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Lake Toya, Japan

Spot of Tranquility.

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Little India, Singapore

Spices, gold and splashes of colour!

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Singapore Flyer, Gardens by the Bay

Garden City, City in a Garden.

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Bryce Canyon, USA

Thor's Hammer

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Chocolate Test, Singapore

"All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt." -Charles M Schulz

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Lexis Hibiscus (Port Dickson)

The hibiscus is the national flower of Malaysia. Not only is this hotel called Lexis Hibiscus, it is also arranged in the shape of a hibiscus. 

A coach was arranged for us from Singapore to Lexis Hibiscus. It took around 6 hours, including a 45 minute lunch break. 

1) Room

We got an Executive Pool Villa, located at the hibiscus leaf area. To get from the hotel to the rooms at the hibiscus (i.e. at the sea), you can queue up for a buggy. However, as we stayed rather close to the main block, it was more convenient for us to walk directly to the main block. 

There was free wifi, 2 complimentary bottles of water and some snacks. What made me roll my eyes was when I went to the reception to ask for an extra bottle of water because there were 3 of us in the room, the receptionist responded, "You may buy from the lobby shop." I said, "You mean I can't get free bottles of water?" And he said yes. 

There were plenty of pillows, which was great. However, the pillows all felt a little too soft. Many of the cushions also had pen marks on them. Is it because they are worried the guests would bring these cushions home? 

If you want a bigger room, you may wish to consider getting those in the main block instead. 

2) Toilet 

I loved the toilet. It was spacious, had strong water pressure, and you had the choice of using the shower head or the rain shower. Using the shower was also idiot proof- you have no idea how many complicated shower devices I have seen. Plus the temperature is consistent, unlike some places where the temperature suddenly changes.

There were also free toiletries provided. They smelt really sweet, one of the ingredients referred to something about hibiscus.

There is a partition between the shower area, the toilet area and the basin. There is a glass door which leads to this area. There are no locks to the glass door, the shower and toilet area. So you better be comfortable with who you are staying with.

There is a small part of the floor where you can look through and see the sea below. On their webpage, it says that this glass panel is for you to view the marine life. Marine life? Dirty water more like it.

If you step out, there is a sauna area and a dipping pool. If you are looking for privacy, do not stay at the hibiscus leaf area, choose somewhere further. Anybody from the main block or on the buggies can see you enjoying in the dipping pool.

3) Breakfast

Limited variety of food. For 2 days, I had nasi lemak because that tasted the best. I have my doubts about their food handling methods. One night, we saw a trolley of ham, wrapped in plastic, left outside in the warm weather.

Their mini muffins are Horrible, yes with a capital H. I haven't eaten such bad muffins before that I ate a quarter of it. My friend didn't believe me and took a bite- and the rest is history.

For food options, there is a cafe, a Japanese restaurant and Hibiscus Walk, a stretch of stalls selling hawker food along the beach. While I didn't try the food at Hibiscus Walk, the smell of the char kway teow was really tempting.

4) Overall

The houseflies. So many houseflies. Houseflies were a common sight throughout the resort. I was waiting in the lobby for my bus and the flies just kept coming. That kept me busy for a while until my bus came.

Overall, the room is pretty good but everything else can be improved.

Lexis Hibiscus (Port Dickson)
12th Mile Jalan Pantai
Pasir Panjang 71250

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Xenonas Iresioni (Arachova)

We wanted to go to Meteora from Athens, but as it was a four hour drive, we thought we would just stay somewhere midway, where we could also visit Delphi. We decided on Xenonas Iresioni

1) Location 

Finding the parking lot was not easy, even with the instructions that were given. We lost our way and driving a manual car down and up the slopes was a nightmare (don't trust google maps either). 

It is a 10 minute walk to the food places and a 15 minute drive to Delphi. 

2) Rooms 

We got the Double Room (62 Euros). Not sure if it was the yellow lights or the yellow walls but these made the room feel a little dated even though it was really not.

The bed was comfortable and they even had these little sachets placed below the pillows, apparently to help you relax. The rooms are clean.

3) Breakfast 

The breakfast area was so charming, it could be christmas all year long! I loved the decor of the dining area- so homely and cosy.

Pastries, bread, cereal, and juices- there is certainly enough food to keep you full!

4) Service 

The guy at the reception desk was very chill and friendly.

This hotel is value for money. 

Dellas Boutique Hotel (Meteora)

1) Location 

We wanted to visit the Meteora, after hearing from friends how it was an absolute must-do (yes, it is!). 

The Dellas Boutique Hotel is located at Kastraki village, next to Kalambaka town. It is no more than a 10 minute drive to the Meteora and is very close to food options. 

2) Room

The room is clean and spacious. The decor here may feel a little gaudy, due to the red furniture and the general colour scheme, but generally, the place is comfortable with fast wifi connection.

It makes perfect sense to build doors that can shut (unlike some hotels) so that the water does not splash out.

3) Breakfast

What a spread for breakfast! Lots of fruits, jams, cakes, cookies, eggs, ham- you will be spoilt for choice.

4) Service 

The service here is extraordinary and it is what makes the stay here very pleasant. Not only are the service staff very familiar with Meteora (that would be expected), they were very friendly, very ready to help and very knowledgeable. I like how they are even happy to lend reference books to the guests to learn more about this place.

When we told one of them that the restaurant she recommended was unfortunately closed for lunch, she immediately picked up the phone to give the restaurant a call (even though we told her it was fine), just so that she could explain why.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Good Heart (Santorini)

The folks at Villa Maria recommended The Good Heart for a meal and it did not disappoint. 

We were first given some complimentary bread with different kinds of spreads and different wines to try.

We ordered Mushrooms Stuffed with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Peppers and Cheese (7 Euros). Juicy portabello mushrooms coupled with the sour and appetising sun-dried tomatoes was a promising start to our meal.

The Spaghetti With Seafood (14 Euros) came in a large portion, with generous and fresh seafood. We had a tough time trying to finish this plate but hey, who's complaining when the food is so delicious! The spaghetti was coated with fresh tomato sauce with a seafood taste to it, with a hint of garlic. The seafood was plump, fresh and succulent.

We also got the Barbuda (16 Euros). This is the first time I tried such a fish. Deep fried with a thin batter, the lightly seasoned fish was fresh and delightful.

To round off the meal, they gave us complimentary ice cream in unusual flavours- one was grape and the other banana.

Warm and friendly service.

After we left the restaurant, we went next door to have a look at the products that they were selling. The lady inside, pointed at herself and said "Mama Anna". She was extremely warm and friendly and kept stuffing samples at us.

When we asked what was grown in their farm, she said tomatoes, eggplants, rabbits etc. While we bought some figs and sundried tomatoes, we later realised that the price of the loukoumis were significantly higher than those elsewhere. While you may want to buy some of the products that are produced in their farm, you may wish to buy the more common products at supermarkets.

The Good Heart 
Akrotiri, Santorini
(between Kambia and Mesa Pegadia)
Tel: +30 22860 82247 

Monday, July 18, 2016

Mani Mani (Athens)

We loved this restaurant so much that we had lunch and dinner there on one day and wanted to go back a third time on the way to the airport but decided not to due to the busy roads in Athens. 

Sleek and clean interiors. From Monday to Friday, until 6 p.m., there is an option for you to pay half price for half the portion, a wonderful option for customers to try a bit of everything.

I got the Orzo with four kinds of different mushrooms (half portion) (6 Euros). The broth was very clean tasting, and the mushroom flavour really shone through. Couple that with the four different juicy mushrooms and the subtle truffle oil, I was really tempted to order a second portion.

The Tsouhtes (11 Euros) did not come in half portions. The pasta was accompanied with roasted sour mizithra cheese, mushrooms, siglino (smoked pork) and a fried egg. They are very generous with their ingredients and the ingredients came together really well.

I seldom say that any food item is a MUST ORDER because well, there are so many choices on the menu, what makes something a must order?

But no, this Crispy Orange Pie (5.50 Euros) is a MUST ORDER. After we took two bites of these, all we could say was "Oh my gosh, this is good, this is too good."

Crispy orange pie, three simple words. Yet, it evokes such feelings when eating it. The first few bites, you taste the sweet and sour flavours of the orange cake. The next few bites, you realise how different the texture this cake is from other cakes- it is not a cakey texture, nor a sponge cake. It has little pockets in the cake to retain all that orange goodness. The cake is then sealed with a lightly torched crispy layer. Topped off with a yoghurt ice cream and crunchy biscuit base. A seemingly simple dessert but so much depth.

Because lunch was so good, we immediately made reservations for dinner that night. The food was still good although we preferred the items that we ordered for lunch.

I ordered a Fish Fillet (15.50 Euros). Aesthetically pleasing to the eye, the pan fried fish fillet went well with the bean puree in orange sauce.

Dessert was a Walnut Pie (5 Euros). It was moist but a little too sweet. Order the orange cake instead.

Service was warm and friendly.

Mani Mani 
10 Falirou Str
Acropolis, Athens
Tel No: +30 210 9218180 

Villa Maria Rooms & Apartments (Santorini)

When deciding where to stay in Santorini, the places were either too expensive, or were not attractive. I felt like I hit jackpot when I came across Villa Maria

1) Location 

Villa Maria is located at Akrotiri, which is around a 10-15 minute drive to Fira. With a car, this means that you can be close to all the action in Fira and Oia (Santorini is pretty small) while enjoying the peacefulness of this location. 

There are good food options all less than a 10 minute drive away, for example, at The Good Heart. The Red Beach is also located around a 5 minute drive away. 

The views are amazing as well. I wake up, open the door and see the Aegean Sea.

2) Room

Santorini is super sandy such that even though the housekeeping cleans up the room, the sand just keeps coming in. Not that it's much of a big deal though. I love the simple white and blue of this room.

The toilet was fine as well, just that the bathing area was a little dark.

3) Amenities

Free wifi. 

For those who love this place so much that they don't even want to step out of the villa, there is a swimming pool where you can take a dip instead of squeezing with the crowds. 

4) Breakfast 

I look forward to their breakfast spread every morning. Even though it is 95% the same food every morning, their beautiful dining area just makes me feel like I am going to have a great day ahead.

Delicious traditional greek pastries, cereal, ham, cheese, fruits, eggs, yoghurt and beverages.

5) Service 

Most importantly, their service is top notch. After an exhausting ferry ride from Athens (I do not recommend taking the ferry), we arrived at the port to realise that the car we rented did not arrive. It was near 11 p.m. by the time we reached Villa Maria. It was only then that we realised that we had forgot to inform them of our arrival time, and yet they were really nice about it and waited for us to arrive. 

Knowing it was our honeymoon, they also got us two bottles of dessert wine, which was a very kind gesture. 

All of them at Villa Maria were always ready with a smile and prepared to assist, with some really good recommendations. 

For 110 Euros a night, we had a really good and enjoyable time at Villa Maria. 

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Gin Khao (One Raffles Place)

This is yet another Thai food place you can go on the weekends without having to jostle with the crowds. It is nearly always crowded on weekdays but empty on weekends (because it's located at CBD). 

As there were only two of us and the portions here are big, we ordered a Tom Yum Talay ($13.80) to share. It is the kind of tom yum I like- sufficiently sour and spicy.  Some places have such muted Tom Yum it sorely lacks the oomph factor. The spiciness in this bowl will make you break out into a sweat or two. They were very generous with the seafood.

I have come here on a number of occasions and never managed to finish my food because the portion is maybe too much for one person. We shared the Pineapple Fried Rice ($13.80). We smelt the fragrance of it even before seeing the dish served to us. Again, very generous with the seafood and the fragrance hits us each time we deliver the food into our mouths.

Gin Khao
One Raffles Place
1 Raffles Place #04-29
Tel No: 6532 2387 

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Franz Josef Holiday House (New Zealand)

It would be remiss of me if I didn't continue to blog about New Zealand, a place where the scenery is simply breathtaking. 

The Franz Josef Holiday House (booked on Airbnb) was one of my favourite places to stay at during the New Zealand trip.

After our walk at the Franz Josef Glacier (which was a little underwhelming during summer), we drove to this place which could accommodate 5 of us.  

It looked pretty ordinary on the outside but never judge a book from its cover, or for this matter, a house from its exterior. 

A comfortable living room, where the owner had thoughtfully provided board games and dvds.

The kitchen was fully equipped. Toaster, oven, fridge etc. You will see a folder which the host has kindly provided on what you could do in the area.

The rooms were comfortable and extremely pleasing to the eye. Though the rooms were a tad small, they exuded a cottage feel and it was nice to be surrounded by nature.

As with some of the places we stayed at in New Zealand, the toilet was separate from the bath area.

Free and strong Wifi was available here. You would be surprised how many places in New Zealand charged for Wifi. It was also a very short drive to the town centre, where we had an enjoyable meal at Snake Bite