29 March 2015

Trip to Phuket - Marriott Mai Khao Beach Resort


Sawadeeka!
 
We are back after spending the last few days in the land of smiles. Located just over an hour away, Phuket was a convenient option for a young family like ours.  As a first time mum, I considered this holiday as something of a test run, to see how our baby adjusted to traveling. While, he has traveled to Malaysia by road and Indonesia by ferry, this was his first plane ride. Like all first time experiences, this was overwhelming for him but he adjusted well and enjoyed himself tremendously ! I am so proud to have a little trouper who loves traveling just like his mommy :)
 
On the day of the flight, we packed early and left for the airport with plenty of time to spare. Since, this was a short flight of over an hour, we decided to take Air Asia . Unfortunately, the flight was delayed and when we did get on , it was extremely turbulent. Our little one howled inconsolably but thankfully, the fellow passengers were very helpful and understanding. Soon, we reached Phuket and were on our way to the resort.
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Walking to our room
After checking in, the little one and I went to the balcony to check out the view. We were surrounded by swaying coconut trees and lush tropical greenery. No beach though.. which wasn't a deal breaker as we live near a beach in Singapore anyways.
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Look Mommy! Palm trees!
This property of Marriott has gurgling streams and backwaters which reminded me of Kerala.  Mauve lotuses were in bloom as the tiny  fountains sprinkled droplets of water. The area next to the backwater had lounge chairs where one could blissfully read a book or get a nice sun tan. This unorthodox view of Phuket was a refreshing change.  
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The backwater teaming with tropical fishes and blooming lotuses
 Some of the rooms are located alongside the backwaters and could be reached by following the direction of the water. Hammocks were placed along the way . I love hammocks and could spend an entire afternoon on it with a book in hand. Seeing one, I  instantly jumped on and almost fell over!
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I could just curl up here and read a book
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Tropical Paradise
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And some more
As an ardent nature lover, nothing brings more happiness than seeing nature in full bloom. A myriad of colorful flowers bloomed all over and accentuated the feeling of being in a tropical paradise.
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Tropical foliage
The heat in Phuket at this time of the year was unrelenting and we only ventured out during the evenings. While we did enjoy swimming , we mostly stayed indoors and watched movies India vs Australia match #hubbyisacricketfanatic.

Over the next few days, we relished piping hot Thai curries, watched the sunset over the horizon, drank a ton of lemon tea and felt rejuvenated.
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The Teal structures near the pool
Marriott' Mai Khao beach resort was ideal for a short family getaway .The rooms were comfortable, room service was prompt and the pool was never very busy. Along with our little one we enjoyed splashing around and getting a nice tan :)
 
This was a short yet memorable family holiday. Definitely one of many more to come .
My world
Have a great Sunday everyone!
 
Marriott's Mai Khao Beach - Phuket
234 Moo 3, Mai Khao, Talang,
Phuket 83110, Thailand
 

22 March 2015

10 Things I Love about Singapore

 As a blogger based in Singapore, I frequently get emails from readers asking me about life here. More often than not, these emails come from 'potential expats', people who are planning to move here for work. As much as I would like to individually reply to each and every email, its virtually impossible thus, I felt the best way to give out the information was to do a post here! As someone who has lived here for over 4 years, I absolutely love Singapore. Its safe, convenient and vibrant!  This blog post will hopefully shed some light and give you a glimpse into what life has to offer here. In fact, the best thing about expat blogs like these are that you get an honest view about life in Singapore.
 

A Vibrant Food Scene

 
Singapore has an incredibly happening food scene. From hawker centers to fine dining restaurants (such as the Olive Tree at the Intercontinental), the options here are endless! Some of the best restaurants in the world are located here providing a wide variety of world class cuisines. There is something for everyone here. National dishes like chicken rice, pepper and chili crab are widely enjoyed here along with regional cuisines found in Little India and Chinatown. That's not all, Arab street is the middle eastern corner filled with the wafting fragrance of exotic spices and succulent kebabs. My personal favorites here are Din Tai Fung, a Taiwanese restaurant specializing in juicy dumplings and Ay Roy Thai!

Café Culture

 
On the weekends, most of Singapore heads out to the local cafes to enjoy a scrumptious brunch amid a casual and relaxed ambiance. Pancakes, egg benedicts and freshly baked croissants are devoured and relished. The areas around Tiong Bahru and Dempsey are home to some amazing eateries. The cafes here include the hipster variety to whimsical to al fresco . Most of the cafes invest heavily in interiors making them stand out while attracting the crowd. I love cafes that  are located in a green expanse exuding a tropical feel. We usually head to a café for a late brunch or for a hot cup of gourmet coffee! PS café , Café Melba, wild honey, Riders café , Strictly Pancakes and La Marelle Cafe are my personal favorites.

 Heritage Pockets

 
While Singapore is incredibly modern and fast paced, there are little heritage pockets that have been preserved in their original state. Places like Armenian street, Katong and Joo Chiat are home to colorful shop houses that are reminiscent of a glorious past. While most people know Singapore for its skyscrapers, not many are aware of the rich history. Peranakan influences can be seen in the local food and architecture around the island. To immerse in the rich cultural heritage, head over to Peranakan Museum and relive a bygone era.

Summer all year long

 
If you hate winters and love all things summery, then Singapore is the place for you. Here, we dress in shorts and cotton dresses all year long. No need for woolens and absolutely no need for bulky boots. Think flip flops , think pretty summer dresses , think breathable fabrics, think Singapore! The culture here is very casual. You can walk into a mall in flip-flops and no one will judge you! Unlike places like Dubai where people actually dress up to go shopping, this place is relaxed and has a non-judgmental vibe. I absolutely love that!
 

Excellent Public Transportation system


The public transport here is excellent! The trains and buses run on time and the connectivity is phenomenal. Cabs are aplenty here and charge reasonable fares compared to most of the other developed countries around the world. The cab drivers are honest and helpful. I have personally experienced  kindness by a Singapore cab driver when I fell down and twisted my ankle. There are apps available which allows you to book cabs conveniently as well as check what time the next bus is arriving. Another thing that I find really nice is that the bus drivers will ALWAYS stop for you when they see you running. Its happened to me so many times (waking up late and running to catch my bus to office) and the kind bus drivers have always waited for me to board.
 
Greenery all around
 
 With 300 parks and 4 nature reserves, Singapore has numerous green spaces that takes you a step closer to nature. Reserves like Labrador Nature reserve and Sungei buloh wetland reserve are filled with tropical foliage and hiking trails. Mac Ritchie trail and botanic gardens are frequented by expats and locals alike. As I live in the east part of Singapore, I love going to the east coast park for walks. The lagoon here offers a tranquil experience and an opportunity to witness some gorgeous sunsets. During the weekends, people throng here to do cycling, fishing, camping and even wind surfing! The restaurants along the parkway offer various cuisines and seafood is a local favorite here!

Safety

 
I cant think of many countries where a woman can walk alone at 3 am in the morning and still feel very safe. That's Singapore for you! Incredibly safe  with zero tolerance for crime,Singapore is considered to be the safest country in the world. Eve teasing or women molestation is unheard off and in the rare case that something like this happens, the police take strict action. This ensures that crime is kept to a bare minimum with hefty fines and punishment for offenders. I have personally gone out alone late at night with friends and have felt as safe as I would during the day.

Extremely Clean

 
Yes, Singapore is also one of the cleanest cities in the world with a world class disposal system. Infact, everyone drinks tap water here because it is clean and safe to drink. There are fines for littering which ensures litterbugs are kept at bay. The public washrooms in the mall and in offices are usually spotless . Overall, Singapore deserves the title of  one of the cleanest cities on the planet!

 

A Travel Hub

 
My favorite thing about Singapore is its proximity to some amazing travel destinations. Infact there is everything for everyone. For beach goers, destinations like Phuket, Krabi, Langkawi are just a short plane ride away. Some other exotic beach destinations like Joyo beach, Batu Batu and Tioman Island can be reached by road + a short ferry ride. Singapore is also a travel hub to discover Asia. Philippines, Indonesia and Australia can be easily  reached. Singapore has lots of options for some amazing weekend getaways. Infact, Changi airport is counted among the best airports in the world and commuting from here is a breeze!
 

Multi-Cultural

 
Singapore prides itself in being multi-cultural. There are 4 national languages here which include English, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil. This is in accordance with the different communities that peacefully co-exist. There are also different cultural pockets across the island . Little India is full of vibrant colors and spices and is home to the Indian community. With restaurants depicting local cuisines of India to Mustafa , the largest supermarket, you can find anything and everything under the sun here . Chinatown is home to bustling markets, Chinese medicine stores and Chinese restaurants. These cultural places around the island add a vibrant feel to the island and offer an incredible experience.
 
In Short Singapore offers the best of both worlds. Its incredibly modern and cultural at the same time. Its clean, safe , multi-cultural and vibrant! Its close to world class destinations and has a great transportation system. Overall, a great place to live!

 

21 March 2015

Chat with an Expat - Sabrina Cencioni

 
An Italian from Milan, Sabrina grew up surrounded by beautiful clothes and elegant people. A certified accountant, she initially dabbled in television and children's programming before following her heart and starting her own venture - Viva Tiramisu. Made with the freshest and finest Italian ingredients, Viva Tiramisu is your Tiramisu with a twist, lovingly handmade by your Italian neighbor. Offering a range of four delectable flavors including classic, mango, strawberry and limoncello, VT provides a taste of Italy right here in Singapore! Following the secret recipes of her amazing Italian mama, Sabrina churns out batches of delicious Tiramisu that has her clients raving. To know more about Sabrina, please visit  her website Viva Tiramisu  and her Facebook page.
 

Where are you from and when did you move to Singapore?

 
I moved from Switzerland to Singapore back in 2006 being pregnant with my son, Luca.

First impressions about Singapore?

 
As I arrived pregnant it took me a while to settle, largely because of the exotic new smells in hawker centers and streets (I lived in Katong which is full of restaurants and street food). The durian made an impression too! ;-) I can’t say I've developed a taste for it but, at least, I don’t have to run from it anymore. ;-) After about three months of hiding away, I started fully appreciating and loving the country and its people. What still amazes me is how green Singapore is and the beauty of its vegetation. Despite the heat I do enjoy walking or cycling down east coast park and stop for a refreshing coconut fix.

What’s your favorite thing about Singapore?

 
What I particularly love about Singapore is the sense of total safety. Been able to walk around or take a bus on your own after 8pm and feel safety is a luxury. I also like the wide range of different cuisines you can find island-wide.

Favorite weekend getaways?

 
I don’t do weekends away on a regular basis. As I do 3-4 long holidays a year I feel like staying put and enjoy Singapore while I am around. My main travel destinations are: Italy, UK, France, Japan and USA.

What’s the best part about being an Expat here?

 
The best part of being an Expat here is that I don’t feel like I am an expat. I have friends from all over the world and after over 8 years here, I think of Singapore as my home. It’s where I like to come back after a long trip. 

To know more about Sabrina, please visit her website  Viva Tiramisu  and her Facebook page.