Cat cafe for kids in Tokyo (MOCHA Takeshita Street)

Pet cafes such as owl, hedgehogs and even cat cafes are apparently a plenty in Japan but not every cafe allow kids under a certain age. While planning for our family trip to Tokyo, I did want to bring the little one to visit a cat cafe since she has always loved cats.

I went online in search of a few of these cafes that would allow kids of 5 and above in and thankfully, we managed to find one conveniently located in Harajuku. The girl was beyond excited and I think it must have marked one of her highlights of our family holiday. We visited the cafe on a public holiday so there was a short queue that formed when we arrived. Thankfully, it moved pretty fast for the girl not to whine about the situation.

We had to sanitise our hands as well as leave our shoes behind before entering the premises of the cat cafe. When the doors to the cat land opened, the girl went wild! She was beyond thrilled to see so many cats under one roof and wasted no time in asking me to fork out some money for cat treats for her to entice the cats to come to her.  FYI, cat treats start from 500 yen.

She had such a fun time chasing after the cats and then pouting when none of them would sit next to her to let her pat them.  It was priceless watching her interact with the cats and then being so gentle with them.

The Man and I aren’t particularly big on the feline creatures but I have to say that there are several breeds of cats that are found in this cat cafe and they were fun to look like. We probably spent an hour in this cafe prancing up and down while the girl wanders off to find a new feline pal to play with.

As a family, I’m glad we did this for the kiddo. Look at her beam from ear to ear! So if your kid is a cat lover just as much as ours, do bring them to the Cat Cafe in Japan. It will make for a fun and memorable experience.

Cat Cafe Mocha

AddressJapan, 〒150-0001 Tokyo, Shibuya City, Jingumae, 1 Chome−19−9 プライム原宿 2F

Those who are between 3 and 12 years old can only enter this shop accompanied by a guardian.

Price: ¥200/ 10 minutes- Maximum Charge
– General ¥2,400
– Junior High/High School Students ¥1,200 *Weekdays onlySeparately ¥350 is charged required fees for All-you-can-drink.* All listed prices are excluding tax.

Review of Club Med Tomamu

Finally found the time/ energy to blog about our winter holiday to Hokkaido. It’s been probably 2 years since I last went on a ski/ snowboard holiday. Not that I am a hardcore sports enthusiast but the Man did remark that it’s been ages since we went on a winter trip. Largely because we also thought that the little one would like to have a change in scenery when it comes to family holidays so we decided to bring her to a country where it would actually be snowing. Guess where’s the closest country that came to mind? Why, Japan of course!

Club Med Tomamu located in Hokkaido was newly opened and we did have a good experience with Club Med years ago, so we decided to give it a try. One of the reasons why we decided on Club Med was also because they have a child-minding service where we paid for a fee to put the little one in while we hit the powder in the day. As Club Med offers a full-board service, we didn’t have to worry about our meals for it was provided for throughout the day, including alcohol.

The little one did seem to enjoy being in the Petit Club but only for a day or two. After the third day where she pretty much figured out that we were going to leave her there after her ski lesson, she was a little sad. So on Day 4, I decided to take a break from snow-boarding to keep her company. Petit Club pretty much ran like a day centre for kids. There were minders that will tend to the little one’s needs and also feed them during meals. They also planned several activities to keep the little ones busy and occupied. Best part? Naps are also part of the routine so it was reassuring to know that the little one clocked in sufficient snooze time even on holiday.

If your kids are above 4, then they can be placed in the Mini Club where they can opt to take ski or snowboarding lessons in a group. Because the kiddo is not 4 yet and we were eager to get her started on skiing, we signed her up for private ski lessons for an hour for three days. Her first lesson was with Coach Mitch who she absolutely adored. The skies were also so blue and made for the perfect backdrop for her to play around in the snow with. The second day, he was busy so we signed up with Coach Sam which we realised she didn’t take an immediate liking to. I guess this girl clearly like male teachers so on the third day, we asked Coach Mitch if he was free to take her on as a student. He was really quite sweet as it was his off day and he still took her on.

Hokkaido for CNY 2018

This Lunar New Year has been quite a muted affair for us as we decided to make a trip out of it instead of staying in for the festivities. Partially because the Man has been on the road quite a fair bit and family holidays are probably the best time we see each other every waking moment so late last year, he decided to book us three for a winter vacation.

The challenge we did find was where? Okay, so #firstworldproblems. But the highlight of the trip was for me to eventually head back to the slopes and for the little one to eventually learn skiing. The Man did some research and found out that because Bub was under 4, many of the ski resorts would not allow her to join in the group classes (we later found out it was because of insurance undertaken by many of the schools). So the only way that we could possibly let her learn skiing was through private lessons.

So the nearest place that offered skiing/ snowboarding with child-minding services would be Club Med in Hokkaido. We last visited Club Med Sahoro nearly 12 years ago and had quite a fun time learning how to snowboard then. We knew that the premises would be slightly dated given that it has yet to undergo a major renovation. That said, we weren’t highly impressed with the rooms then and I don’t think it would impress us 12-13 years on.

That’s when the Man (through more planning) discovered Club Med Tomamu, a newly opened sister resort also opened in Hokkaido. The place looks spanking new and huge! So he decided to book it for our #limfambamvacay! I will share more about our Club Med experience in the next blog post but for now, I really do want to share about how traveling to Hokkaido (that looks relatively near) is actually quite a “pain”.

Apparently, we have been told that ANA and Singapore Airlines operate direct flights to Hokkaido during the winter season. When the Man tried to book our flights via Singapore Airlines, it turned out to be crazy expensive. Since we were already going to splurge on the all-inclusive stay at Club Med Tomamu for our trip, we decided to take JAL Premium Economy for the holiday which suited our family budget.

It took us almost a good 14 – 16 hours to get from Singapore to Hokkaido. Our flights from Singapore to Tokyo was about 8plus in the morning and by the time (inclusive of transit time and traveling time on the road) we arrived at our hotel in Sapporo, it was nearly 12 midnight. The Bub was really tired and I had to carry the child in the cold while the Man juggled with our 2 large suitcases and 2 snowboards.

Our trip was all of 9 days but we broke it up and stayed in Sapporo for 3 nights and another 5 nights at Club Med Tomamu. The break was quite good as we took it slow and easy in the city before heading out to the mountainous area. The train ride from Sapporo Central Station took us about 2 hours and there was a shuttle from the resort that brought us to the door-step.

For our return, we left Club Med Tomamu at about 9am in the morning on Sunday and only arrived back in Singapore at 1am, Monday morning. The journey felt incredibly long probably because of the transit time again and also partly because the Bub fell sick on the way back with a sore throat and a high fever. That said, we made it back home in one piece even though we are really quite tired.

Also, last we checked, Scoot also offers direct flights to Hokkaido. But there are pros and cons in taking low-cost carrier flights so do weigh your options. 🙂

Will be summarising our little trip to Hokkaido and Club Med Tomamu real soon (where the Bub learned skiing) on the blog but for more current updates, do follow us on our Instagram Account: Sophie_x_mama.j0.

That’s it for now, nights!

Cute Disney Dim Sum at Crystal Lotus

At the start of 2018, we made a trip down to Hong Kong and stayed a total of 3 days/ 2 nights at Disneyland. This time round, we decided to check ourselves into the Disneyland Hotel (which is the main hotel for Disneyland). Even though it was slightly older than the Disney Explorers Lodge Hotel, the benefits as a guest of the Disneyland Hotel room package was quite attractive. We received complimentary fast passes for several rides in the park itself as well as a reserved sitting area at the Night Parade. The hotel also house one of the must-visit Chinese restaurants in Disneyland so I’m glad we didn’t have to move too far in order to get decent Chinese food.

One of the things I had wanted to do was to try out the Disney-themed dim sum available only on weekends at Crystal Lotus Restaurant. But as our trip didn’t extend beyond the weekend and I didn’t want to miss out on trying the utterly cute and possibly over-priced cute Disney dim sum, there was an opportunity to preorder these items if an advance notice of 24 hours was given. So bascially, that was what I did.

Here was what we ordered for our lunch:

  • Duffy and Shellie May Steam Sweet Buns, 2 pcs: HKD 78
  • Three Little Pigs Barbecue Pork Buns, 3 pcs: HKD 88
  • Little Green Men Pork and Vegetable Buns, 3 pcs: HKD 88
  • Mickey’s Seafood Glutinous Pancake (with Hot Sauce), 4 pcs: HKD 78

 Of all of the dim-sum served, the most intricately designed ones were the Three Green Men and the Duffy and Shellie May buns. They looked almost too cute to be eaten, but we did anyway.

The Bub had a fun time plucking out the eyes from the alien buns and the ears off the bears. She even nibbled them. That to me is quite a feat as she is no fan of steamed buns.

She did enjoy the Mickey shaped seafood glutinous pancake and finished one piece of it on her own. Again, she’s no fan of sweet stuff so if this came in the shape of a waffle or pancake, it will be left untouched on her plate.

Overall a fun dining experience to remember by one’s Disney holiday. The dim sum was cute to look at but beyond that, taste-wise would not leave a lasting impression.

Seoul with my sistas

This was a long overdue trip that I had planned with my girlfriends since June. Long overdue in a way as the four of us have not gone on a holiday since like 2005! These ladies were a huge part of my life in my 20s and perhaps over the years, we may have lost touch with one another but it’s good to know that we can pick right off where we left off. Sure, things may have changed but the familiarity of hanging out with one another fell almost right at home when we all met up in Seoul.

To be honest, Seoul was not on my top list of countries that I would pick to go but my 2 other girlfriends were quite bent on heading back there. They had gone to Seoul last year and planned on making in their annual girlie trip incorporating a whole slew of hair and beauty treatments. Well, not to be the wet blanket, I decided alright I will give Seoul another go. I didn’t quite enjoy it when we were there in 2010 for I was SEOUL wasted (days of my “youth”) maybe this time round it would be different.

For this trip, we planned on getting our hair and a semi-permanent make-up done. Upon a recommendation by a Korean Mama-pal, we eventually decided on heading to Juno. I decided since I was going to be turning 40, I needed a new change in my hair-do. Very adventurous! I’ve heard alot about the Korean perm so decided that there isn’t a better time to do this than during the trip. The colour and C-curl perm cost me about 380,000 won which is a little hefty but I really did like the look. Maintenance wasn’t all too bad either for some days when I crawl out of bed and am lazy to have the perfect curl look, I just let the curls hang wild and loose.

Another thing that my girlfriends were bent on doing was eyebrow embroidery. Sure, you could get it done in Singapore but my girlfriends swore that the one done by the Aesthetic Director of the Lee Na Young Beauty Academy was the best. So we took her word for it and did our brows. I also tried the semi-permanent lip tattoo as I was tired of touching up my lips with lipstick during the day. I have to add the lip procedure was rather painful and to be honest, when I told my friends I did this, they couldn’t really tell because that’s how natural the lips would look with a light pink effect. Would I do it again? Prob not worth the pain. Will have to see if it will really last for 3 years!

For my surprise birthday dinner with the girls, the Man booked us a sumptuous dinner at Gaon. He had been to the restaurant I think a month back when he was in Seoul and thought that I would enjoy this with my girlfriends. Being a serious foodie, he was definitely right.

From the start of the meal to the finish, we were bowled over by the presentation of the meal and how traditional Korean dishes can be elevated using fine dining techniques.

I was very impressed with this fresh Kimchi salad which was essentially using fresh cabbage and vegetables tossed in spicy sauce. Each bite was refreshing and if you are not particularly a Kimchi fan, this dish might change your impression of Kimchi altogether.

The extremely mouth-watering beef that simply melted in our mouths. Check out the marbling aka fats on each slice. Super sinful but super good. No one spoke as we gingerly placed the salt crystals on each slice of beef and carefully placed it in our mouth.

The restaurant also specially arranged a traditional Korean birthday cake for me but the company was superb, not to mention, they had these kicka$$ soju which packed a high alcoholic content!

Last but not the least, a girls trip is not complete if we didn’t shop. Seoul is quite a shopper’s haven for it’s beauty products, fashion and food. I think I fared pretty well and did not burst my baggage quota. My Seoul haul included my fave BB compact cushion from Hera, some clothing from Dongdaemun Wholesale Centre as well as SPAM. Have you tried SPAM (luncheon meat from Korea)? It’s actually very good and not too salty either! I think the next time the Man heads there, I’m going to ask him stock more of these up!

And this pretty much sums up our 4D/3N trip to Seoul with the ladies. Our next holiday with us four will probably be in the next decade! 🙂

Zipping in and out of Bali

The Man was invited to Bali for a golf trip and other halves were included as part of the invite, so I decided to tag along with him on this quick 3D/2N trip. Of course the hardest part of going on a couple holiday now is leaving the kid behind, but we know that she will be dearly cared for back home and it was nice just to relax and not worry about running after a child while on holiday. Yeah, holidays with kids don’t quite count, in fact, it’s a round-the-clock job when you go on holiday with a child. But we wouldn’t quite give that up yet as the amount of bonding time we get with Bub is priceless.

The Man and I mused about when was the last couple trip we took and it was probably 1.5 years ago when we went on our ski/snowboard holiday for about 1 week sans Bubba. This was a much shorter trip with different agendas – golf for the Man and for me, it’s purely to rest and relax. I’ve been so tired and basically feeling so burnt out that I was really looking forward to doing nothing at all.Our hosts booked us into the very swanky W Hotel situated at Seminyak. The location was perfect, close to several popular eateries, cool cafes and a stone’s throw away from quaint spas (highly recommend Spring Spa – we spent 3 hours doing various treatments there!). My plan of reading, chilling by the pool with a bottle of beer in hand literally went out of the window. I spent more than half the time lying horizontally on the spa bed. Yes, I take my spa massages very seriously! I also spent a couple of hours exploring the different eclectic shops around Seminyak Square. The Man and I certainly did not plan on shopping much but I was pleasantly surprised by the finds and managed to bag home some outfits for both the Bub and myself and two really cute bags that would be perfect for our upcoming Summer vacation in Corsica.

This is a kid’s straw bag with the cutest pom pom bag charm found at Kidsagogo! My new-found fave Australian/ Balinese brand. Prices are slightly more than what you can find from the street stalls but I assure for the price and the quality that you are paying, it’s really worth paying.

I also bagged two super comfy and soft Summer Kaftans for our upcoming Summer vacation. The prints on these were quite fun and I loved the tassel accessory that came with the outfit. The price was even more attractive at about $15 a piece.

On places to eat, our event hosts booked the group for dinner at Merah Putih Restaurant (serving modern fusion Indonesian food) as well as Kudeta during our stay. The food at both places were divine. In fact, we loved Merah Putih loads that we ditched our lunch reservation at Fat Turtle the last day and headed back to the restaurant again. Well, the men in our group were not going to be satisfied with pancakes and lattes.

Speaking of coffee. The coffee culture in Bali has gained quite a stronghold. There were so many cafes (big and small) scattered around Seminyak. Sisterfields, Fat Turtle, Revolver Coffee all came highly recommended by friends. We only managed to fit in a spot of coffee at Revolver Coffee – a hole in the wall joint walking distance from our hotel. It made for a good afternoon break watching the cars go by.

And when the Man played golf, I signed myself up for a mixologist class hosted by the W Hotel as part of our trip. I learned how to make three cocktails that very afternoon. The group that attended the cocktail session was also pretty small but I guess alcohol does loosen people up a little and we started chatted candidly when our lesson ended. All I can say after learning how to make these three cocktails is that I better stick to my day job!

Our trip ended with an All White Summer Party but we obviously didn’t make it past midnight, preferring to retreat back to our hotel to head back to sleep. Yes, sleep is a precious commodity when you become a parent!

The trip wasn’t a specific couple trip per se for we had friends along with us most times but it was a good break from being parents (for a few days). For me, actually it was important for me to recharge, calibrate and to think about what the future holds. I had a lot going on my plate of late and juggling them was challenging. Of course, it’s nice to be able to just sit with the Man and do the things we enjoy very much quietly. We do hold onto our phones tightly too to wait for messages and photo updates from my Mom about what the Bub is doing at home. So thank you Mummy (I know you are reading this) for taking such good care of Sophie when we are away.

Thank you Boo for insisting that I go along the trip and thank you for your many attempts to take nice photos for me! Hehe.. I sure had fun on this short but restful break!

72 hours in Hong Kong

After nearly 3 to 4 years of not visiting Hong Kong, I think I’ve hit my annual quota of visiting Hong Kong with a whirlwind weekend trip in under 6 months. I’m not entirely crazy about the country but the first was with my cousin in March, the second was with the Bub in May to check out Disney and the recent one was with Mama Libby for bizz-ness – totally legit.

Because our trip was booked rather last minute, flights to Hong Kong were sky high! $900 on SQ, $700 on Cathay. The only reasonable airfare that we were going to pay for was about $300+ and it was a toss between United Airlines (does not have the best rep at the moment) or Tiger Airways. We chose the former and hoped that we will not be dragged off the plane. Thankfully, we made it there and back in one piece.

Coffee is always a good idea especially at 4am in the morning. A most ungodly hour but our spirits were high as we are excited with all the plans that we have for Cote Maison. Since we technically don’t have to run around after our kids, ditched our Mom bags for a second and swapped them with not-so-friendly kid bag.

Fresh off the plane, filled our tummies with some food and headed to work almost straight away. This was us checking out the not-so-popular part of Hong Kong but it was definitely an eye-opening one, we needed to understand the basics.

While our short trip was rather jam-packed with meetings as well as site visits to check out displays, it wasn’t all work and no play. Thanks to some pushing from the Teos, I got to check out the Peak walk with the pair on Saturday and ticked off one of the things to do in Hong Kong on my list.
The short nature walk was rather enjoyable except that it was kinda stressful as minutes before we embarked on the nature trail, I dropped my portable mobile wifi device in the cab. My heart sank horribly as I feared the worst that it would be lost and I would have to end up paying the penalties for this. But thankfully, we managed to locate the name of the cab company and eventually the driver and retrieved the device. Phew! I guess there’s a reason why insurance for such items are loaded in the rental. Might be worth looking at this in future.

And in the evening or rather night when we are done with all the business talk, we would head to the nearest supermarket, grabbed a bottle of wine/ cans of beers, head back home and then select a movie where the 3 of us would huddle around and watch along with some junk food. The 2 movies we watched over 2 nights were 30 Days of Night (zombie genre) and Spectral (sci-fi genre).

On food while I would love to go on a food trail and gain all those calories, time wasn’t particularly on our side. But I must add that we did pretty well with majority of the restaurants that we headed to to fill our tummies for our core meals. Egg noodles with parboiled liver with noodles that were springy at Ho Hung Kee (1 Michelin Star) as well as a scrumptious dinner of glammed up dim sum at Dim Sum Library.

The cocktails were a killer. One glass was all it took for Mama Libby and I to be grinning widely for the rest of the evening. Well, all’s not a lost for we each scored a new pair of Repettos on sale!

With one precious day left in Hong Kong, we thought we will be able to squeeze in most of the things that we had planned on doing before scooting off to the airport at 5.30pm. We had grand plans – a leisurely morning walk at Dragon’s Back followed by brunch with egg tarts from Tai Cheong Bakery, a spot of shopping and ending off with high-tea at Upper House. We didn’t get to realise our plans. We woke up to grey skies and an alert of Typhoon 8 hoisted over Hong Kong on Sunday morning.

Hike at Dragon’s Back were shelved and exchanged for brunch. We were going to be good Sunday Catholics and attend mass but when we reached church, we saw a sign displayed to say that mass services have been temporarily halted due to the Typhoon warning. The shops were pretty much closed and that’s when Libby turned around and said “Guys, this is bad! We need to head home, pack our bags for the airport else we may not get a cab down!

Well, we procrastinated and ended up doing Sun Salutations relicating the stance by these round male figurines found at her place and I guess it worked. The rain somewhat stopped and we saw the sun peeking out.  We decided that this was probably our last chance to head out and play before we go back home. After much persuasion from Papa Teo who was very eager to bring us ladies to Sai Wan Swimming Shed for that perfect Instagram shot, we decided to YOLO and head there. Afterall, he was the one driving!

The drive there was short but the walk down to get this shot was scary and as you get close to this structure, you will notice water leeches on the ground. Beware and keep on moving! We were creeped out but all it took was a couple of seconds to snap 3-4 pics before we huffed on up the flight of ancient stairs.

And the weather eventually cleared up for us to head to Tai Cheong Bakery to grab some yummy and buttery egg custard tarts. Yum! Thanks Teos for being such great travel companions with and without kids! 🙂 The Man was very pleased that both Mama Libby and I had a baby-sitter along for the trip for he will definitely have no patience for this.

Now that the trip is over, there are loads to be done for Cote Maison.. watch this space… 🙂