Adventures, Lifestyle

3 Ways To Go On Vacation Without Leaving The Country – Vanessa Tai

Short of going for a full-fledged staycation, are there ways to declutter your mind and experience the benefits of a vacation? Yes, says Vanessa Tai. You just need a little ingénue. 

Living in Singapore can be highly stressful. That’s part and parcel of living in a densely-populated, highly competitive city like ours. In a 2013 poll conducted by the Health Promotion Board, one in four workers admitted to being “highly stressed”. While it would be dreamy to book a flight and go for a short getaway whenever the stress levels get too high, we all know that’s not always financially viable. The next best option would be a staycation but even that can be expensive, especially on weekends.

So how can you feel like you’re on holiday while still in Singapore?

material world_relax

Here are three suggestions:

1. Check out obscure cafes or attractions in the suburbs

A few days before your “vacation”, post a status update on Facebook asking your friends to recommend cool or lesser-known cafes in their neighbourhood. Apart from the usual hipster districts like Tiong Bahru or Ann Siang Hill, there are actually plenty of hidden gems dotted all around the island. For example, Denise and her fiance once managed to entertain themselves for an entire weekend in the unassuming Jalan Besar neighbourhood!

2. Go for a photography or hiking trail

This is one of the best ways to go off the beaten track. Because aspiring shutterbugs and trekkers alike are always on the lookout for new and exciting places to explore, you may just find yourself in previously undiscovered settings. Deborah, Lili, and I used to go for regular night hikes where we ventured into muggy forests, monsoon drains, abandoned railway tracks … all in the dead of the night! Check out to find likeminded individuals.

3. Have a picnic

Sounds simple, but when was the last time you actually packed a picnic basket and whiled away an entire afternoon? To make things a bit more fun, don’t cop out and just get takeaway fast food. Plan ahead and pack a basketful of fruit, bread, sandwich meats and of course, a good bottle of wine. From there, all you need is a picnic mat and an iPod full of your favourite tunes, and you’re set. To avoid the crowds that tend to throng the beach or places like Marina Barrage on weekends, see if you can take a weekday afternoon off. Then, simply enjoy that brief but sweet respite.

Do you have any other suggestions on how to temporarily escape the madness of the rat race? Tell me in the Comments section below!

About The Author: Vanessa Tai is a founder of Material World who has previously worked on magazines Simply Her and Cosmopolitan Singapore. Now a freelance writer and a full-time contributor to this website, the 27-year-old dreams of attending every single major music festival before she turns 30. Follow her on Twitter @VannTaiTweets.

Branded Content, Contests, Vacations & Staycations

[Material World x Holster] Life’s A Beach in Terengganu – Vanessa Tai

I was recently invited on a press junket to the Tanjong Jara Resort (Batu 8 Off Dungun 23000 Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia, Tel: +60 9-845 1100, Having never been to that part of Malaysia before, I didn’t quite know what to expect. I did know it’d be an activity-packed few days though, so I made sure I had a good mix of neutrals and statement pieces in my luggage.

We flew in to Kuantan via the budget airline, Firefly. On the plane, you could tell everybody was all ready for a beachy good time … men were in Hawaiian-print shirts and women in flowy caftans. Me? I had on this pair of dazzlingly bling sandals from Holster!

Holster's Supermodel, $89

Holster Supermodel, $89

When we reached the resort – a two-hour drive away from Kuantan Airport – we only had a few minutes to enjoy our gorgeous suite before we had to head out again to tour the premises.

Where I stayed for two nights!

Where I stayed for two nights!

I decided to go into full-resort mode and threw on my favourite sundress, a chunky necklace and my second pair of glamorous jelly sandals – Holster Sunrise.

Holster's Sunrise, $89

Holster Sunrise, $89

The pristinely beautiful Tanjong Jara Beach

The pristinely beautiful Tanjong Jara Beach

After the resort tour, we vegged out at the Nelayan restaurant, where we sampled local snacks such as the delicious kerapok lekor, a type of deep fried fish sausage. One bite into the chewy, unctuous sausage and a satisfied “Mmm” will escape from your lips. It’s full of flavour with just the right amount of grease.

Fish sausages to die for

Fish sausages to die for

Once our bellies were sated, it was time to take care of our tired muscles. I had an indulgent 100-minute treatment, which comprised a traditional Malay massage and facial. I swear I slept extra soundly that night. Thankfully I did, because the next day was adrenaline-packed from the get go. After breakfast, we headed straight for Pulau Tenggol, an island located 45 minutes away, for a bit of diving.

Holster’s St Tropez, $79

Holster St Tropez, $79

What I thought was going to be a leisurely dive turned out to be quite an adventure when a triggerfish attacked our dive instructor. Triggerfish are notoriously bad-tempered during mating season, and have been known to bite off the flesh of the person it is attacking! Thankfully, she managed to swim away in time but those few minutes of her thrashing about underwater was quite frightening as I would have been at a complete loss of what to do if she had been bitten.

Idyllic island life at Palau Tenggol

Idyllic island life at Pulau Tenggol

Check out how clear the water is!

Check out how clear the water is!

After our underwater exploits, we headed back to the resort for another adventure, this time on land. We were venturing into a nearby Malay kampong by bike! Because I haven’t been cycling for a long time, I couldn’t quite get used to cycling uphill and had to dismount and walk my bike a couple of times. Luckily the sandals I had on were so comfortable I hardly felt the strain. Holster’s sandals may look glamorous and fashionable but the material it is made from is hardy as well. For an outdoor activity, the sandals more than stood up to the test. Consider me impressed.

Holster Masquerade, $79

Holster Masquerade, $79

A closer look ...

A closer look …

Despite the occasional “walk of shame”, it was exhilarating riding along the bumpy country roads and waving hello to the friendly villagers. We even stopped by a retro-looking coffee shop for a quick snack of teh tarik and roti canai. I don’t know if it was the exertion from over an hour of cycling, but that was one of the best roti canai I ever had in my life.

I wolfed down three of these!

I wolfed down three of these!

All in all, I had an absolute blast at Tanjong Jara, and can’t wait to return.

My thoughts on Holster Sandals:
When Holster presented me with four pairs of sandals, I was blown away. The four styles – Masquerade, Sunrise, Supermodel and St Tropez – were stylish and easy to slip on. I admit: for a split second, I did wonder if the sandals would be too bling for my stay at the resort. After all, my usual outfits for beach holidays usually consist of tank tops, shorts and slippers … not fashion-spread worthy at all. Turns out, the sandals had the effect of glamming up my casual outfits, so I felt a lot more at ease rubbing shoulders with the well-heeled set at Tanjong Jara. Some of the other journalists even complimented my choice of footwear, saying it’s a refreshing change from the ubiquitious flip-flops favoured by most resort goers. But these sandals are not just pretty to look at; they are hardy too! I was really impressed how well they stood up to the elements during the diving and cycling excursions. Definitely a must-have for all your upcoming beach vacations!

Holster sandals retail from $79 per pair and are available at Not Too Big, #02-06/07 Forum The Shopping Mall, Tel: 6235 5032

This article is brought to you by Holster. All opinions expressed are the author’s own and were not vetted by the brand’s owner. 


We have four pairs of Holster sandals (in two different styles, St Tropez and Supermodel) to give away! Here’s how to enter your name for this draw:

1. Answer this question: answer this question, “Of the four styles featured here – Masquerade, Sunrise, Supermodel and St Tropez – which is your favourite?” in the Comments section below. Then share this post with your Facebook friends by clicking the Facebook button at the bottom.

2. Tag Material World on your post.

3. Then Private Message us on Material World’s Facebook Page with your details (Name, Age, NRIC No, Occupation, Email Address). State that you are entering the Holster contest.

Contest ends May 24, 2013.

Note: You need to Like Material World’s Facebook Page to qualify for this giveaway. So Like our Page here.

Good luck!