Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Medan Day 3

15 Nov - Started the day late before we head out to sample more of the local dishes. We had some steam chili fish for lunch, banana leaf BBQ rice and curry fish head which was not the usual curry you will find in Singapore. After lunch, we head down for more massage session as the price is simply irresistible. By the time we are done, it was time to bid goodbyes as we need to make our way down to the airport for our night flight home.

Building model on display at the airport

Empty airport for our Silk Air flight

Initially, we wanted to have our dinner at the airport. Finding no appetizing meal at the public area, we decided to go in to the transit area to have a look around. We are cheated by our assumption as we faced an empty airport once we checked in. The Medan government should really build some restaurant in the transit area for the tourist to chill and rest while they are waiting for their flight. Overall, we find it was really a good trip well spent.

Medan Day 2

14 Nov - For this trip, we had the luxury to wake up a bit later than usual before we start the day. We went down to level 1 of the hotel to have our buffet breakfast. I must say that the spread was wonderful. The hotel served local dishes, western, Chinese, pastry and fruits. Once you entered the cafe, the staff will ask if you like a coffee or tea. The dishes are cleared promptly and the services rendered are top notch. It is no wonder I took a liking to this hotel.

Good morning Medan City!

After breakfast, we took to the mountains to enjoy some fresh air, bath in sulfuric hot spring and enjoy the cool mountain weather.

Beautiful scenery

For our first stop, we stopped by the local famous golden temple to take some pictures before we continue on our journey. This is our typical "Been here, take picture, move on" style.

The local famous golden temple

Interior of the temple

The mini garden in the temple

A chance to ride in a wagon pulled by a horse in a nearby village

Weather was not on our side as torrential rain came falling down during our horse ride

After standing in the shelter for a short while to let the rain subside a little, we proceed in our rented car to our main highlight of the day - Hot Spring Bathing! Sensing a few tourist buses around,  our driver decided to re-route us from the main hot spring resort (which will likely be crowded with tourist) and brought us to a off beaten hot spring bath just a short distance away. The facility was not great (broken doors with no locks, and physically looking a little run down), but given the price of the entrance fee, we have no complains.

Hot spring time!

A great view of the mountain with clouds rolling by

We are literally right next to an active volcano

After our hot spring bath, we slowly made our 3 hours car journey back to Medan City. Along the way, we stopped by a small town to have some steamed and BBQ corns. The Medan corns are really delicious. This is the first time that I had eaten such a sweet and juicy corn! For dinner, we had grilled seafood, the traditional way cooked over a tray of charcoal. The seafood are indeed very fresh and the meat are so tender that one bite into it will set you loving it.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Medan Day 1

13 Nov - Having chose an unfriendly flight time in return for cheaper tickets, we have to make do with waking up in the wee hours of the morning (4am) and dragged our tired body to Changi Airport T2 for our Silk Air flight to Medan. This trip was planned at the invitation of *mds* friend's wife, who happened to be a native of Medan City. This is my first time taking Silk Air, which is the regional wing of Singapore Airline. The service was not too bad, but don't expect a full meal for the short 1.5 hours flight time.

 Star-wars Stormtrooper figurines welcoming you at T2

Once we cleared the customs, we met up with our friend and were quickly brought away to eat some of the local Medan dishes. Overall, the food in Medan is more flavorful and more spicy than Singapore. Most of the dishes are cooked with chili. If you cannot stand spiciness, then it is better for you to stay away from Medan.

Pork seller along the road

Medan local soya milk

Local satay with their unique sauce which taste delicious

In general, Medan looks like the old Singapore back in the 1970s and 1980s. They have the shop houses lining up the roadside with street hawkers peddling their awesome street food. After lunch, you get school children running around living their carefree life. Occasionally, you do see luxurious shops such as spa, facial and massage springing up in between the old houses, reflecting the rising wealth of the people of Medan. The traffic in Medan simply left a lasting impression in me. Besides the occasional vehicle jams and lack of workable traffic lights, most of the driver looks like professional F1 and they amazingly somehow manage to wriggle their way out of accident and get to the destination in record time. If you can survive Medan driving, you can survive anywhere.

After lunch, it is time for a massage to relax my tired body. =)

After dinner activity was spent walking around the night market

And trying out unique food - Frog leg which comes fried with the whole frog. The meat taste like chicken though....

And we completed checking into our hotel room late at night.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Our Times 我的少女時代

Synopsis: We all had to live through and rise above the awkward years in high school, and regardless how long it may have been a distant past you wish to forget, there's always a beautiful memory somewhere waiting to be awakened. A joyful moment that truly belongs to you. An ordinary high school girl Lin Truly (played by Vivian Sung) pines over the most popular guy in school Ouyang Extraordinary (played by Dino Lee). The school's troublemaker Hsu Taiyu (played by Ta Lu Wang) falls for the prettiest girl in school Tao Minmin (played by Dewi Chien). Together, Truly and Taiyu, work through misadventures to help each other win their dream dates. Through this youthful rite of passage, their friendship evolves and they learn a thing or two about true love. [Source: Golden Village]

Generally a nice movie to revive the past times as they use quite a lot of popular songs back in the 90s. A funny, touching, bittersweet movie depicting the normal life of a schoolgirl which can be anyone on the street. A good movie not to be miss. This somehow reminds me of "You Are the Apple of My Eye" in 2011.

Rate: 7.5/10

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Bintan Lagoon Resort

07 Nov - Feeling the urge for a weekend day away from Singapore, together with our group of friends, we decided on Bintan Lagoon Resort for a cheap low cost holiday to relax. From the website available, the resort really looks posh (https://www.bintanlagoon.com). With the early bird discount available, we decided on renting a villa to accommodate our group.

To start the day, we need to catch our ferry really early in the morning at an ulu Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal that requires us to take a bus No. 35 from Bedok. Reaching the ferry terminal, we quickly check in for our MOZAIC ferry ticket to the Bintan Lagoon Terminal. It was unlucky that 2 of our group people are not feeling well, but they decided to go on the trip anyway.

Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal

Once inside the small departure hall, it was a sea of  people again. Looks like a lot of the Singaporean are going for a Bintan weekend staycation just like us!

"People Mountain People Sea"

Soon, we are on our way to Bintan via Sindo 6. On the ticket, it was indicated the trip to Bintan will be a 90 mins ride. However, it actual fact, the whole journey took 120 mins. Perhaps this is an indication of "Indonesian time"? Everything indicated will likely be delayed by 15-30 mins?

Sindo 6

After a 2 hour journey on sea (which I fall asleep halfway), we finally reached the Bintan Lagoon Terminal. It is pretty amazing that the government built a custom solely for receiving the guests coming and leaving the Bintan Lagoon Resort. I guess the intention for such convenience is to create a major pull factor for tourist to come here and spent their tourist dollars. Well, as soon we cleared custom and entered the building, we are greeted with a traditional welcome dance and a refreshing welcome drink.

Traditional Welcome Dance

After waiting for about 45 mins ("In Indonesian time..aka slow...") for the check-in crowd to clear, we finally reached the villa we have secured. Truth be told, the whole building is quite spacious and looks posh. The only complain I have is that I saw a dead cockroach in one of the kitchen dustbin. Guess the housekeeping forgot to clear the dead pest out... -.-!

Our Villa - Buganvil 30

The Living Room

As we had a very early breakfast, by the time we finished putting our bags down and changed out for our snorkeling trip, our stomach are already protesting pretty badly. To save time, we decided to head out to the beach and have our lunch at the RICE Restaurant. Here comes our second shock for the day: The price of the dishes at the restaurant are not cheap. Each dish can easily cost SGD$20, excluding 21% government tax and service charge! Well, I do see lots of "IDR 200,000s" on the menu. I really wonder why Singaporean are still complaining about 17% GST and service charge back home.....

The snorkeling trip went well. This is the first time that we are literally swimming among the fishes. With a bread in hand, you will get to experience swarms of fishes crowding around you. Well, some of the fish decides to think my body is food for them and occasionally kisses my skin.

After our 90 mins snorkeling trip, we laze around on the beach for a while before joining in a impromptu beach volleyball competition. We played 6 sets of 15 points game. This is the first time after 12 years that I get to touch volleyball again. A bit rusty but we get to exercise our muscles well. At the end of the game, I can feel my muscles going jelly. Haha~ After washing up, its time for dinner!

We decided on a Japanese restaurant since the description on the resort map looks good. Having experience the prices of the RICE Restaurant during lunch, we were kind of prepared for the prices shown on the Japanese restaurant menu. I decided on having teppanyaki while my *mds* decides on the eel and rice combination.

Japanese Theme Restaurant

Shiitake Mushroom - Too salty, but the sauces are nice though

Teppanyaki Chicken and Teppanyaki Sotong are nice!

After dinner, with nothing else to do and one of our friend is so sick that a doctor has to be called in, we rested for the night. Next morning, we head off to Kopi-O for our buffet breakfast. Since this is already included in our accommodation, we simply have to eat our fill for both the breakfast and lunch.

Buffet Breakfast

We need to check out of our room at 1pm after asking for late checkout. While waiting for our 5pm ferry to take us back to Singapore mainland, we proceed to the leisure center for our free archery game which we have won yesterday while playing the beach volleyball competition.

Another welcome dance welcoming the new tourist for the day (Seen during our checkout)

Archery Game

Overall, it was a tiring but fulfilling stay-cation. Will I go back to Bintan Lagoon Resort? Probably not. The prices of the food there is so much more expensive.