Thursday, January 28, 2016

Photobook Cover

 Be still. 

Stillness reveals 

the secrets of eternity

Feel your emotions,
Live true your passions,
Keep still your mind.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Durian Season in Penang

June 2015, my cousin's wife Dawn took us to visit Rumah Batu, a durian plantation located at Balik Pulau Penang. It was probably my first time officially visiting a durian plantation. I've probably casually stroll into one before while I was hiking around with my dad when I was younger.
They have a nice balcony over looking the plantation which you can sit and eat your durian. There were a variety of durians you can pick from, and they serve nutmeg water (a Penang specialty drink) there as well. It is kinda expensive to eat there, cause these were branded durians, and the view was something to be experienced too.  You can see nets being tied everywhere to protect the durians when they drop from the trees. You can even see workers climbing up the tress without any safety nets, manually tying the more expensive durians one by one to ensure they don't hit the grown when the time comes for them to drop. And at the back of the house, there is  large cooking area, probably a place to make durian cake when there are surplus of durians. It was definitely a worthwhile trip. If you visit Penang during durian season, you should try vising some of the plantation there.
The above photos is more of the usual way I eat my durian, walking out with my aunt to buy packet durians from the nearby seller. I have to bring my aunt to ensure that we get a better deal as she knows the seller since he was a kid. Usually we can get a few boxes for RM50, which is ridiculously cheap compare to in Singapore. Plus, these are Penang durian. I'm a durian snob too, I only eat Penang durian. I can totally ignore durians my husband buy in Singapore, or just eat one and stop. But when in Penang, I can eat a whole box and keep going.I like the bitter sweet type, and the seller always know which to pick for me. Yes, you tell him what is your preference, and he picks it, cuts it up and box it for you to take home. If the durian is bad, he will usually replace one for you, no question ask.  We'll walk back happy, and sit around my aunt's living room eating those delicious fruit. Usually we buy some extra to keep in her fridge so she has some to last her a few days. It's one of those little joy of my visit to Penang. I never did enjoy durians from other places, not even from the plantation of my cousin's place in Kuantan Penang where they grow branded durians. I'm a simple person. I only like simple Penang durians.

Rumah Batu
Durians of Penang
Article in Strait Times about Penang Durian

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Relaxing in Penang June 2015

2015 was quite a stressful year for me. The first half of it was spend in a job I hated. It started in 2014 when I was seconded to another department to run projects. As much as I love implementing projects, I did not enjoy managing one. Although it did gave me a lot of time running around outside of the office visiting clients, hence providing me opportunity to attend my fave yoga teacher's lesson more often, it was still stressful, and I hated it. So in May 2015, I quit my job, and traveled to three places: Melbourne to visit my husband's cousin prior to officially quiting but already knowing I'll be more or less leaving, Penang to visit my parents before I start my new job with no leave for 6 months during probation, and my annual cruise on the Quantum which I should really start blogging about (I have a backlog of 4 years of cruise adventure that  I have yet to document here!)

Anyway, it was good to be back in Penang in June 2015. And this trip was slightly different. We didn't head to  my parents place as usual. Instead, we went to spend a night at my cousin's place in Balik Pulau. The above photos is a photo taken on our drive to see the sunset at Pulau Betong. It's a sleepy town, with sleepy cows. It felt relaxing watching them on the road somehow.

My cousin's wife took us to this seafood restaurant for dinner. I've visited it before in my previous trip to buy seafood, but not to eat there. This was my first time here. It was a nice setting for dinner, with the fishing boat just parked nearby. It is non-air conditioned, and quite laid back. But the food was good, and it was unique.  It was nice catching up with relatives once in a while.
After dinner, we took a drive to see the sun set off Pulau Betong, that's the island out there. My aunt's husband who passed away about 5 years ago on  29th October 2010 had his ashes sowed at the waters here. It is a beautiful place to rest for eternity. 

We also visited a Durian Plantation the next day, but I thought I'll leave that for another post.
Whenever we're back, we usually stay a night or two in a hotel to relax. Usually we stayed at Flamingo as I have a special interest for this hotel to stay in business. And I love the fact that its balcony over looks the bay of Tanjung Bungah. This is my home, and it is always beautiful to me. I guess one day I'll return to live the remaining of  my days here. But for now, I seek sanctuary here, as I geared myself up to start a new chapter of my life in a very different company....

Balik Pulau
Pulau Betong 
Jia Siang Cafe

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Memories in JCS (2014 & 2015)

Since I've been housekeeping my laptop and photo album and catching up on my backlog blogging, I finally managed to organized all my photos together and thought I'll do a post on my memories in JCS. I've only been two years there, and I'm hoping to survive another 3 years there. It's more of hard work then passion at times cause let's face it, its a damn hard language to learn. But it's satisfying when you realize you can now read a bit or understand a bit here and there. Just yesterday I read "Cinderalla", "Rabbit and the Turtle" and "Beauty and the Beast" in Japanese! Anyway, the above is a photo taken of my year old class together with our teacher Nanako Sensei.
It was the last year she was teaching in JCS, so during our last lesson, she gave us all this snack below. I really like it cause it's sweet instead of salty. 

Above is the cert they actually issue you when you pass your final year end exam. I really really like the cert. I'm collecting another one in March 2016 for my Year 2 exam too. I love calligraphy. Maybe I should consider taking it up. And look, my Chinese name in calligraphy! So pretty.
This next photo is of my Year 2 class with Yuki Sensei. I wasn't so social with the rest of the classmate, them being mostly in their own circle anyway. But I like the fact that we manage to get a photo with with our teacher together at the last day of lesson. I will probably be continuing on my 3rd year with the same sensei.
And this is what I do when I'm taking notes in class. This was part of the teaching material that the teacher was using, and I thought it was so cute how they draw different expression. So I copied it. I guess I should be more serious about my lesson moving forward. It's not like its getting any easier, and it's not like I'm improving much either, lol. It all boils down to me being lazy, simple as that. Let's hope 2016 will be better ya! 頑張ってくださいちゃん!

Japanese Cultural Society

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Handmade Key Pouch

I'm still sewing my own bags and pouches. In fact, these days, I make them by a dozen each time! Cause it's easier than making them one at a time. Factory mode saves time! And from time to time, you make something that you just love so dearly and take so much pride in it. And this post is about one of those time - my handmade key pouch. Everything about this creation just blend in so well. The color, the texture, the design, the size.
My Picard key pouch was dying, and I wanted to cut down on my animal product. So I decided to make this key pouch. The size is model after my beloved Picard key pouch, as per the design as well. The color is soft yet bright and just makes me so happy just looking at it. And the Hello Kitty sewed on just makes it something that people might actually pay good money for to own it! Sadly I couldn't find the same Helly Kitty button any more, they were bought in shop at KSL Johor Bahru long time back. I wish I had got more now. They are so very very cute!
This is what the inside of the pouch looks like. All my pouches are double layered with a different design inside. And I decided to use a label ribbon to hold the keychain. It turns out quite nicely too. Very professional if I may say so myself!
I have been using it ever since it was completed, and I totally love it. I love the fact no one else in the world has a designer key pouch like this. It is handmade and yet looked like a designer branded bag. I should really make more of these. Maybe one day I can even make a living out of them. Exclusively designed bags.


Monday, January 11, 2016

The Black Swan

The Black Swan has an extremely classic front when you're passing by it in the central business district of Singapore. It is just opposite where I work, and we would often walk pass it. One day, a colleague of mine place a bet with us that if she pass her driving test, she would treat us to a meal there. I was very impress by that alone. And am so happy that she pass!
We headed there on a Friday after our department meeting for a ladies only lunch. Everything look expensive on the menu, so to get the best ROI, I ordered the burger seen in the photo above. I have not had a burger (a Big Mac doesn't count), since a few years back when I had a milk food poison from a burger I had in a certain German restaurant at Clark Quay. But as this was a posh Black Swan, I wanted to believe that they would handle their patty better here. I was so confident of this that I even ordered mine medium raw as I do with all my steaks. The verdict? Best burger EVER! After this meal, I actually crave burgers and keep eating them everywhere I went! But none came close to the one I had at the Black Swan, not even the one at the White Rabbit

Above is a post from my colleague showing all the things we ordered. It was an excellent lunch for me, surrounded by very different class of people. Just next two us sat two well dressed guys drinking wine during lunch and fine food. There were lobsters being delivered to a private function room that is near where we sat as well. The ambiance was great too. The only mishaps we encountered was them seating us at the wrong seat, relocating us, and having our order pretty much mixed up. But they made up for it by serving us complimentary coffee. Thank you. It was a nice experience dining here.

The Black Swan

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Instant Noodles and Me

Instant noodles and me go way back. When I was a kid in school, I used to cook Maggi Chicken noodles and a drumstick and an egg for lunch. It was the cheapest lunch I could get at an allowance of RM2 per day. I couldn't get enough food for that kind of money in my school canteen. So most days, I cooked the same thing and eat, and instant noodle was one of them. ( I also ate fried potatoes, egg and cheese etc). I didn't have the healthiest childhood nor the most caring parents in the world, but I survived. So when someone tells me that instant noodles are bad for you, I totally ignore them. Without instant noodle, I would have no decent meal growing up.
After moving to Singapore, life haven't changed much except now the instant noodles I cooked are much more nutritious with proteins and vegetables.  And recently, there was this Penang White Curry Mee craze which made the curious me try it out eventually. I wasn't a fan of white curry mee in Penang, but I was curious to try this one since the review was good. It was suppose to be spicy, but I didn't find it so. Traditional curry noodles are cooked with cockles, prawns, chicken breast, pig's blood gelatin, and tao pok. I cooked mine with a variation of those. It didn't taste too bad either. But soon, the craze just died down and I stop eating it.
The next craze was Kyushu White cup noodles from Nissin. I have this misconception that Nissin or any Japanese brand makes healthier food since Japanese live longer on average. I used to be hooked on the Nissin Laksa cup noodle when I was studying, being introduced to it by my Indonesian room mate. Anyway, the above cup noodle can be bought at SGD 1.15 on a good promotion from Giant. I sometimes drop a hard boil egg into it to make it a  meal. The top right shows some bacon being thrown into it. It's nice, but kinda salty, so you can't really eat it that often.
The latest craze now in Singapore is the Korean fire noodle. My colleagues introduce me to it, and gave me a pack to try. It also comes in cup noodle version at around SGD2.60 to SGD2.90 per bowl. The pack is around SGD6.80 or so for 5. And this is super spicy! As in your everything would just burn! So be warn and go easy on the seasoning if you are trying it for the first time. You can adjust accordingly if you're cooking it at home.
The first time I had it was in a Korean restaurant, and it cost SGD7 or so, and I ordered half spicy. It was manageable and taste really addictive. I tried cooking it at home, and slowly adjust the seasoning up to one full pack. It taste nicer if you make it drier, and if you add mushroom to it, and dry it before serving, it is so much more fragrant. My favorite part is serving it with an egg with a raw yolk. I would leave the yolk to the very last, enduring the crazy spiciness till the very last mouthful. After which, I would pop the raw yolk into my mouth, and the oozing of the yolk covering your burned tongue is one of the nicest most satisfactory experience in life :P 

Maggi Chicken Noodles
Penang White Curry Mee 
Nissin Kyushu White
Korean Spicy Fire Noodles

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Hai Di Lao (海底捞火锅) vs Xian De Lai (鲜得来)

I normally don't like eating steamboat outside, cause it's always way cheaper to cook them at home. It isn't exactly the hardest thing to cook anyway, all you had to do was dump raw stuff into boiling soup. But for some reasons, lady friends like steamboat, probably because they think it's healthier? I don't know. But I ended up at Hai Di Lao at Clark Quay in one of the occasion, and this is one place I don't think I ever want to come back to.
Sure the soup was nice, sure the meat and ingredient was not too bad. But at almost SGD50 per person, it's way too expensive to my liking, especially since you're probably paying for a lot of extra you don't need: e.g. shoe shining while waiting for your seats to be available? Buffet of fruits and drinks while waiting for your seats to be available? Manicure while, you guess it, waiting for your seats to be available? And when you enter, they give you stuff like hairband for your hair, bags to cover your handbags, wipes for your glasses etc. I'm here to eat, not to do my makeover! And although interesting to see someone pull noodles for you whenever you order that, is it really necessary? I'm not paying for that! No thank you. But for what it's worth, the soup was really nice.
My favorite place to have steamboat is actually  Xian De Lai (鲜得来) at Liang Seah Street. I go there cause I love the Ma La Prawn. They have a wide variety of cooked and raw food you can order too. And its almost half the price of Hai Di Lao. The only thing that you may need to get use to is, most of the time not everything you order will be delivered to you. They kinda have this self regulating system that deliver just enough food to your table. But since it's a buffet, I'm not really bothered about it cause I leave only when I'm full. Besides, you can just remind them if you remember what you've ordered is not yet here yet. And the Chinese servers there are more genuine than the one in Xian De Lai as well. This is a much more down to earth place to eat. Been coming here for years now. And will continue to do so.   

Hai Di Lao (海底捞火锅)
Xian De Lai (鲜得来)

Friday, January 8, 2016

Cheers to Beer! Cheers to Life!

I've always thought I'm the more sophisticate wine drinker. And for most part I was, and it had to be red. Pinot Noir always. My favorite is actually Italian red wine. But at SGD50 from the duty free store, I only drink one bottle maybe once or twice a year. But somewhere along the way, I started really liking beers! I've always like cider, but then I started venturing into fruit beer by accident, and fell totally in love with it!
My favorite place for a beer is actually at the Crossing Cafe at the Bible House near Bras Basah. I went there by accident with a brunch of friends searching for a quite place to chat. They had beer there and I ordered a peach beer. It was served in a chilled glass and was delicious, costing SGD7 a bottle. I was back there again a few months later with some drinking buddies (actually we were Sunday walking buddies, but a drink is always a nice change). We all ordered two rounds of beer each, and each came with its individual chilled glass. I was sold. The food there is not bad either! I highly recommend this place for a nice drinks either day or night. But they close quite early though.
I also started drinking beer with my Japanese meal, mainly whenever I'm at Ootoya, I'd order a Kirin, which I love, although recently I've also been slowly converting to Asahi dry. Sadly Yebisu is hard to find in Singapore. One of my favorite to purchase beers for drinking at home is at Pasarbella's Great Beer Experiment. So far this is the only place that sells my favorite strawberry beer at SGD7 a bottle. I know, it's expensive, but you've got to taste it to believe it. It's absolutely delightful! I down these babies real fast when on a hot day. I'm currently out of supplies at home. Am wondering when I will get to top up :)

Cheers to a wonderful 2016 year ahead! 2015 had been fun. I changed job, visited so many places and did so many exciting things that I don't even have enough time to blog about it. But that's what life is all about: collecting beautiful memories. And I'm feeling optimistic about the future, and excited at the same time even though I know there's going to be a lot of hard work involved. Perhaps finally, I'm starting to live the life I've wanted.....

Crossing Care
The Great Beer Experiment

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Tim Ho Wan

When Tim Ho Wan first open it's first branch in Singapore in 2013 or 2014, there were always long queue and we didn't manage to try it. Everyone wanted to try the Michelin-starred restaurant with it's pocket friendly prices. Well, we did finally managed to try it one weekday morning. We were suppose to be going to Penang on that day, so that's why we were off. We thought we'll have breakfast there before our flight, so we headed to the Bedok Mall branch. There was a freaking queue even before the opening hour, on a freaking weekday! But look at my husband, he is so happy he get to queue and finally try the food there. 
We didn't order much as there was only the two of us. Plus we were headed to Penang, come on! Plus the price was really high for my liking. And the menu wasn't exactly outstanding either. I guess what I meant to say was, I wasn't really impress, sorry.
The food came, and the food went. What did I like? Well the bake char siew bao was very nice and probably the only thing I really like. The cheong fan was also not too bad. The rest of the food, well, wasn't really that great. After that encounter, I've only been back there once. I much prefer Ting Dai Fung then Tim Ho Wan. I also prefer the dim sum at Yan Palace than here. In other words, I think this place is really over rated.But it would be my taste bud, cause I don't really like the food in Hong Kong either.....But I do love the food in China!

Here's a photo of a crab meat flavored xiao long bao from Ding Tai Fung to prove my point. There's more sense of  "love"  and "fun" here. :P

Tim Ho Wan 
Ding Tai Fung
Yan Palace

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Biz Trip - Taiwan Shopping

I did most of my shopping in Wellcome 24 hours grocery shops and convenient stores like 7-Eleven and Family Mart due to my work schedule. Needless to say, shopping is done either after 9pm, or before 8am in the morning. But even then, it is always interesting to walk into a local grocery store. For instance, they were selling can grilled eel for only SGD2 per can! And Japanese Curry mix was also around that price. I also got a pack of herbal tea egg mix. On the right are chocolates with cute packaging. These are the little things that makes me feel happy :)  I did visit Sogo one time, but it was so crowded on a Monday evening around 8pm that I decided to venture into less known local stores instead.
In Taiwan, it's hard to walk around without seeing local biscuits being on sale here and there. Below are some boxes I bought home. Left is Tao Sar Piah with assorted flavor I got for my colleague from Taipei Main Station. Took me a while to find the store, and I bought almost everything available there (which wasn't much at 8pm on a Friday night). I was lectured severely by the aunty there for not placing a order since I wanted to buy 40 pieces of the biscuit. She gave me her card and told me to call 2 to 3 days in advance next time. I managed to only get 10 pieces, and not all the available flavor either :(  But it was quite nice. I also got a box of Sun biscuit from her which I have one each day for dinner after my trip. I love butter sun biscuit (太陽鉼). The box in the middle is Pineapple Tarts given from a colleague which I eventually shared with my team, but didn't actually try any of it. What can I say, nothing will ever beat Peranakan pineapple tarts! I'm quite a snob when it comes to that.
2nd half of the photo on top shows the Tao Sar Piah individually wrapped, some cute pastry I got from an artisan shop I walk pass every morning on my morning walk. I got a pack of Christmas related cakes for colleague who helped me with my hotel arrangement while i was there. And the bottom right corner are Doraemon cakes! So super cute that I just got to buy them! I got those from 7-Eleven, together with the mini coke candy. Refer last photo in the post, they are one of my favorite find there!
Gudetama, the latest craze hitting Asia can be found everywhere in Taipei! Top half are coaster I got from a night market on my last night there. It comes in 4 design, but I could only find 3 in the shop. There was a promotion on where if you buy items, you get a 20% off . I spend 30mins trying to find the 4th item but gave up eventually. But the lady in the shop was kind enough to give me the discount anyway. I gave 2 of the coaster as Christmas gifts to my colleagues and kept one. I also saw those cute tissue papers in Family Mart one night, and decided to get them for only 18TWD (SGD 0.80)! 6 designs, 12 or 18 pack inside. When I went to the counter to pay, the cashier ask if I wanted to get another pack as they were on offer at 1TWD if I get the extra pack. So of course I did! So it cost me two packs for SGD0.81!!! Was giving them away in the office after that. So very very cute! Similar pack can be found in Singapore for like SGD4!
Here's a photo of my cute cute Doraemon cakes again. I put a folk next to it to show how small those cakes are.  I swear that these are happy cakes! The moment you pop one into your mouth, you instantly feel happy and cute again :)  Happy Shopping in Taipei!  

And so I end my post entries for my first business trip from my new company. I'll be back in Taipei again in January 2016. I'm also looking forward to visiting Mumbai, India in February 2016. Will be spending the 2nd half of my Chinese New Year there if everything goes as plan :)


Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Biz Trip - Taiwan Food

Taiwan, land of the bubble tea. But I drink mine without bubble. Ta-dah, my favorite tea there. Iron Buddha Latte! Smooth as silk. Gonna drink it more often when I visit next time. If I weren't so full all the time, i wouldn't have mind some pearls in them.
 As for the food, I know a lot of people like Taiwan for its food, but I'm just not one of those people. True I would eat almost anything, but in terms of preference, I would not visit Taiwan for its food as the sole reason. There were exceptionally delicious food available, one of my favorite was a hotpot place my colleagues there took  me too. The soup was herbal, and that was enough for me. And they have so much nice soya products to throw into it that I was in heaven. Apart from that, the rest of the food was ok. Above from left to right: snacks from the night market, appetizer before beef noodle, and a typical lunch set.
I am ashamed to say I ate at Japanese restaurant a total of 4 times! Hakata Ramen, Santouka Ramen, Ootoya, and Coco Curry House. The top photo is from Coco Curry House I had Ebi Curry Rice. Second picture is the beef noodle. It wasn't as nice as the one my husband bought me to last time where he had trouble with his stomach after eating it cause the beef was too raw lol. I had no problem though.

The last picture is of all the night market snacks I got on my last night there. Everything was delicious, but I couldn't finish it all, which was sad and a waste :(   Will go back! I promise!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Biz Trip - Taiwan Tamsui 淡水 28-Nov

Here's a place that was also not on my plan of place to visit, but my partner in crime for the day wanted to badly to see the sea (which we found out later was actually a lake -____-). Since we completed Beitou in 2 hours, I agree to go with him to Tamsui to see the sea and pier.
Tamsui is at the end of the red line, and just a few stops from Xinbeitou station. We were there soon enough, after passing through mountains and stuff. Coming from Singapore, seeing anything natural is a treat to me. I love the view of the horizon 
There is only two street there (unless you want to take a ferry across the lake...). One is at the side of the lake which is shown in the top photo, and you can just walk beside the water for miles. It was a rather hot day, so we went to the other street which is Tamsui Old Street. There you will find lots of food, tea and shops selling traditional biscuits, boiled quail eggs etc. I actually got a pack of yam biscuit here which taste quite nice.  I understand this place has a great night market too. Maybe I can visit it one day. If I stay at the same hotel, I actually have a direct train here.
Anyway, let me take a selfie :P

Tamsui 淡水

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Biz Trip - Taiwan Beitou Library 28-Nov

 Beitou Public Library is a beautiful place to visit, especially for book lovers. Just to know that such a wonderful exist just for people to have the pleasure of reading books is just awesome! The place is only a 10 minutes walk from the train station, and is covered in green and brown color from a far. It is open at 8:30am on a Saturday, and people can be seen queuing outside before it was even open.
The above photos shows the outside of the library. Even from inside, you can walk out to the balcony and there are seats and quite corners where you can sit, enjoy the view and read a nice book. Sadly I vendor who came with me was not interested in the library, leaving me only 10 minutes to explore the 3 story building. If I was on my own, I would probably have lingered longer.

Above is a collection of photos showing what it looks like inside. They have a children's floor with story telling corner and such. They have a stone garden outside, and I super like the emperor looking wooden chair found in some parts of the library. They also have study ares with banker lamps! Very impressive!
Here's a photo of me again, proof that I was really really there! I realize how colorful my outfit looks, which kinda reflect how carefree I am when I'm exploring :)

And so this ends my post on Beitou. I think it would be a great place to stay over night with a private onsen and a full Japanese meal! Maybe I can come again next time?

Beitou Public Library