Wonderful Singapore Airlines

2013 July 15, Monday

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I would like to commend on the excellent service on Singapore Airlines’ cabin crew and ground staff.

I flew to Bali for a wedding on 3rd July 2013 and had left my favourite pair of sunglasses behind in the seat pocket.  I was kinda sleepy hence the carelessness.

I realised only when I got to the hotel and thought maybe I’d contact Lost & Found to give a shot. Then I got busy and forgot all about it.

And guess what happened!  On the day I left Bali, I got a really nice surprise as I boarded the plane.  When I handed my boarding pass to the staff, he scanned it and then spoke to me, “Hello Mr Lee, did you leave anything behind on the plane when you came to Bali?”. I was like, “my sunglasses??”.   He then handed it over to me with a big smile and I was sooooo happy!

This shows the honesty, pride and integrity of the staff.  Either the cabin crew who or the staff who turned over the aircraft after we landed must have found it and handed it in to the ground staff to to safekeep for me.

Well done Singapore Airlines for such outstanding service!

I’m seen wearing the pair of sunglasses in question in the picture above. 😉

I’m in cold, cold Beijing now for work and will be returning to Singapore on Friday night cuz I’m gonna have a long day this Saturday.

Besides doing a friend’s makeup for her wedding, I’ll be doing makeup demos featuring the Christmas collections of The Body Shop and Chanel.  Thank goodness they’re both within Raffles City.  After which I’ll cross over to Raffles Hotel for my friend’s wedding dinner.  Won’t have to worry about traffic situations.  Lucky me.  🙂

In the following posts, I’ll let you guys preview the two very different collections.

On another note, I’d like to mention that I was in Shenzhen for the past 3 days and was at a HUGE, 5 floor spa which was a big eye opener for me.  Queen Spa & Dining. It is so huge it’s bigger than Tangs Department Store in Orchard Road.  A wide range of services from various spa pools, to your regular foot and body treatments, manicure & pedicure, F&B and business facilities, and even mahjong and pool games.  Apparently many people come here from Hong Kong and shop till evening then check into the spa and spend the night there relaxing and taking naps and don’t even need to book a hotel room.  (there is baggage storage facility if needed)  I had a very very good Chinese Physician therapy.  The physician was so good he knew just where I needed more work on without me having to tell him.  Also had my foot skin scraped followed by a foot massage.  The therapist used what looked like a metal ruler and gently scraped away the hard skin around my feet leaving them looking nice, smooth and clean!  Check it out yourselves.  http://www.queenspa.cn

Havana before heading back to NYC

2009 July 30, Thursday

And here is the last one of the Cuba series!  hee…

So after enjoying the beautiful waters at Playa del Este, we headed back to Havana where we stayed one last night before flying back to NYC.

But before returning the car.  We went to see the statue we’ve been seeing but no chance to get close to.  It was the Cristo de la Habana. The statue of Jesus Christ.  Situated at a lookout at Casablanca (same area where we saw the firing of the canon).  The statue looked huge from afar but was smaller than it seemed.  After that, we returned the car and took a walk around.  And of course we had to have more of that yummy chocolate shake at the chocolate museum again.

And our last dinner in Havana was da bomb!  It was in Paladar La Guarida.  The ambience and the food were just divine!  We were lucky we got a table without reservations cuz we went at like 6:30pm.  Had we gone later and we would not have been able to dine there.  The restaurant became full soon after we started dining. (www.laguarida.com)

After dinner, we went to check out Callejon de Hamel, a famous alley where many murals and sculptures, by famous Cuban artist Salvador Gonzalez, are present.  It would have been gorgeous in daylight but we had an early flight to catch the next morning 😦

Cienfuegos and Playa del Este

2009 July 30, Thursday

Here’s my final two instalments to my Cuban vacation.

On our way to Playa del Este, we decided to drive into Cienfuegos to check it out.  Cienfuegos, like Singapore, was founded in 1819.  It is a small maritime city with somewhat more modern architecture as compared to Havana and Trinidad.  We had lunch by the sea and continued our drive towards Playa del Este.

Playa del Este is like a 20 minute drive east of Havana.  It consists of a few beaches.  Santa Maria beach, Bucuranao and Playa Guanabo.  It is where people from Havana go to for a short break.  There are a few resorts there and many casa particulares of course.  Now don’t expect a Banyan Tree or Four Seasons there.  The resorts are very laid back and offer the basics of a hotel room and that’s about it.  No room service or cable TV etc.

It had the most amazing beach!  I know Maldives and Mauritius boast like the world’s clearest of sea water.  But Cuba is just as clear!  And it is calmer than the former two.  There was only occasional gentle waves so it made swimming in the clear blue sea a very inviting thought.  But if you’d like to surf, then I’m sorry…

It was a real treat to us after being on the road for so long.  We settled into a 2 storey bungalow and went for dinner.  The next day, we spent like the whole day on the beach skipping lunch and just soaked up the sun.  BLISS!  In the evening, we had cocktails by the beach and watched the sun go down.  🙂

Trinidad in Cuba

2009 June 20, Saturday

So here is another delayed instalment of my Cuban vacation series.  On our 4th day in Cuba, we headed for Trinidad which is somewhere in the middle of Cuba towards the south-eastern direction from Havana.  We drove for about 5-6 hours to get there.  It would’ve taken less time had there been clearer road signs along the highway.  Firstly, there weren’t clear lines in the middle of the highway or even arrows to indicate the directions.  So people who are used to the right hand drive will have to be careful not to go on the wrong side after making turns etc.  Next, we missed an important turn because of lack of road signs and ended up almost back at the beginning of the highway.  So we had to be extra careful not to make a mistake again or we would’ve ended up arriving in Trinidad after dark.  And we haven’t gotten ourselves accommodation.

Several times, had to ask people along the highways to ask if we were on the right track.  Yes!  There were people along the highway, and they were hitching rides.  We wondered why they were hitching rides in the middle of nowhere.  Then we figured they must’ve gotten off when the rides they hitched were going to make turns not in their favour.  They’d get off there and hitch another ride towards their destinations.  Many of them would wave money at you for the ride.  An eye opener for us.

There was this guy whom we asked for directions who wanted to asked us to take him cuz he was going to Trinidad as well.  We would’ve taken him but our car was small and with our luggage, there was no room for a one more person. 😦

As we were almost reaching, we saw that this part of the road was covered with reddish/orangey stuff.  I thought that they were prawns falling off trucks while being transported.  But it turned out that they were crabs run over by vehicles as they were crossing the road.  The smell of dried seafood filled the air when we opened our windows to check it out.

We finally arrived and there were touts who would come to you and offer to take you to a casa particulares.  The guide book mentioned that they would try to lie that the casa you have booked have been taken up so that they could earn a commission from the casa they’re taking you to.  

Anyway, we looked on our own and found this nice one after a few tries.  The outside looked so-so, but the inside was nice and spacious.  The host was a nice couple and they offered us breakfast at 3CUC each.  

After settling in, we went to check out the beach (Playa Ancon) and had dinner at the Plaza Mayor, which was recommended by the host.  There was live music and we had some drinks and our cigars we bought at the cigar factory in Havana.  After dinner, we took a stroll and the loud, happy music drew us closer to a square where many people were merry making.  A live band, drinking and dancing!  Samba!  Rhumba!  Cha-cha-cha!  We blended in immediately and had so much fun.

The following two days were sightseeing.  During this time, I discovered a drink called Canchánchara.  This drink is only available here (cuz I asked for it when we were back in Havana and was told so).  It’s a cocktail made up of lemon juice, honey and Santero Cuban rum.  I loved it!  (I was also happy to find that House at Dempsey serves it!)

Speaking of drinks, we were amazed by a disco club built in a cave!  This cave was on top of a hill and upon entering, a flight of stairs led us down to the main hall.  There was some kind of earthy smell but I was ok with it.  We were there around midnight but the club was very empty still.  We left soon as were were tired and wanted to rest.

Havana part 2

2009 April 25, Saturday

Viva la Habana! part 1

2009 April 25, Saturday

25 March 2009

We flew Mexicana from Cancun, which was just around 1 hour.  Mexicana had the most legroom I’ve ever seen in economy class.  After arriving at José Martí Airport, we soon found out Cubans are very proud of their country and they warmly welcome tourists.  They would smile happily upon hearing you like Cuba or will tell you, “Enjoy my country!”.  Cuba is pretty safe on the whole.  You don’t get the feeling of being preyed on by touts or cheats etc.  Cubans are generally nice people.  They are generous with information and directions even if you do not take up their offer of their services or wares the peddlers are trying to sell you.  

In Cuba, don’t expect to be able to use your ATM cards to withdraw cash.  For there is no such thing as CIRRUS, PLUS etc.  You can use your credit card to get cash or change your money at banks or at CADECA casas de cambio (money exchange bureau).  Bear in mind that an 11% charge on top of the exhange rate will be charged.  20% if you are exchanging from cash in US dollars but no charge with other currencies.  Credit cards are not commonly accepted.  And if it is, there’s an 11% charge on top of the tab.

The Cuban Peso is for the locals only.  Tourists will have to use the Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC).  1 CUC is approximately 1.10USD.  

There are many hotels within Havana.  But they are mostly full during high season.  Between January and April.  Which was when we were there.  If you can’t get any rooms in hotels, you may want to consider the casa particulares.  They are actually rooms rented out to tourists by regular home owners.  They are registered with the government so it is  very safe.  You actually have to register with your passport with them.  Rooms are very reasonably priced.  In Havana it is usually between 25-40CUC per room.  Some even provide breakfast for a few more CUCs per person.

Taxis are all over the place.  Some are obvious taxis with the sign and “uniform” look.  And others look just like any other car.  I personally think some of them are privately owned cars and not licensed taxis and are out to earn some money.  It doesn’t matter anyway because virtually no taxi run by meter in Cuba.  You’ll just have to agree on a price before hopping on.  

There are many places to eat.  But we really loved eating at the paladars.  Paladars are home-run restaurants that offer meals at reasonable prices.  And we found them better than standard restaurants.  Some of which are located in places you’ll never ever guess a restaurant would exist.

So much for now.  Till I have more notes to share as I post more pictures.  Hope you’ll like them.  🙂

Cuba via Cancun

2009 April 14, Tuesday

Late March. My friends and I were going to travel to Cuba from New York but there was no direct flight from NYC (now there is.  grrr…) so we decided to do a stopover in Cancun.

More pics from Cuba shall follow.  🙂