Kampong Glam: eclectic, spirited Muslim Quarter

On day four of our Singapore trip, we went to explore the eclectic and colourful neighbourhood of Kampong Glam. It is named after the Malay words for ‘village’  ‘gelam tree’ (Paperbark tree), since these trees used to grow in the area. This neighbourhood was formerly the home of the Malaysian aristocracy, prior to British colonisation. However, after the treaty was signed it became the designated settlement for the Sultan and his court as well as the Malay and Arab communities. Today it remains the Malay and Muslim enclave a and is known for being a trendy neighbourhood, rich in history and culture.

We arrived in Kampong Glam in the morning to have breakfast. Then visited the Sultan’s Mosque, did some shopping at Bussorah Street and Haji Lane and later returned for dinner and dessert. In my next post, I will detail our visit to the Rocher (Bugis) area, which we also did the same day.

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Tanjong Pagar: Koreatown

Last time I left you we were at the Singapore Zoo (day 3). Well after a big day out,  we decided to do a low key dinner in the trendy in the neighbourhood Tanjong Pagar. This is a historic area within the Central Business District. Its name means ‘cape of stakes’ which references the wooden stakes that held up this former fishing village. Today it is a colourful thriving area where you can find great nightlife at Tras Street, best Korean food in Koreatown, great hawker food at Maxwell Food Centre and Tanjong Pagar Plaza Market and amazing views at the Pinnacle@Duxton.


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Singapore Zoo: animal wonderland, rainforest oasis

On the third day of our holiday, we planned to have a break from site seeing in the city and visit the Singapore Zoo instead. The weather was meant to be perfect and Octavia was really excited to see all the animals.

Before we made our way to the zoo we thought we would have breakfast close to our hotel. I found it hard to find any cafes that were opened before 10am. Luckily attached to our hotel there an arcade with some restaurants and cafes. This is where we found the cafe Killiney Kopitiam.

This Hainanese coffee shop was originally opened in 1919 in Killiney Road, in the River Valley district of the city. It was known for its famous charcoal- grilled toast and hot coffees and teas. It was bought by a regular customer, Mr Woon in 1993, renamed and later franchised in 2001. You can now find Killiney Kopitiam locations throughout  Singapore, Asia and even in Melbourne, Australia. They offer classic Singaporean breakfast sets, such as kaya toast, french toast, soft boiled eggs and chee cheong fun. They also offer classic dishes including Chicken Curry, Mee Siam, Laksa etc.

For breakfast, I had a Kaya Toast set which included soft boiled eggs and Chinese Tea. Marco had the French Toast set with eggs and Kopi. This was my first time ordered kaya toast and I really liked it. The kaya was delicious and tasted like a coconut custard and the butter was nice and thick and melted nicely between the toast. My Chinese tea was also very nice and tasted like English Breakfast. Marco also liked his French Toast which is a nice variation.


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Chinatown: preserving the heritage of yesteryear

Our next destination in Singapore was the vibrant, historical (and touristy) district of Chinatown. This was actually one of the places I was most excited to visit. That is because we were visiting close to the time of the Chinese New year and this is the year of the dog (Octavia’s favourite animal). I was also excited to try some good-quality Chinese food and visit the old temples.

Chinatown is historically a Chinese ethnic-centric area in the Outram district. It was actually named ‘Chinatown’ by the British. However, it was originally known as Niu che shui (Mandarin), meaning “bullock water-cart”, because the water supply was primarily transported by animal-driven carts in the 19th century. Chinatown features post-war historical shophouses, street hawking scenes and markets of yesteryear and is the only district in South East Asia that houses three different religious places of worship (Hindu, Muslim and Buddist). Although it is a very touristy place, where you can find plenty of souvenirs, it is also a part of the city where the heritage of yesteryear has been well preserved.


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Little India: colourful, bustling and spicy

This is my first post for my travel adventure series to Singapore. As I mentioned, I had ten wonderful days in this amazing island nation. I only got back last weekend, so I’ve still been unwinding, getting back to our normal routines.

This was my second visit to Singapore. I think the last time I actually spent time here was eight years ago. So it was lovely to revisit this country (and city). Singapore is actually tiny in comparison to other countries. You can drive from one end to the other in less than an hour, depending on the traffic of course. Ten days may seem like a lot of time to spend in such a small place. However, there is just so much to see and do here. I tried to make sure we saw most of the major neighbourhoods, sectors and sites. I’m sure there are plenty more things we could see or revisit the next time we return. There are definitely plenty more places to eat and foods we that didn’t have the time or appetite to try. This is because this tiny country has a lot established culture and cuisines. Nearly every Asian countries food is represented, as well as different cuisines within their cultures. That’s not including all the other ethnicities from the Middle East, Europe and Africa. It’s just an amazing mixing pot of people from a variety of cultures, religions and walks of life, who all live in harmony.

For this trip, I organised an itinerary that kept us busy for the whole 10 days from morning until night. To make commuting more convenient we decided to book two hotels. Our first hotel was the One Farrer Hotel & Spa in Little India. I was really happy with this accommodation. The staff were lovely, the rooms were large, beds comfortable and facilities were gorgeous. So it was a nice surprise when we arrived from our eight-hour flight.


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Roundup of Euro Trip 2017

My Euro trip of 2017 series has finally come to an end. I hope you enjoyed reading about my travels and looking through my photos. I hope I have inspired you to visit some of these amazing places or just experience another culture from your own hometown.

This is a round-up of all the countries and cities we visited on our Euro trip in 2017. They include France, Italy, Switzerland, Serbia, Sweden and Belgium. Press the images below to visit the corresponding travel post.

If you would like to read about my other travel stories from across the world see my Travel Adventures.


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Bruges: a medieval Flemish beauty

Our very last city on our Euro Trip 2017 was the beautiful Belgian city of Bruges. I never knew anything about this city, just that it was the birthplace of Doctor Evil. I had no idea how gorgeous it was and I’m so happy we fit this visit into our last stop in Belgium.

Bruges is a medieval town, which looks like it came out of a fairy tale. The cobbled stone streets are lined with old Flemish homes, the gothic-styled buildings and churches loom from overhead and the dreamy canals bring a touch of whimsical beauty. Flemish language and culture still dominate this Belgium city. Bruges is also home an extensive amount of museums and hosts numerous music festivals throughout the year.


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Bellinzona: Castles of Montebello

Before I take you to my last travel stop in Bruges, Belgium for my Euro Trip for 2017, I thought I better take you somewhere else first. I actually completely forgot that I made another stop in Switzerland.  While I was in Italy staying with my family in Luino, my cousins took me to the Swiss city of Bellinzona.

Bellinzona is the capital city of the canton  Ticino of Switzerland. It is in the Italian-speaking southern region of Switzerland, just north of Lugano. This city is famous for its three medieval castles, Castelgrande, Montebello and Sasso Corbaro.

We visited the Castelgrande, which overlooks the other two castles. This castle was fortified from the 1st to the 13th century. Although the original Roman fort is no longer visible, parts of the High Middle Age castle are visible. Most of what stands is from the 11-15th century.

To get up to the castle we had to take an elevator from the foot of the rock. There is a museum, which covers 6500 years of human inhabitance from this hill. There is also a restaurant, had a function on the day of our visit.

This castle was truly an amazing site to see. Not only are the views of Bellinzona spectacular, but the sheer majesty of the castle blew my mind. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to visit the museum on this afternoon. If you’re interested in human history, I think it would be fantastic.

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Brussels: chocolate, frites and so much more

Belgium is our final destination on our Europe trip for 2017. We spent one day and an afternoon in Brussels and one day in Brugge. I absolutely loved Belgium, or as the locals say Bruxelles. It’s such a melting pot of different ethnicities and French flare. The chocolates and desserts make this a place I would definitely return for. Just give me another 24 hours of chocolates, waffles, fudge, croissants and Belgium frites. It’s definitely not the place to visit when you’re on a diet.

This was my first time visiting Belgium, so I had no idea what to expect from Brussels. I knew that French was the prominent language, so I was expecting it to be a little bit like my visit to Bourdeaux. I wasn’t expecting it to be a full-on tourist destination like Rome or Paris. I didn’t mind it though because the rest of the destinations on this trip weren’t big tourist meccas. It did mean we had to try to avoid tourist traps to get the best out of our trip. Our friends also met us in Brussels, since they live just over the English Channel in Kent. So it was lovely to discover this amazing city together.

So since we visited so many parts of Brussels over a couple of days on foot, I have split this post by neighbourhood. The areas we covered include the Center of Brussels (surrounding the Grand Place), Îlot Sacré, Stalingrad, Marolles, Sablon and The Upper Town (Haut de la Ville).

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Göteborg: a sunny afternoon

I thought I would have finished sharing this Euro Trip before the new year but only a couple more stops to go. After visiting the beautiful Swedish cities of MalmöYstadLund and Heisenberg, we spent one afternoon in Göteborg. This was not the first time we have visited Göteborg and we saw most of the sites last time. I will share the best of Göteborg in a future post.

We came to Göteborg to see Marco’s uncle. Unfortunately, he was unable to spend more time with us, but it was worth the trip to spend the afternoon with him. This was the first time Octavia had met him but she got along with him straight away, possibly because he looks so much like her grandfather.



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Quick stops in Lund and Heisenberg

From Malmö to Göteborg we made a couple of stops in Lund and Heisenberg. Unfortunately, they had to be extremely quick as there was major congestion on the motorway. We needed to be at our next destination by a certain time, so we lost a lot of time in traffic. So I only saw a snapshot of the beautiful little towns.


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Ystad: charming town, Ale’s Stones

While we were staying in Malmö we made a trip down to Ystad. This small town is on the coast of Southern Sweden and faces Germany-Polish coast across the Baltic Sea. This quiet town has become world famous for the popular BBC series, Wallander. We aren’t fans of the show, instead, we came to see Sweden’s Stonehenge, the Ale’s Stones.


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