Tuesday, July 10, 2018

My Melody Café Singapore Review

As a great fan of My Melody, when my dear friends informed me about the opening of My Melody Café Singapore, I was eager to go! So during the last week of June school holiday, I dragged invited my children to go along with me.

My Melody Café Singapore is located just next to Gudetama Cafe Singapore at Suntec City, where used to be a part of Gudetama Cafe. The children actually requested me to bring them to Gudetama Cafe as they still remembered our visit last year (read our review of Gudetama Cafe Singapore in this post), but I didn't say anything and walked straight into My Melody Café.

I was delighted to see My Melody and quickly took photo with her first.

The interior of the cafe looks like a garden as the theme is "Strawberry Paradise".

Everything on the table looked so cute, including the menu (the tablet).

After browsing through the menu, we ordered Princess Bunny (SGD18.90) and a cup of coffee (around SGD6). Sigh, the price is a tad too high.

When the cup of coffee was served, I was very disappointed to see a disfigured My Melody. I should have ordered other beverage. The Princess Bunny managed to save the day. I won't say it is very delicious, but at least, it is a decent dish. The children liked the fried chicken which was quite crispy. I was glad that the curry was not too spicy for me.

I was thankful that one of the staff helped us take photos although she was busy with her work. After taking 1 to 2 shots, I felt that the angle was not very nice, she was kind enough to help me to take another shot based on my request.

My Melody Café Singapore
3 Temasek Boulevard, Suntec City Mall #01-361 Singapore 038983
Opening Hours: 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.

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Monday, July 9, 2018

Japan Travel: Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route 立山黒部アルペンルート

As we shared in our post 10 tips on planning Central Japan trip with children, one of the reasons why we wanted to visit Central Japan is to play with snow in summer at Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route 立山黒部アルペンルート. The highlight was to visit the Snow Corridor (雪の大谷 Yuki no Otani), which is open to public from mid April to end June. Located at Murodo 室堂 at 2450 m high, the snow wall that can be as tall as 20 m in April. By June, the height is around 11-12 m, but I thought it would still be amazing.

An overview of what Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route - you can cross the mountainous area between Toyama 富山 and Ogizawa 扇沢 via 7 modes of public transportation, which include railway, cable car, bus, trolley bus and ropeway.

source: Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route official website

As the route is part of Chubu Sangaku National Park, you cannot drive your own car across it, you have to arrange it to be delivered. If you have large luggage, you can also arrange delivery from one end to the other end of the route too.

One worry that I had was that the Snow Corridor would not be open for visitors to walk through if the weather condition was poor. I kept monitoring the weather closer to the day, it was hazy on the day before, but the snow corridor was still open for walking. So the day came, I checked the official website at 7 am, the weather was still hazy, but there was no indication whether the Snow Corridor was open for walking. Anyway, we just went ahead, keeping my fingers and toes crossed that the Snow Corridor would be open.

We stayed at Toyama the night before. At Dentetsu-Toyama Station 電鉄富山, we bought the return tickets between Toyama and Murodo (6710 yen for adult, 3360 yen for child). We took 1 hour train to Tateyama 立山.

The screen at Tateyama Station displayed the live image of Murodo, it was so foggy and I started to have a bad feeling.

While we were happily tasting free sample of food at the souvenir shop, we saw a queue start to form at the Individual Gate even though it was 20 minutes before the departure of the next Tateyama Cable Car. I told the children to quickly join the queue while I quickly did my usual thing in Japan - to get the stamp on the brochure!

Tateyama Cable Car took only 7 minutes to reach Bijodaira 美女平.

According to timetable, the next Highway Bus to Murodo should be 30 minutes later, however, there was a bus departing when we were there at that time. It was great that we didn't have to waste much time waiting!

The Highway Bus took 50 minutes to reach Murodo. I read somewhere that we should sit on the left hand side of the bus so that we could look at a waterfall called Shomyo Taki 称名滝 as well as a huge Cedar tree. However, it was so hazy that we could hardly see anything.

On the way up the mountain, the scenery turned from green to white. Yes, it was summer, and there was snow!

Though we couldn't see the scenery clearly, the TV in the bus kept us entertain as the video introduced various points of interest as the bus was travelling.

Finally, the bus drove past the Snow Corridor. It was amazing to view it from inside of the bus, but I was wondering why there was not a single soul walking along the Snow Corridor.

As parents, we remembered to dress our children up like a "bak chang" (Chinese rice dumplings), but DaDi wore bermudas and I wore 3/4 pants, and I only had a thin jacket which was not waterproof! So imagine wearing this kind of clothing at 8 degrees Celsius and when it was raining!

Anyway, I forgot about the coldness as I was excited to visit the post office at 2450 m high, and sent my first post card from Japan to Singapore even though it was my 7th time visiting Japan. Remember to do the questionnaire on their official website to redeem some free beautiful postcards from the information counter!

The children kept asking me to hurry up so that they could play with snow. When we walked towards the exit of the station, a big sign made me faint - the Snow Corridor was not open for walking on that day due to adverse weather condition! We took 4 hours to travel from Nagoya to Toyama, and another 2 hours from Toyama to Murodo to see the Snow Corridor, and now we were told that it was not open for walking on that day! Can you imagine how disappointed I was?

The children were hungry and so we had our lunch at a restaurant at Tateyama Hotel located at the station. The restaurant was filled with many individual visitors and many tour groups. I thought they would probably feel the same way as I did.

We ordered Fried White Shrimp with Himi Udon Noodles set, both are local specialty in Toyama region.

I was still feeling disappointed, but I didn't give up easily, and quickly checked what else we could do there since we had already spent much effort to go up to 2450 m! I found that there was a smaller scale of snow wall behind the hotel.

The walls were much shorter than those at the Snow Corridor, but it was better than nothing. Though it was raining, the children still had fun "writing" on the snow wall using the small stones.

We were cold and wet after that, a bowl of warm zenzai (red bean soup) and buns from the eatery shops made us feel better.

Isn't this nice? Ok, I confess that I was taking a photo with a photo.

My collection from 2450 m.

On the way back to Toyama, the children said that they enjoyed the trip. I was surprised that they said that. I thought it was a disappointment that we could not walk through the Snow Corridor, but to the children, they were contented just to play at the smaller scale of snow wall. They said, "It was better than nothing!"

I learnt an important lesson from my children - look at things on the brighter side!

Tips for Visiting Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route Snow Corridor between April to June
  1. If you are visiting during April to May, it is advisable to purchase tickets online, because Tateyama Cable Car has limited seats. But of course, please keep your fingers and toes crossed that the day that you have selected would have good weather! 
  2. Bring waterproof windbreaker (don't follow the mistake that I made).
  3. Plan 2-3 days to stay in Toyama if your schedule allows, so that you can visit Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route on a day with better weather (don't follow the other mistake I made, only planned one and only one day to visit a place with highly unpredictable weather).
  4. When travelling between Toyama and Tateyama on Toyama Chihou Railway 富山地方鉄道, additional fee (210 yen for adult, 110 yen for child) is required to take limited express train.

Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route 立山黒部アルペンルート
Website: https://www.alpen-route.com/en/

Our Central Japan Travelogue June 2018

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Sunday, June 24, 2018

Japan Travel: Takayama 高山

When we decided to visit Nagoya in Central Japan, we initially did not consider visiting Takayama 高山. Just not too long before our trip then we decided to visit there, and we didn't regret! Do check out our Takayama Food Map in this post!

It took 2.5 hours on Japan Rail Wide Hida Limited Express 特急ワイドビューひだ to get from Nagoya to Takayama. As we took the red-eye flight from Singapore to Nagoya, we were quite tired, and the railway journey served as a nap time for us. Do take note that this limited express operates 1-2 hourly, so check the train schedule beforehand.

As we had to head to Toyama 富山 where we would stay overnight, we checked the train schedule and we had 3 hours at Takayama. In fact, the places that we planned to visit could be covered by walking.

Just a few minutes walk from Takayama Station and we reached Hida Kokubunji Temple 飛騨国分寺. We were surprised to see a group of people standing and looking at their mobile phones. They were catching Pokemon!

There is a huge Ginkgo tree, but it would turn colour only in autumn.

The lunch that we gobbled at Nagoya was digested by the time we reached Takayama, and we quickly headed to the highlight of the area - Takayama Kami-Sanomachi 上三之町, which is the old town with many eateries and shops.

Here it is, our Takayama Food Map!

Grilled dango (90 yen) at Fujimiya 二四三屋 is chewy inside and slightly crispy outside.

We rested at a shop called Jugemu じゅげむ for a while. There is a ticket machine in the shop, you have to purchase the ticket from the machine, and then pass the ticket to the food counter to get the food. The children had ice-cream, while I had grilled Hida beef. There were 3 types of grilled Hida beef at price ranging from 200 yen to 800 yen, and I decided to go for the most expensive one, which I regretted as it was a tad too oily for me.

To neutralise the oil in my stomach, I had my favourite ice-cream Cremia (500 yen)! I usually bought the vanilla ice-cream, but this time round, I tried the chocolate and vanilla with chocolate cone. I still prefer the vanilla ice-cream.

Next, I looked for my target - Hida beef sushi from Hida Kotte Beef 飛騨 こって牛! I saw many Taiwanese and Hong Kong bloggers and YouTubers raving about the sushi! But what a pity that the set of 3 different types of sushi (Set C) was sold out when I reached!

I ordered Set A (700 yen) that consists of 2 types of beef sushi - bamboo salt and soya sauce with ginger. The meat was tender and melt in my mouth! Instead of serving on a plate, the sushi was served on a rice cracker, so interesting! If I were to savour this again, I would have eaten the bamboo salt one first, because the ginger on the other one tasted too strong. I almost wanted to buy another set, but I reminded myself to reserve some space in the stomach for other food.

As I was enjoying the Hida beef sushi, the children were enjoying their rice crackers that were grilled on charcoal upon order.

It was quite cold as it was raining. But the piping hot buns from Kihachiro 喜八郎 warmed us up. Though the specialty is Hida beef bun, the children prefer the matcha bun with red bean paste.

Towards the end of the street were some sake brewery shops. Look up the entrance of the shops, those with a big ball-like object are sake brewery.

We visited Funasaka Sake Brewery 舩坂酒造店. It was nice that we could have 2 free small cups of sake for tasting. The staff recommended Daigijno 大吟醸, but the alcoholic taste was too strong for us. Another recommendation was Yuzu wine, which is very fruity and fragrant. I wanted to get a bottle, however, I decided to give it a miss, considering that we had to travel to a few different places, I was afraid that the bottle would be broken.

I planned to have the pumpkin pudding at Le Midi, however it was closed for a break when we were there!

We walked back to Takayama Station to catch the train to Toyama, and spotted a beautiful float at the station. If you have a chance to visit Takayama in April and October, do check out Takayama Festival when there would be parade of the festival floats.

Other interesting places in Takayama include: Takayama Yatai Kaikan (exhibition of traditional floats), Miyagawa Morning Market, Takayama Morning Market, Hida no Sato (Gassho house village), and so on. So I would suggest to plan a day or two at Takayama!

I was glad that I didn't leave Takayama out from my itinerary!

Our Central Japan Travelogue June 2018

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