Friday, April 18, 2014

Off to Milan!

For the long Easter weekend.... and perhaps to Como as well, we shall see...

Enjoy your Easter while I will do my best to enjoy mine. I badly needed this getaway after a very long, mind draining and physically tiring work week.


Travel Period: April 2014
Destinaiton: Milan, Italy

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Monday, April 14, 2014

Muiden Castle (Muiderslot) and the Flat Dutch Landscape

When my old work colleague, Miss Luster visited me last year I brought her to the village of Muiden to visit the Muiden Castle, however, I forgot that during Mondays all museums which includes castles and mansions for public/tourism viewing are mostly closed in the Netherlands, with the exception of Amsterdam.

Muiden Castle (Muiderslot) and the flat Dutch Landscape
Website: Muiden Castle (Muiderslot)

So helaas we could not visit the Muiden Castle which is a bummer. Although for their 2014 schedule I can see that the castle is now open on Mondays.

I have been here a few times and have visited the castle twice, both on a castle tour. It is a beautiful and very compact castle with a moat, and is not that far from Amsterdam. This castle is a great idea for a side trip from the capital city for those who wish to see something different outside Amsterdam, like a castle, a little village or even a trip to Pampus, an island fortress nearby.

So we just hanged out for a little while outside the castle enjoying the very flat landscape of the Netherlands, and I took lots of pictures of Miss Luster of course, for her Dutch photos keepsake.

Miss Luster, I hope you enjoy your pictures!

The castle is luckily visible from the side.

Aww, Miss Luster is loving the very flat Dutch landscape, methinks.

I like this picture. 

Walking to the village centre of Muiden.

Miss Luster was amused by this little car. This is actually a car for disabled people with a maximum speed of 30 km/ph and can be driven on bike pathways.

The only way to get here (if without a car) is by bus from Amstel Metro Station Amsterdam.

Travel Period: October 2013
Destination: Muiden (North Holland), The Netherlands

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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Staying at a Traditional Peranakan Baba-Nyonya Hotel in Malacca: The Baba House

There is only one reason why I booked the Baba House on our last leg in Malaysia: to experience and see for myself the traditional Peranakan aka Baba-Nyonya architecture and interior design. There were several Peranakan houses turned hotel and hostels in Malacca but during my search it was the only one that caught my attention because it truly exudes the Chinese Baroque and Chinese Palladian Style House.

Durian and Animals are not allowed sign at the reception of the hotel. Durian is a stinky fruit but very delicious.

Traditional Peranakan Baba-Nyona Hotel: The Baba House
Website: The Baba House

The hotel is very near to Jonker Street—the heart of Chinatown and historical Malacca, on a parallel street actually called Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock. It’s quite big and the original features and designs inside are still to be seen. It looks like the hotel is a group of houses in the area that did not have anything to do with each other and I guess when the owners of the hotel bought this they opened the walls to connect the houses to each other.

Some parts of the traditional house were renovated and there were other parts that needed dire attention. It’s not the most comfortable hotel and my parents were dropping side comments that Hatten Hotel was much better. Ugh, the senior citizens are so darn spoiled! Although I secretly was wondering if I am torturing them for my personal pursuit? Oh well, you know I love history and architecture.

EF and moi at the reception of the hotel.

EF was surprised and ecstatic (just as moi) when she saw the historical design and art at the Baba House reception and lobby.

When EF, my old classmate from school arrived at the Baba House, she knew right away why I elected to stay there.

The traditional house turned hotel brought us back to our Fine Arts – Interior Design days, some 20+ years ago. As we both inspected the hotel premises, EF could not stop taking pictures with her tablet. She said she is going to use the photos for inspiration in her work.

‘I understand why you are staying here… it’s still in you, huh?’

Yes, ‘Interior Design’ is still in me even though it’s been two decades since I last professionally practiced the trade. SIGH.

I wanted to book a bigger room but they only have a small room available and we had to order an extra bed as well. The disgruntled parents were complaining about how small the room is but assured me that they are doing fine. *whew* Part of me chastised myself that I should just have booked at Hatten but I just cannot pass the opportunity of staying in a traditional and charming Baba-Nyonya house!

The breakfast was interesting as it was located in a patio, in an open inner courtyard with sun coming through. There were lovely details of Peranakan art on the walls and there were many antique furniture as well. It was a different world during breakfast, like time froze and brought us back to some 600 years ago.

See more pictures below:

The room and the lovely porcelain bowl sink (it got clogged up though).

Moi inside the lift (elevator) which is a work of art in itself.

Stunning Victorian Chinese furniture pieces in the hotel. It is like a Peranakan museum in here.

The hotel has interesting nooks and wooden hanging bridges connecting different parts of the building.

The parents having breakfast.

The breakfast area is an open inner courtyard.

This is my breakfast, I guess Malaysian style.

My mother shared her breakfast dessert with me.

Beautiful and historical architecture and interior design right?

My parents waiting for me downstairs at the breakfast courtyard area while I tinker around the upper loft of the hotel.

I have to say that the personnel at the hotel were very nice. We love the very central location. Except for the small room due to the hotel being full (thus no choice) and the needed face-lift, i.e. bathroom and the hotel in itself (which I can understand can cost a lot if preservation is taken into account), we are very happy with our stay here.

Travel Period: August 2013
Destination: Malacca (Malacca), Malaysia

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