City Square Mall presents Nick JR!

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We had been “malls-hopping” this holiday season! The best time of the year for shopping at the malls is Christmas season!

The shopping malls are decked with their Christmas best and there are galore of free shows, characters Meet and Greet and goodies to redeem with minimum spends.

City Square Mall is no stranger to bringing in well known characters, catering specially to the kids!

This school holiday, City Square Mall brought in my boys’ favourite cartoon characters: Dora & Boots, Paw Patrol, Blaze the Monster Machines (at the outdoor playground area) and Bubble Guppies!

No prizes for guessing what is their favourite cartoon channel! NICK JR! Open-mouthed smile

They can shout “Abre” in Spanish, name every single Paw Patrollers, identify that Blaze had a recent makeover in transformation and chant “Outside outside, everybody outside!” with the Bubble Guppies!

If you don’t know what I am talking about, no worries – I didn’t know better as well when we subscribed to Nick Jr.. Open-mouthed smile

And if you have a big fan of Nick Jr. characters at home, don’t miss out this “all stars” live show and Meet & Greet sessions at City Square Mall. You can redeem a Meet & Greet pass with $50 spend in the mall.

For a minimum spend of $40 at the mall, you can also redeem a Wonderland Pass to participate at the various stations at the City Green Outdoor Park’s playland. These are very simple games such as bubble blowing at the Bubble Guppies station, a mini playground at Blaze, photo taking at Paw Patrol, catching falling balls at Team Umizoomi and dress-up at Shimmer and Shine.

And a quick note that the playground at the outdoor area had been revamped. It is even better than before with an old-school “turnstile” merry-go-round.

One BIG IMPORTANT TIP: Go on weekdays if you can. We were there on a Sunday afternoon and it was really crowded; with a long queue at the redemption counters and a crowd almost everywhere. Evenings might be better if you want to play outdoors too – to avoid the heat (if any).

There is a daily snowfall playtime at the Outdoor Park if you are there at 8pm and 9pm as well. So evenings are ideal. Smile

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If you don’t want your photos to be blocked (like mine); either be early and chope a seat in the middle. Or head upstairs to level 2 and 3 to sit at those common areas – it will be better views than at the sides. We were lazy to move. Smile with tongue out
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Xi En loved to take photos with mascots any time. Smile Eizac isn’t in the picture because he is scared of mascots who are larger than the cartoons he know so well! hahaha

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For more information, do check out City Square Mall’s website at this link.

Enjoy Nick Jr little fans! Smile

Merriest Christmas!

Taiwan Trip Day 7 & 8: Taipei

Day 7: It was a tough night resting at the Airbnb place. Not-so-clean beddings aside, the walls between the rooms were thin and everyone’s movements were amplified.

We left after breakfast to check out the Eslite bookstore nearby, did some shopping at the Taipei Main Station (and got lost) and had lunch at one of the food courts as we found a stall selling the vegetarian food that my mother really wanted to try.

Eslite bookstore is a huge lifestyle type of bookstore. We bought some books and wooden puzzle toys. They aren’t cheap but we liked some of the items we can’t find in Singapore.

Initially we had plans to visit the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall to see the changing of guards or go to the Taipei Children Amusement Park or head to Wu Fen Pu to do some wholesale shopping.

In the end, we did none of the above due to logistics issue and overall fatigue. We decided the easiest place was to go to Daan Park for the kids to run at the playground. Alas, the main playground was undergoing renovation when we where there.

As it was drizzling by dinner time so we decided on dinner at a cafe just downstairs our apartment. It was an non-affair and the food was almost horrible. I had to console myself by going grocery shopping! haha – that’s how “auntie” I can be. Grocery shopping is a must-do in every country I travel too. Food is my strength and weakness! I just had to buy and lug back that 10 boxes of Sunnyhills pineapple tarts even when the husband gave me the blackest face. Confused smile

On hind sight, I will probably suggest skipping Daan Park as it was just another other park/playground you can find in Singapore. Instead, I will opt to go to Jiu Fen or Shi Fen even if the journey is longer and further. Or I will head into Ximending to shop and eat in the novelty restaurants there.

Well.. that’s the whole idea of travelling.. we choose otherwise due to circumstances but as long as the whole family is safe and had a reasonably fun time exploring the country, we are good. Smile

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And that concluded our Taiwan 2015 family trip. It was a different experience from our Melbourne trip the year before as Eizac was still moving around in a stroller. This trip, Eizac is more mobile and understood more stuff but also more clingy. We didn’t get to do everything on our “checklist” but we experienced, we smelt, we ate, we learnt Taiwan. Hoping Xi En and Eizac will remember all their trips through this blog and the videos their father painstakingly edited.

A special mention and thanks to the Hong Tours and the driver (Xiao Lee) who took us around and packed us breakfast due to our early morning flight. Recommended if you need a driver in Taiwan. Smile

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“Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey.”
Pat Conroy

Read more on our Taiwan trip below:

Day 1: Taipei (Taoyuan) > Yilan

Day 2: Yilan (Happiness 20 Farm > Crayon Art Factory > Traditional Art Center > Luodong Night Market)

Day 3: Yilan > Miaoli

Day 4: Miaoli (Hao Wang Jiao Minsu > Picking of seasonal fruits)

Day 4: Miaoli (Flying Cow Ranch)

Day 5: Miaoli > Taichung (Xinshe Sea of Flowers > Master of Mushroom > Go-Kart > Carton King > La Vida Hotel > Feng Chia night market)

Day 6: Taichung > Taipei

Day 7 & 8: Taipei

Taiwan Trip Day 6: Taichung > Taipei

Day 6: We were driverless from day 6 onwards as we decided to D.I.Y the rest of our Taiwan trip.

Took taxies from La Vida Hotel to Taichung High Speed Rail (HSR) Station to catch a train up north to Taipei again. I bought the tickets online and printed out redemption letters to collect the physical tickets.

More information on the HSR site: https://www.thsrc.com.tw/index_en.html?force=1

We wanted to give Xi En the chance to take a HSR as he was curious about trains when he was younger. One of his dreams is to be an MRT driver/planner. Smile

We bought “railway bento” at the railway station while waiting for our train. Since it looks like a must-do, we bought a few variety of the bentos for lunch. They were a fairly huge portion but tasted quite mediocre. It was good to fill the stomach nonetheless.

Note that the bentos are only sold during specific timings. If you are not after the bentos, there are some cafes , McDonald’s at the station.

HSR train was clean, comfortable and fast of course. We reached Taipei in no time and made our way to the Airbnb I booked for the last leg of our trip.

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The only Airbnb place I booked for this trip turned out to be a disappointment. The photos shown on Airbnb and the actual place were quite different. Furthermore, there were only 1 usable bathroom as the other were too cramped to shower in. All these were not stated in the descriptions. The comments on Airbnb seemed to be positive but I should have been more careful to sieve out the type of travellers and the ambiguity of the photos.

The host was also very mindful of asking us to keep our volume down once we stepped out of the unit. I strongly suspect he might have complains of hosting his place as a Airbnb. Many countries are still not for strangers going in and out of their shared premises.

Anyway, the risk of renting an Airbnb is as such. We had 2 good experiences in Melbourne. Maybe that led to a greater disappointment when Taipei’s turned out differently.

The saving grace was, we found a nice soya bean curb and you tiao (doughstick) breakfast joint nearby – and they tasted really good!

Anyway, it was afternoon after we settled down. We headed out on trains to visit Taipei 101 and did a little shopping. No one was really interested in Taipei 101 so only Kim took Xi En up as he was the curious one. That way, we saved some money too. Open-mouthed smile

Dinner was a non-affair at Ding Tai Feng. The very first time I had Ding Tai Feng was in Taipei 13 years ago; way before their debut to Singapore! It just kind of make sense to have xiao long bao at Ding Tai Feng when you visit Taipei. As usual, I over-ordered and we ate a feast. Smile Standard of the food was good in Taipei and the prices were slightly cheaper than in Singapore.

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That marked the end of our uneventful 3/4 day in Taipei. Exhaustion was setting in for everyone especially Eizac as we were near the end of the trip.

Next up: Our last full day in Taipei before we head home.

Day 1: Taipei (Taoyuan) > Yilan

Day 2: Yilan (Happiness 20 Farm > Crayon Art Factory > Traditional Art Center > Luodong Night Market)

Day 3: Yilan > Miaoli

Day 4: Miaoli (Hao Wang Jiao Minsu > Picking of seasonal fruits)

Day 4: Miaoli (Flying Cow Ranch)

Day 5: Miaoli > Taichung (Xinshe Sea of Flowers > Master of Mushroom > Go-Kart > Carton King > La Vida Hotel > Feng Chia night market)

Day 6: Taichung > Taipei

Day 7 & 8: Taipei