Sunday, February 24, 2008

Farewell Ah Meng...

The plan for today was to join the throng of 40,000 strong crowds at the Singapore Air Show 2008. However, it was only after I made my way to the SAM machine that the message "Sold Out" flashed before my eyes. I couldn't believe it. Do they mean the walking spaces at the new and more spacious Changi site were sold out?

All equipped for a day out in the hot sun with sunglasses, sun block lotion, water bottle and a cap, I was left standing beside the SAM machine with the occasional poke of the finger on the touchscreen and ever the slightest hope that I might be able to trick the system into issuing me a ticket after the nth attempt.

Determined not to spend a disappointing Sunday, I hopped into a taxi and made my way to the Zoo.

With the hype in the papers about the recent passing on of Ah Meng and the search for the next animal Superstar for the Singapore Zoological Gardens, I decided to visit the nominees before casting my vote.

I'm really proud of the Singapore Zoo. Aside from the spacious enclosures and the creation of the animal's natural habitat, the visitors are promised a glimpse of the animals at all of their respective enclosures. Please do not take this for granted because I have been to many zoos in different countries and many a time, I was left standing in front of an enclosure, trying to locate the animal and figuring out where on earth could it be hiding in the not-so-large space.

Another great achievement by the Singapore Zoo is the close proximity it has brought the visitors to the animals. There are some world-first free ranging areas where the lovable Orang Utans and numerous primates can be seen swinging above the heads of visitors, feeding time where children can hand feed the baby wallabies as well as the various animal shows where the visitors get to interact with some performing animals. And it never fails to warm my heart when I see how close the animals are to their trainers. With some effort on our part, it is truly possible for man and animals to co-exist peacfully.

And many may not know that there's an area allocated within the zoo for the visitors to learn more about the different species of Orchids as well as some tropical plantations.

And of course, I duly paid my respect to the late Ah Meng.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Playing Tourist on 3rd Day of CNY

The first stop for the day is at the Duck Tour counter at Suntec City Mall to secure the tickets for the afternoon tour. It's very much similar to catching a movie at any of those cinemas in town where it's simply not possible to get tickets for the next show but only for those screening a few hours later. Before 11.30am, the 2pm tickets were already sold out. I'm glad I made this my first stop.

Next, I took the train to Tanah Merah MRT station, came out at Exit B and boarded the No. 2 bus. The bus took me directly to the bus stop opposite The Changi Chapel Museum which was rather convenient considering the ulu location. Along the way, I even got a peek of the Singapore be honest, there's not much to see with the tall green fencing.
This is my 3rd or 4th visit to The Changi Chapel museum but it's my first time hiring an audio aid. The admission is free while the audio aid costs $8. The museum is not very big but the fact that I came back a couple of times really goes to show that the exhibit is really interesting. For those who have yet to be there, it's highly recommended. And if you are observant, just before you turn right to the open air cafe, there's a door in front of you. It's opened to the tourists...check it out! (I did not even know about it during my previous visits!)

Immediately after the museum tour, I headed straight back to Suntec City Mall only to find out that all the tours are fully booked by 3pm and there's already a large crowd gathering at the briefing area.

On my way back to the Suntec City Mall

The 4pm group was subdivided into four groups and lead to four Duckie vehicles. The vehicle which I boarded was named "Darla" and it's a 'female' vietnamese war vehicle used by the US soldiers to transport military aids or equipments. I had quite a good tour guide - Zach and the tour was rather enriching with his illustrious expanations on the major landmarks in the Marina Bay region. I was surprised to learn so many new and interesting facts about Singapore during the tour despite being a Singaporean! Zach also succeeded in getting the spontaneous participations from the tourists in his quizes where the prize for guessing the correct answer is the Duck Tour whistle. I didn't win any so in the end, I decided to buy one. :)

The majestic Merlion

National Day new celebration site

Hard at work at the Integrated Resort site

The Singapore Flyer which will open officially on Valentine's Day!

Dragon boat practise at Kallang River (Where did all the locals go to?)

Singaporeans get to enjoy a 30% off the $33 adult fare for the Duck Tour - which translates to $23 for a 60 mins tour. And I bet my money that if you were to grab any tourists on the street, they can easily rattle off more facts about Singapore than any of the locals!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

First Day of The New Year (年初一)

On the first day of Chinese New Year, I thought that everywhere would be pretty much a ghost town with the majority of the Chinese shop owners closed for business for the next couple of days.

I was in fact enquiring around as to whether it is advisable to spend my evening at Chinatown and decided against it when I receive the "N0-Go" from both my parents and the taxi driver. So instead, I ventured to the Singapore River Ang Pow.

It's really an understatement to describe the entire scene as being crowded. People from all over the world seems to be there! There's sweaty ang mohs, Singaporean-Chinese, China-Chinese, groups of nicely dressed Malay families and even the India-Indians seem to decide to abandon Little India to join in the fun at the Singapore River!

Being the greedy me, I spent like 15mins looking at the gigantic God of Fortune, the various New Year decorations and all the fun fair rides before diving into the crowd crawling along the stretch of food stalls that seems to go on and on and on... :)

As it was a rather breezy evening and the crowd was not as packed as that at Chinatown, the long walk down the food stalls was still tolerable. I was able to snap some photos of the various food stalls without having someone bang into my camera or squashing me to pulps.

Along the way, I manage to pick up some popiah candies, takoyaki balls, otak and satay. So I was kind of full by the time I reached the end of the food stall.

Next I decided to treat myself to an $8 blackcurrant drink and a $10 sausage savoury plate which was essentially made up of two sausages cut into thin slices. *idiot* My brother would kill me for paying $5 for one bloody standard sized sausage which doesn't even come with the grilled buns.

But when the firework display went off at exactly 9.30pm, I knew instantly that the $18 was well spent! A spot on the restaurant's roof terrace, away from the crowd, with the gentle breeze blowing on my face and a magnificent view of the captivating skyline as well as the's definitely worth more than $18!!

I do hope this is an indication of the good year that awaits me....

Happy Lunar Rat Year (鼠年快乐)

Here's wishing fellow bloggers and bloggees a FANTASTIC LUNAR NEW YEAR! As my saying goes: "New Year, New Hopes...Whatever bad happened last year, just leave it behind and move ahead" :)

As with all other years, my family had steamboat for our reunion dinner. To be honest, the food was the usual fanfare but it's festive mood of having everyone gathered around the dining table that makes the dinner so special! Even Alicia has a seat around the dinning table despite the low-seat-high-table combination which only means that while we were chomping away on the food, she gets to play "Whose Feet Is It Anyway?"

This year, we got 3 cooks in the kitchen and just for the dessert alone, they were mercilessly slicing open the small pumpkins, digging out the insides and turning it into bowls for the nice mango-pomelo-sago dessert! It's so yummylicious! If not for my full tummy, I would definitely go for a second helping.

And what is New Year without the traditional pineapple tarts?