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On Flights: Things I learn as I grow older

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Booking Flights

I am no longer concerned about getting a cheaper price for my flights.

Sure, my first option when heading to a destination around the region is to check budget airlines. I rarely get the main airlines. But when flying to the Philippines, I just want to be doubly sure that I have options to take that’s NOT Cebu Pacific Air. I’ve learned my lesson (what with delayed flights, abrupt change in itinerary, the horror during the holidays!) and I am extra careful now.

I am now after value for your money.

I recently booked a flight for my mum to come over Singapore as she will look after Mr Pies while we are away.

My choices were:

Cebu Pacific 😦

or

Silk Air 🙂

I guess you know which airline I took.

Cebu Pacific

    • Fare price: USD 270 (Php 13,549.51)

To Singapore

    • Total travel duration from Davao to Singapore: ~10 hours DVO-MNL-SG
    • Baggage: No baggage allowance
    • Refreshments: None
    • Delays: Highly likely
    • Seat selection: Not included in the fare price; additional cost

To Davao

  • Total travel duration from Singapore to Davao: 3.5 hours Direct
  • Baggage: 20 kg Baggage allowance
  • Refreshments: None
  • Delays: Unlikely since it’s a direct flight
  • Seat selection: Not included in the fare price; additional cost

SilkAir

    • Fare price: USD 350 (Php 17,575.50)

To Singapore

    • Total travel duration from Davao to Singapore: 3.5 Hours Direct Flight
    • Baggage: 30 kg baggage allowance
    • Refreshments: Free flow (booze as well! not that my mum is taking any)
    • Delays: Highly unlikely
    • Seat selection: Included in the fair price

To Davao

  • Total travel duration from Davao to Singapore: 3.5 Hours Direct Flight
  • Baggage: 30 kg baggage allowance
  • Refreshments: Free flow (booze as well! not that my mum is taking any)
  • Delays: Highly unlikely
  • Seat selection: Included in the fair price

The $80 additional payment makes all the difference in the world.

My takeaway are these:

Book responsibly

I book flights that are within my means. While budget airlines are still my first choice for short distance travels, I like to keep my options open for all types of airlines.

Read reviews of the airlines you are taking

This will prove to be very helpful especially if you are not familiar with that airline. A simple Google Search will provide you with great insight on customer feedbacks.

I came across these on Cebu Pacific:

And these are what I read about SilkAir:

Take this advice with a grain of salt

It really all depends on your personal experience. And whatever rocks your boat.

Do you have any tips to getting an airline upgrade?

Please leave your answer in the form below. 🙂

Pet Cruise in Singapore

It has been almost one year since our pug – Mr Beef Pies – entered our lives. When he first came to our house in May 2015, he was still a shy dog, meekly sat in the corner looking at us with those huge gorgeous eyes. Now in less than a year he already considers himself King of the entire house and gets grumpy when we close doors on him or don’t give him his beloved foot scratches.

Mr Pies 2nd birthday was fast approaching and it was a bit of a struggle to think of some place extra special to take him for his birthday as we regularly take Mr Pies out to his favourite places like Sentosa, East Coast Park and Changi Village.

Mr Pies on Cruise

One of the places we have wanted to take him is Pulau Serangoon which is more popularly called Coney Island. It is a small island attached to the north of Singapore by a small bridge and features woodlands, a beach and views of Malaysia. There isn’t much on the beach apart from nature (although a mysterious cow lives on the island which you can read more about here / interesting, right?), but Mr Pies loves sand to play on and trees to wee on so it is like a theme park for him.

Pet Cruise 03

We had thought about taking Mr Pies there in a taxi one day, however some internet research told us there was a more interesting way. There is a company specialising in Pet Cruises that could take Mr Pies finally to Coney Island, so we thought that would be a great birthday treat for our special pug. Since Mr Pies birthday was on a work day this year, we arranged the cruise for Valentine’s Day which fell on a Sunday. This meant it was a romantic treat as well as a birthday one!

The Pet Cruise company is run by friendly Skipper Joe and departs from Punggol’s Marina Country Club. The vessel is a small motor boat and comes provided with free soft drinks and towels to make sure you stay hydrated when out under the sun. For Mr Pies’ birthday cruise we left at 11am and planned a 2 hour cruise from the Marina to Coney Island, with plenty of time for Mr Pies to run around on the beach and tire himself out. Coney Island is not the only option for your cruise destination. In addition, you could also go to Seletar Island which is even more isolated and uninhabited if you fancy a bit more privacy. Skipper Joe can also arrange activities like cycling or a seafood dinner to add onto your cruise.

Pet Cruise 02The boat is a small and clean vessel, though as always, Mr Pies was a bit nervous of new things. He spent most of the time on the boat cuddled up beside us for his protection. He was a lot happier when we finally got to Coney Island where he got the chance to run around to his little heart’s content on the beach and play around in the water.

Skipper Joe gave us the option of doing some swimming behind the boat, but since Mr Pies was already quite tired we chose instead just to let him rest on the beach for longer.

Pet Cruise 04

It was a really great day for Mr Pies and he slept for most of the day when he got back home which normally indicates a happy pug. The Pet Cruise is a lovely idea for pawrents who want to do something a bit different for their Fur Baby. After the cruise, there are a few restaurants in the Marina that allow you to eat with your dog. We would recommend though that you pre-arrange transport to get from the Marina afterwards as it can be difficult to get a cab in this remote location.

So go ahead, treat your fur baby to a lovely pet cruise. You and your little bundle of joy will definitely love it.

Pet Cruise details:

Website: https://www.sites.google.com/site/petcruise88/home
Telephone of Skipper Joe: 9637 5009

Snow, Lights and Santa: Rovaniemi, Finland

Rovaniemi, Finland is more than a 50 degree drop from where we come from, the sunny Singapore. The coldest place I’ve ever been prior to Lapland was standing for 30 seconds in a -20 degree fish freezer in Jurong for one of my projects/clients and all it did me was stink of fish all day. Other than that, it’s always been sun and rain for me, with the occasional fog during trips to the mountain (in Davao).

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Selfieville: Alive Museum Singapore

I can see how Alive Museum can be really popular to tourists and locals alike: it’s the best place to have selfies and groupies (or groufies, whatever the official term for a group ‘selfie’ photo is)! Forget about the whole 3D visual illusion concept or the amazing 3D art, think about opportunities to ‘act’ out being chased after by zombies or pissed on by a toy poodle or moonwalk like MJ.

Anyway, not to slag off the whole thing, we actually had a pretty decent time going through the museum until you reach a group of people taking ages to move on because they want to get that ‘perfect’ group shot or a couple asking you to move because you’re in the ‘frame’. Until you get past these types and you’re left alone to your own devices, then you can truly enjoy the experience. 😉

So, what to expect in the museum?

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‘Wat’ a Place – Laos PDR

After seven days in the lovely Luang Prabang, and a total of ten days in Laos, it’s time to say goodbye.

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Vientiane, Laos PDR
Our stay here has been a mix of highs and lows. We felt we overstayed in Vientiane but we had no choice as we need to apply for G’s Vietnam Visa there. We were able to witness their festivities during the Ban Tat Luang – their Christmas/New Year – but it felt more like a big Perya with sellers everywhere broadcasting their wares on loudspeakers, trash everywhere, etc. (more about this on a separate post maybe). It should have been a ‘holy’ event but it didn’t feel like it, felt more like a fiesta than anything else.

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The Scottish Lake – Loch Lomond

To add on to the list as to why Scotland is a great place to visit (yes, it’s in Lonely Planet‘s Best in Travel 2014 – Top 10 Countries), is its beautiful Lochs (lakes). You must have heard of Loch Ness where the infamous Loch Ness monster is supposed to be hiding and then there is Loch Lomond.

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A Visit to Glasgow, Scotland

My only knowledge of Glasgow, Scotland predominantly came from the film Trainspotting which I found out is actually not set in Glasgow but the capital, Edinburgh.

Anyway, even without the movie, Glasgow had its image of a rough, poor northern city which is crime-heavy and infested with junkies. I couldn’t tell you that it’s not based on my one day trip to the city center but what I can tell you is that I had a pleasant day walking around the city and I felt safe and secure even with my luggage.

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Jollibee Singapore, A Review!

Written by Mr. G – as a follow up to his previous post on the Pinoy-loved brand. I got an email from him earlier that fateful day deciding that he wants to brave the Pinoy queuers in Jollibee to get it over and done with. He We and came out satisfied and full and he came up with this. The review is too good and posting of this article shouldn’t be delayed!

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It’s here! It’s here!

Jollibee Singapore and GJ: I overheard a couple of Filipinos saying: Oh, grabe naman, may ‘kano pang nakapila

Arguably the biggest thing to happen to the Filipino community in Singapore since Western Union opened its doors – Jollibee has finally arrived! Yes, the restaurant Filipino fast food chain famous for its sweet spaghetti and unlimited gravy has landed in Singapore like a big red bee of happiness splashing (chicken) joy over the smiling faces of the Pinoy masses.

There will be no prizes for guessing where the good people at Jollibee decided to open their first Singapore branch: it could only be Lucky Plaza. Hiding amongst the pasalubong shops and money remittance branches, Jollibee now occupies a large portion of the sixth floor, and its queue occupies the other half. Sadly, the Filipino community’s gain is Happy V’s loss. Happy V was a knock-off Jollibee that had created a niche for itself in Lucky Plaza with its imitation Jollibee menu. It remains to be seen whether its logo of a big letter V can compete with the red smiling bee.

Speaking of the bee, Mr Jollibee himself has been making his appearance known at the new outlet. A cry of “Waaaaahhhhhh!” can be heard every time the six foot bee jumps out and poses for photos with happy customers. So far Jollibee have not announced if Mr Jollibee is classified as a local worker or “foreign talent”. It also appears that hiring Mr Jollibee may have filled up the restaurant’s quota of foreign workers as unfortunately his friends Twirlie, Hetty, Yum and Popo (J: Bravo on your Jollibee knowledge and well done on your good research! ^_^) were nowhere to be seen and are presumably still back in the Philippines waiting to hear if their work passes have been approved.

Mr Jollibee at SingaporeJ: I overcame my urge to have my photo taken with the bee. But I envy those who were successful. 😦

So how is Jollibee Singapore? Everybody I have spoken to about the new Jollibee warned me that the best course of practice would be to avoid the place for the next six months until the queues had calmed down (J: I told him I will never set foot in Jollibee until after three months!). News reports and rumours from friends confirmed that the crowds at Jollibee were extremely high and approaching levels only seen before in Singapore when Ikea discounted its meatballs one day to ten cents. However, unable to contain my curiousity for six months, I found myself braving the hordes of chickenjoy addicts and joining the throng just ten days after its opening day.

At first glance the queue was not so bad – no worse than some chicken rice places in Raffles Place at lunchtime. Then my eyes followed the queue into the waiting area that snaked around the side of the restaurant and knew that I was going to be waiting for quite some time. A huge line of people triple-backed on itself in the waiting hold which was composed of mainly Filipinos, a handful of Singaporean families who were excited about joining such a long queue (“Look how many people are queuing! It must be good!”), and one very obvious white guy (myself). I joined the carnival-like atmosphere of the queue and settled myself in to a long wait. For everyone’s information, I joined the queue at 18.11 on a Thursday evening and ordered my food at 20.11 – EXACTLY two hours later. The shutters to join the queue were closed down at about seven o’clock, but I have heard rumours about people still queuing late into the night and forcing the store to stay open till 2am in the morning. The general consensus seems to be that the crazy queues are only going to die down after 3 – 6 months, and that Sunday (when Singapore’s large Filipino maid community enjoy their day-off) is a definite no-go.

Queue at Jollibee SingaporeJ: Yup, this how it looks like in the spare room where the queue begins.

So….. two hours later, we reached the front desk. The service staff did a commendable job of being friendly despite what must be a very tiring and long non-stop working shift for them (J: A call out to Ate Susan – very friendly and nice, all smiles). Despite the long queue it was actually easy to find a table as most people were ordering take-out, plus the entire restaurant was admirably clean considering the sheer amount of people that were passing through it. We ordered the chickenjoy with rice and gravy, plus a Yum burger with TLC and a chocolate sundae (J: He had the extra Yum, I didn’t. Just want to make it clear). We also ordered the Jolly Hotdog but this was sold out and seems to be the most popular and fast-selling item.

The Verdict Jollibee Singapore
Food verdict:

Chickenjoy and rice: A HUGE thumbs up for the chickenjoy! Arguably the best fast-food fried chicken I have tasted in Singapore. The pieces were large and tender – not overly battered and full of flavor. I have tried the chickenjoy in the Philippines and didn’t much care for it, but I found this chicken to be absolutely delicious – kicking Popeyes and KFC into 2nd and 3rd place. The rice was just standard rice and nothing special, but what do you expect from rice? I just hope that the quality of the chicken continues and isn’t just a new opening phenomenon. J: I agree. Their chicken seems bigger and, erm, juicier than the ones in the PH.

Drink: Unlike in the Philippines, the main drink offered is Pepsi, not Coca Cola. This made no difference to me as I ordered the root beer.

Gravy: As a northern Englishman, gravy is an important component of my life. It flows in my veins instead of blood. One of the problems of Singapore is that the other fast food restaurants like Popeyes or KFC that offer gravy as a side in other countries unfortunately do not offer it in Singapore. Thankfully Jollibee rectifies this situation. With a chickenjoy meal one carton of gravy is provided, and extra cartons can be purchased for 25 cents each. I was sad that it wasn’t unlimited and free like in the Philippines, but I can understand with the crazy demand and queues why this is not possible in Singapore. The taste? Delicious, and a great accompaniment to the chicken.

Yum Burger with TLC: This was the only disappointing aspect of the meal, though to be honest I wasn’t expecting much. My Filipino friends (J: His wife also told him so) tell me anyway that Jollibee is all about the chicken and not the burgers. I have to agree with this. It isn’t a bad burger, but places like McDonalds do much better and more varied burgers and the Yum Burger sadly does not compete. My advice is to go for just the chickenjoy or the hotdog. However, if big bosses at Jollibee are reading this, please consider bringing the Jollibee Double Hashbrown burger to Singapore as that is your one burger I actually think is amazing!

Sundae: Standard chocolate sundae, very similar to its counterparts in McDonalds and KFC.

Overall, it was a very satisfying experience. There are a few items from the Filipino menu missing from the Singapore menu like the palabok (J: I want palabok too!!!) and the Champ/Aloha burger which may disappoint some fans, and I don’t believe there is currently a breakfast menu. Old favorites like the burger steak and the spaghetti are on the menu but I didn’t really see anybody going for these options as chickenjoy seemed to be the major draw. I would recommend Jollibee as a great alternative to the familiar fast-food faces that already exist in Singapore – just adjust your expectations accordingly for the extremely long queues that currently exist. Take an iPad, a downloaded copy of Candy Crush, and some friends and you’ll be fine.

ChickenJoy Jollibee SingaporeJ: Seriously, S$16 for a bucket of 6? That’s a rip off! But, everyone fell for it.

PS: Rumour has it that a 2nd Jollibee is going to open in July following popular demand. Perhaps they should build it next door to the existing Jollibee to help alleviate some of the queue!

The FoodJ: Doesn’t look much to be honest – not when you’re not a Jollibee fan/lover.

The first outlet of Jollibee in Singapore is located on the 6th floor of Lucky Plaza along Orchard Road. Nearest MRT is Orchard Road NSL.

WTF: We’re The Furballs!

Cuddle a dog at WTF: We’re The Furballs

This is what caught our attention when we happened to pass by this shop at one of our favourite ‘little areas’ in Singapore, Katong, one fine Saturday afternoon. I was hesitant at first but it was G who convinced me to go in to WTF: We’re The Furballs! Little did I know, the visit changed the course of our lives.

Ok, so I am exaggerating. G and I have been, for a while now, deliberating on getting a doggie. Initially, we wanted to get a pug because of Pigi and Wigi, our pug friends, (‘owner’ is our good friend) but having been exposed to Poppy, our office boss (toy poodle), and Pepper, G’s officemate’s shnauzer, we are now confused on what to have. Visiting WTF didn’t help at all! We were bombarded with little furballs, making pa-cute to get our attention, with their waggin’ tiny tails – now we, or maybe it’s just me, want to take them all back home!

WTF is a doggie cafe or a dog playhouse which claims to be the first in Singapore! When we first came in, we only paid S$7.50 to get in with a free bubble tea. But when we visited recently, they now have an admission fee of S$5 plus the cost of your bubble tea which is about three dollars. After your purchase, yu go up the second floor, and then you get to play, cuddle, run chase and sleep with the little darlings for as long as you like (or for as long as they like you!).

Introducing:

Bui Bui We're The FurballsBui Bui – The Pug. She was so cute sleeping on G’s lap the last time we visited.

Bui Bui on G's Lap We're The FurballsI took it home! G, not the dog. 😦

The Other Dogs at WTF We're The FurballsFrom Top to Bottom: Mochi, Duchess and LuLu all fast asleep.

G Fast Asleep with Bui Bui WTF We're The FurballsWell, the dogs were not the only ones sleeping when we visited…

The coolest thing the last time we visited was that they were all crowding around us both and comfortably settled on our laps for a nice little nap. *sigh* And I was in dog heaven!

Curled Up Furballs on My LapThat’s Slinky (the Dark, Little Sausage) and Mochi fast asleep on my legs.

Furballs All AroundFeel like I’m a dog whisperer! They were all around! I can’t even leave as Mochi was growling at me when I try to move her! The brown little one is Yuki-Chan.

Anyway, a trip to WTF does wonders. It is even a good way to de-stress. Imagine if I have all of them at home?  Hmmm… I’d go crazy! 😀 I think I can only handle one! But seriously, we are really thinking of getting one and is researching on what best to have! In G’s head, it’s good for me to keep my ‘baby’ thoughts at bay! In my head, it’s so it will keep me company when G’s away for a night of boys and booze! 😉

Before we left, we had to sign a visitors’ book and we came across this sad little note from one of the visitors:

A Note From A Visitor

This is a sad, don’t you think? Or maybe this was just written in jest!

Note To The DogsAnd this is our note to ze doggiez! 🙂

So if you’re a dawg lovah and doesn’t own one, try visiting WTF: We’re The Furballs (and take one home, put it in your bag!). :p

WTF: We’re The Furballs | 45 East Coast Road, Level 2, (Shophouses opposite Roxy Square, Near Katong Laksa) Singapore 428765 | Contact: 6348 6330 | lulu@wtfsg.com.sg | Facebook: We Are The Furballs (WTF)

An Unforgettable Trip to Pengerang, Malaysia

A month or so ago, when my tourist visa was about to expire, G and I decided to have it renewed and go out through Pengerang, Malaysia. It was supposed to be a quick lunch trip but we got more than that.

Not even that well known to locals, Pengerang is a small town at the southern tip of Johor, Malaysia. Only a 45 minute bumboat ride away from the Changi Point Ferry Terminal (far east!) in Singapore, you would think it will be somewhat similar to the (in)famous Johor Bahru, which looks like a less developed Singapore with malls et al. because of its proximity to the city-state. But it’s far cry from it.

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