Monday, February 29, 2016

Sluice Gates - Navigating Taohua River Despite the Differing Water Levels @ Guilin

I posed a question in my earlier posting on Lu Village @ Guilin; the two differing water levels at one specific segment of the Taohua River which would have made it impossible for boats to travel along without the risk of toppling over. 

The answer lies in the dock-like structure along the river. 

Anything bigger than the boat we were in would likely be stopped from entering; which means you will not see any big-sized cruise ships traversing along the river. 

Once the capacity of two boats was reached, the motors for both vessels would be shut down as it would be a blatant waste of energy to keep them going while stationary. 

That's when everyone's attention would be drawn to the openings on both sides; in our case, being the second boat, it would be the opening at the tail end. 

Hydraulic arm in action; pushing the gate to close so as to seal us off from the main waterway! 

For those who have yet to be aware of what's happening; this is a lock system commonly deployed in canals and dams to control water levels! Note the discoloration; the blue segment was untouched by river water.

Time for the water to be pumped in! 

It didn't take us more than ten minutes to navigate the sluice gates and even though this may not be of the same magnitude as the humongous Panama Canal, it was still an experience for me! 

Two sections; one for incoming boats and the other for outgoing boats! 


Do check out the posting for the summarised itinerary of Chan Brother's tour package (guaranteed no shopping stops) to Guilin; it would give you a better overview of my trip. :)

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Sinpopo Brand Cafe (新泡泡甜品小吃) - Serving Old School Desserts @ Joo Chiat Road [Near 112 Katong Mall]

Making a wrong turn into a carpark and assuming it would not take long to walk over to 112 Katong Mall turned out to be a blessing in disguise as thirsty and sweaty aku (me) was in severe need for an air-conditioned place to cool and replenish the water content in my body!

The retro signboard of Sinpopo Brand (by the same people that gave us Awfully Chocolate) caught our attention and we eventually walked in after deliberating on the available choices; trust me, it's not an easy decision when the entire Joo Chiat Road was decked out with many cafes.

Grab a copy of the attendance register while waiting for your seats; yes, they didn't appear to be from my time and my bet was that the design likely hailed from the 60s or even 50s.

Decor inside - screed flooring that had a few sections laid with tiles popular in the old days. I am especially loving the plastic stringed chairs; it's been a while since i last seen one.

So what are you supposed to do with the attendance register? Not to write your name of course; it's your menu although there were quite a few pages and the menu can only be found right in the centre fold. I shall share the menu in the later part of this post.

Two snippets of menu items were also slotted in the rusting tin cat together with paper serviettes; "ang moh"gourmet coffees were listed although i wonder on the rationale for drinking westernised kopi in local, retro setting! Go for kopi lah!

Sng Muay Pop
I needed something cool and opted for the nice sounding sng muay pop even though i didn't even know what it contained except for sour plum! 

A good choice; essentially soda water with lime and sour plum encased in small balls of ice, it was so thirst quenching given my dehydrated condition and extremely refreshing! That small cup was hardly sufficient but for S$5 a pop, i think i can make do with a scoop of ice cream from Island Creamery next door.

The price didn't stop Vanessa from buying another pop for takeaway. Judging from the size, i think i will get a slightly better deal for takeaways next time! 

Katong Jelly
Another soda based beverage with strips of jellies on the bottom; i found out later that they came from the red agar agar often sold in fruit stalls! Definitely a nostalgic moment! By the way, it wasn't as sour as the waitress had cautioned when we ordered. 

Gula Melaka Cake
Priced at S$7 a slice, this wasn't easy on the wallet although it's hard to resist when the words "gula melaka" were used for the dessert; and i couldn't deny anything that's gula melaka based! 

Look at that beautiful layer of gula melaka glaze on the other side! I couldn't wait to stick my fork in and devour as fast as possible for that sweetness rush!

Moist just like a good piece of banana cake and lip smacking good; the gula melaka was honestly rather toned down in the sugar section but i am not complaining; i need to cut down on sugar intake! 


458 Joo Chiat Road


As above

Operating Hours
Mondays - Closed
Tuesdays to Thursdays - 12pm to 10pm
Fridays to Saturdays - 12pm to 12am 
Sundays - 12pm to 10pm


As above.

Sng Muay Pop - S$5.00
Katong Jelly - S$7.00
Gula Melaka Cake - S$7.00
(subject to GST and Service Charge)

Additional Information
Salted egg yolk cookies were available for sale! Aside from the cookies, i am looking forward to having the gula melaka jelly in my next visit! 

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Relive Longkang Fishing - A Popular Activity Among Kampong Kids in the Past @ ORTO [Yishun]

Longkang fishing - an old time activity that village kids love to participate in in their free time before mobile phones and urban living start creeping into their lives!

As a legitimate kampong boy, it was a memory i held dearly in my heart even though i had to wade in filthy water and often without the knowledge of how deep the drain might be! It's dangerous yet fun at the same time. 

Nowadays, parents worry too much and businesses have come out of a way to capitalize on their concerns by offering a safer alternative and here's one of three places in Singapore where you can relive longkang fishing!

Pay at the prawning counter and take the receipt to exchange for the wrist band, plastic tank and small fishing net before you step into the water! 

Do keep in mind that entry is limited to children between 4-12 years old although parents are welcome to accompany them; note the definition of accompany on As always, there's always the disclaimer notice to absolve responsibility for mishaps, theft etc. 

Warnings were put up; kids would be kids, i will be worry if they don't jump and run. No matter what, keep a close eye on your kid and don't blame the company if the unfortunate takes place. 

For safety reasons, the typical longkang (drain in the Hokkien dialect) has been modified to suit the kids; wider and very much shallower (up to only 30 centimeters). 

WYSIWYG - for those you are unaware, that's the acronyms for What You See Is What You Get; the area the longkang fishing covers wasn't big and definitely couldn't compare to the few hundred meters of uncovered drains back then in the village. 

However, there's a limit of 40 children at any one time and if you are lucky, as we were; i counted no more than five kids, including Jerald and Jovyn. 

Time for fishing! p.s. don't worry about your kids getting wet so long you bring along a dry towel and fresh clothing; there were bathrooms located just a few steps away. 

Things are so much easier for kids now; it didn't take them long to realise the traumatized fishes were all hiding underneath and in between the rocks and like a scene from Finding Nemo, it's Darla time! 

Compared that to our time when algae, murky water blocked our view, the occasional wave that unbalanced us and the excitement of not knowing what you might get; trust me, it could be more than the guppies you can get in the current sanitized and chargeable environment. 

I could say all i want to differentiate now and then but it's how the kids feel that really matters.

Needless to say, they had a great time and wasn't happy when i mentioned that it's time to leave! 

By the way, the water can't be chlorinated water; hence, remind your charge not to put their fingers in the mouth when they are wet! *shake head*

The haul was quite spectacular for Jerald's first time and he was mesmerized with the whole lot of them. Kids at that age would always pester their parents for a pet and Jerald is no exception; it's pity that his mum loves to eat fish. 

Jerald with his haul.

Jovyn with hers. 

My sister will not welcome the fishes as pets and we had to persuade both kids to let them go. On second thought, i should have released them at the local reservoirs; down here, the guppies would once again be faced with restricted space and the sad fate of being hunted down by kids who don't know how to handle them. 

Life span would be shorter although you need not fret about the lack of guppies for your kids' enjoyment; there's a tank with hundreds of guppies for replenishment if need be. 

The disclaimer notice mentioned that the equipment would have to be returned back even though we were not required to do so for the tank and net. Strange; oh well, might as well keep them and bring the kids to Lower Peirce Reservoir Park for another session by the banks of the reservoir. 


81, Lorong Chencharu, #01-09, 
ORTO Leisure Park (the old Yishun Bottle Tree) 

Map from Khatib MRT
As above.

As above.

Operating Hours
Weekends & Public Holidays - 9am to 11pm
School Holidays (Tuesdays to Fridays) - 2pm to 9pm


S$12 for each child (whole day)
(includes GST, fish tank and net)

Additional Information
Your kid's birthday can be celebrated here with loads of fun and laughter; private area, birthday cake, balloons, buffet and longkang fishing for a limited number of children! 

What Else to Do in ORTO