We kickstarted Noah’s first ever June holidays with a staycation at Village Hotel Katong, and even though that was more than two weeks ago, we’re still talking about it. If you know us, you’d know that we prefer our holidays to include at least one unique experience, and we try to do more than just sightseeing on our trips. After all, we tend to remember interesting experiences better than beautiful scenery, so the Village Hotel Katong’s Peranakan Experience Package sounded right up our alley.
Village Hotel Katong
So what was the Peranakan Experience Package about? Well, we took a short walk (less than 10 minutes) to the famous Kim Choo Kueh Chang nearby, to learn more about the Peranakan culture, sample some of their famous delicacies, and best of all, to learn how to wrap our own rice dumplings (aka bak zhang)! Noah was rather restless during the 2-hour session, and chose to wander around the shop for most of it, so C and I had to take turns watching him, to make sure he didn’t damage any of the beautiful items on sale. That said, C and I both agreed that it was a really interesting and educational experience, and would be suitable for both locals and tourists alike, as long as they have an interest in learning more about the Peranakan culture.
The grandson of Mdm Lee Kim Choo conducted the session like a real pro, and impressed us with his extensive knowledge of the Peranakan culture. He made wrapping the rice dumplings look really simple, but when we tried it for ourselves, it was a lot tougher, and he had to help us make the dumplings look presentable.
Telling us about the otah, bak zhang, and kueh lapis
We each got a yummy sampling platter!
Mandatory posed shot
Eating kueh lapis the way it’s meant to be eaten: layer by layer
Demonstrating the art of wrapping bak zhang
My half-filled bak zhang
Noah wanted to be in the photo, so this is him with the filled bak zhang, before it was tied up
Ta-dah! My mini bak zhang!
Saying the bak zhang pledge HAHAHA
Us with all the mini bak zhangs that our group made
Apart from rice dumplings, Kim Choo has a wide variety of delicious goodies on sale at their shop, and it took every bit of self-restraint for us to not to buy anything that day. We did go back again recently to buy some rice dumplings, not because it’s the Dumpling Festival soon, but because we’ve been dreaming of eating them again. It was definitely worth the trip back down, since they can be kept in the freezer, and we’ve been slowly savouring the rice dumplings. Yummy!
Some of the goodies on sale
After we were done
mangling wrapping the rice dumplings, we headed upstairs to learn about the Peranakan culture. We were shown the typical wood furniture used by Peranakans, their intricate beaded handicrafts, as well as the gorgeous nonya kebayas. The Peranakans have such a rich history, and it is clear that Kim Choo is dedicated to preserve as much of it as possible, by conducting these workshops.
Lovely traditional furniture
I don’t think I would have the patience or skill to do these!
The nonya kebaya
We headed back to Village Hotel Katong after that, where Noah was more than happy to explore our hotel room, and by explore, I mean jump around on the beds, run around wildly, and touch everything and anything within reach. We checked in before our session at Kim Choo, but didn’t have time to settle into our room, as we were running late. Thankfully, checking in was a breeze, and our room was already ready for us, despite our early check-in time. They even had the cot set up in the room!
We really appreciated the fairly large Family Room, and C in particular, liked that there were two queen-sized beds, because he didn’t have to get kicked by Noah during nap-time. There wasn’t a bathtub, but that wasn’t high on my list of priorities anyway, as I would much rather have more space in the room.
One little monkey jumping on the bed
The other side of the room
I thought the tiles in the bathroom were a really nice touch!
Village Hotel Katong is located right above Katong V, opposite Parkway Parade, a couple minutes walk away from I12 Katong, and a short drive away from Big Splash as well as many other good food outlets, which meant that we struggled to decide where to eat. In the end, we decided to drive to Eng’s Noodles House for some of their famous wantan mee. Noah was starting to get cranky, so we decided to eat in our room instead, and shamelessly called the hotel’s room service to request for plates, bowls, and utensils. Everything was delivered to our room within five minutes, and they thoughtfully included some paper napkins as well! Thumbs up for great service, really.
Eng’s Noodles House, their famous wantan mee, and delectable fried wantans
Since Parkway Parade was literally opposite, I decided to walk over for some much needed retail therapy on my own, while the boys napped. I actually did this twice, since we had a late check-out time the next day, and I even bought some llaollao back for C! Yes, I carried a cup of frozen yogurt and walked quickly back under the hot sun, but it was really THAT nearby, and the llaollao still looked presentable by the time I got back.
Parkway Parade was calling me as I stood at our balcony
After Noah’s nap, C suggested heading to East Coast Park to cycle, since it was so near. We drove there, but for those of you who don’t drive, there’s a free shuttle bus from Village Hotel Katong to Big Splash, which is along East Coast Park. It was Noah’s first cycling experience, and because I erm, don’t know how to cycle, we rented a tandem bike with a child seat behind. Noah was rather nervous at first, and when we started cycling, he exclaimed, “Whoa, Daddy! Don’t go so fast! Later I drop out!” Hahaha. Mr Cautious kept telling us to slow down, but after a while, he told me, “I’m having fun, Mummy!” We stopped for a short break, and admired the different kites flying in the sky. We also cycled in the Road Safety Community Park, which Noah remembered from our previous visit there, and he enjoyed pointing out the different stations there. We had such a good time together, and I think it’s something that we wouldn’t have done, had we not been having our staycation at Village Hotel Katong, because the time taken to travel to East Coast Park would have put us off. It’s just a five minute drive from the hotel, which meant that we were able to cycle for an hour, head back for a quick shower, and still have an early dinner.
Taking a break
We survived our first family cycling experience!
Dinner was at Punggol Nasi Lemak, which wasn’t in Punggol, but along Tanjong Katong Road instead. It’s just opposite Eng’s Noodle House, and by this time, I was seriously considering moving to the East, because hello, there’s good food everywhere, plenty of shopping centres, and a beach!
Punggol Nasi Lemak (do note that they’re only open from 530pm)
The next morning, (yes, we managed to squeeze so many activities into just one day!) Noah was able to watch some cartoons in bed, which was a rare treat for him. Perks of being on “holiday”! When we managed to pry him away from the TV, we went down for breakfast at Katong Kitchen. There were two live cooking stations: the usual egg station, as well as a prawn noodle one, in addition to a variety of local and Western dishes. Noah doesn’t normally eat much at breakfast, but he ate quite a bit that morning. I liked that there were tables located along the naturally-lit corridor, providing guests with more privacy during their meals, but we didn’t sit there, as we didn’t want the peace there to be disrupted by Noah.
Glued to the TV
The quiet corridor
Prawn noodles for you?
Take your pick!
C’s first round of food
Excited about having so many options for breakfast
Stuffing his face with cornflakes
After breakfast, we headed out to check out the pool and gym, before playing with bubbles. We didn’t go swimming this time round because the shallowest part of the pool was 1.2m, which was too deep for Noah.
Noah blowing bubbles
I was honestly a little sad when we checked out of the hotel that afternoon, because it felt like my holiday had been cut short. I was glad we were able to do so many different things, including me going shopping on my own, though I wish we had been able to extend our stay there, so that we could enjoy our hotel room a little more!
If you’re looking for a unique staycation, Village Hotel Katong’s Peranakan Experience Package is definitely a good option. The little Peranakan touches in the hotel lobby and rooms, make up for the rather ordinary hotel facade, and the location is ideal for those who prefer to be away from the main shopping areas like Orchard Road. Plus, good local food is easily available, so if you’ve got overseas guests looking for accommodation, Village Hotel Katong will provide a more interesting local experience for sure.
Disclaimer: We received a complimentary one night’s stay (Peranakan Experience Package) at the Village Hotel Katong for the purpose of this review. All fun, photos, and opinions, are as always, our own.
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