Halcyon Days at RIMBA ALOR ORCHARD VILLAS, Melaka Pindah, Alor Gajah

Melaka Pindah – have you ever heard of this place? Literally translated from Malay, it means “Malacca Shifted”? Shifted from where, to where? See, that’s the natural response whenever this name is mentioned.

Well, according to legendary folklore, a certain high-ranking officer retreated upriver to evade the Portuguese forces in 1511 (which subsequently captured and colonized Malacca). So the high-ranking officer, together with his followers settled at this place and named it “Melaka Pindah” as he believed he had shifted Malacca away from the invaders. Interesting piece of folklore or even history and that’s how Melaka Pindah got its name. But why all this interesting information? That’s because I happened to spend a glorious weekend in Melaka Pindah recently in a sublime green haven known as Rimba Alor Orchard Villas.

It’s just a 1.5 hours’ drive from Kuala Lumpur along the North-South Expressway and once we exited the Alor Gajah toll, it’s a short and easy drive to Rimba Alor. So, Melaka Pindah is actually in the vicinity of Alor Gajah. The moment we drove through the gates to Rimba Alor Orchard Villas, we immediately fell in love with this kampung retreat! It’s hard not to – I mean, just look at this…

The impeccably-maintained 1.7 acres plot of land houses 2 lovely traditional kampung houses, a fish pond and a variety of fruit trees. My good friend, Mr Kaspur, was all welcoming in his usual super-friendly bubbly self and after a barrage of warm greetings, I just could not wait to check out the surroundings!

So easy to pick these sweet juicy rambutans!

Rambutans & coconuts on the house 🙂

Try your luck fishing some ikan keli, haruan and tilapia in this fishing pond!

This piece of land has been in the owners’ family for generations. Initially, there was only one small wooden house and a well amidst the abundant fruit trees. Kaspur proudly told me that some of the existing durian trees there are more than 90 years old! Rambutans, mangosteens, mangoes, pink guava, bananas, avocados and chempedak trees grow and thrive in this piece of green paradise.

Chempedak tree laden with countless fruits!

For many years that had been sufficient but recently the owners decided to spruce it up and build a couple more houses. Being nature lovers and out of respect for the land, they were careful to construct and size the houses without much damage to Mother Nature.

As a result, there are now two beautiful wooden villas built on the property which offer guests a great feel of heritage and tradition. Built along typical Malay kampung-style design with raised walk-up steps to the front door, Villa Rimba is slightly different from Villa Alor but both are equally charming in their own unique set-up. Colourful tiles, wooden carved banisters, stained glass with touches of “Peranakan” influences all add up to the quaint appeal.

Each villa has 4 spacious bedrooms to accommodate a maximum of 8 persons very comfortably. This can increase to 10 people with the addition of 2 single rollaway beds upon request. Bedrooms are fitted-out with nice bedlinen and comfy beds and the modern bathrooms have all the necessary toiletries. The villas are fully-airconditioned and complete with well-equipped kitchens. We had such a lovely and super comfortable stay!

As we wanted to have the whole kampung-stay experience, Kaspur very kindly arranged for breakfast, tea and dinner catered in the villas. We totally enjoyed the delicious local fares cooked by local makciks nearby. Guests can request for this meal arrangement (separately charged by the caterers) – just let Kaspur know and he will take care of it. Another option is BBQ – there’s a nice BBQ pit built at the outdoor dining area – perfect for that private gathering here!

Delectable local favourites can be catered for your meals at Rimba Alor

Al fresco dining surrounded by lush greenery – food tastes much better!

Jom makan – so sedap!

You won’t believe the immensely restful sleep we had at this quiet retreat. The only sounds we heard were birds chirping and the morning call from the neighbour’s cockerel! While waiting for our breakfast, we made some coffee and chilled out at the verandah, breathing in the fresh crisp air all around. If air has colour, it’s definitely green in Rimba Alor!

Durian trees bathed in morning sunlight

There’s a gazebo built on the property, with the main purpose: relaxation. With a ceiling fan thoughtfully installed and facing the pond, it’s a perfect spot to just chill – curl up with a book, enjoy a yoga or meditation session or do what we did: have a massage! Yes, local masseuses are available with prior booking (Kaspur would be happy to arrange this!) and I must say I had a darn good massage that day!

As I look back at the collection of photos taken and the short stay at Rimba Alor, I can’t help but be reminded of the halcyon days of my childhood. Although I wasn’t brought up in a kampung, I used to live in a small town in an area that was abundant with local fruit trees and there’s always a sense of “running free” then.

I can sit here all day!

Do check out Rimba Alor Orchard Villas if you are looking for that little green sanctuary for a quiet idyllic sojourn or a private celebration with family and friends. The friendly folks there would be happy to organize it for you.


Just give Kaspur a tinkle at +6019-325-6582 or click here for more information.


Batu 15 ½ Jalan Haji Abdul Rahman
Melaka Pindah
78000 Alor Gajah

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YUK SOU HIN @ Weil Hotel, Ipoh

One of the most popular meals one can have in Ipoh is Dim Sum. It’s so well-loved that not only it is eaten at breakfast and lunch, some restaurants do serve it at night as well. Growing up in Ipoh, a dim sum supper was something of a big treat for me, because we were poor and could not afford this very often. Ipoh folks eat dim sum at the crack of dawn – it’s not unusual to see the popular dim sum restaurants being full and crowded by 7am!  As a kid, I was always excited, despite being bleary-eyed, when I had to get up very early to get to the dim sum shop in town.

So, dim sum culture is a thriving “yum cha” thing in Ipoh. I recently discovered Yuk Sou Hin in the Weil Hotel Ipoh and what a nice find this is! Helmed by a Hong Kong chef, Chef Allan Tse, the pork-free dim sum served here does not disappoint. There’s no boisterous crowd here within the elegant walls and service is efficient and pleasant.

Chic and comfortable interior

We picked our items from the a la carte dim sum menu and every dish is cooked fresh and served piping hot. Despite not using pork, the Hongkong-style dim sum turned out beautifully in taste and presentation. There’s no compromise on flavours and textures.

Crabmeat Dumplings (RM12/3pieces)

Codfish Dumplings (RM12/3 pieces)

Chicken Xiao Loong Bau (RM10/4 pieces)

We started off with baskets of steamed dim sum: Crabmeat Dumplings, Chicken Xiao Loong Bau and Codfish Dumplings. Instead of the traditionally steamed Siew Mai, Chef Allan’s version was baked and topped with BBQ sauce. It’s certainly something different but the skewered dumplings turned out to be uniquely delicious! We love the Baked Snowskin Buns with BBQ Chicken too – warm, crusty and crumbly skin with tasty chicken chunks inside.

Baked Siu Mai (RM11/4 skewers)

Baked Snowskin Buns with BBQ Chicken (RM12/3 pieces)

Deep-fried Chives & Prawns Dumplings did not look very appealing initially but they were so good and once we bit into them, there was no stopping! We like the Stir-fried Radish Cake, tossed with eggs and crunchy beansprouts and big whiffs of “wok hei”!

Deep-fried Chives & Prawns Dumplings (RM10/3 pieces)

Stir-fried Radish Cake (RM10)

Prices of Dim Sum we had that morning ranged from RM7-RM12 per portion.

Besides Dim Sum, we just had to try Yuk Sou Hin’s ever-popular house special, their Signature Roast Duck specially smoked over fragrant lychee wood. We totally understand why this duck is so sought-after… crispy skin and tasty tender meat bound with a delicate smoky aroma, we couldn’t get enough of it.

Signature Roast Duck (RM45 half duck)

Still feeling puckish, we heeded the restaurant manager’s recommendation of their signature noodles, Fried Mian Xian. The silky noodles tossed with chicken slivers, eggs and fat crunchy Ipoh beansprouts left a comforting nudge in our stomachs. Ahh…but for a satisfying round-up to our brunch, Yuk Sou Hin’s famed Avocado Puree and Glutinous Sesame Balls did the job well.

Fried Mian Xian (RM37)

Glutinous Sesame Balls (RM12)

Avocado Puree (RM12/bowl)

Yuk Sou Hin’s cosy and stylish ambience makes it the perfect spot for a leisurely yum-cha session, away from the madding crowds that quite often describes other popular dim sum places in Ipoh. Service is attentive and pleasant and the best thing is that the food is cooked upon order and served piping hot from the kitchen. For more privacy, there are 8 private rooms in the restaurant.


Weil Hotel Ipoh
292 Jalan Sultan Idris Shah
30000 Ipoh

Website: http://www.weilhotel.com

Open daily – breakfast & lunch:
Monday-Saturday 10.30am-2.30pm
Sunday & Public Holiday 8.00am-2.30pm

Dinner: 6.00pm – 10.30pm

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Staycation at WEIL HOTEL IPOH

Whenever I go back to Ipoh, I don’t stay in hotels.
Why should I, when my family is still there and I have some perfectly comfortable accommodation to stay? Someone asked me the other day “Well, if you have to book a hotel to stay, in Ipoh, where would you choose?”  That can be quite a difficult question to answer – there are so many hotels that have sprouted in Ipoh in the past few years – many of these are old buildings converted to “boutique hotels” in and around the city. I must say some of them are very tastefully designed too.

Weil Hotel Ipoh’s impressive lobby with high ceilings and clusters of chic contemporary chairs & sofas

OK, if there’s one hotel I would book to stay in Ipoh, it would be Weil Hotel and mainly for two very good reasons: excellent location and super-comfortable set-up. Perched on a quiet side of Jalan Sultan Idris Shah, Weil Hotel has an adjoining shopping mall, Ipoh Parade Shopping Centre and its central location makes it easy to get to any part of Ipoh town quickly. Guests can just walk over to the mall next door – easy shopping without having to drive out! Shops and restaurants are also easily accessible nearby – right across the road and just a few minutes’ walk away. It’s perfect for business, leisure and pleasure. The hotel is fitted-out along contemporary lines, casting an ambience of modern chic-ness which allows one to just lounge back and enjoy its cozy comforts in style.

The name “Weil” is actually meant for “Liew” (spelled backwards)  – owned by the Liew family who founded the famous Ipoh Pagoda groundnuts.

Our room gives an immediate sense of relaxation, thanks to the soft earthy hues of the furnishings and relaxing spaciousness. The large bathroom comes with strong rain shower and a stand-alone bath tub for that luxurious touch. We love the bed – the bedding is really comfortable and we had some blissful sleep here. From our room, we enjoyed a pleasing vista of the sprawling city and the roll of picturesque limestone hills in the distance.

Spacious room with cosy sofa corner and a big bathroom complete with bath tub!

Note the Pagoda groundnuts!

Beyond the standard, deluxe and premier rooms, the hotel does offer several other premium-tiered rooms and suites with interesting concepts based on Ipoh’s unique heritage.

View from our room

Swimming pool and gym – work off the calories after all the good food in Ipoh!

Weil Hotel has four F&B outlets: The Deck, Yuk Sou Hin, Tiffin Restaurant and Tea Lounge.

The Deck is the hotel’s rooftop gastrobar – a cosy spot for chilling out and taking in a breath-taking sunset from up high on a good clear day. We had a simple western-style dinner here on a quiet romantic evening.

The Tea Lounge is a cool place to relax and catch-up with friends over tea and coffee. In the evenings, if you are feeling peckish before dinner time, I hear they serve a very decent Afternoon Tea spread.

Tiffin is the hotel’s all-day dining restaurant. The restaurant’s relaxed and casual ambience is perfect for leisurely dining. In the mornings, buffet breakfast is served and there’s also buffet dinner on a daily basis. Complete with live cooking stations, food selection at the buffets is wide and varied.

Entrance to Tiffin

Curry Mee here is really good!

Fine Chinese cuisine reigns in Yuk Sou Hin, helmed by a Hong Kong Masterchef. A separate post will be done for this restaurant – stay tuned!

Weil Hotel Ipoh has extensive function and ballroom space, making it one of the top choices in Ipoh for events hosting. With its strategic location and more than 2,500 sqm of function space spread over two levels as well as a stylish ballroom, there’s always something happening in Weil Hotel. During our stay, there were quite a few events happening in the hotel – from meetings, private parties and even a wedding!

So, the next time you are heading to Ipoh and need a place to stay, Weil Hotel is a good option due to its excellent location, comfortable rooms and facilities at reasonable rates and warm hospitality.


292 Jalan Sultan Idris Shah
30000 Ipoh
Tel: +605-2082228

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The Anantara Hua Hin Resort & Spa is the very first resort developed under the Anantara brand. We had a short stay in this resort recently and were charmed by the rich traditional design from its historic heritage surrounded by natural beauty all around. The name Anantara in Sanskrit means “without end” – an indication of the freedom of movement flowing in harmony throughout the resort, from design to nature.

The resort’s mascot!

Built in 2001, this resort gave birth to “The Anantara Experience” with the aim of bringing guests closer to the rich culture and history of Thailand. We get the distinct feeling of being in a traditional Thai village the moment we stepped into the main lobby of the resort. Checking-in was a breeze and we were then whisked off to our Deluxe Room with a balcony overlooking into the lush greenery of the resort.

Our comfortable Deluxe Room with Garden View

Walking through the resort, we could see that much of nature has been preserved. The lush grounds are shaded with the canopy of huge trees, walkways are carved out along natural lines and everywhere there’s the sound of water – in lotus ponds, fountains and natural streams. It’s totally relaxing being cocooned in this green haven.

The Anantara Hua Hin Resort caters to everyone, from honeymooners to families and bigger groups for events and functions. Children can totally immerse themselves in lots of fun activities at Baan Pla Noi Children’s Club like art & crafts, sports, cooking and Thai language classes. For the adults, there’s yoga, muay thai, tennis and a well equipped fitness centre for the gym bunnies. Oh did I mention there are 2 lovely pools in the resort?

The resort plants its own organic herbs 

Welcome to the Spa!

The beachfront is incredibly calming, with wide stretches of fine sand rolling into the sea. We totally enjoyed chilling out here, especially at sunset when the whole environment took on an ethereal feel. One of our most memorable meals was a dinner at Sai Thong, the resort’s oceanfront restaurant. There was a cool gentle breeze that evening as we indulged on grilled seafood and lusciously tender pork ribs.

Our delicious dinner at Sai Thong!

Rim Nam is another signature restaurant at the Anantara Hua Hin Resort. It’s listed on Trip Advisor as the No.1 Thai restaurant in Hua Hin. The quaint elegant Thai-style pavilion restaurant serves traditional family-type Thai food. We enjoyed Mieng Kam, various Thai salads, green chicken curry and a perfectly steamed seabass with chilli-lime sauce.

Authentic Thai cuisine at Rim Nam

Breakfast is a delightful affair at Issara Cafe. The open-air white-washed pavilion setting is the perfect venue for a leisurely meal to start off the day. We love the many live stations where chefs prepare orders a la minute. But what really made our breakfast complete was their huge selection of fresh tropical fruits. And the coffee was really excellent too!

Glorious breakfast at Issara Cafe!

There are several other dining outlets in the resort which we didn’t get to experience – Baan Thalia (Italian fine dining), Sala Siam (contemporary lounge), Loy Nam (poolside refreshments) and their Lagoon Bar. So, there’s really nice dining options for guests in the resort, should they choose to dine in.

We didn’t do too badly at the Thai Cooking Class, eh!

Throughout its landscaped sprawling grounds, immersed in its laid-back luxury, we can’t help but be enchanted by the Thai culture in this beautiful resort – from the gardens, the food, traditionally carved wooden structures and even attending a Thai cooking class!

With Air Asia now having direct flights from KLIA2 to Hua Hin, it’s so easy to get to this seaside resort town. With a flight duration of less than 2 hours, Hua Hin is a very attractive destination and the Anantara there is a topnotch option. We will be back!


43/1 Phetkasem Beach Road
Hua Hin
Tel: +66-32-520-250
Email: huahin@anantara.com

Visit the website for more & latest information!


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When Air Asia started direct flights to Hua Hin in mid 2018, I knew I had to make a trip there. I enjoy Thailand and Hua Hin was definitely in my radar. However, my travel schedules were crazy last year and before I knew it, the year was out. Once 2019 dawned, I made my Hua Hin plans and finally got to this stylish coastal town last month. It’s a short flight from KLIA2, just under 2 hours and after a quick shut-eye onboard, it was time to land.

Clearing Immigration at Hua Hin Airport was a breeze and before long, I was whisked away heading to Avani+ Hua Hin Resort. It’s just a short drive – the resort is about 6km from the airport. In a matter of minutes, I arrived at the open lobby/reception of the resort and checking-in was done very quickly.

My stay was in a Lagoon Pool Villa which is located towards the beach end of the property. It’s a sprawling property, mind you but worry not, there are buggies to transport you to anywhere in the resort! Avani+ Hua Hin has 196 rooms, suites and villas.

My Lagoon Pool Villa is gorgeous – king bed overlooking the lagoon pool! A split level from the bed is a lounging space with a long cushioned seat, coffee-maker and dining table. Just open the sliding door, there’s a cool patio for sun-lazing and for a cool dip, just jump straight into the lagoon pool. Ahhh…that’s the life! Perfect for honeymooners or just about anyone who wants a cosy stay in a luxurious villa. I checked out the other rooms and they all have the same contemporary decor of elegant light woods and classy fit-outs (just different sizing of space!)


I wanted to just stay in my Lagoon Pool Villa all day! But then, need to eat, right? Guests at the villas have access to the Avani Club, just a few steps away from my villa. There’s buffet breakfast and sundown cocktails served here. I like the special breakfast dishes for order – their Prawn Omelette was so good that I had that every morning!

A whole leg of jamon ham for breakfast!

Sunset canapes at Avani Club

Guests can also opt to have breakfast at Staa’s, the resort’s all-day dining restaurant serving Thai and international fares. Personally, I prefer breakfast at the Avani Club as it’s more relaxed, exclusive and service was really attentive.  But the breakfast spread at Staa’s was pretty phenomenal – in addition to the usual bacon, sausages, eggs, breads and pastries, there’s also a huge selection of Thai street-food like noodles, pork skewers, fried mini crullers and Thai desserts.

Breakfast at Staa’s

I got a taste of diversified dining at Avani+ Hua Hin. On the first night, I tried Indian cuisine at Staa’s. Thali Sets (both vegetarian and meat sets) are hugely popular – biryani rice with a good selection of Indian favourites. I must say the curries were really very appetizing and I ate more biryani rice than I should have.

Thali Sets for dinner at Staa’s

On another night, I had barbequed seafood and Thai dishes at Brezza, their beachfront restaurant. I chose to sit outside as the weather was fine – it was al fresco dining at its best with a cool sea breeze blowing in and the soft lull of ocean waves breaking on the shore.

BBQ Seafood at Brezza, ocean-front dining is the best!

With 2 swimming pools, a lagoon pool, a well-equipped gym (AvaniFit), kids’ centre (Avani Kids) and yoga classes, there’s no lack of activities at the resort. For me, my favourite is their Avani Spa of course, with its spa therapies and authentic hammam experience. Oh did I mention that there’s a jazz bar in the resort too? Blue Biscuit is the perfect spot to chillout in the evenings as the ocean view from the bar is really something!

Avanifit: well-equipped gym

Yoga, anyone?

AvaniKids – kids will definitely love it here!

AvaniSpa: my favourite corner!

Blue Biscuit – jazz bar

With its vast grounds and beautifully landscaped rolling gardens facing the ocean, Avani+ Hua Hin is great for hosting events as well. While I was there, the beachfront was beautifully set up for a corporate event – guests were thoroughly enjoying themselves dining under twinkling stars in elegantly laid out tables.

Lovely sea-facing grounds set-up for events

Besides the physical activities, guests at the resort can also sign-up for cooking classes to learn to cook some traditional Thai dishes.

Results of our cooking class – impressive?

Hua Hin is definitely a destination to head to, now with short direct flights there and Avani+ Hua Hin is suitable for all kinds of getaway – romantic stay for couples, fun vacation for the whole family or group event of any sort. Beach weddings and honeymoons … totally fit the bill here!


1499 Petchkasem Road
Cha-am, Hua Hin
Phetchaburi 76120
Tel: +66-32-898-989
email: avaniplus.huahin@avanihotels.com

Avani Reservations Team:
+66 2 365 9110 or
(English, Chinese, Thai only)

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One of our favourite haunts in Kyoto is the Nishiki Market.  We love markets and never fail to visit one whenever we travel to any city.  The market is the life centre of locals and of course, visitors as well.  It’s easy to get to the Nishiki Market.  It’s just about 5 minutes’ walk from the Shijo Station on the Karasuma Subway Line (4 minutes from Kyoto Station).  The market takes up 5 blocks, filled with more than a hundred shops and restaurants.

The main attraction in Nishiki Market is FOOD – fresh, uncooked or cooked.  Popularly known as “Kyoto’s Kitchen”, this lively market focuses on food-related business, from fresh seafood to farm produce, cookwares, seasonal foods and Kyoto specialities like pickles, sweets, dried seafood and local snacks.

Starting off as a seafood wholesale district back many centuries ago, Nishiki Market has evolved to what it is today: a market where every hungry local or visitor will head to and have a great time browsing, smelling and tasting delicious Kyoto culinary specialities!

Just look at some of the food available here…

We had these yummy cuts at one of the BBQ restaurants in the market!

You just gotta put Nishiki Market (or “Nishiki Ichiba” in Japanese) on your itinerary whenever you are in Kyoto, ya!

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My Favourite Spots in KYOTO, Japan

As the former imperial capital of Japan for more than a thousand years, Kyoto is a beautiful and interesting city in the Kansai region. As it was spared much bombing during World War II, much of the city’s ancient architectural sites and pre-war buildings are still standing today. Interestingly, Kyoto was removed from the atomic bombing list and replaced with Nagasaki, hence did not suffer the devastation that ended the war.

Modern and bustling city

Kyoto is a charming blend of modern and traditional buildings

Having been to this city twice (so far), Kyoto holds a special spot for me. The slower pace of life, the quaint old buildings on narrow streets and the general air of unhurried life are what make the city and its suburban areas so appealing. In our recent visit, we chose to stay in the city for convenience and ease of connection. Our rented apartment was small (most apartments in Japan aren’t really big!) but cosy and well-equipped. More importantly, it was within easy walking distance to a train station.

Our AirBnB apartment in Kyoto

I think Kyoto is nice in any season – I have been there in mid-spring as well as during fall and my favourite is the fall season. Go in November before the weather turns very cold and when the trees are at their glorious red and yellow. It’s usually sunny as well during autumn and the red trees against a brilliant blue sky is truly a sight to behold!

Glorious blooms everywhere during spring!

The olden part of Kyoto


Here are some of my favourite spots in Kyoto…

Fushimi Inari-Taisha Shrine
Kyoto is home to hundreds of Shinto shrines and the most famous of them all is Fushimi Inari-Taisha. I visited on a glorious autumn day, marveling at the bright reds and golds of the foliage all around the area. This is said to be the head shrine of the Rice God Inari and is also worshipped by merchants and manufacturers as the patron of business. The trail of torii gates spans 4km from the base (these gates are donated by Japanese businesses) and takes about 2 hours to walk up. Along the main path, there are about 1,000 torii gates!

This is probably the most-visited shrine in Kyoto!

It’s a long climb to the top!

Autumn is magnificent in Kyoto!

There are many food and souvenir shops along the path going up to the shrine. To get to Fishimi Inari-taisha, take the Nara Line from Kyoto Station, get off at Inari Station (a ride of about 5 minutes only) and the shrine is just a short walk away from the station. Just follow the crowd and you’ll see it.

Lunch at one of the eateries near the shrine

Lots of shopping around the Shrine area too!


Kinkaku-Ji (Temple of the Golden Pavilion)
This famous temple started off as villa in 1397 and was later converted into a Zen temple. Over the centuries, the temple was burned down several times and rebuilt. The present pavilion structure was rebuilt in 1955, rising 3 storeys high and 40ft into the sky. It sits on a pond and my first view of this iconic golden temple from across the water was simply breathtaking.

It wasn’t a particularly sunny day when I visited, but even so, the weak sunshine lit up the structure, thanks to the reflections from the Japanese lacquer and gold-leaf coating covering the pavilion. The pavilion houses sacred Buddha relics (Buddha’s ashes) and there is a sense of calm and serenity surrounding the structure.

All around the pavilion is a Japanese strolling garden with stalls selling drinks, snacks and souvenirs. I like the refreshing greenery and fresh air strolling in the landscaped garden.


Not far from Kinkaku-ji, just a short walk away you will reach the scenic grounds of Ryoanji-ji, a 15th century temple set in its famous zen rock garden.

There’s a beautiful sense of peace and tranquility in the park surrounding the garden

The Ryōan-ji garden is considered one of the finest surviving examples of kare-sansui (“dry landscape”). Many may not understand this concept – it is a refined type of Japanese Zen temple garden design generally featuring distinctive larger rock formations arranged amidst small smooth pebbles (carefully selected polished river rocks) raked into linear patterns that facilitate meditation.

The garden is a rectangle of 248 square meters (2,670 sq ft). Placed on the bed of smooth pebbles are 15 stones of different sizes, carefully composed in 5 groups; one group of 5 stones, two groups of 3 and two groups of 2 stones. The only vegetation in the garden is some moss around the stones.

It’s interesting to know that the stones are placed in such a way that the entire composition cannot be seen at once from the veranda. They are also arranged so that when looking at the garden from any angle (other than from above) only 14 of the boulders are visible at one time. That is entirely correct – I sat at the veranda and no matter which angle I viewed it, maximum was only 14 stones could be seen. It is traditionally said that only through attaining enlightenment would one be able to view the 15th boulder.


Arashiyama Bamboo Grove
You can’t visit Kyoto without going to the Bamboo Grove in Arashiyama – it’s one of the most popular and iconic sites to explore. I was totally in awe being surrounded by the soaring stalks of bamboo in every direction. It’s like being cocooned inside a cool green haven with the graceful bamboo trees reaching up to the sky, their leaves fluttering gently in the cool refreshing air. There’s a magical sense of serenity in that ethereal grove.

Can you feel the cool refreshing greenness of the place?

Just a short walk from the Saga-Arashiyama train station, it’s easy to get to the grove. Best to go early in the morning before the crowd comes in – you then get to enjoy some peaceful zen time in the beautiful forest.

Once you have drunk up enough of that refreshing greenness of the grove, skip over to the nearby eateries where they serve some really great tofu-based cuisine. Everything tasted deliciously light and so healthy!

Our simple but so-delicious tofu lunch

Lots of snacks to munch on, before starting your exploration of the bamboo grove!

Souvenir and gift shops in the neighbourhood


Yasui Konpira-gu Shrine
We came across this popular shrine somewhere in the Gion area as we were walking around. It is one block east from Hanami-koji and you’ll see a stone toori shrine gate which is the entrance to the shrine.

We were a bit puzzled with the “power stone” with a hole in the center where we saw people crawling through. Later we found out that by doing that, it’s to help people break the bad connections in life and make good ones. The practice is to first pray at the main sanctuary and then write your wish on a special piece of paper (bought at the shrine).

After that, walk through the hole in the stone from the back to the front, with the paper in hand while focusing on your wish. When this has been done, attach the paper wish onto the stone. The stone is also said to help break bad habits like gambling, drinking and smoking.


Gion is Kyoto’s most famous geisha district and a great place to explore. This charming area, at the heart of Kyoto, is filled with shops, restaurants, art galleries and ochayas (traditional Japanese teahouses) and also kabuki theatres. Many of the old buildings (traditional wooden machiya merchant houses) have been restored and maintained, so strolling around in Gion with its old-world atmosphere certainly evokes a great sense of being in ancient Japan.

The famous iconic 5-storey Pagoda (Hokan Temple) in Gion

If you are lucky, you can actually see geishas walking around as Gion is famous as a traditional entertainment area.

Stockphoto by tiffgraphic/shutterstock

Stockphoto by juri pozzi/shutterstock

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