Thanks to Yuki Ng for initiating the gathering, I had a chance to catch up with other bloggers and share with each other the updates on our lives and blogging career while we eat da yummy Chocolate Lava Cake and celebrated Tiffany Yong‘s birthday at Domino’s Pizza latest store at Arab Street. Actually, it was my idea to go Domino’s Pizza for dinner, since they recently opened a new store in the city centre. With this new shop strategically located at Arab Street, people who live and/or work near the City Hall, Bugis and Lavender can get to enjoy Domino’s service and their on-going 2 Pizza Deals. I love Domino’s Pizza because all their items on the menu are baked not fried. We ordered the Portofino Prawn Pizza with Cheesy Crust. And the Hawaiian Paradise with Crunchy Thin Crust. I know it sounds like a lot of calories, which is why between 6 of us, we only ordered two regular pizzas plus 1 serving of Golden Roasted Chicken (6 pieces) and BBQ wings (5 pieces). It was a busy Friday day and customers kept steaming in to buy take-away and phone delivery line kept ringing. The new store doesn’t offer much seating, there was two tables for 2, one table for 4, and one table for 6. Total seating capacity is only 14. But most people either call for delivery or order take-away. Just in case you are planning to dine in, like us, it’s better to go early. We were fortunate to get the table for 6, but we waited for more than 15 minutes for our food and were given a coupon in compensation to exchange for a personal pan. Since we dined in and were still hungry after sharing 2 regular pizzas, we used the coupon to exchange for Classic Pepperoni personal pan pizza. But in order to utilize the coupon, we had to make a purchase. Being a fan of their dessert, we ordered a Chocolate Lava Cake to share. The staff at the friendly were friendly and they allowed us to store Yuki‘s homemade tarts in the kitchen. Yuki‘s tarts were the cherry on the cake. Food Blogger Michelle (Michhysaurous), Travel Blogger Priscilla (Pingerrain), Mommy Blogger Susan Wong and I were all very impressed by her baking. (Click on their names to check out the “behind the scene” Instagram and also see Michhysaurous’ Instavideo.) I had a good time that night. The best way to wind down a week is to gather with pals, enjoy a hearty dinner with lots of laughter. I felt bad that our loud chat and laughter would probably have bring the house down. LOL. The only wish that I could have that night would be to hope that the new outlet wasn’t so busy and our order could have been served faster. But the place will definitely be another great hangout place, given its proximity to town and its serene location along Arab Street. Once again, Happy Birthday Tiffany Yong! May you live long, take more wacky photos and #InstaDaily! Domino’s Pizza new store is located at 146 Arab Street, next to The White Panda Massage. It’s at the junction of Victoria Street, and near Raffles Hospital. Nearest MRT Station is Bugis. Check out www.dominos.com.sg or call 6222 6333 for Domino’s pizza delivery.
[Guest post by Tiffany Yong]
Ask any movie lovers the best horror shows and Thai’s horror movie will easily be on the top 10. After 5 years of Asian spookiness, Sentosa just upped the horror-o-meter by collaborating with renowned movie production studio GMM Tai Hub Co. Ltd. (GTH) to produced five most realistic horror trails to date (verified!), transporting visitors into the world of Thai horror films.
Fans of Thai horror films might be “delighted” (or not?) to find iconic ghosts from each movie-themed trail. The five most significant characters will be the spiteful starlet Chaba from Coming Soon, vengeful ex-girlfriend Natre from Shutter, resentful chopped-up victim Dararai from Body, faithful wife Nak from Pee Mak and angry child spirit Wichien from Dorm.
On the Media Preview Night, directors and actors from the featured movies were invited to experience the five trails for themselves and get second scare out of their life (I guess the first time round would be during their movie filming back then!)
Chantavit Dhanasevi (Ter), best known for his lead role in Hello Stranger and ATM, was the lead actor for Coming Soong, and also as a co-screenwriter for GTH record breaking blockbuster, Pee Mak. Together with him were the gang of four in Pee Mak, Attharut Kongrasri (Shane), Kantapat Permpoonpatcharasuk (Bomb), Nuttapong Chartpong (Freud) and Pongsatorn Jongwilas (Puak).
1. The Pee Mak House
After the war, Mak invited his best friends – Ter, Puak, Shin and Aey – to visit his hometown, and introduced them to his beautiful wife, Nak, and his newborn baby. However, they soon heard a village rumour that Nak had died during childbirth. It is now up to the foursome to uncover the ugly truth and save Mak from his ghostly wife.
Follow them into the unholy Temple of Dawn and perform a divine dance ritual to rip off Nak’s façade.
Horror-o-meter: 1/5 *
This is the least scary of the four as the blockbuster was a comedy horror and the Gang of Four were not even ghosts in the film! Learn the Pee Mak dance to stop the stern ghost looking at you!
2. The Body- Haunted Hospital
Chon, a medical student who has performed countless autopsies, was increasingly perturbed by nightmares filled with horrific flashes of one of the corpses he recently studied; it belonged to Dararai, who had been gruesomely butchered. And it seems the vengeful soul has placed a deadly curse on the whole faculty — including you. To lift the curse, you need to locate and retrieve Dararai’s grisly body parts (gloves not provided) before piecing them together.
Horror-o-meter: 3/5 ***
Realistic body parts
3. Shutter Photography Room
When photographer Tun noticed mysterious white shadows in his shots, he knew something was amiss. It became clear that the apparitions were Netre, his ex-girlfriend who was raped by his best friends; they had pressurised him to capture the misdeed in order to blackmail her, driving her to commit suicide. She returns to exact her revenge, and it doesn’t look pretty. Vengeance is blind and now you’re part of the picture. Save yourself: collect and burn the foul photographs without getting yourself exposed. Make it snappy.
Horror-o-meter: 4/5 ****
If you don’t like gross photos, I’m sorry to say you are surrounded by them. With the powerful lightings in the room, beware of what you are looking at.
4. Dorm- Haunted Boarding School
Wichien, a boarding school loner, had no friends; no one noticed when one fateful summer he fell down a well and met his doom. Desolated, he resolved to make his absence felt. Now, with kids going missing one by one, and drowning incidents commonplace at the school, it’s time to face the fear head-on. Armed with only a modest torchlight, you are to navigate the dim, maze-like corridors, and recite the spell needed to put Wichien’s spirit at peace once and for all.
Horror-o-meter: 3/5 *
Little student souls are hanging around, in and out of the trail. Just remember, to check who is in front or behind you after coming out from the trail. It might be someone else.
5. Coming Soon- Haunted Cinema
In the last scene of a production, starler Chaba suffocated to death due to a technical glitch, while the crew stood transfixed by what they misinterpreted as a breathtaking execution. She’s back for her final act, and no one’s off the hook from her lethal hex. Would you pay for this haunting encounter with your life? Break the jinx with an autograph from Chaba herself. Without her stamp of approval, your only fate is death.
Horror-o-meter: 5/5 *****
The longest trail among the 5, this is unanimously voted by many bloggers to be the scariest. I won’t reveal too much, experience it yourself and scream your lungs out.
What else to expect?
Besides the 200 roaming ghosts which might appear suddenly on your way to the different stations, you will see many larger-than-life props, elaborate landscape designs and lifelike figures never before seen in reality warped into scenes from the five horror films.
Open to public on 20th, 25th, 26th (sold out) and 31st October; 1st and 2nd November 2013
Time: 7pm to 11pm (last entry: 9pm)
Minimum age: 13 years old
“Kia Gui” (Scared of Ghost) Pass: $16.60 (Admission to Fort Siloso only, exclude haunted trails)
Standard Purchase $66.60
Fast Pass: $26.60
Tickets available at Sentosa Spooktacular Website and Sentosa Ticketing Counters!
[About Guest Blogger]
Tiffany Yong aka tiffanyyongwt, is a Capricorn who loves acting, dancing, movies and bubble tea. Currently an Actor, Blogger & Coach, the ABC girl writes online at tiffanyyong.com
WANTED: The man in the picture below has been charged with physical abuse infliced on the owner of this blog. Warning: Do not approach him for personal training unless you are committed to improve yourself – to become fitter and healthier; look better with more confidence.
Pardon me for the lack of blog posts recently as I have been busy getting my fat ass kicked by my personal trainer, Jensen Arabejo from Physical ABuse Fitness Center. Into my third week of training, we did a quick check on my weight and I’m happy with the results although my abs are still not showing.
About my trainer: Jensen is trained to be nurse but his love for fitness and sports led him to become certified physical trainer. As an athlete, he enjoys challenges and extreme sports. His passion in sports and fitness is the reason why he is able to motivate and push his clients for the benefits of reaching their own goals. Prior to working in Singapore, he was based in Macau as a fitness trainer and his expertise includes weight loss & toning, strengthening, weight gain and sports conditioning especially for basketball and swimming.
My training began as once a week, one hour per session work out with Jensen. Each session starts with warm-up exercise follows by two sets of repetitive circuit training. During the week, I also attended the various group classes with Tiffany, because the best way to lose weight is to combine cardiovascular exercises with weights training.
Tiffany and I went for Drums Alive, the latest calorie-burning workout using drum sticks and Swiss balls. The well-coordinated rhythmic class lets us fulfill our rock star fantasy while burning fats at the same time. Besides this unique group exercise, we also attended two classes of Zumba together. The first was conducted by Jasmine who incorporated K-pop songs and dance moves to the work out. For me, the moves were more of an advance level and my two left feet were trying hard to keep up. Thank goodness the Saturday Zumba classes conducted by Ridhuan consists of much simple moves but are of high impact, causing me to perspire more.
What I really love about Physical Abuse Fitness Center are the friendly personal trainers and crowd. Most people who go to Physical Abuse know their personal fitness goal, and the spirit of camaraderie towards health and fitness is very motivating. Even though this boutique gym is not as big as the major fitness chain, it has all the equipments we need and we seldom need to wait in order to use the facilities unlike when I was working out in CF or FF.
Losing weight is a balance between our input and output, simply working out once or twice a week is not sufficient. Diet control is another key area we need to note. During this period of challenge, I cut down on carbohydrates and feed on fish soup or Yong Tau Foo for dinner after work out.
Although every hour of physical training with Jensen feels like eternity, but time does fly by quickly. It’s nearing the end of this Fit Right In challenge. So, who do you think will win this challenge? Check out Tiffany’s blog post here and watch out for the release of result soon!
Address: 2 Havelock Road, #01-28/29, Singapore 059763
Contact number: +65 6536 5580
If you live or work near Novena, you’re probably familiar with Square 2. Located at basement 1 right next to Novena MRT Station exit, is a take-away bakery offers a wide range of pastries, puffs and desserts that Singaporeans are familiar with, but with its chef’s twist.
Established in 2007 as Yip’s Cookies & More by Celebrity Chef Irene Yip, the humble take-and go is now helmed by Chef de Patisserie, Andik Nurdiany and has sinced changed the brand name to Yip’s by Andik Nurdiany with infusion of new original recipes.
Certified Halal and baked daily, the open concept kitchen gives patrons a chance to see how the pastries are created and baked. The outlet also offers hot beverages like coffee and tea, and it’s an ideal choice for breakfast and afternoon tea. No wonder, Yip’s by Andik Nurdiany achieved the Top 100 Singapore Excellence Award for 2012/2013.
So here are my top 3 picks at Yip’s by Andik Nurdiany:
Chicken Curry Puff
A traditional Singaporean’s favorite, this Chicken Curry Puff is packed with diced, curry-flavored chicken. Handmade daily, I love its light flaky pastry, chunks of chicken meat and the right level of spice from the curry.
Tom Yum Chicken Puff
Fancy something more spicy? The Tom Yum Chicken Puff is a special twist on the traditional chicken curry puff. You can taste the fragrant of lemongrass and spices in the tom yum chicken filling. The texture of the shredded chicken is smooth, but the puff pastry feels more oily due to the filling. The chef has managed to get the right portion of chicken and tom yum, hence every bite is not overpowering spicy but a well-mixed which you can enjoy.
For mushroom lovers like me, you should definitely not missed out on sinking your teeth into this Mushroom Puff. Rich, creamy paste with every bite full of mushrooms, this is my favorite delight from the bakery.
Address: 10 Sinaran Drive, #B1-117/118/119 Square 2, Singapore 307506
Phone: 6440 7887
Monday – Friday: 7am to 9pm
Saturday: 8am to 9pm
Sunday: 9am to 9pm
[PHOTO CREDIT: Food photos courtesy of Yip’s by Andik Nurdiany]
4 weeks, 4 personal trainings, 2 bloggers but only 1 winner. Who will be the ultimate winner of Physical ABuse fitness center’s Fit Right In Challenge? In this part 1 of 3 series, Malcolm shares his reasons why he embarks on this physical challenge and his confident on winning this get fit assignment.
Turning three zero next year, I make a personal promise to get fit and look fab before age catches up and my body metabolism rate slows down. My resolution for this year is to get back in shape, but being occupied with studies and blogging at the first half of the year, and now with professional work and writing as my main excuses for not exercising.
I have not been a stranger to weight loss, in fact during my Basic Military Training (BMT) course I was able to tone up and look fit. Few years ago, through a life coaching project, I was able to lose 7 kg in 7 weeks. Although right now, procrastination and laziness are my biggest hurdles to get rid of my love handles.
The benefits of workout include staying healthy, looking good and feeling confident; as popular meme says, “I don’t workout to be healthy, I do it to look good naked”. Though it may sound NSFW (not safe for work) but it’s still a form of motivation.
Physical intimacy aside, physical training is hard work! When I did the physical assessment and found out that I only need to lose 4.5 kg of fats, I was over-confident. And during the fitness assessment, I almost fainted after 10 minutes on the step machine.
The other concern is that I’m recovering from my left wrist injury. Right now, I’m unable to bend my wrist hence exercises that require pushing motion, like push up, are not recommended. This gives my personal trainer, Jenson additional challenge to create a workout that is suitable for me.
Even with these internal and external factors standing in my path, I am determined to win this fat burning challenge. Follow my live tweets from @MalcolmSunny or #FRIChallenge for real time updates about this challenge. Also check out Tiffany’s updates via @tiffanyyongwt and her blog post here.
Join Me – Be Fit and Feel Fab
Voted Best Gym for the commitment probe, Physical ABuse is currently offering the Fit Right In package which includes 4 personal trainings with unlimited gym access and group workout classes at only
$819 $240. Simply quote “Malcolm Sunny #FRIChallenge” to enjoy the promotion price, call 6536 5580 to book an appointment with Physical ABuse now.
About Physical ABuse
Physical ABuse is a brand new fitness center located in central Singapore, Havelock Road. A winner of CLEO Body Awards 2013 and SHAPE Awards 2013, it’s the fitness centre where keeping fit, feeling right and being in are goals for everyone. You will find exciting array of exercises from personal training to aerobics and dance, boot camps to yoga and Pilates.
It is the first to launch Drums Alive – the latest calorie-burning workout with rhythmic fun; and to incorporate Dirty Dancing and KpopDan-Z into its trendy group workout classes. Physical ABuse is a state-of-the-art gym with the latest functional training equipments, a kickboxing corner, and even vibration training that doubles the speed to fat-loss!
Address: 2 Havelock Road, #01-28/29, Singapore 059763
Contact number: +65 6536 5580
Last year, under the encouragement of a friend, Darren Ng I registered my previous blog malxc.livejournal.com for the Singapore Blog Awards. Needless to say, I didn’t even manage to get shortlisted as a finalist for any category. Unsatisfied with just ranting about personal issues I faced, I started MalcolmSunny.com to scribble my happy thoughts.
A year on, blogging has certainly opened up a lot of opportunities for me. To begin with I got to know many friends. I remembered meeting Christina and Jeremy during last year’s Singapore Twitter Frenzy at Wave House, Sentosa which shaped my thinking of blogging. Previously I had always viewed my blog as a personal online journal for me to share my feelings with friends.
My interest in lifestyle blogging started while I doing marketing for Singapore Flyer and studying part-time at SIM University. Initially started out as a channel for me to hone my writing skills, blogging has become an integrated part of my life and a passion now. It has opened up more opportunities for networking, invitations to exclusive product launches and previews as well as trips overseas.
Thanks to Omy.sg, I was given the opportunity to experience Brunei and it was during that trip that I got to know Karen, Andy, Tiffany and Deenise. Besides catching up like Bruneian bloggers, we also exchanged tips on blogging and social media.
I’m very proud of my travel mates. In fact, all four of them were the finalists for this year’s Singapore Blog Awards. Karen and Deenise were also nominated for several categories.
Held at Shanghai Dolly, I spotted familiar faces and friends like Smith Leong, William Tan, Elrica, Mint Leong, Regina Chow, Joey Ong, Darren Sim, Hong Peng and Tse Lyn who were the finalists for the main and special categories for this year’s Singapore Blog Awards. Blogger friends like Joyce, Valentine, Colin and Damien were there to cheer them on too. Luke and Shirley were also the finalists but I didn’t manage to spot them.
And now, the moment you have been waiting for, the results of Singapore Blog Awards 2013:
Panasonic Best Photography Blog winner – Christina Gao
Exabytes Best Individual Blog winner – Grace Tan
Levi’s Best Fashion Blog winner – Jaslin Tan
Nanyang Optical Best Lifestyle Blog winner – Jasmine Koh
Best Family Blog winner – Ai Sakura
Best Food Blog winner – Tony
Best Travel Blog winner – Sock Peng
Best What-The-Hell Blog winner – Willy
Best V-log winner – Ninja Girls
Best Microblog winner – Spin or Bin Music
Panasonic Best Cooking Blog Winner – Celes
Panasonic Best Eco-Challenge Winner – Ivan Kwan
Glossi Best Modelling Blog Winner – Karen
JBL Best Pop/Music Blog – Mint Leong
Levi’s Best 501 Interpretation Blog winner – Claire
Qoo10 Best Online Shopping Blog winner – Mitsueki
Congratulations to all the winners!
British skincare brand +Rehab London swings into Singapore with a full range of men’s grooming and skincare to refresh and rejuvenate Asian men after taking Europe by storm. Founder Lisa Hilton shares six easy-to-apply and uncomplicated products for the modern, busy Singaporean men.
[Photo: +Rehab London SG]
It was a hot and sunny afternoon when we arrived at London Bar (55 Boat Quay, Singapore 049844). I love the idea that the media event was held at this specially chosen venue, after all this label of men’s skin care originated from the UK. At the entrance, we were greeted by two shirtless models which actually made the warm day even hotter, and sent an endorphin rush for Tiffany Yong and I.
[Photos: +Rehab London]
+Rehab London is the brainchild of celebrity hair and make-up artist Lisa Hilton. Founder Lisa Hilton wants to develop a label of skin care that would appeal to the everyday real man, and at the same time promotes an environmentally-friendly lifestyle. Having worked with many male celebrities, Lisa realised that there wasn’t any natural skincare products that could relieve the damaged skin of her male clients, and hence +Rehab London was born.
Using all-natural ingredients such as anti-ageing Rooibos extract and healing Ginseng, it’s no wonder that British celebrities such as Russell Brand, Robert Pattinson and Simon Cowell have all given their stamp of approval.
[Photo: +Rehab London SG]
Brought into Singapore by Natural and Free Living Pte Ltd, set up by sisters Monika and Yuanita Tjia who left the corporate world in pursuit of their passion to share the benefits of using natural products, good skin care and grooming regime. The company also pledge to contribute back to society, for every product sold, S$1 will be donated to the Singapore Environment Council (SEC) to promote environmental responsibility.
During the event, +Rehab London also unveiled their new spokesperson for Singapore. Former reality TV contestant, Howard Lo from Eye for a Guy 2 (2005) was appointed the brand ambassador. Howard is a true representation of +Rehab London’s target consumer – a man who wears many hats: a husband, tech blogger for ZDNet Asia and restaurateur in Singapore and Indonesia.
The line consists of six products vital to any man’s skincare regime: Scrub Up Daily Detox, Calm Balm, Cold Turkey Shaving Gel, Morning Glory, No Shine, and Revive Survive. I’ve been addicted to the products ever since I received their sample kit at the event couple of weeks ago.
[Photos: +Rehab London SG]
+Rehab London products are fuss free and easy to use, especially when I was rushing to work in the morning or after a long day in office. I’ve been using the Men’s Scrub Up Daily Detox on alternate days to get my skin free of dust and to complete my skin care regime, I apply the Revive Survive (anti-fatigue cream) for a refreshing touch.
Men’s Scrub Up Daily Detox 125 ml (Retail price: S$24.95)
The 2-in-1 facial cleanser and scrub to kickstart your day. It’s refreshing, leaves your skin clean, prevents blackhead and ingrown hairs.
- Pumpkin Enzyme: A natural hydrator, it helps to gently clear dead skin cells.
- Volcanic sand of Tahiti: A natural exfoliant that gently removes impurities.
- Bamboo: A natural exfoliant that gently remove impurities.
- AC Alg-MoistEAU: Hawaiian Water Algae.
Men’s Cold Turkey Shaving Gel 125 ml (Retail price: S$24.95)
Shaving is now a painless affair with the Cold Turkey’s unique low foam clear formula that lets you see exactly where to shave; preventing ingrown hairs and sore red skin when manscaping.
- Argan Oil: Supports regeneration of the skin, restarts the vital functions of cells and neutralises free radicals, whilst providing a protective layer to lubricate the razor.
- Witch Hazel: A strong anti-oxidant and astringent useful for skin healing.
- Aloe Vera: Its rejuvenating, healing and soothing properties prevent sore red skin when shaving.
Morning Glory 50 ml (Retail price: S$38)
This moisturiser nourishes and offers protection for over 12 hours; leaving the skin smooth and balanced, without leaving any nasty residue on the skin.
- Spice African Pepper: Nourishes the skin.
- Hawaiian Water Algae: Aids in cell renewal.
- Cocoa Seed Butter: Provides constant hydration, leaving a flawless and fresh complexion.
No Shine 50 ml (Retail price: S$38)
This oil control moisturiser helps to combat shine and excess oil whilst still making the skin refreshed, bright and perfectly hydrated.
- Rooibos Extract: Rich in anti-allergenics which reduce effects of free radicals.
- Normaseb: Stops excess oil build-up.
- Hawaiian Water Algae: An Anti-oxidant and promotes cell renewal.
Calm Balm 50 ml (Retail price: S$27.95)
Calm Balm is just another aftershave balm, it also soothes and heals the skin after sun exposure or any adverse weather reactions you may find yourself in; perfect companion to travel with.
- Rockweed: Smoothes and tones, moisturises and re-mineralises.
- Hawaiian Water Algae: Anti-oxidants, cell renewal.
Revive Survive 50 ml (Retail price: $42.95)
The ultimate anti-fatigue cream; slap this stuff on and ten minutes later, your skin looks visibly rejuvenated. Extremely useful after a long night out with mates or date.
- Ginseng: Energising.
- Hydrergy: Energising, rich in vitamins.
- Hawaiian Water Algae: Anti oxidants, cell renewal.
In the last part of this travel series, Malcolm ventured into the finer side of life with a night stay the grandest hotel in Brunei, his two cents worth on the service by Royal Brunei Airlines as well as his experience as “Prince Charming” when he rode a horse through the woods. If you’re wondering why I haven’t mentioned about my flight experience with Royal Brunei Airlines, well, I’m saving the best for the last. The royal treatment from Royal Brunei Airlines began before our departure flight. Upon reaching Changi Airport Terminal 2, we were welcome by Royal Brunei Airlines’ Country Manager for Singapore, Ms G.Wen Lim who gladly ushered us to the Premier Check-In Lounge for our check-in. The Premiere Lounge is usually reserved for those flying First or Business Class but we had the privilege to experience the express check-in service. This new lounge offers premium passengers of participating airlines the exclusivity of checking in at a private lounge with direct access to the immigration area. Passengers also get to enjoy the lounge’s luxurious facilities, including lounge seating, light refreshments, television and a variety of newspapers and periodicals. We’re given specially assigned seats and I was seated on the front row and there were a lot of leg room for my long legs to stretch during the 2-hour flight to Brunei. Religion (in particular, Islam) is an integrated part of Brunei’s culture and before taking off, there is an in-flight blessing. I was actually looking forward to it as it’s an cultural experience to me. Royal Brunei Airlines offer a wide selection of special in-flight meals to cater for different needs. I pre-selected the Low Calorie Meal while Tiffany had the High Fibre Meal. On the return flight, I chose to go with the regular selection. One travel tip to share, always order a special meal, in that way, you always get the food serve to you first. Low Calorie Meal (above) – with grilled salmon, salad and fresh fruits High Fibre Meal (above) – With chicken breast, seasonal vegetables and fruits Normal In-flight Meal – Beef (above) with cake and coleslaw Normal In-flight Meal – Chicken (above) with cake and coleslaw Upon our arrival at Brunei International Airport, we were welcome by Royal Brunei Airlines Communication Officer, Muaz Al Rashid and our tour guide, Tom Chong from Sunshine Borneo Tours. Tom has been a wonderful guide, very knowledge in terms of his country’s history and culture and very professional. He was always the first time to arrive and had to wait for us to get ready. Fast forward to the last evening of our tour, we arrived at Brunei’s most magnificent hotel – The Empire Hotel & Country Club. This was my love-hate part of the trip. I seriously wish I had arrived in the grandest hotel in Brunei in style, with my suit on and looking hot for a date, but instead I was dressed in wet T-shirt with damp shorts after our snorkeling trip. I tried to behave nonchalant when the hotel staff served us our welcome drink and attempted to soak in the beauty of the sunset as the backdrop of the lobby balcony. Soon after, we were personally escorted to our individual rooms where we’ll get to enjoy for the night. Having worked for The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore and stayed a few times there, the feeling of stepping into The Empire Hotel’s room was still very impressive. Indeed, it is comparable to a Ritz but with a style of its own. I went under the warm shower to clean off the sea water and still had time to make myself a mocktail consisting of Perrier and mango juice from the mini bar, with compliments from the hotel. While waiting for our van to pick us up to meet the Bruneian bloggers, we spot a car with the Singapore flag. Upon enquiry, we realised that President of Singapore, Dr Tony Tan was in Brunei for meeting and he was staying in the same room as us. What chance! But too bad I didn’t manage to get a photo with him. But one of my friends who is working in Brunei was invited to a dinner with President Tony Tan the next day. How lucky! After having breakfast like a king, we were all excited about the next part of the itinerary which is the site inspection of the hotel. We were first brought to a deluxe room at the other side of the wing. Of course, all of us were mesmerized when we came to the Empress Suite. The suit itself is bigger than the 4-room flat I live in. And we also had the chance to view an Ambassador Suite, of which our President was hosted in one Ambassador Suites. We also had the chance to view one of the resorts and a tour of the sports and health facilities before a good exchange with Brunei Tourism officers over lunch. I gave my personal comments on how Brunei should showcase not just their eco-tourism but also as a multi-destination for golfing and scuba diving. A short break after lunch and we were on our way for the final activity before departure – horse riding at Royal Brunei Polo & Riding Club, which is just 5 minutes drive away from The Empire Hotel. It was my first time being on the back of a horse and doing a “gangnam style” through the woods. I felt like a prince being escorted on a horse through the forest in a fairytale. The entire journey has been an eye-opening experience for us, and I feel very honoured to be selected as one of the participants to go to Brunei and to share it’s hidden treasures with my readers and friends. Special thanks to Brunei Tourism and Royal Brunei Airlines for the generous hospitality. For more information: Brunei Tourism – www.bruneitourism.travel Royal Brunei Airlines – www.flyroyalbrunei.com (website), www.facebook.com/royalbruneisingapore (Facebook) The Empire Hotel & Country Club – www.theempirehotel.com Royal Brunei Polo & Riding Club is located at Jerudong BG3122, Negara Brunei Darussalam. Tel: +673 261 0524 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Check out my previous travel posts on Brunei and what my travel companions had to say about this trip: Malcolm Sunny’s blog posts The Charming Night Glow of Brunei Conversations with Mother Nature at Ulu Temburong National Park A Tour of Brunei’s National Treasures Andy Storm’s blog posts Brunei: A Kingdom of unexpected treasure Day 1 Brunei: A Kingdom of unexpected treasure Day 2 Brunei: A Kingdom of unexpected treasure Day 3 Brunei: A Kingdom of unexpected treasure Day 4 Tiffany Yong’s blog posts Flying with Royal Brunei Airlines Ulu Ulu Resort: Digital Detox made FUN Luxury Stay at Empire Hotel & Country Club Renzze’s blog posts Part 1: From Singapore to Brunei Part 2: Brunei Night Experiences Part 3: The Journey into the Pristine Rainforest of Brunei Part 4: Finding peace in the heart of a rainforest Part 5: Peering above the Rainforest Part 6: Venice of the East – Kampong Ayer Part 7: Under the sea in Brunei Part 8: Meeting with Brunei Bloggers Part 9: The Empire Hotel and Country Club in Brunei Part 10: Horse Riding and a sweet farewell Deenise’s blog posts Discover Brunei: Brunei by Night – Mosque Visits and Night Markets Discover Brunei: Ulu Temburong National Park Discover Brunei: Canopy Treetop Walk, Cultural City Tour and Snorkeling Trip Discover Brunei: The Empire Hotel and Dinner with Bruneian Bloggers Discover Brunei: The Final and Bitter-Sweet Goodbyes Discover Brunei: Travel with Me And View Brunei Through My Lens “Save time, pay less, travel more – Get cheaper air tickets and hotel rooms with Wego.com“.
To many Singaporeans, simply mention Brunei and their instantaneous response would be, “It sounds boring. Is there anything to do there?” In this travel series, Malcolm explored the Abode of Peace and shares the hidden treasures from the last sovereign Malay Sultanate in the world.
My alarm woke me up. It was four o’clock in the afternoon. I made a quick trip to the bathroom to freshen up before making my way to the hotel lobby. I had two hours to shop and explore downtown before the agreed time to meet up with our tour guide. It was my first day at Brunei and I was curious to find out more.
We were hosted in Rizqun International Hotel. Conveniently located in the central business zone of Bandar Seri Begawan and connected to The Mall – one of the main shopping venues in the capital of Brunei. This four-star hotel welcomes travelers with its elaborated glass art decorations in the lobby. The swimming pool complements the needs of family with young children. Published rate for this hotel goes from B$320.00 but they run promotions from time to time with room rates starting from B$145.00 per night.
If you find the hotel’s wifi service pricy, simply hop over to The Mall to purchase a 3G SIM card. There are many shops selling mobile phones and related services. 3G SIM card are available at B$30, comes with a value of B$5. We also got a top up card of B$10, which last us through our 4 days 3 nights trip in Brunei. Special thanks to our friends at Royal Brunei Airlines who understood the needs of social media addicts like us, who cannot live without updating our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and included the 3G SIM cards in our welcome package.
Surprisingly, The Mall and the surrounding areas of the town have every brand we have in Singapore. But instead of a spam of cookie cutter outlets in the malls of Singapore, most of the common brands have only a single shop in Brunei, at least that is true for McDonald’s.
I was able to spot Giordano, Pizza Hut, KFC and even Jollibee in Brunei. And Sushi Tei has recently opened an outlet in Bandar Seri Begawan. I also spotted a number of men in their traditional costumes. In Brunei, it is not uncommon to see men wearing Baju Melayu as an alternative dress code for work. Unlike Singapore, our Malay men normally only wear it during major celebrations like Hari Raya Puasa.
A chat with my tour guide, Tom from Sunshine Borneo Tours, I found that there is no goods and services tax (GST) in Brunei and Bruneians do not need to pay any income tax. Basically,they get to keep what they earn! Education is free up to university-level. Also medical and petrol are heavily subsidized as well. Bruneians only need to pay a token fee of B$1 per consultation for healthcare and if the medical assistance is not available in the country, they are sent overseas at the government’s expenses.
Another interesting fact is that Brunei practises ‘No Plastic Bags’ days from Friday to Sunday. I was rather surprised and certainly impressed with this oil-producing country. Our thoughtful tour guide also made it a point to remind us to bring a reusable shopping bag with us.
We began our Brunei by Night by first filling up our tummies at Portview Seafood Restaurant, a popular spot for locals. It is extremely busy at the end/beginning of the month when people received their paycheck. The restaurant offers an unobscured view of the water village at the opposite site of the bank.
Dinner that night consists of a sumptuous seafood steamboat. Fresh prawns, fish and crab caught locally were arranged neatly together with fishballs and crab sticks on a bed of cabbage and greens waiting for us to drop them into our choice of tom yum soup or chicken both.
After dinner, we took a stroll towards the Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin (SOAS) Mosque. We froze in awe and paused for photographs as the view of the gigantic honeycomb of gold came into our view. I had seen many mosques in Singapore and Malaysia but seeing the SOAS Mosque glowing at night was a very special experience.
Do you know that there is an International Quran Reading Competition? The national Quran reading competition in Brunei is held annually at SOAS Mosque and I heard that the winner of the Quran reading competition will be rewarded with a lifetime monthly stipend of B$2,000 courtesy of the government.
Jame’Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque, or JAME Mosque for short, is the largest mosque in Brunei and is considered one of the grandest monuments in Islamic culture. It was built to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the sultan’s reign. We managed to make it in time to snap a few postcard worthy photographs before the mosque closed for the night.
By the request of TIffany, we made a side trip to Fitness Zone Health Club. This gym is opened by Brunei-born Taiwanese celebrity, Wu Zun (formerly) of Fahrenheit. We heard that sometimes overseas fans of this popular singer/actor will travel to Brunei and camp outside the gym in hope of catching a glimpse of their idol. At least, Tiffany didn’t have to sleep outside Fitness Zone that night.
The final highlight of the evening was the trip to the night market at Gadong shopping area, located 5-10 minutes walk away from Rizqun International Hotel where we were staying. It offers a glimpse into the local cuisine culture and as bloggers, we entertained ourselves that night by making funny poses and engaging in food photography, much to the amusement of the locals.
We spotted a stall selling B$1.00 Nasi Katok, a dish of hot rice served with a side of spicy sambal, and a piece of chicken or beef or pusu (anchovies). Nasi means rice in the Malay language and Katok means knock. Back in the old days, there was no 24-hour eateries, so the only way for a hungry person to get a midnight fix was to knock on the doors of a food outlet and get the owner out of bed. The sleepy owner will then prepare a simple dish which evolves into the present day Nasi Katok. (Click here to read more about the story of Nasi Katok.)
After having some snacks from Gadong night market and tea in my hotel room, it was time for us to turn in for the night. I will be sharing about Ulu Ulu Resort and Ulu Temburong National Park tomorrow, so stay tuned.
Thank you Royal Brunei Airlines, Brunei Tourism and Omy.sg for sending me to Brunei. And blogger friends Andy Storm, Deenise Glitz, Karen “Renzze” Ashley and Tiffany Yong for sharing their travel photos.
P.S. – There are no public bus or train service in Brunei. You may take a taxi to an attraction but it will be difficult to find a cab back to your hotel. The best way to explore Brunei is to book a tour package.
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