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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

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Classic Kameo Hotel (Rayong)

I told a local Thai friend I was going to stay at Classic Kameo in Rayong and asked her whether that was a good choice- she said "That's the best hotel in Rayong!" 

We left Bangkok on the white van from Ekkamai and trying to ask the van driver to drop us at the hotel was a nightmare. He couldn't understand what we were saying and dropped us at some road and we had no idea where we were. There were no taxis, no tuk tuks. In the end, we paid 80 Baht to ride on a motorcycle which brought us here. 

1) Location 
Located near many eateries, you won't go hungry staying here. 

One thing though, we still haven't figured out how to reach here. 

2) Rooms 
The room was spacious and the cable channels were predominantly Japanese ones. I asked my friend whether many Japanese stayed here. Apparently, there are many Japanese factories in Rayong, which explains the prevalence of Japanese food for breakfast, Japanese TV channels and brochures written in Japanese language.

 It was like a mini apartment, complete with a cooking area.

3) Restaurant 
Breakfast was provided. 

Although the breakfast was spread across two tables, the amount of food we ate was actually quite little. It was predominantly cereal, a limited variety of bread, salad (lettuce leaves didn't look fresh), some fish (they labelled it fish and chips- but there were no chips), Japanese food like miso and an egg station. Our favourite part of the breakfast- the flavoured dried anchovies.

4) Service / Wifi 
While the room was great, and the breakfast was either average or slightly lower than average, what really pulled down the score of this place was the lack of free wifi in rooms. I know free wifi in rooms is not an entitlement but honestly, many places have free wifi in rooms nowadays, I don't see why they can't have it here too. It costs 150 baht for one device to have wifi in the room.

There is free wifi in public areas but you have to overcome numerous hurdles to get that free wifi. Firstly, wifi is spotty. Secondly, you have to get a piece of paper from the reception for the username and password. Thirdly, this username and password entitles you to login to one device at each time. Fourthly, this username and password is only valid for 24 hours and you have to get another piece of paper the next day.

Besides the lack of free wifi in rooms and the trouble we have to go through to get free wifi in public areas, service wasn't fantastic either. While the staff who made the rooms were polite, those at the reception didn't leave a good impression.

The receptionists either looked bored or didn't take any initiative. I asked one of the receptionists why my device said that it couldn't log in. He said, "Oh that's because the paper is only valid for 24 hours." And the conversation dropped dead there. Logically, the next step would have been for him to take the initiative to ask if I want another piece of paper to get wifi?

5) Conclusion
While the room was spacious and clean, the service, breakfast and wifi leaves much to be desired.

Classic Kameo Hotel & Serviced Apartments 
11 Soi 6 Ratbumrung Road
Tambon Nernpra
Ampur, Rayong, Thailand 

After You (Bangkok)

Everyone who goes to Bangkok tells me that I have to try After You and their Shibuya  Honey Toast. 

We decided to drop by their branch at Siam Paragon. After getting lost in a maze of food stalls, we finally found the shop (located next to the supermarket). 

The cafe had a ready stream of customers coming in but luckily, we didn't have to wait for a table.

When standing at the counter, my friend told the waiter, "One Shibuya Honey Toast please." I said, "Huh one only ah, okay." Thank goodness my friend had more common sense than I did or we will be walking out of the cafe twice our sizes.

The highly raved Shibuya Honey Toast (165 Baht) came with a block of bread neatly cut into 9 pieces. The exterior crust was crispy and in between that fluffy interior, was a layer of melted butter spread on the bread. Saltiness of the butter coupled with the sweetness of the ice cream. On first bite, it was like eating Crunchie (the chocolate bar with a honeycomb centre). Then as it went on, I was thankful that we ordered one instead of two shibuya toasts.

This is a dessert best consumed in small quantities before the gelatness starts to kick in.

After You
Siam Paragon Ground Floor
991 Rama 1 Road
Khet Pathumwan
Bangkok, Thailand 

Sukhumvit Chic, Keyne Residence (Bangkok)

This is the first time I am staying in an accommodation on airbnb and it was a very pleasant experience. 

1. Location 
The location is not in the shopping district. However, this place is just 1 or 2 minutes away from the Thong Lo BTS station. It takes around 15-20 minutes to reach the shopping area (e.g. Siam). It is also a short walk to convenience stores if you want to stock up on food / water. 

Just a couple of minutes down the road, at soi 38, there is a famous food street where we tried crab wanton noodles and mango sticky rice. 

2. Interior 
This place is basically a condominium, with good security. The doors to the units are electronically locked. 

3. Room
The apartment had everything we needed- many power sockets, comfortable bed, wardrobe with hangers, sitting area etc.

Tastefully decorated.

The TV has cable channels, so if you have nothing to do (how could it be), it will be nice to just spend your time on the couch channel surfing.

Towels, packets of shampoo and soap bars are also provided.

4. How to get here
You may wish to get here by taxi or if you have the time to spare and the strength to carry your luggage around, taking the train is also an option. From the airport, take the train to Phaya Thai, buy another ticket and continue to Thong Lo. This will take more than an hour.

5. Amenities 
There is a swimming pool and gym, if you wish to work off those fats from eating too much.

5. Conclusion 
While this place does not offer services that hotels provide, this is a really good option if you want somewhere safe, clean and convenient. The price is also very reasonable (around Sin$70 per night).

Keyne Residence
Sukhumvit Road between soi 36 and 34
Bangkok, Thailand 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Genesis Vegan Restaurant

We had tried a few vegetarian / vegan restaurants and none had disappointed so far. However, this place which is apparently very popular turned out to be rather disappointing. 

The lady boss (I presume) kept pushing for us to try the Turkey Special ($15.90). She said that it was a December special and strongly recommended it. Although nearly twice the price of other mains, I agreed since it came with a corn chowder soup as well.

Turned out that the Turkey Special tasted really awkward. The supposed vegan turkey comprised of a thick beancurd skin with ingredients like millet with a slightly nutty taste. Dry and unappetising. There was a small portion of quinoa and was probably sufficient to feed my 7-year-old self. Only the cranberry sauce tasted decent.

Not value for money.

Genesis Vegan Restaurant 
1 Lorong Telok
Tel No: 6438 7118 

Boomarang Bistro & Bar (Circular Road)

We had an unsatisfying lunch along Circular Road on a Sunday afternoon where 3/4 of the shops were closed. 

Since the meal wasn't great, we decided to go for some desserts to cure the lunch-wasn't-great syndrome 

Not feeling very confident on how the desserts here were (since we have never tried it), we decided to go ahead anyway since we already had a not-so-good lunch. 

We popped in and decided to have the Housemade Dessert ($8). The staff told us that it was a cappuccino slice served with vanilla ice cream. Sure, cappuccino and ice cream, guess it can't be that bad! We also requested to change the vanilla ice cream to chocolate ice cream instead. 

Turned out, eating the Cappuccino Slice was like skipping on rainbows and breathing in sunlight. Alternating between layers of cappuccino ice cream, chocolate and cake, this was a much better version of Swensen's ice cream cake. Couple that brain freeze with more Haagen Daaz chocolate ice cream, this ice cream combination was sinful and decadent. 

Boomarang Bistro & Bar 
52 Circular Road
Singapore 049407

Saturday, November 15, 2014


I haven't gone to any buffets that made me go, "WOW" for a really long time. And a visit to Carousel didn't change that.

We went for the buffet lunch on Saturday ($55++) which was from 12 pm to 2 pm. 

The food stations were spread out and this forces you to walk in between all that eating.

We started off with appetisers and salads.

There were some Assorted Grilled Vegetables which is an interesting (and relatively healthy) addition to the buffet spread.

The Japanese food selection had fresh sashimi. 

The Chilled Seafood section had prawns, crayfish, mussels, oysters etc. However, both my friend and I noted that the crayfish had a rather mushy texture to it and thought that it didn't taste fresh. The rest of the seafood were fine.

 Get to choose your bread to accompany your soup- I chose the Zuppa Di Vongole (Clam Soup) which tasted a little foreign to me. It didn't taste like the typical clam chowder that we are used to.

The selection of Indian food was pretty good- however, the naan was too oily and tasted more like roti prata instead.

We didn't waste our stomach space eating the Chinese food because nothing stood out in particular.

Three dessert fondues- that's a rare sight! However, as I am not a fan of fondue, I didn't try any of these. I tried the ice cream next to it instead- you really can't go wrong with ice cream!

After ice cream, I headed straight to the dessert section which turned out to be a real disappointment. Despite the variety of desserts, there was a sore lack of chocolate desserts. Of course, not everybody enjoys chocolate, but you definitely need some of those on the dessert table! The desserts were also not the most tastefully plated and were not replenished. Less of those desserts in shot glasses and real desserts please!

The yoghurt station is also one novel station that is seldom seen at other buffet places.

There was also a cheese section which really appealed to my cheese-loving friend.

The good thing about this place is that it is Halal certified. Their service is also exceptional- they clear your plates once you leave the seat. The waiters and waitresses are also very friendly. When we were there, they were doing some sort of jingle for those having their birthdays. A very nice gesture. Besides that, while there is quantity in the buffet here, quality is somewhat lacking.

Royal Plaza on Scotts
25 Scotts Road
Lobby Level 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Library @ Orchard

One of my earliest childhood memories was going down the Old National Library Building at Stamford Road. Those were the days you had to queue up and the librarian would stamp the due dates on a sheet of paper glued in the book. The thing I remembered most about the library was the distinct red bricks. Then, it got torn down. 

As I grew up, I slowly realised that with all that school work, a 3 weeks due date wasn't going to be practical. I bought books when they were on discount at Borders and it was a true joy to be flipping through those books and deciding the ones worth spending on. Then, Borders closed down.

Nowadays,  I do my shopping for books online on bookdepository.com or fishpond.com. When Kinokuniya holds their sales, I would go down and buy a few books as well. 

Going to Library @ Orchard didn't give me the nostalgic feel of visiting the library in my younger days. Instead, all I could think of was, things have really changed! Funky design concepts, endless racks of new magazines, it's really many notches up from the good old libraries. 

With the emphasis on personal space nowadays, there are nooks and crannies for people to enjoy the peace of being in a library.

A huge premium is placed on design here. The National Library worked with students and lecturers from the Singapore Polytechnic Design-Thinking Team to develop the spaces and features for the library. The shelves, bamboo floors and chairs were also from a home-grown furniture shop.

Two floors worth of books- I didn't really spend time looking at the catalogue because the design fascinated me way more.

I really like this space- it seems like it would be a good cosy venue for some performance of sorts.

They made use of the space below the stairs to store these disks. Overheard a wife telling her husband, "Please ah, you don't think all these very nice ah. All these collect a lot of dust ah. I am not going to clean all these shelves for you." Singaporeans' practicality at its best.

The magazine collection was also displayed in a reader-friendly fashion- you get to look at all the past issues by opening the cupboards and seeing what was available. Pity though, all the magazines I wanted to read about food and travel were mostly empty!

This place is a more than a library. This place is a design success and a chic place for people to hang out.

With this, libraries are no longer just for the nerds. 

Arteastiq Boutique Tea House

A day in a life of a tai tai- I will never get to know.

The next best substitute would be going for high tea, sip on some high grade tea and nibble on some dainty food.

Surprisingly, on a weekend afternoon, it wasn't crowded. The place had lots of natural light flooding in and made this place feel cheery.

We got the High Tea Set ($48++).

On the top tier, there are the Crispy Wraps (probiotic prata) and Apple Cake. We opted for chicken filling in the crispy wraps- interesting concept to use prata as the "wrap". The chicken was a tad try. The apple cake was moist and had hints of cinnamon- ultimate comfort food!

On the second tier, there is Atlantic Smoked Salmon, Crab Salad in Volvants and Smoked Turkey Ham. The turkey ham and smoked salmon were pretty run-of-the-mill. We pretty much liked the Crab Salad though.

I choose a Lychee Tea. The lychee taste wasn't strong although the cold tea was a good afternoon thirst quencher.

While it has good ambience, this place really isn't worth the money. If you consider the ingredients used, they are pretty much low-cost items.

Arteastiq Boutique Tea House
Mandarin Gallery
333A Orchard Road
Tel No: 6235 8370 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Loving Hut

Walking down the streets of Joo Chiat is always an interesting affair- you get to see all the old establishments, see the new cafes, and see the more seedy side of Joo Chiat. We passed by Loving Hut on one of our walking expeditions and decided to try the food.

All the dishes here are vegan.

A casual laid-back vibe in the restaurant. There are interesting posters on the wall. If you have large gatherings, you may want to consider this place as well!

As starters, I got the Onion Rings ($6.90).  The batter was a little too thick but at least, it was hot and crispy.

I can't resist any form of portabello mushrooms, so I got the Papa's Portobello Burger ($14.90). And their description of this dish hit the nail on the head, "But maybe you just can't turn your back on the classics. That's ok. We understand change can be hard." Exactly.

A grilled, juicy portabello with an onion ring on it, sandwiched between two buns. With portabello burgers, it's really difficult to say that it's outstanding because they are almost always executed well. This was accompanied by salad with balsamic vinegar reduction and some seasoned fries.

As desserts, we got the Banana Boat ($8.90).  Typically, you get to choose 3 flavours but we decided to just get 3 scoops of chocolate ice cream. What I really don't get, is how you make ice cream with brown rice.

That said, the ice cream was obviously lacking the richness of milk (who am I to kid that it tastes like good, wholesome, fat ice cream)? Nonetheless, it was really a good substitute for those seeking a vegan option. Dark chocolatey taste was still present.

I would definitely go back to this place because it is reasonably priced and the food is good.

Service was friendly although it takes some time for the food to be served as it can get pretty busy during weekend lunchtime.

Loving Hut
229 Joo Chiat Road #01-01
Tel No: 6348 6318 

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Poison Ivy Bistro

After walking around the farm in Bollywood Veggies, it is only right that you visit Poison Ivy Bistro. The menu (which changes on weekends) is on a chalkboard.

We had the Vegetarian Platter ($15) which was sufficient for 2 people. We initially wanted to order more food but the waiter advised against doing so because he said it might be too much. Good effort for minimising food wastage!

The Moringa Tempura was dangerously addictive. You just keep reaching in for one more because it was not oily and was very crispy. Plus there was this disillusion that it's healthier than other forms of chips.

There was also Papaya Salad, Mixed Vegetables, Samosa, Tofu, Spring Rolls etc in the Vegetarian Platter. They tasted pretty average. After all, these dishes are very common and it would take some effort to do these badly.

We also ordered the famous Kueh Kosui ($2.50). It was smooth, not overly sticky and had a chewy bite to it. This was accompanied by fresh grated coconut.

When we were there, they also had The Chairman's Stall where the owner of this place would be cooking something. On the day we were there, he was grilling some satay. 

If you are looking for a place where food can be served quickly, this isn't the place to be. We had to wait around 25 minutes for our kueh kosui- reason being, "we take around 2 minutes to prepare each dessert. Since there are 10 other dessert orders, just multiply." One waiter was also not sure what was on the menu- he had to check with someone else, who would go to the chalkboard to check.

Besides that, this place serves affordable, reasonably-priced and healthy food. Definitely worth a try if you are in the area.

Poison Ivy Bistro
100 Neo Tiew Road
Tel No: 6 898 5001