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