Posts Tagged ‘Holiday’

Margaret River – Olio Bello Olive Farm + Cafe

When in Margaret River, it’s not just vineyards that you can visit. If you’re a teetotaller or just want to see more of what Margaret River has to offer, check out Olio Bello Olive Farm and Cafe. Apparently the hot summers are great conditions for the olives to grow and you will notice olive platters on many a restaurant’s menu.

I happen to love olives and had been gorging on them (like an entire platter to myself for 2 consecutive days since the Partner doesn’t like olives although he loves olive oil) so it made sense to visit the olive experts and see if I could stock up on olive oils and olives.

Olio Bello employs sustainable, organic food and farming systems, and everything that is grown on the farm is untainted by synthetic chemicals or fertilisers. Commercial olive oil makers use heat and chemicals for faster extraction of the oils from the olives, but not so for Olio Bello. Their extra virgin olive oils are unfiltered and allowed to naturally settle in stainless steel vats over a longer period of time.

Olio Bello Olive Farm (2)

You can visit their 10,000 olive tree grove to roam around on your own. I don’t think they do official tours on a regular basis, but if there’s a truckload of you arriving, they just might show you around the place.

Olio Bello Cafe - Augusta crumbed whiting, salad and beer battered chips $27 (1)

Augusta crumbed whiting, feta salad and beer battered chips $27

I highly recommend that you stop for lunch at the Olio Bello cafe like we did. Their fish & chips use Augusta whiting (a type of fish sourced from Augusta, which is like a 1/2 hr drive from Margaret River town) and it was simply delicious. We tried whiting in a couple of other places, but in my opinion, Olio Bello serves the best version. The fish was tender, piping hot and crispy. Dip that in the olive oil based mayo and you have a match made in heaven!

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6D5N in Margaret River, Australia!

If you haven’t heard from me in a while, it’s because I was having a wonderful time in the land down under, specifically in the Margaret River region! When I first told people I was going to stay 5 nights in Margaret River, they were incredulous. Most Singaporeans only spend 2 or 3 days in Margaret River, and so did I back in 2010 when I first visited.

However this trip has surpassed all expectations and when I look back, I can’t imagine how the holiday could have been any shorter! There’s so much to do, so much to see, so much to eat and drink, and not forgetting finding time to actually relax by the beach or resort.

Margaret River Restaurants

Feasting breakfast, lunch and dinner!

One of the biggest highlights of our trip has to be the 2 beautiful beach resorts that we stayed in. We stayed 2 nights at Smiths Beach Resort and 3 nights at Injidup Spa Retreat. They are very different in character, Smiths Beach Resort having a more modern look and near to the surfing beach while Injidup Spa Retreat, as the name suggests, exudes a cosy and secluded feel, as if it’s just you and you alone facing the huge ocean.

Smiths Beach Resort

Smith Beach Resort Ocean View Villa – Check out the extensive balcony space, and the big bath tub!

Injidup Spa Retreat

Injidup Spa Retreat – Your own plunge pool where you can watch the sun set directly in front of you! I would just love it if my house looked like this!

It was just amazing to be so near to the beach, and to be able to see the blue waters from our balcony. I would highly recommend paying a little bit more for this privilege because nothing beats waking up to the sounds and sight of the ocean while in your pyjamas and eating breakfast. In fact, I kinda regret packing my itinerary so tightly with activities. I should have spent at least 1 day doing nothing and lazing in the resort. I did at least manage to squeeze in a massage session at Injidup’s onsite spa, which was so heavenly I very nearly cancelled my whale-watching plans to have another go at it.

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Visiting Seoul : 5 Useful Tips I wish I’d known!

My colleague is going to visit Seoul in several weeks time so I thought this might just be a good time to share a few of the things I wish I’d known before I went there. Why doesn’t anyone ever tell you these things?

Cheapest place for facial products

Now everyone knows that in Korea, facial products are aplenty and quite cheap as compared to Singapore. Innisfree, Nature Republic, FaceShop, you can find these shops along every major shopping street or mall. There are some slight variations in prices especially if you shop in a popular street vs a not so crowded one. My father has been to Seoul countless times for business trips and he told me that he once bought some facial masks (for my mother of course) for like $X. And try as I might, after visiting more than 5 different outlets of the said brand, I just could not find the facial masks being sold at the legendary $X. Instead, they cost 30% more than $X!

Well, that was until I visited the Lotte Department Store at MyeongDong. Specifically the 10th floor which houses the duty free section. When you get there, you will feel like you are no longer in Korea. The entire mall is pretty serene and orderly, but when you get to the 10th floor, it is like a mad house. It is jammed packed with people, and everyone is speaking Chinese! It is HERE, that you can find the the facial products being sold at about 30% cheaper than the shops outside! At least it was the case for those facial masks that I was buying.

How not to get ripped off at Noryangjin Fish Market

Everyone likes to visit Noryangjin Fish Market for some reason when they visit Seoul. I bet many of you readers out there have not visited your local wet market in years, yours truly included, but some how it’s different when being overseas. Visiting a wet market becomes a tourist activity.

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[New Zealand 2014] 5D4N in Nelson Abel Tasman / Picton

How time flies, my 17 day trip to New Zealand is officially over! I had intended to post a few blog posts during my time in New Zealand, but there were so many distractions ranging from Facebook, Instagram and just plain relaxing that I decided to heck it. To this day, I am amazed I managed to push out a number of posts while on holiday in Norway and Denmark!

Although the this trip may sound long, in actual fact the touristy stuff happened in the 1st half of the trip, with the 2nd half being more of family stuff as the Partner has family in New Zealand (aka my chance to live like a local). This is actually my 5th trip to New Zealand but only my 2nd time to the South Island. Since I had already covered the usual favourites such as Christchurch, Queenstown, Milford Sound etc, our focus this time round was to spend time in the Northernmost part of the South Island, ie the Marlborough / Nelson Abel Tasman areas. This is not an area that is usually covered by the tour groups but is picturesque in its own right. We spent about 4 glorious days in this region, as well as about 1.5 days in Wellington (capital of New Zealand) before flying back to Auckland. 

Journey-wise, we opted to fly into Auckland first from Singapore via Singapore Airlines, followed by JetStar to Wellington. We spent a night in Wellington before waking up at the crack of dawn to catch the 3-hour InterIslander ferry from Wellington to Picton. For those of you who are keen to explore the same area I did, you could also take the 10 hour Northern Explorer train from Auckland to Wellington, followed by the ferry ride. I hear the train ride is super scenic and we almost opted for this to enjoy the scenery, but decided to skip it in the interest of time and factoring in additional nights in a hotel etc. Also, the train only goes 3 times a week. We also almost took the option of flying to Christchurch (South Island) from Singapore, followed by driving up to Marlborough / Nelson Abel Tasman, but because air-tickets were fast running out back in September, we opted to fly into Auckland instead of Christchurch in case we changed our minds about going down south.

Kaitaki - InterIslander Ferry

The Kaitaki which we took to Picton. Snapped this picture when I spotted it on my return journey back to Wellington.

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2D1N self-drive to Malacca and Jonker Street

Last month, over the 4 day Vesak Day long weekend, we decided to make a quick trip to Malacca. It was a very sudden decision, so sudden that we only talked about it at 10pm on the day before the trip! Even better, we only booked the hotel the next morning on the day that we were going to set off! Can you believe that? I must say that the spontaneity of the trip was quite refreshing, instant gratification at it’s best. It was like, hey honey, I feel like going on a holiday. Ok let’s go tomorrow.

Just in case you are wondering why is it that we couldn’t book the hotel any earlier, it’s because if you want to book one of Malacca’s numerous boutique hotels, most of them usually don’t have booking websites. You have to email them, and they will respond within a few hours. But of course, it being the Vesak Day holiday weekend, we couldn’t wait for their email and decided to call them, and were told that the hotel was fully booked but that there may have been cancellations which only the morning clerk would be able to tell us. And since the boutique hotel was highly recommended by my colleague, we chose to wait, although it was in vain eventually.

Hotel Equatorial Melaka (1)

It was just as well that we did not stay at the boutique hotel because we eventually booked the Hotel Equatorial. We had a lovely room that was so spacious and with a nifty daybed built into the balcony. Views from our room were totally unblocked since we had a high floor, could even see all the way to the Malacca coastline.

Hotel Equatorial Hotel Room Balcony

It was well worth the upgrade to a room slightly better than the deluxe, just to get the high floor and the balcony! And guess what, costs only about SGD $130! All of us agreed that it was worth the 3 hour journey to Malacca (assuming no jam and no pit stops!), rather than to stay in Singapore and spend $300 plus for a staycation in Singapore. Must be careful not to strip naked at the balcony area because you can actually peep into the balcony area of the neighbouring rooms. Don’t ask me why but I found it very exciting to be able to wave to my parents in the next room.

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