A blog about me, Chalene & Chantel and anything under the sun
Christmas 2014 (left) vs Christmas 2015 (right). Yep, we recycled their red dress :)
Decorating the tree
We went to Christmas Wonderland at Gardens By The Bay
Christmas Day with cousins. They couldn’t wait to open those gifts!
I bought a gingerbread house and candies from Ikea and the kids had fun decorating it.
Their gingerbread house. The whole house collapse after an hour! Too many heavy candies on top haha.
Messy but fun!
The girls’ 3rd birthday was last November. Did not have a chance to blog about it. Better late than never!
So they had 4 birthday celebrations on different days.
On their actual birthday, we were on a short getaway in Johor. Stayed at Hotel Jen and the hotel gave us a complimentary birthday cake.
Egg surprises! Yeap, this was their birthday present from me. They loved opening each and every one of them!
Then we celebrated in school. This was actually the first time celebrating their birthday in school.
Then it was among my family side with their cousins
And their final cake was a month later!
Most of the family members are born in the second half of the year, so we are always celebrating a birthday and eating cakes from June to December!
Day 3 – 7 were spent in Inner Mongolia.
We took the overnight soft sleeper train from Beijing West Railway station to Hohhot (Inner Mongolia). Our train tickets were purchased online at Ctrip just a week earlier. We still needed to collect our real tickets at any railway ticket counter. We collected ours at Beijing West Railway station (our hotel was just opposite the station).
We paid a few bucks to get to wait at an air conditioned waiting hall to avoid the crowd.
Inside our K89 Sleeper Train. Departure was at 2215hrs. It got really really cold at night.
The train wasn’t noisy, the beds were comfortable and we slept pretty well at night. It was just squeezy because the kids shared the bed with me!
We reached Hohhot Train Station at 0720hrs, after 9hrs
We stayed at Anda Guesthouse for the next 3 days. They had free train pickups from Hohhot Train Station.
Anda Guesthouse is a hostel-like accommodation. We were their first guest bringing kids along haha. The owners were very friendly. Accommodation was cheap at S$40 per night (albeit shared bathroom) and it got many good reviews from international travelers. They also provide private tours at reasonable price. We enjoyed interacting with the other guests. On our last evening after checking out we stayed at the common area and had a good 3 hour chat with the other international guests.
We spent our first day in the city.
The restaurant street was just opposite our guesthouse, so we decided to try some Mongolian food for lunch
Their tea has a very milky taste … a bit too strong for my liking
After lunch we took a cab to Inner Mongolian Museum
The museum has everything from dinosaurs and Genghis Khan to space-age rockets.
We bought some local food products
We went back to the restaurant street for dinner. This place is just opposite Anda Guesthouse.
This time we tried BBQ and satays. Yum! Loved all the stuffs that we ordered.
I loved their satays and the spices used
Day 2 highlights:
We woke up early, checked out of the hotel and left our luggages at the hotel’s baggage counter. Ate breakfast at one of the shops next to the hotel.
After breakfast, we took the subway to Beijing Dongzhimen Long Distance Bus Station.
On our way to the bus station we stopped by a park.
There are several sections of the Great Wall that are accessible to the public. You can read more about the various sections here. The section that we wanted to visit was Mutianyu Great Wall in Huairou County, about 72 km from Beijing. We were supposed to take bus no. 916 (express). However, at the Bus Station, a lady approached us and she told us that we could take another (faster) bus to Mutianyu Great Wall. So we hopped into bus 980 (express) instead of 916 (express).
Inside the bus one guy told us that our bus was heading to Miyun County instead of Huairou county! Alas it was too late to alight because we were already on the highway and the bus driver was not really that friendly.
So we alighted at the first bus station in Miyun County. There, one of the private drivers approached us and offered to bring us around. We negotiated and for 400 Yuan (S$88) he would drive us to Jinshanling Great Wall (140 km northeast from Beijing city) then to Gubeiku Water Village and finally back to the bus stop to Beijing.
First stop: Jingshanling Great Wall
At the entrance of Jinshanling Great Wall
We had to take the cable to reach the top (700 m above the sea-level)
Took us about 15 minutes to the top
At the top, we had to follow a small path that would lead us to the actual wall
Jinshanling Great Wall section is awesome! Taking the wrong bus was a blessing in disguise.
This section stretches to about 10 kilometers. Did you know that Jinshanling Great Wall Marathon runs along this section every year?
Gorgeous and serene place
Not crowded at all unlike the other sections of the Great wall
Some parts were quite steep. We had 3 lady ‘guides’ to help us. Their intention was actually to sell postcards and souvenirs. Well, we tipped them big instead.
With the 3 lady guides
The husband was one of the happiest because he was so looking forward to visiting the Great Wall
After the Great Wall, the driver brought us to Gubeiku water village. We didn’t go inside though. Just took some photos and visited the free sections (and stopped gor some starbucks)
They had a free kid playground
At around 5pm we took the bus back to Beijing long distance bus station. We were stuck in a jam — took us over 3 hours to reach the city.
We had Yoshinoya for dinner – finally a meal that we all liked and could eat!
After dinner we proceeded to Beijing West Railway station (our hotel was opposite) to collect our train tickets and then catch our 11pm train to Inner Mongolia.
I had booked the soft sleeper train (via ctrip) which is more comfortable than the hard sleeper. It has 4 beds per compartment and each compartment has a sliding door (good for privacy).
The night went pretty well. Kids slept throughout.
It became freaking cold at night!!! I had to open my luggage in the middle of the night to find some warm clothes.
This year we decided to travel to China for our family holiday. Many of our friends were surprised by our choice. Why China? Well, the husband wanted to go to the Great Wall and the rest is history. Our Cathay air tickets were purchased since months ago (March 2015).
Time really flew by and before we knew it, September came! The husband had let me plan the whole itinerary (I love to plan such thing). Boy did I make so many changes from where to visit to the type of hotels to book! I always thought that 11 days in Beijing was too long. I wanted to spend 5 days in Beijing and the rest of the days in another city not too far away. Then, one day someone suggested visiting Inner Mongolia. Did some research on this new-to-me place and a visit to the grassland and the desert sounded interesting indeed. So Inner Mongolia it was! More about our adventures in Inner Mongolia in another blog post (Day 3).
Day 1 (Singapore to Beijing)
Our flight was quite early (6.45am). We had a backpack (checked-in baggage), another smaller backpack (cabin luggage) which contained important stuffs (medicines) and a single stroller.
Kids kept themselves busy with the in-flight movies and ipad. I had installed new apps just for this trip.
After 3-hrs we reached Hong Kong where we waited for another 2-hrs for our next flight to Beijing
We reached Beijing at around 4pm
So I thought it would be easy to take the train from the airport to our hotel (located at Beijing West Railway Station) but I was wrong. I guess it would have been easy if we didn’t have 2 heavy backpacks, 2 toddlers and 1 stroller with us.. By the time we came out of the airport, it was peak hours. I have never seen a train that packed. In Singapore I commute to work daily during peak hours but this crowd that I experienced on my first day in Beijing was … an experience indeed. We had to be fast and join the rest in pushing to get into the train :)
We were so thankful to a kind gentleman who assisted and guided us all the way to our final train station. We had to change train 5 times. Everybody was looking at us. I think our twin girls and our backpacks were the centre of attention.
We eventually made it to our hotel, however we went to the wrong hotel. Their system didn’t have our booking. At that point we were exhausted, hence decided to book a new room on the spot.
Our first dinner in Beijing
Day 2 … To be Continued
Hi my name is Carine Olivia. I am a Mauritian living in Singapore. I'm a mommy to two beautiful daughters ... Read more ...