Tulipmania Inspired at Singapore

This is it, Tulip flower exhibition in Singapore is over. The exhibition was held from 1st April to 7th May 2017 at Flower Dome, Garden by The Bay Singapore. The theme of Tulipmania 2017 is Tulipmania Inspired by Vincent Van Gogh. He was a Dutch Post-Impressionist painter who is among the most famous and influential figures in the history of Western art. He created about 2,100 artworks during his lifetime. He died on 29 July 1890 when he was aged 37.

I am very proud to have visited the exhibition last weekend. I brought along my husband and little girl to enjoy the moment there. The entrance fee is normal like usual day, SGD16 per adult and kids below 3 years old is free. This is single entry to Flower Dome only (where the Tulipmania exhibited). You may get the two-conservatory tickets at SGD28 per adult. This ticket you can enter Flower Dome and Cloud Forest. However, local residents fee is much lower price.

My trip this time was driving from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore. You must have an Autopass card to let your vehicle to enter Singapore. The parking facility at Garden by The Bay is very nice and cheap, SGD0.03 per minute.

Eating place is also easy to find and very convenient. There are Satay by The Bay, where you can try their famous satay and other varieties of food such as steamboat, hawker food, seafood and many more. Halal certified McDonald and Cafe Crema are near to Garden’s Visitor Centre. Bakerzin, Conservatory Cafe and Majestic Bay Seafood Restaurant are between Flower Dome and Cloud Forest. Meanwhile, Pollen is inside the Flower Dome.

 

Hope you enjoy viewing the photos. Interested for free watermark photos, do contact me. Thank you!.

 

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FINLAND

Why visit Finland?. Many reason to visit this little hidden gem located far up North. While they might be small in size, they’re big in things to discover. The air is one of the cleanest in the world and landscapes are second to none. You can find thousands of lakes and forests – which are never far away from wherever you are. You also can pay a visit to Santa, admire the Northern Lights or experience the peace of the countryside & cottage life.

Trip in December 2015  |  €1 = MYR4.60

This was unplanned trip since I’m expecting and due in March 2016, my husband asking me “why don’t we travel to Europe?” …. “You will be busy with baby next year”… I put a smile on my face and i quickly do all the bookings and planning within 2 months before the departure.

It was a great experience traveling with baby bump. Did a spectacular walk in cold winter which I never expect I could had done it with 6 months baby belly.

The journey started from Kuala Lumpur to Amsterdam Schipol Airport, Netherlands back in December 2015. Before fly to Finland, we stayed in Amsterdam for 3 nights. Then we flew with Norwegian Airlines with layover at Arlanda Stockholm Airport for 6 hours, and yeah! we slept at the cafe couch at the Airport since the connecting flight to Helsinki, Finland was at 6:40am next day. Cost of this flight was US$214.08 for 2 adults (baggage 20kg added).

Flight details:
Departing Flight – Wednesday, Dec 16, 2015

Norwegian Air Shuttle Flight 4258
BOEING 737 800 JET Airline confirmation: 7DKTZY
From Amsterdam (AMS) 09:40pm – Dec 16, Wed
To Stockholm Arlanda (ARN) 11:40pm – Dec 16, Wed
Flight Duration: 2hr 00min

Return Flight – Thursday, Dec 17, 2015

Norwegian Air Shuttle Flight 4281
BOEING 737 800 JET Airline confirmation: 7DKTZY
From Stockholm Arlanda (ARN) 06:40am – Dec 17, Thu
To Helsinki (HEL) 08:35am – Dec 17, Thu
Flight Duration: 0hr 55min

Arlanda Stockholm Airport

We checked out outside of the terminal for awhile.

In Finland, we only visit Helsinki and Saariselkä, Inari. Helsinki, Finland’s southern capital, sits on a peninsula in the Gulf of Finland. Its central avenue, Mannerheimintie, is flanked by institutions including the National Museum, tracing Finnish history from the Stone Age to the present. Also on Mannerheimintie are the imposing Parliament House and Kiasma, a contemporary art museum. Ornate red-brick Uspenski Cathedral overlooks a harbor.

Saariselkä, Inari is a resort village in northern Finland. It’s a gateway to the trails and ski areas of mountainous Urho Kekkonen National Park. The village’s Destination Northernmost Europe exhibition has a panorama theater with films on the region’s plant and animal life, including reindeer.

 

Day 1 Helsinki | 17 December 2015

8:35am: Arrived Helsinki-Vantaa Airport. Kept our luggage at coin-locker store at the airport.  Storage costs EUR 5 / 24 h in a small locker (height 56 cm, depth 56 cm, width 28cm) and 6 €/24h in a large locker (height 86 cm, depth 78 cm, width 36 cm).

9:30am : We took train from Helsinki Airport Station (Lentoaseman Asema), 500 meters from Helsinki-vantaa airport. Train journey was about 40 minutes to the Helsinki City at €5.50 one-way per person. We met nice girl from Malaysia who studied here in Finland. She so friendly and talkative.

Once we arrived Helsinki city, we bought 1 Day tickets for public transport for €9 per ticket.

Places we visited:

  • Uspenski Cathedral, Helsinki – Russian-designed Orthodox cathedral. Hilltop center of the Finnish Orthodox faith with an ornate exterior & lavish interior decoration.
  • Suomenlinna – UNESCO-listed 18th-century sea fortress. World Heritage site accessed by ferry, with cannons, tunnels, a dockyard, museums & a brewery.
  • Helsinki Senate Square – Neoclassical architecture in large public square with the cathedral, Government Palace & university.
  • Helsinki Cathedral – Landmark 19th-century religious edifice. Steps lead up to Carl Ludvig Engel’s grand neoclassical cathedral, topped with an iconic green dome.

 

Kauppatori

Suomenlinna

11:00pm : Heading back to Helsinki-Vantaa Airport. Our stay was nearby the airport about 1km away. Very comfortable twin room with shared bathroom. Per night at €50.40 booked via booking.com

Hotel: Forenom Hostel Vantaa Airport
Address: Ilmailutie 9
Vantaa, 01531, Finland
Phone: +358201983420

forenom_hostel

Twin room at Forenom Hostel Vantaa Airport

 

Day 2 Ivalo – Saariselka | 18 December 2015

 

5:00am : We woke up early to catch an early flight to Ivalo. We flew via Finnair at 5:50am

Departure: Vantaa (HEL), Helsinki, Finland
Date: 12/18/2015 05:50am
Arrival: Ivalo (IVL), Ivalo, Finland
07:25am
Duration 01H 35m
Finnair (AY461)

Once arrived Ivalo airport, We quickly catch a shuttle bus to Saariselka, Inari. Journey about 30 minutes (fare €10 per person).

During our trip, day light hours was only 2 hour. This is known as the polar night when the sun never fully rises. Snow reflects the light, too, so it may seem brighter than it actually is. There is also a so-called blue moment just before dawn and again before it gets dark when the scenery has a blueish tone.

Saariselka

9:00am in Saariselka

As usual, if you are staying in expensive countries, first thing to consider is self catering. So, the tips are book an accommodation with fully-equipped kitchenette and spend time in supermarket to buy some groceries. Mainly, I cooked vegetable soups, stir-fried seafood and grilled fish. I do not practice bringing food from Malaysia except Extra-Hot peri sauce, this will become handy for some extra spicy taste in your cooking.

In Saariselka, there’s only 1 supermarket available, Supermarket Kuukkeli. They have just about everything you need and quite cheap. There is also a good cafe there serving good food and reasonably priced. Staff in the place all very helpful. We spent €14.35 only for 3 nights grocery.

First day in Saariselka, we just checked out the town by foot, buy grocery and rest. In mid night, we took taxi went up to highest point of Saariselka town, Kaunispaa just to check if we get to see the Aurora but failed since the skies so gloomy and snowing heavily. We only waited for half hour because the weather was too cold to be outside and the cafe was closed.

Day 3 Saariselka | 19 December 2015

Today, initial plan was to catch a bus to Rovaniemi, Finland to visit Santa Claus Village. Distance from Saariselka is about 4 hours journey by bus. Bus fare is €46.60 for local bus & €50.20 for Express bus ( per person). Check out here for fares and timetable https://www.matkahuolto.fi/en/. We missed the early bus then decided to go for plan B, took shuttle bus went up tu Kaunispaa again.

Kaunispaa has spectacular view from mountain top. At night it is an excellent place to watch the aurora from. But we failed to see it last night. It has a souvenir shop and a restaurant too. We had a cup of Cappuccino at €3.70 at Huippu Kaunispaan cafe. Spent time playing with snow and snap some photos.

In the late afternoon, we went to Santa’s Hotel Tunturi to have lunch. It’s a bit extraordinary for us to tried out  reindeer meat in Finland. We ordered 1 poro wrap (reindeer meat) at €16.50 and Paivan Kala (fish of the day) at €14.50. vat at 14%, included. Turned out very well taste and juicy. After that, we went back to our “home” to rest before another long night to catch an Aurora.

Saariselkä is an excellent place to set off on the Urho Kekkonen National Park nature trails. The Saariselkä area’s nature trails have their starting point at Saariselkä tourist resort at the Urho Kekkonen National Park gate. The nature trails are marked in the terrain with green poles which carry pinecone symbols.

We went hiking in middle of the night at Iisakkipää Nature Trail, 3 km, leads along the lower slopes of Iisakkipää Fell through a dell with a stream. The nature trail is a circle trail the starting point for which is at Saariselkä tourist resort, at the national park gate near Tunturi Hotel. The boards along the trail have text in Finnish, English, French and German. The trail is suited for inexperienced hikers. During winter the trail doubles as a snowshoeing trail. Means, we didn’t finish the loop. we tracked back our footprints back to our “home”. Yeah! another failed attempt to catch the Aurora light.

 

Day 4 Saariselka | 20 December 2015

Today, we went to Santa’s Home at Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort west village.

We took a taxi to Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort east village first before heading to west village. Taxi fare was so expensive, €28 one-way.

Kakslauttanen villages

What’s so unique about Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort? Kakslauttanen is one of the best places in the world to see the magical glow of the Northern Lights. The season lasts from late August to late April. They provide the perfect opportunity for observing Aurora Borealis as the season is long, there is virtually no light pollution and very few trees obscuring the sky nearby. And naturally the view from their Glass Igloos and Kelo-Glass Igloos is unbeatable. However, they cannot guarantee Northern Lights or any other natural phenomenon. There are many things that affect the visibility of the Northern Lights like magnetic activity, position of the sun and cloudiness of the sky.

Meanwhile in West Village, you can visit Santa’s Home. After all these centuries, Santa has finally decided to unlatch the door’s of his home to the public.

 

Day 5 Saariselka – Ivalo| 21 December 2015

Woke up early, had breakfast and catch early bus to Ivalo, Airport.

We took bus Eskelisen Lapin Linjat at 8:30am. Fare 1 adult is €10.00 direction Kiilopaa – Ivalo.

Next destination is Munich, Germany. Flew from Helsinki via Air Baltic layover at Riga, Latvia for 1 hour.

______________________________________________________

Accommodation

Helsinki:

Hotel: Forenom Hostel Vantaa Airport
Address: Ilmailutie 9
Vantaa, 01531, Finland
Phone: +358201983420
Cost: €50.40 for 1 night – Twin Room with Shared Bathroom

Saariselka:

Hotel: Saariselkä Inn Conference Apartment
Address: Tievapolku 2
Saariselka, 99830, Finland
Phone: +358447290006
Cost: €225.00 for 3 nights – Twin Room with Private Entrance

 

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Xi’an, China

The trip was includes Chengdu and Beijing. I took direct flight from Kuala Lumpur, LCCT to Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport via Airasia.

china2010map

So, here i will write about Xi’an, China where this was the 2nd destination during the trip.

Day 1 – 27 December 2010

We boarded a flight no CZ6402, China Southern Airline from Chengdu airport and cost me about MYR580 (usd186) for 2 person. China Southern Airlines Co., Ltd., a proud member of SkyTeam, is directly affiliated with China Southern Air Holding Company, specializing in air transportation services. China Southern Airlines operates the largest fleet, most developed route network and largest passenger capacity of any airline in The People’s Republic of China.

Xi'an City Wall

South Gate at night.

Departed at 8:40am then arrived at 9:55am. From Xi’an Airport we took a airport shuttle bus to the Xi’an city wall. Fare per person is CNY25 one-way and journey is about 1 hour. My stay in Xi’an was Xiangzimen Youth Hostel which is very near to the south gate. The south gate, Yongning, is the most beautifully decorated one. It is very near to the Bell Tower, center of the city. 3 nights stay cost us CNY420.00 (about MYR198).

Xiangzimen Youth Hostel offers Oriental-style dormitory and private rooms, as well as free WiFi in all areas. It is only steps from Xi’an City Wall and Antique Street. Muslim Street is about 10 minutes’ walk away. I didn’t manage to get some photos of the surrounding hotel because of renovation work in progress during my stay. I should say this is very nice hotel with a friendly host. I shall come back next time!.

After done dropped our luggage and freshen up, we headed to the east square of the railway station by inter-city bus no 603 (CNY4 for 2-way ticket) to catch tourism bus no5 (306) to Terracotta Warrior UNESCO Site. It takes one hour and the fare is CNY7 per person one-way. It’s advisable to buy 2-ways ticket to avoid hassle.

Xi'an City Wall

From left: Railway Station, me infront of the museum, Terracotta Hall.

We only spent half day here and excited to see the Pit no 1. The museum covers an area of 16,300 square meters, divided into three sections: No. 1 Pit, No. 2 Pit, and No. 3 Pit respectively. They were tagged in the order of their discoveries. No. 1 Pit is the largest, first opened to the public on China’s National Day – Oct. 1st, 1979. There are columns of soldiers at the front, followed by war chariots at the back.

Entrance ticket per person is CNY110, including the Museum of Qin Terracotta Warriors and Horses, the Qin Shi Huang Mausoleum,  the Museum of Terracotta Acrobatics, the Museum of Terracotta Civil Officials and the Museum of Stone Armor.

It’s an amazing experienced to see the most significant archeological excavations of the 20th century. The Terracotta Army is a sensational archeological find of all times. It has put Xian on the map for visitors. It was listed by UNESCO in 1987 as one of the world cultural heritages. Checked!.

Terracotta Army

We took last bus back to Xi’an City and continue walking to Muslim Quarter for food hunting. The Muslim Quarter is the hub of the Muslim community in Xian City, Shaanxi Province. Located to the north of the West Street in the city center, the quarter covers several blocks inhabitated by over 20,000 Muslims.  The Beiyuanmen Muslim Market located just to the north of the Drum Tower is a great choice after the sightseeing in the city center. Here, you can find any local food, Halal local food!.

Xi'an City

Walking along the narrow street which is aligned with stores on both sides, you can see that Muslim men with Kopiah (white hats) sit inside the stores and talk leisurely with each other. The main goods of these stores are authentic hand-making Muslim food which tastes very good. You will get your stomach full and still wants to try more. You won’t feel regretted for the snacks of Xian. It’s always tasty and authentic. Checked!.

Day 1 summary:

0840AM                Depart from Chengdu to Xi’an. Arrive at 0955AM.

1100AM                Check-IN Hostel [Xiangzimen Youth Hostel] for 3 night stay.

0100PM                Half day visit Xi’an Attractions:

  • Terracotta Warriors UNESCO site
  • The Beiyuan men Muslim Market & Muslim Quarter

1100PM                Sleep.

Daily Cost for 2 person:

  • Flight fare from Chengdu to Xi’an : USD186
  • Meal Breakfast : Y26
  • Shuttle Bus from Xi’an Airport to Xi’an city : Y50
  • Hostel stay 3 nights : Y420
  • Inter-city Bus 603 to Xi’an railway station : Y8 (two-way)
  • Shuttle Bus 306 to Terracotta UNESCO site : Y28 (two-way)
  • Entrance Fee Terracotta UNESCO site : Y220
  • Buggy Service at Terracotta Museum : Y10
  • Snacks : Y5
  • Meal Dinner : Y23

Shopping Items:

  • Souvenir : Y60
  • Dates fruits : Y28
  • Walnut : Y28
  • Peanut : Y12

Day 2 – 28 December 2010

Woke up early morning at 8AM, grabbed breakfast at the street just in front of the hostel. First activity of the day was cycling around Ancient City Wall of Xian. Ascend from South Gate entrance, fees at Y40 per person. Bicycle rent at Y20/100 minutes.

I’ve no idea how many KM to circle the wall. then I find out from Wiki, it was 13.7KM in length. No wonder I’m so tired and always complaining “are we there yet?”…hahaha!. But the view was so nice and worth it!. Cycled for 2 ½ hours….hungry, search for food. Here, so easy to find Halal foods..superb! 😀

After lunch, we took a taxi to Tang Paradise, located in the Qujiang Resort, southeast of the Xian City, Shaanxi Province. The site covers a total area of 1000 mu (about 165 acres) and of which 300 mu (about 49 acres) is water. We paid entrance fee CNY68 per person but as at 31st March 2017 the fee was increased to CNY120. I’m sure the entrance fee will keep increasing in future. Open from 9AM to 9PM daily.

Tang Paradise

We spent the whole afternoon until they closed and we headed to Wild Big Goose Pagoda. As the symbol of the old-line Xian, Big Wild Goose Pagoda (also called Giant Wild Goose Pagoda) is a well-preserved ancient building and a holy place for Buddhists. Since it was close because we were late, we just hang around at the water fountain area overlooking at the pagoda.

Wild Big Goose Pagoda

Wild Big Goose Pagoda

Day 2 summary:

08:00AM                Full Day Xi’an Attractions:

  • Xian City Wall
  • Cycling on the City Wall:
    Try biking on the City Wall, you will have an enjoyable and interesting experience. The bicycle deposit is CNY 200. The single bicycle costs CNY 20/100 minutes. The tandem bicycle costs CNY 40/100 minutes. The sightseeing bus costs CNY 65 for a tour around the city wall. Visitors can also tour the wall by sections which are charged differently by the distance.
  • Tang Paradise
  • Big Wild Goose PagodaEntrance fee: CNY 50 (Entrance Fee of the Da Ci’en Temple); CNY 30 (Ascending the Big Wild Goose Pagoda)
    Show time of the musical fountain

    Monday, Wednesday – Friday

    12:00, 20:30(Winter Time); 12:00, 21:00 (Summer Time)

10:00PM                Sleep.

Daily Cost for 2 person:

  • Meal Breakfast : Y10
  • Entrance Fee Xian city wall : Y80
  • Bike rental : Y70
  • Meal Lunch : Y55
  • Snacks : Y8
  • Taxi to Tang Paradise & Wild Big Goose Pagoda : Y16
  • Entrance Fee Tang Paradise : Y136
  • Buggy Service in Tang Paradise : Y40
  • Taxi back to hostel : Y12
  • Meal Dinner : Y101

Day 3 – 29 December 2010

Today, we started our day a bit late. Had breakfast at the hostels, then walked to Bell Tower in the middle of this ancient city wall. We covered Bell Tower, Drum Tower and The Great Mosque in one day.

The Bell Tower, is a stately traditional building, that marks the geographical center of the ancient capital. From this important landmark extend East, South, West and North Streets, connecting the tower to the East, South, West and North Gates of the City Wall of the Ming Dynasty. We paid entrance fee CNY 40 for the joint ticket of Bell Tower and Drum Tower. Now the ticket price was increased to CNY50. They do sell separate tickets at CNY35 each. Recommended time to visit is one hour.

The Drum Tower is located northwest of the Bell Tower of Xian, across the Bell and Drum Tower Square. Both of them are called the ‘sister buildings’ or ‘morning bell and dark drum’. In ancient China, especially from the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), the drums were used to signal the running of time and on occasion were used as an alarm in emergency situations.

After the Drum Tower, we again strolled at Beiyuan Men market just behind the tower. Actually, we can’t get enough of the food. Can you imagine, halal foods are everywhere and you have no doubt to try it. From the narrow street called it Huajue Lane, it will lead you to The Great Mosque.

Great Mosque

The Great Mosque in Xian is one of the oldest, largest and best-preserved Islamic mosques in China. In Xian, it is really well worth a trip to see the Great Mosque. The Mosque, is a blend of traditional-Chinese and Islamic architecture, its construction started in 742 the first year of Tian-bao period of the Tang dynasty and additions were made during the Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties to make it an ancient architectural complex. Covering 13,000 square metres, its floor space is about 6,000 square metres. The Mosque is the key national historical site under special protection, and a place where Moslems lead their religious life.

Entrance fee is CNY15, for Muslim visitor is free. This Great Mosque is the only one open to visitors from 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Non-Muslims, however, are not admitted to the main prayer hall or during times of prayer.

Great Mosque

We ended our day by slowly strolled back to the hostel and stopped by nearby cafe for supper. About 10pm we already rest and pack up our stuff because need to get up early to catch flight to Beijing.

Egg Pizza

CNY40 for supper.

Day 3 Summary:

10:00AM                Full day Xi’an Attractions:

  • Bell Tower
  • Drum Tower
  • Great Mosque

10:00PM                Sleep.

Daily Cost for 2 person:

  • Meal Breakfast : Y37
  • Bell & Drum Tower Ent : Y80
  • Great Mosque Entrance : Y15
  • Meal Dinner : Y22
  • Meal Supper : Y40

                  Shopping Items:

  • Souvenir : Y70
  • Boots : Y255
  • Clothes : Y49
  • Scarf : Y45
  • Coffee & water : Y16

That’s all for now. I will continue write about Beijing, the next destination on the new post. Thank you for reading.

 

 

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