Business Travels: Thistle Johor Bahru Hotel

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Due to the fact that I have a particular client in Johor, I travel down quite often and i’ve always stayed at the same place as I love the rooms and service provided (the door man recognises my face by now). The hotel is about 30mins away from Senai Airport on days without traffic. There’s a KFC just across the street and a McDonalds down the road. So location-wise, it’s pretty strategic. It’s also just a 5-10mins drive to the Immigration Checkpoint where you can cross over to Singapore which is also adjacent to two large shopping malls, Johor Bahru City Square and Komtar JBCC (home to brands such as H&M, Uniqlo, Padini, Vinci, Daiso, and many others). Continue reading

Business Travels: Park Regis Hotel Singapore

I checked in to Park Regis on Saturday afternoon. Original check in time is 3pm but the front desk was kind enough to check me in earlier and I managed to get my room almost immediately (kudos to them for the flexibility).

My room is on the 2nd floor which is also the same floor as the pool. The room itself is cozy with the soft lighting and I love the large window with the natural sunlight flowing into the room. It also makes a nice spot for reading a book or simply relaxing by the window. It has all the basic needs expected from a 4 star hotel. However an extra touch was the complimentary mobile phone with data. You can freely use it outside of the hotel. But of course you’re expected to take care of it well as there are charges for damaged/lost phone. They also have complimentary wifi in the room as well.

The queen size bed was super comfy and gave me a good night rest after a whole day of walking. One feature of the room that you would have noticed is the unique position of the wash basin and vanity area right there in the room itself. The actual shower and toilet are in separate cubicles behind frosted glass.

My room also included complimentary breakfast at the cafe situated on the 3rd floor. It has the basic toast, omelette station, yoghurt, juices and some mix of local (porridge, rice, etc) and international menu (sausages, baked beans, etc). The spread isn’t very big and could use a little more variety. But it was alright for a quick bite.

The hotel is situated in a strategic spot near the Central Business District (CBD) where my office is situated and also walking distance to the lively tourist spot of Clarke Quay. In fact the nearest MRT station is the Clarke Quay MRT station (purple line) which is just less than 5mins walk from the hotel. You can easily access the entrance to the station via overhead bridge right next to the hotel upon exiting the concierge area.

Through the MRT station underpass, you can also easily access The Central mall which is just directly above via escalator. You can find lots of good Japanese restaurants and other eateries here. There’s a food court downstairs where you can find food on the cheaper side. As you walk outside of the mall, you’ll see the riverside itself which is a great place for a relaxing stroll in the evening.

Overall it was an enjoyable stay here and being centrally located, it made a great spot to set as my base ground.

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 1 – Waterfalls & Ayam Taliwang

Once again, this post has been way overdue. I had the trip way back in February and so I may not remember all the details. But i’ll try and capture as much as I remember anyway.

My friends and I managed to get cheap return tickets from KL to Lombok via AirAsia (RM300+) which is about 75 USD. So we immediately booked our tickets there and then. Our flight was in the evening and by the time we reached Lombok it was already around 9pm+. Getting through immigration was a really long process. The airport was fairly small with very few counters which is to be expected. So do expect to wait for some time to clear through that. They do have free airport wifi, but the connection was quite unstable but good enough to get a few whatsapp messages through.

By the time we collected our bags, it was already 10pm++. So we decided to stock up on some snacks at the convenience store in the airport before heading off to our hotel. Do try out their instant noodles (Pop Mie) which is fairly cheap and really nice for snacking. Getting a taxi at this hour was really easy as a bunch of Taxi’s were readily waiting for customers outside the airport. So don’t be shy to haggle as there are many options around. We were staying at Living Asia Resort & Spa which is located around Senggigi (roughly 57KM north from the airport and about 1.5 hours journey). The taxi ride came up to IDR285,000 (~USD22).

We took the partial sea view room and booked via Agoda. The room was on offer at that time so we managed to get it for a total of RM450 for 3 nights (~USD112). To be honest we didn’t really see the partial sea view from our room, but we assume it was named so due to the fact that the room is closer to the sea. The rooms are arranged in a double-storey concept with one room on top and one room at the bottom. If you manage to get the room on the top floor, then perhaps you will get the partial sea view. But since our rooms were on the bottom floor we didn’t get the view. Not a big issue though because as soon as we stepped out of our rooms we had a clear view of the infinity pool and the beautiful sea view. From the pictures above, you could see that the room was quite spacious and the bathroom in particular was huge with an open roof concept.

The next day we had an early start and made our way to the hotel restaurant for our breakfast by the sea. The breakfast buffet spread was just nice with a mixture of local and western selections. One thing I loved in particular were the freshly baked bread section. The croissants are really lovely! I literally had it everyday.

After our breakfast we asked the hotel to help find us a driver to take us around. We managed to get a friendly uncle who was very obliging and took us around during our entire stay. It’s common to hire drivers here and again, you can negotiate for the best price. I can’t remember how much we paid for the entire trip, but it was definitely a reasonable amount and I would highly recommend it. We spent our first day visiting the waterfalls near the foot of Mount Rinjani. There are two famous waterfalls here. The closer and smaller one is called Sendang Gile while the further and more majestic one is called Tiu Kelep. Both waterfalls require a hike through the forest, so we hired a guide just to be safe. You can hire one at the starting point of the hike where there’s also a small local restaurant for you to grab a bite or stock up on mineral water bottles.

The hike to the first waterfall was fairly easy. Just 10 mins hike with proper pavements. While the 2nd one was an additional 30mins hike through hills and small rivers. The path to the 2nd waterfall didn’t have proper pavement, so be prepared with proper shoes. I would advise something light and quick to dry as you will be passing through water at various points. Do be careful during raining season as the water levels may pose as a danger and guides would advise against it. However luckily for us, we managed to complete our hike right before the rain started pouring in.

Later that evening our driver took us to Mataram for the special local delicacy called Ayam Taliwang (spicy grilled chicken). Probably the best meal we had throughout our entire trip!

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That’s all for day 1! I’ll continue the rest in my next post (soon!)

 

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 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~

Expat Life: Week 4 – Gardens By the Bay | Selfish Gene Cafe

I’m now at my 5th week already and things have been going really well for me so far. Last weekend i’ve managed to cover Gardens By The Bay and one more hipster cafe.

Gardens By the Bay

This is a cluster of gardens hosting different species of flowers and also to the famous man-made supertrees. These “trees” work in a unique eco-friendly way by gathering solar energy and also collects rainwater. Then by night these supertrees light up in rhythm with the sound of music for the daily light show. So you can basically experience two different sides of the garden by day and night.

To get here, I took the mrt to Bayfront Station (yellow line). Once you exit from the mrt you should be able to see a shuttle buggy service just a little down the path. It costs 2 dollars to ride this buggy (2 ways) to the conservatory main entrance/ticketing area. If you prefer to walk, then there’s that option too. But since I reached there in the afternoon, it just seemed to make more sense to take a quick buggy ride rather than sweat my way through.

The ride took about 8 mins or so and drops right at the ticketing office. There are 2 conservatories here. One is the Flower Dome while the other is the Cloud Forest and unlike the other sections of the gardens, these two conservatories have an entrance fee. You can check out the prices at the website itself. However I just wanna highlight that local residents/holders of employment pass/work permit are entitled to cheaper rates. I decided to just check out 1 conservatory which is the Cloud Forest and since I have an employment pass, I got my ticket for 12 dollars.

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The conservatories are the best way to spend your hot afternoons as these domes are fully airconditioned. So I spent most of my time in the dome until the sun went down. I absolutely fell in love with the Cloud Forest upon entering as I was greeted with the beautifully greenery and large waterfall. There’s so many great picture opportunities everywhere and so if you’re an avid photographer, you definitely don’t wanna miss out on this.

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Another interesting thing about the Cloud Forest is that they have a sky walk around the man-made waterfall and also has scheduled mist sprays which engulfs the whole conservatory. So if you do drop by, be sure to wait for the mist to go on. The timing is around every 2 hours starting at 9am-11am and then every 2 hours between 2-8pm.

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After about 3 hours in the conservatory, the sun was setting and the weather finally cooled down for a comfortable stroll in the rest of the gardens. It was nice to see everyone just chilling around on the grass which is a great escape from the hustle bustle of the hectic city life.

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Then by 7.30pm I went to the supertrees grove and bought a ticket to go up the OCBC skywalk which is an elevated bridge that connects two supertrees. It costs 5 dollars to go up here and a tip to those of you who plan to go, do get in line earlier than the scheduled light show. I underestimated the queues and ended up catching most of the light show downstairs and only managed to catch a little bit of the end once I got up the skywalk. Also to avoid overcrowding, they only allow you about 15mins up there before the security people start escorting you down. So plan your time wisely if you plan on watching the lightshow from up the skywalk. The light shows go on twice daily (7.45pm and 8.45pm) and it lasts for about 15mins. Once the show starts you’ll definitely be caught in awe by the beautiful lights and the whole fairytale-like atmosphere.

Selfish Gene Cafe – 40 Craig Road

Not to be confused with the post above, this cafe is further away from that particular area. In terms of public transport, the closest mrt station would be Tanjong Pagar mrt (green line). As you go down Yan Kit Road you will come across Craig Road as shown in the picture below. Then turn left and go straight till you find number 40.

20150510_151937I ordered the Eggs Royale ($16) and hot Cafe Latte ($5). Food-wise, the eggs royale was perfect and just how I like it. However I thought the coffee tasted a bit acidic. Im not much of a coffee drinker, but I’d rather have something a bit mild. As for the atmosphere, it’s really chill and relaxed. I loved the glass roof which allowed natural light into the cafe. It’s also a great spot to catch up with some work, on the laptop or even catch up on your reading because it’s not noisy like other cafes i’ve been too and not overly crowded. Good spot for a quiet weekend!