早起的鸟儿不需要排队。好久不见的日本餐厅：Ginza Tendon Itsuki
There are few things that will get us out of bed early, and Ginza Tendon Itsuki is one of them. Go early on Saturdays to skip the queue.
We all need a break sometimes, and after months of endless work and long office hours, we finally decided that it's time for a weekend getaway! We've been wanting to visit Batam together as it has been a long time since we visited the island. After some research, we decided to stay at Sijori Resort & Spa.
A photolog of the Food & Music Festival happening this weekend, Let's Go Jalan Jalan 2017.
Flowers are always associated with beauty and love. Many people gift flowers to their other half from time to time, on special occasions or just as a sweet surprise. One of the things that is more precious than the gesture of flowers is time. And last weekend, A Better Florist gave us the perfect opportunity to enjoy the gift of both.
Each workshop is unique as it features different flower combinations. For our class, the main type of flowers we got to work with are Roses, Carnations and Baby's Breath.
The first step was to clean up the flowers. Good idea to get rid of the thorns on the roses before doing anything else. The Carnations required some 'massaging' to aid it in blooming. We also had to remove the leaves on the lower parts of the stem as we did not need them there for a bouquet.
Next, we moved on to the hard part: Arrangement. A demo was done for us by the teacher to show us the final product. No one could quite remember all the steps, but it was fine as he guided us along the way.
If we had one thing throughout the class, it was confidence. We thought we had a good finished product several times, only to get a chuckle from the teacher when he sees our work. And after rounds of guidance, we finally had our finished bouquet!
A hundred photos with one bouquet
We saw a video where Photographer Emily Quinton took many different photos from just one bouquet. So we decided we have to give it a try too! We didn't reach a hundred, but here it goes.
In the end, a two hours workshop gave us an entire weekend of fun. Nothing beats trying something for the first time together with your loved ones. Really appreciate A Better Florist for the invitation as we enjoyed ourselves during the workshop. We both truly feel that this workshop could be a wonderful gift to your other half, as you get a bouquet of flowers at the end, and more importantly, you get to spend a great time with him/her.
P.s Flowers are still looking good after six days!
Other Tips & Info:
- Details on which flowers will be used is available at the sign-up page of each workshop.
- Feel free to bring back leftovers for other uses such as flat lay photography.
- Be careful while dealing with the roses as it's easy to get pricked.
- Plant food is given at the end of the class.
We've been hoping to have a weekend getaway for our anniversary, and our immediate idea was to head to either Bintan or Batam island. However, both of us have had unpleasant experiences at some of the resorts there as they were 'aging'. Just as we were about to drop the idea, we came across an article by thesmartlocal, introducing Singaporeans to a new resort hotel, Cassia Bintan!
Day 1 - Saturday
Our weekend started with a breakfast at Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal. From the Killiney kopitiam where we had our breakfast, we could enjoy the sea view which wasn't too bad! The ferry terminal also had shops selling pills for motion sickness, so we got them just in case.
After an hour on the ferry, we arrived at Bintan! Took quite a bit of time to get through the customs and security checks. But soon, we were on-route towards Cassis Bintan via a shuttle mini-van, complimentary by the resort.
The lobby of Cassia Bintan, also known as the "Meeting Point", is open-air and a very inviting sight. The hotel staff were aptly named your "Friends of Cassia", as they welcomed us with bright smiles. As we arrived well ahead of the check-in time, we decided to go to the beach for our lunch!
One great thing you'll notice throughout our trip is that the beach is not crowded at all! After a short stroll on the beach, we spot an al-fresco dining place named Xana Beach club, where we had our lunch and we highly recommend the pizza and calamari!
Checked into our loft apartment! The rooms with the garden view opens up to the main garden area of Cassia, while the others, like ours, has a forest view along the main road. Not too much of a difference in our opinion! Everything was still really new, so it was sparkling clean!
Headed back to the beach after resting in our very cosy room. From here onwards, we'll let the photos do the talking. There were many comfortable sheltered seats and overall, just a really lovely beach!
There's also a nice boardwalk near the Banyan Tree Bintan Resort, which we felt was a great photo spot.
The night came along, and we've been looking forward to it as we were waiting to try the mookata! It's a pretty interesting idea as you get to bring the mookata back to your room. You can get the ingredients and drinks at Market 23, which is within Cassia Bintan.
The combo we chose comprised of chicken, beef, fish, squid, vegetables and the usual processed food like tofu and crabstick. It's more than enough for two people. Note that you will need to buy the oil though! Also based on our experience, the mookata smell will linger in the room, so it would be best that you shut the bedroom and bathroom door before starting to cook. Or you may choose to do it outdoor.
Day 2 - Sunday
Being in an enthusiastic mood, we decided to catch the sunrise! Hopped out of our bed and washed up in time. Unfortunately, it was a cloudy morning! But of course, that didn't stop us from taking photos!
Went back to the "Meeting Point" for our breakfast, where they have transformed the lobby into a dining area. Do not expect a huge international buffet, but we felt that it had everything we wanted! You'll find the usual food options on a breakfast menu, from sausages to hash browns, cereal to toasts. The egg station was a great plus point, and the thing that caught everyone's attention was the mini doughnut board!
Jumped into the pool after breakfast. Cassia has a small pool right outside the "Meeting Point", and we spent quite some time wading in there.
A huge plus of Cassia Bintan is that it is part of the resorts group that manages Banyan Tree and Angsana. This means that we could use some of the facilities and amenities in each of the three resorts! SInce they are right beside each other, so we went to the Angsana pool for a swim too.
Washed up and chilled in our apartment till check out time. We were pleasantly surprised during checkout to find out that Cassia has our ferry boarding passes ready! It is a great service to have.
As we bid goodbye, we have to say we really enjoyed the stay. A short and sweet weekend, but filled with the right amount of fun and rest. We hope to come back soon!
Tips from the trip:
1. Ferry tickets have no seat allocation, so be at the queue early if you have seating preferences.
2. Bring your own snacks/cup noodle if you're planning a late night, but not planning to spend money on expensive supper at the resorts.
3. Power plugs are the same as the ones in Singapore, so no worries!
4. Bring a tripod for awesome self-portraits.
Today marks the beginning of the true Scotland trip for us! After watching Braveheart, we really looked forward to follow the trail of William Wallace!
*Cue bagpipe music*
12th May 2017
08:00 | Breakfast at 19 Snowden Stirling Guest House
Morning started with a sumptuous breakfast prepared by the host, together with the company of two other female guests who have travelled in the opposite direction of our itinerary. They shared their experience of travelling in Scotland thus far and told us that we are about to visit their favourite castle of Scotland!
10:00 | Strolled along the Old Stirling Bridge
Old Stirling Bridge was introduced to us through an instagrammer as a good location to photograph the impressive Wallace Monument. It's connected to a park and was really lovely to see the locals going about their daily routines.
Oh, do not be misled by the plaque! This stone structure is not the original Stirling Bridge from the battle. The original wooden bridge has collapsed in the 1297 battle.
11:00 | Climbed up to the Crown of The National Wallace Monument at Abbey Craig
Parked the car at the carpark and took a courtesy bus to reach the base of Wallace Monument. Bought our entry tickets from the reception desk and began our journey up the 246 spiral stairs. Along the way up, we went into three exhibition galleries to learn more about the monument, William Wallace and the battle at Stirling Bridge. The spiral staircase is pretty narrow, so the galleries also served the purpose of easing the walk and being the passing point for everyone.
Eventually we made it to "The Crown" which is the top of the monument. The view of the vast landscape around Abbey Craig was absolutely breathtaking! Thus, we braved the strong winds and stayed there to admire the scenery for much longer than we should have.
13:00 | Toured the Stirling Castle
We went on to visit the Stirling Castle nearby which was highly recommended by our fellow travellers at the guest house. And indeed, It became one of our favourite castles of this trip!
Started the visit with eating ice cream bought from a cute ice cream truck just outside the castle while admiring the view of where we just came from. Next, we purchased the tickets and entered Stirling castle just in time for the free guided tour (takes place every half an hour) around the castle. The engaging guide shared with us the history and fascinating facts of the royal buildings. We strongly recommend joining the guided tour when visiting any place of interest!
After the brief tour around the castle with the guide, we continued to walk around the castle to take photos and appreciate the buildings with some still in the midst of restoration. In addition, there are costumed characters hanging out in some rooms where you can mingle with them or ask questions.
Truly enjoyed our visit there! It felt like we stepped back in time and we'll always remember this castle with its unique yellow building named "The Great Hall".
16:00 | Late lunch at Oak Tree Inn near Loch Lomond
It's time for a late lunch! We headed towards Oak Tree Inn that was situated in the lovely loch side village of Balmaha. This is a really nice location for a stopover/meal. Saw a lot of hikers there as it's just across the Loch Lomond-Trossachs National Park visitor centre.
17:00 | In search of the lone tree at Milarrochy Bay
Anders was captivated by a photographer's photos of this lone tree, and thus we went a little off our intended path to look for it. There is very little information about this tree, and thus we had a hard time finding it.
Finally, we found it right here on the beach in front of a small building. The light was working against us by that hour of the day. Still, we took some shots and made the best out of the visit!
19:00 | Stopped over at Luss Village
We originally planned to stop by a few more places on our way to our next accommodation, but due to time running out, we had to drop a few of them. One that we thought we had to visit was Luss. It's dubbed by some people as the most beautiful village in Scotland, and once you step in there, you can see why!
The beautifully conserved cottages makes this village really special. We really wished we had more time here. Every cottage makes a good photo spot! Walking through the rows of cottages will lead you to the pier with a nice boardwalk that opens up to a fantastic view of Loch Lomond!
We had to rush off this place, but fortunately still took enough photos and made it worthwhile. We stopped by The Green Welly Stop to grab some quick dinner before doing a long and direct drive to Huntingtower Lodge, where we will spend the night. The evening skies accompanied us on this beautiful drive as we rode towards the sunset and ended our day.
You can read up on the rest of our 17 days' adventure in Scotland and England here