Wednesday, November 8, 2017

[Sponsored] Gaston Luga Plankan Cardholder In Black

Photo By: Elin Chow

Contactless payment is getting more and more popular across the world, mainly because of their simplicity, convenience and shorter processing time. Nowadays, people often carry more cards than cash because cards are apparently more convenient to carry and use than cash. As a result, slim cardholder wallets are getting increasingly popular due to its sleek and slim design.


I received a Plankan Cardholder Wallet from Gaston Luga a week ago. The package was shipped from Estonia by DHL Express, and took only 2 days to arrive in Kuala Lumpur! That was really really fast!


Debossed with Gaston Luga logo pattern, this handmade leather wallet has been expertly crafted from high quality leather, which gives the wallet a stylish and glossy look. The leather is also extremely nice to touch and guarantee maximum durability.


Measuring 10.3 x 7.7 cm, the Plankan cardholder features 4 exterior card size slots and one inner pocket for cash (as many as 16 cash notes) or cards. In terms of capacity, it does not hold as much compared to your usual bulky wallet. Despite that, it is still able to keep all your essential cards and a good amount of cash well-organized without the bulk.

The design of Plankan is very minimalistic. It is lightweight and compact, without any unnecessary zips, lining or fastening - just perfect for everyday use. When packed with cards and cash, the wallet is still as slim as an iPhone. But it fits everything you need, and slides effortlessly into your tightest pocket.


The Plankan is available in two colors (black and brown) to fit any styles. It is a must have for every man and even woman. Some of the main features of the Plankan includes:

- Ability to hold 1 to 5 cards
- Give you everything you need without the bulk
- High quality leather gives a luxurious look
- Almost invisible in pocket due to its slim and lightweight design
- Easy access to your cards and cash

It is great for anyone looking for a slim wallet that is easily accessible, stylish and comfortable to carry in your pockets. The Plankan currently retails at RM 215. Price is not cheap but still fairly affordable for a handmade leather product. For my readers, you can my code "elinchow15" to get 15% off your order from Gaston Luga website.

A great news! Gaston Luga has recently launched a limited seasonal offer for the upcoming holiday season, where a free leather address tag will be added to every backpack order by a customer. Offer is valid while stock lasts, so hurry up!

No monetary compensation was received for this review and all opinions expressed were my own. Thank you Guston Luga for sending me this gorgeous wallet!

Be sure to follow me on Facebook or Twitter  for any latest updates on my blog. So stay tuned!

Friday, November 3, 2017

[Hatyai, Thailand 2017] How I Spend 3 Days 2 Nights In Hatyai


Photo By: Elin Chow

Last month, I went on a 4 days 3 nights (or to be exact, 3 days 2 nights) family trip to Hatyai, a city in Southern Thailand near the Malaysian border. Hatyai is the largest city in Songkhla Province and the fourth largest in Thailand. It is a popular tourist destination for both Malaysians and Singaporeans due to its proximity to Malaysia. Hatyai have comparatively lesser western visitors compared to other tourist destinations in Thailand.

We chose to take a bus from Kuala Lumpur to Hatyai instead of flying, which took longer and saw us traveling throughout the night. The trip began at 8.30 pm from Kuala Lumpur and we arrived at Padang Besar at 5.30 am. Wow! A 9 hours bus journey from Kuala Lumpur to Hatyai. It was very uncomfortable and I could barely sleep. That was really a tortuous long journey.

Immigration clearance took over an hour. I was asked to do my passport clearing in a small room while others stand in a queue and wait for their turn. This allowed me to avoid the crazy long queue at the immigration. But why? This is because under the new Thai Visa rules, Singaporeans arriving via land by bus or rail have to obtain a visa in advance if you are visiting Hatyai for the third time or more in a calendar year. Due to that, I am required to clear my passport separately from the Malaysian group.


Passing through the immigration control and security, we finally stepped into Thailand's territory. A quick check of my watch showed it was slightly past 7 am. The sun was already shining brightly in the sky, but I am tired from the long day of traveling. I am not excited to explore the city.

Getting Around

Getting around Hatyai is fairly easy. The cheapest and most convenient way to get around is by Tuk Tuks. Tuk Tuks are abundant and can be easily flagged down anywhere in Hatyai. Prices are ridiculously cheap if you compared to Phuket and Bangkok.

A ride in city usually costs between 20 to 60 baht. But some Tuk Tuk drivers may try to overcharge, but don't worry, you can always negotiate and haggle the fares.

Language

English is rarely spoken in Hatyai. Due to its proximity to Malaysia, most of the locals are able to speak Mandarin, Malay or Teochew dialect. We do not have much problems communicating with the locals.

Temple Tour

October is the month when Thailand celebrate one of the country most popular cultural celebration known as the Vegetarian Festival. The festival is believed to be based on the Nine Emperor Gods Festival. Since the main purpose of this Hatyai trip is to pray to the Nine Emperor Gods, the itinerary includes visits to several temples.

I could not remember the names of the temples we visited. In total, we visited three temples. Here are some photos I took at the temples.

Temple 1

Breakfast 

During the Vegetarian Festival, worshipers are required to observe a strict vegetarian diet for 10 days. We had vegetarian meals for both breakfast and lunch. To be honest, the vegetarian food were very mediocre and I did not eat much.

Temple 2
Temple 3


Temple 4

Lunch

After filling our stomach, we proceeded to pay our respect and made offerings to the gods.

There are actually not much to see or do in Hatyai, except shopping and eating. Hatyai is known as a  shopping destination for both Thais and tourists. But most of the shopping centres, markets, restaurants and entertainment venues closed early at 2 pm due to cremation ceremony for His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej. Even 7-11 are closed! Yes, we were just unlucky. We have booked the trip right before Thailand announced the date for the Royal Cremation. As a result, we were left with very little time to shop.

Thai Lee Seng Products

Thai Lee Seng Products is a local food product shop run by Chinese Thais. Almost all the Malaysian tourists who visit Hatyai by tour will visit Thai Lee Seng Products. The shop offers all kinds of food products that Malaysians and Singaporeans love. You will find cashew nuts, assortment of dried fruits, seafood products and snacks. Prices are reasonable but not really cheap. That was also why we did not buy much here.

Nora Plaza

Just like Thai Lee Seng Products, Nora Plaza is a huge retail mall specially built for Malaysians and Singaporeans. You will find very few (almost none) locals and western tourists here. The Thai assistants who work here can speak either Mandarin or Malay, but English is rarely spoken. Basically,  Nora Plaza sells all sorts of things that Malaysians and Singaporeans love. From handmade leather products to clothes, shoes, kitchenwares and even jewelleries. But unfortunately, this was not my type of place to shop.

Bird's Nest

Most tourists visit Hatyai for its super low priced bird's nest. There is also a restaurant in Nora Plaza that sell bird's nest, so we took this opportunity to try this famous delicacy out. It costs only 200 Baht for a bowl of  bird's nest. Wow! It was really cheap.

Logan Bird's Nest


Gingko Nuts Bird's Nest


To be honest, I do not really like the taste and texture of it. I doubt the bird's nest are genuine because it taste fake.

Grand Pink Hotel
Official Website: Grand Pink Hotel


Finally at 4 pm, we checked in a Standard Double room at Grand Pink Hotel, a 3-star hotel located just beside Lee Plaza Hotel in the heart of Hatyai city. The location of the hotel is very convenient, with plenty of convenience stores, shops and eateries nearby.

Measuring 20 sqm in size, the room was quite spacious, well-maintained and clean. Fitted with parquet flooring, the room features a king-sized bed, flat screen TV with limited channels, as well as free Wifi connection. However, Wifi connection in our room is very poor and we were constantly getting disconnected, which was very frustrating.

The bed was very comfortable and clean. We enjoyed really good nights sleep during our stay. The room also comes with a large working desk and a small coffee table - great for those who have some work to catch.


Basic coffee and tea making facilities as well as two complimentary bottled mineral water are provided in the room as well. Other in room amenities also include a mini fridge, hair dryer and mini safe box.


The room also comes with an ensuite bathroom with glass enclosed shower area.


Basic toiletries such as body soap, shampoo, body lotion, cotton buds and shower caps are provided.

Brother Black Mud Crab Restaurant
Facebook: Brother Black Mud Crab Restaurant
Address: 35/60-62 Hoimook Alley, Tambon Hat Yai, Amphoe Hat Yai, Chang Wat Songkhla 90110


I am beyond exhausted and all I wanted was sleep. But time is pretty limited and everyone is rushing out to explore and do some last minute shopping at the markets and malls because most of them will closed after 2 pm tomorrow.

I took quick shower, dragged myself out of the room and squeezed into a Tuk Tuk with another 14 people. 15 minutes later, we ended up at Brother Black Mud Crab Restaurant for dinner.

Coconut Juice

Seafood Tom Yum

Deep Fried Pork Belly
Stir-Fry Kang Kong

Pineapple Fried Rice with Shrimps

Signature Crabs
We ordered 5 dishes to share among the 6 of us. All the dishes are very delicious. We especially love the Deep Fried Pork Belly and ended up ordering another plate of it. Prices are pretty reasonable too. 

ASEAN Night Bazaar

It was almost 7 pm when we finished our dinner. After dinner, we decided to visit the ASEAN Night Bazaar to do some shopping. ASEAN Night Bazaar is known to be the largest night market in Hatyai. The night market is housed in a fully covered double storey complex, so you do not have to worry even if it rains.



The ground floor is a labyrinth of stalls selling bags, shoes, clothes and souvenirs. You will find second hand or imitation (as well as locally designed) designer clothes, bags and shoes here. Most of the stalls are selling similar stuffs, but the market is very clean and well-organized. Prices are fairly cheap if you bargain hard. It is a great place for budget shopping.


But I was not interested in shopping. The only thing that interested me was a customized passport cover which costs 100 baht each. You can choose from a selection of passport cover and personalized it by having your own name and favorite charms on it.


On the second floor, you will find a food court selling a wide variety of street food. ost of the food (or all) sold here are halal. I believe this is because Hatyai has a sizeable Muslim population, thus it is fairly easy to find Halal food everywhere.

Matcha Ice Cream

Since we just had our dinner, we were not hungry. I bought Matcha Ice Cream from one of the stall to try. It was nice and not too sweet.

Night Market 

As darkness approached, the strees in front of our hotel (along Lee Plaza) transformed into a vibrant night market. Lining on both side of the streets are dozens of food stalls selling a large variety of local delicacies. The entire street usually bustles into life after sunset and continues till wee hours in the morning.

Street food is a huge part of Thailand culture. Just like anywhere else in the world, most of the street food in Hatyai are deep fried.

Fried Quail Bird

This is my husband's favorite street food. Sounds disgusting? But this is really delicious. The bird is well-seasoned with pepper and salt and fried as a whole. It is crispy, crunchy and tasty in every bite. It taste very much like fried chicken.

Udang Galah (Giant Freshwater Prawns)


There are a number of stalls selling Udang Galah (or Big Head Prawns). These prawns are really big headed, but despite its large size, you actually get very meat. But unfortunately, they does not taste as good as they look. The texture of the meat is soft and mushy. Definitely not to my liking.

Mango Sticky Rice


Mango Sticky Rice is my favorite street food and an absolute must eat in Thailand. This is basically glutinous sticky rice mixed with sweetened coconut milk and served with ripe mango. It is sold in a take-away plastic container, and usually with a small packet of coconut milk. Simply mix the milk into the rice and enjoy. There is Durian Sticky Rice too if you do not like Mango.

Coconut Ice-Cream

Refreshing coconut ice cream placed in a coconut shell and topped with nuts. A simple delicacy that anyone would love.

Big Market


We woke up early (6.30 am) the next morning and rushed to the Big market to do some shopping before it closed at 2 pm. Big market is a local market located in the center of Hat Yai. It is easy to hail a Tuk Tuk to get there, even early in the morning.


The Big Market is huge and spreads over a few side streets. The narrow alleyways are lined with many small stalls selling clothes, bags, shoes, snacks, kitchenwares, flowers and fruits. You can find almost anything here. Prices are fairly cheap, and you can always try to haggle for a better deal. Here are some of the things we bought at the market:

Cashew Nuts, Almonds and Dry logans

Bags

Zebra Brand Thermal Flask

After shopping, we hailed a Tuk Tuk again to get back to our hotel. 9 am. It was time to look for something to fill our stomach. But most of the restaurants and eateries were closed for the cremation ceremony for the late King. The only restaurant that we found was opened was located just 2 blocks away from our hotel, along Prachatipat Road. I do know the name of the restaurant because I cannot read Thai.

Pork Trotter Rice

Hatyai is famous for their Pork Trotter Rice, so I decided to try it out. The set consist of braised pork trotter, rice, braised egg and salted pickled vegetables. It was really delicious, but I find the serving size a little small. The braised pork trotter is not too fat and not too lean and has an almost melt-in your mouth texture. It is a delight to eat.

The salted pickled vegetables is slightly sweet, unlike the usual salty ones we always had in Malaysia. But it is a nice complement to the pork trotter.

Beehoon Soup

My husband ordered Beehoon soup which does not looks appetizing at all. It is basically just plain beehoon with soup and fishball.

Service at the restaurant was not very good. If we have other choices, we will not eat at this restaurant again. I believe there are plenty other restaurants that offers better food and service.

Big C Extra


After lunch, we went to Big C Extra for more shopping. Big C Extra is just like your supermarket back home. You can find almost anything here.

Pocky Chocolate Almond Crush

Wasabi Green Peas
But we did not buy a lot of things here because our luggage are running out of space. We probably spent an hour shopping at Big C before we took a Tuk Tuk back to our hotel. 


5.30 pm. We decided to have an early dinner. Just opposite Lee Gardens, next to Regency Hotel, you will find a restaurant that offers split-roasted suckling pigs.

 Roasted Suckling Pigs


We ordered one whole suckling pig. The skin of the pig was charcoal roasted to a shiny golden color. Each of it is crispy and crunchy in every bite with a thin layer of fat and meat. The pig is served with a specially made sweet black sauce, spring onions and white buns.


Once you finished with its skin, the staff will take the rest of the pig back to the kitchen where it is chopped into pieces and stir fried with garlic, onions and pepper before serving. I did not really like the taste of the stir fried meat because there was too much garlic and pepper added. I still prefer my suckling pig roasted.

Green Mango Salad


Choy Sum

Stir Fried Black Pepper Venison

Steamed Squids

Overall, food was delicious and service was good. Prices are fairly reasonable but not cheap. But serving size was pretty big, so it was really worth every penny.

The rest of the night was spent watching TV in our room. After 3 days 2 nights, it was finally time to get home.

Top Wok Seafood Restaurant
















We set off at 10.30 am the next morning. While on our journey home, we stopped at the Top Wok Seafood Restaurant in Ipoh for dinner.

Braised Pork Belly


Curry Fish Head


Tofu with Minced Pork and Spring Onions

Yau Mak

Ginger Chicken

Fried Shrimp Balls

Food was really delicious and I extremely love the Braised Pork Belly. The taste of the pork belly was so good with an almost melt-in mouth texture. It was a very fulfilling meal.

We arrived home at around 10.30 pm. It was a long and extremely tiring trip. Will I visit Hatyai again. Well, I am not sure. Hatyai is not really the kind of place that I think I will visit again and again.

Be sure to follow me on my Facebook or Twitter to get the latest updates on my travel adventures! Also, do not forget to share my blog posts with your family and friends if you find them helpful. In the meantime, you might also want to check My Wanderlust page for some of my other travel adventures.