Cheaper And More Fun Way To Family Vacation In London (Pt 1)

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Homecooked Korean instant noodles

Cooking noodles for breakfast in apartment

I’m back to reality after almost a week away in London, enjoying a family vacation at the same time renewing our passports. It’s a very relaxing vacation. We really enjoyed it. We spent a lot of time just strolling, chatting, long rest in between because of my leg, food and playing cards. We found a way to a cheaper and healthier family vacation in an expensive place like London.

Just accommodation and transport alone can cause a big hole in your wallet. I won’t go there just for a vacation. But since we need to renew our passports and also to meet up with loved ones, it’s all worth the money spent. But we did it in a much cheaper, healthier and fun way.

Sitting room of service apartment

Sitting room of service apartment

Sitting room of service apartment

Sitting room of service apartment (another angle)

This is the first time we stayed in a service apartment in London. It’s a 1-room apartment located at Canary Wharf which is in Zone 2, close to the O2 arena. It’s a very nice area, not so hectic and polluted as central London. Tesco Express is just a few meters away which is so convenient. There was free Wifi in the apartment, but then we played too much and had little time left for my computer.

The apartment is rather new and spacious. It cost about £470 for 4 nights. That’s a good deal for 4 of us, way better and cheaper than staying in a small room hotel. It’s even big enough for 6 people if you have sleeping bags. If we stay in a hotel, we will need 2 rooms which will cost at least £150 a night or most likely more and without all the facilities and space.

Lovely clean kitchen

Lovely clean kitchen

I love the kitchen. I actually cooked and baked quite a lot there. See the top picture. That was our breakfast. It’s so much cheaper and healthier than eating outside the whole time. This is the first family vacation that we actually ate a lot of vegetables and fruits. That doesn’t mean we didn’t eat out. We enjoyed a lot of delicious food there too. You probably can’t believe that I even brought along mooncake skin, pastes and mould to bake mooncakes there. How wonderful to enjoy eating freshly made mooncakes while on vacation! I can’t believe it myself too…..*big grin*.

We used Easy Jet which is so much cheaper. My girl said next time we must try the sleeper train. She tried it before and enjoyed the experience. Sometimes there’s offer, 2 for the price of 1. You don’t waste your day time if you use sleeper train because you just sleep through the night. By the time you wake up, you will have arrived right in central London instead of at the airport which means more travel. I really like that idea.

The next day after arrival, we got up early to go to the Malaysian Embassy to do our passports so that we can collect it on the same day. We were so thankful we brought enough cash as they only accept cash! Photos have to be taken there which is easy. There’s one thing we looked forward to going there…..Malaysian food!

Malaysian food!

Malaysian food!

There’s no restaurant there but just a small little cafe with a few chairs. Not a lot of choice but enough to satisfy our craving for some of the best Malaysia food. We had mee goreng (fried noodles), nasi lemak and teh tarik. It was SO good! When we went back to collect our passports in the afternoon, we went for another good round of nasi lemak…….mmmm. The teh tarik was really good too. In Malaysian, these are street foods. Nothing is better than street foods. I simply love them!

Delicious nasi lemak

Delicious nasi lemak

The nasi lemak is really delicious, especially the hot sambal ikan bilis (anchovies). If you like to cook your own simple nasi lemak, please check out my previous post at Easy Nasi Lemak Overseas - Malaysia’s Great Favourite. Nasi lemak is very unique and popular in Malaysian.

Malaysians can eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The rice needs to be of the right texture and very fragrant of coconut milk. The raw cucumber is a perfect combination to the hot and spicy sambal. It helps to cool down the heat. This meal in a dish is very simple and easy to get ready on the table if you have the sambal ready. It’s the most time consuming part. So, cook more and keep in the fridge. Then you can have nasi lemak any time you want.

Mee Goreng (fried noodles)

Mee Goreng (fried noodles)

The mee goreng (fried noodles) was not as good as I expected. Maybe it was not fried with high heat. if you like to cook your mee goreng at home, check it out at Delicious Malaysian Fried Noodles (Part 2). Just add hot chilli sauce if you like it spicy.

Teh tarik (pulled tea)

Teh tarik (pulled tea)

I love my spicy Malaysian meal with a cup of hot teh tarik which translated is ‘pulled tea’. I love the teh tarik here…..beautiful aroma and the sweetness was just spotted on. It was hot too.

To kill our time in between waiting for the passports, we went to Harrods which is just nearby. We had a wonderful time walking around and sampling various types of chocolates. My girl was much fascinated by the caked and bought 3 types.

Rainbow cake from Harrods

Rainbow cake from Harrods

This cake looks really beautiful like rainbow. Just imagine the amount of colouring used! I am so tempted to make one too, but using natural colours like beetroot juice, carrot juice and pandan juice. I think I have to omit the blue colour. Can’t think of a fruit or vegetable that will give blue juice…..haha

Red velvet cake from Harrods

Red velvet cake from Harrods

The red velvet cake was good except for the amount of red colouring used that put me off a little. I think I still prefer my red velvet cake using beetroot. If you like a healthy version of red velvet cake, please check out at Healthy Steamed White Chocolate Beetroot Cake
Healthy Chocolate Beetroot Cake (Dairy Free)
White Chocolate Beetroot Cake

Halloween cupcake from Harrods

Halloween cupcake from Harrods

This Halloween cupcake looks rather cute and pretty. It’s the icing on top that make such a difference to an otherwise very plain chocolate cake. I must say that all the cakes there look really pretty and attractive. But taste wise, I think it’s not that special. It’s more like sponge cake to me. Mind you, they are not cheap. So, homemade is still the best….*smiles*.

M&M store

M&M store

A nice place that we visited is the M&M store. It’s just a short walking distance from Chinatown. It’s huge! 4 storeys I think. My girls were so thrilled. I’m so tempted to buy some of the M&M kitchen wares but I had to resist the temptation. I’m still in the midst of cleaning my house  and the last thing I want is to add more stuff! I may never ever finish cleaning then….haha

Card games

Card games

We also spent a lot of time in fast food outlets like Starbucks, McDonalds and KFC, not for a meal but for a coffee and something light, at the same time to rest our legs. While there, we played cards. Looks like it has become a family tradition. Every time we have a family vacation, my girl will always bring 2 packs of cards along. It’s so much fun playing with them. We also play cards when we get home in the evening. It’s also a time they are most willing to eat fruits!….*big smiles*. There was one day we played until about 2am! I can’t remember when was the last time I slept so late! Great happy times spent with our kids will always stay fresh and sweet, no matter how old they are. While our vacation had just ended, our girls are already talking about vacation next year….wow. I am excited!

The weather in London was awesome. It wasn’t cold like here in Aberdeen. When we left, it was 2 deg Celsius in Aberdeen…..SO cold. I had already turned on the house heater a couple of weeks ago. But in London, we felt so warm in the apartment even without the heater. What a difference! We were so glad that it was not so freezing cold when we came back. But then my joy didn’t last long. It was 1 degree Celsius when I went out for my physio appointment this morning. Still trying to smile and not complain. Very tempted to though…….*grin*.

Back to healthy salad

Back to healthy salad

The best thing to have when we got home was a big bowl of salad. It’s quick, healthy and delicious.

Simple and healthy rice porridge

Simple and healthy rice porridge

After that I cooked rice porridge (congee). I just made some soya sauce omelette and stir fried leeks to go with it. That was a simple, easy and healthy good meal in front of the tv as we watched the Austrian skydiver, Felix Baumgartner, jumped from the shuttle to beat the speed of sound, reaching a maximum velocity of 833.9mph (1,342km/h). What a record-breaking feat! My heart was beating SO fast! I probably ate as fast as his jump….haha.

Right, I think I better stop here otherwise this post will never get published! After a week of fun, it’s quite challenging to get myself to sit down and type. Need to get my momentum back. Will write more about my London trip in my next post. Would be more about food and my cooking.

Till then, see you in my next post. Hope you enjoy your day despite the weather, whether it’s good or bad!

Quote of the day……

“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.”

- Colin Powell

Keep Learning Keep Smiling

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Ann@Anncoo Journal  on October 17th, 2012

Nice post Mary. Good to hear that you’ve enjoyed your stay in London. The service apt looks good and I’ll book that if I come to London with my family one day. Definitely will visit you too :)

Lyndsey@TinySkillet  on October 17th, 2012

So interesting Mary! Lots of good things to eat and see! So funny the have an M&M store.

suituapui  on October 17th, 2012

Must KIV this in case I get to go to London. Wouldn’t be able to afford all the expensive stuff around, will probably starve to death.

somewhere in singapore  on October 17th, 2012

Thanks for sharing…

serena  on October 17th, 2012

May I have the website of the service apartment if you dont mind. It comes handy if I needed to travel with family especially when you have kids.


Mich Piece of Cake  on October 17th, 2012

Love the beautiful apartment! Glad to know you had fun.

claire  on October 17th, 2012

Nice service apartment, Mary! My brother was telling me his nightmare when he went to Four Seasons hotel in London or Birmingham..I forgot.. if only he knows about this, then he will be much happier with his family! Next time when I go London, (if i have the opportunity), i will ask you for more information! :)

Cheah  on October 17th, 2012

The service apartment looks good and value for money. That’s a good option should I visit London again. I can see that you really enjoyed your vacation.

Mistletoe  on October 18th, 2012

Aww…what a sweet family vacation. The next one should definitely be longer though. 4 days spent with loved ones is just not enough.
I had a good giggle when I saw the M&M photo. You went to your own store! Haha. Love the colours of that rainbow cake. I know with your cooking/baking talents, you can surely make your own no problem. :) Yes, more London food photos in your next post please. Btw, nice place you guys rented.

Have you ever heard of or played a card game called Speed? It’s a two player game though. Gets your adrenaline going. We should play some time. I’ll bet you’ll fall off your chair on the first go. Hahaha! It’s a super fast paced game. I think your girls would enjoy battling w/ each other. :D Anyways, thanks for sharing your vacation with us. Hope your leg is doing well!

caroline ong  on October 18th, 2012

Hi Mary, great post on your London vacation. May I know the name and address of the service apartment you stayed in? Thanks. Caroline

Blackswan  on October 18th, 2012

Thks for the walk-through, dear! U’re terrible! Now I feel like booking a flight to London. Lol! Great to see u recovering well & travelling again :)

mycookinghut  on October 18th, 2012

I tried the beehon goreng last time and it was nice!!!

tigerfish  on October 19th, 2012

The service apt looks clean and neat and comfy too! From all the accommodation and food photos, it just looks like a good time.

Mary  on October 19th, 2012

@Ann@Anncoo Journal - Thanks very much, Ann! Looking much forward to you coming :D I think staying in service apartment is the best.

@Lyndsey@TinySkillet - Yes, agree with you. I can’t believe that I am also attracted to all the cute M&M stuff….haha. I think it’s the crowd effect :D

@suituapui - Never mind if you forget as long as you don’t forget me….haha. And if you are short of money, just stand anywhere in a street corner and sing your heart’s out. But make sure you put a hat there so that passers-by will drop coins in it :D

@somewhere in singapore - You are most welcome, Sharon! Still waiting for you to come :D

@serena - Oh sure. It’s Hope you have fun when you visit London one day :D

@Mich Piece of Cake - Thanks very much, Mich! :D

@claire - Oh dear…so sorry to hear that. Ya, next time can check it out with me. Easy for me to check. Make sure you also come to Aberdeen if you ever go to London :D

@Cheah - Ya, it sure is. Now I look forward to more holiday….haha :D

@Mistletoe - Totally agree with you that 4 days is not enough. See, that’s why I need to learn how to print money first….haha. Oh yes, I went to my own store….LOL. No, never heard of Speed card game. You have to teach me. We are all going to be rolling on the floor in giggles and laughters again like the Tattoo….LOL. My leg is getting better….thanks!

@caroline ong - Thanks, Caroline! The link is Hope you have a great holiday should you visit London one day :D

@Blackswan - Come….come, Shirley! Come to Aberdeen too! :D

@mycookinghut - Unfortunately there was no mee hoon that day. otherwise I’m sure we will try that too. Sounds so greedy huh…haha :D

@tigerfish - Yes, it was one of the best holiday that I had. Now I’m looking forward to the next one :D

Jon @ vodkitchen  on October 24th, 2012

Reminds me of our Tokyo routine when traveling… 1/3 of our meals (at least) came from Lawson convenience store and cost about $6… packaged egg sandwiches, yogurt, and other goodies! I thought we were a bit crazy, until I saw David Chang doing the same thing on TV! Mom’s Kitchen!

Juliana  on October 24th, 2012

I am glad that you had a nice time in London…and yes, after so much eating out, nothing like a simple noodle soup :)
Nice and fun post Mary…hope you are having a great week!

Mary  on October 29th, 2012

@Jon @ vodkitchen - Must be so fun to visit Tokyo. I would love to visit it one day. I need to do like what you did :D

@Juliana - Thanks very much, Juliana! The weather is so cold now that I just continue to enjoy noodle soup :D

lena  on November 11th, 2012

oh mary, i cant believe that you brought along your mooncakes paste and dough to make mooncakes on your vacation!! you terror!

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