BRAND NEW TO IG TV

“HOW TO GET ON TO THE PROPERTY LADDER”

With Shanie Ryan…

After years of her friends and colleagues asking her for property advice Shanie has launched a mini series on both her IG TV & YouTube channel. The series aims to give an insight into how Shanie and her partner Tony went from having absolutely no knowledge on mortgages or property buying and renovations to owning a small property portfolio and owning their own interior design and renovation business  ‘His & Hers Renovations & Interiors’ .

The series aims to give relatable real stories, take away tips and advice and overall inspiration and encouragement to those who are keen to get on the property ladder…

Follow Shanie on Instagram @Shanie_Ryan to catch her IG TV Series. 

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Shanie was pleased to announce her partnership with Carlsberg earlier today…

Shanie said when announcing the collaboration on her Instagram page “I’m a big fan of all the work that Carlsberg do to be sustainable and eco friendly, so I’m really looking forward to collaborating with this awesome and responsible brand this year”

Shanie will be joining the brand at Latitude Festival in July, which will be the first of many activities with the brand this summer. Follow @Shanie_Ryan  & @CarlsbergUK on Instagram to follow this brand partnership. [Ad] #NewBrew #EnjoyResponsibly

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The motive was the Maldives, Singapore was the bonus stop over….

So with that said when we booked our trip to Singapore we really didn’t have any pre conceived ideas over what it would be like, other than hearing the usual comments from those who have been before “it’s so clean and very green” they said. Therefore we decided we should really do some research and plan our itinerary being that we were only in the city for four days.

Funnily enough on the 14.5 hour flight out to Singapore, I happened to watch the movie ‘Big Rich Asians’ and this was the first time it truly dawned on me the magic that I was about to experience.

Its hard to believe that a city lined with skyscrapers, impressive architectural grandure, stunning botanical gardens, luxury shopping malls and exquisite restaurants & bars as well as its own island of fun ‘Sentosa’ was once a tiny little fishing village. Singapore has earned the reputation of the best tourist destination in Asia and after four days in this incredible destination we now know why.

After what felt like the perfect city break I wanted to share our itinerary with you and include all of my favourite moments in Singapore just in case you are heading there yourself in the near future…

Day One

Our Flight landed at 7.30am so after such a long time seated and in the air we wanted to plan the first day to be gently active and outdoorsy for two reasons. Firstly to stay awake and secondly to get our bodies moving before settling into our lovely hotel!

We checked into ‘The Quincy hotel’ located a stones throw from Orchard Road & the Lucky plaza shopping centre.

We picked this hotel for so many reasons; It is close to National Orchid Garden and Chinatown Heritage Centre. Not only is The Quincy in the perfect location it also features a 24- hour gym, Outdoor pool, a sauna and complimentary Wifi. As well as including a complimentary breakfast, afternoon tea & cake, early evening complimentary snacks, canapés and happy hour all completely free when you are staying there. Our room was perfect, the bed was so comfy and the staff were super helpful and friendly.

BOOK A ROOM AT THE QUINCY HOTEL

[Disclaimer: Room Upgrade & Luxury car Airport Transfers – Gifted]

The Botanical Gardens

Opening Hours: 5.00am – Midnight

Price: Free unless you visit the National Orchid Garden which has an entry fee of $5.00

How to get there: 1 Cluny Rd, Singapore 259569 – We walked there in under 20 minutes from Orchard Road or the nearest Metro Station: North East Line from Chinatown MRT Station. 

Head to the Botanical gardens to take a deep breath of fresh air, to stretch your legs, to picnic, to relax and experience the true beauty of Singapores greenery. It takes approximately 4 hours to walk around and experience the entirety of the gardens so grab yourself a bottle of water and an ice cold Frapuccino from the Starbucks on the corner before you head in, also wear your comfortable shoes. Having said that you can take in as little or as much as you like of this vast space.

The grounds cover 82 hectares and features lakes (my favourite was Swan Lake and yes it had actual swans!), waterfalls, and ponds, a Bonsai tree garden, a one hundred year old tropical rain forest, as well as the stunning National Orchid garden. The Singapore Botanical Garden is the city’s only UNESCO heritage site and is one of the reasons why Singapore adopted the title “City in a Garden”.

We ended up being in this gorgeous place for well over four hours so then we hopped in a cab and headed back to our hotel for hot showers and a power nap before heading out for the evening.

LAVO – Marina Bay Sands

 

Opening hours:

Mon – Thurs: 10.30am – 2am

Fri: 10.30am – 3am

Sat: 10.30am – 4am

Sun: 12pm – 2am

Price: $$$

How to get there:

L57, Hotel Tower 1

Central (Orange zone)

10 Bayfront Ave, Singapore 018956

People often think to take in the incredible birds eye view of Gardens by the Bays impressive Super-tree Grove light show, or the sea that stretches from Marina South Pier all the way to the Singapore Strait  they have to pay $23 per person to go to the 57th floor observation deck at the Marina Bay Sands hotel.

LINK TO SKY PARK TICKETS

However if you are planning to go for dinner anyway and you like fresh and tasty Italian American food then book yourself a table at LAVO (also on the 57th floor). By the time you consider what you would have spent on the observation deck ticket and what you would have spent on a lower cost dinner it pretty much equals out to the cost of dinner with a delicious bottle of wine at LAVO.

LAVO offers the most stunning views of the city in a setting that reminded me of a traditional old school New York City Italian restaurant but with a luxury contemporary twist.  The menu is exciting and even as vegetarians we had plenty of choice and the food was so flavourful. They were also super accommodating of my allergies and were happy to make minor adjustments to some of the recipes.

Once dinner is finished and the diners begin to clear, guests make there way outside to take in the breathtaking views and the impressive light shows. Whilst the guests clear, inside LAVO transforms into a sleek nightclub complete with handcrafted cocktails a live DJ and the sprawling outdoor bar and terrace comes to life, all whilst taking in the twinkling city lights from 57 storeys aboveground. The night we had here was the perfect mix of  being tourists, a romantic date night and a night out on the town… You may even spot a celebrity or two… Singer Anne Marie was celebrating her birthday whilst we were there!

LINK TO LAVO SINGAPORE

[Disclaimer: Cocktails & wine at LAVO – Gifted]

Day Two

China Town, Temples & Street Food

One of Tony’s favourite parts of Singapore was China Town… Imagine a maze of narrow little colourful streets which are both home and work to many Chinese immigrants. The area is buzzy yet still calm and you can spend an entire day immersing yourselves into Chinese culture. From the Temples to the Street food,  its a wonderful experience.

Visit the Temples…

With every corner turn in China town there are incredible buildings to discover, but there are three spectacular temples in Singapore that you don’t want to miss out on experiencing…

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple (Address: 288 South bridge road) 7am –7pm (Dress code: Cover shoulders and knees)

This temple felt really special, its a remarkable red and gold gilded 5 story temple built in a style based on the Buddhist mandala and integrated with the Buddhism of the Tang dynasty. Situated in the centre of China town it was founded in 2002 and only opened its doors to the public in 2007. The Museum houses a massive stupa that is made from 320kg of gold and the 10,000 Buddha Pavilion which houses a large prayer wheel. We were blessed enough to witness a buddhist ceremony whilst we were there and we also fully immersed ourselves in Buddhist culture and ritual by finding each of our own ‘Guardian Deity’ based on the year we were born and offering up a prayer and making a donation to the gods. We spent over an hour at the temple just taking it all in and it felt like a truly spiritual moment.

Sr Mariamman Temple (Address: 244 South bridge road) 7am –12pm / 6pm – 9pm

(Dress code: Remove your shoes before entry).

Based in Downtown China Town, this temple is the oldest Hindu temple in Singapore. The Temple was founded in 1827 by Naraina Pillai eight years after the East India Company established a trading settlement in Singapore. The building itself is rather fascinating to look it, It is embellished with six tiers of sculptures of Hindu deities, other figures and ornamental decorations all decorated in bright vibrant colours. You have to enter the temple barefoot…. which by the way is my “nightmare” being the germaphobe that I am! Whilst we were there it was prayer time so it was mesmerising to see many Hindu immigrants enter the main prayer hall to pray towards the central shrine of Mariaman, during prayer the hall filled with sound, two men were seated on the floor playing the drums and chanting creating the most beautiful sound. It was an interesting to experience another strong cultural hub within just a small radius of Singapore.

Thian Hock Keng Temple – (Address: 158 Telok Ayer Street) 7.30am – 5.30pm 

Thian Hock Keng temple was a lot more still, tranquil and peaceful than the other temples that we visited. People trickled in and trickled out again, worshipers took a private moment alone to pray, it was very quiet. There was a small wishing well in the centre where you can toss a coin and make a wish, and of course we couldn’t resist taking part in the ritual. There was some beautiful detailed carvings, sculptures of dragons, Chinese red ceiling lanterns as well as the colourful broken porcelain on the roof ridges. There was a lot less tourists here than at the other two temples and it made it a little more authentic in experiencing day to day workings of the temple.

Baba Heritage House – 10am only pre-book, possibly not open on Sundays 

Xixing Xuan Teahouse (Address: 30/32 Tangjong pagar road) 10am – 7pm – 45 mins experience $20 each.  

Sadly we couldn’t visit Baba Heritage House as we went to China Town on the Sunday, but it was on our list of places to go so if you get the chance to visit then please do as we will certainly be going next time we come to Singapore. Another thing we will be sure to do next time we are in Singapore is to go to the Xixing Xuan Teahouse, but unfortunately it didn’t fit into our schedule for this trip but it comes highly recommended for a traditional Chinese tea ceremony.

Get some Brunch…

The food choices in China town are so wonderful, you have a nice mix of casual relaxed restaurants, world famous hawker centres and the China Town food market. We knew we would like to sample the street food for lunch, so we opted for a highly recommended Australian brunch spot popular with locals and ex pats for our breakfast. Its on the small side so you may have to wait for a table, but its got a nice vibe, good wifi and awesome fresh food! It’s called ‘Sarnies’ and this place really new how to do tasty brunch. It served great coffee and fresh juices along with a hugely varied menu suitable for veggies and vegans too!

SARNIES: 136 Telok Ayer StreetSingapore 068601

Price: $$

Opening Hours: Friday 7:30am–12am, Saturday 8:30am–4pm, Sunday 8:30am–4pm, Monday 7:30am–10:30pm,
Tuesday 7:30am–10:30pm, Wednesday 7:30am–12am, Thursday 7:30am–12am

Sadly the Hawker centre was closed as we visited on a Sunday, but its a must visit and we will definitely be going back to Singapore and checking one out. Hawker centres are one of the only places in the world where each vendor only works on one type of dish and they work tirelessly for years to perfect their one dish. Its also one of the only places in the world where street vendors can even earn a Michelin star (Hawker Chan is one to visit for Michelin star street food)! We were gutted to miss out on this experience but all the same it comes highly recommended and we will be trying it next time.

When it came to the street food market all your senses come to life, imagine hustle & bustle, the smell of fresh Chinese food being cooked right in front of you, rows of little tiny restaurants and long communal tables. Now you wont believe this but I managed to order food from the one Indian vendor in the entire market with out even realising it wasn’t Chinese until I started eating LOL. I know, I know what a bloody idiot…. but the food was super tasty and we never got the chance to visit Little India in the end so i’m not complaining. I think its because it was the most veggie friendly and I was so focused on find a veggie nut free meal that I genuinely didn’t notice the staff were all Indian and not Chinese. Either way thumbs up to the China Town food market.

Wander the little shops and markets…

Whilst visiting China town take some time to wonder around the various stalls and shops… The sellers are friendly and not pushy at all. You can expect to find shops selling antiques, tailor made suits, dried foods,  Chinese tea and bone china, it’s also the best place to get your gifts and souvenirs to bring back home. As I wasn’t able to shop in Orchard Road I really enjoyed all of the small treasures of China Town and I picked up some beautiful little hand painted China bowls as well as the obligatory fridge magnets for the family.

Relax with a massage…

After two days of pavement pounding our feet were a little weary & swollen and after a 15 our flight our backs were quite stiff. So we treated ourselves to a post travel treatment… China town has plenty of no frills massage spas around. We looked for somewhere that looked popular and clean, they do some helpful treatment combos, so we opted for 30 minutes massage combined with 20 minutes reflexology each. Your treatment is carried out in a large room with 8 -10 massage beds and a similar number of reflexology chairs. All your clothes remain on and they get to work on working out your muscle tension without an oil or balm in sight. I have to say I do love this no nonsense straight to the point approach, as long as you can relax without all the spa fluff you might be used too in the UK (candles & zen music for example) then its a really effective treatment…. who knew we had so much tension in our feet… BEST FOOT RUB EVER!!!

Gardens By The Bay

Address: Gardens by The Bay (Address: 18 Marina Gardens Drive, Singapore 018953) 

Supertree Grove

Opening Times: Supertree Grove: 5.00am – 2.00am daily

Price: Free

TOP TIP: Rhapsody light show @ 7.45pm & 8.45pm Location: Super tree Grove 

This was probably the part of Singapore that I was most excited to see. Its one of the most photographed and filmed places in Singapore (it also features heavily in Big Rich Asians!). We may of seen it already from the long distance away view point of The Marina Bay sands hotel roof terrace. But it was time to get up close and personal with this beautiful and unique place. There are an awe-inspiring 18 Super trees in Gardens by the Bay, 12 of them are situated at Super tree Grove, with the tallest one measuring up to 16 storeys in height. Every night they put on an mesmerising light show that you can literally lay back on the warm ground and gaze up to enjoy. Its like laying back and watching the stars but way more exciting, a tad more surreal and a little bit romantic too. We loved it here and for 10 minutes, we didn’t speak, we didn’t take photos we just laid on the warm tarmac (remember Singapore is spotlessly clean) and we drank it all in. It was a moment…. a really lovely one.

Day Three

Visit Sentosa Island…  

Sentosa Island is literally an island designed for fun! It’s a small man made island just 15 mins from Singapore with a few fun ways to get there… you can either jump in a cable car, use the monorail, or take a nice walk along the pedestrian boardwalk.

Once a British military base and a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp. The island was renamed Sentosa and turned into a tourist destination in 1972. Sentosa has so many activities to offer that one day on the island simply isn’t enough time to see and do it all. You can visit one of the two golf courses, take in the view from the Tiger Sky Tower, visit the Butterfly & Insect Kingdom, and explore one of the largest collections of aquatic animals in the world at the SEA Aquarium, there is also a 2 mile beach for those who want a change of pace from the city and to experience a more beach holiday vibe for the day, over the weekends you can expect to see lots of Singapore residents picnicking on one of the beaches or having fun on the wave machine.

As we only had one day in our schedule to visit Sentosa Island we chose to have big kids day of fun so therefore Universal Studios was our choice. I always try to be honest on my blog and although we did have a lot of fun we both agreed that it wasn’t the best Universal studios either of us had ever been too. Tony said it didn’t come close to Universal studios in Orlando and I have previously been to the one in LA which was so much better so the Singapore offering really didn’t match up. I would say this specific location is more aimed towards young children as the options for bigger kids and adults were so limited that we had managed to experience the entire park, plus we had lunch in just over half a day. We did opt to buy fast passes which I would recommend as some of the que’s were 40-50 minutes long for those without them,  with our fast pass we never waited more than 5 minutes, especially if you only want a half day here they are a must.

Cocktails by the bay…

If like us you only spend half a day on Sentosa Island then next stop would be cocktails & a bite to eat on the rooftop at an Iconic hotel like ‘The Fullerton Bay’. The view from the Marina Bay Sands hotel might be spectacular however it is really nice to have the Marina Bay Sands in your sights and that is the view from The Fullerton Bay as well as the calm waters of the bay. The roof top has a beautiful blue swimming pool, lined with sun loungers, then when you head into the terrace area it is laid back lunching and hands down the best cocktails we tasted whilst in Singapore. This is the place to go for the best Singapore sling you can get your hands on in Singapore. We also sampled the menu and the food didn’t let us down. Think super flavoursome wood fired pizza slabs, the freshest salads and sandwiches. It was a perfect lunch and the cocktails really packed a punch! I was even a little giddy by the time we left.

Click for The Fullerton Bay

[Disclaimer: Cocktails & Lunch at The Fullerton Bay – Gifted]

 

Dinner at The Four Seasons…

As  a fairly new vegetarian of only two years, Tony and I are still learning how difficult it can be to find interesting dining experiences when travelling. Nine times out of ten you are looking at boring menus with simple choice of menu options; pizza, pasta and risotto! It can get pretty dull in terms of variety regardless of how tasty the dishes are and very carb heavy . So when the Four Seasons restaurant ‘One Ninety’ invited us to sample their highly accomplished head Chef Kamarl John’s brand of culinary craftsmanship we couldn’t of been more excited.

The restaurant itself was spacious, light, airy and elegantly decorated with comfortable soft leather and rattan seating with plump cushions. There was also greenery and bright pink orchids everywhere which I love. It was fairly quiet as we visited on a Monday night and the ambience was pleasant and the temperature just right (I cannot stand being cold in restaurants). The service from the very first moment was impeccable, the waiter was polite, attentive and friendly, he was also extremely knowledgable about both the food and the wine. Chef Kamarl had kindly organised for a menu to be printed especially for us where he had picked out the dishes that were suitable not only for us as vegetarians but also accommodated my nut allergy. Now i’m a total foodie and even the menu itself had me highly excited to try the food. There was so many choices and It sounded like it was about to be the best meal we ever had, purely from the description on the special little paper menu.

Course after course arrived at our table and the flavours, and textures were out of this world. Delicate details that gave each bite something special to savour, colourful fresh ingredients, you could just tell that this chef cooks with love for what he does and pride in his dishes. Everything was delivered to our table like a gorgeous work of art that you felt almost guilty to ruin by eating it. This food was hands down the best food we had ever tried since becoming vegetarians and i’m certain had we tried the meat dishes we would be saying the same thing. This was dining at its best, incredible flavour, perfect portions and we left suitably full up! We sampled a flute of Champagne, a large glass of Red Wine recommended by the Maitre d’  & a couple of interesting cocktails in the bar including a memorable twist on a Sangria that I wish I took the recipe for….  everything was divine.

Following our meal we relocated to the bar which had a moody expensive speakeasy feel to it, it was relaxed but has a nice relaxed buzzy vibe to it. Again the service was amazing and the drinks went down with ease. The pastry chef kindly send over a platter of mini deserts from the desert table for us to try… we were so full from our meal but they looked so incredible that we couldn’t say no and they tasted so good that we finished them all! My personal favourite was the little raspberry creme patisserie tart. The food was so good that we then returned the following evening for a more casual experience in the One Ninety bar where we nibbled on some small plates and ordered our favourite cocktails from the night before. Cut a long story short when we come back to Singapore we will be back to see Chef Kamarl John & the lovely staff at The Four Seasons hotel.

[Disclaimer: Drinks & Dinner at The Four Seasons Hotel – Gifted]

Click here for reservations at One Ninety restaurant.

Day Four

Shopping on Orchard road

Opening Hours: Most shops open from Sunday to Thursday at 10 am and closes at 10 pm, they extend their shopping hours till 11:00 on weekends.

Price: £0 to £1,000000000000 Lol

How to get there: The nearest station is  7B Dhoby Ghaut Station

Lets just say that it was a blessing in disguise that we had tight luggage allowances on this trip or I promise you that Orchard road would have destroyed my credit card balance! After our trip to Singapore we were heading to The Maldives on a tiny seaplane with a tiny luggage allowance of just 20KG!

I nearly forgot myself on a stroll into YSL (I actually fell in love with a beautiful handbag) but my lovely ‘Mr’ kindly reminded me that our luggage was already at 23kg on the way out so there was no way we could buy something that heavy!

Orchard road makes Oxford street in London look amateur! Firstly its a super long street where every direction looks like ‘Bond Street’, secondly its clean and modern and glitzy, you can shop indoor, you can shop outdoor,  in fact there is even 3 Gucci’s on one corner where each Gucci stocks mostly completely different products… How awesome is that! I know people who actually fly to Singapore every few years purely to hit the shops!

The good thing is you can find something for every budget here. There are high-end luxury designer malls like Paragon and ION more affordable options like Lucky Plaza too. I saw everything from H&M to JD Sports to Louis Vuitton and Balenciaga, In Singapore you can shop until you literally drop! We only spent a few hours here and it was plenty but you could genuinely spend the entire day browsing the shops if you had the time and more importantly the CASH!

Gardens By The Bay – Part 2!

OCBC Skyway

Opening Times: OCBC Skyway:9.00am – 9.00pm daily
Peak hours for OCBC Skyway are from 5.00pm – 8.30pm.

Last ticket sale and admission: 8.00pm

Price: Adult: $8 / Child (3-12 years old): $5

 Seeing that when we had visited Gardens by the bay previously to see the light show all of the other attractions were closed we planned a second visit during the day light hours. If you are not afraid of heights you can buy a ticket to head up to the top of one of the Supertrees and be blown away by a stunning 360 view of the Gardens and the surrounding Marina Bay area. You can also stroll along OCBC Skyway, which connects 2 of these towering Supertrees. It only takes around 20 minutes to walk your way across 128-metre long aerial walkway, and its an experience not to be missed especially if you want that epic holiday photo that let’s everyone know exactly where you have been on vacation.

The area itself is larger than you might think and its not just the incredible light show at the Super tree grove to see within the Gardens by the bay area there is also the Flower & Cloud domes that are also worth a visit.

The Flower Dome

Price: Adult Senior: $28 / Child (3-12 years old): $15 (Ticket price gains entry to both domes)

9.00am – 9.00pm daily
Last ticket sale: 8.00pm
Last admission: 8.00pm

Peak hours are from 4.00pm – 7.00pm daily.
Longer waiting time may be expected

There is a huge flower dome to check out featuring the worlds flowers, plants and tree’s all under one roof yet cleverly zoned into countries so you can experience a miniature outdoor tour of Australia for example, all through its maze of mini garden experiences. Replicating the cool and dry Mediterranean climate, Flower Dome showcases exotic plants from five continents which are displayed in nine different Gardens. Wander amongst thousand-year-old olive trees and unusual Baobabs as you take in sights of the Flower Field Display. Unfortunately on the day that we visited they happened to be making some major changes to their displays so I don’t feel we got the true experience but I can imagine when its at its best it is stunning, but I still favoured the natural beauty of the Botanical Gardens on our first day in Singapore over this attraction.

The Cloud Dome

Price: Adult $28  / Child (3-12 years old): $15

Opening Hours:

9.00am – 9.00pm daily
Last ticket sale: 8.00pm
Last admission: 8.00pm

Peak hours are from 4.00pm – 7.00pm daily.
Longer waiting time may be expected.

Mist Timings:
10.00am, 12.00pm, 2.00pm, 4.00pm, 6.00pm, 8.00pm daily

Then there is the cloud dome, another imposing glass conservatory yet this one houses an incredible souring 30 ft waterfall that pours from a tall lush vegetation of the tropical highlands and sprays a cool delicate mist. I’ve gotta day this place was very impressive especially once to take the time to understand what it is, why they have created this attraction and you listen and learn the Eco message and education they are trying to teach. Keep an eye our for the stunning densely planted mountain wall with fascinating orchids, delicate ferns, colourful bromeliads, dazzling begonias and carnivorous pitcher plants – this is basically an epic photo wall! Very Instagram worthy!

Night Safari…

Price: Approximately £28.00 per person

Opening Times: 7.30pm – Midnight Monday – Sunday

Address: 80 Mandai Lake Rd, Singapore 729826

How to get there: We would recommend booking a coach with your entry ticket. 

Tony loves animals so when he said he wanted to book for us to see the night safari it was a no brainer. We have been to plenty of day time Zoo experiences in the past, but this would be different, seeing nocturnal animals at night time out in the open was a new experience for us. We were also drawn to this attraction as it had a more authentic safari feel to it over a zoo type experience. The safari park comes to life each night for visitors to see animals exploring their free-roaming environments, designed to replicate the Himalayan foothills, Southeast Asian rainforest, and Indian subcontinent. We pre brought our tickets through Trip Adviser and our tickets included coach transfers, priority que jump and 2-3 hours at the Zoo which is plenty of time. You are taken through the park in a tiger striped tram, the journey time is around 35 minutes. It tours you around the wildlife park where you will see up too 2,500 resident animals from over 130 species. Following that there are four walking trails that you are encouraged to explore following a map, which was our favourite part as we love to explore at our own pace. There is also casual fast food dining outlet for those who want to eat there, and a traditional Thumbuakar Performance, a pyrotechnic show by warriors to the beat of jungle drums and fire takes place every night, or you can check out the “Creatures of the night” animal instincts show. Overall it was a fun and educational night out and it was nice to see the animals after dark.

We’ll Be Back!!!

Our trip to Singapore was ultimately EPIC, we both came home telling our friends and family that we had an equally awesome time in Singapore as we did in the Maldives which was our second stop on this vacation. We’ve already decided we will be returning to this wonderful place so expect Singapore part 2 on my blog very soon as I am certain there is another 4 days worth

of things to do in Singapore when we visit this wonderful place next time around.

 

Helpful Tips about Singapore…

TRAVEL:

Singapore is a tiny city it is so easy and enjoyable to walk from place to place plus most of the attractions are located very near each other as well. If walking isn’t for you want to travel like a local,  you can choose to take the MRT and Buses. Singapore doesn’t have Uber but it does have it’s own similar App’s:  GrabCar, GOJET or TADA or you can just grab a regular metred taxi. We either walked or got a taxi as they were very cheap.

TIPPING:

Tipping is neither customary or expected in Singapore. Most restaurants add 10-12% service charge, if you receive great service and you wish to tip then you should but don’t feel obliged.

CURRENCY:

Singapore is on the Singapore Dollar (SGD). 1 SGD = 0.57 GBP. For up to date conversions, get the XE Currency Converter App.

WEATHER:

Singapore isn’t always sunny even though it is mostly hot and humid. It can also rain out of nowhere so always travel with a little umbrella. The dry season is from March to August, while the wet monsoon season is from September to February.

Check out my Maldives blog here:

http://shanieryan.com/why-i-fell-in-love-with-kuramathi-island-the-maldives/

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Last night Shanie hit the stage at Westfield Stratford Vue Cinema to host the May edition of ‘Your Cinema’ .

Your cinema was created as a new way for future generations to watch films that directly reflect both their lives and also their culture.

By partnering with some of the UK’s largest film organisations  ‘Your Cinema’ has also been designed to grow and develop the careers of the best up and coming filmmakers and actors through national screenings as well as their online networks.

For those who haven’t attended a Your Cinema screening before every couple of months they showcase 4 short independent films or one feature film up on the big screen, Shanie then hosts an intimate interview followed by an industry Q & A with a special guest.

In the past she has interviewed some of the best UK actors some of whom have taken Hollywood by storm including Daniel Kaluuya, Ashley Walters, Noel Clarke to name a few.

Yesterday she sat down in front of a full house of Industry professionals and upcoming talented individuals  in the field of screen writing, acting & directing to conduct a live interview with Screenwriter and Director Amma Asante MBE. Its was an incredibly insightful conversation about Amma’s journey from actor to screenwriter to BAFTA Award winning director. There was also a very special screening of her new film ‘When Hands Touch’ which received an incredible response for the audience.

Keep an eye on www.youtube.com/ShanieRyan for the full interview.

Follow @YourCinemaFilms on Socials to catch the next event.

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“When you are sitting at breakfast over looking the crystal clear blue waters of the Indian Ocean, a baby shark glides past whilst you sip on your hot fresh cup of coffee (with soy milk I might add).  You feel a gentle cool breeze on your warm skin… you cant help but take a mindful deep breath and feel 100% relaxed…”

I am talking about the most wonderful tropical place that I have ever been… Kuramathi Island in the Ari Atol of The Maldives…

ARRIVING IN PARADISE…

The Maldives have always been on my “bucket list” of places I really wish to experience in the world, alongside Bora Bora, Thailand & Boracay (Excuse me whilst I take a second to manifest those into existence!).  So when we began to plan our trip, I just wanted every single moment to be special, not only because i’ve always wanted to visit The Maldives but also because the occasion was to celebrate our 10 year anniversary….. (Shout out to Tony for putting up with me that long!)

In fact I was so overly excited about this holiday that I began to get a little worried that I might of idealised The Maldives so much in my mind that I might even be underwhelmed when it came to actually being there. But thankfully, within moments of arriving at Kuramathi Island I could tell that this wasn’t the case.

We planned the trip to include a 4 day stop off in Singapore on route to The Maldives. The other two popular lay overs on route to The Maldives from the UK are Dubai & Sri Lanka. Dubai is the most straight forward route to get there & back however i’ve been to Dubai before and Singapore really appealed to us as it’s fun to have  a ‘City Break’ before changing things up and hitting the beach. We flew with Singapore Air which I would really recommend (good movies and good food, what more do ya need?). Once we reached Velana International Airport, also known as Malé International Airport we were quickly taken to the Kuramathi private lounge to wait for our seaplane transfers to the island. The private lounge provided complimentary snacks and drinks as well as bathrooms, comfy sofas & wifi which was handy whilst we waited for our onward journey. Now the seaplane transfers do cost on average an extra $600, whilst Kuramathi will transfer you via their private speedboat for free, but experiencing a seaplane was another little thing on our bucket list that we were really keen to try so we went for it! On top of that the seaplane transfer times meant we had much longer on the island during our last day which was another bonus.

I have to say the seaplane journey on the way out was amazing, 20 minutes journey time to the island and amazing views with a smooth take off and landing, but travelling home during a tropical storm made the journey back to Male a little more scary so if you are a nervous flyer I would say you should definitely opt for the speed boat and save yourself a few quid whilst your at it.

Arriving in Kuramathi was such a “pinch me” moment, firstly you are struck by the lush green palms and thick greenery, I even whispered to Tony that it  felt like we had just arrived in Madagascar the movie Lol….

We were greeted in the lofty reception area with refreshing ice cold towels to cool off and a fresh glass of tropical smoothie. We were then checked in super quickly and Becky our guest services manager took us to an island buggy where we set off for a brief island tour, this was so we could get the lay of the land before she escorted us to our chosen reef side water villa with pool. The Island was much bigger than we had imagined but this was one of the reasons why we chose Kuramathi for our first trip to the Maldives. Tony can only sunbathe for so long before he needs to be active, so knowing there was plenty to do on the island meant there was no concerns with either of us getting bored on the trip. Kuramathi being such a large island means there is space for a games area, a spa, beach cinema, tennis courts, a water sports jetty, a dive centre, 10 restaurants, 3 bars, 3 pools 4 nature trail walks, a gym, a football field, medical centre, boutique and don’t forget the most picturesque sandbank you have ever seen.

HOME AWAY FROM HOME…

In my experience picking a room where ever you go in the world is usually a budget dependant decision. Lets face it, I am sure we would all love the very best room whenever we travel, but in a location as stunning as The Maldives and on an island as beautiful as Kuramathi I feel that any room type would be lovely. Its such a beautiful place I would say; don’t worry about saving for years to get the best room possible, just get there if you can. You won’t spend much time in your room anyway with white sandy beaches and clear waters on your doorstep. Plus, I must say some of the simpler beach villas felt a little more nestled into nature and authentically tropical accommodations anyway. Being that Tony and I are avid snorkeller’s, we wanted to be as close to the ocean and the house coral reef as possible so we requested a reef side water villa with pool ( Click Here: Water Villa with Pool ). This type of villa meant we were situated where there is plenty of coral, fish, sharks and if you are lucky like we were, you may even spot the odd sea turtle or stingray too. The other water villas are situated lagoon side of the island where the water is more picture post card blue however with very little coral there isn’t a huge amount to see in terms of marine life, however the water is so pretty there.

Our water villa was truly a home away from home, It was so spacious! I would say it was the size of 1 bedroom apartment if you count the deck as your extended living room. It featured an open plan kitchenette complete with coffee machine, a fridge and a separate wine fridge, a huge comfortable super king sized bed, whilst at the foot of the bed was a small sofa & TV area. There there was an enormous bathroom which featured a rainfall shower with space for two ;-), his and hers sinks complete with the most luxurious spa scented products, a large dressing room area and a free standing bathtub with stunning views out to the pool and the ocean. The villa vibe was modern, and neutral with pops of colour in the cushions, and with daily replenishments of water & soft drinks we had everything we needed between meals. The only thing to note was that the alcohol in the room wasn’t complimentary, however a little tip is to take the remaining wine from your evening meal back to your room with you and that way you have enough for a refreshing white wine spritzer on your sun deck everyday. Maid service is twice a day so you really don’t need to lift a finger the entire time you are away.

Tony and I are natural entertainers and hosts when we are at home… so when we met a lovely couple of honeymooners; Oly & Emily on the 5th night (Shout out to Oly & Em!) we invited them back to our villa for a game of cards and a pool party as their villa came with a hot tub so they were keen to see the pool villas. The villa allowed us to be the perfects hosts, with our left over wine from dinner and so much outside space… I mean with two sun loungers, two deck chairs and a table with two dining chairs and the pool (complete with twinkly lights at night time) we had more than enough room for all of us and more than enough left over booze to keep the party going.

FOOD FOR THE FUSSY FOODIE…

I do feel sorry for anyone that travels with me, I am a vegetarian, who also favours a dairy free alternative, on top of that I am allergic to every nut except pine nuts and also allergic to all seafood & shellfish (fun date right?). For this reason travelling can be rather scary for me… I’ve been poisoned  a fair few times in the past by hotels and restaurants not taking my allergies seriously, so when I received a form prior to my arrival to Kuramathi asking me to list any dietary requirements and allergies I was instantly impressed and I spotted Tony sigh with relief as well Lol … Poor sod has picked me up of the bathroom floor many a time!

Prior to my arrival every chef & waiter had been informed that room 306 had allergies, we were also advised in advance that the Reef restaurant (A signature seafood dining experience) and Kobe (An over-water teppanyaki dining experience where fish and meat and veg are all cooked together on one grill) would not be suitable for me. But with a total of ten restaurants and 3 bars to choose from and only 8 days on the island we had plenty of choice.

There are two dining packages on the Island, ‘All Inclusive’ or ‘Select All inclusive’. ‘All inclusive’ means you can dine in the buffet restaurant closest to your accommodation for breakfast, lunch and dinner and this is included in your package, however if you wish to dine at the Al a carte options you will be charged.  ‘Select All Inclusive’ means you can dine and drink in any of the Al a carte restaurants as well as the buffet should you choose. Now as far as buffets go, this one was pretty awesome… the food was fresh & often organic, the salads are mostly grown on the island and the cooked food was full of flavour with a huge amount of choice. No two days were the same on the menu, so if budget restricts you from opting for the Select All Inclusive you will be more than happy with the quality of food in the buffet restaurant. I might also add that the service was brilliant and the seating area had beautiful views out to the ocean. We had breakfast here every morning and even though we had paid for the Select all inclusive package we still went to the buffet at least twice for lunch to add variety to visiting the Al carte lunch dining options. The al la carte lunch options were the ‘Palm’ which does the best Pizza and Pasta & salad menu EVER and also has a pretty epic ice cream parlour as well where they hand make to order waffle ice cream cones (mind blown!) and also ‘Inguru’ which serves simple salads, burgers and panini’s.

Dinner was really a lovely experience, every night we would get dressed up and either stroll or catch the buggy to dinner. Each location had its own charm and every night the chef would come out personally to approve our selections according to my allergies and he / she would make adjustments to the recipe if I really liked the sound of something that had nuts in, it was very reassuring and allowed me to just enjoy my food without fear. My favourite two restaurants on the island had to be the Indian restaurant ‘Tandoor Mahal’ as it had a large veggie selection and even Tony who doesn’t normally like Indian food in the UK said it was absolutely delicious so we went twice in the end. My second favourite was the Thai restaurant ‘Siam Garden’ which had a very talented Thai chef who made the best Thai green curry I had ever tasted. But when it came to desert although the Island BBQ wasn’t the most veggie friendly for a main meal the deserts alone at the BBQ are a must try. I’d recommend the rum soaked pineapple and the crepe suzette, both were cooked live at your table were absolutely delicious and at the Island BBQ you are even in the best spot to catch the evenings Sand bar entertainment such as the live band that play twice a week.

I usually struggle to enjoy my food on holiday, after my dietary requirements are taken into account there isn’t usually much left for me to eat and i’ve often come home a skinny twig and very hungry. But thanks to the dining team at Kuramathi Island, I was well fed every day, and I enjoyed every meal. For a change I even came home a healthy few pounds heavier…. which is exactly how it should be after a good holiday 🙂

COCKTAIL ANYONE?

Even on the Select All inclusive package you are limited to wine, beer and soft drinks with your dinner… but you can always head to one of the 3 bars on the island to grab yourself a cheeky cocktail or ten once you’ve finished your meal.

Let me tell you….. The Kuramathi bar staff sure know how to shake a cocktail… I tried a few of my favourite classics tipples such as a Mojito, a Daiquiri, a Pina Colada and a Cuba Libre and all of them we made perfectly! BUT lets talk about the good stuff, the islands cocktail menu is vast! So vast I couldn’t drink my way through it, I mean believe me I tried but there is so much choice i’d of been permanently drunk had I of tasted them all!

Love a creamy cocktail? They’ve got you covered! If spicy is your thing? then Tony tried a tall glass of something that practically put hairs on his chest, maybe super sweet is more your tipple? They have plenty for you try. To put it simply Kuramathi does awesome cocktails! My favourite bar on the Island was the Laguna bar, it is open all day and most of the night (they said until the last person leaves), the entertainment was nice with a singing duo performing on one night and a DJ playing chilled house vibes on our second visit. Its a nice place to grab a post lunch cocktail and take a swim during the day but equally a cool night time hang out for a game of cards, a good chat or to relax on the swing seat. (Tip: Try the coconut lips mocktail or add a shot of rum to liven it up… your welcome!)

THE SPA WITH SUBSTANCE…

The spa on Kuramathi Island is it’s own little oasis, a beautiful peaceful place with a picturesque outdoor pool framed by stunning pink flowers and tall green palms bordering the waters edge. A small bar provides poolside service and the menu has a focus more on tropical smoothies and mock-tails than liquor.

The spa area is tranquil with a comfortable central reception, a gym and separate treatment villas. The spa isn’t what you would expect on a tropical island, they have a total of 13 treatment rooms, consisting of 1 couples’ water pavilion massage room, 2 couples’ beach pavilion massage and tatami rooms, 1 aesthetic beauty care couples’ room, 1 manicure and couples’ pedicure room, 7 beach side couples’ treatment rooms and 1 private herbal bath treatment room. If that wasn’t enough there is also charming separate male and female wet areas which offer a peaceful moment alone where I sampled their rain showers, herbal essence steam bath, Finnish Sauna, cool dip pool and bubbling Jacuzzi. Even though I only spent a maximum of three hours in the spa area including my 60 minute treatment, all the extra facilities available made me feel like i’d had an entire spa day experience. Following your treatment they encourage you too take a moment to relax in the outdoor Spa Lounge to enjoy the warm breeze and sound of the ocean  lapping by your toes as you savour a special blended herbal tea or ice cold fruit water. It really was total bliss.

THE TREATMENT THAT ACTUALLY TREATS YOU…

We opted for a 60 minute couples deep tissue massage, Tony can be hard to satisfy when it comes to massage treatments as the poor guy always seems to end up with the “not so good” masseuse when we book these couples treatments. Often the therapist is not strong enough to actually have an effect on his masculine muscles, but both of us were so impressed with not only the professional manner of the therapists and the luxurious relaxing little touches during our treatments but also how good the massage itself was, these women were so strong. They were clearly experienced and very well trained as they knew all the techniques to actually work out knots and spasms within your muscles. The treatment was more than just ” fluff & relaxation” it was physically enhancing and totally worth it. In fact they were so good I snuck back to the spa on our last day for a cheeky  back neck and shoulder deep tissue before our long journey home.

AN ECO FRIENDLY ISLAND…

Being Veggies aka Vegans in training and planet loving tree huggers… Okay i’m lying we aren’t that good YET! But we do love our planet and are very keen on doing what we can to stop climate change and help this planet that we call home. Kuramathi Island is an Eco friendly island who are doing their upmost to be a sustainable resort. This isn’t the first time Tony and I have opted for an Eco hotel or resort but Kuramathi really took it too another level by comparison. From the on site Marine Biologists who work on the island offering guests educational talks on how too protect the marine life, to the hydroponic garden where an incredible team of botanists grow every type of fruit and vegetable possible to provide guests with fresh organic homegrown food to eat. To the restaurants only serving purified island collected rain water served in reusable glass bottles saving the island 400,000 plastic bottles to dispose of every year, to the specially marked out “safe channels” to enter the house reefs therefore ensuring guests aren’t damaging the corals on the ocean floor. If that wasn’t enough they also aim to use mostly electric vehicles on the island and they take part in Eco week. This is where all the workers donate some of there “time off” to help man a huge island clean up (not that there is much to clean up mostly storm debris or the odd washed up plastic bottle swept in from the sea ect). But this resort is giving 100% effort into not destroying the planet and for that I felt good staying there and felt a lot of love for the workers too.

TO DIVE OR TO SNORKEL? THAT IS THE QUESTION!

Full disclaimer neither Tony or I are PADI or SSI qualified divers. However we have got some experience having completed 3 dives to 12 meters whilst in Cuba just over a year ago. We were tempted to complete our Padi licence on this trip as that is something available to do on the island, but the thought of spending one minute studying in a classroom whilst in this wonderful place made us decide not to do it. But thanks to Kuramathi offering a “try dive” where you can book to do a 2  hour dive session up to 12 meters with your very own Dive instructor we still managed to experience below sea level in the Maldives.

For those more experienced divers they also provide nitrox for free as additional safety for certified Nitrox divers and you are well-supported by the Kuramathi Medical Centre and its one of the only islands with Hyperbaric Chamber which gives deep sea divers a real peace of mind. Our instructor Silvia from the The Rasdhoo Divers team was so lovely, she was very clear in her briefing and her demos so it all came flooding back easily from Cuba. She guided us around the house reef and pointed out Sharks and Lion fish that we otherwise wouldn’t have spotted, she also takes a great underwater picture for you too! We were so relaxed with Silvia and felt so safe that we were able to dive a full 53 minutes with out getting close to our oxygen reserve (which is pretty impressive from us non qualified divers by the way).

What I will say though, is as of 3 years ago due to climate change around 60% of the coral in the Maldives has devastatingly died or been ‘bleached’ much like the rest of the worlds reefs. We had hoped to see the incredible colourful corals that we witnessed seven years ago in Mexico but sadly we were too late. However the marine life is abundant and lively and the reef just off of our water villa had so many incredible beautiful fish and sea creatures to experience that  the dive didn’t actually show us many more species that we hadn’t already seen a stones throw from our villa. Just heading out from our villa  for an afternoon snorkel we saw a Hawksbill turtle, black tip shark, barracuda’s, various stingrays, a moray eel along with many other beautiful fish. My point being you don’t need to be a diver to enjoy the underwater world at Kuramathi.

WE FOUND NEMO! In this beautiful sea anemone which is home to the Maldivian Anemone fish.

We also sampled the Turtle Snorkel trip where we visited a reef a mere 15 minutes from the island which is notorious for seeing a mixture of green sea turtles and Hawksbill turtles and we saw at least 5 so that was a fun and successful excursion. We also did the Snorkel safari which was a really nice half day trip however being that we had already seen lots of the fish already, we were most excited by the pod of dolphins that came to say hello whilst we were on the boat heading out to the snorkel site. The guys were great and stopped the boat so we could all enjoy and take photos.

GIVE ME ALL THE ROMANCE…

I have to admit i’m a hopeless romantic, I just LOVE a “romantic moment” and Kuramathi Island helped provide plenty of them. From naturally occurring romance; like the moment when a pod of dolphins swam past our water villa at sunset whilst we took a dip in our private pool, to the romantic beach dinner for two that we had on our last night complete with colour changing beach lanterns, a floral heart shaped table setting and a private waiter.

There was also the hand in hand stroll along the famous Kuramathi sand bank, we picked lunch time for our stroll on purpose as this meant it was practically abandoned with only us and another lady on the entire sand bank (She came in handy for photos to be fair). It was breathtakingly beautiful, and to look directly at and the sand was so bright you had to have sunglasses on to even see straight.

One of my favourite romanic moments on the trip has to be the ‘Sunset Cruise’ (Tip: try to go on the boat with the roof deck that you can sit on, its less crowded and you get better photos!) The sunset cruise sets off at 5.30pm and takes around an hour, a boat takes you and other guests for a sail to the perfect spot to watch the sun set and slip away into the sea whilst you drink a chilled glass of Champagne and take the most romantic and Instagramable photos ever!

THE ROUND UP…

In summery I will definitely be going back to the Maldives, I would be more than happy to visit Kuramathi Island again… But being that there are so many beautiful islands to see I might just have to try one of the other universal resorts such as Kandolhu, Baros or Karumba.

I would be confident enough to say that Kuramathi is an island that has something for everyone and anyone… Honeymooners, families, small groups of friends as well as couples young and mature. Kuramathi accommodates everyone whether you wish to laze by the beach and relax at the spa or if your idea of a great holiday is more active involving a game of tennis, diving  followed by kayaking. Its a resort where no one will be bored and everyone can be entertained even the little ones with an amazing kids club on site. If its your first time in the Maldives and you can’t decide where to go, Kuramathi is a safe bet and you are bound to love it!

To see more photos from my trip check out my Instagram page @Shanie_Ryan and check out my ‘Maldives’ highlights. Have you been to Kuramathi or are you going? Let me know what you thought of this blog post and comment below or subscribe!

This post has been sponsored as part of a content collaboration with Kuramathi Island.

All views are my own.

To experience Kuramathi Island for yourself check out the website and rates here: https://www.kuramathi.com/

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