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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

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Wanaka Lavender Farm (New Zealand)

I always had a soft spot for lavender. Not lavender oil or lavender essence, just lavender in its original state. It never fails to bring a sense of peace and calm and I enjoy looking at beautiful lavender fields.

The last time I visited a lavender field was in Furano, Hokkaido. This time, it is in Wanaka, New Zealand. Next stop will hopefully be Provence, France. 

While we were walking around the lavender fields, my mum asked, "Why is the song, Lavender's blue, dilly, dilly, lavender's green? But lavender is purple what." Beats me.

I could spend an entire morning here. For an entrance fee of NZ$2, you get to roam this 10 acres lavender field. When we went, most of the lavender had been harvested. But you still get to see the fruit trees, alpacas and sheep.

To keep the kids (and adults) entertained, there are also see-saws, swings, and other games. This brought me back to my childhood days where my favourite activity was sitting on swings!

Different flowers were also blooming across the fields.

Of course, a lavender farm is bound to peddle its products. Over here, there is a wide variety of products for you to choose from- including lavender oils, lavender lotion, dessert trays etc.

There was also a little cafe where we enjoyed a cup of lavender chocolate ice cream. I fell in love with the decor - so natural, so peaceful and so charming.

This farm was initially not on our radar- who goes to Wanaka to see a lavender farm? However, if you have time to spare and would like to see some lavender (check whether they are opened on their website, their shops are closed on certain months), give this place a go where you get to relax and unwind.

Wanaka Lavender Farm 
36 Morris Road
Wanaka 9382
New Zealand 

Hotel Michael

Described as an "art lover's dream come true", we went to Hotel Michael a couple of months back for a staycation. 

1) Room 

When checking in, we specifically told the lady at the reception that we wanted a non-smoking room. The moment we exited the lift, we could smell smoke and the smell intensified as we walked into the room. It was not a light whiff of smoke but as though someone had spent a couple of hours smoking in the room. We checked with one of the housekeeping team who happened to be around whether this was a non-smoking floor. 

She answered that although it was a non-smoking floor, some hotel guests still smoke in the room anyway. This completely marred our impression of the hotel.

The lady from the housekeeping team took the initiative to put an ioniser in the room and to spray air freshener. It did help slightly, but was not a permanent solution and we had to bear with the smell for the duration of our stay. 

You would see different art works in the room- this was novel but not something that I will pay a premium for.

There is no free wifi as well- they probably want you to venture out and spend money, whether in the casinos or Universal Studio.

2) Toilet

Interesting mosaic tiles lined the walls of the toilet. 

 3) Amenities

There is a gym and swimming pool in the hotel.

I advise that you give the swimming pool in the hotel a miss and go to the one at Hard Rock instead. You can use the swimming pool at Hard Rock even though you are staying at Hotel Michael.

Both adults and kids will be able to find something suitable. There is a lap pool, jacuzzi and even shallow pools filled with white sand for kids to play in.

4) Location 

We had wanted to go to Sentosa Cove and was informed that there was a bus stop outside where shuttle buses would stop. It was around a 5 minute walk to the shuttle bus stop. However, after 40 minutes of waiting, we gave up and took a cab instead.

Otherwise, it's pretty near the other Sentosa attractions.

Hotel Michael
8 Sentosa Gateway

Snake Bite Brewery (New Zealand)

Due to a fire a couple of months ago, the original 88 Asian Fusion was closed for a while. They have now reopened as Snake Bite.

Snake Bite offers both Western and Asian fare on their menu so there's no need to worry that someone in the party does not eat a particular type of cuisine.

It was a cold day and I craved for some warm noodles. I ordered the Duck Noodle Soup ($18). The duck was tender and the portion was generous. The soup was sweet and you don't need to worry about legitimacy- the food here tastes as Asian as it gets. I only wished that it was served with the white noodles for pho.

Another in the party declared the Rendang as one of the best food in New Zealand he had eaten during the trip.

If you are looking for Asian food in the area, look no further!

Snake Bite Brewery
28 Main Road
Franz Josef Glacier
New Zealand 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Fergburger (New Zealand)

I would have kicked myself in the foot if I went to Queenstown and did not get myself a burger from Fergburger. It's like stepping into Singapore and not getting yourself a plate of nasi lemak or chicken rice- it's a culinary crime.

No matter what time of the day it is, the queues outside are long and at dinner time, it took us a good 45 minutes before we managed to take away our food.

There are limited seats and I wouldn't count on waiting for a seat. 

May I proclaim that these are the best onion rings I have ever eaten. The Homemade Onion Rings with Aioli Sauce ($5.50) were juicy and sweet.  A thin deep fried batter surrounds the onion rings, giving maximum crunch for these absolutely delicious onion rings.

Not one for beef, I order The Codfather ($14.90). The size of the burgers at Fergburger are humongous- they are at least 2.5 times the size of a Macdonald's burger. They don't stinge on the ingredients and you can be assured that it will be a satisfying meal. I enjoyed the fish burger thoroughly as the fish was deep fried but not greasy. That, together with a pillowy bun, made a perfect value-for-money dinner.

Absolutely worth the trip here, and don't forget to get yourself some pastries and gelato next door!

42 Shotover Street
New Zealand 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Stuttgart Blackforest Boutique S-Cafe

This is one of my favourite places that I dined at this year. 

Stuttgart is in Southwest Germany and is known for its automative industry. Both Porsche and Mercedes-Benz have their headquarters in Stuttgart. Blackforest is a large forested mountain range in Southwest Germany. 

I love the decor here- it's almost being teleported to another country!

As we ordered the platter, we were served with an enormous pile of mashed potato and sauerkraut. Sauerkraut is an acquired taste- I am fine with it in small doses but not too much please.

As part of the set, pieces of toasted garlic bread were served.

Here is the platter which is good for 8 people to share. If you can't decide what to get, I recommend that you get this- you get to try a bit of everything without having to be overwhelmed by too much of one thing.

The platter consisted of one Pork Knuckle, one Gockele Chicken, Speciality Sausages, and ham. The Pork Knuckle was, if I may describe it as such, ridiculously crispy and juicy. The Gockele Chicken was a spring chicken seasoned and roasted with herb butter. It didn't leave a strong impression on me. The sausages were firm and flavourful. Lastly, the thick slab was ham was chewy. It's a meat overdose but it's worth it!

There was no better way to round off the meal with the best blackforest cake I have eaten in Singapore. If you do not order a blackforest cake when you are here, you have wasted your trip. The Signature Black Forest Cake ($12) while a tad expensive was totally worth it- the robustness of the kirsch soaking the abundant cherries, together with the chocolately goodness, was simply divine.

I met a German friend recently, who was extremely kind and brought items from a Christmas Market in Germany to Singapore. A trip to Germany is certainly in order!

Stuttgart Blackforest Boutique S-Cafe 
9 Bras Basah Road
Rendezvous Hotel
Tel No: 6336 8675 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

5 Reasons Why I Love Uniqlo

If someone asked me, what would you ideal partner be?

I would answer, "the equivalent of a Uniqlo- simple, fuss-free and comfortable". 

I think that's the highest level of praise anyone can render to a brand and people who know me know how much I love Uniqlo. 

I once told a friend that my wardrobe was getting overtaken by Uniqlo. He looked at me with a skeptical look, "Seriously? But Uniqlo is just all about basics."

Yes, Uniqlo sells basics, but they are not just about basics. 

Here are 5 reasons why I love Uniqlo.

1) Good quality 

I have at least 30 pieces of Uniqlo in my wardrobe- basic tees, dresses, blouse, skirt, pants, jackets, shorts, socks, sweaters, tank tops etc. I have heard of someone who bought Uniqlo's cardigans in all their available colours. 

As you reach a certain age, you realise that comfort matters more than anything else.

Some of the dresses I bought have elastic and even after many washes, it does not become loose, unlike other dresses that I have bought before. 

The material of their clothes is also soft on the skin and even on a hot day, the material is breathable. 

The heat is more bearable when you are wearing Uniqlo.

The cold is also more bearable when you are wearing Uniqlo. 

2) Variety 

My first purchase from Uniqlo was their basic tee and I never looked back since. When I can't be bothered to think of what to wear to go out I just grab one of the basic tees in my wardrobe- they sure beat one of our old school t-shirts. Equally comfortable but slightly more presentable. 

Photo Credit: Uniqlo

When I want to wear a dress, I just throw on one of the dresses with stretchy material- so fuss free, and simple. 
Photo Credit: Uniqlo
I have also started to invade my boyfriend's cupboard with Uniqlo basic tees, chino shorts, and slim fit shirts. And he is becoming a Uniqlo convert too. (No, that's not a picture of my boyfriend below.)

Photo Credit: Uniqlo

Really, there's no substitute for good quality and comfort. 

3) Inexpensive 

One reason why I keep coming back to Uniqlo again and again, is because their clothes are relatively inexpensive. How often is it can you get a decent basic tee below $10, a skirt or a dress below $20? Wait for their sales and they will save you a tidy sum as well. 

I must have spent a small fortune at Uniqlo, but it doesn't matter because it is truly value for money. 

4) Caters to everyone

I am not the only fan of Uniqlo. Even my 2 year old niece asks if she can wear that set of clothes that she bought from Uniqlo. My mum also shops for her blouses and shorts from Uniqlo, and every weekend like me, she walks around parading her purchases from Uniqlo. 
Photo Credit: Uniqlo
5) Heattech 

I think this needs no introduction. Everybody who has ever gone to a cold country has sworn by Uniqlo's heattech. 

How it apparently works is that it creates heat using the moisture from your body. The air pockets between the fibres then retain both body warm and warmth generated by heattech's moisture absorption. 


This wasn't even written to enter into some Uniqlo competition. 

But I never fail to be amazed how Uniqlo's clothes are comfortable, inexpensive and fitting. 

Thank you Uniqlo, for making it possible to be everything at the same time. 

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Sabio By the Sea

As we were having a staycation at Sentosa, we decided to hop over to Quayside Isle to celebrate a birthday. Sabio By The Sea seemed like the perfect choice after a relaxing swim. 

We reached at around 8 p.m. on a Friday evening and surprisingly, there was plenty of space. I guess Sentosa Cove isn't the most accessible of locations! We had to get a cab even though we were in Sentosa because the shuttle bus that was supposed to reach Sentosa Cove never came, even after 40 minutes. 

As appetisers, we got some Ham Croquettes ($14). These little treasures with beautiful golden crusts were served piping hot and contained loads of creamy cheese and ham. I thought it was a little too salty.

We also got the El Cerdo (Herbs Marinated Pig Shoulder served with Sautéed Potatoes) ($22). This was probably good for 3-4 to share and the arugula neutralised the otherwise salty dish. The pig shoulder was also rather tough and it got a little difficult to finish the dish.

We shared a Paella de Pescado ($26) which was good for 2 people to share. It took around 30-40 minutes cooking time. Whenever I have Spanish food, I always order paella as it is the safest choice. Consisting of seafood like squid, sea bass, mussels, clams and shrimps, this is for the seafood lover. The rice was just right and not too mushy.

We ended the meal with some Churros ($12). My friend thought that this was the best dish of the night (the paella being the second best). The churros were big in portion, crispy yet not oily, and lightly dipped in cinnamon sugar.

Perfect ambience and great service. The waitress kept coming to refill our cups and had a very good attitude. The food here was average though.

Sabio By The Sea
31 Ocean Way
Tel No: 6690 7568

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Brotzeit (Katong)

Everytime we walked past Brotzeit, we would get a whiff of something fragrant- the smell of roasted meat. 

We couldn't resist it further and went in for some German food.

It is not possible for us to enter a restaurant serving German food, without trying their pork knuckle. We ordered the Schweinshaxn (Oven Roasted Pork Knuckle) ($36). We didn't know the portion size when ordering - this is definitely good enough for 2 / 3 to share. You thought you knew the best char siew siew yok stall- the one that served the crispy skin. Wait till you try this dish. Listen to the crisp sound of the skin fall apart as your teeth sinks into skin. The skin was the star of the show. Accompanied with potatoes and sauerkraut, your carbohydrate and fibre requirements are satisfied as well.

I also ordered a Nurnberger (Grilled Pork Sausages) ($18). The sausages were average and didn't leave a deep impression on me. It became a bit of a chore trying to finish all 5 sausages.

A nice place to chill- remember to get the pork knuckle!

126 East Coast Road
Tel No: 6348 7050 

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Cafe Melba

Whenever I pass by Cafe Melba, the area outside is always filled with children bouncing on bouncy castles. However, due to the haze, everybody decided that it was better to move in and enjoy the air-conditioning instead. 

No doubt, this place is very child-friendly. Grass for children to run, bouncy castles, colouring pencils and drawing material for children to occupy themselves while their parents enjoy a few moments of peace. Couple that with a kids menu. 

I ordered a Half and Half - Forest Mushrooms and Roasted Duck. The first time I had roasted duck pizza was at Timbre and I fell in love with this combination ever since. They were generous with the ingredients. The combination of shiitake, swiss brown, oyster mushrooms and yes, truffle oil, lent a earthy taste to this pizza with a whiff of the truffle oil with every bite. The roasted duck pizza was decent as well.

The rest in the group ordered different breakfast items found these rather ordinary. Service here was nothing to shout about, with one of them being particularly rude.

Cafe Melba 
90 Goodman Road
Goodman Arts Centre
Block N #01-56 

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Telunas Private Island (Indonesia)

It was some time since I took a break from work and we decided to go somewhere over one weekend. We were looking for somewhere near, not too expensive and somewhere special. After looking through many options, we decided to go Telunas Private Island

Expectations were high, but I am glad to say that it didn't disappoint. 

1) How to get there 

We had booked a ferry with Batam Fast in advance ($48 for return trip). From Harbour Front, we took a 11:10 a.m. ferry to Sekupang. There are only two options for you to choose from- either the 11:10 a.m. ride or the 3:10 p.m. ride. Click here for the ferry timings. The ride there was comfortable and took around 1 hour. 

Upon reaching Sekupang, Telunas staff wearing blue shirts would be there to lead you to the boat that will take you to Telunas. We went there on traditional wooden longboats. A round trip cost S$75++ per person. Before we got onto the boat, we were warned by the staff that the people sitting in front would get wet and the people sitting behind would be near the engines. As we waited for the others to board, we were left with front row seats. The seawater left us soaked but the strong winds dried us quickly too.

The boat ride took around 1+ hour and because it was lunch time, we were each given a lunch box. I decided to have a late lunch instead of having it on the boat, because I was busy shielding my face from the seawater that was splashing in.

Upon arrival, we were each given a wet towel and a cool refreshing drink made with cucumber and lime. I am not a fan of cucumber but it was a perk-me-up after a rough ride on the boat. Telunas' staff then took time to explain to us the features of the private island before we were brought to our rooms.

We had two plates of fruits waiting for us when we entered the room. I appreciated the gesture but one of the fruits had turned bad by the time we ate it- it's probably the heat of the place. 

2) Room

The room was beautiful and nothing like I have stayed in before. There is something about how some of the best places I have stayed in are in Indonesia, take for example, Junjungan in Ubud. 

The place was clean, the staff made your bed twice a day while you are having your meals, and it is always nice to come back to a nicely made room. The king size bed was comfortable and made for a good night's rest.

What struck me in particular was the interesting furniture that they had around the place. These furniture are made from repurposed wooden boats by the locals and are a unifying theme around the private island.

It was also great that they had a water dispenser which had both cold and hot water. The water from the tap is not portable, so instead, they provide a water dispenser- you save money on buying water, and they help you to contribute less waste to the environment.

A ladder also leads up to two single beds.

This is ideal especially for families travelling with children. I am sure the children would love the idea of climbing the ladder and enjoy some time off from their parents too!

I am very particular when it comes to toilets, and the toilet here hit the mark. It was well-lit (can I just say how much I hate dimly lit toilets), there were adequate toiletries and the shower pressure was strong. However, when I was brushing my teeth, I couldn't help but think how the water was not portable- but nothing can be done about this anyway.

When I was in Ubud, I saw the rice fields when I woke up. When I am at Telunas, not only do I see the ocean I wake up, I heard the sounds of the ocean all day long. Here, you do not get woken up by your alarm clock, but the sounds of the waves crashing. It is therapeutic to be this close to nature.

3) Food 

Meals were at the Grand Lodge and we could choose from a daily menu which changes what we wanted for our meals. We found ourselves looking forward to every meal time. There is a mandatory charge of IDR 750k +++ per adult per night.

Every villa had a table number allocated to them. Again, look at the interesting furniture.

I would say that the food was average and not impressive (desserts are clearly not their forte). The service we had during our meals more than made up for it though.

For breakfast, we had a choice of pancakes, waffles, eggs etc. and with a selection of juices, cereal and bread. I found the eggs way too buttery.

On the second day, we opted for an Asian breakfast and this was much better than the scrambled eggs I had. One of the staff told us that this is the equivalent of our nasi lemak. Not quite but it was well executed. The chilli, especially, was addictive and I could eat it alone with the rice. 

For lunch, it is a 2 course meal where you get a main course and a dessert. The sotong in this dish was spicy and appetising. The vegetables didn't look particularly fresh though. 

Dinner was a 3 course meal, with appetiser, main course and dessert. The first night, I had Thailand Style Spicy Seafood Paella and the second night I got this Teriyaki Fish with Bak Choy. Both main courses were pretty good although their desserts failed to impress. 

If you brought drinks, you can store them in the refrigerator located in the Grand Lodge. They also provide a selection of drinks and you can simply record in the book what you have taken and this will be included in your bill when you check out. 

4) Activities

By now, you would know that there is no wifi here. While there are 3G cards for sale, the connection is still bad so you might as well ditch the idea if you have no urgent emails that you need to clear. 

We spent time reading and talking to each other. After dinner, because there was nothing to do, we played chess (by the way, there are 3 missing pieces, time to replace the chess set). There were also other games available. 

There was a swimming pool which overlooks the ocean but we didn't use it. 

You can also rent a kayak or try stand up paddling for free. I have never tried kayaking so we just stayed close to shore. For those trying stand up paddling for the first time, please do not use it close the shore because there is coral and my friend injured his foot when he fell while trying to balance. 

We had intended to go to Telunas Beach Resort that afternoon but our plans were foiled because of the busted foot. 

The beach didn't look good for swimming, so don't come expecting turquoise waters. There are certain months where the water is clear so keep a lookout for these dates on their website. 

5) Service 

The staff here are hospitable and always went the extra mile for us. Not only were they friendly, they helped my friend when he required medical attention after stepping on the coral and had a deep cut. They were fast to get him to Moro (a 20 minute boat ride away) to see a doctor, acted as translator, lent him a shoulder to lean on and even offered to deliver lunch to villa. Special mention to Yogi and two others (unfortunately, didn't get their names) who went out of their way to help us. 

Despite the minor mishap that happened on this island, we left this island well-rested and ready to deal with a busy life again! Click here for the rates.

Telunas Private Island 
Riau Islands Province 29442