Sunday, 18 June 2017

Quick trip to the beach!

Quick trip to the nearest beach, Charleston, South Carolina... 
3.5 hrs drive from Charlotte, North Carolina !

It was our family's first time stepping foot into the state of South Carolina
What better way than a quick drive to the beach! 
Seems like everybody we know were heading to the beach during the summer holidays so we thought why not?

My in laws came along and it was our first trip holidaying together... 
(If you don't count Malaysia/Singapore/India)

Day 1:
Checked into our hotel room n had our first southern food for lunch! 
We were so starving that we just went to the nearest restaurant across our hotel. 
It was my first time to Cracker Barrel but unfortunately southern food isn't my cup of tea
Lots of deep fried stuff and food was bland. Mr. Hubby agreed too but we told ourselves that we have to try a local one and not chain brand restaurants. 
So we shall give southern food another try! 
Any recommendations on where to eat or what to order?

After lunch we headed straight to the beach! 
There's plenty of beaches to choose from in Charleston, SC. After doing a quick research, we decided to head to Sullivan Island as it claimed to be family friendly with smaller waves, alcohol and pets are not permitted. If you are a surfer, you might wanna check out Folly beach which is the closest beach to downtown. The waves are much bigger and you will be surrounded by surfers!
The downside to the beach we went to was there wasn't any toilets on the beach and you need to walk quite a bit from free street parking. We were prewarned from our research, and made sure the kids did their "businesses" right before.

The first thing this momma did on arrival at the beach was to scout for shaded trees (that's the Malaysian in me)... but to my dismay there weren't any shade in sight!!! It was scorching hot but the "Angmoh" Americans were sun tanning as if it was so nice n comfortable?! 
Thankfully I brought my trusty umbrella along n i was the ONLY one walking around covered up holding an umbrella... Lols! 
Next time u see a covered up Asian crazy aunty holding an umbrella, it's gotta be me... do say hi!

I have countless times been mistaken as Indonesian/ Thai/ Malay/ baba nyonya n here in USA, as Hispanic... getting any tanner shall make me loose my Malaysian Chinese identity! 
I'm already so tanned, and once I'm brown, I can never go back, only black!!! 
My skin will remain tanned/brown... soon, I might as well be mistaken as Indian/black? Lols...

So what did the kiddos Sienna n Skyler do as soon as we got to the beach? 
Dragged Mr. Hubby n my father in law straight to the water... surprisingly the water was warm enough for them to enjoy a good 45 mins... before this momma had to call it quits as it was toasting/roasting them too much!

They got to collect some seashells n then we headed to check out the light house but unfortunately it's just a historic monument n not accessible to the public. Think the infrastructure is too old.

We drove to the next beach nearby called Isle of Palms but unfortunately you can't drive along the beach to see it. So we decided to skip it as it was too hot n headed to get some ice cream to cool us down. N then headed back to hotel for a nap.

Dinner at night ~ Thai food at "Mei Thai restaurant"!!! Yummy n huge portions...

Day 2:
Breakfast at hotel.
Downtown Charleston here we come!!!
Tips: There's free parking along Battery street (might be limited  during the weekends)

Since our trip is a short one, we decided what better way to explore the whole city thru a free walking tour. Yes, FREE! But the tour guides work exclusively for your appreciation. You choose how much you thought the tour was worth. So tip accordingly. 
We've used walking tours a lot whenever we traveled... in Amsterdam, Sydney, Toronto, etc. 
It is the best way to learn about a city and it's never boring! 
Even our kids enjoyed taking in the sights in the quickest way! 
But we made a mistake this time coz we never had to reserve before hand. Just show up and join the tour. Unfortunately, they had a limit on the group size. So we were bummed but we still continued our own itinerary just by following their list of itinerary. "Copy n paste". 
Here's the link to book the tour -> click here

1st stop~ White point gardens. This garden features numerous revolutionary and civil war era cannons. The garden is lined with shaded oak trees, perfect for having a picnic while taking in the sights and see breeze of the Charleston harbor.
Sienna n Skyler were running around on the grass. 

Then we proceeded n walked thru French quarters + cobbled stones road to our next stop.

2nd stop~ Charleston old city market. Lots of antiques, souvenir and trinkets. It is a sheltered market but oh my was so HOT and not air conditioned. It reminded me of "Chatuchak market" in Thailand but on a much much SMALLER scale.
Tips~ Be sure to carry cash
We didn't buy anything as we read it was overpriced. 
Instead, our stomachs were calling for food.

3rd stop ~ lunch in any restaurant surrounding the city market. 
We were so hungry n chose the 1st one we saw, "Market Street Deli" ~> Sandwiches n gyros.

4th stop~ must try, local snack dessert. Pralines!!! (and home made fudge n home made ice cream). So YUMMY that every calories were well spent... well, it's vacation so who cares! 
But be warn that your kids will be sugar high. 

5th stop~ free trolley/bus. We hop on a free bus to get around + sight see. There's 3 different routes. 
Tips~ u can get the map + schedule on board the bus. Bus is Air conditioned which was a saver since we got to cool off for a bit.

6th stop~ kings street. 
We were there at the right time because on the 2nd Sunday of every month, the whole street is blocked to car traffic so we could walk freely and enjoy street performances, people watching and dining el-fresco!

Kings street is lined with designer brands and a good mix of antiques n local shops
This momma did good n did NOT do ANY shopping!!! 
Can't shop in peace anyways when u have 2 young kids with you...
Even though we didn't buy anything, it is still a nice place to people watch + stroll along.

Sienna and Skyler were surprised and speechless when they their fav. princesses!!!
Princess Anna and Elsa!!! (and the other guy, who?)

7th stop ~ waterfront park + pier. 
Offers great view of the Charleston harbor
Sit in the bench swings and take in the views of the Charleston harbor. 

They said if you are lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of dolphins swimming! 
From there you can see the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge. 
The pier reminded me of Sydney harbour in Australia. 

Dip your toes in the Famous pineapple fountain n there's also a huge water fountain where kids were cooling off. Sienna n Skyler just stared at the other kids as we didn't bring any change of clothes!

8th stop ~ rainbow row + the Battery. 
The Battery: Once a defensive seawall, the area is now known for its historic homes, mostly ultra luxurious waterfront homes!!!
We walked along the battery wall back to find our car parked along Battery street. Look to the opposite side of the ocean, you will see a long row of colorful historic homes known as the "Rainbow row". 

Places on the list that we didn't had time to visit:
.Angel oak tree ~ over 1000 year old tree, the oldest oak tree in the east coast! 
Things to note: It is a 25 mins drive from downtown Charleston and closes everyday at 5pm. Thus, we couldn't make it in time.

.Charleston tea plantation. (127 acres).
It is America's ONLY tea plantation!!!
Things to note: It closes everyday at 4pm. Thus, we couldn't make it in time.

.Charleston farmers market~ only opens on Saturday mornings. 
We missed it coz we arrived in the afternoon.

.We skipped the horse carriage tour as we were beaten down by the heat already n figured that we have mostly explored downtown by foot ourselves.

.Red barn ~ free petting farm animals (horse, goats, chickens). 
We skipped it as the kids have done this before elsewhere n figured we could do this anywhere.

Charleston definitely offered more than what I imagined and expected. 
Everywhere we drove, we saw palm trees!!! 
Anytime I see palm trees, it always turn me on vacation mode... 
To think that this beautiful city of Charleston was on our short list of cities we were thinking of moving to. We didn't choose it as it was a bit too far a drive from my in laws. And sadly it was hit by hurricane Matthews and gets flooded every once in a blue moon.

We only stayed 1 night but oh so beautiful Charleston, we will definitely be back!!!

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