Wednesday 27 July 2016

Elephants for Education - help raise money for this Cambodian Charity

20% of Cambodians live below the poverty line

1 in every 4 Cambodians over the age of 15 are illiterate

These are statistics we aim to change at Human and Hope Association. Over the past five years we have been providing training, education and support to marginalised villagers so they can have the skills and knowledge to move out of the poverty bracket.

In order to fund our education programs for 2017, we are asking you to purchase an elephant for education. These elephants are made by graduated sewing students from
Human and Hope Association, who make them for a fair wage at their homes.
By purchasing an elephant (or how about a family?), you are providing an income to these women
so they can support their families with shelter, education and healthcare.
You are also contributing towards the education of over 150 Cambodian children. 


Cambodian charity Human and Hope Association Inc is excited announce the launch of Elephants for Education, a crowdfunding campaign that gives supporters the chance to support education in Cambodia. Supporters will also be rewarded with an adorable stuffed elephant (or even a whole family!)

The organisation, which recently celebrated becoming entirely locally run, aims to empower Cambodians to create sustainable futures for themselves through education, vocational training and community support.

Some of the programs offered by the organisation include English classes, art classes and preschool. Another program, which has been extremely successful, is the sewing project where disadvantaged women complete a 10 month course to learn sewing and business skills.

It is this program where seamstress Saney learnt the skills that would enable her to start her own business. She also receives an income by making some of the adorable products available for supporters of the Elephants for Education scheme.

Sally Hetherington, who worked at Human and Hope Association for 4 years, says the campaign is crucial to funding the organisations ongoing running costs.

“HHA is achieving such great things, and this wouldn’t be possible without our generous supporters. Each and every donation makes such a huge impact and allows the committed local team to continue their great work.”

Sally is also excited that the campaign coincides with the release of Human and Hope’s adorable range of stuffed elephants.

“Not only is each elephant super cute, but each one has their own name. For example, Bopha can provide a whole month’s English education to a child!” She says.

The campaign launches today, and their aim is to raise $15,000 by August 25th. Check out the campaign at and keep your eyes peeled for exclusive giveaways!

Why does education in Cambodia matter?
Between 1975 and 1979, an estimated two million people (a quarter of the population at the time) were killed in Cambodia through starvation, torture, execution, disease and overwork under the ruling of the Khmer Rouge. Intellectuals were targeted, and as a result, Cambodia lost most of their educated population.

It has taken a long time to rebuild Cambodia, and although the education system has developed in leaps and bounds, there is still a strong lack of education and skills in our community that has lead to a life of poverty for our villagers.

With poverty comes other social issues, such as lack of hygiene which results in increased illnesses, domestic violence, and child labour. We work directly with children and their families so that with our support they can understand the value of education and help to address these social issues.

We want them to break the cycle of poverty so that the next generation don’t have to deal with the hardships that this generation does.

By educating our students we are empowering them to create sustainable futures for themselves.

Human and Hope Association is a registered NGO in Siem Reap, Cambodia. We are a grassroots
community centre run by a local Cambodian team. We focus on empowering methods of development instead of direct aid, as for our community to move out of poverty they need to take responsibility for their futures.

Our education programs include English, Khmer language, preschool, living values, art class, movie club, library and staff development. Our vocational training opportunities include a sewing program and home sewing business. Our community projects include microfinance, a farming program, community workshops, university scholarships and support of a rural English school.

We are committed to training local staff, which is why our organization became entirely Khmer operated this year. Our local team is passionate about helping their local community; they are the subject matter experts who can deal with issues in a culturally appropriate context. Our organisation is governed by a Cambodian board who are responsible for ensuring our team achieves its goals. We also have an external Australian board who are responsible for fundraising and raising awareness about HHA and other social issues in Cambodia.

Thursday 14 April 2016

Pamper Mum this Mother's Day at Shangri-La's Rasa Sentosa Resort & Spa

This Mother's Day, Shangri-La’s Rasa Sentosa Resort & Spa salutes mothers with a delightful brunch at Barnacles by the Sea on 8 May 2016, and an opportunity to win a luxurious night's stay in the Sentosa (Presidential) Suite. 

The brunch is a feast for all senses and palates; featuring an intricate buffet spread of multi-cuisines, all laid out across the interior of the venue and extending out onto the al fresco area just steps away from the waterfront. There will be an a la minute egg station, artisanal French cheese platter, a caviar bar, roast and barbecue station, in addition to other hot selections as well as a dessert corner.

Culinary must-tries include Fine de Claire and Prat Au Coum oysters from France, lobsters, Alaskan crabs, poached egg with black truffle, grilled king prawns, prime roast beef and roast rack of lamb.

Photo Credit: Shangri-La Rasa Sentosa Resort & Spa

Photo Credit: Shangri-La Rasa Sentosa Resort & Spa

As adults feast, a series of activities such as magic shows and balloon twisting will captivate the little ones. Diners may also enjoy complimentary post-meal access across the resort’s swimming pool, children’s splash pad and water slides for the remaining day. 

The Mother’s Day Brunch is available from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at $158++ per adult. A child five years and below dines free with a paying adult. An additional child will enjoy 50% off the full buffet price.

For dining reservations, please call (65) 6371 1966 or email [email protected].


To suite-ten up this Mother’s Day celebration, the resort invites local residents to share why their mothers (and fathers) deserve a pampering stay in its Sentosa Suite. Entries can be emailed to [email protected] before 31 May 2016, and the winning submission will be announced on the resort's Facebook fanpage.

The staycation prize is worth $4200 and includes the following entitlements:

  • One-night stay in the Sentosa (Presidential) Suite, which features a master bedroom, a living room and a kitchenette well-stocked with a Nespresso coffee machine and capsules of various flavours, in addition to an array of chocolates, crisps, instant noodles, miniature bottles of red and white wines, beer, chilled juices and other beverages.
  • Return limousine transfer
  • Buffet breakfast at Silver Shell Cafe
  • A la carte lunch at 8 Noodles, and dinner at Casserole restaurant, complete with free-flowing wines and beers of selected labels, chilled juices and soft drinks
  • 90-minute Singapore Massage for two adults
  • Laundry, pressing and dry cleaning services
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi in the room and around the resort 

The complimentary suite stay is valid from 1 July to 15 December 2016, excluding weekends, eves of and Public Holidays, special occasions, festive periods and peak season. Other terms and conditions apply. 

Friday 8 April 2016

Guest post: Travelling and accommodation in Malacca

Melaka or Malacca… (Malay: Melaka), dubbed "The Historic State, is a Malaysian state on the Malay Peninsula's southwest coast. The capital, Malacca City, has a colonial past seen in its preserved town centre, the site of 16th-century, Portuguese St. Paul’s Church. It's also home to Christ Church, built by the Dutch in the 18th century and converted to the Anglican denomination under British rule in the 19th century.

From Lonely Planet:
 “The city’s historic centre was awarded UNESCO World Heritage status in 2008, and since then Melaka’s tourism industry has developed at break-neck pace. Old shophouses and mansions have enjoyed makeovers as galleries and hotels, and Melaka’s kaleidoscope of architectural styles – spanning Peranakan, Portuguese, Dutch and British elements – has been well preserved. Meanwhile restaurants have found a booming audience of weekend visitors, all eager to sample the varied cuisines that have spawned from Melaka's cultural mosaic of residents.”

Travelling by coach to Melaka…

One can fly to KL and take a bus or taxi to Melaka, but we have always chosen to take the coach direct from Singapore. Travel time (via Coach) is 3.5 hours and is a clean and comfortable journey.

For this last trip I booked through EASYBOOK. We do not always choose the cheapest as they have extra stops and are more crowded. On the EASYBOOK site, look carefully at the prices as well as the pick up and drop off points. Then look at departure times and arrivals. Take all this into consideration for maximum comfort and practicability for your travel experience.

Picture credit:

There is always one “toilet stop” en route to Melaka. Take hand wipes, tissues etc with you!

Leaving early morning will get you to Melaka by lunchtime, which means plenty of time to have lunch then check into your hotel.

Coach fare is between $28.00 and $42.00 per person each way.

The coach company usually supplies a bottle of water prior to boarding, but you might like a snack to take with you as well. Sometimes the coach can be cold so take a jacket, scarf, pashmina or something to keep you warm during the journey.

Book well ahead to get the coach company you prefer. This particular trip we had to choose a different tour company for the return journey. Our departure was at Golden Mile Tower and arrival was at Melaka Sentral. The central terminus is rather a large complex and easy to become ‘lost’. Take note of where you are at all times.

When departing Melaka (from Melaka Sentral), arrive earlier so you know exactly what bay your coach departs from. This is a very large and busy terminal!

Accommodation in Melaka…

There are many hotels and resorts in and around Melaka to choose from. All with various price ranges as well. On one of our trips we stayed at The Equatorial, which is hugely popular with families and is conveniently located too.

This time around we stayed at The Majestic Malacca.

Probably a little over ten minutes drive time from the bus terminal. Right on the banks of the Melaka River and easy walking distance to Jonker Street in the cooler pert of the evening.

But over and above that, the service is impeccable. From the moment of arrival to the time of departure, we were well looked after! Our room was on the seventh level overlooking the river and was quite large and very comfortable. We had a king sized bed, a day bed, small table & chair, TV, tea & coffee making facilities, toweling robes, slippers etc. The bathroom and the associated bathroom amenities were of a high quality.

The breakfast – served in the dining room on the first level – was buffet style that included everything anyone could possibly need. But there is a menu available listing the hot breakfasts.

The service was impeccable in both the dining area and the hotel overall. We could not fault anything. Even when we asked where we could have ‘afternoon tea’ with our guests, we were told to sit in the ‘library’ and it would be brought to us. This was a full on High Tea served to the four of us and again, the service was excellent.

We stayed for three nights four days and whilst there we had two trips on the ‘river cruise’, once at night and once during the day. Other events were a walk to Jonker Street, a walk along the riverside stopping every now and then for a coffee or a beer, shopping and walking through the amazing Heritage Village – Kampung Morten!

Along the Melaka River

Along the Melaka River

Kampung Morten is nestled right within central Melaka. The highlight of exploring the area, with its merry bridge and homes shaded by palm trees, is a visit to this living museum within a 1920s kampung house. Visitors (or rather, guests) are welcomed by a member of the household who points out period objects including photographs, Ming dynasty ceramics and a century-old Quran. You're unlikely to leave without a photo-op on plush velvet furniture or a few strikes of the lucky gong.

This is a guest post byLeone Fabre, who repatriated back to Melbourne over three years ago. She always looks forward to flying back to Singapore from time to time.

Wednesday 24 February 2016

*CLOSED* Vinnies Restaurant - Geoff Scott

UPDATE 24 February 2016: "To my loyal and valued friends and customers today I am sad to announce that Vinnies has been sold and will close its doors on March 6". - Geoff Scott


No visit to Auckland is complete without a visit to our favourite restaurant. Vinnies presents a unique Kiwi dining experience for all.

Vinnies presents a couple of menu options from an A La Carte to Tasting Menus to Set Menus. We opted for the Seven Course Tasting Menu.

We started off with an amuse-bouche to whet the appetite.

The tables are spot lit to provide an intimate and warm ambience for diners.

Oysters done two ways. Tempura and served in its shell and Vinnies famous Oyster Vodka Shots (highly recommended).

Nashi, beurre bosc and packham pears, served with walnut, grapefruit and seasame dressing.

Wild Rabbit Terrine, served with apple preserve, hazlenut dukkah, fennel and mustard pops. Best served with a bread roll (not pictured).

Ora King Salmon, served with spring onion, enokitake mushroom, turnip and watermelon.

Whangamata Scallops, served with chorizo, broccoli, red onion pickle and praline.

A little something to clense the palate before the main course. Try and figure out the ingredients used to make this.

Turkey Breast, served with sour cherries, cavalo nero, chestnut, speck and a drizzle of mulled wine.
We dined around the Christmas period, hence the turkey on the menu.

Time for dessert . . .

New Zealnad and International Cheese Platter, served with honey walnut bread, muscatels, canterbury meyric walnut. 

Fruit Mince Pie Semi-freddo, served with strawberry gel, vanilla meringue, vsop brandy custard air. This was also part of their Christmas seasonal menu.

Lime marshmallow and bourbon whisky gum.

Vinnies is located on Jervois Road in Herne Bay.

166 Jervois Road
Herne Bay
New Zealand

Phone: (+64) 09 376 5597
Fax: (+64) 09 376 5559
Email: [email protected]

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