Friday, March 28, 2014

Where to stay in Krabi?

This post is moved to where to stay in Krabi.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

HTC One (M8) in Singapore

HTC One (M8), the new edition of one of the most successful Android smartphones of last year, is official. HTC One (M8) will be released in Singapore in April 2014. Powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 2.3GHz quad-core processor (the model for Asia is clocked at 2.5GHz), new HTC One's price is not known yet but expected to be in 800 - 1000 Dollars range. Sintel, StarHub and M1 HTC One contract rates will be announced closed to the launch date in Singapore.

HTC One M8 has several improvements compared to HTC One M7 such as bigger screen, better software and a better camera and imaging experience. HTC One M8 weights 160 grams and comes in Gunmetal Gray, Glacial Silver and Amber Gold colors. Amber Gold color will not be available in Singapore during launch in April.

HTC One has two lenses in the rear (a primary camera and a secondary camera). Second lense collects depth information and HTC One M8 is equipped with a software which allows users to pick different points of focus in the final photo taken. The depth data captured by second camera also makes it possible to give images 3D look.

HTC One, which was announced almost a year ago, was the best selling phone ever for Taiwanese handset maker HTC.

We will be looking forward to be spoilt for choices in Android phones domain. Sony Xperia Z2 will be released in the first week of April 2014 in Singapore with the price tag of S$998 without 2-year operator contract. And Samsung Galaxy S5 will be also launched in Singapore around that time. Samsung Galaxy S5 price in Singapore is not revealed yet.

HTC One M8 will be in Singapore in April 2014.
HTC One M8 will be in Singapore in April 2014.

HTC One M8 Specifications:
Dimensions : 146.36 x 70.6 x 9.35 mm
Weight : 160 gram
Colours : Gunmetal Gray, Glacial Silver and Amber Gold (not avail. in Singapore at launch)
Processor : 2.3GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor (the model for Asia is clocked at 2.5GHz)
Display : 5-inch Super LCD 3 display with full HD 1080p resolution
Memory : 2 GB of DDR2 RAM
Storage : 16GB or 32GB of internal storage, microSDXC support for up to an additional 128GB of storage
Primary Camera : HTC UltraPixel camera , BSI sensor, pixel size 2.0 um, sensor size 1/3”, ƒ/2.0, 28mm lens. HTC ImageChip 2. 1080p Full HD video recording with HDR vide.
Secondary camera : capture depth information.
Front Camera : 5MP, ƒ/2.0, BSI sensor, wide angle lens with HDR capability, 1080p Full HD video recording. Gallery with UFocus, Dimension Plus, Seasons, Foregrounder, Image match.
Battery :  2,600 mAh battery
Mobile Operating System : Android 4.4 KitKat with HTC Sense 6 user interface

Monday, March 24, 2014

MH370 flew off Australia last seen in Southern Indian Ocean Najib Razak says

There are new missing MH370 news but this time they are unfortunately dark ones. Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak has just ended a press conference which was announced a few hours ago. He has told that missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 has last communicated with the sattelite in Southern Indian Ocean off Australian city of Perth. This is the position where suspected debris is located by satellites.

Here is Najib Razak's statement on MH370:
This evening I was briefed by representatives from the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB). They informed me that Inmarsat, the UK company that provided the satellite data which indicated the northern and southern corridors, has been performing further calculations on the data. Using a type of analysis never before used in an investigation of this sort, they have been able to shed more light on MH370’s flight path. 
Based on their new analysis, Inmarsat and the AAIB have concluded that MH370 flew along the southern corridor, and that its last position was in the middle of the Indian Ocean, west of Perth. 
This is a remote location, far from any possible landing sites. It is therefore with deep sadness and regret that I must inform you that, according to this new data, flight MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean. 
We will be holding a press conference tomorrow with further details. In the meantime, we wanted to inform you of this new development at the earliest opportunity. We share this information out of a commitment to openness and respect for the families, two principles which have guided this investigation. 
Malaysia Airlines have already spoken to the families of the passengers and crew to inform them of this development. For them, the past few weeks have been heartbreaking; I know this news must be harder still. I urge the media to respect their privacy, and to allow them the space they need at this difficult time.

Najib Razak has left without taking any question. For more details, a news conference will be held tomorrow. Najib Razak's announcement means that now authorities believe that MH370 has crashed in Indian Ocean without any survivors.

Malaysia Airlines has also posted this statement below at 10:15 pm:

"Malaysia Airlines deeply regrets that we have to assume that MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean. As you will hear in the next hour from Malaysia’s Prime Minister, new analysis of satellite data suggests the plane went down in the Southern Indian Ocean.

On behalf of all of us at Malaysia Airlines and all Malaysians, our prayers go out to all the loved ones of the 226 passengers and of our 13 friends and colleagues at this enormously painful time.

We know there are no words that we or anyone else can say which can ease your pain. We will continue to provide assistance and support to you, as we have done since MH370 first disappeared in the early hours of 8 March, while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

The ongoing multinational search operation will continue, as we seek answers to the questions which remain. Alongside the search for MH370, there is an intensive investigation, which we hope will also provide answers.

We would like to assure you that Malaysia Airlines will continue to give you our full support throughout the difficult weeks and months ahead.

Once again, we humbly offer our sincere thoughts, prayers and condolences to everyone affected by this tragedy."

Although Najib Razak says MAS has spoken to relatives, some online news articles say that prior to the press conference being held, Malaysia Airlines sent a SMS to relatives of those aboard the plane saying that it is to be "assumed beyond any reasonable doubt" that MH370 has been lost. Sending something like this with SMS is quite insensitive!

Here is the Chinese translation of Malaysia Airlines statement:




注: 以下信息谨与MH370航班的乘客及机组人员的家属共享。







It is expected that these relatives will be booked on charter flights and taken to Australia.

This news development also means that we may never know what has happened to MH370. Why a Boeing 777 flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing has diverted its path on South China Sea and flew all the way to South Indian Ocean has become the biggest mystery of aviation history. Even if the black boxes are found and retrieved from thousands of meters deep Indian Ocean, the flight voice recorder only records the last 2 hours of cockpit voice so we probably will not have the most cruicial part, diversion of the plane from its course on the recorder.

Malaysia Prime Minister announcements at missing MH370 news conference
Najib Razak's announcement at missing MH370 news conference confırms that the missing Malaysia Airlines
Boeing 777 flew to southern Indian Ocean off Australia.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Exclusive Offer for WATSinsiders @ Wala Wala

Now on its 21st year and still going strong, Wala Wala Cafe Bar has been an iconic establishment—the home of excellent live music where friends get together and enjoy a good time over beer and drinks. Set in Holland Village since 1993, the appeal of Wala Wala lies in its relaxed and as-simple-as-it-gets-chill vibe.

Drinks & Specials

Be greeted by the unmistakable bright yellow backdrop of Wala Wala's bar, where the walls are lined with a diverse range of spirits along with seven taps of brew (Kronenbourg Blanc, Asahi Kuronama, Asahi Premium Jukusen, amongst others).

With a solid selection of more than 35 bottled beers, including Fremantle’s Little Creatures, Vermont’s Séance from the Magic Hat microbrewery, and Westmalle Tripel, from one of the last 7 trappist breweries in Belgium, the range of choices entices regulars and newcomers night after night.

As a special offer for March 2014, Wala Wala is offering a jug of Carlsberg Beer for only $28nett (UP $39 HH $30) upon flashing the WATSinside app.* The discount is exclusive to those who download WATSinside from the App Store or Google Play.

As a bonus, those who spend $150 and above will also stand a chance to win a premium goodie bag from WATSinside filled with top-of-the-line phone accessories. Check out Wala Wala or WATSinside’s Facebook page for more details.

WATSinside is a lifestyle app with a wide range of features that allow users to enjoy the city's vibrant and cosmopolitan lifestyle to the fullest.

Live Music

Wala Wala's upper level is a melting pot of performance genres that sees an eclectic presentation of pop, rock, soul, acoustic folk and sometimes grunge, guaranteed to get your booty shaking and your heartbeat racing. Notable acts include Shirlyn & The UnXpected, Tabula, Jack and Rai, 53A, with acoustic sessions taking centre-stage, 7pm onwards every Monday to Friday.

Open every day, Wala Wala Cafe Bar has a different experience depending on what you’re looking for and makes for a low-key evening out, with a little extra bustle on weekends. Already a favourite along the Lorong Mambong strip, we say come on over and be a part of the experience!

Win a special goodie bag from WATSinside Singapore. Just spend a minimum of $150 in
a single receipt within March & stand a chance to win
1 of 2 goodie bags filled with premium phone accessories.

Wala Wala Cafe Bar is at 31 Lorong Mambong, Holland Village, Singapore 277689. Here is their Facebook page.

*T&Cs apply. Offer valid from Sunday to Thursday only. 

Flights to Nagoya from Kuala Lumpur by AirAsia X

Now there is one more and cheaper alternative to fly to Nagoya from Kuala Lumpur. Long-haul budget airline AirAsia X has started direct flights from Kuala Lumpur to Nagoya (Japan) four times a week using Airbus A330-300 aircraft on the route. Kuala Lumpur – Nagoya route makes Nagoya AirAsia X’s third destination in Japan after Tokyo and Osaka.

AirAsia X's inaugural flight to Nagoya from KL carrying 341 passengers, a 90% passenger load arrived at Chubu Centrair International Airport on March 17th 2014.

Nagoya, the third-largest incorporated city and the fourth most populous urban area in Japan, is 50 minutes away from Osaka and 1 hour 40 minutes from Tokyo by train. Nagoya is one of the nation's major economic centers and the Detroit of Japan since many of Japanese automotive companies are based in Nagoya. Nagoya – Kuala Lumpur flights will connect this major Japanese hub to South East Asia and promote tourism in Malaysia. Nagoya being a scenic and historical destination is also a nice tourist destination in Japan.

To celebrate the launch of Nagoya – KL route, AirAsia X is now offering launch fares from MYR 299 (JPY 11,000) in Economy Class and MYR 999 (JPY 29,900) in Premium Class to Nagoya from Kuala Lumpur. Fly Thru launch fares are also available from selected destinations in Malaysia, Australia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, India and Vietnam to Nagoya. Bookings are available online from 18 to 30 March 2014 for travel between 19 March and 30 September 2014.

"With AirAsia X's renowned low fares, guests from Japan may now travel from our ports in Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya when exploring their travel and holiday plans to the Southeast Asia region and beyond via the Kuala Lumpur hub.

"This is very much in line with the government's tourism agenda, and the airline's commitment to boost the Malaysian tourism industry as well as increase tourism traffic across our group network. Similarly, with the addition of Nagoya, guests will have more travel options to explore Japan, and we believe Nagoya being a scenic and historical destination will be a popular tourist destination," said AirAsia X CEO Azran Osman-Rani.

AirAsia X Airbus A330-300 at Melbourne Airport
An AirAsia X Airbus A330-300 seen here taxiing at Melbourne Airport. With Nagoya, AirAsia X is now flying to
3 destinations in Japan : Nagoya, Osaka and Tokyo.
AirAsia X is a long-haul, budget airline based in Malaysia and flies to destinations within Asia and Oceania. AirAsia X is the medium and long-haul operation of the brand AirAsia, Asia's largest low-cost carrier.

Here is the flight for AirAsia X flights between Kuala Lumpur and Nagoya.

Flights From
Departure/ Arrival
Flight No.
Kuala Lumpur to Nagoya
D7 546
D7 542
Nagoya to Kuala Lumpur
D7 547
D7 543
1- Monday, 3- Wednesday, 5- Friday, 6-Saturday

Monday, March 17, 2014

Did Malaysia Airlines MH370 disappear using SIA68 (another 777)?

Since it became almost obvious that missing Malaysia Airlines (MAS) MH370 was delibrately flown from South China Sea to Andaman and then flew almost 6 plus hours to either Central Asia or Southern Indian Ocean, people are trying to figure-out how a wide-body aircraft like Boeing 777 can fly without being detected. Since this is highly unlikely, many experts believe that the MAS Boeing 777 probably flew to South than North. Since none of the 25 countries looking at their radar records could locate an unidentified plane, it would have flown to the south. Or maybe very low?

An interesting theory which is going viral involves another Boeing 777 belonging to Singapore Airlines. Singapore Airlines Flight 68, SIA68 namely.

 Keith Ledgerwood, has plotted the route taken by the missing MAS plane and then looked for another plane which was there around that time and found out that SIA68 was passing through there and flying to Europe to its final destination of Barcelona, Spain. Indeed, the unusual Singapore Airlines service flies from Singapore to Barcelona and from there to Sao Paolo.

Basically, Keith Ledgerwood calculated that MAS plane was at 1815UTC when military radar lost contact. At the exact time, SQ68 was also there:

It is my belief that MH370 likely flew in the shadow of SIA68 through India and Afghanistan airspace.  As MH370 was flying “dark” without transponder / ADS-B output, SIA68 would have had no knowledge that MH370 was anywhere around and as it entered Indian airspace, it would have shown up as one single blip on the radar with only the transponder information of SIA68 lighting up ATC and military radar screens.

Wouldn’t the SIA68 flight have detected MH370? NO!  The Boeing 777 utilizes a TCAS (Traffic collision avoidance system) system for traffic avoidance; the system would ordinarily provide alerts and visualization to pilots if another airplane was too close.  However that system only operates by receiving the transponder information from other planes and displaying it for the pilot.  If MH370 was flying without the transponder, it would have been invisible to SIA68.
Source : Did Malaysian Airlines 370 disappear using SIA68 (another 777)?
Although another commercial plane would not see MH370 on TCAS system, MH370 could easily see all commercial airlines nearby! MH370 would see the direction, speed and altitude of other airliners (see below)!

TCAS (Traffic collision avoidance system) screen on Boeing 777 cockpit.
TCAS (Traffic collision avoidance system) screen on Boeing 777 cockpit.
Courtesy of
Keith Ledgerwood theorizes that if MH370 indeed followed SQ68, it would have been free to break off from the shadow of SIA68 somewhere in Cental Asia and then land in Xingjian province of China, Kyrgyzstan, or Turkmenistan.

Last known position of MH370 on Malaysia military radar and the position of SIA 68.
Courtesy of Keith Ledgerwood

Costa Victoria Cruise from Singapore Deal - Family Package Special: 5D4N Langkawi / Phuket

There are many ways to spend this year-end holiday with your family. This Costa Victoria cruise deal family package special offers a unique experience to enjoy with your family. You will be on Victoria-class cruise ship Costa Victoria of Costa Crociere and sail for a 5D4N trip to Malaysia's paradise island Langkawi and equally beautiful Phuket of Thailand. With ample agendas, live performances and facilities onboard for you and your family’s perusal, this cruise will take boredom out of the question. Kids can be taken care of in the Children Squok Club and make friends when parents are in the mood to go for romantic excursions. Get your share of a wonderful getaway with today’s deal.

Costa Victoria can carry 1928 passengers and is more like a floating luxury hotel than a cruise ship. With its Italian interior design, four glass elevators and seven-deck-high ‘planetarium’ atrium and with 964 cabins, of which 573 have an outside view, Costa Victoria is Costa Cruises’ largest ship deployed in South East Asia (deployed in South East Asia from Singapore since 2013).

The package includes cabin stay (Inside classic cabin/ Oceanview classic cabin), all meals on board, gala nights, on-board entertainment shows and activities, Children’s Squok Club and onboard credi t of USD 25 per person for selected departure dates.

Costa Victoria Cruise from Singapore Deal - Family Package Special: 5D4N Langkawi / Phuket
5D4N Langkawi / Phuket Cruise on Costa Victoria
The deal comes with 4 price options (the prices does not include port charges and service charges, see terms and conditions):
  1. You can stay in Ocean View Classic Cabin and depart on 8, 15, 22 & 29 Nov 2014 for only $429 per person instead of $824 (minimum 2 people)
  2. or stay in Inside Classic Cabin (2A2C under 13 years old) and depart on 8, 15, 22 Nov 2014 & 2 Jan 2015 for only $338 per person instead of $824 (minimum 4 people)
  3. or stay in Inside Classic Cabin (Twin Sharing Only) and depart on 6, 13, 17 Dec 2014 & 2 Jan 2015 for only $429 per person instead of $824 (minimum 2 people)
  4. or stay in Inside Classic Cabin (2A2C under 13 years old) and depart on 29 Nov; 6, 13, 17 Dec 2014 for only $377 per pax instead of $824 (minimum 4 people)
Here is a short video depicting what makes Costa Victoria so unique.

Where to stay in Singapore?

Singapore, the small and cosmopolitan city-state in the center of South East Asia, is a mix of Chinese, Malay, Indian and European culture and you will find an authentic cuisine, colorful night life, great shopping, plenty of places to visit and a nice jumping point to many destinations in Malaysia, Thailand and the rest of South East Asia.

Here we will introduce the neighborhoods of Singapore where you can find nice accommodation instead of giving individual hotel advices. If you are budget conscious, you should stay in a hotel which is outside central region near an MRT station or a bus stop. Singapore is one of the safest and cleanest places in the world so you have no chance to fall into a "bad" neighborhood. As Singapore hotels are expensive, Singapore is small and public transportation is convenient (except rush hours), doing so will save you some money.

Although you will see a lot of places to stay in Singapore in sites like Airbnb, B&B and renting out public and private property rooms to tourists or short term visitors is not legal in Singapore. It is tolerated but try not to stay in public housing units advertised for tourists. You won't be prosecuted but you will be kicked out if you are caught there.

Bugis District

Singapore's Bugis District is one of the most popular place to stay in Singapore for budget conscious travelers. Although it is not as budget as Chinatown and Little India, Bugis has several advantages. It is in a location right next to Singapore's Orchard Road, Singapore Historic Center, Suntec City, Little and very near to Singapore Central Business District and Chinatown. The Bugis MRT Station offers an easy access to/from airport as well as to many locations in Singapore. This central location has some of the best hotels in Singapore under 100 USD per night and below 200 USD per night.

For detailed hotel list as well as latest prices and guest reviews, visit Singapore Bugis hotels page.

Orchard Road

1 kilometer long Orchard Road, the shopping hub of Singapore, is one of the most expensive places in Singapore to stay and if you are not a shopping addict, there is no point to pay the "premium". Still, if you are in shopping or have a deep pocket for expensive rooms, it is still a central place served well by Orchard Road MRT Station and Somerset MRT Station.

Here you can find a list of Orchard Road hotels. For detailed hotel list as well as latest prices and guest reviews, visit Singapore Orchard Road hotels page.

Marina Bay

Thanks to its location (right next to Singapore Central Business District and Suntec City Convention Center), the cluster of 5-Star luxurious hotels in Marina Bay area with great Singapore skyline views is popular among business travelers. Probably the most famous one here is Marina Bay Sands Singapore, the hotel part of the Singapore casino complex (a.k.a Integrated Resort) which is also the largest hotel in Singapore.

Skypool of Marina Bay Sands Hotel Singapore in Marina Bay Area
Skypool of Marina Bay Sands Hotel Singapore in Marina Bay Area
For hotels in Marina Bay area, you can check Singapore Marina Bay hotels.

Singapore Riverside

In our opinion, the best place to stay in Singapore is Singapore's Riverside starting from the mouth of the river (where Fullerton Hotel is located) all the way upstream to Zouk Night Club. Three of Singapore's best night life areas, Clarke Quay, Boat Quay and Robertson Quay are here as well as infamous Zouk Night Club. Both sides of riverside also can be considered as the Singapore's historic center.

For detailed hotel list as well as latest prices and guest reviews, visit Singapore Riverside hotels page.

Chinatown and Central Business District

Although 70% of Singapore's population is Chinese but the country still has a Chinatown. This place is the area where British colonial rulers desgnated as "Chinatown". It is colorful, quite authentic and offers several mid to low budget accomodation options. Chinatown also houses some of the best hostels in Singapore. Towards the end of Chinatown to Tanjong Pagar, there is a cluster of popular business hotels for business travelers.

For detailed hotel list as well as latest prices and guest reviews, visit Singapore Chinatown hotels page.

Little India

Not as central as Chinatown, Little India is authentic and still quite central. It offers some nice budget hotels and is served well by Little India and Farrer Park MRT Stations. Guests staying here will also be near Mustafa Center and Sim Lim Square.

For detailed hotel list as well as latest prices and guest reviews, visit Singapore Little India hotels page.

Sentosa Island

Sentosa Island, the most expensive resort island in South East Asia, offers a resort like stay right next to the Singapore's Central Business District. Resort World Sentosa here offers a casino and many attractions such as Universal Studios Singapore as well as 5-Star hotels. On the mainland looking to Sentosa, you will find Singapore's largest shopping mall, VivoCity which has a monorail connection to Sentosa.

For detailed hotel list as well as latest prices and guest reviews, visit Singapore Sentosa Island hotels page.

Singapore Changi Airport

For those looking a place to stay near airport there are some nice alternatives. Crowne Plaza Hotel is directly connected to Terminal 3 and is the nearest hotel to Changi Airport. For those who can go a little further there are several alternatives. Changi Village Hotel offers a nice and calm environment looking toward Pulau Ubin Island while guests can stay near East Coast of Singapore, in between Changi and city center, to enjoy an authentic Peranakan neighborhood experience. You can find more info in our hotels near Changi Airport post.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Where is missing Malaysia Airlines MH370?

Today, Malaysia confirmed that the diversion of Malaysia Airlines MH370 airliner was a 'deliberate act' through Prime Minister. Earlier, it was also revealed that the last confirmed signal between the plane and the satellite was at 8.11 AM.

Although the signal from missing plane does not have coordinates data, possible locations can still be calculated from the distance of the plane to the satellite at the time of the transit. Below map shows the possible locations of MH370 based on satellite data.

Here is from Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak's statement:

According to the new data, the last confirmed communication between the plane and the satellite was at 8.11am Malaysian time on Saturday, March 8. The investigations team is making further calculations which will indicate how far the aircraft may have flown after this last point of contact. This will help us to refine the search. 
Due to the type of satellite data, we are unable to confirm the precise location of the plane when it last made contact with the satellite. 
However, based on this new data, the aviation authorities of Malaysia and their international counterparts have determined that the plane’s last communication with the satellite was in one of two possible corridors: a northern corridor stretching approximately from the border of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan to northern Thailand, or a southern corridor stretching approximately from Indonesia to the southern Indian Ocean. The investigation team is working to further refine the information.
Source :  Press statement on MH370 – Najib Razak
Look at the below map again. I do not want to speculate anything but the northern arc is passing through China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region where there is an ongoing conflict.

Here is from The Straits Times:

There is a possibility the hijacking of MH370 could be linked to ongoing tensions between the Uighurs, a minority Muslim group from Xinjiang in north-west China, and the Chinese government, one security expert has said. Xinjiang shares a border with Kazakhstan, among other countries.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Naked man in MRT arrested

A 32-year-old man, who has boarded an MRT train at Bukit Batok station on the North-South Line and began to undress during the journey until he was completely naked, is arrested by Singapore Police. The man did not only get naked but also performed an indecent act in front of train riders.

"While I was taking the MRT train back home from work, specifically on the red line at Yishun Station, this man suddenly threw down his bag, stripped bare naked and started playing with his genitals (I think a way of saying masturbating)" said a Stomp Reader nicknamed Scrubfield who was in the same train. "After finishing, he decided to lie down flat on the floor."

Naked man in the MRT train. He was later arrested by Police.

The man later lied down on the floor of the MRT. He was later escorted
out of the train and arrested in Yishun MRT Station.

Singapore Night Life

Clarke Quay, Boat Quay and Riverside

One of the most interesting places in Singapore is its Riverside. This area worths visit in the daytime but its true color comes out in the night. Colorful Clarke Quay with its five blocks of restored warehouses houses various restaurants, bars and nightclubs and is one of the most popular Singapore night life spot among locals, tourists and expats. Boat Quay's proximity to Singapore's Central Business District makes it a popular night out location among white collar workers here and  It is the soft front to the composolitian banking and financial sectors lying immediately behind it. There are some nice selection of bars and restaurants along the river.

Around Riverside do not also miss 1 Altitude Bar, the highest al fresco rooftop bar in Asia with the best view of Singapore, City Space at Swissôtel Stamford, a stylish bar on the 70th floor with a stunning view of Singapore and Asia’s first ever prosecco and vodka bar at IndoChine Empress Place (Asian Civilisations Museum).

Singapore Clarke Quay
Singapore Clarke Quay

This historic building complex in Singapore began life as a Catholic convent but today it is one of the most beautiful night life spots in Singapore. It houses more than 20 F&B outlets, themed eateries, casual cafés, hip bars and clubs as well as retail outlets. Its Gothic-style chapel is now available for private functions and weddings and open large lawn spaces and the courtyard of Chijmes are used for various festivals, musical and theatrical shows as well as private events.

Robertson Quay and Zouk

Filled with restaurants, pubs, cafes, condominiums, offices and other recreational facilities as well as a cluster of hotels, Robertson Quay is less touristy and known compared to Clarke Quay and Boat Quay but has a very nice atmosphere and offers a nice night out. This gem of night entertainment located at the furthest reach of the Singapore River offers a tranquil ambience for an intimate dinner by Singapore River or a hip and happening evening to chill out with friends. With its eclectic mix of international restaurants with alfresco dining, wine bars, arts houses, hotel cafes and high class condominiums, Robertson Quay has come into its own with a string of pleasant dining spots that have attracted their own following.

Zouk is one of the oldest and most popular nightclubs in Singapore, the clubs have proven popular with Singapore's party-going crowd and regularly attract performers from all over the world. It is quite near Robertson Quay and a night wine and dine in Robertson Quay can be finalized in this colorful night club.

Zouk Club Singapore
Zouk Club Singapore

Mohammed Sultan Road
Pub-crawler's paradise Mohammed Sultan Road is a famous Singapore nightlife strip near Singapore's upscale residential area called River Valley. 

Royal Albatross anchors at Resorts World Sentosa

A four-mast luxury tall ship will now feature prominently on the skyline of Singapore’s southern harbour precinct, as the Royal Albatross berthed at its new home at Resorts World Sentosa (RWS). A 47-metre long tall ship and the first based in Singapore, the Royal Albatross will be the only luxury tall ship for charter in Asia and is expected to begin service by the middle of 2014.

While tall ships worldwide are largely used for cruising or cadet training, the Royal Albatross is specially designed for luxury corporate and private charter, as well as dockside events. With its distinct large, traditionally-rigged sails and 60,000 LED lights for night illumination, the vessel will add to the integrated resort’s skyline.

Welcoming the luxury tall ship, Mr Roger Lienhard, Senior Vice President of Attractions & Resort Sales at RWS, said: “Anchored at the prime waterfront location of RWS, the Royal Albatross will not only bolster Singapore’s leisure and maritime offerings, it will also augment the diverse range of event spaces at our integrated resort. We look forward to this partnership with Tall Ship Adventure in creating memorable moments for all our guests.”

Tailored guest experiences on board the Royal Albatross 
Mr Peter L. Pela, Tall Ship Adventure’s owner and managing director, said: “The Royal Albatross combines the romance of a magnificent tall ship with four masts, 22 sails, state-of-the-art safety, navigation, communications and full audio visual support while maintaining her historical and traditional elegance. Guests will be amazed when they step on board the ship. It’s an exhilarating and unforgettable experience sailing on a luxury tall ship.” 
The Royal Albatross is designed for event planners, MICE organisers or even high net worth individuals the opportunity to create experiences on a scale unlike any other, giving their guests something to remember and talk about after they disembark. 
“We couldn’t have found a better partner and prominent location to showcase our luxury tall ship, the Royal Albatross. The management and the operations team of RWS has made it possible for everyone in Singapore and its millions of visitors to view the Royal Albatross up close. This is particularly exciting, given Asia’s influence in the MICE event space. We’ve taken our time to find a great partner that understands Asia and most importantly, one that matches our drive, passion and aspiration.” added Mr Pela.

Royal Albatross
Built in 2001, Barquentine (Class-A) type Royal Albatross started her life in Chicago, cruising the Great Lakes prior to the beginning of an epic journey that brought her over 15,000 kilometres from the moderate climes of North America to the tropical waters of South East Asia. 
More than 360,000 man hours were invested in redesigning and refitting the ship. With spacious cabins below deck for overnight charters and customisable layouts on deck, a myriad of events can be tailored to meet the needs of clients. 

The man at the helm of the ship, Captain Mark Rothwell, is thrilled at her new home, saying: “The Royal Albatross is a true beauty and a perfect addition to the waterfront location, set against the Maritime Experiential Museum at RWS. We are glad to come onboard and look forward serving clients who seek the finer things in life. We are also planning training programmes to groom local talents, as well as creating special dockside activities for guests later this year.” 

Royal Albatross Cruising in Singapore
Guests may emberk or disembark at Resorts Worls Sentosa or Singapore Cruise Center. Above, you can see updated route for Royal Albatross. Sailing routes can be adapted to suit client needs. For example, Royal Albatross can sail to Lazarus Island along the southern shores of Sentosa Island, drop anchore in the sheltered waters of Lazarus surrounded by golden beach and enjoy dining in tropical tranquality.

A longer journey would be from Resorts World Sentosa to Bedok Jetty, sailing parallel to Singapore's south eastern shores.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Restore Hair Loss by ARTAS® Robotic hair transplantation and Revage 670 laser therapy

The Sloane Clinic, a leading chain of medical aesthetic clinics in Singapore and Malaysia providing advanced aesthetic dermatology and cosmetic solutionsnow now offers patients effective surgical and non-surgical hair restoration procedures specially designed to regain a full head of natural looking hair.

ARTAS® Robotic Hair Transplant System
The effects of full or partial hair loss due to the typical genetic “pattern baldness” or other factors can not only greatly affect a person’s physical attractiveness but also his self-esteem. Hair transplantation has long been an option to restore receding hair lines. However, the invasiveness of traditional hair transplantation procedures and the lower success rates associated with manual methods have been deterrent factors for many. Now, these concerns are a thing of the past with the ARTAS® Robotic System, the first and only FDA-cleared, physician-controlled, computer-assisted technology that is able to safely and effectively extract hair follicles for transplantation during the hair restoration process.

Using advanced digital imagery technology, the ARTAS® Robotic system is capable to map and analyse the density, angle and growth direction of each natural grouping of hair, known as follicular units which typically contain one to four hair follicles. The system uses this information in conjunction with algorithms to identify which follicular unit is the best to extract. With the doctor’s guidance, the selected permanent follicular units are then precisely removed using the ARTAS® Robotic System’s image-guided robotics in a random fashion within the existing hair from the back or side of the head, called the “donor site”, so that those areas of the scalp maintain their natural appearance. The hair is then meticulously transplanted into the thinning areas by the doctor, based on the patient’s treatment goals, while leaving a natural-looking donor area behind.

The system’s robotic precision offers hair restoration doctors and patients unprecedented levels of safety, efficacy and patient comfort. With the ARTAS® Robotic System, the doctor is able to harvest follicles using the Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) in half the surgery time and with significantly lower transection rates (hairs that have been unintentionally damaged in the process of the hair transplantation procedure) than with manual FUE. This minimally invasive solution offers patients permanent results with no linear scar after the procedure, allowing patients to return to their normal activities in one to two days and wearing their hair in any style just like they once could. As a result of its unparalleled innovation in the field of hair science, the ARTAS system was honoured with a gold medal in the 26th Edison Awards Ceremony held in Chicago. The award celebrates creativity and excellence in achievement.

ARTAS® Robotic Hair Transplant System
ARTAS® Robotic Hair Transplant System
Revage 670 Laser for Hair Rejuvenation 
Those who desire a non-surgical hair restoration procedure that does not involve any prescription medications now have a new alternative – Revage 670 Laser. This FDA-approved low-level laser therapy is one of the newest breakthroughs in non-surgical hair restoration that utilizes Rotational PhotoTherapy (RPT) to rejuvenate thinning hair on both men and women.

The Revage 670 Laser contains thirty laser diodes that rotate 180 degrees around the scalp emitting painless cool laser energy to stimulate blood flow to the hair follicles just beneath areas of thinning or balding scalp. The enhanced blood flow stimulates dormant hair follicles into the active growth phase, while encouraging cellular and tissue regeneration for thicker, suppler and more durable hair shafts.

Revage 670 Laser is tailored for both male and female hair loss and is suitable for all skin types, skin and hair colour. It is especially effective for women with diffuse pattern thinning (scattered hair loss) and general weakening of hair as the laser light works to thicken fine, miniaturized hair. Men who are starting to witness hair thinning, Revage 670 Laser can help to make their hair fuller and prevent more severe thinning and baldness. Clinical studies have shown that the Revage 670 Laser can increase hair density by 40% and an impressive 85% success rate in halting the progression of hair loss.

The Revage 670 hair rejuvenation treatment is easy to work into a busy schedule as treatments take as little as 30 minutes per session without any downtime. The recommended treatment protocol typically begins with a twice weekly treatment for the first six weeks, thereafter once weekly for the next sixteen weeks. Once hair growth has been observed, periodic maintenance treatments as advised by the doctor may be required to maintain the benefits of the treatment.

“We are excited to be one of the first few clinics in Asia to offer the revolutionary ARTAS® Robotic procedure and the Revage 670 laser. It is our aim to offer both male and female patients of all ages the most advanced hair restoration options that are precise, effective and comfortable in a convenient one-stop locale,” says Dr Low Chai Ling, Medical Director of The Sloane Clinic.

“We believe that true beauty transformation requires a holistic approach that needs to be nurtured from head to toe and providing holistic beauty treatments is key. With the introduction of ARTAS® Robotic hair transplant system and Revage 670 Laser, it completes our vision of offering a comprehensive menu of services from top to toe in a single stop,” Dr Low adds.

Hair restoration services including the ARTAS® Robotic hair transplant and Revage 670 laser therapy procedures are available at The Sloane Clinic™ ION branch, #03-08 ION Orchard, Tel: +65 6509 8108.
About The Sloane Clinic™

The Sloane Clinic™ is a chain of medical clinics, addressing aesthetic concerns for the skin, face and body. Its doctors constantly seek out and fuse the latest non-invasive cosmetic dermatology and cutting-edge plastic surgery techniques to help patients enhance their appearance, freeing them from the boundaries set by age and society. Whether it is a subtle enhancement or a dazzling makeover, The Sloane Clinic™, can answer them all with its comprehensive armamentarium of beauty innovations, dedicated medical aesthetic team, fully-trained plastic surgery team and wide range of skincare by Sloane Inc.

New Star Class Yachts of Windstar Cruises

Luxury small ship cruising company Windstar Cruises announced its new plans for its Star Class yachts – a collection of three all suite ships joining the fleet over the next two years. Windstar takes delivery of Star Pride on April 17, 2014, the first yacht of Windstar’s 2013 purchase of the three luxury cruise ships.

Star Legend & Star Breeze Introduction 
Windstar introduced Star Breeze and Star Legend, scheduled to join the Windstar fleet in May 2015. The yachts will spend their inaugural seasons in Europe, cruising new regions in Northern Europe, such as Iceland, as well as the Mediterranean.

“With only a maximum of 212 guests on board, these new Star Class yachts are the perfect fit for Windstar’s style of small ship cruising,” said Hans Birkholz, chief executive officer of Windstar Cruises. “All three of the new yachts will receive significant style changes and stem-to-stern upgrades to align with Windstar’s yacht style cruising.”

Star Pride Inaugural 
Star Pride will debut this year with its inaugural voyage and christening ceremony on May 5, 2014, in Barcelona, Spain, following a three-week transformation period. Mrs. Nancy Anschutz, wife of Mr. Phillip Anschutz, owner of Xanterra Parks & Resorts®, Windstar’s parent company, will be honored as Godmother of the yacht. Captain Alan MacAry, 15-year Windstar veteran will serve as master of Star Pride. The six-day inaugural voyage will sail from Barcelona, Spain to Rome, Italy with media, trade, and Windstar’s Yacht Club members on board.

“Star Pride is the first of the Star Class yachts, and we can’t wait to introduce a new era of Windstar Cruises,” said Birkholz. “We are honored to have Mrs. Anschutz serve in the prestigious role of Godmother. It’s fitting to have her christen Windstar’s first yacht in sixteen years as the Anschutz family has been an integral part of Windstar’s transformation the last few years.”

Windstar Cruises Star Legend and Star Breeze
Windstar Cruises introduced Star Legend and Star Breeze 
Star Class Transformation 
The three power yachts are identical, with a guest capacity of 212 in 106 suites. At 10,000 gross tons, each yacht is 440 feet long with a breadth of 63 feet and six passenger decks. Windstar will take delivery of Star Breeze on April 15, 2015, followed by Star Legend on May 4, 2015, in Genoa, Italy. Both yachts will undergo a major transformation to public spaces, suites, and dining venues to fit Windstar’s style of small ship cruising. Windstar’s signature experiences, including the line’s famous deck barbecue gala, the Open Bridge experience, and the celebrated Sail Away party will be showcased on board.

Additionally, the Star Class yachts will introduce Windstar’s new Destination Suites. Each of the previous Owner Suites will be transformed into a signature Windstar destination. The suite will highlight cultural décor and local art work. For example, the Mykonos Suite on Star Pride will feature paintings showcasing scenic Mykonos views and Greek touches throughout the suite. Destination suites will eventually be implemented fleet-wide.

New Destinations 
The fleet expansion provides Windstar access to new destinations including Asia, in addition to the fifty countries the company already sails to. The 2015 Voyage Collection will open for sale on March 24, 2014. Star Pride will cruise the exotic wonders of Asia and Arabia with a unique five-voyage collection. Star Legend, sailing its inaugural voyage from Rome, Italy, on May 25, 2015 will cruise new itineraries in Northern Europe. One of the voyages, Land of the Midnight Sun, will originate in Reykjavík, Iceland, a first for Windstar. Star Breeze will begin its maiden voyage from Nice, France, on May 6, 2015. The yacht will spend the summer season in the Mediterranean.

“Doubling the size of our fleet gives us the freedom and the flexibility to expand our voyage collection to new destinations such as Malaysia, Singapore, Arabia, and Iceland among others; which is something our guests are asking for,” said Birkholz. “Additionally, these ships also allow us to visit beautiful new places in the Mediterranean, such as a scenic cruise down the Corinth Canal, something that was limited before due to the height of our sailing yachts.

For more information about Windstar’s new Star Class yachts, please visit Windstar’s website. To download renderings, please visit Windstar’s image library. To book a Windstar voyage, contact a travel professional, or call Windstar at 800-258-7245.

Windstar Cruises operates a fleet of small luxury cruise ships known for their intimate yacht style experience and unique voyages to the world’s best small ports and hidden harbors. Its three recently renovated sailing yachts carry just 148 to 310 guests and cruise to 50 nations, calling at 150 ports throughout Europe, the South Pacific, the Caribbean, and Central America. In May of 2014, Windstar will launch Star Pride, the first of three all suite yachts. The power yachts, with a capacity of 212 guests each, will double the size of Windstar’s fleet, making the company the market leader in small ship cruising with 300 or fewer passengers, with a total of 1,230 berths. The additional capacity will open up new itineraries such as voyages to Southeast Asia, Arabia, and beyond. Windstar was recently listed on Condé Nast Traveler’s prestigious Gold List, coming in as the #3 cruise line in the world. For more information including rates and itineraries, contact a travel professional or call Windstar at 800-258-7245. Visit Windstar Cruises online at or Windstar Cruises can also be followed on Windstar’s Facebook and Twitter fan pages. Windstar Cruises is part of Xanterra Parks & Resorts, a diversified global travel and hospitality company.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Where to shop in Penang?

Antiques are popular must-buy items on most trips to the Penang island but with shopping podiums scattered all over and an abundance of street markets, Penang’s retail landscape is almost as comprehensive as Kuala Lumpur’s. Be sure to wander through the nooks and crannies along the narrow alleyways off Penang Road, Jalan Burmah and Lebuh Campbell – you’ll be surprised at the amazing finds you’ll encounter.

Here is a list of places to go for shopping in Penang. If you are planning to head to Penang, you may also want to check our where to stay in Penang post.

100 Cintra Street
A lovingly-restored late-1800s Chinese mansion that houses a tiny Peranakan museum with furniture and costumes depicting the Baba Nyonya heritage, 100 Cintra Street is a unique venture that doubles as a backpacker hostel. There’s an antiques bazaar on the ground floor – a collection of stalls retailing a variety of merchandise ranging from porcelain pieces and novelty drinking glasses to funky, assorted bric-a-brac.

Chowrasta Bazaar

In operation since the late 1800s, Chowrasta Bazaar is one of Penang’s most popular markets. It’s divided into a number of sections: the wet portion of the market (selling fresh meats including fish and vegetables) is the most popular amongst locals. Additionally, Penang food products such as traditional sweets and pickles can be bought at bargain prices here. On the second floor you’ll find second-hand books, wooden furniture and inexpensive sarees (traditional Indian costumes). You don’t have to shop to enjoy this strip: take a walk to soak in the lively ambiance.

Gurney Plaza

Gurney Plaza may not be the largest shopping mall in Georgetown, but it’s certainly the most flamboyant. There are a number of high end designer stores and shops selling the latest gadgets and gizmos but it’s the vast stretch of alfresco cafés and eateries in the courtyard between the mall and G Hotel that are so wildly popular. Entertainment offerings include the 12-screen Golden Screen Cinemas on the top floor – the north’s largest multiplex.

Gurney Plaza

Him Heang Biscuit

Penang’s known for its local food products – and its most popular one happens to be the tau sar peah (ground green bean) biscuits. Located along Jalan Burmah, locals will tell you that Him Heang Biscuits makes the best ones and you should trust them; a large number of these famous Penang bakery-desserts are made to cater to the large droves of tourists who flock to the store. Besides tau sar peah (also known as tambun biscuits), there’s pnong pneah (pastry filled with caramel or molasses) and brown sugar tau sar peah (a Penang-only specialty).

Kompleks Tun Abdul Razak (KOMTAR) and Prangin Mall JMB

The view from the observation deck at the top of Kompleks Tun Abdul Razak (KOMTAR) makes a trip here worthwhile. Penang’s tallest building has two department stores, hundreds of boutiques and some fast food restaurants; KOMTAR Walk (on the ground floor) recently experienced a facelift and now houses a collection of upmarket F&B outlets, a performance stage. It links Upper Penang Road with Prangin Mall – the only place in Georgetown with an ice rink.

Little Penang Street Market

Taking place every last Sunday of the month, the Little Penang Street Market is a small community project that was started in 2006. Clean and well-organized, it’s become an indispensable part of every local’s itinerary and a popular tourist must-visit. Stalls sell crafts and food but it’s the live music performances, cultural shows, visual art displays and book readings that really draws in the crowd. Vendors are all smiles, the atmosphere is vibrant and the street buzzes with activity throughout the day.

Penang Batik Factory

The place to head to if you’re looking for batik prints, beach sarongs as well as Indian fabrics and costumes, the Penang Batik Factory displays a vast collection of batik paintings and creations. Entrance is free and the batik works definitely merit a visit to the factory; demonstrations on how batik is made can be seen to the rear of the showroom.

Queensbay Mall

Featuring the same assortment of brands as Gurney Plaza (though there are more of them and they boast a wider selection) Queensbay Mall is Penang’s latest and largest shopping podium. Located on Persiaran Bayan Baru, it’s conveniently located near the airport (from Georgetown it’s roughly a short drive down the island’s eastern side) and there’s also a good selection of eateries and electronics stores plus Golden Screen Cinemas has an outlet within the mall.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

What to see in Phuket? What to do in Phuket?

If Phuket shines in only one particular area (which is of course not the case) it would have to be in the ‘What to See’ category. The island is teeming with fascinating sights, attractions and curiosities that may seem perfectly normal to locals but are riveting to the western mindset. Some, like Phang Nga Bay are wonders of Nature while others, such as Phuket FantaSea are most definitely contrived by man. Either way, they’re out there waiting for you.

If you are planning to go to Phuket, you may also want to check our where to stay in Phuket post.

Phang Nga Bay
The first impression airplane passengers have of the island when they look down during the descent to Phuket Airport is that it is a wonderland. Yet, strictly speaking what they’re seeing isn’t Phuket: It’s the fantastic world of Phang Nga Bay. With limestone karsts rising vertically out of the waters of the bay like petrified cathedrals and a plethora of wildlife it’s no wonder that visitors are wowed by Mother Nature. Day tours operate from Phuket allowing visitors to kayak in and out of the caves.

Phuket FantaSea
An intoxicating blend of legend, myth, imagination and pure show business with a twist of history thrown in to make the final result even spicier, Phuket FantaSea is a heady brew that fascinates visitors to Phuket. Flying elephants wisecracking Siamese twins, jaw-dropping airborne spectacles performed by acrobats and mock battles are just a few elements of this extravaganza. FantaSea is also a theme park and contains a bazaar, one of the largest buffets in Asia and a ‘Palace of Elephants’. Wheelchair friendly.

Bangla Road Nightlife
To some, it’s depraved, others claim they can take it or leave it, but to others Bangla Road’s nightlife is the height of sensual pleasure. Every night starting about nine o’clock, someone takes a figurative firework, lights it and steps quickly away as the whole place ‘burns’ fast and bright with sexy girls beckoning passersby into their ‘bar beers’ while music – live or otherwise – pounds out of doorways and mingles with other sounds of the night creating a chaotic and exhilarating atmosphere in which anything goes.

Old Phuket Town
Once the hub of island life, nowadays visiting the old quarter of Phuket Town is akin to touring a real-life museum. With its distinctive Sino-Colonial architecture, the quarter displays what life was like over 100 years ago when tin was king in Phuket and immigrant Chinese families threw their all into the tin mining industry. Slowly but surely old Phuket Town is being restored and a stroll down Thalang, Phang Nga and Dibuk roads as well as Soi Romani is time well spent if you are interested in history.

Simon Cabaret
This is a spectacular display of originality and fun by an all-transvestite cast. Patong’s Simon Cabaret is one of Southeast Asia’s outstanding entertainment attractions. A single show runs the entire range of musical theatre from cultures around the world. Okay, so it’s not Las Vegas but for many it’s the first time they’ve been up close and personal with a ‘ladyboy’ or katoey as they’re known locally. Please note that performers are renowned for collaring members of the audience after the show, posing for a photo with them and demanding money for it.

Big Buddha
Phuket's Big Buddha is one of the island's most important and revered landmarks. The huge image sits on top of the Nakkerd Hills between Chalong and Kata and at 45 metres high it is easily seen from far away. The lofty site offers the best 360-degree views of the island (think sweeping vistas of Phuket Town, Kata, Karon beaches, Chalong Bay, and more.) Easily reachable via a six-kilometre road leading from Phuket's main artery, it's a must-visit island destination.

Thai Boxing
Often exhilarating and always riveting, Muay Thai - or Thai Boxing - is the most intensive body contact sport in the world, Muay Thai has taken on a new twist in that a number of foreign fighters have come to train and compete in Thailand. Patong has two Thai boxing venues, one on Soi Sai Namyen that has shows every Monday and Thursday - showtime 21:00 to 23:30 and at Bangla Boxing Stadium behind the Millennium Hotel at Jungceylon on Sai Kor Road which features fights on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday from 21:00 - 23:00.

Wat Chalong 
Wat Chalong has been extending a warm welcome to visitors for over a century. Locals come to pray and Westerners come to learn something about Buddhism. The most revered and impressive of Phuket’s 29 temples, it is dedicated to two highly venerated monks, Luang Pho Chaem and Luang Pho Chuang who helped heal many miners with their knowledge of herbal medicine during a tin miners’ rebellion in 1876. When visiting please dress respectfully with no revealing garments.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Best Activities in Phuket

Well of course most of your Phuket holiday will be revolving around doing nothing in the beach other than swimming and sunbathing. But Phuket also has a wide range of activities: as a tropical island it has all sorts of possibilities when it comes to land and at sea activities. The Top 10 below has been composed according to the tastes and choices of most people visiting the island and whether it’s snorkelling, mini-golf or cable waterskiing you are sure to find an activity according to your taste. If not, there’s always sunbathing...

Scuba Diving
Diving in Phuket and liveaboards in Thailand, the Andaman Sea offers dive sites considered to be among the top ten scuba destinations in the world. It boasts crystal clear water, spectacular reefs and rock formations, plus a colourful selection of marine life.

In Asia, spa has evolved into a concept focussing on the spiritual and natural, drawing from traditions of meditation, respect for nature and the desire to achieve physical and mental well being, the key to maintaining health and beauty. Phuket's spa scene will surely meets your need for relaxation. This especially one of the best activities in Phuket when it is raining.

Phuket Golf Courses
Golf instructors tell students to hit the ball in the sweet spot, and that's sensible advice. For golfers of every standard, Phuket is probably the sweetest spot of all for hitting a golf ball. While other destinations in Thailand are also home to good courses, only in Phuket is it possible to enjoy first-rate golf, plus sun-drenched beaches and coral-reef diving, all close to fine cuisine and a varied nightlife.

The tropical waters of the Andaman Sea are ideal for snorkelling - clear, calm, balmy and bursting with brilliant marine life. Snorkelling can be done year-round in Phuket, but the best time of year is November-April. At some beaches it is possible to rent snorkelling gear for the day, and many shops around the island sell a range of masks, snorkels and fins.

In case you didn't know it, Phuket's West Coast is gaining a reputation as a surf destination. Okay, so this is no Waikiki, and surfers here would be the first to admit that, but the island's West Coast is the best place for surfing in Thailand. There are three main annual surf contests in Phuket. 

Phuket snorkeling
Phuket snorkeling
Thai Boxing
One of the most popular spectator sports in Thailand is the martial art of Muay Thai. Exciting enough on TV - the furious punches, crushing elbow strikes, lethal kicks and artful feints are even more riveting when seen live. Phuket has a lot of training camps open to all ages and genders. The training programmes cater for those who simply desire to improve their health and boxing skills.

Dino Park
Dino Park is a mini-golf course and restaurant located right in between Karon and Kata beaches on the Beach Road itself. The 18-hole course is themed on dinosaurs and has many large and life-like cement dino statues, along with an erupting ‘volcano’ as well as a Flintstones-themed restaurant.

Splash Jungle
Unmatched in southern Thailand, Splash Jungle Waterpark at Mai Kao Beach offers a great day out on exciting water slides, rides and more all in one themed water park. If you’re looking for a place to take the kids for an exciting and invigorating day out, Splash Jungle is the perfect destination. 

Twitter user @nikhezrin posted ticket for flight MH370

Twitter user @nikhezrin shared a photo showing a photo of a ticket for flight MH370 with title "Relax je aku miss flight #MH370". The photo went viral on Twitter and shared by many without questioning whether it was a ticket to the unfortunate flight of today (there was no date and time on the photo).

1 hour later, he has posted another tweet saying "appreciate your concern. But please investigate before you believe in something you read/ see/ share. It obvious that there is no date in the picture but you simply assume. Disappointed with you guys".

Well Mr. Nikhezrin something. You are the dissapointing creature here, using a gross tragedy like this to "joke" (Relax je aku miss flight #MH370) and draw attention to your pityful self  (and your twitter account).

In the internet, you can see some people who seem to really miss the flight. Tweeter user Kaiden IV, wrote "@Cylithria can't reach you by phone. We missed the flight. Rory and I are OKAY Ria. I'm NOT ON THE FLIGHT RIA. IM OK."

"I was very angry at Ria, because she'd gotten sick and I had to cover her. I was working on that, missed my flight to China. Grew angrier." he wrote.

Twitter user nikhezrin, showing his ticket for MH 0370.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Malaysia Airlines MH370 flight went missing

Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 carrying 239 people from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing went missing early Saturday according to Malaysia Airlines. MH370 had lost contact with Subang Air Traffic Control at 2.40 am today. There has been speculation that the aircraft has landed at Nanming and as of the writing of this post, Malaysia Airlines is still working to verify the authenticity of the report and others.

Flight MH370 was operated on a Boeing 777-200 aircraft. It departed Kuala Lumpur at 12.41 am earlier this morning bound for Beijing. The aircraft was scheduled to land at Beijing International Airport at 6.30am local Beijing time. The flight was carrying a total number of 239 passengers and crew – comprising 227 passengers (including 2 infants), 12 crew members. The passengers were of 14 different nationalities, majority of them Chinese Nationals (153 people). The flight was a code share with China Southern Airlines.

The flight was piloted by Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, a Malaysian aged 53. He has a total flying hours of 18,365 hours. He joined Malaysia Airlines in 1981. First officer, Fariq Ab.Hamid, a Malaysian, is aged 27. He has a total flying hours of 2,763 hours. He joined Malaysia Airlines in 2007.

The flight information board in Beijing showing MH370 in red.
"The fact that there was absolutely no distress signal is very disturbing,” a former United Airlines pilot, Ross Aimer said in Al-Jazeera. “This is almost unprecedented that we lose an aircraft in such a way … In that area of the world, over Vietnam, there is sporadic radar coverage to begin with,” he said. “It is disturbing that there was absolutely no communication from the aircraft.”

A statement posted on the official Vietnamese government website said the flight disappeared in Vietnamese airspace. [1] Unfortunately, Tuoi Tre, a leading daily in Vietnam, reports that the Vietnamese Navy has confirmed the plane crashed into the ocean.  According to Navy Admiral Ngo Van Phat, Commander of the Region 5, military radar recorded that the plane crashed into the sea at a location 153 miles South of Phu Quoc island.[2]

Although financially troubled, Malaysia Airlines (MAS) has suffered only a few accidents in its history and holds a good record for safety. The latest major accident MAS had was in 1977 when one of its jets crashed in southern Malaysia, killing all 93 passengers and seven crew.[3] Aviation experts have expressed surprise at the sudden loss of contact with the missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777, which has an almost flawless safety record. [4]

[1] - Malaysia Airlines hunts for missing plane carrying 239
[2] - #PrayForMH370: Navy has confirmed plane crashed into sea, says Vietnam media
[3] - Malaysian Airlines missing flight: Live Report
[4] - Malaysia Airlines: experts surprised at disappearance of 'very safe' Boeing 777

Where to shop in Phuket?

Phuket is not a shopping destination. When the first shopping mall opened in Phuket not long time ago, locals asked “Where is it all leading to?” Nowadays, with Phuket more developed, malls are ubiquitous but happily have not smothered the Thai traditional market life on the island. Thai people like to ‘group’ their shops so that if you are looking for a particular item there will be several shops selling on the same street.

If you are planning to go to Phuket, you may also want to check our where to stay in Phuket post.

Central Festival Phuket
Located just outside the western perimeter of Phuket Town, Central Festival Phuket with its 120,000sqm is a state-of-the-art shopping mall with hundreds of outlets, a multi-screen SFX cinema, franchise restaurants and of course the eponymous Central Department Stall. If you take the time to compare prices here with western ones you’ll see that there are bargains to be had in name-brand goods plus you can claim 7% VAT back at the airport if you request for and fill out the correct papers.

Jungceylon in Patong has more than 300 shops in it and uses 200,000 sqm of space. At its core is the two-storey Carrefour with household, food and fashion items. Carrefour also features many massage and beauty centres with reasonable prices as well as a Robinson’s department store with a good range of beauty and scented products as well as a colourful children’s section. Jungceylon often features fashion shows and has daily fountain displays.

Weekend Market (Talad Tairod) 
‘Talad Tairod’ translates as ‘car boot sale’ but nowadays this busy market has moved on from cars lined up selling dodgy goods. Thai markets are as much a social event as a commercial one so be prepared for lots of smiles and bartering. For sale are jeans, T-shirts, custom jewelry, artificial flowers, DVDs, sports shoes and a lot of secondhand goods. And of course a Thai market would not be complete without lots of delicious snacks.

Talad Tairod
Talad Tairod
Jim Thompson
Jim Thompson was an American businessman who, in the 1950s and 60s helped revitalise the Thai silk industry. He mysteriously disappeared from Malaysia’s Cameron Highlands in 1967 but his business momentum has carried on and nowadays the name Jim Thompson is synonymous with high-quality silk items as diverse as shirts to bed sheets to toys. There are currently six Jim Thompson outlets in Phuket: Canal Village Laguna, Katathani Beach Resort, Central Festival Phuket, Le Meridien Phuket, Turtle Village (Mai Khao Beach) and at Phuket Airport.

Phuket Indy Market
The Indy Phuket Market is on a small lane off Dibuk Road, just next to the well-known Lemongrass Restaurant, down what locals call Limelight Avenue. Items for sale here include handcrafted fashion jewelry, flowers, and customised towels as well as key rings and figurines. It’s all very creative and is undeniably a lot of fun, with live music and a laid back feel to it.

Phuket Old Town Handicraft Shops
Phuket’s Old Town is not only a picturesque and fascinating place to explore; it also features atmospheric handicraft stores as well as textile shops where bargains are to be had. Locally made handicrafts alongside Tibetan items are found along these streets and along Phang Nga and Yaowarat roads several artists have set up studios that sell classic as well as more modern-themed works.

Banzaan Market
Many visitors will enjoy exploring Banzaan Market in Patong, a modern-looking Thai fresh market on Nanai Road, right behind the megamall Jungceylon. Basically, you can get anything that one would expect from a local market here but in a much more pleasant environment. Prices are reasonable. The large building was designed by Chinese and Western architects and it features contemporary décor and style.

Premium Outlet Phuket
The shops at Premium Outlet Phuket on the Bypass Road deal in guaranteed brand-name clothing and sports accessories at bargain prices. Apart from Thai brands, other articles on sale include Lacoste, Guy Laroche, Hush Puppies, Warner Bros, Pierre Cardin, Van Heusen, Levi’s, Lee, Nautica, Adidas and Nike and feature discounts of up to 70%. It’s an attractive, open-plan designed shop kept at a constant cool temperature.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

What to eat in Bangkok? Where to eat in Bangkok?

Thai food needs little introduction. Blending elements of several Southeast Asian traditions, Thai Cuisine is one of the most robust and flavorsome of all Asian cuisines. A true delight to the senses, traditional Thai cuisine is characterized by its blend of hot, sour, sweet and salty flavors - and its abundant use of fresh vegetables, grains, fruits, legumes, nuts and fish.

Although there are literally countless dishes to try in Bangkok, there are some must-try ones while you visit Thailand. The below list spans everything from staple backpacker favourites to Thai classics. Although some of them may sound familiar, don’t be surprised if they taste nothing like what you usually find back home.

If you are planning to visit Bangkok, you may also want to check our where to stay in Bangkok post.

Tom Yum Goong (Spicy Shrimp Soup) 
A bold, refreshing blend of fragrant lemongrass, chilli, galangal, lime leaves, shallots, lime juice and fish sauce. Tom Yam is a versatile dish that can fit within virtually any meal – its invigorating sour-spicy-hot taste just screams 'Thailand'!

Pad Thai (Thai style Fried Noodles)
From Cape Town to Khao San Road, the default international Thai dish. Dropped in a searing hot wok, fistfuls of small, thin noodles do a steamy minute-long dance alongside crunchy bean sprouts, spring onions and egg, before disembarking for the nearest plate.

Gaeng Daeng (Red Curry)
Made with morsels of meat, red curry paste, smooth coconut milk and topped off with a sprinkling of finely sliced kaffir lime leaves, this rich, aromatic curry always gets those taste buds tingling.

Thai Green Curry Chicken
Aromatic and beautiful, this is an absolutely delicious Thai dish and a must try.

Gaeng Daeng (Red Curry) 
Made with morsels of meat, red curry paste, smooth coconut milk and topped off with a sprinkling of finely sliced kaffir lime leaves, this rich, aromatic curry always gets those taste buds tingling.

Som Tam – (Spicy Green Papaya Salad) 
Hailing from the Northeast (Isan), this outlandish dish is both great divider - some can't get enough of its bite, some can't handle it – and greatly distinctive. Garlic, chilies, green beans, cherry tomatoes and shredded raw papaya get dramatically pulverized in a pestle and mortar, so releasing a rounded sweet-sour-spicy flavour that's not easily forgotten.

Tom Kha Kai (Chicken in Coconut Soup)
A mild, tamer twist on Tom Yam, this iconic soup infuses fiery chilies, thinly sliced young galangal, crushed shallots, stalks of lemongrass and tender strips of chicken. Topped off with fresh lime leaves, it's a sweet-smelling concoction, both creamy and compelling.

Pak Boong Fai Daeng (Stir-fried Morning Glory) 
The leafy plant with hollow green stems and thin fragile leaves forms the main component of this super easy favourite. Cloves of garlic and birds eye chilies join it in a wok alongside oyster sauce, fish sauce and fermented bean. A few lazy stirs, and it's done!

What to eat in Bangkok? Where to eat in Bangkok?
What to eat in Bangkok? Where to eat in Bangkok?
While taking about the food in Bangkok, we also should talk about where to eat in Bangkok. With so many possibilities just outside your hotel’s doorstep, you might wonder how best to experience it all. Whether you are looking for style, ambience, flavour that defies any adjectives you know, or a brush with world-recognised celebrity chefs, Bangkok has got a whole lot to offer. So what are Bangkok Best restaurants? We tried many and it took a while but so far here are our favourites.

Eat Me - Between Silom and Sathorn
Eat Me - The name is less of a suggestion and more a promise of something irresistible. This gallery and restaurant on Soi Convent in Silom lives up to its name by serving mouth-watering modern international food, good drinks and some very tasty desserts. The restaurant has been wowing the crowds for years which is no mean feat given Bangkok’s fickle dining scene and even fickler diners. Things are kept things fresh with ever-changing art exhibitions, an inventive menu and a smart casual dress code. Tel: +66 (0)2 260 2962 Location: 1/6 Pipat Soi 2, Convent Rd, Silom BTS: Sala Daeng MRT: Silom

Soul Food - Thai 
It might seem controversial, but one of the best Thai restaurants in the city is run by an American. Soul Food
Mahanakorn serves up popular regional dishes in the cosy wood-lined restaurant on Thong Lor, only five minutes’ walk from the BTS. If you are looking for a great evening with delicious food and no pretentions then this is the place to go. Open: Sunday – Thursday from 17:30 to 23:00 and Friday and Saturday from 17:30 to 00:00 Tel: +66 (0)2 7147708 Location: 56/10 Sukhumvit Soi Thonglor BTS: Thong Lor
Issaya Siamese Club - Thai 
Standing proudly in the middle of a luscious green garden, this 100-years-old house with its wooden verandah and old fashioned staircase instantly sets a romantic mood, making it a perfect place for duo dining. This is not another pretty tourist place: Thais, expats and the few travelers who make the effort to discover it are unanimous - the combined charm of a heritage house, exceptional service and the renowned culinary flair of Chef Ian Kittichai makes Issaya Siamese Club an outstanding restaurant. Open: 11:30-15:00 Sundays Tel: +66 (0)2 126 8866 Location: Four Seasons Hotel, Ratchadamri Rd. BTS: Ratchadamri 

Le Beaulieu at Plaza Athenee - French
For many years, Le Beaulieu has been a name synonymous of great French Cuisine in the busy Sukhumvit. After being closed for a while, Chef Herve Frerard comes back with a more stylish venue at the Le Meridien Plaza Athenee on Chidlom, the perfect match for an elegant and sophisticated restaurant addressing to the ever demanding Bangkok young gourmets. Open: 11.30 - 2.30 pm , 6.30 pm - 11.30 pm, Closed on Sunday Tel: +66 (0)2 168 8220 Location: Athénée Tower (Lobby), 3 Wireless Road (ask for Plaza Athénée Hotel

Bo Lan - Thai 
Recognised for many years as one of the best Thai restaurants in Bangkok, Bo Lan is not your everyday local eatery. This is the kind of place to invite your discerning friends or when you want to impress visitors who think they tried it all before. The name 'Bo.Lan' comes from the two chefs 'Bo' (Duangporn Songvisava) and 'Dylan Jones' who were both inspired and worked under the supervision of Michelin stared chef David Thompson at Nahm London. Open: 11:00-02:00 Tel: +66 (0)2 628 8382-3 Location: Samsen Soi 3, near Rama VIII Bridge, Old City
D'Sens at Dusit Thani - French 
D'Sens at the well known Dusit Thani Hotel is an exceptional French Restaurant in Silom, perfect for a special occasion, a birthday or an anniversary. The restaurant offers beautiful views on Lumpini Park and Rama IV road from the 21st floor and the food is an unforgettable experience. Another reason for our going there is that the Dusit Thani is home of the famous Cordon Bleu Cooking School, so it's a truly special place and our expectations were rather high. Open: Monday to Friday 11:30 - 14:00, 18:00 - 22:00 - Closed Saturday Lunch Closed on Sunday Tel: +66 (0) 2200 9000 ext. 2499 Location: Dusit Thani Bangkok BTS: Sala Daeng

Nahm - Thai
Consistently ranked among the finest restaurants in the world, and with a Michelin star chef at the helm, Nahm serves Thai cuisine prepared according to ancient recipes with a focus on how the flavours and textures of premium quality ingredients interact together. Whether you are a longstanding visitor to Bangkok or it is your first time eating traditional Thai food, Nahm will both surprise and delight you with fantastic dishes. Open: Lunch - 12:00 – 14:00, Dinner 19:00 – 22:30 Tel: +66 (0) 625 3333 Location: Ground Floor, The Metropolitan Hotel, 27 South Sathorn Road, Bangkok

Sra Bua by Kiin Kiin at Siam Kempinski - Thai
Sra Bua a fine-dining restaurant that serves cutting edge Thai cuisine unlike any you will have ever seen before. Well-known Thai favourites have been turned inside out, and every dish is a treat for the eyes – as well as the taste buds. Located on the ground floor of the Siam Kempinski Hotel, Sra Bua restaurant has high ceilings and Thai antique embellishments. Open: 12:00 – 15:00 amd 18:00 – 23:00 Daily Tel: +66 (0) 2 162 9000 Location: 991 Rama 1 Road, Bangkok, Thailand BTS: Siam