Bad massage experience in Hoi An

My massage experience at Royal Riverside Hotel in Hoi An was so bad that I had to write a post. Oh my god.

If you’re thinking of trying the massage in Royal Riverside Hotel, don’t. It was absolutely disappointing. I wasn’t really sure if the masseuse was even a masseuse, or perhaps, the facial specialist or manicurist instead.

The “massage” (which I leave in quotation marks because I’m unclear if it even qualified as one) was actually infuriatingly bad, so much so that I actually prayed for it to be over.

adult alternative medicine care comfort
Photo by Pixabay on

Unpleasant experience

I’m used to massages with firm, consistent touches. Isn’t that the point of a massage anyway? The fact that I’m even clarifying this is terrible.

During the sad massage I had in Royal Riverside Hotel, the “masseuse” scratched her head a number of times.

So, she’ll stroke/rub my muscles for a few minutes and that would be interrupted with head scratching.

I was wondering if she was using the phone and I peeked out. She was scratching her head it seemed.

I’m sympathetic to an itchy scalp, but this happened way too often during my “massage”. It was definitely more than five times, because the scratching really broke the flow.

But the more annoying thing was, as she did that, she rested her other hand on my body.

It was so unprofessional. And it makes me so unreasonably angry. As someone who doesn’t like to be touched much, I get an unpleasant tingly feeling when a stranger rests his/her hand on my body, and even more so when it’s a light touch.     

I can tolerate it if the touches are brief, but I found that really unacceptable after the hand-resting happened consistently during the massage.   

Because of this, I really felt like ending the massage early and leaving.

Secondly, the aircon was way too cold. It was also blowing directly on my body. This feels like such a rookie mistake.

Thirdly, the masseuse’s nails dug into me. She had long fingernails. 😦   

Finally, I stated that my feet were ticklish multiple times but it didn’t stop her from grabbing me by the feet during some parts of the treatment. There’s only that many times I can move my feet (sometimes I kick by reflex) or complain before I think I’m being the rude customer.

Every other (and possibly every single) masseuse I’ve encountered in the world have either (1) avoided my feet or (2) been extremely good at pressing on my feet. I’ve done many Thai massages, which include handing legs and feet in more awkward fashions.

I have never had such an atrocious massage experience.

After the massage was over, I remarked to my boyfriend if the masseuses we had were randomly plucked from the streets or actually trained in massage. It felt like they weren’t actually trained.

Sadly, I can imagine some travelers going to the in-house masseuse anyway. Hopefully, if you’re going to stay at Royal Riverside Hotel in Hoi An, make sure you don’t go to the in-house massage.

Go to Lemon Tree Spa and Massage

A better place would be Lemon Tree Spa and Massage.

It’s run by a Korean owner so my boyfriend was interested in the place.

The price of this massage place is like most other massage places. Returning customers get 20% off so this is VERY value-for-money. And tons of Koreans visit this spa.

They even have massages for pregnant women and children.


I did the Thai Massage every time I visited. I’ve tried many massages but I think this is the best Thai Massage I’ve had in ASEAN (even compared to Bangkok).

The massage therapists never use their phones (you can report them in the feedback form if they do), and they really focus on you.

At the end of the massage, they serve you your feedback form as well as a yogurt.

I believe most staff speak both Korean and English so you’re in good hands.

You may have to book in advance – they’re really popular!

Check out all my Hoi An 2018 posts here.

Rosie’s Cafe in Hoi An

Great and cheap brunch in Hoi An. All prices are below 5 dollars.

One sultry day, my boyfriend and I decided to have some cafe fare in Hoi An.

No Grab drivers would accept us on this 800m-long ride so we had to bike.

Rosie’s Cafe has no aircon so Asian mothers would be pleased.

We biked into Hoi An Old Town, and down into one of the winding lanes. We referred to Google Maps only twice: once at the start of the trip, and another mid-way when we were near the Japanese bridge.

Overall Old Town is so small, tourists should be able to find their ways easily.

We turned in at this sign for a haircut.

We went past these buildings and a barber (this picture was taken from Rosie’s Cafe, so looking outwards).

Voila! This is Rosie’s Cafe.

Rosie’s Cafe

It was not difficult to find for us.

The interior is homely and pleasant.

VND95,000 or USD4.18 and SGD5.70. For salmon!

My boyfriend ordered a smoothie and salmon toast.

Damn millenials! VND70,000 for Avo on Toast which is USD3 and SGD4.20.

The pictured smoothie was converted from a smoothie bowl. Very good.

I had the avocado toast. I read good reviews about it online. It was delicious!

I decided to get the Acai smoothie bowl. It comes with fruits and coconut shavings.

VND80,000: USD3.52 or SGD4.80 for a lot of superfoods

Ended off with an affogato. So here’s the damage for all the food we had: VND355,000, which is about USD15.62 and SGD 21.30.  

SGD 21.30 for two smoothies, two brunches, and two coffees. Wow.

Of course we had to go there the second time.

This time, my boyfriend had a chocolate milkshake called Dark Paradise. I converted the avocado smoothie bowl into a smoothie.

VND50,000 for the Dark Paradise milkshake, VND65,000 for Green Goodness smoothie. That’s about USD2.20 to USD 2.80. For Singaporean friends, this is SGD3-4.

Ordered Rosie’s breakfast. It was good, as expected.

VND80,000: USD3.52 or SGD4.80 for all these.

My boyfriend had the french toast.

VND60,000: USD2.64 or SGD3.60

I lost the receipt but I took a picture of the menu here. Check out those prices! the most expensive item is the salmon toast at VND95,000. Which means no item here is above USD4.18 and SGD5.70. Truly WTF.

If I could, I’d find a hotel nearer Rosie’s Cafe to eat here more often. I never had a tummyache from any of the food. It’s truly affordable and good in Hoi An.

Check out all my Hoi An 2018 posts here.

Day 2 in Hoi An: Tailors and tea

Tailors and food in Hoi An

Rise and shine!

The view from our room

Read all about Day 1 here.

Today we are headed to the tailor and to explore this small town of Hoi An.

First stop: Bebe Tailor

Our first choice was Bebe because of all the good reviews. The shopfront was pleasant.

Chau, a female Vietnamese lady, attended to us. She was nice to us and patient even when we bargained. Towards the afternoon, she did seem more tired.

We went to the first store. Ask for Chau!

Chau gave us helpful suggestions within our budget and weather constraints. The ladies’ summer cloths were satisfactory for me.

We decided to walk around to explore more tailors.

After bargaining and comparing prices, I would have to pay USD500 for all these summer work clothes:

  • Blazer
  • Matching skirt
  • Matching pants
  • Sleeved dress
  • Sleeveless dress
  • Sleeved silk shirt
  • Sleeveless silk shirt

My boyfriend will pay USD350 for:

  • Blazer and matching pants
  • Collared shirt
  • Two collared shirts for our friend

If you go to Bebe, do bring about USD100-200 for your deposit.

Next stop: Yaly Tailor

This is another large tailor in Hoi An. It was just 2 minutes by foot away from Bebe.

I can see a difference in standard with Bebe. Here the staff was less attentive. Oh well!

Lunch: Dao Tien River restaurant

Another 2-3 minutes by foot was this restaurant I found through Google Maps.

Final damage: VND530,000.

This was really pricey. If you would like a bite at a scenic and spacious place then this would be nice.

Post-lunch: Reaching Out Teahouse in Hoi An Old Town

The weather is hot in Hoi An, so bring sunblock and all your summer clothes.

By 3pm, my boyfriend and I were hot sticky messes. I do not know how girls wear any make up in this weather.

Visited Reaching Out Teahouse, a “silent cafe”. It was indeed silent. The staff do not talk and may be deaf.

It was a great respite from the hot weather.

To order, signal to the waiter/waitress and show them the block.
Chilled green tea
Vietnamese coffee tasting set

The drinks can be ordered chilled.

In total, we paid VND346,000 or USD15.80 for:

  • Oolong tea
  • Vietnamese green tea
  • Coffee tasting set
  • Cookie tasting set
  • Sweet potato cake (more like chips)

It was worth it. But soon after we just headed back to the hotel. It was too hot to do much.

Check out all my Hoi An 2018 posts here.

Day 1 in Hoi An (21 June 2018)

Xin chao from Hoi An and good evening!

I touched down earlier today at 740pm via flight Jetstar 541 from Singapore to Danang Airport.

At the airport you can get a SIM card for a reasonable rate. For us, we got seven days worth of unlimited data for USD7.

My boyfriend and I are staying at the Royal Riverside Hoi An hotel. This hotel is less than an hour’s drive from the airport. The hotel can help to arrange for airport transfers.

The hotel is 5-10 minutes away from Hoi An Old Town on foot.

The room is smaller than expected and as advertised, but it looks cozy.

This is the Deluxe King Room and it set us back SGD60 (about USD45) per night.

The blanket was a little thin for my liking.

The bathroom came with all the important amenities, including a rain shower. Not pictured is the shower cubicle.

The water pressure was great and hot water was plentiful.

Staff tried to help as much as they could, but there was a language barrier.

We were hungry and called for room service. This spread is VND289,000 (pre-tax which is 15% more) – about USD13 or SGD18. But hotel guests get 10% off.

The dishes were: fried seafood spring rolls, and beef and chicken pho. The portion of the rice noodle was small.

We decided to get one more dish called the “White Rose”. I think it is shrimp wonton with sweet sauce but has this name because of the French. This was VND95,000 pre-tax.

The food was only so-so for our stay. I felt physically sick and nauseated the two mornings I had the hotel breakfast but I do not know if it was the food. My boyfriend was fine though.

Would I recommend this hotel? Yes. But if my boyfriend and I go to Hoi An in future, we may choose a hotel closer to Old Town, Bebe Tailors, and the Hoi An Night Market for the wider food options.

For instance, I would rather get a hotel near this restaurant called Red Gecko. It was affordable and good.

Wifi isn’t great here though and I am writing e`verything on my mobile.

My post disappears completely on my desktop WordPress and that is super frustrating. I think some online functions are blocked in Vietnam. I am writing this journal-style post on 21 June 2018 but this will probably only be published after I return to Singapore.

That is it for Day 1!

Check out all my Hoi An 2018 posts here.

3 food recommendations in KL for weekend getaways

Recommendations for food and a bonus review of our Airbnb property.

I spent four days in Kuala Lumpur! It was a great trip for me, so here are three food recommendations for those less acquainted with the capital of Malaysia.

1. Jinxuan Dimsum

Restoran Jin Xuan Hong Kong
Damansara Jaya Sdn Bhd
59, 61 & 63, Jalan SS22 / 19 Damansara Jaya, 47300 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Mon – Sun 7 a.m – 11 p.m
603 – 7729 6866

Jinxuan Dimsum has many chains. We went to one near Atria Shopping Gallery:

Image credit: HeyPearl

Note the fried brinjal in brown sauce, and the fried salted egg scallop and prawn dish on the bottom left.

Image credit: HeyPearl

The amount we ate and more. Check out the hargau!

Image credit: HeyPearl

If I had to recommend only one dish, it would be the egg tart. My friends and I aren’t really egg tart fans, but we polished off four straight plates – about one egg tart each. The egg tart will melt in your mouth. That said everything we ate was fantastic.

Do give the fried brinjal or eggplant a try, as well as the fried salted egg scallop and prawn dish (in the first picture above).

The menu comes in English as well.

One word of warning is that the restaurant staff mainly speak Cantonese. There’s a queue system to manage the huge crowd. I don’t speak Cantonese and I had no idea what numbers they called. Keep an ear out for your number, which they’ll repeat in English if there’s no response.

The damage for eating till our stomachs hurt? MYR199, which is MYR33 and about SGD12 per person.  

2. Steamboat buffet

We had steamboat at Fat One Steamboat Buffet near Sunway. It’s about MYR40-50 per person for this all-you-can-eat buffet with free-flow drinks.

Fat One Steamboat
22 & 23 Jalan Pjs 8/17, Petaling Jaya 46150
Phone: +60 12-234 8823

Image credit: HeyPearl

The soup was addictive. We had the hot and spicy ma la one, and a generic hotpot broth with wolfberries. The buffet was plentiful – whatever food you imagine ought to be in a Chinese hotpot, they have it. These would be your usual fish balls, mushroom varieties, fish dumplings, etc.

They even have yong tau foo, fresh fish and seafood packed in ice, and fried foods.

Sadly, I do not have many photos. I was too hungry.

Do stay away from the luncheon meat. Being spam lovers, my friends and I took a few to fry. It was terrible. Do not recommend.

If you’re driving, don’t leave your valuables in your car! There were warning signs in the restaurant.

3. Bak ku teh you can’t miss

We had really good wet and dry bak ku teh here

Restoran Seng Huat Bak Kut Teh
No.9, Jalan Besar, 41000 KLANG
Selangor Daru Ehsan, Malaysia
Phone: 012-309 8303 / 012-385 5154

Image credit: HeyPearl

The verdict is that you should buy a ticket – plane or bus – to eat this immediately.

I drizzled my rice with the black herbal soup and had some of the savory-sweet meat from the dry bak ku teh with it.

Mix the minced garlic and green chili with the soy sauce provided for an amazing dip for the tender pork ribs.

Bonus: Airbnb

Here’s an Airbnb near all these food attractions. My Malaysian friend also says the location is great. It cost us about MYR20 off-peak to get to the city for a usual Grab.

Image credit: Airbnb
We had many dinners and snacks here. Image credit: Airbnb

This is a spacious Airbnb in Subang Jaya. The space was fantastic for a large group.

There are a total of six rooms – so seven of us fit well. The beds are all not singles, but queen- to king-sized beds.

Yup, each room looks similar. Image credit: Airbnb

And to put the cherry on top, each room comes with its own shower, mirror, and sockets.  No fighting for the toilets! If I’m not wrong, each room also came with its own hairdryer.

The two master bedrooms on the upper floor had a huge bathtub.

There are blackout curtains as pictured and a variety of lighting options in each room like soft bedroom lights and brighter fluorescent lights.

Outside the house, we had a washer and dryer. No detergent was provided but that was settled with a trip to the supermarket for snacks.

The host let us have a late checkout because our flights were later in the evening.

Midway through our stay, the power kept tripping. As far as I know, the host was helpful and responsive throughout.

We discovered the cause of the trip – an errant socket in the living room – and the issue was resolved. Thanks, engineer friends!


There was a lot of trial and error involved. We’ve also informed the host.

Hopefully, this won’t happen again, but my friends and I agreed that this was a really nice property to stay in.

Bye! Image credit: HeyPearl

Check out the listing, more photos, and the price for yourself here – it’s really reasonable at about SGD200 a night. The cleaning and service fee may change the price.

Tips for sensitive skin that work

No vague tips like “eating healthy”. Here are actual tips that work.

How many of us have experienced troubled skin?

When I was younger, I had blemish-free skin. Things changed after I started work. I narrowed it down to stress and exposure to alcoholic drinks.

I went from living a very healthy and regular lifestyle to drinking with friends and colleagues and dealing with an irregular schedule.

First skin nightmare

My first skin nightmare started when I was 22. I broke out into huge red spots on only one side of my face.

I went from living a very healthy and regular lifestyle to drinking with friends and colleagues and dealing with an irregular schedule.

I tried the usual remedies: cleaning up visible dust, changing pillow cases, chugging green tea, and avoiding dairy products.

For days, I avoided seeing my family without makeup.

One day, my father said to me gently to see a dermatologist. He’d pay for the visit.

So I visited a dermatologist from the National University Hospital Singapore. I paid about SGD100-200.

Sadly, my experience was terrible. I was diagnosed (wrongly) with adult acne.   

When I asked the doctor why I only had acne on one side of my face, he said, “Well, only God knows.” It was a very unscientific answer and I felt that he did not take my concerns seriously.

Over the past few years, I learned what works for me and what does not. Here are the tips which really worked for me and my sensitive skin.

1. Know if it’s acne or an allergy

The diagnosis I received from the dermatologist was inaccurate.

I was given a topical steroid to use on my face and a treatment called clindamycin gel.

I had an adverse reaction to the creams which included peeling and itching skin. It took a long time before I felt the irritation really subsided.

Take a look at these side effects of using topical steroids.

I felt my skin was really damaged for a while. Since I did not apply the cream to my entire face and only the areas with bumps, I could see that the patch of skin was affected adversely by the steroids. The skin quality felt different and was more sensitive. I felt the worst culprit was the clindamycin gel.

I eventually found out that I did not have acne. I noticed that my skin was not red and itchy in the morning, but was red and on the verge of breaking out in the evenings after work.

I realized it was the Dior Nude powder compact that was affecting my skin!

After I stopped using the powder compact, my “acne” disappeared.

My only advice here is to really make sure you are actually suffering from acne and to closely observe any adverse reactions from using cosmetic products or your diet.

If you get “acne”, examine your lifestyle (has there been any changes recently?) and other symptoms (are you feeling unwell in other areas of your body?).

Before you figure out your answers, don’t go to the derm.

woman girl beauty mask
Photo by Breakingpic on

2. For sensitive skin, refrigerate skincare products

I still got bouts of pimples randomly, especially after drinking alcohol. They would be really deep cysts and my scars would not heal properly.

I also noticed that as I aged, my skin looked drier.

As my skin got drier, it also got more sensitive and breakouts started to occur.

Now, I think I know what works. First of all, Peter Thomas Roth products have been great for my sensitive skin and any acne marks.

The Rose Stem Cell Bio-Repair Gel Mask reviewed here has been really effective.

The trick I discovered was to refrigerate skincare products.

Excess heat is an enemy of sensitive skin and when I consume alcohol, my face heats up a little. This exacerbates the effects of drinking alcoholic drinks.

But by applying a cool gel, especially the rose stem cell mask, I was able to reduce the sensitivity and reactivity of my skin.

Some beauty gurus suggest massaging or tapping the product into your skin. Big mistake for people with sensitive skin – any massages, excess rubbing, and even the heat from my hands can flare up pimples and flaws.

If you REALLY need to touch your face, do it with cooled products or frozen spoons.

I noticed that when I travel to cool climates, such as Korea, I have no skin issues. I attribute it to the cool air decreasing the sensitivity of my skin to my cosmetics and reducing oil produced.

spilled bottle of yellow capsule pills
Photo by Pixabay on

3. Random discovery: spamming fish oil pills

It was a totally unexpected discovery, but I noticed my skin quality increasing after taking fish oil pills: inflammation decreased, scars cleared up, and my skin looked like it was back in its early twenties!

There are tons of studies online that shows that omega-3 fatty acids fight inflammation (when your body fights something harmful and may cause the affected area to be red and hot).

I also noticed that I had less mood swings, especially pre-period. I felt less tired. I assumed I was just happy or excited to get out of bed, but I realized it may be the fish oil pills.

I should have known that dry skin, brittle hair and nails, mood swings, and fatigue are all signs of lacking omega-3 fatty acids. The most telling sign is that I have extremely brittle nails.

I only made the connection to lacking fatty acids when I saw my skin clearing up after eating pills regularly.

If you’re suffering from the same symptoms I had, know that this worked for me. I strongly recommend Blackmores and any of their products containing marine omega-3 fatty acids.

Some brands of fish oil pills and vitamins give really unpleasant smelling belches and nausea, but I have not experienced any negative effects from Blackmores’, especially if they’re fresh pills and refrigerated.

I seem to sleep better as well.

If you have issues with your skin, try having the recommended amount of fish oil pills or less daily and green tea.

There was no way I could have eaten that much omega-3 fatty acids in my natural diet. Realistically, it’s costly to have fish every day. Moreover, it’s difficult to cook and prepare food as I am working. When I’m working, I also find it difficult to eat enough healthy food due to a lack of time. Therefore, supplements are a really good investment.

Hopefully, these tips help you live a healthier life!

5 things to do in Jeonju Hanok Village, Korea

We had a good time staying in a traditional Korean house, taking photos, and eating. This article should cover most needs!

Cherry blossoms in Jeonju © 2018 PEARL LEE ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Jeonju Hanok Village was a scenic, beautiful place. I was lucky to see some cherry blossoms while when I was there. Overall, I had a lovely stay and have come away with some recommendations.

1. Stay in a traditional Korean house and rent a fancy hanbok: 전주한옥마을숙박 “더머뭄”

81-8 Pungnamdong 3(sam)-ga, Wansan-gu, Jeonju, Jeollabuk-do, South Korea

Hanok refers to a traditional Korean house. Expect to sleep on a floor in a comfy mattress.

The unique characteristic of Korean hanoks is their heating system. In Korea, heating is through the floor. It’s super nice to come back and plop down on the floor to warm yourself up.

What stood out about Deomeomun, the hanok we stayed in, was how hospitable the owners were. Our lady host came out to greet us in case we got lost (we were, actually!). As we stayed there on a weekday, the owners gave us a free upgrade to a larger room.

Our room looked out to a lovely, serene courtyard. Neighbourhood cats come to visit, but they’re quite fearful.

A. Renting a hanbok

Most people go to Jeonju and want to wear the traditional Korean dress. We did the same! We rented matching hanboks and received a steep discount as guests. For three hours of renting the fancy outfit, we paid about KRW15000 each. What a steal.

The owner’s daughter also pull out all the stops to accessorize my hair!

전주한옥마을숙박 “더머뭄”: Hanbok and hair accessories
Cat in Jeonju
Here I’m looking at another cat in Jeonju – there are plenty of them. You can see my hanbok and my hair accessory!

B. Breakfast, yum!

I am not sure if breakfast is complimentary, but the owners were kind enough to deliver a filling meal right up to our room. It was a nutritious meal of fruit and rice cakes and tea, and I ate it facing the courtyard.

C. Prices and more comments

We paid about SGD80 per night in total. It seems that all rooms come with a toilet.

If you’re a light sleeper, bring earplugs – the owners said the rooms are not soundproof.

We booked this property via Airbnb here. Each room comes with their own listing, so do keep a lookout as room sizes differ. The rates are here.

Overall, I was sad to leave the hanok and promised to return. It’s a good deal for a unique experience of staying in a traditional Korean house and taking pictures in traditional Korean dress.

2. Take pretty pictures: Omogdae

68-9 Girin-daero, Gyo-dong, Wansan-gu, Jeonju, Jeollabuk-do, South Korea

My boyfriend and I went to this area and climbed up to an observatory pavilion. The climb is not steep and is only about 5 minutes. The pavilion is surrounded by cherry blossom trees, and we managed to get a few good shots!
Omogdae Cherry Blossoms
A look at trees bursting with blossoms in Omogdae
Omogdae Cherry Blossoms
Snap all the dream shots you want! These are pre-filter so I’m sure you can take many better shots.
You can take pictures with cherry blossoms from any angle: under the tree, in front of low-lying branches, trees in the background. It’s a perfect background to work with.
You can see the pavilion and the surrounding garden in Google Maps, surrounded by sand.
The pavilion is in the area under the red indicator.

3. Rest and have coffee: Cafe브리즈

Jeondongseongdang-gil, Pungnam-dong, Wansan-gu, Jeonju, Jeollabuk-do, South Korea

After walking so much and taking photos, we enjoyed a cup of coffee and honey toast at Cafe브리즈. It’s a building with three stories. It overlooked a garden and had a cozy environment both inside the cafe, and on its rooftop.

4. Eat delicious local Korean food: 전주 교동 떡갈비

73-2 Pungnamdong 3(sam)-ga, Wansan-gu, Jeonju, Jeollabuk-do, South Korea

The food here was excellent. If you love Korean food, this is the right place to be. If you don’t like Korean food, maybe this place will change your mind. 🙂

We took the reasonably priced lunch sets, and I added one bibim-naengmyeon. I don’t like bibimbap (mixed rice), but I wanted to sample the spicy sauce that Jeonju’s famous for! It was the right choice.

전주 교동 떡갈비: The side dishes were great.
전주 교동 떡갈비: Slightly spicy, but it’s great food.

The star of the show is the tteok-galbi: Korean grilled short rib patties. It’s a Jeonju delicacy. When I put a slab of meat in my mouth, it melted. If you love burgers, the minced meat may remind you of a burger patty.

I highly recommend this restaurant.

Click on the video to see the meat sizzle.

The restaurant had a very elegant look.

전주 교동 떡갈비: Restaurant interior
전주 교동 떡갈비

5. For the religious: Jeondong Cathedral

South Korea, Jeollabuk-do, Jeonju, Wansan-gu, Jeon-dong, 태조로 51

According to Google Maps: “Built 1908–1914, this historic Romanesque church features statues of Korean Catholic martyrs.”

I did not have a tour of the cathedral, but it was a nice historical site to visit in Jeonju. Like most places of worship, there’s no photographing allowed in the cathedral. The Western-style architecture is a stark contrast to traditional Korean houses!

Wishing you a good visit to Jeonju Hanok Village!

© 2018 PEARL LEE ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Please write to me here to use my material. Thank you.