Tuesday, August 25, 2015

New Zealand - North Island Day 1 - Part 2 (To Stay) Singapore to Auckland, NZ

To stay:

Hotel Ibis Style Auckland
20 Wyndham Street, Auckland 1010, New Zealand
Ibis style auckland
Toilet of the hotel
We took the morning flight from Singapore to New Zealand and it was nightfall when we arrived at New Zealand, Auckland as 4 hours ahead of Singapore time. To save cost, we decide to walk from the airport to the nearest accomodation. While it states that its 5 minutes walk from the airport.  It doesn't seem as short a distance when we have our luggage in tow.

Check-in and out was pretty smooth and easy. The beds in the room are very clean, neat and comfortable though a little lightweight. The beds move even with a little bump.

Beware that the hotel only provides a bar of soap in the toilet. No other toiletries are available. So be sure to pack whatever you need yourself. There is a grocery place COUNTDOWN just right next to the hotel should you need anything urgently.

The room itself is very small, packed and tight. There is barely enough room to put 2 luggages (1 cabin size 1 regular size.) I left my regular size luggage at the doorway as that's the only place to fit it. The walls of the room itself also has very poor sound proofing due to the thin walls.  Being a light sleeper i can hear people walking along the hallway deep in the night.  :(

Overall, i think this budget accommodation is adequate and served its purposes. Its proximity to the airport and car rental is an added bonus. Pricing is also easy on the pocket. I will definitely stay at this place if i am require to choose an place to stay all over again.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Ocean Suites - Resorts World Sentosa RWS

Ocean Suites
8 Sentosa Gateway, Sentosa Island, Singapore 098269

I am fortunate to be invited and manage to spend an afternoon there. Room service for the room from check in till i left that evening is impeccable. A manager is available to show us around the room upon check in and explain to us the room functionalities in detail. 

The most impressive moment is when the manager unveil the sea aquarium and you catch your breath in awe.

Bedroom on the first floor
Its a pretty spectacular moment.

View to the Sea Aquarium

Writing desk that gives you the perfect view

Jacuzzi while fish watching
The butler will come upon request to move away the wooden flooring (this is a little manual) to uncover the Jacuzzi. It will be better if this is made automated. This would have made the stay a little more seamless. 

Though it may be nice to enjoy the Jacuzzi in your birthday suit thinking that you're alone in the room. It may not be wise during the Sea Aquarium operating hours as we are able to see the guests on the opposite end and there is a feeding times by the sea aquarium in the morning.

While the other guests are busy enjoying the view, i was excitedly taking pictures of the rooms. The first floor has a double bed and the top floor is decked with sofas with plenty of seating to hold a party of 6 comfortably. Both floors are equipped with TVs. 

2nd floor of the room. The sofa can be converted to sofa bed for extra guests. There is another Jacuzzi outdoor as well.

There is also a yummy tropical fruit platter for the guests to enjoy. The fruits are very fresh and sweet

Another Angle of the 2nd floor room

The 2nd floor bath room

The stairway

Admiring the fishes.

SO enjoying the view

This is a very good place to get away from the hectic city life, Its is very therapeutic to watch the fishes swim.

To move around resort world you can request for a buggy ride and its is relatively easy to get one during dinner time for us. 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

New Zealand - North Island - 10 Days 9 Nights (Part 1 - Itinerary)

This is quite an accidental trip. The location is actually base on eliminating the places we wish to go and also the best flight on offer (Gasped!). Finally the winning contender: North Island - New Zealand.

After a detailed itinerary plan, i discovered (albeit unfortunately) that the north island actually has less to offer compared to the more diverse South Island. But never fear that there is plenty of adequate things to do in your itinerary.
Huka Falls - New Zealand

This trip is a slightly slow and relaxing (some places I've excluded from my trip like Wellington, Bay of islands and also Napier) as requested by my SO. On the bright side, we ending up waking up later in the mornings, spending more time together, enjoying long dinners and chill out time at a specific location.

I really wanted to do the world most amazing day walk. The Tongarrio Northern circuit but my SO chicken out and insisted that i have neither the fitness nor stamina for it. So out of the itinerary it goes. There are plenty of adrenaline rush activities for the more adventurous like Bungy jumping, black water rafting and white water rafting. The most exciting activity I did was OGO which turn out to be pretty wild. I am so glad I did it at least once in my lifetime.
Hiking at Wairere Falls

I also did hiking at both the Cathedral Cove at Coromandel and Wairere Falls at Matamata. Between the two, I deem Wairere Falls as the more difficult track to take. Do note that moderate fitness is a minimum requirement.

I did not rent a GPS from Hertz and use the app "HERE" instead. This app allows for offline access to maps and was a GPS map used exclusively by Nokia previously. Now its available for free to all including the maps. Initially, I was quite concerned and its quite a leap of faith on my part. But after this time, I most definitely continue using this as its completely reliable and trustworthy. On top of that is saves me $$$.

Air New Zealand Experience

I also like to comment on my first time experience on Air New Zealand. I am highly impressed by the high-tech nteractive touch screen which enables me to chat and play games with other passengers. This makes it extremely fun flight experience. I can also order in-flight drinks during the flight which i rated as highly efficient and effective way of communication. I also like the adjustable head rest. I am extremely entertained by the in flight safety procedures announcement, which is quirky and humourous. This is also the first time i see the additional comforts offered to the premium economy class. SQ definitely need to buck up big time!

The return night flight though  is nowhere near as pleasant. It was quite messy at the airport during check in. Somehow, we are not able to check in on the self help kiosk. We have to seek the help of an Air New Zealand staff which takes some time to spot. Everyone somehow needs their assistance. Next, is the very rude guy at the fragile and odd size items drop luggage area who seem more interested in chatting with his colleagues then fulfilling his duties. We actually got reprimanded for his own negligience, i.e asking us to push our luggage through before our luggage are tagged and when I stopped my husband we actually got reprimanded by him for not following instructions when there is no instructions to begin with. On hindsight, I should have taken down his name.

During the return flight, the in-flight menu is off all the time, so no orders of food and drinks can be made. So my 4 stars experience from first flight is now down graded to a 3.2 stars

Some of the mistakes I made on the trip is not looking thoroughly through the discount voucher book I got from the airport and end up paying more than I otherwise would have. Do also go to this website (www.bookme.co.nz). It's highly recommended by other travelers and offers good discounts on attractions. Though it might also be wise to refer to this website and verify if the original vendor can match the deals.

On the second day of our trip, we got a private parking fine by Wilson Parking in New Zealand. A 10 mins parking overtime cost us a NZ$65. Apparently, there is no recourse. They threaten to tow away your car should you fail to pay the fine. This is despite the fact that they are not government authority. I tried to google and search for recourse but online forum discussions all provide very negative reviews of this parking vendor. Quick to enforce the fine but slow to waive and response. This really a bummer for the rest of the day trip. Do AVOID PARKING at Wilson Parking unless absolutely necessary.

Overall, I am pretty satisfied with the itinerary which has little back tracking (in my humble opinion) and exposure to varied sceneries and experiences from the rolling hills to smoking volcanic regions.
Travel itinerary-New Zealand
Travel dates: 16 May 2015 to 25 May 2015. 

My itinerary:

Day 1:
 Day 2: 
*Money saving tip: Check out AWADS facebook page for discounts.

Day 3: 
Day 4: 
Day 5:
Day 6:

Day 7: 
Travel tip: Craters of the moon is a fairly short distance away. If you have 30 -45 mins to spare, you can visit the place.

Day 8: 
Day 9:
Day 10:
**Place was not visited due to last minute changes to itinerary. There is still sufficient time to visit this place.

 Details of the travel will be shared subsequent posts.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

A Malay Wedding at Joyden Hall at Bugis+

Website: http://www.joydenhall.com.sg/
I never realized that there is a separate hall within the shopping centre with facilities available for rent. The location of this place is quite accessible to all and HUGE. There is plenty of room for a reception and seated tables in the hall. In this instance, the reception area is converted for buffet corridor on both sides. There is still plenty of room in the centre for walking. The reception area and main hall is indoor and air-conditioned.
The reception exquisite decor

The main hall area is decorated with the guest tables on both sides, the pelamin at the background and a giant paper cranes centre piece from the very tall ceiling complete with a centre stage. The decoration is tastefully decorated.

The pelamin with the groom and bride's seats

Pelamin with fairy lights behind
Main stage with macarons instead of cake, high ceilings and the hanging paper cranes elogate and highlights the tall ceilings
This is the first malay wedding that i attended and i am most impressed with the food. All the food that i tried are yummy and delicious. And i've eaten more than i intended to.
Lunch buffet at main reception area

Sumptuous food display at Malay weddings

All the sisters wear the same ice blue flowy dresses and the brothers ice blue baju melayu. Even the brides parents wear blue malay costumes.
matching flowy blue costumes

I love the photobooth which allows the guests to access the photos after the event and download it on their own.

Guest tables

This is definitely a very nice and comfortable wedding to attend and a choice location is always an added bonus. Based on my experience at a guest, i will definitely recommend this place to those considering on holding their event here.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Philippines - Cebu - Day 2 and Day 3

To do:
Day 3 is spent on an island hopping cum snorkelling day trip organised by tour agency.

Welcome to Nalushan Island
This is a very interesting and fulfilling experience. So glad i tried it at least once. This day trip is a pretty steep partly because we booked it through the hotel counter but they accommodated our request to start our day early and end it early. We have highlighted it that we must be back to Cebu City by 4 pm to catch our flight at 7.55 pm on the day itself. They have fulfilled their promise to us with a little extra time for us to freshen up at the hotel before departing for the airport. I am also pleased with the fact that this trip is all inclusive. i.e there are no extra/ hidden costs. What's more food is also included.
Our transportation to keep us dry to the big boat

This is SO getting all panicky before the boat head out to sea.
OMG! What did i sign up for?
We are quite shocked that they actually told us that there is may be no float and its per special request. Nearly freaked out because SO did not know how to swim and i am also not a strong swimmer. I am thankful for the fisherman who tow 2 of us around with the float in the 10 feet deep sea. Fortunately, this is also an off-peak season for snorkelling and we have the entire boat to ourselves.

Mission accomplished!

I think i look more like the drenched chicken then SO in this picture.

I didn't wear my contacts so i used my googles without the snorkeling gear.That's me with the fisherman.

On our trip, we saw a Korean tour group guided by their Cebu plus tour agency. Cebu plus provide really exceptional service with almost one guide to 5 pax. I saw a kid in a cast and the poor guide has to carry him around even to the beach. Wow!

Nalusuan Beach
The waters is so clear that i can see all the seaweed and starfishes from the bridge i am standing on

To Eat:

Moon cafe - budget, 3 stars
IT Park, Lahug St. 6000 Cebu City

Mooon Cafe - IT Park
This place is recommend by ladyironchef so i decided to give it a try.

This drink is their signature drink. And its really refreshing and fruity.
Moon steak


I think the rest of the food is still platable but not exceedingly memorable.

Nalusuan Island - 4 stars

While i wasn't expecting much for lunch. But i am pleasantly surprised with the quality of food served. There is plenty of variety to eat. All the seafood is very fresh and yummy. I let the pictures speak for itself.

Food is so good that i even finish up the grilled fish. I normally don't eat grilled fish as its usually a tad too dry but this is nice. So it end up in bones.
Yummy chips

The only dish we didn't lap us is this plate of seaweed. Tastes is quite plain and a little tough to chew.

Grilled chicken and pork

Tropical fruit

To Stay:

Waterfront Cebu City Hotel and Casino 

The very modern new check in reception and lift lobby got me all excited and looking forward to my stay though the exterior is a little dated. Afterall, this is a 4 star hotel in Cebu and my SO chose this instead of Marriott
The modern reception and lift lobby

Looks are really deceiving!

Waterfront Cebu City Hotel and Casino - Our roomlike a scene from 1980s
I am quite surprised when i finally see my room. Its very old with furnishings that scream 1980s to me. Looks like the hotel did not change any of the room furnishings since then. The arm chair in the room has a nail head poking it. One may cut themselves with it if not careful.

The toilet is another disappointment. The shower head and taps are all old and rusted.

The only plus points are friendly hotel staff and its proximity to IT park.