Friday, June 07, 2019

Library@harbourfront at VivoCity - Singapore

Library@harbourfront outlook from the outside at VivoCity, Singapore

With the closure of Bukit Merah library in December 2018, it had been relocated into VivoCity level 3 (nearest MRT - Harbour Front MRT). With a size of 3,000 square meter, library@harbourfront is deemed to be Singapore’s largest shopping mall library. Wasn't it a good news???

Library@harbourfront at VivoCity Singapore

Despite it was being officially opened in January 12, 2019, I only managed visiting it today (perhaps due to many renovation works and changes that were going on inside the mall earlier this year plus its location at the third floor, which was quite a bit far left from the Food Republic/ Sentosa monorail door). If you knew or heard about the Beauty in the Pot Restaurant, the library was just located next to it.

I was aware about the library only yesterday when trying to find available books from the NLB mobile apps. Many books that I wanted to borrow were available there (perhaps since it was new and not many people was aware about its existence - just like me, or perhaps the location was a bit too far to purposely going. I mean, I usually went to VivoCity to shop, dine, watch movie, meet friends, date, or to go to Sentosa Island, and would not purposely go there just to visit library, unless like this case where I could find many available books there).

Transparent Book drop section - Library@harbourfront at VivoCity, Singapore

As you entered the main door, you would see the above photo. This library was divided into two area distinctively - Children and Adults with Teens. This library was also designed with transparent glass of book drop area. From the outside you could see the process how the books were being sorted out after you dropped the returned books into the machines.

Tinker Truck at Children section - Library@harbourfront at VivoCity, Singapore

Just like other libraries in Singapore, children were pampered with many books, comfortable places to read, and this one, with Tinker Truck. At the back of the truck-head they put tables and chairs with crafts, puzzles and other materials so that the children could sit and train their problem-solving skills.

Seating places among the bookshelves at Children section - Library@harbourfront at VivoCity, Singapore

Comfortable reading area for children - Library@harbourfront at VivoCity, Singapore

When you entered the Adults with Teens section on the right, you could find the locker where the reserved books were kept with the self-service machine to collect on your own and do the payment (Reserve fee of S$1.55 per book was applicable if you wanted to reserve).

Locker to put the reserved book (self-service machine to open the locker and do payment) - Library@harbourfront

Magazine racks on the left and book shelves - Library@harbourfront at VivoCity, Singapore

Singapore as a smart nation designed this library smartly. They were no longer providing the actual newspaper, instead they provided e-newspaper reading station.

Multimedia section - Library@harbourfront at Vivocity, Singapore

Area to enhance the digital focus - Library@harbourfront at VivoCity, Singapore

They also created two different spaces for people to read (or study or work) facing the beautiful view of Sentosa Island.

Space to read (or study, or work) facing beautiful Sentosa Island - Library@harbourfront at VivoCity, Singapore

Read peacefully and enjoy beautiful view of Sentosa Island - Library@harbourfront at VivoCity, Singapore

Impressive right? So, the next time you go to VivoCity Mall in Singapore, do not forget to drop by to this library. You could spend your off day reading some book peacefully there and save your money from buying new books :P

Below is the information you may want to know. So if you haven't been there, go and check it out!! :)

1 HarbourFront Walk
Level 3, #03-05 (Lobby F)
Singapore 098585

Opening Hours:
Mon – Sun: 10:00 AM – 9:00 PM
Closed at 5:00pm on eves of
Christmas, New Year and Chinese New Year
Closed on Public Holidays
24-hour Bookdrop

Thursday, June 06, 2019

Fun and pain in preparing free and easy itinerary

Itinerary (Pic source:

These days I have been busy preparing the free and easy itinerary for the upcoming trip with my family. Usually they take the easy way by engaging the travel agent services; started with signing the tour package up, preparing visa with all documents prepared by the travel agent, going for the briefing held by the tour guide, and Voila! we are ready to travel. This year, however, my parents want to have a different style, which is a free and easy. Of course, they engage someone to do the job, which is me.

I love traveling. I am not sure when it started but yes, the adventure and traveling spirit have always been inside me. Personally I prefer to travel free and easy style as I have more freedom to select the places I want to go, eat the food I want to eat, choose what type of hotel I want to stay, and so on.

Most importantly, by doing this way, I can control the budget - how much I will spend on the trip - as I have only a limited amount of money to spend; and the time spent in each places. As you know, when you travel with travel agent, they will allow you only sufficient time for them to explain about the place and for you to take photos. Most of the time it is too rush as there are many places to cover within a day.

And usually it is better to arrange the free and easy travel in small group (2-3 pax). with similar age group, and similar interest. Why so? This is very important because when you travel with different age group, the strength and health conditions of each individual are different, plus travel interests are also very different. E.g. I prefer browsing significant places from each city than shopping and relaxing; I prefer staying in small budget hotel with good location over bigger room, etc.

After all, we are all just a human being with different nature and characteristics. Therefore, the more the participants, the longer the traveling days, the more the age gaps, the more headache I am in planning this. Hahahaha..... And the best thing is that... I am given this task to plan and be the guide for the trip where I am not familiar with most of the places (out of the 4 different countries and 9 different cities, I have only been one of them, that too I visited almost two decades ago). Hahahaha... (don't know if I should laugh or cry....)

Headache!!! (Pic source:

This is why I feel like getting crazy and want to vent and share my frustration here because some people think this is an easy job. They never understand how difficult it is, why it takes time, and so on. Despite not working, I live my everyday life within pressure from my own self in preparing this. Another pressure is from the time given to get ready with all documentations required for preparing their Visa, which I found ridiculous too early to apply. Lol! I had to convince them not to apply too early to avoid rejection.

It is fun and pain at the same time in preparing the itinerary for the whole trip. And it really takes a lot of time as every place is new to me. It needs to do a lot of research, read a lot of reviews, pins places into the maps, plans what will be the best way to cover the place with the limited time available, to consider taking tour or walking on our own, and so on.

To make it easy usually I start it with drawing the calendar in Excel file, put in day and date. Slowly I fill the main things inside the empty box while filling up the details in another tab, e.g. flight, hotel, places to go, website links, etc.

First thing first - find out how many days required for the trip that fit the requirements by parents. That is why calendar style will come in handy when planning it. Once I know what and where, next is to purchase flight ticket which can fit the timing for everyone to arrive at the same time with minimum cost (by looking out for airline promotion). Some adjustment will be made if the flight schedule and promotion price are only applicable for certain dates.

My parents want to join the cruise. So I have to contact the cruise company regarding the cruise, register, fill up the data into the website that connect us with them, and arrange few other things required. Later on, I need to choose which tour to join for the shore excursion (the boat will stop for certain period of time to let people experience the country's life).

This gives me headache as there are so many choices and many I have never heard of so I have no idea if I should go or not. Few months ago I saw Korean TV show where group of people boarded to the same cruise and apart from the games they played, some of them were given chance to go for shore excursion too. I have watched the whole show just to have an idea what the places look like and whether all of us should also go to the same places or not. Even after I decided, now I think I have to go back and review my decision again as the tours that I have chosen were all full day for a consecutive 3 days and I worry that everyone will get too tired from it! Lol!!!

After cruise trip arrangement is done, I need to fill in the rest. I have to think of whether I should join the local tour or walk on our own. For famous places, it is expected to be very crowded. Therefore to avoid long queue, many tour offer skip-the-line service so that tourist can enter right away (no need to queue at ticket counter and to enter the building). This, of course, with additional charge that does not come cheap!!! But sometimes, with the limited time that we have, I have no choice but to choose that.

For each country, I need to find out: must visit places, which location to book the hotel (preferably with good location - near metro or main district, good reviews from other travelers, and acceptable fees), what places required tour services (look at various choices available, prices and reviews), the sequence of places to visit (if 2 days are available, which places to visit on which day because certain places are closed on certain day/s), must-try local food and beverage, which restaurants to go (from customers' review and photos plus location), how to travel from one city to another (by train - which train, which timing, or by flight - same thing), and so on.

Travel planning (Pic source:

I can spend few days just to arrange one day itinerary. Sometimes I feel helpless as I have no one to ask. I did ask around some people who have visited the countries before, but majority they joined the tour group so usually they cannot suggest much for the hotel, and places to visit can be found from the website. But as many tour arrange the travel by bus, they visited only some significant places before moving out to another place.

'Til date, I have not finished my itinerary yet. Like I said, I have reached some frustration in creating it and just need a place to share this feeling. It is not all the pain in planning it though. There are excitement too imagining the places that I will be visiting and various food to try. Sometimes I spend more time because I have interest on how they make the food. Some familiar food recall good memories in my head from the past. Hahaha... 

Well, I just want to make it good. Just good, not perfect. That is why all the pressure is coming - from within myself. Even after planning it, not necessary it will all come to fruition. Changes are expected depending on the situation. And still the best thing is to let nature takes its course. Well, wish me all the best in creating it. Most importantly to enjoy the travel in reality. Not just for me, but for everyone! Let's hope and pray that everything will go well. Thank you :)

Sunday, June 02, 2019

One day trip to JB (Johor Bahru) by train - Part 2

Return ticket timing and ticket counter at JB Sentral Train Station, Malaysia

The train may not depart at an exact timing as by the time all the passengers boarded into the train, it may be slightly later than the schedule time. However, you will still reach five minutes later to your destination. The great thing about taking train is that both immigration checks are done before boarding. Therefore, once you step into JB Sentral train station, you are free to go!

If you have not purchased any return ticket yet, worry not! You still can purchase it at the counter, not far from the place where you come out. Just walk straight about 20 meter, you will see a counter with people queuing. There are 2 separate queue if you notice. One is for ticket sold within the same day. Many timings are available. Choose according to your need. Another queue is for ticket sold at another day (advanced ticket purchase).

If you ask me what time will be suitable for both go and back for the day trip? Well, for me personally, I feel that from Singapore to Johor Bahru (JB), 9.45 am is the best timing as many shops are opened after 10 am. You can choose earlier timing as well, like 8.30 am ride if you stay not too far from Woodlands area and want to have a relaxing breakfast at JB. As for return time, I usually choose 9.30 pm as I hardly visit JB this way so I want to maximize my stay without having to stay too late (again, many shops are closed at 10 pm, unless you want to catch the night movie and have some supper before going back to Singapore). Or you may want to choose earlier timing if you do not want to feel too tired or if you need to go back to work the day after. In any case, buy the return ticket right after you reach JB to avoid the tickets being sold out.

And if you want to purchase a SIM card (in case you need), you can get it at the store near where you buy the return ticket. You need to show your passport to register. For a week SIM card, it costs RM 20 - 2 GB data - and enough for a day (you can even share your connection through hotspot with your friends as well). I bought and used it mainly to order the Grab as it will be much cheaper and safer). Again, it is personal choice.

Next, what to do?

Aha! It is still early and it it too early to shop. Haha... So, breakfast (cum lunch) will be the best option. Where? Well, you have plenty of choices where to go and what to eat. You can choose to eat inside the shopping mall (Komtar JBCC, Johor Bahru City Square) or you can also experience to eat local food at local eating house nearby the area.

Queue at Kam Long Curry Fish Head (had avocado juice from nearby stall while waiting) - Johor Bahru, Malaysia

Breakfast Hainanese Chicken Chop at Hua Mui - Johor Bahru, Malaysia

There are many choices available. Choose according to what you feel like eating. Check your Google map for these places: Kam Long Curry Fish Head (open 8 am to 4 pm - closed on Friday), Restaurant Ya Wang (open 8 am to 6 pm - closed on Wednesday), Restoran Hua Mui (open everyday from 8.30 am to 6 pm), Toast and Coffee - previously Tasty Bay Food Court (open every day from 7 am to 5 pm), etc.

Banana cake and assorted bread from Hiap Joo Bakery - Johor Bahru, Malaysia

Or if you just want to have a snack or very light food for breakfast, you can just grab assorted bread (coconut, peanut, ikan bilis, otak, etc.) from Hiap Joo Bakery while takeaway their banana cake back to Singapore (it is fresh made using traditional oven using woods to fire, fragrant and cheap - small box of 5 slices at RM 4.80 and big box of 10 slices at RM 9.60 - perfect oleh oleh (gifts) for your families and friends/colleagues back home. Check their opening time before going (mostly start from 7.30 am to 5 pm except for Sunday - start from 8.30 am and Monday - start from 12 pm). They bake their cake then sell. Once finish, you have to wait for another batch. You may need to queue for a while, but I tell you, it's worth it!

Assorted puffs and bread from Salahuddin Bakery - Johor Bahru, Malaysia

There is another old school bakery nearby the area as well, called Salahuddin Bakery. It opens daily from 9.30 am to 6 pm except on Friday (closed at 5 pm). They sell various puffs (potato, mutton, chicken, and sardine), bread loaf, bread rolls, cream puff, etc. And if you are thirsty, you can go down to Chaiwalla and Co. Container Cafe to have Thai Milk Tea, Iced Coffee, and so on (open daily from 12 pm to 12 am except Sat and Sun open until 1 am).

Long queue at Hiap Joo Bakery - Johor Bahru, Malaysia

All the places I mentioned above is within walking distance from the JB City Square Mall (about ten minutes walk). I was not aware of this place until my friend brought me there. And it surprised me that we had to queue to eat at some of these restaurants and bakery. I mean, weekday morning, queue??? I thought it only happened in Singapore :P Anyway, it can be a good experience to taste local food from these eateries. Oh, bring umbrella as the heat can be unbearable and it may rain as well!

Miniso at KSL City Mall - Johor Bahru, Malaysia

From there you can take Taxi or Grab to other shopping malls or walk back to JB City Square or Komtar JBCC. KSL City Mall can be a good choice to shop as it contains varieties of shops (Mr D.I.Y., Daiso, Popular, Miniso, Tesco supermarket, enormous shops for mobile phone accessories, lingerie (Sorella, Triumph, Young Hearts, etc.), clothing stores, many good food to eat and drink inside and nearby (for lunch), many salon, massage/manicure/pedicure places, and one of Singaporean favorite places to make glasses too!

Mala xiangguo at Tasty Hotpot opposite KSL City- Johor Bahru, Malaysia

You can find plenty of blogs regarding where to eat in Johor Bahru to have details of each restaurant. I asked my friend who stays in JB on what were nice to eat nearby the KSL and he recommended me Tasty Hotpot (mala xiangguo dish where the family recipe came directly from Chengdu, China). I tried it with my friends and not bad lah! They also sell few appetizers and dessert to complete our meal. Oh, not forgetting Tsing Tao Beer to accompany the dishes, especially in hot afternoon!!! :D

A Ming Di Hwang Ya at KSL City

There are nice noodle shops and roasted meat/duck nearby the area as well but I am not sure which stalls. Heard some people like to eat the bakuteh (Malaysian style pork rib soup) there too. But so far, I haven't tried them. I ate the roasted meat from inside the KSL called A Ming Di Hwang Ya (you can see a display of giant roasted duck from the front part of the restaurant).

With Jeffrey Ang - Co-owner of Burger Bandit - at KSL City - Johor Bahru, Malaysia

I also tasted two burgers (Prawn Katsu Burger and Mac and Cheese Burger) from the Burger Bandit as it is owned by my ex-colleague. According to him, these two burgers are their best seller items. Make it a Combo (additional fries and lemonade) only at RM 4.50 more. It tasted really good!!! Try it next time if you feel like having burger as they fixed the most of their patty home made!

After filling your stomach with heavy lunch, you may want to continue shopping and walk around. You can go back to City Square to shop or go another mall before going back there. If you love to shop clothes, my local friend recommended me to go to Paradigm Mall. There is Parkson and cinema inside.

Visited the newly opened mall - Mid Valley Southkey in Johor Bahru, Malaysia

But if you want to check a new shopping mall in the area, you can go down to The Mall, Mid Valley Southkey. It was opened somewhere in April 2019. Not all shops were opened yet when I went down last week but most have been operating well. Many branded shops can be found. Restaurants are available too. Good time to spend in evening.

After a very long day, I chose to have an hour full body traditional Thai massage at Thai Odyssey - Johor Bahru, Malaysia

You can go back to City Square mall again before or after dinner and finish your shopping list. You may want to peek items at Watsons or Guardian (some things are much cheaper to get than in Singapore), fancy breads at bakery like Seasons and Lavender for next day breakfast are nice and cheap (you can get an average of S$1 per bread), stationery stock up from Popular and/ or Times bookstore (do not forget to bring your Popular membership card because you can use it in Malaysia and Hong Kong too), browse clothes from Uniqlo, H and M, etc. buy sport shoes from Nike, New Balance, Sketches, etc., shop some local snacks from Yong Sheng, share various flavors of popcorn from Eureka (RM 11.90-12.90 for vacuumed pack, up to RM 27.90 for glass bottle type), and perhaps last minute foot massage or whole body massage (after whole day of eating and walking) at Thai Odyssey. It is not very cheap but still cheap compared with Singapore standard.

Char Kway Teow from PappaRich Malaysia

You can have dinner first too before going back. Many restaurants are available. I recommend the Char Kway Teow from PappaRich if you like Chinese Indonesian style of Char Kway Teow. 1 portion is RM 17.50 (incl. Tax and svc charge) or around S$5.80 only (In Singapore it cost S$9.90 excl 10% svc charge and 7% GST). Hehehe.. it's personal choice anyway! :D

Things I bought from Johor Bahru, Malaysia (Eureka Popcorns and Gardenia Sambal Ikan Bilis)

Check your train ticket timing once again! Be there half an hour before departing time as you need to clear the immigration before boarding into the train. If you still have spare time, you can shop around the place. There is one mama shop selling the Gardenia bread roll - sambal ikan bilis (spicy anchovies bread). In Malaysia, one packet it costs RM 1.05. In Singapore, the same flavor bread is sold at S$1.30, which means, with the price of 1 bread in Singapore, you can get 4 packs of it in Malaysia). It tastes very nice too and have quite long expiry date. You can stock it up back home and have it anytime when you are hungry. It is really a very good buy!!! I know a friend who can buy 20 packs of it at one time! :D Can be a good gift to friends and colleagues as well! :)

So, board your train well and on time. When you reach back to Woodlands, you will have to go through the Singapore checkpoint. This time you can choose any place to queue (not necessary choose the automated machines) to fasten up the queue process.

Wish you a wonderful journey!!! :)

I hope you will have a wonderful one-day Johor Bahru trip after reading this blog. You can share your experience by leaving your comments below and add in some good tips or good makan (eating) place so others can benefit from it. So, explore well and enjoy the journey!!
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