Thursday, December 07, 2017

Japan Family Travel Essentials: JR Passes & Wifi Router From Changi Recommends

Media Review

It was our first family holiday to Japan, so I made a lot of preparations prior to the trip. The husband and I had been to Japan several times before but this time round, the two kids are with us and with the weather so cold, I really want to be sure that we are well prepared with everything we need for the trip, so we got our Japan Rail (JR) passes and arranged for the rental of our WIFI router online via https://www.changirecommends.com/ before the trip.

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Why Changi Recommends?

If you have followed me on my previous travel posts, you would know that this is not the first time I used the services of Changi Recommends, and there are good reasons why I would return to them again and again for every trip I make:

1. You Get Your Essentials Ready Before The Trip

This is especially important if you are travelling with young kids and I cannot emphasize this enough! If you don’t want to run helter skelter during the trip itself trying to sort out simple logistics that you could have arranged for earlier, then go on to Changi Recommends and book what you need now. For our Japan trip, I booked 7-day Nationwide JR passes for all four of us as well as a WIFI router for the trip. Transportation is a major part of any vacation, especially in Japan where the network is massive and complicated, and can be very expensive. After settling that on Changi Recommends, I felt a huge burden lifted from my shoulders!

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The wifi router was another essential for us, especially when we will be relying much on Google Maps to get around, and to keep everyone connected during the trip itself. You can also opt for overseas SIM cards too, but for our case, a wifi router worked way better because we had 4 mobile phones, 1 IPAD and 2 laptops that needed to connect to the same router. At any one time, we had a minimum of 4 devices connected to the router and that worked perfectly for us for the trip. Tip: Always book your routers early especially if you are travelling during peak travel periods as there are limited sets of routers for rental.

2. Easy & Convenient Pick-Up & Return

I booked my JR passes and wifi router on Changi Recommends way in advance before the trip, and all I needed to do was to pick them up from the Changi Recommends counter at Changi Airport Departure Hall right before I check in for my flight. I picked mine up from Terminal 4 – Every terminal has their own counters for passengers’ convenience. There was a staff there who explained to me how to connect the wifi router and how to exchange for my physical JR passes upon reaching Japan. I felt assured that I’ve got a huge part of the trip taken care of and that gave me a great head-start to my vacation! Upon reaching back in Singapore, I just needed to drop off the wifi router at the same counter and that’s it!

3. Good & Reliable Support

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I had some difficulty connecting the wifi router when I reached Haneda Airport in Tokyo, but thankfully, there was a 24-hour whatsapp support hotline given to me in case I need any technical assistance. The support staff responded almost immediately even though it was close to 12 midnight, and was able to guide me through the whole connection process and I was connected in no time at all. Good support is always a plus point – The last thing I want is to be stuck at the airport overseas trying to sort out all the technical issues instead of starting on my vacation right away!

Why Japan Rail Passes?

If you are planning for a holiday to Japan as well, I strongly recommend that you get the JR passes like we did. Just a word of advice though – There are many different types of JR passes and they cover different regions in Japan and have different privileges. So get the passes that best meet your needs in terms of regions you are covering and whether you are going to cover one region in detail or travelling across regions over a few days. For my family, we planned to cover Tokyo –> Osaka –> Nara –> Kyoto and then back to Tokyo in a span of 7 days and so, the 7-day Nationwide JR Pass was recommended to me.

1. Covers Shinkansen Travels (Saves You $$!)

We had very little time to cover so many places, so time is of the essence – We would need to take the Shinkansen trains to save time in travelling especially between Tokyo & Osaka and our JR passes would cover the cost of that. Shinkansen trains are fast but they are expensive as well, so if you have a JR pass, that’s covered - Very value-for-money! Plus, with the JR passes, you can reserve your seats for Shinkansen so that you have a confirmed specific seat when you board.

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We took the Shinkansen several times during our 7-day trip: Tokyo to Osaka, Osaka to Kyoto (Twice) and Osaka back to Tokyo to catch our flight home. I did a quick calculation and realized that a round trip on Shinkansen would have cost me the same as one 7-day JR pass! So worth it! Speaking of which, we thoroughly enjoyed every one of our Shinkansen rides – So comfortable, fast yet super stable and we even managed to catch Fuji-San on our way from Tokyo to Osaka and back! It was nothing short of mesmerizing. =D

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2. Convenient & Fast Gantry Crossing

When you purchase your JR passes in Singapore prior to your trip, all you need to do is to make a one-time trip to any of the JR offices (at major JR stations) and get your physical JR passes done. With the JR pass, all you need to do everytime you take the JR rides is to go by the manual gantry, show your pass to the station staff and walk through. No need for you to check ticket prices, buy tickets and tap at the gantry to go through! So convenient, right? This is especially great during peak hours when the crowd can get really overwhelming and you even need to queue to get out of the station. Tip: Since you are already at the JR Office, reserve all your Shinkansen tickets at the same time to save another trip there!

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Are Wifi Routers Really Essential?

I cannot emphasize how glad I was to have rented the wifi router from Changi Recommends for the trip. At any one time, we had a minimum of 4 devices connected to it and you would think that battery life would be a concern, but the router lasted us for about 10 hours a day before I needed to charge it. Some people say it is inconvenient having to charge it every night but I think that is a small thing to put up with. We needed the wifi connection to search for places to go to, addresses, google maps etc. The kids were constantly connected and could chat with their friends and play games during commuting. I was just spamming insta stories and social media posts to make my friends at home jealous. LOL!

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On the whole, we had a really smooth and enjoyable trip with our kids and I attribute a huge part of it to the services of Changi Recommends because I was well-prepared and had everything I needed for the trip before it happened. That’s really important when we have kids with us because watching over them to ensure their safety is tiring enough – I don’t have excess energy to fight fires or solve unexpected crisis! Thank you Changi Recommends, for always having my back for our travels. Till our next trip! =)


Disclosure: This is a collaboration between Changi Recommends and The J Babies for review purposes. All photos and opinions presented in this post are solely ours

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

A Tale Of Wishes Come True At Seletar Mall This Christmas!

Media Invite

Christmas is indeed the most wonderful time of the year!

Everywhere we go, there is a happy vibe in the air and I especially love stepping into shopping malls during this festive season because there are great sales going on, happy Christmas carols playing and lots of interesting and fun programs happening! Everywhere you turn to, there are smiling faces and generally everyone is gearing up for a good year-end break. This Christmas, Seletar Mall has so much to offer to everyone so it’ll be a real pity if you don’t make a trip down!

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We popped by Seletar Mall last weekend and were totally immersed in the joyous Christmas mood. They have an array of fun programs all planned out for the whole month of December!

GIANT TOY CAPSULE MACHINE!

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Look at that stage design! Can you tell that it’s a giant toy capsule machine?! There were so many people queuing up for their chance at the toy capsule machines and the whole stage area was bustling with excitement as the giant balls rolled down to determine the prizes won! There are four tiers of prizes to be won, with the highest tier being SPH Malls vouchers – Of course everyone wants to try! All you need to do is to spend a minimum of $20 for a go on the Sir Little Giant Toy Capsule Machine to win SPH Malls vouchers and prizes!

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KIDS’ GAME STATIONS!

But what got the kids really excited were the game stations. But of course, the stations had such cute designs and names - even I felt like playing! =X So, there were 3 different game stations that the kids could try – Pobo, a mini basketball game; Delphy, a snow bowling game; and Pinkie, a game of colours. All were simple games but it was obvious the kids had great fun playing and laughing even when they did not manage to win anything. That’s the spirit of Christmas, I guess – It’s all about having fun and enjoying the atmosphere of love and joy, while making your wishes come true!

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WISHES COME TRUE @ THE SELETAR MALL!

Your Christmas this year can be made that extra special by playing a part to fulfil a child’s wish! You can support a child from Beyond Social Services with a donation of $15 (The Seletar Mall will top-up the remaining $15) or you may choose to top up $1 for a tote-bag (all proceeds will be donated to Beyond Social Services).

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There are so many interesting programs happening in the coming weeks till the end of the year, so make sure you bring your family to Seletar Mall to shop, dine and enjoy the fun together. After all, Christmas is all about family bonding and spending time with those who really matter. =)

Star Studded Shows (9, 10, 16 & 17 Dec)
Sit back and enjoy the exciting line-up of festive performances including Sir Little Christmas Show, Enchanting Bubble Show and Magic of Christmas.70 (1)
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The meet-and-greet sessions are not to be missed because the kids would love it! Fun Fact: Sir Little is a word play on the word ‘Seletar’ – Come take photos with lifesized mascots of Sir Little & his friends! They are sooooo cute!!!

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9 Dec
3pm – Sir Little Meet & greet (with photography session)
7.30pm – Magic of Christmas (magic & illusions)

10 Dec
3pm – Sir Little Meet & greet (with photography session)
6.30pm – Enchanting Bubble Show

16 Dec
3pm – Sir Little Meet & greet (with photography session)
6.30pm – Enchanting Bubble Show

17 Dec
3pm – Sir Little Meet & greet (with photography session)
7.30pm – Magic of Christmas (magic & illusions)

Please visit Seletar Mall’s Facebook page for more details on the schedule.IMG_2854

Plan for your family day out at Seletar Mall now! It’s the perfect place to do your Christmas shopping with sales going on in all the shops, many family-friendly restaurants to choose from and best of all, Christmas vibes and programs for all to enjoy. I enjoyed my time there and I’m sure you will too. =)

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The Seletar Mall
Website: https://www.theseletarmall.com/
Getting there: https://www.theseletarmall.com/directions
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/theseletarmall/?fref=ts

Disclosure: This is a sponsored advertorial by The Seletar Mall, to introduce their Christmas programmes. Photos used are a combination of photos taken by us as well as Seletar Mall. All opinions are our own.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Outsource Your Dirty Laundry To honestbee Laundry!

Media Review

We just got back from an amazing family vacation to Japan with the kids! It was great fun travelling with the kids now that they are older and a lot more independent, but still extremely exhausting having to keep watch on them constantly just in case they got too carried away playing and lost sight of us. Every vacation is fun but the one thought that starts to creep in as we approach the tail-end of the holiday is the amount of dirty laundry we have to deal with when we get home! Especially when the vacation is in a cold country – There would be a mountain of dirty laundry, winter jackets, long johns, snow caps, gloves, mittens, etc! The girls’ jackets got super dirty especially on the sleeves - Just the thought of that gave me a headache!

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Thankfully, I suddenly remembered honestbee Laundry and literally gave myself a pat on my back for such an ingenious idea to outsource my dirty laundry to them! If you have not tried honestbee Laundry, let me share with you 3 reasons as a first-time user, why I think their service is awesome:

1. THEY COLLECT & THEY DELIVER!

DIY Laundry shops are popping up everywhere but who enjoys lugging a heavy bag of dirty laundry to a shop, put in all the clothes and detergent AND sit there for an hour to wait for everything to be done? I certainly didn’t! – At least not after a tiring overseas trip! All I did was to download the honestbee app on my phone, select the type of services I need, select a timing for the clothes to be picked up and viola! Everything was done in the comfort of my home without any need to step out of the house! The honestbee staff arrived that evening to pick up my laundry and I was happy as a lark! Seriously, best way to settle my huge load of dirty laundry especially the winter jackets! I spied my mother-in-law looking very pleased from the corner of my eye. =P

2. TWO DAYS TURNAROUND TIME!

I love efficiency – Who doesn’t?! And that was the main reason why I think honestbee Laundry is pretty awesome. I got home from the vacation on Saturday morning and the laundry was picked up that evening. All it took was TWO DAYS and my laundry was cleaned and delivered back to my house by Monday evening!

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That’s how fast and efficient the service was (weekend included obviously!) and I was so very pleased. The winter jackets (which I selected to be dry-cleaned) came back wrapped in plastic covering and hung on a hanger. I’m going to keep them into my closet as-it-is! So much convenience!

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3. REASONABLE PRICING & PROMPT FOLLOW-UP

Laundry costs can get rather exorbitant especially after a winter holiday, so I was prepared to pay for them. But when I saw the pricing of the cleaning services offered by honestbee Laundry, I was pleasantly surprised that they turned out a lot more affordable than I thought! 

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After I made my order via the honestbee Laundry app, I received a confirmation email (which was assuring, as always). Laundry was picked up and I received a second email informing me about the final confirmed cost of my laundry. You see, I had initially selected 2 kg of Wash & Fold as I wasn’t sure how heavy my dirty laundry was. After they collected my laundry and weighed them, they revised my order to only 1 kg of Wash & Fold (They are really “honest” =D). I love getting timely and accurate updates like that, don’t you??

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If you ask me, I think everyone should just outsource their dirty laundry after a vacation and choose a reliable and efficient one like honestbee Laundry, who collects your dirty laundry from your house and delivers them back clean and fresh – Totally hassle-free without burning a hole in your pocket! That is totally what I will be doing after every vacation from now on. =)

EXCLUSIVE DISCOUNT CODE FOR FIRST-TIME USERS!

Download honestbee Laundry app onto your phone and get started now! You can get $15 off on your first laundry order (minimum spending of $25) with code: 15WASH
https://www.honestbee.sg/en/laundry


Disclosure: This is a sponsored review of Honestbee Laundry’s services, but every opinion stated in this post are honest feedback from a happy first-time user (me!).

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Japan Autumn Travel: Shimokitazawa

I think a pictorial post on my all-time fav place in Tokyo is apt because Shimokitazawa is such a picturesque and beautiful neighborhood. It is often described as the bohemian, laid-back and hipster secret of bustling Tokyo, so if you like the sound of that, you can probably spend a whole day here. There are cafes, boutiques, thrift shops, kitchenware and home-furnishing shops, florists, restaurants, etc. I would want to live in this neighborhood if I ever move to Japan! :)

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Getting to Shimokitazawa
Coming from Shinjuku, take an express train on the Odakyu line and get off at the second stop (7 minutes, ¥160). From Shibuya, get on an express train on the Keio Inokashira line and get off at the first stop (3 minutes, ¥130).

I share our family travels on instagram on-the-go. Follow us @klessislee and see our travel adventures at https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/kuanfamilytravels/