Thursday, November 14, 2019

Fijian Longan (Mom Called It Wild Longan) - A Fruit I Had Never Seen / Tried Before #fijianlongan

My mom messaged me the above photograph a few days ago and her following voice message requested that i buy back some on my next Batam trip. Problem is; i had no idea what they were and asked if they were some kind of pears. 

That very night, she passed me a bag filled with the pear-like fruits and i was visibly surprised to find them so tiny! The skin was definitely not the type i could sink my teeth in and my perplexed expression resulted in a smirk on my mom's face as she can proudly show us what to do.

She broke the skin using her fingernail and peeled it away; revealing the semi-transparent flesh within. It kinda looked like a cross between a bigger version of longan and a yellower lychee.

I gave it a light squeeze using my two fingers and found the flesh to be firmer than our usual longan and lychee. It's interesting that i have never seen them before in my almost 40 years of age. My mom called it wild longan and a search online revealed that it's known as "Fijian Longan" and commonly found in the Pacific Islands. 

In terms of taste, it was like a harder, less juicy form of longan. I wouldn't say i particularly enjoy it even though it still contained the sweetness; just not as sweet as longan.

Like lychee and longan, it has a seed in the middle which can be eaten after boiling or roasting. I should have asked my mom to keep a few so that we can try it out. Well, guess i would have to buy some back the next time i am in Batam

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Sin Song Kee - Handmade Fish Balls, Meat Balls and Fish Dumpling Noodles @ The Star Vista [Singapore] #sinsongkeenoodle

Song Kee was supposed to be some famous noodle shop that used to be along Upper Serangoon Road but this Sin Song Kee at Star Vista mall appeared to be a separate stall with origins in Toa Payoh Lorong 5. 

Whatever the case, my colleagues commented that the non-air-conditioned eatery seemed to be quite popular and since it's noodle-craving day; i guess it's appropriate for us to give it a try! 

Order from the counter, pay for your meal, get the pager and wait for the number to appear on the LED screen before you walk over to the "collection" sector to collect the finished product. 

My signature noodle (mee pok) with "handmade fishball, meatball, fish dumpling and minced pork". There's supposed to be beancurd dumpling which i guess was out of stock; hence a replacement with an extra fish ball. 

The amount of shredded lettuce topping the noodles could be quite off-putting but i actually enjoyed the extra fresh bite which complemented the dish instead of being mere decorations. Do note that ketchup wasn't an option and i opted to have chilli for my noodle instead.

As a whole, i liked that the noodles were not too oily and although harder in texture; they retained a good level of satisfaction with a nice vinegar aroma. The handmade fishballs weren't exceptional and lack the QQ texture that some stalls (like Li Xin) were renowned for. Much higher marks were given to the delicious meatballs (with specks of chilli) and the juicy dumpling! 

Notice the empty bowl of soup?! Usually bland tasting and not worth a trip down my throat, i found the one at Sin Song Kee to be highly palatable; to the extent i might just opt for fishball soup with no noodle if i decide to have a somewhat healthier meal. 


1 Vista Exchange Green, The Star Vista,
#01-49, Singapore 138617

As above

Signature Noodle - S$5.80 

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

The Insect Banquet @ 东门町广场 in Shenzhen [China]

The first time i had insects as snacks was in Yunnan, China and i could still remember the tasty deep fried honey bees that burst with sweetness as i bit through them! 

Since then, i am actually quite accepting when it comes to fried insects but i do have my limits which were tested when i went to Shenzhen from Hong Kong for a day trip and chanced upon the above stall in this food arena at Laojie (literally means old street).

Beautifully displayed with exquisite looking bowls housing sticks of delicacies, i took a glance to see what i should try but there were so many to choose from; e.g. scorpions, spiders, centipedes and even seahorses and starfishes! 

Skewered like Tanghulu (糖葫芦), i found them too large to stomach although i could still make do with the smaller worms. The problem was when i laid my eyes on the above; sea snakes.... That's sufficient to make my stomach turn and i knew there's no way i could have eaten anything else from the stall.

For the benefit of those who are still keen to try when they are in Shenzhen's Laojie, you may refer to the price list appended above. Prices are in RMB. 

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Ngong Ping 360 - Taking the Crystal Cabin Using the Gondola Lift System on Lantau Island [Hong Kong] #ngongping360 #cablecarhk

Singapore has always been compared with Hong Kong and i do believe there's so merit to it as even our public transportation systems are rather similar; albeit with more breakdowns on our side which, fortunately, has improved over the past few years. 

Anyway, its similarity means navigation is a breeze and it usually didn't take long for me to figure out which exit to take and which route to follow in order to get to my destination. 

Today, it's en route to Ngong Ping 360; a cable car system on Lantau Island that's completed in 2006, and one fraught with pretty bad breakdowns in the first few years of its operations.

Strongly recommended - purchase your tickets online via KLOOK! There's a dedicated queue for you to redeem your tickets and it's not as long as the one for purchase-on-the-spot. 

Taking out my printed voucher for redemption. 

See how terribly long the queue was and it's not even Saturday / Sunday! Aside from the queue dedicated for KLOOK customers, we also benefited from a much cheaper price. From the cable car website, it's listed as HKD $315 whereas KLOOK is only charging S$40.29 (about HKD $232); more than 25% discount! 

Collection of our tickets and wrist bands; yes, we opted for crystal cabin which is the norm for thrill seekers like Alex and I. Turned out our travel mates (including a friend's mom) were as adventurous as us! 

Cloudy day - i was pre-warned about the insanely hot summer climate in Hong Kong but i think i was pretty lucky as it felt just like Singapore and my attire was absolutely prepared for it.

Crossing the gantry with our tickets! 

Most importantly, wear your special crystal cabin wristband and queue at the correct queue. Many adventure seekers that day as the queue wasn't short; the standard cabin queue was even longer! 

Half an hour into the queuing..... If there's one thing i hate, i dislike queuing for a long period of time when i am overseas! The same can't be said for food though; my record was almost three hours for a delicious meal at Here Hai restaurant in Bangkok

When Alex pointed out the above sign to me, i was dumbfounded as the cable cars i took so far wouldn't exceed more than 8 persons. As i get older, the more i am afraid to die. I mean i know i will die one day but i do hope it would be a relatively pain-free death and definitely not dying in such a gruesome manner. 

Well, the cabin did seem a bit large compared to other cable car systems. Both standard and crystal cabins run along the same cable and the latter would "depart from the platform every 3 to 7 minutes".

Our turn to board soon! At this point, we had waited for an excruciating 50 minutes! It would have been nicer to wait during the winter when it wasn't as hot and as humid. 

Boarded! According to Ngong Ping 360 website, the crystal cabin was "launched on 4 April 2009" and the "glass bottom is made up of three layers of tempered glass. The total thickness is approximately 4.84 cm and the maximum loading of each piece of glass is 2,250 kg". Sounds pretty safe! 

The journey is supposed to be 5.7 kilometers long and given the hilly terrain on Lantau Island, it's going to be visual treat for us! To our right is actually Hong Kong International Airport

Let our ride begin! p.s. took too many photos.

8 towers supported the cable car system, including a few angle stations. There are only two stations; one is at Tung Chung near the MTR station and the other is at Ngong Ping where other attractions like Tian Tan Buddha, Ngong Ping Village, Po Lin Monastery, Tai O Fishing Village, await your exploration. 

Crossing the water! Maybe because there were too many people in the cabin, Alex didn't do his usual stance of plastering his face to the glass bottom for photos! One of our travel mates did though but not very nice of me to share her crazy action. :P 

Graves on the hillside - they were huge compared to the ones i saw on day one of my trip and appeared well maintained. I wonder how much it costs....

Lush greenery everywhere and here i am thinking why the Hong Kong government is unable to resolve the ridiculously high residential pricing for the citizens! In Singapore, the practical way would be to level the hills and build houses. 

Trails for people! I have friends who would attempt the nature walks in Hong Kong; i did contemplate but figured the summer season would not be a good time for us.

More photos; in chronological order. 

The 34-meter tall Tian Tan Buddha (天壇大佛) on our left; its appearance means we would be reaching the Ngong Ping station soon! . 

Something on our right caught our attention! Looking like a half completed road, i was wondering what it was and took to google map to find out. 

It's the Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridge (HZMB) that was opened only last year; spanning 55 kilometers, what we see above is the section which is the undersea tunnel. Impressive! 

Closer view of Tian Tan Buddha, including the 268-step stairs to the top! Surrounded by water and greenery and on top a hill, the statue cut an imposing sight! 

Another tomb that has greater fengshui from the ones i showed earlier. I can't imagine how the descendants pay their respect every year since it's not exactly accessible! 

Sound of water right beneath us and i think that's when you would feel that paying for the more expensive crystal cabin is worth it as we can clearly see the waterfall and the stream directly below the cables! 

Think there's a proper trail that would allow us to see the waterfall and the stream?

About to arrive at Ngong Ping station; estimated duration of cable ride is about 20 minutes. To get to Ngong Ping, you can actually take a bus / cab from Tung Chung MTR station but it would take you at least 30 minutes by car. 

Tian Tan Buddha again! For detailed posting, with tons of pictures, please click here. There's also an exhibition hall within the statue that supposedly housed one of Buddha's relics. 

Take note of the notice and remember leave on time! Failing which, you can also consider taking the bus or cab. I read from a blog that the queue to leave Ngong Ping station can be insanely long at the last hour. 

Connecting the Ngong Ping cable car station to Tian Tan Buddha is the highly commercialised Ngong Ping Village. Built for tourists, you can find dining and retail outlets, together with attractions like "Walking with Buddha", VR 360 etc. 

Beautiful view of Tian Tan Buddha

Map of the surroundings of Ngong Ping cable car station. The only one place i regretted not checking out is the Wisdom Path; not a major regret though since i doubt i would enjoy walking under the hot sun. Alex would likely be grumbling non-stop if i were to drag him along.

Photo buying time! When you board the cabin at Tung Chung cable car station, a photographer would take a photo and it's now time to decide if you want to pay to have a pictorial memory of your cable car experience. Not me, obviously, although i would consider if my parents were with me as they love such stuff. 

After spending close to 3.5 hours exploring Tian Tan BuddhaNgong Ping VillageTai O Fishing Village, digging into a bowl of the local spring water beancurd and having lunch at Fook Moon Lam restaurant, it's time to go back! 

Photo-taking again! Our travel mates didn't join us to Tai O Fishing Village and with just Alex and I, we had to share the crystal cabin with two groups of strangers! Awkward max.

We shall let the pictures do the talking as technically the scenery would be about the same; just different directions and lighting conditions. 

The stream again; can clearly see the cableway right above! Strangely, i can't find it on Google Map; currently, a section had a large cloud overshadowing an area where it could be the location of the stream and waterfall.

Angle station.

Some people were crazy enough to navigate the trails! Wait, i shouldn't be so judgmental as it's their right to do so and maybe i am envious of them as it would have felt much better to be surrounded by nature. 

Appearance of the airport and high rise buildings signified our closeness to the end station of the cable car ride. 

A Cathay Pacific airplane taking off from the runway of the Hong Kong International Airport. Do you know that in my last visit to Hong Kong, the airport i used was Kai Tak Airport? The feeling of landing and departing with high rise buildings around you is scary yet unique.

Reaching Tung Chung station! 

Upon arrival, you can again decide if you want to buy the photographs taken by the photographer when you step into your cabin or expensive souvenirs (fridge magnets, key chains etc) from the cable car retail store.  

Before ending this post, you may check out the time-lapsed video i took, using my iphone, on my way back. Quality wasn't good though; maybe i should invest in a pocket Dji. 


Near Tung Chung MTR Station,
Lantau Island, Hong Kong


Additional Information
Packages, inclusive of cable car rides, are available but you can also purchase from KLOOK. Be sure to compare prices to ensure you get the best deal! 

If you are into outlet shopping, please visit the next door Citygate Outlets

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