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

Singapore: Airbnb at Tiong Bahru

Last week I made a trip back to Singapore. It’s been about a year since my secondment and i’m back again but this time for a company training session. Since the training is on a Monday and Tuesday, I figured I might as well spend my weekend in Singapore as well. I spent a night at an Airbnb before moving to my hotel. The Airbnb was a cozy studio apartment located in Tiong Bahru.

The place is in a nice quiet neighbourhood not too far off from the Tiong Bahru mrt station. I took the MRT directly from Changi Airport. Simply follow the signs to the the MRT and catch either side of the trains as both of them head towards Tanah Merah. Once you reach Tanah Merah, get off the correct side (towards Jurong East). Then it’s just a direct ride all the way to Tiong Bahru. The train ride itself takes about 40mins or so. Then it’s a quick walk from the station to the apartment. Took me about 15mins walk from the station and it’s reasonably sheltered throughout most of the way. However if you’re carrying a lot of luggage, it would probably be best to take a cab there as I initially got lost and ended up walking a lot more than I thought while lugging by bags with me. But after a while, you get more familiar with the place and it’s a pretty direct route.

Above the Tiong Bahru mrt station is a small mall where you can grab a quick meal or get some necessities before you continue off to the apartment. The apartment itself is above P.S Cafe Petit which is a smaller scale version of the popular P.S Cafe restaurant (you can see my blog post on the branch at Harding Road here). They have a nice selection of cakes, pizzas and breakfast choices. They’re also open until pretty late (last order at 10.30pm).

The place was rather secure with two points of security (electronic access pad for you to enter the passcode) before you reach your room. Also take note that the place is one floor up a flight of stairs. So keep that in mind if you’re carrying huge luggage. But it wasn’t an issue for me as I was just traveling with a small luggage bag. It’s generally a very small space (quite common in Singapore), but it had everything I needed in one space. As you can see from the pictures, it’s complete with a queen size bed, tv mounted on the wall, small cooking area with electric stove, washing machine, fridge, basin, and a table for two. It also comes with complimentary wifi. The bathroom was also small but had the basic things I needed including towels, hair dryer, facial tissue, hand soap and body wash.

Overall it was a great stay and definitely value for money. You can check out the listing here. Also if you haven’t tried Airbnb before, do give it a try! First time users get a discount if you sign up through my link which you can find in the sidebar. ;)

 

 

Lombok: Day 2 and 3 – Gili Islands, Kuta Beach and Tanjung Aan

Day 2 was spent entirely at the Gili Islands (Gili Air, Gili Meno, & Gili Trawangan). We hired a speedboat for the whole day which included a snorkeling package where the driver would stop at various spots for us to freely snorkel. The water was gorgeous and crystal clear! There are a number of small jellyfishes swimming around though, but nothing to be concerned with since they just sting a little. We also went to the deeper side and my friend managed to swim with a turtle which totally made her day! If you plan on taking a speedboat, do take note that the ride is very bumpy and may cause seasickness. Im usually fine with boats, but I somehow got seasick from this. So if you easily get sea sick, do consider taking meds first.

Among the 3 Gili Islands, Gili Trawangan is the biggest and most famous. You will find a lot of shops, bars, and activities here. We snacked on some of the best grilled corn on cob here. They had various glazings to choose from and the garlic one was awesome!

There’s a divers association as well if you wanna do some diving. Then there’s also bicycles for rent if you prefer to just hang around on land.

After spending almost the whole day on the islands, we took our speedboat back and headed out for dinner. Our driver took us for seafood where we can choose our own fresh fish to be cooked in various styles. Can’t remember the name of the place, but the food was just alright.

The following day was our final day in Lombok. Our friend had to take an earlier flight in the afternoon while the rest of us have a flight in the evening. Since we had some spare time in the morning, we took the cab out to the Sasak Traditional Village on the way to the airport. You can experience the true village experience here and buy handmade items from the villagers themselves. Entrance is generally free, but it’s a custom to provide donations to the village/tour guide and write in their guestbook at the end of the trip.

After that it was straight to the airport to drop off our friend and bid our farewells to her. The remaining of us then headed out to Kuta Beach for lunch. We had a nice meal at this cool shack facing the beach and they have free wifi as well which makes it a good place to kill some time before our flight. Great spot, but beware of persistent roadside sellers trying to sell you scarves. There’s a bunch of them there and they tend to crowd tourists. We had a few come up into the cafe itself trying to sell us stuff. They’re quite persistent but they will eventually leave you alone if you don’t show any interest.

After lunch we decided to make one last stop before heading to the airport. We made our way to Tanjung Aan beach. This place offers gorgeous views but again, roadside sellers can be found here as well. Just avoid them and you can enjoy a peaceful time by the beach. There’s a number of huts for you to take shade in if you’re not keen on sunbathing. We hanged around here for quite a while just chatting and enjoying the breeze and the view.

After taking a bunch of Insta-worthy photos, we finally made our way to the airport and that was the end of our Lombok trip. It was definitely a memorable one and I would love to come back again one day. :)

 

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

 

 

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.

Expat Life: Week 6 – 7 – Bugis Street, La Marelle Boutique Cafe and Anchorpoint

This week was all about budget shopping and snagging great deals. Singapore is known to be quite costly in terms of shopping as compared to back home in Malaysia. However if you know where to go, you can grab some really great deals here too!

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It’s no secret that Bugis Street is “THE” place to go to for a cheap and affordable shopping trip. You can get just about anything here from clothes to shoes, to touristy souvenirs and food. To get here you simply take the MRT to Bugis station and it’s directly across the road upon exiting the station. The place consists of 3 floors so do take your time and explore all floors. A lot of the shops also sell pretty similar items, so I would advise you to check out all the stores first before buying. I admit it’s a little difficult to avoid impulse buying when all the stuff are so cheap, but it definitely is worth waiting out. I got great deals for all my clothes. Ended up walking away with 2 tops, 2 bangles and 1 structured midi A line skirt which i’ve been searching high and low for. So glad I finally found the perfect one at only $15! I also grabbed a necklace set and a pair of studs from Lovisa at one of the malls (can’t remember which one lol). Anyway Lovisa was having a store-wide sale up to 70% off. Below is a list of the stuff I got with the pictures and price.

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Black embellished sleeveless top – $15 || Blue structured short sleeve blouse (Shop Name: Cupid) – $15 || 2 Bangles (Shop Name: Lumi) – $10 || Necklace set with earrings (Shop Name: Lovisa) – $9 || Anchor-shaped studs (Shop Name: Lovisa) – $2

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Dark blue midi A line skirt (Shop Name: Fresh) – $15

After a good shopping spree, it was time to grab a bite and I headed down to La Marelle Boutique Cafe situated along Baghdad Street. It’s not too difficult to find the place. Once you’re at Baghdad street just look out for a mural on the wall which has the name of the cafe painted on it. The place is situated on the 2nd floor and it’s easy to spot the entrance as the staircase is brightly colored in hot pink.

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I really love the bright and unique interior. It’s also one of the few hipster cafes in Singapore which are halal. I tend to have really late lunches on weekends so by the time I reached the place it was already around 4pm. I ordered this really cool coffee called “The Nutty Professor” ($6.50). It’s basically an espresso popsicle in a cup of nutella and a side of milk. You basically just pour the milk in and keep stirring till the coffee popsicle melts and blends in with the milk and nutella. Really good stuff! I also ordered the “Ultime Breakfast” ($18) which consists of 3 pieces of buttered bruschetta bread, 2 sausages, a couple pieces of various meat slices, sautéed mushrooms and baked beans. Yes it was a LOT. It was pretty good but nothing to rave about. I would probably check out their other stuff next time. The desserts looked really good though. But alas I was too stuffed. So i’ll save that for next time.

Some interesting sights at Parkview Square while walking back to Bugis MRT station.

The following day I decided to check out the outlet stores at Anchorpoint. I heard the stuff there have discounts up to 70% and I was particularly keen on checking out the Charles & Keith and Cotton On outlets there. The place is situated across from Ikea. I took the MRT to Queenstown station then headed towards exit 1 and walked to the bus stop. From there I took bus number 195 and stopped at the 2nd stop (right in front of Ikea). As you alight from the bus, just head to the right and walk towards the overhead bridge to get across to the other side where Anchorpoint is located.

My first stop was of course Charles & Keith. As soon as I stepped in I got really excited after checking out the price tags. High heels as cheap as $19! That’s a steal! Best of all the shop wasn’t overly crowded despite the huge discounts. Sure there were quite a lot of people but it wasn’t terribly bad. So I had the leisure of taking my time to really scour through the shoes and find a number of great deals. I ended up buying 2 pairs which only costed me $41.80 in total!

Lilac Heels – $21.90 || White and black strappy wedges – $19.90

After that I dropped by Cotton On. Found a couple of racks filled with clothes worth $10 and below. But I didn’t find anything particularly eye-catching. So onto the next store, I checked out Typo just because I love quirky stationary. Didn’t really plan on getting anything but I couldn’t help it. The heart-shaped corkboard was only $2 and the super adorable pineapple-shaped ice tray was only $3! So I spent a total of just $5 there. What a great deal and I can’t wait to test out those pineapple-shaped ice cubes!

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Heart-shaped corkboard – $2 || Pineapple-shaped ice tray – $3

If you’re a fan of brands such as Charles & Keith, Cotton On, Giordano, G2000, and Typo, definitely check out the outlets in Anchorpoint. Well worth the trip there!

Expat Life: Week 5 – P.S Cafe Harding Road and Botanic Gardens

My friends and I decided to do brunch and did a quick search online for a good spot and found great reviews on P.S Cafe specifically the one at Harding Road. It was the ambience that had drawn us in. It’s located in lush greenery and the place itself was well decorated in wide glass windows which really took advantage of the beautiful location.

We took a train to Botanic Gardens MRT station and it was a quick 5min cab to the place. We arrived at around 3pm and luckily for us it was a rather off peak hour so the queue wasn’t so bad. The cool thing about this place is that they have a computer-based ticketing system. All you have to do is indicate the number of pax and your phone number. Once there’s a free table, the system will ring you up on your phone and let you know that your table is ready. Since we avoided the peak hours, it didn’t take us too long to get a table. I think we waited for like 10mins or so.

I ordered the Eggs Royale ($26), Iced Latte ($6.50) and had a huge plate of Truffle Fries ($15) for sharing. If you look at the price, yes it’s very pricey but I suppose the ambiance makes up for it. The food was pretty good too. I highly recommend the truffle fries. Almost every table ordered it and the portions are huge. And when I say huge, I mean HUGE! I can safely say it’s enough for 4-5 people to share. There were 3 of us girls and we only barely managed to finish half of it. No kidding. It’s really a lot. So we didn’t mind the price on that. There were a lot of pretty cakes as well. But we were too stuffed for anything else. So maybe next time. The bill came to about $160 for the 3 of us. Which is a pretty hefty price for brunch. But i guess it’s all right once in a while and for special occasions. I would definitely want to come back for desserts next time.

After brunch we took a cab back down to the Botanic Gardens MRT station and decided to take a stroll in Botanic Gardens since the entrance was just right next to the station. By the time we were there it was already around 6pm so it was a great time to walk through the park. A lot of people are seen having picnic, jogging, cycling here. Perfect place with the family or on a date. We walked over to the Symphony Garden and coincidentally there was a special piano concert that day by a Polish pianist who played a number of pieces by Chopin.

A large crowd gathered round on the grassy area in front of the stage and some really made themselves comfortable with picnic mats, and even foldable chairs, ice bucket and glasses of wine. True picnic veterans! It was an hour-long concert from 7-8pm and it was truly a lovely night with great weather. Perfect way to spend the weekend~