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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Jurong Bird Park

Singapore has some very world class parks and animal parks. One of the most unique is the Jurong Bird Park. Unfortunately, after seeing 1bird, 2 birds and 3 birds, all the birds start looking alike. So unlike the Zoo where we go more often, we hardly go to the bird park. The other deterrent of course is the cost. But since the Princess was volunteering there, we decided to pay her a visit.

One thing about the birds are that they are mainly in cages abide big cages but with the bars, it wasn't easy to take photograph. But there were a few walk in aviary  like the Waterfall, the Jewels, the Lory Loft etc where there are free ranging birds flying all over us.

Here are some of the birds that we saw.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Margaret Close

Finally after a long search, I found it! Photographs of my old block of flat at Margaret Close.

We stayed on the fourth floor and I used to sit on the staircase landing ledge to wait for Mother to come home from work or to watch the soccer matches at the Queensway Secondary School field across the road. I can't imagine doing that now - sitting on the ledge. I think somebody would have called the police and post it on Stomp but in those days nobody care.

Behind the flat is a small hill where we used to go to catch fighting spiders. We also go there to catch grasshoppers which we will give to some of the  neighbours who rear birds. I remembered there was this time somebody gave us a custard apple to eat. After that, I took the seed and ran up to the hill and planted it, hoping that a custard apple tree will grow from it. Did it?

For the next picture, it was supposed to be in Margaret Close too but for the live of me, I cannot recall them. I don't really think they are part of Margaret Close maybe Tanglin Halt or Stirling Road?

Monday, July 22, 2013

Durian Overload!

I think my love affair with durian is almost over. Haven't been eating a lot this year and this is my first durian buffet for the year but I gave up very fast. Maybe it old age or maybe it really is durian overload.

The quality and quantity of the durian is still there but sighed.......

This time round we had 10 of us and we had 27 durians which don't really seem a lot. There were the usual Red Prawn, the Black Pearl, D13, Jinfeng, Hulu, and the famed Mao Shang Wang.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Seoul Yummy

I must confess my knowledge of Korean food is restricted to the Korean barbecue, kimchi and ginseng chicken. So when we went to Seoul Yummy and M told me she had ordered 'something' and tried to describe them to me, I was a bit worried. What in the world did she ordered?

Then the friendly staff came with a few small little dishs of the usual Korean side dishes like kimchi, tofu, radish, peanuts etc. These were nice appetizers. The best part of it was that it was reprehensible and the staff  keep coming back with new dishes whenever she see empty dishes. I told M she should not order any main course and we just sit there and eat these appetizers will be good enough!

Turned out M had ordered the special set menu for the day which the menu described as Ärmy Food". That didn't sound very appetizing considering the state of our army food here. But first there was another side dish that came with the set meal, a fried kimchi dumpling. This one came with a unique greenish color spicy dip.

The main course came in the form of a "hotpot steamboat" sort of rojak stew where everything was dumped inside.

There were beef, pork, chicken, mushroom, vegetables, tofu, Korean rice cake and ramen. Just the typical steamboat! 

And the set came complete with 2 brown rice and 2 drinks but because there were 3 of us, the staff very kindly gave us 1 more free drink and all these for only $49.99.

Certainly value for money. And if this is army food, I think our SAF needs to fly our local contractor to Korea to learn how to provide such tasty food to our servicemen.

Friday, July 12, 2013

10 Stories Queenstown Through the Year

While I was looking for information on Margaret Close and Queenstown, I came across this book, 10 Stories through the Year by Loh Kah Seng and Calvin Loh. Unfortunately, there was nothing on Margaret Close, a forgotten area in Queenstown off Margaret Drive. But there were lot of gems like this place.

Old residents of Queenstown will know this  place very well as it was probably the tallest building in Queenstown during its time. In fact, it was infamous for the number of jumpers. Apparently, in the early days,  a lot of the folks who were resettled in the flats from their farms and couldn't settle down, choose this block to end their lives. Anyway, this was the famous Forfar House or the block that gives the place the local name "14 stories".

Not so familiar is this next picture. 

True be told, I am, at 50 still too young to remember exactly where is this market.  According to the book, this was Queens's Crescent. The hill and forest behind was known as Boh Beh Kang, loosely translated as river with no end. How I wish the hill was still around but I guess all that is there now are rows and rows of HDB flats.

There are more gems in the books, like this one which I posted earlier. There are lot of photos of places in Queenstown which are no longer around like the Blue Glass flats; the Setron and Van Houten factories. Unfortunately, there appears to be a gap in the book which mainly covers the areas that were there before the Seventies but did not have anything on the areas that were demolished in the late eighties and early nineties. Area like Margaret Drive, Block 6A & 6B, the estate in front of the Remand Prison and the shophouses across the road from the library and between the market and Margaret Drive. Also no mention of my school, the Birkhall Primary School or even Hua Yi Secondary School.

So while there are indeed many glimmers and gems in the book, somehow it left me wanting more. Perhaps the renewed interest in Queenstown recently will be able to provide more.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Gone with the Haze

Along with the haze that came and went, the very loud and visible public over the haze came and disappeared just as fast. Just barely 2 weeks ago, it was as if the whole of Singapore had been stricken with the Ebola disease or the Black Death. Anyway, I think the people has gone into panic mode. In fact, one blogger even claimed in her very eloquently written blog that the haze was worse than SARS! And of course all the anger at the haze were directed at, not surprisingly, the whipping boy of Singapore, the PAP government. People were blaming the gahmen for everything and I sure somewhere out there somebody might actually be accusing the gahmen of starting the haze!

To summarize, the poor gahmen was being blamed for
- failure to anticipate the haze
- lack of a emergency response plan
- impotent and useless in dealing with the Indonesian
- refusing to declare a stop work order and last but not least
- shortage of N95 masks

May be yes the gahmen should have anticipated the haze. After all, it is a yearly affair and I think the gahmen like everybody else were caught flat out by the severity of it this year. But so what if the gahmen had anticipated it? What exactly did the people expect the gahmen to do? Maybe the gahmen should have built a dome over the whole island. I think we are small enough to make it technically possible. So when the haze came, just press a button and the dome will close up like the dome over the new National Stadium. But seriously, what can the gahmen do even if it has anticipated the haze?

People started accusing the gahmen of not knowing what to do. No action plan, response was in bit and pieces. Just like the gahmen expect business to have business continuity plans for all sort of scenario, the gahmen should have one for haze. Really? Like maybe haze hit 200 psi, do this, hit 300 psi do that and so on. Maybe the gahmen do have one but for one reason or another, did not activate it. Or maybe they were really caught flat out. But this is the first time Singapore encounter something like this so next time round will be more prepared.

One thing that pissed people off was the seemingly impotency of the gahmen in dealing with the Indonesian. But I really don't know what the people expect the gahmen to do. Just fly our fire fighters to the Riau Island and put out the fires? Or invade the country and force the Indonesian gahmen to do something? These people don't  seem to realise that this is not a typical HDB neighbour to neighbour spat. If the Indonesian gahmen doesn't want to do anything or is too slow to do anything, there is nothing the gahmen can do other than to continue with diplomatic overtures. Or are these people expecting the gahmen to impose trade sanctions, cut diplomatic ties? 

Some people wanted a stop work order to be issued and got pissed when that did not materialise. I don't understand this demand. Stop work order for who? The whole country? Haze or no haze, life has to go on. So if there is a stop work order, who does it apply to? Only those people who works in offices? Surely not, after all the people who breath in the most haze are those who work outdoor like the transport workers, construction works, police etc So if these people all get to stay at home, who is going to make sure the rest of us office workers get to and from home? And another thing I am puzzled about? Exactly at which level of psi do the people want the stop work order to be issued? Above 300? Say the PSI hit 301, rhe gahmen said stop work - all go home. Reached home 1 hour later (assuming the public transport workers ignore the stop work order and sacrifice their health for us), the PSI drops to 250, everybody goes back to  work? Definitely the gahmen cannot use the hourly or 3 hourly PSI reading to issue such an order. There has to be some consistency and certainty and  based on the 24 hours average reading, there was no ground to call for all. Oh wait, some people are accusing them of manipulating the PSI chart. Why will they want to do that in the first place.

And the elusive N95 mask. I find it funny that people were rushing all over the place to track down the mask. Why do they want it in the first place when they don't even know how or bother wearing it properly. I seen people wearing it with only the top strap, some wear it so loose maybe because it is so uncomfortable that it defeats the whole purpose of wearing it. And the only reason there were not enough mask was because people were hoarding it, buying more than they need and scalpers hoping to make a quick kill. Some people even calculated that the gahmen stockpile of 9 million was insufficient based on their flawed calculation of how long the mask can be worn. Whatever it is, the gahmen do have a stockpile. Just do them expect them to floor the market with it the minute the haze appear. There has to be an orderly distribution of the mask and only after the retail shops have run out which should not be the case if people did not buy more than they need.

Anyway, when the haze returns which it certainly will, hopefully the people will take it in their strides and not blame the gahmen so quickly. After all, they will be just affected as we are.