Taipei Day 2 (1 May 14) – The Old Towns and Sky Lanterns

Today my friend and I woke up late today. Perhaps it is due to the tiredness we were still having from the overnight flight the day before, plus we turned in pretty late last night. We skipped breakfast and planned to grab something to bite whilst on our way to Jiufen. Jiufen  is located some 50km from Taipei. There are several options for us to get to Jiufen. As my friend has never ridden on a train before, we opted for a train ride to Jiufen. Originally we planned to catch a train from Taipei Main Train Station, according to the map that we had. As we were checking with the staffs in the hotel, we were informed that there is a train station, Songshan Station, nearer to the hotel then the Taipei Main Train Station. The hotel staff advised us to catch a cab from outside the hotel to the Train station, which would take us only around 5 mins. I was glad that we heeded the advise from the staff and we were at the train station in no time. As soon as we were at Songshan Station, my friend and I proceeded to get the train tickets from the counter. I read about the train bento from travel magazines and asked the staff at the ticketing counter if we will be able to get a set onboard. Sadly we were informed that the trains do not sell train bentos, only trains serving interstate sells those onboard. However we were directed to a shop round the corner, which sells bentos and we were advised that we can consume our bentos onboard the train.

Songshan Train Station
Me at the entrance of Songshan Train Station
Inside Songshan Train Station
At the ticketing area of the train station
Map of where we will be heading
My friend and I getting our train tickets
Our ticket to Ruifang

Feeling excited, my friend and I looked out for the shop, according to the directions provided by the ticketing staff. The shop that sells train bentos is in the shape of a train and it is situated in the middle of the pavement. As we were deciding which bento set to purchase, a local passed by and recommended us a set that is exclusive to Songshan Station. My friend and I spared no thinking and bought the set, which was recommended. As we still have some time to spare, my friend and I decided to take a look inside the train-shaped shop. This shop not only sells bentos, it is also has a mock up of the train cabin, as well as the train memorabilia. After taking pictures on the seats of the mock up cabin, my friend and I decided to proceed to the platform and await our train.

The Train mock-up shop that sells Railway Bento
Deciding which Railway Bento to buy
Still deciding….
Finally bought these
Merchandise on sale inside the shop
Inside of the mock-up train shop
Taking picture on the mock-up train

To get to Jiufen, we would take the train to Ruifang Station (瑞芳火車站) and switch to a bus which stops at the entrance of Jiufen Old Street. The train that would take us to Ruifang Station pulls in punctually into Songshan Station. One thing to note when taking train rides in Taipei, the ticket would point out which train cab and the seat number our seats are located. However at the platform, there isn’t any signs that signals which cab would stop at which location. This has caused my friend and I to board the wrong cab and walked from cab to cab to our allocated seat. Having said that, it is rather refreshing experience for my friend to transit from cab to cab looking for our seat as this is the first time he has taken a train. We found our seat and consumed our bentos shortly. I find the bento not as tasty as I would like it to be. There was a lot of braised dishes packed into a reasonable sized container. However it is certainly refreshing to eat the bento while watching the sceneries zoomed by before our eyes. The ride to Ruifang takes around 30 mins and soon it was time for us to alight and switch to our bus ride to Jiufen Old Street. Prior to exiting the station, we confirmed with the staff where we should be boarding our bus.

 

Me and Songshan Train Station
My friend with the train pulling into the station
Me posing with the train
My friend and I onboard the train that took us to Ruifang Station
Enroute to Ruifang Station
Enroute to Ruifang Station
The bento that I bought
Enroute to Ruifang Station
Me with the Bento
Arrival at Ruifang Station
My friend at Ruifang Station

The bus ride from Ruifang Train Station to Jiufen Old Street took around 30 mins. Jiufen Old Street is situated on the slope of a mountain. As it was raining, the low cloud in Jiufen Old Street gave it a mysterious feel. After alighting from the bus, we headed for the entrance of the Old Street. It is not hard to locate the entrance to the old street, despite shortage of signage. One would just have to follow the crowd to the entrance, after all this is where visitors come to in Jiufen. The entrance to the Old Street is a narrow space that would fit only 2 people walking side by side. Once inside the entrance, rows and rows of stalls open up to the sight of visitors on both sides of the street. There are no lack of food, as with any night markets in Taipei. Here one can find snacks as one walked along the windy and sloping street. The Old Street sloped upwards as one enters and then downwards as though one is walking through a roller coaster of food to suit all pallets. My friend and I were intrigued by a stall where we saw a staff shaving something off a big brown block, upon seeing our curiosity, the staff shaved a little off for us to sample. It is actually peanut!! We proceeded on the “processing line” to see what was on offer. What we saw next was staffs preparing a pancake folded in half topped with vanilla ice-cream and the peanut shaving. The combination was delicious and certainly refreshing. As with this store, most of the food we saw on the Old Street were prepared a la minute. As we walked through the Old Street, more food options, usually in the form of snacks are made available. Walking through the Old Street ensures that one do not feel hungry as one will be busy munching food as one walks up and down this sloppy path. The Old Street opens up to a scenic view near the end of the street. In a clear day, one will be able to see the coast line from the viewing platform, after all the Jiufen Old Street is built on a slope. It is a shame that when we visited, the low clouds did not manage to allow us to catch a glimpse of the coastline. After the viewing platform, one will be able to find tea houses spreading along the street. To get back to the starting point, my friend and I headed back to where we came from and shopped for items that we have missed out.

Outside Ruifang Station
We boarded the bus for Jiufen
Enroute to Jiufen
Enroute to Jiufen
Enroute to Jiufen
Enroute to Jiufen
Arrival at Jiufen Old Street
My friend and I at Jiufen Old Street
Jiufen Old Street
Jiufen Old Street
Shop selling snacks at Jiufen Old Street
Shop selling snacks at Jiufen Old Street
Shop selling snacks at Jiufen Old Street
Jiufen Old Street
Me at Jiufen Old Street
Shop selling snacks at Jiufen Old Street
Me at Jiufen Old Street
Shop selling snacks at Jiufen Old Street
Jiufen Old Street
My friend at Jiufen Old Street
Shops selling snacks Jiufen Old Street
Jiufen Old Street
Shop in Jiufen Old Street
My friend and I at Jiufen Old Street
Jiufen Old Street
End of the Old Street
At the viewpoint in Jiufen Old Street, with KeeLung Mountain at the background
At the viewpoint in Jiufen Old Street
On a clear sky we would  have been able to see the coastline
At the viewpoint in Jiufen Old Street
Me and my friend at the viewpoint in Jiufen Old Street

Before we headed to our next destination in Shifen, we stopped by a temple that we saw before we hit the entrance of the Old Street. This 2-storey temple is tucked in a quiet area of Jiufen, though there are crowds flogging for the Old Street, few actually step foot into this temple. The red and grey temple with carvings of the Chinese dragons on its pillars sits sombrely on the slope, overlooking the coastline. My friend and I headed inside to offer our prayers to the gods that were worshipped here. We proceeded to the 2nd floor, where there is a balcony that looked out into the coastline in a clear day. As with any other Chinese temples, there are elaborate carvings on the walls and pillars. We left the temple soon on a cab to Shifen.

 

The Chinese Temple at Jiufen
The Chinese Temple at Jiufen
The Chinese Temple at Jiufen
Entrance to the temple
Me inside the temple
Me inside the temple
The Chinese Temple at Jiufen
The reason why anyone would come to Shifen is for the sky lanterns. The locals believed that wishes written on the sky lantern release into the sky will come true. After around 30 mins of windy drive from Jiufen, we arrived at Shifen. Before getting our lanterns, my friend and I explode the area a little. The Old Street of Shifen is rather small, approximately 200ms. One can find shops selling sky lanterns on either side of the railway track. Other then selling sky lanterns, there isn’t much on offer in this area. We stumbled upon a suspension bridge between the shops selling lanterns and the railway station. On the bridge we saw bamboos being hang on the railings as well-wishes cast their wish on the bamboos and have them hung here. My friend and I then proceeded back to the purchase a sky lantern. Don’t bother hunting for best bargains as the price is the same no matter which shop one purchase the lanterns from. The staff will be happy to help well-wishes to light up the lantern and take pictures for visitors as one releases the lantern into the sky. The sky soon turned dark and we headed back to Taipei on rail as the way we came.
Arrival at Shifen
Shifen Old Street
My friend and I at Shifen Old Street
Walking along the railway track at Shifen Old Street
Me with the suspension bridge in Shifen
Shifen Old Street
Train pulling into Shifen Station
Shifen Old Street
My friend and I releasing sky lantern in Shifen
My friend and I releasing sky lantern in Shifen
There goes our sky lantern
There goes our sky lantern
My friend and I on the suspension bridge in Shifen
Entrance to the suspension bridge
Me at Shifen
View of the valley on the suspension bridge
Night view of the bridge
View of the valley on the suspension bridge
View of the suspension bridge
View of the valley on the suspension bridge
Me hanging bamboos on the suspension bridge
Me at Shifen Old Street

 

Waiting for our train at Ruifang Station
Me at Ruifang Station
We got back to Songshan Train station at around 9pm. My friend told me that there is a night market nearby the train station. As we were carrying a lot of stuffs we bought from Jiufen Old Street, my friend and I headed back to the hotel to put down the results of our shopping spree today. We rested for an hour and took a cab back near Songshan Train station, where Raohe Night Market is located. I was initially excited to shop around Raohe Night Market, however my excitement is short lived. Raohe Night Market is a one-street night market, very much different from Shilin Night Market that I visited the day before. This night market looks empty, other than the shops, there are very few make-shift stalls, which would otherwise occupy the centre walkway of the street. Perhaps it is due to the rain and perhaps it is due to the time (almost 10pm when we reach Raohe Night Market). There were still a number of stalls selling mostly food, however the number of stalls opened pales in comparison with Shilin Night Market. My friend and I shopped a little and got some street food before realising we have hit the end of the street. At the end of the street, we spotted a rather colourful temple. This is the temple of the Heavenly Mother. It was however closed due to the time we were there. As with most Chinese temples, this temple is decked out in red and grey colour. The number of carvings on the roofs and pillars did not lose out to that in some of the bigger temples that we saw so far. As we have reached the end of Raohe Night Market, plus most of the shops and stalls are closing, my friend and I decided to head back to the hotel to rest for the night. As we need to wake up early tomorrow for our day trip to Wulai.
Raohe Night Market
Me at Raohe Night Market
Raohe Night Market
Raohe Night Market
Street scene at Raohe Night Market
We had osyters
Temple at the end of Raohe Night Market
Me at the temple
Advertisements

Taipei Day 1 (30 Apr 14) – Hello Taipei

It was 5am. The city of Taipei is still sleeping. As I deplaned from a 4 hour overnight flight, walking out of the aircraft a sleepy and quiet airport terminal greeted me. There was hardly any souls around. It is hard to believe this city inhibits nearly 3 million people. This is my first trip to Taipei, though I have been to Taiwan before on business trip some years ago, I did not have time to really explore the country. Moreover I was in Tainan and not Taipei. I have seen so much on TVs from Taiwanese serials to Travel Programmes about Taipei. I was traveling with a friend whom has traveled to this city umpteen times. However his stays was usually in Taipei city itself. We planned to be ambitious and wanted to explore more then Taipei during this trip, given that we only have 4 days here. Clearing customs is swift, partly due to the low visitor traffic at this time of the day. We collected our luggage and soon found ourselves out of the airport terminal. Our transport is already waiting for us.
My friend and I after the immigration in Singapore Changi Airport, getting ready to head to Taipei
Boarded the aircraft and ready to go
Taking off from Singapore Changi Airport
Arrival at Taipei Taoyuan Airport
An empty airport terminal greeted us
An empty airport terminal greeted us
Waiting to collect our luggages
Our ride to the hotel is already waiting for us

The drive to Taipei city from the airport takes less than an hour. As we were driven towards our hotel, the quietness of the city attested to the fact that the city is still asleep. It is hardly the Taipei that I can to read about. We checked into the hotel upon arrival. Checking in was fast, however due to we arrived early, the hotel do not provide complementary early check-in. We paid for the extras and proceeded to our room to rest a little before heading out to explore the city. It was still early for us to do anything, the only shops that are still open at this hour are the 7-Elevens and the Family Marts nearby.

 

Driving to Taipei City from the airport
Driving to Taipei City from the airport
An empty expressway towards the city
Driving to Taipei City from the airport
The hotel that we will be putting up
An empty street of Taipei
Empty street of Taipei

Half a day has passed. My friend and I had woken refreshed ready to explore the city. We headed to the nearby subway station and gotten ourselves stored value tickets. Subway is a very convenient way of exploring the city. The stations are well marked in both Mandarin and English signs. All the attractions within the city serviced by the subway is clearly marked on maps, making traveling by subway easy, not to mention subway is actually cheaper then taking cabs.

Inside the Taipei Subway station
A train has just pulled into the station
Riding on the subway

Our first stop in Taipei was the Longshan Temple. This temple is considered one of the big 3 temples in Taipei and proved to be a great spot to soak up the religious culture of the Taiwanese. The temple is conveniently located opposite the Longshan Temple Subway station. Emerging from the subway station, the temple is just right across the street. The facade of the temple looked like time has stopped the day the temple was built. The temple looked old but very well preserved.  Entering the main gate to the temple, a small garden with some man-made waterfall greets visitors. There are 2 side doors to access into the temple building. My friend and I headed to the door no the right. We bought some incense and candles to offer our prayers to the deities being worshipped here. The main deity being worshipped here is Guanyin, however there are over 100 Taoist deities being worshipped here alongside Guanyin. After offering our prayers, we headed further into the temple. The temple can be roughly segregated into 3 main sections. The first section would be the entrance, where it is sheltered and where most devotees come and offer their prayers to Guanyin. In front of the sheltered entrance is the building where Guanyin was being seated. A modest but grand building, it is the centrepiece of the temple. This building is surrounded by buildings connecting to the rear of the temple, where most of the Taoist deities are located. This is where most of the devotees placed their offerings of fruits and vegetarian meals to the gods. These surrounding buildings form the border of the temple. The roofs of Longshan Temple is elaborately decorated with numerous carvings of gods and mainly Chinese dragons, where it is believed that they are the guardians of the temple.

Signage at Longshan Temple
Facade of Longshan Temple
Man made waterfall
Longshan Temple entrance
Me at Longshan Temple entrance
Hordes of devotees in Longshan Temple
Traditional Chinese architecture in Longshan Temple
One of the deities in Longshan Temple
Hordes of devotees in Longshan Temple
Me inside Longshan Temple
Longshan Temple
Longshan Temple
The main temple building housing Guanyin

Upon exiting the temple, my friend and I wanted to visit Shilin Night Market – the biggest night markets of all in Taipei. We spotted a market just outside Longshan Temple. As it is still early to visit Shilin, we decided to spend some time walking around the market here. The market here is rather scattered and most of the vendors offered street food of Taiwan here. We walked around for 15 mins and found this place to be rather boring. At this point, my friend proposed to visit Ximending instead. We proceeded to the subway station and caught the train to Ximending.

Emerging from the Ximen subway station, the district of Ximending presents itself before us. This district is where some of the major shopping brands is located. Here we spotted a breathe of youthfulness in the air, as it appeared to be a major hangout place for the youths and teens of Taiwan. As we were coming out of the subway station, it started to rain. My friend and I hurried to the nearby shopping mall to seek shelter. We were a little hungry and headed to McDonald’s for a quick bite. Soon the rain subsided a little, my friend and I went on to explore Ximending. Ximending is really a vibrant place, with no lack of fashion outlets, mainly local designers, arcades and cinema. Other then the shopping malls littered across Ximending area, there are also stalls set up mainly for the night market. Unlike that one that we went to in the vicinity of Longshan Temple, the night market stalls seemed to be a permanent feature, with proper shelters and more sturdy looking fixtures, as compared to their make-shift counterparts in Longshan Temple area. There are certainly no lack of street food here in Ximending area. My friend and I headed for the famous oyster vermicelli that is a must eat whenever one comes to Taipei. Perhaps it is the cool climate that accompanied the rain, the oyster vermicelli tasted extra delicious. As we were walking along the streets of Ximending, we met a couple of youths paddling their wares to raise money for their University event. We chatted a little, they were portrayed to be friendly and welcomed us to Taipei. After eating the vermicelli, we walked around Ximending a little more before deciding it is time for us to head over to Shilin Night Market. As we were walking towards the subway station, I spotted a red building just across the road. My friend and I then proceeded to that red building. Little did we realise it is the Red House. This building used to be a old market building. When we visited the building, it now mainly sells teas and we also spotted a few shops selling local arts. As my friend and I are not ardent arts nor tea fan, we did not spend too much time in the Red House. We headed to the subway next and proceeded to our next destination – Shilin Night Market.

Ximending
Ximending
One of the shopping malls in Ximending
One of the shopping malls in Ximending
Friendly locals posing picture with us in Ximending
Crowded Ximending
The famous Oyster Vermicelli in Ximending
Oyster vermicelli in Ximending
This is how the vermicelli is made

Exiting from the subway station, Shilin Night Market is just right across the street.  I read that Shilin Night Market is the mother of all night markets in Taipei and is certainly the largest. The first impression I got from seeing it across the street is that this night market does not look that large nor does it differ from the other markets I have seen so far. As we were walking into the market, little did I realise I was wrong. The market is certainly larger then what it seem from the across the street at the subway station. As one walks into the night market, the market seem to expand in size and depth. There are shops and stalls that seem to sell everything shoppers come for. There are no lack of food stalls in Shilin Night Market. At almost every turn and every corner, one can find food. These are the food that the locals and tourist alike came flogging for. There are food that can match every pallet and every preference. The food one find here are not just inexpensive, they are tasty too. Coupled with the warmth personality of the stall owners, this market is rather enjoyable to walk in. There are also no lack of things for shopaholics to spend their time browsing and buying in Shilin Night Market. Goods ranging from cloths to shoes to souvenirs and even local delicacies can be found here in the night market. One can literally spend hours and hours in Shilin Night Market to hunt for the suitable goods that match what one is looking for here. Despite being raining, it did not dampen the spirits of both shoppers and stall owners alike, life still goes on and Shilin Night Market is still buzzling with life till the wee hours of the morning.  My friend and I spent around 3 hours walking around Shilin Night Market and decided to call it a night as it is getting late (or early in the morning). After walking around in Shilin Night Market, I came to realise the mother of all night markets is indeed an apt title for this market. We merely skimmed through the night market. I have a feeling that we will be back here again before heading back to Singapore. But for now, it is resting time for we will be heading to Jiufen and Shifen.

Shilin Night Market from across the street
Local street food in Shilin Night Market
Street scene in Shilin Night Market
More food in Shilin Night Market
We had smelly tofu
Fruit juice stall in Shilin Night Market
Lots of locals and tourists came flogging to Shilin Night Market
My friend and I in Shilin Night Market
Shilin Night Market
Shilin Night Market
Shilin Night Market
Shilin Night Market
Shilin Night Market
Shilin Night Market
The sheltered market area in Shilin Night Market
The sheltered market area in Shilin Night Market
One can find local food in Shilin Night Market
Street scene in Shilin Night Market

[Airline Review] -Scoot (TZ202) – ScootinSilence, SIN-TPE, (30 Apr 14)

Pre-Flight

Scoot check-in counters are located in the mid-section of Terminal 2 in Singapore. Check-in took quiet awhile as they are the same counters serving passengers bounded for other destinations with Scoot. As there were no seats that are together, my friend and I opted to upgrade to ScootinSilence section of the flight. The procedure for the class upgrade took awhile and we were made to head to another counter to pay the difference. Once that is settled, the not-so-friendly ground staff handed our boarding pass and instructed us to proceed to the gate at the specific timing.
Boarding pass
The bird that will fly us to TPE behind the Silkair aircraft

In-Flight

Scoot uses 777-200s for all their flight. All the aircraft in the Scoot fleet is decked in the standard 3 classes, namely Business Class, ScootinSilence, and Economy Class. The crew inflight was much friendlier then those on the ground. We were promptly welcomed onboard and shown the aisle that will lead us to our seats. At my seat, I saw a blanket laid over on my seat, to get a blanket one would otherwise have to pay extra for it. My friend commented that the seat could be soiled and I did not bother seeing what was underneath the seat. The seat we opted is the bulkhead seat, which gives passengers extra legroom to stretch out. This section of the aircraft promises that there are no passengers under the age of 12 to give passengers a quieter cabin, which is essential for an overnight flight.
ScootinSilence Cabin just behind the Business Class
Peeping into Business Class
The legroom is indeed generous on the seats that we purchased. The yellow seats were located just behind the business class section. The seat boasted a 89cm (or 35″) seat pitch, which allowed me to stretch all the way for a better night rest onboard the aircraft. The seats are rather comfortable, enabling me to rest sufficient for the short 4-hour flytime to TPE. I was able to sleep mostly throughout the flight. As there are no personalised entertainment onboard Scoot flights, controls of the seat is only limited to the button for one to adjust their seating position.
Very generous seat pitch
Lavatory onboard this section of the aircraft is located behind the section between the ScootinSilence and the Economy Class cabins. Similar to Business Class lavatories, access to these lavatories is exclusive to ScootinSilence passengers. The lavatory has very standard Economy Class amenities that one can find in other airlines.
Lavatory onboard
Lavatory onboard

Service

Service onboard is mostly non-existence. The only time I had interaction with the cabin crew is when I was boarding the aircraft, which is rather standard where the cabin staff will direct passengers to the aisle to reach their seats. Other then the food sales service, cabin crews are nowhere to be seen. Scoot is a no-frill airlines, one only pays for the seats. Anything extra is chargeable, from food to comfort kits and even check-in baggage. Hence the cabin crews are more interested in making sales onboard then providing any services.

Overall

Scoot is a decent choice and is certainly above the rest of the budget carriers. The seats are comfortable and the cabin is quiet. I managed to sleep throughout the flight. They deliver the promise they sell the seat to passengers. While service is almost non-existent the experience onboard Scoot is definitely way above the rest of the budget carriers.
View of the air bridge from my seat
Taking off from SIN
Arrival at TPE
The bird that flew us from SIN to TPE
Baggage collection at TPE

[Hotel Review] – Avillion Port Dickson (Premium Water Chalet), Port Dickson, Malaysia (14 – 16 Feb 14)

Location

Avillion Port Dickson is located on the beach of Port Dickson. There isn’t much eateries or shopping around the resort. It is rather far away from everything else. The nearest town is some 20 mins drive away from the resort. There is a night market in the vicinity, however it would take at leaf 10 mins of drive to the night market. Guests without car will have to eat at the resort, which the price is a little on the high side. This will be a good place for those who wanted to cast away from the hustles of the city.
Water Chalets
View of the sea

The Room

The room I got for this stay is the Premium Water Chalet, which is accommodation built over the sea, located at the far end. This category of room provides privacy to guests and comes with lounge access. The room is modeled after traditional Malaysian architecture with modern concretes as building material. The wooden based room is rustic but furnishings in the room shows signs of ageing and poor maintenance.

Sleeping Area

Once entering the room, a huge four posture king size bed greets guests. The room I have gotten has mosquito net set up around the bed. As the air conditioning in the room is rather week (signs of ageing and poor maintenance), I have called for the staff to have the net removed. The bed is huge and comfortable to sleep in, however the pillows are a tad too soft for my liking.
King bed
Next to the bed is a queen sized day bed, tucked into one inconspicuous corner of the room. The day bed is located next to 2 panels of windows with one looking out into the sea and the other facing the balcony. This is a good corner for one to laze in the day looking out at the sea relaxing. However the day bed feels a little dirty, I did not spend too much time on it during my stay.
Opposite the bed is the TV with a table extending from the minibar which is a short distance away from the door. There is a old wooden 2 door wardrobe. One of the door has a full length mirror that faces the bed. The placing of the mirror is rather weird and I used a towel to cover the mirror most of the time. The wardrobe looks a little run down and dirty, hence I did not use it at all.
TV and the wardrobe

Balcony

Far into the room, between the wardrobe and the queen bed is access to the balcony. The wooden furnished balcony faces the sea and is a great spot for some sea breeze or laze the day away in dry weather. As the balconies of the rooms are built next to each other, the designers of the resort installed a full length partition between the 2 balconies to provide privacy for occupants of both rooms.
Peeking into the balcony
Balcony
View of the day bed from the balcony
View from the balcony

Bathroom

Next to the entrance of the room is the entrance to the bathroom. The bathtub and the showers are separated. Entering the bathroom, one would spot dual sink, catering for 2 guests in the room. There are no lack of storage space in the bathroom for one who opted to bring their own toiletries. There is also a shelf next to the sinks and this is where one would find bath towels and bathing amenities provided by the hotel. It is this area where one can store more items. There is a huge well opposite the sinks that allows guests to looking to the sea and allow occupants to enjoy the rhythm of the sea in the room as well. The open shower is located next to the sea well and a large bathtub is found next to the shower. A small room with the toilet bowl is found between the bathtub and the shelving where the towels are stowed.
Sink area
Bathing amenities
Tower rack
Bathtub
Toilet bowl
Open shower
Sea well

Swimming Pool

There are 2 swimming pools in the resort. One is located next to the restaurant where everyone congregates each morning for meal. This family friendly pool is always packed with laughter and joys of children playing in the pool. There is a jacuzzi section just behind this pool and another smaller pool with slides for children. For more tranquility, one can opt for the adults only pool a little further down from the restaurant (after the small farm area). Here is where one can relax and soak oneself in the rays of the sun.
Main pool
Adults only pool
Small gym

Petting Farm

There is also a small petting farm, which the resort keeps farm animals (and more). One can find chickens, bunnies and parrots here. Peacocks and peahens are found roaming around the resort and not just confined to the petting farm. At certain times of the day, the resort organises feed the animals when one is able to get up close and personal with the animals.

 

Resident of the resort

Avillion Lounge

I had the chance to utilise the lounge during evening cocktail time. The lounge is built over the waters and is located at the centre of the water chalets. There is outdoor seating where one can view the beautiful sunset from. The indoor section of the lounge welcomes a lot of natural light by using floor to ceiling glass in replacement of solid concrete walls, making the whole lounge look huge and bright. The cocktail selection is rather limited and the food is just decent. I enjoyed the ambience of the lounge more then I enjoyed the food.
Outdoor area of the lounge
Lounge
View from the lounge
View from the lounge
Sunset from the lounge
Sunset from the lounge

Service

Service in this resort is fair. One would be expected to wait for awhile (at least 30 mins) in the queue waiting for your check-in to be processed. The check-in is slow and sluggish as though the staffs at the check-in counter was dragging their feet to process your check-in. Smiles are rare at the check-in counter and most of the time the staffs are flustering around like headless chickens. Check-out is equally slow as well. The resort is rather stingy with providing more bathing amenities. When asked for more bathing amenities (their bath amenities are in miserable small bottles), the staffs is rather dodgy in providing more. The staff who delivers the extra amenities came with a long face.
The only places in the resort where one can find good service is at the adult pool. The Indian lady at the pool distributing towels is never stingy with smiles. She will also look out for ideal spots and recommends guests to occupy them. When leaving the pool, she will always smile and wished guests a good day. The other place one can find good service is at the lounge, where the staff greets every guest who walks through the door and immediately attends to the guests. They are also observant and clears up any empty plates conscientiously.
The resort manages the breakfast service quite well. The resort opens up another restaurant on the second level, which is not part of the main restaurant serving breakfast, and diverts any waiting guests there to minimise wait time for guests. Despite being at an annexed restaurant for breakfast, variety is still there and the food gets topped up frequently.

Overall

The resort, despite being a good place to relax in and the great view from the lounge, the facilities including the rooms are poorly maintained and shouts for a make over. The service varies depending on who one meets along the way. One thing for sure the service level for the staffs at the check-in counters needs immediate retraining.