Yosemite National Park

***17.05.14***

Day 9

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We slept through the few hours bus ride to Yosemite national park. It wasn’t that bad. There was a stopover at a kiosk where we bought some simple breakfast and used the restrooms as well before continuing with our journey.
The long distance is certainly worthwhile. This place is huge! Driving up and down, in and out the park literally took us hours. There are actually a number of waterfalls around the park, and we had only seen two or three. Like I said, this place is so huge that one needs many days to explore. We finally reached the Bridalveil Falls at 8am where we saw the granite cliff, El Capitan. The morning crisp air smelled ever so refreshing and views of the waterfalls were spectacular.

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We moved on to the see the Yosemite falls. Yosemite Falls, one of the world’s tallest, is actually made up of three separate falls: Upper Yosemite fall, the middle cascades and Lower Yosemite fall. I supposed the best time to visit waterfalls has to be in Spring, when most of the snowmelt occur. It is possible for the waterfalls to dry up by August. And we happened to be there during the fall’s peak runoff. Standing near the waterfall, we could feel droplets of the cold and clear spring water gushing down. Brr…

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We ended our Yosemite park tour at the Tunnel View vantage point where we saw the Yosemite Valley and we were totally mesmerized by its breath-taking view. Amazing! We thought the scenery looks like a portrait of a beautiful nature painting.

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It is definitely a wonderful place for a getaway, picnic, campfire, adventurous hike and many other activities. There are a number of hotels located within the park with shuttle bus services as well. If only we were given more time, we would love to have a picnic there. Well that’s the cons of following a tour. Despite of the limited time spent here, Papa Yap and I would regard this as a spectacular trip and one we will never forget. We absolutely love this magnificent nature park! 🙂

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LA to San Francisco

***14.05.14 & 15.05.14***

Day 6

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As for the remaining 8 days, we decided to join a tour agency to bring us to the various sightseeing places which we wanted to visit. In that case, Papa Yap wouldn’t be exhausted driving from places to places. Driving for long hours can be really tiring. The pros of following the tour company is that our transportation and lodging were all settled. Perhaps the cons would be that there wouldn’t be any flexibility in terms of time and space, considering we have two young children. Thankfully, our kids were adaptable and cooperative throughout.

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We returned our rented car at the LAX airport and linked up with our tour guide there. We were then ferried to the hotel which we would be staying for a night. After settling our luggage, we headed off to the Santa Monica beach for lunch and spent the rest of our afternoon there. We had lunch at the foodcourt in a mall. Double Ds’ attention were both centered at the nicely built playground inside. As promised, they had some fun time there before walking over to the beach. Darian was keen for the rides at the outdoor amusement park but weather was seriously too hot. Hence, Papa Yap brought the kids to the arcade for some games instead.

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Dinner was kept really simple. We grab quick bites from the convenience store nearby the hotel and had an early night. Time to gather the next morning was 7am at the Lobby.

Day 7

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Our first stop was at Santa Barbara Beach. It was a quick one before continuing our journey to the Solvang Village. We took some pictures and hopped back on the bus again.
Solvang Village is a small Danish village in California. The windmill, buildings and shops there, gave us a taste of Europe is like. We had some tasty Danish pastries for lunch. If only the weather was cooler, we definitely would like to dine outdoor. 😉

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So we spent the rest of our day on the road, moving on to the next hotel which we would be staying for another two nights. We did have restroom and dinner stops along the way before we finally reached the hotel at 8ish. The following day would yet be another early day. 6am to gather! By the way 6am wasn’t the earliest alright! Haha… Anyways time for an early rest.

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Disneyland Day 2

*** 11.05.14***

Day 2

Just one day in Disneyland, I’m already seeing the different colour tones on our skin. We had the kiddos applied with plenty of sunblock lotion before setting off to Disneyland park. The weather during the day was very hot yet by evening time, it turned cold and chilly. Hence jackets were essential, moreover we would be staying at the park till late night.

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The Disneyland staff were distributing fresh flower pins for all mommies(Yep, I had one carnation pin.)  at the entrance of the park. We then remembered it was Mother’s day that day. We didn’t thought of it when we were first planning our itinerary but I absolutely love the idea of celebrating Mother’s Day in Disneyland. 🙂

Upon entering the park, Darian, the little observant boy spotted Mickey and friends out on the street for the meet the characters photo sessions. He chose to take a picture with Pluto and Mickey mouse first which by the time we walked over to Donald, the photo taking session has already ended. Well, he was contented still. 🙂

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As we walked over to the castle, we stumbled across Mickey and friends showtime at a perfect timing. We got a superb unblock view of the performance. Darian and Dyann were all engrossed with the show. Nice!

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I’m not exactly a fan of the princesses but we did have photos taken with four other princesses. I supposed all the crowd went over to Princess Elsa and Anna of Frozen. The queue there was totally insane. We tried going back later that day however, they were already closed for the day.

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My all time favourite Princess Belle!

Over at the Tomorrowland, we met Thor and Captain America in the Innoventions building. There was a section of Iron man displays too. All the boys’ superheros! After that Papa Yap took Darian for a car ride while Dyann and I waited for them. The ride should be fun because the boy came back with a wide grin. 🙂

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The next stop was over at Mini Toon Town.  We spent nearly two hours there visiting Mickey and Minnie houses, exploring Donald boat, took pictures with Mickey, Minnie and Goofy, shopping and taking a late lunch break. Whilst stepping into Mini Toon Town, Papa Yap and I recalled our fond memories at Disneyland Tokyo back in 2008. Those were the days! Talking about Disneyland Tokyo, Darian suggested to go there for our next vacation. Haha!

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How can we ever miss out watching parades in Disneyland? We simply love watching them. As usual, we got there early to secure a decent place, meanwhile making use of the waiting time to enjoy a coffee break. Oh yes it was very much needed! I’m one caffeine addict! heehee 😉 This time round, Dyann got to stand watching the entire parade. She was so excited and during the parade, she even danced to the loud catchy music. Max adorable! The Mickey’s Soundsational Parade was great! Mickey and the other Disney characters accompanying the fantastic and vibrant floats, energetic and professional performers, definitely entertained us well throughout the whole time. What a blast!

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The main highlight of Disneyland Park has to be this Fantasmic show! It was certainly worth the 2 hours or more of waiting time. Seriously, I’m not kidding. Our jaws dropped when we saw the number of crowd already sitting there. Oh come on, we were almost 2 hour early alright. Since the seated area was almost taken up, we decided to find the most suitable place to watch the show. I must say because we were very early as such we managed to get a good spot. Shortly the crowd began to build up. I was joking with Papa Yap that the show better be good if not we would be literally wasting our time. Apparently it turned out to be far more than good. It was absolutely spectacular! The water show with special effects features Mickey battling the evil queen and her evil forces which includes one huge fire breathing beastly dragon. Along with princesses and their princes cruising past the river on beautiful lit up floats and Peter Pan along with Captain hook and the pirates on board a pirate ship. However it was rather difficult to take pictures as the stage was across the river, the place was dark, lots of visual effects and droplets of water was always blowing towards us. Nevertheless we thoroughly enjoyed the amazing show. Thumbs up!

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Look at the crowd at 8pm…

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Finally the show began at 9pm.

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The princesses and princes cruised by.

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The big dragon

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All the characters for the performance on board the ferry cruise.

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We love Disneyland!

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Us with our first precious! If only Dyann was awake.

To sum up, we spent both awesome days at Disneyland taking lots of pictures, queuing and waiting(1 to 2 hours) for the characters and shows, going for some fun rides and shopping for those oh-so-cute Disney stuff(I couldn’t resist!). We had an absolute wonderful family time there. Disneyland makes us very happy indeed! That’s why it is called the happiest place on earth! Woots! Papa, please bring us to Disneyland again! 😉

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Disney California Adventure Park

*** 10.05.14***

We can never have enough of Disneyland. Seriously! This entire California adventures would not be complete if we hadn’t visit Disneyland. Haha… There are two Disneyland parks in Anaheim, California. Disney California adventure park and Disneyland park(the very first Disneyland). Both are really awesome and has their unique attractions and shows. Well I don’t know about the others but to us, visiting one is definitely not enough. 😉

Day 1

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Taking the shuttle bus from the carpark to the entrance of the park.

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All ready for fun and actions! 🙂

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Father and son

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Darian and I together with Jake!

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The Monster Inc ride! 🙂

We decided to visit Disney California adventure park first because Darian was bursting with excitement for Cars land. You could consider this as one of a must-go place for him. Haha! Cars land is absolutely awesome! We felt as though we were in the movie set. The landscape, the design, the buildings, everything looks great. For Darian, most probably having a picture taken with McQueen and Mater was the best. He got really excited when he first saw Mcqueen and kept asking me to queue for the photo taking. And of course we did! At cars land, we went for some rides together with the kiddos and had so much fun. We went to the radiator spring ride next but Darian refused to go for it with Papa Yap as he already knew how fast the ride was. He had actually watched some clip about the ride on youtube before. That’s how amazing media technology is. As the queue was extremely long even for the fast pass holders, the clever man aka Papa Yap suggested to go for the single rider queue. He was surprised to see that there wasn’t any queue at all. It didn’t take him long to link up with us later. He bragged about how awesome the ride was, tempting me to go for it as well. In the end, I went for it and… YES! It was indeed very fun! 🙂

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Not forgetting the spectacular Disney Aladdin musical! We totally enjoyed the 45 minutes splendid performance, especially the parts when the genie appeared. He was hilarious while his funny jokes makes us laugh hard. I could totally understand the full house theatre! Everyone likes great shows isn’t it! 😉

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Double Ds love the Disney Junior Live On Stage show. The show was seemingly interesting and engaging enough to keep the kiddos entertained throughout. I saw Darian singing to some of the songs and Dyann dancing a little. How adorable! The kids were exceptionally happy when the bubbles and paper strips fall from the ceiling. If I were a kid, I will be happy as well! 🙂 Other than the Disney Junior show, double Ds love watching the Pixar parade too. They get to see lots of their favourite characters marching and dancing down the street. Nice! Well we always make sure we get to the parade real early to secure a good view for the kiddos, as well as photo taking.

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The highlight for California Adventure Park has got to be the night-time outdoor spectacular show- World of Colour. The Big Mickey Ferris wheel at the back, accompanying the fountain, colourful lights, lasers and fire effect, is definitely stunning.  The view was fantastic! Thankfully we managed to get the fast pass for the show, otherwise I doubt we could squeeze in with the big crowd.

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We left the park shortly after the show. Despite our tiredness, we were all ready for our next round of fun and action! Woohoo! 🙂

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Adventures in the west coast 1

***9.05.14***

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At LAX airport. We had no choice but to use the cart that cost us 5usd… Seriously just how great Singapore airport is right?! We even have strollers for free. 🙂

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The kiddos who were still coping fine after the 5 hours flight and 3 hours time difference. I supposed they were very excited, especially Darian Yap! 🙂

Like I mentioned in my previous post, we were on our own for the first few days where we rented a car and explored Los Angeles ourselves. It wasn’t really that hard as we did some ‘homework’ prior to the trip and already had all the locations stored in the GPS. Anyways the first few days were planned mainly for the kiddos. Darian had been talking about the theme parks in California since last year. Hence, we decided to kick start the first part of our vacation with the theme parks before we cover the sightseeing part. It was definitely a fantastic start for them, in fact all of us. We had a whale of a time in the theme parks. Well what can I say? We totally love Disneylands! 🙂

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I told him that was our car for the first few days! haha Yeah I wished! 😉

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Our Nissan Altima for the first 6 days! A pretty comfortable and spacious car for us.

On day 1 after we arrived in LAX airport, we took the shuttle bus to the Hertz company to collect our rental car. This time round, we learnt smart after our Orlando trip. We brought along the kids’ car seats instead of renting them. Here in states, they are really strict with kids on car seats even when using a rental car. Anyways checking in the car seats in the airport is free. I would rather the hassle than paying such an amount for rental.  Seriously the rental is more expensive than getting a brand new normal car seat from Walmart…

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We saw the Hollywood sign from the Hollywood and Highland centre.

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Waiting for our Starbucks pastry and coffee!

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Looking for it and we found it!

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Arnold’s hand and foot prints

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They love to pose for sure! 🙂

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TCL Chinese Theatre

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Godzilla

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My son and I ❤

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Oscar award to my lovely family? 😉

        While walking along the Hollywood walk of fame street, our eyes were all over the floor looking for some iconic star tiles like Jackie Chan and Tom cruise. Despite many people standing around, we still managed to take some decent pictures of the star tiles. Although Madame Tussauds and the TCL Chinese theatre were along the stretch of the street, we did not have the time to take a tour inside. I guessed having some pictures taken at the entrance were somewhat good enough. Heehee 😉

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After hanging around the streets and mall for two hours, we drove to a nearby estate to take a picture of the Famous Hollywood Sign. We spent awhile on the road before finding a relatively good spot to take a quick picture of the sign. You know it’s only normal for a tourist to do such thing. Heehee 😉

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Our hotel room for the next 3 days. Although the fittings were a little old, the room was spacious enough and most importantly within our budget. Couldn’t ask for more! 🙂

So we ended Day 1, checking in the hotel, going to the nearest Walmart to get some food and necessities, as well as getting a dinner takeaway. The driving distance to the hotel is probably about an hour but traffic was so congested that we took almost two hours to reach our destination. When I thought I95 in Virginia was bad, here in California wasn’t any better. Haha… Basically our plan was to have an early night and rest well to prepare for our next two days of Disney fun! Yay! 🙂

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