Review

Long Bar at The Raffles, Singapore

The Long Bar is colonial charm in true Raffles prestige. When I was there, it was newly renovated and the only space open, while the rest of the Raffles was still undergoing renovation.

The Long Bar has been restored back to it’s early days, it’s former glory. Malaysian-rubber plantation style vintage decor, dark hardwood furniture, open and light with palm frond fans for aesthetic only. In keeping stead with classic traditions, Long Bar is probably the only place in the country where you’re encouraged to eat peanuts and wipe the shells onto the floor. It’s part of the novelty. Be realistic, you’re at the Long Bar to part take in old institutions, for the fanfare and the novelty.

Everyone heads to the Long Bar to try the world famous Singapore Sling, a cocktail born in this very bar decades ago. The traveler thing to do is to try it. However, don’t feel the social pull to have one. The cocktail menu offers a lot more. In fact, we were there at 11am and didn’t feel like alcohol so we perused the mocktail options and I was very pleased with mine. Keep in mind, you’re going for the ambience and to say you’ve been, and the Raffles know that, so don’t expect to escape for cheaps- the drinks are rather pricey. Some call it a tourist trap, others a slice of old-style luxury. You decide.

 

 

 

 

Disclaimer: This review was also posted by me on TripAdvisor. This blog has no affiliation with TripAdvisor. I just share my experiences to spread the love to fellow travelers.

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Balios Resort, Khao Yai, THAILAND

Balios Resort is a short distance from the main happenings in Khao Yai. It offers a substantial amount of land in the Thai hinterland and facilities such as a restaurant, breakfast buffet, swimming pool and attached shopping village.

My stay at Balios resort was disappointing. Our initial impressions were that the property was a little naff, a little kitsch. It’s themed decor of the ancient Greek equine persuasion leaves much to be desired. Our room had lichen green walls and a bed hard enough to reset your back. My partner’s shower ran hot and cold, and our friends staying in the next room waded ankle-deep through the bathroom as the drain didn’t work properly.  The wifi is weak.  There are limited mountain views, despite being in the heart of the hinterland. The bar closes before too late, but I did manage to get myself a cocktail. Cheap, but disproportionate. The bartender was trying his best.

This resort. It serves a purpose. Basic bed and breakfast.

I’d like to make clear- our experience was through no fault of the service staff. It’s just that the facilities of this resort are run down, and it’s charm has worn off.

Disclaimer: This review was also posted by me on TripAdvisor. This blog has no affiliation with TripAdvisor. I just share my experiences to spread the love to fellow travelers.

Private Tour, Fes Medina, MOROCCO

After this day, I’d say the only real way to see the Fes Medina is with a tour, and a private tour at that. The Medina is an absolute maze, a suburb of narrow alley ways with no signage and no directions- it would be impossible for a first-timer to navigate alone.

Our tour guide had lived in the Medina, grown up there and knew it like the back of his hand. He spent 9 hours showing us all his little haunts, all the craftsmen and the wares. There was the usual factory tour that you get on most tourist ventures, but these were interesting at least; the silversmith, the copperwares, the mosaic and ceramic factory and the knives sharpener. He gave us options for lunch and took us up some stairs to an authentic Moroccan restaurant. The food was sublime, showcasing an array of vegetarian salads and dishes that tasted chargrilled and smokey.

We saw the main tourist sites outside of the Medina walls as well. The Royal Palace, the tannery , the lookout from an ancient fort, the oldest university (and attached mosque)  in the world.

Honestly, taking a private tour is priceless. Our guide answered all our questions and saw us safely picked up and dropped off at our hostel.

 

 

*Hit the links for images of the Medina!

Disclaimer: This review was also posted by me on TripAdvisor. This blog has no affiliation with TripAdvisor. I just share my experiences to spread the love to fellow travelers.

Plain Vanilla Bakery, Tiong Bahru, Singapore

Call me a pleb, but sometimes I don’t understand the hype around cupcakes. That’s probably because I haven’t had the real deal. These cupcakes- they were something else. Earl Grey and lavender, chocolate and hazelnut, and vanilla bean. We were recommended a visit to this bakery through our Lonely Planet travel guide and we were not disappointed. The aesthetic is chic minimalism, so clean and relaxed. The cupcakes come by the dozen in a range of conventional flavours – so you know they’re mastering the basics. If you go, you’ll see the light.

Disclaimer: This review was also posted by me on TripAdvisor. This blog has no affiliation with TripAdvisor. I just share my experiences to spread the love to fellow travelers.

Flock Café, Tiong Bahru, Singapore

We took the MRT to Tiong Bahru, hearing that this suburb is the place to be to experience Singapore’s local hipster scene. We were hot and bothered, in dire need of a refreshing pick-me-up. Flock Café was the first we stumbled upon. Air con, wifi, clean bathrooms and barista coffee? We’re so there.

Flock Café is tucked away under a few hedges of vegetation and in a darkened alcove. It’s worth scouting out, though, for their range of flavoured coffee is extensive and their brunch is popular (and reasonably priced). My hazelnut latte was smooth and delicate, while my partner’s orange and cinnamon mocha had real orange peel in it.
I like to think of myself as a bit of a smashed avo connoisseur, being a Sydney-sider and all. This smashed av’ rated very well. Served with side salad and roast potatoes, the eggs were poached perfectly on thin sourdough. The avocado was more of a tasty guac, which suited me just fine.
Flock Café is why I came to Tiong Bahru. Unpretentious brunch foods and freshly ground coffee with hardwood decor. I’ll be back.

Disclaimer: This review was also posted by me on TripAdvisor. This blog has no affiliation with TripAdvisor. I just share my experiences to spread the love to fellow travelers.

BooksActually, Tiong Bahru, Singapore

Before you even walk through the door, you’re greeted by a hopscotch outline on the pavement and a ‘mystery book’ vending machine. These quirky and innovative touches outside the book store mark the character of this shop. I was directed here by a Lonely Planet guide to Tiong Bahru and honestly it was the highlight of my day. International bestsellers aside, this store showcases local voices and celebrates Singaporean flavours- migrant, young, lgbtqia, disenfranchised. There are so many unique and locally published books here, from travel writing and fiction to poetry and photography. There’s vintage wares, gift offerings, actual live cats, hanging plants and indie music. I felt right in my element and and so glad I dropped by. Picked up a couple of patches, postcards and a short story anthology while I was there.

Disclaimer: This review was also posted by me on TripAdvisor. This blog has no affiliation with TripAdvisor. I just share my experiences to spread the love to fellow travelers.

The Halia, Singapore Botanic Gardens

We trekked through the botanic gardens to see the National Orchid Garden, however as we arrived, we were overcome with exhaustion. The heat, the humidity, had completely sapped every ounce of energy we had. We needed respite.

The Halia offered that, and more. In a lush, laid back outdoor setting, we were able to cool down and return to our former selves. The Halia serve the simplest of dishes and drinks with thought, care and elegance. We shared a smashed avocado plate and it was absolutely divine, with feta and chili oil for little touches of depth and flavour.

What really invigorated us were the beverages. My travel partner was inpsired by the hot ginger, cumin and honey drink. The young ginger was pulled from the Ginger Garden in the botanic gardens, and was soft as an apple, served on a grating plate to extract maximum flavour. The honey was from wild mountain bees in Vietnam. My iced drink had blueberries, ginger, mint and lime and was light and refreshing.

With herbs and spices sourced from the local surrounds, The Halia promises artisnal flavours and delicious refreshments.

Disclaimer: This review was also posted by me on TripAdvisor. This blog has no affiliation with TripAdvisor. I just share my experiences to spread the love to fellow travelers.