Thursday, 28 May 2009

THIS WEEKEND - Everyone Say, “Shop!”


The GSS has hit us and I wonder whether the recession is still ongoing? I am back from HK and in Singapore for three weeks and maybe it’s my imagination but the restaurants are still buzzing, there is still a queue at the taxi stand at Takashimaya and parking is still impossible at Dempsey on weekend nights. What gives? So where else to spend the money?

Club 21 Bazaar Sale
Brand whores… this would truly be the sale worth waiting for! Taking places at The Pit Building (1 Republic Boulevard), it’s up to 80% off on Balenciaga, Betula, Blackjack, CK, Calvin Klein, Club 21, Como Shambala, Diesel, DKNY, Donna Karan, Jill Sander, Marc Jacobs and Marni, to name a few.

Whip out those credit cards dahling and smoke it out! If you’re flashing an HSBC, $400 charged gets you into a lucky draw for a chance to win one of three 3D2N stays at Uma Ubud in Bali (worth $700). You also earn 5X the regular rewards points for this spend on this card.

We hear parking is impossible so leave the wheels and hop into the complimentary shuttle service, plying every 30 mins from 10am to 8pm at the bus stop opposite The Adelphi, along Coleman Street.

29 May - 31 May10am – 8pm (Fri & Sat; to 6pm Sun)

More details at: www.club21global.com

PussyCat Dolls, Anyone?
Ok so the exams are over and the school holidays are here! Time for some teen bonding with your angst-ridden ‘baby’ girl. Get a pair of tickets for the both of you or what the heck, treat all her friends (so you can (wink) suss out who she has been hanging out with) and join the party at The Indoor Stadium on 4 June with the biggest girl group to have hit the pop scene since the Spice Girls!

This one-night-only event is part of the group’s “Doll Domination Tour” and will feature hits like When I Grow Up, I Hate This Part, Bottle Pop, Wait A Minute, Sway, Buttons, Don’t Cha, Stickwitu, Beep, the Brand New Song Jai Ho from SlumDog Millionaire and...I Don’t Need A Man (now that’s telling it to her.. haha!)

Thursday, 4 June
Tix at $68, $128, $148 (not including sistic booking charges)

More details at: www.sistic.com.sg
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By The Way - Make A Simple WISH Come True


Imagine if you couldn’t speak, read or write in English. The simplest daily things we take for granted, such as form-filling, answering phone calls and taking messages or writing a cheque, would be mind-bogglingly beyond your reach. Your world would be a very limited one because you’re afraid to venture out on your own, being unable to read signs in English or ask for directions.

Do you know a mother, grandmother, “aunty” or woman friend in this unenviable position? Wish you could help these ladies learn some basic, functional English for day-to-day communication, build their confidence and broaden their boundaries?

You can do just that with a little learning, courtesy of WISH (Women Learning English), an adult literary programme for women here, under the aegis of the Society for Reading & Literacy, Singapore (SRL). Registration for the new beginners’ class (Module One) is open from now until 5 June and classes start in July/August. Classes conducted by volunteers are held in the evenings once a week, for one and a half hours each time, at a public library or community centre, over a six-month period.

According to the SRL, it used to be that WISH participants were largely homemakers, grannies and non-working women, ranging in age from their 30s to 70s. Now, the classes are also attracting foreign wives from non-English-speaking countries like India, Taiwan and China; young mums who want to monitor their children's schooling; women who want to read labels on medicine bottles and supermarket products, those who want to communicate better in English with the younger generation and service staff, or understand public notices, warnings, road signs and transport guides.

If you want to register a female relative or friend for the course, do so using the online 2009 registration form at www.srl.org.sg (click on the ‘WISH’ icon) or complete and post registration forms available at library branches and community clubs hosting the classes. (Successful applicants will be notified by post by 15 June.)

Do be aware that the Module One programme is for absolute beginners who want to learn functional conversational English, for women who cannot string a sentence or count in English. It is not an enrichment session for those who can already speak, read or write English fairly fluently. WISH classes are limited to Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents, and are for women only, due to resource constraints.

Direct enquiries to the WISH co-ordinator at: wish@srl.org.sg
For more information about SRL and its programmes, see www.srl.org.sg
(e-mail: srl_wish@yahoo.com.sg tel: 65-6455 1218)
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Breakaway - Wanderlust Part 2


Are we seeing a turnaround in the economy and thus our finances? Are good times on the horizon? Quick quick! Pack the bags and jump on the airplane. Where to go? Here’s a short Part 2 to our travel news updates for the girl on the go.

This Way to Bali!
Sashay south for a spot of glam on the beach at The Legian, just off shopaholic Seminyak! Long the hotspot for luxurious travel, this all-suite hotel is offering a ‘threesome for two’, says its press release. No, not a menage a trois I’m afraid, but three nights for the price of two at USD360++ per night. From now until 31 July and from 1 September to 21 December. (US$1=S$1.448)

For a more spiritual setting, with nothing but birdsong and Mount Agung as a backdrop, The Chedi Club at Tanah Gajah is an exquisite hillside resort with no more than 20 suites and villas, some with private pools spread over five hectares of landscaped Balinese gardens surrounded by padi fields. The same ‘threesome’ package applies at USD 498++ per night. This gets you a one-bedroom pool villa that includes butler and club service benefits such as complimentary minibar, return airport transfers and daily afternoon eats.


Valid from now till 14 July, and 10 Sept to 21 December. This deal is available only for travellers from Hong Kong and Singapore. Lucky us!
For bookings and details, visit www.ghmhotels.com


Recessionista’s Hong Kong Spree
Last week, we showed you where to shop in Hong Kong, but after that, where to rest up and fortify yourselves for another hard day of pounding the pavements in search of best buys? Tucked away in a quiet side street in Wan Chai, The Fleming, which made the Condé Nast Traveller’s “Hot List 2007” of the world’s best new hotels, is offering a Credit Crunch (no escaping that word these days) package, effectively a ‘two-nights-for-one’ deal.
Rates for the two nights start at HK$1,880 (S$351) for a superior room at the award-winning boutique hotel; the deluxe room package rate is HK$2,180 and executive accommodation is HK$2,680. Additional nights for each of the three room categories are HK$838, HK$1,038 and HK$1,238, respectively. The package includes continental brekkie, free mini bar and 10% off F&B excluding wines (sigh!). The offer is valid until 31 August for prepaid bookings made at least 14 days in advance. (HK$1 – S$0.1869)


41 Fleming Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong
Tel: (852) 3607 2225 or e-mail:
sales@thefleming.com for reservations
www.thefleming.com.hk


1950s Movie Magic
From now until June 29, chic boutique hotel IVY Shanghai is offering a long weekend package of a three-night stay for the price of two with days allowed ranging from Thursday to Monday. The package starts at RMB650 per night for a stylish Platinum King room, RMB1,250 per night for a Ritzy Suite and RMB1,550 per night for E’lan Suite. (1 RMB = S$0.21)

During this period, the hotels is running a “Movie Manic” season, screening classic black & white films from the golden era of film history in the hotel’s lobby lounge on a 3.6m x 1.78m screen.

The 46-room boutique hotel IVY Shanghai was converted from a 1950s cinema, and located a short stroll from the shopping and business hub of Nanjing West Road.

For reservations please contact IVY Shanghai at +86 21 3221 2600.
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Binge - The Platters



I like Coriander Leaf. I don’t get myself there as often as I like, but I do like that restaurant very much. There’s something light, airy, feminine and so elegant about it. Yet it’s so informal and laid back, you want to kick off your shoes and relax as you wait for your food to come. I love the large windows that overlook the river, the raw concrete floor, the sunlight pouring in, the high ceiling and the courtyard at the back. It’s a place I’d bring my gaggle of girlfriends to for lunch…..or for dinner.

Not long ago, I had lunch there and checked out its newly introduced appetizer platters. Just right for a light lunch or to share for more variety, these platters are based on cuisines, each offering six kinds of starters, served in portions for either one person ($16 - $18) or two ($30-$34). I liked the South Asian Sampler which has a particularly lovely lentil dumpling in spiced yoghurt sauce, juicily light corn and tomato salad with green chilli dressing and a yummy tomato soup with cumin. The Southeast Asian sampler includes a delicate yet fiery tom yam soup with a big fat ‘highly bitable’ prawn, dainty crab cakes, a crisp, springy calamari tempura and smoked duck and mango salad. The mezze sampler, which has been a bestseller since the restaurant opened in 2001, though is still my favourite – the red pepper and walnut dip is out of this world, the hummus comfortingly familiar, the fried haloumi is creamily indulgent and fattoush salad refreshing. At the end of your meal, you can have a dessert sampler too. The picture here says it all - jump in and eat your way out!

You could easily order just one platter with a good glass of wine for light but oh so elegant lunch, or order a few and share. What’s even better is that each variety on the platter can be ordered as single dishes costing only $8 with the exception of crabcakes which cost $12 (higher food cost, you see). That’s really not bad value at all.

I also noticed that the restaurant has a very good value wine tasting set menu at only $95++. You get four wines and four courses featuring the restaurant’s signature dishes, and ending with coffee and tea.


How does this sound? Appetiser of muhammara (the red pepper and walnut dip I mentioned earlier), haloumi cheese, roasted eggplant with pomegranate salad with Frizzante Trocken Sparkling Wine, Burgenland, Austria; crab cakes with tomato chutney with Three Miners Riesling 2006 from Central Otago, New Zealand; followed by a main course of tandoori chicken and cucumber-yoghurt relish, mint chutney and butter naan with Durvillea Pinot Grigio 2008 from Marlborough or a Thai Inspired barramundi with tomato-namprik fondue and butter rice paired with Auntsfield, Long Cow Sauvignon Blanc 2008, Marlborough. Dessert is Trablit coffee fondant with vanilla bean ice cream and wild summer berries washed down with Michelini Frangolino, Alpine Ranges, Victoria, Australia.

Reservations for how many?

3A Merchant Court #02-03
River Valley Road, Clarke Quay
Tel: 6732 3354
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Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Buys - Every Girl Loves Flowers


The next time he feels romantic and asks you to pick a gift, say you want DeLaneau flowers to be exact. Tell him that these would be the only flowers that he would ever need to buy for you!...Then let him go figure. What are these wondrous blooms?

The lotus is a powerful symbol in Eastern philosophy symbolizing rebirth, purity, peace, fertility and even enlightenment. DeLaneau’s Luckee Lotus would mean that you have hit jackpot! Yours, starting from S$90,000.

DeLaneau’s 'Magnolias' collection (from the “1608” collection) shows nature's most captivating flowers in an series of haute couture timepieces. The number '1608' refers to the number of times the new mechanical digital readout watch 'jumps' everyday in a jumping hour and minute mechanical movement. Choose from three case shapes: Amazone, Rectangular or Square Dome starting from a princely $193,000.

- Elaine

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Thursday, 21 May 2009

Breakaway - Nearer my soul to Nirvana (the luxe way, of course)


Sometimes, we just need to have a bit of renewal for the soul, an injection of life back into our blah routines. 

This often takes the form of an activity that’s way out of the ordinary, which is different things to different people. Some go for a major change of hairdo, or a seriously shameless splurge, or even a pilgrimage. And there are also those who trek far away to distant lands and stand atop awe-inspiring vistas, soaking it all in with arms open wide and imagining they are either in an MTV video or hosting a National Geographic documentary. 

Ooh – wouldn’t that be nice! 

Well, if you have both the resources and time to spare, Como Hotels and Resorts’ Uma Paro in Bhutan is offering a series of Adventure Retreats, based on a set date and group departure (in other words, exclusive, high-class guided tours to equally exclusive destinations), where you can do just that. Nearer to the mythical Shangri-La and perhaps also to Nirvana, it must be good for the soul, too. 

Of these adventure trips, “Bhutan Through a Lens,’ which is scheduled for November, promises a unique seven-night sojourn for photographers of all levels and interests. 

Led by Philip Bowen, a 16-year Bhutan veteran, accomplished photographer and COMO Activity Director, the time is divided between Uma Paro and a new Uma-owned 11-bed lodge in the Paro and Punakha valleys. 

Photo opportunities abound, ranging from location shoots to meetings with friendly locals.






Other tours in the series include: 
The Flowers and Monasteries of Central and Western Bhutan (2-12 June)
Mountains and Monasteries – Bhutan by Bike (5-15 July)
A Multi-Activity Adventure in the Kingdom of Bhutan (1-8 Aug)
Central and Western Bhutan Journey and Bumdra Camp Monastery (22 Aug–1 Sept)
Blessings of Bhutan and the Druk Path Trek (7–17 Oct) 
Bhutan Through a Lens (3—15 Nov)
Shopping and Shangri La (1—11 Dec)

All these tours are conducted by experienced, English-speaking guides. For a touch of spirituality and exotic travel, the press releases promise “golden-roofed monasteries and fascinating temples including the spectacular ‘Tiger’s Nest’ perched on a mountainside above the clouds, prayer flag-covered hilltops, forgotten valleys and ancient forests.” 

Most itineraries feature nature walks to see Bhutan’s diverse flora and birdlife while the more challenging packages bring you trekking to remote mountain paths and biking along off-road trails. 

Rest assured it’s not all sweaty action. The people at Como promise lots of time for you to relax at the luxurious Uma Paro and enjoy the pool, sophisticated organic cuisine, the COMO Shambhala Spa and daily yoga classes. 

Ranging from seven to 12 nights, these tours include accommodation at Uma Paro and some may include stays in other locally owned hotels across Bhutan. Rates for these packages range from US$3,280 to US$6,112 for single occupancy in a Superior Room (forest views) or US$5,292 to US$10,054 for double occupancy, depending on the package selected.

Meals, excluding beverages, are included as well as picnics and mineral water on days out. Government taxes, royalties, visas and entry permits are all arranged by Uma Paro in advance; these costs are factored into the published rates along with all transport within Bhutan. Isn’t that just music to your ears?

For more details, visit http://uma.como.bz



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Breakaway - A Right Royal Retreat



In the mood for love? Need some quality ‘couple’ time away from the hoi polloi? Then Tanjong Jara Resort may be just the place for you. Located on Malaysia’s east coast and about three hours’ flight from Singapore, the 99-room luxury resort ambles along a white sandy cove, facing the sparkling emerald-green waters of the South China Sea. 

There is an air of serenity and laidback charm about Tanjong Jara, which was designed to reflect the elegance and grandeur of 17th-century Malay palaces – for which it won the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, a coveted prize for historical authenticity. Here is a pleasing combination of 5-star comfort and traditional charm. Amid the warm wood surroundings, the genuinely friendly staff – many of whom come from nearby villages – go about their tasks with a gentle, old-fashioned courtesy and 24/7 smiles. 

This is the place for tranquil walks on the beach, private dinners lit by flaming torches to the soothing accompaniment of gamelan music, or simply reading quietly with the sound of bird-calls and rolling waves as a backdrop. Watch local fishermen haul in the day’s catch and see workmen craft sturdy wooden fishing boats. 

Don’t forget to set aside an indulgent hour or two, or more, at the resort’s Spa Village, for some much-needed pampering and coddling. 

Hubby and I didn’t stray too far from the laze-worthy poolside, doing the occasional lap to burn up calories from the previous meal (and work up an appetite for the next one), but if you’re feeling energetic, there is a lot more you can do, from bicycle rides, jungle walks, dive trips (the deep waters of the Terengganu Marine Park are teeming with marine life) and night markets, to a pleasant day trip to the riverine town of Dungun about 8 kilometres away for some local food and light shopping. 

For Singapore residents, the resort is offering a 3D/2N package at S$469 nett per person (based on adult twin share) including all meals and two 50-minute spa treatments of your choice; the offer is valid until 31 October and excludes flights. (Currently, Malaysia Airlines operates flights daily from Singapore to Kuala Terengganu, via Kuala Lumpur.)

For reservations and enquiries, contact Lille of YTL Travel Centre at:
Tel: (65) 9686 7668 or e-mail: lille@ytlhotels.com.my 
Web site: www.tanjongjararesort.com


- Lisa

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Breakaway & Buys - IF YOU HAD 3 DAYS .. IN HONG KONG


Welcome to “IF YOU HAD 3 DAYS…” – the first of our mini travel and shopping guides that tells you in a nutshell of where to shop and what to buy in some of the countries that we have checked out. 

Feel free to build on the catalogue of information by adding comments and additional tips of your own to enliven our simply fabulicious and growing community. What’s more, if you have a specific question or suggestion of what else you would like to see on SimplyFab, Facebook or email us (simplyfabulicious@gmail.com) and we will assist!

The Simply Fab Team 


I say with absolute confidence that Hong Kong most certainly grows on you… we moved here two years ago because of my husband’s job. 

In the beginning, I had nothing but complaints… 

I hated the throngs of people in my face, the “main landers” ie. cash-rich tourist from mainland China pushing and shoving on board the MTR trains, lifts and restaurants with no sense of decorum or personal space, I hated the small accommodation and mostly, I hated the fact that I had no wheels.

But this is two years later and I have to say that I have grown accustomed to the charms of the “fragrant” harbour. I would be sad to have to leave Hong Kong, as it is now, very much my home, a great hunting ground for bargain and brand shopping and the retail, restaurants and breakaway options in Hong Kong are just unbeatable compared to any other Asian city that I have visited or lived in ,which is why I feel compelled to share the simply fabulicious finds that you will be unlikely to find without local knowledge.

If you have 3 days in Hong Kong, here are a few options that you should try to cover. The difficult part is trying to cover everything so the trick is to just pick three things in each category and save the rest for your next breakaway.

MARKETS

Hong Kong reminds me of Australia and London because it has a wonderful and vibrant market culture. Unlike Oz and the UK where the markets are primarily weekend affairs, Hong Kong markets are open from 9am to 10pm every day. These are my favourite ones as they each hold something special:

Fa Yuen Kai (Flower Market)
This is the BEST local market in Hong Kong as it has the largest selection of ladies wear, children’s clothing and makeshift stores along two long and narrow lanes with a crossroad junction in between. If you have time for only one market, this is it. Stores to look out for are: AMAZING (all black and white tops, skirts and pants from SGD$8), UNO and WESTWOOD (outlet stores with brand names), stores selling Abercrombie & Fitch, Commes des Garcon, Roxy, Paul Smith and Quick Silver bags and tees for men, ladies and kids. Location: Get out at MTR Prince Edward Station Exit B and you will be in front of Allied Plaza. Market is across the road – stop at any 7-11 and ask for directions for precisely location.

Lo Yan Kai (Ladies Market)
Picture a giant football field divided into 4 to 5 straight lanes. That’s Lo Yan Kai. The shops all sell more or less the same stuff – tee shirts (mostly touristy), fake branded handbags and pouches – think Harrods, Le Sports Sac, Polo. Lots of beach towels (Paul Frank, Disney Princesses, Cars, Thomas the Train, Dora), and knick-knacks eg. bootleg handphone accessories, oriental purses, lipstick cases, pseudo leather wallets.
Location: Get out at MTR Mongkok Station, Exit E2

Wan Chai Market
A very local wet and dry market that is definitely worth a look. You will find a few ladies clothing stores and some interesting toy stores at the entrance to this market. Here you can get Barbie toys, Polly Pocket, a huge variety of Tamagotchis, Ben 10, Transformers (authentic stuff) at a lower price than the main malls. Great place to buy party favours if you have a kid’s party coming up. Walk deeper into this market and you will see a wet market where I highly recommend Kang Kee noodles. (For a description of the kind of noodles you can pack back and take home, see my blog: http://food-files.blogspot.com/2008/09/gee-ki-seafood-at-happy-valley-hk.html

Whilst you are at this market, wander out to the best Egg Tart store (name of store?) I know in Hong Kong (very near market, mentioned in my blog) and also a whole row of stores parallel to the entrance of the market that bear the name APEX and MAPLE. They sell the cheapest, trendiest tops and bottoms for men and women in Hong Kong that you can buy or ever hope to come across. 
Location: Get out at MTR Wan Chai Station, Exit A3. You will see Angel Cosmetics across the street and that marks the entrance to the market. APEX, MAPLE and the Portuguese Egg Tart store are all on the same row as Angel Cosmetics – just keep walking down that row to explore.

Stanley Market
This is at the far end of Hong Kong island in Stanley past the posh Repulse Bay area. It is well known as an expat market so the things you find and the prices are slightly higher as they are catered to the expats who live in that vincinity. Expect stores that sell art, embroidery and linens, rugby jerseys, Roxy and Quick Silver, Gap and Anne Klein over runs. Great restaurants along the waterway for Fish & Chips, Pizza and your pint of ale or lager.
Location: Best way to go is by cab (about SGD$20) from Central (20 to 30 mins). A bus ride takes you 45 mins or so. Or you can take the MTR along the Blue line to Chai Wan (last stop), get off and take mini bus (No. 16X) from the bus terminus at Chai Wan or get a cab (SGD$10) from there direct to the market.

MUST GO SHOPS
It all depends what you want out of your shopping in Hong Kong. I have divided it into a selection of high end, mid and low end so you can decide how much gets into that luggage you’ve brought along.

High End
Hong Kong is much more forward looking and adventurous in its retail concepts as there are four seasons to support the selection that the stores carry. So you can expect to find more interesting buys here than the designer stores in Singapore. Looking for Kate Spade, Diane Von Furstenberg, Jill Stuart, Jimmy Choo, Mui Mui, Anteprima, Burberry, Prada, LV, Chanel, Gucci, Bottega? Head to IFC Mall and the adjoining Landmark Building if you are on the Hong Kong side; if you’re in Kowloon, go to the newest and poshest mall there, The Elements Mall. For a combination of mid and high end, go to Harbour City at the Ocean Terminal or Gateway buildings on Kowloon or Pacific Place at Admiralty.
Location:
IFC Mall (1 and 2) is on the MTR at Central Station (Red Line) and the Hong Kong Station (Orange Line)
Website: www.ifc.com.hk/english/mall.aspx
The Elements Mall is on the MTR at Kowloon Station (Orange Line)
Website: www.elementshk.com/eng/index_popup.php
Pacific Place is on the MTR at Admiralty (Blue Line)
Website:www.pacificplace.com.hk/en/
Harbour City – is on the MTR at Tsim Sha Tsui (Red line)

Mid Price
I love this cache of shopping as there is so much to see and buy and Hong Kong has some mid-price brands that are not yet in Singapore. Even if they are, the selection is somewhat different.

Rabeanco

Tangs carries this brand but the Rabeanco here in Hong Kong is amazing. It carries good value, genuine leather wallets, passport cases, pouches, slings and handbags that are trendy and made with the best (journalism 101 – please steer clear of using superlatives unless can be substantiated, unless you say its your own opinion) leather possible. From SGD$100 to SGD$600 – unbranded but very cool (thought you said the brand is Rabeanco?), great if you are not a brand whore and need a label to flash. See: www.rabeanco.com

H&M
This brand is suppose to be heading to Singapore but I hear it’s taking forever. H&M has great adults and kids clothes and is way more trendy than GAP. Be warned that only the Harbour City and Central outlet carry H&M Kids. It is a MUST GO!
See: www.hm.com/hk_en/

Uniqlo
Now in Singapore but worth a mention as Uniqlo has fun stuff in Hong Kong that I don’t see in the store back in Singapore.
See: www.uniqlo.com.hk/shop.html

Club Monaco
I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Club Monaco. It is my “IT” brand for 2009. If you like stylish casual and work clothes, this is it in my books. It is what I call the “NEW” Zara, classy rather than casual but beautifully made.
See store listings in HK: www.clubmonaco.com/052009/stores.asp

Tung Chung Factory Outlet
Want a one-stop destination where you can dig into the bargain bin of last year’s unsold merchandise? You will get it at Tung Chung’s City Gate outlets. This is Hong Kong’s one-stop factory outlet with two floors of stores with brands like I.T, Giordano, DKNY, AX, Espirit, On Peddar, Burberry, etc. The list is unending but be warned, these shops stock all last season’s buys and older, basically things that did not jump off the shelf on season.
See brand shopping list: www.citygateoutlets.com.hk/index.html

Other Premium Factory Outlets
Brand whoring on a budget? Print out this list and keep it religiously with you – it will be your best guide to the factory outlets in Hong Kong. Think Prada, Helmut Lang, Mui Mui, Joyce, IT, etc – enjoy.
Print and embrace: www.hkoutlets.com/outlets/

G.O.D
If you are looking for household pieces, you will be amazed by Hong Kong’s G. O. D (Goods of Desire) and its side brand, Delay No More (a play on words for a very rude phrase in Cantonese – go figure!). G.O.D makes furniture for tiny living spaces, totally suitable for a one-room HDB flat or studio. It reminds me of the Conran Shop in London, not as pricey and posh but certainly good quality stuff. See: www.god.com.hk/index.php

Franc Franc
This is a very fun and trendy Japanese furniture store with great gift ideas and things for tiny homes, special people and festive occasions. Think Muji, but way better.
See Hong Kong shops: www.francfranc.com/eng/shop/oversea/

EL CHEAPO AND STREET SHOPPING
My final category of ‘must visits’ are the stores I have lumped into what I call the “El Cheapo” category. If you have not had enough from the markets, then there are a few places that I recommend you go check out:

Granville Road and Rise Commercial Building
Shops to browse at are MAPLE, the Bossini outlet store, the Adidas outlet store, the Timberland outlet store, Amazing, IN and OUT and Bess (all a mish-mash of ladies and men’s casual wear). Rise Commercial Building is four floors of one-of-a-kind clothes and local brands and is in the centre of Granville Road at Granville Circuit.
Location: Head to TST on the Red MTR Line – get out at the entrance that says Granville Road.

Mongkok Argyle Centre (aka Mongkok “Chong Sum”)
Wonderful casual wear, trendy ladies tops, tees, denim skirts, shorts and jeans, cheapo watches, sunglasses, scarves and accessories galore.
Location: Head to Mongkok MTR and get out at Exit D.

- Elaine












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Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Breakaway - The World's Your Oyster - Slurp it up!


It’s holiday season! Where to go? What to do? Throw a dart at the world map and see where it lands. Here’s some snappy updates and news on deals for a grand expedition.

Hawaii. From now until Christmas Eve, the Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa is offering the “Celebration of the Land” package, with rooms starting at US$199 per night. Stay five consecutive nights from April 15 to August 15, 2009 and you’ll get one complimentary Kohala Wai PinzTrek land adventure aboard an off-road six wheel drive vehicle, and vehicle admission to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
Log onto http://www.waikoloamarriott.com/ and specify promotion code ADV.

Paris. A stone’s throw from the Arc de Triomphe is the ultra-modern, ultra-chic 118-room Renaissance Paris Arc de Triomphe, which recently opened on Avenue Wagram. From now until 10 January 2010, the hotel is offering its Family Escape package for €435 per room, for four people staying in one double-double room, including daily breakfast, pizza and soft drinks and free daily in-room movies. Such a win-win situation – kids get to chill and Mom gets to shop! Dad? Well, did he bring all his credit cards? So he’s set, no? Plus, we hear that the view of Paris from the higher floors are superb! Quick, quick. Go.

Log onto www.renaissancearcdetriomphe.com or call 800 228-9290.

Koh Samui. If you want, just for awhile, your own slice of heaven, feast your eyes on Suralai, a private six-bedroom holiday home that accommodates families or groups of up to six! With only one rental at a time, you get the entire mini-resort to your lucky selves. It includes an expansive sun-terrace, 20-metre infinity swimming pool, private gym and lush landscaped gardens. Services include a resident manager, housekeepers, a private chef skilled at both Thai and western cuisine, and an optional driver for exploring the island. Your stay there comes with continental or full international-style breakfast, too.
For techie mod-cons, there’s wireless high-speed Internet available throughout, an Imac set up for guests’ use, a Bose surround-sound system that can be piped to all the main public areas, thousands of pre-programmed songs and separate surround-sound systems, flat-screen TV and ipod docking stations in each room. Suralai is just 15 minutes from the main shopping and entertainment area of Koh Samui.

Siem Reap, Cambodia. Feeling like Lara Croft? Swing over to Angkor Wat and stay at the Angkor Palace Resort & Spa. Its Summer Sale Package, based on a minimum stay of two nights for two persons, starts at US$120nett per Deluxe room per night and US$140 nett per Premier Deluxe Room per night inclusive of daily breakfast, free Internet access, and a choice of one dinner or a 55-minute Khmer traditional massage, two-way airport transfer and taxes. It also includes complimentary entry to the spa featuring the outdoor jacuzzi, steam room, sauna, gymnasium and tennis courts and late check-out at 3pm, subject to availability.
What to do there? Wander around old markets for local silver, silk, wood and stone carvings or check out the floating villages and fauna on Tonle Sap Lake.
FYI, the ‘Palace’ features 259 rooms and suites including eight private villas and five food & beverage outlets. Package available until 31 August.
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-Ee Waun
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Breakaway - Sites to check out before you leave home


Feeling footloose and fancy free…and soooo ready for a holiday…

But before you book those tickets online, pack your bags and head out the door, here are three essential sites you should check out before taking off.

Take the hassle out of airfare shopping
Newish travel website, www.viasingapore.com, connects you up to places around the Asia-Pacific region, via Singapore Changi Airport. This site is a winner, combing through more than a hundred websites to give you the best fares on offer, making the search for the best airfare a breeze.

Simply divine 
Another recent addition to the scene, travel-related site www.holidaygoddess.com is a heaven-sent resource for women travellers in particular, with contributions from 30 former journalists and editors from fashion/lifestyle mags. Packed with information from “Holiday Goddesses” all around the globe, this will have you clued in on the latest travel news, insider tips and irresistible deals. I lurv the Handbag Guides – cool, quick city snapshots loaded with information on living the high life at the best spas and Michelin-starred restaurants, as well as budget-friendly activities like not-to-be-missed flea markets and discount outlets. Just download, print and go, girl!

Early bird special 
Cut down on boring queue time at the airport by checking in via the Internet. It’s easy: log on to the airline website about two to 48 hours before departure and enter your flight and personal details. A great time saver that gets you to the airport an hour, instead of two or more, before your flight. For a listing of airlines that offer Internet check-in service, see www.changiairport.com.sg, click on Airport Guide, then Departure.

- Lisa



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