Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Songs of the Forest Zone @ Bird Paradise Mandai in Singapore

You sing like a bird - a compliment that is lost on me as I don't know how to appreciate the melodious singing from birds, plus I am known for being tone deaf.

Hence, I knew it would be for nothing when I stepped into the Songs of the Forest zone of Bird Paradise Mandai. To me, it's just vocalization from the birdies. 

At times, I wonder why I decided to accompany my dad and sister to this relocated bird park as my understanding of the bird species is severely lacking. Often, it's like that's pigeon lookalike, or how come that mynah looks so different. 

Occasionally, I would spot something pretty unique; like this green bird with black markings that had a head unlike many others. Of course I didn't know what it is! 

Information panel to the rescue; it turned out to be the Green Broadbill, which was said to be "incredible speed in flight". So thankful it wasn't flying as I am liking going to be miss it, given how unobservant I am. 

Those keen to revel in the songs of the forest may make use of the two amplifying devices. I attempted and heard nothing. Wait, am i supposed to blow it like a trumpet so that the birdies can hear us humans better? 

Walking is a necessity under the hot sun; with so much greenery, it's quite hard for me to spot the birds, unless they have a different shade, and are on the move. Interestingly, I didn't manage to catch sight of the birds featured on the webpage for Songs of the Forest

Separating each zone was an air-conditioned arena for us to languish in the cool temperature before venturing out to the next destination. Be thankful! 


Songs of the Forest Zone,

Sunday, April 28, 2024

La Charm Hoi An Hotel & Spa - Deluxe Double Room with Old Town View @ Hoi An in Vietnam

I am seldom impressed with hotels but I am going to put down on record that I was utterly blown away by La Charm Hoi An Hotel & Spa; for the price I was paying a night, we were literally getting five-star service!  

It all started, as always, with our arrival to the hotel at almost 6pm on our first day to central Vietnam. The sun was setting and we were tired, after enduring an almost hour drive from Danang International Airport.

First thing; cold towel and a glass of iced welcome drink that consisted of honey, lemon, lemongrass, mint and ginger. Thirst quenching for sure! 

One of the receptionists sat us down on the sofa to kick start the registration process which was pretty straightforward and didn't involve a ton of questions. Actually, even before my trip, the hotel sent an email, which I thought was a scam, detailing their services. 

Friendly the receptionist sure was and at the same time, she shared information pertaining on the things we can do at Hoi An, important stuff to note, and a map showing key attractions, highlighting location of restaurants we could try in the ancient city. 

Got our key card; I requested for a room on the high floor in the booking portal and the 67-room hotel remembered, giving me a room on the highest seventh floor! 

Bright and breezy lift lobby on the seventh floor. I am so against dark and gloomy lift lobbies and hotel corridors as contrary to popular beliefs; I am quite the scaredy cat.

Panoramas from the three exits on the 7th floor! 
p.s. taken on the last day of my stay.

Room 8701 -  stepping into our Deluxe Double room with Old Town View that shall be our accommodation for the next three nights.

View of the room for your reference; all the basic stuff like mini fridge, bottled water, sachets of tea, packs of G7 premix coffee (which I like), electric kettle etc.

So loving this antiquated bedside lamp! 

Wardrobe with bathrobes, slippers and an in-room safe. The slippers helped a lot as they were the kind you could wear out! Alex loved them so much; he almost wanted to buy a pair back to Singapore! 

Aside from a room on the high floor, I also asked for extra pillows! Most hotels would just give me four pillows but La Charm Hoi An Hotel upped the game by providing six plushy pillows! 

More things to read in the room.
That floating tray was enticing! 

Our 32 square meters Deluxe Double room came with a balcony too! Low parapet with our neighbours though and I think it might be awkward should I bump into them. 

An ashtray means smoking is allowed? Not that it matters much to me so long there's no lingering smell of cigarette in the room. 

Views from our balcony! As our room was at the corner, we had an unblocked view of Hoi An; the City of Lanterns. I had the intention to stay even closer to the old section but the almost perfect review  google score of La Charm Hoi An Hotel was just irresistible! 

The washroom with its gold brass rainfall shower, tabletop sink, typical toiletries and bath gel in a large bottle, instead of in those mini, eco-unfriendly tubes. 

Feeling so assured. The hotel was actually closed for an extended period of time during the pandemic and according to the staff I spoke to; operations only restarted around late last year! For me, the hotel still looked pretty new though.  

Looking at Alex through the glass window separating washroom from the room! There's a blind you can pull should privacy is an issue; and it is if you are travelling with friends and family members! 

Decent facility although I didn't use any equipment throughout the trip since I was always out to explore the old town! My daily exercise, in addition to walking, was jogging along the little lanes and alleys in the mornings when the crowd was thin. 

Swimming Pool
Located on the ground level; do note to keep an eye on children as the depth towards the far end was deep! There was construction for a high rise building next door and i bet there would be more eyes looking at the pool once it is completed.

Hotel Breakfast
Customary of hotels in Vietnam, breakfast was provided and in La Charm Hoi An Hotel, it's buffet style at the resident restaurant; Charm restaurant which was on the ground floor and next to the swimming pool. 

Breakfast time was from 7.00 am till 9.30 am and from the above photographs, I guess you would have a relatively good feel on the variety that was served. 

In addition to an egg station (serving omelette, fried, scrambled, boiled and poached eggs), you could also get grilled eggs, pho, local desserts like sticky rice with beans, and a large number of sauces.  

Boring me usually would just target the fruits, and maybe yogurt. To be fair, I don't eat breakfast on normal days and when I am overseas, I am happier to explore local food outside the hotel. I did eat a bit at Charm restaurant and my verdict on the breakfast offerings was "they fill the stomach". 

There's also an inhouse spa at La Charm Hoi An Hotel. Located next to the gym, you may click here for further details on the 30-minute Back-Neck-Shoulder massage I had. 

An ancient looking well in the hotel premises too. 
Thankfully it was blocked with a locked cover. 

Pathway towards the back of the hotel; out of curiosity, I took the path and it led me to another road. From the motorbikes that were there, I am guessing it's the parking area for staff, and maybe for guests too. 

Can't help noticing the beautiful trees and blossoming flowers at the backyard. Only things lacking are tables, chairs and maybe a swing. 

Additional Information
Do you know that you can rent a bicycle from the hotel and explore the old town?! Operating hours were from 6.00am till midnight but if you need to use them before / after said hours, do check with the reception. 

We rented them on day two of our trip and the concept was pretty similar to bike sharing in Singapore, although in Hoi An case, you need a key to release the lock. One problem we faced while riding in the old town was the lack of bicycle parking space; don't anyhow park and it's best to check with the establishment you are visiting.

Another service we utilized was the laundry service. It only cost 50,000 dong a kilogram and guess how much we paid for this bundle of clean, dry clothing!? 125,000 dong (about S$7.00) for 22 pieces of clothing! 


As mentioned earlier, I was super impressed with the service from the La Charm Hoi An Hotel and it was from every staff I met; be it housekeeping, security, receptionist etc! Each morning, during breakfast, the staff would also make it a point to check if everything is okay! 

I had a problem with laptop network (LAN / WiFi) connection for the past few overseas trips and the hotel IT staff finally managed to resolve it for me! They even helped to pull a network cable so that I can get a faster connection. Extremely grateful as I needed to clear some work! 

Last piece of surprise when we were about to leave the hotel for Danang; a bag filled with two packs of local specialty; the coconut biscuits! They don't cost much but it was a nice gesture; it also helped that they were really good. Would I be back? Definitely!   

64 Đào Duy Từ, Phường Cẩm Phổ, 
Hội An, Quảng Nam 51000, Vietnam

As above.


Deluxe Double Old Town View - S$72.77 a night
(Via Trip.com)