5 Travel Tips for Choosing and Booking Accommodation

Something I get asked a lot about travel is HOW DO I CHOOSE HOTELS?

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Stargazer Full of Stars Tents at Wadi Rum Night Luxury Camp, Jordan 

A hotel can make or break your holiday. Choose the wrong one and you can end up miserable, unrested or worse, homeless. But when you choose the right one, it can be the hub from where you launch your adventures and recharge after a full day of exploring.

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Beautiful outdoor toilet at my villa in Ketapang Indah Hotel, Banyuwangi

So aside from the obvious: air conditioning, cleanliness, wifi and no shared bathrooms (ew!), below are 5 things I consider when booking holiday accommodation.

1. CONFIRM THE HOTEL BEFORE YOU ARRIVE

There are plenty of search engines for checking out hotels. Some very very common ones are:

I use them all interchangeably  EXCEPT for booking.com. Unfortunately, I have had a few bad experiences with booking.com. Because it’s only a booking engine, they don’t really confirm your booking and the hotel reserves the right to give away your room to other people who walk in – without notice.

This actually happened to me twice – but on the first time I was lucky, the hotel managed to find me another room so crisis was averted. Second time it happened, I just arrived from a delayed flight and it was 11pm at night.

Me and my travel buddies actually had to walk out at that hour, drag our luggages, and find another hotel! I can never forget that night!

Can u imagine doing that if you are travelling with children? Or elder members of your family?

As I also sometimes travel solo, I want to avoid this situation of having to be homeless so I MUST MUST MUST confirm the hotel before I arrive.

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Sheraton Bandung Hotel & Towers – one of the few luxury chain hotels that I’ve stayed in – beautiful and fantastic stay – especially the marshmallow beds ❤

My personal favourite is actually Agoda -reliable and you pay for your room before you arrive so it’s confirmed.

Sometimes, I also use Airbnb. Some lovely apartments available and it’s a plus if they come equipped with a washing machine.

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Successful Airbnb booking – an apartment in MyHabitat, just off KLCC

This however, I use with caution and only if I am confident with the country I am travelling to. Some apartments are near to main attractions but located in ghetto neighbourhoods which may not be suitable for lady travellers.

In this case research is very important. I also always keep comparing Airbnb with a hotel to see if the price is similar, but usually, I almost always prefer staying in a hotel over an Airbnb.

2. CHECK THE REVIEWS

I cannot stress the important of reviews, and plenty of it. I tend to avoid chain hotels to be honest and love to opt for boutique hotels, villas, restored homes. They have more character, value add, and often, the operator of the hotel is the one greeting you at the reception.

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Villa Dreams II in Selcuk, has the most fantabulous host! He is also the restaurateur, the driver, porter, concierge as well as the receptionist. All in one haha. We loved our stay here!

So for me, reviews are super important! The more reviews a location has the better, and the more 5 stars it gets the better.

Pay attention to things that matter to you but rarely gets mentioned under amenities:

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Bedouin Tents equipped with SEVEN layers of blankets ensure we never become cold in the dead of winter at Seven Wonders Bedouin Camp.

If you are like me: I check for reviews on friendly hosts, helpful staff, bum sprays haha, if the hot water is hot enough and if the internet is fast. I used to require elevators, but now since I carry a backpack that doesn’t really matter.

If you are a parent: check for stroller friendly elevators, if they can assist you to store your breast milk.

Also the location – which brings me to the next point.

3. LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION

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Our Airbnb in Rome, was located above an LV boutique and barely 2 minutes walk from the Spanish Steps!

This is so important OMG!

 

Make sure you are in a location where if possible, you are within walking distance to stuff like 7-11, restaurants, malls, and if possible – main attractions! This will ensure the place is siok and you don’t need to travel much to  eat and see the sights and sounds of that destination.

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Flora Hotel Apartments in Dubai, one of the more affordable stays in the city, located smack in the middle of Deira area and 2-3 minute walk to the Baniyas Square Metro Sation.

Aside from landmarks, depending on your travel style, you may want to choose a hotel that is near public transport such as LRT/MRT. Or if the hotel is easily accessible by car so you can easily Grab or Uber.

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The Holiday Inn Express Siam in Bangkok is a short walk away from the BTS Station – National Stadium and you can even see it from the window haha.

Otherwise, choose a hotel that offers value add services like bicycle for rent, or shuttle services to the nearest attraction/mall, or perhaps it just needed to be located nearby a scooter renter.

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Woke up fresh and early at 23 Love Lane (my current favourite hotel EVER) and now off to explore Penang on our scooters! 

4. AMENITIES

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A must in Cappadocia – staying in a cave hotel. In my case, this stay in the Elif Star Cave Hotel was one of my most memorable stays!!!!

Just because you are staying in a cave hotel doesn’t mean you cannot have WIFI. Check the amenities they provide like laundry, hot water (a must for me!), parking (if you have your own vehicle),

Or if you are a parent with small children: maybe a baby cot?

If it’s a country where halal food is not readily available, perhaps a kitchenette is  required?

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A room equipped with a kitchenette at the Isabel Garden Hotel in Manila for a short stay in Manila

Perhaps it’s an island getaway so you wanna be sure what sort of facilities they have once the sun sets and you just wanna chill?

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Outdoor movies for nights you don’t want to hang out at the club at Hotel Ombak Sunset, Gili Trawangan.

Perhaps you have plans of monging around at the pool so that’s another thing to consider.

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Pool overlooking the hillside at our honeymoon suite in Sea Pearl Villas, Phuket.

5. DON’T STAY IN ONE PLACE

Who says you have to stay in one place?

Found 2 hotels you like? Stay one day there, and one day another place. Sometimes this method is quite a rewarding way to experience a country.

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The Everly Putrajaya, located right next to Alamanda Shopping Centre, was my hub to exploring the administrative capital on my final day in Malaysia. It was a luxury hotel but extremely affordable. 

Want to stay in a fancy hotel/villa but can’t afford it for the whole duration of your holiday? Then book your final night in a fancy hotel, and stay in a more affordable hotel for the rest of your trip.

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Awesome campsite experience in AZ Back to Nature in Temburong

Or maybe you want to try a homestay or a campsite experience but don’t think you can handle “culture” or nature for more than 1 night? Who says u have to? Hahaha.

Yes it is slightly inconvenient to move hotels but it can be quite fun as well!

For example, during my trip to India, we took the famous Konkani Express  (train) and saved 1 night of hotel by taking the night train.

Furthermore as it was super comfortable, we arrived at our destination fresh as a daisy! ❤

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That’s the end guys, hope u guys found this guide useful. All in all, don’t rush to book, they require just a little bit of research and reading,  but don’t leave it to the absolute last minute or you will feel anxious about choosing the perfect one.

Remember, it’s all about the journey not the destination! 🙂

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48 Hours in Negeri Sembilan, Malacca and Kuala Lumpur

Some people say, in travel, the first 24 hours will mark the tone of how your trip will be.

Is that true?

Day 1

8am

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Breaking into my AWESOME 44L Military Cabinzero. I have to say at first when I received it, I was skeptical. I am used to my Karrimor, with all the compartments, and fancy features. But boy was I wrong!

This bag  was really amazing! It simplified my travel, was sturdy but ultra light, and best of all was cabin sized so I never had to check in any luggage!

I could fit all my clothes, all my toiletries, all my makeup, my brushes, my bag of chargers and everything I need for 7 days of travel (plus extra space for my Uniqlo shopping too!).

930am

Left Brunei via Royal Brunei! I can see my office!IMG_8107.JPG

IMG_8111.JPGI love the timing of this flight. Arrived at 12pm and just in time to explore!

12pm

Or in my case, drive to Melaka!

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Here we are in Dahlia’s car. (WHY DID WE FORGET TO TAKE GROUP PHOTO?)

Dahlia is a friend I met during SSEAYP in 2008. Been to KL many times, but since I always come impromptu or for transits, we never got the chance to do an overnight roadtrip. This is the first time we ever went somewhere really far together and I daresay this won’t be the last!

1pm

Lunchtime!!! On the way to Melaka, we dropped by Negeri Sembilan (N9).

Best part of travelling with a local is that we get to try local haunts! Dropped by Aunty Aini’s Garden Cafe, which is known for their local dishes in the style of Negeri Sembilan.

According to this article, Anthony Bourdain has actually been here! Haha.

Negeri Sembilan’s food is known for being creamy and spicy – one signature dish is the daging salai masak lemak cili api.

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We had: kuih keria, daging salai masak lemak cili api, kailan ikan masin, sotong goreng kunyit, udang masak sambal petai and the telur itik masak lemak cili api.

NYAMAN! All the food were balanced, bursting with flavours, spicy but not overly spicy, and all around very sedap.

For dessert:

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Tapai Pulut with Vanilla Icecream!

OMG.It’s true what people say, keep cool after eating tapai (jangan bejamur karang mabuk)..

I definitely became mabuk cause immediately after, I felt so dizzy and 30 minutes after that dessert, VOMITED IN A PLASTIC BAG INSIDE A MOVING CAR!!! Hahahahahahahahah!!!

Oh dear. Luckilly an R&R was nearby so we stopped to freshen up. Immediately after, I felt well again.

So heed elders advice. LOL.

5pm

Arrived in Melaka! Checked into The Baba House, on Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock, just parallel to Jonker Walk. ❤

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I love the vintage, baba nyonya charm of the place.

More importantly we love the location. Definitely a good choice as it was walking distance from all the main attractions in Melaka!

6pm

It’s chendol time.

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This chendol is located near the big tower clock and the fountain. It was ok but very refreshing on a hot day like this!

630pm

Then off we went to explore Jonker Walk.

Things like antiques, food, durian puffs, beca and aunties karaokeing! It’s like… Portobello Road – anything and everything  a chap can unload is sold off a barrow in Portobello Road.

9pm

It’s dinner time. And when in Melaka, you eat ASAM PEDAS.

Highly recommended was this place right in front of Casa Del Rio called Hajjah Mona Asam Pedas. Value eats! For RM5 u get a big plate of rice, ikan kembung asam pedas, telur masin and taugeh!

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Also cause there was a satay cart, we can’t resist!

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Sedap and so cheap!

Dahlia mentioned that her Melaka uncle said here the asam pedas is really close to the authentic Melaka asam pedas.

10pm

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Back to the hotel to recharge for the next day!

Day 2

9am

Check out from The Baba House and left our stuff at the hotel.

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915am

A hunt for breakfast down on Jonker Walk can turn up so many awesome finds. #distracted

10am

Stop at Mamee Jonker House!

Who doesn’t love Mamee Monster!!!

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We enjoyed our time at the Mamee Museum and to our delight theres also a cafe at the back serving yummy food!

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They serve really nice chendol gula melaka! Nyaman!

So enjoy here!

11am onwards

After breakfast we managed to visit these monuments:

Malacca Port

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Tourists on the loose.

Flor Del Mar

According to Wikipedia:

Flor Del Mar was a Portuguese nau (carrack) of 400 tons, which over nine years participated in decisive events in the Indian Ocean until her sinking in November 1511. Nobleman Afonso de Albuquerque was returning from the conquest of Malacca, bringing with him a large treasure trove for the Portuguese king, when the ship was lost off the coast of Sumatra.

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So interesting! Read here.

Sungai Melaka

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Cruise down Sungai Melaka down the city

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This is when we saw many interesting sights.

A Famosa

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A Famosa was a Portuguese fortress located in Malacca, Malaysia. It is among the oldest surviving European architectural remains in south east Asia. The Porta de Santiago, a small gate house, is the only part of the fortress which still remains today.

(Source)

Independence Memorial

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Ok by this time it was like 1pm and SO FREAKING panas berabis so we decided to go back to the car and leave for KL. But first:

Lunch at Jom Coffee

We badly needed airconditioning so we simply went inside the mall infront of the Independence Memorial and had a meal at Jom Coffee.

2pm

Headed back to KL, but first, we dropped by the Freeport A’Famosa Outlet.

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3pm

Cendol Bakar!

No it’s not burnt cendol but actually Bakar is the name of the person who made the cendol. Haha saspen! All the same we enjoyed lovely R&R here perfect before our trip back to KL.

8pm

Arrived back in Kuala Lumpur at 8pm and believe it or not, after all the food we ate that day, we were famished! So guess what we did. Yes. Dropped by Publika to EAT.

Eat we did at Ben’s General Food Store. So fun! We get to choose our meats from the butcher and the restaurant actually grills them for u. NYAMAN!

Also we saw Mira Filzah shopping for groceries – she must be staying around the area.

10pm

IMG_8530.JPGThe night ended at Dahlia’s house. I slept like a baby after taking this panoramic view outside her apartment window. Haha!

Further reading (HAHA):

Next post: PENANG!!!

Positively Fat

I am size 16 so I am what you call, fat.
I admit it’s completely my fault. Haha. I eat decadent things and find exercise extremely tedious.

However, sometimes people use my size as something to make me feel bad about myself. 

The thing is I was once skinny, but the same people deride me for being short. When I wear heels and look and feel taller, those same people will find offense in my voice, or teeth, or hair.


So as you can see, you cannot please people. 

You see, you can be perfect, and people will still find some way to make you feel bad. 

In fact, you can be perfect and YOU yourself find ways to make YOUR OWN SELF feel bad.

So I’m not entirely sure when, but about 10 years or so ago, I decided, enough. 

I may be fat, but that is not a reflection of my heart, all the good things about myself, or all the awesome things I’ve done and am capable of.


The more I observe the more I realise how people who call u names are more insecure about their looks than u are of yours.

I am what you call, confident. 

Why? Because I am relatively highly educated, laugh wholeheartedly every single day of my life, can eat exclusively delicious things, can travel wherever I want, doing what I love and have awesome friends & families who supports everything I do. 


If I ever have advice for u it is this: SNAP OUT OF IT.

Other people have absolutely NO, NIL, NADA, right to judge u and call you names. They don’t know how hard u work to look and be how u are today.

You don’t need negative voices telling u that you are fat, ugly, dark skinned, short. 

Even if u are all of those combined, remember that is not all you are – who says u can’t be smart, sexy, funny, generous, amazingly awesome and happy?


Trust me when the looks go, guess what – ur smartness, sexiness, generosity, awesomeness —- they’re here to stay!