Saturday, December 9, 2017

Buying Travel Insurance


Travelling can be hazardous so getting a travel insurance is another must-get on my list. Of course, we hope that nothing happens during the trip but it's imperative to be prepared. You never know what may happen. But you don't want to blindly buy any insurance off the Internet, so here is an article by Straits Times on the things to look out while purchasing an insurance policy. All the important points are there, so do read up.

Now you might be someone who doesn't believe in travel insurance and thinks it's a scam. But it can really come in useful, especially when you lose your belongings or get hurt in an accident. On top of the tips offered in the ST article, you may want to make sure that your policy doesn't require you to see a doctor during your trip before you claim post trip medical expenses. The reason why I say this is that we all assume that travel insurance is supposed to cover post trip medical expenses. However, the insurance that I usually buy doesn't actually do that.

I hurt my foot during a recent trip to Japan and while it was painful, I thought I'd see a doctor in Singapore instead. After all, I know where the doctors are and it's easier to tell them where I hurt and to get medication instructions. This is not really possible in Japan since I hardly speak the language. Anyway, I filed a claim and all, but they rejected my very small medical claim by saying I had to seek medical advice during the trip first and follow up with a post trip medical visit before I could claim anything. It's like so WOW that I'm amazed. Isn't it a given for travel insurance policies to cover post medical expenses?

Anyway, I'm not going to purchase any policy from them in future but I thought I should put this here to remind my readers to make sure all angles are covered adequately before you purchase a travel insurance policy. Don't just be attracted by the price or promotion! XD

In any case, to make things easier for your comparison, there are a few websites where you can check out the differences in pricing as well as features. MoneySmart is one and GoBear is the other, so have fun comparing! :)

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Get Connected On The Go


Having Internet access while you are overseas is very important. After all, you need it for Google Maps or general research. Also, my husband is someone who cannot do without his beloved mobile games so finding viable pocket WiFi options is always at the top of my list.

There are a few options to getting your Internet fix. You either get a SIM card, rent a pocket WiFi from the airport or add on a data roaming plan. I personally prefer SIM Cards because it's less of a hassle than a pocket WiFi, which tends to run out of power before the day ends and you usually need to carry more than one power bank to ensure all of your devices are powered up on the go.

I'm not a big fan of data roaming plans either because I worry about the cost and data limits. Anyway, here are the major Telcom data roaming plans for your reference:

Japan
When I go Japan, however, I usually rent the WiFi Router from Changi Recommends. Sometimes they have pretty good promotions, which could work out to about $4 a day. All you need to do is register online beforehand, collect it at one of their collection kiosks, put a deposit of $1 on your credit card and pay only when you return the pocket WiFi on the day of your arrival in Singapore. It's a pretty painless process but sometimes the queues could get pretty long.

Why do I choose to use the pocket WiFi instead of a SIM card? The reason is because when I researched on getting a SIM Card from online vendors like Qoo10, I was told that apparently the SIM Card cannot be used on my phone - a Xiaomi Mi Note. I'm not sure whether this is true but I didn't want to run the risk of buying something I don't need. Yes, I could sell it off later but it's so troublesome. Also, I understand from a friend of mine that you need to change the settings on your phone when you use a SIM Card in Japan while you just need to input the password from the pocket WiFi and voilĂ ! Instant Internet access.

If you have a few people travelling together, having a Pocket WiFi is also useful, practical and economical. The only thing is your group members can't venture too far from one another. LOL. Well, at least you won't lose sight of your travel mates. Anyway, here is a useful article on the pros and cons of using Prepaid SIM vs Pocket WiFi if you plan on visiting Japan. If you were to rent an apartment under AirBnB, your host will usually provide a pocket WiFi but according to what I heard from fellow travelers, such pocket WiFi tend to be unpredictable and weak in signal so I would recommend you to get your own pocket WiFi instead.

If you prefer other pocket WiFi options, here are a couple of other alternatives for you to choose from. Do note that I have yet to try them, although my friend did mention that she likes Pupuru for its convenience. You can drop it off at any post box in Japan before you leave.
Australia
The Changi Recommends Pocket WiFi worked fine for me while I was in Japan but my friend who used it in Australia found the signal weak and unpredictable. She even had to resort to using M1's Data Passport to bring up Google Maps etc. I guess it's because she visited more rural areas where the signal is not as strong.

Korea
When I visited Korea in 2016, I decided to take a chance by renting the pocket WiFi from one of their local Telcoms. There are various plans, some of which may include free rental fee. Read this to find out more (note: this is a 2015 article so may be outdated but it provides a good guide on how go about renting your own WiFi egg). The connection was not as good as I expected, but still usable. Will probably just buy a SIM card next time.

Thailand
I used a couple options before. Once I bought directly from the airport and the other, I booked on Klook. Both options provided me with fast Internet access. You can also buy your SIM cards off Qoo10 or Fave.

Taiwan
When I went to Taiwan, I just picked up SIM cards from one of their very convenient Telcom counters. This was some time back though so my info about it may be outdated. Anyway, here's an article that you can read up to catch up with the latest news and which SIM card to choose depending on where you go. My experience with their SIM cards has always been good. Connection was fast and flawless, 

There you have it. Not a lot of countries covered, but hope the info is useful for you to kickstart your own research!




Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Review: Day Trip To Nami Island, Petite France & Gangchon Rail Bike (Korea)

It's fun to make your way to various tourist destinations at times but when it's so out of the way, a day trip on a tour bus makes a lot of sense. For one, you can rest on the bus (even nap!) between stops. Secondly, the tour bus usually takes you back to a location that's closer to your hotel so it's not so tiring to make your way back after an exhausting day.

When I went to Korea in 2016 with my friends, I decided to book a day trip to Nami Island, Petite France and Gangchon Rail Bike on Funko: Funtastic Korea. Well, mostly because it was more affordable. But don't just take my word for it, no matter where you book your day trips, it's important to do your research first. Read reviews and compare prices. I read a Klook review that someone was mad that they had paid a higher price but it's really important to do your homework first. I'm not defending any website that offers such day trips, just reminding my readers to do their homework first and live with the decision, if necessary. No point spoiling your holiday just because you missed something out or got a less than ideal deal, ya?

Anyway, on to my review of the day tour. It was basically a pickup and dropoff service where the tour bus takes a group of people to a location, drops them off, and reminds them what time to wait at the pickup point. It's not unlike a package tour, but we were given free-to-roam time that was far better than following behind a tour guide. Our tour guide was this very vain but friendly Korean guy who took every opportunity to preen before a photo shoot. Not that I blame him, of course, he is a pretty good looking guy but still... =x

This particular tour took us to 3 destinations: Nami Island, Petite France and Gangchon Rail Bike. They took us first to Petite France, where it's a small park that's designed like a French village. It's very instagrammable but smaller than I expected. Food is also comparatively more expensive, so I will encourage you to buy some bread and bottles of beverage before you set out for the day.


Petite France features many cute popular icons such as The Little Prince and their respective backstories. They even had a collection of puppets - some quite pretty and others kinda scary but it was a unique experience. The tour guide gave us a couple of hours to explore the place and it was more than enough. At the end of our walk, we even got to watch a puppet show. In my humble opinion, I thought it was the most interesting part of the entire place since we got to see how flawlessly puppets can move when their handlers have skill. Hehe.


After the puppet show ended, it was time to head to the next destination! This time we are going where the most romantic of people love to go (aka people who fell in love with Bae Yong Joon and Winter Sonata): Nami Island


If you thought Petite France was crowded, then Nami Island is just overpopulated. Since it made its name on the well-loved Korean drama series, Winter Sonata, throngs of people have visited this beautiful place. It's not a pleasant sight because everywhere you go is just mountains upon mountains of people. I really love the place for its beautiful trees and sense of tranquility, but the crowds just completely turned me off. Anyway, since we were already there, might as well make full use of our time there! 

The bus dropped us off at a jetty where you can either take a ferry or hightail it overhead via a zip wire (aka flying fox). It's a very fun and exciting activity, but as usual, you can expect to queue for some time before you finally get your turn. The price (which includes admission to Nami Island) is about 38 000 won. One of my travel mates wanted to try it out initially, but because the queue was too long, they eventually decided to join us for lunch at one of the nearby food joints instead.

Entrance to the Zip Wire...you can also spot our tour guide in the picture.
If you plan to eat before crossing the waters to Nami Island, there are plenty of eating places around. But like I mentioned earlier, it's a tourist destination so you might have to explore a bit before you find a place to settle down.

Yummy
After lunch, it was off to the jetty and Nami Island!


Crowded, right? But since we only had a couple of hours more to go, we decided to explore as much as we could of this beautiful island. I could only wonder how gorgeous it could get without all the people! >.<


Despite the fact that it's super crowded, Nami Island is one place you shouldn't miss out. It's super beautiful and the autumn leaves are simply gorgeous. Lots of instagrammable locations so you can't go wrong. Hehe. There's even a statue of the 2 Winter Sonata lovers honouring the couple for making the place so famous! LOL.


After Nami Island, it was time for our final stop! This time, we are going to take the Gangchon Rail Bike! By now, it was nearly evening time so our tourist guide hurried us up the bus after meeting us at the jetty. Riding in the dark ain't going to be fun if we can't see where we are going. Hehe. Once we reached the place where we were supposed to take the rail bike, we were divided into groups of 4 or 2. You could either ride the rail bike in twos or fours, but remember to practise teamwork! After all, you can't really expect the people in front to do all the work while you relax and only take photos behind, right? Anyway, you have to be careful as well since you might crash into the group in front.


It was quite a distance from starting to end point, but along the way, you can even check out the beautiful scenery. There are even a few tunnels halfway where they put up a light show, bubbles and loud Korean music to spice things up. I personally felt that the music was too loud, but it was a unique addition to the journey. Here's a video I took...apologies for the poor quality. Heh.


The journey lasted about 30 minutes if I'm not wrong and at the end of it, we waited for a choo-choo train to take us back to where we can hop onto the tour bus for home. Sorry, I didn't manage to get a picture of the train exterior, but here is the interior! Rather crowded, right?


As we waited in the cold, the train platform had a refreshment kiosk where you could buy drinks or snacks to stave off the hunger pangs. We didn't buy anything but took the opportunity to take some pictures! Ahem, forgive the poor quality of one of the photos. =x


And there you have it, a rather fruitful day in my opinion. 3 places in a single day! Now, that's what I call a relaxing tour. While you may prefer to make your way there yourself due to budget, but if you can, try to book at least one day package. It's SO MUCH MORE relaxing and trust me, being stressed and lost is the LAST thing you want to be on your vacation!

Review: My travel mates and I really enjoyed this day trip to not one, not two, but THREE tourist destinations. I seriously love how little trouble it was to book on the website and the meeting place was easy to find as well. The day trip also saved us lots of time travelling and I appreciate the fact that we got to rest in between stops as well. Imagine if we were to make our way to these places on our own. We might have gotten lost, or worse, not being able to cover so many places in a day. Hehe. I definitely recommend that you take up a day trip package but don't forget to do your homework first before booking, ok?


Sunday, November 26, 2017

Review: Oneday Hanbok (Korea 2016)

Okay, here goes another review. This time, it's hanbok rental from the Oneday Hanbok. This is a small rental studio where you can rent Hanboks for OTDs at nearby palaces, which you can easily reach via one of their very affordable cabs. Just show them the Korean name of the place you want to go and most, if not all, of them will be able to understand your destination. :)

We had a little difficulty finding the studio but thanks to the friendliness of my fellow travel mates, we managed to find the building that the studio was located in. It looked like an office building, which probably accounted for my confusion coz I was expecting it to be in a short shophouse-like building. Heh. From my research online, it also seems they have moved. Anyway, here are a couple of addresses for you to choose from. Just make sure you google the locations properly before heading out of your hotel.

Address 1:
2nd Floor, 4 Bukchonro5-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul (approximately 300m from Exit 2 of Anguk Station and across the road from Jae-dong Elementary School2nd Floor, 12 Jae-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul


Address 2:
2nd Floor, 12 Jae-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul)





The good thing about renting a hanbok is that you get free entrances into selected places like royal palaces and the Korean Folk Village in Gyeonggido. Cool right? On top of that, you get to experience what it was like to wear their traditional costumes. Their rental fees are as follows:

  • 4 Hours - 15,000 Korean Won 1 Day (24 Hours) - 28,000 Korean Won (Minimum rental duration is 4 hours) 
  • Additional hourly fee - 4,500 Korean won 
  • Basic accessories - Free (Hair accessories, bags) 
  • Special accessories - 2,000 Korean won (Kings hat, Gisaeng hat, Gat, dress underskirt etc.)
A rental deposit is required:

  • Copy of ID card + Hanbok Rental Deposit of 50,000 Korean Won per Hanbok. 
  • OR deposit ID card + Hanbok Rental Deposit of 10,000 Korean Won per Hanbok* As a substitute an ID card, a valid Passport or Korean Alien Registration Card will be accepted * In case of group booking (max. 6 people), only 1 ID card is required.
You get 2 fittings so you need to choose your size and preferred designs very carefully. Although Oneday Hanbok states that they have sizes ranging from S to XXL [male (S~XL) and female (XS~XXL)], I didn't find many Hanboks in my size. Not that I am terribly overweight or super fat, but I guess that the Hanboks usually come in a smaller size because Korean ladies are slimmer. Anyway, after searching around, I managed to find a suitable Hanbok in my size. It also helped that the assistants were around to find the right sizes so that was useful. Basic accessories are free too.



As you can probably tell from the picture above, the Hanboks themselves are of good quality, but when we were out and about, I noticed others wearing a much better type of hanbok. Not that the rentals from Oneday Hanbok are not good enough, it's just that other rental studios appear to have skirts that have a bouncier effect. I think it's due to the additional crinoline under the skirt, which gives off a more flouncy effect that I thought was more flattering for my figure. Hehe.

The other rental studios also appeared to have more options for the guys. For example, I noticed a lot of guys walking around in an outfit of a royal official so that was interesting.

Verdict: The whole experience was rather hassle-free. All you need to do is email them ahead of time with booking details like your name, date & time and number of people. The range of hanboks are of high quality but I would prefer them to include more bigger sizes and give us the option of the crinoline to make it more flattering for bigger figures. The assistants were super helpful even though I was slightly on the larger side and probably posed more of a challenge for them. 

Anyway, that was my experience with them. Have fun!

Website: www.onedayhanbok.com
Email: onedayhb@naver.com

Book your experience with KKDay here!


Sunday, November 5, 2017

Review: Goguan Studio (Korea 2016)

Back in my younger days (not that I'm very old now), I used to love cosplay and even dabbled in a few random characters from time to time. I particularly loved the cultural costumes from Japan and Korea so when I visited Korea in 2016, I jumped at the chance to do a photography package wearing a Hanbok with my husband.

Since I'd be in Seoul for the majority of my trip, I thought that visiting a photo studio in the vicinity of Myeong-dong (which was near to my hotel) would be just the thing. So I did a little research and found this neat little studio in the heart of Myeong-dong...ok, technically the address is Chungmuro but it's actually very near to Myeong-dong. See the map below:



Goguan Studio 
Address: Seoul, Chungmuro 1-ga, 22-15, 2F 110-290 Seoul, Korea
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/goguanstudio
Website: http://goguan08.cafe24.com/?page_id=352


To make a reservation, you can simply drop them a message at their website. The price list can also be found here, just need to scroll down the page. So I basically made a booking and when I got there on the day of my appointment, it was literally pouring. Like raining dogs and cats. LOL. Anywho, that didn't affect our session since it was all indoors.

Entrance of Goguan Studio, which is next to a TonyMoly Store
I booked a couple's package so it means that both my husband and I got to try out the traditional clothing of the Koreans. I choose the princess makeover coz I thought it would make me look younger while my husband went for the scholar look. Hehe.

We waited for a while at the reception but we were soon ushered into different sections of the studio to choose our costumes and apply makeup. I decided to go for a red hanbok with a black floral skirt while my husband chose a maroon outfit to match me. The whole process took about 45 minutes or so with me obviously taking longer because of all the extra makeup and hair accessories.

After the whole makeover, my husband and I took separate shots before we posed together as a couple. The results? Tada...


I didn't get the CD or more pictures coz obviously that would cost more, but you do get some time to yourself in their various backdrops to take selfies so we had some fun playing around:


Yes, yes, we do look silly but it was fun and I think there's a time limit of about 15 minutes. Also, I think because of the rain, there weren't many people in the studio so we could freely play around with the backdrops. In any case, it was fun and it was a great experience. A little expensive in my opinion, but it was still worth the time and money.

Verdict: We really enjoyed the whole experience. The makeup artists and photographers were polite and always ready to help us. The costumes would be a tight fit for people on the larger side though, so do take note. The hanbok was a little small for me, but the makeup artist was not fazed by it and simply pinned it closed. The photo studio is also located in a very location near Myeong-dong so that's a huge plus point. The costumes are well made too. 

Well, that's my personal opinion so hope you guys enjoy it as much as I did! <3 You can also book the experience on Kkday.com although at the time of writing this, the slots are all sold out. If that's the case for you, then maybe you can try emailing the studio directly. Have fun!

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Earn CASH when you book flights & hotels!


I'm something of an online shopping queen at the office so whenever my colleagues want to buy something online, they would always ask me to help them check for good deals. Now, I don't claim to be an expert in this, but I do LOVE a good deal or two. ESPECIALLY when it earns me cold hard cash. Shopback is one such website.

Once you sign up for an account on this website, all you have to do is click through it to the website of your choice (e.g. Qoo10, Expedia, Hotels.com), make a purchase and voila! Instant cashback, although the cashback for a flight or hotel booking will only be reflected in your account after the trip.

And the best thing of all? You get $5 upon signing up PLUS another $5 after you make a purchase! Just click my referral link here to start enjoying cashbacks! I've earned almost $100 by simply booking my hotels and flights through Shopback so I personally think it's a great deal. Oh and if you make a purchase of $25 and above, I will get $5 too so thanks in advance, ya. :)

Another way to earn cashbacks is to download an app called FUZZIE. Now, this was recommended to me by an intern who used to work for our company at a time when every successful referral will get you $5. But due to overwhelming response, they later changed the policy to only giving you $5 upon a successful purchase. Nonetheless, it's still a good app to have if you are an ardent shopping queen/king.

How does it work? First, you download the app on either the Apple App Store or Google Play. When you sign up, use my invite code lilian4382 and get $5 instantly. You can either use this credit on your next purchase or accumulate cash credits by purchasing gift cards on the app. They have loads of stores for you to choose from. For instance, if you are a frequent GRAB user, then you can buy gift cards in denominations of $6 to $35. Every denomination has different levels of cashback. In other words, the more you spend, the more cashbacks you get!

Each gift card will come with a promo code that you can apply in the respective stores so you not only get to shop, you also get cashbacks to spend on other purchases. Shiok, right? FUZZIE also features Klook, which is another awesome website where you can book experiences and tickets at cheaper prices. I would know, coz I often book my holiday experiences there! Hehe.

PS: I will also get $5 when you make a purchase on FUZZIE via my invite code so please support, ya!

Last but not least, Klook! There is one other website that offers similar services but Klook appears to be the only one that offers you credits for doing reviews AND credits when you sign up via my referral link. You can get all manner of experiences here: from airport transfer and day trips to dressing up like a Geisha in Kyoto. When I go holidaying, I will often check out this website to see if there are interesting experiences to book.

Excited to see what Klook can offer you? Then don't forget to sign up on the website via my referral link and get $4.40 as soon as you sign up!

Hope you guys enjoy my recommendations. Hope you earn many many cashbacks! XD


Tadaima!

Wow, it's been more than 4 years since I last posted on this blog. Much has happened this past few years - both bad and good - but what the heck, the most important thing is that I'm back! I'm no jet-setting kitty but I have been lucky enough to visit a few countries like Japan and Korea. Nothing much, but I'm contented that I've had the chance to fly to these places. :)

In the upcoming posts, I will try to share as many of my experiences and tips as possible. Hope you guys will like it! In the meantime, here's a picture of an ice cream to cheer your day up! Hehe.