Traditional Sushi: Iwasa at Tsukiji Market

We were all geared up ready to get up at the crack of dawn to queue for Sushi Daiwa (the shop operated by legendary Sushi Dai’s son) but alas, holiday sleep got better of us.

We reached Tsukiji Market at 10am or so on a Saturday.. and we didn’t even qualify to queue which was snaking a few bends complete with a burly chef at the end of the line to stop potential tourists.

Oh well, we trooped off to Iwasa for our Omakase experience.

We went with the Omakase set although, on hindsight, I might have enjoyed the dons more.

I think we were there about 10+ am on a Saturday and the queue was manageable, about 30-45 mins before we got a seat. Most people seemed to eat very quickly and leave.

Continue reading “Traditional Sushi: Iwasa at Tsukiji Market”


Taipei: Starbucks 101

Here’s a cheap way to hack Taipei 101: Instead of going up to the observatory on the 89th floor, book yourself a slot at Starbucks on the 35th floor.

There is a minimum spending of 200NTD per person (approx 1 drink + 1 snack) at Starbucks but that is still cheaper than the 600NTD observatory fee. You still get a pretty kickass view and best of all, you enjoy your favourite Starbucks drink! Each appointment is 1.5 hours long.

How to book

  1. Call Starbucks at +886 2 8101 0701 at least 24 hours before your preferred appointment. The staff speaks mostly Mandarin only
  2. Turn up at least 10 minutes before your appointment timing.

Do: Call from a Taiwan number. I tried using Skype to call but could not connect.

Where to wait

Enter via Xin Yi Road, Section.5, Door 7 for the lobby.

This is the lobby you’re looking for.

How to get that window seat

Each batch will head up in two separate lifts. The trick is to ensure that you are the last few to enter in the first batch of lift so that you are first to exit the elevator to grab the window counter seats.

  1. Arrive early enough so that you can count off the persons queueing. Time yourself such that you’re about the 16-18 person to be safe so that you’re at the last of the first batch.
  2. It is best to go in pairs – one person to grab the seat, the second person to queue up for drinks and snacks.

There is no way of avoiding the minimum charge. In the queue, a Starbucks staff will verify your appointment and hand you a Post-It note which will indicate the pax in your party. Hand this Post-It to the cashier when you purchase your food and drinks.

Pro Tip: Most drinks cost about 120NTD so the 80NTD snacks tend to go first. If you like a particular snack, try asking the staff if they have any left.

Attraction Starbucks Taipei 101
Address 10, Taiwan, Taipei City, Xinyi District, Section 5, Xinyi Rd, 7號
Opening hours 0730 – 2000 (Call +886 2 8101 8126 for an appointment)
How to get there Stop at Taipei 101 / World Trade Center metro station
Google Map Starbucks Taipei 101


Taiwan: Star Hostel (Taipei Main Station)

My friends and I joke that instead of going for a holiday, we went for a staycation at Star Hostel (Taipei) because we were too comfy to leave the hostel!

Probably of the higher price point than its competitors, and rightfully so, Star Hostel is one of the more beautiful and comfortable hostels I’ve stayed in despite some minor inconveniences.

The hostel is in the heart of Taipei, being one street away from Taipei Railway, Metro and Bus Station. Nestled within a residential area, it means you’re never short of eating options and convenience stores.

Check in and reception

You’re greeted by this mini tree house when you first step out of the lift.

The check in process is simple enough, pass them your itinerary and passport and you’re on your way.

Red flag no. 1: While Star Hostel states that it is serviced by an elevator, there is still one flight of stairs within the hostel that you may need to climb.

It seems quite common for Taiwanese hostels to require indoor slippers within the facilities. Beep your hostel card at the security door to enter.

Shoe lockers: switch your outdoor shoes for indoor slippers

The 8-bed mixed dorm

We are used to communal living, hence, staying in hostels are the norm for us.

There were a couple of ground rules: No eating and hanging of clothes in the dorm which meant that the room smelled clean at all times.

The bunk was also comfortable, I fell asleep very quickly for most of the times. Each bunk has a locker secured by RFID card. If you have a small-mid sized luggage, it would probably fit into the locker.

Red flag no.2: Although something which I did not get was the design of the shelf which meant that you’d have to think of creative ways to prop your adapters because of the lack of allowance for top cables.

Shower facilities

Red flag no. 3: There are only two female and three mixed gender showers within the hostel to be shared between 5 dorms (approx 36 pax). However, I never had to wait more than 10 minutes for a shower.

Mixed gender showers

I like that there is a wet and dry area within the shower cubicle so that you can dress with ease.

Vanity area in ladies showers

The lounge

Probably our favourite spot in the hostel, we spent most of our nights in the lounge area doing our individual work.

Kitchen, cafe and breakfasts

This is where breakfasts is served in the morning.






At night, this turns into a bar

At night, the serving area turns into a bar


The Good

  1. The superb location near all modes of transport makes travel really accessible and simple. Moreover, at Taipei Main Railway, you can hop on an express bus to Taoyuan Airport.
  2. The facilities are comfortable and clean, it almost feels like a staycation to us
  3. The ground rules set the hostel up for a great stay. Our roomies were considerate and non-existent for most parts. If you’re looking for a quiet and comfortable stay, this is for you.
  4. A convenience store settles your midnight craves and there are multiple eateries within a few steps. Try the crispy milk donut across the road!

Pro Tip: If you’re having a late night flight, you can leave your luggage at the hostel while you have a wander in the day. When you pick up your stuff, you can also request for a shower and hang out in the lounge. before you leave.

The Not So Goods

  1. Initially, I was worried having to wait for a shower. However, during my 5-night stay, I didn’t have to wait more than 5-10 minutes for a shower.
  2. The design of the power point and shelve in bed really don’t make functional sense to me.
  3. I was a little miffed at their marketing copy which stated that the hostel was serviced by a lift – which is true technically but the hostel failed to share that there were still internal stairs.

During our stay, Star Hostel was at full capacity for most of the time. If you’re looking to stay here, book early!

Hotel Star Hostel
Address 4F, No 50 Huayin St., Datong Dist., Taipei, Taiwan
Opening hours Check in: 1500, Check out: 1100
How to get there Walk from Taipei Main Railway, Metro or Bus Station. From Taoyuan, take KuoKuang Bus 1819 to the last stop.
Google Map Star Hostel


Japan Wireless #3

This is my third time using Japan Wireless and I can’t emphasise how much more convenience and accessibility it has brought to my travels in Japan.

On my first two trips to Osaka, Kyoto and Nara, I had used Japan Wireless too.

In Tokyo, I experienced the same superb connection, no breaks nor glitches and great customer service. This trip, I used the Premium 4G wireless egg instead of the Business Wifi I had used on my previous Japan trip in 2015

All about the Premium Wifi

Some comparisons I noticed between the Premium and Business Wifi:

  • Way faster connection at 187Mbps
  • Ability to stream YouTube videos and download necessary apps for navigation
  • Loads apps such as Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook and Pokemon Go instantly
  • Longer battery life of about 10 hours connecting to 3 mobile devices
  • No difference in connections between Tokyo city and suburbs

Collection of Wifi rental

I picked up my Wifi router rental at Narita Airport’s Post Office with no issues. Prior to my arrival, Japan Wireless provided me with a tracking number. I was assured that the Wifi router had reached Narita before I even touched down.

This is what the package contained:

  1. Mobile Wifi
  2. Power bank
  3. Cable
  4. Labelled envelope for easy return
  5. A pouch to hold everything

Travelling with the Wifi

The mobile Wifi is also small and easy to bring around in an outside pocket of your backpack, just chuck the extra power bank in your bag. The mobile Wifi is smaller than an iPhone 6.

The Wifi password is pasted on the mobile Wifi itself and is super easy to set up. Just search for the network and key in the password and you’re gold.

Working perfectly in Yokohama

My friend brought it out for Pokemon hunting at Ueno Park and reaped Dratini returns.

And Ueno

At Ueno Park: A Dratini spawning spot

And.. guess what we managed to catch?

My take on Japan Wireless

There are various packages available at Japan Wireless.

  • Business Wifi: If you’re using the wifi just to stay connected, go for the Business Wifi.
  • Premium Wifi: If you’re Pokemon hunting, Snapchatter, YouTube junkie and hooked on Instagram Stories, Premium Wifi is the way to go.

As with most rentals, the price is cheaper with additional days. Japan Wireless is also perfect if you’re travelling to multiple countries, hence, services like Changi Recommends do not make sense.

Amongst the other rental options, Japan Wireless provides one of the best options in terms of value, ease of picking up/returns and customer service.

As much as Japan is a technology driven country, you’ll be surprised at the lack of wireless options. My friend, who speaks Japanese, did not have data the last time she travelled to Tokyo shared that having data on the go really makes commuting a breeze. You can look up the correct train on the complicated transport system or find the correct exit in a huge station like Shinjuku, Shimbashi or Shibuya.

Returning process

Returning the Pocket Wifi was easy too, just slot everything into the pouch, seal the envelope and drop it into a mailbox or post office.

Rental details

Rent here:
Product details:

P.S. This post is done in collaboration with Japan Wireless.

Round up: Finds and Faves #1

I’ve thought about it before, I come across so many deals and great finds that I want to share with people but I never go around to setting up of my own Gossip Girl channel so hopefully, this is the start of a weekly monthly list.

Sandwich dealer

Otiveil is a husband and wife outfit by Peppe and Fawn that bakes delicious and chewy foccacia. I love their breads which are rustic, homely and pairs well with savouries.

On Wednesdays, Fawn delivers sandwiches to a few areas in town. The breads are generously filled with all sorts of tasty ingredients ranging from mushrooms, eggplants to steak. Ordering is simple too, sign up for their mailing list to receive the menu on Mondays and order before stipulated deadline. Occasionally, the menu includes sides such as meatballs and sauteed mushrooms.

For larger orders (e.g. above 8 – 10), Fawn does deliveries.

Sign up for their mailing list: Otiveil

About 16cm big

Fave new yoga studio

After Updog left GuavaPass, my heart prickled a little at the loss of a great studio in the East.

My heart received a little plaster in the form of YoCo Loft.

How do you not fall in love with such a gorgeous studio filled with warm lighting and fairy lights? More ever, the air conditioning is on during class – the purist yogis would probably scoff at air conditioning but I’m for all feeling cool.

The amenities are decent enough: Water, towels and a toilet with an inbuilt shower. Most people change out of their gear and leave.

My favourite classes are flow classes with Shena. She is observant with her students, never fails to provide options and even gives adjustments to all students. Even though I’m on GuavaPass, I’ve never felt I was any lesser of a student.

If I’m not wrong, YoCo Loft is on both GuavaPass and Kfit. Alternatively, check out their class packages too: YoCo.

Poke Bowls

The lion city is late to the game but better late than never. I love Poke bowls! An import of Hawaii, it is almost like the western version of Bara Chirashi Don save that the fish is marinated and sits on a bed of leaves with sushi rice below. The entire concoction is typically topped with fish roe, edamame, fruits and scallions.


A great budget option is Rollie Olie. I’ve tried both Rollie Olie and Aloha Poke and find that both seasonings is similar but Aloha Poke comes with additional toppings which give their bowls a better bite.

However, for $11.90 (Star Vista outlet) or $12.90 (Suntec Pasar Bella), the Poke Bowl at Rollie Olie is a steal.

App to download

Isn’t it troublesome to require a scanner to scan important documents? CamScanner saves the day!

The app is available on iOS, Android and Windows.

Camscanner uses your phone camera to scan documents in perfectly legible font and also comes with a nifty crop tool. The only drawback is that for PDFs, there is a watermark which you can remove with a paid subscription.

All JPG scans are free. I have used the app to scan documents such as medical referral letters and education certs. The app works like a charm!

Cute kitten alert

We have a new addition to the family! Tok Tok is a very active and naughty fellow who stays in my parents’ office.

Some of his adventures include:

  • Climbing on partitions and walking on top like a tightrope
  • Hanging on the ledge of a fish tank
  • Chasing the mouse on the computer screen

Catch his beautiful face on his Instagram @ Toktok.Lim. 

Sydney Fish Market

Is Sydney Fish Market worth the hype?

If you have been to the famed Tokyo’s Tsukiji’s market, you’ll probably find Sydney’s a little too tame. The western fish market is a great starting entry fish market for the unknown: it is not as noisy, crowded and a whole lot cleaner.

You’ll find rows and rows of lobsters. Supposedly, this is the renowned item of the market.

Perhaps, if you order an entire lobster, have it cooked with noodles like what most of the Asians there were having, you’d get the bang out of your buck.

We were on our mission to feast across Sydney with precious tummy space, so we were for bites across our favourite seafood.

This was my favourite item: Aburi scallop topped with cheese on a bed of rice.

Our mini seafood lunch came up to AUD28 for two:

  • A set of 3 Aburi scallop topped with cheese + 1 juice (AUD12)
  • 2 large oysters (AUD7)
  • 100g of salmon sashimi (AUD6)
  • Grilled lobster tail (AUD12)

I missed out on toothfish sashimi which I really wanted but could not get a small portion. The grilled lobster tail was an absolute letdown – it was rubbery and tasteless.

My take: Visit if it is on your way for a fresh seafood lunch available in small portions at budget prices. We actually took an hour’s trek from The Rocks’ Foodie Market because the weather was nice and cooling.

Paid tours are available to view the fish auction in the mornings.

Attraction Sydney Fish Market
Address Bank St & Pyrmont Bridge Road, Sydney NSW 2009, Australia
Opening hours 7am – 4pm mostly
How to get there Wentworth Park Light Rail
Google Map Sydney Fish Market

Pictures by the talented Camistry Lab.

The grandma’s girl

I’ve always been a grandma kind of girl.

For many good reasons, I must say. Without her, I probably wouldn’t be where I am today.

My parents hold full-time jobs in our family business. It’s a very simple equation. No work = no money to feed the mouths. My grandma was the one who brought most of us up. Without her, the household probably wouldn’t be functional.

My earliest memories of her hover in my schooling days. She would put me in a shopping trolley where I’ll sit while we go marketing for groceries. Later, I’d sit in the passenger seat of her bicycle when she would send me to kindergarten. Without her, I probably wouldn’t be able to dance too, she was the one who drove me around for my dance practices.

She was (is?) also the source for extra pocket money to purchase the prized bookshop (often, useless) stationery and later, my travels. Up till a couple of weeks ago, she was still cooking my supper and sometimes, Sunday bee hoon to bring to rehearsals.

Then, she had a stroke.

A stroke is defined as a “brain attack” where blood flow is cut off to the brain. Once oxygen flow is cut off, the brain cells begin to die. How a person is affected by a stroke depends on which part of the brain it is and how much of the brain cells are affected.

And strokes change lives.

I used to do quite a bit of healthcare communications and the information is gushing back at me very quickly. The previous caregiver and patient studies seemed a lot more realistic and are coming alive as we speak. I understand why the caregiver often can’t speak without tears welling up in their eyes because emotions engulf them.

Loss of physical mobility

Previously, she was an active senior who could get by easily and now, she is dependent on a caregiver for the daily life functions that we take for granted. Simple things such as:

  • Going to the toilet
  • Showering
  • Brushing her teeth

To someone on the outside, you’d think, it’s just going about with your daily life, needing some extra help isn’t it?

I hate to say this until you have someone who is dependent on caregiving 24/7, you probably wouldn’t understand how tiring it is. You can’t leave her alone, not even when she is sleeping because she may need to go to the toilet.

Devotion of a child

You know why your parents keep asking you to get married and have kids? Your offspring are your safeguards for old age.

It is so easy to shirk off responsibility and ship off old age to a nursing home or day care centre. Just across the causeway, you can get a two-bedder assisted living room for approx S$900 a month. I think this is probably my personal choice when it comes to me being old and immobile.

It takes the love of a devoted child. I really admire my Mum because she is not even a daughter of my (paternal) grandma, just a daughter-in-law, but she is so selfless in helping to take on the bulk of the caregiving. When it comes down to crunch time, things such as helping to shower and assisting her to the toilet, the champ is the one who steps up to the call.

Taking care of an immobile aged parent is more than just visiting for a few hours per day.

I don’t think my Mum is any different from any of us: She holds a full-time job, she is the parent to four children (and grandparent to a baby boy) yet she does her part more than anyone. She sleeps less, go out less and made way more personal sacrifices.

I stand by my point that multiple children may not be necessary: You either earn enough money to take care of yourself or you groom a child who will be able to take care of you.


Strokes are not a leading cause of death but it is a leading cause of chronic disability.

Depression is a common sight among stroke patients. I’d be depressed too if the only thing I can do is lie/sit down and have to wait for people to serve me.

Impacts on me

This incident has been an emotional roller coaster more than anything. Also, the caregiving is tiring.

I never expected myself to be okay helping someone to bath and go toilet but when it comes to crunch time, you just have to put aside all inhibitions.

The hardest thing to come to realisation is that my grandma will probably not regain her full mobility. Even with rehab and physio, her mobility is likely going to be reduced to 2/3 of what she previously had.

That is the hardest thing to come to terms to…

That Ah Ma will never be the same again.


GuavaPass so far: 3 months checkpoint and my favourite Yoga studios

I’ve always been an active person, constantly moving and thinking ahead of my next step. When I made a decision to introduce fitness back into my life, last Christmas, I felt that Yoga and Pilates will be complements to dancing.

I wasn’t ready to sign on a studio membership. Have you seen the number of studios that have closed down without much notice in the last year? Boutique studios, Sadhana Sanctuary, Space & Light and BYCH have closed their doors and even chains, True Yoga has shuttered one outlet and Viva Fit has stopped operations in four outlets with two remaining franchise outlets. I don’t think I want to deal with having to seek mediation if a studio that I signed with closed down.

In come with fitness subscriptions which I am an advocate of. Long story short, you have access to a limited number of classes in its partner studios. There are two such fitness subscription providers in Singapore: KFit and GuavaPass. Your subscription is renewable monthly. Read: my full fitness subscription review of GuavaPass and KFit.

I have been on GuavaPass for three months so far and I attend mostly yoga classes.

Referrals and promotions

Just like any subscription that survives on sales, referrals are important.

GuavaPass: Each new member gets $40 off their first month with a referral code. The refereed gets $40 off to be applied in next month’s membership.

My GuavaPass promo code /referral link :

KFit: Every new member gets $10 off and refereed gets $10 off. KFit seems to be changing their referral program fee very frequently. If you’ll like to double check on how much discount exactly there is, I’d suggest to drop me an email at and I’ll get back to you within 12-24 hours.

My KFit referral link / promo code is: JVBGZ 

The Not So Goods

Class cancellations

This has proved to be the biggest challenge for me so far. Most class cancellations require a 12-hour notice. For example, a 7.30pm class needs to be cancelled by 7.30am. Say bye to spontaneous dinner appointments or incur a $15 cancellation charge. Worse, a no show costs you $20.

Partner studio changes

You need to be prepared that your favourite classes may not be available. My favourite Pilates Reformer classes at R-Evolution were stopped when the studio closed down. Likewise, I only attended one Music Flow at Singapore School of Meditation and Yoga and was looking forward to more.

The Good Stuff

The user intuitive website

I prefer booking classes on the GuavaPass desktop website for its user-friendly interface. Then again, I am mostly desk-bound with frequent desktop access. The mobile app is convenient for last minute class bookings.

Last minute class bookings

From what I have observed, class bookings typically close an hour before the class, subject to availability of course. There have also been instances where last minute slots for popular classes open up.

My favourite yoga studios

I used to attend 3-5 classes a week but have dropped to 2-4 classes with my current dance rehearsal schedule. These are some of my favourite studios. I grew up on a staple diet of dance classes since young. Yoga is not my main form of exercise but complements my dance training. I find myself gravitating towards flow and power classes for the dynamic movements.

Updog Studio (East Coast)*

Update: Aug 2016, Updog is no longer a GuavaPass partner. Leaving this here for whoever finds it useful.

I am an Eastie and the location of the studio is easily accessible for me. My favourites are the Hot Flow and Hot Hatha classes. Coupled that with the beautiful full-length windows and breezy dressing rooms/showers, the full studio experience is always enjoyable.

Strala (Boat Quay)

The previous Strala at Armenian Street

The feel of Strala’s classes is quite different from other yoga classes I have attended. Strala is founded by Tara Stiles who is known for being a yoga rebel. The studio follows her style, which is flow based where one moves with ease from poses to poses.

Perhaps as a dancer before a yogi, the easy flow of poses resonates with me. My favourite Strala class is Strong – similar to that of power yoga. Expect inversions and hand stands in Strong classes.

Ziva (Tiong Bahru)

Ziva is the Sanskrit word for bliss and the studio is aptly named. I feel at ease whenever I attend class at Ziva. It is unpretentious and homely. Each class is 75 minutes, you don’t feel like you rush through the closing sequences.

The studio is also centrally located in Tiong Bahru, easily accessible from CBD.

Avante (Raffles Place)

The studio is famed for the Dianamic yoga class which is named after its founder Diana but I’ve yet to try her class.

Friday night is an unpopular slot for classes, I supposed most people would want to go for dates, drinks and wind down for the weekend. Avante has a unique 8.30pm Friday night class. The instructor, Angela, is known to push you to your limits. Expect physical adjustments. I almost hobbled out of my first class.

Alpha Balance (Multiple locations)

This is the Canvass studio. Alpha Balance is a dedicated collective of yoga and pilates instructors with classes across multiple locations.

There is a Wednesday 1.5 hour Vinyasa Flow class which really tests your endurance. It is a test of mind over body.

Bonus: Glow Yoga (Holland Village)

Flow at Glow Yoga was quite an intriguing experience. This was possibly, the most spiritual class I have attended and may not be everyone’s cup of tea.

A home studio within the instructor’s home, the space is filled with precious stones and knick knacks from travels. The instructor, Amy, did some incense twirling and ringing of bells to cleanse the room’s energy. It was an enlightening experience for me, Glow is like another “branch” of yoga seldom seen and experienced in Singapore. If you’re comfortable with yoga with a tinge of spirituality, try Amy’s class for a fresh perspective.


International Country Candy/Post Card Swap

I haven’t been on Swap Bot for a couple of years after my favourite swaps have ended.

If you’re not in the know: Swap Bot is an online platform created to facilitate group snail mail and internet swaps. It is a trust-based thing – you trust that your partner will send you the swap and your assigned partner trusts that you will send him/her the swap. I’ve completed nine swaps so far and I’ve not been flaked on. I swap exclusively food items only although there are multiple items to swap.

The swap I’ve just received is an International Country Candy / Post Card Swap where you send four types of candy + 1 postcard to your partner.

Sometimes, it’s also a luck thing. I was lucky to have a partner from USA (my favourite country to receive items from) but I sent to someone in Malaysia – unlucky for her as our countries’ products are pretty similar.

I have only tried the Bit-O-Honey and I really like the malted taste.

Johor Bahru 2016: Bello Hotel

After I had discovered the Transtar Cross Border service, I am a changed woman when it comes to Johor Bahru day trips.

Instead of squeezing all activities into a day and hiking in the hot heat, I’m all for staying over in JB and enjoying more meals across the causeway.

If you only need a clean and comfortable place to sleep that is a skip and a hop away from City Square, Bello Hotel is your man.

One of the new kids on the block, Bello Hotel only started operations in June 2015. There are only 50 rooms across six floors and yes, there is a lift.

We stayed in a twin room that was small and cosy. The room was quite far away from the lifts so we were spared from the noise.

For the price we paid, approx S$76 for a twin room, I think the hotel is value for money. You get a comfortable bed, air conditioning, rain shower and okay wifi. I’d definitely stay here again if I am staying over in JB.

The Good

  • Superb location: The hotel is just behind City Square, you can pop by for an afternoon nap if you are tired. After a night’s shopping, you are reassured that the hotel is nearby.
  • There is a 7/11 next to the hotel, night hawkers and a few coffee shops in front of the hotel.
  • The staff is warm and friendly, there is a leave luggage option if you want to do more shopping or cafe hopping the next day.

The Not So Good

  • The bed is not a standard hotel issue bed – it is on the softer side and you feel like you sink into clouds.
  • Jalan Meldrum is quite a busy area, plenty of people (esp middle-old aged men) gather in the coffee shops to watch soccer. Think of it as your Chinatown. I don’t feel that this is an issue but plenty of reviewers pointed this out.
  • We found a dead cockroach in our shower. No big deal for us, I just picked it up with a tissue paper and flushed it down.
Hotel Bello Hotel
Address 21 Jalan Meldrum, 80000 Johor Bahru, Malaysia
Opening hours Check in: 2pm, Check out: 12 noon
How to get there Walk from City Square
Google Map Bello Hotel