Sunday, November 29, 2015

smôl tôk - Reconnecting people through meaningful conversations


When was the last time you have engaged in a meaningful conversation with another individual? Even within our family, how much do we know about each other? Our likes, dislikes, dreams, frustrations, happiness?

We are so highly dependent on gadgets and closely attached to it that we are talking in the virtual space. Whatsapp, Line and other chat applications have become one of our main social interaction tool. Looking on the screen, typing on the keypad and inserting smiley icons is our new form of communication to connect people with ease and without much effort.

But, what are we missing?

Starknicked (pronounced 'stark naked'), a Singaporean startup, has launched an 'old school' card game, smôl tôk ('small talk') that hopes to help people to get to know each other in a deeply meaningful way, minus the bullshit. Nick Pang, founder of starknicked, shared: "With the internet and social media, people are more connected than ever before. Ironically, people are also becoming more disconnected from each other in their everyday lives." This motivated him to create smôl tôk as a tool to facilitate passionate, open and honest conversation that deepen relationships.

Sounds interesting but I was also a little skeptical on how well it will work. 

smôl tôk can be played with your family, friends, colleagues and even with strangers! It is recommended to play within 4 to 6 players, aged 18 and above and all comfortably seated. Consisting of 30 Personality Cards, 15 Community Cards and 15 Intimacy Cards, the questions varies in difficulty. Some are intimate and funny while others can be personal and thought-provoking.

I was intrigued by many questions that were raised in the deck. "What are you procrastinating now?", "What are you willing to devote your time and energy to without getting paid?". Every question is automatically followed by a "why" or "how".

For the game (conversation) to be carried out smoothly, all players are encourage to participate in the spirit of openness and respect others as you would like to be respected. In the midst of the game, each honest and truthful opinion would be one that lead others to know you better.

Our 12 year old boy was curious when I took out the deck. He suggested playing with me, even though knowing that he is a little too young for it. :) After sorting the cards a little to enable him to answer the questions better, I briefed him about the rules and we played!

I must say through an exchange of questions and answers, both of us learnt something about each other within a short span of a couple of minutes. For example, I learnt that our boy's motto is "If you believe, you can achieve".

As my boy is observing my facial reaction after each question was posed, I was checking on him too. We had longer moments maintaining eye-contact throughout our conversation and we found ourselves thinking through the questions hard and how to articulate our answers better. It was truly a moment where we took the time to disconnect from our devices and reconnect via a simple card deck.

Care to give it a try?

smôl tôk card deck is small and easy to carry around. It can be played during meal times, parties, team-building, networking sessions and more. The current retail price for smôl tôk basic deck is S$32.90 and is available on the online store. For more information, please visit the website.

Disclosure: Sponsored Review - All comments and opinions are personal and no monetary compensation was received. smôl tôk  basic deck was given for review purposes.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Bliss Boutique Hotel - Johor Bahru

Usually, pricing for hotel is slightly higher nearer to the city area. For example KSL or Grand Paragon can cost around RM300 per night. During our staycation, we managed to stay with Bliss Boutique Hotel at a slightly cheaper rate.

Strategically located in the heart of Johor Bahru, Bliss Boutique Hotel is about 5 - 10 minutes drive to CIQ. Pelangi Mall is only 3-5 minutes walk away and it is also pretty near to KSL City Mall. Near Pelangi, there are also many eateries around the area which is within walking distance.

If you have drove in to Johor Bahru, you may have passed by or noticed the hotel which is uniquely painted from the outside.

Upon check-in, we were warmly welcomed by the staff at the counter. She informed us that Bliss is a non-smoking hotel and RM500 of cleaning charge will be applied if guest smoke in the room(s). .

Bliss Boutique Hotel has a total of 47 rooms consisting of 16 boutique rooms, 30 designer rooms and a luxury suite. To ensure we have a good night rest, we booked the Designer Family room for the night. It consist of 2 Queen Bed at a weekday rate of RM241 (nett) per night! In addition, the room rate is inclusive of complimentary breakfast according to the number of person allocated to the room type! It is a pretty good deal for us!

Let's zoom in to the room!

A point to note is Designer Family room does not have any window. Bliss Hotel used decals on the walls to make it more lively and funky. We got the Purple theme room with fish swimming in the purplish 'waters'. For a moment, I thought I was at J Hotel as they have similar design concepts and layout. For example, both hotels adopted very bold and vibrant colours.

The room is neat and clean. Air-condition works well and it comes with free WIFI. Toilet ad shower rooms are separated with sink located outside the wet area. Towels, disposable toothbrush and toothpaste are provided.

Again, I find it a little confine to shower in a small space with hooks that is located so near to the shower unit. There is not enough hooks to put my towel and clothing. Plus, being cautious when showering to avoid getting my clean clothing wet! Nevertheless, I like to keep the toilet area dry which is a plus point for me.

Room comes with mineral bottles, tea/coffee, safety box, mini fridge, hair dryer and an electric kettle. Floor is carpeted hence in-house slippers are provided. We have all that we needed for our short stay.

In terms of security, access card is required to enter the lift lobby and rooms. That helps to prevent non-hotel guest from going in and out of the hotel freely.

Lift lobby area is warmly lighted giving it a cozy feel. I like the artwork at the elevator area showing the historical metal gate of the building in the 1970! So smart of them to transform it into a modern looking artwork.

Computer station free for guests to use.

Comfortable seating in the lobby area. 

Free juice at the lobby area for guests! That is a plus point for a boutique hotel!

The following morning, we headed down for our complimentary breakfast spread. While the dining area is not very big, it was clean and comfortable. There is also a television for guest to dine and catch a show.

Breakfast spread is reasonable. There is bee hoon, fried rice, spaghetti, roti prata with curry and other side dishes.

It was a pity that some food was a little cold when we went down for our breakfast at about 8:30am. 

What I like most was the toast bread with butter garlic spread! I lost count on the number of toast I had (thanks to the spread) ! 

Another highlight was the half-boiled eggs! Toast with eggs is the perfect combination for me to start my day! We had a comfortable stay and would love to be back on our future staycations!

Summary Notes:
- Free Wifi
- Air-condition
- Window view - Not available
- Flooring - Carpeted
- Water Flask - available
- Safety Box - available
- Hair Dryer - available
- Phone - available
- Mini Fridge

- Bath towels are provided
- Separated Toilet and Shower room
- Water Heater available. Water jets from shower is moderate
- Disposable toothbrush/toothpaste provided

Parking & Security
- Parking lot - tries to reserve for guests
- Security (Access to Bliss Hotel Lift Lobby and Rooms via key card)
- Security guard on duty round the clock

Bliss Hotel (Johor Bahru)
Address: 50 Jalan Jaya, Taman Maju Jaya, 80400, Johor Bahru, Malaysia
GPS: 1.482105, 103.765144

Want to find out more where you can stay in Johor Bahru?
Check out our blog post collection on

Friday, November 20, 2015

EcoRider Rides around Singapore Sports Hub

After the kiddos' first experience on the EcoRider at the beginning of the year, they have been looking forward to ride again. Our girl even tried persuading us to purchase a set for her! Hence, when they learned that EcoRider is operating at the Singapore Sports Hub and providing rides and tours, the kids could not contain their excitement!

EcoRider's booth is located near the Singapore Sports Museum. Currently, it only operates on the weekends from 10am onwards. Unlike the other wheeler rides, EcoRider has launched two route which brings riders to tour around the Singapore Sports Hub as they experience cruising on the EcoRider.

Package price is as indicated below.

1) EcoRider Wheeler Fun Ride is suitable for those who wish to give it a trial.
S$12 per pax for approx 15 minutes

2) EcoRider Sports Hub Venue Tour (Waterfront or Stadium Route) You can choose to ride around the waterfront of Singapore Sports Hub and enjoy a scenic view or go explore the Stadium route and check out the facilities.(Pick one of the route that interest you!)
S$28 per pax for approx 30 minutes

3) EcoRider Sports Hub Venue Tour (Combined Route) is a full hour route which brings you along the waterfront and also within the stadium!
S$45 per pax for approx 60 minutes

We took on the Full Route which takes us along the waterfront and the stadium. All riders have to put on the helmet before they are allowed to ride. It is compulsory for children to put on their elbow and knee guards and optional for adults. We signed the indemnity form, put on our safety gear and are ready to ride!

The marshals adjusted the stand of the wheeler so that it suit our height. We were then guided on how to ride the EcoRider and had a mini trial. The marshals make sure everyone is comfortable riding on the EcoRider before we set off for our tour.

Since the kids have prior experience, they were cruising steadily immediately. Hubby had no problem at all too. I ended up being the one taking a longer time to adjust. The fear of falling made my body stiffer and I was not able to control the machine to move forward. It took me about 10 minutes before I finally get the hang of it.

Following the lead of our EcoRider's Marshal, we started cruising our way around Singapore Sports Hub. For safety reason, the EcoRider has been set to travel at 7km/hour. This is definitely assuring as our girl tends to act like a dare devil and has no boundaries when she gets carried away. For the safety of riders as well as the public, 7-8km would be just nice. Once you hit the limit, the machine will pull back a little to ensure that you do not go beyond the speed limit. It may be a spoiler but the good news is you can request the Marshal to adjust the speed a little once you get comfortable with the wheeler.

Our first stop is along the waterfront where we saw the scenic view of Tanjong Rhu Suspension Bridge.

Riding along the coastal line, we moved towards the Water Sports Centre. Many water sports activities (e.g. canoe, kayaking, dragon boating) are conducted here and you may catch them in action if you are lucky.

Here is our friendly marshal who took us on the ride last weekend. :)

I must say after riding on the EcoRider for awhile and much practicing, I am pleased to say that I can cruise with one hand holding onto the handle and the other hand on my phone to take photos and videos. :)

Taking the EcoRider tour is not just about riding on smooth grounds. We also had training to ride along narrow path, go down slopes, up slopes, and even into the lift! After the 1 hour ride, we are quite pro riding on the wheeler.

We rode along the Stadium Riverside Walk and took a water break before moving on. I always thought it was a breeze and a piece of cake to ride on the EcoRider as it does not seem to take much from one's effort. However, only 20 minutes into the ride and I felt my legs strained.

The second part of the route took us within the stadium. We rode past OCBC Aquatic Centre and along the tracks outside the Stadium.

Do you know why the tracks are coloured Blue, Red and Green in this manner? We were told that the 888-metre running track around the National Stadium, also known as 100Plus Promenade was named following a sponsorship by 100Plus. This explains why the track has the same colour as the packaging of the isotonic drink. Our Marshal also told us the the red lane is the Prosperity Track as it is exactly 888-metre while the blue and green had a -8 and +8 metre distance apart. You may wish to jog along the Prosperity Track on your next run. ^_^

We cruised by the basketball court, Splash-N-Surf and Sport's Hub Skate Park. 

We even ride outwards onto the overhead bridge and had a good view of Nicoll Highway and Kallang Airport.

Nicoll Highway

Kallang Airport runway which looks like road now.

Throughout our ride, we took family shots at every stop. 

Learning to 'park' our wheeler and be in position to take photos is so easy after multiple attempts.  

It was a fun 1 hour ride with EcoRider! We love the scenic view as we rode along the waterfront and stadium. It was a pity we did not get to ride inside the stadium itself as there was an event during our visit and it was closed. Otherwise, we would have another cool family shot inside the stadium!

Apart from Segway ride in Sentosa, now there is another alternative with EcoRider around Singapore Sports Hub.

For more information, check out their Facebook page.

*Operates on Weekends only
Address: Singapore Sports Hub (Outside Singapore Sports Museum), 6 Stadium Walk, S397698

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Laser Battle - Johor Bahru City Square

[Combined Post]

Johor Bahru City Square is a haven for many Singaporeans to shop and dine. But do you know that you can also engage in laser tag games with your family or friends within the mall? Located on the 4th floor within the InnerCity zone, Laser Battle has received many groups who participated in this physically and intellectually intensive game.

I was a little skeptical at first but relented after multiple requests from the kiddos. We walked in to understand how the game was played.

1) You can choose to play 2 or 3 games at RM38 or RM48 per pax respectively.
2) "Standard Solo" is recommended for first timer. Afterwhich, you can base on your comfort level to choose your style of game.
3) Every game last about 10 minutes (Initially, I thought 10 minutes for a game was too short... but when you are actually in the game, it really tires me out and I felt as if I had ran for very long.)
4) Pick your colour vest. (Colours helped to identify your team mates in group games)
5) Unlike paintball, which tends to be more painful, laser guns are used.
6) You need to use 2 hands to hold the gun. (While it look stylish to hold the laser gun using one hand, it does not work to 'shoot' your opponent)
7) Position yourself into the game zone (which looks like a maze) and get ready to shoot.
8) Points will be accumulated and calculated once you hit your opponent.

Not only is this a test of wits and reflexes, it is also physically intensive to run for cover. Blame on my lack of exercise, I was totally exhausted after the first game. Luckily we had a 10 minutes break, sitting down to observe the next group's turn to play before commencing in our second game. By the time we completed the 3 games, I felt totally flat! I must admit it was a great workout for me in the midst of the excitement.

Let's hear it from our boy and how he felt about his experience playing Laser Battle.

We spotted Laser Battle during our previous visit to Johor Bahru a couple of months ago. Ever since then, I always wanted to have a game there. After spending a long time bugging my parents, they finally relented and at last we got to have our very first laser tag battle! I was on cloud nine and was pumped to try it out.

There are many different kinds of battles you and your family/friends can engage in; such as Standard Solo, Standard Team, Capture the Flag, Base Flag, Midnight Madness and more! As it was our first time, the staff recommended us to try out Standard Solo which is a free-for-all kind of game followed by Standard Team which allows us to work together in pairs and battle against our opponents. The objective is to score as many points as possible by shooting your opponent(s) at the shoulder, front, phasor (guns) or the back to win.

We were led into a room where we picked our laser guns and wear our vests. Each has a name and classified by its colour.

When we are ready, it is time to go into the maze and get ready for battle! We had ten minutes to score as many points before the time runs out. Adrenaline constantly pumped into my veins and I did not have time to rest at all! Everyone had to run at all times and it was so exhausting that up to the point we were gasping for breath! Once you stopped, there is always a possibility of being targeted.

Here is my sister after being tagged. Do note that you will not be able to shoot for about 5 seconds after being tagged. This is your most vulnerable moment and it is wiser to run away before getting ready for another counter attack.

As the maze is not brightly lighted, the lights on our vest felt like a beacon attracting a lot of attention. If your team is game enough, you may want to consider Midnight Madness where the lights will all be out and everyone will be 'hunting' in darkness!

After every game, we had a few minutes break. While waiting for our turn, we get to watch others to play via a screen. Scores are also tabulated and reflected on the screen and we get to see who scored the highest for accuracy and tag ratio.

Laser Battle is FUN and it has been a unique experience for me. I like its concept as it felt realistic. I would love to be back for another round of Laser Tag!

Laser Battle
Address: 4th Floor, InnerCity, Johor Bahru City Square, 108, Jalan Wong Ah Fook, Johor Bahru, Johor 80000