Monday, September 24, 2018

Baking Traditional Mooncakes for Mid Autumn Festival

I can never understand the exorbitant pricing tagged to mooncakes and took up the task of baking the festive delicacies myself ever since i moved to my own place. 

It's honestly rather easy to make; so long you don't have to make the filling. I got mine from Phoon Huat with a wide variety of choices like the standard lotus paste to the more interesting green tea / milk tea lotus paste! 

For recipe, i followed the one by Jeannie Tay and didn't change much except for the following; 325 grams of golden syrup and instead of the 50 grams dough / 130 grams filling ratio, i used 125 grams filling instead. 

Problem is that you tend to have small little quantity of each filling lying around and since i paid good money for them, i am not going to waste by dumping them into the trash!  Hence, i combined the remainder of lotus paste, white lotus paste, red bean paste and salted egg yolk into the above mooncake.

Turned out to be scrumptious with Alex eating more than half in one sitting! I think this would likely be the standard flavour for next year's mid-autumn festival and if i happen to be jobless, orders shall be welcome! 

Before i end the post, i would like to wish everyone a happy mid autumn festival! p.s. eat in moderation as the calorie-count for traditional mooncakes are scarily high! 

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Windmill Viewpoint - Overlooking Nai Harn and Yanui Beaches in Rawai @ Phuket Island [Thailand]

As a popular tourist destination blessed with a hilly terrain, there are a number of scenic viewpoints in Phuket and i conquered no less than 3 in my day trip with a private driver! This one (above) is known simply as windmill viewpoint. 

Just in case you are thinking of the traditional looking windmills from Amsterdam, it's actually the more modern ones known as wind turbines that are designed specifically to generate electricity! 

A picture of dad with the wind turbine.

However, we were there for the view and let me present to you the panoramic photo taken with my iPhone. Overlooking the Andaman Sea, i was more in awe of the turquoise green-blue water that eluded us the previous day at Phang Nga Bay

The water was clear even from where i stood and i was green with envy as i was hoping to bring my dad to check out the beautiful underwater world in this Phuket trip.

I was thinking if that nice structure on the right were a condominium and the residents were given exclusive right to park their yachts not too far away (albeit still requiring a swim or a boat ride). Turned out it was a 5-star hotel known as The Nai Harn

Anyway, good backdrop for another photo of my dad.

Island on the right of the photo is called Ko Man. Ko is Thai for island whereas i am drawing a blank on man. Can't be that the island is manly or filled with men or has one man right?

The left side appeared more happening even though the beach length of Yanui beach was shorter compared to the Nai Harn beach in front of the The Nai Harn.

Personally, having a large rocky outcrop is as important as crystal clear water since the former is usually teeming with corals, fishes and other sea creatures! Yes, i regretted not bringing along my easybreath snorkeling mask as i didn't expect to swim and snorkel for this day tour! :(

Dad again! 

I didn't think too much about the road and path on top of the hill until i was there after the Windmill Viewpoint. Hint: it's the place to check out Phuket's southernmost point. 

There's a simple pavilion at the viewpoint and if you wish to get some drinks / snacks, there's a kiosk nearby. You can also find a toilet (charges apply). Other than photo-taking, there's really nothing much to do. I think i will be better off snorkeling off Yanui beach. 

Last pic of another wind turbine in the compound of the energy station where it appeared to guard the spirit house. 

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Location Map

As above.


The Elephant Shrine (Honouring Brahma) at Promthep Cape in Phuket [Thailand]

Situated at the southernmost point of Phuket Island, Promthep Cape was said to be a must-go but sadly, i didn't find it as fascinating as the shrine i chanced upon (as above) in its vicinity.

There were literally hundreds of elephant statues surrounding the small shrine which would have caught your immediate attention from far, as it did for us! 

The shrine didn't appear any different from the famous Erawan shrine in Bangkok (四面佛) and upon further checks, the deity honoured within is the same Hindu God of Creation; Brahma. Just a little trivia here; the cape was named after Brahma too (Phra Phrom is the Thai name of Brahma).

Even though there were statues of elephant in varying sizes, one of the biggest would be the above; which i probably think would be about the size of a baby elephant. 

Nonetheless, signs were put up to determine visitors to sit on top of the statue. Aside from disrespect to the culturally revered animal, it's a safety issue since the statues are not built to withstand the weight of humans. 

From the biggest to the smallest; these statues placed around the shrine were about palm-sized. From my understanding (according to this webpage), you can buy and bring the carved elephants as offerings to the deity. 

Flower garlands were hung over the bigger elephants, together with sugar canes; said to be a favourite among the gigantic animals. Despite the supposed respect given, i find it strange to read and hear of stories about elephant abuse in Thailand. 


That's why i didn't plan for any tours to the elephant sanctuaries in Phuket since i can't be too sure if it's just a front for profitable enterprises. Anyway, entry to sanctuaries doesn't come cheap. 


Last few pictures of the elephant statues; lined up in circles around the shrine, all of them faced outwards as if to proclaim to the public, the arrival of the deity! Imagine the racket if they were real. 

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Location
Within the vicinity of Promthep Cape,
Rawai, Phuket Island, Thailand

Map

As above. 


Do click here for my 5-day Phuket itinerary!

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Jerald's Birthday 2018

Moving into an executive condominium (or any condominium for that matter) means a wider array of facilities that is literally at your doorstep and my sister's kick-started the use of the common facility by booking the teppanyaki BBQ pavilion! 

As versus to charcoal, teppanyaki is so much quicker even though there's always the joy of lighting up the charcoal (okay, admit it's a double-edged sword), and food barbecued over charcoal does have a better, richer flavour. 

Anyway, i am not complaining since i am not the designated chef for the evening. Furthermore, the occasion was to celebrate the birthday of my beloved nephew; Jerald! 

Time flies, especially after you step into adulthood, and i can't imagine that he is now 11 years old! Another few more years and he would get into a growth spurt whereas his dear uncle me would start to shrink. 

Thankfully, birthday songs were belted out in only two languages. Compared that to their younger days when there were three languages and a Christian version! In addition, no competition between the kids to blow out the candles; it's rightfully reserved only for the birthday boy / girl.

But Jovyn still loves the action of being able to partake in the cake-cutting and being a nice brother he has always been, Jerald kindly allowed her. Apology for the picture quality; they were taken using a DSLR but i think i might have used the wrong setting. :(

And no, i didn't bake that professional looking cake! Frankly, i don't really have much time with my current workload at work and the baking of mooncakes for the mid-autumn festival. It doesn't help that i have not had the luxury of time to practice on baking a chocolate cake! 

Nevertheless, what's most important is that Jerald enjoyed the celebration and his cake! Happy birthday, Jerald and as your uncle, i wish you a fun-filled life that's also full of laughter and good health! 


Thursday, September 20, 2018

Thai Style Pancake? More Like A Crepe! @ Phuket [Thailand]

I highlighted in Day Two of my Phuket trip that there were many places selling pancakes / crepes and most were street hawkers like the above. Honestly, i am keen to buy as the one i had a long time ago at either Krabi or Bangkok had a prata like texture, drenched with condensed milk and tasted super good.

However, i did notice that the supposedly pancake had a different appearance and thought it's best to check out its "cooking" process before i order. And thank god i did.

It was literally a crepe and even though i am not against crepes in general; i don't quite enjoy them as much i do for our local pancakes and even pratas. 

The end product was similar to the prata-like pancake i had before yet nothing like it once you tear them apart. Is it just the case in Phuket? I ran a check on Google and it seemed that the Thai pancake was indeed the kind i tasted eons ago! Guess i would have to do more homework in my next Thailand trip! 

Click here for my 5-day Phuket itinerary

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Day Two in Phuket: Day Tour to James Bond Island at Phang Nga Bay via Speedboat [Thailand] #phuket #jamesbondisland #phangngabay



All rise and shine for my dad's first island tour! Gosh, he looked so tired in the above picture even though he hit the bed much earlier than us!

As our stay at Swissotel Resort (Patong Beach) didn't include breakfast, i had to grab something from the nearby 7-11 convenience store. Crabstick & ebiko sandwiches (at 26 baht a pack) sounded pretty good for the first meal for the day. I didn't want anything heavy too as i have a tendency to get seasick with a full stomach.

Waiting for our pickup. Staying in a touristy area helped to reduce cost as the pickup service would likely be included in the package. Should you stay in a quiet, exclusive area, you would likely have to pay extra.

View of the beach at low tide; i was deeply concerned about the cloudy skies though as rain would definitely mar the experience of any island tour! Cold, wet, can't do anything and usually choppy waves; trust me, you wouldn't want that on a holiday.

Disembarked at our destination; the building of Amazing Canoeing that handled the James Bond Island tour (by speedboat) that we signed up the day earlier at At Akarin Tour counter!

Building was within walking distance from the Ao Por Pier where we shall take the speedboat to check out not just James Bond Island but also four other lesser known islands; Panak, Panyee, Hong and Naka!

You need to ride a shuttle to get to the end of the almost 500-meter pier! Charged at 20 baht a person (two-way), we gladly paid for it as weather was hot and i didn't want to sweat it out.

Pictures taken of our James Bond Island tour which would give you a pictorial teaser of what to expect; started with a cruise along Panak Island, a visit to the world famous James Bond Island, lunch and exploration of the 100% Muslim Panyee Island, took a canoe at Hong Island and finally, chilled at a beach bar on Naka Island where i had this interesting Mai Tai (an alcoholic drink).

The weather turned out to be fantastic; not a single drop of rain and sunburn to show! For more photos and details about the tour, click here!

Along the way back to Swissotel Resort (Patong Beach) on the mini passenger shuttle; spotted a silhouette sticker of the highly revered King Bhumibol who passed away in 2016.

Old shophouses; i noticed that the way we took from the resort to Ao Por Pier was different from the return trip and came to the realization the next day that we had cut across Phuket town on our way back.

Tiger Kingdom - with a lot of controversies surrounding the attraction, i didn't even bother to check out its packages even though i secretly would love to have a picture taken with a live tiger!

Back to Swissotel Resort (Patong Beach); showing you the price of Chang beer at the The Drunken Leprechaun Irish bar that's housed within the resort.

Venturing out again an hour later as it's time for dinner!

Painting of the joker! Since my first visit to Thailand, i have always felt that their paintings are amazing and should i get my own house, i would want to get one to adorn the wall. That idea has never stopped to nag me but my problem now is that i don't know which one to choose!

Dinner at Sabai Sabai restaurant with a rating of 4.5 on TripAdvisor with over 600 reviewers! Food, for most part of the meal, was acceptable with the exception of the unforgettably good Guey Teow Phad See-Ew! Click here to check out my review. :)

Got a cup of Starbucks without the queue, and with hardly any customer!

Unleashed dogs along the street with an elderly Muslim lady strolling close by; not a scene you would see in Singapore where Muslims usually keep a distance from dogs.

One of the many tour counters at Patong! There are many activities to choose from and i guarantee you that a week-stay in Phuket wouldn't even be remotely sufficient for you to cover every single tour!

In a non-touristy place, you might not find much food choices. In a touristy area, however, you are spoilt with so many choices! In the past, i used to fret over where to have my meals. Nowadays, i just check Google Map / TripAdvisor and see if there's any nearby eatery with good rating.

Sound activated LED tee-shirts! While cool to watch, i think it might not be as comfortable for the person wearing the tee-shirt.

BambooMart - a larger convenience store that's rather close to Swissotel Resort (Patong Beach); it's actually along a stretch in between the resort and Patong beach.

Bought mineral water, snacks and instant noodles! I normally buy a gallon of water to boil for my daily morning Old Town 3-in-1 coffee as i tend to feel that bottled water is cleaner than tap water. 

Gym time!

With my dad sleeping on the bed, Alex and i ventured out once again as the night at 9.00 pm was too early for sleep! Hooters, famed for its scantily dressed waitresses, was next to Swissotel Resort.

Patong OTOP Shopping Paradise; a nationwide initiative to promote local products, OTOP means One Tambon One Product. Not a bad place to shop and chill out as it's not as crowded and sleazy. 

Restaurant crowded with people; weird that it didn't reflect as particularly highly reviewed on Google Map. Well, the reviews should only serve as a guide as one man's meat is another man's poison and a person who is well versed in Thai cuisine might be stricter in his/her review as compared to a person who had Thai food for the very first time.

I would love to get a tattoo! Thanks to first trip to Japan (specifically, Hokkaido), i am never going to get one as to be able to soak in a Japanese onsen takes higher priority! 

Thai-style pancake - plentiful along the streets in Patong, i shall share more in my next posting when i touch on the individual posting for day three of my Phuket trip

Fish spa! I think Alex's affection for it is officially over as he didn't happily hop over and insisted on spending time having his dead skin eaten by hungry fish! That happened quite frequently in the past few years. 

Another tour counter - i am not the type to jump around tour counters and bargain for the cheapest. For this trip, i stayed faithfully with At Akarin Tour and signed up two satisfying tours with them; one of which was the James Bond Island tour.

I think this was rolled ice cream.

Barbecue! The aroma was so alluring yet i knew i would not buy any given my sensitive stomach (and definitely not with my dad). Sigh... You can roughly gauge the popularity of a place with foreigners by the use of foreign language on their signboard; in this case, English and Chinese.

Random photos.

Very tempted to get the "dog shits" so that i can scare the hell of out of my co-workers! If i am them, i might gag and rush to the washroom! 

Muay Thai boxing gloves and shorts; i originally planned to watch a Thai boxing match but dad didn't seem keen and i thought to just save the money. 

Patong tuk tuk! It's like fixed rate taxi that operates only within Patong! Pricing doesn't come cheap though as i recalled it was about 200 baht a trip, regardless of the distance (which wouldn't be far in the first place).

You can't see much from the photo except for the six lighted dots in the pitch black sky; they were in fact sky lanterns released on Patong beach

Back to Swissotel Resort (Patong Beach); the hour-long walk really tired us out and i spent the rest of the night watching Kungfu Panda 3 on my bed before i finally tucked in to sleep. 

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Detailed Postings for the Day
  1. James Bond Island Tour (by Speedboat)
  2. The actual James Bond Island
  3. Lunch and Exploration at Panyee Island
  4. The Mosque on Panyee Island
  5. Canoeing around Koh Hong
  6. Relaxation at Naka Island
  7. Sabai Sabai Restaurant
  8. Patong OTOP Shopping Paradise



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