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Archive for October, 2009

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After looking for the best possible Moutain Bike to rent in Bali, I found a flashy green Yokota (probably not more than 100 USD). 2 days after, I upload a bike course around Ubud from “Garmin Connect” on my GPS watch, put my gear on and hit the dirt roads. What started as a boring course became the best MTB trail I have ever done (note that I have done 3 in my life….). The road profile gets challenging, the view more and more scenic. After 1 hour I am in the middle of rice paddies, with not a soul around. This is Bali in all its splendor. I happily keep pedaling following the course on my watch. I am a bit overenthusiastic and do not feel surprise, when the track gets really step and actually impossible to pass with a bike. I am thinking, well, the course must contain some bike-carrying…nothing to worry about. But after 20 min. I find myself in a idyllic dead end, deep down the Sayan River bed. It has only one way up: the same way I came down earlier. A liter of sweat later, I find the bike course again and finish after 2H30 a trail that I will keep in my memory for a very long time.

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My subconscious registered this name while browsing on tripadvisor.com. When we saw the restaurant, I suggested to get in and the first highlight IS to get inside. A wonderfully airy, peaceful, cream-white atmosphere immediately surrounds you. The designer of the restaurant, the mother of the owner, choose consciously not to optimise the place with as many seating as possible, but made the restaurant in such a way that everybody had got privacy and space to fully concentrate on the food. The food itself is probably the best Japanese food I ever had. There is a Menu Degustation for 180’000 IDR (or 20.- CHF) that I totally recommend. The presentation of the food is excellent with creative Japanese Porcelain. The service is impeccable. We ended up paying CHF 95.- for 2 adults and 2 children. By far the most expensive restaurant we ate in Bali. But it was all worth it.

  • Address: JL Raya Sanggingan, Ubud, Bali 80571, Indonesia
  • Phone: +62-361-970013

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Ubud

We extended our stay in Hong Kong by 1 week, because we liked the place but also because we felt too unprepared for Bali. We thought it would be easy to land and find a good, reasonably priced accommodation with pool in Ubud, Bali. Well, after multiple calls and mails with contact persons in Ubud we had to come to the conclusion that all that all interesting places for families in Ubud published on the internet were booked!!!

But the additional week in Hong Kong allowed us to make better contacts with expats in Ubud and one of them personally went to check and book for us in a small hotel. Melati Cottages has 22 rooms, a pool and a fantastic staff! We arrived at the main airport in Denpasar and a driver was waiting for us. After a few minutes drive, he proposed to go have dinner at the beach as the restaurant of the hotel would be closed at this time.We arrive late at night and check in the ground floor of this lovely house with garden view

Melati Cottages, Ubud

After 24 hours staying in the hotels, we have members of the staff helping us finding a house, helping us hiring a car, helping us finding good places to eat, etc…

The last time I was in Bali was in 2001 and the most vivid souvenirs were the temples everywhere and that true Balinese were the sweetest people I had ever met. I was afraid that the expansion of the (mostly american, english and chinese) tourism would change the people and the place. Well, so far, it seems it has not and I am deeply relieved and glad to be back here, in one of the last paradise on earth with my family.

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It is our second attempt to go to Disneyland attempt. The first one was abruptly stopped due to extreme bad mood of the younger participants. A real good briefing once back at the hotel and a good night sleep made the second attempt very successful. I am always a bit sceptical before going to such an amusement park. Is it too cheesy, is it too crowded, is it culturally OK for me, is it right to bombard our kids with Disney stuff, etc…

Well, I forgot all about my doubts and suspicions even before I entered the place. Along the main alley leading to the entrance, there is “cheer up” music, the place is spotless, it is big but not to big and everything and everyone is looking friendly and excited. Once inside, it gets even better, we enter an old choo-choo train that leads us directly to “Fantasy Land”. It is so cool to see the excitement of the young public (to which I by now belong) running to queue for the next attractions. And we do nearly all of them, Bimbo the Flying Elephant, the Adventures of Winny Pooh, Cinderella Carousel, etc.., etc.. but the best was to stand together with the Characters and take some pictures. We stood together with: Buzz Lightyear, Goofy, Mickey Mouse, Winny Pooh, Cinderella and EVEN Snow White!!!

The absolute family favorite: Small World. But this should be written in a different post.

DSC_0286After such a great time we also decided to go to Ocean Park in Aberdeen on Hong Kong Island. But there we were rather disappointed. Not because it is not well done, but because it is in the middle of major transformations and the organisation was not as good as in Disneyland….and it was simply too much input for the kids. I personally nonetheless enjoyed a lot the Delphinium and the show.

Anyway, I would recommend everybody visiting Hong Kong with children to go to Disneyland. Don’t hesitate!

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hong Kong peak

We took advantage of the jet-lag to experience Hong Kong by night during the first days. The Kids were showing first signs of fatigue at around 11:00 and went to bed around 01:00 AM. So 2 second night after our arrival we took the old “Star Ferry” to Hong Kong Island and walk a fair bit to take the so called “Peak Tram”. This tram is officially the oldest public transport of Hong Kong. It goes from Central to the Hong Kong peak in a couple of minutes and it is steeeeeep.

The view from the top was incredible, but the wind and the rain did not make it a very pleasant experience. So we quickly took the few compulsory snapshots and went down to “Bubba Gump Shrimp Restaurant” and had some huge waffles and ice cream. I think the kids remember this part better.

A truly great night experience in Hong Kong for us was the Kowloon night markets. Opens officially at 16:30 but stalls really start to sell at around 18:00 until 11:30. From the fake “Hello Kitty” watches to Spicy Wonton Soup via full-lit real size Buzz lightyear, you can truly find everything you don’t need! Most items sold are guaranteed not to last more than 24 hours…but yes, it is dead cheap and our daughters just could handle all that glimmered and shined.

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1 Week after our arrival, we were still jet-lagged enough to attend the 130th Fire Dragon Festival in Tin Hau district on the Hong Kong Island. Scheduled at 19:00 the dragon did not appear before 20:30. I never thought possible to keep our daughters waiting for 90 min without getting close to nervous break down, but this time went quite well. And we were rewarded for our patience. What we saw, was not one of those big white Chinese dragon but an ancestral Fire dragon held up by about 60-80 people and entirely built out of wood. Millions sticks of incense we attach to it and were burning for hours leaving an incredible cloud of smoke and a very strong acrid scent. Anyway, we enjoyed it a lot and went then to the “Panda” restaurant a very good Japanese Homestyle Curry place.

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I sometimes read a blog (madcitygirl.com) in which food snapshots are called “food porn”. I did not quite understand it until today. I believe I did some real good food porn at the fantastic Cantonese Star Seafood Restaurant in Shatin a district in the New Territories of Hong Kong. We were invited by local Hong Kong Wing Chun martial artists and Sifu (Master) of Isabel. They drove us there, with the only mention that it was a floating restaurant. Well, in the end, it was much more than a floating restaurant. It was probably the best Cantonese food we ever had and will ever have on this round the world trip. Even the kids, who are usually not great fans (yet) of Asian food, ate their full share of the food. And we were glad to have locals ordering food for us. There were at least 5 different menu cards and many leaflets to be filled out. I tought for the moment I was sitting at a bingo table. EVERYTHING was delicious and we finally had a true traditional DIM SUM EXPERIENCE.

Useless to mention, we would never have found this restaurant.  The staff did not speak English and the menu was solely in Cantonese. Look at the gallery for what we got and enjoy the food porn!!!

http://www.360cities.net/image/star-seafood-restaurant-floating-restaurant-hong-kong

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I had planned to go on this day trip alone, but Manon insisted to come with me. So, on Sunday Oct. 11th we packed after breakfast and made our way from the Gold Coast Hotel to Lantau Island. Hiking with a 4-year-old changed a bit my plans so instead of going up Lantau Peak (934m) on foot we took the cable car from Tung Chung to the village Ngong Ping (where one of the largest buddha statue in the world stands). Manon loves the cable car. Its concept is still quite unclear to her (and I am not giving too much explanation). She still believes, she enters a glass cabin, it accelerates and suddenly it flies!!!

Once arrived in Ngong Ping, I want to start hiking but the “village” is in reality a shopping mecca for tourist, with loads of funny posters through which you can stick your head and take a picture. Again, Manon loves it and I feel obliged to oblige…I hence take a multitude of pictures like those below:

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But now to the real thing; we pass the big buddha and enter the woods for a 2.5 km hiking till the picnic area. Along the way we stop to hunt down some butterflies and grasshoppers and take pictures of them. After 1 hour we finally get to the picnic place. It has not only a view, it also has a beautiful “path of wisdom” art installation. We first have a look at it before devouring granola bars, fresh strawberries, cherry tomatoes and bananas.

First hike alone with Manon, a day to remember.

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