Ms Skinnyfat

A Food & Travel Blog from Singapore

When it comes to picking a ryokan in Japan, i would say that it is hard to find something that sucks. Well, then again just make sure you do some research. For my Kyushu trip, i did my planning really late and little did i know that it kinda coincided with the Japanese long weekend and hence the popular ryokans in Yufuin and Kurokawa were all booked! The horror!

Well, i managed to find something in Yufuin (read my Yufuin travel review here) and it's call Yufuin Onsen Ryoso Yufuin Yamadaya (由布院温泉 旅想 ゆふいん やまだ屋). My considerations for the ryokan in Yufuin was that it shouldn't be too far from the train station so that we didn't have to worry about transportation around the town.

Yamadaya is just a short walk away (7-10 mins stroll) from the station. On the way, we walked past the main stream and there are many ryokans along the streams. 

I liked that there are lots of open spaces in this ryokan.
Little garden right in front. 

Another open garden at the back. The outdoor onsen is located here too.

This is our room! Each room is decorated such that it looks like a little house by itself and it is amazingly spacious.

This is our sitting area/bedroom.
We also have another dedicated dresser/sitting area facing our private garden. 

I picked a room with a private hotspring. Well it turned out to be on the puny side. I don't have an issue using the shared onsen facilities but it's nice to be able to go in for a private soak any time of the day. :) The good thing is that there is a little shower by the side and i do not have to use the public one when i need to shower. 
Another awesome thing about Ryoso Yufuin Yamadaya is that they have a variety of shared hotspring baths!

Clean facilities.

A mix of indoors and outdoors.

Private Family Baths. No booking required. You just need to lock the door from inside. :)

There is also a rooftop bath!
This is the outdoor garden bath i was talking about. Mandatory yutaka shot. :)
Then it was dinner in our own room! I didn't know what i ordered because i had to make the meal booking with the room and they didn't state what's on the menu other than some generic pictures. So i picked an option that showed sashimi and wagyu. Hee. Our first X course was the fresh sashimi with 6 little side dishes and this amazing plum with miso dish.  There was also a tofu dish.

Meat for our shabu shabu! Yum Yum!
Cold udon with eel. Not a fan of the eel but they had me at the udon.

I really love the meal times at these ryokans because they feed you sooooo well. I woke up early for another soak in the onsen before breakfast and it really helped with the appetite. I obviously don't need much encouragement.

Japanese breakfasts are my favorite because there's always a huge variety! And they served me my favorite pumpkin salad, fresh omelette and some pickled vegetables.
We also had freshly fried bacon. Dayums.
Overall, a lovely stay at Ryoso Yufuin Yamadaya. Here are some details on the room that i've booked.
Room: Japanese Style Room (R8) with Shower and Toilet
Meal Plan: Breakfast and Dinner
Price: 18900Y/pax/night including accommodation tax and bathing tax (approx 200-400Y)

If you are looking for other ryokans in Yufuin, these are the others that i was considering. Hope it helps!

Kamenoi Bessou

Yadoya Ohashi

What do you look for when picking a traditional accommodation in Japan? Share it in the comments section!

Yufuin Onsen Ryoso Yufuin Yamadaya
Address: 2855-1, Yufuincho Kawakami, Yufu-shi, Oita, 879-5102 Japan
Tel: 0977-85-3185

The girls and i went on a little getaway some time back. Due to the limited time had, we could only manage a quick escapade to Batam, where we checked out the No. 1 resort, Tempat Senang Boutique Spa and Resort.

The resort is a quick 45 minutes away from Singapore in the Indah Puri Sekupang enclave. We were promptly picked up and ushered onto our private transfer and within minutes, we stepped into the lush gardens of Tempat Senang. Love the tranquility and peace of the surroundings. TS doesn't allow guests below 15 so it's rather perfect for an adult getaway. 

Even though I knew there were only 13 themed room and suites, I was kinda expecting a larger set up with bigger communal spaces. There were 3 mini pools around the resort, and by mini, i mean that 5 (maybe 6) would be a crowd in the pool. The above picture shows the largest pool of the lot, which is located next to the restaurant. 

Prior to booking the suites, we had a hard time deciding on which themed room we wanted. Our top choice was the Thai Room (2-4pax), which has a private Turkish Fish Spa in the room with a stone terrace. The Abu Dhabi Harem Suite also looked really exotic and has a private terrace that looks out to the golf course. Well sadly, these were unavailable and we settled for the Javanese Joglo Suite which came with 2 King Sized beds, one of which is in a little room of its own.
Really cosy isn't it?
Our 4 poster king sized bed was very comfortable too and the nets kept the mosquitoes from biting us.
The room is rather large, with a small sitting area as shown above and another bigger one where we hung out over Moscato, snacks and movies. There is also a front porch with table and chairs. The room is on the dim side though the toilet is very well lit. Be prepared for some visitors e.g. lizards, bugs and the likes as we've been told they are rather eco-friendly. We were visited by a little mouse who came in through the roof and played hide and seek with us on the beams. We just let it be and it left shortly (we hoped).
Other than catering for groups, Tempat Senang also provides a solo traveler package in their Standard themed China Room and it costs from S$235 nett/pax for 2D1N stay.

Included in the price for the overnight stay is a 3 hour spa session for each guest. You can customize your own spa session from the variety of treatments available. We did a variety of facial, hair spa, massage, scrubs and wraps. The massage was truly relaxing and before we knew it, it was time for dinner.
Dinner was served on the open-air terrace restaurant which offers a range of traditional Indonesian, Western, and Thai dishes. We had the Beer Can Chicken for 2 (S$49), a 1.6kg chicken placed over a can and baked on the BBQ. Sadly it was bland and a little on the dry side. This was served with a huge side of mash potatoes.
The Nasi Campur for 2 ($49) was delicious and more traditionally Indonesian. Well marinated and tender Beef rendang, Gado gado, Lumpia, Satay, kaffir lime chicken, fish fillet, acar, emping crackers and rice. This more than enough made up for the tasteless chicken.

Make sure you bring your own entertainment and snacks. While there is a collection of pirated DVDs available, it can get quite boring. Remember that you're kinda in the outback and there aren't shopping centers or restaurants around. The snacks selection from the 'convenience' store is also miserable and the kitchen closes at 7.30pm.
Breakfast is provided and a small spread of local food is available. The nasi lemak had us going for seconds. An egg station provides guests with freshly cooked eggs.

The raisin brioche was superb with the honey and marmalade too!

If you wish to get some shopping done before heading home, get the open ferry ticket which allows you to arrive at Sekupang and depart from Batam Center. The transfer from the Resort to Batam Center will cost you S$10. Make sure you arrange for the return tickets with the Resort upon arrival. 

I wouldn't say that Tempat Senang Batam Resort is the most fantastic weekend getaway, i think i would have enjoyed Montigo Resorts much more (i prefer modern touches). But if you want to be closer to nature and just getting away from the crowd, Tempat Senang isn't a bad choice, just that it's a little pricy (but hey, spa is included). I wouldn't recommend a stay longer than 2D1N unless you are the bummer sort since there isn't a beach here.

The rates are as follows: 
Weekday (Mon - Thu) and Weekend (Fri - Sun, PH)
2D1N S$235/$259 nett per pax
3D2N $259/359 nett per pax
Prices are for 2-3pax in standard themed suite, upgrade at additional costs.
For 4pax or more, prices start from $204 in the bigger suites/apartments.

Tempat Senang
Indah Puri Sekupang,
Batam Indonesia
Tel: +62 778 325 616

If Apple were to design a hotel, it would look like Nine Hours (9h). Clean and sleek lines, futuristic and stark design, idiot friendly check in system, minimalist comfort. Welcome to the future of capsule hotels, right smack in the heart of traditional Kyoto.

We stayed here just for a night because it's too cool not to be checked out and the novelty of sleeping in a capsule was certainly a major pull factor.
The concept: 1 hour shower + 7 hours sleep + 1 hour rest = 9 hours; the optimum length of time for a short yet complete stay. Signs guide you silently and effectively. Quite perfect for the antisocial. Shoe check, luggage check, and then off to the showers.
Follow the number on your key tag and deposit your belongings in the locker. The size is big enough for a cabin bag or medium sized backpack.
Fresh towels, toothbrush set, a comfortable set of PJs and slippers welcome you after a long day of transit. 
A hot shower awaits and there's even a shared hot tub on the other side of the frosted door should you need a relaxing soak. 
I felt like Scarlett Johansson in The Island after donning the chic black pjs. The gender specific lifts will take you to your designated sleeping pods. Certainly very safe for solo women travelers.
The quiet and dimly lit pods were very conducive for a deep rest. There's ample head and leg room even for the non Asian travelers.
No worries about alarms going off while you are asleep. A sleep ambient control system is used to help you fall asleep and wake naturally to the brightness level in the pod. How cool is that right? A shade shields you from the outside world without causing claustrophobia. 

The pods are for 900Y for a day and you can stay up to a maximum of 17h (not just 9h). There's even a sleek space for work or lounging. I'd definitely recommend this for travelers who want a centrally located spot in Kyoto for a short stay. 

Check out the video for a better sense of how 9h is like.

Nine Hours Kyoto Teramachi
588 Teianmaeno-cho, Shijyo, Teramachi-dori,
Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto, 600-8031 Japan
Tel: +81 75-353-9005
Central and Eastern Europe is pretty much misunderstood by the typical Singaporean. When people heard that I was going to Croatia, questions that inevitably popped up were - “Is it safe?” “Do they have proper roads?” “What are you gonna eat? Peasant food?” “Is the water drinkable?” "Don't die there please."

Well... I came back in one piece. In fact, I came back a bigger piece because the food was awesome and I had a ball of a time. 
One of the best meals in my life. That's me mopping up the last bits of my shrimps dish.
S marveled at how this is one of the rare times that i actually finished all of my food without being forced to. 

And seriously people, Croatia is a developed country just without all that huge commercial brands and overly touristy stuff. AND we felt much safer here than in the typical crime ridden European countries like Spain, Paris, Greece and Italy or London. We walked around late at night and had no issues at all.

I suppose that is just the “Paranoid Singaporean” syndrome kicking in. The distrust and wariness we have of all things foreign and strange. I’m not saying it’s not good; we have only our upbringing and artificially safe environment to blame for that. But sometimes you just got to live a little, be a little trusting even when gut reaction tells you to pick up your slippers and run in the opposite direction. 

So anyway, it was 1 awesome trip to Croatia. 11 days. Left footprints in 6 countries. Transited in 2 countries, Qatar (Doha) and Hungary (Budapest), visited 3 countries, Croatia, Slovenia, Montenegro and threw in a pit stop in Bosnia
View from Dubrovnik Old Town.

The stops went like this. Singapore-Doha-Budapest- [Croatia] Zagreb- [Slovenia] Ljubijana (day trip)- [Croatia] Plitvice National Parks- Zadar- Sibenik(day trip)- Split- Hvar & Pakleni Island (day trip)- [Bosnia] (beach stop)- Dubrovnik- [Montenegro] Sveti Stefan & Kotor- [Croatia] Lokrum Island- Zagreb- [Singapore]. It seems like a crazy packed to the brim kinda holiday but it wasn't. We had lots of time to chill out at caffe bars, chase waterfalls, sunbathe with a bunch of naturalists, catch sunsets, do nothing at all. 

Chilling out at Buza- Bar on a Cliff in Dubrovnik 

What's cool is that we didn't break the bank for the trip. Well i never break the bank unless there's shopping involved. Here's a breakdown of how much we spent.

Air ticket-approx SGD1.7k (Qatar Airways)

Travel expenses (food, accommodation, car rental, sights)- 1000 Euros each. We had a range of meals from budget to high end but 1 good meal a day is guaranteed (by good i don't mean it has to be expensive). 40-50Euros would get you 2 mains, 2 starters and drinks. 

Accommodation- Mid range apartments and 1 4* Hotel (which wasn't fantastic). 70-100Euros/night
Currency- Croatian Kunas. Bring Euros for currency exchange in Croatia (that's if Euro is still in use then). Current exchange rate 1Euro:1.613SGD. S$1: 4.5KN approx. You do the math.
Our lovely apartment in Zadar. Huge and rustic with Wifi, AC, Satellite TV and Jacuzzi shower.
The best time to visit Croatia is probably early to mid June. Get a golden tan. Swim in the cool sapphire Adriatic sea. Party hard at cross country festivals. Trek under the shade of vast green canopies. Hop on and off ferries with efficient summer schedules. Avoid high season prices and 3am parties at overbooked hotels.
My very own swimming pool in Bosnia.

I'm really glad that we went on this trip before too many Asians and Singaporeans hit the beautiful Adriatic coast and before it's marred by all the cut throat tourism and scams. We were practically the only Asians/Singaporeans in some towns.
Sunset at the top of Dubrovnik at our secret spot
Croatia has got to be one of my favorite countries at the moment (because i will never stop exploring cool places). Travel to Croatia, will you?
Some time back in Feb when Z and i celebrated her birthday with our sassy weekend in KL, we stayed at the wonderful Fraser Place Serviced Apartments. We were choosing between several chain hotels but decided on a serviced apartment instead for a more cosy stay and we were spot on with our choice. Fraser Place Kuala Lumpur has recently been crowned the Tripadvisor's Travelers' Choice® 2012 for being the most trendy and luxurious in its category.

View from the 18th floor Pool at day break

Situated right in the heart of the capital, Fraser Place is conveniently located within the KL's Golden Triangle, which has the highest concentration of renowned shopping, entertainment and commercial facilities. We were situated a mere 5-10minutes walk away from the Suria KLCC mall, Pavilion mall and foodie heaven Bukit Bintang Street.

What really impressed us was the hospitality that greeted us upon arrival. The staff were extremely helpful and made us feel right at home immediately even though we arrived way before our check in time. We were given access to the 18th floor pools and entertainment facilities where we freshened ourselves with a dip in the outdoor infinity pool before heading out for brunch. The gym is also very well equipped with new machines and also a yoga room! There are also 2 game rooms- Xbox Kinnect and Nintendo Wii available for play if one decides to stay in.
Absolutely great way to start our awesome girly weekend! 
Heated Indoor pool with Sauna facilities
The apartments were newly furnished contemporary design elements that made for a cosy and chic stay. Firm and springy King size beds that made us feel like princesses with plush pillows and silky bed sheets. The spacious lounge area could be converted into a private dance floor, with the comprehensive home entertainment system to provide music to groove to ( Yea that's what we do in hotel rooms). The floor to ceiling windows let in natural light that brightens up the place, creating the illusion of space (not that it wasn't spacious enough). 
Our studio apartment also came with a fully equipped kitchenette, induction cooker, utensils, crockery and cutleries, microwave oven, coffee maker and all! I wanted to cook lunch for Z but obviously she didn't trust me with my cooking skills. :(
Instead, we settled for takeaway tea from Ben's General Store (Read about my review here) and chilled out in the comfort of our lovely room. 
Breakfast is served at the ground floor cafe and there's a decent spread of western and local cuisine.
For about 330RM a night, you could enjoy a pleasant stay when you next head over to the cosmopolitan city for a weekend getaway or for business. Bigger apartments and long term stay options are also available.
Will definitely be back the next time i head over. :)

Fraser Place Kuala Lumpur
Lot 163 No 10 Jalan Perak, Kuala Lumpur 50450, Malaysia
Tel: +603 2118 6288
Fax: +603 2118 6388