July 6th, 2014

the feast, catch-up session

we hardly meet up for running sessions nowadays, since one of the team smiley’s twin brother opened a stall, our catch-up makan session ensued.

salut, located at blk 119 bukit merah lane 1, is unlike your normal kopitiam serving up local hawker fares. it is a conglomeration of cuisines – french, german, swiss, american. one of the little details that make it start out is the blue and white chequered vinyl tablecloths. do be prepared to share tables or wait for an empty table as the crowd gets huge especially during the weekends.

it is always good to have a bigger dinner group, and able to share and taste the different food varieties. our primary orders were from the immanuel french kitchen. the chef is none other than the twin brother of our team smiley.

pork belly ($15.40)

Immanuel French Kitchen - Pork Belly

the braised pork belly in kakuni style was awesomely…soft and tender, and the layer of collagen simply melts in your mouth. sitting beneath the heavenly pieces of meat was the duxelle mushroom, which complements well with the potato foam and the onsen egg.

sous vide chicken breast ($12.60)

Immanuel French Kitchen - Sous Vide Chicken Breast

sous vide is a french method of cooking food seals in airtight plastic bag in a controlled water bath temperature for more than the normal cooking times. the result from it is an evenly cooked and the retention of moisture from the food. that was what caused the chicken breast meat to be soft and succulent. the mushroom and the creamy risotto that accompanies the chicken was perfect. that was the first time i had chicken breast, without getting tiny bits of meat stuck in between my teeth.

we also had the french duck leg confit ($14.90) when the reminder of the team smileys arrived. it was the most popular dish, after all, duck confit is synonymous with french cuisine.

we sat right in front of stew küche, and simply cannot ignore the plates of pork knuckle served out from their kitchen.

whole german pork knuckle ($25)

Stew Kuche - Pork Knuckle

if a whole pork knuckle is too much for you, you can opt for the half portion ($15). the skin was super crispy and you couldn’t get enough of it. the meat was surprisingly tender and goes well with the sauce. a side of mash potato and a local twist of achar provides a balance to the otherwise carnivore meal.

i’ve seen burger patties replaced with instant noodles on wok stars and a local blog, and finally get to check out the ramen burger by 面miàn by the travelling c.o.w.

crab salad ramen burger ($12)

Mian - Crab Salad Ramen Burger

it was almost impossible to eat it like a burger, especially with the generous serving of the crab salad. the ramen burger was nonetheless, crispy on the outside, soft and chewy inside. like any other burgers, it comes with a side of fries.

we spotted chicken wings on almost all the tables around us. two wings pte ltd specializes in fried chicken and wings. the chicken wings are only fried upon order. this results in longer waiting time, but the promise for better quality fried wings.

12 pieces chicken wings ($24)

Two Wings Pte Ltd - 12 pieces Chicken Wings

the wings come in 4-pcs ($8.50 )and and 6-pcs ($12.50) options. you leave your contact number with them, and they will send you a sms when your order is ready. each wing is succulent and tender, with the a crispy skin. i thought i had the crispiest skin chicken wing from 4 fingers, but two wings win hands down on the size and quality.

there are 2 drink stalls, one serving crafted beers and the other, brown sugar, serving bubble teas on top of canned drinks, fruit juices and hot beverages.

i ended the meal with a banana ice-cream by jolly-bell, the only desserts stall that sells home-made ice-cream, tarts and tiramisu. the stall owner is a relative of the famous macarons stall in pasar bella, and you can also find those little delights here.

i like the concept of salut, atas food in a kopitiam setup. i would definitely like to head back for the other stalls i’d missed, the pork knuckle and the duck confit.

May 27th, 2014

the vacation and our accommodation

as the saying goes, time flies when you are having fun. i had a well deserved break from work. the key highlights from the 4-day trip were the cafe hopping and street art hunting. even though i had a list of recommendation food locations, we managed to dine in only 1 of the food centers.

our accommodation for the 3 nights was in a restored two-storey heritage house in the heart of Georgetown.

Lorong Chulia Heritage House

the sofa doubles up as a bed, and there is a small dining table beside it. the astro tv, comes packed with a variety of channels, that will keep you entertained at night when you feel bored.

Lorong Chulia Heritage House

it comes furnished with kitchenette and a mini fridge (hidden in the cupboard below the stove). we eat out all the time, and the only time we use the backyard is for the access to the toilet.

there are 2 toilets, and this on the ground floor comes equipped with hot shower facilities too.

Lorong Chulia Heritage House

the 2nd floor is the main bedroom, with ample of space for an additional mattress. the owner provided extra pillows, comforters and mattresses, if you do not mind sleeping on the floor.

Lorong Chulia Heritage House Lorong Chulia Heritage House

the open shower, where i shivered under the shower in the occasional cold breeze in the last 2 nights. it was extremely hot and humid during the day, and it rained on the last 2 nights. if it was during the day, we would have missed out on the street arts.

Lorong Chulia Heritage House

overall, it was an unforgettable experience living in a heritage house, and bathing in the “open”. a cosy house with warm surroundings, and we were awaken in the morning by the sounds of the moving traffic and human activity. the house is a short walking distance to a number of tourist attractions, and the night food street from across the road serves up delicious plates of wanton noodle, curry noodles, char kway teow and lor bak.

good food and a good stay – thank you for the experiences.

 

No. 7 Chulia Lane (Lorong Chulia) along Chulia Street (Lebuh Chulia)
https://www.airbnb.com.sg/rooms/1738399

May 18th, 2014

my bike, my silver bullet

the idea to get a foldie was held back, as it wouldn’t take us far to walk to a race site and we usually stick to a single location for photography. the hubs lamented recently on how he has to run alone, now that i have stop my running regime. i couldn’t join him in this run, i could cycle and explore the punggol waterway and beyond with him.

i was looking for a 8-speed foldie for less than $1k, and narrowed down to Tern Link D8. we paid a visit to my bike shop, which is the nearest bike shop that carries a wide range of foldies and offers free test rides. i requested for the range similar to the Link D8, and was given first a Bickerton 1808. Bickerton is a totally new brand to me, and the ones i’d researched on are from Dahon, Tern, Raleigh, Brompton, Bike Friday, to name a few.

other than the discomfort i felt from my fully stretched arm from the seatpost to the handlebar while riding on the Bickerton, the gear changing and ride was more smooth than the Link D8. the Bickerton, given the colours of the foldie, has an old school look which attracts me to it as well.

another 2 bikes, the Dahon Horize and a 9-speed Dahon. i did not give much thought on the Horize initially as it wasn’t in my researched list. the ride was sturdy, and gear changing was smooth without loud audible clanking sounds. the last ride narrowed down my options to the Link D8 and the Horize. when i learnt that Horize comes in silver too, i set my sights on it, and the price was definitely within my budget.

it took me a week for more research on the full specifications and colour options, before dropping by chapter2cycle for a price comparison. fyi – the Horize is a new 2014 model, and limited information is available on this bike, including the upgrade options and etc. i was hoping to find the matte black version though. the guy who served us said that they do not have the ability to request for the colours of a certain model. instead, the distributor will give them a range of colours available. no further bargaining was required, and i am a happy owner of the silver Horize.

Silver Bullet

i rode it around twice since the purchase, and looking forward to ride it beyond punggol waterway.

April 19th, 2014

the expiration of free 4g service

if it wasn’t for the news on the 4G VAS subscription charges by Starhub this coming June, i wouldn’t have known that 4G service is chargeable. M1 will be waiving the monthly subscription of $10.70 per month after December 2014.

M1 iPhone

the plan includes both the standard sunsurf and iphone postpaid plans.

i can probably live without the 4G connection and enable the 4G is an option available on iphone. i supposed the 4G enable/disable toggle is pushed through the carrier’s update, and there is a similar option on android devices. a key consideration should i switch to an android mobile.

 

updated: the 3 telcos have been ordered by IDA not to charge existing subscribers for 4g services. they have decided not to charge the existing subscribers with minimum contract terms. however, new subscribers will be subjected to the charges, if it has been stated clearly in the contract.

April 13th, 2014

the on-the-move printing capabilities

ever since my first support and purchase from crowdfunding site, kickstarter, i have not been keeping tabs on other new projects. the pocket-sized mobile robotic printer caught my attention.

Kickstarter

Photo Credits: Kickstarter

the company behind this project is based in Israel, Jerusalam, Zuta Labs. the project aims to raise $400,000 to produce this teardrop-shaped printer that can fit into the pockets or rucksacks. the prototype measures just 10×11 cm and weighs 300g, and able to print up to 1,000 pages at about 1.2 pages per minute at 96×112 dpi before it runs out of ink.

the first version will print in greyscale and colour printing will be available in the future. the device has a built-in rechargeable battery with an on/off switch. it can be connected to laptops or mobile phones via bluetooth.

this revolutionary printer, is handy for students and mobile workers to be used in road shows. i go paperless, except for online bookings that require a hardcopy of the confirmation/reservation documents. i do not foresee a need for this mobile printer, and would sit and wait for reviews and feedback on the usage.

April 5th, 2014

the sleepless weekend and camper van

finally found time last weekend to do up the lego volkswagen camper van, bought as my birthday gift 2 years ago.

Lego VM Camper Van

there are 15 packs of bricks and accessories, and there is no label on the packs to differentiate the different stages during the building process. 2 instructional manuals are included and i counted 115 steps to complete the camper van.

Lego Camper Van Packs

feeling confident, i went ahead without first sorting out the bricks according to their sizes and colors. i started in the late afternoon, and managed to only complete instruction manual 1 by the time it was close to 10 pm.

Lego Camper Van (Part 1)

i love the small details in the camper van. there is a small fridge, foldable table, seats, stove, shelves, mirror, curtains, and a hood. i was too engrossed in getting the van fixed that i forgot about dinner and supper.

it was close to 2 am by the time i completed the entire camper van.

the doors open on both sides in the front seat.

Lego Camper Van - Done

this is the side door that opens up to the interior of the back of the van. you can have a glimpse of the tiled interior, the fridge and stove beside the right door, the foldable table with a green glass, the 2 chairs (hidden in the shadows).

Lego Camper Van - Side

felt a sense of satisfaction to see the completed product. i would probably have to reserve more time for the london tower bridge.

February 23rd, 2014

the land of dim sum – the hike

we scheduled one day for a hike on Dragon’s Back (龍脊), and this is the highlight of the trip for me. the total distance covered for the entire hike, including the additional route to Pottinger Peak is close to 12 km.

Shek O Country Park

the Dragon’s Back is one of the famous hiking trails in Hong Kong and relatively easy to hike. it is one of the trails in Shek O Country Park. there are 3 interconnecting trails inside the country park: stage 7 of Hong Kong Trail that leads from the Tai Tam Road catchment to To Tei Wan Village; stage 8 of Hong Kong Trail leading from Dragon’s Back to Big Wave Bay; and Pottinger Peak Country Trail that runs from Potting Gap to Cape Collinson Road.

we covered stage 8 of the Hong Kong Trail, starting from To Tei Wan bus stop on Shek O Road, and ended up in Big Wave Bay through Dragon’s Back. we took bus number 9 from the bus terminal station outside Shau Kei Wan MTR. To Tei Wan is 11 stops away from the bus terminal, and the bus will display the alighting stations.

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some of the trekking paths we encountered along Dragon’s Back. the trekking pole we purchased from proved helpful, especially when navigating through the descent along the slopes.

Shek O Country Park

Shek O Country Park

the island on the left is Tai Tau Chau (大頭洲) and the one of the right is Ng Fan Chau (五分洲).

Shek O Country Park

Shek O Country Park

Shek O Country Park

Shek O Country Park

Shek O Country Park

the day of our trek was rather foggy, and considering that we managed to get a good view from the top was already a bonus. we took approximately 2.5 hours to cover Dragon’s Back, rested by the beach and rewarded ourselves with bak kwa and coconut water.

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the second part of the trail wasn’t part of the plan. expecting to end our journey in Siu San Wan, we went ahead with the 1000 over steps from the Big Wave Bay towards Pottinger Peak.

Shek O Country Park

the view from the Pottinger Peak was covered in fog by the time we arrived, and we experienced fast and strong winds up there. had a quick snap and headed down quickly.

Shek O Country Park

we had our first glimpse of civilization and felt a great sense of achievement and relieve in the final descent towards Cape Collinson Road.

Shek O Country Park

the path towards Siu San Wan is along the leaping dragon walk, and we took the wrong path along Cape Collinson Road that lead us to Chai Wan instead.

20140223-205541.jpg

we completed the entire hike in about 5 hours. both exhausted and hungry, we had our warm meals in the crowded Mongkok close to 9 pm.

even though the terrain is easy to navigate, do carry sufficient water and light snacks with you. the Dragon’s Back trail is the beginning of our exploration to the countless trails in Hong Kong.

our next target is er jie nemesis’s – the Lion Rock in Shatin. :)

February 23rd, 2014

the land of dim sum – walkathon (part 2)

the marathon

the main purpose of the trip for the hub and er jie is the annual stanchart HK marathon.

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the marathon and the other categories were flagged off in different waves. i skipped the flagged off and caught up with the action on tv, broadcasted live from the site. dozing on and off, i dragged myself off from the sofa and made my way down to the finishing site – Victoria Park.

the initial intention was to capture the running moments. majority of the roads were closed and filled with crowd, and that sort of deterred me from walking towards the row of shophouses along Causeway Bay. plus the fact that i managed to sneak into the event site, made me more to decide to stay within the compound.

it was a good move, and had opportunity to catch up with the runners from sunny island.

the hub did some serious training in order to beat the 6 hours cut off time. the hard work paid off despite a hiatus of 2 weeks due to an abrasion injury and leg clamps experienced during the marathon.

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the shopping

the truth is, our visits to the land of dim sum is usually towards year end or the beginning of the year, getting summer clothing is out of the question. we did, however, got warm inner wear from muji and giordano this time round.

in fact, our shopping in Hong Kong is for toys and collectibles. our loot was mainly danboard, lego and mini gashapon machine.

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the danboards i suspect are bootleg versions, since i got them at least 50% off the prices i saw in normal retail shops. the pepsi danboard was from a make shift stall along Nathan Road, and the calbee version in a small shop in Argyle Street. our usual toy hunting places are in the Mongkok area – CTMA Center, Argyle Street, Sino Center.

glad to find a shop by chance in Sino Center that buys and sells lego.

February 22nd, 2014

the land of dim sum – makanthon (part 1)

our close to a week long vacation in Hong Kong ended with lots of good memories and aching calves. besides the marathon, which obvious only the hub and friend ran, i had my share of makanthon and walkathon. it was extremely cold on the first 2 days we were there. the only time i managed to keep myself warm was when i am in the shower. there was no heater, and we wore at least 3 layers of clothing, plus socks and gloves to sleep.

the accomodation

we were traveling in a group of 3. the affordable hotels are generally smaller and do not have room for an extra bed. we did our sums, and we opted for an apartment over 2 hotel rooms. bow on building on bowring street was the apartment we stayed in the 5 nights.

Bow On Building, Bowring Street, Hong Kong

booked through airbnb, the cosy apartment comes with 2 bedrooms, one with a queen size bed and the other with a bunk bed. the internet broadband in the apartment is fast and reliable. we hardly use the broadband connection since we each had a data sim card. traveling around Hong Kong is convenient as the MTR is just around the corner with less than a minute walk away. there are 7-11 and circle k convenience stores, and numerous food outlets surrounding the apartment.

the owner provided a map on the food outlets, laundry services and supermarkets within the vicinity too.

Bow On Building Map

we totally enjoy our stay in the apartment, and the only inconvenience we encountered was the toilet flushing system issue that affected the entire building in the middle of our stay.

the makan

we stayed out late and slept in till late morning. the only time we had breakfast was the day after the marathon, and it wasn’t from the 茶餐廳, even though somewhat close, we boiled water ourselves for the instant cup noodles. we had 吃茶, noodles from 茶餐廳 and roasted meat for brunch respectively on separate days.

dimdim dimsum was our first dim sum brunch on our second day. the store was voted as one of the 101 best places to eat in the world in 2012 by newsweek. we tried the quirkier house specialties besides the usual dim sum like the rice rolls, har gow and siu mai. the pineapple bun (菠蘿包) was filled with the real pineapple fruit, and the custard bun (流沙包) comes in the shape of piggies.

Dimdim Dim Sum

with the larger team smile group, we were able to order more variety at 稻香. we had 2 rounds of the sesame bun, har gow, siu mai and turnip in crispy crust.

Tao Heung Dim Sum

Tao Heung Dim Sum - Chicke Feet

the sesame bun is a must-try item. similar to the custard bun, the goodness of the 芝麻糊 comes oozing out of the bun.

Tao Heung Dim Sum - Sesame Bun

the har gows in both dim sum places are larger than the ones we see here in Singapore. most importantly, the dim sum meals is inexpensive, and we paid about HKD80 per pax.

the only time we had a proper lunch was before our hike at dragon’s back. the hub and er jie found a popular roasted meat joint in Wanchai – Joy Hing Restaurant (再興燒臘飯店). we almost missed the shop due to some building works and that blocked the store’s signboard.

Joy Hing Restaurant

we had a generous serving of 三寶飯 that comprises of char siu, roasted duck and soy sauce chicken, topped with chopped onions and garlic. you can opt for fatty char siu, and each char siu is thick, and probably you can get 3 thinly sliced portion back here from that one thick slice. together with drinks, the total bill came out to HKD54 per pax. do expect to wait and share tables with strangers during their peak hours.

the farthest we traveled for dinner was on our first night to happy valley. the government has clamped down on the 大排檔, and most have moved into proper stalls. we ordered a dish that looks like tofu, only to realize that it was actually fried toast topped with prawn.

Dinner at Happy Valley

a trip to Hong Kong will not be complete without the street food and the meals in 茶餐廳. i had my favourite fish dumplings, stinky beancurd and curry fish balls.

Fish Dumplings

desserts made up for our tea break after our long window shopping. the Australia Dairy Company, a famous store, that sells steamed milk and scrambled eggs was near to our apartment. i had my first steamed milk in Macau, and the similar store can be found in different locations across Hong Kong. having tasted both again on separate days, i preferred the steamed milk from Yee Shun. the former was too sweet to my liking.

Australia Dairy Company - Steamed Milk

if you are egging on for more protein, go for the egg custard, served in real egg shells from 五代同堂 dessert shop.

五代同堂 - Egg Custard

lastly, not forgetting the soy milk with oil sticks after our toy hunting, and the Tai Cheong egg tarts from coach before our departure.

Soy Milk and Oil Sticks

Tai Cheong Egg Tart

the makan portion takes up the majority of the post, and i shall post the remaining activities in part 2…maybe part 3…

January 25th, 2014

the power juice

the unit will serve me well in my travels, without the need to lug along the various charger for our phones, tablet and camera.

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a full charge will require approximately 10 hours. apparently, neither the salesperson at the store nor valore, has provided me with a definitive answer. i had to get a replacement after the first unit refuses to charge. it had served me well so far, and after a full recharge, i am able to charge up my ipad 2, and twice on my iphone 5.

got to keep it safe and hope it is able to withstand the cold weather.



 
 
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