Category Archives: Travel

Big M Hotel Kuala Lumpur Masjid Jamek

Big M Hotel, Masjid Jamek: My Favourite Budget Hotel in Kuala Lumpur

I had high hopes for Big M Hotel because of all the good reviews I had read. And as it turns out, Big M really did live up to expectations.

The hotel is a tall, slim thing sandwiched next to McDonalds near Masjid Jamek. From the outside it’s easy to miss, but once inside, the skinniness of the place isn’t really that noticeable.Big M Hotel Kuala Lumpur BedThis is one of those hotels that asks for a RM50 deposit on arrival and the person at the counter couldn’t speak English so was asking the security guard to translate.

The rooms are small, but bigger than any other hotel I’ve been in in Kuala Lumpur at this price. It’s an extremely modern room which is also unusual for Kuala Lumpur at this price. So the combination of price, modernity and size really is fantastic.Big M Hotel Kuala Lumpur BathroomRooms come equipped with small flat screen TVs, but the channels aren’t good. The wifi took me ages to get working on my iPhone, but once it started working, it was fast and didn’t disconnect me once. I clocked it at 20mbps down and 15mbps up.

The room also comes with a safe, truly icy cold air conditioning, a place to hang your clothes, coffee making facilities and a modern bathroom.Big M Hotel Kuala Lumpur InsideThere’s a rooftop area which is great for hanging out in and it has a great view of the nearby Masjid Jamek.

I think this is the best value budget hotel I’ve stayed in in Kuala Lumpur and I think it’s going to be hard to beat at this price. Mainly because other hotels at this price have a much more budget feel to them.

Check the current price on booking.com here.

Big M Hotel
38, Jalan Tun Perak, Kuala Lumpur
Standard (w/o window): US$23.50
Superior (w/o window): US$25.50
Superior (w/ window): US$27

VCR Cafe Kuala Lumpur

Review: VCR Cafe — Is This The Best Cafe in Kuala Lumpur?

I’ve been visiting cafes in Kuala Lumpur for as long as I can remember and to be honest, they’ve largely been mediocre. Crass copies of things that were going on in Australia a decade earlier — they felt old and nasty.

But I really should have been coming to this place all along because it’s now my favourite cafe in Kuala Lumpur. I might even go so far as to say it’s the best cafe in Kuala Lumpur. It’s been around a few years now and I just never got around to trying it.VCR Best Cafe in Kuala LumpurLocated on a small road off Jalan Pudu, VCR is in an inconvenient and odd location. You have to go out of your way to visit it. And that’s why it wasn’t that busy when I visited. I mean, most tables were filled, but there was no waiting list or anything. And I’d kind of expect a waiting list at a place this good.

To get here, your best bet is to get off the monorail or train at Hang Tuah and then walking a couple of hundred metres or so.Coffee at VCR Cafe Kuala LumpurThe coffees I had here were excellent (RM11). Silky smooth milk, a strong coffee flavour, great temperature.

I also had a bowl of granola with yoghurt, milk and fruit which was awesome (RM19). A little small for my liking, but actually a really good size for a normal meal. I probably just usually overeat when at cafes.Breakfast Granola at VCR Kuala LumpurThe fitout is a good one with plenty of tables for singles and couples meaning you can easily set up a laptop here without feeling guilty. And the wifi is good!

I’m a big fan of VCR and I think most people will be too. Highly recommended if you’re into coffee and are in KL.

VCR
2 Jalan Galloway, Kuala Lumpur
+60 3 2110 2330
Opening Hours: 08:30 – 23:00
Coffee: RM11
Granola: RM19

Cathay Pacific A350

Flight Review: Cathay Pacific A350 Business Class – Is this the New Standard in Business Class?

We recently flew from Jakarta to Nagoya via Hong Kong and Nagoya to Bangkok via Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific business class and it really was excellent. But one of these 4 legs was on an Airbus A350 and we think it deserves its own review.

Route

Hong Kong to Bangkok – CX701Cathay Pacific A350 Business Class Cabin 1-2-1

Flight Time

2h 37m

Seating Configuration

1-2-1 with lay flat beds – every seat has aisle access

Boarding

Boarding was quick due to the dedicated business class boarding lane. Staff were courteous and we were seated very quickly.

Food

Food in Cathay Pacific Business Class is predictably good and plentiful. When you compare it to economy, you just never want to eat economy food again.

I started with a salad, Thai Green Chicken Curry and finished with blueberry Haagen-Daaz ice cream. I’d been stuffing my face in the business class lounge immediately prior to boarding, so this was more than enough food. Especially because it’s just supposed to be a refreshment rather than a full meal.

Seat

The seat in the Cathay Pacific A350 Business Class is excellent. Because the business class cabin only has 4 seats across, each seat has so so much room. The seats lie flat and I easily don’t touch the end of the bed and I’m about 182cm tall. Even tall people will be comfortable.Cathay Pacific A350 Business Class Lie Flat Bed

There are lots of different storage lockers in the seat for storage of hand bags and gadgets. I didn’t realise how convenient this would be until I start stashing all my junk in the empty cabinets everywhere.

Entertainment

The TV is MASSIVE. It has a large range of channels, music and games as well as 3 live TV channels. I really loved being able to watch BBC world and CNN live on board the flight.Cathay Pacific A350 Business Class Seat

The controller for the TV is excellent and has its very own ultra sharp LCD screen on it which is useful if you like playing games on the controller rather than the TV.Cathay Pacific A350 Business Class Controls

Connectivity

One of the great things about this aircraft is its connectivity. There is wifi available at a very reasonable price and it is fast. Most of the time it was as fast as 4G for me, so I could use Instagram, Facebook and Twitter with no problem whatsoever.

Prices are quite reasonable compared what we’ve seen on some other carriers:

1h – $9.95

Entire flight – $12.95

$12.95 for an entire flight is an incredible deal especially because data usage seems to be unlimited.

The other thing you are supposed to be able to do is use your normal mobile phone coverage and pay roaming charges through your own provider. I tried to get this to work, but my strong suspicion is that Telkomsel in Indonesia doesn’t have that sort of agreement. If you have a SIM card from a big provider in the US or Europe, I could imagine this working really well. The only problem would be if you have to pay exorbitant roaming charges or not – some people do, some don’t.

Cathay Pacific A350 Business Class Cabin
Cathay Pacific A350 Business Class Cabin

Toilets

This is actually one of my favourite aspects of the plane and I don’t know why. But these toilets are very cool. They come with a window which is great in and of itself. But this window lets in amazing amounts of light. And with this light, it makes the toilet looks bigger, cleaner and just better.

The amenities in the bathroom are all quality and the mirror is huge. Space seems bigger than previous business class toilets, but it could be just the natural light.

Note: this appeared to be in the front of the cabin only as the ones in the middle of business class seemed to have a baby change table instead of window.

Verdict

The business class cabin on the Cathay A350 is excellent. Very comfortable, well-connected and perhaps the new standard for business class cabins. Awesome.

Babi Guling Pak Malen

Babi Guling Pak Malen, Seminyak, Bali: A Great Place for Babi Guling in Seminyak

When in Bali, you absolutely have to try babi guling, the famous Balinese BBQ pork dish. But sometimes it’s difficult to find one close to where you’re staying. Babi Guling Pak Malen is not only close to Seminyak, it’s also super tasty.

I got a standard portion of Babi Guling and a fresh orange juice and the total of the bill came to Rp55.000.

The portion of pork is small. Really small. Especially when you compare it to many other places in Bali. So while the value for money is quite low here, the taste is great.

The crackling was super crispy with just a thin layer of fat, the scratchings were sinful and tasty, the sate spicy and tender and the flesh itself oh so moist.Babi Guling Pak Malen BaliI got my lawar medium spicy, but it nearly blew my head off. Soo spicy, but oh so delicious.

I think the orange juice I got with the babi guling was a perfect accompaniment. Fresh and icy cold, it went down a treat in the hot warung atmosphere.

And that brings us to the next point. The warung itself has no character. It’s hot. It’s often busy. And it’s really just functional. You come here, eat your pork, and leave. That’s it!

I really like this place because it’s well located on Sunset Road, the pork is really tasty and service is quick. The perfect place for babi guling when in Seminyak.

Warung Babi Guling Pak Malen
Jalan Sunset No.5, Seminyak
Babi Guling: Rp40.000
Orange Juice: Rp15.000

Ippolito Specialty Coffee in Bali

Ippolito Specialty Coffee, Seminyak, Bali: Great Coffee and a Free Pool!

We arrived at Ippolito Specialty Coffee expecting the place to be packed like so many other good coffee shops in Seminyak. But what we saw was a place so empty that we thought it was closed when we arrived.

It’s one of the enduring paradoxes of Indonesian cafes. You can be good, but you’re not necessarily going to be popular and I see that a lot in Bandung.Cappuccino at Ippolito Specialty CoffeeA range of food and drinks is served here as well as fantastic coffee. I tried a cappuccino which in my opinion is as good as just about anywhere in Seminyak.

Although we haven’t tried the food, it does come recommended and the menu does look quite tempting.Interior Ippolito CoffeeThe building itself is very instagrammable. Lots of brick, wood, great furniture and walls filled with bottles of wine.

Outside you’ll find the pool area. THE POOL AREA! This area is free for customers of the cafe. So if you want somewhere to swim and eat, but don’t want to pay for a beach club, we think this is the next best thing.Free Swimming Pool at IppolitoThe pool is a thing of beauty and if you don’t get a good instagram shot here, you’re not trying!

We really like this cafe. It does have a bit of a restaurant feel and that’s probably what puts most people off. But don’t be put off. It’s perfectly fine to come here, grab a coffee and set up your laptop. And besides, the wifi is fast!

Ippolito Specialty Coffee
Jalan Lebak Sari, Petitenget, Seminyak
Opening Hours: 07:00 – 23:00
Cappuccino: Rp39.000++
Swimming Pool: FREE

Corner House Seminyak

Corner House, Seminyak, Bali: Like a Phoenix Rising from the Ashes

In this very spot used to be a cafe called Corner Store — it burnt down a few years back. But like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Corner House makes an appearance and it’s very good.

Polished concrete floors, chipped white tiles on the walls reminiscent of an old butcher’s shop and a shaded outdoor area all combine to make this one of the better looking places in Seminyak.Coffee at Corner HouseCoffee here is by Revolver, so you know it’s going to be good. And I can confirm that the coffee does indeed live up to expectations.

The menu is quite extensive and I felt that I would be happy ordering any one of the items on it. In the end I got a ham and cheese toastie. And it was no more and no less than I expected. Lots of cheese, sufficient amounts of leg ham and a few bits of red onion. Definitely tasty and just what I needed for a snack.Ham and cheese Toastie at Corner HouseWifi here is fast and I was consistently getting 20mbit up and down, so it’s a good place to come if you need to do some data intensive stuff.

Interestingly, it wasn’t particularly busy when I was there. I put that down to there being so much competition these days.

Down this end of Seminyak, there seems to be fewer and fewer good cafes and this one certainly stands head and shoulder above the rest. The next really awesome place is probably down at Sisterfields or Revolver.

All in all a really good cafe on the Seminyak scene.

Corner House
Jalan Kayu Ayu (Laksamana) 10A, Seminyak
www.cornerhousebali.com
Opening Hours: setiap hari 07:00 – 23:00
Cappuccino: Rp34.500
Toastie: Rp57.500

Menu at Crate Cafe Canggu

Crate Cafe, Batu Bolong, Bali: Too Cool for School or Am I Just Old?

Located in the up and coming area near Pantai Batu Bolong, Crate Cafe is a “too cool for school” cafe serving up a wide range of breakfast and brunch options such as bowls and toasts. Maybe I’m just old because I just don’t get it.

The cafe is bare in appearance with lots of concrete, white tiles and exposed steel beams. It’s a half-built building made into something modern and trendy.Crate Cafe CangguI have to mention the seats. They are crap. Really crap. The concrete benches are too tall and your legs just dangle without any support.

Customers here are your typical tattooed westerners riding big motorbikes, wearing oversized headphones and carrying 5 pounds of attitude. They’re not my people, but this crowd will suit some.Coffee at Crate CafeFood is all cheap by Bali standards with the maximum price being Rp50.000. And it’s a good selection of food too with lots of muesli, bowls, toast and omelettes on the menu.

My French toast was quite good, but far from perfect. Firstly, they’re using strawberries and we all know that strawberries in in Indonesia are hit and miss — usually miss. Today they were sour and pale. Why can’t they used fresh seasonal fruit such as mango, jackfruit, dragonfruit and papaya?French Toast with fruit CrateAdditionally, the egg wash didn’t soak into the bread at all and this made the bread very dry on the inside. The French toast comes in different configurations and both I tried were ok, but I don’t need to try them again.

I really hope I picked the wrong dishes because I want to like this place. But based on what I experienced, I can’t really recommend it.French Toast bacon at CrateSo what’s the verdict? Not bad, but not great either. If you can put up with some of the cheeky crowd and can manage to pick the right dish, you will probably like what’s on offer here.

Crate Cafe
Jalan Pantai Batu Bolong No.64, Canggu
Opening Hours: daily 07:00 – 15:00
Instagram: @cratecafe
Drinks: Rp25.000 – Rp35.000
Food: Rp40.000 – Rp50.000

12 Best Cafes in Seminyak: All of them are Fantastic!

During a recent trip to Bali, I decided to search for the best cafes in Seminyak by trying as many of the good ones as I could. I scoured blogs for recommendations, tripadvisor for advice and apps like foursquare for the low down. I even checked out tripcanvas and found that the recommendations were awful as the writers hadn’t even visited the places they were recommending. The information I found was a real mixed bag!

So after trying all of these cafes out personally, I came up with my list of the best cafes in the Seminyak area. I actually went a little further afield to Canggu and the road to Batu Bolong to make sure I got all the coffee shops and cafes covered.

So without further ado, here is my version of the best cafes in Seminyak.

Sisterfields

Pancake at Sisterfields BaliLocation: Jalan Kayu Cendana 7, Seminyak

Sisterfields wins the title of my favourite cafe in Seminyak. Easily. I didn’t want this to be the case when I first visited. Why? Because it was so busy and I had to line up to get inside. I didn’t want such a super popular place to be awesome. But it is. The crowds have chosen this cafe as their favourite and I agree with them.

All the dishes I’ve had here except one have been awesome. Really amazing. The coffee is also very good and I love the cups it’s served in. Service is attentive despite the crowds. It’s just between Seminyak Square and Grocer & Grind. Go here.

Baby Revolver

Coffee at Baby RevolverLocation: Jalan Kayu Aya / Gang 51, Seminyak

This is actually a fantastic cafe located on Jalan Petitenget. The coffee is awesome, the location itself is tiny and the staff are friendly. It’s the sort of place you come to down a quick coffee on your morning walk/run around Seminyak.

It’s not a place to come with a big group or if you’re after a proper meal. A biscuits and pastries is all you’ll find here.

Milk & Madu

Coffee at Milk and MaduLocation: Jalan Raya Pantai Berawa No.52, Tibubeneng, Kuta Utara

Milk & Madu is a bit out of Seminyak in Canggu, but it’s worth a trip if you want great food, good coffee and a relaxing semi-outdoor environment. What’s more, there’s a large grass area for kids to play on and because the pavilion is open-sided, people don’t get so annoyed with kids shouting and running amok.

Get here and back with an Uber. Even though there is a local taxi mafia in place, you can get around this if you’re a stealth uber rider.

The Fat Turtle

Red Velvet Pancakes Fat TurtleLocation: Jalan Petitenget 886A, Seminyak

The Fat Turtle is another Jalan Petitenget number. Before entering, I was a bit worried it was going to be hopeless. But the food here was good (good range of standard cafe fare & the red velvet pancakes were delicious) as was the coffee and it was consistently full with customers. It’s not going to win any awards for best cafe, but I reckon it’s pretty damn good.

What I really like about it is that it’s unpretentious. Good food without the attitude of many other places around Seminyak and Canggu. This place will appeal to a lot of people.

Pison

Drinks at Pison CoffeeLocation: Jalan Petitenget 8A, Seminyak

I love the name of this coffee shop/cafe. I especially like saying it in an Indonesian accent. Makes me feel like an Aussie. The name aside, the cafe really does a fantastic job of the food it delivers. I thought the burger was a good one and the coffees I had here were all very good. One time when I visited, it got a little crowded for my liking. But at other times it was quite quiet… I guess it depends on the time of day and the time of year you visit.

It’s located up the Canggu end of Seminyak, but still well within the Seminyak area. You can walk here easily from Seminyak Square if you enjoy walking. Otherwise jump in a bluebird and paying about 7000 rupes.

Sea Circus

Location: Jalan Kayu Aya 22, Seminyak

If you’ve been to Seminyak before, you’ve almost certainly been to Sea Circus before. It was one of the earlier trendy cafes and ever since this time they have been bang on with food and coffee. The cafe feels like a mythical beach shack that exists only in people’s dreams and that’s not a bad thing.

Staff are pretty good and their menu seems to have maintained its modern feel over the past 7 or so years. In fact, this place remains one of my go to places because it’s so central to everything in Seminyak. 10 minute walk from Seminyak square down a couple of alleys.

Peloton Super Shop

Smoothie Bowl Bikers BowlLocation: Jalan Raya Pantai Berawa no. 46, Canggu

If you’re vegan, this is probably the best place in the world for you. Located right out in the Canggu area, you must visit this vegan cafe. Lots of soy products, no real milk, no meat lots of bowls. You know the deal. I wasn’t so enamoured with the place because I had my heart set on an bacon & egg roll, but I get it. I get that this cafe is heaven for vegans.

And even if you’re not vegan and just don’t fancy meat or dairy, this place is a winner. A seriously good cafe on the Bali scene.

Nook

Ricefield view Nook UmalasLocation: Jalan Umalas 1, Gang Nook 1, Kerobokan

A lot of you already know about Nook. It was all the rage back in 2011/12 when it opened because it had these great ricefield views and it was fairly low key. If you haven’t been there in a few years, don’t go back. It’s been expanded enormously and the ricefield has started to be built over.

But I’ve still included it on my list of best Seminyak cafes because if you haven’t been here yet, you might just love this place! The food is still good as is the coffee. It’s just that it doesn’t have the same feel for me as it did years ago, but without that comparison, it’s still a decent cafe in Seminyak. Even though it’s technically just outside of Seminyak in either Kerobokan or Umalas, depending on who you speak to.

Grain Cafe

Steak Sandwich Grain CafeLocation: Jalan Seminyak 16B, Seminyak

Grain Cafe is a good place to come for coffee and a bite to eat. It has the feel of a cafe in Inner Western Sydney circa 2010. And that’s not a terrible thing. It just means that the food and coffee is good, the fitout is not ultra-modern and it’s not a place to be snapping Instagrams.

But if you’re not into the world of Instagram, ultra modern cafes and all the fuss that goes along with them, you’re going to love Grain. Good cafe food at the Legian end of Seminyak, just north of Double Six and not far from the Haven.

Crate Cafe

Crate Cafe CangguLocation: Jalan Pantai Batu Bolong No.64, Canggu

I’m torn with Crate Cafe. It was packed when I was there and people seemed to love it. I’d already read a few rave reviews. But the food I was dished up was sub-par. And the fitout was trying to be cool by being minimalist, but it didn’t work for me. I felt like an old man when the backs of my thighs started aching as they were dangling off the super high concrete bench.

Coffee was good, crowd age average about 22, favourite past time = surfing. Try it out if you’re on your way to Batu Bolong. Maybe not worth a visit if you’re basing yourself in central Seminyak. But then again, it might also depend on how old you are.

Corner House

Location: Jalan Kayu Ayu (Laksamana) 10A, Seminyak

There used to be a cafe here back in the day which was ultra modern for the time. Tuckshop/Corner Store burned down years ago and Corner House rose from its ashes. Corner House is much more modern, has much nice food and is just a fantastic cafe on the Seminyak scene.

I was surprised that it wasn’t so busy, but maybe because the centre of Seminyak now seems to be closer towards Kerobokan rather than this end which closer to Sunset Road.

Ippolito Specialty Coffee

Location: Jalan Lebak Sari, Petitenget, Seminyak

This is an odd spot. I understand why there was only one other customer when I was there. It looks like a wine bar crossed with a hotel. But the coffee here is very good, the lounges are relaxing to chill out on and the free pool out the back is awesome. Bring your bikini and towel because you might just want to take a dip after you’ve polished off your coffee.

Maybe not either. If you’re into coffee or just want to try as many different coffee shops as possible in Seminyak, come here. It’s weird, but it’s good.

So there you have it. My version of the best cafes in Seminyak right now. Of course new places open up and old places close. But I reckon this is going to be a good list at least for a few years to come. Let me know what your favourite Seminyak cafe is!

Grain Cafe Seminyak Bali

Grain Cafe, Seminyak, Bali: Aussie Cafe in the Heart of Seminyak

Most of the good cafes these days are either in the far end or Seminyak towards Canggu or in Canggu itself. Grain is an exception as it’s located at the Legian end of Seminyak.

Many of the cafes in Bali are ultra modern and perhaps too over the top modern for some people. If you’re not into the really modern cafes, but still appreciate great food and drink, Grain is for you.Lower Floor Grain CafeLocated not far from Jalan Double Six, it’s quite close to hotels such as The Haven which will be convenient for most people.

We tried pasta and a steak sandwich and both were quite good, but nothing out of this world. In other words, we’d be happy to come here for a meal again, but don’t expect something which is going to blow your mind. And that’s ok. Comfort food done well.Steak Sandwich Grain CafeCoffee here has a good reputation and our friend had a cappuccino which he said was a good one. It certainly looked good!Coffee at Grain CafeThe fitout of the cafe is quite modern and enjoyable to sit in while you surf the wifi. And the wifi is very fast at 25mbit both upload and download.Upper Floor Grain CafeSo what’s our overall view? An enjoyable place for breakfast lunch or dinner in a pleasant environment. Centrally located and fast wifi. Worth a try.

Grain
Jalan Seminyak 16B, Seminyak
(0361) 730 528
www.grainbali.com
Instagram: @grainbali
Opening Hours: 07:30 – 22:00
Steak Sandwich: Rp95.000++
Spaghetti asparagus: Rp78.000++
Smoothies: Rp39.000++
Cappuccino: Rp30.000++

Sisterfields Seminyak Bali

Sisterfields, Seminyak: One of my favourite cafes in Bali

Sisterfields is possibly the most popular cafe in all of Seminyak and after you’ve eaten there, you’ll know why.

We’ve been to Sisterfields numerous times over the years and there is a lot to like about it, but not everything is perfect in this hipster haven near Seminyak Square.Sisterfields when it's busyWe recently ordered coffees juices and 4 big dishes. 3 of the dishes were top notch, one of the dishes was poor. So what’s going on?

The egg and bacon baguette was filled to the brim with bacon and fried onion bits and was tasty and generous.Roast Beef Charcoal RollThe roast beef roll was a revelation coming with a pot of luscious gravy and a slathering of mild wasabi. Such a fantastic combination executed beautifully at Sisterfields.French Toast at Sisterfields BaliFrench toast is often disappointing, but at Sisterfields you get one single slice of toast with an awesome quinelle of ice cream and lots of matcha custard. We love this dish!Pancake at Sisterfields BaliThe single dish we hated was the pancake. The pancake actually looks the best, but it was dry and stodgy with no moisture at all. Your mouth instantly becomes clammy and dry. Such an unpleasant experience. What’s more, there seemed to be a lack of sweetness throughout the dish despite a generous amount of berries. It’s almost as if a sauce or syrup was accidentally left off. What’s going on there?Coffee and drinks at SisterfieldsCoffee at Sisterfields is top notch and one of our favourites in Bali. We especially love the texture of the cups the coffee served is in.Expat Coffee next to SisterfieldsWe love Sisterfields and it seems that everyone else does too. At peaks time you’ll wait 20 minutes for a seat in the cafe next door. A highly recommended cafe in Bali despite a few missteps.

Sisterfields
Jalan Kayu Cendana 7, Seminyak
hello@sisterfieldsbali.com
sisterfieldsbali.com
Instagram: @sisterfields
Opening Hours: setiap hari 07:00-17:00
Coffee: Rp35.000++
Mixed Juice: Rp46.000++
Brioche French Toast: Rp95.000++
Warm Roast Beef Charcoal Roll: Rp150.000++