Sunday, April 29, 2012

Pasalubong from friends

I'm posting here gifts/pasalubong I got from my closest high school friends. This month two of my closest high school friends Yana and Betty Jane arrived from Dubai and New Jersey respectively for their annual vacay in the Philippines. Yay! It was a once in a blue moon event since it's very rare that my balikbayan friends are all here at the same time.

I got these from Yana Banana :) I told her to bring me Galaxy chocolates when she gets home for vacation. 

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And this from Betty Jane :) This Aeropostale tank top and boxer shorts is the best sleepwear this hot summer nights. 

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During summer months, I prefer using body spritz or sprays over perfumes. They're light, refreshing, and you can spray a lot without leaving an overpowering scent. Just perfect for really hot summer days. 


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Yay! Thanks girls Yana & Betty Jane  :)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Batam View Beach Resort Experience

After a day out in the mall, we finally checked in to our room at Batam View Beach Resort. 

The room itself is old but clean. The wooden floor looked tired. Our room has the view of the sea and ongoing construction of Montigo Resort – the new place to be in Batam.

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It has the basic necessities like cable TV, mini fridge, tub and bath, hot and cold shower, hair dryer, and safety deposit box.

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The best thing about the room is the bed. Sure, the whole room may look somehow old but lying in hotel bed is the most relaxing thing to do after a day of walking.  What I loved most in staying in hotels is sleeping in its huge and firm bed.

We explored the resort when it wasn’t hot outside anymore. We checked the beach but it was lowtide. We decided we’ll just lounge by the pool.

The weekend crowd were all in the pool but it was big enough to accommodate everyone. We found an available beach bed and got our towels and spent the rest of the afternoon by the pool until sundown.

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We also played in the trampoline. It was fun jumping high but my legs got tired from all the bouncing after a few minutes.

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For dinner, we had our take away food from Ayam Penyet Ria. The chicken was good and    the spicy sauce was really hot but  I love spicy food anyway.

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We decided to hang out at the Islander Lounge and have some cocktails after dinner. There was a live band playing music and everyone was just enjoying the night.

I had Batam View Punch and I liked it. It was a refreshing drink with a strawberry fruit flavor and a kick of alcohol plus a cherry on top. Erick had Bintang beer which was too bitter for my taste. We also ordered calamari to go with our drinks. We stayed and just chatted all night long. 

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We woke up around 8AM the next day and proceeded to the Wangi Melati Coffee House for our complimentary breakfast. We thought it was continental breakfast of bread and coffee so we didn’t rushed. We found out that it was buffet! We could have gone there earlier. Anyways, we were still able to get and try all the dishes from the buffet.

After breakfast, we went to the beach. The beach sand was brownish in color and the water looked green. It was clean though. The water was cool enough to beat the morning heat.
 
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By 12nn, we checked out . It wasn’t until 2:30pm Indonesia for our return back to Singapore. We waited in the hotel lobby and waited for our transfer to the ferry terminal. The Batam shuttle brought us to Nongsa Ferry Terminal. I saw a Polo store but it was too late to buy something since we were already lining up in the immigration


It was time to go back to reality! Our Batam weekend was short, sweet, fun! And yeah cheap too. Overall, our experience was good. Although the hotel was old, the staff are friendly and accommodating as well as attentive to your needs. There are also plenty of activities to do like biking, fishing, massage, and they even have a Kinect room to entertain you.

I made a photo collage of our Batam vacation :D

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Friday, April 20, 2012

Day Out in Batam, Indonesia

During my 13-day trip in Singapore, we squeezed in a weekend trip to Batam, Indonesia. Batam is one of the largest islands in the Riau archipelago in Indonesia. It’s just a 40-minute ferry ride from Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal in Singapore. Batam is popular to Singaporeans looking for a short weekend getaway close to Singapore. There are a number of luxury hotels and golf courses and shopping malls here which sell cheaper items compared in Singapore.

Two weeks before my trip to Singapore, we booked an overnight Getaway package at Batam View Beach Resort for SGD 236 for two persons. This include roundtrip ferry transfer,  seaport taxes, land transfers, one-night superior room accommodation, buffet breakfast, free use of gym facilities and pool, and a sea sport activity. Erick and I wanted to get away from Singapore for the weekend without burning a hole in the pocket and this was the cheapest travel deal we got.

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We arrived at the Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal at 8AM and collected our ferry tickets at the counter of New Century Tours Pte Ltd. Our departure cards have been filled up based on the information I provided them through email. Our ferry bound to Batam will be leaving at 9AM and we will arrive there still at 9AM. Indonesia time is 1-hr behind Singapore.

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The ferry ride was smooth and fast. Within 40 minutes, we are already in another country – Indonesia! I sometimes wish that Philippines is near to its neighbor countries so we can country hop from one to another. But then, I love the fact that Philippines is kind of isolated from the rest of Asia. It makes the Philippines a must-travel destination.

Upon arriving at Nongsa Ferry Terminal, we were welcomed by the hotel staff who got our passports for fast immigration clearance. It was good since we didn’t have to queue for immigration anymore. But I just didn’t like that they kept our passports during our whole stay in Batam. We only got them back when we checked out.

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Another 15-20 minute ride and finally we are arrived at Batam View Beach Resort. From the look of the hotel building, you know that the hotel is old and was probably one of the first resorts in the island. It is already past its glory days. But we already expected this based from the reviews we read at Trip Advisor. Since it was still early for check-in, we requested the front desk staff for a cab to bring us to the Nagoya Hill Shopping Mall. There’s actually a free shuttle for SGD 5 roundtrip but the reservation is full. We paid SGD 20 for one-way taxi fare. 


It didn’t take long maybe just 40 minutes and we were already in Nagoya Hill Shopping Mall around 10am. It was the so-called largest shopping mall in Batam. If I could describe it, it’s like Greenhills Shopping Center in Manila with all the gadget and clothing stores. It has a supermarket – Hypermart where you can go grocery shopping a lot cheaper compared to Singapore supermarkets. We tried to look for the Polo outlet store but we failed to see it. We scoured the whole mall but there was none. Suprisingly, Adidas store was the only popular clothing brand we saw in the mall.

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Here are a few things we did.

I’ve been reading in forums that A&W used to be a popular fastfood chain in Singapore but it  closed. So we ate there just to see what’s the fuss all about.

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Their chicken meals are actually good – in terms of fastfood standards.

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And we loved the rootbeer float too!

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We also bought donuts from J.Co. Half-dozen donut only costs Rp 34,000 (Php 150+). Cheap but good! I loved the Japanese matcha green tea donut. I know that they recently opened a branch in Megamall but I haven’t been there lately. 

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I wasn’t really keen in buying anything until I saw the Wacoal store and with 50% off sign, I didn’t think twice to get in. I bought some really cute pair  - bra and undies at half the price.  Yay! I think it I only bought it for Php400-500.

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We also checked Matahari – a leading department store in Indonesia and I bought another Wacoal. It was around Rp 110,000 or Php 500+.

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We bought some snacks in the supermarket like the much-raved Chitato chips and kue lapis. I also bought one tub of Purbasari lulur. Read my Batam shopping finds here.

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It was past 1pm when we decided to go back to the hotel. We just bought take-away food from Ayam Penyet Ria to eat at the hotel. We hailed a cab outside and agreed to pay equivalent of SGD 20 for the one-way fare.

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 A day out in the mall in Batam was tiring but fun because of our good eats and great finds.  Our Batam View Beach Resort experience coming up in the next post :)

Monday, April 16, 2012

Kiseki Japanese Buffet, The Hereen

What’s the best way to celebrate a special day with a loved one? For me, it’s by indulging in good food. Erick and I celebrated our anniversary by dining out at Kiseki Japanese Buffet at the Hereen. We’ve always loved buffet and took our time to try all the dishes offered in the buffet while enjoying each other’s company. 

Kiseki Japanese Buffet prides itself as the mega Japanese buffet in mini prices. It is located at the basement of The Hereen in Orchard Road. We dined on a weekday dinner and paid SGD 63.60 for two, plus 10% service charge at SGD 6.36 and 7% GST at 4.90 for a total of SGD 74.86 (Php 2545). 

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This was my dinner treat to Erick since he’s the one who’s been spending whenever we’re out in SG :) Thanks love! I told him to meet me at Somerset MRT at 6pm after work. We got there a bit early and the restaurant was just getting ready to open. But I’m glad we’re one of the first few customers.


The restaurant was huge almost occupying the whole basement floor. There are many tables which is suitable for big groups of friends and families. There are also different sections which you can choose to be seated plus there's a kids play area where your children can be left to play.

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There are many stations in the buffet. You will be overwhelmed where to start first.


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We started in the maki and sushi sections for our appetizer which is near the entrance of the restaurant. I used to not like eating raw but now it’s quite funny that sometimes I feel a craving to have tuna sashimi. 


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There’s a full salad bar where you can customize your own salad with the freshest vegetables and seafood with a home-made salad dressing.


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If you enjoy cold seafoods, there’s a cold selection where crabs, prawns, scallops, clams, and mussels are plentiful. The sashimi counter is just beside it.


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So okay enough for the raw selections, if you fancy something grilled, there’s a grilling section where you can select your meat and ask the chef to grill them for you. We had some grilled beef and squid. You can also personalize your own pasta by choosing the toppings, sauce, and pasta. We had a seafood and bacon carbonara.

When ordering something grilled, you have to clip your table number to your plate and you don't have to wait for your food to be cooked. The food attendant will just deliver the food to your table.


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The robatayaki counter offers various grilled selections like chicken meatballs, shitake mushroom, and salmon belly.  Shrimp lovers will be delighted to find out that during the buffet night, tempura was all over the menu – ebi tempura, tendon, kakiage, tempura udon, and more.


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There’s an okonomiyaki station if you're craving for some savory Japanese pancake with a variety of ingredients. 

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Erick loves soup and he was delighted to find that there was a nabemono bar offering shabu-shabu dishes. From the selection, you can customize what to be included in your shabu-shabu. We chose the hotpot with assorted meat, naruto maki, squid balls, and veggies.

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After three hours of gluttonous eating, we are left with full stomachs and maybe a few pounds gained. We are two happy eaters. 

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I always save the best for last..desserts!  There are quite a few selection but what we really loved was the Swiss chocolate roll. It was heavenly!

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There were other desserts like mango pudding, flamingo mousse, fresh fruit slices, brownies, cupcakes, and even green tea ice cream. By the way, drinks are refillable and you can choose from fruit juices, sodas, coffee, tea.

Overall, our dining experience at Kiseki was good. My rating would be:

Food: 4/5
Ambiance: 4/5
Service: 5/5
Value for money: 4/5

Kiseki will be moving to another location at Level 8, Orchard Central in June 2012. Visit Kiseki's website, print the voucher, and present at the new Orchard Central outlet to take advantage of an exclusive offer. 



Kiseki Japanese Buffet Restaurant
#B1-01, The Heeren (near Somerset MRT Station)
Orchard Road Singapore
65 6736 1216

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Outlet store shopping in Singapore

Of all the countries I've been to, I didn't expect that I'll be able to find outlet stores in Singapore. But as luck would have it, we went to IKEA in Alexandra Road which is just opposite Anchorpoint Shopping Center which houses a few store outlets like Charles and Keith, Pedro, Cotton On, G2000, Billabong, Giordano, among many others.

The stores here offer as much as 70% on selected items and you can find items for as low as SGD 5 for plain tees.

Here are some of the stores in Anchorpoint Shopping Center.

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Charles and Keith

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Cotton On

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Billabong
To get to Anchorpoint, click here.

Anchorpoint
370 Alexandra Road
Singapore 159953
(65) 6475 2257
10am - 10pm

My Singapore shopping hauls

During my 13-day SG trip, I only promised to shop if it's on sale. Shopping in Singapore is quite expensive. True! That is if you didn't know the best places to get a good bargain. I managed to buy a few items on sale and this shopping experience made me realize that clothes and shoes in SG aren't that expensive only if you shop smartly.

Here are my shopping hauls and buying all of them makes me happy because I saved a lot! Conversion is at SGD 1 = Php 34. 

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 Charles and Keith black leather bag

     Original price: SGD 69.90 /Php 2300
     Sale price: SGD 55.90 /1900


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L-R: Charles and Keith tan office pumps, Rubi by Cotton On blue flats
                                                            
Charles and Keith shoes
Original price: SGD 53.90/Php 1800
Sale price: SGD 26.90/Php 917


Cotton On flats
Sale price: SGD 1o / Php 341



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l-R: Cotton On Animal print blaser, Forever 21 belt, G2000 boatneck top
     Cotton on blazer: SGD 10 /Php 341
 G2000 top: SGD 13 / Php 443
        Forever 21 belt: SGD 4 /Php 136

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Billabong maillot
Billabong swimsuit: SGD 20 /Php 682

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L-R: Forever 21 amethyst leggings, Cotton On black leggings
Forever 21 leggings: SGD 9 /Php 306
Cotton On leggings: SGD 5 / Php 170

I made sure to visit some outlet stores in Singapore so I can take advantage of really discounted items. After all commuting isn't hard at all and I managed to do it on my own. I will blog about this in my next entry. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Batam shopping finds

Last weekend, we made a short trip to Batam, Indonesia which is just a 40-minute ferry ride from Singapore. We wanted to have a quick getaway from Singapore and Batam Island seems to be one of the closest we can go to unwind.
Singaporeans go to Batam to shop and have a cheap and good message aside from going to the beach. We were able to visit Nagoya Hill Shopping Mall which is the largest mall in the island. To be honest, most stores here sell fake items. If I could compare it to our malls here in Manila – it’d be Greenhills Shopping Center or Harrison Plaza.

But there are also good buys here in the mall.

We bought some snacks like junk foods with variety of flavors like pizza, beef barbecue, and salted. The Chitato potato chips was really good at IDR 8,150 (Php 38).  We also tried kue lapis or layer cake which is a famous local delicacy in Batam.  We got the chocolate flavor Apollo kue lapis priced at IDR 18,550 (Php 86). It was surprisingly good with soft sponge covered in chocolate.

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I've been using the Asian Secrets Lulur whitening body scrub. Lulur was originally intended for the bride-to-be in order to beautify, smoothen, and whiten her skin before the wedding day. This skin whitening treatment is still being used by modern Indonesian women. They didn't have the ASL brand which I was using so I bought the Purbasari brand (IDR 12,760/Php 60). It was a huge savings since the scrub is sold here at Php135.

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Who loves donuts? I do! We bought half-dozen donuts from J.Co at IDR 34,000 or Php 159. Whoa! I know J.Co has recently opened here in Megamall but I haven't gone lately to check. Anyways, I really loved the Matcha green tea and Al Capone donuts (two donuts in the upper left).

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Who would have thought that I will be able to do some lingerie shopping in Batam? We passed by the Wacoal store and saw that there was an on-going sale. Yay!
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So I bought the red-striped bra (IDR 67,500 or Php 315) and panty (IDR 25,000 or Php 117). Those are the prices after the discount. And yeah, I also bought another black t-shirt bra at Matahari Department store at IDR 110,000 or Php 515. Cheap!!!

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I love my Batam shopping finds!