Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Jump Street Penang: Active, Affordable Fun for All Ages!

Always on the lookout for fun things to do around the island, I was excited when I heard that Jump Street Trampoline Park was opening a branch in Penang! My kids were anxious to jump around and get their energy out, but I couldn't let them have all the fun. It was exciting to test out my own skills too, and Jump Street welcomes jumpers of all ages (3 and above)!

Since its opening in May 2014, I have already visited three times, selecting it as the venue for my daughter's birthday party, and again recently for my son's goodbye party. Each time I used the online booking feature to ensure space availability and handle payment. After two hours of jumping fun, everyone left feeling happy and tired!

A good place to start your adventure is on the Main Court, a large area of interconnected trampolines. Here you can test your skills and figure out your balance, or even run along the vertical walls, before moving on to the many other fun activities offered. My son's favorite area was the Battle Beam, where he loved the challenge of trying to knock his friends down into the foam pit! Our guests also enjoyed the Dodge Ball court, trying their luck with Slam Dunk, leaping off Tower Jump, reaching new heights on the High Performance trampolines, and landing on top of the two giant air bags.

When time to refresh, water fountains are available for those with their own water bottles. There is also a Jump Cafe, serving up tasty treats, custom beverages, and a variety of meals. For a small additional fee, party hosts can choose to bring in their own halal food.

Other facilities onsite include three private party rooms, community tables for parents to sit (when they're not jumping!), and a first aid station ready to respond immediately to injuries. Staff are friendly and encourage fun, as well as monitoring that guests are following the posted rules. They will happily give you technique hints when asked, and even show off their favorite tricks!

I would highly recommend a visit to Jump Street whenever you (or your kids) need to get out some energy! Its indoor venue ensures fun rain or shine, and special grip socks (required) are available for purchase at check-in. Jump Street is a great venue for parties, school outings, and corporate team building, and even offers a selection of jump classes.

Jump Street Penang is located in the atrium of D'Piazza mall in Bayan Lepas. For more information, directions, and to make a booking, visit their website at www.jumpstreetasia.com

"Keep calm, and jump on"!

Written by contributing writer, Sally D., another awesome Texan mom of three kids living in Penang. Jump Street provided a few complimentary tickets for Sally's latest visit. They did not require that a specific opinion be expressed. All her opinions are her own. 

Monday, May 18, 2015

Searching the World for Tomorrowland

Hong Kong Disneyland
My girl has the weight of the world's future on her.
Tommorowland, Hong Kong Disneyland

"There's a great, big, beautiful tomorrow
Shining at the end of everyday
There's a great, big, beautiful tomorrow
And tomorrow's just a dream away"
- Song from the Carousel of Progress Ride

Disney's new movie Tomorrowland opens this week to much anticipation. I. Cannot. Wait.

Disney is more than just a cartoon mouse and theme parks. It's a place where nothing is impossible. There's a part of it, courtesy of the vision of founder Walt Disney, that beckons people to become dreamers and explorers. To embrace global unity because "it's a small world after all" and to aim for a tomorrow that's bright, shiny and new. It challenges the imagination and immerses guests into alternate realities of the past and future. It celebrates those who have inspired us to think big and change the path of what might be.

My family has traveled around the globe, and woven in among our world travels are visits to Disney parks in 5 cities spread across three continents. We've sailed with them on the high seas, too. Even with all the sights a foreign land has to offer, we're drawn to Disney. Not because it's familiar, but because of that feeling of optimism and hope that seems to well up inside whenever we're surrounded by the fantasy Disney has created. It just plain makes us happy.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Springtime Blooms at Wildseed Farms

Wildseed Farms
Meadow filled with red corn poppies

One of the things I really missed while living in the tropics was the change of seasons. In Malaysia, we marked the passage of time by whatever festival brought droves of tourists to town rather than through dropping temperatures, shorter days, and changing foliage. Spring is my favorite time of the year, when the earth awakens and the days get longer. I'm delighted to experience it for the first time in four years.

A busy April kept me away from doing the countryside wildflower drives that are de rigueur in the Texas Hill Country. No squatting in a field of bluebonnets for my kids this year. A blank half-day on the calendar at the end of the month gave me just enough time to make the trip from Austin out to Fredericksburg with my parents in tow. With just a few hours to spend, I headed straight for the place guaranteed to have a gorgeous display of blooms, Wildseed Farms which is the largest working wildflower farm in the nation. After these flowers bloom, the tiny seeds are collected, packaged, and sold the the general public, landscape contractors and highway maintenance departments.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Slowpoke's Guide to the runDisney Castaway Cay 5K

No, I didn't steal that 5K Medal. I (unbelievably) ran a race.

Ah, Spring Break — that heady time of year when you can cast off your normal persona and try on a different one while you are away from home. It's the only explanation I can think of why I, a person who loathes running, would voluntarily do the runDisney Castaway Cay 5K while I was on vacation. Long ago during my business trip days, I would hit the hotel gym before attending a day of sitting at conferences or conventions. Now that my travel is for pleasure and with my kids, I like to save my energy for marathon sightseeing rather than actual marathon running.

When our January 2014 stay at Walt Disney World happened to fall during Marathon Weekend, I was a little envious of all the people proudly wearing their race medals. Just walking around the parks all day was exhausting enough. How in the world did people do it after a race? Anyways... I kind of wanted a runDisney medal of my own.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Exploring the EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival

EPCOT, monorail, DisneyWorld, Disney
The decorative berm on the slope surrounding the waterway is covered with 76,000 individual plants for the festival.
225 garden islands of colorful impatiens float in the waterway.

How excited was I about the EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival? To infinity and beyond. Beyond excited. I've always wanted to attend, and coincidentally, our Spring Break visit was during its multi-week run that ends May 17. Sure, Disney does a fantastic job of keeping its parks pretty throughout the year, but they really step it up a few notches at EPCOT during the festival with the addition of over 200,000 new plants. Flowered berms replace grassy hillsides and large topiaries stand proudly in flower beds. As an extra perk, additional food booths pop up around the World Showcase, and a few playgrounds are added in Future World. 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Create Your Own Treats at Goofy's Candy Company

Look closely. This sign is made out of jelly beans.

I kind of feel like I need to make up for showing you all those dead and about-to-be-dead chickens last week. In a 180 degree turnaround, I'm focusing this post on the sweet treats of Goofy's Candy Company in Downtown Disney Marketplace.

When we first decided to visit DisneyWorld in Florida last year, what do you think was one of the first things my daughter put on the To Do list? Pictures with Anna and Elsa from Frozen? Nope. Thank goodness because the line for that character greeting was 3 hours long. A princess makeover at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique nestled in Cinderella's Castle? Nope. My girl has never been the "princessy" type unless it's Princess Peach from Mario Brothers. Instead, she is one, giant walking sweet tooth. She takes after both her parents. So, when she said she wanted to visit Goofy's Candy Company, there wasn't much arm twisting to convince the rest of the family to go along.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Wet Market Chicken Stall

"Visit a local market" is an oft heard piece of advice when traveling internationally. It's a great way to take a peek into the daily life a local. For many visitors to Penang's Pulau Tikus Wet Market, also known as "The Rich Wives Market," the tour starts off pleasantly enough. The din of hundreds of customers and vendors echoes through the air, and there are plenty of exotic fruits and vegetables to ooh and ahh over. The fragrant, vividly hued blooms at the flower stall just beg to be photographed. Everyone is having a jolly good time.

Then....they come upon the chicken stall.

A chicken is weighed before being slaughtered.

For anyone who does all their shopping at a grocery store, the chicken stall is an eye-opener. If you're used to getting your chicken out of a refrigerated case on a styrofoam tray neatly wrapped in plastic film, the wet market chicken stall hits you over the head with the reality of how chickens end up on the plate in Penang. This realization left one visitor I was with standing there stunned with her mouth hanging wide open and a look of abject horror in her eyes. (Don't worry. No bloody photos ahead.)

There was something extra tragic about a living, breathing bird being weighed on a scale surrounded by members of his flock who had only recently been bled out and plucked. Did she fathom that she was about to share their fate?
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