Saturday, May 24, 2008

Singapore's Best Kept Shopping Secret

Ever since I moved to the East of Singapore, you could hardly ever find me hanging out in Orchard. Its not worth the trip! The best shopping place in Singapore is in fact at Singapore Expo when there is a warehouse sale on! And this is best reflected by this weekend's sale event there! The sales that is on from 23/May to 25/May are:

1. Addidas Sale for all your sports fanatic @ Hall 6
2. Robinson 150 Birthday Bash Sale @ Hall 7
3. Incidently there is also a LO'real sale in the Robinson sale
4. Popular Book Sale @ Hall 4
5. And the Great Singapore Food Fest @ Hall 5

Singapore Expo Event Guide

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Life with HTC Touch

After almost two months with my new phone, things sure have changed in my life. For a start, I now no longer complain about the bus/train taking too long to arrive. I now take my company's shuttle bus to Bugis after work now as the shuttle bus bus-stop has a strong WiFi signal. This saves me S$0.60 each trip :) And my fear on public transport now is the fear of missing my stop!

What do I use my Touch phone for? Well, in two months I have used it for the following usage (besides sms and calling of course):
- Taiwan trip planner and navigator (equipted with maps, contacts, directions and transport information)
- Daily finance tracker (still in need of a better software)
- Reading more news then I normally do via AvangtGo and RSS feed
- Shopping List tracker (still in need of a better software)
- Reading of eBooks via Microsoft Reader
- Daily Jokes
- Daily motivation quotes
- Daily Dharma lesson
- Listening to music and watching short clips
- Download and reading my email attachments, especially those power point slide
- Daily scheduler and reminder
- Drawing and scrabbling notes
- First aid and massage lesson
- Aid in working by storing all my cheat files inside
- Using it as a torch light since the screen is so bloody big :P
- Google earth
- And last but not least, countless numbers of games!

How on earth am I ever going to back to keyboard old fashion phone again??? Give me free WiFi connection any day and I am happy! Thank God Wireless@SG will still be free for another 2 years :)

My wish list for my future phones or application provider
- Heartbeat monitor!
- MapMyRun mobile application integrated with Google Earth
- Japanese learning application
- TV receiver! woohoo!
- Wouldn't it be great if I can use my phone as an EzLink card?
- Or even use it as a Credit Card?
- More eServices that can be connected via mobile WiFi
- Bus guide and train guide
- Exercise planner and guide!
- Radio receiver
- Guitar Chord Cheat!

Ok enough for today. Here are some more links for mobile appls :)
XFlib Portal - My current fave is TangledBugs
AvantGo - News and Channel Feed
Abacci Books - Free eBooks
Microsoft Reader - Reader for your eBooks
Google Maps - I love the aerial view pic!

Monday, May 19, 2008


I like collecting quotes. Its interesting how very few words piece together can make more sense then your nagging parents, and help you face the problem you have to face day in day out.

One of the very first quote that anyone has ever shared with me was this: "Action is the antidote to despair" by Joan Baez (I only found out who the author is today when I google it). At 14 then, I have no idea what the quote meant, and even need to consult with my English teacher Ms Wee for the meaning. Even then, I have no idea what it meant. But now, I do. And a simple line like that has helped me overcome my many despair in life. So thanks a million to the person who gave me that quote :)

Besides sharing with you one of my favourite quotes, I'd also like to share with you my favourite website for quotes Generation Terrorists. This site is run by Jason Quek, a Singaporean, whose site has gone international and has quotes from wise people, to movies, to tv programs, newspaper articles etc etc. Check out the forum there as well as people debate about life and everything else under the sky.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

American Idol Fever

After two weeks of absents from American Idol, the fever's back! And even though one of my fave singer Jason Castro is out (thank god! cause it was getting a bit painful to watch him sing week after week), there's still three singer to watch.

I've updated my recommended list to your right with all David Cook's songs. My vote goes to him! But truth be told (which incidently is the original name of this blog before Midnight stole it), I am looking forward to the end of American Idol so that I can fill this blog with much more interesting content then just Idol Fever news. So stay tune!

But in the meantime, do enjoy some of David Cook's songs. Looking forward to his first album!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Taiwan Lodging Information and Review

Here are some logding information for my own future reference, as well as for anyone interested in backpacking in Taiwan

Our first 2 nights in Taipei was spend in Camel Oasis. The hostel is just 5 minutes walk from CKS MRT station, and cost us S$45 per night for a double bed room. Shared facilities includes a very cosy living room, bathroom, kitchen area and washer area for clothes. Internet is available, and WiFi connected. The owner Shawn is also very friendly. Its almost like staying in your own home. The only downside is, the mosquitos! They left quite a few marks on me!

Next we spend one night at Taroko Hotel at Taroko Gorge. Its 400m from the park's headquarters, and cost us S$75 per night with breakfast included. Very cosy as well, as shown in the photos here. I slept from 6pm to 7am the next day while I was there. This was largely due to the 10km walk on my first day there :)

The receptionist, who happens to be the hotel owner's son, is also very friendly, and helped us to plan our journey around the gorge. He also hooked us up with a wonderful cab driver on our second day there. We stayed in room 301, and there are no lift in the hotel! But the worst is yet to come at Alishan!

We stop by one night in Taipei before heading to Chiayi, staying at Taipei Backpacker which cost us S$45 a night and situated at Ximending area. Compare to Shawn's place, it was clastophobic, crowded, and unfriendly. Actually this is what a typical hostel is like, so you can't really fault them for it. Its just that we were spoilt rotten on our first two nights in Taipei :) Ximending was however very vibrant when the shops were open, but very sad and depressing after 11pm.

The next two nights was spend at Shernmu Hotel at Alishan. Costing us S$105 with buffet breakfast included, this was our most expensive hotel in our whole trip. We stayed in room 512, and get this, NO LIFT!

We reach our room breathless everynight! Yet it was one of the best room in the hotel. Very cosy as shown in photo here! But staff there were commercially friendly. Our last three nights were spend at New Mayflower Hotel near Taipei Main Station, charging us around S$60 per night. The aunties there were really friendly, but the room is just so so. Air con leaked, but the beds were comfortable.

Taipei 臺北市

Finally some photos on Taipei. The day we arrived in Taipei, we stayed at Camel Oasis, which is near C.K.S Memorial Hall. We managed to catch the sunset at CKS, and it was beautiful! We highly recommend Camel Oasis as a place to stay in Taipei. Its a first grade hostel.

On our second night in Taipei, we visited the Taipei National Palace Museum which is way way better then the museum in Shanghai! Opposite the road is the Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines which is worth a visit and the museum tour is highly recomended! I shamelessly use my Student Card to get a S$5 discount on the admission tickets :) That night, we visit Shilin Night Market, and Lungshan Temple show here in the photo. Nearby the temple is another night market(Hua-Hsi 华西) which we return to on our last night in Taipei. Its better then Shilin!

What made my Taipei's visit especially memorable, is the encounter with the famous Mazu Festival! I've seen it many a times on documentaries, and even seen the exhibit in Singapore's Asian Civilization Museum, but to get the chance to see it live beats everything else hands down!

Mazu Festival was in full swing in Taipei on 27 May, from Shilin Night Market area, to Lungshan Temple area! It was totally amazing! A religious procession smack in the middle of a night market is quite a rare sight! And no one was complaining as the traffic comes to stand still as the procession take place! Everywhere you see all this giant god-like figures walking around, and fire crackers were being let off everywhere non-stop! There were also fireworks everywhere lighting up the sky!

The last in the procession is Mazu herself, and people bow down on the floor for her to pass over to get her blessing. We pretty much follow the whole procession down the road at Lungshan, and at every temple, the procession will stop to bless the local temple, and more fire crackers and fireworks were let off! That totally blew me away! Taipei is indeed a very vibrant city!

As for the other sites of Taipei, well, we didn't see much. We managed to drag ourselves to Taipei 101 after one week in Taiwan, and left after having dinner there as it was rather boring. The bookstores there is also another reason I love Taipei! Too bad I can't read Chinese books much. And the books are a lot more expensive then in China.

Yehliu 野柳

Yeliu is a small town just 1 hour bus ride north of Taipei. Its a small fishing village as show here in the photo. The reason I wanted to go here its because of the name Yeliu Geographical Park. I've never been to a geographical park before, and it kinda gave me an image of a park full of volcanic activity....

In fact, it was a park full of curious looking rock formation! And on the picture they all look so fragile! So I was indeed surprise that you can actually go into the park and walk all over the exhibit inside! Basically its just a different kind of beach, and it only cost S$2.50 to go in! We spend 3 hours inside climbing over endless rocks and hills.

This shot is taken from a small hill at the park. You can walk all the way to the tip of the island in the picture. At the top, you can see the whole ocean, and the breeze there is magnificent! But to get there, involves a lot of uneartly climbing up a few storeys of small steps from the bottom of the beach of rocks.

Just below the small hills, are lots and lots of small rock formation that you can explore on your own. On the ground were also small pools of water, and in it are sea cockroaches! They run away in manic frenzy everytime you walk near a pool of water! Fun!

There were also beaches of seaweeds which you can walk all the way down to explore. On tops are cliff with people walking on them. While I was there, I was wondering is Singapore's Sungai Buluh park something like this? An interactive park where you can see, feel, touch and smell nature? Maybe I'll pay Sungai Buluh Park a visit soon. Still, I think Yeliu is surely one of its kind! Do visit it if you have a chance!

We were so engross with the whole park that we almost miss the one attraction that the park is most famous for, which is the Queen's Head formation shown here. We manage to get our photo taken with it. The formation is at the risk of being broken in near future, and when that happens, our photo will be priceless! :)

Friday, May 9, 2008

Alishan 阿里山國家風景區

We managed to take the famous Alishan Forest Railway up to Alishan. The train service has been down for almost 20 days, and we were lucky enough to get tickets to its very first ride after repair! There were lots of VIP and reporters accompanying us on the ride as show in the picture here.

We sat in the first carriage of the train, which unfortunely had a broken down aircon. Although we were invited to move to a an aircon carriage, we decided to stay as the temperature will be getting cooler as we move upwards. What a great decision! They decided to open the train door for us to let in some fresh air! And this is the view of our carriage, with the front door open as the train make its way up Alishan! It was such a joy ride, almost like in an Indiana Jones movie, but without being kick in the ass for it :)

This is a photo of the hotel we stayed in - Shermun Hotel (神木) taken the day we left Alishan with all the mist surrounding it. Temperature then was 11 degree Celsius, at the height of 2.5km above sea level. The hotel cost us S$105 per night. We stayed for two nights.

One of the highlight of Alishan are the giant trees around it. The photo here shows the Giant Tree Trails. We were surrounded by over 40 giant tree which has been around for 800 - 1300 years! Can you imagine what it might be like to live that long??? The other highlight of Alishan is of course the famous sunrise. We woke at an unearthly hour of 3:30am to catch it, but the weather was just too cloudy to get a good view. Thankfully the night trip to watch the fireflies was much more fruitful :)

Lastly this is my fave photo of Alishan, the misty and mysterious forest of Alishan captured here in the photo. It was taken on our last day there when a heavy mist decided to cover the whole mountain white. It was lovely, and peaceful at the same time. This view is just a few steps outside of our hotel!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Taroko Gorge 太魯閣國家公園 - Final Post

What can I say? I love Taroko! And I promise, this will be my last post on it. Photo on the right shows hill side Lyushui Trails, only 2km, 40 minutes hike around the hills. Before there were highways of Taroko, the Japanese build these path for transportation. These are the original, and hiking thru them kinda give me The Bridge on the River Kwai kinda feeling. If you've seen that movie, you will know what I mean. There were many hanging bridges all over Taroko as well.

We also visit Tunnel of Nine Turns (九曲洞), 2km 30 mins walk, and Swallow's Grotto (燕子口) 1.3km, 50mins walk. It was literally like walking in a Chinese paintingm what with the mountains, the caves, the waters, and the occational swallow flying by! Very serene!

Unfortunately, my humble shoe died on me while I was walking thru Swallow Grotto. I though it was only fitting that I took this picture here, in memory of my shoe. It was disposed off at a famous Huelien Beach 7-Star Beach (七星). The boots actually only cost S$10, but I love it all the same as it has accompanied me thru many hikes in China, Melbourne, and Taiwan. May it RIP.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Taroko Gorge 太魯閣國家公園 - Baiyang Waterfalls

Day 2 and we gave up walking the whole of Taroko and decided to hire a taxi instead. We drove towards the other end of Taroko, and started our journey from there. First stop Baiyang Waterfalls. The trail started with a walk thru a tunnel by the highway.

It opens up to a path at the other end, and we made our way along winding roads towards Baiyang Waterfall, which is a 4km hike, taking us about 1.5hours to complete. Along the path there were signs that says: Beware of poison bees! I bet tour buses don't drop their customers here! We didn't see any at all!

The path went thru multiple tunnels, some so dark and so long that you can see just the light at the other end as shown here. Some were winding tunnels, at which you find yourself walking in total darkness, with water driping down the walls of the tunnel. You can either use the rail at the side of the tunnel to guide you thru, or be smart and bring a torch light!

We managed to spot a deer which somehow fell over and landed into the river waters as shown on the photo here. The photo below shows a close up of the deer. There were some guys who were serving their Taiwan National Service along the path, and their job was to survey the area and take notes of the surrounding. Thus we trust the deer was in good hands and someone would come rescue it soon.

The final path towards Baiyang Waterfall was thru a dark tunner with water falling all over! It was in total darkness, and total wetness! The park cleaner actually told us that people usually wear rain coats in. We didn't have any, and we though maybe our umbrella would do. Boy were we wrong! The path was narrow and slippery! And water was falling all over you! And you were just walking at the side of the tunnel cause in the middle was a bloody river running thru it! We were too wet and too shocked to take any photos, but we truly enjoy the exciting walk! Came out of the tunnel soaking wet, but was soon dry by the sun and wind as we make our way back towards the highway.

Taroko Gorge 太魯閣國家公園 - Shakadang

Probably my favourite spot of this trip to Taiwan is Taroko Gorge. We reach Huelien(花蓮)on 28 May by Train (3hours ride from Taipei, NT445, S$22.25 one way, and took a public bus straight to Taroko National Park (45mins ride, NT105, S$5.25). We stayed at a small private run Taroko Hotel which cost us around S$75 per night.

The first walk we took was to Shakadang. It was about 15 minutes walk from our hotel, and the whole trail is about 4.5km, which took us about 2.5 hours. It was our first look at what Taroko has to offer, and we were in love with it the moment we step on the Shakadang trail

The walk started off a side of a bridge, decending about 2 storeys down from the highway. At the bottom, we followed the trail inwards towards rocks and running water. The path were half covered by semi caves as show in the picture here. It was raining slightly as we made our way inwards. We didn't encounter much people along our hike as I guess, most tourist wouldn't bother spending half their afternoon hiking in the rain! Very peaceful, very beautiful.

As we walked deeper, there were some visible path leading down towards the river. It was stable looking enough, and we made our way down slowly. The water at Shakadang river was simple beautiful! Crystal clear! We should have packed a picnic and just spend the whole afternoon there just sitting by the small waterfalls all around us!

Deeper and deeper, the rocks got higher, and we were walking further away from the riverbed. The water got rougher as it got nearer the source, a dam at the end of Shakadang trail. But some of the places where there were caves as shown here, the water lie peaceful, undisturbed, and totally mesmerizing in their saphire dark blue colours.

We managed to visit the Eternal Spring Shrine (長春祠) on our first day as well, before making our way back towards the hotel. In total, we walked more then 10km on our first day there, in about 4 hours!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Naruwan Taiwan

Welcome to Taiwan. Visit daily as I'll be uploading my Taiwan trip photos here, as well as stories of the whole journey. For a start, some highlighted photos from the trip can be found to your right of this blog. I hope to upload everything by this weekend as some of my friends and colleagues are headed to Taiwan end of this month. Hopefully they can benefit from some of the entries here :)