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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

Friday, October 19, 2018

oHacorte Bakery (Okinawa)

Rated #1 bakery in Naha, pictures of oHacorte's fruit tarts lured me to the shop on Saturday at 9 a.m. 

The cafe was full and we had to put our names on the reservation list. However, it took barely a few minutes before we were brought to our seats. It had a very comfortable and relaxing ambience- perfect for lazing the day away. 

We didn't realise initially but later found out that their shop occupied several levels, each with a different concept. It was slightly disappointing that the fruit tart section did not open until 10:30 a.m. On the first floor, you could buy fresh produce, interesting wares such as biodegradable camping utensils, fresh bread from their bakery or you could simply enjoy the food in the cafe.

We ordered three pieces of their baked goods for breakfast the following day. Surprisingly enough, they all remained soft and fluffy!

I ordered the Deli Plate (1,150 yen). You can choose one soup and two delis. The choice of soup included pumpkin cream soup, minestrone and shrimp prawns bisque. The deli choices included german potato of herb sausage & yuzu pepper, garlic shrimp, cajun chicken, marinated mushroom etc.

I went for shrimp prawns bisque, accompanied by the german potato of herb sausage & yuzu pepper, as well as the cajun chicken. Our food took a long time to come and I was excited when it finally arrived. Alas, this excitement was not for long. The cajun chicken was served cold- if my food takes so long to come, I would have thought it was because they were cooking the food such that my food would come out piping hot. The german potato of herb sausage was neither here nor there- the amount of sausage was pathetic with absolutely no hint of yuzu pepper. The egg quiche was also served cold- are they lacking fire or heat in the kitchen? The shrimp bisque was also pedestrian. The only saving grace was the bread.

I would certainly recommend this place for their baked goods, but not so much for the meals. A pity we didn't get to try their famous fruit tarts! Also note that they have a policy that everyone at the table orders something from the menu.

oHacorte Bakery 
1-4-10 Izumisaki
1F Kina Bldg
Naha, Okinawa 

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Hotel Pesquera (Okinawa)

1. Location 

The location of the hotel is good. It is around a 15 minutes taxi ride to the airport (which will cost anywhere between 1200 yen to 1500 yen). While it is not right smack in the shopping district of Kokusaidori, it is around a 15-20 minutes walk. It is also around a 5 minutes walk to MaxValu (a supermarket) and a 7 minutes walk to Fukushu-en Garden (rated #5 on Tripadvisor but I didn't feel that it deserved such a high ranking). 

No parking is available on site and we parked overnight at a nearby carpark (within 1-2 minutes walk). 

2. Room

As long as you do not expect a 5* hotel room, this hotel should suffice for your basic needs. For around US$100 a night, this is probably as good as it gets. It is clean and the beds are comfortable.  Bedroom slippers are provided and you are instructed not to walk around the hotel room in your own shoes or you will have to pay. 

There are very limited channels on the TV and no international programmes are available.

3) Toilet 

The toilet bowl is located separately from the sink and bathtub. The toilet smelt a little weird probably due to the lack of ventilation.

Bath products such as shampoo and body wash are available. Temperature of the water was a little difficult to grasp.

Washing machine and dryer are available.

4) Service 

There is a small reception where there is one person who helps to check in. The reception is not manned 24 hours and you would therefore have to inform them in advance of your check in time. Depending on who is manning the counter, you may encounter someone who is fluent in English or someone who simply cannot speak English. The first night we encountered someone who spoke minimal English and decided to leave our questions for the next day, when a girl at the reception answered our questions fluently in English. 

Hotel Pesquera 
2-4-13 Wakasa
Naha 900-0031

Monday, October 15, 2018

Alaise De Bale Ishigaki (Okinawa)

1. Location

Alaise De Bale Ishigaki is around a 30-40 minutes drive from the city centre, which means that if you wanted to have a meal at one of the more popular spots in Ishigaki, it would take you at least an hour to and fro. If you want to stock up on items from the convenience store, do that before you reach the hotel because we didn't see any convenience stores in the vicinity. 

It is a good location if you want to be near beaches- there is a beach right outside the hotel. However, it didn't exactly look like the best spot to swim. It would be a better bet to venture out to Yonehara Beach which is around a 15 minutes drive away from the hotel. It is a popular beach and you can swim with sea creatures without venturing out too far. Kabira Bay is around a 30 minutes drive away. 

It was a short drive to the nearby kayak / canoe store (around 5 minutes) where we rented kayaks to the Fukidogawa River Mangrove Colony

If you decide to stay here, keep a lookout for the Japanese name of this hotel because it does not state "Alaise De Bale Ishigaki". 

2) Room

We paid around S$250 per night. The room was clean and the bed was comfortable.Most of the room options allow for two single beds.

There was a folder containing the movies you could rent for free (e.g. Harry Potter, Frozen, Minions etc.). Free strong wifi available. There was a sign stating that lizards bring luck and ants would come if sweet stuff were left open- I guess we know what kind of animals to expect in the room. To be fair, we didn't see any during our stay.

3) Toilet 

The toilet bowl area was separate from the bath tub and washing area. The toilet was relatively big for a Japanese hotel. Full set of toiletries was provided.

4) Breakfast 

We paid around S$15 per person for breakfast. There was a choice between continental or Japanese breakfast and we of course went for the latter. Breakfast was served with a glass of cold tea, with a further choice of hot coffee or tea. Breakfast was healthy and decent, but not sure if it's worth the price.

5) Amenities 

There is the option of reserving a private bathroom (presumably an onsen), although we did not do so.

There is a small swimming pool and you could borrow beach towels from the counter.

6) Service 

The Japanese are well known for their service standards and I wish I could say the same in this case. However, it was a mixed bag of feelings for this place.

While the staff were friendly and courteous, one incident left us feeling a little perplexed. Upon arrival at around 2+ pm, the cafe on the ground floor was closed. We then asked if there were any eating places around the hotel, to which the question was met with a resolute "No". Upon much prodding, the staff suggested a soba place which was around a 5 minutes drive away. I would have imagined that this was a common question, unless people were content to just eat in the cafe on the ground floor (which was closed)- something might have been lost in translation.

7) Conclusion 

While the stay was comfortable, we felt that this place was a tad over priced.

p.s. Do keep a lookout for the night sky- lots of stars in this place with minimal light pollution.

Alaise De Bale Ishigaki 
337-250 Fukai
Ishigaki 907-0451
Okinawa, Japan 

Saturday, October 6, 2018


Builders was in the news last year, but for the wrong reasons. Despite that, my family who had tried the food at the cafe really enjoyed the meals, so we decided to have lunch there on a weekend. Apparently, there is a minimum order for groups exceeding a certain number of people. While we were not informed of that when we were there (not sure if it is because we didn't hit the minimum number or whether the policy is still in place), they had other strange rules like not allowing us to order for 3 people when the fourth person hadn't arrived. That said, it did not stop us from enjoying the food here. 

The soup of the day was the Bacon Minestrone Soup ($7.90). The soup was appetising and tangy, and perfect with little vegetable and bacon bits.

The crispy Golden Wings ($8.90) had potential to not be "yet another starter" because of the curry vinaigrette which was drizzled over the wings. However, the curry taste was not distinct - maybe I was looking forward to dipping these chicken wings in McDonald's curry sauce!

I enjoyed the Panko Herbed Fish Burger ($16.90) which came with a generous piece of lightly breaded fish between two pieces of buttered burger buns.

My mum was raving about the French Toast ($13.90) and said I definitely had to get it. The french toast was caramelised, crispy at the sides and drizzled with a blueberry compote- enjoyable, but definitely not worth its price.

For a cafe located at a heartlands area, the price is a little steep. That said, the food is enjoyable.

53 Sims Place
Tel No: 6747 1837