Category Archives: Travel



Naturally, when it comes to eating in Kyoto, we were spoilt for choice. One thing I have to say was, we were surprised to find that tatami mat restaurants became a problem for us. You would think that tatami mats were the perfect solution to dining out with kids!

So the first tatami mat restaurant we went to was a complete eye-opener. It was our first proper Japanese lunch in Japan with Mr E on our first day in Kyoto. For some reason, Mr E went NUTS. It was a whole new experience for him – having adults sit on the floor with him, he just went insane. If you know him, you’d know he’s a pretty well-behaved kid, especially at the dining table. So we were shocked when suddenly he went crazy, He was running around the room, grabbing everything he could get his hands on – spare chopsticks, napkins, decorative stones, slippers, umbrellas… We then realised that having a child sit on a tatami mat gives the child a false (or perhaps true) sense of freedom. The only reason he is so well-behaved at other restaurants back home in Singapore is because he’s literally constrained in a high chair, he can’t escape. So #TravellinginKyotowithaToddler Tip 4: If your child is like mine, inquisitive, try your very best to avoid restaurants with tatami mats, where possible. Or just ask to sit at a table with chairs rather than on a tatami mat. OR if all else fails, just ask for a private room with a tatami mat – they normally agree because it’s always safer for everyone that an over-enthusiastic child be kept inside a private room than running wild outside disturbing the other patrons. 


As you can imagine, it was almost impossible to avoid restaurants with tatami mats in Kyoto – so after a few meals, we improvised. Some restaurants provided these little wooden chairs that kids would sit on on top of the tatami mat. The next day, we had lunch at this very famous 600-year-old udon shop, Honke Owariya  near the Imperial Palace. Before going in, we gave him a stern lecture about how he had to respect the restaurant, its owners, its workers and the other patrons by behaving. He seemed to understand.

The family outside Honke Okinawa
The family outside Honke Owariya

Actually, I’m not sure how much he cared about embarrassing us and himself, but he was pretty well-behaved in the restaurant because we decided to restrain him in the little wooden chair they offered children. We used his belt and created a makeshift safety buckle so that he thought that he was constrained to the chair (just like in high chairs where they have the safety buckle). That kind of worked for a while. It also helped that he was and IS obsessed with udon. So he just sat there quietly devouring up his udon.

The udon set that I had from Honke Owariya
The udon set that I had from Honke Owariya
Mr E finishing up his udon straight from the bowl, in true Japanese form
Mr E finishing up his udon straight from the bowl, in true Japanese form. Can you see the little baby chair he sat on?

To be honest, the udon at Honke Owariya wasn’t as life changing as we expected it to be. I guess that really is the true burden of being a 600-year-old udon shop: the extremely high expectations. The udon we had was undeniably springy and soft, but the soup just wasn’t as tasty as we expected it to be. It was nonetheless very cool to have eaten at 600-year-old restaurant. Given that my nation is only JUST turning 50, I don’t think I’m in any way qualified to comment about the cuisine of a restaurant and culture thousands of years older than mine.

ANYWAY, since we are on the topic of food, I am so thankful that Mr E is truly in love with Japanese food. It made feeding him SO easy. Japan has some of the freshest produce in the world so all of us, not only Mr E, were spoiled for choice. Almost everyday, my dear mother would go to the grocery store to buy fresh cherry tomatoes, fresh cherries, straw berries and one day, we even enjoyed super sweet Japanese grapes with the extra crunch inside and were just at the verge of fermentation. Oh my, DELICIOUS.

Ok, to round off this food section, I guess there were THREE standout restaurants for us that impressed me because of the quality of their food and their service toward families with kids.


If I had to rate the restaurant with the best cost to quality ratio, it would definitely be Chojiroa sashimi and sushi restaurant we had on our first night in Kyoto. It is a casual dining restaurant located right in the heart of city, near Gion. Luckily, we asked the ryokan staff to make a reservation for us because when we got there at about 7:30 pm, the queue extended out the door. Luckily we got a booth seat with a high chair for Mr E. We ordered via an iPad which made communication very easy. The prices were at least HALF the prices of restaurants in Singapore so we were going nuts. We just kept ordering and ordering. The staff were so very very friendly and kept playing and talking to Mr E. It really was a very family friendly restaurant but with excellent food. You see, I normally don’t like unagi in Singapore, maybe because the ones I have tried in SIngapore are not as fresh and a bit chewy, but when I bit into the unagi at Chojiro, I could not believe it. It was sweet and so soft that it literally melted in my mouth like butter. The unagi I have had in Singapore has been rubbery and fishy, a complete opposite to the unagi I tried at Chojiro. The rest of the sushi and sashimi we ordered were no less incredible. And to top it all off, the cost of the whole dinner, where we were literally ordering without control, was only S$100. My father commented it would cost at least three times more in Singapore. Oh and please don’t ask me about food photos – I don’t think I have the capacity or restraint to be a food blogger because I can’t bear wasting time taking photos of food.

Chojiro sushi and sashimi restaurant
Chojiro sushi and sashimi restaurant


The next restaurant I would definitely go back to in Kyoto is Hiro Yakiniku Restaurant also in the heart of Gion. Sorry, again, I really don’t have photos of the food because I really wasn’t setting out to blog about my meals. But trust me, it was INCREDIBLE. It came recommended by a very discerning luxury magazine editor friend of mine so we were assured the quality of the meat was amazing. The restaurant put us in a private room which gave Mr E freedom to run around the room as fast as he could ignoring our shouts of, “Don’t go near the fire!!! Don’t go near the window!!! Don’t touch that!!” But otherwise, it was a lot of fun and the beef was, as I shared earlier, INCREDIBLE.

I believe there were three yakiniku sets we could choose from OR we could choose from the a la carte. The glutton in me ordered the set dinner, but in retrospect, maybe we should have ordered a la carte simply because when you order the set menu you can’t choose the meat they will give you. So while the restaurant was discerning with the quality of the meat they served, they were undiscerning with the part of the cow they served. So we were presented with beef heart, beef liver, beef stomach, alongside the more palatable parts. My father was in gizzard heaven because he normally doesn’t get the chance to eat all these innards, so he was eating them up! During dinner, i mustered up enough courage to try beef liver and surprisingly it wasn’t as strong tasting or awful as I thought it would be.

Hiro yakiniku restaurant
Mr E and Kung Kung at Hiro yakiniku restaurant


Finally, the last restaurant I’d like to mention is one that we happened upon by chance. We decided to spend our second last day in Kyoto walking through Gion again – we decided it was too much trouble to go to Kobe just to eat Kobe beef. Although we didn’t go to Kobe, we were still bent on eating Kobe beef and after getting rejected by a few top restaurants because we didn’t have reservations, we dejectedly trudged through the streets looking for a restaurant that had good food. Note to self and #TravellingwithaToddlerinKyoto Tip 5: ALWAYS make a lunch / dinner reservation before you head out for the day. Get your concierge or hotel staff to do it. You do NOT want to be pushing a stroller around Kyoto looking for food. Not only is it a waste of your precious holiday time, it is tiring and demoralising. So after about 20-minutes of walking around, my father gestured for us to go into this small restaurant by the street corner. Tired, hungry and cranky and that was me, not the baby – we went into this tiny restaurant that literally only sits about 20 people max. There was only ONE guy manning the whole restaurant. We secretly suspected he was the chef, waiter, dishwasher and proprietor all rolled into one. We also guessed he probably inherited the shop from his father and had decided to follow his fathers footsteps. Apparently, Kyoto people hardly sell their landed property, especially the old-style houses. It’s really unheard of in Kyoto to sell the house that your parents left you. Back to the nice chef proprietor, he was also one of the nicest guys we’d met in Kyoto. Seriously. SOOOO NICE. He graciously allowed Mr E to run around the restaurant, walked us upstairs to show us where the bathrooms were – which amazingly included a baby changing station, filled up our teacups, washing plates, cutting vegetables, cooking noodles… All with a big smile on his face.

Ok, so maybe we also made his day because if we didn’t walk in, there would only be two other people for lunch that day.

So, before I get ahead of myself, I must go back to why my father chose this restaurant. He said he saw a big picture of marbled beef outside the restaurant. So we assumed it was a steak house / restaurant selling grilled beef. We were so excited, but also starving so at that point would eat anything. So when we went in, we expected to be hit with pages and pages of beef in his menu. Unfortunately, the only menu he had in English was a typed-out A4 sheet that said something vaguely about a set lunch with fish, leeks and green soba soup. Imagine our disappointment. Fish and leeks? And green soba soup. So with much confusion and feeling extremely disappointed, we ordered four bowls of green soba noodle soup. He graciously took our orders and started work.

It was an hour into the meal preparation that we realised our tragic mistake. Things take a bit longer when you are the restaurant owner, dish washer, waiter all rolled into one. We were running after Mr E on the second floor when we stumbled upon this beautiful menu in Japanese with glossy pages of deliciously marbled beef. It was like a hallelujah moment. I felt as though a light switch went on, or some hallowed stage light suddenly turned towards us. The same marbled beef we saw outside the shop. YES, it was true! This really was a yakiniku or steak house. It wasn’t a mirage we saw out there in the wilderness where people without lunch reservations go to wander! It was just unfortunate that his English menu was a bit confusing and wasn’t clear! And also because he couldn’t speak English. This poor man so kindly prepared this crazy stupid tourists leek and green soba noodle soup when they were in a premium steak house!!! He was probably thinking, “These poor poor Chinese tourists. They have no money and are so desperate that all they can afford to eat is leak and green soba noodle soup.” So we quickly ran downstairs and pointed to this brochure, “Is this true?? Do you really serve beef??” And he nodded and said yes. And we said, “Yes! Please prepare this for us!” Unfortunately, we only ordered one set because if we got him to prepare four sets, we were afraid we would be there until dinner. Anyway, my point is, the beef set that finally came was AMAZING. It was made from Kyoto beef (not Kobe) and prepared on hot charcoal – a traditional Kyoto style of cooking on a hoe. It was amazing and such a cultural experience. Apparently Kyoto beef is rarer and finer than Kobe beef, it certainly tasted ambrosial! I felt SO UPSET that we didn’t realise our mistake one hour earlier, otherwise we would all have our own charcoal Kyoto beef set, instead of crowding round my father’s. Lesson learnt. It was a great experience, one we are likely to remember for some time to come!

Unfortunately, the only evidence we have of this restaurant is this matchbox that we collected as a souvenir. So, your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to read the words on this matchbox and tell me the name of this restaurant so I know that it is much more than a wonderful desert mirage!

[EDIT: I just realised the matchbox I initially put up was for Honke Owariya. I am looking for another clue and will put it up when I can find it.]

Thanks for reading!!!


Part 1: This Little Kiddy Goes To Kyoto

In May, when Mr E was about 20 months, we brought him to Japan for his very first family holiday. Of course, because the thought of a week alone with Mr E in a foreign land felt just too physically and emotionally daunting, we brought reinforcements: The Grandparents.

Grandma and Mr E about to board the plane to Osaka!
Grandma and Mr E about to board the plane to Osaka!

We decided to go to Kyoto over Tokyo because we wanted a city that was a bit slower in pace. We were also drawn to the fact that Kyoto is literally just filled with temples and parks, making it a safe place for an inquisitive toddler to run around in. I use the word literally, literally. It is literally filled with temples and parks! I’m going to share with you how we travelled to and around, where we stayed, what we ate and what we saw in Kyoto in a series of three blog entries. So let’s start with travelling to Kyoto and where we stayed!


It seemed we weren’t the only ones who thought that Kyoto would be a lot more family friendly than Tokyo. The Singapore Airlines flight from Singapore to Osaka was carrying more than the normal load of babies and toddlers. About an hour into the flight, we became fast friends with a French family who were seated at the bulkhead seats across the aisle from us. They too embarked on inter-generational travel as the boistrous one-year-old boy introduced us to his charming mother, father and grandmama. They too were enroute to Kyoto for a family holiday.

To be very honest, the aeroplane ride to Osaka was horrible. Mr E was restless and frustrated. When the air stewardesses first set up his bassinet, he couldn’t wait to hop in and lie down because it was such a novelty to him. Our relief was short-lived when ten seconds later he wanted out and wanted to run up and down the aisle. The stewardesses were less than amused and warned us that we had to keep him off the aisle when they were serving the meals. I think he just wanted to reach across the aisle for his French friend most of the time. But was prohibited from doing so by the stewardesses which further added to his irritable mood. All I can say is, thank goodness for Peppa Pig.

We arrived in Osaka at night. Oh which brings me to #TravellinginKyotowithaToddler Tip 1: Don’t be a hero. You are already a hero for travelling with a toddler. To make your journey as comfortable as you can for you and the child, if you arrive at night, book the airport hotel. So luckily we did, and we spent the night at the Kansai Airport Hotel. It was a God-send seriously. We literally just stumbled out of the aeroplane and into our beds. It seemed an Indian family that also travelled with their toddler on the same plane as us had the exact same idea with us giving each other sheepish awkward smiles as we recognised each other in the hotel lobby and walked towards the same lift.

The next day we took the train, which was just outside the Kansai Airport Hotel, to Kyoto. It was so easy. We just pushed our airport trolleys into our rooms the night before, and then pushed the same trolleys out of the lobby and into the train station. SO CONVENIENT. It was at the train station that we bumped into the French family again. Seriously, Kyoto is a baby magnet. When we reached Kyoto, I noticed many other tourists pushing around strollers or carrying their babies in slings. It’s just that easy to travel around in Kyoto with your child.

When we reached Kyoto station, we decided to go with the easy option of just hailing a taxi to the ryokan that we booked. The cost of a daily bus pass in Kyoto is about 500 Yen (approx S$5). The staff at the ryokan advised that the cost of a taxi from the station to the ryokan would be about 800 Yen. So we decided that since there were four of us plus a toddler, it would be actually cheaper to hail a cab. I guess that brings me to #TravellinginKyotowithaToddler Tip 2: Again, don’t be a hero. Actually, sometimes, the more comfortable option may be the more economical one. One of the best things about cabs in Kyoto is that they are so polite and so accommodating. Even though some drivers may not speak English, they will try their best to communicate with you – to find out where you are going. I guess that also brings me to #TravellinginKyotowithaToddler Tip 3: Try to get the name of the place you want to go to written in Japanese before you get into the cab. While this is a probably a universal rule, it is even more true in Kyoto as most of the drivers can’t speak English and unless you have great Japanese pronunciation, you’d probably mangle the attraction name, causing embarrassment to both you and the driver when he finally figures out what you are trying to say and says it in a completely different way.


We stayed at the Ryokan Sakura Honganji, just a 10 minutes cab ride away from Kyoto station. As we’d never stayed in a ryokan before, we were quite excited. Nat and I booked a traditional tatami room and my parents booked a Western room. When we first entered the ryokan, we were pleasantly greeted by this sunny chirpy lady. She told us that although we were early, check-in time is at 3 pm, she’d be happy to keep our luggage for us and deliver them to the rooms, as we headed out for lunch.

The ryokan itself was decent enough. It was filled with Americans, most notably, American university students when we were there. Also – it did not have wifi in the room. We had to use wifi downstairs. It kind of reminded me of my boarding school days where we would all huddle around the living room trying to detect a faint wifi signal. The wifi signal was strong – just inconveniently located downstairs.

Sleeping on a tatami mat was interesting. I’d slept on floors before, but I wasn’t used to such a thin mattress so it took some time getting used to. Nat thought it would help his back, but after five days, he realised it probably made it worse. The only one who was absolutely thrilled with the tatami mat was Mr E. He loved the fact that during the day, the whole tatami mat area was transformed into a free-for-all play area where he could run and jump up and down to his hearts content.

Breakfast wasn’t exciting. Luckily, we only tried breakfast once – just out of curiosity. The salmon was hard and the soup forgettable. I guess it wasn’t a traditional ryokan with a 95-year-old lady stirring rice porridge in the kitchen like I had dreamed about. Most of the staff in the ryokan when we were there were in their early 20s, a few generations away from my fantasy of a 95-year-old innkeeper who cooked food passed down from her grandmother. BUT, to make up for it, apparently there’s a famous ramen shop just 1 minute from the ryokan. Unfortunately we didn’t get to try it, but apparently the queues are pretty long.

I must say I liked the location of the ryokan. It was located right in the heart of a residential district with a playground just down the road and people cycling too and from work. It was also very quiet in the evenings which made retiring for the day very easy and peaceful – we didn’t have to worry about waking up to shattered wine bottles.

At the end of the day, I realised that the kids working in the ryokan weren’t too bad. At least they could speak good (almost fluent) English, I doubt my imaginary 95-year-old innkeeper can!

The staff at the Ryokan Sakura Honganji
The staff at the Ryokan Sakura Honganji

Stay tuned for Part 2 to find out what this little kiddy ate in Kyoto!

A Break Away from Baby

When I was five months pregnant with E-Man, my husband and I spent two weeks in Italy on a babymoon.  It was one of the best holidays I’ve ever had.  We travelled all the way from the South of Italy to the North.  We walked through the sun-dappled cobblestone streets of Capri and enjoyed the warm, slightly salted Mediterranean spring, braved the crowds at the Vatican, nearly got mugged in Rome (luckily we had only 20 Euros in our wallets and the mafia men weren’t interested, thankfully), lived in a stone-wall villa in Tuscany, tried to hold up the leaning tower of Pisa, shopped at the Prada Space Outlet (I mean, how could you not?) and braved the small meandering roads through to Bellagio, Lake Como, to enjoy the most beautiful views I had ever seen in my life.

The sun-kissed Capri island

At the end of our two week long journey, half of which was spent with our good friends who were on honeymoon, we met a very distinguished looking middle-aged couple at the airport in Rome.  They looked how I would like to look when I grow up.  The husband wore a navy blue blazer with kaki pants and the wife wore a beautiful silk headscarf with, if I remember correctly, a soft silk blouse with black (the actual colour eludes me) pants.  They looked great.  Calm.  Peaceful.  Happy.  They had just spent a good week by the seaside in Italy and were glowing.  I decided to describe their attire because they looked so put together compared to my husband and me who were in t-shirt and jeans.  They had time to iron their airplane outfits.  She even wore perfectly applied red lipstick.  I was lucky to even have crudely applied lip balm on.

Anyway, after waiting in line to check-in to our flight, it was established we were all from Singapore.  We soon started chatting and sharing our adventures.  During our conversation, the lady shared that they had four children.  Four children??  I looked at her, amazed.  But you don’t look frazzled or stressed.  Well, of course her children were now all teenagers or older, so that helped, but she then let us in on a secret.  She said, with the confidence that only a mother of four well-raised teenagers can have, that the secret to a great marriage was that they always went away on holiday as a couple after the birth of each child.  And continue to have couple holidays when possible.

Honestly, it was one of the best pieces of marriage advice we’ve received!

So, even before the baby was born we booked our trip to Bali.  The budget airlines were booked, our resort was booked, even my spa treatments were arranged.  We were going to go to Bali in January 2014.

HOWEVER, once E-Man came I discovered breastfeeding.  Yes, I was so ignorant I didn’t even think about engorgement and pumping.  As I had shared in my earlier posts, E-Man had trouble latching and I began my exclusive pumping journey when he was just two weeks old.  Going to Bali, while still exclusive pumping would mean:

1) Bringing my stupid breast pump
2) Deciding how and where to freeze all the milk – and whether I should pump and dump or pump and keep and how to transport all the milk back
3) Not being able to do ANYTHING but sit in the hotel room or some other clean place and pump every 3 hours
4) Having a massage while slowly getting engorged – NOT my idea of fun
5) Having to come home early from dinner or shopping just to pump – it’s not like I can pump just anywhere in Bali
6) Waking up in the middle of the night during your holiday just to pump – OMG

Bringing the 4/5 month old was out of the question as well since he doesn’t latch on demand, I would still have to pump and it’ll become more of a headache.  So we decided to postpone our trip until October this year.

Fast forward six months and we just got back from Bali.  Four days and three nights in the land of the gods.  We stayed at The Chedi Sakala basically because I saw the pictures on a website and they looked AMAZING.  I testify that it’s critical to invest in great photography for your product.  Seriously.  I literally just booked The Chedi Sakala not caring where it was because I just loved the photography.  It’s a full-suite luxury hotel, you can’t expect anything less from GHM Hotels, which means all rooms come with a separate living, dining and kitchen area.  It is actually perfect for families with young children because you can store and heat up their food in the little kitchenette.  Thanks to a friend, we got upgraded to the Cabana Suite which meant that we could jump into the pool from our balcony.  We’ve never stayed in a hotel like that before and we loved not having the hassle of changing into our bathers, looking for the sunscreen, packing the sunscreen, packing the sunglasses, packing the hat, packing the mobile phone, looking for the key card, packing the key card into a bag and walking 10 minutes to a pool.  No, staying in the Cabana Suite meant that you just changed into your bathers in your room and jumped into the pool.  Awesome.

The living room!
The living room!
2014-10-04 10.32.01
The bedroom!
We could jump from our room to the pool!
We could jump from our room to the pool!

Oh wait, sorry for spending so much time describing the hotel, job hazard.

So we also went to the Rock Bar which was INCREDIBLE.  Truly worth the hype.  I also discovered how important it is to invest in a good DJ.  The DJ playing that day we went, 3 October, was really good.  The music was trance-y chill-out lounge-y ocean music.  The music she chose perfectly complemented the crashing of the waves onto the rocks.  Hard to describe.  My mobile phone pictures do not do it justice.

Rock Bar at AYANA Bali
Rock Bar at AYANA Bali

Luckily for me, my husband likes shopping and eating as much as I do so we spent all our time eating and shopping.  And travelling to eat and shop.  HAHA.  Yay!  Oh and we decided to go beach parasailing on a whim.  It was SCARY and exhilarating.  Don’t do it if you are afraid of heights, though.

It’s been a really crazy six months.  I’ve been working three consulting jobs, starting up a business, going to part-time night school to become a tour guide (out of interest), trying to spend time with the baby and at one point of time trying to write a book (but I’ve since shelved that).  The long weekend was seriously much needed!

The best part about the trip away was coming back to Little E-Man.  While this is cliche, it’s SO nice to come home to your child.  Although he was sleeping when we got back Monday night, when I saw him on Tuesday morning he gave me this HUGE big smile and came to me as though we hadn’t even left!  🙂 Wonderful.  On to the next adventure!

“Breaking Fast” with new friends

Do you know which mosque in Singapore has a section made out of soya sauce bottles?  Find out why at the end!

Just yesterday I had the great privilege of learning about the history and heritage of this Mosque and then had the opportunity to join my new friends to buka puasa (breaking fast) at sundown.


Prior to attending the “Ramadan Trail”, a free two-hour guided tour conducted by volunteers from Sultan Mosque on Arab Street, I knew little about Sultan Mosque and Ramadan.  From discussions with my Muslim friends, I had vague ideas about why Muslims fasted during this month but after the tour, I have a whole new level of respect for them.


So my tour was conducted by a French convert to Islam.  Lovely gentle lady who converted to Islam eight years ago when she married a Singapore Malay.  She shared about ablution or the wudu, the steps that Muslims take to cleanse themselves before they approach Allah in prayer.  Then she shared a bit about the history of the Mosque which was constructed between 1824 and 1828, and then we went into the Mosque to see the prayer hall.


There was an air of serenity in the prayer hall.  It was so peaceful.  It wasn’t the first mosque I’d been to as I’d been to quite a few when I went to Turkey, including the famous Blue Mosque and Ayasofya in Istanbul, but Sultan Mosque was beautiful in its own way.  I loved how airy and cool the Mosque was and the rich green carpet and tapestry.  I was so impressed by how humble the Mosque’s surroundings were.  I was impressed by how there wasn’t a 50,000 strong amphitheatre with cutting edge sound system and surround sound (I don’t even know what this means!).  They didn’t have wall-to-wall LED screens or the most expensive music equipment.  In the prayer hall there was space for what mattered most.  Prayer.


At the top of the prayer hall there were numbers which indicated the times Muslims must pray throughout the day, the time of sunrise (when they must start fasting) and the time of sunset when they can buka puasa.


Very interesting.  We then walked up the steps to the roof where we saw the Mosque’s four minarets.  It was so beautiful, to stand on the Mosque’s roof and listen to the Azan while the sun set over the busy city.

After the Azan, we went back downstairs and listened to a short talk in the Mosque’s auditorium about Ramadan and why Muslims fast.   I think it’s best for me to link it here, just in case I don’t explain it properly.  One of the reasons is that they want to feel compassion for the poor by understanding what they may actually go through everyday.   Good way to keep humble and put life in perspective.


Unbeknownst to me, after the talk, we were invited to stay to break fast together with our hosts.  It was so surprising and wonderful.  As we were walking down from the roof, I saw huge plates of nasi briyani being carried out for the believers to buka puasa.  It smelt delicious!  I was so excited to find out that I was going to enjoy this briyani!


We “broke the fast” by eating an un-even number of dates and drinking water and then started on the main dish.  Each plate of briyani is supposed to be for about four to five people.  But as there was more food than people, I ended up sharing a plate with my friend.  I thought at first, it was a great idea since I was so hungry.  Until I found out that it is considered very rude to leave a plate full of food.  We panicked!  What were we supposed to do?  How could two girls finish such a huge plate?  Luckily one of the Muslim ladies came to join us and we managed to finish it.

One beautiful thing I noticed about the layout of mosques in general is how open and inviting the spaces are.  They are open for all – rich, poor, young, old, physically challenged, mentally challenged.  During our dinner, a young mentally challenged man walked in and straight away without hesitation the ladies stood up and cried out, “Come, brother.  Come join us.”  And then the ladies were rushing around getting him food and drink.  Within minutes he was happily eating with a big smile on his face.  I was so moved.  So very very moved.

It was a beautiful end to a truly unforgettable evening.


Oh yes, and before I forget, the soya sauce bottles were included in the Mosque because during the construction of the Mosque, the people around the area wanted to donate something to the Mosque but as they were very poor they could only donate soya sauce bottles!  Can you see the bottles?  They form the dark section just underneath the golden dome.