5 Creative Ways to Preserve Your Travel Memories

Photojaanic

As someone who truly believes in the importance of work-life balance, I make sure that I set aside time for relaxing and having fun, as well as doing work. Travelling is one of the ways to refresh and recharge. From the adventures in places that are far from home like Bali, to the adventures here in my own city, there’s always something unique and memorable in each holiday. From photobook to postcards, there are many ways to preserve your travel memories.

That being said, sometimes the busy life and packed schedule makes printing photos a bit trickier, as there are more things on the to-do list with higher priorities. But with an online printing service, it actually takes a lot less time and hassle to print these travel photos. What’s more, there are more choices than just photo prints to bring your travel memories to life. Here are a few ideas of what you can do with your travel photos.

Travel Photobook

Photobook
If you’d like to keep detailed memories of your travel experiences, a photobook might be the best option for you. Not only do you get to print your photos, but you can set the layout and add text however you want it. Adding text will surely help you tell the story of your travel, and keep some extra memories that were missed by the camera. Whether you choose to arrange your photos chronologically to remember your travel just the way you experienced it, or if you prefer to arrange it according to a theme or highlights, a photobook is a perfect way to preserve your travel memories for yourself.

square prints travel

Square prints
The most versatile, and probably the easiest way to get your travel photos, is square prints. You can get as creative as you’d like with the square prints, from making a travel gallery wall, to creating a scrapbook where you can write down your fondest travel memories. The choice is yours.

Travel Postcards

Postcards
Postcards are classic items for travelling that you can also use as souvenirs. Rather than buying postcards with someone else’s photo on it, why not use your own photos? Printing postcards with your travel photos is not difficult at all. What’s even better is that you can write the story of each photo behind the postcard, either to keep for yourself or to send to your loved ones. Epic stories need to be written down and read.

Travel passport notebook

Passport notebooks
This is something every traveler will appreciate: a handy notebook to keep travel organised. Its use isn’t limited to travel-related things as you can use this to jot down everything from ideas to your to-do list. Having a notebook with your own travel photo will not only make it feel more personal, but it can also remind you of the good time you had during your travel.

wall art travel

Wall art
Sometimes, the best stories and memories need to be shared with your loved ones, and why not do so with your own photos? You can pick your favorite photo(s) to be printed and hung up on the wall. There are various types of wall art you can choose: from canvas prints, mounted prints, to posters – you are not short on options. If you’re up for a challenge, how about making a series of wall art from your travel? For example, if you’re a culinary junkie, you can make a series of unique dishes you found during your travel. Or if you’re into buildings and architecture, you can make a series of interesting buildings from different cities that you’ve visited. You can be sure that there will be many stories that can be told from these photos.

I hope these ideas can help you get creative with your travel photos! Don’t let them gather dust as your memories are too precious for that!

Author:
Dixie Thamrin
Content marketing writer at Photojaanic

Changi Airport Terminal 4 Open House Website’s “Technical Problems” Last Night

Changi Airport Terminal 4 Open House

Screengrab from the T4 Open House website

Like many other Singaporeans, I’m terribly excited about the Open House event happening next month at Changi Airport’s Terminal 4. There have been press reports about it and many people were eager to book their slots last night. For some strange reason, we could only make the bookings for the free tour from 0001hrs on 5th July, so many of us stayed up late last night just so we could be among the first to access the website and secure places for ourselves and our family members. *The Open House tours will happen daily from 7th to 20th August, between 9am and 6pm.

But the sudden influx of visitors past midnight might have caused the website to crash.

Some who were unable to access the site or complete the bookings took to Facebook to voice their concerns, prompting Changi Airport to issue an update that the site’s facing some “technical problems”.

Changi Airport facebook page

It’s definitely disappointing. It was entirely predictable that a large number of people would want to visit T4, especially since the Prime Minister himself has taken the tour and said he was “impressed”. So for the open house website of the World’s Best Airport to crash due to the overwhelming response (which could have been anticipated), I have no words.

Thankfully, there are lots of available slots for the public to choose from. And only a handful were fully booked when I checked this morning. *And the confirmation email apparently doesn’t get sent to your email inbox immediately. Expect to wait for up to a few hours before receiving it.

When organizing free events for kiasu and kaypoh Singaporeans, Changi Airport Group might want to note that an “overwhelming response” is to be expected. Either ensure everything runs smoothly, or not pick midnight as the time the website is open to reservations as the next day is still a weekday / working day! (@_@)

What’s New At Resorts World Genting

Resorts World Genting Tower 3

Before our recent trip to Resorts World Genting, our very last visit was a number of years ago. And when we went back this time, there was a new hotel tower at First World Hotel (bringing its total number of rooms to 7,351) and a new cable car system, among other updates! Though I detest long bus rides, I can easily be tempted to make another trip to Genting again as it’s now an even cooler place to be at… even if you do not gamble.

We stayed in room 28868 (how auspicious?) on the highest floor and found the room in Tower 3 to be very new and clean. That said, the pillows leave more to be desired but I guess it won’t matter to most folk, anyway. I was the only one sleeping in the room at night; my darling was busy earning some moolah in the casinos. 😀 I also love that you can order Motorino pizzas, meatballs, chicken wings, etc, with room service!

I’ve previously blogged about some new restaurants & cafes you need to visit. If you haven’t read the posts yet, click on the links below:

#1: Burger & Lobster

#2: Cafés Richard

#3: Motorino

This isn’t the best photo of their new cable car system, but I actually enjoyed the ride in the Glass Floor Gondola. A ride in one of the special gondolas with glass flooring will cost RM 50. The regular ones cost just RM 8. End to end, the 2.8km journey takes just 10 minutes, half of what the older cable car system took.

Resorts World Genting cable car

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At Sky Avenue, there’s so much food to indulge in. If I had to start (small) somewhere, I’m going back for more of Tokyo Secret’s cheese tarts. Freshly baked (and HOT), these yummy tarts will leave you craving for more…

Resorts World Genting Tokyo Secret

And oh… cheap(er) GongCha bubble tea too! 😀

Aside from eating and visiting the casino, there are more family-friendly games for those who are young and young-at-heart. We went to the arcade to play basketball and I also wanted to try my hand at fishing for a prize at the ‘duck pond’

I won’t play this game again… ever:

Resorts World Genting arcade

You pay RM 23.20 to get an arcade card with 20 credits. For this duck ‘fishing’ game, you’ll spend 4 credits, and get to fish out 2 ducks. I thought I’ll be sure to get at least one tiny, consolation prize with 2 tries. I got nothing. I’d rather have spent the credits on the basketball machines – each game there costs just 3 credits. 😦

Don’t want to spend any money? There’s always the lovely view to admire at the hotel. You’ll have to do that at the lobby though. The opaque hotel room windows cannot be opened more than, say, 4 inches.

Resorts World Genting review

For breakfast, there’s A LOT to choose from at Resorts World Genting. There are so many restaurants, eateries, cafes, etc. And of course, there’s The Food Factory for a buffet spread.

The Food Factory:

Resorts World Genting Food Factory

(above) The chef is cooking some carrot cake for our breakfast. Yum! The food factory can seat some 1,600 guests. Don’t expect gourmet meals, of course. Just eat for the purpose of satiety. When we were having our breakfast, we enjoyed items like scrambled egg, niang doufu (to pair with porridge), mini pancakes (plus a chocolate fountain), bread, pastries, etc. I love fruit so I was surprised to find that there was just one kind of fruit: yellow watermelon.

On the way home to Singapore, our coach stopped at the Awana rest stop. It’s not as busy as the one at Yong Peng, so the food at the canteen has been sitting around for a while, if you know what I mean. We happily stocked up on snacks at the store though.

Resorts World Genting bus rest stop

If you aren’t heading back to Singapore, but prefer to visit KL instead, you can take a bus to KL Sentral then a train to Pasar Seni to go to Chinatown. 🙂

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From Singapore to Genting, we took a coach from Golden Mile Complex. For reasons unknown to us, the coach from ‘The One’ was an hour late and the seats weren’t too comfortable either; you cannot have it recline much without ending up lying on someone’s lap. 😛

*Watch out for the Twentieth Century Fox World Theme Park that is slated to open later this year.

5 Reasons Retirees Will LOVE The Luxury Cruise Ship ‘Insignia’

Oceania Cruises

It’s not often one gets to board a cruise ship docked at Harbourfront just for a look-see, especially when it’s a LUXURY cruise ship. My pal Bosco and I got to do a tour of the ship, and enjoy a quick lunch on board, thanks to Sky Premium. Apparently, it’s an around-the-world cruise which starts and ends in Miami. See the world in 6 months on this cruise? Yes, sign me up… when I’m rich and retired! 😀 I certainly won’t mind being on this ship with lots of friendly, smiling crew. In fact, the ship can accommodate up to 669 passengers, and it comes with 400 crew members; so any time the retired ol’ me needs help, I’ll be sure to get it. 😀

Insignia Cruise Review

Here are 5 reasons why I think retirees will enjoy being on Insignia:

#1: The Chillaxing

Insignia Cruise

At the Sundeck on deck 11, you get to enjoy the blue skies, a good tan, and simply laze by the pool. If you don’t fancy swimming, there are two hottubs filled with saltwater (which might be better for your skin) 🙂 Also, there’s a new specialty cocktail every day at the pool bar. Hang on… I might not want to wait till I’m retired. 😀

Insignia Cruise Hot Tub

#2: The FOOD

Oceania Insignia restaurant

A little bird told me that Versace plates are used in one of the restaurants on-board. But you’ll have to make a reservation with your cruise booking (or immediately after boarding the ship) in order to get a table. *wink*

Insignia restaurant

Here’s the lunch we were treated to:

Oceania Insignia Reviews

What we had for lunch: (1) Maine Lobster and Daikon with Caviar, (2) Stuffed Provolone Cheese Pasta Purses with Butternut Squash Cream, (3) Pink Roasted Beef Tenderloin with Black Truffle and Foie Gras Demi-Glace, (4 *Alternative main) Den Miso Glazed Sea Bass, (5) Papuan Chocolate Volcano, (6) Petits Fours and Macaroons

I’d say it’s either hit-or-miss with our lunch menu that day. The lobster + caviar starter was, obviously, a delicious treat. The stuffed provolone cheese pasta purses which followed were slightly cloying and ‘jelat‘ after the first mouthful. The beef and fish mains were good. The Papuan Chocolate Volcano was a huge HIT, but the petit fours and macaroons left much to be desired. If this accurately reflects food standards on-board the Insignia, well, I guess passengers will quickly figure out what they should or shouldn’t order – after all, they’ll be on-board for a while.

Insignia has 2 specialty restaurants which require reservations. For Italian fare, head to Toscano, unless you’re craving for some good ol’ steak, in which case you should head to their steak house ‘Polo Grill’. At Toscano, staff will bring out a giant wheel of parmesan every night. The food is made fresh every night and it’s very fine dining with Versace plates, no less. There’s also vinaigrette and olive oil pairing, somewhat like wine pairing. 😀 The restaurant has some 8 selections of olive oil and 4 for balsamic vinegar.

At the Steakhouse (Polo Grill), you can indulge in some steak, lobster, crab, primerib, chicken, etc. There’s also a themed night depending on which port the ship is at. The chefs will procure the ingredients from that particular city for your meal.

*Ice cream is made on the ship every day too. There’s a range of sugar-free desserts at every restaurant, and they’re made to be suitable for diabetics. And the Insignia has begun serving vegan food too!

At ‘Waves’ located near the pool, you can grab some hamburgers, hotdogs, etc. In short, you’ll never go hungry on the Insignia. And on the rare occasion that you’ve missed a meal, fret not, as there’s 24-hour room service.

Special mention: the Papuan Chocolate Volcano is a must-try…

Oceania Insignia around the world cruise

#3: The Staff

The staff on-board the Insignia are very friendly, and always ready to greet you with a smile. They might also be able to call you by name by the end of the cruise.

Oceania Cruises

#4: The Pampering

Insignia Cruise Spa

Head to the Spa for everything from manicures to waxing, massages to haircuts. You can even get a new hair color here.

Oceania Insignia Cruise Spa

 

#5: The Entertainment

Oceania Insignia

What’s the point of getting on a cruise if there’s no entertainment to look forward to? On board the Insignia, there’s the gym, of course. For those who prefer more sedentary activities, there’s mahjong, card games, jigsaw puzzles, stage shows, art classes, and last but not least, THE CASINO! The casino is open only on seadays and remains shut when the ship is in port (it’s illegal to operate the casino when in port!)

From 7am to 10pm, head to the fitness center for spinning sessions, yoga, pilates, etc.

Insignia library

We did not get to visit the suites, but we did get a look around the library. There’s a beautiful hand-painted ceiling which you must see. The library looks very homey as it’s designed to look like someone’s living room – to be the passengers’ home away from home. There’s comfy furniture and a good selection of books. I’m told that because the seats are so comfortable, people come here to read, but they do also find themselves falling asleep here. 😀

Elsewhere on the ship, from 4pm to 5pm, passengers get to enjoy tea with a string quartet playing. There’s also a baby grand piano on-board (I hear they have a talented pianist too) and if it’s your thing, you can also indulge in some cognac and wine tasting. The Insignia is very atas indeed.

But the most important piece of information I noted during the tour of the ship is that the Insignia has very good Wifi, what with the new satellites they’ve invested in. And even if you’re not too IT-savvy, there are ‘Internet Managers’ on board to help you out every morning and afternoon.

If you’re a retiree with some extra cash to spend, I’d highly recommend you give this cruise a go. I think it’ll be fun, meeting other retirees from around the world and trading (life) stories. If you’ve not reached that (life) stage yet, then a cruise might get boring for you. True story: LOML and I were at Maldives some time back, and at the resort’s pool bar, he had one of every drink on the menu then went off snorkeling, following a baby shark back to where it came from. I sat on the beach, read a book, and occasionally wondered what would happen if he met the baby shark’s, well, parents. So if you and your partner aren’t ready for a chillaxing sort of getaway then the usual free-and-easy holidays which involve flying would be more suitable. (Less likely to see sharks too)

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Lots of thanks to Bosco from Hearted Moments Photography for these pictures 😀

5 Reasons To Sign Up For Sky Premium Membership

Sky Premium Singapore Media Briefing

Bluefin Tuna Cutting Ceremony @ Sky Premium’s Media Briefing

I attended Sky Premium’s media briefing this afternoon, and wow, I think this ‘membership services club’ might be something worth investing in. It’ll be launched in Q4 this year, and while there’s not a ton of information available at this moment, from what I saw today, I think many people will be keen to find out more about Sky Premium. So, very quickly, here are 5 top reasons that I think would entice people to sign up:

#1: Preferential rates from esteemed brands

Sky Premium offers members exclusive privileges for travel, dining, fashion and wellness. Some of these brands include FJ Benjamin, Oceania Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts, etc.

Also, members can look forward to exclusive invites to closed-door events, fashion shows, sake tastings, etc. They’ll also get access to business facilities at Sky Premium’s office.

Sky Premium Membership

Maguro Sushi @ Takujo, Emporium Shokuhin

#2: Panel Advisors: Allan Wu and Tan Min-Li

Sky Premium Singapore

Allan Wu and Tan Min-Li (background)

I guess you’ll be familiar with the hunky celeb Allan Wu. I’ve never heard of Tan Min-Li before today’s event though. Apparently, the lawyer is a partner of Colin Ng & Partners LLP. She’s won multiple awards for her legal work involving Corporate M&A and Capital Markets. She is also involved in film production and fashion. Both of these style-conscious individuals will be invaluable as advisers for Sky Premium.

#3: Members’ welcome package and exclusive portal

Members of the media were informed that the welcome package is “worth more than the membership fee”. At this point, I don’t know what’s in that welcome package, but I’ll update this post when I find out. 😀 If you were to sign up, you’ll also get access to the members-only privileges portal. <- I’ll be happy to check that out!

#4: Premium Member Subscription Cost: S$1,200 per year

I believe there is an “initial processing fee” which I’ve not been advised regarding. But it’s stated on the factsheet that there will be no additional processing fees as long as you keep up with your membership dues.

I believe S$1,200 per year is really quite affordable for the well-heeled in Singapore. In fact, they might even consider it really cheap. I know of some people who can easily spend that amount on just one meal. And $100 per month is even lower than membership fees at certain gyms. When there’s more information made available closer to their launch date, I’d highly recommend that you check out their website and/or make a few inquiries and find out more. 🙂

#5: Helmed by General Manager, Ms Margaret Koh

She has over 10 years of experience in the luxury service sector. Prior to helming Sky Premium, she was previously associated with luxury service organizations such as Banyan Tree Private Collection, Singapore Yacht Show and Raffles Marina. I think this means that great service and quality offerings from Sky Premium are just about guaranteed.

Find out more at: http://www.skypremium.com/official/

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Pictures in this blogpost are courtesy of Hearted Moments Photography.

7 Best Hotels In Kuala Lumpur Every Singaporean Should Visit

2016 is shaping up to be a very busy year, and much as I’d love to fly to some place far away for a long holiday, I guess I will have to make do with a short getaway closer to home. This post is about the 7 hotels in Kuala Lumpur that I have either stayed at, or am planning to stay at in the near future. I’m using the tentative dates of 8 – 10 April (*do note that weekend rates are usually higher than weekday ones) and I’ve taken the screenshots off Traveloka, which is an awesome site for booking hotels and/or flights because they provide the total fee (inclusive of taxes) upfront, so you don’t get a shock at the final checkout page. Psst… there are some cool discounts to be enjoyed too! 🙂

When booking hotels, I usually take note of a couple of things: user reviews, whether there is a decent-size swimming pool or not, and whether the hotel is in a convenient location. I’ve hand-picked 7 hotels in Kuala Lumpur that will cost between S$117 and S$329 per night. See if you like any one of them too! 🙂

In no particular order of merit…

1) Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur

Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur

I simply LOVE that view of the Twin Towers. I’ve stayed in Hyatt hotel in Kota Kinabalu before, and I love the Hyatt experience. So this one is definitely on my to-visit list. The most affordable room rate is for the Grand Twin Room (for 2), without breakfast, at S$286.07. Sometimes there are even limited-time sales on Traveloka, so book as quickly as you can using the TravelokaQuick function. As long as your credit card details are saved in the system, the transaction can be done within a minute so you can secure your booking at a great price.

Here’s my screenshot of one such flash sale for Hilton, which is #2 on my list:

Traveloka Flash Sales

2) Hilton Kuala Lumpur

Hilton Kuala Lumpur

I like to compare prices between various sites and I found that Traveloka has a Twin Deluxe Plus promotion for Hilton Kuala Lumpur – for 2 pax, it’s S$196.19. A similar room cost S$206.48 on Agoda, when I checked on 30th March 2016. It’s just a few dollars, I know, but it all adds up in the end, no?

3) Ritz-Carlton Kuala Lumpur

Ritz-Carlton Kuala Lumpur

I need to be at that pool NOW! 😀 I think hotels should have great pools because they offer not just a workout, but also a place for relaxation. Another reason why I’d choose to book via Traveloka is because they do offer more choices for certain hotels. For instance, for Ritz-Carlton, there are 6 room types available on Traveloka (the cheapest costs S$329.08 a night), but only 1 room type available on Agoda (the Premier Suite at S$370 before tax).

4) Berjaya Times Square Hotel

Berjaya Times Square Hotel

Once again, I LOVE that view. I can never stand hotel rooms without windows, and those which frustrate me most are windows which overlook, say, someone’s backyard, or an abandoned building, etc. A nice view of the city or a lake never hurts! 😀 I stayed at the Berjaya Times Square Hotel last year and enjoyed the hotel’s proximity to the shopping mall which is huge, and I think I’ll be back again soon. The price is pretty reasonable – starting from S$117.66 on Traveloka’s website.

5) Sheraton Imperial Kuala Lumpur Hotel

Sheraton Imperial Kuala Lumpur Hotel

Once again, that pool looks irresistible. And as you can see from the screenshot above, room rates at Sheraton Imperial Kuala Lumpur start from just S$124.60. You can also download the Traveloka app (both Apple and Android versions are available) and enjoy paperless check-in when you reach the hotel. No time should be wasted so you can head to the pool as quickly as possible! 😀

6) JW Marriott Kuala Lumpur

JW Marriott Kuala Lumpur

Room rates at JW Marriott Kuala Lumpur start from S$225.79. I’ve stayed at the Marriott hotel in Singapore, but I’ve yet to stay at JW Marriott’s hotels. So I look forward to checking out this one in Kuala Lumpur! 😀

7) Le Meridien Kuala Lumpur

Le Meridien Kuala Lumpur

Le Meridien totally has a resort feel to it. I think sunsets by the pool, with a cocktail in hand, would be near perfection. Prices are not exactly cheap but I guess you just have to pay more for quality. If you are looking for hotel rooms that will fit nicely into your holiday budget, then go check out hotel booking sites like Traveloka, compare prices and find the best fit. For me, I think sites with clean layouts and which are user-friendly always get my vote. I really do not like hidden fees!

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 Just a quick 5-step process to book your hotel. It’ll be even faster once you’ve saved your details as a member!Traveloka booking

If you have any other hotels in Kuala Lumpur that you’d like to recommend, or have me review them, please feel free to write in to me. 🙂

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This post is brought to you by Traveloka, the largest and leading flight/hotel booking platform in Indonesia. Also, do note that the prices stated in this post are based on my own pre-selected dates for check-in and -out.

Things To Do In Singapore In 1-Day: My Indonesian Friend’s Visit :D

I’ve been SO BUSY recently. Among the many things I’ve been doing is taking my pals around Singapore. Previously, my Vietnamese friends came by (read the blogpost here), then a Cambodian (*no time to blog about his trip yet*) and my Indonesian pal just left Singapore today. One day is definitely NOT SUFFICIENT for visiting Singapore, as it will be a crazy rush from attraction to attraction, so please do not attempt this unless you have absolutely no choice. In any case, here are some suggestions for things to do in Singapore. Whether you are a tourist planning a trip to Singapore, or a Singaporean wondering where you should take your pals to when they come here to visit you, I hope this blogpost is useful to you. 🙂

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I met my pal at the airport in the morning around 8am, and we popped by Tampines Swimming Complex thereafter (it opens at 8am). A shower plus swim would be a delight for most tourists, I guess. In fact, I want nothing more than a hot shower after a flight to get rid of tiredness and to feel refreshed. 🙂 Tampines Swimming Complex on a Friday morning is not very crowded at all, and we sure did enjoy the swim.

Then it was a quick (and light) brunch at Century Square before we headed to Hotel Grand Pacific for a buffet lunch. At Tampines Mall, my pal also bought a tin of cookies from Bengawan Solo. When I’d visited him in Surabaya previously, I brought him a gift of cookies from Bengawan Solo, and he and his family liked the cookies so much that he (also) came here for more. 😀

The dessert corner at Sun’s Cafe in Hotel Grand Pacific:

Hotel Grand Pacific Sun's Cafe lunch buffet

I’ll do a more detailed post regarding the buffet later. Suffice to say now that it’s good value for money if you’ve bought a Groupon voucher. The staff are pretty friendly too.

The view from level 10 of the National Library:

Singapore National Library

After lunch, we visited the National Library which was around the corner, and we also went to Bugis+, Bugis Junction, Bugis Street, etc.

Maple Lodge (hostel) is right outside Exit A of Chinatown MRT station (on the left) –

Singapore Chinatown Maple Lodge

Then we went to his hostel at Chinatown – Maple Lodge – which is SO conveniently located just a few steps away from Exit A of Chinatown MRT station. If you’re a ‘backpacker’ visiting Singapore, here’s a good place to stay for just S$15 a night. Check-in time is at 3pm, or so I was told.

With check-in completed, and luggage deposited, we headed to Merlion Park, which is like the MUST-VISIT place for most tourists who want to get that obligatory photo with one of the merlions. We spotted a couple in full wedding attire getting their photoshoot done. The weather was SO hot then! Bless their souls. The bride did not seem to mind at all – no complaints heard – so I guess the groom made a fantastic choice. Hehe! Happy marriage, y’all!

Singapore Merlion Park

Thankfully, I’d thought of buying ice cream when we exited Raffles Place MRT station. If you’re walking towards Exit H, you’ll see a Mr Bean outlet. I bought ice cream for all 3 of us (me, my Indonesian pal, and another Malaysian pal currently studying in Singapore). Thus, there were few complaints about the weather when we stepped out of the air-conditioned premises to make our way to Merlion Park. We were too busy enjoying the ice cream. Haha!

A few quick snaps of the Merlion and we were off to MBS:

Singapore Marina Bay Sands

* I love those clouds *

We took a really long walk to get to Marina Bay Sands. For your information, visiting the Observation Deck of MBS requires a fee of S$23 for adults and S$17 for children (between 2 and 12 years old). Find out more about the fees here: http://www.marinabaysands.com/sands-skypark/observation-deck.html

*The Infinity Pool at MBS is reserved for hotel guests*

We had dinner at the foodcourt at Marina Bay Sands. The prices are much higher than in many other places in Singapore.

Post-dinner snack and chit-chat time:

DC Comics Super Heroes Cafe

We also visited the DC Comics Super Heroes themed cafe at MBS (level 1). I ordered some nuggets & fries, plus a yuzu drink (which was SO sweet). The chirpy waiter gave us some water served in the cutest caped super hero mugs. Service was excellent, despite what some reviewers said on the cafe’s facebook page. The decor of the place is simply awesome. You can find Batman, Catwoman, and many other super heroes. And there’s the Batmobile, the fancy bike (I don’t know what it’s called) and so many photo-worthy spots. Of course, the food’s also superhero-themed so snap away if you’re ordering the burgers, lattes or desserts, etc.

After an enjoyable chat, I sent him back to his hostel. He told me that he fell asleep very quickly because he was so tired. And it’s no wonder too. I clocked over 20,000 steps yesterday, just touring Singapore with him! LOL.

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Nana’s Green Tea at Plaza Singapura. Lunch sets (inc. of a drink) are at S$13.90.

Nana's Green Tea Plaza Singapura

ION Orchard:

Singapore ION Orchard

As for today, we had lunch at Nana’s Green Tea at Plaza Singapura before popping by Orchard Road. We went to ION, Ngee Ann City, Kinokuniya, etc. 🙂 Then we were off to Woodlands where we bought sushi from my favorite sushi takeaway place. He also bought Old Chang Kee’s curry puffs and other snacks.

And then he’s off to Malaysia. 🙂

I’m gonna miss him. He’s a really fun guy to chat with and hang out with. And he also brought me presents… AWWW…

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Gifts from Surabaya

My generous pal from Surabaya brought me some goodies. There’s Kue Blinjo (which I assume is some kind of cookie), (the famous) Livana’s Lapis Surabaya (which I’ve tried previously during my trip to Surabaya) and Bandeng Asap (Smoked Milkfish).

I do wish I’d thought of bringing him to visit a cat cafe earlier. Will certainly include that in the itinerary the next time he visits. Till then!~ 🙂

My Vietnamese Friends Visit Singapore For A 3-Day Free N Easy Holiday

Star Wars at Changi Airport

R2-D2 at Changi Airport Terminal 3 Departures

Two friends from Vietnam* came to Singapore this Thursday and I went to welcome them at Changi Airport’s Terminal 2 🙂 If you don’t already know, the Star Wars FEVER is raging at Changi Airport. I wish I’m more of a Star Wars fan, but I’m not. I do think BB-8 is super cute though. 😀 In this blogpost, I’ll share with you some of the unique experiences a Vietnamese person might have in Singapore, my own experience as a pro bono and unofficial tour guide (haha!), and what tourists to Singapore can expect as well as enjoy here. *It was my first time meeting the Vietnamese guy, while the girl had been kind enough to take us around when we visited Vietnam earlier this month.

Star Wars at Changi Airport Terminal 2

Stormtroopers at Terminal 2 Departures

For one, I’ve been told by my Vietnamese female pals that clearing customs might be a bit tricky because you might get ‘invited’ to an office to state your intentions in visiting Singapore. I suppose it could be (but don’t quote me) on suspicion that Vietnamese ladies come here to look for work, or husbands? So it is always useful to have a Singaporean friend pick you up at the airport or at least be a phone call away so the authorities can verify your true intentions in coming to Singapore.

In any case, I waited for over an hour for my pals to clear customs checks. (@_@) I’m so used to breezing through customs when I return to Singapore from overseas that I forget that international travelers need to go through that whole passport stamping process while I simply use the automated scanners. (*Note to self: When picking up friends at the airport, there is no need to arrive early, or to even be ‘on time’, allow them time to clear immigration checks)

(*Another note to self: Changi Airport is really awesome. The themed decor (e.g. Star Wars) makes for some instagrammable and memorable pictures)

Rilakkuma EZ Link card in Singapore

Rilakkuma EZ Link card for travel on trains, buses, taxis etc anywhere in Singapore

One thing to note is that travelers CANNOT easily connect to WIFI at the airport. Yes, that sounds so backward. But it’s true. You have to approach the Information Counter and get a password. Even then, I think you can only use the wifi for a limited period of time. I am guessing (again, don’t quote me on this) that it’s because we don’t want local students to camp out at the airport and log on to the wifi, instead of reserving it for the travelers who need it more.

In any case, I recommended my Vietnamese friends to get a wifi router device from Changi Recommends. The current promotion price is S$9/day. I find it’s a great idea because one router can support up to 6 devices (handphones, ipads, tablets, laptops, etc) and can be shared among friends (*save money!) And you don’t have to worry about inserting SIM cards into your phones or other devices. Just switch on the router, and log on to the wifi using your phone. And here’s the best part: UNLIMITED DATA! Of course, you can purchase a SIM card at the airport – it’s about S$38. But you get something like 1 GB of data? Why not pay S$27 for 3 days of router usage and get UNLIMITED data? So my Vietnamese pals rented the router. And they also bought the EZ Link card (in a super cute Rilakkuma design) that you see in the picture above.

The EZ Link card costs S$12 per card. It comes with a S$5 non-refundable deposit and S$7 in credit you can use for taking public transport. The card is valid for 7 years, so take it back home with you, and keep it safe for your next trip to Singapore. 🙂

~ Where To Stay In Singapore ~

Bunc @ Radius Little India

My pals booked a stay at bunc @ radius little india. I thought the interior of the hostel looked pretty cool (though I did not visit the dorms). Breakfast is free – you get cereal and toast with jam. And there’s free wifi within the hostel, which my pals probably didn’t need. Most importantly the hostel is located within a 5-minute walk to the nearest train station (Rochor station, which recently opened in Dec 2015). My pals paid some S$22 per bed to stay here.

~

~ What To Do In Singapore ~ 

Haji Lane

On the day they arrived, I brought my pals to Bugis (where they bought some toiletries, and SUNBLOCK) and where I also treated them to Old Chang Kee’s curry puffs – they were so impressed! LOL. We then went to Haji Lane to get some nice photos and also to visit Selfie Coffee where your selfie is printed onto the foam on your drink! *The good thing about getting the wifi router from Changi Recommends is that you can keep Google Maps on wherever you go, and navigating Singapore is easy-peasy.

I brought them for a nice dinner at Chinatown Food Street, and also introduced them to things like bak kwa (barbecued pork) that we Chinese love to eat during Chinese New Year.

The Indian uncle at Bee Cheng Hiang speaks good Mandarin – I was so impressed!

Bak Kwa tasting at Chinatown

I also took them to places like Bugis Street (for clothes shopping), Bugis+, Bugis Junction (we ate at Yellow Submarine), Vivocity, Harbourfront, and Mustafa Centre where they each bought new luggage. On their own, they’d also visited Botanic Gardens (a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as listed in 2015), Marina Bay, Merlion Park, etc. They found Singapore’s weather to be almost unbearably hot (LOL) but they were not excited about returning to Hanoi’s super cold weather either. 😀 😀

At Mustafa, they each found luggage they liked, and since the total purchase value was over S$100, they could get their tax refunds at the airport. Same thing for their Uniqlo purchases at Bugis too.

Luggage shopping at Mustafa

 ~ How To Enjoy Your Time In Singapore ~

Dessert at Kopitiam Changi Airport

In this picture above, you see the dessert which I ate with my friends from Vietnam at the airport on their final evening here. I have a sweet tooth so I really enjoyed the dessert. LOL. Though I’m not sure both of them did.

Over the past couple of months, while traveling, I realized that 2 out of 3 Vietnamese men are particular about food. And when in Singapore, they might want to visit Vietnamese restaurants instead of trying local cuisine. So it is a good idea to visit foodcourts (e.g. Kopitiam at the basement of Vivocity, or at Changi Airport Terminal 3) where there’s food from just about every nationality in this region. LOL.

If you’d like to truly experience Singapore and the food culture we are so proud of, do bring along an adventurous palate. Same reason why I ate balut in Cambodia and found out I thoroughly enjoyed quail egg balut.

To have a really good time in Singapore:

  1. Know that the weather will be HOT, with occasional rainfall. Light and comfortable clothing, sensible footwear, and sun protection is key. Singaporeans don’t mind being sloppy with our dressing (Tee + Shorts + Flip Flops are ok for shopping at Orchard Road) and umbrellas are almost a MUST during certain months when rain can be expected everyday (don’t ask me which months, because the weather is unpredictable due to climate change).
  2. Where food is concerned, try a little bit of everything. If you have a local guiding you, tell him/her what you absolutely will not eat e.g. food which is too spicy, food which has pork in it, food which doesn’t come with a decent serving of vegetables, etc??? 😛
  3. Know that the malls will NOT be open even if you woke up at 7am and are ready to shop by 8am. It’s a better idea to head to the Botanic Gardens for a morning stroll and fresh air, then head to the city after 9am as the malls begin to open for business. (In other words, get as much beauty sleep as you can in your hotel or hostel. It’s a holiday after all!)

~ My Thoughts On Being A Pro Bono Tour Guide ~

I’ve never been a “tour guide” prior to this experience, and I’ve realized there is so much I didn’t know before this. Now I know I have to ask my pals these questions before they even fly over:

  1. Are you traveling with checked in luggage? If you are not (i.e. traveling with only cabin luggage) then you’ll be able to meet me at the Departure Hall earlier and I’ll know which glass door to wait for you at. If you have checked in luggage, then I’ll see you at the exit nearest to your luggage belt number e.g. 36. If you don’t see me, then wait at Starbucks or Burger King, etc. [*The reason these questions are necessary: No wifi till they get a password from the Information Counter]
  2. Will you require a SIM card / wifi router when you arrive? Will you require an EZ link card for travel via public transport or will you be taking taxis the whole time you are in Singapore? It is important to let your friends know how much these things will cost so they don’t receive a shock when they arrive and have to start Paying And Paying. For a 3-day visit, Wifi: S$27, EZ-Link card: S$12 (plus maybe one or two subsequent top-ups).
  3. Where will you be staying? Once you know where your friends will be putting up at, it is easy to plan for an activity or meal for that day they’ll be arriving. Unless, of course, they arrive at midnight, then… erm… KTV and supper?
  4. What dietary restrictions or preferences do you have? There are straightforward ones, e.g. no pork or no beef due to religious reasons, or no fast food. And then there are the less easy-to-handle ones such as “I don’t like oily food” or “I like food that resembles or tastes like food in my home country”.
  5. What are the attractions you’d like to visit? My Vietnamese pals wanted to visit Parliament House – I’ve never even been there before. 😀 And I recommended that they pop by Botanic Gardens in the morning. I did also look through their planned itinerary and give them my suggestions and tips (such as where to buy cheap bottled water before heading into Sentosa).

Ultimately, I’m very proud of my country, and I want to ensure my friends enjoy their stay when they visit.

I’ll even try to be helpful when I spot PRC tourists having a bit of a communication issue with non-Chinese staff at the airport or train stations. I’ll help translate their queries, give them directions and even assist them with purchasing single trip tickets and directing them to the right platform.

Strangely enough, I think it imperative that visitors like my country. I’m really perplexed if they don’t. Apart from the weather (which I can do nothing about), I want to make their visits as fuss-free as possible. And more friends from the region will be popping by Singapore soon! I should be a part-time tour guide! 😀

Visit To Cambodia’s Royal Palace Which Is Dripping In Gold

Cambodia's Royal Palace

Oh yeah, the tee I wore had some gold color on it too! 😀 Ahaha! If you’re headed for Cambodia’s Royal Palace, be prepared to spend at least 2 hours there in order to fully explore the grounds. The place is HUGE! And there are two things you must note, at least according to me: (1) The weather will be HOT so apply sunscreen and what-have-you, and (2) Be careful when walking up and down the steps – our female Cambodian friend fell and sprained her ankle. 😦 The guard was really kind though – he went to fetch some ointment for her. Kindness abounds in Cambodia!~

Here’s the tourist information board at the Royal Palace entrance. If the words are too tiny for you to read, the main gist of it is that opening hours are from 8am to 11am, and 2pm to 5pm. Tickets are at 25,000 Riel or USD6 each. Do not wear shoes inside the temple or take photos inside photography-prohibited places. Dress modestly, with your pants or skirts covering the kneecaps!

Cambodia Royal Palace Visitor Information

Cambodia Royal Palace Water Lily

Ok, I have to admit that I can hardly tell the difference between a water lily and a lotus flower. So I’ll just hazard a guess that this is a water lily. Hahaha!!!

There are too many photo spots within the compounds. So snap away. Just take note that it can get really hot here. So make sure you stay hydrated – drink lots of water!

Wow photographing statue

* beautiful architecture *

Cambodia Royal Palace

Royal Palace Cambodia

*Newsflash* I interrupt this blogpost to bring you some breaking news: Gigantic pigeons have been spotted at Cambodia’s famed Angkor Wat!!!

Mini angkor wat with pigeons

Nope, I’m just pulling your leg. There is a miniature “Angkor Wat” within the Royal Palace compound! Hahaha! Because the real Angkor Wat is too far away – a 5-hour drive or so – we made do with pictures here. 😀

Mini Angkor Wat

You might also spot a lady and a traditional khmer silk weaving loom:

Weaving cloth at the Royal Palace

Here’s a Youtube video on how she operates it:

I was lucky to have gotten the photo when I did. ‘Cos when the angmoh (in the green shirt) came along, she was busy talking on her phone. And so he had to wait for her to get back to work. 😀 😀

Lady on the phone

This is the last of my Cambodia Travelogue blogposts! 😀 I definitely look forward to visiting Cambodia again. I am convinced that Cambodia will see some good times ahead. The economy appears to be doing well, I spotted many sites which have been earmarked for the construction of mega shopping malls, and there’s even an AEON mall which I did not get to visit on this trip. Foreign investment is definitely pouring in to the country. Even the guest house in Cambodia that we stayed in is owned and managed by a Singaporean. 🙂

So it’s not “goodbye”, but “see you again soon”, Cambodia!

ASEAN youth leaders

Click on the links below to read the blogposts:

  1. My Visit to Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum a.k.a. S-21
  2. My Stay at a Singaporean-owned Guest House in Cambodia, and a study tour at Brown Coffee & Bakery
  3. My Top 5 Recommendations for Food in Cambodia, plus a few others for the adventurous palate
  4. My experience volunteering at a Cambodian Orphanage 🙂 *Make sure you visit the right orphanages!
  5. My visit to Cambodia’s Central Market and Watt Phnom

Cambodia: Central Market, Watt Phnom and other Snapshots :D

Cambodia Central Market

Cambodia’s Central Market reminds me of Thailand’s Chatuchak Market. It is a little more organized though. 🙂 I didn’t take many pictures here as I was largely kept busy munching tidbits like Cambodian doughnuts, quail egg balut, palm seed dessert, and other mostly sweet snacks. (Thank you, Seng, for buying all those yummy goodies for me to stuff my face with, just like I did to you in KL #paybacktime) 😀 If you’re visiting the Central Market, bring along your USD, and note that bargaining is mandatory and expected.

I’d brought just 250,000 Cambodian Riel (100USD) with me for this trip. And ended up spending about half of it only. I did not have to pay for accommodation and transport, and some of the meals were paid for by my pals. Yup. I feel super fortunate! 😀 😀 And I didn’t buy anything at the Central Market. My SG pals got some cool shades at the very first stall they encountered. It’s not something I’ll usually do – I might scout around for a better deal first. But as we had our Cambodian pals helping us with the bargaining, I guess it made sense.

This is the flower stall that became our meeting point for the group (picture taken with shaking hands while getting off the van, I guess)

Cambodia Central Market flower stall

And here’s my Thai friend gamely trying on some expensive (20USD?) wigs:

Cambodia Central Market wigs stall

One of my hobbies in the past was prawning but I have since stopped. Though it is a really thrilling sport, it is rather cruel. Still, the sight of these mega prawns (you can’t really tell their size from this picture, but trust me, they are BIG) set my heart racing again. The exhilaration of landing a big catch at the prawning pond is beyond words: feeling that tug on the line, and battling the prawn as it tries to stay in the water while I ‘wrestle’ it to the surface, maintaining a careful tension so I don’t jerk the line too much and have the hook ripping through the prawn’s mouth. XD Ahh… those were the (cruel) days.

Now I just snap pictures, ok:

Cambodia Central Market mega prawns

And then there’s this weird-looking marine creature with a hideous hide and yellow legs:

Weird seafood in Cambodia

No one seemed to know what those creatures are. But I’m DEFINITELY not having them on my dinner plate. Ever.

~ Watt Phnom ~

Watt Phnom

Watt Phnom is a Buddhist temple in Phnom Penh. And beyond that, I cannot tell you anything else about it (try Wikipedia instead) because we did not proceed up those stairs. We did take the obligatory tourists shots here though. Our Cambodian friends tell us that the view at the top is not worth the entrance fee. You have to pay 1USD per person just to visit Watt Phnom – it’s not an unreasonable sum, but if the locals say we shouldn’t, then we don’t. There’s a security guard house near the foot of the stairs. And should you loiter too long here taking your free tourist pictures, you’ll get dirty looks shot your way. 😉

I did see some people hawking food though. And you can even spot their children studying right next to them. Somehow, such a sight causes a stirring in my heart. The children in Singapore are so fortunate: they sit at desks to revise their homework, use the coolest Smiggle stationery, see better with the help of desk lamps, and most likely have air-conditioning in their study rooms and/or bedrooms. And they have the cheek to complain, when they should be seizing every opportunity to develop to their fullest potential! *sigh* And yes, even I am guilty of being ungrateful sometimes, and not counting my blessings enough. That’s why these trips are important!

Kids outside Watt Phnom

~ Random Snaps Around The City ~

Cambodia's Independence Monument

This photo was taken from the van we were on, hence the reflective bit in the middle. This is Cambodia’s Independence Monument. According to Wikipedia, it was “built in 1958 for Cambodia’s independence from France in 1953”. It looks even more stunning at night, as there are water sprays and multi-colored lights. Do keep an eye out for it. 🙂

And here’s a Cambodian tuk tuk:

Cambodia tuk tuk

It is different from Thailand’s tuk tuks. Cambodia’s tuk tuks are essentially motorbikes with an attachment at the back. I did not get the chance to ride in one of them, but I did watch enviously at tourists sitting in them. Ahaha! 😀

And one final interesting sight in Cambodia is the row of balloon sellers you can find lining major roads. It’s apparently the latest fad right now: gentlemen buy these balloons for their girlfriends. I’m not sure how I would react should my other half pop by my place with these balloons. 😉

Balloon fad in Cambodia

We DID see a guy holding onto what must be some 20 balloons when we boarded the Chom Ka Snea boat tour. We’d all thought that some wedding proposal must be happening soon. And one of my Cambodian pals was brave enough to step forward and ask the guy what was happening. As it turned out, it was a birthday celebration for his girlfriend. So we all wished her a happy birthday. 😀 (And secretly wondered about the number of balloons he’ll need to buy for a proposal – maybe hundreds and hundreds of them).

*The boat is berthed at the “floating port in Bopha Phnom Penh Titanic Restaurant, Riverside along Preah Sisowath Quay”. It costs USD5 per pax. We went after the sun had set so it became a night cruise of sorts. Do go at a more opportune time to get some pictures of the sunset, ya!

Stay tuned for my final post about our visit to the Royal Palace in Cambodia. 🙂

And click on the links below to read my Cambodia Travelogue posts:

  1. My Visit to Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum a.k.a. S-21
  2. My Stay at a Singaporean-owned Guest House in Cambodia, and a study tour at Brown Coffee & Bakery
  3. My Top 5 Recommendations for Food in Cambodia, plus a few others for the adventurous palate
  4. My experience volunteering at a Cambodian Orphanage 🙂 *Make sure you visit the right orphanages!