Vietnam: Discover 100 Roofs Café in Da Lat

We were eager to explore the 100 Roofs Café (also called as The Maze Bar), so right after we wandered around at the Crazy House, we walked toward the highest hill in the city. Situated at 57 Phan Boi Chau Street, barely a few meters away from the market, hidden between a row of small shops and just in front of the local KFC, we found this very peculiar place.

The 100 Roofs Café (The Maze Bar) in Dalat, Vietnam

The 100 Roofs Café (The Maze Bar) in Dalat, Vietnam

From the outside, the place looked just like any of the neighborhood typical multi-storey buildings and looked just like any bar; however, inside it is a completely different world.

The 100 Roofs Café (The Maze Bar) in Dalat, Vietnam

As soon as we got into the reception area, we bought our drinks then we began our adventure inside of this six-storey magnificent masterpiece. Entering the bamboo-shaped like gate, we felt like we were in another world – a Hobbit like labyrinth of narrow staircases, with a series of mystical cave-like rooms, small winding paths, secular trees, animals, artwork and sculpture – all these were made with concrete and cement harmoniously designed to create an impression of a natural cave in the jungle.

The 100 Roofs Café (The Maze Bar) in Dalat, Vietnam

The 100 Roofs Café (The Maze Bar) in Dalat, Vietnam

The 100 Roofs Café (The Maze Bar) in Dalat, Vietnam

The 100 Roofs Café (The Maze Bar) in Dalat, Vietnam

The 100 Roofs Café (The Maze Bar) in Dalat, Vietnam

The 100 Roofs Café (The Maze Bar) in Dalat, Vietnam

The 100 Roofs Café (The Maze Bar) in Dalat, Vietnam

100 Roofs Café is totally a unique bar, so different from any bars we have been to, and we didn’t really know what to expect. There wasn’t anyone else in the maze area when we were there. Many rooms, some passageways and even the way to the secret garden were dark, so it was kind of spooky. There were times we felt we had lost our way. There were several winding stairs – some lead us to a dead end, some lead us to rooms that look like a coral reef or a cave, some lead us to the floor above and some were steep, but a new surprise awaited us around every corner. We followed the music and eventually arrived at the top level bar and then to the rooftop garden that continues several floors higher.

The 100 Roofs Café (The Maze Bar) in Dalat, Vietnam

The 100 Roofs Café (The Maze Bar) in Dalat, Vietnam

The 100 Roofs Café (The Maze Bar) in Dalat, Vietnam

The 100 Roofs Café (The Maze Bar) in Dalat, Vietnam

The 100 Roofs Café (The Maze Bar) in Dalat, Vietnam

The 100 Roofs Café (The Maze Bar) in Dalat, Vietnam

What an architectural a-maze-ing experience! After visiting the place – we found out that it makes the Crazy House look conservative as it is crazier, scarier and more fun. The 100 Roofs Café is awesome – it’s a maze bar and at the same time an amusement park! A fun place to hang-out with family and friends. It is worth seeing and a must see for every visitors who comes to Da Lat.

The 100 Roofs Café (The Maze Bar) in Dalat, Vietnam

The 100 Roofs Café (The Maze Bar) in Dalat, Vietnam

The 100 Roofs Café (The Maze Bar) in Dalat, Vietnam

The 100 Roofs Café (The Maze Bar) in Dalat, Vietnam

The 100 Roofs Café (The Maze Bar) in Dalat, Vietnam

The 100 Roofs Café (The Maze Bar) in Dalat, Vietnam

Little Lilly travel tips:

  • There is no entrance fee to the 100 Roofs Café. You just need to buy a drink (beer, wine, cocktail, chilled drinks, or fruit juices) to be able to wander aimlessly inside. From the value point of view, the drinks are very reasonably priced.
  • I heard that it gets pretty busy about 8pm, so maybe head over a little earlier to avoid the queue at the bars.
  • All the walls, floors and ceilings are hard. Some ceilings are low. There are basement levels and there’s a secret garden that is open until nightfall. There are some bars inside. Some areas have music. And there are toilets dotted about but you have to find them.

 

Singapore: Jewel Changi Airport, what a Jewel!

As soon as we landed at Singapore’s Changi Airport, I told my son that I would like to take him to the Jewel before we would head to the hotel. “What’s that? Is it a mall?” he asked. “It’s both – a mall and an airport. I’ve heard that it has everything – lots of good restaurants, a hotel, branded shops, beautiful park, entertainment places, a waterfall, and many more,” I answered. “I’ve learned that the Jewel houses around 3,000 trees and 60,000 shrubs of 120 species and it was just officially opened on October 18, 2019.” I explained.

The waterfall vortex

The Jewel

So, after we got our checked-in luggage, my son and I trekked toward the Jewel to see this impressive architectural marvel. As we sauntered toward the Jewel from Terminal 2, we spied a view of the control tower which gave us a little reminder that we were at the airport, and which meant that the dome of the Jewel couldn’t be higher than the tower.

The tower at the airport

Once there, we were so impressed about the place – the greenery, the architecture, etc. and so we spent at least an hour there just wandering around looking for the best view points. Even though there were many people, we managed to find a quieter space for us.

Forest around the waterfall

The center piece of the Jewel is the world’s tallest indoor waterfall (40 meters high), which is artificially made, surrounded by rich flora and fauna. It falls from the ceiling of the dome to the bottom of the building, and the waterfall’s flow alternates between cascades and trickles to reduce air turbulence and to prevent excess humidity in the place. Just seeing the waterfall already amazed us; it’s truly awe-inspiring.

The Jewel

The Jewel

As we ambled around, we found the Shiseido Forest Valley Trail on the east side. We thought that it was a great way to stretch our legs by having a walk up this little “hill”. At some view point it looks like a dense jungle. There is so much greenery in there. And at the top there is a canopy bridge giving another overview of this indoor forest. We did not get the opportunity to enjoy the various activities on the 5th floor, such as sky nets, mirror maze, hedge maze, etc., but it’s something we are hoping to do on our next visit to Singapore.

The Jewel

After taking photos of the beautiful waterfall and sauntered around, we had lunch at the Pizza Express. Then we browsed around the shops and grabbed a car to the hotel. Even though it is a very busy spot, my son didn’t want to leave.

at the Pizza Express

at the Pizza Express

Jewel is definitely a magnificent and artistic engineering done by Singapore. It is worth your while to spend a couple of hours there during a layover, stopover, arrival or departure of Singapore’s Changi Airport. What a jewel! The world’s greatest airport just got even better!

The Jewel

Little Lilly travel tips:

  • The entrance fees at the Canopy Park on the 5th floor start from $4.50 to $19.80. It depends on the paid attractions that you wanted to see and do.
  • How did we get there?
    • We went to the 3rd floor of Terminal 2 and walked all the way to the Jewel via wakalator.
    • If you are coming from Terminal 3, you go to the 3rd floor and approached via wakalator.
    • Go to the ground floor of Terminal 2 or 3, and take a taxi or grab to the Jewel.
  • If you want to check out gardens like this, visit the Gardens by the Bay at Marina Bay.

Vietnam: Dalat’s Datanla Waterfalls and Alpine Coaster – What’s not to love?

After we walked around the city and visited some artificial and architectural attractions, we were opt for visiting something natural. We decided to see the Datanla Waterfalls as it is only located 5 km south of the city and set amidst the preservation forests.

So after lunch, we grabbed a car and headed to Datanla Waterfalls. In Vietnamese local dialect, Datanla means “water under the leaves”.

Datanla Waterfalls in Dalat, Vietnam

IMG_1856.1

Datanla Waterfalls in Dalat, Vietnam

Before going there we didn’t research about the place, so our expectations were very simple: to see the waterfalls, to hear the gushing sound of the water falling, to see the jungle and to enjoy the tranquility. However, once we arrived there, we learned that we can either hike down to the falls or take the alpine coaster. We settled for riding the alpine coaster, which was built by Wiegand, a German company. It is apparently used both as a thrill attraction and as a transportation system to visit the Datanla Waterfalls which are at the bottom of the gorge.

Riding an Alpine coaster to see the Datanla Waterfalls

Alpine coaster trail

The departure area was at the top of the track and the sleds have to go down the slope to reach the waterfalls. As soon as I got on the sled alone (my husband and my son were on the other sled), I let the track clear out, released the brakes and off I went.

Alpine coaster trail

Off to see Datanla Waterfalls on an alpine coaster

When I arrived the waterfall area, I got out of the sled to visit the falls. Then, we hiked towards the waterfalls and spent some time there. We climbed up further to get a close up view of the falls and have some quieter space. We were pleased to watch the beautiful landscape with the sound of the waterfall flushing down the hill. Those waterfalls are the not the biggest or most impressive ones but a series of small waterfalls that cascades down the hillside and nestled in lush and lovely vegetation.

Datanla Waterfalls in Dalat, Vietnam

Datanla Waterfalls in Dalat, Vietnam

Datanla Waterfalls in Dalat, Vietnam

After spending some time at the waterfall, we took another sled that took us back up to the top with a cable car system which is a real funicular. The return journey was not as exciting as the way down, but the slower pace allowed me to enjoy the wonderful scenery as I glided by the wondrous setting.It was my first time riding on an alpine roller coaster, I felt a bit scared at the beginning as there were lots of sharp turns but eventually the ride became an exhilarating experience. Fortunately, it wasn’t very busy when we went there so my husband and my son went down as fast as they could without having to brake because of a car in front. We were amazed at how exciting it was, and certainly, the alpine coaster totally exceeded our expectations.

Alpine coaster trail

Alpine coaster trail

Datanla Waterfalls and alpine coaster – what’s not to love? Datanla waterfalls themselves are alluring, but what made it more fun was the control-your-own-speed alpine coaster in which you can zip through the woods and bask in the jungle’s views. The ride was fun, thrilling and not expensive. I think Datanla has a unique charm as a pretty little natural gem surrounded by the gorgeous greenery. Really worth it.

Datanla Waterfalls in Dalat, Vietnam

Alpine coaster

Little Lilly travel tips:

  • It’s great for young people, couple, family or solo traveler.
  • A return ticket on the alpine coaster was
    • 150,000 VND for an adult (over 120cm) and
    • 120,000 VND for children (120 cm and below). However, if your child is over 120 cm then you have to pay the adult price.
  • How did we get there?
    • We took a Grab car, and the cost was between 72,000 to 95,000 VND.
    • If you are on a budget, you can take the bus bound to Duc Trong or Bao Loc and the cost is 10,000 VND. You can catch them from the bus station at the top of the central market (south end of Nguyen Van Troi, next to Eximbank).
  • You can combine and mix the options for going up and down. For example, you can hike down on foot to enjoy the forest trail and then ride the coaster backup or vice versa. Or you can do both.
  • Apparently, Datanla is like a little choose-your-own adventure park. There are many things to do there:
    • you can rent an ethnic minority costume for a photo op
    • you can ride a cable car from Robin Hill to Truc Lam Monastery, and enjoy great aerial views as you venture the Vietnamese wilderness
    • or you can also go canyoneering, rappelling, go rock climbing, slide dow, free jump from 10-20m, and go abseiling.
  • There is a restaurant at the entrance serving food for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  • The best time to visit is during the weekdays as it is too busy during weekends. Highly recommended to visit a little past lunch time. The carts down were really cool but it is sucks when someone in front of you pulls the brakes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Singapore: Gardens by the Bay

After we checked-in in our hotel, I decided to take my son, Pete, to the Gardens by the Bay. The Gardens by the Bay are a colossal futuristic lush delight, located right by the waterfront of Marina Bay. It was built in 2012 as part of Singapore government’s will of making Singapore a “City of Garden”.

Gardens by the Bay

The Gardens by the Bay are huge – about 101 hectares. They house more than 217,000 plants from over 800 different species. It is Singapore’s largest urban outdoor recreation area and a must-visit if you are in the city.

Gardens by the Bay

The Gardens by the Bay offer lots of things to do and to see for everyone. It has two air-conditioned conservatories – the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest Dome. The domes are unique as they are energy efficient and the buildings are designed to minimize the environmental footprint.

Gardens by the Bay

We started our visit at one of the highlights of the Gardens by the Bay – the OCBC Skyway. It is 22 meters high and 128 meters long. Unfortunately, it was closed for construction when we went there. However, we wandered around the ground area in the evening and enjoyed taking photographs.

Gardens by the Bay

Gardens by the Bay

Gardens by the Bay

From there, we strolled toward the Flower Dome where beautiful flowers from around the world are displayed, and also exotic plants from five continents across seven different gardens. Apparently, it is the world’s largest glass greenhouse. As we entered the dome, we were welcomed by Santa Claus. And as we ambled inside the dome, we spied a restaurant in the middle of an olive grove that serves modern European cuisine. It was beautiful and colorful and very Christmas-sy! Pete and I loved it.

Gardens by the Bay

Gardens by the Bay

Gardens by the Bay

Gardens by the Bay

Gardens by the Bay

Gardens by the Bay

Gardens by the Bay

Then we headed to the Cloud Forest Dome. It was superb! We were greeted by the world’s 2nd biggest indoor waterfall (35 meters tall) as we came into this dome. As we got closer to it, the waterfall droplets cooled us down. It felt like we stepped into dense, foggy and luxuriant tropical jungle and lost in a mystical world.

Gardens by the Bay

We just followed the path. We went around and up the huge green Cloud Mountain. We noticed that we were already at the Cloud Walk. We both liked it, though and the view from this walk was spectacular. We also enjoyed the Treetop Walk. It was cool. We went through the tunnel of green plants and into a canopy walk with stunning views.

Gardens by the Bay

Gardens by the Bay

Subsequently, we passed by the Secret Garden that consists of limestone forests and caves. Here, we enjoyed the miniature orchids because they were so tiny that their blooms can only be seen through a magnifying glass. It was cute and fantastic!

Gardens by the Bay

Gardens by the Bay

Later, we got into the Crystal Mountain Cave. It showcased different shapes of real stalactites and stalagmites. Finally, our tour at the Cloud Forest Dome ended at the Cloud Forest Theater, where we watched a short film about how everyone can contribute to conserving nature in order to obtain a more sustainable world and future.

Gardens by the Bay

Gardens by the Bay

Gardens by the Bay

From the Cloud Forest Dome, we sauntered to Supertree Grove where we had fun watching the Garden Rhapsody light and sound show – the stunning Supertrees covered with about 163,000 plants lit up in a spectacular light with a wonderful music.

Gardens by the Bay

Gardens by the Bay

Gardens by the Bay

The Gardens by the Bay offer something for everyone. If you are into beautiful flowers and gardens and plant life from around the world, awesome high-tech technology or magnificent architecture, then Gardens by the Bay is the right place for you. Certainly, we had a very enjoyable experience and a splendid evening there. It was well worth a visit.

Gardens by the Bay

Gardens by the Bay

Little Lilly travel tips:

  • The Gardens by the Bay is open from 9.00AM to 9.00PM.
  • The ticket price (Flower Dome + Cloud Forest Dome):
    • adult → S$28 (USD 20)
    • children (3 to 12 years old) → S$15 (USD 11)
  • The ticket price of OCBC Skyway:
    • adult → S$8 (USD 5)
    • children (8 to 12 years old) → USD 4
  • The Supertrees Light show is from 7.45PM to 8.45PM, and it is FREE.
  • The Supertree Grove is open from 5AM to 2AM of the following day every day.

 

 

 

Taste of Home: Mango Tart

Cambodia is blessed with many tropical fruits, and one of our favorites is mango. Cambodian mangoes are among the best in the world. So, every mango season, which runs from March to May, I make Mango Float, it’s one of our favorite Filipino desserts.

Mango Tart

However, while I was preparing the ingredients for Mango Float, a new culinary idea has crossed my mind – to create something that combine mango float and a pastry crust. Hence, the creation of my incredibly impressive Mango Tart. The recipe turned out well the first time I made it. The tart was so damn good – with the juiciest mangoes you can imagine, with gorgeously almond yogurt orange creamy filling, and with a crunchy flaky delicious crust.

For my Mango Tart recipe, I used fresh and ripe mangoes, fresh cream, fresh orange juice, honey, blanched almond flour and a homemade pastry crust. I baked the crust first, then filled it with homemade almond yogurt orange pastry cream. After that, I laid the thin ripe mango slices – slice after slice – around and inwards towards the center, and made an amazingly luscious tart. It is attractive to the eye and it is pleasing to the plate.

This tart is definitely the most perfect treat to make for the beginning of summer. I hope you all enjoy it the way my family and I do.

Mango Tart

What you will need for the crust:

  • 2 ½ cups of all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 large fresh chicken egg
  • 20 grams of salted butter at room temperature
  • ¼ cup of cold water

What you will need for the filling:

  • 3 large ripe mangoes, cut into thin slices
  • 20 cL fresh thick cream
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • fresh orange juice of ½ orange fruit
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • 3 tbsp organic plain yogurt
  • 2 tbsp blanched almond flour
  • 2 oz cream cheese, softened

Mango Tart

How to make it?

1. Make the crust.

  • In a mixing bowl, put the flour, butter and sugar. Mix well.
  • In a separate small bowl, cracked the egg to make sure that it’s a good one and to remove eggshells. Then put it into the mixture. Mix well.
  • Add the cold water little by little until you get the desired consistency. Mix well.
  • Form into a big ball. Then wrap it with a plastic wrap.
  • Refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes while you are preparing the fillings.
  • After you refrigerate it, flour the surface of the working area.
  • Roll it out to your desired thickness. Make sure the edges extend a couple of inches beyond the 9-inch tart plate. Then lay it on the tart plate.
  • Bake it for 10 minutes at 175⁰C.

2. Make the filling.

  • In a mixing bowl, put the cream, honey, fresh orange juice, yogurt, orange zest, cream cheese, and almond flour. Mix and make sure that it is not too liquid-y and everything is well combined.
  • Peel the ripe mangoes. Then slice the mangoes into thin slices.

3. Put it together.

  • Spread the almond yogurt orange pastry cream evenly on the baked pastry crust.
  • Starting from the outer edge of the baked pastry crust, place the mango wedges in a circular pattern, making full rotations all the way to the center, forming a beautiful flower.
  • Chill the mango tart for at least an hour and a half.

4. Serve, share and enjoy!

 

Taste of Home: Chicken broccoli spinach quiche

This chicken broccoli spinach quiche is full of flavor. I made it with homemade pie crust. My family usually eat it for brunch, breakfast or lunch. If your family ain’t crazy about broccoli and spinach, you can throw in any combination of vegetables for a hearty meal any time of the day.

Chicken broccoli spinach quiche

It’s a snap to make but looks great on the table. It’s a pretty flexible recipe too with regards to veggies and cheeses. I absolutely like my quiche – fast, cheap, tasty and picture-worthy.

Chicken broccoli spinach quiche

What you will need:

  1. For the pie crust:
  • 200 grams of all-purpose flour
  • 1 fresh chicken egg
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 20 grams of salted butter at room temperature
  • ¼ cup of cold water
  1. For the fillings:
  • 500 grams of chicken breasts – skinless, boneless and cut into thin strips
  • 20cL fresh cream
  • 1 broccoli cut into florets
  • 1 pack spinach leaves
  • 100 grams cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 medium-size onion, cubes
  • 2 tbsp of flour
  • olive oil
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp black pepper, freshly crashed
  • salt taste

Chicken broccoli spinach quiche

How to make it?

      Prepare the pie crust.

  • In a mixing bowl put the flour, butter and sugar. Mix well.
  • In a separate small bowl, cracked the egg to make sure that it’s a good one and to remove some eggshells. Then put in into the mixture. Mix well.
  • Add the cold water little by little until you get the desired consistency. Knead it well.
  • Form into a big ball.
  • Wrap it with a plastic wrap.
  • Refrigerate it while you are preparing the fillings.
  • After you refrigerate it, flour the surface of the working area.
  • Roll dough out to your desired thickness. Make sure the edges extend a couple of inches beyond the 9-inch pie plate.

      Prepare the filling.

  • Put olive oil in a frying pan. Add chicken and stir. Add salt, paprika and onion. Mix well. Let it cooked until the chicken turn white or light brown. Once cooked, put it in a large mixing bowl.
  • Using the same frying pan, put some salted butter. Put the broccoli florets. Add 3 tbsp of water. Cover the pan. Sauté the broccoli florets for about 4 minutes. Once cooked, put it in the mixing bowl together with the chicken.
  • Using the same frying pan, put a tablespoon of olive oil. Add spinach and the sauté for about 3 minutes or until the spinach leaves reduced its volume, don’t overcooked it. Once cooked, put it in the mixing bowl.
  • Add fresh cooking cream and freshly crashed black pepper. Mix it well. Add flour. Stir, and make sure all the ingredients are well combined in a bowl.

      Putting together.

  • Spread the fillings into the crust. Press it a bit hard using a spoon to make sure there’s no empty spaces.
  • Bake it for 60 minutes at 175⁰C to allow the middle to set and for the crust to cook properly and to get flaky.
  • Spread the cheese on top of the quiche 25 minutes before the time.
  • Let it cool for at least 30 minutes.

      Serve, share and enjoy.

France: Wild Blackberries picking in Bretagne

Bretagne has a natural abundance of wild Blackberries in August. Luckily, when my family and I went there last July 2019, the blackberries picking season crept up on us faster than we thought.

Wild blackberries

Wild blackberries

wild blackberries

The thorny blackberry brambles were covered with delicious fruits. While we were walking in the forest and along the coast, we spied some ripe blackberries, we picked some and nibbled on.

Pete was ecstatic when he spied loads of wild blackberries. It was his first time to try blackberries and see them on their vines.

Blackberries fresh from the wild.

Blackberries are certainly nature’s finest treasures – chunky, juicy with unpredictable taste (because the fruit is sometimes bitter, sometimes sweet). They have vibrant colors too – from green to red to black or dark-purple. The deep purple color ensures that blackberries have one of the highest antioxidant levels of all fruits. They’re rich in flavor and brimming with nutrients, making it a perfect snack to enjoy.

ripe wild blackberries

young wild blackberries

wild blackberries

Is there anything better than picking fresh wild blackberries while trekking on a warm French summer day? We think not. It was absolutely an exhilarating experience and the memories last forever.