Friday, April 18, 2014

Fun Food Friday: A Meal With A View

The food at the Beachcomber Restaurant at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel in Dubai is as wonderful as the view!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Fun Food Friday: Cendol

A refreshing, icy cendol in Penang, Malaysia.  No amount of coaxing could get B to try this one!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Lego Delight at In’s Point Mall, Hong Kong

B and I actually happened upon Lego paradise at In's Point Mall in Hong Kong by accident… We headed to the mall specifically to buy Daddy a souvenir at the Bruce Lee Club store on the second floor ( and found ourselves surrounded by the most amazing selection of Lego sets and figurines.

Having fun with our purchases

Unfortunately our visit was in the early afternoon and only a handful of shops were open.  But even with only a limited number of stores, the selection was amazing.  We found plenty of mini-figures and harder-to-find sets - at very reasonable prices, and many of the newer, easy-to-find sets were less expensive than sets we priced out at Toys R Us at Harbour City.  In addition to Lego, the shops were also full of new and vintage superhero action figures and other collectibles.

In’s Point Mall is located at 530-538 Nathan Road in Mong Kok.  If using the MTR, go to Yau Ma Tei Station and take exit A2.  Take the escalator or elevator up to the 1st and 2nd floors (if using a stroller, be aware the elevators are quite compact!).  The shops we visited accepted cash only.  From a cursory scan of shop hours, the ideal time to visit is after 4 pm on weekends or after 6 pm on weekdays when most of the shops open.  Many of the shops sold similar sets/figures so it is a good idea to bring a pen and paper and do a bit of price comparison between vendors.  I was so busy window shopping, I forgot to take pictures but this image from gives a sense of the place.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Monday, March 24, 2014

A peaceful morning at the Hong Kong Zoo

The Hong Kong Zoo and Botanical Gardens is the 5.6 hectare home to more than 1,000 species of plants and over 500 animals including orangutans, lemurs and pythons.

Visiting at 7 am on New Year’s Day meant we pretty much had the whole place to ourselves with the exception of a few locals getting in their morning exercises.

If you are looking for a expansive Singapore Zoo-type experience, this is not it.  But with a children’s playground, aviaries, green house and gardens, and lots of animals to see, it’s a quaint and fun destination for little kids.  The zoo is clean and well-kept, and is so serene and quiet, it’s hard to believe it’s in the middle of Hong Kong.

Our taxi dropped us off at the Albany Road entrance of the zoo at about the mid-way point.  In hindsight, a better place to start would have been at one of the northwest entrances off of Glenealy Rd, since the zoo slopes steeply southwards, and wind our way down.

The green house and education centre opens at 9 am and the zoo and gardens open at 6 am every day.  Admission is free!  We were welcomed at the entrance by a large flight of stairs, so be aware there may be spots where you have to carry a stroller.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Getting away from crowds... and your stereotypical cruise activities

Since B was born, we’ve admittedly done a lot of cruises, something we wouldn’t have thought about doing pre-baby.  For folks who have never been on a cruise, there are some common preconceived ideas about what they are about.  Though we’ve been on many cruises, we’ve never attended an art auction, gone gambling in the casino, jockeyed for a lounge chair next to the pool, learned how to make a folded towel animal, entered a belly flop contest or gone late-night dancing.  We don’t pay extra to eat at specialty restaurants, buy duty-free items or spend money in the shops.  We rarely even take advantage of the kid’s centers.  Frankly, we are usually just too busy.

So what DO we do?

Enjoy Off-Hours Outdoor Fun

I’m not a fan of crowds so we generally steer clear of the crammed swimming pools, the loud music and the sizzling sunbathers during the busiest daytime hours.  But before 10 am, and after 5 pm, we usually have the pools, basketball court, shuffleboard, mini-golf and other outdoor venues all to ourselves - and get to enjoy them when the sun’s rays are less intense.  These outdoor activities are usually open 24 hours and since B is an early riser, by the time most folks roll out of bed, we’ve already had hours of family fun.  Some of our favorite after-dinner activities are to play a few rounds of mini golf or have a swim in the moonlight - something we rarely, if ever, have the opportunity to do at home.

Go Star-Gazing

We live in Toronto, and light pollution often foils our attempts at star-gazing.  Sure, we could drive out of town, but by the time the sun sets in summer, B is asleep - and in winter when the sun sets earlier, it’s not much fun to sit outside in the cold for long.  Cruising in the Caribbean and other places where the sun sets earlier, and where the skies are dark and clear, allows us to grab a cool drink, relax on a lounge chair and watch the stars - and still get to bed on time.  The Night Sky app on my tablet makes this activity extra fun!

Get Crafty

If we are spending a day at sea, we skip the crowds by taking in a movie or planting ourselves at a quiet table to read books about our destinations, play cards, build Lego creations or do crafts.  We never travel anywhere without a small container of Lego and a bag stuffed with craft supplies like beads, pipe cleaners, pencil crayons, a glue stick, small sheets of paper, coloring pages and stickers.  By the end of the cruise, our cabin looks like an art gallery!  Most cruise ships have lots of quiet, common area spaces to enjoy some relaxing family time if you don’t feel like hanging around in your cabin.

Say “Cheese!”

Most cruises have formal nights.  We don’t get too dressy… In these days of all the luggage surcharges, who has room to pack a ball gown?  But we do dress smartly and the photographers and backdrops set up around ship allow us to easily and inexpensively get a new family portrait or playful shot of B - without having to pay a sitting fee or stick to a pre-arranged appointment, when B will inevitably be in a bad mood.

Enjoy the Entertainment

Have you ever taken your child to see a live show, then had to leave early because he or she was fussy and/or uninterested?  Many cruise lines offer everything from full production shows, live music, magicians, ice shows, aerial acrobatics to movie screenings by the pool.  But since they are included in the cruise fare, you can come and go as you wish (obviously as long as you aren’t disturbing others) when the little ones get fidgety or need to use the washroom.

On a recent cruise, B found the showing of Disney's Frozen a bit too scary, so we just left and went and did something else.  No parking hassles, no pricey tickets gone to waste and no arm-and-a-leg investment for snacks.  This same cruise also had a spectacular 15-minute aerial acrobatic show in the centrum area based on the Jack and the Beanstalk tale, which was just the right length of time to catch just before dinner.

I enjoy cruising with B because it offers a relaxing holiday with very little planning and work required on my part (hurray!), and there are so many things we can do together as a family.  All on the way to our next interesting destination...

How do YOU spend your time cruising?

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