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Monday, December 29, 2008

Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve

Once a year, we try to go to Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve. Most time, all we took away was mosquitoes bites although we did saw the otter 1 time and a tame(?) wild boar another time. But this year - blessed with good weather we scored big! We saw:
Birds
Insects
CrustaceansFish
MammalsWeird looking PlantsSmall reptiles
Big reptiles
and
the mother of them all:
An Estuarine Crocodile!
All pictures taken by Alicia. More photos here

Thursday, December 25, 2008

3 Days of Holiday

Went for a short break in the land of the fragrance harbour. It has been many years since we last when there. Last time, the airport was still at the old place and we could see all the shanty houses along the sea as the plane fly into the airport. Now the airport has been relocated to a much safer location.

The first stop for the day after check in was a trip up the Peak. First to Mdm Tussauds which turned out to be a big disappointment! It was so small with so few wax exhibits. The night view from the Peak was supposed to be fantastic but there was a perpetual layer of fog or is is haze that prevented a clear view.
The next day, we got conned into accepting the free 1 day city tour offered by the tour agency we booked with and ended up following them for a lousy breakfast and lunch and the obligatory visit to a jewelery and a herbal store wasting half the time. Still we got to go to Repulse Bay,
Aberdeen Harbour
and a ride on one of the longest cable car in the world (I think).
And at the top, got to see a giant of a Buddha (shown here half size)After that, pop by Citigate where there are over 60 factory outlets including the Nike, Adidas, Puma and New Balance factory outlets!

Night time was at the Mongkok area and we went gaga over the numerous sports shop there. The range of Adidas and Nike shoes were amazing. See until blur and didn't know what to get!

The next day was spent at Ocean Park
and in the night was back at Mongkok checking out the rest of the shops and Ladies Market.

Too short a trip. M did not get her full day shopping and I did not get to go to Macau. Much has changed in HK since we last went. The people now are so friendly and polite. Everybody now can speak Mandarin making it easier for us to communicate. The MTR is so convenient and afforable. Streets are clean, food is delicious and the things are so reasonably priced. So we were be back to spend more time on shopping!

More photos here

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Food Glorious Food

Our first meal of the trip was at a little shop along the street. We ordered noodles and rice and the meal plus drinks cost $190.00.


We thought the price was cheap but we were so wrong. In fact, over the course of the trip, we found better and cheaper food.

Along the street, there were many outlets selling fried foodstuff on a stick. 
These were always crowded and curiosity drove us to try some of the items and in particular the so smelly toufu. Yes we tried it. M didn't like it and refused to take more than 1 bite. Me I gamely ate the whole thing. It is crispy on the outside, soft and smooth on the inside. Real yummy.

Dinner was at another road side stall along Temple Street. This time we had 3 small bowl of claypot rice, large prawns fried with chilli, vegetables and 1 soup. The whole thing plus drinks - $175 only. And the rice although plain looking was very fragrant and shiok.


What is Hongkong without eating dessert. So we dutifully tried the dessert. First stop was a popular chain store and I had black glutionous rice soup with tangyuan. M wanted the mango pudding but they were out of stock so we vowed to return the next day.

The next day we got conned by the tour guide to join in the breakfast and lunch. He charged us $130 per person for it. For breakfast, we were only given 8 type of dim sum limited to 1 piece each. That was barely enough to fill a small corner of my stomach. Lunch was slightly better - there was more food but it was bland and consist of the usual food like lemon chicken, vegetables, pork ribs. There was no typical Hong Kong food like roast duck, wontan etc. And the soup - only soup and no ingredient! It was a total rip off!

Dinner on our own was a slightly better affair. We were at Citigate and so went to Food Republic foodcourt for our dinner. Yes the Food Republic as in Singapore. Most of the stuff were what we could find back home. Nothing great but not really so expensive so it wasn't too bad. This was followed by supper. We went back to the same outlet as yesterday as M was determined to have her mango pudding. We ended up with 4 mango dessert! 

Breakfast was an enjoyable affair at a small shop along Nathan Road. We had century egg porridge, fried noodle, some weird siew mai (I think it was fish siew mai) and "butterfly". The butterfly was hugh unlike those we have over here and fried to perfection. 

Lunch was fast food at Ocean Park so nothing to shout about. Dinner we opted for Hainese chicken, wanton mee, dumpling mee and instant noodle with pork chop. Total cost: $175. 

As standard practice, we went hunting for supper next and ended up at this crowded place. where we ordered 3 different dessert for the 2 of us

 
The kids and gone back to the hotel earlier. And so we had durian sticky rice roll, mango pudding and a cheng teng lookalike which was absolutely fabulous. The durian wasn't that good but the other 2 were superb. No wonder the place was so packed.

So that was our last proper meal in Hong Kong as the next morning we had to go to the airport early in the morning to catch our plane back. 

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Baby Sitting

Somebody went on holidays so we got to be babysitter for their pets.

These 2 so cute guinea pigs which dwarf Alicia's hamster.



Wonder what will happen if I put the hamster and the guinea pig together. Will the guinea pigs eat the little hamster or worse............

And these 2 forbidden tortoises. Apparently a heritage from the days long ago when such animals were still available freely from pet shops.

Friday, December 12, 2008

I Spy Yucks

Was at the toilet at Funan Centre and was going into one of the cubicle when this guy rushed in and beat me to it. What the hell! I was about to make some noise when I happened to glance at him and what I saw left me speechless.

He was wearing bermuda and there was streaks of shit running down his legs. Oh goodness gracious me, My anger changed to pity. Poor guy. How's he going to go home after this?

And I had no more appetite for dinner later.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Pay More Get Less

In the day of yore, u go to the hawker centre, go up to the stall, order your food, sit down and the hawker assistant will bring the food to you. Then along came the food court. Prices increases. Ha nevermind, got air cond you say but but...... u find out instead of somebody serving you, now u pay more to serve yourself! But at least the finger that is dipped in your bowl of noodle is not some hawker assistant's finger but your own.

2 months ago, the MRT announced price increase for travelling on the MRT. With the increase was the promise of more passenger load. Today I walked into a carriage and wahlau er.. where is the seat? So now I pay more for the privilege of standing on the train!

Seems like nowaday price increase doesn't mean just that. Now it means increase price and reduce. Like food at hawker centre and food court. Prices have generally gone up but the portion has shrinked. So now we pay more, get less!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Crocs

Was going for lunch when saw this lot of crocs lying in the lobby. Took out my not too trusty HTC and took a few shots. They were encased in a glass spherical case and with low resolution, no flash and reflections the pictures sucks. But still kudos to the genius who has managed to turn the so ugly crocs into something even more hideous!




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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Meh!

The Collins Dictionary has decided after polling the public for new words to include the word  "Meh" in its 2009 release.

According to the publisher, the origin of the word is unknown but I quote: 

"The origins of "meh" are murky, but the term grew in popularity after being used in a 2001 episode of "The Simpsons" in which Homer suggests a day trip to his children Bart and Lisa.

"They both just reply 'meh' and keep watching TV," said Cormac McKeown, head of content at Collins Dictionaries.

The dictionary defines "meh" as an expression of indifference or boredom, or an adjective meaning mediocre or boring. Examples given by the dictionary include "the Canadian election was so meh."

The dictionary's compilers said the word originated in North America, spread through the Internet and was now entering British spoken English."

I and many of us here will beg to differ.

Firstly, the word did not originate in North America but right here in Singapore. The defintion though is correct as in "Got meh?" or "Where got meh?" spoken by our many Ah Lians and Ah Bengs. In fact, the word "meh" has already been included in our very own dicitionary: The Coxford Singlish Dictionary

I suspect the script writer for the Simpson had a holiday in Singapore and during his/her time here got immensed in our local lingo and adapted it for the show and from there it somehow got spread out to the rest of the world.

Now the thing I don't understand is - while the world is falling over to embrace our lingo, our ERP, our water conservation etc why is our government forever putting down our own Singlish. I say, Stand Up for Singapore - be proud of our heritage - be it lingo or building or culture!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Horror Food

Here I am not talking about Frankenstein food or to use the politically correct term GM food.

What I am talking about are food that prior to coming to our table are obtained or cooked in the most horrific way - not to us human who eat but to the poor creatures who sacrifice their lives for us greedy gluttons. Of course most of us have heard about the monkey's brain, bear claw and other more exotic food but that is something we don't get to eat here or even in China too! So I will restrict the food to those available here in Singapore.

Top on the list is Foie Gras. This is essentially duck liver but unlike normal duck and chicken liver, in this case, the poor duck is forced fed with food on a daily basis until the liver is swollen. Special long metal feeders are inserted in the duck's throat several times a day and pressure pumps on the other end of the feeder push the food into the duck. This process continues for several weeks. When the liver is big enough (more than 10 times its normal healthy size), the bird is killed and the liver is taken out!

Closer to home, we have turtle meat. In the old days or so I understand, the turtle will be made to bite a chopstick and because it is said that a turtle that bites does not let go, the hawker simple chop off the head because it cannot go back into its shell. That I submit is acceptable. One chop and it is dead. But nowadays.. they just use this gadget and rip off the shell to get to the turtle. Can you imagine somebody stripping off our skin with a single pulll! Ouch!

Then there is the popular drunken prawn. The prawns are dropped into a small pot of soup and literally boiled to death. You can see the prawn frantically swimming as the water become hotter and hotter and then what - we take it out and deshelled it before popping it into our mouth!

Next is the snakehead or toman fish that is widely available in Chinatown market. A popular fish for making soup and porridge. But have any one seen how the fish are slaughter? Because this fish are very fierce, slippery and fast, the handler simply catch one up from the container, slam it hard on the floor and because it doesn't die so easily, the poor fish is clubbed over and over again until it stop moving! Never seen this done before? Just go to the Chinatown market and observed.

I did read about a certain method of cooking live carp but is that a myth? Anybody care to enlighten? Anyway, what else did I miss? Shark? Dog? Frog?

We human can be so cruel. While I have no qualm about eating any food, I baulked at eating food that has been tortured in order that I can enjoyed. So I have resolve not to eat any food that is 'horror food' to me. Hopefully, these are all the cruel foods that is available here otherwise I will have to turn vegetarian and I really can't imagine life without steak or chicken or pork knuckle!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Happy Food

What maketh a happy man?

According to WebMD, certain foods are 'happy food' - i.e. food that can make a person happy and not unexpectedly the food are ice cream, chocolate, cake, grape and pizza.

Which bring me back to my running - the food that I look forward to after running is no surprise at all - ice cream! Any ice cream - even a simple slab of Magnolia Ripple ice cream sandwiched between 2 thin slices of biscuit or a piece of color bread will and can make me a very happy person. That and a cup of teh halia!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Recession?

Is there supposed to be a recession and people supposed to be tightening their belts? Certainly it didn't look like it judging from the people who were at the various travel agencies at People's Park!

But then again, it is good that people are not cutting their expenses too much. Imagine if everyone stop spending, the shops will not be able to pay their vendors, landlord, staff; the vendors will have to cut productions, imports, staff and stretch on their loans; the banks will panic and start more drastic actions to get back their money, credit will be tightened; and it will go on and on and in the end, the employee which means the consumer will see increasing unemployment........

So people continue to spend but spend wisely.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Medical Announcements

The government has gone crazy. 3 major developments in the medical field in the space of a week.

The first and most expected one was the legalising of sale of organ. This come as no surprise to me as it arises from the case of CK Tang's Tang Wee Sung. Once it was announced that he was being charged with buying an organ, and with the hue and cry, I knew it was a matter of time before the law was changed. Now I wondered if the person charged had been an ordinary citizen, would this change have come about?

Next unexpectedly was the debate on euthanasia. The govenment is considering this although its exact form is not known yet. This is as opposed to the Advance Medical Directive which is basically a piece of rubbish not worth the paper it is written on. I remembered many years ago when I asked the GP at the Company's clinic about it, the guy had totally no idea what it was about. From what I understand, by itself, the AMD is of no use as doctors are more or less already practising some sort of withholding treatment (abeit with the patient's family consent) for cases where there is no chance of survival. How will the debate on euthansia turned out eventually? Already, the religious groups are vehemently objecting to it. Life is sacred and should not be taken away - not by doctors, not by law. But as in the debate on the organ donation, everybody seem to forget that the person most affected by this is the patient himself. Has anybody spare a thought for him? What is life if it means lying in a bed all day unable to move and depending on caregiver to wash and change him?

And the final news - the announcement that women egg donors will be paid. This come as a surprise to me. I didn't know that here in Singapore, we allow donation of human egg or is it only meant for research only? Will this lead to surrogate mother, storing of own egg for future use etc?

As society advances and medical breakthrough happen, expect more and more changes to the way we human manipulate our own human lifes. One day, human cloning will be seen as normal, euthansia especially of those unable to contribute to society will be acceptable and organ trading - it will be just as easy as going to the supermarket to buy groceries!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Pasta de Waraku

Call me suaku or what. Finally after so long, went to one of the popular Pasta de Waraku outlet for dinner on Saturday night.

Have heard about it, read about it and yet to not set foot in it for so long considering its fame is a big sin in gluttoney!

Anyway,I ordered 1 Waruku original Chicken Teriyaki with baked cheese Fettucine, M had the curry rice, Alicia had the set meal that comes with a plate of pasta and a small pizza and Alvin had the best of the whole lot - baked lobster pasta.

So how was the food? Actually probably more hype than what it was made out to be. Pretty decent portion, food presentation good, service prompt and attentive and taste.... okay not to bad but not something that I will queue up for or die die must eat. (picture coming up - just as soon as can find them to download from the phone camera) Each dish (single portion) is priced at around $12.80 to $18.80 so I supposed we are paying for the ambience as well.

But why must the serving staff keep shouting out loud their Japanese greetings. It is fine if they do it quietly but they shout it out loud to every tom dick and harry who walks in or out and the whole place is so noisy. If they are trying to imitate the Japanese, the Management should fly out to Japan and see how it is down over there. Politely, gently and softly and not like these people here so 'chorlor'.

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