Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Soek Seng 1954 Bicycle Cafe @ General Aviation Centre with MAJ logo (Beside Seletar Airport)

The development of Seletar Aerospace Park has forced the moving out of Sunset Grill and Bar to the nearby yet more accessible Jalan Kayu and this has no doubt left many diners disappointed; no longer would they be able to have small aircraft landing next to them, drowning their voices with booming engines. 

Good news for those diners - the experience can now be replicated with the opening of Soek Seng 1954 Bicycle Cafe which, according to my memory, is somewhere near the old location of Sunset Grill and Bar! 

That vintage atmosphere was inevitable right from the start although it was the car that caught our attention. By the way, the red and yellow car plate with white letters falls under the "classic car" category with an age of at least 35 years old. 

Owner should be a serious bicycle enthusiast and the increasing popularity of cycling on the roads must have given rise to this bicycle cafe concept. 

Look - there's even a water point for tired and parched cyclists with air pump thrown in for the tires! I was initially wondering why the operator didn't bother giving out cups but any seasoned cyclist would likely bring along their bottle of H2O! 

Seletar Airport just right across the fence! 

Air conditioned interior - a dazzling display of beautiful bikes on the walls that would make any cyclist drool. Okay, maybe not everyone but i am sure i drool a bit. 

I love this painting! 

Stupid me thought these were skeletons of birds' beak and it was very much later that it dawned on me that they were bicycle seats. Gosh, i am quite appalled by this episode of stupidity. 

Let's stop wasting time and start with food, which was my main focus as i am not one to go crazy about purposely-built themed cafes which be easily had with money and a good interior designer. 


Lemon Grass Drink
On that bloody hot day that i visited, this was a godsend and an immediate thirst quencher! This should be quite easy to make and with me living on my own now, i should really find out the "recipe" for this refreshing beverage! 

Fish and Chips
Alex's order and one he would remember for life; simply because he didn't like it and as he has always proclaimed, he is the fish and chips guru. Well, the Gang of Four always has their reservation on his self-proclamation. 

For me, it tasted more like those deep fried fish fillet found at nasi lemak stalls; albeit chunkier and in my opinion inferred a certain level of satisfaction. 

Gyu Don
My taste buds were tingling with excitement given my absolute love for gyu don, especially the pretty good one from Waa Cow at NUS

The moment the wooden lid was removed, i had that flashing thought that this would not be the kind of gyu don i expected; the slices of beef were too similar to the ones i had at Singapore's Yoshinoya; overcooked and chewy.

I was right on my presumption even though there were more; the marination was lacking, hence making the meat even less palatable. The sauce used to drench the rice wasn't our typical sweet sauce, with a taste similar to oyako don. 

It would not be a problem for me to finish my rice at Megumi Japanese restaurant but i literally left the above portion untouched as i didn't see the need to increase my calorie count for a lackluster meal. To be fair, the gyu don might not be the chef's signature dishes and at only S$6.60 (or S$6 during lunch), it's a steal compared to the S$15 i forked out at Megumi

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Location
80 Seletar Aerospace View

Map 
As above (red star)

Opening / Closing Hours
Mondays - Closed
Tuesdays to Thursdays - 10am to 10pm
Fridays to Saturdays - 10am to 11pm
Sundays - 10am to 10pm
(Kitchen is closed daily from 3pm to 5pm)

Website

Menu
As above

Price
Lemon Grass Drink - S$3.20
Fish and Chips - S$10.80
Gyu Don - S$6.00
(No GST and No Service Charge)

Additional Information
Those who drive just need to note the General Aviation Centre as above with the MAJ logo. The directions to the cafe weren't clear and i almost missed the turn into the small road leading to the building where the cafe is housed.

Parking space is limited before 6pm on weekdays!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Guilin Yangsuo Out of the World Paradise (桂林阳朔世外桃源) @ Guangxi Province [China]

There were various English names to this AAAA-rated attraction in China although i prefer the directly translated "out of the world paradise"!

I am unsure when this attraction was built and frankly, was under the impression that it could have been centuries-old except that towards the end, it was more a cultural village feel similar to Mari Mari at Kota Kinabalu.

A giveaway that it's not antiquated - a plaque right at the entrance that told of the attraction's origins; that it's based on a short story, "Peach Blossom Spring" (桃花源記), by a renowned poet who lived between AD365 and 427.

Now, we are talking of a story that's dated more than 1,500 years ago and to me, there's a strange similarity to another well known novel; Lost Horizon by James Hilton although that's written much more recently in 1933.

Absolutely no complaint about the stunning view in front of us; if not for the terrible rain that struck us since morning, i bet the scenery would be a whole lot more impressive.

Went to the washroom before taking the cruise. Pardon my poor grasp of English; i have always known rubbish bin as a bin rather than the term receptacle.

Waiting in line for the cruise which was part of the ticket pricing. For more pictures and information on the cruise, please click here.

Disembarked from the boat and was delighted to be going by foot; it's seriously no fun with pelting raindrops and i have lost count on the number of boat rides / cruises for this trip!

Mark of identity that's embroidered on their clothing for each of the four minority tribes in China; Dong, Zhuang, Miao and Yao. For example, the Miao would have the sign of butterflies as they believe it is the creator of universe.

水乡侗寨 - Dong Region of Rivers; had no idea what the translation means even though i am presuming we can see stuff related to the Dong people.

Tiny cups of rice wine to welcome us - quite sweet with an acceptable alcohol level; this is coming from a man who turns red even with Somersby apple cider!

Followed by a musical performance by the Dong people.

花楼 - the Embroidery Building even though the explanation on the website said it's the standard dwelling for the Dong. Well, it sounds better as the place to showcase the embroidery among the four minorities.

Like the blessing patterns generally used by the respective minority; detailed information on their origins (in story format) for some of them could be found on the side, in Chinese.

This talked about the traditional baby haversack and i liked the way they named the exhibit; the sweetest burden (最甜蜜的负担).

A total of three pieces would be required to hold the kid at the back and i am thanking technology for making life so much easier for us nowadays!

Rain coat made from palm bark! Aren't you happy with your modern, disposable, plastic ones?!

Continuing our journey on foot, in the rain. Always, always remember to bring along an umbrella when you travel although in many tourist attractions, it's not hard to find shops selling brollies and raincoats.

Dad really liked the place even though he lamented its beauty was overshadowed by the overcast sky that morning. And knowing him, it's a regret as he's not likely to return to this place; not when there are so many places in China that he has yet to step foot on!

Embroidery Building - only when i was out that i could finally understand why it was known as the typical house for the Dong people.

Drum Building (鼓楼) - a congregation point for the Dong people and people will gather whenever someone beats the drum! As we were in a hurry to avoid being drenched by the rain, i didn't take a closer look on the insides; don't remember a drum though.

Told you he's happy!

Love Ball Mansion (绣球楼) - this was supposed to be a fun activity for visitors to undertake; the name sounds weird in English but it's actually a love token for a lady to show her affection for a man she likes.

It's a scene i have seen in the period dramas on a number of occasions although i didn't know this is a true-blue custom by the Zhuang people with a history of over 800 years!

Each symbol on the embroidered ball signifies something and aside from a love token, it's also an auspicious item! Hidden inside each ball was a mixture of five grains to imply continuity in life!

See how big the raindrops were!

Would love to take some photos on this rustic stone bridge but i am already quite wet and didn't want to risk walking around in water-soaked shoes. It's times like this that i am blaming my younger sister for quitting her job at CROCS!

Wah, real embroidering hor!

For someone who would likely not survive in a world with lesser inconveniences (couldn't cook, couldn't make things from basic ingredient, lazy to walk etc), i am always in awe by such skills. 

To support them, you are of course welcome to purchase their finished products! With themed dinner and dance in some companies, it would be a good opportunity for you to stock up! 

Kids' clothing - almost bought one for Jovyn and gave up that thought for two reasons; she's picky on the material and the mom is pickier on material and design.

Traditional wooden doll that most probably couldn't withstand the strength of kids nowadays; they were better off in a cabinet showcasing travel mementos. 

These were cuter!

Hm...... bet these wind chimes would give some of you nightmares. Put it this way, they could likely ward against the evil; hence the grotesque looking masks.

Silver pendants; another popular accessory among the minorities. 

Although gold is of a higher value, silver is said to have health benefits for the wearer, user. Even in dynastic China, silverware was commonly used to test for poison. 

Porcelain pendants that were engraved with surname from the hundred surnames in China. As my grandparents hailed from the middle kingdom, my surname can be found here as well.

Another sign that the attraction isn't century-old; the building to the left with a tower that's obviously a modern structure! 

Dad again! 

And him with the wind-rain bridge in the background; before he stepped in for the first one and after he walked through it for the second. For more photos of the bridge unique to the Dong people, click here

Totem poles (图腾柱) - the minorities prayed to them although i thought they were more a westernised thing rather than Asian or in this case, Chinese. 

Yuanming Garden (渊明山庄) - didn't enter as it's not part of our itinerary. With the rain that never seemed to stop, no one seemed to mind missing it. 

Last stop - where else but the souvenir shop where you can buy dirt cheap local food souvenirs! Having been to China a few times, never buy unless you can sample! 

I have been talking about how the view might be better without the rain etc and you can see that from the many photographs plastered around the attraction, notably in the washrooms! 

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Location
In between Guilin and Yangshuo 
(45km from Guilin & 15km from Yangshuo)

Website

Map of Attraction
As above.

Ticket Price
Standard - RMB 70


For the itinerary of the tour package (guaranteed no shopping stops) to Guilin i signed up with Chan Brothers, please check out the link here.

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