What to do in KSL City Mall

I had a short staycation recently in JB at Holiday Villa JB City Centre. The hotel is right next to KSL City Mall. I was googling about what to do in KSL but most were about eating. I compile a list of 8 things you may be want to do, which would otherwise be expensive to do so in Singapore. This post is dedicated to the “el cheapo” in all of us – those who want some quality but don’t want to pay exorbitant prices! :p

1) Watch a movie – SGD$5.40 per pax on a Friday night.

2) Buy De’ Lava classic lava cheese tart at about RM$4.30 (SGD$1.50) per piece. Love the oozy cheese lava that didn’t taste ‘jelat’. The texture of the lava was just right, without being too runny.

3) Buy tights and loose pants from an open shop, near TESCO supermarket. Around SGD$5 per piece.

4) Buy clothes from Peniwern open shop – rather fashionable women’s tops at affordable prices (less than SGD$20), also near TESCO supermarket.

5) Eat Auntie Anne’s pretzels – RM$5.30 (less than SGD$2) for the premium range.

6) Have the sesame chicken mee sua from Souper Tang at about SGD$6.50 per bowl. Delish!

7) Get a haircut at RCS Hair Salon (Level 2) at RM$59.90 (SGD$20) – Victor, the hairstylist, was very detailed when cutting my hair. The shampoo lady, though not adept in English, gives really good head massages while shampooing and washing my hair. She has mean hair-blowing skills too.

8) Buy shoes from Fabiano Ricco – comfortable and presentable day-to-day casual/office shoes at about SGD$20.

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What’s for lunch today

I’m studying for my Korean Basic Level 1 test tomorrow and I decided to do a quick post of the lunch I had today… Salad!

I didn’t post it on my (rather private) Instagram account because I decided to stay out of this social media channel until I finish reading the Bible. 

So there, good things must share! My salad made up of lettuce as base and five other toppings — steamed sweet potato, olives, egg mayo, cherry tomatoes and strawberries. I included grilled chicken breast for an additional $1.50, which adds up to $6.90 for this big box of wholesomeness. Sauces you can choose include honey mustard, pesto and sesame sauce.

In a CBD area, this would have cost more than $10! 


Don’t expect a fancy shopfront because it looks just like a random wholesale fruit shop, with some fruits on display on carton boxes — I guess that’s how they save cost. They don’t even have seats, unless you can grab the two small tables that looked like they were randomly placed outside the shop. Expect long queues when you head there during lunch time. I guess nearby office workers do know where to get a good deal. If you are interested to know where to get this affordable box of greens, here’s the name of the shop:

Sun Moon Fresh

Sultan Plaza

100 Jalan Sultan, Level 1

Staying at the top floor of an HDB block

When it was time to choose our HDB flat about five years ago, I remember I had to arm myself with knowledge on selecting a good flat. The golden rules I was given by older people were:

  1. Avoid west-facing flats, so that your house will not bear the heat of the afternoon sun.
  2. Avoid the flats at the top floor because it is usually very hot up there and there might be leaks since the water tanks would be directly above the top-floor flat.

I did not follow one of the rules and I did not regret it. I chose a flat at the top floor.

I was sure I had to avoid west-facing flats as I personally experienced the heat at my parents’ place, which had some afternoon sun. If the afternoon sun (and it’s not even direct) could make me so irritated (especially after taking afternoon naps), I must make sure I don’t get a flat that will make me frustrated when I return home.

During the selection of my HDB flat, I was concerned about staying at the top floor due to the golden rules I mentioned above. So, choosing one was a huge leap of faith. Nonetheless, the signs I encountered before my flat selection helped me take this faith step. The signs include meeting people who stayed at the top level and shared how much they enjoyed it.

Here are the pros and cons of staying at the top floor.

The bad

  • The lift stops at almost every level in the morning when you use it to go down. Please factor in an extra 5 minutes for lift-taking in the morning when going to work. And no, I won’t walk down more than 20 levels worth of stairs.
  • Top-level flats are usually susceptible to house break-ins as it’s quieter up here (e.g. less movement up and down the staircase). We installed a CCTV and window grilles to mitigate this potential problem.
  • Some delivery companies charge by the number of levels to deliver big bulky items that can’t fit into the lift (e.g. mattresses), so imagine the amount you have to pay if they have to deliver by climbing the stairs… *shudders* But in our case, it hasn’t been an issue. A standard king-sized mattress can fit into the lift.

The good

  • The view up here is beautiful. The skies we see are always full of surprises.
  • No noisy footsteps from neighbours above.
  • No pipes in the toilet. Spacious toilets.
  • Higher ceiling than all other flats below – penthouse feeling. Good for us because Hubbs is quite tall.
  • And it’s not hot at all, because we don’t get the afternoon sun. It’s windy in the evenings. So the key thing is to avoid west-facing flats.
  • Top-level flats get higher resale value, although this doesn’t really relate to me because we plan to stay in our flat for a long, long time.

In summary, I would recommend you to get a top-level flat if you can, as long as you don’t get one that is west-facing. Best is if you get one with an unblocked view. The beautiful skies we see and the relaxed vibe we get from the extra space at the top level make those (ad-hoc) inconveniences we get seem so insignificant.

Quick lowdown of our trip to Taipei

Here is a quick overview of my recent trip to Taipei, from 9 to 14 Feb 2016. Hopefully I’ll have some time (ok, more like motivation) to blog more in detail.

Hotels we stayed in
1. Smile Inn Taipei – 8/10. Points for the convenience as it is surrounded by a 24-hour McDonald’s, 7-Eleven, Uniqlo, H&M, Shin Kong Mitsukoshi etc. Good, strong shower. Too bad our room doesn’t come with a window so we can’t wake up with natural light.

2. Nine Plus Spa Hot Spring Resort at Beitou (also known as Lotus Spa) – 2.5/10. Points given only because of the private hot spring tub in our room and a helpful shuttle bus driver. The cleanliness of the room and breakfast were terrible. The dim room looked like some old Chinese movie set, that I dreaded to open the cupboards and drawers in the room, fearing that I will find a skeleton. The wooden bed frame had such a thick layer of dust, that according to the Hubby, if you rolled it into a dust ball, you could make it into a small pillow. The breakfast items, comprising Chinese food like plain porridge, veggies, stewed pork, were mostly cold and too salty. No proper coffee and tea as well. They seriously need an overhaul for this hotel.

3. Hotel Fun (formerly known as ‘TW1 Hotel’) – 9/10. New, clean, bright, has friendly receptionists and is conveniently located at Ximending. Right below the hotel is Ay Chung flour rice noodles shop (or ‘Ah Zhong meesua’) and it is 3-min walk away from Ximen metro station. Comes with a window so we get to wake up with natural light in the room. Only minor gripe is its shower curtain which makes the toilet floor too wet and slippery.

How much we spent for 6 days and 5 nights in Taipei (excluding hotel + plane ticket) – about $1,000 for transport + shopping + gifts + food.

Things to buy in Taipei
1. Umbrellas at the underground malls of Taipei Main Station. A decent umbrella there costs NT$200 (about $8.80).
2. My Beauty Diary facial masks. To me, they are better than the masks from Korea. 
3. Bifido gummies (also known as Yakult gummies) from 7-Eleven.
4. Winter boots (if you happen to be there during winter).
5. Chia Te pineapple pastry. Be prepared to queue for them.

Favourite food/drink from this trip (list from both the Hubby and me)
1. Mister Donut’s cinnamon maple stick
2. 卤味 (braised pig intestines + noodles + veggies + mushrooms + beancurd + quail eggs etc) from Shida Night Market
3. Grilled squid from Danshui Old Street
4. Sea salt + matcha soft-serve ice cream at Shin Kong Mitsukoshi department store’s B1.  
5. 茶番’s matcha drinks. They need to come to SG!
6. Roasted sugar cane drink at Tonghua Night Market. Drink it warm.

Night Markets we visited
1. Tonghua 通化
2. Raohe 饶河
3. Shida 师大
4. Ningxia 宁夏

Tips for our next trip to Taiwan
1. Change money at Taoyuan International Airport – they have better rates than Singapore.
2.  Fly there not during major holidays. We wanted to go to Shifen to look at the old railway and sky lanterns, but the trains to this destination were all packed as we were there during their long CNY holiday.
3. Bring a luggage weighing scale. I thought my luggage was overweight. Turned out that I could put 5 more kg worth of things. Would have bought more My Beauty Diary masks if I knew I haven’t exceeded the luggage weight limit.

That’s about it! I will leave you with a picture of Ximending at dusk, taken from the hotel we were staying on our last day.

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*wrote this post while on the flight back*

Best Wedding Lunch/Dinner in Singapore

Having attended a few wedding lunches and dinners for the past 2 years, I rank these 3 places to have served the best wedding lunches/dinners, arguably in Singapore. Do note that I voted them as the best based solely on food quality. I did not take into consideration their ambience, decorations and service. So here’s the lowdown!

1) Conrad Hotel. Sarah had her wedding held here and I must say, Conrad is really hard to beat. The food portions are generous and the quality, ‘up there’. Every dish came out piping hot and according to what we had tasted during the food tasting session. According to Sarah, they only have one ballroom, which means the whole entire kitchen is dedicated to serving your guests only. Sarah and ZH requested the food to be individually plated, so they had to pay the price of 30 tables, even though they only had 28 tables.

Take a look at their menu which we had during food-tasting. For the dessert on the actual day, it was changed to refreshing aloe vera + strawberries + mango bowl, accompanied with crispy fried pancake with black sesame paste. The first dish, Bird’s Nest Braised with Bamboo Pith, Crab Meat and Roe was warm, hearty and comforting. Save the sharks – no shark’s fins!

Everyone was also raving about the Sea Perch fillet, baked with XO Chilli Sauce (picture beside the Braised Bird’s Nest). The fish was fresh, well-seasoned and baked to flaky perfection. The 8-Head South Africa Abalone Braised with Sea Cucumber was really good too.
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2) Tung Lok Signatures at Orchard Parade Hotel. The exterior and interior of this restaurant have nothing to shout about. It’s a small and intimate restaurant (with a very low ceiling). But boy, the food was darn good! Every single dish was just delectable. I am salivating thinking about the dinner. I did not take pictures of the food because I was just too busy tucking in at the table. Here’s the menu. Every. Single. Dish. Was. Amazing. Trust me. DR, who is a picky eater, praised the restaurant and said it was the best wedding dinner he had. Of special mention is the first dish, lobster prepared in two ways – chilled salad and baked in French-style; the 4th, HK-styled Steamed Sea Star Garoupa in Superior Soya Sauce and the 6th,  Braised Sea Cucumber.

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3) Crowne Plaza, Changi Airport. This hotel surprised me. While there were one or two misses, the lunch was generally enjoyable there. For the price (I think it costs about $900+ per table for a weekend lunch?), the food is not bad. Of special mention is the Double Boiled Chicken Soup with Fresh Ginseng, Steamed Pomfret in Teochew style and Braised Broccoli with Abalone Mushroom. The ambience over there is wonderful as well, perhaps because the Changi Airport environment made people feel relaxed. Here’s the menu.

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Do consider these places for your wedding if your focus is on food quality (:

Daehan, Minguk, Manse! – My favourite triplets on TV

I haven’t been watching TV for a long time, but ever since I realised I have awesome channels like Channel M and KBS World on my cable subscription, I’ve been watching different Korean shows like “Let Me In” and “Ten”. My recent favourite is KBS World’s “The Return of Superman” where 4 celebrity dads have to take care of their kids on their own, generally without the mummies.

I think it is a great show that helps us understand the importance of daddies, and how they take care of children differently from their mothers. Generally, daddies – because of their physical strength and more adventurous streak (compared to mummies), give the kids something different from the nurturing love of mothers.

In the show, my favourite kids are the triplets, Daehan, Minguk and Manse! Their dad (Song Il-Kook, apparently famous because of the Korean show, Jumong but I didn’t know until now) is really such a caring and sweet dad to them… Mostly, I see him kissing them, feeding them, and bringing them out for outdoor activities like swimming, canoeing, cycling. And he is also good-looking! *swoons* Did you know the triplets’ names mean, 大韩, 民国,万岁 (English: Republic of Korea, hurrah!)? How patriotic! Song Il-Kook even said he thought of his future daughters names in one of the episodes.. They would be called “Our Land” in Korean.

Apart from the cuteness of the kids, Song Il-Kook’s dedication to his children and admiration & love for his wife drew me to this family. In Episode 35 (I think), he related how his wife’s pregnancy of the triplets was painful and difficult for the both of them. The doctor actually advised them to abort one of the kids so that it would be safer for the wife and two other kids in the womb. But Song’s wife refused, and chose to carry on with the pregnancy. When he was talking about it, he teared when he recalled the pain he saw in his wife when she had to walk merely a short distance during the pregnancy. I can tell it had not been easy for this couple to conceive and take care of the children. Even when the triplets were born, the couple had to deal with problems that the kids faced (e.g. extreme skin sensitivity).

Here are some of the screenshots of the show.

Daehan and Minguk (the first and second child)

Daehan and Minguk (the first and second child)

 

The triplets on an outing, with Manse sulking.

The triplets on an outing, with Manse sulking.

Song Il-Kook - relating how he had became more open to talk to other parents after he became a dad, as he used to an introvert.

Song Il-Kook – relating how he had became more open to talk to other parents he sees on the streets after he became a dad, as he used to an introvert.

Song Il-Kook reads a bedtime story for his triplets.

Song Il-Kook reads a bedtime story for his triplets.

I think this show deserves more recognition, for showcasing how dads can play a part in parenting. It should be part of the “Dads for Life” campaign in Singapore!

After watching this show, my maternal instincts are also slowly creeping in… I am sure DR would be a great dad to our kids!

What saved Iron Man 3 from being a total disappointment

I paid $10.50 to watch Iron Man 3 in the cinema theatre on May Day. That, to me, was  exorbitant so I would expect nothing less out of the movie.

At the end of the movie, I felt that it was OKAY lah. I was particularly disappointed with Ben Kingsley’s Mandarin. It was such a waste of Kingsley’s talent!! I had such high expectation of his villain role and when it was revealed that he was merely a decoy, I was really annoyed. Despite exposing him as a decoy, I was still harbouring thoughts that Mandarin could be this psycho-maniac who would in the end turn into a super villain. But he didn’t. Felt super cheated.

So yes, I list the saving grace of Iron Man 3 which savaged it from being a total disappointment:

1) Robert Downey Jr looked so much sleeker and more charming in this movie. His goatee – nothing short of perfect. Love his cheeky charm with his fans in the movie too.

2) Tony Stark showing his sweet side to the little boy as “The Mechanic”.

3) Tony Stark wearing a Dora the Explorer watch – great moment!

4) The post-credits scene with the Hulk… Short, cute and tickling!

Can’t think of #5… Oh wells!

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