Sunday, October 19, 2014

Out of Singapore - to South Korea!

As some of you are aware, the lack of update in this blog is not because of my waning interest; I have actually flown to South Korea last Wednesday and in fact could not wait to tell all of you about the experience I have! 

Anyway, i shall be back on Wednesday (yes, this is a short trip) and will have a post that would surely catch the attention of my family and friends. Look out for it!

Till then, annyeong! 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Giant Panda Forest - Saying Hi to Kai Kai & Jia Jia @ River Safari [Singapore]

A visit to River Safari is never complete without saying "ni hao" to Kai Kai & Jia Jia, the giant pandas from China that are currently on a ten-year loan to Singapore! 

It would not be my first time seeing a giant panda though; i had the fortune of catching them in action in my recent trip to Taiwan and a few years ago in Beijing

There was a preview session costing S$5 a person when they first arrived, mainly because River Safari was still in the midst of completion. Back then, i really don't see the point of paying that kind of money just to see two pandas! In Beijing, i could see a dozen for only one Singapore dollar! 

Anyway, here's a photograph of dad with the two chubby pandas. Guess this is the nearest we can go unless there are plans to tour Sichuan (a province in China) where you can have a photo opportunity right next to a live giant panda.

Two other animals are housed within this large S$8.6 million enclosure since this area is also promoted as the Yangtze River zone; one of which is the Golden Pheasant.

Like their peacock cousins, the males are the ones with a brightly coloured plumage. The very first time i heard of this bird, it was through a drama known as Journey to the West; the golden pheasant in the show was a demon that has been training for thousands of years to attain human-form! 

The other animal shares one half the name of a Giant Panda yet not really closely related to it; the cat like red panda which has a closer scientific relationship with raccoon. 

Looked very huggable right?! Not when the nails appeared to be super sharp! 

Despite having a carnivorous gut, the giant panda's diet is almost exclusively bamboo. In captivity, they would however be supplemented by food other than just bamboo. There is also the occasional steamed snack known as Wua Tou. 

Entering the realm of Kai Kai! 

View from another angle. Kai Kai was born in 14 September 2007 at Woolong Giant Panda Research Centre and was transferred to another research facility in Ya'an after the devastating 2008 earthquake, 

Lazy ass was sleeping!!!

Okay, he woke up! Not sure if you noticed but his nose seemed discoloured. From the many displays of the pandas for River Safari, the nose was totally black!

Didn't realise he had such long eye lashes! 

I went back to his enclosure after my lunch and this time, he was seated in a position that was so Po in the animation movie; Kungfu Panda! 

Another photo.

He was panting in this picture. I am not a vet or an animal behaviorist but in dogs, this is often said to be an expression of nervousness or stressful. I would be if i am caged up for life. 

As i was exiting, there came a flurry of excitement; inactive Kai Kai has climbed up a tree! 

A classic "Po" posture! 

Hm..... in the movie, i don't remember seeing something sticking out in between the legs. It could be a tail for all that matters! 

Well, i might be wrong judging from Kai Kai's happy expression. Maybe it would not be long before we hear of a new birth in the Giant Panda Forest. 

Before stepping into the world of Jia Jia, the female giant panda, you have to walk through the information filled section. We had a group of young kids with us who were participating in a Giant Panda activity. 

It's amazing how something so small at birth can grow into something that humongous when fully grown! Anyway, don't you think a newborn panda looks like a baby rat? 

Dad again! When i was young, he would be the one asking me to pose for his camera. Roles reversal now since i am the one requesting him to do it for my DSLR! 

About to enter! 

Do note the "don'ts"! No flash photography is a well-known rule but you are supposed to keep quiet too given how shy and timid the giant pandas are. 

Where is Jia Jia?!?!? 

Searching for jia jia can wait; a customary photo of dad shall take precedence. 

I noticed an access point to the great outdoors (meaning hot and humid) and wondered if the pandas have ever attempted to go out of their fully air-conditioned enclosure. 

Wide walkway to accommodate the visitors; during the S$5 a person time, viewing was limited to only 15-minute block with a maximum of 150 persons! 

Awwwwwww, there's our beauty! 

Date of birth - 03 September 2008 at Ya'an base of China Conservation and Research Centre for the Giant Panda; the same one that Kai Kai went to after the earthquake! 

Shy in nature, some of my friends who have been to River Safari told me they didn't manage to see Jia Jia except for a CCTV screen showing her in a separate private room behind the open enclosure. 

Guess we were fortunate then although she was just walking around in circles. Quite sad actually; that's the dilemma of animal lovers. We would like to see animals walking free yet we could not resist having a closer look at them in a safer environment. 

The photogenic Jia Jia.

How come the butt so dirty!?!?! 

Three types of reptiles were also on display even though most visitors' eyes would be drawn to the television screen right on top.

'Private den' of Jia Jia! Frankly, it looked more like a jailhouse to me! Might help to have some 'toys' for her; for example, a yoga ball!

As expected, the last section of the Giant Panda Forest would be a retail shop selling everything and anything related to the cute cuddly black and white giants! 

A video of Jia Jia to end this post! 

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Location
Giant Panda Forest within River Safari.
[Admission ticket to River Safari applies]

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Economically Priced China Cuisine @ Pin Xiang Yan (品香筵餐馆) - Jurong East MRT Station [Singapore]

Whether you like it or not, the various regional cuisines from China are here to stay and to be honest, i am not complaining; for us consumers, their forays into the competitive food industry in Singapore would simply translate into more food options whenever we dine out!

Pin Xiang Yan Restaurant (品香筵餐馆) - i first heard about this place from the Great Kon and to have him visiting the restaurant almost once every week said a lot about his opinion on the food. 

Just to give you a heads-up, the restaurant was actually a cordoned area within a food court and although there was hardly any ambience to speak off; at least i wasn't worried of being ripped off.

Write your order on the list, make payment at the counter and then wait.

Only the drinks need to be self-collected; for your food, they would be delivered right to your table. Make sure your order label is displayed prominently! 

Signature Fried Rice
财神炒饭
Served almost cold, the rice was oily and lacked the wok-hei (essence) that Singaporeans are accustomed to in fried rice. Having said that, the flavour was still quite tasty with a peppery aftertaste. If only it was served piping hot! 

Cabbage Pork Dumpling
白菜水餃
Honestly, these were normal. Personally, i am more into thin-skinned dumplings like xiaolongbao whereas the ones in Pin Xiang Yan had too thick a skin! 

Twice Cooked Pork Slices w Hot Sauce
川香回锅肉
Said to be double stir fried, i found the meat to be overly porky and a tad too dry for my liking! The co-stars, in this case the vegetables, tasted comparatively better after being coated with the delicious meat juice. 

Fried 3 Vegetables
地三鲜
This would be the second time i had this dish and it has yet to disappoint! Known as the three fresh vegetables from the ground, the ingredients are supposed to be potatoes, capsicums and eggplants. Over here, the capsicums have been substituted by green chilli. Nonetheless, the flavour was still incredibly appetising and savoury; certainly a dish you should eat with rice! 

Crispy Golden Prawn
黄金开边虾
One look and my heart told me this would be the worst of the lot. The truth was far from what i thought! It was in fact salted egg yolk prawns peppered with bits of chilli padi. Though the prawns used were not the meaty type we preferred, we could still vividly taste both the fresh seafood goodness of the prawns and the sinful richness of salted egg yolk! 

Signature Grilled Fish (Sea Bass)
农夫烤鱼
You can see this on almost every table! 

Some of you might remember i am not a great fan of fish when i am dining outside as it is often exorbitantly priced and if given a choice, i would go with the nicer tasting crabs or prawns. For S$28, the sea bass was of a good size and very fresh! 

You might want to forgo the rice as there were some kind of glass noodles alike stuff within the sauce. Speaking of the sauce, we had to cater to Alex who doesn't like spicy food. In its original spicy form, i believe it would be damn shiok to have! 

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Location
10, Jurong East Street 12, #01-01B,
Kopi, Jurong East MRT Station

Reservation
Call 9642-0322

Price
Signature Fried Rice - S$5.00
Cabbage Pork Dumpling - S$5.00
Twice Cooked Pork Slices - S$8.00
Fried 3 Vegetables - S$8.00
Crispy Golden Prawn - S$15.00
Signature Grilled Fish (Sea Bass) - S$28.00
[No GST & No Service Charge]

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