Friday, November 11, 2016

Thailand - Free traveller SIM card

All you need to do is to head to tourist customer service counter at any CentralWorld Mall and sign up for a tourist pack. The tourist pack includes various coupons and more importantly -
 a voucher for a free traveller sim card. 
This AIS SIM card offers 10MB internet and 50 minutes local calls.

AIS has another really cheap plan for traveller - a SIM costs 199 bahts and comes with 7 days unlimited data, free calls to other traveller SIMs and 15 bahts call credit.

If you are travelling with your friends/ family, each person can get one tourist pack and it can make your trip much easier. As I did not know about it, I bought my SIM card before going to CentralWorld. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Bangkok Haul + What Asian Tourists buy in Thailand? (I)

My mum and I went to Bangkok in August and we sure had a good time shopping around although the heat was unbearable! We Asians are known to shop wherever we visit (which can be good and bad). So what are some 'Must Buy' items Asians buy when other foreigners miss out? What did I buy?

Edible Goods

Non-Asian tourists might find it odd why Asian tourists all flock to supermarkets????
Hey, supermarket is the best place to go if you try to look for local yummy food to bring home.
It is clean and air con cooled making it a much more comfortable place to shop at :D
Everything is marked with price and you need not to do all the bargaining (I hate it!).
However, if you want to buy fresh fruits or dried seafood, going to food markets is a better option.

Durian ***

Thailand is known for growing quality durian and durian is one of those signature Asian flavours. If you are not sure whether you will like it, most supermarkets have free sample of dried durian you can try.
Best Place to get
- Fresh Durian : Or Tok Gor food market or any food market
- Dried Durian : Major supermarkets (Big C, Tesco Lotus etc.) and souvenir stores

Among brands we tried, Durian King is the best. Strong aroma and balanced sweetness.

All kind of South East Asian Dried Fruits!

Attap fruit, tamarind, coconut, jackfruit, long gong, mango or any dried fruit you see from supermarket is worth giving a go!!

Meat Jerky and Pork Floss

Everyone loves charcoal grilled meat jerky (sorry vegetarian / vegan :P)!! Meat jerky and pork floss have been on Asian tourists' shopping list for over two decades and they are still considered one of tourists' favourite!

There are two brands everyone buys - Ha Kee Lim Jing Hieng or (Original) Lim Jing Hieng. They were owned by the Lim family but managed by different sons.

Although it has a shorter history, Ha Kee Lim Jing Hieng is doing very well as it reformulated traditional flavours to what customers nowadays prefer and its products won quite a few awards. You can find its products mostly from its Chinatown branch and small souvenir stores.

(Original) Lim Jing Hieng is usually more accessible as supermarkets and major souvenir stores stock it regularly.

Flavoured Crispy Seaweed

The company only started in 2003 but Tao Kae Noi seaweed is now one of Asian tourists' "Must Buy" food items.
Another good brand is Triple M. Although it is less famous compared to Tao Kae Noi, I actually prefer Triple M for its stronger flavour! My favourite is grilled squid flavour <3 3="" p="">

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Bonus  -  Snacks I love!!!

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<3 p="">Bento Squid Snack

I have loved Bento since a little child and it is my most loved squid snack <3 p="">

Toasted Shredded Coconut

It is heavenly delicious ! This brand does the best toasted shredded coconut.
If you like coconut and happen to see this in store, just buy it and I am sure you will love it!!

Rinbee Chips Seasoned with Nori

I grabbed it at Big C and never expected it to be this good! Must try !

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Animal cafes in Tokyo (1) - dogs, cats, bunnies, hedgehogs and owls!

I have always loved fur babies but sadly I cannot have pets at where I live. 
Therefore, I decided to visit as many animal cafes as I could in Tokyo. 

Calico cat cafe きゃりこ 新宿店
Address: 〒160-0021 Tokyo, Kabukicho, 1−16−2
Tip : Try to visit before meal time. After being fed, cats get sleepy and do not want to play.

No reservation needed and you can walk in anytime. This two-storey cat cafe has more than 40 cats in different breeds & sizes and I am sure you will find (more than) one you like.
This cafe sells chicken cat treat for 500 yen and you should add it in your budget although it is not compulsory.

We thought we could get by not paying 500 yen for chicken and just play with cats.
Yet, the reality is - all cats there were utterly food driven as if they were underfed!! 
If you have no food, the cats won't bother to come near you... :( 
We did end up getting one pack. All cats came for food then left when it was done. 
Still a great fun to be surrounded by cats and stroke them.

Staff were very gentle when caring for their cats and it is a good thing to see. Most cats were active and healthy but a few looked sick with watery eyes.

Address: 1 Chome-45-2 Tomigaya,  Shibuya-ku, Tōkyō-to 151-0063
Tip : Do not go over weekend or peak hours!
Tip : Dog walking is better than play time.

Honestly I am not a big fan of this cafe and do not recommend it. Reasons being :
1. This tiny 300-square dog cafe is way too small to be home of 11 dogs. I saw dogs going circles as they were bored. Also, some dogs got uncomfortable and try to hide as the guests sitting/ standing at its favourite spots. Dogs do need more space...

2. My fiance was underwhelmed by the lack of variety. 7 toy poodles, 3 beagles and 1 golden retriever. You might like it if you are a big fan of poodles. Yet, the selection is really limited.

* 3. Besides play time in cafe, this cafe offers dog walking experience and it is what the problem lies. Dogs there are not interested in playing with humans but going out for walk. Every single dog there wants to go out for walk and they will run to the door when they see new visitors. It happened more than 5 times in 30 minutes we were there. Dogs also bark fiercely when their fellow are back from walk or when they see someone pass by walking their dogs...


Friday, July 15, 2016

Tokyo travel tips and my story (1) Transportation in Tokyo Metropolitan area

In May, I went to Tokyo for the first time of my life and I enjoyed every second being with my beau. Tokyo is a wonderful city for tourists to experience Japanese culture but there are definitely things I wish I knew to save time, money and energy. Hence, I am writing this post to sum up my experience in a hope to help fellow travellers. 

Transportation in Tokyo Metropolitan area
Japan has one of the most complicated train system. 

To make your trip easy, remember to
1. get a free map from airport or train station!!
2. download at least one mobile app. Navitime, Yahoo transport and Tokyo Rail Map are all very helpful.
3. Get a sim card/ wifi egg. It saves live!!!
4. Plan ahead!

JR, Metro n Toei and Yurikamome are different companies. 
They don't share the same stations!
As I had never been to Tokyo before, I did not know the difference between JR, Metro, Toei and Yurikamome. I naively assumed all trains were the same and all interconnected, like V/line and normal train lines in Melbourne. 

But NO! They might have the same name but they are totally separate. JR Akihabara and Metro Akihabara are two different stations, different buildings and not interconnected! Same as Shibuya and many others! Although Google map might give you an illusion of JR station and Metro station being at the same place, please be careful when you read signs and map!
Otherwise, you could waste a lot of time!

Real life example: my hotel was in Akasaka and I needed to take the Metro Chiyoda line. Walking down to JR Tokyo train station was a mistake and taking the transit tunnel was also absolutely stupid because it was 1.3 km long. It was genuinely a torture to drag a big suitcase up and down and walk 20 minutes. All my fault and I could blame nobody. You can totally avoid it if you carefully read your map and signs.

**Decide which train company you primarily travel with **
Since each train company charges respectively, switching between JR and Metro n Toei will undoubtedly cost you extra! Therefore, it is smarter to travel with one train company (if possible). 

Also, plan ahead to see if you can be benefited from using tourist pass! Considered a return trip  between Asakusa and Shunjuku with Metro costs over 500 yen, you will definitely save money using tourist pass if you plan to juggle between a few attraction points in one day. As a tourist, you are eligible to purchase different discounted tourist pass available at airports, major train stations and selective stores. 

The key is to plan ahead based on location of your accommodation and places you want to visit.

** Suica/ Pasmo?

Suica is a NFC travel card similar to Oyster card (London), Octopus card (HK), Opal card (Sydney) and any travel card really. 
Suica can be a good if you 

  1. mostly travel with bus; or
  2. rarely need to take public transport; or 
  3. do not want to keep heaps of change; or 
  4. find it cheaper to use Suica instead of tourist pass

The best way to check price is using mobile app like Yahoo transport. Quick and easy. 

Upon each Suica purchase, You need to pay 500 yen deposit (refundable when you return the card). Although the 500 yen will be fully refunded, they debit 220 yen service fee from card credit (or full amount if your card has less than 220 yen) when you return your Suica card. If your card has no credit left (0 yen), you get the full deposit 500 yen back.

Suica with 800 yen credit left -> refund: 500 yen deposit and 580 yen
Suica with 200 yen credit left -> refund: 500 yen deposit 
Suica with 0 yen credit left -> refund: 500 yen deposit 

Therefore, try to use up every yen in your Suica!

If you don't want to use Suica, one-off paper tickets are also available for purchase.
**Choose the right tourist pass**
Tokyo Subway Ticket (24-hour, 48-hour or 72-hour) is an unbeatable champ if you mostly travel with Toei/ Metro. The cheapest way. Getting the 72-hour pass, you principally pay 500 yen daily for unlimited Metro travel! 

Tokyo Subway 24-hour Ticket – Adult: 800 yen, Child: 400 yen
Tokyo Subway 48-hour Ticket – Adult: 1,200 yen, Child: 600 yen
Tokyo Subway 72-hour Ticket – Adult: 1,500 yen, Child: 750 yen

If you primarily travel with JR East, get a Tokyo Metropolitan District Pass which costs 750 yen daily for adult.


If you need to take JR and Metro or Toei, Tokyo Tour Ticket (daily ticket) might work for you. It is quite expensive costing 1,590 yen for adult and 800 yen for child. It is not worth it unless you travel multiple times a day with both JR and Metro or Toei.

Please check the maps and see if the ticket pass covers where you want to visit. You will be asked to pay extra if you travel to area outside of the designated zone! 

Special - JR TOKYO Wide 3-Day Pass (10000 yen for adult and 5000 yen for child)

10000 yen is not cheap but you can use it travel 

  1. to Fuji mountain although you will need to switch 2+ trains
  2.  to Karuizawa via Shinkansenwhich is a popular surburb
  3.  to Utsunomiya via Shinkansen for gyoza  
  4. to Tochigi for wisteria (bloom in April and May)
  5. to Nikko for hotspring
  6. Between airport and CBD/ suburb 
  7. to any suburbs listed on the map above.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Impressive - Essence Long Lasting liquid eyeliner

  When I first saw Essence Long Lasting liquid eyeliner at Priceline, I never expected it to be anything exceptional. Yet, it outgrew my expectation and it truly is one of the best drugstore liquid eyeliners I have tried. 

  Western liquid liners have the most boring packaging and this one is no exception. This eyeliner comes with felt tip applicator in a plain black tube. Nothing fancy. The tip was surprisingly 'dry' in first couple uses, yet the ink replenished the tip and application did get much smoother after a few uses. Although felt tip is not as precise as brush tip from Dollywink or K-palette (Japanese brands), Essence liquid eyeliner works well on drawing normal eyeline or wink eyeliner. The only downside is its semi-
glossy finish as I do like matte black.

  Its lasting power is incredible. My eyeline did not smudge under 35 degree heat in Melbourne summer. It also survived 40+ Celsius Onsen and Sauna in Tokyo. My fiance splashed water on my face and it remained perfect. It stays on as long as you pet dry and do not rub.
Overall I am impressed and it is a very good drugstore option. Definitely worth trying.