A Lovely Stay at DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Johor Bahru

I have numerous Malaysia customs stamps on my passport, old & present, & a large proportion of these stamps were contributed by the Johor Bahru Customs.  Why?  Because JB is pretty accessible for a “Northlander” like me so crossing the causeway to shop, eat & relax for a day trip is a pretty attractive option for me, especially with the strong SGD against the MYR. :P However, I had never stayed overnight in JB before, until during the recent Hari Raya long weekend when I just felt like doing a short getaway from Singapore.

Thanks to a family recommendation, I got to know about the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Johor Bahru, opened since July 2014, which is conveniently located about 10 minutes by foot from JB City Square (i.e. near the JB Customs as well), great for people like me who do not drive.

Upon arriving at JBCS level 3 (the level that is linked to JB Customs), go down 1 level to level 2 & head to the Jalan Wong Ah Fook overhead bridge near The Chicken Rice Shop.  Cross the overhead bridge & instead of turning left to the side of Public Bank Berhad building, you should turn right where you will see many little shops (mostly shops open by Indians).  Just keep walking straight along the road (probably about 10 minutes for a slow leisurely walk) till you see this road sign:

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Along the way, there isn’t much view except a number of Indian-looking shops at first followed by what looks like a major road leading to a highway at the later part before you see the sign above.  Btw, that is the hotel building you are seeing in the photo above. ;)

Although we were unable to succeed with an early check-in around 10am that day, as official check-in time starts from 3pm, within an hour, he hotel reception actually tried to call me to inform that our room was ready! :) We continued with our cafe-hopping around the Jalan Tan Hiok Nee area before returning to the hotel close to 3pm.  Upon receiving our room key at the reception, we were given our warm welcome chocolate chip cookies (which we later ate & found it too sweet for our liking).

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We got ourselves a deluxe twin room on level 23 with a view of the outdoor pool on level 13.  The room was modern & clean, even with 2 double beds, it was spacious for us to “roam about”. :)

Different views of the comfortable & spacious room

Different views of the comfortable & spacious room

Not sure if you notice that you can see through the shower from the bed (top right pic)? ;) Well we searched high & low for the switch to pull down the privacy blinds, & only managed to get it down after calling the reception for help, as the switch was well hidden on the left of the wash basin without any sign! :P Anyway we love the room so much that we just allowed ourselves to relax in the room for over an hour before we finally left the hotel for KSL hehe.  Guess the only grouse that we have of the room was the super soft pillows provided.  So soft till it’s as good as not having any support, but too bad by the time we realized it was close to midnight & we couldn’t get the staff on the phone to bring us other types of pillows (that were complimentary). :(

The highlight of this stay definitely has to be the scrumptious buffet breakfast the following day. :) I was already told not to miss the breakfast at the time of booking the hotel so we booked the room with breakfast, & very glad we made the right choice!  It was equivalent to the buffet spread we get at hotels such as Grand Hyatt in Singapore.  Check out the photos I took so that you can see for yourself. ;)

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I didn’t manage to take pics of all the food & beverage counters so the above are just a sneak peek for you haha.  We must say that 90% of the food were delicious & of high quality.  I especially love the freshly squeezed fruit juices, as seen in the centre of the second pic (the colourful glasses: green = honeydew juice, orange = orange juice & red = watermelon juice).  We were so full & satisfied after the 1.5 hours worth of morning feast that we skipped lunch.  What’s better was the additional cost that we paid for getting the room with breakfast was only about S$20 for 2 pax, i.e. S$10/pax! ;)

With a great location, superb food & service, 24-hour gym, as well as a comfortable room for a good night’s rest, it was definitely a lovely birthday stay for me!  Highly recommend to stay at this hotel if you just want a short & convenient getaway from Singapore without burning a big hole in your wallet. :D

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Pretty Nails at Pretty Cure, KSL City JB

I was never a die-hard fan of manicure/pedicure but since I tried out the nail services at Pretty Cure (KSL City, L2-13A & 15, 33 Jalan Seladang, Taman Abad, 80250 Johor Bahru. Tel: +60-12-733-9363) with my sister back in June, I must say I have become somewhat addicted to pampering my hands & feet! :P Hence it was a must-do during my birthday trip to JB last month, especially after cafe-hopping for 4 hours we needed to rest our feet! ;)

Pretty Cure at KSL City is a one-stop beauty salon when you can pamper your hands & feet with manicure & pedicure, or do eyelash or nail extension etc.  It is located near the escalator at level 2, where to the beauty & wellness section of the mall is.

Pretty Cure KSL

The salon looks bright & welcoming with its clean & simple interiors as well as friendly staff, important good first impression that sets it apart from the numerous other nail salons at KSL City. Upon checking out the prices of its nail services, we found them to be pretty competitive & reasonable in their pricing, which is another plus point.  The first time I tried their spa pedicure & classic manicure service in June, I only paid RM91 (S$32.50).  At such price I would only be able to do a classic pedicure in Singapore, & most likely in the neighbourhood salon, not in a shopping mall. :P Furthermore, the therapist who did my nails then was very professional, handling my nails & feet with gentle care, & I felt great & relaxed during the session.

It was really very crowded when we arrived KSL City in the evening of Hari Raya but fortunately, we could walk in the salon & be attended to immediately without waiting. :) As I was having an eczema attack that caused skin-peeling on my fingers I had to give up doing manicure this time, so I only requested for spa pedicure with nail art (RM65, S$23.20) while my cousin did her favourite gel manicure & pedicure (RM140, S$50).  I am in love with the spa pedicure here because it gives my feet a good scrub & massage, leaving the soles feel smooth & clean after the treatment. :)  It was lucky my cousin got the therapist who previously did my nails for her gel pedicure this time & she said the lady did a great job too.

Our pretty nails :)

Our pretty nails :)

For every purchase of RM50 at Pretty Cure, customer will be entitled to 1 stamp.  Collect 20 stamps to redeem a free OPI pedicure.  Sounds great right?  Wonder why I wasn’t given this card to collect stamps on my 1st visit… Anyway, I will be going back again to pamper myself without burning a deep hole in my tiny wallet. :P Furthermore, the nail colours seem quite lasting for both sessions I did with Pretty Cure.  The 1 I did in June lasted at least 1 momth before it started “fading” while this most recent 1, it’s still looking good even after 3 weeks!  Value for money isn’t it? ;)

In case you don’t already know how to get to KSL City from the JB checkpoint (other than by cab), you can board any bus from JB Sentral (the bus terminal in between checkpoint & JB City Square) that lists KSL City as one of the destinations.  The fare per bus ride is RM3 per pax (S$1.10) & takes not more than 30 min to reach the mall.  Besides the numerous beauty & nail salons in this mall, you will also find the hypermarket Tesco here (the nearest & most accessible hypermarket from JB checkpoint if you do not drive), as well as a cineplex, restaurants & the popular KSL hotel next to the mall.

Hope you like my recommendation of pampering yourself with just a fraction of the $$ needed for similar service in Singapore. :D

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Cafe-Hop On a Shoestring Budget Near the JB Customs

Like it or not, cafe-hopping isn’t exactly a cheap hobby in Singapore.  So although I enjoy exploring new cafes, I cafe-hop in Singapore with caution so as not to burn a big hole in my pathetic wallet. :P With the S$ strengthening steadily against our neighbour Malaysia’s MYR (S$1 = MYR2.8 around mid-July), it’s a good time to try cafe-hopping in Johor Bahru (JB) where many hip indie cafes have sprouted in recent times.

Over the recent Hari Raya long weekend, I went to JB for a short getaway with my cousin as my birthday happened to fall during this period (the first time I encountered a public holiday so close to my birthday! LOL) so we thought we could take advantage of the strong S$ for a budget birthday holiday.  Within a leisurely 10-min walk from Johor Bahru City Square (JBCS – the shopping mall you will see upon leaving JB Customs), is a cafe-hopper’s heaven, especially for people like us who do not drive! :)

Upon arriving at JBCS level 3 (the level that is linked to JB Customs), go down 1 level to level 2 & head to the Jalan Wong Ah Fook overhead bridge near The Chicken Rice Shop:

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Cross the overhead bridge & walk along the covered pathway by the side of Public Bank Berhad building that you can see once you cross the bridge.  This area seems to be THE place for the Indian community, as both times I walked past, it was crowded with Indians, probably because there is a Hindu temple (Arulmigu Sri Raja Mariamman Devasthanam) just a few minutes down the road. You would have arrived at Jalan Trus – 1 of the city’s oldest streets, once you reach the end of this short covered pathway.  **Drum rolls** Get ready to cafe-hop on a shoestring budget right now! :)

1. Faculty of Caffeine (FOC)

Address: 106 Jalan Trus, Johor Bahru

Open: 9.00am to 6.00pm daily

An industrial concept cafe founded by a medical student & an interior designer who are both passionate in coffee, food and design, FOC is located just opposite the Johor Old Chinese Temple (柔佛古庙).

As it was our first stop of the day at 10+am, we decided not to stuff ourselves with the popular “Generous Breakfast” (RM17.50+, S$6.25+) but to leave room for food at other cafes later. ;) The cafe is quite compact in size with simple industrial decor.  It was almost full house that morning so we had to take the 2 seats facing the door.

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The coffee here is supposed to be good, but it was so warm that day we decided to get a cold beverage each to quench our thirst. :P My Chilly Rose Peach Tea (RM9+, S$3.20+) was fragrant & refreshing while my cousin’s Iced Minty Chocolate (RM12+, S$4.30+) sweetness was just right with a refreshing taste of mint.  Seems like we both made the right choice here. :)

Total spent at FOC: RM23.10, S$8.25

(NB: The “+” sign behind each price is because the cafe adds a 10% service charge to the bill.)

2. Table For Two² (TFT²)

Address: 25 Jalan Tan Hiok Nee, Johor Bahru

Open: Sun-Thu 1000-1800 hrs & Fri-Sat 1000-2200 hrs

After wandering around the area for a while, we finally decided on our second stop here as many cafes were still not open for business before noon.

Table For Two

Table For Two - menu

TFT² prices seem to be higher compared to FOC, but it also has more food options compared to the former so we took quite a while to decide on what to order.  Finally, here’s what we tried:

Table For Two order

Hee… we only ordered “Mr. Portabello” (RM15.90+, S$5.70+) to share plus a Purple Rain Ice Blended each (RM9.90+, S$3.50+).  This was like our second course for the day so that we could move on to another cafe for the main course! :P The portabello mushroom with homemade mushroom sauce & salad on the side was fresh & juicy.  Just a pity that the serving was a bit small & left us craving for more haha.  Purple Rain Ice Blended is actually a grape flavoured drink, perfect for such sunny weather. ;)

Total spent at TFT²: RM37.50, S$13.40

(NB: The “+” sign behind each price is because the cafe adds a 5% service charge to the bill.)

3. Coffee Valley (CV)

Address: 12 Jalan Trus, Johor Bahru

Open: Daily 1230-2200 hrs

Time for our main courses!  CV is a quaint little cafe above a very old coffee shop serving local hawker fare.  Take the flight of stairs up to level 2, at a corner of the coffee shop & what you shall see will be a stark contrast to the “hawker scene” right below. ;)

Coffee Valley

Waffles seemed to be the main attraction here based on the wide selection on the menu, so we decided to order 1 sweet waffles & 1 savoury waffles to try.

Tiramisu Waffle (left) & Pasta Brunch Platter (right)

Tiramisu Waffle (left) & Pasta Brunch Platter (right)

The savoury Pasta Brunch Platter (RM17+, S$6.10+) was served first as per our request.  Wow I must say this was one of the best waffles I have ever tasted so far, crispy on the outside, yet fluffy on the inside, & we could taste the fragrant cheese as we bite into the waffle.  The creamy chicken mushroom spaghetti was also quite well done.  This Pasta Brunch Platter was quite a generous serving so we were somewhat full after sharing haha.  Then came the sweet Tiramisu Waffle (RM14+, S$5+) that came with a nice creme brulee topping & a scoop of ice cream.  The waffle was also equally yummy like the savoury one.  We made the right choice again, wohoo!~  We didn’t order any drinks here, just asked for plain water to accompany our food.  I really enjoyed visiting this cafe, not only because of its great food, but also because of the comfortable & tranquil setting it provided, away from all the bustle outside.  In fact we were the only customers till we finished our first main course, so it was easy to roam around taking photos. :) For those who can’t survive without internet connection, they provide free wifi too, the only cafe out of the 3 that we visited to do so. ;)

Total spent at CV: RM32.85, S$11.70

(NB: The “+” sign behind each price is because the cafe adds a 5% service charge to the bill.)

It was time to return to the hotel to check-in after a good 4 hours of cafe hopping.  Just to summarise the total amount spent for 2:

Café MYR SGD
Faculty of Caffeine    23.10      8.25
Table For Two2    37.50    13.40
Coffee Valley    32.85    11.70
Grand Total    93.45    33.35

Wohoo~ average spending per pax is <S$20, & it was a satisfying “3-course meal” leaving us bloated at the end of the experience! :D At this price, I probably can only get a beverage with a cake or sandwich in Singapore cafe haha.

*BONUS if you have a bit more $ to spare for some desserts* :D

Humble Beginnings (HB)

Address: J6-05, Level 6, City Square, Johor Bahru

Open: Daily 1200-2200 hrs

We visited HB the following day before we departed JB.  HB is a cake shop specialising in mille crepes.  Apparently last time they used to deliver orders of whole cakes to Singapore but the service has stopped.  Since it is conveniently located in City Square level 6 & I love mille crepes, we ordered a slice of the best-selling French Vanilla Mille Crepe (RM10.90, S$2.90) to share, plus an iced soda (RM8.90, S$3.20) & an iced tea (RM9.90, S$3.50) each.

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Maybe I had pinned too high an expectation for the mille crepe after reading so many great reviews about it, I was a bit disappointed that there was too much cream in the 20 layers of crepe & the side of the cake felt a tad too hard.  I thought the recent mille crepe that I had at After You in Bangkok fared much better.

But well, to be fair, it was still quite a decent piece of cake for the price paid.  In fact I didn’t pay anything here as it was meant to be a birthday treat for me hehe.  Amount spent here was about RM30 (unsure if there is service charge or not) = S$11!

So if you don’t mind adding S$5-6 more to your cafe-hopping budget for a “4-course meal”, it’d still be much more wallet-friendly compared to if you were in Singapore!

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Another Shopping Haven for Ladies – Pratunam Morning Market

Our last stop for this trip, before heading back home, was the Pratunam morning market.  As this wholesale market is only open from around 6 to 9 am daily, although we slept quite late the previous night, I still made it a “must-go” place since it seems like a market not to be missed & highly recommended by many people.  Fortunately we could wake up at the buzz of the alarm & managed to leave the hotel slightly after 7 am. :)

Based on what the hotel reception staff told us, Pratunam market is just located at the street next to Glow Pratunam hotel (turn right once you exit the Shibuya Glow entrance).  But many online reviews mentioned that it’s just outside Baiyoke Sky Hotel, so it’s kinda confusing.  Anyhow I realised that’s because the market stalls start lining up Soi Phetchaburi 19 (highlighted in grey) as seen in the map I extracted from Google Maps below:

Pratunam market map

Not all the stalls were open when we reached slightly after 7 am.  The stalls began to open quickly within the next half an hour or so & soon, the market also got more crowded, with many people pushing large trolley bags around to carry their bargains.  I guess most people come here to buy in bulk given it’s a wholesale market & many items are only priced between ฿100 to ฿200 per piece, especially if you buy at least 3 items of the same kind, you will get the wholesale price.  Otherwise the retail price would likely be around ฿200 to ฿250 per piece.

I think I only saw ladies’ clothing & accessories being sold in this market, so guys can either stay away from this market or if you need to accompany your girlfriend / wife here, then you can help to carry their purchases & have a hearty breakfast at the food stalls here. ;)  For us ladies, the food didn’t matter for we had hotel buffet breakfast waiting for us, so we “concentrated” on the shopping! :P

(Left) market was relatively quiet around 7am (Right) getting crowded as more stalls opened & customers streamed in

(Left) market was relatively quiet around 7am
(Right) getting crowded as more stalls opened & customers started to stream in near 8am

Pardon the lack of photos as I needed to focus on the numerous shops spanning across 2 streets as you can see from the map above!  Although I didn’t get to enjoy the wholesale price for my purchases, I still find the prices cheaper here compared to Platinum.  Beware of impulse buying though as you may be tempted to do so with such cheap prices!  Fortunately I was able to control myself quite well, or should I say, it was because I was lost in the huge selection of choices haha.  A good experience at Pratunam morning market, next time I shall try some of the food here too. :)

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Glow Pratunam, Thailand

Finally, after a long day of shopping, eating & walking, we returned to Glow Pratunam hotel (919 Petchburi Road, Kwang Thanon Phayathai, Rajdhevi กรุงเทพมหานคร 10400, Thailand. Tel: +66 2 257 3999) to get our room keys.  We had checked in earlier that morning before the official check-in time so couldn’t get a room yet.  Hence we parked our luggage at the concierge & went shopping at Platinum Fashion Mall which is just located opposite the hotel.  It was a pleasure to hear that our luggage had been put in our room given that it was late, almost 11pm. :P

Pics taken at the hotel lobby that morning as well as the building entrance before heading to Platinum

Photos taken at the hotel lobby as well as the building entrance that morning (top right)

I managed to take some photos of the hotel in the day before we left to enjoy the day.  Just a note that this hotel only occupies 7th to 20th floor of Shibuya 19, another shopping mall in the area.  Therefore if you notice the top right photo above, the building is called “Shibuya Glow”.  You will need to take the elevator on the left side of the building (after entering via this main entrance) to 7th floor, where the hotel lobby is.

Glow Pratunam is relatively new, only opened in 2012 so its facilities & room amenities still look quite new too.  Although the hotel lobby looked kind of dark & dim, when we went up to our room on 16th floor, it was quite brightly lit.

A brightly lit & long corridor welcomed us upon reaching 16th floor

A brightly lit & long corridor welcomed us upon reaching 16th floor

Our deluxe twin room

Our deluxe twin room

The room looked chic & comfortable.  Although just 29 square meters, it appeared more spacious than Grand Millennium Sukhumvit which claimed that the room size is 38 square meters.  Everything was well maintained too.  If I really had to be picky, it would probably be that the sliding doors of the cabinet often slide too quickly & the bathroom would be exposed to a certain extent (because you can either open the cabinet door from the bathroom or from the bedroom).  Other than that, nothing much to complain about. :)

Complimentary WIFI internet access was available although we didn’t really need to use it since we each bought a Traveller SIM card that provided unlimited data access too.  Nonetheless, I did try the WIFI connection & it seemed to be pretty stable.  I also took photos of the night view & day view from the window of our room:

(Top) night view (Bottom) day view

(Top) night view
(Bottom) day view

Before we retreated to our comfortable room for a good night’s rest, we also had our traditional Thai body massage done at the hotel for 1.5 hours (฿500/ S$21.30).  Originally I had wanted to try out the highly recommended Number One Massage located on Petchburi Soi 15, adjacent to Glow Pratunam but it was raining so heavily we dismissed the idea of looking for it.  Anyway, the massage at the hotel paled in comparison to Health Land that we did the previous day.  I felt my masseur kind of short-changed me, she requested for an urgent toilet break & was gone for a while, but my massage still ended slightly before my friend, although we started same time.  Furthermore she also kept hurrying us while we were changing into the gowns provided, saying that we were “late & the 1.5 hours starts now”. :(

The booking we made at this hotel came with buffet breakfast, & the restaurant was just behind the hotel reception.  It was not a big restaurant, & crowded when we arrived slightly after 9am.  We only had to let the staff know our room number & we could enjoy our breakfast, no breakfast coupons needed.

Glow Pratunam Hotel breakfast

Above is a photo collage of the food I ate as well as a peek into the buffet layout. I also had some fruits that I did not take picture of.  The food was decent though not a huge variety of choices were available.  While there wasn’t much to shout about the indoor dining area, the outdoor dining area gave a bright & cheery feel.  But I guess it’s too hot for anyone to want to eat out there haha.

Nice ambience at the outdoor dining area

Nice ambience at the outdoor dining area

The only downside about its location is that the nearest BTS station is about 15 min walk away – Ratchathewi.  On our way back from Siam area, we took the BTS from Siam to Ratchathewi but lost our way when trying to walk to the hotel.  Nonetheless, getting to the airport was still quite easy.  We took a taxi to the nearest Airport Rail Link station – Rajprarop, upon checking out of the hotel.  The ride took less than 10 min (it was 11+ am then & cost about ฿50) & the airport rail link took about 25 min (฿40/ S$1.70).  So in less than an hour, we arrived at the Suvarnabhumi Airport, so convenient, cheap & fast since there was no traffic jam to be afraid of. ;)

I think this hotel is quite popular amongst tourists, given its strategic location opposite Platinum as well as near other prime shopping malls.  In fact at the breakfast restaurant, I could hear the voices of many Singaporeans, through the way they spoke.  Overall, this is a nice hotel to stay in, value for money too, we paid around S$100 for a night.  I wouldn’t mind staying here the next time again. :)

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Checking Out the Siam BTS Area

After praying at the Erawan Shrine, we continued our way along Ploenchit Road towards Siam BTS station.  Besides a section of Central World which can be found on this road, there are also other popular shopping malls like Siam Paragon, Siam Center, Siam Discovery and Siam Square 1 along this stretch.

We went into these shopping malls, not so much to shop, but to check out what they offer within.  I would say they cater mainly to the affluent & younger crowd, with many international luxury labels e.g. Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Montblanc, Rolex available here.  The Madame Tussauds Bangkok museum can be found at Siam Discovery level 6 while the Sea Life Bangkok Ocean World is located at Siam Paragon basement 1 & 2.

In addition to all the fashion & tourist attractions that you can find, there are also a number of worthy cafes to check out in this area.  We didn’t try them out but based on online reviews, as well as the look & feel of the cafes, they do look good to try out. :)

On Siam Center level 4, there were 2 cafes that caught my attention – Petite Audrey and Let Them Eat Cake.

Petite Audrey @Siam Center

Petite Audrey @Siam Center

Let Them Eat Cake @Siam Center

Let Them Eat Cake @Siam Center

We had been to Audrey Cafe & Bistro on Thonglo Soi 11 for dinner on our first day & were impressed by the lovely experience at its flagship store.  The Petite Audrey branch at Siam Center was like an exact replica of the flagship store, just smaller, and like the name suggested, petite. ;) Given that it was dinner time, the cafe was crowded & there were people queuing outside to get in as well.

As for Let Them Eat Cake, I had been craving to try its cakes & pastries since I saw the pictures of pretty pastries that other bloggers had posted online, but was disappointed to learn that its flagship store near Asok BTS station was no longer in operation.  It is a fine Thai-French patisserie & the cafe looked so cosy & chic.  However when we looked at the pastries on display we were somewhat shocked by the prices as a small slice of cake was easily priced ฿150 or more.  Considering that such prices can easily buy you a full meal in Bangkok, guess that probably explained why there was not even a single customer that evening? :P  Nonetheless the pastries looked really exquisite & yummy, probably I will try another time when I feel richer hehe.

Across the road from Siam Center is Siam Square 1, where Bangkok’s first Hello Kitty House is.  It was officially opened only from August 2014, a huge 3-storey unit with a Hello Kitty cafe, shop & spa.  It is located on the ground floor at the back of Siam Square 1 (i.e. not facing Siam Center).

Hello Kitty House @Siam Square 1

Hello Kitty House @Siam Square 1

The whole house is decked in pink (but you can’t really see it clearly from my photos above taken at night) with images of the cute cat everywhere.  There is a takeaway counter just next to the entrance on its first floor so we had a sneak peek at the cute desserts available, which is a bit pricey for the locals I feel, similar to what Let Them Eat Cake is offering.  Nonetheless, I guess this is THE place to come for Hello Kitty fans no matter the price. :P

To get to Siam area, the most convenient way is to take the BTS to Siam station & you will have easy access to all these happening shopping centers in town!  You can also check out the MBK Center, an older shopping mall opened since 1985, connected to the Siam Discovery & Siam Paragon shopping malls by elevated walkways. :)

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The Famous Erawan Shrine aka Four-Faced Buddha

Erawan Shrine (ศาลพระพรหม in Thai) in Bangkok, more commonly known as the Four-Faced Buddha or 四面佛, is not strictly Buddhist, but a Brahma god (of Hindu origin).

During the mid-1950s the Thai government decided to build the luxury Erawan Hotel on this site, but its construction was delayed by a series of mishaps, including cost overruns, injuries to labourers, & the loss of a shipload of Italian marble intended for the building, led people to believe it was because the foundations were laid on the wrong date.  Thus, the superstitious labourers refused to continue unless the land spirits were appeased.

An astrologer advised erecting the shrine to honour the four-faced Brahma God, Than Tao Mahaprom to counter the negative influences.  Hence, the Brahma statue was designed and built by the Department of Fine Arts and enshrined on 9 November 1956.  The Erawan Hotel’s construction thereafter proceeded without further incident.  However, in 1987, the hotel was demolished as it could not compete with more modern facilities and was replaced by the privately-owned Grand Hyatt Erawan Hotel in 1991.

Than Tao Mahaprom is believed to be a Brahma god full of kindness, mercy, sympathy and impartiality. Each virtue is represented in the four faces of the image.  As the shrine was originally constructed to grace the old Erawan Hotel, the location became known as the Erawan Shrine.

A little pity that at the time of our visit, the Erawan Shrine was undergoing restoration & we didn’t get to see it.

Aerial view of Erawan Shrine from the BTS Skywalk

Aerial view of Erawan Shrine from the BTS Skywalk

Despite being all covered up, there were still quite a number of worshippers paying respects to the shrine, as you can see from the photo above.  It has been said that Than Tao Mahaprom helped many worshippers to fulfil their wishes, be it locals or tourists, so that probably explains why there is a constant stream of believers making their way there to make ceremonial offerings at the shrine.

There was also a Thai Classical Dance troupe behind the shrine (try spotting it in the background of my photo above) dancing joyfully to the rhythms of the traditional music being played.  Worshippers may also make their cash contributions near the entrance, & these contributions are being managed by a foundation who distributes funds regularly to various charitable organisations and equipment for needy hospitals in the provinces.

Go experience the aura of reverence yourself when you are in Bangkok!

To get to Erawan Shrine:

Nearest BTS station – Chit Lom

Location –  In front of Grand Hyatt Erawan Hotel, corner of Ploenchit and Ratchadamri Road

Opening hours – 0600 to 2300 hrs daily

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After You Dessert Cafe

I forgot when did I start seeing all the pretty dessert photos of After You Dessert Cafe posted online, but it seemed that everyone who visited Bangkok just had to go to this dessert cafe, so it made me really curious about what magic After You has. :)

After trying out the desserts at After You’s Central World branch, I think I know why now. ;)

After You @Central World 7th Floor

After You @Central World 7th Floor

I wouldn’t say the cafe is very eye-catching from the outside, because I nearly missed it when we passed by, if not for my friend who was more alert in spotting the cafe signboard. :P Nonetheless, once we stepped in, the ambience made me feel comfortable though the design was simple.

We were lucky that there was no queue when we arrived around 4.30pm, but it was almost full house inside.  The waitress at the entrance gave us a queue number, and said a table would be reserved for us while we should place our order at the counter before taking a seat first.  After a quick “discussion” at the counter, we ordered its best seller Shibuya Honey Toast (฿175/ S$7.50) & a Mille Crepe (฿115/ S$4.90) to share, as well as Royal Thai Milk Tea (฿85/ S$3.60) for myself & a Hot Latte (฿95/ S$4.10) for my friend.

After You desserts

The Shibuya Honey Toast was the first to be served at our table & gosh, we didn’t expect it to be this huge!  It came with 2 scoops of vanilla ice cream as well as whipped cream.  The thick toast was nicely done, crispy on the outside & soft & fluffy on the inside, aroi (delicious, as the Thais call it)!  We were given a small jug with honey but we decided the toast was already sweet enough & there was no need to add the honey.

As for the Mille Crepe, it was very good too, with a soft & “melt in your mouth” layered texture, what’s more, the sweetness was just right.  It was hard to stop once you get a bite of this lovely pastry. :)

I didn’t take photo of our beverages because the way they were presented, were too normal, not pretty enough haha.  Anyway I felt my Royal Thai Milk Tea was too sweet, like a sugar overdose, but probably that’s how the locals like it I guess.  Glad that there was free flow of iced tea that we could help ourselves to, it tasted like those Korean barley tea flavour & sort of neutralized all the sweetness we were taking in.

The cafe had a constant flow of customers streaming in throughout the time we were there.  Having tried its desserts now, I think it’s little wonder why this cafe joint enjoys good business, because the Shibuya Honey Toast & Mille Crepe were really good!  Furthermore, with an open concept & brightly lit cafe, this is probably the place where youngsters would love to be seen hanging out at, even if the price may not be that cheap by local standards.

I think I will pop by again to try out its other mouthwatering desserts the next time I visit Bangkok! :) See below for the details of the Central World branch I visited.  There are 7 other branches spread out across Bangkok listed on its website.

Address:

4,4 / 1-2,4 / 4, Ratchadamri Road, Pathumwan, Central World 7th Floor,
Bangkok 10330, Thailand

Phone: (66) 02 252-5434

Open: 1000 to 2000 hrs daily

How to get there:

Central World is a huge shopping mall located near Platinum Fashion Mall.  If you exit Platinum via the Petchaburi Road, head east (right) till you reach the traffic junction about 160m away where you can turn right onto Ratchadamri Road.  Walk along this road for about 350m & you will see Central World, that’s how we got there as well after shopping at Platinum.  Do look out for H&M on the 1st floor as the escalator near H&M will be the closest one that leads you up to the 7th floor where After You is. ;)

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A Shopping Haven for Ladies – Platinum Fashion Mall

Mention Bangkok and the activity “shopping” immediately comes to mind, especially for ladies.  Before this short trip, I always hear girlfriends commenting on how they enjoy shopping so much in Bangkok, particularly at the famous Platinum Fashion Mall (222 Petchburi Road, Bangkok, Thailand) where it is a very big wholesale mall.  Many times, I wondered why, & so this mall was one of the “must-visit” places on our itinerary since we both had never been here.

There are a total of 6 floors in this mall dedicated to fashion wear, of which 4 floors are for women fashion (from basement to third floor)!  Wohoo~  Men’s fashion can only be found on the 4th floor, while the 5th floor houses children’s wear, accessories, gifts and shoes.  There is a huge food court on the 6th floor, which is also linked to Novotel Platinum Bangkok hotel.  So many floors for ladies, that says a lot of the female spending power potential ya? :P

Platinum Fashion Mall is just conveniently located opposite Glow Pratunam hotel along Petchburi Road, via access of a skywalk (or overhead bridge as we are used to calling) on the left of Glow Pratunam hotel/ Shibuya 19 entrance.  The nearest BTS station to the mall is Chit Lom, but it is a bit far to walk from Chit Lom, take a taxi or tuk tuk there for the convenience.

View of Platinum Fashion Mall from the skywalk

View of Platinum Fashion Mall from the skywalk

There are just too many little shops in this mall on each floor, so if you see something you like, you should just grab it & not have the “browse first, decide later” mentality.  Because it will be difficult for you to find the exact same shop back after looking through the numerous shops.  Do note that the mall is only open till 8pm daily though I heard after 6pm many shops start to close so it is better to come here early (it opens at 8 am on Saturdays, Sundays & Wednesdays / 9 am on the rest of the days).

You can’t try on the clothes here, but I heard there are some sellers who will help you to take measurements so that you know which size to buy, or they allow you to try in the fitting room in the restrooms & go back to exchange for the right size if need be.  However, I didn’t personally get them to help take my measurements or try to get an exchange.  The clothes that I bought are all free size & luckily fit me well.  Too bad I am not the petite kind, so I didn’t dare to buy any jumpsuits or bottoms although they all looked so attractive!  Oh btw, I thought that the shops are more interesting on 2nd & 3rd floor for ladies compared to basement (caters to an older age group probably?) & 1st floor.

In addition, as this is a wholesale mall, if you buy more pieces (usually at least 2 pieces) you will be able to get a wholesale price versus just buying 1 piece at the retail price.  Nonetheless the retail price was still very reasonable & affordable compared to what we pay for in Singapore.  The average price per piece of clothing I bought was not even S$8! ;)

Pardon me for the lack of photos of the various levels, but I had to “concentrate” on my shopping experience in order to sniff out the good buys, hence only 1 photo below when I finally remembered this task (on a not-too-crowded 1st floor). :P

A snapshot of how the mall looks like on level 1

A snapshot of how the mall looks like on level 1

After all the hard leg work to get the best buys, it was time to take a breather & have lunch at the food court on the 6th floor.  This is a large food court compared to the one at Terminal 21, able to sit more than 1,500 people.  I wasn’t feeling too hungry having just munched into a hot crepe from one of the snack kiosks at the basement.  So after browsing the numerous food stalls twice, I finally settled for a bowl of fishball noodles because I decided I have to try a nice sticky rice with mango after eating a lousy one the previous day at Terminal 21. :P

Delicious spicy fishball noodles ฿35/ S$1.50

Delicious spicy fishball noodles ฿55/ S$2.30

Sticky rice with mango ฿100/ S44.30

Sticky rice with mango ฿100/ S$4.30

Both dishes I had were delicious.  The fishball noodles had a lot of ingredients put into the soup – QQ fishballs, cripsy fried wanton skin & fish cake slices in Thai-style spicy glass noodles.  The sticky rice with mango did not disappoint me finally.  The sticky rice texture was just nice and chewy, accompanied by the sweet mango slices.  The prices here may look higher than Pier 21 food court at Terminal 21, but I think it is still reasonable as their portions were bigger than Pier 21’s.  Same as Pier 21, the Platinum food court adopts a cashless system and you need to buy its coupon card before you can make any purchase at the stall.  Any unutilised amount in the coupon card can also be refunded at the counter.

After lunch, we continued shopping on the fifth floor for accessories & the likes for another hour or so, before we left to explore other parts of Bangkok.

In the past, I had the impression that shopping in Bangkok is only limited to buying casual wear, but this visit to Platinum has totally changed that idea, because my purchase included a variety of clothing from t-shirts to office tops, as well as some accessories.  If not for time constraint given our short stay in Bangkok, I think I could have been able to purchase more!  Now I no longer wonder why my girlfriends love Platinum so much. ;)

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Health Land Spa & Massage

When a friend realised I was visiting Bangkok for a short getaway, she recommended me to try Health Land Spa & Massage service & advised us to make a reservation as it is very popular.  I checked out its website & found the Asoke branch was the most convenient for us to visit given that it is near to the Grand Millennium Sukhumvit Bangkok.

So after checking in to the hotel on the first day, we got directions from the hotel staff & made our way down to the branch, an easy stroll of less than 10 min from the hotel.  Below is a simple “how to get there” map for your reference:

NB: Red box represents Grand Millennium Sukhumvit Bangkok

NB: Red box represents Grand Millennium Sukhumvit Bangkok

Turn right upon exit from the hotel lobby entrance out to Sukhumvit 21 & walk for a short while down the road till you see a road junction in front of Sino-Thai Tower.  Cross the junction to get to diagonally opposite Sino-Thai Tower, where Serm Mits Tower is (think you can see a 7-11 there).  Then just continue down Sukhumvit Soi 21 & you will be able to see the Health Land Spa & Massage building within 5 min.

Health Land Asoke

Health Land Asoke

It was easy to make reservations at Health Land because there were so many counter staff eagerly waiting to serve us at the spacious reception.  I reserved a 2-hour traditional Thai massage (฿500/ S$21.30) while my friend requested for a 1-hour foot massage (฿300/ S$12.80) that evening. Unfortunately we were unable to return to the same branch for the relaxing treatment as our original plan went haywire due to the flood in the afternoon.

All Health Land branches are stand alone buildings that come with spacious parking lots, like what you see above.  How did I know?  Because we couldn’t get back in time to Health Land Asoke for our massage appointment by 7.10pm after dinner at Audrey, I searched for the nearest Health Land branch to Thong Lo district & found that there is an Ekamai branch.  With the help of the friendly waiter whom I chatted with at Audrey, we decided to find our way to Health Land Ekamai & try our luck in getting a massage done, without any reservations, since it was a weekday night & we reckon it may not be that crowded. ;)

Trying to locate the branch was an adventure by itself, because we had to “brave” through the heavy traffic in the dark, got lost along the way & asked quite a few locals for directions as well.  Luck was on our side that night when we finally reached at least half an hour later & managed to enjoy the massage without making any reservations. :P

As I was too full from the dinner, I changed my mind & requested for a foot massage instead, same as my friend.  It was really an enjoyable massage, quite different from the foot massages I have done in Singapore where the masseur would massage your various acupoints on the feet, causing pain.  This foot massage was so relaxing that we kinda dozed off on the comfortable armchair, probably also because the massage place was quiet & dark, a conducive environment to take a nap in hehe.  The foot massage came with a nice head & shoulder massage as well.

I highly recommend Health Land Spa & Massage for a superb & reasonably-priced massage experience should you visit Bangkok next time.  You can’t leave Bangkok without doing at least 1 massage, can you?  So why not just visit Health Land to make your money worth (if you haven’t done so)? ;)

Categories: Asia, Bangkok, Thailand | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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