Bangkok Shopping Spree (4D/3N)

Bangkok would have to be one of the places where things are cheaper, much cheaper than in Singapore and a shopping paradise for the shopaholics (who like to get things in the bulk and cheap) out there!

Singapore to Seoul: Ways to Maximize Your Cash When You DIY (Flight)

With the average flight to Seoul from Singapore costing about S$1200++ per person (and that’s just economy!) on Singapore Airlines, getting tickets on promotion are definitely worth it.

Volando Urai Spring Spa and Resort (馥蘭朵烏來渡假酒店)

Volando Urai Spring Spa and Resort (馥蘭朵烏來渡假酒店) is located in New Taipei City (Wulai), close to to the Wulai Town (and waterfalls).

Wulai Hot Springs Escapade Itinerary (3D/2N)

While this trip was a simple and short one, it wasn't necessary one of the cheapest: this trip was one meant to enjoy the hot springs and just take it slow (and basically be pampered).

Staycation: Club Room Stay at Rendezvous Hotel Singapore

Rendezvous Hotel Singapore was having a staycation promotion, so needless to say we grabbed the offer (which came with complimentary breakfast, wifii, drinks and snacks).

8 Course Chinese Lunch

It was neither a wedding lunch, nor was it a baby’s month old celebration, but rather it was a combination of both as we were invited for the family lunch at Tung Lok Seafood Orchard Central.

Usually a Chinese wedding lunch (or dinner) would entail of guests eating 8 or 10 course meal and seated according to familiarity with about 10 to table. A red packet containing money (with a minimum sum for the couple to cover their costs - basically paying for your share of the food/table, but of course you can always give more), sealed and signed off with the giver’s name is the norm (for a gift). Lunches are cheaper than dinners and holding the function on a weekend would cost more. In addition, the amount to give also varies, depending on venue and location. 

Tung Lok Seafood Orchard Central is a branch of one the more well known (somewhat higher end) Chinese restaurants in Singapore (apparently). The lunch was a an 8 courser, starting with a cold dish, followed by soup, scallop with broccoli, sea cumber, fish, meat and noodles, ending off with dessert. While the food was just slightly above average, it has been a while since I last went to such an occasion, so what better opportunity to take the photos just for memory’s sake.

Cold Dish
Starter: Pieces of shrimp (or was it lobster) in the mixed fruit salad, served with a side of shrimp (lobster?) meatballs coated with salted egg (yolk) and salmon rolls
Soup
Soup: Since there wasn't any menu, I am guessing that this was sharkfin's soup with pieces of crabmeat
Broccoli and Scallop
Broccoli and scallop sauteed in a chili sauce
Fish
Fish. It was too fishy and quite fresh.
Chicken
Roast Chicken
Noodles
Noodles
Dessert
Dessert: yam with ginko nuts and fattening coconut milk


Fine Dining at SILIQ Restaurant for Dinner (Volando Urai Spring Spa & Resort)

SILIQ Restaurant
SILIQ Restaurant decor during the day

It was our last night at Volando Urai Spring Spa & Resort and dinner was at the SILIQ restaurant, a fusion restaurant that blends the best of east and west. The service was impeccable, as expected of a restaurant of fine dining, but I much preferred the wait staff over at ABU restaurant because they were more smiley and welcoming. Ok, I might be a tad biased since that was the restaurant I was pleasantly surprised with my surprise (and complimentary) birthday soufflé cake (with birthday song to boot) the night before.

ABU restaurant
le birthday soufflé cake by ABU Restaurant

Anyways, unlike tea time there weren’t many guests for dinner at 7.30pm so it exuded an exclusive vibe, just like its cousin ABU restaurant (which serves up French cuisine and is also located within the resort grounds). Located on the higher grounds of the resort, the view of the river was not as pretty as ABU restaurant, but it was at night and there were blinds so the view didn’t matter much.

We were promptly seated and brought the menu to make our selection for dinner. Not long after, the food soon arrived in fine dining style:
Grains Chinese Bun
Grains Chinese buns (essentially slightly toasted fragrant mantou) served with basil butter, cinnamon meat saucr & sesame sauce
Siliq special platter
Appetizer: Siliq special platter which consisted of fresh scallop, fragrant mushroom & yummy smoked duck
SILIQ soup
Onion Soup which was lightly flavored and pleasant on the palate
SILIQ Restaurant
DramaQueen had the Wild Prawn Plum Jelly Salad...
SILIQ Restaurant
... while I had the Smoked Salmon Salad Spring Onion Dressing
white gourd Lemon Sorbet
White gourd lemon sorbet to wash the taste buds for the next dish!
SILIQ Restaurant
Tender Fried Spring Chicken which was tenderly juicy and surprising not as oily as it looked
SILIQ Restaurant
DramaQueen had the Seafood Club Cranberry Sauce which consisted of codfish, prawn, mussel & clam
SILIQ Restaurant
And I had the salmon steak
SILIQ Restaurant
Dessert consisted of mozzarella, apricot & ganache, blue cheese & NZ Cheese with Longan Yogurt Mousse and a piece of chocolate

Dessert was a pleasant surprise and DramaQueen was absolutely taken with it because it had popping candy hidden within the empty shell of the chocolate. It was a poppingly sweet touch to end the night (and dinner). By the time we finished dinner, it was almost the stated closing time of 9.30pm.

With our tummies (overly) satisfied, we made our way back to the room (which was on the same floor) to watch a couple of DVDs before exploring the public hot springs (which we went the next day after breakfast) and ordering supper (just to experience it) before ending the night (finally!).
 
Volando Urai Spring Spa & Resort Supper
One set of supper to end off the night ^^

Shopping at Platinum Fashion Mall

Platinum Fashion Mall

Platinum Fashion Mall is located in the well-known area of Pratunam, where there are many shopping malls and markets. Most of the shops in this area sell goods at wholesale prices, so it pays to actually buy more. If brightly lit air-conditioned malls are not your thing, not to worry as there are markets such as the Pratunam Wholesale Market, one of Bangkok’s major markets selling clothes, shoes and fashion accessories at wholesale prices, to suit your shopping tastes.

However, if you want to enjoy shopping away from the heat, in an air-conditioned mall, than Platinum Fashion Mall would be just the place to head to. Platinum Fashion Mall is just cross Petchburi road and is 6 stories high. Don’t let the height fool you as the mall is massive. Throughout the 6 floors, there are many things on sale - from women’s bags, shoes, clothes to accessories, to children and even men’s clothes and accessories (which only takes up one floor) to accessories. There are even shops selling wigs, makeup, watches and other interesting things.
 
Platinum Fashion Mall
shop, shops and more shops!

Being a wholesale mall, a large number of shoppers at Platinum Fashion Mall go there to get goods for their (blog) shops (etc…). Even if you are not a re-seller (or such), you can still get items at reasonable prices if you purchase 2 or more pieces. It is always best to check with the shop assistants on what the wholesale price is and the minimum number of items you have to buy in order to enjoy the ‘special’ price (savings of about (30%). Sometimes they allow you to mix and max different items to makeup the numbers.

Platinum Fashion Mall was practically the only (air-conditioned) mall that we visited on all days that we were in Bangkok: we visited the mall on the first day after checking in the hotel, visited it the second day as well after our half day tour, and even on the third day we visited the mall for some last minute shopping. It was a shopping paradise! Sometimes I feel that it is not how many places that you have been (e.g. as many as possible) within your holiday/travel duration that makes it an enjoyable enriching experience, but how much of a place you have explored during that time (even if it means visiting it a couple of times). Of course if you were to only visit the same place every single time you visit a country with no new places, than that would be just plain boring(?). [Don't forget to read my Bangkok Itinerary for this trip here]

Anyways, while most of the clothes sold might be an acquired taste (there were many shops selling sweet looking Taiwan, Korean influenced outfits with lace and sweet colors, or office wear that were influenced the same way), I am sure that you would find something you like given the massive amount of shops and varieties that are offered. There were even other things such as bedroom slippers, bedsheets and bathrobes! There was a shop at the basement that sold bedroom slippers, 4 for 350 baht, which was cheaper than Chatuchak Weekend Market (for the same type of slippers, they cost 100 baht for 1 pair).

After a day’s walking and shopping, there are cafes within the mall that you can stop by the rest those aching feet and shopping bad laden hands. There is also a food court at the 5th floor along with a KFC if you want to have a meal, to replenish your energy before you ‘attack’ the shops again.

Just remember 3 things when you are buying stuff from Platinum Fashion Mall:
  1. No trying: for most of the shops you are not allowed to try on the clothes as they could be stretched or soiled (e.g. by makeup). However, there might be some shops (less than 10% of the shops) that might allow you to try and make an exchange if it cannot fit. PrincessyLee came across a shop selling office pants for ladies (made in Korea, so it claims), and the shop assistant allowed her to change the size it if could not fit (she tried it out at a restroom nearby).
  2. No (ex)change: most clothes sold are not exchangeable (with some exceptions), so be very sure you want the clothes that you are buying and that you can fit into them.
  3. No refund: just as there is no exchange of clothes (e.g. a smaller size for a bigger one), there is also no refunds policy on the goods sold. These goods are mostly sold at wholesale prices.

Happy Shopping!






What is Your Ideal Travel Style?

Just some random photo lol

Backpack

The most affordable (budgeted) travel style would be backpacking. With low cost (as much as possible) on the agenda, most often than not, backpackers tend to gravitate towards budget airlines/non-direct flights (with transit) and hostels rather than hotels, as they are cheaper than full service flights. Also instead of lugging around cumbersome luggage, such travelers opt for backpack or other luggage that is easy to carry for long distances or long periods of time.
 
However, even with low cost on the agenda (e.g. taking public transport like buses and the subway) and being on a tight(er) budget doesn’t necessarily mean being deprived. As long you budget accordingly and spend appropriately, there are ways to maximize the travel experience. For instance, I have had friends who have traveled around Europe and saved money by staying with (other) friends or in (affordable and clean) hostels, yet they still find the opportunity to eat at a Michelin restaurant or two to get the most out of the experience by going out, meeting people and trying something new.

Tour Agency

Traveling with a tour agency might be cheaper (sometimes) but you would not get the freedom and flexibility to change your plans to adapt to any (sudden) situations nor (most probably) get to stay in your choice of accommodation (unless you are going to be paying lot money). Not to say that such tours are all bad, they do have their advantages, especially for 
  1. Those traveling in a big group and have young children and elderlies: flight, accommodation, transportation and food are provided so there is no need to worry of someone getting behind. There would be no need to think so hard of what to eat not the need to walk that much, since transportation is provided shuttling from place to place (especially those with young children and elderies). There might be a lot of walking and steep slopes to encounter, and it would take longer to reach a destination if public transport was used.
  2. Families aside, solo travelers or groups of friends (though it might be more economical for friends in groups of 2, as is just naturally more expansive for single travelers) might also find that traveling in a tour with flight, accommodation and transport might be a better fit for them – they get to travel to many places within the day and get to save time taking the public transport. With logistics being taken care of by the tour agency, enjoying the holiday might be a breeze (sans the other travelers on the tour and the limited amounted of time you can spend in a given place).

Customizing Your Own Itinerary (DIY)

Besides travelling on a tour package (from Singapore), there is another way to enjoy your holiday and that is to tailor make (DIY) your very own tour itinerary! Flights, accommodation, admissions fees and food (where to eat) are determined by you (and your friends). This mode of travel could be a somewhat ‘upgraded’ version of backpacking - whether you want to stay in a hostel, hotel or apartment, as long as your budget allows it and you want it you can do so. It is not as restrictive as backpacking (e.g. cheapest might not necessarily be the best). You have to remember that sometimes when you get a ‘good’ deal or go as cheap as possible, the time and effort spent might not be worth the actual savings. 
 
Anyways, customizing your own itinerary would give you the flexibility to travel in a pace most suited for you. There is the sense of flexibility and freedom to do things differently, and you might stray off your planned itinerary which makes it all the more fun and relaxed. For example, it might be raining one day and you can decide to go somewhere else to accommodate the change in weather, you can afford to wake up a bit later and start your day accordingly, or you might catch impromptu-ly catch the latest concert in town. If staying in a hostel or alternative accommodation (e.g. apartment / guesthouse) is not your thing (and you have a bigger budget), you can stay in (boutique) hotels.
 
Should you travel on your own DIY itinerary, you also have the option to include day tours, which provide you the structure and transportation (of a tour) but give you more flexibility in going when and where you want depending on what the day tour is offering; to get more out of the experience, save some time and get to meet people.

Conclusion

Just as long as you don't travel to a certain country (be it with a tour or on your own), only to end up eating instant noodles and bread (or something similar) everyday just to save more for shopping. You go on a holiday to enjoy not deprive yourself…Whether it be backpacking, with a tour agency or on your own, as long as your mind is open and accepting to new cultures (of your destination), you will learn more about the country and its people. It is not your style of travel that determines your travel experience, but rather your mindset and level of resistance to all things ‘new’. 



So what is your ideal travel style? Do share!

Rice & Fries - We will be back!

Rice & Fries
The lights beckoning us to come

It was after a level test for a Korean intermediate level (has it been that long already?) that brought us to Rice & Fries one evening, on recommendation by P. Rice & Fries is just a stone throw away from the Kembangang MRT station and also just behind the language school so it was convenient.

Rice & Fries
Artsy and cosy decor
 
When we had arrived at Rice & Fries we were pleasantly surprised (and rather besotted) with the décor of adorable scribbles pm the walls and simple yet adorable homey setting. Upon closer inspection of the scribbling, they actually had meaning to them and were entertaining to the eyes. The seating consists of mostly partitioned booths and longer dining tables for larger groups of people in the center of the café-like restaurant.
Rice & Fries
Colorful foody scribbles
Rice & Fries
Sweet simple chalky scribbles that doubles up as a promotion / menu board
Rice & Fries
View of part of the seating area
It was dinner time and we were hungry, so we were recommended the BFF fries – an assortment of fries (e.g. shoestring, wedges, crosscut etc…) served with 4 types of sauces (there was cheese, tar tar sauce, something that has wasabi and honey in it and another salad sauce which was probably thousand island). In addition to the fries, we each ordered a main.
BFF Fries
BFF Fries @ S$14.80: Best to be shared as the portion is quite big
The BFF fries were the first to arrive and the guy serving us the food was fascinated (I guess) when everyone started whipping out their handphones and began sapping furiously away (hahaha). Each time a dish arrived, we would take a photo of it. Never have I felt so at home taking photos (of food) before eating, I *heart* my friends. ^^

Alright now onto the other food we ordered that night:
Rosemary Chicken
Rosemary Chicken (x2 we had 2 of those) @ S$11.30: The chicken was moist and tender with the flavor of rosemary lingering in the mouth with each bite. So if you love or enjoy the clean refreshing flavor of rosemary, this is one dish you should try.
Soup @ S$4.80
Soup @ S$4.80: Tomato soup to say the least. According to P, it wasn't too bad.
Breaded Dory @ S$11.80
Breaded Dory @ S$11.80: This bread dory came with a surprise, there were mushrooms between the batter and fish. According to C, who had it it was pretty nice and the mushrooms were a nice touch.
Miso Salmon Alfredo @ S$14.80
Miso Salmon Alfredo @ S$14.80: It was a miss for Y for this dish. Perhaps there was too little salmon, or perhaps there were too much cream, or her appetite was already affected by the BFF fries.

As a result of our binging feasting, we all ended up in a state of food coma! It was simply too much food for 5 people in one night. And to think I was even thinking of dessert! *gasps*

One of the attractive points of Rice & Fries (besides the reasonably good food) is that there is no GST and no service charge, so it’s an affordable place suitable for families, students and young adults. Water is also complimentary and self-serviceable from water dispenser located near the casher. That being said, although there was no service charge, the service was acceptable (plain and simply straight forward service with a smile or two) and we were promptly attended to for orders, even recommended the BFF fries (which I also totally recommend!). What I liked was that the moment they realized that we were not ordering any drinks; they told us (politely) that water was complimentary and where to go get it ourselves. 

Verdict: Worth a try!




Rice & Fries

Address: 484 Changi Road (off Frankel Avenue), Singapore 419896
Contact: +65 64456390
Facebook: Rice & Fries
Opening Hours: 11am - 11pm Daily

From Singapore to Seoul: Ways to Maximize Your Cash When You DIY (Flight)


Traveling to Seoul can be either a costly or time consuming affair: direct flights from Singapore to Seoul (e.g. Singapore Airlines, Asiana, and Korean Air) cost about S$900-1200++ per person and will get you there in about 6 hours or so, while budget airlines (e.g. Scoot) or other full service flights (e.g. Cathay, Malaysia Airlines etc..) will get you there for cheaper (i.e. S$600-900++) but the time waiting in transit might not be worth the savings (e.g. instead of a 6++ hour flight, it might be as long as 10 hours or more).

With the average flight to Seoul from Singapore costing about S$1200++ per person (and that’s just economy!) on Singapore Airlines, getting tickets on promotion are definitely worth it. They are almost 50% lesser than the original price! However, it would be best to keep your travel dates flexible as there are certain blackout dates and as with all things too good to be true, there are also (some) limitations to such offers (i.e. you don’t get the best of dates and flight timings) and a catch - you have to have a least 2 people (minimum) to enjoy this promotion. Despite the limitations and blackout dates, the Singapore Airlines promotions are definitely worth it: you get the full flight service, food and entertainment (economy of course) for about half the (original) price. 
Singapore Airlines Promotion Screenshot


This price (Singapore Airlines promotions) would also be cheaper than Asiana and Korean Airlines (without promotions) too. At about S$900++ (below $1000) per person, Asiana and Korean Airlines are the next affordable direct full service flights. I am not too sure about their promotions, but even without promotions their average ticket price is relatively acceptable (it is about S200++ more than Singapore Airlines promotion prices and about S$200++ below Singapore Airlines regular prices without any promotions). With Asiana and Korean Airlines, you get to choose your own (favored) timings and dates (e.g. lesser restrictions).

Since I have yet to take Asiana or Korean Airlines, I can only recommend that if you plan to go to Seoul (South Korea) from Singapore and have travel flexibility, taking Singapore Airlines would save you quite a bit of money (and no… I was not paid to write this). With their promotions, the average ticket price per person is about S$600-750++ (depending on the season that you are traveling and the promotion). It seems that if you plan to travel during the Summer and Autumn period (in South Korea) the prices are slightly cheaper (S$600++), while Spring time would cost slightly more (S$700++). But whichever season you decide to travel, it is still worth it (and cheaper than the original price of S$1000++ and other direct airlines).

However, if you prefer not to be restricted by the (Singapore Airlines) promotions limitations (and want more options), than the next best option would either be Asiana or Korean Airlines – you get to select your preferred travel dates and timing for just a little bit more, and still get to enjoy full flight service (without the worry of additional add-ons like food and baggage weight – something that is an integral part of budget airlines). Asiana are Korean Airlines are also suitable if getting to your destination in the fastest time possible is important to your decision making; sans the (possibly) long(er) transit waiting times. For instance, Asiana and Korean Airlines will cost you an average of S$900++ (lesser than S$1100++), while Cathay - which is also another full service flight - might cost about $800++ but it has a stop-over in Hong Kong which would extend your flight travel time from the usual 6 hours or so to more than 10 hours. So if you have the time and want to save a little bit more than Cathay (or similar) might be just for you.

If you are still keen on budget, than all I can stay is that when budget airlines such as Scoot has promotions, a basic flight to Seoul might cost you S$350++, notwithstanding the transit time and extra costs incurred if you want a little more comfort or more baggage allowance. Still, my rationale is that if you are traveling to places that are more than 3 hours away, full service flights might be better and kinder to your bottom boredom, hunger and baggage weight than budget airlines because at the end of the day (when it’s time to pay for the tickets), the total price might not be as cheap (budget) after all.

Scoot - budget if the price is right

Would being able to save $100-300++ be worth it if you have to sacrifice your time spent on the road in the air and in transit, since time is money too? Well, that would really depend on your priorities. In an ideal world where there would be no need to save money or count our precious (vacation) leave, if we had all the time in the world, than I would advocate taking the cheapest (and possibly the longest flight) to maximize your monies. However, for those who are working (or have started), both time and money are equally important; most often than not it is hard to separate the two. However, that is not to say that I would recommend forking out the S$1000++ for a ticket to Seoul. It simply is not worth it when there are promotions that could let you save as much as 50% (off the original price of a full service flight). The choice is yours, but be prepared to fork out about S$350-1200 for a flight to Seoul, be it budget or full service flights whether or not there are promotions.

Bangkok Shopping Spree (4D/3N)

Bangkok

The sun was hot and the temperature sweltering, but that didn’t stop us from enjoying ourselves. Bangkok would have to be one of the places where things are cheaper, much cheaper than in Singapore and a shopping paradise for the shopaholics (who like to get things in the bulk and cheap) out there! Now there is nothing wrong with things that are cheap, you just need to know if they are worth the money and not buy them simply because, well, they are cheap. Anyways, our time in Bangkok was an ‘exciting’ time with the military coup and all, but we still managed to have some fun and shop quite a bit. Here is our itinerary of our 4 days 3 nights adventure:


 

Day 3

 

Day 4








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