Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Retro Gaming Console - Going Back to My Childhood with Classic Video Games like Ice Climber, Balloon Fight, Pinball, Twin Bee etc

As my generation goes into their 30s and 40s, we tend to talk a lot more about my childhood memories and especially for the guys, the games we played back then were often recollected fondly.

This brings me to the package i received today; with the word "fragile", it's hard to guess its actual content although you might have guessed it's related to games. Does it contain marbles (known affectionately as go li among kids) or maybe wooden toy guns?

This item has a technology that is way more advanced as it requires power and a television; a retro gaming console! Back then in the 80s, this kind of video console was one of the pioneers and given the lower standard of living then, i should really be grateful to my parents who scrimped and saved to buy me a set of Nintendo as a reward for my good exam results.

Like a kid rummaging through his Christmas presents, excitement overwhelmed us as we tore the wrapping apart. Well, it wasn't a 100% replica of Nintendo but i think people from my era will identify the similarities in the controllers and even the game cartridges (remember the hard blowing into the cartridge and the amount of saliva that went in)!

Instructions and wordings on console are in Chinese; however, setting up is easier than a router! Connect the AV cables with the console and your television, plug in the controllers, slot in the cartridge and lastly, power up the device (do use an adapter as the head is the narrower two-pin China-type)!

The console i purchased came with a 400-game cartridge and you can imagine scrolling through the hundreds of games, in seek of the ones i enjoyed playing so much (to the point of addiction) when i was a kid. First game; Twin Bee!

Gameplay is fighter-plane style which i never quite succeed in; albeit way cuter with a cartoon theme and bells that act as power ups to help advance your crusade.

Ice Climber - another hot favourite! Alex actually remembers the navigation for the console; to choose two players, you cannot press the up-down button on your controller! It's the small, rectangular "select" button in the middle of the controller! 

I remember the penguins, the birds and if i am not wrong, the occasional seal! It's fun to play with friends as it is a competitive game and the strategy is to climb up faster so that your "friend" dies earlier in the game. 

Balloon Fight - eliminate the foxes by popping their balloons! 

You would have noticed that the graphic was bad; it definitely is compared to what we have nowadays! The technology jump over the past few decades has been incredible although in this case, i admit my 65-inch television is too huge for the resolution. Think about it, the average size of the television 20-30 years ago was only about 32-inch! 

I tried to use the smaller aspect ratio of 4:3 which improves the resolution just a little bit. Now, maybe i should move back the 32-inch television that i still have back at my parents' place. The only issue? Mom is waiting for me to buy her an external TV antenna so that she can watch her Taiwanese drama in peace. 

Darn, maybe i should drop by Cash Converter and see if there's any old television set that i can adopt for a small fee. 

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Where To Buy?
Via Qoo10; click here for the link. Delivery was exceptionally fast; i ordered on Sunday and it was sent to our doorstep today; a mere 3 days! 

Pricing
Retro Gaming Console - S$30.90 
Delivery Charge - S$3.99

Monday, February 27, 2017

Kanshoku Ramen Bar - Famous for Truffle Ramen @ ION Orchard [Singapore]

Meeting a friend without any concrete plan on where to have dinner may not be such a bad idea after all; if not for such unplanned arrangement, i would not have stepped into the blue-themed Kanshoku Ramen Bar! 

As i am not active on Instagram and seldom follow food blogs, i am not even sure what the ramen bar was famous for! Thanks to Ms SaNeVa, i am now aware it's popular for its truffle ramen although me being me, i insisted on having their signature kanshoku ramen.

Given the manpower constraint for the F&B industry in Singapore, please indicate your choice on the order sheet and pass it to the pretty ladies at the counter! Payment would only be required after you are done with your meal. 

Pork Gyoza
Tagged as a favourite on the menu, they were okay tasting and i had nothing to complain about except for maybe a crispier skin? Not my favourite obviously. 

Signature Kanshoku Ramen
Placed on my dinner in less than ten minutes, i wasn't expecting much given a hardly impressionable gyoza and the fact that surrounding me was the enticing aroma from the truffle ramen that many diners seemed to be having! 

My fear was unfounded as the milky broth that was boiled for a relentless eight hours tasted light yet enriching with a tonkotsu flavour extremely soothing to my tummy! Thumbs up as well for the added texture; thanks to the strips of crunchy black fungus which i initially thought were kanpyō, otherwise known as dried gourd.

Even though we ticked "soft" for ramen texture, i found mine a bit too hard for my liking. Strangely, it's only me since Vanessa had no issue with hers. Nevertheless, the noodles were freshly made on a daily basis and it was quite a joy to slurp them loudly down my throat! 

Aside from the broth, i was totally taken aback by the tenderness of the chashu! They were literally melt in the mouth and so soft; it broke into smaller pieces when i picked it up for the above photo. The last time i had such blow-me-away chashu was at Otoko Ramen although the standard had dropped in my visit a few months ago. 

Frankly, if not for the lack of privacy and space, i would have licked the bowl clean!  

Truffle Broth Ramen 
I could only comment on the soup as i stole two spoonfuls from Vanessa; it was similar to my signature kanshoku tonkotsu ramen with an unsurprisingly strong truffle aroma and taste. Priced at S$4 more expensive, i think i would still go with my beloved signature kanshoku ramen.

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Location
2 Orchard Turn, ION Orchard, 
#B3-18, Singapore 238801

Website

Menu
As above.

Pricing
Pork Gyoza - S$6.50
Signature Kanshoku Ramen - S$13.90
Truffle Broth Ramen - S$17.90
(Subject to GST and Service Charge)

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Cloud Forest in 2017 @ Gardens by the Bay [Singapore]

Two weeks ago, i generated a post on the dahlia dreams and spring surprise event at the Flower Dome at Gardens by the Bay; as it was more worth it to purchase the combined conservatories ticket, we paid a visit to the Cloud Forest too and as expected, i still have a few outstanding photos in my folder that are just waiting to be published!

The day started from home although the excitement only started to stream in when we arrived at Bayfront MRT station; to be honest, the most excited had to be my younger sister as poor her and NEVER been to the conservatories! Oh gosh, i am actually feeling sorry for her even as i typed out these words.

First thing we spotted upon exit would be the fan-shaped fountain with the stunning backdrop of the fake yet impressive supertrees!

From the bridge across the water, i noted it would still be a bit of walk to the conservatories for my parents; i am able although my parents, mum especially, were no longer as strong as before and i felt a tinge of guilt for not being able to afford a car to ferry them around.

Chinese garden with the towering Marina Bay Sands (MBS); even though i have always abhorred staycations, staying at MBS would actually be quite cool! And who shall accompany me? My parents of course! 

Flower Dome - my coverage here was very detailed and you may wish to click the here for more photographs. You wouldn't be disappointed.

Cloud Forest - my aim today for this post although i must admit the objective for visiting gardens by the bay on the third day of lunar new year was because of the spring surprise event.

The 35-meter man-made waterfall welcomed us into the dome. As with the flower dome which was covered extensively back in 2013, this would be my second blog post on cloud forest

Honestly, Cloud Forest was the same as before and there wasn't much change over the past three, four years that i last visited. Hence, i didn't take many pictures and if you would like to know more about the individual sections within the air conditioned dome in the daytime, check out my post here

Humongous orchid sculpture with my mom; i came out with a separate post on cloud forest at night and it was an entirely different atmosphere. My personal recommendation is to get a re-entry stamp on your hand / arm, explore the rest of gardens by the bay and then return at night. Insufficient time? Then might as well check out the post here

We were lucky to chance upon the release of mist that only happened six times a day; every two hours from 10 am till 8 pm.

Dad's attempt to take a picture of me was thwarted when i managed to be first! I can see he really likes the cloud forest and although it was his second visit, he remained wide-eyed and impressed. 

Mom too; even though she was happier with the fact that the temperature was kept between a cool 23 and 25 degrees celcius. No sweat is always preferred and that's why she will never go with me on my beloved beach vacation! 

This mistiness, in bright daylight, might not appear much on the ground level and you have to climb up higher to understand the true purpose of the mist. Kidding on the climbing part as taking the elevator is the official way to get to the "peak".

These drains on level seven - the lost world have a noble purpose; they gave us the waterfall at the entrance when we entered the conservatory.

I think i am managing my fear for height very well nowadays; no longer did i feel that the metal grille wouldn't be able to take my weight and i will fall down to my death. p.s. this was publicly accessible area; the safety aspect was therefore guaranteed. Non accessible areas might be a different story. 

Mist on the higher levels made one feel like they were shrouded in clouds and this would in fact be quite similar to the real environment in the highlands with one exception; nature's call. 

No, i am not referring to urinating / shitting! Nature's call as in the natural music that came from animals and birds! As the conservatory isn't an aviary, the sounds were limited to the human source.

Frankly, it did look like a crime scene and a dead body was sprawled on the seat. With the hot weather we have in Singapore, sleeping in the cool conservatory is definitely irresistible!

Dad saying hi! 

Level five, where we can be closer to the waterfall. This would be the best angle i can get without a tripod which would at least help to stabilise the camera for a longer "shutter speed".

M-shaped walkway known as Cloud Walk; without the misting, i could only term it as a walk next to the mountain. It would be best to time your visit with the misting timings i shared earlier.

Eagle head made from wood at the "secret garden" on the ground level. The one section that i enjoyed very much was the +5 degree! Check out here

Garden by the Bay is huge and would be even bigger in the future when the other side (where the founders' memorial would like be) is open. I should make a point to visit the other parts of the gardens like the OCBC Skyway! 

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For my original post on Flower Dome, click here
For my original post on Cloud Forest (Day), click here.
For my original post on Cloud Forest (Night), click here.
For the post on Dahlia Dreams @ Flower Dome, click here

Map of the Gardens
As above.

Website

Saung Gawir Restaurant - View of the Hills and Plantations @ Ciwidey, Southern Bandung [Indonesia]

The fallen trees at the famed Kawah Putih attraction have yet to be cleared and we couldn't proceed with our journey as planned; therefore, the decision was made to go for an early lunch and prayed that the attraction would be re-open after our meal.

Original plan was to have lunch at Sindang Reret but as it was further away, we looked towards our friendly driver, Mr Askan, for advice and he suggested Saung Gawir! 

In addition to its close proximity to Kawah Putih, this Sundanese restaurant overlooked the hills and plantations; guaranteeing diners a view that sought to soothe the eyes and relax the mind.

Stepping into the bamboo-built restaurant; bamboo seemed to be a basic construction material in Indonesia and many so called traditional houses / buildings were built using bamboo, which is economical, sustainable and known as one of the "fastest-growing plants in the world".

We were given a private bamboo space! Now, the need for traditional setting aside, there's a musky smell lingering in the air and i am assuming it could either be the bamboo or worn cushions / mat on the floor. 

Nevertheless, we quickly settled down, went through the menu and waited for our food. The mountain breeze was strong and it's exhilarating to have the wind blowing against my face! Mom found it a bit too cold for her liking though and couldn't wait for her hot bandrek drink to arrive.

A photo while waiting! 

Bandrek - a mixture of ginger, cinnamon, palm sugar with coconut flesh, it was a Sundanese beverage that perked me up! It was on the sweet side and mom had to request for additional hot water to dilute the sweetness.

Teh Botol - similar to our local teh o but served in glass bottles, this a national drink in my opinion and you can find it in all parts of Indonesia! 

A tray of otah was placed on our table even though we didn't order. Similar to restaurants in Malaysia and even some eateries in Singapore, you can choose not to take any and nothing would be charged.

Out of curiosity, mom unwrapped one to try out and instead of finding red / orangy meat within, it's white in colour and tasted almost like fish cake with just a little bit (hardly noticeable) spice. 

Nasi Kampung (fried rice) and Toge Tahu (beansprouts with beancurd) - normal.

Sop Ayam (Chicken Soup) and Mie Goreng (fried noodles) - former didn't appeal to me whereas the mie goreng was a memorable recollection of truly authentic indonesian-style fried noodles that i love so much! It wasn't the tastiest yet it would do for the mediocre one i had two days earlier.

Tahu (beancurd) - can you imagine that for a meat eater, the key takeaway when it comes to food in Bandung was that their beancurd (specifically the deep fried tau kwa kind) was freakish addictive?! To think that before then, the only beancurd like stuff i couldn't resist was just stinky tofu.

Gurame (carp) - fish was perfectly grilled with smoothly soft meat underneath just a thin layer of crispy skin! Of course, it did help to smear it with sweet sauce.  

Ayam Bakar (grilled chicken) - i came to realise that grilled chicken for Sundanese cuisine wasn't meaty and while healthy, the meat would usually be too tough and the marinated skin wasn't the juicy kind i like! 

I am done with the meal and as a non-time-waster, i bade goodbye to my family as they continued with their lunch. My purpose was clear - to check out the surrounding of Saung Gawir.

The restaurant wasn't just a dining establishment; there's an operational strawberry and scallion plantation that belonged to it, together with bungalows on the side that can be rented out! 

You can even partake in strawberry picking at just 5,000 rupiah! p.s. i am not too sure if the price would include the strawberries as the basket did seem like it can hold a few kilograms of strawberries! 

Closer look at the scallions; are scallions and spring onions the same? I am still confused as some websites continue to claim they are different although i thought it's just a matter of terms used in different countries / regions. 

Strawberry picking would not bear any substantial return as there were so little to pick from and many were still unripe! Compared to Cameron Highlands, the species here appeared to be on the tiny side. 

Bungalows of Saung Gawir - if you would like to stay a night there, you can check out the rates via Agoda.com. Click here for more information. 

Panoramic view from the other end of the bungalows - didn't bump into anyone even though this was a weekend. Maybe everyone was still waiting to check in since official check-in would be at 2pm. 

Walking back to restaurant! 

And found a hungry cat outside our hut- supposedly a veteran, it knows when to standby for scraps; when humans were about to be done with their food. 

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Location
Jl. Raya Ciwidey, Rancabali KM. 05,
Alam Endah, Ciwidey, Bandung, Indonesia

Pricing
Bandrek - 7,000 Rupiah
Teh Botol - 5,000 Rupiah
Nasi Kampung - 20,000 Rupiah
Toge Tahu - 12,500 Rupiah
Sop Ayam - 20,000 Rupiah
Tahu - 4,000 Rupiah
Gurame - 90,000 Rupiah
Ayam Bakar - 20,000 Rupiah
Otah - 5,000 Rupiah
(Subject to 10% Tax)

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