Blogging · holiday · Vacation

Hello Panda! Hello 2020!

Still feeling jet lag.
The longest journey I have ever had, sitting in a plane was my umrah trip – 10 hours. Singapore to Chengdu is roughly about 4 hours 15 minutes.

So my brother got married last year on May 31st 2019 (solemnization) and he and his partner had their wedding ceremony back in Sichuan. My family and I traveled all the way from Singapore to Chengdu to witness this special event.

Now beforehand, I would like to emphasize on one important thing – most of the places are planned by both my brother and his wife, so there are a few makan places I don’t get to jot down the address and location.

Flew off on 30th December and reached there about 8.30 at night. Unlucky us, one of the cars had some troubleshooting so we ended up taking Grab to reach to our hotel. (we stayed at Ji Hotel nearby Yopindo Plaza).

First stop! We had like a so called barbecue for dinner. In Singapore we call it lok lok. I didn’t know what to grab so I took mushrooms, long beans, tofu, chicken joint and more mushrooms. We had spicy naan too, which was delicious. Anything that has sesame is delicious (to me).

our lok lok. my favorite is definitely the oyster mushroom & spicy naan

We did not stay up long as we had a long road trip to ride the next morning. By the way, I woke at 7ish and the sun is yet to rise.

We had our breakfast along Yopindo Plaza, and it’s a halal restaurant that serves not only beef la mian, but also beef pie, dumpling and other local traditional food.

this is where we had our breakfast. it’s nearby yopindo plaza in shuangliu.
top left: la mian with egg & minced beef dumpling.
above left: beef pie & spicy la mian

The amount of noodle is so generous that you could actually share with another person (or probably it’s just me. i don’t really eat that much).

We walked around Yopindo Plaza for some coffee/tea before starting our road trip back to my sister’s kampung. The journey was around 4-5 hours. I binged Netflix most of the time while we were in the car and kept falling asleep.

Anyway, we reached Huangjia Town (i think that’s the spelling) around late evening. That’s when I got to meet my sister-in-law’s family, including her mom. Oh! Forgot to mention that my sister’s dad & didi (little brother) along his girlfriend fetched us at the airport.

My sister’s family is so welcoming and happy upon seeing us. My parents and I stayed in a hotel where the wedding took place. That night, we had our dinner at a local restaurant and also, it’s halal.

The owner, I assumed is an old lady, was shocked to see us (my family) as she has never had any customer from other places to dine in. Told her we are from Singapore and my mom’s a Muslim. She said, “I am a Muslim too but I don’t wear scarf (hijab) like her (pointing to mama).”

Apparently she was a bit skeptical to serve us probably the way we dress. We told her it’s okay, we know you serve halal food and we know you are Muslim. Then, our food arrived. We had beef soup. A big ass beef soup.

Right after dinner, we went to sister’s house to chill and kill some time before getting to bed early. I had to sleep early because I was a bit cranky (suddenly, probably missing my boyfriend)

1st January 2020 – the day where everyone gathered around for a special occasion. The day my brother and sister got married and yes, albeit we both come from a different family, different country; if love says “I do”, then there is no way one could avoid it, right? And I wish I owned a DSLR so that I can snap beautiful memories for everyone. Too bad, I only have an iPhone.

beautifully captured right? hehehe

Right after my brother’s wedding, my family and I along with two of my brother’s friends headed back to the halal restaurant to grab our lunch. We ordered Chinese food that consists of fried stir fry beef with potato. bean sprout, fried potato, corn rice and I think we ordered egg soup.

I like their stir fry beef with potato. Tastes very yummy. The owner of the restaurant was so happy to see us again and before we left, she asked “Can I take photo with all of you?”

This is the name of the restaurant and along the stretch, the is the only halal restaurant you can ever find in Huangjia Town. I will definitely miss their stir fry beef & potato and of course, their hospitality!

Up next, the next day we headed back to town and this time we stayed at Qingyang District. Ji Hotel is everywhere (that’s pretty much convenient) and our hotel is 15 minutes away from R&F Plaza. And upon reaching, we quickly unpacked our luggages and headed out to grab dinner.

This is another halal restaurant my sister & brother brought us to. I believe it’s called “Huangcheng Old Beef Meat” something like that. This place is located nearby Holiday Inn Express (there are two Holiday Inn Express, if you see in map, just find the one near Family Mart). And since I captured this photo by using iPhone, it says this place is at Taisheng Rd.

Our dinner. Dad was literally laughing at me because I stopped eating beef right after they serve the fish. This is my another favorite place to makan (because they have fish!) and I am so gonna learn how to make this at home one day! We had sea bass with oyster gravy, stir fry beef, garlic beef, two plates of vege and beef satay.

welcome to wenshu monastery!

It was Friday and we walked around Wenshu Monastery, another tourist attraction that’s well known for sightseeing and souvenirs. This place somehow reminds me of Yanxi Palace tv series.

As we were minding our own business walking around Wenshu, an old couple passed by us and suddenly said “She’s Malay”, pointing directly to my mom. My sister and I were laughed. Okay lah at least my mom got that superstar feeling lah kan.

Next stop – Tianfu Square! I didn’t get the chance to snap their MRT station because I was hangry (hungry + angry). And here’s mama & daddy, fooling around at Tianfu Square. They were imitating Mao Zedong statue behind them.

Also, this is where Huangcheng Mosque is located at (behind Tianfu Square). We’re lucky we went there on Friday – get to taste some of their local street food! I bought 3 beef pau for myself (I don’t take lamb/mutton).

huangcheng mosque

Basically I am my parents’ translator. I had to be with them wherever they went because I can communicate in Mandarin and understand their dialect. We split into two groups most of the time, hence I am always with my parents.

I was still hungry. So I told dad I’m gonna grab something at the convenient store. That’s where I found toppoki and lobster king. I SWEAR I AM IN LOVE WITH THAT TOPOKKI!

They have 3 different flavors for toppoki – original, cheese and kimchi. I bought the original one and shared it with my dad and he even loves it! And for lobster king, it comes in two different sizes. Of course being me, I took the large one since dad is the one that paying for everything.

guess who decided to not wear heater pants…

That night, my sister told us to sleep early as she has bought tickets for us to go to Chengdu Research Base of Panda Breeding. And Chengdu is of course famous for pandas!

Woke up as early at 5 in the morning, showered & get ready and breakfast, again we split into two groups. I was with my parents the whole time and that Grab driver used the wrong highway to drop us. Upon reaching, we had to walk about 1km to reach the entry point.

Up close of me and little clumsy panda! I wish I could smuggle you home oh you cute little boy!

We didn’t get the chance to see red pandas but I got to witness a sulky panda busy eating bamboos.

Up next! I think everyone was tired and hungry, we went to Niu BuBi (around 30 minutes away from Panda place) for lunch. This restaurant is famous for their hotspot and of course, their meat since niu means cow.

It’s halal by the way. And I fell in love with their interior design.

our hotpot

Mom and I don’t take spicy food. I mean we do, but we have our own spicy level. But me, I can no longer take extra spicy food anymore due to the food poisoning I had 2 years ago.

Anyway, this is just half of our hotpot stuffs. There are two types of soup – spicy & mushroom. You see that tiny little hold in the middle, fill with mushrooms? That’s the non-spicy soup. They have a special tiny area at the back where you can make your own dip sauce.

Anyway, I am a seafood lover but probably because I was too tired from waking up so early, I only had a few slices of fish and eggs.

hong tang ci ba

My sister ordered a plate of dessert for us. It is called hong tang ci ba, or known as sticky rice cake with black sugar. If you still have no idea what it is, just imagine kuih keria with peanut powder on top plus gula melaka.

This is my new favorite snack in town! I had two plates of this. You gotta eat it while it’s hot. Like how I wish I could tapao this back but we still have somewhere to go.

My sister told me every hotpot place sells hong tang ci ba. It is like a must to have it everywhere you makan hotpot.

We then headed to Kuanxiangzi Alley. This is our final last spot and place to buy souvenirs. We did our shopping mostly here. If you know how to communicate, you will get discount – which I did get discount of course la kan!

I bought key chains, fans, bookmarks and a few other things. Actually – can’t recall that much.

And this place is famous for their Starbucks infrastructure too. We didn’t get the chance to go there because it’s super crowded, so we ops for Ding’s Coffee.

Me being me, I am lactose intolerant – I didn’t get to drink coffee for like 4 days (i think). I was pretty much excited to find out Ding’s Coffee has an alternate milk for people like me – oat milk! YES! They have oat milk! And because I was excited that I finally got to drink coffee, I treated everyone for one!

I had a cone of ice-cream too. Too cute, had to buy.

snap snap at IFS

Our final day in Chengdu, my sister’s parents and didi and his girlfriend came and joined us jalan-jalan at Taikoo Li. Basically Taikoo Li is like Pavilion KL/Marina Bay Sands except their infrastructure designs are more to Qing Dynasty buildings.

We can only afford to jalan-jalan and cuci mata at Taikoo Li. I saw Zara and Gucci but dad was around, so I couldn’t do any shopping. Can only say hi from the window. But I did buy something for meimei and my sister’s mom. They have been so nice to us so the least I can do is buy them something.

Anyway, the reason why I was wearing that reindeer scarf because while visiting Panda place, I had a sudden nosebleed. I have never had one. Due to the cold weather and low humidity, I tend to get headache, dry skin and nosebleed. I cried in front of everyone (again, never had nosebleed before)

xinjang rice noodle with chicken
fried french bean
pilaf rice with mutton

We had our lunch at Spize Bazaar, located at Taikoo Li. It offers Uighur and some sort like Samarkand food. And me being me, they serve us in a big portion albeit for one person serving.

Sad to say, I wish I could stay there a bit longer. But I gotta get back to reality.

You see, my first day in Chengdu has somehow opened up my eyes. We always see them being a bit loud and uncivilized in Singapore, right? The way these people treat others and such.

So… China is big. Like super huge. So maybe the people we see or meet in Singapore are not from the same province. They could be from province A or B or C but all I can say, people in Chengdu is different. They are full with smiles, manners and pride.

The housekeeper in our hotel is super friendly and nice too! She even thought I was from Xinjang just because she has never seen people like me or my mom. She even praised me for being able to speak her language quite well.

And now I miss the food there, especially hong tang ci ba.

Anywhere, do not be afraid to approach for help. Their police and passerby are super friendly.

*** a little guideline: don’t be shocked/surprised if you enter their halal restaurant. normal for them to have beer in their store as they not only cater for muslim customers, but also other religion & races. and their food is 100% halal, so don’t worry!

Blogging · Vacation

Halal trip(s) to Bangkok

After three times going back and forth to Bangkok, I now have the gut to actually blog about my trip.

our two single beds room at i residence

My first trip to Bangkok was in the mid of August, 2016 with my colleague, Insyirah. It was our first time traveling together and I couldn’t recall how many days we stayed up there. We stayed at a CBD area, i Residence Hotel in Silom. Quite convenient for us since our hotel is opposite Chong Nonsi BTS station.

Didn’t do much since it was our first time and also we couldn’t go anywhere that much due to bad weather. I remember clearly our second last day, we went to Chatuchak Market in the morning and two hours later, we were greeted by a stormy weather.

chicken sticky rice for 50 baht (if i’m not mistaken)

We managed to get a few items like food and clothes and had our brunch at this halal chicken rice shop somewhere in Chatuchak Market.

Second trip was in March 2018, with my fellow friends; Ain, Syai, Khai and Hazwan.

khai, me, ain, syai & hazwan

Many things have changed in just two years and we stayed at Citin Pratunam, a-three-star hotel with great hospitality and people. Because this is my second time to Bangkok and few times for them, they did all the plannings from food to whereabouts (even hotel too!)

Our first pit stop was Talad Neon, a walking distance from Palladium IT Pratunam.

Citin has two separated buildings, the old one is located in front of a massage spa shop and the newest one located in front of 7-11, nearby to train track station (don’t worry, both buildings are a walking distance like… less than 15 seconds).

We took cab from Suvarnabhumi Airport since everyone had big luggages with them (except for mine!). But you can spend less than 350 baht (SG$16.00) and take Airport Rail Link (Suvarnabhumi to Ratchaprarop Station). By the way, 100 baht is around SGD$4.50.

For Muslim travellers, you don’t have to worry as Pratunam has so much to offer when it comes to halal food and restaurants! You can even find halal street food around the corner.

First stop was Talad Neon. Basically Talad Neon is like Chatuchak, except hipster version. But here is something you might want and need to know – their seafood stalls ARE NOT HALAL (even though they have the HALAL sign). They might just go ahead and say “yes halal halal” but look through their menu carefully (found out about this on my third trip, this year).

twisted potato stall at talad neon
i had bandung.

There are a few halal stalls, but more to finger food like cheesy fries, quails and some potato.

Next day, we had our brunch at Maedah Restaurant. This is one of the best halal restaurants that can be found at Pratunam.

Ain was sick and so she didn’t join us for our second day trip. Syai stayed back in the room to take care of his wife (so sweet).

That night we had our dinner at Yana Restaurant. A bit distance from Siam Paragon and Khai, me and Hazwan tuktuk to get there.

I’m not really a big fan of eating many stuffs in a restaurant so I gotten myself a plate of pad thai. The food was nice and delicious and affordable.

This year, a week after Eid Mubarak, I went to Bangkok again but with Tasha.

Stayed at Citin Pratunam again (because why not! and affordable!) and this time around I went there with a limited budget, I did not bring my ATM card, paid everything in cash including make-ups.

Took SA City Line to our hotel and right after a few hours resting, we had our late lunch/early dinner at Al-Sana Restaurant. They serve Pakistani, Arabic and Thai food.

We then headed to Palladium Mall to do some shopping but to our surprise, the building closes early, at 8pm. So we walked around and took photos at their famous bridge.

not sure what’s the name of this bridge but it’s connected from palladium mall

Walked to Talad Neon and here’s the best part – this is where I found out about the fake halal food. I started to feel hungry and thought of getting some tom yam soup but when I looked around, I saw a few photos of pork. Asked one of the owners and she kept saying halal.

Then I decided to settle down with Thai milk tea first. The fellow man that sells drink is a Muslim man (i believe he’s a mixed of kelantanese & siam because he spoke to me in Malay). Asked him about food around Talad and he told me those seafood stalls are not halal. It is just to attract customers.

And what I meant by fake halal food is they serve and cook pork too. To play safe, better not have your seafood there. I will list down a few places where you can get halal food okay!

cheesy fries from one of the halal stalls.
halal lok lok nearby pratunam market

Next day, we went to Siam to shop some make-up. Eveandboy is haven for make-up lovers.

my favorite local brand, srichand

Also, we had our dinner at Zaabver Restaurant and I can say the price is a little bit pricey. Note: not complaining, but I was expecting more things on the menu. Had tom yam fried rice but not to my liking. Still prefer the street food nearby my hotel area (50 baht and have many prawns!).

My this trip is all about budget. We took tuktuk to everywhere we go. Even to Chatuchak! Worth the price for 200 baht and the driver even stopped us at this one place to let us try honey for free! But tragically, many shops closed due to fire breakdown.

We went there around afternoon and had a very light brunch in our room. We roamed quite long to find food in Chatuchak but again and we both became hangry. Then we found halal street food inside the market itself! I had pad thai for only 40 baht and ice coconut for 50 baht! My tummy smiled.

Had to have a dessert right after a delicious meal. This ice cream costs only 5 baht. I had mine in sarsi flavor (wanted thai tea but aunty heard wrongly).

Tasha didn’t believe me when I said Bangkok is a place for you to spend your money like a crazy person. She bought a lot of things especially snacks because Thailand has the bestest chips in 7-11!

So here are a few tips that I can give you (from my own experience):
ALWAYS ALWAYS smile because Thai people are rich with smiles and courtesy.

Never ever bargain too much and walk away. They don’t like to entertain people who keep on bargaining. Make sure know what you wanna get. Buy more than 2, you will get at least 50-100 baht off. For snacks, buy 5 free 1 (if you are lucky enough).

Speak their language – learn to speak Thai and they will enjoy more talking/give you discount. It works on me.

Be humble (ALWAYS)

Tips their hotel employees (they deserve because they are really helpful and patient with silly tourists).

For halal food:
Maedah Restaurant
Al-Sana Restaurant
Zabveer Restaurant
Halal street food, Palladium IT Mall
Yana Restaurant
Royal India (Siam Paragon)
Sinthorn Steakhouse
Yusup Pochana
Busaba Restaurant
Usman Thai food
AYA Japanese food