Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Thur night out - (1) The Chop House & (2) OutPost Bar & Bistro

Way overdue but anyway, on our monthly night outs, we chanced upon this restaurant in VivoCity. Dim lights & diners huddled together for cosy conversations, we felt very much at ease in this comfortable setting.

3 of us shared -
(1) Caesar Salad
(2) Seafood Platter (my favourite dish, the prawns & salmon were fresh & cooked to perfection, I especially liked how the freshness of the seafood was not overpowered by the marinate)
(3) Pork Burger (everyone around us were having burgers, since after finishing the seafood platter we still had stomach space for food, we added on this order)

After dinner we proceeded to OutPost Bar & Bistro to chill out with the live band playing. The first band that played was not worth mentioning because I felt their arrangement is very messy or rather, they play on a very impromptu basis so the drummer will go along with his senses to add on suitable beats to the song. The vocalist was not impressive as well. The next band however WAS impressive & the vocalist was none other than Ruth Kueo 魏妙如. Tiny girl with huge vocals, I love her performance ALOT! That night I heard her sing Mandarin, English as well as one Cantonese song, brilliant live act!

Beer, sausages, live music, fun-loving colleagues. This is how I spent my public holiday eve :)

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Phuket trip Apr'14 - Shopping!

Shopping -
(1) Phuket town weekend night market
This is a large scale local market, you can find everything ranging from food, clothes, souvenirs, accessories, DVDs, temporary tattoo services. First & foremost food, on day 2 we only had breakfast in the hotel before embarking on our city tour at 11am, as your can imagine when we got to the weekend market round 5pm we were famished. But much to our delight there were just SOOOO many stalls in the weekend market selling food.

Some of the food we had -
Grilled squid (THB40 ~S$1.60),
Fresh mango (THB25 ~S$1),
Tom Yum Goong + Thai friend rice + a can of lemon tea (THB185 ~S$7.50),
Huge sausage on a stick (THB20 ~S$0.80)
Fishcake on a stick (THB20 ~S$0.80)
Orange ice blended (THB20 ~S$0.80)
Iced orange tea (THB20 ~S$0.80)
A slice of chocolate crepe cake (THB60 ~S$2.40)
Spicy fishcakes
Mussels omelette
Chicken satay
Fried chicken wing
Mango salad

The shopping was also quite unbeatable, shorts going at THB100 ~S$4, tops also going at THB100 ~S$4. The weekend night market is pretty huge, you could easily spend 4-5hrs there, shopping & filling your tummy at the same time. Day 3 after checking out the walking street in Phuket town, we made our way back to the weekend night market because we really couldn't get enough of mainly the food & partly the shopping!

Phuket trip Apr'14 - Shopping!

(2) Phuket town Sunday walking street
Sunday after checking out, our first destination was to the Sunday walking street. As the name implies, this shopping street only operates on Sundays. This is reason why tourists intending to visit Phuket should go on weekends as this is when the weekend market & also Sunday walking street opens for business. Personally I felt this walking street was not a must-go unless you have plenty of time to spare on your itinerary because the stretch of street was not long & hence only a handful of shops available.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Phuket Trip Apr'14 - Airport transfer & city day tour

Airport Transfer
After some research online, I am glad I went with Phuket Connect Transfers. Single trip from airport to resort costs us THB800 (other sites have given higher quotes) & the duration fmo airport to resort took round 1 hour.

Day 1 of our trip - Our flight landed at 10.10am local time but the immigration queue took aeons to clear, we only exited the terminal at 11am. Fortunately the driver did not forsake us. I certainly heaved a huge sigh of relief when I still saw him waiting patiently outside the airport holding up my name on a cardboard. Best part about booking with Phuket Connect Transfers is you only pay the driver after he has sent you to your destination. I believe there are other sites which require pre-payment with credit card. I certainly do not want to risk paying only to have the driver do a no-show.

On our last day, we again hired the same company for a half day service. 4 hours for THB1,700 (~ S$68) & the final drop-off at Phuket airport. It is critical to mention in your request for quotations that you require drop-off at the airport because the location of the airport is pretty far off & requires considerable travelling time. This is an important factor for planning your itineraries, definitely wouldn't want to miss your flight!


Phuket Sightseeing & City Tour
Day 2 of our trip - Why not just kick back relax & engage a tour guide & driver to bring us round the city? Besides its the first time my other half is in Phuket. Private tour for 2 THB2,000 (~$80) & extra charge for the remote location of our resort THB200 (~$8). Well, like what the guide says, Avista Faraway.

Attractions visited -
Karon Viewpoint
Phuket Big Buddha
Wat Chalong
Cashew Nut Factory
Gem Factory

Of course the cashew nut & gem factory were not places we wanted to visit but it was part of the tour as part of the local tourism board's effort to promote their local industries. Don't worry, there is no hardselling, just take a walk around & you are free to go. We did buy a few cans of cashew nut as they are pretty tasty! Each can for THB199 (~ S$8). Comes in various flavours, we bought Tom Yum, BBQ & Wasabi.

Much of the time was spent on the bus, driving round scenic routes. We requested for drop-off at the weekend night market at the end of the tour but as you would have guessed it, the tour guide persuaded us to do a Thai massage at this shady massage place . Don't be mistaken, the place is not some "lup sup" or inappropriate business, it is a legitimate massage parlour just that it would be equivalent to the foot reflexology joints we find here in Singapore. 1hr Thai massage for 2 pax, THB800 (~S$32). Before the driver & guide left, we were negotiating on price for transportation on our 3rd day. THB2,000 for 4hrs (tour guide & driver) & final drop-off at airport, in the end we didn't engage her as prices were too steep!

As we were short of Thai Baht, we made a stopover (or rather WALKED) at Central Mall which was a 15mins walk away (& also along the way to our final destination the weekend market), we exchanged our monies at Thai Military Bank (TMB) on the 2nd floor of the mall. Rates were comparable to Singapore money changers. Central Mall also offers free WiFi for tourists, just register at the Information Counter with your passport.

The tour guide convinced us that the weekend night market was well within walking distance from the massage parlour, boy oh boy, we walked for a great distance under the sweltering sun before arriving at our destination! More details on the night market in next post!


Friday, 18 April 2014

Phuket trip Apr'14 - Cooking lessons at Pum's

Pum Restaurant & Cooking School
This would come across as pretty odd to you but as much as I love beach vacations, I am never a fan of the sun nor sea (non-swimmer here). So I never participate in sea sports when on beach vacations. On our 3D2N Phuket trip, I decided to include something out of the norm & perhaps also to prepare for wedded life. There are quite a few cooking schools available in Phuket, depending on your schedule, budget as well as preferred dishes, you will have no problem booking a class to cater to your needs.

After reading reviews I settled with Pum Restaurant & Cooking School. They have a variety of classes available depending on what you want to learn & how much time you are willing to spare. 2 of us enrolled in Pum's Little Shoes (2 pax THB3,000 ~S$120) where each of us picked 3 dishes which we wanted to learn, it was a full hands-on class. At the end of 3 hours, you get to taste the fruits of your labour!

Day 1 of our trip - After some rest, we took the resort shuttle to Jungceylon for lunch before our cooking class at 4pm. There was 6 students in a class & our teacher is called Irene. At Pum's, they advocate cooking using natural ingredients which should be easily found in wet markets (or hopefully Golden Mile Complex here). All ingredients are prepared beforehand so we just follow Irene's instructions to cook the dishes. Quite an experience I'd say. I was certainly surprised at how simple the dishes could be prepared & for those health conscious, you will be happy to know that at Pum's, they cook without using MSG.

Dishes we prepared -
Phad Thai Goong - Thai fried noodles with prawns
Gai Satay - Chicken Satay with peanut sauce & cucumber dressing
Sam Tum - Spicy papaya salad
Tom Yum Goong - Thai hot & sour prawn soup
Gaeng Kheo Wan Gai - Thai green curry with chicken
Khao Nieo Mamuang - Mango with sticky rice

Phuket trip Apr'14 - Flight & accomodation

JetStar sale tickets $448 for 2, departs on Fri 18 Apr 8.20am & returning on 20 Apr 10pm. Flight landed puncutally but immigration at Phuket airport took an hour to clear (can you believe it??). We did not encounter any delays for our departing flight on 20 Apr :)

Location - Booked a 2N stay (THB12,000 ~S$500) in Club Vista room at the luxurious Avista Hideaway Resort & Spa, located up the hill (exact location is Tri Trang Beach) from Patong Beach. Location of this resort is not most convenient, the tour guide which brought us round the city on Day 2 joked that this is Avista Faraway. Also, when looking for transport back to resort from the weekend market, taxi quoted us THB700 (~ S$28) again because of location. Transportation back to Patong Beach would probably at best only cost round THB500 (~ S$20).

I picked this resort as I wanted peace & tranquility considering we were visiting during the Easter long weekend, I would expect Patong Beach to be packed with tourists & parties late into the night. And this resort only opened its doors in 2012, everything is new which is something I really like. Pardon the cleanliness freak in me but I would hate to imagine head lice crawling on used pillows and bedsheets!

Day 1 of our trip - When we arrived at the resort on Day 1, it was approximately 12pm local time. Once you step into the main reception area, you can't help but be blown away by the lovely scenery. Being immersed in such lush greenery all around the resort, the unblocked view is simply breathtaking. Official check-in was at 2pm but fortunately the staff was accommodating enough to allow us to check-in ahead of 2pm, we waited approximately 20mins for the staff to prepare our room. We eagerly explored the resort & snapped many pictures while sipping on the welcome drinks.

The walk from reception desk to our room requires a fair bit of navigation but nothing too mind boggling :) I was pretty disappointed to find out that none of the rooms have a sea-view because of the orientation of the resort. To my dismay, our room 902 faces barren lands, probably pending construction works to be done. Looking down from the balcony you would see the Club Vista pool :) The room is spacious & the lightings create a warm & cosy ambience, perfect for relaxation!

Right after we checked into our room, we crashed & took a nap & only got up in the afternoon to catch the hotel shuttle to Jungceylon. Our hungry tummies settled upon Urban Food for lunch, food was nothing to shout about & prices were comparable to Singapore X_x.

After lunch we strolled around Patong area before our cooking class at 4pm.

Breakfast - Our room reservations included buffet breakfast served at Vista - The Restaurant every morning, food variety is not too shabby! I certainly enjoyed my sumptuous breakfast for the 2 consecutive mornings, in particular the high ceilings & surrounding greenery makes you feel very refreshed & recharged each morning.

Swimming Pools - The Avista Hideaway has 3 pools - (1) the main pool which is right in front of Vista. (2) The Club Vista is a private pool located right beneath my block of rooms. This is an adult-only pool so for those who want to escape from the screaming kids, this is the pool to go to. (3) The riverside pool, right beneath the main reception area.

Day 3 of our trip - Got up for breakfast before heading to the pool, frolicking in the water & sipping our drinks (Mango ice-blended & Mojito for THB320) by the pool is quite an indulgence! Our return flight was at 10pm & the hotel has kindly extended late check-out at 4pm. We arranged for transport to pick us up at 4pm. Based on my interactions & experiences with local Singapore hotels, none of which has ever offered such late check-out timings. Maybe partly because I am a local doing a staycation, not a tourist waiting to catch a flight.

To sum it up, I am very glad to have booked my stay with Avista. The resort was simply amazing!

Saturday, 5 April 2014

BFF's belated birthday at Selfish Gene Cafe

Yet another place serving whole-day breakfast but the food was nothing to shout about. Managed to get seats without queue, a plus point if you are looking for a place to settle your whole-day breakfast craving.

Celebrated the bff's birthday, their chocolate cake is so thick & tasty but even the 2 of us didn't manage to finish it.

We had :
Breakfast Plate
The Valerie
Chocolate Cake