Monday, July 24, 2017

Centipede at Home!

There's a reason why I chose to live in a high-rise building; not that many creepy crawlies, specifically snakes as I am utterly terrified of them!


Hence, imagine my shock when I noticed something crawling on my kitchen's floor; what the hell was that?!? It didn't help that I was preparing salad for dinner and this could be in it!


Given my usual "blindness", I could have easily ingested it. 
Yes, I am definitely capable of doing that. 

Anyway, it's a centipede and I have absolutely no idea why it appeared in my house, a few floors above ground! I am being benevolent here by having a towel blocking its way although I am honestly scared as shit. 

Now that I have it under control; it's time to whip out my Olympus tough camera for multiple microscopic pictures. I still didn't dare to touch it even though it did look kind of cute with its feelers and beady eyes! 

However, I doubt I can mentally accept it as a pet and opted for a more humane method, for me; in a plastic bag and down the rubbish chute. Bye Bye!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Canang Sari - The Flower Offerings Seen Daily at Bali [Indonesia]

First time travellers to Bali would have noticed the many trays of flower offering placed literally everywhere; from temples, statues, roadsides to even underneath the goods cabinet in supermarkets! 

What exactly are they for although i think we all know there's definitely a religious purpose to their existence, given Bali's strong Hinduism culture?

I was curious and checked Mr Google for an answer. There's a term to this offering and it's known as Canang Sari - literally meaning essence (sari) in a coconut-leaf basket (canang). There are meanings to the colourful use of the flowers and you may read more here

Canang Sari is offered daily as a form of thanks to the gods and can be made by both men and women. In the past, its importance for the Balinese women is on the same level as knowing how to cook for the family! Economic advances for the fairer sex mean it's not as enforced nowadays. Furthermore, you can readily buy one from the local market! 

As they are almost everywhere, do be mindful where you step as it's deemed to be disrespectful, especially the ones with a burning incense stick! I unfortunately stepped on one as i was occupied with taking photos and you know what i did? I prayed and said sorry; as i would have done if my feet accidentally land on a bed of prayer offerings in Singapore. 

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For a summary of my four days, three nights trip to Bali, click here.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Alex's Eating House - The Roast Combination for Two Persons @ Beach Road (Near Bugis Junction and Opposite Shaw Tower) [Singapore]

Alex is such a common name that i shouldn't be surprised to hear of a coffee shop named after it. However, my elder sister thought i would have heard about it since Alex's Eating house is pretty famous for its roast delights and she is very well aware of my love for them!

My food intelligence network might have highlighted this store but i would be confused as the English name doesn't correspondence with the Chinese name; in Chinese, the place is known as 文记鸭饭 which should rightfully be Boon Kee duck rice or Wen Ji duck rice.

Anyway, it doesn't matter so long i can correctly indicate the location at the end of this post. What's most important would be our order earlier this afternoon; the roast combination for two persons that consisted of roast duck, roast pork, char siew and barbecued pork ribs.

Okay, it was lunch and i decided to have a serving of noodle too! Do note that the roast combination would cost at least S$25 without any noodle / rice and although i found it to be on the high side; my sister foot the bill and i am not complaining.

It was one of the better Cantonese-style noodle that was light without being overly generous with the soya sauce and boasted a QQ texture that's so good; i think i could stomach another serving!

Since duck rice was indicated on its Chinese name, i shall talk about it first - frankly, the roast duck skin was a disappointment and the meat was average tasting with the signature toughness that's quite the norm for duck. The sauce that was poured onto the duck was a game-changer though and i depended heavily on it to clean up both the meat and skin.

Roast pork (or sio bak as some of us would prefer to call it) was good for the following reasons; the fat-meat ratio was just right, the marination wasn't too salty and the roasted skin remained crunchy with the very-much needed cackling as my teeth cut through it.

Char siew was definitely above average and only the ones with fattier parts won my heart with their juicier bite that's enveloped with a tasty char-ness. The best in the roast combination was definitely the barbecued pork ribs; the sweet charred flavour can be tasted even within the tender meat and i kid you not, i should have ordered an entire slab so that i can slowly pick off the meat and lick clean the bones!

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In all, a satisfactory meal although as far as char siew is concerned, it couldn't take over the top positions currently held by Kay Lee in Singapore and You Kee in Malaysia.

Location
87 Beach Road,
#01-01, Chye Sing Building,
Singapore 189695

Map

As above.

Pricing
Roast Combination for 2 - S$25.00
Noodle - i think it's S$2.00

Pasar Umum Sukawati - The Local Market @ Ubud [Bali, Indonesia]

I don't have an eye for the arts and when thrown into the sukawati arts market at Ubud in Bali, boredom overwhelmed me in no time! Seeking an injection of freshness, a fellow travel mate said i should cross the road to check out Pasar Umum Sukawati. 

Given i only had another 10 minutes before the official meet-up with the driver, i glanced up towards the second floor, decided that there's nothing much and quickly walked ahead. 

The enticing aroma of satay stopped me in my tracks; i contemplated buying a few sticks to check out but was pulled back by Alex who always has a deep set aversion towards street food unless he is with the great Kon. 

Fresh fruits for sale! Strangely, i don't take a lot of fruits unlike in the case when i am at home, where i would often have an orange, banana, guava with preserved orange peel or a bowl of frozen grapes after dinner. 

Entering the market which was dark and super duper cramped; I can't imagine the stuffiness if i were to arrive earlier together with the early morning crowd. 

Baskets and baskets of produce; mom would be familarised with them and might even be able to whip up a nice Singaporean meal with the ingredients. Trust me, she might even buy a packet of red chilli if it was the local fresh specialty in the region.

Such market amazes me; despite the supposed visual disorganization, there's a compartmentalized tidiness that made it easier for customers to find what they want.

Trays and trays of eggs; reminding me that i should think about what to bake tomorrow for my weekly bakes! Chiffon cake? banana cake? Or something from the internet?

Those particular with cleanliness may find it hard to use the eggs as many were caked in chicken poo! And yes, i can smell them at this distance. 

This picture doesn't quite depict the tightness of space as the passage was wider due to the existence of an opposite row of shops that seemed to be shuttered for good.

You know what the market reminded me of? The market at Old Nee Soon where my kampong used to be in. However, it was a wet market and the stench was memorable, in a negative way.

Floor wise i couldn't recall if it was cement screed or a material similar to what's at Pasar Umum Sukawati. I only remember i hate to visit the old nee soon market when it was raining / after it had rained! 


Last look before we rushed off to catch our ride! 


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For the summary of my four days, three nights trip to Bali, the Island of the Gods, click here.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

McDonald's Breakfast - Hotcakes @ Kuta, Bali Island [Indonesia]

I was looking forward to having breakfast at Flapjaks but the confirmation that it would open at 8.00 am didn't materialise and we were forced to make do with the next alternative; see the M logo?

Now, i could have looked further for a local breakfast but we honestly didn't have much time with a tour to the outskirts starting in less than an hour's time! Anyway, i figured that McDonald's quality should be consistent globally and went ahead with my favourite purchase; hotcakes! 

Boy was i disappointed; they were not fluffy and there's a dryness that left a very bad taste in your mouth. Hoping that the maple syrup and butter would help to remedy the situation, it was again a major letdown; the butter didn't have that sinfully buttery taste we get in Singapore. 

For only 28,000 rupiahs, the meal was cheaper than Singapore although i would have gladly paid a bit more for better tasting pancakes. Nothing's lost yet though; the tea was surprisingly unlike the one we have in Singapore. It came in a little box and you can choose from a few types. 

I got calming lemongrass as i was already pissed to have ingested a lousy breakfast. The box came with a big sachet of lemongrass tea that would not have looked out of place from any high-class cafe! Was it aromatic? Definitely, and it left a relaxed smile on my face. :)

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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Day One of the 4 Days, 3 Nights Trip to Bali!



Even though Grab and Uber had drastically changed the landscape of the taxi industry, i do prefer to opt for a cab ride to the airport when i have a few pieces of luggage. In addition, it may actually be cheaper to grab a cab than, er, grab a grabcar; i paid less than S$20 for my ride whereas grab quoted more than S$20.

Despite the heavy rain and the terrible visibility on the road, the elderly taxi driver managed to deliver us to Changi Airport Terminal 1 in time for our meet up with our tour mates (also known as Alex's colleagues). 

Running through the three screens so that we would know which row to check in! We didn't get the answer from the screen as our tour mates directed us to the correct row. 

Useful information at the KLM check in counter - disappointed to find that thunderstorm was in the weather forecast as I had been affected by wet weather for the past two trips; Bintan and Bandung! Wait, i just realised something weird. The past two destinations start with the letter B and Bali too! 

As the staff canteen was closed for renovation, let's not waste any more time and quickly clear the immigration to access the departure hall. I was in a lazy mode and didn't even attempt to take any photos. 

My intention was to have a snack (and i did with the Sardine puff from Tip Top) and quickly log in to the airport WiFi so that I can blog on my spanking new ASUS laptop; didn't manage to as there was no pop ups that would allow me to key in the password! 

Well, in the current technological era, boredom is an understatement as i simply just login to the WiFi on my phone and continue surfing facebook and play my candy crush. And there were the movies to watch on the KLM plane! To read more about my experience with KLM plane, click here

Less than 30 minutes to go before we were to reach denpasar international airport, which is also known as hard-to-pronounce Ngurah Rai International Airport. Glad to know Bali is in the same time zone as Singapore! 

The sparse yet empty arrival hall - being a typical Singapore who feels that the little red dot doesn't have the luxury of space; the one thought that ran through my mind was that it's such a waste of space that could have been optimized for commercial activities; e.g. retail and dining.

I went all crazy when i saw the brochures racks for tourist information! These racks usually contained a ton of useful data and the most helpful would be the map!

Verdict after going through them; mostly useless as they were merely marketing tools for tours / spa packages that you can sign up with the various tour agencies! Ya, there were a few maps but they weren't detailed to be of any use to me; a blatant waste of my time.....

Collection of our luggage took quite a while; the belt jammed for a few minutes and airport staff members standing around displayed nonchalance about it. That definitely riled up the passengers as they couldn't wait to explore Bali!

For those looking forward to a few days of being engulfed and wasted in a large pool of alcohol, do pop by the duty free shop! As i prefer to remain sober, i shall give it a miss.

A couple of friends had commented about the strong sense of spiritualism on the island and it kind of reminded me of what they said when the above appeared in front of me; a demoness that seemed to flying above a kid.

There's a plaque that explained the story of the two statues; the vile-faced demoness is Giant Putana and was engaged to kill the little boy who is a reincarnation of Vishnu (one of the top deities of Hinduism). She lost, obviously, since the little boy retained the power of Vishnu.

The symbolic Balinese architecture can be spotted once you exit the arrival hall; a nice showcase to the many tourists, especially those who were first-timers as i was. 

I cannot understand why we were made to walk all the way to the carpark when the driver could have just driven to the pickup point. Honestly, i am fine with it if i am on a trip with just a few persons but this was a group of 17.

Minibus for about 11 persons i think and there's insufficient space for the many pieces of luggage. I really had to hand it to the driver for his creativity to arrange the luggage for maximization of space.

Another smaller car for the rest; again, space was essential to pile in the luggage that couldn't fit into the minibus anymore. I am quite attuned to the space need for travelling as i made the mistake of renting a small car when i was in Jeju. In my upcoming Japan trip, we opted for 2 cars for 6 persons so that we would not face an issue of insufficient space for luggage. 

Kuta - an overdeveloped area in Bali said to be extremely touristy! I saw A&W and made a mental note to have a glass of root beer float, which didn't materialize. Anyway, for those who haven't heard, A&W would be back in Singapore in 2018! 

Airport was pretty near to Kuta and we arrived at Grand Istana Rama hotel in less than 30 minutes! First thing; check in to the hotel room so that we can dump our luggage before meeting up for supper outside the hotel! For my review on Grand Istana Rama hotel, click here. .

Beachwalk shopping mall; Grand Istana Rama hotel was in close proximity with the shopping mall but could you imagine that i had only explored the basement as i needed to go to the supermarket?! That's a shame for someone who would literally throw a stone and hit the shopping centre from my room door. 

Wall that separated Kuta beach from the main road; as you can see, the main road is only two-lane wide and with the amount of cars on the island (and they may even come in from Java, where Jakarta is), the jam can be insanely bad as we had personally experienced on our last day.

Situation worsened when one lane would be taken up by the horse carriages! Unlike my experience at Bandung, the smell was almost non-existent unless you stand very close.

Do note that the horse carriages could only travel along a specific route within Kuta and should you need to travel to Seminyak; you can only walk or take a cab.

Disappointing supper at the Kuta Sea Side Food Court - it's built more for tourists and i would strongly suggest you check out other dining options. 

A touch of Singapore in Bali - Singapore Ice Cream! No prize for guessing what a Singapore ice cream is! It's those traditional style ice cream that could be served in a cone, on a rainbow bread or in between wafers! Click here to see what i mean. Pricing wise, they were more expensive in Bali.

Last thing to do before we went back to Grand Istana Rama hotel for a much needed sleep; a visitation to Kuta Beach! For more pictures of the Bali's iconic beach, click here

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