT: Dongmen Station, exit 5

4) Yong Kang Beef Noodles 永康牛肉麵
When I arrived in Taiwan 10 weeks ago, I knew the first thing I had to do was to try a bowl of beef noodles (along with a lot of other food HAHA pig) but soon I realized its not that easy. Especially when you see everywhere selling beef noodles and you'll be thinking "oh man, so where is nice omg?!?!?" HAHAHA okay maybe not that dramatic but having only 5-7 days in Taipei, I'm sure you will wanna go a guaranteed nice one right!
Beef Noodles 紅燒牛肉麵

Introducing Yongkang beef noodles, where crazy people queued up for it even on a Typhoon Day (I witnessed it for myself LOL). The meat is really tender unlike others where it is so tough you feel that your mouth ache after chewing.
You can order the full meat ones, or the half tendon half meat and choose between having the clear soup or the famous 紅燒牛肉麵. The queue typically takes about 15 mins before you get a seat.
As the place is rather popular, it takes some time for them to prepare your bowl of noodles. Hence I suggest ordering some appetizers first! Their steamed pork ribs and large intestines are rather popular. I wanted to get the large intestines but they were sold out! :O It comes in a cute bamboo bowl and they steam it with rice. A pretty unique taste.
How to go:
Address: 台北市金山南路2段31巷17號 (No. 17, Lane 31, Jinshan S. Rd., Sec.2)
MRT: Dongmen Station, exit 4 (Come out from exit 5 as exit 4 is a flight of stairs. Walk towards exit 4 which is just a few steps away. Right next to exit 4 is an alley, walk into it and on your right you should see Yongkang Beef Noodles)
Hope you find this useful!

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Up in Maokong (猫空); Cable Car up to the Tea Plantations for a lazy day

Sunday, 20 July 2014
WARNING: This post is dedicated to the last of my red hair and hence there'll be lots of photos of me HAHA. I'll let the pictures do the talking

In anycase if you've decided to continue reading, I will be blogging about Maokong (猫空) today! I visited Maokong approximately 2 weeks ago and I am so happy that I went!
If you have no idea where Maokong is, looking at the Taipei Metro map, its at the Taipei Zoo station! The very end of the Brown (Wenhu) line^^

The Maokong Gondola is a cable car and not a boat (Cos initially I associated Gondola=rowing boat HAHA).

If you're thinking right now "Singapore also got cable car, dont need waste time go there la!"
HAHA thats true I guess BUT
#1: The Maokong Gondola cost 50NT (SGD$2), definitely a more affordable alternative for those who have not sat the one in Singapore.
#2: You can opt for the Crystal Car where the platform is transparent! Definitely a different experience altogether
Thats me sitting down on the floor so that I could take a "tourisy" picture LOL. Don't the tree heads look like broccolis? ^^

OH AND!!! Do you know I love Hello Kitty?!? That was an added incentive for me to visit Maokong despite the heat in Taipei now HAHA (It was up to 38degrees here yesterday :O)!!
HelloKitty merchandises!
My amazing friends + a large HelloKitty backdrop!!! :')
Not forgetting Pandas in Taiwan (HAHA I know I cover half of his face oops)
Remember to take the cable car all the way to the very last top!! There's nothing much in between the stops and its better to walk down then to walk up!

I actually took literally hundreds of photos inside the cable car only to realize my face looks the same in almost every picture LOL. So you see, even the inside of the cable car there's like Kitty decals!!
One without Kitty so you can see the outside!! Which is all trees and more trees...
After nearly 15 mins, I'm finally all the way up at Maokong!
TADA, more HelloKitty boards LOL. Guys, dont worry! This is the very last of Kitty. From this point onwards, you wont have to help your girl friends take pictures with Hello Kitty anymore HAHA
Of course, Maokong Gondola is not just for kitty fans. There is actually quite a number of people here every weekend due to the vast number of 茶坊 (Tea Houses). You'll see some families hiking as well! IT IS, a mountain after all HAHA.
And, being Taiwan, you don't have to worry about starving cos food is E V E R Y W H E R E. I had my lunch here that day!

I heard that the "carrot soup" was amazing *quote my dad* who went to Maokong during their trip here a few days ago haha!
Hiking paths! No matter which direction you take, you'll prolly reach a tea house which you can sit inside and enjoy the scenery.
I'll be showing you what you'll see if you follow the path I took! From the "food court" you continue walking along the path where there are rows of food stalls and up!
There are a number of alfresco dining areas and they all serve a variety of drinks (not just tea LOL) However if you're there in summer like me, you can consider finding indoor cafes around the area cos it is REALLY VERY HOT.

You see behind me? There's a row of white looking houses! That place is a really good rest point for those tired already HAHA. If you follow the path I walk, that is the only AIRCONDITIONED place. You can't miss it! Look out for a big plastic "ice cream cone" outside!
I dont know why one ice cream I can take so many pictures also buttttt oh wells #selfietime HAHA.
Do try their ice creams though! They have two different tea flavours: Tie-guan-yin and bo-long! For those that are familar with chinese tea will probably know what they taste like but for those that are afraid of strong tea, get the bo-long flavour! Its similar to green tea^^ I like something stronger so I got the other which I thought taste really good! (80NT=SGD$3.20).
There's a minimum spending of 120NT per person but you can combine meaning if you have 3 people, the total amount spent for the table must be 360NT as a whole and not individually.
Btw, I felt so cheated when I realized my ice cream is hollow :( HAHA

In any case, Maokong is a great place for families (young and old), those that love to get some fresh air and hiking. The crystal cable car makes it a perfect excuse to camwhore too (Below are more pictures of me annoying my friends out with my asian selfie stick HAHA)
Have fun! For those going, I hope you will enjoy yourself as much as me^^

Thoughts; I have always been a city kid having lived my whole life in Singapore. I go cafe hopping every other day, (My friends back in Singapore should know HAHA) shopping, watch movies then eat again then shop again and the cycle repeats. Counting the days I've been in Taiwan, it's been 2-3 months and this marks the last week of my Internship too!
If you would to ask me what I will miss most about Taiwan, it will be traveling 2-3 hours by train/bus alone so that I can explore mountains, rivers, beaches. These are the things I will never be able to find in Singapore. Of course Singapore has its own beauty and I'm a proud lover of my country (Not even kidding, but I am really patriotic HAHA), but I will miss this inner little adventurous me :') & for those going overseas, unleash that little adventurous spirit of yours! Find out what is there different from where you come from and go have fun! *sqeeals in excitment* hehehehehe