Monday, December 31, 2018

Travel 2019 - More Japan (DUH)

As we bid farewell to what was a turbulent year, we welcome a new year once again. In 2018, I travelled. Boy, did I travel. My bank account is at an all time zero as proof of that. But as stressful as it is having literally no money on a day to day basis, I realised I regret nothing about my adventures.

Monday, December 24, 2018

5 Must Try Drinks at The Iron Fairies KL

If you're pondering where to go for the new years (and just about any other night) for drinks with the girls, well ponder no more! Because Kuala Lumpur's most talked about bar, the Iron Fairies has you covered. From a myriad of exciting cocktail drinks to a hidden rooms and corners, the Iron Fairies has something for everyone across its sprawling grounds located in TREC KL.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Hair Color Expert Review: RM88.90 for Red Hair!

Look ma, I am a redhead!

Going red has been something I have been considering for long time but it wasn't until I stepped into Hair Color Expert that it became reality. Hair Color what now? How is that different from a normal hair salon, you ask.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Viper Challenge Cyberjaya 2018

Five odd years ago, I started on my OCR trip with the help of a group of crazy like-minded friends from bootcamp. This year, I became that aforementioned help for two of my ex-colleagues with the additional perk of a video. Behold the evidence of how well they did in the 5km category of Viper Challenge Cyberjaya.

I am still contemplating if I should join next year's Sepang and/or Penang Viper Challenge...hmm.....

For more info on Viper Challenge, log on to

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

5 Instagrammable Cafes in Bangkok Accessible by MRT

I am green with envy that so many of my friends are spending their holidays in Bangkok. While incredibly cooling towards the end of December, Bangkok, Thailand is a great place to visit all year round, made easy with many airlines offering Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok flights daily. Delicious food, exciting shopping hunts (cough pratunam/ chaktuchak ladies cough) and so so many instagrammable cafes popping up all over the city. Exciting times to be travelling indeed.

Asides from all the aforementioned stuff, Bangkok is also known for their mad traffic which is why I have always prefered taking the MRT around. To help ease your transport worries, I am going to share with you five instagrammable cafes within walking distance from a MRT station.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

The Body Shop #EnchantedbyNature X-Mas Event

In spirit of the holiday season, The Body Shop recently hosted an enchanted forest evening with top editors, beauty bloggers and social influencers from all over at the very beautiful Glasshouse Seputeh. Under its glass ceilings, the venue was transformed into a magical forest with various fun filled Christmas themed activities for guests to participate in and the latest Christmas edition range on display.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Dash Resort Langkawi review

Okay, I know I have a backlog of my Turkey postings to write. Heck I even thought I could get it done while I was away in Langkawi for this media trip. Ha ha ha, what a joke that was. So once again, Turkey takes a backseat because.I just can't wait to tell you about this resort because IT. IS. SO. DAMN. PRETTY. Especially the infinity pool that looks out onto its own private beach.

Have I got you interested and envisioning your next holiday yet? I have? Great! Because this hip and happening resort is located just an hour's plane ride away in the island of Langkawi, Kedah. The name of this paradise is Dash Resort Langkawi by Ri-Yaz Group and is situated at the very end of Pantai Cenang, giving it an exclusivity coveted by many resorts along that stretch of beach.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Exciting Holiday Shopping with Ezbuy 12.12 Year End Sale!

Christmas is just around the corner and the malls are loaded with families in a frenzy to get their present shopping done before the festivities of Christmas, New Year and dare I even mention….Chinese New Year. One can never start too early with decoration and party planning. Of course, why not just forgo the traffic, crowd and queues by shopping online with Ezbuy. 

Before you groan and moan about another online shop, hear me out first. Ezbuy has tons of perks for its customers such as Prime Member Service, Buy For Me and many more. Just like any other online platform, Ezbuy too aims to offer the best customer service to its clients with a customisable shopping experience and low delivery and shipping fees. But first, some interesting facts about Ezbuy! 

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

7 Tips to consider when engaging a renovation contractor

There are many properties for sale in Singapore and you can always look for the project details for the properties that you are interested in, such as the condominium Turquoise’s project detail. Have you recently just bought a property?

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Simple guide to buying a house in Malaysia

With so many houses for sale in Malaysia such as houses for sale in Puchong, it can get really tempting to get one yourself. Whether it is for investment purpose or own stay, buying a house in Malaysia can be quite a daunting experience especially for first time home buyers. The process of buying a new house in Malaysia can be as tedious as you can imagine because you do not know the procedure of buying a new house in Malaysia. This useful guide will go through the steps of buying a new house in Malaysia. 

Friday, November 30, 2018

Standard Chartered KL Marathon Continues until 2022

Congratulations to Dirigo Events and Standard Chartered Malaysia as they continue their partnership for the next four years to continue bringing Malaysia what is deemed the best marathon event in the country!  On top of this exciting announcement, Dirigo Events also announced that official date of the 2019 edition - 28 and 29 September! Mark your dates because this event is expected to draw over 38,000 participants! 

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Fly to Fukuoka, Japan with AirAsia X!

As many of you may know, it's my quest to visit different prefectures and cities of Japan each year. Next year, thanks to AirAsia X I can soon tick the Kyushu prefecture off that list as AirAsia X has announced its new route from Kuala Lumpur to Fukuoka!

Guardian's Christmas 'Lovely Gifts, Merry Deals'!

Christmas is less than a month away and you really shouldn't leave your shopping until the last minute! So why not make a list, (check it twice) and send it to Santa Klaus head down to your nearest mall. Or just pop into a Guardian outlet near you where you can get most of your shopping done with their new 'Lovely Gifts, Merry Deals' promotion.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Tun Dr Mahathir Launched Dash Resort Langkawi...and I was there.

My stubby hand
Over the last weekend, YAB Tun Mr Mahathir arrived in Langkawi to officiate the grand launch of the all new trippy, very Alice-in-Wonderland Dash Resort Langkawi. And I was honored to have been invited to attend the event after two days of enjoying the resort itself. I must say, it was one of the most relaxing trips I've had in a long time. But more on that in my resort review later on!

Monday, November 26, 2018

[Turkey] Day 1: Ankara Salt Lake Tuz and Underground City of Cardak, Cappadocia

To be honest, my parents were the reason I ended up visiting Turkey with their tales of how beautiful the scenery was and how unique their culture was. So determined my dad was to have me experience Turkey that he dragged me out to the March Matta Fair. Long story short - that was how I ended up booked on a tour group of 21 people to Turkey in November with Z.G Nan Fang Holidays with my baby sister as my travel companion.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Blue Ant Extreme's Xtreme Quest team takes on Spartan Race Malaysia

As a former Spartan Racer, it's always nice to see my friends and other people take on the Spartan Race and then listen to their tales of harrowing obstacles and endless burpees (provided they even did do their burpees at all) Not to be left out from the action, Blue Ant Extreme has launched The Xtreme Quest - a challenge for people from different background to take on the Spartan Race in Iskandar Puteri this coming 2 Dec. 

Monday, November 19, 2018

End the year with the Kentang Charity Fun Run 2018

This December, embrace a noble cause while racing at the Kentang Charity Fun Run 2018, where you will have the opportunity to help raise much-needed funds for the purchase of a new ambulance to add to the fleet of ambulances owned by Community Policing Malaysia (COPs) that serves the needy.

Kuan Chee Heng, founder of COPs, has been raising funds and awareness on the plight of the needy for years. Also known as Uncle Kentang, Kuan’s initiatives include the 10-sen Flea Market, 10-sen Ambulance Service, 10-sen Taxi and most recently the 10-sen Library, and he has been looking at ways to get more members of the community engaged in his efforts. 

“The poor will always be with us, but we shall not harden our hearts or stop our hands from reaching out to them. We should instead explore every possible way to help the poor. The main objective of the Kentang Charity Fun Run 2018 is to raise funds to buy a brand-new ambulance, but an equally important objective is to generate awareness about the needy,” said Kuan.

The 6km Kentang Charity Fun Run takes place on Sunday, 9 December 2018 at Puchong Utama, with the flag-off scheduled for 7.00am. Open to all, the categories and registration fees for the run are as follows:
● Men’s & Women’s Open – RM60.00
● Children below 12 years old – RM40.00

The registration fee includes a Race Kit comprising, Runner T-shirt, Finisher Medal, Certificate and goodies. Top 10 finisher for Men’s and Women’s Open will be awarded with trophies and prizes by Kentang Charity Fun Run 2018. The Race Kit Collection will be held on 1 and 2 December 2018 (Saturday and Sunday) from 10.00am to 5.00 pm at South Entrance, IOI Mall Puchong.

Apart from the charity fun run, the event will also feature a lucky draw, games for children, a flea market and the opportunity to meet Uncle Kentang.

The Kentang Charity Fun Run 2018 is organised by SEGA Events and supported by Community Policing Association of Malaysia (COPs). Also supporting the event is the Selangor Youth Community as the Strategic Partner, as well as Ticketing Partner MyTicket and Event Partners IOI Mall and CPXi. Sponsors Premiumlogy, The Pearl Kuala Lumpur hotel, ODR Lubricants, Hillcrest Gardens, ATF Sports Taping, MAL-Tel, Dutch Lady and MiCasa All Suites Hotel. To register for the Kentang Charity Fun Run 2018, log on to the run’s page at

Friday, November 16, 2018

Starbucks Malaysia 's Christmas 2018 collection is here!

I’ve said this before and I will say it again. I loveeeeee the year end holidays. I can feel myself getting excited in anticpation of the Christmas carols, decorations, and the food. And one of the things I look forward to each year is the Starbucks Christmas collection. This year is definitely no different with a new drink added to the mix. Oh my!

Themed the ‘The Blend is The Magic’, Starbucks Malaysia’s Christmas range has already hit the stores as of 13 November giving you a good one month and a half to enjoy the all new Snowy Cranberry Latte. Starbucks has also brought back the good old holiday favourites - Toffee Nut Crunch Latte and the yummilicious Peppermint Mocha.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Visit Sarawak logo Unveiled!

Sarawak Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports, the Honourable Datuk Haji Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah recently unveiled the Visit Sarawak Year logo as a precursor to its official launch in January 2019 at the launch event held in Kuala Lumpur.

Hamzah said that the Visit Sarawak campaign is envisioned to place Sarawak on the tourism map as one of the preferred tourism destinations in Southeast Asia.The Visit Sarawak logo will be the anchor emblem for the Visit Sarawak campaign. Designed to connote fun, and friendliness, the multi-coloured logo spelling out “Sarawak” with the tagline, “More to Discover," represents the aspirations of the campaign.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Pavilion Hotel Kuala Lumpur opening its Doors on 1 Dec, 2018

Visitors to Kuala Lumpur can look forward to another home away from home right in the heart of the city center, attached to KL's most prestigious shopping mall. Come December 1, 2018, Pavilion Hotel Kuala Lumpur Managed by Banyan Tree - the first hotel property under the Pavilion Group - will officially open.

Right in the heart of the capital of Malaysia, hotel guests have easy access to popular shopping hotspots and attractions – from well-known street markets such as Bukit Bintang to the best dining and nightlife experiences such as Jalan Alor and Changkat Bukit Bintang. They can also explore world-renowned landmarks such as Kuala Lumpur Tower, Petronas Towers and Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre, all within walking distance.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Year End Celebrations in Marina Bay Singapore

From now till New Year’s Eve, Marina Bay will be pulsating with activities as Celebrate in the City, an exciting line-up of events and experiences, brings the public together to usher in 2019. The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), in partnership with key event organisers, is bringing together all the major events happening in Marina Bay under the umbrella of Celebrate in the City to highlight the wide variety of offerings available to the public during the year-end holiday season. Revelers can look forward to eight marquee events catering to all ages and interests, culminating in the Marina Bay Singapore Countdown celebration on 31 December 2018. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

BBC's Dynasties premieres in Malaysia on UnifiTV, channel 501

Four years in the making, Dynasties is a five-part series, that delivers perhaps the most intimate and intense stories about five of the world’s most celebrated but endangered animals telling stories of politics, battles, alliances, take-overs, rivalries and family feuds within the animal kingdom.

Dr. Mike Gunton, the award-winning executive producer of Dynasties was on hand at the exclusive preview in Malaysia to provide insights into the making of Dynasties, sharing stories from the front lines of vast wildernesses that were explored in documenting these majestic animals.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Anchor Food Professionals Launches Instagram-worthy Moodmojee beverages

I hope you're thirsty because I am going to introduce you to a whole new line up of bombastic drinks by Anchor Food Professionals. Following in the footsteps of its previous campaigns like Say Cheese, PizzArt and Anchor Travel Cakes, Anchor Food Professionals recently revealed six new Instagram-worthy dairy drinks to boost your mood as part of the new MoodMojee campaign.

These beverages were created in collaboration with Anchor Food Professionals chefs and draws inspiration from the popular drinks and trends that are currently in the market. "We have learnt that innovation is as important as taste to consumers these days." shared Jack Tan, Associate Foodservice Director of Anchor Food Professionals.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Robinsons KL Flagship Store launched at Shoppes at Four Seasons Place

Patrons of Kuala Lumpur can rejoice with the official opening of Robinsons' flagship store - Robinsons Kuala Lumpur, Shoppes at Four Seasons Place. In spectacular fashion, the flagship store was launched with a special VIP night with a specially curated shopping experiences, fun activities, giveaways and a hidden bespoke bar just for that night.

On this special night themed #CurateYourWonderful, guests were also treated to a special performance by songstress Dayang Nurfaizah, decked out in Alexander Wang (available exclusively at Robinsons) and Lavish Alice. To embody #CurateYourWonderful, the flagship store was transformed to showcase pop-up spaces of curated wonders such as a virtual fashion box for guests to video their OOTD, a kaleidoscope wall and carnival games with prizes to be won.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

[11.11 Promo Galore!] SGshop - Your Taobao Agent in Malaysia

It's almost the end of the year and the season of parties and presents is fast approaching. So why wait until the last minute to shop when you can order anything and everything you need online. Out of the many online sites worldwide, Taobao is super popular amongst my friends because it's super cheap! You can get good quality fashionable pieces at reasonable rates. But the only downside for a banana (chinese who cannot read or speak chinese) like me, the site is in Chinese.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Capella Sanya, Hainan now is open for bookings 15 Nov onwards

China’s southern island of Hainan was a major transit point for the trade in merchandise from silk, porcelain and lacquerware to spices, rosewood and Lingnan-style bronzeware. Capella Sanya – a collaboration between one of the world’s pre-eminent luxury brands Capella Hotel Group and Chinese developer China Gezhouba Group Real Estate – pays homage to a Silk Road legend surrounding its location in secluded TuFu Bay on the southern coast of tropical Hainan Island.

Monday, October 29, 2018

ZafigoX 2018: Empowering Women Through Informed Travel

Travelling can be a powerful experience, and if you’ve ever dreamed of scaling Mount Everest or trekking through the Amazon Rainforest, you’re not the only one. Many of us are filled with wanderlust to travel the world, yet have never taken that first step. We’re held back by our responsibilities, self-doubt, and sometimes even fear. ZafigoX 2018 looks to change that, especially for women.

The much anticipated event, ZafigoX 2018 was officially announced by its founder, Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir. Aimed at empowering women through informed travel, the event’s panel of inspiring globe-trotting speakers was also unveiled. Spanning three days, from 9 -11 November, the second instalment of ZafigoX returns with more talks and workshops, and for the first time, encapsulated in a standalone event to be held at The Gardens Hotel, Mid Valley City, KL. 

Friday, October 26, 2018

Exploring Kuching's Nature with Hilton

Let me introduce you to where I was born - Kuching. A land rich with culture and history, Kuching is an alluring enigma to locals and tourists. The capital city of Sarawak is one of two states situated on the island of Borneo, renowned globally for its natural beauty. The fairly populous city, although modern, is uniquely diverse with interesting heritage of its indigenous people (each with its own practices, language, food, and traditions) that are not found in other parts of Malaysia.

Fondly referred to as Cat City by locals, and for good reason. Yet, the drawing factors to visit the largest city in Borneo extend far beyond its feline features; chiefly among them is its range of once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Here’s why:

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

#ZeroWaste with Mission Foods' Foldover Your Leftover Campaign!

For a nation that loves our food and have a tendency to over order, having leftovers are quite commons. Most of the time, we end up packing to it to-go (because hey, we paid for it) but there are times when it's just wasted. Did you know that we waste around 15,000 tones daily and that 20% of that wastage are untouched leftovers that are still edible?

Monday, October 22, 2018

[Dutch Lady Breakfast Challenge] How I Start My Mornings Strong

A strong day needs a strong start. A strong start would give me the much needed boost to get through the day. At least, until the mandatory afternoon nap kicks in later. ANYWAY, let me walk you through my morning routine. 

Thursday, October 18, 2018

[Food Review] Indobowl Lakefield, Sg Besi

Ah Indomie. A favourite of many Malaysians. A close companion on many late nights when one is  low on cash and at the mamak. It seems fitting that Malaysia has a cafe that pays tribute to this instant noodle. The first outlet in Sungai Besi opened its doors three years ago while the newest branch in Subang SS15 was opened just last year to cater to Selangor residents and students nearby. I was recently invited to their Sungai Besi Lakefield outlet to try out their signature dishes and more. So much more.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Coffee and Chill at Cisco Cafe, Kawaguchiko

Lake Kawaguchi is known for many things - Mount Fuji, Fuji Q Highlands and the iconic Chureito Pagoda. Beautiful in the spring for its cherry blossoms, summer for its colourful flowers, autumn for the fiery leaves and winter for the powder-like snow, Kawaguchiko is a popular tourist destination as it is only a two hours bus ride or a hour's train ride from Tokyo.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

travel360 Dance-walking Tour kicks off with Yellow House and DBKL, the digital expansion of AirAsia’s award-winning inflight magazine travel360, today announced a partnership with non-profit grassroots community organisation Yellow House and the Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur (DBKL) to further beautify the city and empower its people.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Healthier Cooking for More with the new Philips Airfryer XXL

Let's face it. Fried food is bae. There's just something about the decadent crunch, mixture of oil and juiciness of the flesh that are just so sinful and irresistible. As you can tell, I am huge fan of fried food. But I am not a huge fan of the sinking feeling of guilt that usually follows after.

Now if there was only a way to get a healthier form of that delicious fried taste. Oh wait, there is and it just got bigger. Philips Malaysia recently launched the Philips Airfryer XXL (HD9630/99) armed with the all new Twin TurboStar Technology and the first to incorporate Fat Removal Technology at a larger capacity. It can easily handle a whole chicken or up to 1.4kg of fries for up to 6 portions at one go.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Starbucks Malaysia’s Signing Workshop is Back

After an event celebrating the world's first signing Starbucks store in Bangsar Village II, I have gained an interest for learning sign language. However time hasn't been on my side and I missed out on all the workshops conductng by Starbucks Malaysia.

The honor 8X, launches in Malaysia at RM949

At just a fraction of the cost of an iPhone, the all new honor 8X offers up a tempting array of impressive technological advancement all neatly package in one sleek 6.5 inch device. In a nutshell, it offers up a 91% screen-to-body ratio, 20MP+2MP rear camera with f/1.8 aperture and a 16MP front camera with 3D portrait lighting tech and f/2.0 aperture

To be honest, honor had me at aperture. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Live from the US - 2018 American Music Awards (Blue Ant Entertainment,10 Oct, 8am)

As the kick-off to this year’s highly anticipated “2018 American Music Awards,” chart-topping artists Kane Brown and Ella Mai, singer and American Music Award winner Normani and award winning singer/songwriter Bebe Rexha announced the nominations from YouTube Space LA.

The event was livestreamed on the official American Music Awards YouTube channel and included a panel discussion about the nominations with the presenting talent and Billboard correspondent Chelsea Briggs. Hosted by Tracee Ellis Ross, the “2018 American Music Awards” will be broadcast LIVE from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles on Wednesday, 10 October at 8:00 AM (7:00 AM JKT/BKK) on Blue Ant Entertainment HD Channel 473 on Unifi TV .

Cardi B and Drake lead this year’s nominees, with eight possible wins for each. Ed Sheeran and Post Malone each earned six nominations. Camila Cabello, nominated five times this year, could win her first AMA as a solo artist. The Artist of the Year nominees are Drake, Imagine Dragons, Post Malone, Ed Sheeran, and Taylor Swift.

For the latest American Music Awards news, exclusive content and more, be sure to follow Blue Ant Entertainment on Facebook at, @BlueAntEntertainment on Instagram, and @BlueAntEnt on Twitter. Join the conversation by using the official hashtag for the show, #AMAs.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Keep The Grim Reaper Away with Dr Jason Leong and AstraZeneca

Some say laughter is the best medicine, but this World Heart Day 2018, laughter may take you on the path to your doctor – and better heart health. In conjunction with World Heart Day 2018, AstraZeneca Malaysia is working with comedian Dr Jason Leong to remind Malaysians to get their health screened early and regularly, practice healthy habits and listen to their doctors – through a humorous public awareness video.

You can watch the video here: 

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Decadent Orange Hot Chocolate with Fernleaf UHT Milk

I just love the last three months of the year. It's like the light at the end of the tunnel with Christmas and New Years to look forward to. And what drink goes better with the autumn-winter festive feel than a hot cup of orange chocolate. And I am not talking about the powdered version. I mean the real deal with dark chocolate, actual orange rinds and creamy milk filled with natural goodness all the way from New Zealand thanks to Fernleaf milk. Orange and chocolate goes so well hand in hand and this decadent drink doesn't take much too make.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

5 Hidden Instagram-Worthy Spots in the Sydney CBD

I just got back from Sydney and much to the chagrin of my sister, found an city with so many instagrammable spots and buildings. I am bewildered at how blind I must have been on my first visit to Sydney two years ago! If my schedule wasn't packed with the wedding preparations of my best friend, I would have gone on a walking tour for Instagram all over the city center. But despite my limited time in Sydney, I managed to come across several Insta-worthy spots and locations in the heart of the CBD that can be accessed by foot or public transportation.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Learn Sign Language with Starbucks Bangsar Village 2

Wouldn't it be cool to actually learn sign language?

Now you can do that at Starbucks Bangsar Village 2. Starbucks, in partnership with the Society of Interpreters for the Deaf (SID), developed the Outreach Community Program to enhance Deaf livelihood and enrich customers through a series of free workshops held throughout the year at Starbucks Bangsar Village II. There are currently three types of workshops that you can participate in : the Personal and Professional Development Workshop, the Deaf Empowerment and Awareness for Youth workshop, and the Signing Workshop.

Monday, September 24, 2018

5 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Visit Japan in Autumn

People say that Japan is beautiful all year, all season round. I disagree and I think that autumn is the worst time to go to Japan. And here are 5 reasons:

Friday, September 21, 2018

Things to do in Naha, Okinawa that are accessible by Train and Foot

Okinawa, despite being a part of Japan was like being in a different country altogether. The culture and food are influenced heavily by the Ryukyu history with touches of Taiwanese and Korean due to the proximity of those countries to the island. Also due to the American army bases all across the island, American brands are fairly popular with Blue Seal ice cream, SPAM and A and W fast food being common household names there. While a well-known holiday destination for locals, the island remained foreign to many tourists from abroad due to its accessibility.

Last February, I had the pleasure of spending several weeks there, the first couple of weeks on a horse farm in Nanjo, South of Naha and the remaining days exploring the main city. February being the peak of winter for the rest of Japan merely resulted in a pleasant weather with a cooling breeze on sunny days to enjoy at its many pristine beaches and historical and cultural sightseeing attractions. 

You can read my articles on my time at Umikaze Horse Farm and Five Things to do in Nanjo

After the farm, I spent a day or two exploring Naha by foot and Yui Monorail. As a solo traveler, it made no sense budget-wise to rent a car and also, my international driving permit had expired by then. It was okay though as it was my first time in Okinawa and I wanted to properly explore downtown Naha. I will save the rest of Okinawa for future trips. 

Start Point - Kitchen Hostel Ao
Nearest station: Prefectural Office aka Kencho-Mae station (10 minutes walk) 
My day started out with a hearty breakfast at my hostel, the Kitchen Hostel Ao, located a short ten minutes walk away from Kokusai-Dori and the Prefectural Office station of the Yui Monorail line.

Unlike the main cities in Japan, there are no sprawling interconnecting train lines in Naha - only the Yui Monorail. The line connects the city from Naha Airport all the way to Shuri castle and travellers have the option of the island prepaid IC card, OKICA or QR day passes for one or two days. These can be purchased at the ticket vending machine at the stations. 

Stop 1 - Shuri Castle (updated 1 Nov 2019: closed due to a massive fire) 
Nearest station: Gibo station or Shuri Castle (15 minutes walk) 
From the Prefectural Office station, I took the Yui monorail all the way to Shuri Castle, getting off at Gibo station as it was the closest station to the castle entrance. However you can also opt to get off at the last station of the line, Shuri station if you prefer walking through the park to the castle. 

When I was visiting Shuri Castle, the annual Momoso Omono Mairi procession was taking place and it drew in massive crowds of tourists and locals. Having originated from the Ryukyu Kingdom, it involved wirshipping Utaki aka sacred sites and the Hinukan aka God of Fire. The event started off in the main castle courtyard before leading on to the numerous sacred sites within the vicinity. Visitors are permitted to follow and take photos but remain a respectable distance to avoid interfering with the procession.

Stop 2 - Ishidatami Chaya Madama 
Nearest station: Gibo station or Shuri Castle (25 minutes walk) 
Ishidatami Chaya Madama was sort of a hidden jem with a stunning view of Okinawa inland. After the Momoso Omono Mairi, I wandered around the area and on to the Shrikinjocho Stone Path Road. A steep walk down, I found the entrance of the cafe right next to a makeshift waterfall.

An English menu was provided by the friendly cafe owner and I ended up feasting on their delicious Okinawa soba, local coffee and the toufu pudding while enjoying the view for over an hour. As I was leaving, the owner asked me where I was from and gave me a gift of Okinawa donuts.

After that heavy meal, the long walk back to Gibo station helped to fend off the food coma threatening to roll in. As the stations are open-aired and elevated, the view from Gibo station was enough to make one pause to whip out the camera for a shot or two.

Stop 3 - Kokusai-Dori Shopping Street 
Nearest station: Makishi station or Prefectural Office station (5 minutes walk) 
Ah, the main shopping street of downtown Naha. On Sundays, the entire road will be closed off to vehicles and open for street performers, art shows and pedestrians to walk around and about the two kilometer street.

The temptation to stick to the main street was real but the side streets hold their own secrets too. I found quiet little shopping street selling the reasonable clothing, antiques, fresh produces and kitchenware and bought handcrafted Japanese curry spoons for myself and friends. Along Kokusai-Dori, some main places to check out are Blue Seal for ice cream, Don Quixote for souvenirs, A and W for root beer and Sango35 coffee for their local coffee brew.

Stop 4 - Yunangi Restaurant 
Nearest station: Prefectural Office station (5 minutes walk) 
Okinawa cuisine are miles apart from the typical ramen, tempura and sushi dishes of Japanese food. The food often carry touches of Chinese style cooking and ingredients. Yunangi was a little hideaway restaurant just off the start of Kokusai-Dori, entrance closest to the Prefectural Office station. 

The entrance was hard to spot but the row of chairs outside the establishment was a good indicator of how popular it can get. I was there early for dinner but as soon as I stepped in, I was surprised by how crowded it was with locals. I was quickly seated at the bar and ordered a bowl of squid ink risotto, ratufe and umibudo (sea grapes). The risotto came out more like porridge with chunks of squid. The umibudo was one of the island speciality and was pleasantly refreshing. Fans of braised pork should order the ratufe for the melt in the mouth balance of fat and meat soaked in brown sugar and awamori liquor.

Stuffed and filled the brim with the island delicacies and its cultural wonders, I waddled back to my hostel which was just a ten minutes walk away from Yunangi. For late night owls, there are ample pubs and izakayas along Kokusai-Dori that open until late.

Getting to Okinawa
Sorry, no bullet train to whisk visitors off to this seaside heaven. Flying in is the most economical and fastest way to get to Naha Airport from the rest of Japan. Premium airlines like ANA and JAL often offer fixed reasonable rates for domestic flights for foreigners at about 10,800 yen one way (RM360 - RM400). Alternatively Malaysians can fly into Okinawa via Jetstar through Singapore for a shorter flight at about 5 hours.

Of course Naha and Okinawa has much more to offer but without a car or a bike, I was limited to public transportation and my own two feet. Had I more time, I would have taken the bus to the other parts of the island but then again, would rather leave some parts unexplored for a returning trip hopefully not alone the next time. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Starbucks Malaysia's Autumn Drinks are in Stores nationwide!

Did you know coffee beans grow inside of a cherry? In the world of Starbucks coffee craft, the outer husk of the cherry, also known as Cascara, is having a star moment this autumn. Embracing this often-neglected part of a coffee plant, the subtly sweet Cascara is made into a syrup with complex flavors reminiscent of dark brown sugar and maple. Starting 12 September 2018, Cascara Cold Foam Cold Brew will be available for a limited time, bringing together Starbucks 14-hour slow-steeped Cold Brew with Cascara syrup infused cold foam.