Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Budget Kyoto Trip Itinerary - 5 Days 4 Night - Autumn season

Kyoto was once the capital city of Japan. With such as great long history, it has many shrines and temples around. It has become one of the Japan major tourist city. For those who like to view autumn foliage, Kyoto is the best place in the world to view that. During autumn, many parts of Kyoto has transformed into colourful surroundings. Do make sure you arrive here around November to December each year to have the best autumn foliage view. Kyoto however like many cities in Japan is not cheap. However, I have outline my trip with budget in mind. Below are the list of places that I covered during my visit to Kyoto and hope that you will find it useful.

Colourful and recognizable Fushimi Inari shrine.

Beautiful autumn foliage.

Geisha in sight...

Landmark of Kyoto.

Day Morning Afternoon Evening Night
Day 1 (Fri) 1. Arrival 7.15am at Kansai International Airport via MH52

2. Taking bus from Kansai International Airport to Kyoto

3. Check in at Backpacker's Hostel Tour Club
1. Lunch at Nakau

2. Higashi-Hongan-ji Temple. A short walk from Kyoto Station.

1. Fushimi Inari shrine

1. Dinner. Musashi sushi

2. Shijo shopping street

3. Shin Kyogoku Shopping Arcade
Day 2 (Sat) 1. Breakfast at Nakau

2. Beautiful autumn foliage at Tofukuji temple
1. Gion - Geisha District of Kyoto

2. Yasaka Shrine

3. Maruyama Park

4. Lunch. Traditional Kyoto Tofu at Tousuiro Gion
1. Kiyomizudera temple

2. Yatsuhashi souvenir

3. Yatsuhashi cream puff (yam flavour)
1. Dinner. Oyako-Don of Hisago

2. Kodaiji temple autumn night illumination
Day 3 (Sun) 1. Kyoto station with rooftop garden
1. Arashiyama not just bamboo forest
1. Sunset view of Kinkakuji temple (Golden Pavilion) 1. Dinner. Soba dinner set at Polta food court, Kyoto Station

2. Night view of Kyoto station with Christmas feel.
Day 4 (Mon) 1. Breakfast. Beef rice at Nakau

2. Nanzenji temple

3. Eikando temple
1. Philosopher's path

2. Honen-in temple
1. Ginkakuji temple (Silver Pavilion)
1. Dinner. Rice sashimi don at Shin Kyogoku Shopping Arcade

2. Supper. Musashi sushi
Day 5 (Tue) 1. Travel to Osaka via train

Monday, July 28, 2014

Budget Tokyo Trip Itinerary - 4 Days 3 Nights - Sakura season

Tokyo hanami season starts in late March or early April and lasts about a week. The exact dates is different year by year depending on weather. This is the most interesting time to visit Tokyo when the cherry trees (sakura) bloom everyone wants to be outside. Companies, friends and families hold hanami parties under the trees.

There are literally hundreds of sakura viewing spots in Tokyo and during my this short trip to Tokyo, I cover three of the main hanami spots: Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, Ueno Park and Showa Kinen Koen. My visit to Tokyo this year is a bit late so I miss the full bloom in Ueno Park. However, full bloom can still be viewed in Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden as usually the cherry trees are late bloomer type. Tokyo is among the most expensive place in the world and my plan below which I did it economically and fun.

Sakura in Shinjuku Gyoen.

Tulip garden and sakura at Showa Kinen Koen.

Nanohara and cherry trees.
Day Morning Afternoon Evening Night
Day 1 (Thur) 1. Arrival 7.00am at Narita International Airport via MH88

2. Taking train to Tokyo city via Keisei Skyliner package

3. Check in at Fukusen Hotel
1. Sushi lunch at Ameyoko, Ueno

2. Ueno Park for hanami viewing/sakura.
1. Ameyoko street market

2. Tea time. Having ramen at Aji No Tokeidai Ramen

3. Harajuku walk

4. Shibuya walk

5. Visit Book Off Shibuya
1. Dinner/supper. Chicken soup ramen at Minami Senju.
Day 2 (Fri) 1. Lunch. Sushi Zanmai lunch set at Akihabara

2. Sakura viewing at Showa Kinen Koen
1. Shopping in Koenji.
1. Dinner. Smart Sushi at Koenji.
Day 3 (Sat) 1. Breakfast. Sanuki Udon Hanamaru at Akihabara.
1. Sakura season at Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
1. Shimo-Kitazawa 1. Dinner. Curry Tonkatsu at COCO Ichibanya, Shimo-Kitazawa.

2. Shopping in Shibuya.
Day 4 (Sun) 1. Travel to Shanghai via Japan Airlines

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Budget New York City Trip Itinerary - 5 Days 4 Night - Autumn season

New York City is a global power city in which it has huge influence on commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and entertainment. The city also known as Big Apple and a world major tourist attraction city. New York City is the home to a few iconic monuments such as Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, Grand Central Terminal, Brooklyn Bridge and World Trade Center site. So for most of the attractions, you will notice that there is long queue to get in. Hope with this budget outline trip plan, the reader will find it useful.

New York City skyline at night.

New York Central Park.

Brooklyn bridge.

Times Square.

Day Morning Afternoon Evening Night
Day 1 (Tue) 1. Arrival 6.15am at J.F.Kennedy (JFK) Airport via Jetblue flight from San Diego, USA

2. Taking NYC Airporter shuttle from JFK Airport to Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan, New York

3. Taking New York subway to hotel

4. Check in at The Bowery House hostel. Great they allowed me to put my luggage.

5. Joining All in One Downtown NYC Free Tour by Foot.

1. Lunch. Amy's Bread

2. Continue with... All in One Downtown NYC Free Tour by Foot.
1. Top of The Rock for New York skyline view. 1. Times Square
Day 2 (Wed) 1. Greenwich

2. Good biscuit and pastries at Pasticceria Rocco
1. Lunch. Famous Ben's Pizza of SOHO

2. High Line Park visit
1. Tea break at Lobster Place in Chelsea Market. Having lobster salad sandwich.
1. Visit 911 Memorial

2. Visit South Street Seaport on Pier 17

3. Visit Italian night market near Chinatown

4. Dinner. Beef rendang rice at Nyonya Restaurant. A Malaysian meal restaurant.
Day 3 (Thur) 1. Trinity Church visit

2. Lower Manhattan visit

3. Staten Island Ferry (free service)
1. Grand Central Terminal

2. Lunch. Junior's Cheese Pie at Grand Central Terminal.

3. Bryant Park

4. Visit United Nation building. Unfortunately, there is International event. So the building is closed to the public.

5. Times Square

6. New York Public Library
1. Federal Reserve Bank, New York for viewing the gold vault of New York underground.

2. Brooklyn bridge walk
1. Brooklyn tour by foot
Day 4 (Fri) 1. Breakfast. Pastrami at Katz Delicatessen

2. Window shopping Avenue 33, New York
1. Window shopping at Macy's Superstore

2. Empire State Building
1. Central Park
1. Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET)
Day 5 (Sat) 1. Breakfast. Salami at Katz Delicatessen 1. Back home to Kuala Lumpur via Virgin America and Malaysia Airlines.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Budget Paris Trip Itinerary - 6 Days 5 Nights - Spring season

It has been a while since my trip to Paris during spring of 2012. There has been a few request from the readers on my full itinerary of my Paris trip. Hope that the table below are able to help those who would like to explore Paris in the near future. Paris is a wonderful place to go and explore as its full of culture, history, shopping and fashion. If you like to travel Paris budget style but not compromise on quality, please find my trip itinerary below. Hope that you will find it useful.

Paris is not just about Eiffel Tower. It has more waiting for you to explore!

Day Morning Afternoon Evening Night
Day 1 (Thur) 1. Arrival 6.40am at Charles de Gaulle Airport via MH20

2. Check in at Neptune Hotel
1. Sundemans Paris free tour. 1. Champ de Elysee

2. Lamborghini test drive

3. Tea time. French baguette. Brioche Doree cafe

4. Arc de Triomphe

5. Le Marias
1. Dinner. L’As du Fallafel

2. Chocolate shop. Maison Georges Larnicol

3. Visiting Carrefour for breakfast stock
Day 2 (Fri) 1. Versailles Palace – Main building 1. Versailles Palace – The gardens 1. Versailles Palace - Marie Antoinette’s estate 1. Musee du Louvre – World largest art gallery and to view Mona Lisa.

2. Dinner. Le George V cafe for escargot
Day 3 (Sat) 1. Breakfast – Tang Gourmet

2. Montmatre - Sacre Coeur
1. Montmatre funicular ride

2. Bersih event in Paris
1. Notre Dame Cathedral 1. Dinner. Le Jean Bart for sliced duck

2. Eiffel Tower at night
Day 4 (Sun) 1. Fontainebleau Palace 1. Musee d’Orsay for Impressionist masterpieces 1. Dinner. Leon De Bruxelles for French style mussel
Day 5 (Mon) 1. Pete Lachaise cemetery. Burial place for famous people. 1. Lunch. Obododo cafe for pork rib with honey sauce

2. Galeries Lafayette shopping centre
1. Sainte Chapelle church 1. Dinner. Dudule Restaurant
Day 6 (Tue) 1. Breakfast. Boulanger Patissier for goat milk quiche

2. Travel to Amsterdam by Thalys train

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Gartien Pineapple Cake from Penang and Mid Autumn Festival Promotion

Gartien is located just right opposite of Komtar and easily accessible via Jalan Burma. The new HQ is located next to Kek Seng Coffee Shop. What is so special about Gartien pineapple cake? Gartien version of pineapple cake is rolled up in a rectangular pillow of buttery pastry dough encasing pineapple filling. Everything here is natural and the filling in this pineapple cake is 100% freshly harvested pineapple that has been purposely cut into bite size chunks rather than machine mashed pineapple. At Gartien, the pineapples are hand cut into smaller pieces which is a time consuming process but needed to retain its distinctive texture and taste. They are cooked for 12 hours until they turn into luxurious golden brown. Then the shortbread pastry which is made from pure butter wrap over generous portion of the pineapple fillings and lastly baked to perfection. Who said we don't have great made in Malaysia pineapple cake? Now you can get it from Penang rather than from Taiwan. Do drop by their shop or you can even order it via their website at www.gartien.com.

Gartien only use all natural ingredients(flour, pure butter, egg, milk powder, raw sugar, honey and cooked fresh pineapple) and without preservative or artificial flavoring. Therefore the cake can only be kept for about 28 days in the packaging.

Taste:8/10(Good. The pineapple texture were good with chunky pineapple fillings and not too sweet. A healthy snack option as pineapple contains high minerals and fiber).
Price:6/10(Moderate. Each box have 10 individually packed cake priced at MYR45.00).

Nice Gartien pineapple cake packaging reached my door step. This is the exclusively packed Gartien Pineapple Cake. Suitable to be given as gift.

Cartoonish box which sure bring cheers to children during mid-autumn festival.

Nice and neat packaging. It comes in a box of 10 and each cake is individually packed.

Gartien, famous pineapple cake shop in Penang. Each pieces is wrapped with Japanese washi paper to preserve its freshness.

Penang is a bit far for me to travel to buy the Pineapple cake. Its great that they have fast delivery service within Peninsular Malaysia. You can order via phone or online.

Gartien pineapple cake were baked to golden brown colour with soft and buttery flavour.

Pineapple cake texture. Recommended to have this with tea or coffee. Because the ingredients are all natural, the filling is very fresh and you can really chew on the little chunks of pineapples.

The pineapple were cooked for 12 hours to give the perfect golden brown colour.

What's great about this pineapple cake is the taste is not overly sweet. Suitable as gift for the elderly too.

This year mid autumn festival packaging is using purple colour concept.

Do bring your parking ticket to the shop to entitle free parking.

1. Booking order BEFORE 4 AUGUST 2014 for 5 boxes and above will be entitled to A BOX FREE.
2. Booking order AFTER 4 AUGUST 2014 (upon availability) for 10 boxes and above will be entitled to A BOX FREE.
3. The selling price per box with 10 pieces of pineapple cakes is RM45 (self collect only). A fix courier charge of RM10 & RM40 will be applicable to all deliveries within Peninsular Malaysia & East Malaysia respectively.

GPS/Coordinate: 5.416298, 100.329380
Address: 380, Jalan Penang, 10000 Penang, Malaysia (next to Kek Seng Coffee Shop)
Contact: +604-229 0068
Website: www.gartien.com
Email: info@gartien.com
Facebook: www.fb.gartien.com/
Business Hours: 9.00am-6.00pm daily

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Budget Chicago Trip Itinerary - 5 Days 4 Nights - Autumn season

Chicago is the third largest city in the United States and is known as a windy city. Located at Midwest of USA beside huge Lake Michigan, it boost great city scenery and miles of sandy beaches. I recommend one to take the architectural cruise which brings you around Chicago via the rivers. The view is spectacular. In my opinion, Chicago looks almost 70% like New York city with skyscrapers and the uniqueness of the overhead retro style metro train. The architecture of these train lines some dated back in 1892 with wooden platform at some of the stations. Below is my budget itinerary to Chicago previously. Hope this can help to plan for your trip.

Cloud gate at Millennium Park.

Chicago skyline at night.

Chicago thick stuffed pizza.

Willis tower Chicago at night from architectural cruise.

Day Morning Afternoon Evening Night
Day 1 (Mon) 1. Arrival at 1.30pm in Midway Chicago airport from Washington DC via Southwest airlines.

2. Taking Chicago Metro to reach my rented room which I got quite a deal located within The Loop.

3. Check in at Home Stay via Airbnb. Great the host allowed me to put my luggage and I start my Chicago itinerary.

1. Visit the Chicago iconic Cloud Gate.

2. Visit Millenium Park.

1. Dinner at The Purple Pig. Having milk braised pork shoulder and wine.

Day 2 (Tue) 1. Breakfast at Fontano's Sub. Having healthy Italian styled 6-inch sandwich.

1. Breezy walk at Navy Pier.

2. Late lunch at Giordano's Pizza. Have the thick cheesy stuffed pizza which is famous in Chicago.
1. Walking along the Magnificent Mile which is the centre of great Chicago shopping.

2. Visit John Hancock Observatory (now known as 360 Chicago) to view Chicago skyline. Go up during evening at around 5.00pm to experience skyline of day, sunset and night of Chicago.
1. Dinner. Having famous red velvet cheesecake from Cheesecake Factory.
Day 3 (Wed) 1. Following tour from Chicago Greeter. This is a free based tour which is funded by the tourism board of Chicago. I am lucky enough to be able to get the walking tour. The main highlights were Chicago city hall, Lincoln Park & farmer market.

2. Visit Lincoln Park farmer market. Variety of local produced stuffs.

1. Lunch at The Wieners Circle. Tried on their famous "the work" Vienna beef hot dog.

1. Visiting Chinatown of Chicago.

1. Dinner. Spicy beef noodles at Lao Hunan in Chinatown, Chicago.

2. Scrolling around Chicago Downtown and visiting Walgreen to stock up supplies.
Day 4 (Thur) 1. Breakfast. Blueberry pancake at Yolk.

2. Visiting Field museum. The museum have a the most complete T-Rex dinosaur skeleton named Sue.
1. Scrolling at Chicago Downtown.

2. Art Institute of Chicago. I like this art museum as it combine both traditional and modern art into one single museum. Very informative and value for money.
1. Chicago hot dog from American's Dog. You can get a variety of American hot dogs here.

2. Wendella river cruise. Anyone visiting Chicago should at least take one architecture cruise to view the city spectacular skylines. Take this cruise at around 6.30pm so that you can experience sunset view and night time view.

1. Dinner. Last meal in Chicago. Having Salisbury chopped steak from Grand Lux cafe.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Cheap mixed rice (Nasi Campur) @ Tesco Food Court, Ara Damansara

There is a stall in Tesco food court in Ara Damansara which selling quite a reasonable priced mixed rice. This stall is quite popular during lunch time and the food taste good as well.

Taste:8/10(Good. Their fried chicken is good and fragrant but slightly salty. The vegetables is moderate).
Price:9/10(Cheap. The mixed rice with fried chicken, bean sprouts and vegetable at MYR5.90).

Mixed rice at Tesco food court.

GPS/Coordinate: 3.116792, 101.576059
Address: Tesco Ara Damansara, Taipan 2 Damansara, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Jie Di Lia @ Shanghai, China

While I walking around Ningbo road in Shanghai, I saw this restaurant selling meal set and with reasonable pricing. I would like to try on the meat pie but I don't prefer to buy it from street stall. Here they have many meal set for you to choose from.

Taste:7/10(Moderate. The meat pie which have the savoury taste is quite good but the noodles is average).

Vegetarian noodles set. It comes with a meat pie and orange juice.

Meat pie which comes with the noodles set.

Meat pie.

Quite a tasty pie.

Do check out for this shop when you visit Shanghai.

GPS/Coordinate: 31.239173, 121.484011
Website: www.mydofood.com

Friday, July 4, 2014

Lujiazui @ Shanghai, China

Lujiazui is a new financial district of Shanghai. it is located on the east side of the Huangpu River in Pudong, and sits directly across the river from the old financial and business district of the Bund.

Shanghai iconic Oriental Pearl Tower during day time.

Oriental Pearl Tower during night.

The huge sphere on the tower.

Shanghai IFC building. View from circular pedestrian bridge. The bridge provides access to the Oriental Pearl Tower connecting financial area to leisure areas such as shopping malls and cafes, Lujiazui metro station and office buildings. The bridge sits almost 20 feet above the street, with numerous escalator stairway entrances and exits. The pedestrian bridge overpass enables pedestrians to avoid traffic at the roundabout of Lujiazui Road.

Super Brand Mall of Shanghai.

Looking towards old financial centre of The Bund. You can cross the river using the available ferry services.

Sphere during sunset.

Shanghai World Financial Centre area with many tall buildings. Most of the buildings are among the tallest in China.

Although Lujiazui is a financial centre of Shanghai, but it also a famous tourist attraction.

Selfie with Oriental Pearl Tower.

GPS/Coordinate: 31.238036, 121.501601
Public transport: Lujiazui station on Shanghai Metro via line 2.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Sichuan dinner at Ba Guo Bu Yi Restaurant @ Shanghai, China

Ba Guo Bu Yi is a famous restaurant chain in China serving good sichuan style (ma la) or spicy cooking. What's great about this restaurant is that they also have great face changing performances. The face changing show starts at 8pm every evening, the performance is short but entertaining. The energetic performer leaps and bounds in dramatic fashion, his face flashing through a range of colors and expressions in seconds. He even departs the stage and walk around the crowd and pose for pictures after the show. There are twenty Ba Guo Bu Yi outlets across China including Shanghai, Beijing, Hangzhou, Shenzhen, Sanya and Nanjing. There are also three stores in Chengdu itself, including the flagship store where seats are particularly hard to come by, but booking at any and all is definitely recommended, especially if you want to catch the show.

Taste:9/10(Delicious. The meal is excellent with a type of spiciness that I never taste before. The pepper used is different compared to the pepper that I normally take. The sichuan fish in dried and pepper is a must try with melt in your mouth chili oil. Really good).

This slices of pork with cucumber taste great with the spicy sauce which comes with it. Finely sliced pork belly hanging over small wooden trestles, ready to be wrapped around slices of cucumber and spring onion.

Good presentation and taste great.

Very nice packaging of chopstick and tissue paper.

Dried chili and dried pepper fish. This dish is superb and tasty. However beware. Its super spicy.

Dried chili mutton with vegetables.

Beef stomach with braised spicy peanut.

Ma la spicy bean curd. Looks at the red paste surrounding the bean curd. Spicy!

Famous China Tsingtao beer. The beer taste good and have a trace of sweetness.

The Tsingtao beer is a bit light in colour.

Kailan with oyster sauce.

Impressive face changing show.

The face changing man came to our table. He smiled when I wanted to take picture :-)

Quite a big crowd in the restaurant.

This is the restaurant signboard.

GPS/Coordinate: 31.211339, 121.423489
Address: 1018 Dingxi Road, Changning, Shanghai, China.


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