Thursday, August 25, 2011

Mayo Inn - Singapore

This time going to Singapore, it took longer than usual to figure out where to stay. Last year's stay at Fernloft didn't turn out well so we needed to find another place better (location wise as well as quality). Looking up and down Agoda and also Tripadvisor, I finally found a place called Mayo Inn. It's located pretty close to Bugis and it's between Bugis MRT and Little India MRT. Unfortunately the reservation can only be made straight with the hotel. I said unfortunately because it took a few emails later before we finally got a confirmation. That was also made complicated due to our request of having a window room. They did fulfil the request though with a note that the window couldn't be opened.

One thing worth noted since Mayo Inn is a small hotel (only around 16 rooms) so when we requested a reservation, it couldn't really be guaranteed unless we paid for it. For us that's not quite a problem since we really needed a room anyway.

Okay let's talk about the hotel/room itself. When we first got there, it took us a while to figure out the route to the hotel. But later on we found out the best route so we stuck to that. It only takes about less than ten minutes walk to Bugis MRT. The road next to the hotel is always bustling with traffic but as soon as we walked in the lobby area it's totally different. There was like a small water fountain that brings calm and the AC was cold as it can be compared to the almost 90F outside. Check-in was a breeze. within minutes we took the interesting elevator up to third floor. I said interesting because unlike ordinary elevator that has two layers of doors, this one only has one layer. So walk in the elevator and stay to the back of it because the elevator has a censor that will tell it to stop working if somebody stay to close towards the front. It's pretty scary looking at each floor the elevator went through and looking at the wall outside. But for the one night stay we only used the elevator twice. I would rather climb the staircase. Just think of it as exercise. :)

The room was small. The bathroom on the right hand side when we walked in. Then a tiny vanity with mirrow between the bathroom and the bed area. There was a huge window but partially was covered with stained glass. The other part that was clear glass was blocked by those older style window that has unmovable blinds. So the hotel rep was right we couldn't opened the window. And even with the all covered glass window, we could still hear the traffic downstairs. Not to mention that at the time there was this big construction happening just about twenty yards away. But I tried to tell myself and hubby that by night time the construction was going to stop and it's going to be less noisy. Nope. Apparently in Singapore, construction work didn't stop at night. But we were so tired from walking around whole day, even hubby who was usually a light sleeper passed out as soon as he touched the bed.

The bathroom was small and cute. It's shower on one side, sink in the middle and toilet bowl on the other end. Of all the place with standing shower, this is the one I didn't feel gross using it without my flipflop. The door to the bathroom was a big piece of thick tempered glass with rubber sealed around the edge of the door. So even though the bathroom was tiny but when we showered the water didn't leak out at all.

All in all we were quite happy with the room. Though there was no phone at all in the room. When hubby got a phone call from his friend, the front office girl walked all the way up to our room to give us the message. Due to the noise coming from the street, I am not sure if we'll be using this hotel again next time. Maybe we could ask for a room that doesn't face the street but then it most likely would be windowless.

Mayo Inn
9 Jalan Besar, Singapore  Ph 6295 6631

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Knitting little elephant and little giraffe

Last minute I found out that my nephew wanted safari animals for his birthday. I started looking on the internet for the pattern. Voila, I found this website where I found just the perfect pattern for my project.

The little elephant may look big in picture but it's only around 5 inches (12.5 cm) from trunk to bum (to borrow Christine's measurement) and 5.25 inches (13.5 cm) from ear to ear. While Christine knitted hers with US 6 double pointed needles I did mine with US 7. It's still tight enough to stuff with the filling.

The best of all, if you're tight on schedule, you can get this done within days. I got the little elephant done within two days and in between I still had to get my daily stuffs done. So I didn't really spent 48 hours, it's more like maybe 5-6 hours. And I didn't knit that fast either.

As soon as I found out that I still had time, I quickly started the second project from the same creator, Christine Landry. The little giraffe.

This second project seemed a bit slower at first because I never get used to knitting with more than one color. Beside I also have to follow the pattern provided. But after I got my first leg done, the rest seemed a lot easier.

All in all, the instruction was easy to follow. I only came to a halt understanding the last part of the little giraffe instruction about shaping the ear. It was just the night before my due date and I was almost upset that I didn't understand the instruction. But I thought I just gave it a try as it read on the instruction and it came out better than I expected. :)

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Indonesian snacks

A few things that I usually look for when I go back to Jakarta (not in any order of urgency)

* Baso or bakso
This comes in different varieties and style. Basically it is a combo of meat balls, tofu, rice noodle/yellow noodle with beef bone broth. Everybody has preference on taste that's why you have to season according to taste. Ground chilli, sweet soy sauce, vinegar are among condiments to go with. Depends on where you go to, some baso comes with fried garlic some with fried shallot and chopped celery. Same goes with meat balls. The meat balls for baso can be meat only or meat with tendon. Some places offer thinly slices of beef tendon and tripes in the soup.

* Siomay bandung
Believed to be influenced by the Chinese shumai (hence the name). But this siomay is actually served with peanut sauce. It's made with a combination of fish, chicken and shrimp. Ground to paste and mixed with tapioca starch and seasoning. Then shaped and steamed. Some wrapped with cabbage leaves. Served with peanut sauce and side of chilli sauce.

* Pempek
It's a snack made of fish paste mixed with tapioca starch and seasoning. Shaped and boiled to cook. Depends on preference, they could also be lightly deep fried before serving with the sauce called cuka (choo kah) and sprinkler of powdered dried shrimp and cut off cucumber. Cuka in plain Indonesian means vinegar. But cuka is not just made of vinegar, it also contains brown sugar, garlic, chilli and salt. These days, some vendors actually mix vinegar with tamarind juice to give less vinegaric taste to it.

* Asinan
Asinan is almost like salad. A combination of shredded vegetables - cucumber, lettuce, bean sprout, preserved vegetable (hamchoy), carrot. Top of with crackers (kerupuk mie and regular kerupuk). Then drizzled with the dressing. The dressing is made of combination of ground peanuts, chilli, sugar, salt, and vinegar.

* Otak-otak
Otak in Indonesian means brain. But otak-otak doesn't mean lots of brain. In fact it's a yummy snack made of ground fish, salt, sugar, starch and coconut milk. The mixture is then shaped in a long shaped like a small ruler with a length of 4-5 inches and wrapped in banana leaves. This tiny package of fish is then grilled and served with peanut sauce.

* Soto mie
Mentioned soto in Indonesia and you'll be surprised to know that there multi variants of soto. Sotos are soup with tons of stuffs. Depends on which type of soto, the broth could be clear or could also has coconut milk. It could be beef based or chicken based. The one I'm talking about today is beef based clear broth. When it comes to soto mie, it is usually serves with a combination of rice stick, yellow noodle, slices of beef/beef tendon, thinly sliced tomato,potato, cabbage and risoles (snack pocket with veggies and rice stick noodle).

Monday, August 8, 2011

Ramayana Resort & Spa - Bali, Indonesia

I've been wanting to check this hotel out. Last year we passed by this hotel and I told hubby next time we should give it a try. Then when I found out that we'll have a few days in Bali, I went and checked out the price. Wow..not cheap for our budget. But it's hard to get a room even for one night. I'm not sure if it's just Agoda or it's high season.

We got our air tickets from Mutiara Travel in Jakarta so I figured that they could also arranged me a hotel. But the only rooms they have are for Kuta Beach. They were sold out for Ramayana and I asked for Hard Rock they said they'd get back to me on that. Later on they told me they couldn't find any room at Hard Rock. I guess each travel agency has an amount of rooms that they can sell. Or maybe they bought a bunch of rooms from popular hotel and resell them.

Anyhow, by then since I have purchased the air tickets, I asked hubby to look again at Agoda to find a room at Ramayana. He couldn't get three nights. But he could get one night. At one point, that one night 'disappeared'. I was so mad at him. I went back and tried it again and it showed up again magically. We quickly purchased it. I wasn't sure what's going on. Maybe somebody back out of the reservation ? He offered to look up another room for different night. But I really wanted to get the reservation done. So in the end I called Mutiara Travel back and bought two nights at Kuta Beach Club instead.

From the decor and condition of hotel, Ramayana is definitely newer than Kuta Beach Club. The hotel has two restaurants; one by the road side which is also used for serving breakfast and the other one next to the pool. We didn't have chance to try any of the restaurants. Our purchase through Agoda didn't come with free breakfast. Nor did we have any chance to hang out by the pool since we were there only one night.

Our room was nice with a small bench that's nice for sitting down looking for inspiration. ha..ha.. The bathroom was not very big but clean. Drainage worked well which was important. Too bad we only had one night available there. But next time we'll be back if there's a good deal from Agoda.

Ramayana Resort & Spa
Jalan Bakung Sari, Kuta-Bali, Indonesia
Ph 62 361 751864

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Beverly Hills Town House - Bandung

View through front door from inside
Located not too far from the busy Jalan Juanda (aka Dago) is a small establishment for rent. From the small road outside, one can only see the front office building. We parked our car and I walked inside to request the key. After the check-in process done, we followed one of the employee through a small road on the side of the building. We drove slowly while looking at each of the town homes we passed by. Some looked a bit deserted. I started to worry what kind of place we'll be staying in the next few days. Finally we stopped at one town house with a tiny pond in front. Wow..not bad from outside. Glass front door all the way from the bottom to the top.

View of backyard through glass door

When we walked in, straight away we could see through another glass door to the back yard. Kitchen was modern looking with glass countertop and island in the middle.
Kitchen with glass countertop

Second floor bedroom has door to a small balcony. Our requested additional mattress were placed in the closet area. Third floor bedroom was slightly smaller with neither balcony nor closet.
Restroom with pebbles bottom

Second floor bedroom
Closet area
The town house supposed to fit only four people. But we were allowed to add another three mattresses. For around IDR 2 million/night (around USD 235) it's not exactly cheap. But we were able to fit seven adults and five children altogether under one roof, so it's not a too bad of a deal.

Beverly Hills Town House
15 Sangkuriang, Dago-Bandung, West Java, Indonesia
62 22 2534888

Monday, August 1, 2011

Fat Dragon - Bandung, Indonesia

This restaurant is part of the resort hotel GH Universal in Bandung. We were there to redeem our free porridge buffet dinner. My brother got those vouchers last time when they dined in.

We got there around 7 pm on Friday night and the place was packed. We waited for around 10 mins and were seated. The concept was grab your bowl and fill with porridge. There were few types of porridge available. Plain, beef, chicken, phi tan (thousand year egg) and seafood. The basic condiments like green onion, celery, fried shallot and fried wonton skin were free. Other condiments like fried chinese doughnut could be ordered with additional charge.

We shared some of the fried chinese doughnut and picked a few types of dimsum from their dimsum list.

The shumai, lo mai kai and chinese doughnut we got were just average. One dish that deserved to be noted was the fried pork. Tender and yummy with part of meat and fat. Served with a tiny dish of chili paste.

I am not sure whether the slow service was due to amount of patrons that night or they were just plain inefficient. The porridge itself can't be differentiate between one flavor to another. We were given more vouchers for next visit. But I doubt we'll be going back in the future.

GH Universal Hotel
Jl. Setiabudi No. 376
Bandung, West Java, Indonesia
Phone : 62-22-2010388