Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Aloha Yahava!

It's back to the sunny island of Singapore for us and we began to check out the local coffee and quirky food scene here in Singapore. Anyways, that's what the blankets and coffee blog is for right? Our first stop is to Yahava Koffeeworks which is located at Upper Thomson area.
Oooh! Free parking!

Cozily located at one of the more quiet spot of Singapore, Yahava KoffeeWorks is not just a coffee place but also a place to purchase blended beans and single origin beans. In order to taste the beans that they roast (They have a roaster located in the cafe), we ordered long black and latte.
Long black (left) Latte (Right) The black mug is just for us to place our used ice cream stick stirrer
The long black that I have tasted (I believe it is the romeo blended beans selection) is good, full of flavor, has an slight acidic taste that does not linger in your tongue. The barista did a good job at pulling the coffee. Latte is done quite well and the milk is froth to just right. The latte art can be improved though. But all in all, the coffees are well done.
Lion enjoying his cuppa of long black

The various beans on sale and for tasting
Yahava KoffeeWorks also sell some pastries (which we did not try) for those who yearn for something sweet to go with their coffees. After our first try in Yahava, we liked the place and multiple visits seem to be in order.

Here is our review

Price of coffee: Range between $4 to $6 depending on size and type
Coffee quality: 8.5 pawprints out of 10 
Ambience: 8 pawprints out of 10

For those who are interested in going there, here is the address and their website

4 Jalan Gelenggang
Singapore 578188
Ph 6554 7080
Fax 6554 7079
Open Daily 9AM - 6PM

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Shangri-la 香格里拉: Halfway to Heaven

After our stay in cold night in Baishuitai, we made our way to Shangrila. Took a last look at Baishuitai as I know that it could be a looooooonnnnnng while until I return to this place again. Before we enter into Shangrila, we had another stopover at the Bitahai 碧塔海 nature park. The landscape is alright but we had been seeing so many trees and mountains during our Baishuitai visit that I thought it is ok.... We were advised to purchase oxygen tanks (a small one) while walking. Due to our kiasee mentality, we bought 2 and to my disappointment, I did not need it at all!!! However, Cuchi begs to differ. In short, I can sum it up by saying that it is dumb.....

Some shacks in the huge grass land of Bitahai

Cruising down the Bitahai.....

Again another item that is not needed... the overcoat!

One of the only interesting things at the nature park: Black Pigs! Yum yum!

Another interesting thing.... the nature park has a huge grass land but the cow prefers the rubbish bin
One whole morning at the nature park made me wanting to see buildings soon and hallelujah, my next stop is Shangrila! We stayed at a business hotel near to the old city. 4 stars with a computer. Not bad comparing it to the log cabin that we had the previous night. Itching to run out as soon as we dump our luggage, we dashed out of our hotel and went to the ancient town. A relatively small ancient town but it has character (and a lot less tourists!!! ) Architecture of this place is very different as the tribal people staying here are the Tibetans.

A view of the Tibetan monastery from the Town Square

The guard cat at the cafe

Kittens playing in the cafe
Yeah you should see the kittens here in the cafe, they are furry (with longer fur due to the cold weather) and so cute. Ignoring us, they kept playing in the cafe while we watched on. Roary and Singa also managed to snag a photo with the wise guard cat at the cafe. Moving along, we tried some Yak cheese and Tibetan wine. The Yak cheese (Geza gold) taste fantastic and the wine is drinkable. Full of flavor and taste, it is not for those who cannot stand strong cheese.

Photos with the wise guard kitty
A Tibetan shrine in the ancient town
Yak Cheese!

Yak cheese and Tibetan wine
After exploring round, we found that there are a lot of inns that we can stay in. Lo and behold we also found Singaporeans here! A couple set up a bakery, a cafe and a lodging house here in the heart of Shangrila! We met another Singapore lady who also set up a Singaporean cafe (sells Hokkien mee, Curry puff, Nyonya food....) in Shangrila as well. Missing our local cuisine, we tried some of their food. Surprisingly it is good. Compass cafe, which is set up by the couple, has very good pork chop that has a Hainanese taste to it. And The Little Nyonya cafe also has a good Hokkien Mee too!

The only Golden Village Cinema in Shangrila
An Inn
Along the paved streets of Shangrila
Pork chops at Compass Cafe (No it's not the black pig)
Fish fingers and French onion soup
More cats came along our way as we walked around the town. Furrier than their cousins here in Singapore, they remain friendly to us as we walked by and stroke almost each one of them.

Unfortunately, we only stayed one night in Shangrila, there are so many things to see here. Told ourselves that we would return before it transforms into another Lijiang. We finally tried food at a Tibetan cafe. A Tibetan breakfast which included a butter tea and western breakfast.
We were drawn to this..........
Hokkien mee at Shangrila
Guai Guai the kitten at the Little Nyonya
The heater in the Tibetan Cafe. It works very well though!

Doggy in the cafe looking at us for food

Tibetan Breakfast! Butter tea with biscuits and yak porridge

Western breakfast
Sadly we had to pack our bags and wave our goodbyes to Yunnan as that was our last stop before we fly back to Singapore from Kunming again. Sighing and longing to stay, we took a taxi to the Shangrila airport and took a plane back to Kunming before we fly back to Singapore. It was a memorable experience and Yunnan is definitely worth another go!
View of Shangrila from our hotel

Shangrila Airport, one of the cleanest, most underused airports I have seen

Thursday, October 13, 2011

It's a long way up to Shangri-la 香格里拉(Zhong Dian 中甸)

Managed to find a tour agency that brings us up to Shangrila and at the same time, pops by several tour destinations. Our first stop is 长江第一湾 the first bend of the YangTze River. Traveled one and a half hours just to have a view of that plus some photos with a totally white yak. Our 2nd destination was a lot more interesting. Unfortunately we did not bring our camera along as the journey down and up the Tiger Leaping Gorge was rather treacherous. You may have to be on fours on some areas. The view at Tiger Leaping Gorge was spectacular though. No words can describe it. It's really beautiful. Hearing the waters crashing through the gorge and watching them is a sight to behold.
First Bend of Yang Tze River

Some of the view from the van
After a exhausting 3 hours at Tiger Leaping Gorge, we reach our final destination which is Baishuitai 白水台and it is also our stop for the night before we head up to Shangrila. The birth place of the Naxi minority tribe, it possess a sleepy feel plus it has an attraction there as well. Their limestone water feature (also called Baishuitai) is unique and very tranquil.

Our treacherous pathway to Baishuitai


The water that runs down from the mountains is very clear

The limestone feature of Baishuitai
Then we were shown our hotel at Baishuitai..... it's a log cabin and it is hardcore! Cuchi almost fainted at the sight of the place. Note that hot water is scarce there plus only 2 light bulbs are working. And when it is night, it is pitch black.
The 2 only working bulbs

Living room

Cuchi had a tough time accustoming to this 'hotel' but I find it alright. In fact, I kinda of like it as it has character. =) Our dinner was at the hotel 'lobby' or common area. Dinner was cooked by the owner and we had our taste of their mooncakes. Everything there taste organic and home made. A nice change from the food we had been eating even in Singapore.
Mooncakes for my moonface

Our Naxi guide eating sunflower seeds

Our dinner with other members of our tour group

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Ancient horse tea route 茶马古道with a touch of coffee

Since we are in Lijiang, Yunnan, we had the opportunity to taste one of their better coffee places. Coffee beans from this particular cafe are grown in an isolated part of Yunnan and the beans are boutique in a sense. The coffee is good but not fantastic. Will give it a 7.5 out of 10 since the price of the coffee beans are horrendously expensive.
Coffee and the coaster is actually a cloth lily pad

Coffee beans and grounded coffee
After all that caffeine, we had to walk them all off. So we went to another village called Shuhe before we embarked on an outdoor experience at Lashi sea. 拉市海. Horse riding for an hour and one and a half hour of boat ride in the lake were some of the things that we have done. The horse ride was a challenge as the slopes were quite steep and you have to steer your own horse. The boat ride was comfortable though until it started raining. All in all the experience is great as you can feel the country away from Lijiang.
Shuhe Village

View of Lashi Hai from the mountain which my horse brought me to

Divine view of Lashi Lake with a glimpse of sunlight coming down

Rain coming our way!

Our Star cruise
Rest joint in the lake

Pitter Patter Raindrop 
After all that excitement, we headed back to Lijiang for dinner. Dinner again was the simple yet tasty soya noodles and Naxi fried rice. But this time, we added their own brew wine to our beverages. Wonderfully made and smooth, it is a fine wine and they are quite generous about the wine too!
A glass of homemade wine and plum juice

Naxi fried rice
Kitten on the roof top
As we spend our last day in Lijiang, we went around checking out more cafes and we stumbled upon this chill cafe name Freshnam Cafe. The live band playing jazz music is fantastic, the drinks are worth drinking and the resident kitty is friendly.
Roary and Singa having a last glance at Lijiang

Doggies of Time Garden saying goodbye to us

Jazz band at Freshnam Cafe

Waitress Kitty

Lions enjoying the music, drinks and tiramisu at Freshnam

Freshnam (middle) performing