[Day 07/10: KYOTO-Northern Higashiyama]

Also known as the “Philosopher’s walk”, the Northern Higashiyama portion was a stretch of walking which we prepared the girls for!

94All walks need to start with good breakfasts! And this cafe was one of the favourites – to us – for the old school but interesting interiors, to the girls – for the thick slices of milk toasts! K loved her butter especially!95G pretending to be thinking along the philosopher’s walk! haha96Distances and directions97It’s a rather long walk without much to do along the way, so it might get a bit boring for younger kids. The girls as usual found ways to amuse themselves-  like walking along the path by balancing only on the kerbs!98Beautiful flower / vegetable arrangements in front of the houses99So pretty!100First time seeing oranges on trees!101102Some much needed retail therapy after a long walk!103On the temple grounds. Love the greenery!104A little break at the tourism kiosk – the lady there was really good and made a great suggestion for Soba noodles (see below)!105One of the yummiest places we visited this trip.106Waiting for our food in this traditional courtyard house107Little japanese girls mastering the art of kneeling108Yum!109Look at that slurp!110I love this photo of K! She was waiting impatiently for her noodles to cool down!111Happy girl after lunch112Puppy fats🙂113A decent family shot by the very obliging restaurant owner. Highly recommended place if you do the same walk!

[Day 06/10: KURAMA Onsen Day trip

After the walking of yesterday, today was to be a relaxed day! We decided that we should bring them to an Onsen day trip. Kurama is the perfect place – it was too far away from Kyoto by train, but far enough to have very different temperatures and there was SNOW! Very important when you have snow crazy kids!!🙂

78As always, we relied on Hyperdia for the timetables. Here’s us waiting for the train. An aptly named “romantic carriage”79K insisted that we had to look “romantic” for this shot!80She took a shot of her sister’s toy as well. I love how she’s so into photography and videos!81We arrived to a SUPER cold and wet Kurama!! No snow yet but it was definitely cold enough!82Rain and wet weather means that the mossy grass and colours were ever so vibrant!83More temples, which we gave a miss to, I think the girls were pretty templed out by this time!84Love the mossy greens85Paper crane garlands87We literally spent the whole day at this little spa! It was great, we booked it online and they sent a van to pick us up from the train station. Highly recommended!!!88My little yukata clad miss enjoying herself!89Yummy yummy Nabe. A traditional soup dish that was so wholesome and good!90True enough, it started blizzarding! We walked to the outdoor onsen in the snow! The girls were soo thrilled! What I couldn’t take photos of were the little “resting” rooms that had mud packs and beauty stuff to put onto your face while you nap away in a toasty tatami floor space. It was so relaxing and I think we all took a little nap!91Beautiful sceneries!92For our last night in Kyoto, we visited another cool eating place (again without any links as I did not take note… arghh!) this time with more italian / japanese sort of food.

 

[Day 5/10: KYOTO – Southern Higashiyama]

We’re at the midway through our trip and the past few days had relatively little walking. Now was the start to test the mettle of the girls! Will they be able to sustain their little legs throughout this ‘leg’ of the trip?😛 A tip with anyone attempting Kyoto with little ones – split up your walking days! There’s lots to cover in Kyoto and we kinda took it by feel, if they were too tired, we just went into the nearest cafe / touristy shop for them to take a breather. Don’t get too stressed about going to EVERY single destination, sometimes the journey is more important!

This is called the Southern Higashiyama walk and you can read all about it here. We took it really slow, so didn’t really hurry the girls or linger at the temples. The highlight of the day would definitely have to be when we spotted a very pretty kimono clad lady walking down the street! The girls were so stunned and kept staring at her! We also stumbled upon a home-cooked cafe, literally in the garage of someone’s house! It was amazingly good food, unfortunately I didn’t take note of the name or address (it was just off the main shopping street – just look out for signs!)

[Day 04/10: KYOTO – Kitano Shrine, Teramachi street]

Christmas Day (2013)!! The long awaited (for us) flea market at the Kitano Shrine is here. If you are like us, and love looking for REAL bargains, check out authentic farmer’s food, talk (or attempt to talk) to fantastically passionate craft people….. this is THE flea market in Kyoto for you! The girls have also gradually been exposed to the wonders of Flea Market shopping – especially if they get to stretch their 1000 YEN daily budget!

44Going bright and early to a flea market is a MUST!

45Cute cute ceramic bowls!

46Part of the fun is always trying out new food stuff sold at the flea markets. The girls didn’t really like these “chao tar” corn though!

47Check out the crowd! Such a fantastic atmosphere….

48Upon discovering a vintage toy shop!

49The girls found something they likes after rummaging through boxes and boxes of toys! I think the fun of shopping at a flea market is to “discover” something in other people’s “junk”….

50Touching the cow for continuous good luck!

51The girls and their purchases. It looks so deceptively quiet and serene… in actual fact, the grounds were heaving with people!! All wanting to finish up their purchases for the 1st of January, which is a rather big deal here in Japan.

52Cute cute moccasins which V bought for K before the trip.

53My grown up little miss and her new raggedy doll.

54After that eventful morning, we visited this place.

55The cafe used to be a bathhouse, so the interiors were still had remnants of the bath tiles etc. Fantastic use of space!

56It had a very hippy vibe and very healthy food with great coffee!

57The best part of it was discovering that they also screen English movies! That afternoon was Toy Story Part 3! The girls were delighted and spent the time enjoying their chocolate cake with the movie screening…

58Whilst mummy sneaked out and did my own little walkabout.

59Something we have always done when travelling with the kids, is when there is a lull in their energy levels, we would take turns minding them (usually at a tea break somewhere), while one of us does a speed-shop around the area. It works out great as we get our own retail therapy, and the girls do not need to keep up with “boring” mummy or daddy!

60After the break, we visited the oldest bathhouse in Kyoto!

61The girls by now are well versed in the rituals of bathing in onsens, and take it for granted that it is THE thing to do on our many trips to Japan.🙂

62Dinner that night was at a cafe within the covered shopping street next to the hotel. Only after we went back and started to do some other research online, did we realise it was actually quite a famous cafe!

63Unfortunately I didn’t have any record of the name of the cafe at all. But the food was really really good! Think – Muji Cafe – type of food – before Muji Cafe opened in Singapore!

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The girls approve🙂

Again, the location of the Hotel was key on this trip. It was within walking distance to the best food and activities that we chose to do in Kyoto. Plus it was next to a walking street that was covered and had the best 100 yen stall!

[Day 03/10: KYOTO- Lake Biwa]

As with all the trips to Japan so far, Japan = SNOW in the girls books! We were a little bit doubtful about having snow in Kyoto though, so I did a lot of research before finding the nearest location to go to for snow from Kyoto was the mountains surrounding Lake Biwa.

Getting there was actually quite simple, especially with Hyperdia, a website which we use constantly on ALL our trips to Japan. You key in the location, and it tells you “to the minute” information on how to get there – using Train, Bus or Walking!

After much research, we settled on Biwako-Valley. It’s about an hour’s train ride away from Kyoto central train station. We then took the ropeway up to the top of the mountain for the snow. Details are on the website link – click on English to make sense of it!

35It was BLIZZARDING!! when we arrived from the Ropeway. This was the scene that greeted us… much to the delight of Snow crazy G!!

36She couldn’t get enough of the snow…. this was really the best place for her! We decided that the next trip will probably be just a snowy destination and that’s it!

37Good wholesome food as always at the ski slopes. I love the warm soups!

40Super cold!! Thankfully I had my trusty felted scarf (which I’ve since bought another from the same Etsy seller!) and the down filled Columbia windbreaker.

41It was a tiny tiny slope for the kids, but it was enough for them to enjoy their fix of snow and sledding.

42The sun came out for a little bit and we managed to get some nice photos of them.

43This is after a whole afternoon of going up and down this tiny slope! Love their rosy rosy cheeks!

39One of the best things about Japan has got to be the snacks. And the girls – especially K – love buying different snacks to try out everyday!

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Comparing treats

Lastly, some research which we did for our trip – some of the places we managed to get to, some not. But I thought I’d compile them here for posterity!

Kyoto general information website – with events by the week

Interesting Craft / Antique Market , Temple Flea Market

Nice Cafe, Cafes and Restaurants in Kyoto,

Shiga Biwa Lake tourism website

 

 

[Day 02/10: KYOTO-Arashiyama

We debated long and hard before we decided that perhaps it was time the girls could appreciate Kyoto. This trip involved lots and lots of walking, and on hindsight, there were days where we questioned the decision to come here at these ages!! (6&8 yrs old at the time) Some days were pretty tough going, especially since there were no prams to fall back on!!

So, our first ‘walking’ day in Kyoto – we wanted to break up the day into parts, so the first part was the Monkey Park! Hopefully something the girls can look forward to at the end of a long walk uphill!

11Poor little one had a swollen eye the whole day due to an allergic reaction to the towel!

12The quickest way we found to get there from our Hotel (bus stop was just in front of the hotel) was to hop onto the bus bound for Arashiyama Koen. The ride was very pleasant and the girls loved it!

13G looking so grownup here!

14Yup! We climbed all the way up!! It should take about 20-25minutes to climb all the way up, but we took our time, picking up leaves, acorn etc on the way up. Very proud of the girls for making it all the way up! And the trip down was even more fun, as G invented a little game of “chasing the rocks downhill” which they played and found hilarious!

15At the very top of the hill, there is also a lovely playground. I think the girls enjoyed this much more than the experience with the many “scary” monkeys!

16Feeding the hungry hungry monkeys. The monkeys were quite overwhelming!

17After the morning exertion, we were all famished and we decided to check out this place that sold Unagi, a favourite of the girls. Recommended HERE, we found the food to be fantastic, but the service and ambience probably not so suitable. The restaurant was pretty high end for a start, the rest of the clientele were mostly Japanese businessmen and very very well dressed Kyoto-ites. We spent most of the lunch “shush-ing” the girls, so it was not very enjoyable for us at all!

18Food wise it was great though! Even though the blog recommended it as “affordable”, the above set costs around $70! Different strokes for different people I guess!

19K polishing off her bowl!

23We then attempted to introduce the girls to the wonderful bamboo groves of Arashiyama.

24My little sidekick enjoying herself. The scenery was beautiful!

27There was only so much walking this little one could take though, so I spent quite a lot of time carrying her!

30Getting very tall very fast!

32Love this shot of the 2 of them.

33A little more cheerful after some retail therapy!

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It was a good LONG walk for the girls, if you go during the November / December months, there’s night time illumination which is rather pretty. We didn’t really stay long enough though, cos the girls were pretty sick of Bamboo groves by mid afternoon! haha…..

[Day 01/10 : KYOTO-Kawaramachi]

I realised I’ve not posted this post! It’s of our trip WAY back in 2013? to Kyoto! It’s a bit late, and the photos have been on FB for the longest time, but here’s the posts.. (since it’s already been written!)

We arrived in KIX, Osaka after a redeye flight from Singapore (again!), but this time around, the girls had way more sleep than us! Thankfully, V arranged the limousine bus transport which delivered us door to door from the airport to the hotel! Brilliant service but the girls were a teeny bit disappointed that it wasn’t a REAL limousine.. heh heh. We booked the hotel (Kyoto Royal Hotel & Spa)  about a month back at an incredible deal on this website, and i was really pleasantly surprised at the size and quality of hotel (a tip in booking Japanese hotel rooms – look at the size of the room before booking, ours was 25m2 and it’s perfect for our family of 4). Since the day was spent recovering from the redeye, we just took it easy and went around the hotel. Best thing about the hotel was also the location – it was smack in the middle of the shopping streets of Kyoto (Kawaramachi & Shinkyogoku Streets), and I was even more pleased to stumble upon one of my favorite shop of the trip!

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About 5 minutes walk from our hotel was a covered shopping street with lots of little shops, my favourite was this fabric shop! The kids loved the readymade kits and also the 100 yen shop next door🙂

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Coffee place next to the Fabric shop above. We came here to escape the cold!

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[September Holidays & Key Fob Tutorial]

The blog has been very quiet. We are trying to get to grips with REVISION (said in a very sheepish way), as the girls (and their parents) have been quite lucky in that regard so far – in that they never did revision, so needless to say, we are pretty clueless as to how to go about it! (tips and tricks will be appreciated here – do leave them in the comments!)

Anyways, in the absence of that, the recent September hols were still an attempt to do stuff & spend time together. Given that my parents were away on holiday, we had to juggle practice, play & some form of revision with the girls. The good thing about having our own practice (and now a big enough office), is that we were able to pretty much bring the girls to work and they can occupy their time doing things while we go about our own work.

I’ve never much talked about what the girls like to do on the blog, but I suppose if you are on my FB friends list, you’re more aware of their individual pursuits. Even though we did not set about to specifically cultivate their interests, I love how their interests have evolved through the years, and so much of their own nature goes into them!

First some photos of what we’ve been up to (and how much they have grown!)

 

K loves video editing and making little videos of her toys (she aspires to be a YouTube sensation!!) Do go check out her videos HERE – the extra views will make this 8 yr old very happy!

G on the other hand, takes the easy way out – least work for max result – is her motto! I love her humour though, and she has been making a good sideline (to fund her Kindle purchases) on THESE.

As with most years, we are gearing up for the “ber” months with putting up Christmas fairs etc. This year, the girls have decided that they will like to take part in the fairs too! In light of this, I had to think of what we can sell that combines their various talents. They are shrewd little businesswomen and the proceeds are to be shared equally! (even though mummy did most of the work! Hah!)

So here’s the blurb:

We are making KEY FOBS (amongst other things)!! If you don’t know what they are, do check out the video tutorial  below (the graphics are courtesy of G who is an avid illustrator). Hope we make enough kits and sell enough of them to make it a worthwhile lesson in business for the girls!

Let me know if you would like to purchase them, they are available online through this blog too!

 

 

[BALI revisited – June 2016]

More than 2 years after our last trip to Bali, we are finally back to the Isles of the Gods. This time around, with Po2 & Kong2, the girls were excited to show them all the sites and especially the novelty of the private villa – this time with 2 Bedrooms! They were beyond thrilled….

We ate and drank and swam and ate some more, here are some selected pix. It was as magical as ever!

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2 Bedroom villa at a very nice and very central villa [b villa seminyak]

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Highly recommend this for any Yoga enthusiast! V’s 1st time and he was sold!

The girls loved the pool! And the daily breakfasts that were cooked in the villa.

G looking so grownup!

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Walking around in HOT HOT Bali! And shopping!

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Brought the folks to new to us tapas restaurant – Barbacoa – it was as good as the reviews were! We loved it so much we went back again on the last day!

The food, presentation, and location was just superb! Next time will try to head back for dinner and have them Babi Guling! The meats are highly recommended. G & K loved the chicken and beef.

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With mum & dad around, we were able to sneak out to grab some quiet time and to check out some newly built interesting architecture / interiors

As the girls grow older, it is so nice to see them enjoying the same things, girly stuff, goofy stuff, angsty stuff😛

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Sharing a joke (usually at their parents expense!)

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Goofy girls

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Sketching before the food arrived

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Complaining about being in a temple (boring!)

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Learning from Grandpa

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Making (unfortunately B creative which the girls loved has closed down) this was a stumbled upon poor (and expensive!) substitute

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Charms and Beads galore! Got me hooked back onto macrame bracelet making….

Lastly, it was really nice to have a joint holiday with my parents. Hopefully it was as relaxing for them as it was for us!

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Biku for their yummy high tea sets (and G’s new discovery – the amazing water expandable face towels!)

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The ever obliging grandparents

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Learning Chess from Kong2

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The girls perfecting “grumpy cat” faces

Food and other random shots!

 

Adios Bali! We will be back again soon! Maybe to UBUD for a more crafty and perhaps less HOT holiday!

 

[G’s 11th bday]

Since I’ve always been the one to pen the birthday messages, I thought for her 1st year in her “teens”, Daddy can start his messages to her….. Here’s what he has to say:

Dear Grace

It has been 11 years since the day you arrived into this world, into our lives. I look back at the times we have spent together, times filled with joy, anguish, pride, exasperation and above all, reflection.

Joy is when I see you spare a thought about the people you love; your mum, your sister and myself, your grandparents, your friendships, in the hospital beside your sick granduncle. In my joy I see a deeply affectionate being, one who is incapable of not loving.

Anguish is when I feel the pain and sorrow for the things which didn’t work out for you; your constant squabbles with your sister, your impatience with mum, your defiance for authority, your succumbing to insolence. In my anguish I see a child who many a time cannot understand another point of view, yet one who is capable of saying sorry when it’s all over.

Pride is when I learn of the many things you have achieved; your ease of learning, your love for math, your determination towards the piano, your desire to read. In my pride I see a gifted you, one that is incapable of not enjoying.

Exasperation is when I think of your indifference to attitudes which we are bothered with; your self-absorbed laziness, the incessant inventing of silly terms of ‘non-endearment’, the boisterous behavior. In my exasperation I fear a looming teenage years brewing, yet always you remain capable of being true to the energetic free spirit that you are.

But above all, reflection is when you show me the ways I can be a better parent; giving you and your sister my impartial and undivided attention, seeing things from your point of view, recognizing your needs, being there for you always. A father that will be incapable of living without you.

You did have a rollercoaster of a birthday celebration. Thank you for giving me that too.

Happy 11th Birthday, G.

Love, Dad.

I teared reading the message from V to G. We have always tried to be consistent in our parenting to the girls, so it is without a doubt every bit of my emotion as well as V’s in the above message. Happy Birthday G from Mummy too! My contribution to this birthday post will be the accompanying photos that follow:

 

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