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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