Hotels.com Welcome Rewards – Book 10 nights, get 1 night free. More bang for your buck!

Anyone who talks to me or knows me would have an idea that I love travelling and especially, love hotels. For my last job that I quit about 2 months ago, I worked for a beautiful 5-star hotel (Fullerton Bay Hotel).

What I really prefer though, is enjoying a hotel!


Blog post on Bali for Rachel K’s birthday in April 2012 here.

I’ve stayed in so many, I’ve almost lost count. Sometimes I’m happy to be in a hotel alone, but other times I travel with a bunch.

But whether it was is for work or for play, part of the ultimate hotel experience for me has always been not just staying in the hotel. – The ultimate hotel experience should ideally include an easy booking process and being able to secure extra discounts.

I love to ask for discounts.

And the best room with a view for whatever category I book.

And a free breakfast. With a basket of fruits.

“Could I also have a free bottle of champagne?”

I know, I can be a pain! But even if you are not as thick-skinned as I am, I think most of you are still somewhat the same, and are happy to sign up for things knowing that you are getting more bang back for your buck.

I have used all sorts of loyalty programmes (and there are so many out there), but the best are those who keep things sweet and simple. Loyalty programmes should either 1) save you money, or 2) give you free stuff that is easy and hassle-free to redeem.

Nevermind getting 1 point of rewards for every USD$1 “that qualifies” for what I have spent, or rewards that are tied into my credit card calculations or air mile exchanges. Forget rewards that don’t apply for non-business trips, or that have a long list of “Terms and Conditions apply”. Sheesh, show me the freebies already!

I have been sent the press release for Hotels.com’s Welcome Rewards programme and the structure of their new loyalty programme seems rather straightforward so far –

For every 10 room nights booked, you get one free room night (excluding taxes and fees) via Hotels.com. The maximum value of the free night is the average daily rate of your ten (10) nights stay.

You can also claim a more expensive room for your free night – you simply have to top up the difference. So if your free night is valued at $100, but you want to book a room that costs $200, you simply have to pay the difference of $100.

THERE IS NO EXPIRY DATE, as long as you book one night every 12 months.

There are no points to calculate, but the best part is – NO BLACKOUT DATES! (There is nothing worse than trying to redeem a free room, and then finding out that you can’t because it so happens to be the Prime Minister’s 2nd son’s cousin’s birthday and a national holiday.)

Book 10 nights and get 1 night free… That’s getting us pretty excited.

Staying 10 nights and getting one free with Hotels.com’s new Welcome Rewards is an easy and effective loyalty scheme, just like those bubble tea shop cards that we all love. Except that redeeming free holidays or hotel rooms taste so much better than bubble tea!

If you like to travel or have a holiday coming up, why not check out updates on Hotels.com’s Facebook page OR their website to book some nights and get more bang……

… For your buck?

I will update this space again when I use Hotels.com to book my next holiday, and let you know my comments. Let me know your feedback too!

This is an advertorial for Hotels.com

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New Year, New Adventures

2011 has passed, but that’s no reason for me to stop thinking about it. As always, I’ve had an adventure of a year and I hope all of you have had some sort of adventure too.

Life is full of infinite experiences, and so mine will last a lifetime. In no particular order at all, here are 12 adventures in 2011 that I’ve learnt from or loved.

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#12 TAIWAN

I was invited on an all-boy’s trip to Taiwan with some old friends that I went to school with. Although I didn’t get to do much girly things (like shopping), we went hiking, running and roadtrippin’ through Taroko Gorge and breathed in the scenic air of stunning Shakadang Trail – which was so much better!

Found an amazing spot somewhere, don’t think we were allowed to swim in it… but boys will be boys, and so we did.

My Taiwanese friend claimed that it wasn’t dangerous, it’s just that most locals don’t know how to swim?!

Taking rocky risks in Taiwan

Had such a great time in Taiwan that I went back to Taipei a few months later for a party trip. It was a good friend Adam’s birthday, and a bunch of us flew up from all around the world to celebrate it with him.

I strolled the sights, checked out #Marquee, #Spark101 and #Primo, but mostly spent time with some people. I especially remember my friend’s birthday dinner where we downed goose meat and Taiwanese pi jiu at a loudy ‘n’ rowdy local joint.

I also loved Taiwanese bubble tea and learnt that dogs like Glowy were allowed (welcome) on tabletops.

#11 HABITAT FOR HUMANITY

Baring my sole and my soul for Habitat for Humanity was not enough, but it was a start. I love charity events so dragging along family and friends to do this with me was definitely a memorable stripe in my year.

#10 KIDS

Volunteered to teach 5 & 6 year-old kids as many Saturdays as I could, and quickly gained respect for teachers and mothers. Teaching them to spell and sing in between a bit of storytelling is probably some of the most tiring afternoons I’ve ever had. And I would do it all over again.

#9 SKIN AND SUN

Went a bit far with a plan to get my skin fair, but it fast failed. I always find it hard to resist a bit of warm Sunday sun at #TanjongBeachClub.

Sun tanners VS stunners at Tanjong Beach Club

#8 KEIRA-ROSE ASAD

Got to spend a bit of time with my Chindian (Indian-Chinese) niece, Keira. She is the prettiest grump in the world!

#7 EUROPE

Backpacked through bits and pieces of Europe… #Eurotrip
Braved the cold and some bad luck in Switzerland. #keepsmiling

Made friends of all cultures for coffee and conversations… It doesn’t matter what colour skin we are – if you’re a girl, you probably have had boy problems.

#6 COUNTLESS ACTIVITIES IN MY COUNTRY

When I’m not travelling (i.e. broke), I love having friends and foreigners visit me so I can show off my country. One of my best friends came to visit me from Sydney but since we’ve done everything touristy, we went to East Coast Park for a bit of double-trouble biking.

If you don’t pedal in perfect sync, the chain on the gears tend to become misplaced. Those double bikes are not so easy breezy!

More posts on things to do in Singapore on my blog and to come.

#5 HORIZON 7

Better than biking, was boating around Singapore for my birthday.

#4 PLAY HARD, ONLY IF YOU WORK HARD

Many people find it hard to believe, but yes I have (and always have had) a full-time job. I work hard, but it’s easy when you love the team you work for/with.

Working across timezones completely possible.

2 week business trip to the US


But we went to the beach too.

Ending my tenure in my last job, I took a month to sip the finer things in life in Spain, Barcelona

Salud! ("Cheers" in Spanish)

Sauntered through the Room of Maps in Rome, Italy

… And sat slowly and coldly on the top of the Swiss Alps.

#3 FAMILY MATTERS

I watched the Pettigrews be good parents,

#2 MY BROTHER

… And my brother lovingly do my laundry in London.

#1 REAL LOVE

Being single for more than 2 years can sometimes suck, but I learnt that the never-ending love adventure with God and my family is more than enough.

The introduction screen from a Christian seminar on Singlehood I attended... apt.


Love from Jesus and his kids at my weekly Tuesday Group


Unconditional love to my parents, because they loved me first.

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What was YOUR favourite adventure of 2011 and what do you wish for in 2012? Please share them with me, I’d love to hear them and I promise not to laugh (out loud).

You can watch the recording of my New Year wishes for 2011-2012 to Singapore which was played to the public during the Marina Bay Countdown celebration. (My part is at Clip 4 and after the first 6 minutes.)

I can’t wait to share my next (and last) post on the #MarinaBay2012 NYE countdown with you! (Fireworks included.) In the meantime, here’s to moving forward and soaring higher this new year!

Free Dog Food Packs (Eukanuba) in Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, India

Have a dog? Love your dog? Eukanuba is giving away free sample packs for dogs of all sizes! This giveaway is only open to dogs that are cute (naw, just kidding, all your dogs are adorable!) and located in the following regions:
Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, India

You just have to click the link that says “Free Sample”, and fill out the short form on Eukanuba Asia’s Facebook Page here.

So why am I suddenly writing about dog food? Here is the thing… I have a Jack Russell Terror Terrier, and she is kinda fat. Weighing in at 9KG at 5 years old, she’s considered to be a little obese for her age and size – I have my concerns!

She’s not going to fit into all the cute costumes I bought her anymore…

Cookiemono

(I wanted her to look like this:)

She can’t even fit into her SWAT costume anymore, much less be fit enough to do her job as a guard dog.

Cookie loves eating a whole bunch of rubbish.

My friends are always feeding her food off the table.

Cookie eats silly things like the lint of my friend’s bellybutton.

And last but still part of the feast – this party dog loves it when my friends try to feed her shots of vodka!

Yes, too much party fun is not good for anyone. She’s too fat for her clothes now, but that’s not my main concern of course – I am worried that Cookie’s health wouldn’t be great if we continue feeding her rice + chicken twice a day the way we do. Human food is meant for humans, right?

Eukanuba has given me some dog food as well as professional advice for first-timers like Cookie and I. I am hoping that this will be better for her health and perhaps she will lose some of her party weight.

Over the next 6 months, I will be regularly documenting and sharing Cookie’s journey from human food to dog food – after all, we are what we eat!

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This is a sponsored review for Eukanuba.
Photos courtesy of Jade Lim Maravillas.

Travel Taiwan: Living la Vida LOCAL in Kaohsiung 高雄

Taiwan, renowned for a reputation of city culture, hot springs and night markets, did not seem to promise me an awful lot when I was tossing around the idea of gallivanting around Taipei for an entire week.

WHAT TO DO IN TAIWAN FOR A WEEK?

And then, my friends and I decided to live la Vida local, and visit a city a little less travelled – Kaohsiung (also spelt as Gao Xiong, or Kaohsiung).

From night to day, all we did was play… I was sleepless under the dazzle of stars in Kaohsiung.

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This is the 2nd largest city in Taiwan next to Taipei – it does not have a night market, shopping centre or club crammed into every available square foot of the city, but it does hide other charms. Same same but different…

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An old friend of mine from my teenage days/years in Australia is a proud Taiwanese and an even prouder Kaohsiung local.

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My friend Simon gave us the best local Kaohsiung experience ever.

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Lucky me – I also had these two beautiful Taiwanese ladies as my local hosts:

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My hosts mostly drove, but the Taiwanese typically journey to Kaohsiung by train (High Speed Rail can get you to K.S. in 1 and a half hours from Taipei train station), or get around by scooter.

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Alright, enough scooting around.

This is my 5 sensory experience and what I loved about K-town.

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Sense 1) TASTE

Kaohsiung offered me tasty bits of Taiwan.

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The food…

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… is even good when it’s from 7-11.

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This wasn’t so good though. I don’t like animal genatalia!

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Beef jerky, chicken sticks, fried pork with rice and even salmon was easy to find in and around restaurants and convenience stores. Even though Taiwan has its local favourites like stinky tofu and chicken gizzards, I loved that Taiwan had a lot of Japanese type options – just like Singapore.

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Sense 2) (SIGHT)SEEING

It was always good to step into some culture and re-trace the history of the place.

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The prettiest photos can be taken during the Lotus temple run.

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Of course, we never forget to have fun!

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Sense 3) I HEARD…

…About a special place, a landscape view, a fusion of east meets west.
You drive up a mountain, feel the wind blow in by the sea…
Walk down a slope and climb down stairs…

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And you find yourself at Escape 41.
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Sense 4) We also had a keen sense of SMELL for shopping, clubbing and cheap beer.

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Clubbing pictures taken in Brickyard and Lamp.

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The boys play power hour in a local Japanese Beer Garden

Sense 5) THE PERSONAL TOUCH

The people in Kaohsiung were friendly, hospitable, and some even cleared their calendar to hang out with me. I felt like royalty…

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Goodnight, Kaohsiung – I hope you didn’t mind the bit of my own local flavour that I brought over.

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Me with my friend Glynn, one of the guys from the group I was travelling with. We are all old friends from college days in Australia.

希望再见面!

For other posts I have blogged about on Taiwan, click here.

Travel Taiwan: Shopping is a type of Sightseeing, 来看看吧

I will not forget him… His face, his fashion, his butt and his black boots. They clicked as he walked, his iPhone glued to his hands as he talked.

His hair waved at me as well as about in the chilly Taipei afternoon breeze – it felt like I was back in Ireland’s 5 degrees.

好帅啊!We locked eyes in epoxy. He was strapping and tall, and teased me with confident swagger and a smirk.
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Obviously I was satisfying my carnal desires with… Shopping.

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On the normal streets, the people are less dressed and the everyday look is average.

Check out the hustle and bustle at Shinlin Night Market – one of the famed tourist spots of Taipei.

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In Dong Qu, however, the shops are inviting, cafes cosy… and don’t forget about the 帅哥s and 美女s! The locals here are vibrant, young and three-folds more fashionable.

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Even Edison Chen (Hong Kong Superstar of unnecessary sex scandal fame) was in da house. Here is a crowded ghetto mobbed with young hopefuls waiting for a likely photograph. He was up and around town to promote the spring collection of one of his clothing labels.

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Being there, my mind flashes back and forth to Orchard Road in Singapore. It is a pretty cool place to kick back, relax and check out some cuties. All in all, Dong Qu is a good looking district to spend an afternoon in.

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We went for a haircut…

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Ok sorry, I got distracted by the fat cats. Although I prefer dogs (man’s best friend), these were pretty cushy to play with and poke!

Back to that haircut.

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Deluxe Hair Salon on Dong Huan Nan Lu was a pretty set up and a pampering experience, and I had stylist Kin Wu to treat me like a princess. He was 帅 too!

800NT (S$36) for a haircut which included a careful stylist consultation, wash, 15 min head massage, cut, blow, and free styling.

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(Do you want to see more cats?)

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I found it amusing that the salon’s pet cats made for interesting decor, as well as an interesting value add for customers. Many of the customers had a cat on their lap while getting their hair done. I however, had my iphone.

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I wish I lived in Taiwan so I could come here every month. I would definitely recommend this place, tourist or locals are equally treated like royalty. Do look for Kin Wu!

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Kin Wu had my hair curled for Hotpot dinner with Tsubasa, drinks with Vivian, and clubbing at Marquee, Room 18 and Primo with friends.

Hotpot @ Orange


Tsubasa, me, Dana
Picture Credit: Tsubasa Nishitani

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Party time: After a hotpot buffet and endless rounds of eating meat, everyone was ready to pop some buttons I mean bottles.

But then, the waiter came… and added rice to the remnants of our hotpot to create… CONGEE.

I guess this is dinner round 2!

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Thanks to Tsubasa for inviting me to a yummy dinner! This is her, all dolled up and ready for our night out – round 2.

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I last saw her at my friend Ronalou’s birthday a year ago, so it was great catching up.
Throwback to 2010: The guy in the middle of the pic is John Langan – somewhat appropriate here too since he’s actually Taiwanese-American!

TIP: If you go for hotpot in Taipei and dare to spice things up, try mala hotpot (spicy hotpot). Bring money and friends!

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Drinks/Pre-Clubbing experience at Marquee

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After hotpot, I went to meet my old friend Vivian Dawson. I remember my first words to him was, “I’m sorry I got lost!” and “I can’t believe you still walk everywhere!” Neither of us have changed. Maybe he’s taller. He says that I may be shorter. 😦

We walked around for a bit and he decided to bring me to a place called Marquee, which he said was THE place to go for pre-drinks/before clubbing.

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The bartenders were male and hot! I was having a field day.

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Room 18

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Primo with Taipei party princess, Riya

After that, I went to meet Riya and our friends at Primo. 她是台北的party公主!

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Thank you to Jimmy, Danny Fang, Riya, Vivian and Simon! 我非常感谢你的主机!

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After-party breakfast: NY Bagel Cafe

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Vivian with a poster of himself at the entrance of Marquee.

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Vivian Dawson is a freelance model based in Taiwan at the moment (not attached to any modelling agency). Feel free to join his fan page and engage him for any campaigns or photoshoots!

He has a lot of fans and I personally think he has a great professional presence, good work ethic, and will be a fantastic spokesperson for any product.

Check out the versatility of his look in this video he posted here:
http://tw.nextmedia.com/subapple/article/art_id/33215424/IssueID/20110301

Or this commercial he did for a Taiwanese beer, which is funny for certain reasons:
1) In the commercial he peeks at 2 women, making him look like a playboy – which he is not in real life. He is a good guy and has only had a few girlfriends throughout his life!
2) 他不喝啤酒 He doesn’t drink beer/any alcohol.

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From a mosaic of clubs and cities, to stunning scenery and people, Taiwan 台湾 has an endless offering of fascinating places to explore.

Whether you’re a food hunter or culture vulture, a night owl or a nature lover – or like me, all of the above – Taiwan 台湾 is a place where you can do it all.

(More posts on food, culture, nightlife and nature in Taiwan coming up soon!)