Thursday, January 30, 2020

lebaran holiday july 2019 - S.E.A aquarium and the maritime experiential museum

we were staying in singapore for a week for lebaran holiday, so i was running out of option about where to go. kids would just opt to go to pororo park, but we were (read: me) the ones that get bored going to the same place over and over. even all my friends asked me about pororo park everytime they were going to singapore with their kids. they were curious what is so special about pororo park that make my kids always want to go back there. anyway.. long story short, i thought it was a good idea to bring the kids to aquarium. last time we went there, it was only our first son that came along. it was still new so maybe right now there are some improvements. plus two kids that haven't been there is a good excuse to go there. at first i only wanted to see the aquarium, but my husband was in charge to buy the ticket. i don't know what changed his mind, but he ended up buying the joint ticket, the museum and sea aquarium. we brought along our nephew which was just baby and my parents so i would review it for small baby, kids and elder people.
one of the display in the museum

where to find: both sea aquarium and the maritime experiential museum are located in resort world sentosa. it was in the same area as universal studio. so from the center of the area you could find direction to go to the aquarium. the museum and aquarium are indoors, but the ticket booth is outside so if it is rainy, it would be a trouble to queue for the ticket. you could buy the ticket online or via klook or traveloka i guess.. but i can't say for sure since we didn't buy via third party mainly because we didn't have fix schedule.

this is the description from resort world website:
SEA aquarium - enter and explore the marine realm of SEA aquarium, home to more than 100.000 marine animals of over 1000 species across 50 different habitats, each one as fascinating as the next. it's a marine life experience you won't forget.
the maritime experiential museum - come explore the seas. go explore the world. relive the glorious conquest of the seas, as you return to the maritime silk route of eras past. be transported through time in 15 thematic galleries, journey in the tailwinds of renowned seafarers, and even flee pirate invaders aboard a burning ship.

since we bought the combination ticket, we went to the museum first then proceed to the aquarium. the entrance of the museum is near the ticket booth, and the aquarium is one floor below, so i don't know where to go if you only bought the aquarium ticket. everything is indoor and the walking space is pretty spacious so you can bring your stroller with you. however, there are some stairs, but they provide elevator for older people, disable people and people with stroller. at first you would see the replica of ships from long time ago, and there are some rope display. you can try to do the knots looking at the picture. there is some information video as well, but it was pretty long so we didn't stop to listen them all.

touching pool
the displays are well made and very clean. all the demonstration units are working well too. the videos work well as well. but during the pirate part, it was supposed to be scary and surprising, but it was dark enough so it wasn't that scary. kids love to see the videos, animation and touching the interactive display, though they didn't understand most of it. but it was a good place to show them the history of maritime life. they also put several famous maritime heroes story, so it would be a good place to learn some history as well.

then after we went down, we entered the aquarium. kids were excited to see all the fish. it was more crowded in the aquarium section, but still manageable even though you bring stroller. there's no seat or rest area in the museum but it wasn't that big, but if you bring older people with walking disabilities, it could be tiresome for them. as for the aquarium, i saw many people sit on the rim of the tank. especially in front of the big aquarium tank there are layers of sitting podium that people used to sit and take some rest. there's a vending machine and restaurant nearby, but it was pretty expensive restaurant. most people just sit in front of the tank and eat snack and drink.
i don't remember about the toilet in the museum but there's one near the big tank display. and it was very crowded. apparently, the placing of the toilet is on the spot with the timing people got the urge to go to toilet since entering the museum all the way through the aquarium. there's feeding show but when we were there, the timing was not right. we didn't see any feedings, but we did see the diver danced with the stingray and the kids loved it. there's also a touch pool but you can only touch the seastar and sea cucumber. kids love it and it was super organized since there were several staff watched the kids lined up and got in order to touch and then left the area. what i don't like is the amount of tissue trash. there's a washbasin near the touch pool so people can wash their hands before and after touching the creatures. but they provided tissue paper to dry their hands, and the amount of trash that i saw was a lot. it was a gigantic trash bag full of trash. i wish they change into electronic hair dryer or just towel. i think the one in osaka didn't provide tissue.

it took us about 1,5 hours inside and we got out just in time for lunch. let me remind you that we walk in very slow pace as we brought along a baby, 3 kids, and my mom had problem with her knees as well so we made a lot of stops. so it would finish quicker or probably longer if you made a lot of stops as well. will we be back? probably we won't since once is enough for us. but it's a good option since the kids can't enjoy the universal studio yet and one of my kids still can't enjoy kidzania.

anyway.. it is a good option for rainy day since it's indoor. you might get some shower while you were outside, but once you're inside the aquarium and the museum, you'll safe. kids from all age can enjoy it, but probably age 1-6 would appreciate it more. bigger kids might enjoy the museum more as they probably learn about history for a bit, but they might not enjoy the aquarium as much. for us, it's a good place as i have 3 kids ranging from 3-6 years old, so my oldest enjoyed the museum more as he is more curious and he could read stuff, and his brother and sister enjoyed the aquarium more since they couldn't read yet so they only see the display at the museum while they could see the fish and do some interactive in the aquarium.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

lebaran holiday july 2019 - omakase burger

after all the family picture affair at jacob ballas was finished, we went to wisma atria to eat lunch. we arrived exactly around lunch time, so we had to rush because we were a big group so it was almost impossible to get one big table for all of us. my brother in law suggested we tried omakase burger at picnic, and luckily there wasn't any queue yet. but since there were a lot of us, we still need to split table. apparently when we were there, there was an indonesian celebrity holding an event for birthday party/baby shower, so it was very noisy.

where to find: picnic food park at wisma atria 3rd floor.

what we eat: they sold beef burger, chicken burger and vegetarian burger. since i had to look after 3 kids, i didn't know exactly what hubby ordered, i think he ordered the cheeseburger. but i did know he bought two kind of fries, the truffle one and the cheese fries one.

the place: picnic food park is pretty dark. it has this jungle/nature type decoration so sometimes the flowers and leaves cover the light so at places it seems dark. there are long tables and also round table surrounding the fake trees. there's also a private dining room that was fully booked when we were there for private event. outside the private dining room there was a stage and a small playing area. i didn't know whether it was only for the birthday event or it was there everytime. place wise, it was a good place to chill and talk with your friends. for children, it was okay considering there are baby chairs and playing area, but it doesn't necessarily baby friendly since the food are mostly western, like burger and pizza and taco. so unless your children could eat that menu, it's not too children friendly. no children menu either.
cheeseburger and truffle fries
the food: the cheeseburger is pretty big. it was so big that i couldn't bite it. i have to use knife and fork to chop it into smaller pieces so i can eat it. and since it's big, it becomes very messy. really not mom friendly. i usually eat in between feeding my kids. but since this is messy, sometimes they have to wait for me to clean up first before giving them food. the meat was bland, the vegetables was okay, but nothing special. the bun was soft and fluffy but there was a burger joint in my hometown that also sells similar burger and it was tastier. the fries were okay. the truffle one was seasoned well so i have to eat it together with the burger so i could taste something other than the bland cheeseburger.but compared to truffle chips that i've tried, this one didn't have the truffle aroma in it. the cheesy fries was salty and if you eat it by itself, it would feel too salty that makes me a bit nauseous. the fries portion was generous enough.
cheese fries
overall, it was an expensive cheeseburger that tasted bland but luckily it was saved by the fries. so don't forget to buy the fries if you bought the burger. there was a pizza joint in the same place, and we tried that one. it was okay, kids like it and it had hawaiian option which we love! the dough however, is the thin type, unlike pizza hut's that's fluffy and soft. but kids ate them anyway.. so win-win. wouldn't go back for the burger but probably okay for pizza, but.. it was expensive so probably unless we didn't have any other option, we would go back.

lebaran holiday july 2019 - jacob ballas children's garden

we went to singapore near raya holiday, and the whole family decided to get together in singapore to celebrate 3 consecutives birthdays, my mum's, my son's and my brother's. and my dad got the idea to take family picture again since we had more additional member since we took family picture couple years ago (even i only had one child back then!). so my brother in law suggested to go to jacob ballas children's garden. if you never heard jacob ballas, don't worry, i never heard of it until now either. apparently, it's a small part of singapore botanic garden that's dedicated for children.

this is the description from singapore botanic garden website: the jacob ballas children's garden is the first garden in asia dedicated to children. its theme of "life on earth depends on plants" aims to educate and instil a love for nature in children. the garden is a complete nature-learning environment, where children can delve deeper into the ecology of plants and our environment through discovery and experiential learning. the garden offers children a space for exploration, adventure and play, with a farm, an orchard, and a forest with its own stream and ponds. young adventure seekers can explore the suspension bridge and nature play areas, budding naturalists can walk along the stream and climb into the tree-houses, and our urban gardeners can observe how plants grow and pick up some gardening tips!
opening hours: 8 am to 7 pm (last admission at 6.30 pm). the jacob ballas is closed on mondays (except when it falls on designated public holiday). refreshments are available at the entrance of jacob ballas children's garden.
free admission. children aged 12 and below must be accompanied by an adult. adults are permitted entry only if accompanying a child. wheelchair accessible.

as i've stated before, this is a small part of gigantic singapore botanic garden. we went there using grab, and it was quite a long trip to reach the jacob ballas one, so i suggest you take public transportation like taxi or grab so you can arrive exactly at jacob ballas. i'm not suggesting you to use car either since the car park slot in jacob ballas one is quite small. when we were there, my brother in law drove his car twice circling the parking area and he failed to find a free spot. he had to park in the botanic garden parking area. so if you wanted to get parking space, probably arrive earlier.

there's a small lobby area with a receptionist desk and one or two vending machines. a toilet and a baby changing table inside the toilet. there are few benches outside so you can wait there. as stated, the entrance fee is free if you bring kids along. so the receptionist will just glance whether you bring a kid with you or not. at that time, we were a group of 9 adults, 3 kids and 1 baby, and we could go in just like that.

luckily (or probably not), when we were there, it was sunny. once you got inside, there were two road, one to your right, one to your left. but no matter which path you take, you will go back to the original spot. if you chose to your right, you will come to the bridge over the lake. the bridge was quite wide so we could take picture there. furthermore you would come to a big space of green grass. there were no bench, but you could sit on the grass. a bit further again, there was a big field with several flowers bushes around it. there were couple benches but it was open, so it was pretty hot. my son got bleeding nose because it was too hot. so don't forget to bring water bottles and some snacks.

it was quite a lovely small park. if you long for nice outdoor activity with plenty of space for your kids to run around, then it would be a good option. i've seen several nannies brought their kids for a picnic day in the park while i was there. i don't know about eating there, but i could give my kids snack and drink without any problem. just don't forget to throw the trash in the trash bin. again, if you do decided to go there, bring a lot of water bottles and hat to cover your hair especially if it was sunny. oh, you could also take picture here too for free. from what i heard, you'll need permission if you take picture in the botanic garden, but it's still free in jacob ballas garden. i hope it remained that way.

Monday, January 20, 2020

lebaran holiday july 2019 - superpark

we were supposed to go to jurong to play at some indoor playground at the science center area, but husband thought we should just play at some indoor playground at the mall. it's easier to find something to eat at the mall rather than at the science center. we could go there by grab, coming and going, so we don't risk getting drenched by the rain. we saw this playground when we were on our way to pororo park from suntec city, so husband think it's a good idea to just go there and play and if the kids are still not tired yet, we could go back to pororo park which is nearby.
this is the description from their website: designed with finnish heart and finnish know-how, superpark is a unique, purpose built, indoor activity park. people of all ages and sizes come here for movement, friendship and fun.
location: it is in suntec city mall #02-477 (north wing). if you travel by MRT, again, the nearest station would be promenade or esplanade.
ticket: it has two types of ticket, regular (weekday only) and superday (for weekend, public and school holidays). and there are 3 allocated times, morning mayhem (9am to 1pm, superday only), middle session (1.30 - 5.30 pm, superday only), after 6 pm (6-9pm, superday and regular), one day ticket (superday or regular). you can also check their calendar for superday or regular ticket here. we were there during school holidays, so we had to pay for the superday ticket, and we chose morning mayhem. price is the same for adults and children above 3 years, below 3 years is free. but it means that your kids won't get the band and you have to bring your own socks.
armband that you should wear all the time to get in and out the park as well as opening the locker
important details: you should fill the waiver form before getting into the park. there were ipads available there so you can fill the form and then the counter staff would check when you paid the ticket. there are two types of waiver period, for one time visit only or for a year.
under 8 years old must always be accompanied and supervised by guardian (18 years and above). and you can only use their grip socks while you are in the park.
the superprk socks
once you fill out the waiver form and buy your ticket, they will give you the band to open the gate to go inside the park and to certain play areas. you can also use the band to unlock the locker to keep your shoes. there's a toilet near the locker area but you have to use your shoes inside the toilet. there are some restrictions guide like height restrictions inside the park.
one of the mini games inside, feels like arcade inside playground
activities: the park is a two-floors area, so you can go wherever you want inside the park as long as you have the band. it has 3 different areas, the game area, the adventure area and freestyle hall. please note that not all things in the same area is located on the same floor. for example, flying fox and freestyle area are both on 1st floor but the kid's gym and pedal car track is on 2nd floor.
the augmented wall climbing
things you can do in adventure area:
- flying fox: minimum 100 cm in height to play. our eldest pass the height measurement but our daughter didn't, but she was quite stubborn and kept waiting in line, so somehow the staff there got pity at her and let her play. usually, the staff would just push the line so your kid could slide to the other end, but this time he hold the line along the way up until the end for our daughter. i was totally grateful that he did that for her. she fell at the end when the line stopped, and it made her realized that she was not tall enough and didn't ask for more when my son wanted to go the second time.
- freestyle area: it has trampolines, foam pit and climbing walls. no height restriction. unfortunately, when we were there, it was closed for maintenance.
- kid's gym: maximum height is 100 cm. this area contains fun and educational games for whole family, like small ball pool, blocks and small wall climbing.
- kid's adventure city: this is a small play area, it has climbing equipment, towers and tunnels. there's some digital activities as well. no height restriction. when my kids play here, i have to make sure they go the same way, or i might lose one kid or two. in fact, i even lost my daughter for several minutes since there are some exits from this area, and i was there alone without husband. totally a bad idea. so i didn't see when she slipped outside the area. fortunately, we found her after a while. oh, and totally accompany your kids since the slides might be too tall for them.
- pedal car track: minimum 100 cm to ride the pedal car. since i only have one kid that pass the criteria, we didn't play that one. though my son was very grumpy when i told him perhaps next time we could try.
- sliding mountain: basically it's a small mountain so your kids can hike and then slide back down. my kids love playing here, even my little one.
- tube slide: height restrictions minimum 100 cm maximum 200 cm. the slide is not that high, but you have to bring your tube up to the top yourself and then the staff on top will help you getting in your tube and slide. this one is quite popular so make sure your kids are patient enough to be in the queue.
- ninja track: minimum 100 cm. though there's a staff guarding this place, my kids could play there, all of them! my youngest is not even 100 cm. he just made sure that i kept my eyes on him. and let me tell you, it was a mess there. kids played all over the place, even though there was a sign that it was supposed to be one way, but kids went all over the place and the staff was helpless.
super pinball 
things you can do in game arena:
- baseball: minimum 140 cm, but it was closed for maintenance that day.
- hot stepper: no height restriction. basically it's just a small game. somehow it was different with the one picture in the website. when we were there, the game was to step on the the path that got lit as quick as you can. like some arcade game.
- street basketball: minimum 95 cm. it was a mini basketball field, but when we were there, there was a group playing and my kids were not patient enough to wait, so we skipped. i totally can't say anything about the rules.
- superball: so, this was a group play. two groups tried to shoot the screen behind the opponent group using the balls. there was 3 minutes limited time play. if there were no other people waiting in the line, then you could play for some more. but if there were people lining up, you should finish the game after 3 minutes and give turn to others.
- superbowling: basically it looked like a game in arcade, just bigger. you used ball as big as basketball and tried to knock all the pins on the screen down. again, this was limited and it was exactly like an arcade. three balls and you're out.
- superhoop: this was supposed to be like basketball play in arcade, but i didn't remember seeing this one. no height restrictions though.
- super pinball: no height restrictions. this was a pinball play, but much bigger. you got to kick the ball to hit the target with poin. just remember not to step over the restrictions line or you'd get the game over instantly. this had limited play time just like the super ball. and the ball was quite heavy. even i got hurt kicking the ball wrong. so keep in mind when your little kids tried to kick the ball.
- robo keeper: height restrictions minimum 100 cm. you had to kick the ball passed the robotic goalkeeper. it was crowded so we didn't play.
- iwall: no height restrictions. it was an interactive game and exercise game at the same time. it had two players.
- valojump: couldn't say much because i didn't see this one.

things you can do in freestyle hall:
- augmented climbing wall: this was a virtual climbing wall. so there were several types of game you can play, but the kids didn't get it. they just chose whatever they like and play all they want. you're supposed to take turn to play this, but kids were just scrawling around the "screen wall" and play together. some would get bored and leave eventually. supposed to be minimum 95 cm.
- gymnastic area: again, couldn't say much because i didn't see this one too.
- skate and scoot world: skateboarding place, minimum 100 cm.
- trampoline platform: minimum 120 cm. this was very popular too, it was very crowded.
- superclimb: minimum 100 cm. quite serious wall climbing.
- street soccer: the name is pretty obvious. and no, we didn't play there.

this was a good place for your kids to get some exercise and fun, but i can't say that it was for all ages. i think the place is more suitable for kids 7 years and up. they would probably pass almost all the height restrictions, so they would have more fun. and they would get the rules. while young kids will most likely to just play all they want and not obeying the rules. plus the height restrictions will make them couldn't enjoy the whole park. again, since this is indoor, it's a great option for rainy days. and it is located inside a shopping mall, so if you're hungry after playing here, there are lots of food option nearby. i would like to go back here when the kids are older though so they can enjoy the park more. and probably with friends.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

lebaran holiday july 2019 - pororo park

okay.. since i'm in the mood of writing my past trips, let's write about our trips from our latest. last time we went for holiday as the whole family was to singapore. we were there to visit my sister's baby and to celebrate my mum's, my brother's and my son's birthdays. my mom, dad and brother went there earlier than us because our holiday didn't start until a week before lebaran. since we were going to be there for 5 days, i didn't have any special plans for the kids, but i hoped we could go to some playground or garden by the bay.. but turned out we couldn't go to them both. anyway.. we've been to this park several times before this time, but this would be the first we've been there twice in a trip.

this is the description from their website: go on an adventure with your friends at the one and only pororo park singapore, the largest character-themed kids indoor playground in the country. packed with unique and classic attractions alike, pororo park singapore offers a safe and secure environment for kids between 1-6 years old to explore and create everlasting memories!
many fun-filled activities await you; dive into the shark ball pool, dig into the hinoki pit, play-pretend at petty's supermarket and explore with your friends at poby's playgym. don't forget to hop aboard our star attraction, pororo express train when it's at the station!
pororo park
on the right you can see the overload stroller parking
location: it was located at #02-29 marina square. if you're going there by MRT, the nearest one would be esplanade or promenade.
pororo link
the wooden toys and track to play
hinoki pit (sand like but not really)
ticketing: it's free for baby under 1 year old, and different price for toddler (under 2 years) and child (2-12 years). adult pay less than kids. if you're paying as partners (NTUC, DBS, OCBC, etc), the price would be different as well. for weekday, you can only play for 3 hours per entry, but it's unlimited on school holidays. while on weekend, the playtime is 4 hours per entry but only 2 hours on public holiday per entry. no swapping adults. usually, since we went there once per trip, we didn't know anything about membership or their other pass type. but last time we were there, the counter staff even noticed that we went back twice in a week. and when we declined the membership offer since we were not singaporean, he told us next time we should buy the pororo park savers pass. it's a year pass for 7 transferable visits (for kids) and special price for the first 2 adults. cheaper than paying for each visit. so if you decided to visit this park more than once, probably you should get the pass, especially for family with 3 kids like us, the pass could cover for two visits! parents can go outside the playground and come back in, you just need to ask for the stamp so you can go back in for free. but the kids couldn't go outside the park until the playtime is over.
toddler area
the ball pool
facilities: there is strollers parking area outside the playground. actually, you have to fold your strollers, but lately people just park their strollers open. and it was chaos during weekend. overload parking. there's locker inside for your valuables, but you have to pay yourself. there's a shoe rack for your shoes near the locker area, and it's free. you can also have your birthday party there.
pororo express
train schedule
attractions: when you first got in, you can take off your shoes and keep your belongings in the locker and shoe rack on your left. beside it is petty's supermarket. you can pretend play here with all the stuff you can find in supermarket. unfortunately since this space is a bit separated from other attractions, somehow the kids are not noticing it, so it usually empty or not crowded. behind it is loopy's cafe. since you can't bring your kids outside, you can dine in there in the cafe. they have main menu and several snacks selection. i have to say the food might not be the best, but it's okay. not bad with decent price. afterward, you're supposed to clean up by yourself, but the second and third time we were there, people seemed to not care and just leave their trash behind. on normal day, the staff could clean it, but on weekend, it was chaos and super dirty. so i hope people could understand that they should clean up afterward.
pororo house
bouncy house
behind the stroller parking area (which is across the locker area) is the hinoki pit and pororo link. inside the pit, is a small wood cubes that kids can play with. my kids thought it was a sandbox, but it was tiny wooden cubes. they love it there. while on pororo link, you can find wooden blocks and a track to play. across it is a toddler area. for kids under 2 years old, this is a designated area for them to play to be safe and enjoy more toddler-like toys. it has slide and several toys. beside it is a shark ball pool. the pool is not that big, and i never accompany my kids inside, but i've seen some parents going inside the ball pool.
eddy's classroom
poby's playgym
you can see that some parents go inside
across the pool is the express train. make sure to check the train schedule and line up probably about 10 minutes before. anyway, only kids could ride the train, so make sure your kids are brave enough to ride it themselves or have older sibling to accompany them. the train will come around twice before stopping. then next to it is poby's play gym. it's supposed for kids over 2 years old, but when we were there the first time, my third son was about 18 months and he liked it there. i asked my eldest to accompany him though and ride the slide with him. again, i've seen some parents go in and accompany their kids, but the ceiling was pretty low so i don't like going in. across is the bouncy castle. just make sure to get out when it's too crowded or your kids could bump into other kids. next to the castle is eddy's classroom where you could have your birthday party or join daily classes. between the castle and the pool is the pororo's house. it's a miniature of pororo house where you can go in and take pictures inside. but not much to see when you've been there the second or third time.
theatre and don't forget checking the daily schedule
then there's a daily show (again.. you need to check the schedule) in the little theatre. you need to queue to get in as it doesn't have big space to sit and see. we've been there about 3 or 4 times and we've seen the show almost on every visit and it was different every time. at the back is a nursing room (if you wanted to change the diaper, you need to change it in this nursing room, and not the restroom) and restrooms. there's only one toilet cubicle in the girl restroom with two toilet inside, one is normal size for the adult and smaller one for the kids. so make sure to get your kids to the toilet before they can't hold it.

when you go out from the playground, there's a small toy store so make sure to pass this quickly if you don't want to buy anything from it.

verdict: as i've stated before, my kids love it. we've been there 3-4 times and they still ask to go there again. but i have to agree that they might enjoy it to the fullest when they're over 2 years old and up to 6-7 years. but perhaps my eldest was weird. he still enjoys the park while i saw there wasn't any other kids his age when he was there. and he still asked to go back there.

oh well.. this is a life saver for rainy days, and if you want to just sit and rest. you can take turns with your spouse. one accompanying the kids inside the park and the other walk around the mall. my suggestion: go there on weekdays and start early. it's dirtier and more crowded on weekends. and if your kids like tayo better, there's a tayo station in pasir ris. it's managed by the same management as the pororo park, but we never been there.

Friday, November 8, 2019

kansai international airport

i totally forgot that i haven't talked about the airport! okay.. i've never been to kansai international airport before this trip. usually people would go to japan from tokyo (arrived at haneda or narita) then proceed until osaka and leave from osaka (kansai international airport). but twice we've been there, we always came from tokyo and got back from tokyo too. so this is a totally new thing for me.

when we arrived, it was about 9 am and we were tired since we couldn't get enough sleep on the plane. and we wanted to go to kobe afterward, so after we finished the immigration, we went to HIS travel counter on the same floor (the international arrival floor) to get our SIM card and then bought the bus ticket. there was a JR counter as well, but since the line was quite long, we decided to just get our pass at sannomiya station in kobe. i didn't see any restaurant on this floor, but there was a lawson, so you could get some drink and snack. there were starbucks and doutour coffee shop on this floor as well. for complete floor map, you can see it here. the bus stops were outside of this floor, so when we arrived we didn't have to wander around to other floor, and got our business done on the same floor.

when we were about to go back home, we went to the airport using airport shuttle service from our hotel. and it was way too early for us since our flight boarded at night and it was still about 3 pm when we arrived. so we walked around trying to find things to do. we were dropped off at international departure floor, which was the 4th floor and it had nothing else beside flight counters. there were starbucks and azeria near the departure gate though.. but we didn't see it. the whole map for the departure floor can be seen here.

since the counters haven't opened yet, we decided to go to the 3rd floor which seemed to have all the restaurants. be careful when you use the escalator though, because some of them were skipping floor, so the first time, we got the wrong escalator and we got straight to 2nd floor instead of the 3rd. but it was a good thing, because on that floor, we saw some coin lockers under the other escalator, but it was an all day coin lockers. just like other coin lockers, it came in 3 sizes, small, medium and large. near that lockers area, you could see McDonalds, and just beside it was a lounge area. you could rest in the lounge and even take a shower. you could only take a shower, unfortunately at that time, the showers were full and you had to queue inside the lounge area. husband didn't want to pay for the lounge, so we decided not to take the shower. the staff couldn't speak english well, but he told me that there was another shower room, however, it was in another wing, so we didn't check it out. the whole 2nd floor map can be seen here.

there were two food courts alike in the 2nd floor, machiyakoji and gourmet avenue renga toro. the gourmet avenue had u-don (self service udon), goryo (toast, mackarel, western style breakfast, ramen and it had child menu as well), nigirino tokube (sushi), hanagoyomi (soba and udon but it had pork bowl as well), mosdo (burgers and donuts), and world wine bar. we didn't eat there, but we ate at machiyakoji. machiyakoji had ryukishin (ramen), teppan curry indo no roux (curry rice or udon), subway, honmamon (sushi), takomasa (takoyaki, akashiyaki and yakisoba), maido okini kanku-shokudo (japanese style dishes), botejyu-yatai (yakisoba and modernyaki), horai 551, sukiya (rice bowl, open 24 hours), torisanwa (oyakodon and other chicken set menu).

husband still craved from some yakisoba, so he ordered from botejyu. but at the counter, he changed his mind, seeing lots of people queueing at botejyu walked away with modern-yaki. so he ordered the modern-yaki. basically it was similar to the one we ate at mizuno. it had yakisoba as the base of the okonomiyaki, and there was a little batter and egg on top and then covered with bonito flakes, okonomiyaki sauce and seaweed powder. they gave mayonnaise too. i tried a bit and it was delicious. similar in taste as kyo-chabana one, but since the batter was quite thin, it was just like yakisoba with egg on top. one portion would be satisfying for one person.
modern-yaki from botejyu
at first i wanted to eat some sushi, but it was confusing about how to order from the sushi place. they didn't seem to have a specific menu. there were little cards with the name of sushi set that you could order, but some didn't have the picture so i had no idea what it was. so i decided to skip sushi and ordered from maido okini kanku-shokudo. basically it was half self service. you had to get the tray and cutleries by yourself. they would put the main dishes on the shelves with open glass door so you can open and get it yourselves. so you could get whatever main dish that you wanted, they had salmon, mackarel, deep fried oyster or karaage, i totally forgot what the options were. but i got the deep fried oyster one. then you could get rice and miso soup as a set with the main dish. you would get the rice and miso soup from the cashier when you paid for it. afterward, you had to bring the tray back to the tray shelves. you can get your water for free from the drinking tap. taste wise, it was okay, but not mind-blowing. at least i had warm rice to fill my stomach.

back to coin locker. the one at the 2nd floor was a whole day one, but there were some coin locker at the 3rd floor that operated 3 hourly. when you counted per hour cost, obviously the whole day would cost cheaper. but if you didn't stay long in the airport, the 3 hours one would do just fine. but there were not as many as the whole day one. on the 3rd floor there were some shops and other restaurants, including muji and uniqlo. so if you wanted to do late minute purchase, you could do that in the airport. compared to haneda, it had less modern vibe to it. a bit similar to narita but narita was way bigger. kansai was smaller like haneda. there was a hotel near the airport as well, just like haneda. it had access to numerous city in west japan, unfortunately, all of them were about 1-1,5 hours from kansai. not as close as haneda to tokyo, so put that in mind when you were travelling to and from kansai. make sure you had the time allowance.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

meat bun in osaka: horai 551 and futami no butaman

meat bun or steamed meat bun aka bakpao was something that my husband like. and to my surprise, this meat bun stall got recommended by anakjajan and kimdao. so naturally, i would like to try whether it's true. since it was a snack, i didn't put a pin on my google maps, since i thought we would just buy whenever we saw one. they said that horai 551 had many branches, so hopefully we could come across one.
and we were lucky. we were just arrived at JR namba station looking for the exit when i spotted the stall. the staff couldn't speak english, but luckily they understood enough to take our order. they sold the buns in pieces or in sets of 2, 4 and 6. we bought the 2 pieces per box one. for meat buns, it was quite pricey compared to the meat bun price back at home. but the buns were big enough, so hopefully it tasted okay. for horai 551, you could easily spot the stall judging by their red banner and big 551 sign. at first i thought they were just selling meat buns, but when we were at the airport waiting for our flight home, we found a horai 551 stalls selling chinese food as well as the buns.

the buns were quite big and soft and they would warm it up when we ordered them. they also gave a tiny packet of mustard, which was weird for us since we just ate the buns just as is back at home. perhaps even with chili or tomato sauce, but never mustard. the dough was soft and not chewy like the one we had at home, but the filling was the star. almost half the buns was fulled with meat. and it was a densely meat, so no wonder it was pricey. unfortunately, the meat only tasted a bit salty and nothing else. husband like the meat to be a bit sweet. so it was an okay bun, but not our favorite.
then when we walked around namba area, i got lost. i spotted a futami no butaman stall and remembered that that one was recommended by paolo. but i didn't bring any money at that time, and i forgot where it was. but luckily, when we passed the same road to go to matsusaka, we found it again. so we stopped by and bought some. the seller was an old lady and she obviously couldn't speak english, so we communicated with some hand signs and it was okay. at futami, they only sold the buns in pieces, a box of 3, 4 and 6 or 12. so we bought 2 pieces, since husband counted even when we bought more, the price was still the same.
they always had some buns already heated in the back so when we ordered, the lady got the already-steamed bun from the steamer and put it in a box. they also gave tiny packet of mustard as well. compared to horai, the buns size were slightly smaller. but not too much difference. the dough was a bit thinner. but the meat was different. while horai one was dense, the futami one was minced. both tasted a bit salty and umami, but the futami one had more garlic or onion inside. we could hear the crunchiness from the onion when we ate the buns. price wise, it was less expensive than horai.

which one is better? i think it's totally up to your taste. if you like buns with more and dense meat, then obviously go with horai 551. but if you like something with more onion, more like chinese bun (one with onion/garlic with a bit of meat juice inside), then buy futami. for me, both were okay, but we still like the meat buns from our hometown better. plus, they were cheaper here!