Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Singapore's Old Playground - the Dove

Last weekend, there was a block party at Dakota Crescent to bid farewell to the old, cosy estate which were due for redevelopment. It was pouring when we arrived in the late afternoon. We waited until the rain stopped before walking to the Dove playground.

It sure brings back a good memories seeing the concrete slides and rubber tyre swings. As a child, I do not have many opportunities to play at the playground. However, whenever I do, I love to sit on the swing, climb up the steps and feel the heat as I slide down. 

Denver and Gladys had the opportunity to experience the playgrounds which were a part of their parents' childhood. They noticed the vast differences in terms of architecture as well as the materials adopted in construction.

The mosaic tilling is a significant image of Singapore's Old Playgrounds and will always remain a trademark.

It was a pity the unexpected downpour prevented the children a chance to play with the sand and playing with the slides. Nevertheless, they climbed up the narrow spiral stairways, making their way up to the top and have a feel of how it was like during our times.

The Dove playground is located near block 12, Dakota Crescent. I am hoping the playground can be preserved and not go into history with new developments on the way. Do catch a glimpse of it before it goes into the memory lane.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Singapore's Old Playgrounds Mini Booklet (SG50)

Singapore's playgrounds have undergone major transformations over the years. As we see more safety features implanted into the newer generation playgrounds, gone are the sandy grounds, mosaic tiles. rubber tyre swings, hard concrete slides and see-saws. 

Old playgrounds have their unique theme and flavour and it is sad to see them being demolished and going into history. While our children may not be able to witness some of these old playgrounds, it would be nice to introduce them what was once a memorable piece of their parents' childhood.

I thought it would be fun to make a colouring version of the old playgrounds where children can cut them out and make it into a mini booklet. It will be a fun colouring and craft activity for the whole family. Particularly significant if children can bring along their personalized booklet and note down the date of visit to these old playgrounds.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Restoran Pou Wok (补锅佬菜馆) @ Mount Austin

During our stay with 8 Days Boutique Hotel -  Mount Austin, William recommended us a nice Chinese restaurant serving delicious KL Hokkien Mee next to the hotel.

There are a few tables outside Restoran Pou Wok particularly for customers who wish to enjoy a chilling night as they gather and chit chat with their friends. Although the interior of the restaurant looked quite empty, it is air-conditioned, clean and neat.

Restoran Pou Wok has a couple of specialities like BBQ Pork Ribs, Fish Head Soup Steamed Boat, Fried Bitter Gourd Salted Egg etc. It was a pity we were still feeling very stuffed after a heavy lunch and hence we could only order some dishes to try.

KL "Hokkien Mee" - S (RM 6), M (RM 10), L (RM 15)

Hubby and I do not have a preference for yellow noodles but this is an exception. Not to be confused with the Hokkien Prawn Mee we had in Singapore (which is lighter in colour), KL Hokkien Mee has thick yellow noodles braised in thick dark soy sauce. I guess the key is the use of the fatter, slightly flattened yellow noodles which has lesser alkali taste. The sweetness from the dark soy sauce and crispy bits from the pork lard make this dish extremely delectable.

Sweet & Sour Pork

Sweet & sour pork is an all time classic dish that is economical and well loved by everyone, but many had too much flour encasing the meat. Pou Wok's sweet & sour pork is nicely done where the pork is juicy and bouncy. The thin layer of outer crust with the right balance of sweet & sour tangy sauce pairs perfectly with the pork cubes.

Sambal "Kampung" Chicken - S (RM 22)

Since young, I was told that kampung chicken meat is meatier and firmer. We ordered the half chicken for all to share. Simply savour the natural flavour of the chicken is heavenly and satisfying.

Restoran Pou Wok is a gem in Mount Austin serving delicious Chinese dishes at a reasonable price. We would love to be back again to try out their other specialties!

Restoran Pou Wok (补锅佬菜馆)
Address: 105, Jalan Mutiara Emas 10/19, Taman Mount Austin, Johor, Malaysia
GPS: 1.555114, 103.783566

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

8 Days Boutique Hotel (Mount Austin)

After a comfortable and satisfying stay with 8 Days Boutique Hotel (Permas Jaya), we decided to check out their outlet at Mount Austin, while exploring the area in that district.

Taman Mount Austin is slightly further up from Permas Jaya and the causeway. In terms of entertainment, mini Kuso 3D Trick Art is 5 minutes walk from 8 Days Boutique Hotel (Mount Austin) and Mystery Room Escape is located at Jaya Putra which is about 5 minutes drive away. For those who love to shop, take a 10 minutes drive to Aeon Tebrau City Shopping Centre -  one of the the larger shopping mall in Johor Bahru. There are a few eateries near the hotel, but for more alternatives, it would be best to drive out.

For those who drives, there are ample parking lots in front of 8 Days Boutique Hotel. A security guard will be keeping watch of the vehicles through the night. Complimentary Wifi is provided and electronic key security card is required to access the lift and rooms.

View of cafe

Tatami Room

The Tatami 4 in 1 (rm158 promotional rates) comes with 2 queen beds which is just nice for our family. The mattress can be moved easily on the raised platform to make a bigger bed!

We don't have to worry about children rolling off from the beds as resting on the platform is just as comfortable.

It has an attached toilet and shower room where basic toiletries is provided. Generally the room is clean, beds are comfortable and there are different room types suitable for various needs. Check 8 Days Boutique Hotel for their room rates.

8 Days Boutique Hotel (Mount Austin Branch)

Address: 119, 121 & 123, Jalan Mutiara Emas 10/19, Taman Mount Austin, 81100, Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia
GPS: 1.555536, 103.783111

Monday, April 6, 2015

Palm Tree Hotel (Permas Jaya)

As our children gets older, a king bedded or twin bedded room no longer meet our needs and we have been searching for Triple or Family rooms that fits our budget. Whenever we travel across the border, we try to stay in different hotels and explore other alternatives that suit our needs in terms of location, comfort, pricing and safety.

While it is more convenient to stay around KSL where there are more shopping malls. eateries and closer to the causeway, the price is also slightly higher due to it's prime location. Hence, we decided to settle our accommodation within Permas Jaya which is about 15 minutes drive from Woodlands checkpoint. In addition, there are shops, banks, restaurants and cafes in the area and a little night life which makes the district more attractive.

Palm Tree Hotel is located strategically within Permas Jaya 10 where many cafes and restaurants are nearby. While there is a security guard stationed from 8pm to 8am to keep a look out for the cars, it is to our dismay that the hotel does not provide free parking lots for its guests. Instead, they will assist to place parking coupon on the vehicle and we make payments for the coupons later.  

Palm Tree Hotel Lobby - Clean, neat and spacious

We managed to book a Family room at a promotional rate of RM168 per night (Usual rate: RM188). It comes with 1 queen bed and 2 single beds which is perfect for our family of 4. The children do not need to squeeze and we can have a better night rest!

Another unique plus point about this room is it came with 2 attached bathrooms! There is one bathroom at each end of the room. We do not have to fight for toilets and were able to get ourselves ready more efficiently!

Family room - 2 attached bathroom (toiletries provided)
Toilet and shower rooms are clean and the water jets from the shower head is strong. The only problem is one of the toilet door knob was damaged, but it did not cause a lot of inconvenience. 

Overall view of the Family room

Our kids are happy to have their own bed for the night. :) They did not waste any time logging on to the internet tapping on to the hotel's complimentary Wifi.

View from our bedroom window where we get to see the sun rise. In the night, we can hear live band from One Two Eat Cafe (opposite the hotel). The canto music did not bother us a lot and we were able to have a restful night.

Throughout our stay, we felt safe as an electronic key card needs to be available in order to access the lift and the rooms. The bedding and extra toilet is a bonus and definitely suitable for bigger families. Overall it has been a pleasant night stay at Palm Tree Hotel.

Palm Tree Hotel
Address: Block 3, Jalan Permas Jaya 10, Bandar Baru Permas Jaya, 81750, Johor, Malaysia
GPS: 1.500302, 103.815414

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Experiencing the Newly Refurbished Villa @ Amara Sanctuary Resort

{Sponsored Review}

March 2015 - Our family was delighted when Amara Sanctuary Resort invited us back for a one night stay, to review their newly refurbished villa. Recalling our first visit back in June last year, we were looking forward to see what surprises await us.

Despite the short distance to the villa from the hotel lobby, we hopped on for a free buggy ride, with our luggage.

Buggy Ride

Coincidentally, our family was back to the same 2 bedroom villa - Villa 1! While the main layout of the unit remains intact, the interior and exterior furnishing has gone through major transformation.

We were impressed upon entering the villa as we could vividly recognize the vast differences before and after the extensive renovation. Gone are the stone stabs and wooden planks at the sides of the pool. What welcomed us was the nicely tiled flooring around the villa. That makes a lot of difference as the entire space looked cleaner, brighter and it is easier and more comfortable to walk between the 2 bedrooms even without footwear.

Personal Plunge Pool

The personal plunge pool remains as the main highlight of our stay as we had the luxury to jump into the pool freely from day to night, Denver & Gladys had a lot of fun in the waters and we were just as happy to stay indoors and enjoy a relaxing afternoon together. None of us were in a rush nor have the intention to leave the villa, except during mealtimes.

Dining Area

The alfresco dining area outside the twin bedroom looked neat and cozy with the set of dark wood furniture. It has a retractable canopy above which comes in handy during rainy days. A perfect place to sit down for a drink and enjoy the tranquility of the surroundings.

Outdoor Stone Bath

Woo hoo!! This egg-like stone tub is one of my favourite spot! Its curvy shape makes it fitting for us to recline and rest our bodies comfortably. Kudos to Amara Sanctuary who has given much thoughts to improve their guests' outdoor bathing experience by putting a cover over their tubs to minimize withered leaves and dust from accumulating within. Soaking our tired bodies inside the tub filled with warm water is truly revitalizing and heavenly!

There are 2 air-conditioned bedrooms in the villa. Both rooms have a ceiling fan and attached toilets. *Only the King bedded room has an attached shower room.

Twin Bedroom

The twin bedroom comes with 2 single beds which is a perfect fit for our children. The new set of curtains, flooring and furnishing made the room looked brighter and refreshing!

Toilet (Twin Bedroom)

The twin bedroom has an attached toilet (without showering facilities). Good enough for our kids if they need to go to the toilet in the night. :)

Fruit Platter (Complimentary from Amara Sanctuary Resort)

Another plus point that our kiddos love about this room (apart from the welcoming fruit platter), is the coffee maker and complimentary coffee! They even made plans to "brew" a cup of coffee after dinner to keep themselves awake through the night!

Hubby and I preferred to sit down and enjoy a glass of red wine which we bought on the way. 

King-bedded Bedroom

Hubby and I had a restful night, thanks to the king bed which felt super big and comfy! Unlike our previous experience, none of us suffered from the attacks of the mozzie this time. We slept peacefully throughout the night and did not use the mosquito netting.

Safe box, iron, bath robes and slippers are also provided.

Vanity Area (King-bedded Bedroom)

The master bedroom has complete sets of toiletries, including towels, toothbrushes, toothpaste etc. We do not have to carry anything from home, keeping our luggage light. The open vanity area concept makes it convenient for us to wash up and get ready without monopolizing the bathroom.

Toilet and shower room (King-bedded Bedroom)

I like the idea of separating the shower and toilet as this allows another family member to use the shower room without monopolizing and making the toilet wet. :)

If there is anything that we thought would be an area for improvement, that would probably be the little bottles of shampoo/conditioner/lotion. It was not easy (even for Hubby) to pour out the shampoo and we took quite a bit of effort to squeeze it out from the bottle eventually.

We had a wonderful and relaxing stay at Amara Sanctuary Resort. Despite being in Sentosa where lots of activities await us on the island, the children did not have the intention to leave the comfort of the villa.

Amara Sanctuary Resort
Address: 1 Larkhill Road, Sentosa Island, S099394

* Disclosure: Our family was invited back to Amara Sanctuary Resort to review their newly refurbished villas after taking serious considerations of their guests' feedback on a make-over which was also mentioned in my previous blog post. All comments and opinions are personal and no monetary compensation was received


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