Friday, June 07, 2019

Library@harbourfront at VivoCity - Singapore

Library@harbourfront outlook from the outside at VivoCity, Singapore

With the closure of Bukit Merah library in December 2018, it had been relocated into VivoCity level 3 (nearest MRT - Harbour Front MRT). With a size of 3,000 square meter, library@harbourfront is deemed to be Singapore’s largest shopping mall library. Wasn't it a good news???

Library@harbourfront at VivoCity Singapore

Despite it was being officially opened in January 12, 2019, I only managed visiting it today (perhaps due to many renovation works and changes that were going on inside the mall earlier this year plus its location at the third floor, which was quite a bit far left from the Food Republic/ Sentosa monorail door). If you knew or heard about the Beauty in the Pot Restaurant, the library was just located next to it.

I was aware about the library only yesterday when trying to find available books from the NLB mobile apps. Many books that I wanted to borrow were available there (perhaps since it was new and not many people was aware about its existence - just like me, or perhaps the location was a bit too far to purposely going. I mean, I usually went to VivoCity to shop, dine, watch movie, meet friends, date, or to go to Sentosa Island, and would not purposely go there just to visit library, unless like this case where I could find many available books there).

Transparent Book drop section - Library@harbourfront at VivoCity, Singapore

As you entered the main door, you would see the above photo. This library was divided into two area distinctively - Children and Adults with Teens. This library was also designed with transparent glass of book drop area. From the outside you could see the process how the books were being sorted out after you dropped the returned books into the machines.

Tinker Truck at Children section - Library@harbourfront at VivoCity, Singapore

Just like other libraries in Singapore, children were pampered with many books, comfortable places to read, and this one, with Tinker Truck. At the back of the truck-head they put tables and chairs with crafts, puzzles and other materials so that the children could sit and train their problem-solving skills.

Seating places among the bookshelves at Children section - Library@harbourfront at VivoCity, Singapore

Comfortable reading area for children - Library@harbourfront at VivoCity, Singapore

When you entered the Adults with Teens section on the right, you could find the locker where the reserved books were kept with the self-service machine to collect on your own and do the payment (Reserve fee of S$1.55 per book was applicable if you wanted to reserve).

Locker to put the reserved book (self-service machine to open the locker and do payment) - Library@harbourfront

Magazine racks on the left and book shelves - Library@harbourfront at VivoCity, Singapore

Singapore as a smart nation designed this library smartly. They were no longer providing the actual newspaper, instead they provided e-newspaper reading station.

Multimedia section - Library@harbourfront at Vivocity, Singapore

Area to enhance the digital focus - Library@harbourfront at VivoCity, Singapore

They also created two different spaces for people to read (or study or work) facing the beautiful view of Sentosa Island.

Space to read (or study, or work) facing beautiful Sentosa Island - Library@harbourfront at VivoCity, Singapore

Read peacefully and enjoy beautiful view of Sentosa Island - Library@harbourfront at VivoCity, Singapore

Impressive right? So, the next time you go to VivoCity Mall in Singapore, do not forget to drop by to this library. You could spend your off day reading some book peacefully there and save your money from buying new books :P

Below is the information you may want to know. So if you haven't been there, go and check it out!! :)

Address:
1 HarbourFront Walk
Level 3, #03-05 (Lobby F)
Singapore 098585

Opening Hours:
Mon – Sun: 10:00 AM – 9:00 PM
Closed at 5:00pm on eves of
Christmas, New Year and Chinese New Year
Closed on Public Holidays
24-hour Bookdrop

Thursday, June 06, 2019

Fun and pain in preparing free and easy itinerary

Itinerary (Pic source: Google.com)

These days I have been busy preparing the free and easy itinerary for the upcoming trip with my family. Usually they take the easy way by engaging the travel agent services; started with signing the tour package up, preparing visa with all documents prepared by the travel agent, going for the briefing held by the tour guide, and Voila! we are ready to travel. This year, however, my parents want to have a different style, which is a free and easy. Of course, they engage someone to do the job, which is me.

I love traveling. I am not sure when it started but yes, the adventure and traveling spirit have always been inside me. Personally I prefer to travel free and easy style as I have more freedom to select the places I want to go, eat the food I want to eat, choose what type of hotel I want to stay, and so on.

Most importantly, by doing this way, I can control the budget - how much I will spend on the trip - as I have only a limited amount of money to spend; and the time spent in each places. As you know, when you travel with travel agent, they will allow you only sufficient time for them to explain about the place and for you to take photos. Most of the time it is too rush as there are many places to cover within a day.

And usually it is better to arrange the free and easy travel in small group (2-3 pax). with similar age group, and similar interest. Why so? This is very important because when you travel with different age group, the strength and health conditions of each individual are different, plus travel interests are also very different. E.g. I prefer browsing significant places from each city than shopping and relaxing; I prefer staying in small budget hotel with good location over bigger room, etc.

After all, we are all just a human being with different nature and characteristics. Therefore, the more the participants, the longer the traveling days, the more the age gaps, the more headache I am in planning this. Hahahaha..... And the best thing is that... I am given this task to plan and be the guide for the trip where I am not familiar with most of the places (out of the 4 different countries and 9 different cities, I have only been one of them, that too I visited almost two decades ago). Hahahaha... (don't know if I should laugh or cry....)

Headache!!! (Pic source: Google.com)

This is why I feel like getting crazy and want to vent and share my frustration here because some people think this is an easy job. They never understand how difficult it is, why it takes time, and so on. Despite not working, I live my everyday life within pressure from my own self in preparing this. Another pressure is from the time given to get ready with all documentations required for preparing their Visa, which I found ridiculous too early to apply. Lol! I had to convince them not to apply too early to avoid rejection.

It is fun and pain at the same time in preparing the itinerary for the whole trip. And it really takes a lot of time as every place is new to me. It needs to do a lot of research, read a lot of reviews, pins places into the maps, plans what will be the best way to cover the place with the limited time available, to consider taking tour or walking on our own, and so on.

To make it easy usually I start it with drawing the calendar in Excel file, put in day and date. Slowly I fill the main things inside the empty box while filling up the details in another tab, e.g. flight, hotel, places to go, website links, etc.

First thing first - find out how many days required for the trip that fit the requirements by parents. That is why calendar style will come in handy when planning it. Once I know what and where, next is to purchase flight ticket which can fit the timing for everyone to arrive at the same time with minimum cost (by looking out for airline promotion). Some adjustment will be made if the flight schedule and promotion price are only applicable for certain dates.

My parents want to join the cruise. So I have to contact the cruise company regarding the cruise, register, fill up the data into the website that connect us with them, and arrange few other things required. Later on, I need to choose which tour to join for the shore excursion (the boat will stop for certain period of time to let people experience the country's life).

This gives me headache as there are so many choices and many I have never heard of so I have no idea if I should go or not. Few months ago I saw Korean TV show where group of people boarded to the same cruise and apart from the games they played, some of them were given chance to go for shore excursion too. I have watched the whole show just to have an idea what the places look like and whether all of us should also go to the same places or not. Even after I decided, now I think I have to go back and review my decision again as the tours that I have chosen were all full day for a consecutive 3 days and I worry that everyone will get too tired from it! Lol!!!

After cruise trip arrangement is done, I need to fill in the rest. I have to think of whether I should join the local tour or walk on our own. For famous places, it is expected to be very crowded. Therefore to avoid long queue, many tour offer skip-the-line service so that tourist can enter right away (no need to queue at ticket counter and to enter the building). This, of course, with additional charge that does not come cheap!!! But sometimes, with the limited time that we have, I have no choice but to choose that.

For each country, I need to find out: must visit places, which location to book the hotel (preferably with good location - near metro or main district, good reviews from other travelers, and acceptable fees), what places required tour services (look at various choices available, prices and reviews), the sequence of places to visit (if 2 days are available, which places to visit on which day because certain places are closed on certain day/s), must-try local food and beverage, which restaurants to go (from customers' review and photos plus location), how to travel from one city to another (by train - which train, which timing, or by flight - same thing), and so on.

Travel planning (Pic source: Google.com)

I can spend few days just to arrange one day itinerary. Sometimes I feel helpless as I have no one to ask. I did ask around some people who have visited the countries before, but majority they joined the tour group so usually they cannot suggest much for the hotel, and places to visit can be found from the website. But as many tour arrange the travel by bus, they visited only some significant places before moving out to another place.

'Til date, I have not finished my itinerary yet. Like I said, I have reached some frustration in creating it and just need a place to share this feeling. It is not all the pain in planning it though. There are excitement too imagining the places that I will be visiting and various food to try. Sometimes I spend more time because I have interest on how they make the food. Some familiar food recall good memories in my head from the past. Hahaha... 

Well, I just want to make it good. Just good, not perfect. That is why all the pressure is coming - from within myself. Even after planning it, not necessary it will all come to fruition. Changes are expected depending on the situation. And still the best thing is to let nature takes its course. Well, wish me all the best in creating it. Most importantly to enjoy the travel in reality. Not just for me, but for everyone! Let's hope and pray that everything will go well. Thank you :)

Sunday, June 02, 2019

One day trip to JB (Johor Bahru) by train - Part 2

Return ticket timing and ticket counter at JB Sentral Train Station, Malaysia

The train may not depart at an exact timing as by the time all the passengers boarded into the train, it may be slightly later than the schedule time. However, you will still reach five minutes later to your destination. The great thing about taking train is that both immigration checks are done before boarding. Therefore, once you step into JB Sentral train station, you are free to go!

If you have not purchased any return ticket yet, worry not! You still can purchase it at the counter, not far from the place where you come out. Just walk straight about 20 meter, you will see a counter with people queuing. There are 2 separate queue if you notice. One is for ticket sold within the same day. Many timings are available. Choose according to your need. Another queue is for ticket sold at another day (advanced ticket purchase).

If you ask me what time will be suitable for both go and back for the day trip? Well, for me personally, I feel that from Singapore to Johor Bahru (JB), 9.45 am is the best timing as many shops are opened after 10 am. You can choose earlier timing as well, like 8.30 am ride if you stay not too far from Woodlands area and want to have a relaxing breakfast at JB. As for return time, I usually choose 9.30 pm as I hardly visit JB this way so I want to maximize my stay without having to stay too late (again, many shops are closed at 10 pm, unless you want to catch the night movie and have some supper before going back to Singapore). Or you may want to choose earlier timing if you do not want to feel too tired or if you need to go back to work the day after. In any case, buy the return ticket right after you reach JB to avoid the tickets being sold out.

And if you want to purchase a SIM card (in case you need), you can get it at the store near where you buy the return ticket. You need to show your passport to register. For a week SIM card, it costs RM 20 - 2 GB data - and enough for a day (you can even share your connection through hotspot with your friends as well). I bought and used it mainly to order the Grab as it will be much cheaper and safer). Again, it is personal choice.

Next, what to do?

Aha! It is still early and it it too early to shop. Haha... So, breakfast (cum lunch) will be the best option. Where? Well, you have plenty of choices where to go and what to eat. You can choose to eat inside the shopping mall (Komtar JBCC, Johor Bahru City Square) or you can also experience to eat local food at local eating house nearby the area.

Queue at Kam Long Curry Fish Head (had avocado juice from nearby stall while waiting) - Johor Bahru, Malaysia

Breakfast Hainanese Chicken Chop at Hua Mui - Johor Bahru, Malaysia

There are many choices available. Choose according to what you feel like eating. Check your Google map for these places: Kam Long Curry Fish Head (open 8 am to 4 pm - closed on Friday), Restaurant Ya Wang (open 8 am to 6 pm - closed on Wednesday), Restoran Hua Mui (open everyday from 8.30 am to 6 pm), Toast and Coffee - previously Tasty Bay Food Court (open every day from 7 am to 5 pm), etc.

Banana cake and assorted bread from Hiap Joo Bakery - Johor Bahru, Malaysia

Or if you just want to have a snack or very light food for breakfast, you can just grab assorted bread (coconut, peanut, ikan bilis, otak, etc.) from Hiap Joo Bakery while takeaway their banana cake back to Singapore (it is fresh made using traditional oven using woods to fire, fragrant and cheap - small box of 5 slices at RM 4.80 and big box of 10 slices at RM 9.60 - perfect oleh oleh (gifts) for your families and friends/colleagues back home. Check their opening time before going (mostly start from 7.30 am to 5 pm except for Sunday - start from 8.30 am and Monday - start from 12 pm). They bake their cake then sell. Once finish, you have to wait for another batch. You may need to queue for a while, but I tell you, it's worth it!

Assorted puffs and bread from Salahuddin Bakery - Johor Bahru, Malaysia

There is another old school bakery nearby the area as well, called Salahuddin Bakery. It opens daily from 9.30 am to 6 pm except on Friday (closed at 5 pm). They sell various puffs (potato, mutton, chicken, and sardine), bread loaf, bread rolls, cream puff, etc. And if you are thirsty, you can go down to Chaiwalla and Co. Container Cafe to have Thai Milk Tea, Iced Coffee, and so on (open daily from 12 pm to 12 am except Sat and Sun open until 1 am).

Long queue at Hiap Joo Bakery - Johor Bahru, Malaysia

All the places I mentioned above is within walking distance from the JB City Square Mall (about ten minutes walk). I was not aware of this place until my friend brought me there. And it surprised me that we had to queue to eat at some of these restaurants and bakery. I mean, weekday morning, queue??? I thought it only happened in Singapore :P Anyway, it can be a good experience to taste local food from these eateries. Oh, bring umbrella as the heat can be unbearable and it may rain as well!

Miniso at KSL City Mall - Johor Bahru, Malaysia

From there you can take Taxi or Grab to other shopping malls or walk back to JB City Square or Komtar JBCC. KSL City Mall can be a good choice to shop as it contains varieties of shops (Mr D.I.Y., Daiso, Popular, Miniso, Tesco supermarket, enormous shops for mobile phone accessories, lingerie (Sorella, Triumph, Young Hearts, etc.), clothing stores, many good food to eat and drink inside and nearby (for lunch), many salon, massage/manicure/pedicure places, and one of Singaporean favorite places to make glasses too!

Mala xiangguo at Tasty Hotpot opposite KSL City- Johor Bahru, Malaysia

You can find plenty of blogs regarding where to eat in Johor Bahru to have details of each restaurant. I asked my friend who stays in JB on what were nice to eat nearby the KSL and he recommended me Tasty Hotpot (mala xiangguo dish where the family recipe came directly from Chengdu, China). I tried it with my friends and not bad lah! They also sell few appetizers and dessert to complete our meal. Oh, not forgetting Tsing Tao Beer to accompany the dishes, especially in hot afternoon!!! :D

A Ming Di Hwang Ya at KSL City

There are nice noodle shops and roasted meat/duck nearby the area as well but I am not sure which stalls. Heard some people like to eat the bakuteh (Malaysian style pork rib soup) there too. But so far, I haven't tried them. I ate the roasted meat from inside the KSL called A Ming Di Hwang Ya (you can see a display of giant roasted duck from the front part of the restaurant).

With Jeffrey Ang - Co-owner of Burger Bandit - at KSL City - Johor Bahru, Malaysia

I also tasted two burgers (Prawn Katsu Burger and Mac and Cheese Burger) from the Burger Bandit as it is owned by my ex-colleague. According to him, these two burgers are their best seller items. Make it a Combo (additional fries and lemonade) only at RM 4.50 more. It tasted really good!!! Try it next time if you feel like having burger as they fixed the most of their patty home made!

After filling your stomach with heavy lunch, you may want to continue shopping and walk around. You can go back to City Square to shop or go another mall before going back there. If you love to shop clothes, my local friend recommended me to go to Paradigm Mall. There is Parkson and cinema inside.

Visited the newly opened mall - Mid Valley Southkey in Johor Bahru, Malaysia

But if you want to check a new shopping mall in the area, you can go down to The Mall, Mid Valley Southkey. It was opened somewhere in April 2019. Not all shops were opened yet when I went down last week but most have been operating well. Many branded shops can be found. Restaurants are available too. Good time to spend in evening.

After a very long day, I chose to have an hour full body traditional Thai massage at Thai Odyssey - Johor Bahru, Malaysia

You can go back to City Square mall again before or after dinner and finish your shopping list. You may want to peek items at Watsons or Guardian (some things are much cheaper to get than in Singapore), fancy breads at bakery like Seasons and Lavender for next day breakfast are nice and cheap (you can get an average of S$1 per bread), stationery stock up from Popular and/ or Times bookstore (do not forget to bring your Popular membership card because you can use it in Malaysia and Hong Kong too), browse clothes from Uniqlo, H and M, etc. buy sport shoes from Nike, New Balance, Sketches, etc., shop some local snacks from Yong Sheng, share various flavors of popcorn from Eureka (RM 11.90-12.90 for vacuumed pack, up to RM 27.90 for glass bottle type), and perhaps last minute foot massage or whole body massage (after whole day of eating and walking) at Thai Odyssey. It is not very cheap but still cheap compared with Singapore standard.

Char Kway Teow from PappaRich Malaysia

You can have dinner first too before going back. Many restaurants are available. I recommend the Char Kway Teow from PappaRich if you like Chinese Indonesian style of Char Kway Teow. 1 portion is RM 17.50 (incl. Tax and svc charge) or around S$5.80 only (In Singapore it cost S$9.90 excl 10% svc charge and 7% GST). Hehehe.. it's personal choice anyway! :D

Things I bought from Johor Bahru, Malaysia (Eureka Popcorns and Gardenia Sambal Ikan Bilis)

Check your train ticket timing once again! Be there half an hour before departing time as you need to clear the immigration before boarding into the train. If you still have spare time, you can shop around the place. There is one mama shop selling the Gardenia bread roll - sambal ikan bilis (spicy anchovies bread). In Malaysia, one packet it costs RM 1.05. In Singapore, the same flavor bread is sold at S$1.30, which means, with the price of 1 bread in Singapore, you can get 4 packs of it in Malaysia). It tastes very nice too and have quite long expiry date. You can stock it up back home and have it anytime when you are hungry. It is really a very good buy!!! I know a friend who can buy 20 packs of it at one time! :D Can be a good gift to friends and colleagues as well! :)

So, board your train well and on time. When you reach back to Woodlands, you will have to go through the Singapore checkpoint. This time you can choose any place to queue (not necessary choose the automated machines) to fasten up the queue process.

Wish you a wonderful journey!!! :)

I hope you will have a wonderful one-day Johor Bahru trip after reading this blog. You can share your experience by leaving your comments below and add in some good tips or good makan (eating) place so others can benefit from it. So, explore well and enjoy the journey!!

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

One day trip to JB (Johor Bahru) by train - Part 1

Let's go jalan jalan, makan and belanja!!! Day trip to JB from Singapore!!!

Johor Bahru is the nearest place of Malaysia that connected with Singapore. It is the border that dividing the 2 countries. People cross over it every day to work, study, holiday, and so on; by car, motorcycle, public bus, taxi, truck, company bus, train and even on foot. They just have to pass through the immigration office of both countries with their passports and/or identity card to be checked (including stuffs that they bring in).

There are two checkpoints available - Woodlands and Tuas. The most common used one (and older one) is Woodlands checkpoint. Because once coming out from Malaysia immigration, you can just walk to the shopping center (no additional public transport required).

Every kind of vehicle crossing from Singapore to Johor Bahru, Malaysia

Many Singaporean go there for a day trip using few available public transport. Bus is the most common one. But usually the long immigration queue and hop-on-hop-off bus in between two immigration offices (long traffic jam on the road) have deterred people from visiting (although it is a cheaper way to reach).

Therefore, if you never go there before (or very seldom going there) and want to experience it in a much more convenient way, then this blog post is for you! With the good exchange currency (1 Singapore Dollar (SGD) to about 3 Ringgit Malaysia (RM)), you can consider to spare your free time for a JB one-day-trip for jalan jalan (walk walk), makan (eat), and belanja (shopping).

Few things to take note before going for a day trip to JB though! First, avoid peak season (e.g. school holiday, public holidays, weekends, etc.) Second, avoid peak hours (e.g. early morning there will be many Malaysian coming Singapore to work, also for those who works on midnight shift to go back to Malaysia and vice versa for evening time). If you choose both timings I mentioned just now, then I wish you good luck! Happy waiting and queuing lah! :P

Use easybook.com to book your train ticket (Pic source: Easybook.com)

Third, try taking train! Why train? First, it is easy to buy the ticket as you can get your ticket online. But try to book few days or even month earlier so that you can get the available timing that you want. Because especially on peak season, more people will be traveling and book the ticket in advance.

This is the link where you can book your train ticket. Under the train ticket, key in your information (see the sample above). Please take note: you have to select "one way" and book separately even if you want to book for the return trip ticket. After click Search for Train, the page will show you the timing available for you to choose. If it is not shown, it means, the train has been fully booked for that time.

It takes only 5 minutes from Singapore to JB by train. The timing available are: 8.30 am, 9.45 am, 11 am, 12.30 am, 1.45 pm, 3 pm, 4.15 pm, 5.30 pm, 6.45 pm, 8 pm, 9.15 pm, 10.30 pm, 11.45 pm. From the website, you will find out how many seats are still available and how much the fare is (MYR 16 for ticket fee and admin fee of MYR 1.12 which total up to almost SGD $6 per pax). After selecting your timing, the website will ask you to select the seat (however in reality, you can anyhow sit inside the train (not following the seat number).

Key in the train passenger details then choose if you want to opt for insurance at SGD $1 per pax plus admin fee for insurance at SGD $0.5. Once done, proceed to payment (through Easybook Wallet, VISA, Mastercard, and Unionpay). They will send you the train order booking summary with your train ticket status through your email. But that is not the final ticket confirmation yet. Easybook will send another email regarding your train ticket confirmation.

Email to print the KTM eTicket

There will be a heading like the above where they give you a link to print your e-ticket for boarding the train. Do not print the email itself. If the ticket is not confirmed (can be due to many reason), they will inform you in the email as well (with the money that will be refunded from credit card company).

So, once everything is done, get ready for the day!!! You will have to go to Woodlands Train Checkpoint to board your train. They advise you to come half an hour earlier than the departure time. I advise you to come at least 45 minutes earlier though as you still need to exchange your printed e-ticket to the smaller train ticket after verification at the office located near the entrance (level 1). Do not go up straightly after reaching there!

Woodlands Train Checkpoint - Singapore

Once you get your ticket then you can go up and join the queue. The immigration officer will open the door around half an hour before departure time. You need to go through 2 immigration offices (Singapore first, then Malaysia), both before departing the train (and is only separated with very less distance). For Singaporean/ PR, use the automated self-service machine to enter faster. There will be security check for your belonging as well.

Take note that you are not allowed to take photo or video recording once you go up to second floor. There will be many warnings about it and even not to take photo of the train. So just quietly follow the procedure and board your train safely! So get ready for an exciting day in JB!!! Will continue the post soon!!! Before that, do not forget to book the return train ticket online as well so that you can feel secure about your way back home!!! Same thing, print out and bring the e-ticket with you. So stay tune for more!!! :)

Saturday, May 25, 2019

San Bu Yi Bai (3 Step 1 Bow) Ticket Collection (三步一拜-光明山) - Kong Meng San Phor Kark See or KMSPKS Monastery

Happy Vesak Day 2019

Vesak Day 2019 was over last Sunday, 19th May 2019. For those who have a great interest to join the 3-step-1-bow in years to come and want to know the ticket collection process, then this post is for you. Let me share with you the updated process (started from the year 2018) where the Committee had made positive changes to create a fairer system and provide better environment for everyone.

Before that, let me share with you what 3-step-1-bow (or sanbu yibai 三步一拜) is.

"It is a gruelling yet meaningful journey as devotees meditatively circumambulate the perimeter of the temple, bowing once every three steps, while chanting mantras or the name of the Buddha."
- (Source: Kmspks Facebook).


3-Step-1-Bow Ceremony (Pic Source: KMSPKS Singapore)

Everyone from young to old are welcome to participate. Children below 12 years old do not require ticket. They can just come and follow their family members to join in this activity as the Management wants to encourage the younger generation to learn and practice this one way of practicing Dharma.

Worry not if you have pain on your knees as you are also allowed to just bow in standing position after the three steps instead of bowing all the way down to the floor. Because most important is that your body, speech and mind are kept being focused, calmed, and mindful throughout the whole process.

Sanbu Yibai ticket collection inside the Hall of No Form Lvl 4 - KMSPKS Singapore

Unlike in the past, people are no longer required to bring tents, pillows, chairs, or even food and/or beverages for ticket collection process. The culture of chopping places for your family members, relatives, or friends who would come late is also no longer practiced.

The ticket collection place is done inside the Hall of No Form at level 4 of the Venerable Hong Choon Memorial Hall. Click here to find out where the location is. It is still same on the First-Come First-Collection basis. As you come, you will be provided the shoe bag to store your shoes and the Volunteer will guide you to your seat (on the harden floor). The queue will start from the far most right, front to behind, before continuing to the next row. Each person will occupy a tile square size area to sit and store their items.

For people who are not comfortable sitting on the floor, the chairs are provided near the entrance. They can put their items in their queuing space and sit on the chair separately. And as mentioned earlier, no chopping place is allowed. Even if your family member come a bit later (for example due to some time required to park the car), the person will still not be allowed to join the seat with their family member who have been seated earlier in their queue. They can choose to wait until the whole family members arrive then entering the hall, if they do not want to have separate seat.


Vegetarian noodle is provided for free at the Dining Hall (same building at Level 2)

The vegetarian noodle is provided free for breakfast at the Dining Hall (located at the same building at Level 2) as early as 7 am. Vending machine for coffee, tea, Milo is available outside the Dining Hall for a little amount (coin required). Hot water and tea are also provided for free. That is why you do not need to bring any food or beverage or worry of getting hungry and bored while waiting. Fyi, only plain water is allowed inside the Hall of No Form.

When you are leaving your seat temporarily to visit toilet, Dining Hall, etc., just ensure you know well where your seat is, recognize those who sit next to you (left and right, front and back), and maybe some courtesy to inform them that you will leave for a while and request them to take a look at your unimportant belonging that you may leave while going out.

Temporary ticket number before collection

The timing for collection mentioned was at 12 pm. Since it is on first-come-first-collection basis, you can come early depending on how early you can join the actual 3-Step-1-Bow procession. The first group starts at 5 pm. By 11 am, the room will be packed and ticket number as shown at the above photo will be distributed.

Only by 12 pm the sticker with group number and timing information will be distributed upon leaving the room, which will end the process. You can continue having vegetarian lunch at Dining Hall or straight going back home. Other vegetarian food is also available for sale if you feel bored having the same noodle again.

3-Step-1-Bow sticker collected - KMSPKS Monastery, Singapore

Hope this post will be useful for your ticket collection next time. "No one said it is easy, but it is going to worth it." If you do not manage to get the ticket, worry not. You still can participate and experience the 3-Step-1-Bow at night time. There will be Open Queue after 10 pm onward and you can wait at the same hall. The whole 3-Step-1-Bow process will take around 1.5 to 2 hours time. It will be go on until 7 am the next day.

So wish you good luck and I hope that this practice will help you to purify the mind, humble the ego, and lessen obstacles along the spiritual path as one repents past unwholesome deeds of body, speech and mind, and aspire towards spiritual improvement. Sadhu Sadhu Sadhu.

Kong Meng San Phor Kark See or KMSPKS Monastery
Address: 88 Bright Hill Road. Singapore 574117
Website: https://www.kmspks.org/

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

I miss Bhutan for

The last time I visited Bhutan was two years ago (April 2017). And since my very first visit in 2012, it was kind of a trend that after the year 2013, every 2 years I would make another visit to Bhutan. However, up until now, there is no such plan to visit Bhutan yet.

Many people have never visited Bhutan in their life. Some are on the way planning to visit for the very first time. Some have been there for many times. Some have been staying there for few years due to the nature of their occupation (be it full time worker, contract worker, volunteer job, and so on). Many have been married to Bhutanese and stay there permanently. Here, I am referring to foreigners (non-Bhutanese) by nature. 

I feel very grateful for being able to visit Bhutan for 4 times already. Earlier, I thought, it was enough to be there for so many times. Four times. And in those occasions, I was very grateful for being able to visit great number of places around Bhutan, even more than what the average Bhutanese had ever visited in their lifetime.

But, as I browsed the photos stored inside my desktop from my previous visit, it inspired me to write this post. Because after clicking through those images, I realized that I still love and miss Bhutan, very very much. And there were so many reasons for me to miss Bhutan, to visit the country again and again, in the near future. 

Among those reasons are:

Bhutanese bloggers meeting in Thimphu, Bhutan

1. Meeting my fellow Bhutanese bloggers cum friends (including those who were present but not shown inside this picture).

I know, this was a matter of year 2015. Since that period, everyone had pursued different matters in life. Many had flown overseas for further studies, work, earn extra money, etc. Those who stayed put in Bhutan were occupied by their work and/ or family matters. Those singles had got married and some had children. Many had realized their dreams, achieving what they wanted to achieve in life.

However, as I entered their blogs, many had stopped updating it. It just stopped, or with much lesser posts along the year. Very few tried their best in maintaining it alive. Writing needed time, effort, passion, patience, and hard work.

Well, no matter where they are now or what they are doing, I miss all of them terribly and so much!!! I wished we all could turn back time to who we were, who used to share the same passion in life, which was writing. And I knew many of them through blogging first before meeting them in person.It just felt so amazing and unbelievable!

We still keep in touch through Facebook, We Chat, Instagram, email, etc. but I really wish that one day when I visit Bhutan again, all of us will have such a reunion again, as friend,as a long lost friend.

2. I miss the rainbow - not just a rainbow, but double rainbow!!!

I miss double rainbow!!!

Yes, I miss the double rainbow, not just a rainbow. Sometimes I wonder if rainbow was only created in Bhutan. I had seen it many times there, and double rainbow made my happiness times two. Hahaha.... :D

3. I miss their beautiful nature 

River and mountain of pine trees

As I rode their public bus through the mountainous road, I loved sitting next to the window overlooking beautiful nature and view along the way, such as: river, pine trees, horses, cows, prayer flags, stupa or chorten, Bhutanese wearing Gho and Kira, and so on. It soothed my mind and chased away all my troubles in life :)

Beautiful paddy terrace and Punatshangchhu from Uma Village, Bhutan

Love the greenery and mountainous view very much!!!

4. I miss attending Tshechu (religious festival)

Nimalung Tshechu, Bhutan - Jun 2015

Masked dance and procession, Atsara (red faced clown with phallus - wooden penis on his head), colorful Gho and Kira, crowd pushing upon receiving 'wang' or blessing, kids with gun toys, nearby stalls selling stuffs, tea, lucky-dip, tent for VIP guests were among the things I loved and missed, and of course, amazing friends who accompanied me there and completed with picnic packed lunch sitting on the grass nearby the area :)

5. I missed village life with common room as sleeping place, traditional kitchen, the open-air bath and out of the house toilet

Village home in Kanglung, Bhutan

Hahaha... call me crazy, whatever you want, and yes, I miss this!!! Traveling life means living a life out of the boundary, out of mundane ordinary life. But this reminds me to always be grateful with what I have in life.

6. I miss shopping in markets

Shops in Bhutan

Hanging pork belly, frozen meats and fishes, displaying fresh local or Indian produced fruits and vegetables were among the scenes you would find in their markets. Simple part of daily lives that I enjoyed living with.

7. I miss plucking fresh organic vegetables

Plucking organic vegetables grown by Devi - Bumthang, Bhutan

I was very fortunate to meet Devi. With her, I experienced many things that Bhutanese lived with in their everyday's lives. This included plucking potatoes and carrots from her garden. Living in metropolitan city since I was born, I had little chance to have this kind of life.

8. I miss the variety of local Bhutanese food and drinks

Bumthaps Khuley, Nepali Sel Roti, Bhutan Kewa Datshi, Southern part Dorley chili

Not only that, she also let me exposed extensively to local food and drinks. She was afraid I did not have enough things to eat and many times she cooked and made few different dishes at the same time. She never failed to show me her capabilities in making Sel Roti, Juma, Khabsey, and so on. Thank you Devi!!! I miss you very much!!!  

Process of making Bumthap Puta - Buckwheat Noodle from Bumthang

The above was one of the day when she asked her tenant to help making the Puta noodle made of buckwheat flour, a traditional food from Bumthang.

Local liquor and beer from Bumthang

9. I miss the Bhutan tea time :)

Tea time in Bumthang, Bhutan

You should know, it wasn't just the tea, but the things accompanied with tea - zaw (beaten rice), khabsey (Tibetan fried sweet dough), thengma (beaten maize), variety of biscuits, and so on, plus the great accompany to chit chat and just relax enjoying the evening breeze.

10. I miss the private mask dance hahaha.... :P

Private mask dance at Samcholing Palace, Bhutan

My dear friend Rupa and I were very fortunate being invited by Khenpo who took care of the Lhakhang at Samcholing Palace to sit and watch the Buddhist ritual prayer musical instruments and mask dance performed by the monks who stayed and studied there. Only two of us were the guests for that night's performance and the feeling was indescribable, felt like going back to hundred years ago, perhaps I was there in my previous life to witness the same thing before.

11. I miss the Bhutanese homestay and hospitality

Bhutanese homestay in Tangmachu Village, Bhutan


Once in a while I had the opportunity to stay at Bhutanese homestay. Apart from dinner, they usually served ara (Bhutan local spirit) as part of their hospitality service. Felt the warmth and got closed with their culture and tradition were other things I treasured the most.

12. I miss the lunch break-stop on the road

Stopped for lunch break - Bhutan

There was no restriction where you could stop. Road would be where you sat and had your lunch. Food was prepared in advance before leaving the place. It was simple but very nice. I miss it so much!!!

13. I miss the local snack sold on roadside

Roadside seller selling local produced - Mongar,Bhutan

I remembered my dear friend, Luzee, who bought lots of things from roadside seller on the way back to Thimphu. She said, better to support them as many were depending their living cost from it. Apart from that, you got fresh local produced and specialty food from the area as well!!!

14. I miss the hiking

Hiking to Tiger Nest with Rekha - Paro, Bhutan

For Bhutanese, hiking has been part of their daily lives. For them, it was a piece of cake. But it had never been easy for me. Hahaha.... It was not part of my daily activities here in Singapore. Nevertheless, I was enjoying it so much over there. And Tiger Nest was only one basic hiking destination that every tourist must go. There were many other more!!!

15. I miss walking alone with nature

View from Sangaygang - Thimphu, Bhutan

And Sangaygang was always one of my favorite places to walk alone with nature. Went up using short-cut and walked down using a long way. Never felt bored as the beautiful view had always mesmerized me.

16. I miss the temples and many religious and sacred sites

Takila - the biggest Guru Rinpoche statue in Eastern Bhutan

I was very lucky for being able to visit many Buddhist temples and many sacred and religious sites in Bhutan. I never dreamt of visiting them before but fate and good karma simply brought me there. Thank you SB!!!

Our visit to Chorten Kora in Trashiyangtse, Bhutan 

Well, there are many more things I miss about Bhutan. It was not shown there, but I definitely miss all my Bhutanese friends wherever they are living now. I feel very grateful for all their friendships, kindness, and love that they have rendered for me.

For now, that was all I could share here in my blog post. Let's see how long more until I can visit the country again. The next time I go there, there must be a specific purpose of visiting, new places to reach and lots of beautiful memories to create with wonderful people there!!! 
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