Saturday, 12 August 2017

Hanoi - 4 Days 3 Night Adventure (Part 1)




This is an exciting experience as it is Chubby Botak Koala and Little Devil first visit to Vietnam. We picked Hanoi since it comes highly recommended from our Vietnamese friends. The city itself is more than 1,000 years old, so you can expect a vibrant and charming historical city.

Slik Air travel twice daily to and from Hanoi

Our first trip to Hanoi, we decided to travel with Silk Air @ S$250 per person. For a full-service airlines, the price is pretty good. Silk Air flight 2 times per day to Hanoi. Flight time Singapore to Hanoi is about 3 hours and 25 minutes.


Day 1. Arrival & Dinner.

We reach Hanoi around 6pm. Comparing to the other ASEAN countries, Noi Bai International Airport is very clean and modern , and the process through immigration was also breeze. As we booked our package through travel agent in Hanoi, recommended by a friend, which include Airport pick up and drop off.

You can purchase SIM Card in Noi Bai International Airport. We bought SIM VINA GCS for US$15.00. It has 8GB of data, 80 mins of local call, 80 local SMS, and 50 mins of IDD. The speed is very good and sufficient to cover the data for our stay in Hanoi and for 2 person to share. Please note that there is no special roaming package for Singapore SIM Card here.

Nhat Tan Bridge at night
 Image credit Phillips / ledsmagazine.com

Old Quarters. The heartbeat of the historical city of Hanoi. The area that is alive during day and night, without a doubt one of the best place to stay to have a good feel of the vibrant of Hanoi. Travel time from Noi Bai International Airport is about 30 minutes. We were fortunate to arrive in the evening, as we passed by the beautifully lighted Nhat Tan Bridge. 

Accomodation is L'Heritage Hotel. (39-41 Hang Ga Street, Hoan Kiem District HANOI)
This hotel seems to get one of the highest ratings in the hotel website and located within the vicinity of old quarters. We secure it for US$71 per night for Executive Double Room, with a city view. Nice Hotel with friendly price and it also came with a jacuzzi.

L'Heritage Hotel at Old Quarters Hanoi

Dinner, Cha Ca Thang Long. One of the signature dish in Hanoi and was named one of the dishes that you must eat before you die. Also known as the rite of passage if you ever visit Hanoi. It is a catfish dish, marinated with turmeric and cooked with spring onion and dill. The meat is fatty and flaky, absent of traces of mud due to the turmeric marination. This dish is to be eaten with rice noodle, fresh leaves of mint, basil and coriander, peanut and fish sauce. Absolutely delicious and a must try dish in Hanoi. There are other restaurants that sell this dish, but this one seems to be one of the best in Hanoi plus it is the most reasonably priced.

The Marinated Catfish

Spring Onion & Dill added, cooked on the table

The condiments to eat the dish with

Ready to Eat

Cha Ca Thang Long
19,21,31,2D Duong Thanh
Hoan Kiem, Hanoi.
T: +844 3 8286007



Thursday, 3 August 2017

Jiakpalang – Zi Char Inspired Modern Singapore Cuisine [MEDIA INVITE]




Jiakpalang is a Hokkien word referring to a person that ate to his fill. Not a Hokkien myself, I just find the restaurant name to be catchy.

Jiakpalang Eating House - Storefront

Jiakpalang Eating House is the latest venture by Executive Chef Nixon Low. A home-grown Singaporean Chef who has cut his teeth in the top fine dining restaurants and elevate the reputation of Portico Group. The first time I saw Chef Nixon Low, I compare him to Chef Robert Irvine from Food Network due to his muscular build.

The buzzing drink counter

Inspired by the local flavours he grew up with and enjoy, Jiakpalang is showcasing Chef Nixon creativity in blending local flavours with modern cooking technique. Known as Modern Singapore cuisine.

Thai Ice Lemon Tea

In the afternoon, Jiakpalang served a one bowl meal like Signature Sesame Soy chicken ($6.90). It is brown rice topped with sous vide chicken breast, with sesame soy dressing and woodear mushrooms. Well to make it more 'atas' there is fresh pomegranate, an onsen egg and steamed vegetables, to sum it up deliciously healthy version of Singapore “Chap Chye Peng” mixed vegtable rice. It is definitely value for money and no wonder the office crowd flocking Jiakpalang during their lunch hour.

Signature Sesame Soy chicken

From 1st week of August, Jiakpalang has commenced their dinner service. We sampled the Appetizers of Silken Tofu, Century Egg Sauce, Tobiko ($7) and Sour Plum Vine Tomatoes, Seaweed (v)($7). The chilled silken tofu is smooth and creamy, topped with creamy finely chopped century egg sauce. Tobiko adds crunchy popping texture with salty flavour to this dish. The chopped pickled ginger balance this dish nicely and remove any jelakness that you can have with the century egg.

Silken Tofu, Century Egg Sauce, Tobiko

Sour Plum Vine Tomatoes are marinated for 24 hours with tomatoes, sour plum, sugar, salt and pepper. This marination seems to intensify the flavour of the tomato. Since the dish is served chilled with seaweed salad and roasted sesame sauce, it tasted tangy and refreshing at the same time. A good dish that wakes up your appetite in anticipation of what comes next.

Sour Plum Vine Tomatoes, Seaweed

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

True Malaysian Hospitality through Malaysia Airlines

Malaysia Airlines
Image Credit: Bsnscb.com

A winner of Skytrax World Airline Award as a 5-star airline in 2012 and 2013 as well as the World’s Best Cabin Staff Award also by Skytrax 7 out of 11 times since 2001, Malaysia Airlines (MAS) has always been a darling of many travellers.

Not just for the comfortable aircraft and mouth-watering food onboard but for their exemplary service and hospitality which is now famously known all around the world as “Malaysian Hospitality” - a play on the MH code of the national carrier.

Malaysia Airlines’ main goal is to create memorable experiences that goes beyond airline travel for everyone and to inspire them to see the world differently.

Let me share my take on Malaysian Hospitality during my flight to Melbourne from Kuala Lumpur last month which was booked via Traveloka Malaysia. Fun tip, you can get a pretty good MAS online promotion with Traveloka.

Warm Welcome
Nothing reassured me more on my 8-hour flight than the genuine smiles plastered across the faces of the cabin crew as passengers were boarding. The warm “Welcome Aboard” or in the local Malay greeting, “Selamat Datang” filled up the cabin during boarding.  

Malaysia Airlines Cabin Crew
Image Credit: wallpapers-web.com

Tickets were checked one-by-one at the door for the crew to direct passengers to their respective seats. The elderly and adults with infants were given significant attention as they were escorted and assisted by the crew to their seats. A common sight to be smiled upon over and over while travelling with Malaysia Airlines.


Excellent Service
I was seated in the Economy class and the meal service began its course. Children and those with special meal request were given priority to be served first. I admired how the crew interacted with children from my observation at the row next to it, giving the little ones a sense of comfort in the flight.

Economy Seat
Image Credit: Malaysia Airlines

Moments later, the serving steward was ready to serve my row and he read out the available meals for the day. I didn’t quite catch the menu and had to ask him to repeat. I honestly felt bad for wasting his time to repeat but he gladly did it with a smile.

After meal, the crew made a quick second round of drinks. When a particular drink on the cart ran out, they would immediately rush to the galley or had their colleagues to help replenish so that passengers were able get what they wanted. At the same time, crew were also collecting finished trays as quickly to allow passengers to unwind.


The Extra Mile
The lights slowly dimmed and seats were being reclined. I didn’t take my rest immediately but instead, indulged in some movies on the inflight entertainment system.  

Business Class Seat
Image Credit: Malaysia Airlines

Moments later, the serving steward was ready to serve my row and he read out the available meals for the day. I didn’t quite catch the menu and had to ask him to repeat. I honestly felt bad for wasting his time to repeat but he gladly did it with a smile.

After meal, the crew made a quick second round of drinks. When a particular drink on the cart ran out, they would immediately rush to the galley or had their colleagues to help replenish so that passengers were able get what they wanted. At the same time, crew were also collecting finished trays as quickly to allow passengers to unwind.


The Extra Mile
The lights slowly dimmed and seats were being reclined. I didn’t take my rest immediately but instead, indulged in some movies on the inflight entertainment system.

As a stewardess was making her rounds to check on passengers, she noticed I was still awake. She approached me and asked if I wanted any more drinks or peanuts. I told her I was all good.

A few good minutes later, I was taken completely by surprise when she returned with a few packets of peanuts and a cup of orange juice. To quote the pleasant stewardess, “in case you feel like munching on something while enjoying your X-Men movie.” I was touched with the thoughtful gesture and gave her a heartfelt thank you.

The crew took turns in making their rounds to make sure all passengers including children and infants were feeling cosy in their seats. Children who were still awake could get bored easily so the crew handed them some activity books or games to keep them occupied.

I was still awake when I noticed a steward assisting an elderly man (who I assumed was travelling alone) to get up to go to the lavatory. The steward kindly led the man all the way and even waited for the man to finish then led him back to his seat, reassured the man that the crew was just a button away if he needs any assistance.

The crew also went the extra mile to ask mothers with infants if they needed help although they weren’t travelling alone, which I thought was extremely courteous.

These were the faces of Malaysia Airlines who went to great lengths to ensure passengers like me had a safe and smooth-sailing journey to my final destination.

This post is brought to you by Robert Lee