Nope, you CANNOT make this up:
GARDEEEENIA !!! So good you can even steal it on its own!
Tuesday, March 31, 2020
Superlatively spicy AND tasty, this thing rocks! Not very common, it can be found in 2 places that we know of. One in Setia Alam and the other is in Yishun. Yes, that Yishun in Singapore. Who would have thought that the suburb is home to some amazing stuff like this?
If you can get your hands on one of these, I recommend it. However, you have been warned: It IS spicey in a way that will leave you numb, yet craving for more. I am wondering if they put something in it to make you addicted...
Posted by SP11 aka. Mr. Pertz at 11:28 AM
Monday, March 30, 2020
Posted by SP11 aka. Mr. Pertz at 3:58 PM
Penang is a world-renowned holiday destination, famous for its soft sandy beaches and regarded by many as the food capital of Malaysia. Many visitors check into one of the first-class hotels and spend a wonderfully relaxing holiday chilling out on the beaches. But as Enchanting Penang reveals, there are many other attractions to explore. Parts of George Town, the state capital, are listed as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site. Here many of the traditional buildings are being restored, fusing the old with the new, to become cafés, restaurants, boutiques and hotels.
There are also many other sights around the island. Take the scenic and historic funicular railway to the summit of Penang Hill, for example, and revel in the view from the top. From here you might take a walking trail down to the expansive Botanical Gardens at the bottom of the hill. Other sights to discover include a tropical spice garden, a butterfly farm, a remote national park, Kek Lok Si Temple and a snake temple with live vipers. Penang’s beautiful beaches include the strip of bays and headlands stretching from Tanjung Bungah to Batu Ferringhi. All resorts have restaurants, bars, spas and an extensive list of watersport activities.
Be it stunning beaches, ornate temples, unique heritage buildings or scrumptious cuisine, Enchanting Penang introduces all of the must-see delights on what will be a truly exotic holiday.
In this book, I found a lot of interesting historical fact and new facettes of the island. Easy to read, yet highly informative, I can only recommend it to anyone that either wants to keep it as memory or to widen horizons.
The book is published by John Beaufoy Publishing, an independent non-fiction book publisher based in Oxford, England, specialising in the fields of natural history, history and travel. Within these categories, we have a strong subsidiary focus on publishing books about the Indo-Pacific region, including South Asia, Southeast Asia and Australasia. Their books are available from good booksellers around the world. You can see their other titles here: https://johnbeaufoy.com/
David Bowden is a freelance journalist based in Malaysia, specializing in travel and the environment. While Australian, he’s been living in Asia longer than he can remember, and returns to his home country as a tourist. When not travelling the world, he enjoys relaxing with his equally adventurous wife Maria and daughter Zoe.
Posted by SP11 aka. Mr. Pertz at 10:47 AM
Sunday, March 29, 2020
Saturday, March 28, 2020
While I hope we do that again soon, I can't wait to actually go to a pub / bar / restaurant and sit down with people for a real meeting. Allocating a room at home for an office was one thing, but I don't want to make that room a boozer cum office. But for now, it is what it is. See you for Friday Drinks?
Posted by SP11 aka. Mr. Pertz at 9:31 AM
When you realise your passport is actually state property and not yours, you might be a little less jittery with it. If you lose it, it can be replaced. If it is worn out, nobody will scold you. And while it is an important document, it can take a bit of abuse. When the plastic page of my passport started to come off I expertly fixed it with tape. Worked fine until the last four pages were filled. Not recommended though…
Posted by SP11 aka. Mr. Pertz at 9:21 AM
Friday, March 27, 2020
Not only that, I was also a "Schluesselkind", a "key-child". Which means that from early on, I had a key to house and would be able to come and go as I needed to. When I got home, my parents would usually still be at work.
One could argue that home furnishings are more important in Europe, thanks to the weather being such that one spends a lot of time inside. Be that as it may, we have always emphasised on having a cosy and functional home. Gladly, I have also made the entire apartment a bit of a mancave. Luckily, the wife likes my style. Wouldn't want to spend the lockdown in a cold, uninspiring place....
Posted by SP11 aka. Mr. Pertz at 2:17 PM
Thursday, March 26, 2020
Take for instance that bag of chips (or crisps depending on where you drinking) that is impossible to open. You tear and swear. You press and mess. And then, sometimes the pack rips apart all the way and the content spills. Fun looks different.
The opposite end of the spectrum might be luxury goods. Some may find it cringeworthy, but the process of "unboxing" has since become something the people document on video to express their excitement. For some, the unboxing video of an item that they want to acquire may swing their purchasing decision. I think that an item that is north of say EUR 500 deserves a package that is equally exciting. You want to run home and gather the family. Nothing worth than a completely somber and sober unpacking where the container is unceremoniously discarded. One company that does an excellent job in my view is www.laco.de Even though their entry level watches are what might be described as "affordable", the presentation of the entire combo is impeccable and make this watch feel like it is worth twice that.
Some packaging can actually be re-purposed. Wine boxes make for a nice cabinet when corkscrewed together and stuck to a wall. The only thing that is totally incomprehensibel is plastic-wrapped bananas...
Posted by SP11 aka. Mr. Pertz at 2:20 PM
Wednesday, March 25, 2020
Posted by SP11 aka. Mr. Pertz at 1:18 PM
As an area of interest and rich history, Balestier might have well been overlooked in recent times, but now it has much to offer. The Ramada by Wyndham is a great base for many explorations into a neighbourhood with historic character or for the business traveller. The 17-storey Ramada by Wyndham Singapore at Zhongshan Park, recipient for the fourth time the Best Mid-Range Hotel by travel professionals in Asia Pacific at the 25th, 26th, 28th and 29th Annual TTG Travel Awards (2014, 2015, 2017 and 2018). Once checked in, it becomes obvious why.
Frequent travellers to Singapore may be familiar with other districts, while this heritage-rich community may not be on people’s radar. Coming from Malaysia, one can arrive at Seletar airport. If you take a taxi, the ride from Selatar to the Ramada by Wyndham will be almost half of what it would cost to get from Changi to a hotel downtown. And it is faster too.
Checking into the hotel is made easy and the overall flair of the lobby is that of an uncomplicated, highly efficient place. Sometimes I like to throw challenges at the staff, but in the case of the Ramada by Wyndham, I think they have either been trained for any situation or they have seen it all. My tests were handled with a superior confidence that simply let one know that this is the right place to get things done and done right. The Heritage Lounge and the business centre on the same floor make it an ideal place to conduct meetings or to get work done in a conducive setting.
The Ramada by Wyndham is set up opposite its sister property and some of the facilities are either shared or complimentary. Instead of having to pack everything into one place, the two properties are offering the full range which guests can mix and match. For instance, the Days Hotel by Wyndham Singapore at Zhongshan Park houses a Halal certified restaurant. Muslim guests that seek enhanced facilities may stay in the Ramada but nip across the park between the two hotels for their meals.
I liked the view from my room, looking north-west up the island. A lot of green in sight puts one in the right mood. Rooms are functional and thought through with design elements harking back to the surroundings and the heritage of the suburb.
There is always a first time for everything, and this time it was the unparalleled care for my experience. Just as I got settled in, I received a call to see if everything was in order and if I need anything. Then, a real surprise to me was to find a hand-written note on my second day. It was asking me how the experience had been so far. It could have been that this was just for me as I was in the hotel on a mission to write this article, but I found out that the staff would leave the same note, handwritten, for every guest.
Breakfast is the most important meal of my day and Ramada by Wyndham gets it right. The variety of food is good and the quality is better. However, it was learned that it is really the lunch and dinner that lets the in-house restaurant shine as they bring in the freshest catches. Originated from Pulau Ubin, New Ubin Seafood has retained its rustic roots and ‘kampong' essence through the years, while constantly discovering innovative dishes to suit the local taste buds. Expect signature dishes like USDA Black Angus "Choice" Rib Eye with Heart Attack Fried Rice, Live Seafood such as Mud Crabs, Tiger Prawns and Fishes prepared to your preferred cooking method, amidst other new creations that will only be available at the New Ubin Zhongshan Park.
In addition, this particular stretch of Balestier Road is lined with famous food stalls that sell chicken and duck rice, Bak Kut Teh and other traditional dishes. Many would claim this to be a food heaven for those that want authentic, no frills with lots of taste, food. There is also a wet market within walking distance of the hotel.
A lot of travellers maintain that it is crucial to keep up a training regime when away from home. Many hotels offer recreational facilities for that reason. A gym and pool are usually standard. However, in places like Singapore, where space is expensive, a pool can sometimes be small to the point that it can measured in multiples of 2-breaststrokes. Not so here. This pool is a joy to dip into. Equally, the gym is roomy and offers a solid range of machines that ensure a good workout can be had, even for experienced and the more athletic guests.
The Ramada by Wyndham connects directly into a mall, one that is a charming little congregation of local brands, experiences and conveniences. It may not be the biggest or most up-market mall, but it blends perfectly into the neighbourhood and its heritage with the offerings on hand.
Ramada by Wyndham is nestled within the Zhongshan Park. The project by DP Architects adopts modern interpretations of Chinese architecture and garden landscape designs, in consideration of the surrounding Balestier context. Integrating the adjacent Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall within the project, an area covering 4,624sqm, has been dedicated as a public park, called “Zhongshan Park”, in honour of Dr Sun Yat Sen (the founding father of the Republic of China). The hotel offers maps with trails around the neighbourhood, showcasing the historic landmarks and highlighting its rich culture.
Ramada by Wyndham Singapore at Zhongshan Park
16 Ah Hood Rd
T: 6808 6888
Posted by SP11 aka. Mr. Pertz at 11:11 AM
Tuesday, March 24, 2020
A "Mass", the one litre beer mug, to me is not a desired size either as the beer gets warm and stale before you finish it. But this??? I mean, this hardly qualifies as a shooter. Who drinks this? Is this meant to be for 16 year olds to ease them into drinking?
Posted by SP11 aka. Mr. Pertz at 1:18 PM
Monday, March 23, 2020
- Preparing meals. Not that I would call it cooking, but the idea was to share the responsibility while in the field and to ensure we all had something to munch. I was known for using too much pepper.
- Staying in. The first few weeks of basic training demand that one stays in the barracks. No going home or for the pub... Today, I can stay in easily. Might be even easier as one might be with people that are not just random, but the ones we chose to be with.
Posted by SP11 aka. Mr. Pertz at 7:23 AM
Sunday, March 22, 2020
Some of the pictures in this book show the extravagant, the luxurious and the exhilarating lifestyle of the movers and shakers of a bygone time. Maybe we can learn from these B/W photos again how to be Ladies and Gentlemen instead of just "having a good time"? It also tells the story about how the owners sometimes made mistakes that could have wiped out the legacy of this hotel, something we should appreciate did not happen.
Although I have stayed in the E&O a few times, my next visit will be nothing like it after vaccuming up the content of this fantastic book.
Posted by SP11 aka. Mr. Pertz at 2:27 PM
Saturday, March 21, 2020
Friday, March 20, 2020
Wikipedia says PR “is the practice of deliberately managing the spread of information between an individual or an organization (such as a business, government agency, or a nonprofit organization) and the public.”
There are several ways to do so and working with the media is one. Whether media is online or printed publishers will generate content derived from various sources: own research and interviews or press releases that have been filed with a publication. This content published may influence the public and thus achieve the objective of PR. As an editor, I sometimes like to use press releases as they are easy to integrate into the magazines we publish.
So, now how?
The issue with a start-up is that nobody knows about the business as it is a new company and doesn’t have a track record, exposure or even clients. One turns to the media to get the start-up in front of the public. Using media, one will quickly and efficiently reach the desired audience. Having published over 150 issues of our magazines, I have worked with many companies that are engaged in “Public Relations”. Here are tips on how to make your PR efforts work, based on my experience.
The Managing Director of Blis provides insights into real world intelligence and ad-blocking
Build a relationship
We all have that one friend that only calls when s/he needs your help. They are never to be found when you need them. When dealing with media, try not to be that one friend. As I will discuss later on, media depends on income, and as a start-up you may not have a big budget for advertising. You don’t have to. There are always other ways you can return the favour to the media after they run your release or interview with your founder. If anything, one day a journalist may ask you to help with a story and then you can provide the needed input.
Personally, I hate one-way streets whereby a brand is only sending me their stuff to publish, but never even reply to my inquires. It is also a wise investment of time to actually sit with a journalist and pick their brain on how they work. And it does not have to be a tech journalist. Anyone will do. From dealing with my colleagues and other publishers, editors and writers I can say that the mindset is all very similar, no matter what topic they write about.
Same but different
If you state in your release to “contact me if you need further information”, I will. For two reasons. The first one is that I would want to know things that you have not addressed in your press release. More importantly though, I want to get some information that I can use that other outlets don’t have. There is no point in me publishing the exact same thing as a dozen others. I want something that makes my story worthwhile for someone to read it again with a different slant to it. Sending out a press release and media just using Control C + Control V is easy and gets your message out there, but it is not sustainable. You are more interested in your message than anyone else, so you need to find ways to keep them engaged.
Come prepared with additional information you can share. Don’t tell me that you have to check with your management about this or let this take two weeks to get me the answer. The absolute worst answer I can receive is “Our management has decided not to disclose this information.” Remember: YOU sent out the release in the first place.
Sometimes it cannot be avoided, and we copy / paste a release. But that is the last resort. If you want to get the best story ever, invite me to your launch and don’t just sent a release. There are instances where I get to know about a networking night AFTER it happened. Had I been there, I would interview people, post on Instgram, Facebook and even Tweet. That is an immense return on your investment in a few beers and a pasta dish! One client took me to Japan once during cherry blossom. As I said above, I do for you, please do for me. Said client got a massive story in return for that trip.
Hitting it right!
“Tech” is telling me that today we can send out highly targeted messages that reach the right audience, based on profiling, AI and all the other gizmos that there are. Considering that, it is astounding what my inbox will receive when it comes to press releases. My magazine deals with trucks. Why would anyone send me a press release about baby strollers, ferry schedules or an airline having received new planes? Sure, SOMEONE will be interested in this, just not me. The problem is that I read EVERY press release in order to figure out if it is relevant for me. If I receive 100 releases and there are 80 not relevant, I will have spent a good feature film length in reading and deleting them before I tell the people to not send me such irrelevant material. What this achieves is actually the contrary of what PR is to do: your release will upset me, because you waste my time and you haven’t done your homework.
Now, you might have hired a PR agency to handle this for you and you could say it had nothing to do with you. It does. As the PR agency is just a forwarder of your message. You should insist on seeing the list of media titles that your release is going to. If in doubt, contact the media and check if the subject matter is one that they are interested in. PR companies want to show how hard they are working for you so often number of media hit is more important to them than the relevance of the media to their product or service.
Also note that within a media outlet there might be different “desks”, i.e. different people handling different matters. Ensure that your release is sent to the right person. Again, if unsure, ask.
What is in it for me?
I saved this for last, but it is actually an important point. I need press releases and articles, whitepapers and news from brands in my circle. Other publishers may see this differently, but I maintain the attitude that “If I think it is of interest to my readers, I will publish this.” I am happy to see how brands recognise my channels as valuable and that I can excite them to send me their material. Up to a point. As I said above, it needs to be a two-way street. I have blacklisted brands that would constantly send me press releases via an agency, but never engage in a dialogue or rattle the client for advertising money.
Here is the situation: the brand gets exposure and hopefully more business. The PR agency charges the brand a fee for their work (If the PR work is done in-house, then still someone is making money off it, in the form of a salary). I have to pay for the production of my publication, but the brand won’t place any ads. The end-result is a win-win-lose situation and eventually I would have to close shop. A publication is, with exceptions, a business just like yours and depends on revenue derived from the sales of services. Sever that and eventually, you will have no media to send your news to.
If you haven’t got a big budget, never mind. I can offer you something from as little as 10 USD to USD 80 000. Within that framework you simply cannot tell me that you have NO budget. Your RM 500 for an online banner goes a long way in paying the coffee we drink in the office, or for the Internet. And, if you cannot place any ads, sponsor our events, at least have the decency to invite me for a meal every now and then.
•BCC: It may be hard to believe, but there are still people out there that don’t know how that works
•T + P: If you want something published, say Please. If a journo has done something for you, it is Thanks! It is amazing how few times we get to see this when we bend over backwards to publish something.
•What’s in a name: The biggest disaster for a journalist is to get names wrong or to have typo-s in their article. Keep it professional by getting the names of journalists 100% right. And don’t give them cute abbreviated names. Chances are you never met in person and have not established that level of comfort with each other.
•Ease off: Do not call a minute after you sent the release to ask if the press release was received. I am not glued to the screen and I have other things going on.
•Change is Inevitable: Be prepared that your article or release will be edited. There are house styles and an editor will reformat your material to suit it. And unless you paid for an advertorial, it is up the editor to decide what they use.
Article first published here: https://techcollectivesea.com/2019/09/11/pr-for-startups-a-journalists-perspective/
Posted by SP11 aka. Mr. Pertz at 8:50 AM
Then there is the marking at the airport, just before the immigration officer’s booth. It asks you to ‘stand behind the line’. Behind / in front of are opposites. One should use behind when object A is farther away from you than object B. So, technically, the immigration wants us to stand in front of the line. If we were behind, then we would have already crossed it. For a place that is so obsessed with correct documentation, names and numbers, this is a mistake I cannot forgive.
(I do not own the copyright to the image. If it is yours and you would like me to delete it, please get in touch)
Posted by SP11 aka. Mr. Pertz at 6:20 AM
Thursday, March 19, 2020
Upon arrival at the cute airport, the next surprise awaits. One would think that China would have a huge influence that the language spoken, and signs used would be Chinese. However, it is Russia that has made its mark. It turns out that Mongolians are not in favour of Chinese influence, but are proud of their own culture. Over lunch, one joked that there must have been a reason the Chinese erected that wall. While Cyrillic may not be the first language for most, it is easy to navigate the city. English is widely spoken and many brands that we all know from home are present here. Strolling down Peace Avenue on the weekend is a breeze as the city council closes a stretch for revellers to dance the night away.
Having been ruled by Russia for a long time, the architecture is distinct funky socialist. It is this architecture that gives the cityscape an exhilaratingly different atmosphere and feel from other cosmopolitan cities. Meanwhile, modern buildings are being sprinkled into the city, housing department stores and five-star hotels. Roof top bars are all the rage and the young population of Ulaanbaatar, or UB as they call it, are having a great time being out and about during the stunning summer. Once winter returns, the temperatures of around -20ºC drive activities back indoors. Grass covered hills encircle the city with stunningly blue skies dropped onto them. Being such a vast and empty country, there is barely any pollution. Admittedly, the power plant being located right smack in the city is unusual though. Even during daytime, the moon can be seen from town.
OFF ROAD FROM EUROPE
For some, Mongolia is the ultimate off-road destination and one can hear a lot of stories from people who have come all the way from Europe in their camper vans. In town for a few days was a German couple that needed their vehicle repaired following a short circuit. They recalled having many great evenings with the locals, drinking tea and making friends. Many people take the opportunity to get out of the city on the weekend for trekking, hiking or camping. Within half an hour one has left the city behind. Standing on top of a hill, looking over the vast landscape, the silence rushing in is giving it a calm that one can only dream of when living in a hectic city that is constantly buzzing. However, here too, modern buildings are being erected and it is apparent that the Mongolians are adapting a city live style, abandoning their traditional nomadic heritage.
July is a special month for Mongolia as it is the time of celebrations. Naadam is the most widely watched festival among Mongols, and is believed to have existed for centuries in one fashion or another. Naadam has its origin in the activities, such as military parades and sporting competitions such as archery, horse riding and wrestling, that followed the celebration of various occasions, including weddings or spiritual gatherings. It later served as a way to train soldiers for battle. Naadam was also connected to the nomadic lifestyle of Mongols. The three games of wrestling, horse racing, and archery are recorded in the 13th century book The Secret History of the Mongols. During the Qing’s rule, Naadam became a festival officially held by sums - a type of administrative district used in Mongolia. Now it formally commemorates the 1921 Revolution when Mongolia declared itself independent of China. Naadam celebrates the achievements of the new state. Naadam was celebrated as a Buddhist and shaman holiday until secularization in the 1930s under the communist influence of the Soviet Union. In Mongolia, the biggest festival (National Naadam) is held in Ulaanbaatar during the National Holiday from July 11 to 13, in the National Sports Stadium. Naadam begins with an elaborate introduction ceremony featuring dancers, athletes, horse riders, and musicians. After the ceremony, the competitions begin.
Mongolians are meat lovers. Beef, lamb, goat, camel and pork are staple items on every menu. Even noodle soups contain so much meat that the question has to be asked why there is a reference to noodles. Barbeques and kebab shops are abundant, but if someone craves for it, there are lots of Western food options. For the more adventurous types, there are Bulgogi pizzas. With an amazingly clean urban space, easy to navigate layout and plenty of walkways, Ulaanbaatar invites to be walked. Working up a thirst, there are lots of pubs and bars around town. Having shed socialism, Mongolians must have looked very far West at another small country as a role model: Irish Pubs are everywhere!
I SHALL RETURN
Ulaanbaatar surely was not on my bucket list, but after a week, UB will surely make it onto my list of places to be re-visited. The openness and friendliness, paired with the ease of navigating the area will make it easy for most to just slip under the blanket of the picture perfect sky and to find a lot of unexpected travel excitement.
Posted by SP11 aka. Mr. Pertz at 5:31 AM
Wednesday, March 18, 2020
Many books written depict the consumption of alcohol. In one book I read, there were so many mentions of a particular brand of Whiskey, complete with the age of it, that I wrote to the author to ask how much such contract would pay. In movies, we often see the characters in bars, pubs, clubs, having a BBQ with Corona Beers (F & F). I like fiction to be as authentic and realistic as can be. People have drinks after work, during ceremonies etc. Don't ever erase that from storytelling!
There are two characters that stick out as being alcoholics and their addiction is part of the storyline. "Jack Taylor",... If you have worked in village pubs, you will agree: this is a person that CAN exist in real life. Acting is superb, portraying "the drunk". Love the grittiness of the flicks, the fact that the hero of the story struggles with all his feelings. From experience, I could tell that at the end of the third episode, after 7 months of being dry, he will get hit so hard. Three minutes in, I said "he will have a drink, he will succumb to the beast inside." Bang on.
While both are at the extreme end of the drinking spectrum, I think these two characters are some of the deepest, best developed in fiction. Hopefully, people will consume these stories and the description of the effects of too much of the good stuff will leave their marks.
That said, I am not advocating we all stop drinking. Simply, we need to be aware of what it CAN do to people.
(Images in this post not mine. If they are your copyright and you would like them removed, just let me know)
Posted by SP11 aka. Mr. Pertz at 11:27 AM
Tuesday, March 17, 2020
Then there are these "delicatessen". The pig trotters, the chicken livers and Durians. Paired with the sights of sweaty workers hauling the produce into the stalls, this is an adventure not to be missed. There is also a lot of creativity though: some interesting ways to prepare foods, ways of advertising and hand-made devices to keep the flies away.
Living in an area which is not a expat quarters has its advantages. Fella at the burger store knows me and has my whopper ready in no time. Double cheese, no egg. I just wish that there would be a beer pavillion where I could rest a while after lugging the fruits across half the town.
Posted by SP11 aka. Mr. Pertz at 5:57 AM
Sunday, March 15, 2020
Sometimes it is just better to drink at home. One doesn't have to worry about misbehaving in public. And one can just pass out on the sofa and not worry about being mugged.
Here a cool recipe for those sticky summer nights that are filled with the sound of crickets and the energy of a coming thunderstorm in the air:
- Start working on this right after breakfast
- Slice an Orange, half a lemon and a lime.
- Fruits in the jug and pour a cup of rum onto this
I prefer brown rum
- Add 4 - 6 teaspoons of sugar
- Add a dash of Cointreau
- Put the cheapest red wine you can get in the fridge
Let that mixture rest in the fridge for the whole day.
After all, these ingredients went through a lot already.
- Have a beer around 4pm
- Check on mixture to make sure it is comfortable
To finally get things moving
- Have another beer
- Crush the fruits in the jug
- Add the (Cheap) red wine, stirr vigorously
- Let it breathe for 10 minutes
Yammmmmm Seng! (Chinese for Cheers)
My next one will be a pumkin punch with whole fruits.
Posted by SP11 aka. Mr. Pertz at 9:31 AM
Saturday, March 14, 2020
Posted by SP11 aka. Mr. Pertz at 8:13 AM
Friday, March 13, 2020
Posted by SP11 aka. Mr. Pertz at 4:21 AM
Thursday, March 12, 2020
Some people are artists when it comes to packing for a trip. They take a shirt from the luggage and it looks neat. However, as one goes along, there is more and more clothing that needs washing. At home, we all have a laundry basket. That is the recycling station of the modern household. But where to put your dirty laundry in a hotel room? Heaps of sweaty socks pile up in the corner of a room, ruining the Chi of any suite. I don’t want to mix those with fresh clothes in the luggage. So, dear hotel, please give me a basket, that you can buy cheaply at the local market, so I can keep my laundry in order
Posted by SP11 aka. Mr. Pertz at 2:45 PM
Positioned as a playground for the rich, Dubai may not be the destination for backpackers that seek the thrills of stretching their last dollar to the max, but if you can spare a day or two while passing through, Dubai offers a lot of fun. To get an overview of the place, one can whisk up to the 125th floor of the Buj el Kalifa, which currently is the tallest building on the planet. It is recommended to make a reservation, but in a place where money talks, spontaneous visitors will be welcomed to the express lift for a slightly higher admission fee. Zooming up to the viewing platform at 456 meters, Level 125 offers a spacious deck tastefully decorated in Arabic mashrabiya for stunning 360-degree views. The ride only takes 60 seconds. For those that need a bit more, there is also another platform on the 148th story.
Burj el Kalifa can be accessed through the Dubai Mall. Celebrating it’s 10th anniversary this year, the mall offers some 1 200 shops, which open from 10 in the morning to midnight. Supplementing the shopping are an ice rink, cinemas, an aquarium and underwater zoo as well as restaurants and performances. The Dubai Fountain is splashing around water several times a day and it is a world-class performance, only second to Las Vegas. Should you have a need to cool down, you could do so in Ski Dubai. It is an indoor ski resort with 22 500 square meters of indoor ski area. The park maintains the temperature of -1 degree Celsius to 2 degree Celsius throughout the year. It is a part of the Mall of the Emirates, one of the largest shopping malls in the world. Transiting from one place to another is easy as taxis are around in abundance and the main artery of Dubai is a highway with 6 (!!) lanes in each direction.
If you would want to experience the magic of the desert, you can turn to one of the operators for customised tours into the sandy emptiness. Platinum Heritage is one such provider that can set you up for a mystical tour of the desert, including hot air ballooning over the dunes of Dubai. It is recommended to take the wheel and to drive in the dunes for a while for some good fun. If the sun is just too much, perhaps an astronomy tour at night is the right idea then? As a compromise, a dinner under the stars with bellydancing performance will excite you while getting you to your bed early enough for a sleep-in.
Living it large, the Jumeirah Beach area has a string of the best hotels on offer. The Hotel Atlantis on The Palm Jumeirah is fabled for its aquarium and fine dining. If you ever wanted to try a Gordon Ramsay restaurant, the Bread Street Kitchen & Bar might wow your partner. Large is also the term that best describes the Jueirah Al Qasr, which boasts 40 restaurants, a Zouk and canals that you can tour with gondolas. It is so big a place that the staff will drive you to the gym in a buggy. Repeatedly voted the world's most luxurious hotel, this stunning destination offers you the finest service and experiences throughout - right down to an optional chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce, private beach access, a breathtaking terrace with pools and cabanas as well as some of the world’s best dining venues, including the highly acclaimed Nathan Outlaw at Al Mahara.
However, if you chose to choose to spend your money rather on excitement and shopping than opulence, there are plenty of hotels around that still offer you a good night’s rest while not breaking the bank. All household names of travel are represented and try to vow you with stunning architecture.
If you want to read more about exciting destinations and things to do in Asia, I recommend you check this publication out: https://asianjourneys.com.sg/magazine (Yeah, I am a contributor for it....)
Posted by SP11 aka. Mr. Pertz at 8:12 AM
Wednesday, March 11, 2020
Last year I came home with a "value pack" of 30 rolls. I was a little bit ridiclued. In all fairness... who buys 30 rolls of toilet paper in one go for a 2 person household? Well, now you know who would. Yes, you!
Meanwhile, we still have plenty of that stuff left. As well as canned food as we always keep luncheon meat handy. Goes well with salad.
Good thing: with that much toilet paper in the house, I am no longer worried anyone would break in and steal something that is of value to me. I will just leave a roll or two on the cabinet.
Seems that I am actually a lil obsessed with that hole subject anyway.
I posted this:
Before that, the same roll was made famous here:
And then there is this gem of the world wide web:
Posted by SP11 aka. Mr. Pertz at 6:31 AM
Tuesday, March 10, 2020
We found only a few shops open; an opportunity to start the day with a delicious artisan coffee offered by a small shop nestled among the seafood restaurants. It felt as if we had come to the wrong place as there wasn’t much happening. We learned that many of the established shops had decided to continue plying their trade in the historic location. Having scouted the area of the so called Tsukiji curb market shopping street, it was time for the first meal of the day. It is not often that one does it, but it is an experience we wouldn’t want to have missed: BBQ lobster and beer for breakfast.
Standing amidst a slowly growing number of visitors, we nibbled on freshly prepared lobsters that couldn’t have been out of the water for long. At only ¥1000 (SGD $12.00) per lobster, this was a steal. There is something for every budget and taste. One may stand and eat cheap or be seated in an expensive establishment. Exploring the small alleys and backyards we found scallops topped with sea urchin, sashimi and sushi bars, octopus on skewers and, surprisingly, BBQ Wagyu beef. The latter might appear a bit out of place, but it offered a bit of a palate cleanser amongst all the fish. Whatever one desires in terms of fresh seafood can be found here. From relatively normal salmon sashimi to fish heads that would fill an entire pot, from crab to fish eggs. In addition to all the pots in which the produce is prepared in, the Tsukiji Fish Market is a melting pot of nations. As we ate, more and more visitors arrived.
What started out as a slow Sunday morning turned into a carnival of smells, flavour, food and folks. By noon, the streets were heaving with every shop vying for customers, promotors shoving flyers at tourists and visitors looking in awe at the exotic (and sometimes strange) seafood. Being it a multifacetted experience, I am yet to determine what was more exciting: the fresh seafood in all its variety and tastes or how this icon of craft and trade morphed from what seemed to be a near miss as we were too early to a thumping celebration, akin to a pilgrimage.
Posted by SP11 aka. Mr. Pertz at 5:21 AM
Monday, March 9, 2020
And maybe it is the excuse of me having a few beers while I "monitor the grill" when making ribs, which takes 2 - 3 hours.
Posted by SP11 aka. Mr. Pertz at 12:34 PM
Friday, March 6, 2020
Thursday, March 5, 2020
Some of us gotten our hands on new games faster. And if you wanted a game, you had to be able to trade. One fella I was trading games with was to be met on a particular bus to school. Floppies were exchanged in that 10 minute ride from the station to school. Where one would then check the nautical maps for "Silent Service" to compare with other "Gamers" where the best tanker fleets were to be sunk in the pacific ocean.
Posted by SP11 aka. Mr. Pertz at 7:33 AM
Wednesday, March 4, 2020
In terms of reputation, the Swissôtel The Stamford, has a well-established name. Ranked among the best in town, it is located immediately on top of a subway station with underground access to the Suntec City Convention Centre and the Fountain of Wealth. Within the complex where the hotel is located is a shopping mall and nearby one can find anything from cheap eateries to high end restaurants, supermarkets to post office and the library as well as the CBD are just down the road.
When entering the hotel via the lobby it is immediately clear that the operators have taken a different approach, one that puts the guest first. While it is possible to have staff to assist with checking in, there are several computer terminals where arriving guests can manage their check in themselves. This solves the issue of having to wait for staff to check hotel guests in and also let’s people decide if they are just not in the mood for chit chat upon arrival. Personally, I like to have a word with the staff, but others may prefer to just handle the check-in themselves as part of the experience.
The room type for this stay was the “Vitality Suite”. This room is very much in line with the philosophy focused on general well-being and enjoying a high quality of life. First launched in March 2012, Swissôtel’s Vitality programme is inspired by travellers’ desires to maintain their mental and physical wellbeing as comfortably and easily on the road as they would at home. One of the most obvious manifestations of this philosophy is the gym that can be found in the room. Yes, that is right, the vitality suit offers guests a full workout without leaving the room. Now, that may seem a bit nerdy, but I would this highly motivating and practical. Sometimes you just don’t want to change, take the lift and get to the gym shared with others. In the vitality suite you can work in your sports attire and when the emails are all done just stand up and get a workout done.
The stunning view in this corner unit is another thing that mesmerised. Overlooking Marina Bay looking to the right and viewing the expanse of Singapore facing straight while sitting at the desk, working, there is an immediate flow of air an inspiration when opening the doors to the balcony. The room itself is spacious and allows for a separation of the various areas: gym, workstation, living room and bedroom. While it is one big room, the segmentation and design of the space makes it feel like there are indeed several rooms. The workstation features an electric height adjustment, which allows the user to instantaneously settle in and get things done.
Technology plays a big role and the air conditioning switches off when the balcony doors are opened. There are different light settings for the room and all lights are motion activated. This adds to an extremely satisfying experience. When getting up at night, there is no fumbling for switches and the light is only activated in the immediate area where one is moving, thus a partner still sleeping would not be hit with the full glare of the room light if one occupant would have to go to the bathroom. The TV is the size of a small swimming pool and is mounted on a bracket, so it flips out to offer maximum viewing pleasure from the various areas within the room. Dyson supplied the hair dryer and a standing fan for even more comfort enhancement.
Just like the hotel lobby offers various options to check in, hotel guests seem to have a choice for about everything. Besides the in-room gym, there is a shared one, which is fairly large and extremely well equipped. There is a tennis court and a swimming pool which is nearby the spa, in which one can get pampered. And if that isn’t one’s cup of tea, there is a printed guide that has jogging routes handy in the room.
I am huge on breakfast and I will always make it a point to eat before starting the day. Of course, the Swissôtel The Stamford offers culinary delights to set you out on the right course for the day, but again, it does so by offering different venues. The main breakfast room is a modern-designed and light flooded room that gets a bit of hubbub going in the morning as tourists and businesspeople prepare for a day on the road. Clean lines, light colours and a slightly industrial design dominate this area. However, right next to it is a “kampong” themed locale. Lending design elements from the villages found in the older Singapore, this is a more cosy, smaller and less corporate looking venue for a first meal of the day. While the selection and variety of the foods served is identical, the ambience is totally different; each with its own appeal.
Most of the time, when I travel, I am looking forward to heading back home. In the case of the stay in the Swissôtel The Stamford however, I wish I had the opportunity to stay a little longer. Many may claim that they are a home away from home, but this time around, I would love to take some of that Swissôtel The Stamford home. For instance, the motion sensors that ensure that I get safely through the room at night. Or the gym. Or maybe the balcony with the breath-taking view, whereby Swissôtel The Stamford is one of the few, if not the only hotel in Singapore that has balconies that are accessible from the room.
ABOUT SWISSÔTEL THE STAMFORD, SINGAPORE
Swissôtel The Stamford is part of the Swissôtel Hotels & Resorts group. The hotel provides a wide range of amenities from a luxurious range of 1,252 guestrooms and suites, 15 restaurants and bars including Equinox Complex, Singapore’s most exciting dining and entertainment complex. It also houses the 70,000 sq ft Raffles City Convention Centre which comprises 31 meeting venues with technologically advanced business facilities and services. One of Southeast Asia’s tallest hotels and conveniently located in the heart of Singapore, Swissôtel The Stamford boasts panoramic views of Singapore, Malaysia and nearby islands of Indonesia. For more information or reservations, please call +65 6338 8585, visit www.swissotel.com/singapore-stamford or contact your local travel professional.
Posted by SP11 aka. Mr. Pertz at 4:33 AM
Tuesday, March 3, 2020
The answer is simple: things just work. If the schedule says the bus arrives at 8:19, it arrives at 8:19. Items listed in the food menu are actually available. Even without local language skills I get to buy / see / experiene what I want to.
In some ways, the place is a bit quirky. For instance, a local shoe brand has 2 lines. One offers shoes made in Japan, the other looks similar and the products are made in Indonesia or Vietnam. Japanese are known for a lot of things, but not for being overly tall. It comes very much as a surprise that a specific model we wanted was not available in a small size for the locally made range. Trust me, Mrs Pertz is of normal height and her feet are equally average.
Then again, they have a allohol vending machine in the hotel. I think they just get some things very right.
Posted by SP11 aka. Mr. Pertz at 5:34 AM
Monday, March 2, 2020
Sunday, March 1, 2020
Year-round Summer in the Four Seasons Hotel Kuala Lumpur
Visiting one of the latest editions to the luxury hotel scene in town, Stefan Pertz writes back a picture postcard.
The opening of the Four Seasons hotel in Kuala Lumpur has been long anticipated. One could measure the distance to the iconic Twin Towers and the shopping mall, Suria KLCC (typically referred to as just KLCC, which means Kuala Lumpur City Centre), but it is sufficient to say that the tourist attraction is literally just on the other side of the road. The building itself is referred to as the Four Seasons Place, an integrated complex housing commercial property, apartments and the hotel. It is the first Four Seasons Place in South East Asia and currently the third tallest building in Malaysia.
While the frontage facing the main road is dedicated to the shopping complex underneath the hotel, a separate entrance facing KLCC and its park beckons guests. Plenty of hotel staff are always at hand to usher in visitors and to set them onto their journey to the sixth-floor lobby. While there is an easy access from the ground floor lobby to the shopping mall, the separation ensures that the hotel still feels like one.
Not everyone will travel with children, but the hotel’s thought of them is worth a remark. At a special check-in counter, junior and filia can register their stay, offering a playful entrance into the premise. Lots of marble, space and light welcome the visitor. Abundance of staff makes it a breeze to get the keys. With a lot of space come a lot of options and it can be opined that the placement of the concierge is a clever one as it is away from the check-in, thus spreading the guests out, reducing congestion around the counters. From here, one can access the other facilities of the hotel.
The Lobby Bar, although unceremoniously named for ease of remembering it so it seems, is another hangout that offers stunning views, lots of space and, with what feels like a dash of colonialist grandeur, style. Hectic just washes off the guests as hi-tea, high balls and haute cuisine is served. Through it, beyond the round sofa settings, locates Bar Trigona. Here, engulfed in splendour, await hand crafted cocktails, another stunning view and, of course, more cosiness. Spaciousness dominates this place as well. Facing west, the sunset tipple could not be any more glorious with lots of marble, mirrors and Martinis.
Those fortunate enough to enjoy the club floor will have another lounge to choose from as their space to hang out, work or to have a meeting. Overall, the hotel gives more of a holiday vibe than pretending to be a business hotel and the club floor might be the best option to host a meeting or to have a discussion.
Whenever possible, guests should ask for a park view as that is a sight to behold. The Four Seasons Kuala Lumpur is facing the iconic Petronas Twin Towers from across the park. Full surround view of the skyline, with many creatively lit buildings, is the view one would want during night as a background for the stay. When staying here, one should opt for the suite, while one is at it. These are cleverly designed and modern abodes. Giving the impression of an apartment more than that of a hotel room, they are certainly worth the extra cash. In terms of functionality and facilities inside the rooms, the hotel clearly exceeds expectations. Not often would one want to mention the bathrooms, but the suites have a separate, smaller toilet so that one can make a quick stop on the way out. In the bigger suites, the toilet lid opens automatically upon entering the cubicle.
Vacationers can relax, knowing that there is a spa, pool and gym as well. Taking up an entire floor, the wellness facilities are well equipped too. The pool is overlooking Jalan Ampang, giving loungers the same view as from Bar Trigona, minus the Martinis (or maybe with, when ordered from the pool bar). The setting is a serene one, thanks to the gazebos flanking the water. The spa itself features Mesotherapy, the latest advancements in science and electrotherapy for the skin and body.
Although Malaysia is a food heaven, some may opt to dine in or to have a hi-tea in the Four Seasons Kuala Lumpur. The menu, while not exaggeratingly exotic, there are some fresh twists to some of the dishes. As one can expect, the quality is top not and the service is on par. The flexibility and creativity show when the chef is asked to put together a menu for a function with the aim to leave the guests in attendance in awe and wanting to come back for more. Speaking from experience, parts of the postcard deals with how the kitchen impressed at an event, held recently by the writer.
The good folks at this hotel are also up for a bit of fun and games. During the aforementioned event, the host wanted his guests to have an easy deal with drinks to be put on the host's tab. A code was arranged and given to the hotel staff. Anyone showing up, murmuring the famous "Go ahead, make my day!" would be give a drink. A number of people could be seen mimiking a famous cop by pointing a finger-gun at the bartender...
There is nothing more refreshing than a good breakfast after a relaxing sleep on the generously dimensioned matrasses. Heading down to the sixth floor again, one will find oneself in yet another light-flooded and cosy ambience. Lots of marble, lots of choices and plenty of good vibes set travellers onto the right trajectory for the day, being it business or shopping. The spread covers various types of cuisine and offers something for everyone. Even if the scrambled eggs are so good that one has just that, three times in one sitting.
Posted by SP11 aka. Mr. Pertz at 10:49 AM