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Monday, November 24, 2014

Birds & Butterflies of Scotland

Beside the birds in the zoo and bird parks, we saw many wild birds on top of the countless sea gulls and ducks. Here are some of those that I managed to take a picture of.

A magpie. They are supposed to be pretty common but I only saw them in a few places.

 Another of the more commonly sighted bird which unfortunately like in Singapore has outlive its welcome

 And this is the famous Robin!

This was spotted in London all over the place outside the London Tower but I believe it is native to the whole of UK. I think it is a thrush. Somebody correct me if I am wrong.

And my one and only photograph of a butterfly - spotted right on top of Cow's Head Summit. This is a Red Admiral butterfly.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Flowers of Scotland

One great thing about cooler temperature country is the variety of colorful flowers. In Scotland, there are beautiful wild flowers everywhere. And then there are the planted flowers in gardens and homes. We couldn't get enough of the flowers and visited 2 Botanic Garden - 1 in Glasgow and 1 in Edinburgh.

Here are just a few of the interesting looking flowers. For more of them, go to my Facebook album or Picasa Web Album.

Enjoy the nice flowers but don't ask me what are their names cause I sure don't know.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Edinburgh Zoo, Scotland

Our last main stop before we move over to London was to the Edinburgh Zoo. It seems we must make a pit stop at a zoo in every major place that we visit. There are quite of marine park and zoo in Scotland but Edinburgh is one of the bigger and better zoo in UK so we felt obliged to drop in.

Edinburgh Zoo is one of the few zoo in the world to have the Panda bear. But it is more famous for its Penguin Parade where the Penguin goes on a real march through the zoo, Unfortunately we were there at the wrong time so did not get to witness this spectacular sight.

But we did managed to catch the feeding of several of the animals like the Oriental Short Clawed Otter gobbling down the mouse.

And the Asiatic lion running away with a piece of meat.

We also saw up close the Amur Leopard

The very rare Scottish wild cat

And surprise surprise surprise the Koala bear. This is the first time I seen one outside of Australia.

And another import from another country, the Stellar Sea Eagle.

And last but not least, this beautiful snake aptly named Taiwan Beauty Snake.

But overall I was disappointed with the layout of the zoo. It was a bit messy and most of the primates were kept behind glass enclosures. Maybe it is to protect them from the cold but the view of them were spoilt by the glass which were badly scratched. The variety of animals were not as great as I had hopped as compared to say Ueno Zoo or the Shanghai Zoo. 

Thursday, November 13, 2014


Edinburgh has got to be the most boring place so far in our visit to Scotland. Other than Arthur's Seat, there wasn't really much to see. The famed Royal Mile is just a stretch of old restored buildings that caters mainly to tourist selling food and tourist trinkets much like our restored Chinatown back in Singapore.

Back view of the Royal Miles as seen from Princes Street
We skipped Edinburgh Castle and instead went to Holyrood Palace which is the quarters for the Queen of England when she visits.

One thing about European country is that there is always some sort of demonstration and protests going on. Like this one on Climate Change which we saw from our diner window.

And there are buskers a plenty. Practically one every 10 feet doing all sort of performance.

But at the end of the day, I was glad to be out of Edinburgh and on to London.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Sim Lim Saga

Like everybody else in Singapore or rather those on the good side and not the dark side, I feel very pissed off that the law as it currently stands is allowing scumbags like those shop owners in Sim Lim, People Park, Lucky Plaza and even Peninsula Plaza to get away with scams and high handed tactics. While I don't really like the idea of vigilante justice, I think this is one time that I am glad some people has took it upon themselves to help Singapore get rid of these scum while our politicians and government twiddle their times and do nothing but make empty threats. 

The only thing I don't quite like is these people exposing the identity of the relatives of the Jover Chew guy. Was it really necessary to get at him through his family? Surely it would have been easy enough to just go after him. Collateral damage is not always a good thing or a necessary evil.

Sometime I think if our city is not so guai and law abiding, we could have got a few gangster, go into the shop with baseball bats and smash everything inside the shop to pieces. And while they are it, maybe a leg or two as well. Problem solve. But we are not, and short of amending the law which is gonna take another few generation of procrastination by our politicians, is there any other way to stop people like them? I think there is if CASE is more assertive and take the lead.

1. For starter, instead of just putting up notices at the entrance of the mall and on its website, CASE could with the co-operation of the MCST put up notices outside the shop premises where shoppers will be bound to see it. As these notices are in the common area, the shop owner will not be able to remove it.

2. CASE can also persuade the credit card companies and banks to cancel the credit card and electronic payment facilities to these business. As the scam involves mostly tourists and foreigners, this will impact a significant chunk of their business

3. Work with the telcos to install proximity devices near the shop and to send SMS alerts to shoppers within the vicinity of the shops.

4. Police can also be more pro-active. Obviously even no matter how stupid our policemen are, I am sure they can smell a scam when they see it. Just that more often than not, they are too lazy to do the dirty work. Instead of telling the victims to file a civil complain or take it up with CASE or the Small Claims Tribunal, why not invite the errant shop keepers to drink kopi. Do it often enough and these people will get the message.

Of course I doubt CASE will do all of the above. After all, it is just a toothless cat (I don't even consider it a tiger). Sama sama the Police. Or at least until one day when an angry victim turn violet and somebody gets physically hurt. Meanwhile, our politicians who are twiddling their thumbs must be very proud and happy that we made it onto another international list. The "Advisory Warning List" of some countries. I am quite sure that  this is another first for us and something to add to our growing list of "accolades".

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Good Food in Scotland

Let's just say Scotland is not exactly known for its goods other than fish and chips, haggies and black pudding. Good Chinese food is hard to get and most outlets serves a mixture of Italian and basic Western cuisines like steak and fish and chips. But yet somehow, we managed to uncover some gems and surprisingly all were seafood!

The first place is this little shack at Oban.

We chanced upon it while on our way to Isle of Mull. There was a long queue and reviews on Trip Advisor were pasted on the wall. So it has to be good right? This little shack sells local freshly caught shellfish. Its speciality appears to be oysters and mussels caused everybody seems to be eating those. But both of us don't eat oysters so we contend ourselves with this cold dish of seafood:
There were prawns, squid, crab, mussels and more mussels. And it was real good and cost only £20. 

On the Isle of Mull, there wasn't much option but what we found was probably the best deal ever. At Tobermory
there was this little restaurant, Cafe Fish - the only one that was opened at the time.

But what it lacks in size it more than make up for in this super giant size seafood platter

This platter cost £30 and just to be clear - it is only for 1 person. Can't tell exactly how huge this platter is? Just look at this next photo:

That how much food there is. Crab, prawn, scallops, squids, oysters, lobsters, langoustines. So this was the catch of the trip. The best meal ever!

Last but not least, up in the Highlands, the proprietor of Camus House recommended this joint, Lochleven Seafood Cafe for dinner:

Situated right next to Loch Leven, it serves seafood as well. For this meal, we decided to spurge a bit and ordered 

1) Another seafood platter for 1 at £40

2. A plate of small scallops for £10.50 although I certainly won't describe it as small

3. Brown crab for £12.95

Another sumptous meal. And this place is listed in the Michelin guide wor.... 

There you have it. 3 of the best in Scotland. If you ever there, die die must try.

On a side note, no place is worth visiting without tasting the ice cream and this place Nardini's, we went to at Largs has apparently the best ice cream in the whole of Scotland according to several websites. 

But frankly I think the ice creams here pales in comparison to what we have back in Singapore like those at Scoopz and Udders and all the little ice cream outlets sprouting up all over the country. But hey if you ever visiting in Largs, this is a must try of course!

Monday, November 3, 2014

The Ugly Side of Us

At the just concluded Hello Kitty Run, there was a big hue and cry over some perceived "faults" created by the event's organiser. But is it really the fault of the organiser? My take on this event here but in general we Singaporean can be pretty ugly and downright unreasonable.Let me relate some personal encounters with these people.

Now as most people who have attended AGM knows, there is a big group of shareholders who are super horrible in their behaviour at the buffet table. Take this AGM that I went to recently. The company had put 4 servers to each table to serve the food. I understand this was necessary because in previous years the shareholders "tabao" the food even before everybody else had eaten. So the server were distributing the food and even the utensils. But did that deter the shareholders? No. One man stood in front of the dessert section and just used his hand to keep picking up the kueh and eating it there and then. And despite the server's polite request to queue up, he continued to just stuff his face like a hamster with the kueh! Another lady went straight for the fruit and in her rush to get the fruit, she toppled the whole plate onto the floor! Another man went behind the servers and stood between them and help himself to the food! And many other just use the toothpick on the finger food to pick up the other foodstuff because the cutleries was being distributed last! It made me sick just to see them eat. One shareholder even commented drily that they were shareholders and not beggars but nobody seem to be listening or feeling ashamed.

Another time at an outdoor event, it started to pour just like in the Hello Kitty Run. The place was crawling with children and their parents and everybody rushed into whatever shelters that were available. One of the tent was reserved for VIP and guests but did the people care? No, they didn't. They just went in. Of course because the rain was so heavy, the security personnel did not turn the public away and so what did the public do? They started eating all the food that were meant for the VIP and the guests. At another tent, a sponsor had prepared some food for some children from some children home. A few parents just snatched the food for themselves despite being told that the food were meant for the children from the homes!

Another time another event. Participants had to produce a coupon to redeem a gift. Those who did not tried their luck anyway but were  turned away. It got so ugly with one lady even throwing money at the poor chap giving away the items and saying she has the money to pay for it so why can't she get one!

So when I read all the unreasonable demands that is popping up in social media on the Hello Kitty saga, somehow I don;t think it is the organiser's fault but the problem lies with the people themselves!