GrabFood Review: Disappointing replacement for UberEats

GrabFood recently launched it my area, following the unfortunate departure of UberEats and Uber from Singapore due to Grab’s buy over. The biggest question on everyone’s mind is: Does GrabFood compare to UberEats and the other food delivery services? I decided to give it a try, plus, they’re running a free delivery promotion for their launch.

Related: Read my review of Deliveroo, UberEats and Foodpanda

Setting up your account

It’s really easy to set up your account because the app will prompt you to link to your Grab account, so it transfers your details. Then set up your address and enter in any details (eg “Call when reach”) and you’re all set.

First impressions

The app interface…is very lacking. It’s by far my least favourite of all the delivery apps for many reasons. It’s just clunky, has barely any pictures, barely any descriptions of the food (maybe that is due to the restaurant themselves?) and selecting food is quite troublesome. Let’s just have screenshots demonstrate what I mean.

Deliveroo_AppInterface_2

Deliveroo’s app homepage and search page (right)

 

GrabFood_AppInterface_2

GrabFood’s app homepage and search page (right)

For some strange reason the search app on GrabFood doesn’t really have any interface, so you need to type a keyword into the search bar before things will appear (eg. typing “Fri” gives you results such as “Cusine: Kid-Friendly” and “Item: Kimchi Fried Rice”). I think I prefer Deliveroo’s cause the categories are already there. Also, there is usually a “Free Delivery” or “Promo” tag on the other apps to help me find merchants that have offers first, which I think would really help GrabFood once their launch promo is over.

A comparison of the same merchant’s listing on GrabFood and Deliveroo:

GrabFood_AppInterface_1

GrabFood’s App Interface

 

Deliveroo_AppInterface_1

Deliveroo’s App Interface

Also, I should point out that the selection of items on GrabFood is much smaller, even for the same merchant. Tenderfresh has loads more you can order via Deliveroo (like their Crispy Chicken Aglio Olio, and the Half Spring Aglio; which you can see I’ve ordered before).

Ordering

I decided to try Natsu, which is sells tendon/tempura sets and I’ve not tried it before! The page for Natsu does have pictures and descriptions for the food! There’s NO MINIMUM ORDER required, just like UberEats, which is great!

GrabFood_Natsu_1

GrabFood_Natsu_2
Want to point out that the mandatory choice selection for things like choice of drink, sauce etc is below all the optional add ons which doesn’t really make sense? I was very confused when I first got to the ordering page because the set description says it comes with a drink, but I couldn’t see where to choose the drink until I scrolled all the way to the bottom. Their competitors put the mandatory options at the start, before add ons, which I think is the way to go.

You can also add in your Special Requests at the bottom, to put in allergies, requests for more sauce, ketchup etc.

GrabFood_Natsu_3

Managed to apply the 5OFF promo code which gives you $5 off your first order! Then just press “Checkout” and you’re ready to pay!

Payment

GrabFood_Payment

You have to link to GrabPay, which basically just takes your stored payment details from the Grab app. Pretty simple. There is no Cash on Delivery option though. I then got a notification that my card was charged and I did earn Grab reward points.

Delivery

GrabFood_Natsu_4

The estimated arrival time on the main page is 25 minutes, but you’ll notice that at 1:11PM, it says arriving in 15 – 20minutes, which puts the estimated arrival time at 40minutes.

Then, in a surprise turn of events, my order got CANCELLED at 1.21pm. The help button on GrabFood leads you to their website’s Help Center to fill in a form with all the order details (very very cumbersome compared to the report function on UberEats and Deliveroo), but when I scrolled down I found a number to call:

grabfood_customerservice

 

So I called, went through the initial Press 1/2/3 for a category bot before I got to a person. I explained what happened and it turns out the Merchant cancelled my order because they are closing temporarily but they were unable to contact me via my phone number (!?) so they just cancelled it on the app. Strange because no one tried to call me, I didn’t receive any missed calls and it’s not as if my phone was off! They did inform me that they will be refunding my order, but that seems to be the only thing that they are going to do. Here I am, really hungry, really disappointed and really upset because I just wanted my food. Not off to a good start eh, GrabFood. 

I did forget to ask if I would be able to reuse the promo code (I was able to, you’re prompted on the app to apply promo. It’s “5OFF” if you don’t get prompted). The customer service rep who spoke to me on the phone gave me the Report Number and assured me he would tell management and get back to me in 24 hours or less. Hopefully they will, and I hope the refund will also go smoothly. Also strangely enough, for a store that is temporarily closing and not taking orders, they are still being listed on the app as open.

Second time’s the charm: Ordering Again

Anyway, I decided to GO AGANE (any xqc fans?) and order from another restaurant. Y’know, give them another shot and see if my food actually arrives.

This time I ordered from Tenderfresh Classic. I have no idea what the “Lucky Set” is except it’s 2 pieces of chicken, and the Chicken Strips in Tomato sauce is pasta.

The steps to ordering is all the same so I won’t repeat them. I placed the order at 1:46PM and arrival time is estimated at 2:32PM (46 minutes). The app’s homepage estimates delivery at 22 – 28 minutes, though (checked at various different times), how misleading.

GrabFood_Tenderfresh_3

I got a notification from GrabFood via SMS when my driver is on the way, and later when driver is reaching. That’s pretty good and similar to what the other apps do. I put in the comments section (as you can see above) to call me upon arrival as I cannot hear knocking on the door from my room. The driver did call me and I zoomed out to pick my food up!

Actual arrival time: 2:47PM, a whole ONE HOUR after I ordered! Very, very misleading delivery times indeed.

The Food

Packaging was pretty standard, nothing got damaged in transit.

GrabFood_Tenderfresh_2

Now I wish I’d know what the Lucky Set came with coleslaw and fries too, and that my pasta would come in Penne form, not Spaghetti as I had assumed. I just prefer spaghetti over penne, but it’s all good, still tasty either way and I’m going to eat it (especially since I’m pretty much ravenous at this point).

Tenderfresh’s food is quite good! The chicken was crispy, a bit salty but not overly so. The fries were dry and unsalted though. The penne was not bad, some pieces in contact with the sauce became soggy though, and there was very little chicken. Since I couldn’t order the exact same things as I’d ordered from Deliveroo before, I can’t do an exact comparison but overall it was alright and survived the long delivery time.

Final Thoughts

I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt and hope they improve their services in the weeks and months to come. They have a long way to go to catch up to their competitors in terms of app interface (my favourite being Deliveroo’s) and they need to give a better delivery estimate. Don’t say 25 or so minutes and then take an entire hour. That’s just terrible. I don’t know if I would use them again if there was no free delivery or promo, but only time will tell.

Update (23 May 2018):

Today I tried ordering another time because there is the 5X3 promo ($5 off the next 3 orders), but there is now a delivery fee of $3 on all orders. The delivery estimates are now an average of 40 minutes, although after ordering, the actual estimated time is still over an HOUR.

My order this time was also late and I waited 1h 30minutes for it. No rider was dispatched to the restaurant until the estimated arrival time. And then my food arrived DAMAGED, with the sauce having spilled out onto the napkins and other items and my burger was all squished against the side of the box and the bottom bun separated from the rest of the burger (as per pictures below). This is really terrible.

GrabFood_Damaged Food

I hope this review can be of some help to you! I’ll update this if there are any developments!

Till then, see you in the next post!
xoxo
Bernie

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Foodpanda, Deliveroo or UberEats: which food delivery service to use in Singapore?

I’ve been using food delivery services for a while due to convenience + promotional codes/vouchers making it worth the while to do so (plus sometimes lazy la, so food delivery is a pretty good option).

I’ve used all 3 delivery services – Foodpanda, Deliveroo and UberEats. I remember when Foodpanda was the only service in SG and I used it in 2016! I know there are other delivery services now like Honestbee as well, but I have not used Honestbee before so that’s for another post!

Of the three, I have used Deliveroo and UberEats the most. I know sadly UberEats will be leaving SG soon because of the Grab take over, but I’ll just include my experience of UberEats here anyway.

Information is accurate as of 25 April 2018.

Deliveroo 

Food variety: 4/5
Minimum order: $12
Customer Service: 4.5/5
Ease of using app: 4/5
Delivery fee: $3

What I like most about Deliveroo is that they have this Deliveroo Editions thing which brings certain restaurants exclusively to Deliveroo! There’s one in the east so there are some restaurants I can order from that I wouldn’t otherwise be able to. My favourites are Aloha Poke and VIOS by Blu Kouzina!

The app is really easy to use – many tags so I can find what type of food I want, and if they have any promos like the recent Festival of Feasts, it appears prominently at the top so I can see what places I can order from that have promos!

You can also rate restaurants and see the ratings others have given them (I can’t remember if I can rate riders, I don’t think so). I had a rider who pressed “item delivered” a few minutes before my food actually arrived and I was a bit anxious about where my food is, and if my food was even arriving. I gave some feedback via the live chat function but I don’t know if it ever got to the rider…

My only gripe about the app is that I would like to be able to “favorite” some outlets so I can find them without having to scroll down a lot. That would be great if they implemented it so I can get my fav restaurants at one click!

Of the three delivery services listed, I’ve ordered from Deliveroo the most, mainly because they have the food I like and consistent service! I’ve had missing items before but I can just report them easily, or use the in-app live chat function. May have to wait if there are others in the queue but so far it hasn’t been a very long wait and things are solved quite fast. I messaged about a missing item and got a response within a day 🙂 They also called me to tell me my order would be taking longer than usual because of the heavy rain so that was good. Thumbs up!

Psst – use the discount code from SETHLUI for $2 off your order once each month! It’s SETHLUIAPR for April, SETHLUIMAY for May etc

Foodpanda

Food variety: 3.5/5
Minimum order: $12
Customer service: 1.5/5
Ease of using app: 3/5
Delivery fee: $3
Service runs 24 hours (but not all restaurants are 24 hours, so depending on your area, there may not be any food)

Oh Foodpanda. I had fond memories when I first used the service back in 2016 – I ordered salads and got my order completely wrong. The restaurant had closed by the time my food arrived (over an hour long wait back then too) and I was so ravenous I just ate whatever they sent but dropped them a tweet about the wrong order. They replied fast and gave me a refund with processed I think maybe in a week or so? But ah, how times have changed.

Foodpanda has the worst customer service among all the 3 delivery services in this post, and so far while they fulfill the orders within the time stated, it’s usually a bit longer than Deliveroo or UberEats. And maybe I am just unlucky or something but my Foodpanda orders always seem to have a problem?? But ok, have problem nevermind, it’s how easy it is to rectify the problem that counts right? But nooooo, actually getting a hold of someone is just such a painful process.

For one, the “Customer Care” button on their website (when you track your order) does not work. Neither is there anywhere that links to the live chat on their website. Live chat is only available on their app, and it’s soooo buggy. It just doesn’t work. I’ve been stuck waiting behind 14 – 35 people for service on their live app and then today (25 April) after getting through, I could not reply to the customer service agent! Pressing the “send” button on my phone just didn’t work. I tried 3 times to explain how my food had two missing items (when you order Mala two missing items are quite significant) and I just wanted a refund, not a redelivery and I could not reply so please just check and then process the refund. Didn’t work. Had to send an email instead. Previous encounters sending them emails + messages on their social media have gotten either 0 response or a very delayed response. Plus when you have some pretty fierce competition from other delivery services, terrible customer service can be a factor which prevents customers from making repeated purchases! I would have given a 1/5 but hey, they do try la, with the live chat function, and it’s not like they don’t have an email to respond to but….it’s just so unsatisfactory when the experience is so frustrating and subpar compared to their competitors.

One good thing though, is that they have certain restaurants other services do not have, like Arnold’s, which I dare say is the best fast-food fried chicken you can get in SG. I’ll probably still use Foodpanda occasionally (when they have free delivery or for stuff like Arnold’s I can’t order elsewhere; nothing against the actual food) but very reluctantly 😦

UPDATE: So I got an email reply a couple of hours later saying they were sorry bla bla, pretty much template response and that I would not be charged for the missing 2 items and the updated price would be reflected in my order. I wish they’d also addressed my concerns about lack of live chat support.

UberEats

Food variety: 4/5
Minimum order: N/A
Customer service: 4.5/5
Ease of using app: 4/5
Delivery fee: $3 (+ additional in “busy area”)

I must admit the only reason I started using UberEats more often was because they partnered with McDonalds and it’s cheaper and much faster than McDelivery (although the latter is 24hours so if you need a late night McD pick up you have to use their delivery).

Their app is really easy to use, and I can “favorite” places I like so ordering from there is really easy as it appears right at the top. I can rate the restaurant and each individual food item if I liked it or not, and I can also rate the person who delivered my food! Sometimes you get someone who is slow or gets lost so I think thats where the rating system comes in.

Their customer service is also pretty good, I’ve had items that were missing or damaged and after reporting and sending in pictures of the damaged food, I got refunded for the missing/damaged items. They usually reply in a day, which is great 🙂

What I don’t like, though, is that they also have “surge” pricing ie, if you are in a busy area, you pay an extra $1 – $3 (usually $3) to have your food delivered. So essentially you pay $6 for delivery during peak periods. Which kinda sucks but if you reaaaally need something delivered then I guess you will pay extra? (I won’t haha).

I’m kinda sad UberEats is leaving, but I wonder how GrabFood will compare when it launches!

***

That’s all I have to say about these 3 places! I’ll update with more info such as pictures when I next order (and actually take pictures instead of just gobbling down the food, haha). If you have any food delivery services to recommend, do let me know in the comments!

Till the next post,
xoxo
Bernie

Discovering live/indie music in Japan

Hello! Recently I received an email asking me if I had any tips on how to find information on and get into the local music scene and indie bands.

The email asked specifically for Osaka, so the examples are more Kansai related, but the tips I have to share can be applied for any region of Japan 🙂

1. Search for the live/concert schedules

The simplest way to do so is to use the following search term:
[CITY/PREFECTURE NAME] + ライブスケジュール [LIVE SCHEDULE]. 

So, for example, if you want the schedule for Kansai, it would be 関西ライブスケジュール and these are some of the listings I found:

List of livehouses in Kansai: http://www.pia-kansai.ne.jp/LHC/information.php

Live schedule: http://kansai.pia.co.jp/music_calendar/
This seems to be mainly stuff that is ticketed/sold via ticket pia, so it could be both major and smaller bands

Another live schedule: http://www.kyodo-osaka.co.jp/calendar/calendar2.php
This is for February but the site will have live schedules for each month

A good site that lists the artist and the venue they will be playing at each month: http://www.diskgarage.com/artist/date
Covers all prefectures; this link is to the current month, click 来月 button at the top for the next month’s list

2. Find out about new bands and their live schedules through free music magazines

You can pick up free magazines about bands and live schedules at live houses and at HMV/Tower Records/any big music store. The magazines usually have mini write-ups and interviews of various bands (both indie and major).

Sometimes the racks that these free magazines are on may also have free CDs from bands or flyers for events. It’s a great way to read up on lesser known bands, perhaps practice some Japanese, and possibly even score some new music to listen to!

3. Follow livehouse schedules

Honestly if you want mainly indie bands you should follow livehouse schedules, perhaps start with a few and then find maybe your favorite ones. Different livehouses cater to different genres of bands, and they’re all pretty tiny (think less than 100 capacity) but often host loads of indie bands for lots of different types of lives. The most typical ones are nights where 4-6 bands play and tickets can be as cheap as 1500yen and up (generally averaging about 3000yen) excluding a drink fee of 600yen or so. This drink fee gets you one free drink at the in house bar which can be alcoholic or non-alcoholic.

In Kansai off the top of my head, here are some livehouses you can look at:
Amemura has many livehouses (20 according to their website – host stuff like visual kei, punk, pop, rock etc)
Look at my concert masterpost list, I have the venue names there and most are livehouses that host loads of smaller bands 🙂

Kobe Taiyou to Tora
Shinsaibashi Club DROP
Umeda ZEELA
Kyoto MUSE
Kyoto MOJO
Fanj twice

These are all places I’ve been to and really quite love, Tokyo has a similar scene and even “less busy” prefectures also usually have at least one livehouse where bands play at.
I hope these 3 simple tips help you find more music to listen to! To find out more about the concert experience in Japan, read these related posts!

Japanese Concert Etiquette

How to buy Japanese Concert Tickets

Why I Love Concerts in Japan

Japanese Music

Till the next post,
xoxo
Bernie

Making the switch to a Circles.Life phone plan!

Recently I switched to using Circles.Life, a digital telco in Singapore and thought I’d share my experience with them as well as the steps needed in order to do the switch.

Previously I was using a Starhub prepaid card and didn’t see a need to get a contract plan as I was paying only ~$20 every 30 days for 3.2GB of data and additional talk time/card credit for calls and sms whenever I needed it. Then I switched to Starhub’s SIM only no-contract plan, basically just converting the prepaid card to a postpaid monthly plan that had no contract.

With Starhub, I was paying ~$27 per month for 3GB of data (of which $5 was on caller ID!) but it just wasn’t enough data. I would find myself with only 400MB left and 8 days or more to go before the next cycle reset.

So I decided after two months of being a data miser that enough was enough – I enjoy scrolling instagram and facebook and don’t want to be constrained to not being able to do anything on my hour-long commutes to school. My bf uses Circles.Life and jumped on when they announced their $20 for 20GB add-on so he’s been telling me about how it’s like. I don’t use that much data so I decided to get just the basic plan.

These are the simple steps it took to make the switch:

  1. Sign up for a Circles.Life account on their website

  2. Choose a plan that suits you

  3. Port your number (You can keep your old number!)

  4. Pay the sign-on fee ($38)

  5. Wait for the delivery pack with your new SIM card to arrive

  6. Switch SIM cards once the porting process is done

Really, really simple. If you’re currently on contract, you will need to wait though, so it’s best if you are on a non-contract plan or your contract is ending. They also can’t port prepaid numbers so you’ll need to be on a postpaid plan (which is simply done by going down to your provider and doing the switch + paying a one time SIM card activation fee), or buy a new number.

When I signed up there was a DBS customers promo so I got $20 off the sign-on fee and an extra 1GB on my plan for 12 months when I paid the sign-on fee via a DBS card! If you have a friend on Circles, you can use their referral code to get $20 off the sign on fee and help them get some extra data (mine is 4BEAN, btw!).

The whole process was reaaaally fast. I applied on 4 Feb (Sun) and received my Welcome Pack on 6 Feb (Tues). My number was ported on 8 Feb at midnight and I switched the SIM cards and have been on Circles ever since! It took under a week for the process to complete!

Note: For the Welcome Pack, you need to be at home to collect it as they need to verify your ID. If you can’t be at home at the timing of choice, you can choose to deliver to your office or authorise someone to collect and verify on your behalf.

They also send a lot of timely reminders which was really good.

Other than emails, I got SMS reminders as well that my delivery was otw or on the status of the number porting. Loved it! So efficient and communicative.

Thoughts: 

Well, sometimes the mobile data speeds aren’t the fastest but this is generally very minimal and it wasn’t like my Starhub plan didn’t have areas where the reception was pretty patchy and slow. So it’s not very much different imo.

The Circles.Care app is great – download it and you can manage everything. From your bill to add ons, to how much data you have left. I love love love the interface and how easy it is to use, especially when compared with the clunky Starhub mobile app. Also, on Circles, I can add more data should I need it each month, while on Starhub I couldn’t do that.

I’m currently paying $30 per month, and this is what I’m getting:

7GB of mobile data
– 4GB base data
– 2GB port-in bonus
– 1GB DBS promo bonus (for 12 months)

100minutes free talk time

Free incoming calls (for $2/month)

Caller Number Display

Unlimited Whatsapp (exclude video calls)

I think it’s a pretty good deal! I barely SMS anyone and if I need to, it’s $0.05 per SMS and all incoming SMSes are free. I added free incoming calls since that’s the bulk of my talk time anyway, and it’s only $2 extra per month.

Compared to the $27 I was paying Starhub each month, for $3 more I get twice the amount of data so I’m really quite happy. I don’t have to worry about using Instagram or Facebook so much now haha.

I’ll probably update this post in a couple months after I’ve used Circles to update on my experiences with data speed etc.

UPDATE: I now have 9GB of data each month! I got bonus +1GB for 12 months from a promo code Jemmawei shared on her instagram, and Circles just sent me a (unique?) +1GB for 12 months code to my email yesterday (16 May)! So here is my bonus data breakdown:

Circleslife_bonusdata_beanmylife

Also I must disclaimer and state I’m really not sponsored to write anything about Circles ok, nowadays bloggers really must clarify and be clear on all of this haha.

If you’re thinking of switching to Circles.Life, use my referral code 4BEAN to get $20 off the sign-on fee, and I’ll get an extra 200MB of data!

That would mean I can view more Facebook videos of cute animals HAHAHAHA, plus my code is so cute pls. 4BEAN ok, remember it’s 4BEAN (aka for me since I’m a bean hahaha).

Heh.

Till the next post,
xoxo
Bernie

 

 

Plus-Size Stores in Singapore

One big problem I’ve been facing is trying to buy plus size clothes in Singapore that are not from foreign online retailers like asos or from Western chain stores (some of which don’t stock anything larger than a UK12/EU 42 here). Also, online shopping kinda sucks sometimes – clothes never fit the way you think it will but there’s no other choice because it’s so difficult to find actual physical stores to try clothes on!

So here’s a list of some stores in Singapore you can walk into and actually try clothes on. I’ve also included local online plus size stores because some of them have ‘Fitting Sessions’ on weekends where you can go down and try on the clothes, and then because the list of stores is just so few, some are local online stores that do not (yet?) have fitting sessions.

If you know any stores that I’ve missed out let me know and I’ll update the list!

Last updated: 4 July 2018

1. The Curve Cult

I’ve blogged about them before (here) and quite a few of my favourite closet items have been from this store. It’s a real pity I haven’t had the $$ to purchase clothes at all recently cause they’re always posting pics of the collection they have in store! You can purchase online as well by messaging them on FB and the owners are really nice 🙂

A mix of all sorts of clothes now – they’ve been expanding the variety and range of clothes they have in store so I’m sure you can find something to suit you. They post often on Facebook and Instastory on their in-stock items & upcoming pieces!

Size Range: UK14 – UK26
Price Range: $, average $38 per piece
Address: #05-126a, Far East Plaza, Singapore 228213
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/thecurvecult/

2. Love.PrettyPlus+

Haven’t actually purchased from them before, but saw their pop up at Artbox! They do fittings in various places which changes each week so even though they don’t have a physical store, you can head down to try. Clothes seem to be a mix of work attire and also nice casual/date outfit pieces (lots of prints and florals). To be honest, I’m currently a reaaaaally broke student and can’t shell out the $40 or so per piece on clothes but maybe when I have more disposable income (or they have sales) I’ll give them a try.

They seem to do Facebook live streams and have flash sales on them, sometimes selling loose/last few pieces for as low as $15 each!

Size Range: UK14 – UK20
Price Range: $, average $40 per piece
Address: Fitting Sessions location varies week to week, check their Facebook
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/LovePrettyPlus/

3. Kaylene

They sell a lot of work attire and pieces for the modern working woman, and not really for my age range so I haven’t bought anything. Their reviews on Facebook seem to be really good so worth a trip down if you’re looking for elegant pieces or things to fit your wardrobe!

Size Range: UK14 – UK26
Price Range: $$$, average $70 (? they don’t really list their prices on their online pages which is really annoying)
Address: 38A Seah Street, 2nd Storey, Singapore 188394
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/Kayleneonline/
Website: http://www.kayleneonline.com/

4. Princessa’s Closet

Their page popped up on my Facebook feed one day and it looks like they sell a lot of Korean fashion inspired pieces. It’s a mix of casual and girly pieces.

UPDATE: I went to their store on 2 Feb 2018 and bought 2 pieces – a top and a dress. They had a variety of bottoms, dresses and tops, of a mix of styles. Some were too plain and mature for me, but they also had many printed items in floral and stripes. Quite a good variety and seems to be a decent price. They gave 10% off on all purchases too.

Size Range: UK14 – UK24
Price Range: $ ~$38 average per piece (based on personal experience; They don’t list their prices on their FB page and their website is not updated)
Address: JCUBE, 2 Jurong East Central #02-96, Singapore 609731 and 810 Geylang Road, City Plaza, #03-119, Singapore 409286
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/prinsessaclosetsg/
Website: http://www.prinsessacloset.com/

5. Hue

I walked into their outlet in Far East Plaza cause their sign said they had large sizes and got bombarded by the saleswoman with clothes to try. I think I tried like 20 pieces that day and got so damn overwhelmed I just wanted her to stop throwing more clothes at me to try, hahaha. I ended up getting 5 pieces (3 bottoms, 2 tops) for $200+ or so after some haggling and getting some membership card. The prices of each piece tend to be closer to $50 each, one top I tried on was $70 (!?) and on my tiny student wallet, I immediately took that out of my bag.

The clothes are generally for OLs/work attire and I bought from them mainly to supplement the tiny section of work attire I have. Quality is not bad. Sales staff a bit pushy for my liking, though. Supposedly they have up to XXXXXL but when I was there the largest size for most of what I tried on was XXL.

Was added to a Whatsapp group chat where they post pictures of new arrivals, which can be a bit of spam at times (so I’ve just muted it).

Size Range: up to XXXL (UK16/smaller UK18 imo)
Price Range: $$, average $50 per piece
Address: Nex, Far East Plaza, JCube (and more?)
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/Hue-Fashions-468356873273987/

6. Voycestas Plus 

The only reason I haven’t bought anything yet is because their stuff is pricey. At an average of $50 per piece (usually closer to $60), it’s really out of my currently very small budget, haha. I do really like their collections though – mostly print rompers, florals, block prints etc

Size Range: UK12 – UK20
Price Range: $$, average $50 per piece
Address: No physical store, but fittings available (Sengkang/Yishun) and they sometimes have pop up stores
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/voycestasplus/
Website: www.voycestasplus.com

7. Kae Hana+

Kae Hana + is an independent Singapore plus size fashion label. They design in-house and manufacture locally, which makes the higher prices understandable. Their pieces are edgy and bold, but they also have staples that can mix and match and fit your wardrobe.

Size Range: UK16 – UK20
Price Range: $$$, average $70 per piece
Address: No physical store
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/kaehanaplus/
Website: kaehanaplus.com

8. 1214Alley

I guess the name implies they stock mainly UK12/UK14 apparel and the size range is really quite small and even at their largest UK16 size…I can’t really fit into a lot of their clothes cause the PTP is too small. They do have nice clothes though, very classy and elegant, but pity about the sizing. Their more popular pieces sell out quite fast.

Update: 1214Alley has ceased operations as of 30 June 2018.

Size Range: UK10 – UK16
Price Range: $$, average $45 per piece
Address: No physical store
Website: https://www.1214alley.com/

9. Marshmallow Plus Parade

Just found out about this one when writing this article because they followed me on Instagram. It seems they have customised fitting sessions (at your home) but it is not free (?). Still relatively new but it looks like they have a mix of basics to cute, bright print pieces and sweet dresses.

Size Range: UK16 – UK26
Price Range: $, $25 and up
Address: No physical store, in 2018 seems to have started offering fitting sessions at Kembangan
Website: www.marshmallowplusparade.com.sg

10. JODORBS

The store sells very simple and classy pieces perfect for work, but they sell out quite fast.

Size Range: UK12-20
Price Range: $, $35 and up
Address: No physical store, fitting sessions available
Website:  https://www.jodorbs.com/

11. The Amber Loft

Their website states that they are “devoted to offering beautiful, functional and flattering clothes to petite plus-size women”. They sell both accessories as well as apparel – a lot of dresses, staple pieces both for work and outings. Free shipping for orders over $100.

Size Range: UK14-20
Price Range: $$ for apparel, averaging $40. Accessories are priced from $10 and up
Address: 80 Changi Road #02-14 (near Joo Chiat/Geylang Serai Market)
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/theamberloft/
Website:  https://theamberloft.com/

Studying in KGU FAQ #3: International Residence II Dorm Part 2 + Other Accommodation

Hello! Following PART 1 about the KGU Dorm available, I got some questions about it/the area/dorms in general so I’ve compiled it into a Part 2!

READ MORE: All posts about Studying in Japan

1) Is Takarazuka a city or a neighborhood in Nishinomiya? From what I could understand from your post, KGU is quite far from there. Is it the only international dorm available?

Takarazuka is a city. Nishinomiya is also a city. They are both quite near the school, but Nishinomiya is the city that the school’s Uegahara campus is on (aka the campus foreign exchange students will be going to). KGU is about 40minutes from Takarazuka including walking time. The train ride is only about 20minutes or so. When I left, there were two student dorms in Takarazuka (one was torn down and rebuilt sometime this year though, if I remember correctly), a possible apartment in Niigawa (walking distance to the school, you will be sharing the apartment with other students), a non-school run dorm in Kobe (Hyogo International Students Dorm I think but it is much further from
KGU than the Takarazuka dorms). There are also apartments available for rent from the school (International Residence III) but these are subject to availability.

The possible accommodation options will be sent to you by the school, and you are to choose which one you prefer. The available options differ each year, so what I’ve mentioned above may not be the same things offered to you when you apply. Homestay is also an option, but I suppose if you’re reading this post you are probably not choosing to do homestay.

2) Is it typical in Japan to have dorms with bills excluded from the fee?

Yes in Japan the rent and utilities is usually separated. There might be places that have an all in fee, but so far what I’ve encountered and based on personal + friends experiences, it’s separate.

3) In order to commute from the dorm to the KGU, did you need a JR Pass?

I used the Hankyu Line (Hankyu Takarazuka to Hankyu Niigawa or Kotoen) and used a monthly Commuter Pass that can be bought from the station which makes it very cheap and you can have unlimited entry to any stations between your home station and your destination. Eg you can use it to get off at any stop between Hankyu Takarazuka and Hankyu Niigawa. Note that Hankyu Commuter Pass can only be used on Hankyu lines. Exchange students will be briefed on how to buy the Commuter Pass by the school. Subsequently when I needed to buy a new pass, you can do so by filling in a form and purchasing it from the Train Station. Either from the office or a dedicated Commuter Pass counter (like in Hankyu Nishinomiya-Kitaguchi Station).

JR pass is not needed as the train station nearest to KGU is Hankyu line.

Note: The commuter passes are all company specific – eg JR Pass cannot be used on Hankyu lines and Hankyu Pass cannot be used on JR Lines. HOWEVER, Icoca (or Suica etc)/Passmo cards where you top up money and tap in and out of the station CAN be used ACROSS lines, including on the subway (chikatetsu) as well.

4) Did KGU support you in the accommodation finding process? I’ve read that they helped you in looking for dorms, but did they help you with the application and stuff like that or was it all up to you?

The school basically tells you the accommodation options they can provide (and also dorms/places they work with to house their students in. Or you can choose homestay) and you let them know what you want. If successful, you get your first choice. You can also search for alternative accommodation outside of what the school offers but you are on your own for the most part if you choose to do that.

When I had to move out of the dorm (Residence II has a 1 year maximum stay limit), the school told me I could either go to a real estate agent myself and find my own apartment (and provided a brochure + recommended the one near school, but also said it would be best to bring a friend who was fluent/native in Japanese) or they had another place available which I could move into. I eventually chose to move into their International Residence III since it was hassle free (no key money, deposit etc) and I would just pay the bills to the school directly. I also know students who moved out from Residence II into a different student dorm. I am not sure if the school helped with the application, but if you ask the CIEC staff they can point you in the right direction.

5) I read that the curfew is at 23:00, does this mean I cannot enter after that time?


The curfew is there but if you return home after 23:00, the side gate will still be open. There is a code to enter the dorm door so you can still enter after 23:00 but you just have to make sure you are quiet. I’ve gotten back past the curfew time quite a lot (especially if I’m working a late part time shift) and there haven’t been any issues. Unless for some reason they change things this year, but probably not.

6) How about traveling around? Is it fine to stay away from the dormitory if we visit another city for a weekend or for a few weeks in the holidays?


If you will be traveling/away for a few days from the dorm, you have to fill in a form and submit it to the dorm manager. You can get the form from the dorm manager and if I’m not wrong exchange students will need someone from the school (CIEC) to sign off on it. It’s to make sure they know your whereabouts and I’m not too sure if you need to fill it in during the holidays. It’s also really common for exchange students to travel during the holidays so there shouldn’t be any issues about that at all.

 

Finally, do join the KGU Ryugakusei (Exchange Students) Facebook Group to chat with previous exchange students, fellow new exchange students and other full time foreign students! There are part-time job postings once in a while and opportunities to attend events all posted there.

I hope these answers help clarify any doubts or worries you may have when coming to Japan and studying in KGU 🙂

Till the next post,
xoxo
Bernie

Learn Flower Hacks and Basic Floristry at A Better Florist’s Flower Jamming Session

Ello!

Guess what came to surprise me at the office today?????????

It’s the Spring Breeze bouquet from A Better Florist 🙂

photo_2017-06-15_23-59-43

Don’t mind my messy office table, oops. The bouquet is a really pretty mix of pastels and comes in a mason jar so I can easily display it at home without having to scramble around for a jar (which I don’t have oops).

Such a pity that they don’t deliver past 6pm though, cause I had to protect it in the peak hour MRT crowd. But I still managed to get it home okay!

A Better Florist 2

Can you spot the cute pug? :3

Flower bouquets and fresh cut flowers are no longer just luxury purchases or limited to special occasions. They are now slowly being incorporated into interior designs and apartment living.  The good thing is there are lots of online florists in Singapore that makes getting flowers to brighten up your house even easier by catering to all your floral needs. There are also floral subscriptions, where you can get quality and in season flowers at affordable prices. Fresh flowers and succulents can lend a sense of the lush outdoors in our increasingly tech-saturated and artificial environment. Always good to have a nice pop of colour in our rooms!

A Better Florist 1

The bouquet on my table at home 🙂 Doesn’t it my desk look a little brighter?

You know sometimes flowers can seem very generic? Even Cold Storage sells bouquets but you can kind of tell that they are somewhat bland and very typical. So why not learn floristry hacks and professional flower arrangement so you can personalise bouquets for your loved ones!

The renewed interest in the flower industry has forced old-fashioned brick and mortar flower shops to keep up with the times not only in terms of cost but also the overall presentation and packaging. Up your floral game by learning the basics in floristry, including modern floral arrangements and flower care.

And you can do just that with FLOWER JAM SESSIONS!!

A Better Florist is opening its doors every Saturday for its weekly Flower Jam Session. Whether you’re looking for fun date activities, quality time with the family or searching for a new hobby—they’ve got you covered. This week’s jam session will focus on succulents and Australian wild flowers. The plump and hardy succulents are excellent alternatives to the usual filler flowers for their interesting texture and appearance.

By participating in their flower jam sessions, even cheap flowers can be transformed into classy décor and luxurious bouquets. Sounds like a perfect fun session for friends to learn from their talented team of florists on how to bring more beauty and more joy into this world. They have a special rate of only $40 per person (for the first 3 sign-ups).

So do think of signing up for the sessions. You can bring home the flowers you arrange/make yourself! Sign up here or contact Kate at kate@abetterflorist.com to secure your slots.

In the meanwhile, I’m going to enjoy looking at the flowers every morning before I go to work and every night when I get home.

Thanks A Better Florist!

Till next time,
xoxo
Bernie