#queenlaurelsfirst

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We celebrated Queen Laurel’s First Birthday yesterday and she is really too cute! Love her cheerful and curious personality! I can’t wait to see her grow up to be a sassy little toddler, conquering her little adventurous world!

For her birthday, we got her 2 toys! I went shopping alone and when I took a picture and sent him my choices, he commented that I am bias as I picked toys based on my childhood preference. I didn’t realized it until he pointed it out! I picked it because I love lego and Polly Pocket as a child! I also love Playdoh and pretend toys like Kitchen sets (the irony of it as I can’t cook to save my life) !

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Isn’t she the cutest!?

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I so want to kidnap her home!

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A small DIY dessert table!

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Awww.

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Her smart mama also created a hashtag for her guests to share the photos taken! A great idea!

Lunch at New Ubin Seafood

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Block 27 Sin Ming Road (behind Block 26), #01-174
Sin Ming Industrial Estate Sector A, Singapore 575680

For my sister’s birthday, we went to try out the much raved about New Ubin Seafood a week back. It is located in an Industrial Estate and it is hard to imagine how a restaurant despite locating itself in such a secluded place gets so popular. But it is no secret that Singaporeans love their food so we are very willing to travel around the island just for good food! The food is great and even on a Sunday afternoon, reservation is strongly recommended.

“New Ubin Seafood is a Singapore family run business offering fresh seafood and top quality meats, served in a unique array of Cze Char, Chinese, Southern Indian and other Asian / Western cooking styles. Our beginnings can be traced back to Pulau Ubin itself, where the restaurant first opened in 1986 on the island’s north shore.”

- Extracted from New Ubin Seafood Menu

Each individual dish is great but because we ordered a lot of “heavy” dishes, we were too full and bloated at the end of the meal. A bad combination of food choices though. Be warn! Heh.

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One of the must tries which everyone on Facebook / Instagram / Blog recommended is their US Black Angus Ribeye Steak at $12 per 100 grams. It was cooked to perfection where we requested for it to be done in Medium. The meat is really tender.

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My parents and grandma don’t take beef, so we ordered another Kurobuta St Louis Style Ribs at $38 for half a rack. The pork is good but not as good as the beef. Hah. I’m just biased. The meat is tender and doesn’t stick to the rib bone. The sauce is a little salty for my mum though.

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We ordered Regular Sri Lankan Crab at SGD 38 each and enjoyed their Buy 2 gets 1 free promotion. We picked Black Pepper which is fantastic, Garlic Baked, also really good and Salted Egg, a mistake because my sister also ordered Salted Egg oysters! But otherwise, the Salted Egg Crab is good as well, they are not stingy with their ingredients, the amount of salted egg they use is really substantial. But the crabs are really small though.

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This was a bad decision, perhaps it’s because we ordered 2 salted egg dish. The Salted Egg Oyster at $15 for a small portion is yummy when you take the first bite, but subsequent one it gets a little too heavy for us.

Would I go back again? I think so, their beef is great and I love their Black Pepper crab.

Little Brother’s Birthday Dinner at the Little Diner (no pun intended)

Little Diner
789 Bukit Timah Road Singapore 269763
Phone: +65 6466 4088

My parents abandoned us and took off to Winter Wonderland in Harbin over the long New Year’s Eve holiday and tasked my sister and I to bring my brother out for his birthday!

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After booking out of Tekong, he requested for Western meal! We decided that since he was being so braved and strong in army, we brought him out to Little Diner and ordered as much as we could to let him try out a wide variety of “western” food as possible. Do try to make reservation as they are really small and it gets filled up pretty quickly!

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The food was great and I like that it is a cozy diner tucked in a quiet neighbourhood in Bukit Timah, which means we don’t have to squeeze with the crazy crowd in town.

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Here are all the food we ordered!

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Rustic Lamb Ragu $19.50, love the tender soft lamb which was cooked to perfection.

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Mikey’s Fish & Chips $18.50, was good and my brother loves it.

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How can we not have some greens with all the sinful dishes we had? Smoked Duck Breast Salad $13.50, the smoked duck paired with the salad was fantastic. Love that we added some greens to our meal.

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We changed our fries from one of the dish to their much raved about Truffle Fries and it really good. I love that they are not stingy with their Truffle oil! Yums.

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One of their daily special, beef chili’s or something but it was mediocre.

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Another of their daily special, pan fried salmon and it was cooked to perfection! One of my favourite.

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Version 2.0 Baked Mac & Cheese Royale $20.50 which is another delight with Truffle oil in there.

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All American Buttermilk Fried Chicken $18.50, their signature and it was really good. Their is a surprising buttery milky taste which blended well in their batter and in their tender fried chicken!

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Happy 21st Birthday Roy! We are so proud of you!

Looking forward to 2015

It has been a while yet again since I last blogged, and 2014 zoomed past in a hurry which gave me no chance to bid goodbye! 2014 was a blast with lots of exciting holidays and I was surrounded with lots of people whom I love and care about. 2015 is one which I look most forward to with many exciting events lining up!

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Here’s a quick preview of what 2015 is going to look like!

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February 15 – A crazy period at work where it is going to be chaotic with lots of flowers, love letters and dong dong dong chiang (Chinese New Year music) blasting around! It is going to be a long 18 days of no rest day where we try to clear as much stocks as we can and help customers with their preparation for Chinese New Year.

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April 15 – Taiwan Trip with his family! This time round, we are bringing his parents to Alishan and Cing Jing Farm which we love and we will be visiting new places like Kaohsiung. It is apparently Cherry Blossom Season in Alishan and we are hoping for nice cool weather!

May 15 – A short getaway with my family to Penang for some street foods and heritage sites visiting! This time round, my two aunties and grandma are coming along!

July 15 – Perth and Western Australia self drive trip! Driving to visit caves and vineyards in Margaret river! If you have any recommendations on any must do, must eat or places to stay, do leave me comments!

August 15 – I am turning big THIRTY. OMG. I saw a health variety show which shared that women look best in their 30 as it is the time when they reached a balance between youth and maturity. BUT, immediately after 30, they start ageing quickly and going downhill. I was happy for a few seconds until I hear the second part. GAWR.

Nothing planned for the last quarter for 2015, but I will be finally settling some administrative stuffs after 3 long years.

It is going to be a great 2015! What about you? Any exciting plans coming up in 2015?

Greens from the “Sky”

Today, I was privilege to bring our Japanese friends to visit Sky Greens Farm, a vertical urban farming at Lim Chu Kang to learn a little bit more about vertical farming. This is one solution to farm some food for our growing population and definitely a great idea to add some greens in our crowded urban area! Hopefully this simple technology can take off and we can see more greens in our residential estate too!

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Almost 4 storeys high!

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Hands on experience to harvest the vegetables!

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Our familiar Nai Bai!

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Look at the amount of greens!

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We had a tasting session too!

The BIG way to shop at Warehouse Club, Singapore

With so much news coverage and social media going on about the latest retail format in Singapore, it will be hard to miss the news on Singapore’s first membership-only retail warehouse – Warehouse Club – right next to Joo Koon MRT!

I remember visiting Costco in Sydney and Melbourne during our incentive trips, buying lots of stuffs and envying that they have a place to buy items in bulk which has great savings and random and exciting items! I remember buying big bags of chocolates, a set of Sharpie markers and a big owl soft toy at great prices!

When I visited Warehouse Club today, it really resembles Costco in Australia! There are many bulk-sized groceries and brands which we’ve not seen elsewhere. Also, there are many limited stocks items where it is mainly a hit and run! Items with shorter shelf life going for a steal, limited stocks with great offers!

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Cute and colourful Heinz bottled sauces!

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Hor Fun Party anyone? Plenty of green chili here!

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Any serious chefs out there? Lots of herbs and spices!

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1 kg Japanese curry sauce! Wow!

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1 kg Korean chili paste!

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Anything with mustards!

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Everyone loves Nutella!

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Hellooooo Panda!

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Cheap butter and huge tub of cocoas, in time for festive baking!

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This is something I’ve been hunting down for the longest time and I’m surprised the price is similar to the one in New York! Peanut Butter & Co! OMG. *hyperventilating*

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50 cents a bottle snapple anyone? What you see is what is left.

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In the end, I resisted all temptation and got these for my friends. A friend told me “A moment on the lips. Forever on the hips.” Oh gosh, the harsh reality and especially when you are inching towards the big 30. Yikes.

I wish they had greater and more exciting and impulsive non-food items like Sharpies, cosmetics/health and beauty items and stationaries! Till then, you really should pop by just for fun! A lot of determination to say no to those snacks!

Our Family Basic Military Training Experience at Pulau Tekong

Just yesterday, my family accompanied my little brother to Pulau Tekong where he will transform from a boy to a man! This is what all Sinaporean Son has to experience and they have to give close to 2 years of their life to Army! We had a lot of fun visiting the camp and looking around his bunk! It was a very well organized half day tour and we are all guilty for smiling and laughing too much while my brother was nervous on what’s to come.

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My brother just shave his hair and we noticed he got a really round face! HAHA. Here’s us waiting for bus at Pasir Ris Interchange!

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Waiting for the ferry at the Jetty.

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One of the highlight of the trip is to see their bunk! Everything is exactly like the local movie “Ah Boys to Man”!

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We tested the bed and it is actually quite comfortable!

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They shared with us on the items in my brother’s goodie bag!

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A sneak peak on the obstacle course! Looks fun but they are supposed to complete the course in 6 minutes. OMG.

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Their Officer Commander gave a talk on what’s to expect and sworn in the new recruits. The pledge is pretty funny, it started with “I, (Full name & NRIC Number),…” and ended with “WITH MY LIFE” filled with gusto. Haha.

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They also asked us to follow their Facebook Page so we can track their progress! Wow! Talk about technology and social media.

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We also get to sample the meal! Wasn’t too bad!

Dear Little Brother,

We have great faith that you will do just fine in the BMT given your small light built and love for Nerf! Stay strong and know that we love you lots! Good luck and enjoy the journey, make a lot of friends and make the best out of this experience! See you real soon!

With love,

Your crazy eldest sis

S.E.A Aquarium, Singapore

Ok, so I’ve been playing tourist in my own country for the past few months. First Kusu Island, then Trickeye Museum and now S.E.A Aquarium! There were many fascinating exhibits and most of them were well maintained. The aquarium is also a lot bigger than Underwater World. But I was also disturbed by the poorly maintained and small exhibit for the dolphins. These highly intelligent animals should be swimming freely in the ocean!

Thankfully I got the tickets for free as the tickets are really pricey considering that you can probably finish viewing the aquarium in an hour. But it is a nice place to spend with your little ones. I bet they will surely enjoy themselves in there.

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Here are some of my favourites.

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Sharks in “Shipwreck”

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Pretty yellow seahorses

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These jellyfish looks so mysterious.

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Electric eels. Don’t you dare provoke them.

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Hammerhead sharks!

Trickeye Museum, Singapore

It has been a month since I last blogged (OMG) and I’ve been overwhelmed with work and yoga as the festive draws near. But today, I was homebound with a massive cramp and I thought what better way to clear some backlog while trying to distract myself from the cringing pain. Boo.

A while back, we went to the Trickeye Museum in Sentosa and yes, the novelty of this place has probably worn off especially in the blogosphere but I didn’t expect all of us to enjoy ourselves this much! This place can be completed in under 2 hours and it is suited for people of all ages! An advice, do head there in the early evening, a few hours before closing to avoid the crowd.

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Here are some pictures of myself taking silly pictures while I grin like a teen. Heh.

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I need to try this for real!

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“Look at this stuff
Isn’t it neat?
Wouldn’t you think my collection’s complete?
Wouldn’t you think I’m the girl
The girl who has everything?”

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Weee

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Ohmmmm….?

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Strong arms. Suck in my tummy yo.

Kusu Island Tour with National Heritage Board

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I love being a tourist in my own country! Having lived in Singapore for almost 30 years (minus a few months, GASPS!), there are still many point of interests yet to be visited! Thankfully, we have the good people from National Heritage Board who organize interesting and insightful tours around the island during Singapore Heritage Festival!

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Last weekend, we had a chance to visit Kusu Island on a free tour and seen some interesting sights on the small and tranquil island. Kusu Island is said to be a holy island where many devotees visit once a year. There are 2 places for worship on the island where one belongs to Malay and the other Chinese. There are stories which passed down by both Malays and Chinese in Singapore which shared that a magical tortoise turned itself into an island to save two shipwrecked sailors who is a Malay and a Chinese.

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Some of the devotees after receiving blessing, in the form of a protection ribbons , can choose to tie the ribbons to the tree instead of bringing it home.

“At the top of the rugged hillock on Kusu Island stands three kramats (or holy shrines of Malay saints) to commemorate a pious man (Syed Abdul Rahman), his mother (Nenek Ghalib) and sister (Puteri Fatimah) who lived in the 19th century. Many devotees will climb the 152 steps leading to the kramats to pray for wealth, good marriage, good health and harmony. The shrines are also popular with childless couples who would pray for children. Despite misconceptions, they do not pray to the kramats.”

- Source: Wikipedia

This is rather interesting to me as even though it seems like the shrines is devoted to the Malay saints, the religious practices seems like practises from the Taoist culture.

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“Also located on Kusu island is the popular Chinese temple – Da Bo Gong 大伯公 or Tua Pek Kong (Grand Uncle). Built in 1923 by a wealthy businessman, the temple houses two main deities – the Da Bo Gong and Guan Yin 观音 (Goddess of Mercy). The former is highly regarded as having the power to confer prosperity, cure diseases, calm the sea and avert danger, while Guan Yin is known as the ‘giver of sons’.

- Source: Wikipedia

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Other than the two main sights above, Kusu Island is also popular for its lagoons and clean beaches. Visitors are allowed to go swimming and sunbathing at these lagoons. Picnics are also allowed on this island.

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There is also wishing well and tortoise sanctuary which are managed by the Sentosa group.

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Guess who we met while on the way back? Stephanie! She is on her way to the island in the later tour group.

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You can visit Kusu Island by taking a ferry at Marina South Pier! Tickets are priced at SGD 18 for adult/two way and SGD 12 for children below 12. You can check out the ferry schedule here!

Gold Loving

Taking a break from sharing on my holiday pictures, here’s a frivolous post on jewelries.I’m not sure if it’s age or I’m becoming more practical, when it comes to accessories, I now have a weakness for gold. Not gold plated jewelries, gold colour jewelries or brass jewelries, but those 24K or 22K gold accessories which my parents and grandma love! The ones which you can exchange for cash at  a pawn shop in time of crisis.

The thing is, I can’t wear silver, it tarnishes very quickly after the first wear. I’m also not the kind of lady who likes costume jewelries from luxury brands, this pair of pretty earrings cost SGD 620 which is made from glass pearls. You are basically paying for the brand and all the advertisements.
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Source: Here

So instead of buying accessories which doesn’t quite last or has little value, my heart yearns for gold! This year, I decided to pamper myself and buy myself a little present. A 22K gold ring from Poh Heng. Before you scream, OMG, Serene is turning into a granny, look at this little pretty! And this, cost me slightly above SGD 500 and it is probably something that I can pass it on to my future grand daughter! Haha.

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The Peace Park, Gotemba City

// To recap, we signed up and went for Hong Thai Travel’s 8 Days Hokkaido / Tokyo tour package and in this post and the upcoming posts, I will be sharing them via the days (e.g Day 1, Day 2 etc) but if some locations interest me enough, I will share them in details in a post on its own! This is so if anyone is researching on Hong Thai Travel’s tour package, you can have an idea on what to expect. So stay tuned!

The overview of the tour package can also be found here. Day 2 to Day 6’s itinerary is already shared in previous posts! Day 2’s post is here, Day 3’s post is hereDay 4’s post is hereDay 5’s post is here and Day 6’s post is here!

One of the main attraction in Day 6 is the Peace Park in Gotemba City!

“The Peace Park in Gotemba City commands a beautiful view of Mt. Fuji and houses the chalky stupa. Approximately 70% of visitors to the park are tourists from overseas, and the park serves as one of the golden spots in sightseeing in Shizuoka Prefecture. It is located on the mountainside of the outer rim of Hakone crater, commanding a good view of the city. The stupa, the symbol of the park, keeps the Buddha’s ashes presented by late Indian Prime Minister Nehru. 4 golden images of Buddha are also housed. In front of the stupa, the guardian dogs of respective Asian countries stand in line. In addition, The pond circuit-style Japanese garden, the Buddhist Monastery of Nihonzan-Myoho-ji Temple, images of Deity of Mercy ‘Nade Kannon’ (lit. rubbing Kannon) and 33 Kannon images are also well worth seeing. You can enjoy yourselves here all year round, in particular, the cherry blossom and autumn leaves viewing times.”

- Source: Here

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At the bottom of the park is a small temple dedicated to Goddess of Mercy and it looks like the usual traditional Japanese temple.

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Spotted this huge tree of Hydrangeas! So beautiful!

After visiting the temple at the bottom of the park, you get to take a short walk up the slope to look at the main attraction!

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The white chalky stupa! Guarding the stupa are many lion statues from different countries!

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It is definitely an interesting place! Too bad it wasn’t a clear day! Otherwise, it would have been the perfect location to view Mt Fuji!

Hong Thai Travel: 8 Days Hokkaido/Tokyo: Day 6

// To recap, we signed up and went for Hong Thai Travel’s 8 Days Hokkaido / Tokyo tour package and in this post and the upcoming posts, I will be sharing them via the days (e.g Day 1, Day 2 etc) but if some locations interest me enough, I will share them in details in a post on its own! This is so if anyone is researching on Hong Thai Travel’s tour package, you can have an idea on what to expect. So stay tuned!

The overview of the tour package can also be found here. Day 2,  Day 3,  Day 4 and Day 5’s  itinerary is already shared in previous posts! Day 2’s post is here, Day 3’s post is hereDay 4’s post is here and Day 5’s post is here!

Continuing with Day 6, we left Hokkaido and flew back to Tokyo to continue our holiday! It was a bittersweet day as there is so much more to see in Hokkaido but yet, Tokyo is one of my favourite city after New York!

After landing in Tokyo, we went for a simple lunch at a hotel restaurant and proceed towards Gotemba City.

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The first stop was The Peace Park in Gotemba City which provides a beautiful view of Mt Fuji when there is a clear day! It also houses a white stupa of Buddhist origin. Will share more of this beautiful Peace Park in a separate post! As you can tell from the picture above, it wasn’t a clear day and we didn’t get to meet Fuji-san.

Today’s itinerary was only The Peace Park and thereafter we were supposed to check in to the hotel for a traditional dinner and some onsen soaking. Our tour guide who very kindly decided to stop by Gotemba Premium Outlet for an hour just for us! If you have been to a Premium outlet, you will know that an hour is not definitely not enough! The place is huge but in that one hour, I managed to grab some great deals!

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Bought some pretty Cath Kidston pretty makeup pouches at 60% off! It works out to be around SGD 20-30! Woohoo! Addidas was also having a sale where after 5pm, most of the items which are already on discount gets an additional 40% discount! Bought a gym bag for yoga which cost less than SGD 30, more yoga tops between SGD 20 – 40, and a board shorts for my brother! I even splurged on a Kate Spade sling bag! There wasn’t a major discount but it was definitely cheaper than in Singapore. Scary impulse buy in that 1 hour! Haha. It was the most exciting and yet stressful shopping experience.

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Along the way, we finally met Fuij-san! Haha, Mr Fuji was a little shy that day!

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We then concluded the day with a comfortable night stay at the hotel and some onsen soaking! This is also where I got a strange insect bite which resulted in a swollen foot on the last day!

Headed to Susukino for Ramen, Sapporo’s Red Light District

// To recap, we signed up and went for Hong Thai Travel’s 8 Days Hokkaido / Tokyo tour package and in this post and the upcoming posts, I will be sharing them via the days (e.g Day 1, Day 2 etc) but if some locations interest me enough, I will share them in details in a post on its own! This is so if anyone is researching on Hong Thai Travel’s tour package, you can have an idea on what to expect. So stay tuned!

The overview of the tour package can also be found here. Day 2,  Day 3 and Day 4’s  itinerary is already shared in previous posts! Day 2’s post is here, Day 3’s post is hereDay 4’s post is here and Day 5’s post is here!

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The last night in Hokkaido saw us hanging out late at Susukino, Sapporo’s Red Light District. Not for the girls or the guys but for their ramen! Love the picture above! This place is so picture worthy and using my iPhone camera, we are able to capture the glamour and glory here!

Before enjoying a bowl of ramen for supper, our tour guide brought us on a walk about tour to look at how their red light district functions! It was an eye opener and they are very high tech.

If you see offices like below which states “Information Center”, these are not tourist information centre but there are the shopfront providing sexual services.

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Guests enter the professional looking shop and take a pick of their ladies from an electronic catalog. They do not serves foreigners so if you are a tourist, don’t even bother! We also saw a store for gigolo but I forgot to snap a picture! Lots of pretty, pale looking boys! Haha. After an interesting walk about tour of their red light district, we headed to Sapporo Ramen Yokocho, which is a famous ramen alley in Susukino.

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We picked the first store in front of the alley and enjoyed a hot bowl of ramen on a breezy night.

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Our tour guide assisted us in ordering “less salty” version of their local ramen as their ramen is generally a little too salty for Singaporean’s palate. The owner generously gave us free corns because he knows our tour guide who returns to this store whenever he is in Sapporo.

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There are many sponsored chilli pepper cans in the ramen shop! Haha.

 

Li Xiao Lu and an Artist, Hokkaido

// To recap, we signed up and went for Hong Thai Travel’s 8 Days Hokkaido / Tokyo tour package and in this post and the upcoming posts, I will be sharing them via the days (e.g Day 1, Day 2 etc) but if some locations interest me enough, I will share them in details in a post on its own! This is so if anyone is researching on Hong Thai Travel’s tour package, you can have an idea on what to expect. So stay tuned!

The overview of the tour package can also be found here. Day 2,  Day 3 and Day 4’s  itinerary is already shared in previous posts! Day 2’s post is here, Day 3’s post is hereDay 4’s post is here and Day 5’s post is here!

I didn’t realized that it has been about 3 weeks since I last blogged! When that usually happens, it is either that my life is in a disaster mode or a fun filled mode and people, don’t worry, I’ve been so busy enjoying my life that I’ve yet to have time to blog!

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So catching up from the last post on my Hokkaido trip, Li Xiao Lu Shopping Street was not part of our Itinerary and this place closes really early! It is filled with shops and restaurant but when we reach at 7.30pm, most of the shops are closed. The tour guide brought us here for some food souvenir shopping as they offer for up to 10% discount off the retail price for some of the items and it is cheaper than in the airport. So we decided to buy them and pack it into our luggage.

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While waiting for the rest of the tour group to finish shopping, I chanced upon an artist selling his prints on the street. I really love his prints as it is brightly coloured and pretty! Initially, I wanted to get one of his print which shows a guy backpacking alone with his pet dog but he don’t have a female version. In the end, we picked a print featuring a couple enjoying their time in the rain. The artist has speech difficulty but his work has been featured in so many publications! He is also really sweet and nice and asked me to pick a postcard print for free!

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He gingerly signed and dated the print and packed them up really nicely. He was all smiley and very friendly.

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After I asked to take a picture with him above, he requested for us to squat down to take another one! In this pose, it makes a better picture with us together with the rest of his work! Haha.

Otaru, Hokkaido

// To recap, we signed up and went for Hong Thai Travel’s 8 Days Hokkaido / Tokyo tour package and in this post and the upcoming posts, I will be sharing them via the days (e.g Day 1, Day 2 etc) but if some locations interest me enough, I will share them in details in a post on its own! This is so if anyone is researching on Hong Thai Travel’s tour package, you can have an idea on what to expect. So stay tuned!

The overview of the tour package can also be found here. Day 2,  Day 3 and Day 4’s  itinerary is already shared in previous posts! Day 2’s post is here, Day 3’s post is hereDay 4’s post is here and Day 5’s post is here!

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One of the highlights in our Day 5 itinerary is the visit to Otaru! There is something about Otaru which left me yearning for more of Hokkaido. Perhaps it’s the food, or maybe it’s the vibe, I left wishing we had a lot more time to wander around the shops and streets of Otaru!

Otaru is popular and fame for a few things, and here are some which we get to squeeze in our two hours time here.

Otaru Music Box Museum

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Otaru Music Box Museum is one of the landmarks in Otaru, right in front of the museum; there is a steam clock which was gifted by Vancouver. Look out for the steam clock to find the museum. This place is more of a giant maze of music box shop and less of a museum. On the first floor of this building, there are many types of music box on sale while on the second level, the more exquisite, expensive antique music box are on display and also on sale!

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In my younger days, I remembered my mum having a plastic red vintage music box with a spinning ballerina and I was fascinated by it! She used it to keep her jewelleries and we can only see it during festive where we were given gold to wear. So prior to this trip, I was determined to go hunt for a music box at Otaru Music Box Museum. In the end, he gifted me a simple wooden music box with a spinning ballerina for my birthday! I love it! Will share the picture another day.

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Glass wares

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Along the shopping street of Otaru, you can also hear the sweet chimes of the glass wind chimes hanging around the streetlamps. Otaru is also popular for their mouth blown and hand crafted glass wares and accessories. There are many shops which sells pretty mini glass figurines like these.

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LeTao Cheese Cake

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Hokkaido is famed for their light fluffy cheesecake and we had the best one in Otaru. Le Tao Cheesecake is really good and probably one of the best Japanese cheesecake I’ve tried. Yums.

If you are traveling in a big group, you can get a big one like this to share!

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The cheese tart has nothing to rave about so you can probably give it a missed.

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Cream Puff from Rokkatei

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You would believe that in Hokkaido, there is an affordable cream puff that is better than any cream puff I’ve tasted. The cream is fresh and tasty and it only cost 85 Yen! It even comes with a free coffee!

There are many other interesting sights and eats in Otaru which we didn’t have a chance to try. For example, the famous Hello Kitty cafe where you can take home the limited edition cup and saucer. I’m not a fan of Hello Kitty and so we didn’t pop by the cafe.

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We were too full to try this interesting looking ice cream!

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I also came across a dried seafood store in Otaru and bought some dried Hokkaido scallop for my mum. There are 3 grades of dried scallop sold in the store. The top grade are the ones which are dried in a nice full form, the second are the ones which are slightly chipped off and out of shape, while the last are the small bits and chucks of dried scallop. They are all sold by weight. The best grade is generally used for gifting while the worst grade is used for personal consumption. After all, when you cook dried scallop in soup, there are often mashed up and broken into small pieces. I got the second grade for my mum!

 

Lighthouse Trail by Singapore Heritage Fest2014

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A while back during the Singapore Heritage Festival 2014, National Heritage Board opened up free tours to visit the Raffles Lighthouse on Pulau Satumu which is usually off limit to the public. As part of the itinerary, we had a chance to sail by Sultan Shoal Lighthouse which I didn’t even know existed!

Due to overwhelming response, the good people at National Heritage Board organized more tours to ensure all individuals who tried registering in the middle of the night get to go!

Even though it is a free tour, it was well organized and a very enjoyable tour. The coach and ferry ride was comfortable and they even provided some light snacks!

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We had a nice chat with the lighthouse keeper who shared on their island lifestyle! It is a pretty relaxing job where you get to enjoy an entire island! Haha.

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This is the Raffles Lighthouse! It is so pretty! You will notice that there aren’t any photos which is taken from afar as there is this red communication tower on the side of the island and it is of high security! We were not allowed to take or post any pictures of the communication tower!

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During the tour, we had a chance to walk around the island and enjoy the sea breeze!

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On the island, there is also a small museum which holds some of the artifacts and story of the lighthouse. The highlight of the trip is when we were given the rare access to go up the Lighthouse!

 

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This is the view from the top! From the lighthouse, we were able to see Pulau Senang. We were lucky to have bumped into a retiree participant who were sharing his experience on the days back in the 60s in Pulau Senang. If you look hard enough or with a binoculars, you can still some buildings on the island.

Unknown to many of our generation, Pulau Senang has a dark history. I was very intrigued by the story and decided to do some digging in Google. Here are some interesting history of Pulau Senang

“Pulau Senang was a penal experiment where prisoners were allowed to roam freely on the island. It was thought that detainees could be reformed through manual labour.

The settlement started on 18 May 1960, when 50 detainees arrived with Superintendent Daniel Dutton. Over the next three years, the number of detainees rose to 320, and they transformed the island into an attractive settlement.

Believing that through hard work, the detainees could be reformed. Dutton removed arms from the guards. On 12 July 1963, a group of some 70 to 90 detainees rioted and burned down most of the buildings. They hacked Dutton to death and killed two other officers. 58 people were accused of rioting and murdering Dutton and officers Arumugan Veerasingham and Tan Kok Hian.

Because of the large number of the accused, a special dock had to be constructed for them. The case went to trial on 18 November and lasted an unprecedented 64 days. On 12 March 1964, the seven-member jury found 18 of the accused guilty of murder, 18 guilty of rioting with deadly weapons and 11 guilty of rioting. The remaining 11 accused were acquitted. Those found guilty of murder were sentenced to death, while those found guilty of rioting with deadly weapons were sentenced to three years of imprisonment; the rest to two years of imprisonment.

Most of those involved in the rioting were members of secret societies who were detained without trial and had no hope of leaving the island. As a result of the riots, the penal experiment came to an abrupt end.”

- Wikipedia

More details of the history of Pulau Senang can be found here. Definitely an interesting read to learn more about Singapore!

We enjoyed ourselves in this tour and am looking forward to more of such tours in the future!

Tioman Trip Part II: Snorkeling!

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In this second post on our recent Tioman Trip, it is when it gets exciting! Snorkeling! The highlight of the trip. In our full board package, there is a complimentary half day snorkeling trip to Renggis Island and Marine Park. In additional to this 2 spots, we also went on our own to snorkel at another snorkeling spot which is at the extreme right of our resort, I suspect it’s the Tomok Island. Our conclusion? The best spot was the snorkeling spot at our resort and the worst was the Marine Park!

As you can tell from the map above, there are many diving and snorkeling spots in Tioman! It is actually very popular among our Singaporean divers as it’s a cheap and accessible place!

I’ve zoomed in on the areas which we visited! Our resort is at Kampung Paya, we visited the Renggis Island and the Marine Park.

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Renggis Island

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You will notice that the pictures for Renggis Island turned out better as I used the underwater mode, but in the other two location, I tried auto mode which looks bad.

Renggis Island is basically a small rock island with some trees on it. In the water near to this island, there were many fishes and if you bring some bread along, all the fishes will be surrounding you. Too bad we didn’t bring any bread along but we are shameless enough to just follow a little boy and his family who brought along 4 loafs of bread. Yes! 4 loafs! Haha. I think the boy is more terrorize by us than the fish. I kept snapping photos right in his face and unaware that I was floating and swimming too close to him at some point in time. Haha.

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There aren’t many corals to look at but there are many fishes! This is another young chap which we terrorized! He broke the bread into small pieces and stuffed it into a plastic bottle! Smart one!

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Marine Park

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This was the worst of the lot. I seriously wonder where did all our RM 5 Marine Park Fee goes to if this is what they call a marine park?! The ones in Redang which I visited more than 10 years back looks better. Haha.

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Boo. I’m so flat and fat.

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The only difference you have at the Marine Park is that, the fishes are huge. Plus there is a floating platform which you can go jump around at. Some efforts can also be seen at the Marine Park where they create these concrete blocks to allow corals to grow in and this I learnt from my Langkawi trip earlier this year.

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The visibility at the Marine Park is also not the best as the ground was very sandy.

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Snorkeling Spot nearest to Paya Beach Resort (Suspect it’s Tomok Island)

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The last and the best spot which we went on our own. If you are staying in Paya Beach Resort, do venture there on your own! When facing the beach, it will be on your extreme right. There is a bit of a swim out from the beach, and the spot is behind the island! There are so many corals and different kind of sea creatures like sea urchin, sea cucumbers, corals and what looks like giant clams. There were also a lot more varieties of fishes!

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In my earlier post, I shared on my experience in the booking of our Tioman trip with Discovery Tours & Travel and also our stay at Paya Beach Resort. You can check it out over here.

Tioman Trip Part I: Review of Discovery Tours & Travel and Paya Beach Resort

Last weekend, we headed to Tioman for our final holiday of 2014 before our hectic work starts during festive peak! The next holiday will only happen after Chinese New Year in 2015, and that’s in March onwards. Boo!

Anyway, back to our short 4 Days 3 Nights holiday to Tioman. Here is the first part on the review of Paya Beach Resort, Tioman! You can read more on our snorkeling experience in Tioman over here!

Review of Discovery Tours & Travel

We booked our holiday online through Discovery Tours & Travel and it was hassle free. The website allowed us to make payment, upgrade our package to full board and extend 1 day all at the same time. After making the booking and payment online, the sent us our receipt, 3 booking vouchers for land transport, ferry and hotel booking. A week before the booking, as there are some changes for our ferry timing, they also resend the vouchers to our email. A day before, they even texted us to remind us of the location, time and contact person to board our coach! When we returned, our ferry got delayed, but their tour guide waited patiently at the ferry terminal for everyone and ensured everyone has arrived before departing from the ferry terminal back to Singapore! The only down side? The coach provided was uncomfortable as it was a 40 seater coach. The pick up location was at DFS Galleria Scotts road at 6.30am and the drop off location was either at Woodlands Checkpoint or Newton Circles Hawker Centre at around 9pm where we had our late dinner.

Review of Paya Beach Resort, Tioman

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We opted for the most expensive room in Paya Beach Resort and am happy with the space in our Deluxe Suite. Here is an honest review of the place. When we opened our door, this ugly and dirty looking couch greeted us. It is a sofa bed which opens up to a single bed. But gosh, it is one hideous and dirty looking thing. So if you are thinking of booking the Deluxe Suite for a group of 4, think again.

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We were then terrorized by this ugly, dirty looking sofa which can sleep another 2 in the living room. In the living room, there was also a TV, a balcony facing the beach, and a toilet with shower facility. This was the worst of the so call suite. In the end, we used this space to put our luggage, and it did serve us well!

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It did get better when we get to the bedroom.

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The king size bed is huge, clean and comfortable and that is all that matters.

In the bedroom, there is another toilet. A semi outdoor area facing the beach. The jacuzzi tub was spoiled when we were there, but their technician promptly fixed it with a new pump. Their rain shower is great and the idea of showering in a semi open space with the sound of waves is liberating.

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There is another balcony facing the swimming pool in the bedroom.

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Overall, it is a comfortable stay. But, there were a few annoying traits for this resort.

  • Crazy Towel Control: They have a strict control on towels. There were only two bath towels given to us and if we need new towels, we need to bring them to the reception, go back to our room, and wait for the housekeeping team to bring us the towel. Yes, what’s wrong with them right?! When we check out of the room, we also need to show them the two towels, before we get our deposit back! This has brought us lots of inconvenience as it’s a beach resort, and we really need more than one. If we don’t ask for a change of towel, their housekeeping team do not change our towel. Is there some sort of towel thief lurking around?
  • No Phone: To make things worst, there is no phone in the room. Yes you heard me, no phone. So whenever we need a change of towel, or when our jacuzzi tub is spoiled, we had to walk to the reception to get help and go back to our room to wait.
  • Mozzies in the room: We brought our our electric insect repellent but after days of smelling that, our throat became dry. Once we switch of the repellent, we saw mosquitos in the room and was bitten too! Even though they claimed to conduct fogging every Thursday, mosquito is inevitable as they have a huge forest behind their resort filled with mosquitos!
  • No Wifi: YES! Isn’t it a nightmare? There is no Wifi in the room and not just that, the Wifi in the common area is extremely weak. It took me a long time to connect to Whatsapp and I could only upload 2 photos onto Instagram. Boo! But in the end, it was a great time to disconnect from work and the Internet world. So if you ideal holiday is to be unreachable, this resort is great!
  • 4 TV Channels: There were only 4 TV channels in there, HBO, CNN, sports channel and one other which I can’t remember. I’m glad I brought a book there and finish reading it on the trip.

The resort is pretty old as well and I won’t call our room a suite, it is probably just a huge chalet room. The only resort why we upgraded to Deluxe suite was because, only Deluxe room comes with a fridge and my traveling companion needs to have a daily intake of cold water. Don’t ask me why.

So how much does all these cost? It wasn’t expensive, in fact, if you can make do with cheaper rooms, it costs very little! We each paid SGD 407 (approx US$ 321) for our 4 days 3 nights package tour and it included the following.

    • 3 nights stay in Deluxe Suite (ahem chalet like), we extended 1 day to make the trip more relaxing
    • Daily buffet breakfast. If you are not picky, it is actually decent with fruits, veg, bread, cereal, eggs station and some cooked food
    • 1 lunch and 2 dinner. If you go during the peak period e.g school holidays or weekends, it will be buffet, otherwise it will be set meal. Don’t expect too much, the food was alright and it keeps you full.
    • 1 session of half day snorkeling trip to Renggis Island and Marine Park (will be sharing more in the other post)
    • 1 session of Guided Rock Fall walk. We tried to trek at the forest behind with vague instruction from the activity centre but couldn’t find the rock fall. Ended up getting bitten by mosquitos even though I was armed with many repellent accessories to prevent it.  You name it, I tried it. Ranging from repellent bands, spray, the latest Off personnel protection battery operated gadget and Sonic phone apps and yes, all these doesn’t work. They have some commandoes mosquitos in the forest.
    • Return Coach transport between Singapore and Ferry Terminal
    • Return Ferry transport between Ferry Terminal and Tioman

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A RM5 fee for Marine Park was not included and the rental of snorkeling gear was also not included. There were also a few meals not included were we didn’t have much food options.

Other than these, there weren’t much activity. The activity is to just laze by the beach, snorkeling and relax. We went for an hour full body massage and it was about SGD 50 if you do it between 10 am to 3pm, it wasn’t mind blowing or cheap but was definitely relaxing.

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We wanted to join their other paid activities like going to the Asah Waterfall at their Mukut Village, but they required a minimum of 6 person to join the tour.

Would I visit Paya Beach Resort again? Maybe as it was a cheap holiday with great snorkeling spots. But perhaps only with a big group of friends where we can play some board games or talk during the down time and go on their other paid activities!

A Special Gift for Baby Seth and a deal for all!

Taking a break from my holiday posts (yes, I do lead a normal lead, and I do wish I’m a full time traveler), I’m here to share a great deal for all mummies or friends of soon to pop mummies!

You know social media works when someone like me knows exactly what to get for a friend’s baby shower! Back in March 14, I read Lady J’s post on a perfect present for her friend’s little one and I thought it was the perfect gift! I didn’t bookmark the page or note it down but I thought, wow, if I have a kid, I would love this too! And just two weeks back, when I was cracking my head to source for Baby Seth’s present, Lady J’s post on MyBabyGift popped right into my mind! Talk about brand recall and “Top of the Mind” brand!

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“MyBabyGift is a luxurious baby gift boutique offering Personalized Premium Baby Hampers & unique babies gifts , both for babies and mummies. All gifts are elegantly presented in our MyBabyGift signature gift box. Our products are not only beautiful, they are also highly practical and durable! We spent considerable time researching, selecting and testing every product we sell. All products are 100% super soft cotton. The baby’s name is delicately embroidered on selected products and your baby gift is beautifully wrapped in our special signature box with a classic satin ribbon.”

- Extracted from MyBabyGift

There were many reasons to get a gift from MyBabyGift and I’m sure many of you can relate to them! Before I begin, I think I’m sounding like I’m writing a proposal to convince my boss to pick my marketing strategy! As a matter of fact, I thought I need a lot of convincing from the man to get this, but he just nodded and say, go ahead. Haha. And oh, to clarify, I didn’t received any monetary benefits from MyBabyGift but I did enjoy a $10 off their hamper using an offer code listed in their Facebook page!

So here are my personal reasons for picking this gift!

Baby’s Mummy is a Glamorous One: If you know my friend, she is one glamorous and stylish babe, you know her child can’t settle for an ordinary gift. It must be special! Extraordinary! Look at her baby shower’s picture! She has a dessert table for Seth’s One Month Old Party! This is even more glamorous than a wedding! Haha.

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Grabbed from Seth’s Facebook (yes, this dude has a facebook page!)

Gift Differentiation: Many friends will be gifting baby clothes and toys, but after receiving 20 – 30 gifts from different friends and relatives, the receiver may not remember who gave what after a while. I want Baby Seth to remember, Auntie Serene bought her a towel with his name on it! I think it’s cool, but maybe not Baby Seth 20 years down the road.

Special Keepsake: I heard it’s really really fast for babies to outgrow their clothes and toys and soon, the regular gifted clothes and toys will be passed down to others, donated or kept in storage. But which mum will give away a towel/jumper/blanket with their precious little one’s name embroidered on it! I won’t! I will probably keep them for as long as it last!

A Romantic Gift: Some of my practical mummy friends prefer supermarket vouchers while others prefer cash, yes, baby can be expensive! I heard they drink a tin of milk within 2 weeks and used up diapers like toilet papers! Gasped! So yes, gift vouchers and cash is good, but leave those to their relatives! I believe this is one luxurious gift which even the practical mum will love. It is something that a new mum may not have the heart to splurge on but will be thrilled to receive! I know I would! Gosh, why am I getting excited about this.

Yet still Practical: It is after all still baby clothes and necessity, we are not talking about diamonds you know!

I don’t have to leave my home: This was one of the best reason! Everything was settled online, I bought the items using my iPhone in a car ride on a Saturday, received them within 3 days! Best of all, it included a card with my message, packed really nicely and delivered to my place! It is best for friends who are overseas and would like to send a gift to your friends in Singapore too! They deliver to hospital or home!

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Look at how delighted Sue Ann (she is still a hottie, can’t believe she just popped!) is when receiving her gift! She squealed in joy and said, this was what Fann Wong received too!

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Haha. Yes, Fann Wong received this for her Baby Zed too! Haha.

When we left her place, the man commented that, seeing how happy the mummy is, it was money well spent. What I forget to tell him was, that’s our Sue Ann. Ever happy and bubbly Sue Ann.

Seeing how thrilled my friend is with the gift, it got me really excited to want to share this deal with my friends! So I unabashedly asked the folks from MyBabyGift if they would like to spread the love to others!

So here’s a special deal for you:

Enjoy $10 off all hampers on http://www.mybabygift.com.sg by using the coupon code SbR (valid until 31 December 2014).

Ok, back to her baby shower! OMG. So beautiful!

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Grabbed from Seth’s Facebook

Look at these close up shots of the desserts. OMG. They looked and tasted so good.

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Grabbed from Seth’s Facebook

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Grabbed from Seth’s Facebook

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Grabbed from Seth’s Facebook

I am really happy for her and am thrilled to have a new addition to SSSS girl’s group! I’m sure Seth will join us in many of our outings and it will be SSSS + s group! Haha.

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Grabbed from Seth’s Facebook

May the Lord bless Seth with lots of happiness, wisdom, and great health! And may the little one brings lots of joy and laughter to both Sue Ann and Tim! Congrats again!

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In case you are looking for the deal, here’s the deal again!

Enjoy $10 off all hampers on http://www.mybabygift.com.sg by using the coupon code SbR (valid until 31 December 2014).

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