How I Save Money on Hotel Bookings

For those that travels often, you would have known that there are often many planning to do once you have decided on your next dream destination. I have travelled to many parts of the world and have went through all the different kind of experiences that i think i can fill up the entire Tripadvisor with reviews!

From deciding on my preferred airlines (reliability, comfortableness and how attractive the frequent flyer program is) to the nitty-gritties such as researching on the places of interest and where are the places for me to shop, eat and play!

There is one thing i pay special attention to. Hotels.

Hotels may be something that most people overlook and find it unimportant as most of the time you would be exploring the different attractions and will only be back at night! So why pay for something that is not the most important part of the travel?

But look, whether my holiday is a do or break depends on the hotels i book when i travel. After a long day of activities, what i’m looking forward to is a comfortable room and bed for me to retreat to before starting the next day being revitalized and recharged. (It would be a plus if i can take a nice hot bath in a bathtub!)

As a result, i often spend the bulk of my time planning and researching on hotels to make sure i get a quality room.

Of course, quality room could also means that i may have to increase my budget.

Recently, Money Digest (a Singapore-based site that help you save money) has introduced a hotels search engine that compare across thousands of hotels sites including aggregators! I’m sure you have heard and have used some of the hotels aggregator sites such as Expedia, Hotels.Com and Agoda.

How Money Digest’s Hotels Search Engine is different is they combined the individual hotels together with the aggregators and list down all the hotels for your comparison!

Money Digest Hotels Search Engine

What does it means for travellers? You get very competitively priced hotels!

Too good to be true? Let’s pick some hotels and try it.

1. Hong Kong

  • Date: 21 Feb 2015 – 24 Feb 2015 (3 nights)
  • Hotel: Mingle By The Park
  • 2 adults in 1 room

Money Digest’s Hotel Search Engine

Double room at $774 for 3 nights (inclusive of taxes and fees) – by HotelClub

Mingle By The Park HotelClub

 

Hotels.Com

Same room at $912.66 for 3 nights (inclusive of taxes and fees)

HotelsDotCom

The price is not competitive to the rest and that could also be the reason why it was not listed on Money Digest’s Search Engine.

2. Paris

  • Date: 1 Mar 2015 – 6 Mar 2015
  • Hotel: Le Marcel
  • 2 adults in 1 room

Money Digest’s Hotel Search Engine

Double Standard room at $849 for 5 nights (inclusive of taxes and fees) – Booking Direct

MD Hotels 1Le Marcel Direct

Agoda

Same room at $821.99 for 5 nights (exclusive of taxes and fees)

(Costs $904.19 after 10% hotel tax)

 

Agoda Hotels

 

3. Best Price Guaranteed Feature

One attractive feature is the best price guaranteed option being offered to customers. What does it means?

If you find the hotel that you booked is cheaper elsewhere, let them know within 24 hours and you will be refunded with the difference! *Terms and conditions apply

With this feature, you can almost certainly be sure that you are getting the best deal around in the market.

 

Conclusion:

  • Money Digest’s Hotels Search Engine(MD HSE) is more transparent as it includes hotel tax and fees in its listing
  • MD HSE offers more choices with more listings
  • MD HSE offers a best price guaranteed feature

As a result, provide more competitively priced hotels for travelers like you and me!

It works out to be a lot savings accumulated over a year if you travel a lot. You may even be able use the savings to purchase another air tickets to Hong Kong or Bali!

This article is contributed by Money Digest.

The Chewys’ First Overseas Family Outdoor Photoshoot at The Westin Siray Bay Resort, Phuket

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The Chewys’ First Family Trip to Phuket

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WHOOHOO! In mid January, The Chewys went for our first vacation of 2015 and it was also our very first family trip with Little misschewy! We have always wanted to bring Chanelle overseas, especially after our last trip to Taiwan without her. It was a huge mistake back then when we booked our air tickets during my third trimester, thinking that we needed to spend some couple time without the baby immediately after my confinement! Needless to say, we missed Chanelle terribly during the trip and swore to ourselves, never again. Fast forward a few months later, we felt that Chanelle is ready and is quite adaptable, and as parents, we are also pretty confident about bringing her overseas. However, we weren’t sure how she would fare for the first flight so we decided to be safe and chose Phuket as our holiday destination because of its close proximity and also, we wanted a relaxing time at one of the resorts. :)

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And so, the day came. We were very excited and a little bit nervous. Had to take a photo at the Departure gate before bidding my in-laws goodbye!

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We flew with Singapore Airlines for obvious reasons. Didn’t manage to get bassinet seats for the flight to Phuket so the hubs and I took turns to let Chanelle sit on our laps with the infant seat belt securely fastened. A family wefie before take off! :)

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In no time, we were high high up in the sky! The curious girl peeped out of the window a few times. Chanelle was tired, yet she wasn’t exhausted enough to fall asleep on her own. She fussed and cried a little, but was soon entertained by a Caucasian couple sitting behind us.

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Slept as soon as the plane touched down!

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Our resort quoted us 1300 Thai Baht (THB) for a one way trip via a Toyoto Camry from the airport, which is about 50 SGD. I found it exorbitant for what is estimated to be a 30 minute car ride and didn’t proceed with the transport reservation. We couldn’t believe what we saw upon stepping out of the airport. Taxi meter! We asked for an estimate and were quoted 700 THB including 100 THB airport surcharge. Hurray!

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Little misschewy slept soundly throughout the entire journey and woke up promptly when we reached the resort of our choice – The Westin Siray Bay Resort & Spa! I joined the Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) programme late last year and decided to stay at one of the Starwood properties for this trip. Out of the 3 resorts currently available, we decided to stay at The Westin Siray Bay because the private beach appealed to us.

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We received a very warm welcome as soon as we got off the taxi. If my memory doesn’t fail me, we were each served a refreshing glass of orange juice topped with crushed ice as a welcome drink. Certainly needed one to cool off in the sweltering heat!

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Situated on the exclusive east coast of Phuket, The Westin Siray Bay Resort & Spa, Phuket offers a rejuvenating tropical haven overlooking the magnificent Siray Bay with all you need to be at your best. This luxury five star resort boasts contemporary design and the renowned warm Thai culture, welcoming guests into this respite of tropical elegance. The resort is just minutes away from Phuket Town, cultural attractions, local markets, restaurants and shopping.

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The Westin Siray Bay Resort is quite big, hence a buggy is required to get around the resort, especially if you room is located a distance away from the reception or restaurants.

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Each of the 257 contemporary guestrooms, suites and pool villas offers ocean views of Siray Bay. We were really lucky that our room was upgraded to a Sala Pool Villa!

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Our pool villa was definitely the epitome of comfort and coziness! The hubs and I couldn’t stop gasping at this and that, and behaved like little kids. LOL.

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The Westin’s signature Heavenly® Bed.

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We didn’t use the tub at all because it was impossible with Chanelle around. Haha!

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The Westin is very generous with their bath amenities! They have almost everything!

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The resort’s mini bar items are chargeable, except for bottled water with tags. They are pretty generous with the bottled water! We found at least 6 bottles in our room and they are stocked daily.

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The mini fridge does not have a freezer compartment so I left my freezing panels for my cooler bag with the resort’s kitchen. The drinks inside the fridge are not complimentary.

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Sooo.. What did we have planned for our first day in Phuket? Nothing! Just wanted to take a dip in our very own private pool! Chanelle was like.. Mummy can you please hurry up I wanna play with water NAO. Hahaha! Just look at that face.

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Chanelle enjoyed the pool so much that we felt bad carrying her out of the water >_<

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We were invited to a cocktail reception at one of the restaurants at the resort, EEST, where we enjoyed free flow drinks and canapes! It was very nice of the hotel managers (I think) to mingle with guests and it made us feel right at home. We hung around for about 15 minutes before moving off to our dinner venue within the resort.

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Dinner was at Prego by the Beach. SPG members are entitled to 15% off! Here, you will find Italian cuisine served in a fun, lively and lighthearted atmosphere featuring an open kitchen and bar overlooking the beach.

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Honestly, I wouldn’t say that the food was fantastic. In fact, my risotto was way too salty. After dinner, we headed back to our pool villa via the buggy and called it a night!

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I can’t remember what time it was when I sneaked out in the morning to snap the sunrise. I was too sleepy to linger any longer and crawled back to the comfy bed.

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It was the hubs’ turn to take this photo while Chanelle and I were still sound asleep. When the little bub woke up, we went for a casual photoshoot within the compounds of the resort and had to skip breakfast. Will share photos in another post! :)

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Little misschewy was simply too exhausted after the photoshoot and fell asleep. Both misterchewy and I were feeling ravenous so we didn’t hesitate to call room service to deliver food to us!

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Phad Thai and Minced Basil Pork with rice! Sooooo yummy! The food was also surprisingly quite cheap but we didn’t order more stuff to share because we were planning to go to Patong! The resort provides shuttle bus service to Phuket Town and Patong Beach at a small fee of THB100 and THB200 per person per way.

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On the shuttle bus! The journey took almost an hour because of the heavy traffic.

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We were dropped off at Jungceylon which is a shopping mall but we were not very keen to shop there even though it was air conditioned and a great respite from the heat. Didn’t know how to walk to Patong Beach so we took a taxi and paid another THB 200 for the short journey.

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You know what? It’s actually a pretty bad idea to go to Patong Beach with a baby in tow. Firstly, you cannot enjoy any of the sea sports activities and secondly, the weather is too hot, making it quite ridiculous for you to babywear your child. We had to cool off at the air conditioned food court nearby! Good thing there is free wifi there.

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There was nothing for us to buy at Patong, save for a couple of souvenirs. Decided to have dinner around the area before returning to our resort.

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I don’t usually drink coconut but when I do, I make sure I take a selfie. LOLLLL.

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Yeehah! Chanelle’s first tuk tuk ride! :) _MG_5518

Kaab Gluay Restaurant is located further north of Patong beach, along 58/3 Phrabaramee Road. This is one of the places that we had shortlisted from our online research. If we had known that Kaab Gluay doesn’t have a proper high chair for babies, we definitely wouldn’t have come here. It was tough having to take turns to eat!

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As I’m writing this, I can’t believe we travelled all the way there just to eat 3 dishes! :(

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Phad Thai with seafood.

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Green Curry with chicken.

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Tom Yum Soup with seafood.

Even though we only had three dishes to share, we were really full by the time we were done. Food was exemplary and well worth the visit! Highly recommended! On a side note, the tom yum was fiery hot and I developed a sore throat overnight for wiping the entire bowl clean! The hubs only had a few mouthfuls because he can’t take spicy food.

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Our last night in Phuket! IMG_9329

The next morning, I told the hubs that we must let Chanelle have another round of fun in the pool before leaving the resort!

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It was a quick one before we prepared ourselves for breakfast!

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The breakfast buffet spread was quite sumptuous! IMG_9342

Our check-out was smooth. This time, our journey to the airport cost us THB 1000 which is slightly more than what we paid for to travel from the airport to our resort, inclusive of airport surcharge. The rate was quoted by the resort so we had to go along with it.

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Chanelle fell asleep while she was latching, even before the plane took off! #achievementunlocked

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Our light sleeper woke up when food was being served. Didn’t have a choice but to place her in the bassinet so that we could eat in peace!

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Papa and mummy are so glad that you enjoyed your first overseas trip, darling!

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Hope you guys had a good time reading about our holiday experience with a baby in tow! Happy Chinese New Year and HUAT AH! Stay connected with us on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/missuschewy and on Instagram @missuschewy and @misterchewy :)

Love and Antiques – Match Made on Earth

Sharing a common interest like a love for antiques could be just the thing to solidify a special relationship with your significant other.

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Image by auctiontv via Flickr

Buying antiques, for many, is a great love affair. And just like any love affair in life, it’s seldom approached with a clinical or somewhat analytical detachment, but rather with emotion, and dare we say, passion. Many customers who have shopped for jewellery for sale from Kalmar Antiques have vocalised the emotions they experience when looking for items. They never quite know which piece exactly will evoke such strong emotions, but when it happens, they say, it’s like falling in love. And then there are those couples who have actually found love through antiques – be it from being in the same place at the same time and sharing in a mutual passion for beauty; or those who come across one another time and again at auctions and antique stores.

LOVE TRUMPS ALL

Love has become a cardinal guideline when it comes to buying antiques and like with any affair, it sure trumps all. A piece can be of amazing quality and consist of an envious pedigree. It can look stunning and fit perfectly into a spot at home. It can be a great bargain too. And if you’re buying the item with the one you love, it can only serve as a symbol of your commitment to one another.

INSTINCT

Love is by far the most magical ingredients for making things work well together. From the elegant and the rustic to pieces steeped in incredible history, so too can be love for another be found when shopping for antiques. Imagine shopping for antique jewellery for sale by Kalmar Antiques when your eyes meet across the room, you’re both attracted to similar items of jewellery and you get chatting about your mutual fascination and admiration for antiques pieces. It’s an instant common ground that can only lead to something quite special.

COLOURING OUTSIDE THE LINES

Antiques have really interesting mixes of shades and hues along with a variety of finished, styles and of course periods. But they all have quality and age in common. And of course mutual love for a piece can be just the thing to solidify your new found attraction to potential significant other.

THE QUALITY OF LOVE

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Image by Anu via Flickr

Naturally love is the main thing, isn’t it? But it’s not necessarily the only quality you’re looking for. When you’re purchasing an antique item, you need to make sure you’re buying something of top notch quality, as age doesn’t necessarily guarantee quality. And even if a piece was of a high quality when it was first made, age can take its toll. So if you fall in love with an antique, give it a good once over to check that it is in good condition. It’s sort of similar when you meet someone you’re interested in, isn’t it? You get to go on dates and get to know each other in order to find out if you’re a good match. And having a love for antiques in common gives you ample opportunity to find out if you’re compatible over a mutual interest. You may just discover that antique passion is the dovetail that will join the two of you together for life.

COMMON INTERESTS, COMMON SENSE

Just as you would use common sense to choose a quality antique item, so you use common sense to pick a mate. When looking at the antique you’ll wonder if the finish is consistent; if the piece if appropriately dirty for its age and even whether or not it has all its original parts. But unless you’re a really serious collector of antiques and care about investment value, common sense is the main element. Is the piece functional, does it serve its intended purpose?

And the same goes for when you first meet your intended – unless you’re really worried about age differences and, well, functionality, it’s all about common sense and getting to know a person. Sharing a love for antique items and jewellery can be just the thing to solidify a very special relationship.

This article is contributed by Media Buzzer.

Start a Successful Marriage With a Successful Wedding At a Beautiful Venue

With the divorce rate soaring, many couples are looking for answers in their quest for a successful marriage. Start with a memorable wedding reception.

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Image by Katsu Nojiri via Flickr

Right now, you may be enmeshed in the glorious specifics of planning a wedding, burdened with the seemingly endless array of decisions, experiencing the highs and lows of enchantment and disappointment. It is, for many brides and grooms, an all-consuming venture. “My brain is always thinking what am I missing, and I’ve already been planning for two years,” says bride-to-be Kelsey Ajango, an American based in Wisconsin, who’ll marry Mike Lager, her boyfriend of seven years, this fall. “It even happens,” she admits, “while I’m at work.”

And, as long as it is a fun preoccupation, and moreover, one you can enjoy with your future spouse, making mutual choices, bonding all the while, why not? You’re gathering storytelling material to share with your children (if you have them), and friends and family. You can, as many have before you, start with an examination of Melbourne function venues and design and produce a most memorable wedding reception to begin the rest of your life together.

But don’t forget what all the planning is for – marriage, your commitment to each other, the premise for what should be, the rest of your life. We took a cautious research venture to see if we could reveal the secrets to a happy, fulfilled partnership.

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Image by Nadja Antonova via Flickr

Kindness, it seems, is key. Many confuse being nice with being kind and while that is an understandable mistake, they’re actually different. The easiest way to explain: nice is the superficial, which you should happily use in your daily life’s interactions. Consider kindness as something deeper, more profound, and more impactful. One of the smartest men we know says it best: “It’s about letting go of the need to always be right.” And, this is a philosophy to live by, and, to apply during this potentially tempestuous time of wedding planning.

Preeminent couples therapy researcher John Gottman, co-author of The Seven Principles for Making a Marriage has spend hundreds of research hours observing and chronicling the very subject of that book. Gottman, who is a professor of psychology at the University of Washington, is world-renowned in the study of couple dynamics. He cites the following components are necessary to sustain a long-term relationship:

1. They are gentle with each other.
2. They spend time in and enjoy conversation with each other.
3. They allow for influence by their partner.
4. They do keep score by remembering the good things their partner does for them.
5. Each partner knows themselves reasonably well.
6. Each partner honors the others’ dreams.
7. There is a positive sense of humor in the relationship.
8. There are shared goals and a sense of team-work in the relationship.
9. There are good conflict resolution skills in the relationship. (Sometimes this means doing something, and sometimes it means lettings things take care of themselves.)
10. There is a sense of continued romance in the relationship.
11. Contempt, for the partner, in all its forms, will more than anything else bring the relationship down. It needs to be avoided or worked through.

In 5 Simple Steps to Take Your Marriage from Good to Great, psychologist Terri Orbuch cites the following as valuable tips:

1. Expect less and get more from your partner (offer two top expectations to see if they mesh)
2. Give incentives and rewards (affirmations like “I love you,” “You’re my best friend.”)
3. Have daily briefings for improved communication (practice a 10-minute rule: every single day, talk to your partner for at least 10 minutes about anything but work, family, household duties or the relationship.)
4. Implement change (don’t get in a rut, keep things fresh)
5. Keep costs low and benefits high (happy couples have a five to one ratio, five positive feelings or experiences for every one negative.

While she says “If you’re having conflict, you aren’t talking about the important issues in your relationship,” reserve those arguments and fights for the right time (she doesn’t recommend visits or night), it’s also a myth that you shouldn’t go to bed mad, because staying up can make things worse; don’t fight irritated, exhausted and angry. The following morning is much better. As the old song goes, “accentuate the positive” and strengthen what you do well.

This article is contributed by Media Buzzer.

Froth Café Singapore Food Review

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After seeing so much hype about the taro waffles at Froth Café on Instagram, I finally popped by this relatively new place on Saturday with misterchewy, Little misschewy and my parents. I’m usually not too keen on jumping on the (new) cafe hopping bandwagon but it just so happened that we were in the vicinity and we had not had our lunch. It was around 5pm so the hubs called to make a reservation just to make sure they could accommodate all of us. Froth Café wasn’t too hard to locate; it’s at the basement of Big Hotel, near Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts.

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We shared the Doritos Crust Winglets ($11.90) because it was recommended by the owner. Interestingly, the winglets had been deboned before being fried but I felt that this takes away the fun of eating a winglet. On the overall, the winglets were tender and spicy but extremely salty. We provided feedback to the owner who explained that they were still experimenting as customers previously found the winglets bland.

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Unable to comment on the next two dishes as I didn’t try them! Fish and Chips ($16.90)

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Pan-fried Salmon ($20.90)

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The Carbonara ($15.90) was really good! The sauce was creamy, albeit a bit watery, but once the egg was beaten in, every mouthful was heavenly. The penne was al dente and an excellent choice because it could hold the delicious sauce. They were kinda generous with the bits of bacon too.

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And finally, this is what enticed me to pay Froth Café a visit! There are five types of waffles – Buttermilk, Red Velvet, Cheese, Taro and Banana. The Taro Waffles with Sea Salt Caramel Ice Cream is a beautiful work of art. I was torn between sea salt caramel ice cream and earl grey ice cream. Can’t remember if the waffles were served warm but they were definitely very fluffy and crispy! Even Little misschewy gave her stamp of approval by not sticking out her tongue like she usually does when we attempt to give her solids! I expected the taro sauce to be immensely sweet but it was actually pretty mild. We were unable to detect any hints of saltiness in the sea salt caramel ice cream but the hubs and I enjoyed this!

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Total bill came up to about $92. Will I return? Yes, probably to try out the other items! And I certainly don’t mind ordering the taro waffles again, perhaps with a scoop of earl grey ice cream! Stay connected with us on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/missuschewy and on Instagram @missuschewy and @misterchewy :)

Froth Café
200 Middle Road
B1-02
Big Hotel
Singapore 188980
Tel: +65 6336 1228

Opening Hours:
Daily
11.30am – 10pm

Chanelle’s 7 months old Photoshoot by POHTOgraphy

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When Chanelle was around 7 months old, she had her photos taken by Levin Poh of POHTOgraphy at his home studio. The photos did not turn out the way I expected them to because Chanelle wasn’t in a particularly good mood during the photoshoot :( She’s usually cheerful and smiley but I guess she did not have sufficient sleep, which caused her to be so cranky just 15 minutes into the shoot!

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Nevertheless, Levin was very patient and calm, in fact even more so than misterchewy and I. Levin is a father of a toddler, so he has his own experience with dealing with babies. I would say that the photos were very well taken by Levin, but it’s such a pity that Chanelle refused to smile! There are some basic backdrops and props at Levin’s home studio and we brought some of our own for the photoshoot. Levin actually specializes in event photography such as actual day wedding! More of his works can be viewed on his Facebook page.

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If you are keen in engaging Levin for his photography services, his mobile number is (+65) 82883369. You may also email him at contact@levinpoh.com