Japan Day 6 – Shinjuku & Harajuku

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This was the last day of our trip and so we just explored the area near our neighbourhood. We woke up rather early that day to clean up the apartment and checkout by 8am. The reason why we got up rather early is to make sure that we manage to secure lockers at Shinjuku Station. We hear that it fills up really fast and considering it was a Saturday, we didn’t wanna risk not having any lockers for our luggage. By the time we reached the station it was a little past 8am and we managed to secure lockers at the same spot when we first came to Tokyo. So happy to dump our luggage there and spend the rest of our day exploring.

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But before that, we needed to secure our bus tickets to Narita Airport later in the evening. So we headed up to the appropriate bus stop at the Shinjuku Station West Exit and the ticket booth is just conveniently across from it. One way ticket for adults is 3100 Yen and the journey takes about 1.5 – 2 hours. So do keep in mind of your required travel time and plan accordingly so that you don’t end up missing your flight! Continue reading

Japan Day 5 – Tsukiji Fish Market, Akihabara and Dinner in Shibuya

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On our 5th day we did a mix of places and our first stop was Tsukiji Fish market for some breakfast. We initially planned on camping the night before to catch the Tuna auction early in the morning but we scrapped that idea as we figured proper sleep was more important than seeing cold slabs of Tuna being sold off for millions in the cold EARLY morning. But hey if you’re up to it, then by all means go ahead. We were just too tired after walking around back to back on our 5th day so yeah sleep is our priority.

Getting there was fairly easy for us as we were staying in Shinjuku which literally connects you anywhere. So we hopped on the Oedo Subway Line from Shinjuku Station to Tsukijishijo Station. It takes about 20mins and costs 270 Yen one way. As soon as you reach the station, simply follow the signboard to Tsukiji Market. The building is actually just above the station.

There’s the outer part and inner part of the market. Since we just wanted to grab some breakfast, we wandered off at the outer market and found rows and rows of tuck shops serving fresh bowls of sushi! Continue reading

Japan Day 4 – Square Enix Artnia Cafe

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Since we had some time to spare in the evening after our trip to the Ghibli Museum, we decided to head back to our place in Shinjuku and drop our bags off at our AirBnB and head out again within the area to the cafe.

Getting there was a little tricky at first as we didn’t really do our research before hand on how to get there. But if you have a pocket wifi with you, it should be pretty easy to navigate your way there (I’ve included the address at the bottom of this post).

After asking around various shops, convenience stores and random passerbys, we found our first landmark which was the iconic Square Enix headquarters in Shinjuku. Gamers and Final Fantasy fans would be in awe when you see this building. It’s literally the place where all those famous games are created. Being a fan of the Final Fantasy franchise myself, this was a really cool experience. The cafe itself is right next to it and you will be able to easily identify it by the various sign boards and its’ unique egg design.

Inside there’s another room which is a gallery featuring a number of figurines of characters from their franchise. Continue reading

Marjorina Cafe

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I say it’s about time for Kajang to have its fair share of hipster cafes too! This pleasant coffee shop is located in Taman Prima Saujana tucked in between a row of shop houses just in front of Giant Kajang.

Like most hipster cafes it’s menu is catered towards the brunch or dessert crowd. We ordered the lemon cheese mille crepe (RM13), strawberry custard pie (RM14) and hazelnut latte (RM11).

The lemon cheese mille crepe was really good! The lemon taste wasn’t too strong and just nice and mild which goes well with the light taste of the cream. The strawberry custard pie was unfortunately quite dry and the taste was just alright. The hazelnut latte on the other hand was pretty good and up to expectations as far as hipster cafes go.

In terms of design, one feature that stands out is this lovely hand-drawn mural on their wall. Other than the hand-painted drawings, the cafe is decked out in industrial-like tables and chairs which adds on to its’ quirky design. They also play some nice soft music in the background which makes it a good place to chat and relax. It also wasn’t too crowded when we went there despite being a weekend (we went on a Sunday afternoon).

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Location:
Marjorina Cafe
C-35-GB, Jalan Prima Saujana 2/E,
Seksyen 2, Taman Prima Saujana,
43000 Kajang, Selangor

Contact number: +6012-488 3644
Email: marjorinacafe@gmail.com
Social Media: Facebook || Instagram

 

 

Bangkok – Shopping

My friend and I planned a random getaway one day and decided on Bangkok. We found a really chic hotel in the Sukhumvit area called Salil Hotel. It’s not a flashy luxurious place. But they sure have great room deco and also really convenient location which is just like a 5mins walk from the Nana BTS train station.

Bangkok is known as the shopping paradise. So of course shopping was one of our main agenda for the trip. Among the places we visited were Chatuchak Market, Terminal 21, Siam Paragon, Asiatique and also Central World.

Chatuchak Market:

Opening hours: Saturday/Sunday 9am – 6pm
How to get there: Hop on the skytrain (BTS) to Mo Chit station, take exit no. 1

Before venturing into this huge place, I downloaded a map of the entire market. It’s pretty useful to plan your time there as the place is simply far to big to cover in one day. My main target was clothes and shoes so I stuck around the bottom left side of the map. I ended up buying t-shirts, souvenirs (soaps shaped like fruits), sunglasses, a dress and lots of local snacks at the cheapest price around Bangkok. Also do try the coconut ice-cream there. So smooth and good!

Terminal 21

Opening hours: 10.00am – 10.00pm daily
How to get there: Take BTS to Asok Station

My friend and I loved the fact that this mall was just one stop away from our hotel and conveniently linked to the BTS station. The unique thing about this mall was the fact that each level is themed after different countries. Even the toilets are fancily decorated. Good spot for shopping too as I bought a top, shoes, handmade bracelet and earrings for around 300 baht each. You just need to find the right shops and hunt for good bargains.

Siam Paragon

Opening hours: 10.00am – 10.00pm daily
How to get there: Take BTS to Siam Station

This shopping mall is more for the luxury brands and high end shopping. I didn’t spend too much time here but worth a look too.

Asiatique

Opening hours: 5pm – 12am daily
How to get there: Take BTS to Saphan Taksin station. Then take the free shuttle boat to Asiatique.

This place is like a warehouse with a bunch of shop stalls within it. Something like a mini Chatuchak but with a more polished and organised look. Things aren’t as cheap as Chatuchak but it’s fairly cheap as well. I bought earrings for like 150baht, a lovely lace blouse for 200baht and customised lanyard card holder for 50baht. There’s also a shop selling cheap food items which make perfect souvenirs. I got various flavoured nuts, and seaweed for around 200 baht a packet. Getting here was pretty fun too as we took a free shuttle boat which was next to the Saphan Taksin BTS. It’s around a 10min boat ride over the Chao Phraya river. While you’re there it’s also worth a visit to the Mango dessert shop called Mango Tango. The mango sticky rice was so worth it!

Central World

Opening Hours: 10am – 10pm
How to get there:
– Chit Lom BTS exit 9
– Siam BTS exit 6 to skywalk

I didn’t do much shopping here but more of for the food. Had really yummy smooth mango peach gelato at Gelate and there’s a bunch of really great restaurants on the 7th floor. My friend and I had lunch at Mango Tree and ordered this huge grilled fish with dipping sauce while my friend ordered some kinda seafood noodle and the bill came up to about 500baht. After that I had ice cream again but this time at Coldstone for brownie icecream.

Travel Tips:

  • Bring a foldable umbrella – It rains quite a bit here. I was caught in the rain many times and regret not bringing an umbrella with me. Of course you could buy one easily. But I didn’t want the hassle of bringing back another umbrella. I already have far too many at home. Also while you’re at it, do try to wear sandals or shoes that you don’t mind getting wet. I made the mistake of wearing my cloth material flats and had to wash and hair-dry it at the hotel each time.
  • Buy a local sim card – One thing I do as soon as I touch down in another country is to definitely get a local sim. You can get it at the airport or 7/11 shops. It’s always good to stay connected (like for searching info for places to eat, using waze, or maps and contacting your family/friends if you ever get lost while wandering off on your own). There’s 3 different providers to choose from which are True, AIS, and DTAC. I hear that they all have similar coverage and the price are also the same for the traveller sim pack. I got the 299baht plan for 7 days with 1.5GB of data. Definitely more than enough for my 4 day stay.
  • Buy a Rabbit Card (BTS travel card) – I got mines for 550baht (50baht refundable deposit and loaded with 15 trips) at the BTS station. This is really useful if you stay in the central part of the city and plan on using the BTS a lot. Saves the hassle and time from buying tickets each time. I ended up using only 9 trips during my stay. But definitely still worth it and i highly recommend it to those who are staying in central Bangkok for about a week.

Expat Life: Week 11 – Ramadan Bazaars & Flea Markets

Ramadan Bazaars

This post is a little late by a few weeks. Hence why i’m still blogging about Ramadan Bazaars even though it’s already Raya. Well better late than never! Throughout my stay in Singapore i’ve been to two of the popular bazaars here (one in Arab Street and the other in Paya Lebar).

First up is the one in Arab Street because it’s the closest for me. This one is situated right next to the Sultan’s Mosque and is pretty small to the usual bazaars that I get back in Malaysia. Most of the stalls here were selling Ramly burgers, kebabs, briyani rice, hotdogs, and some fried snacks such as karipap (curry puffs), pisang goreng (fried banana fritters) and etc. I tried not to compare with the variety that I get back at home, but I still couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed in this one. I was hoping to get the more rare kuihs such as tepung pelita, seri muka and etc. Also I was craving for murtabak (some kinda meat pancake?) and nasi tomato (tomato rice). Not sure if it’s just that particular day, but while I was there, there were only like a few stalls and selling similar things.

Next was the bigger bazaar situated right next to the Paya Lebar mrt station. This one was huge and well planned. All the stalls are located under big white canopies which were set up specifically for this event. So rain or shine, it’s business as usual. I was a little too excited to see the huge canopies and hence raised my expectations. Unfortunately among the huge numbers of stalls only a few sections were catered for food. The rest were for clothes, shoes, and other Raya prep stuff. Since I went there for the food and not for shopping, it was a bit of a let down as I still couldn’t find my nasi tomato and murtabak! Most of the food stalls were again kebabs, Ramly burgers, fried snacks and etc. They did have more variety compared to the one in Arab Street. Other than the usual stuff mentioned earlier, I also saw char kway teow, otah-otah, grilled squid, coney dogs, pizzas, mixed rice and a variety of drink stalls. I went ahead and got the grilled squid, coney dog and sugar cane drink.

Although I didn’t manage to find what I was craving for, it was still a fun and festive experience. If I had to recommend a bazaar, it would definitely be the one in Paya Lebar. Especially if you’re looking at doing some Raya shopping as well. There were a lot of stalls selling baju kurung, baju melayu (traditional malay outfits) and Raya cookies.

Flea Market at *Scape

Singapore has plenty of flea markets around and one of the more “hipster” flea market was at *Scape which is just a short walk from the Somerset mrt station. I went there towards the evening where there was a live band performing. In terms of stalls, it’s quite small scale. But i do love the items on sale. From phone & laptop accessories, to necklaces, custom charm bracelets, clothes and my fav was the vintage watch stall. This particular shops assembles their own watches with a vintage style. I got mines for around 40 dollars and it comes with warranty too!

Other than the stalls outside, do check out the shops inside the building as well which hosts a lot of items sold by young entrepreneurs.

Expat Life: Week 10 – Maison Ikkoku, Makansutra & Coconut Icecream at Esplanade

Maison Ikkoku, Kandahar Street

I stopped over at this cafe for a cup of coffee after walking along the streets of Haji Lane. The place is located along the same road as the Malay Heritage Centre and also pretty close to the Sultan Mosque. So finding the place wasn’t really difficult. I managed to navigate my way there at night and I would admit my sense of direction is pretty bad. So for me to find it effortlessly would mean that it’s definitely not difficult for everyone else.

The cafe is located on the ground floor while the the other floor above is apparently a bar according to their website. I didn’t venture upstairs but settled in nicely at a table near the door. I loved the fact that this place is not overcrowded even on a weekend. I tend to travel with my laptop and park myself at a table for a couple of hours. So it’s great to find a cosy and quiet spot. Another plus point is that they play some really nice chill music in the background. Some of the tracks playing that night was the likes of Ed Sheeran and Louis Armstrong’s “What A Wonderful World”.

I initially ordered the French Toast with Berries. However they noticed that I was Malay and helpfully pointed out that this contained alcohol and suggested the Banana Caramel French Toast instead. Plus points for the helpful tip and also for noticing that i’m Malay (people somehow always mistaken me as a different race). The Banana French Toast itself was a nice sweet treat to compliment my latte.

Makansutra & Co+Nut+Ink Coconut Ice Cream at The Esplanade

I had a friend visiting from KL so I asked my colleagues around for some good spots to have dinner which led to Makansutra (also known as  Gluttons Bay). The place is located near The Esplanade and home to a couple of local style stalls and seafood. We settled for the the seafood stall furthest to the end near the river. Ordered the sambal grilled fish, clams and a plate of stir-fry vege in garlic sauce to go along with a bowl of white rice. We also had whole coconuts for drinks. The seafood was alright but I’ve had better at a fraction of the cost back in KL. Still worth a visit if you’re not from this side of the world and wanting a taste of some asian flavors by the river.

After dinner we took a walk along The Esplanade and stopped for some coconut ice cream at Co+Nut+Ink (yes more coconut goodness!). I ordered the one with Red Ruby (Sago) and it was really refreshing and light with a mild tinge of sweetness from the sago. Coincidentally the light show was also starting up and we got to enjoy our ice creams with an amazing view.