Thursday, August 3, 2017

Singapore Busker Lawrence Wong Khaw Boon Wan MRT - Hilarious!

This Singapore Busker uncle has a decent deep voice, plus decent guitar skills.  But what really stood out was his lyrics.  Really funny.  He sings about Lawrence Wong, Khaw Boon Wan, about HDB, about MRT, all to the famous tune of 'Blowin in the Wind' by Bob Dylan.

Worth a watch, Singapore talent!

Since you are on my page, why not check out the famous Nasi Lemak Burger!  This burger was introduced for a short while by McDonalds to celebrate Singapore's 52nd birthday, in the year 2017.  I tried it once, not too bad, though I still prefer the real Nasi Lemak.

Speaking of Nasi Lemak, the Adam Road Nasi Lemak is rather famous in Singapore.  This stall is called Crave, serving the famous Adam Road Nasi Lemak.  Yummy!
Have a good day!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Nasi Lemak Burger McDonalds Celebrates National Day 2017 - Pasir Panjang 99 Bends Night Ride

I try the McDonalds Nasi Lemak Burger.  The first reaction was - what?  Well, I only found out about this burger from some social media reports, as well as reactions from friends on Facebook.  So I decided to try it, since it was so novel.

How was the experience?  Not bad.  Worth a try, especially if you are a Nasi Lemak fan.  If you don't like Nasi Lemak, then no point.  Here is the video I made.

What's the big deal, you may ask?  Well, prior to this, nobody associated Nasi Lemak with a burger.  Why?  Nasi Lemak is a Malay fragrant rice dish cooked with coconut milk.  When you think of Nasi Lemak, you think of rice.

Which begs the question - Nasi Lemak Burger?  The name itself is a bit of a contradiction.  Nasi means rice in Malay.  So where is the rice?  Maybe precisely because it is so counter-intuitive, nobody has tried to make Nasi Lemak in a burger form before, until now. And, this must account for the great interest.  Usually, nobody is really very interested in burgers, well at least in Singapore.

We are not really a burger nation.  But now, with this Nasi Lemak variation, it has really opened our eyes to many new possibilities. Put the two most unlikely food together, and you can actually get something that works!  So, thank you McDonalds for teaching us a larger lesson in thinking out of the box.

Since we are on the topic of Nasi Lemak, here are some other Nasi Lemak videos that I have made in the past.

Nasi Lemak @ 35,000 Feet Singapore Airlines Business Class
Privileged to fly in SQ Premium cabins, and on this flight, I had Nasi Lemak for breakfast.  It was a heavy breakfast, and certainly I was very full thereafter! 

Pak Nasser Nasi Lemak - Air Asia
On another Airline, this time low-cost.  Air Asia!  I had the Pak Nasser's Nasi Lemak.  Very good for airplane food.

Adam Road Nasi Lemak @ Orchard ION
This place was called Crave. Supposed from Adam Road Nasi Lemak fame.  The food was decent.  I have had their Nasi Lemak several times.

Qiji Nasi Lemak (with Chicken Cutlet)
This foodstore called Qiji serves decent Nasi Lemak too.  In this instance, I chose the Nasi Lemak with chicken cutlet version. Good!

Enjoy your Nasi Lemak! Oh, almost forgot, below are the videos of the 99 Bends ride.

Riding uphill - from Pasir Panjang, towards Kent Ridge.

Coming back, this is downhill. Didn't need to pedal much, just let gravity do its work.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

National Day Parade Song 2017 - Because It's Singapore

National Day Parade 2017.  The theme song this year is 'Because Its Singapore'.  A bit cheesy, but then again, National Day songs are such.

With NDP 2017 round the corner, rehearsals are in full swing. Here is a helicopter flypast, with the state flag.

F-15SG bomb burst, right over a rainbow!  Very awesome sight!.

Go Singapore!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

38 Oxley Road Exhibition 2015 Will of Lee Kuan Yew

So much has been said about the recent squabble between Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his siblings.  This fight has made news all over the world, and Parliament devoted 2 days to debate it.

Recall that there was this issue of the Estate of Lee Kuan Yew loaning items to the NHB for some public exhibition, and the requirement by the Estate to show the first part of the now-famous 'demolition clause'?  Well, how many people actually visited that Exhibition?

Turned out that there is this youtube movie showing viewers what this exhibition was about, as well as the famous clause and how it was displayed!

Screenshot - Scale model of 38 Oxley Road

Here is the video.  Happy watching!

Let's hope the saga blows over.   Not doing Singapore any good.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Thatched Hut on Concrete Poles Avani Sepang Goldcoast Church Camp Mitsui Outlet

Church Camp 2017 

Colossians 3:16 (KJV)
"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord." 

Avani Sepang Goldcoast Resort.  According to their website, "AVANI Sepang Goldcoast Resort offers guests the ultimate over water escape amongst an untouched gem of natural beauty.  Stretching over 1 KM of water, the contemporary villas face the sheltered waters of the straits of Malacca, perfectly balanced accessibility and seclusion."

Just where is this resort?  The location is just south of KLIA, in the state of Selangor.  I drove there via the 2nd link and this is the route we took.  First, we drove to Mitsui Outlet Park KLIA, which is north of the resort.  That journey took us about 3 hours, with a stop in between.  The absolute distance as shown in the map below was 324km via the highway, from 2nd link. (Tuas)  Clearing the 2nd link took about 45 minutes, and after that the drive was very smooth.

We arrived at Mitsui Outlet slightly after noon and spent about 2 hours there.  The outlet was not small, but rather quiet.

Prices Not Low
There were many outlets shops, but as you can see the prices were not low, even after discounts.  We checked out the Timberland and Geox stores. Only window shopping for us.

Food not cheap & No Supermarket
By Malaysian standards, food wasn't cheap.  It wasn't too expensive either (if you compare to Singapore standards) but at least the place was clean and pleasant.  Our lunch was in two parts, first at a Japanese eatery called Don Don Tei, and then we had coffee at this cafe called The Loaf, a premium restaurant/bakery that started in Langkawi and owned (in part) by Tun Dr Mahathir.

The Loaf Signature Iced Coffee
We had some iced coffee (pour warm milk onto ice coffee cubes) at the Loaf.  Interesting experience.

Video of Mitsui Experience
The full video of our Mitsui Outlet Park experience here, including our lunch at Don Don Tei, as well as snippets of the various shops available at Mitsui.  Not cheap.

Drive from Mitsui to Avani Sepang
The drive took about 45 minutes.  Here is the route.  Drive was easy with GPS.  I must say that the resort was rather ulu (secluded).  There was a small town, about 10km out.  The biggest shopping center would be Aeon Seremban 2, which we stopped by on our way home.

Arrival at the Resort
We arrived before 3PM.  Unfortunately, our rooms weren't ready.   Many other church members had already arrived before us (including several coaches).  So we walked around the resort to 'look-see'. This photo below summarizes my main picture memory of the resort - Thatched Huts on Concrete Poles!  LoL.

Main Lobby & Parking - 25RM
Before I forget, what about parking?  You had two options.  First, pay 25RM so that you can park within the compound.  They call this valet parking, but in reality it is a 25RM fee to park your car, and they will charge you a re-entry fee of 10RM every time you drive out and come back in.  So, what happened was that most of us just parked for the entire time we were here, for 25RM.

Parking outside was free, but at your own risk.  At night, the whole place was very dark.  If you car disappeared, nobody would know.  None of us dared to risk it, well not for 25RM.  Here is how the parking looked like.  I realised it could get full, if too many people drove.  Parked cars from church almost reached the gantry! (But still some space on the right side)

This is the layout plan, shaped like a Palm.  I think when this place was first built, it was called Palm Resort, for obvious reasons.

The layout of the villas as seen from a top view.  There is a trunk which leads to the mainland (where the lobby and conference rooms were).  The center of the palm tree is the Bila Bila restaurant, pool, and other restaurants.  Then there are 8 other smaller branches (they still call it trunks).  Our Family Villa was 817.  In this video, I show you the buggy ride from our Villa (call the buggy by dialing 0 on the room phone, Free-of-charge) to the main lobby.  The buggy goes quite fast.  Hold on tight!

Family Villa
Our family stayed in this villa, which was very comfortable for the 4 of us.  There was a sitting area, plus two separate bedroom areas, with movable partitions acting as doors, all under this one thatched roof.  Two toilets, two balconies.  It was a unique experience to wake up to the sounds of water. During low tide, there was only mud though.  Check out the video.

Fitness Centre 
Check out the fitness centre (also located in a hut) plus the infinity pool.  The weather was very hot and the fitness centre was air-conditioned, which was good.  Not a big place, just two threadmills.  Hardly anybody used it.  The infinity pool wasn't very big either, and it could get crowded.  You could get pool towels, but they had to be returned at the pool, i.e. could not bring them back to our rooms.  Be careful if you have kids.  It would be quite easy to climb over the edge of the Infinity pool and fall over.

Infinity Pool
This is the edge of the Infinity pool. The pool was not deep at all.  My kids could stand throughout the pool, so I don't think the pool was any deeper than 1.2M at all points.

After some swimming, we decided to get a pizza to share.  This cost RM 33, 12 inch pizza.  Freshly made, taste wasn't too bad.  Good for sharing.

Room Service Menu
We went to the Bila Bila cafe to order the pizza, waited for it (about 15 minutes) and brought it back to our room.  Later on, we realised that we could have ordered room service, through the interactive TV in our room, and get it delivered.  Price was the same!  I decided to make a video of the room service menu, to give you a sense of the prices.  It wasn't too bad, given that this was room service.  Nasi Goreng for RM 30.

As this was a church camp, our meals were fully catered, so we didn't have to spend additional on food.  Breakfast, lunch, dinner, all at the same place (Bila Bila), buffet style.  Overall, the food quality was decent, but not spectacular.  Then again, we did not expect spectacular stuff, just good-to-eat would suffice.  I didn't do many videos of the food this time round, just this one during a breakfast.

Thank God for Church Camp
Overall, it was a pleasant stay and a good break from the hustle and bustle of Singapore.  Even though getting around the resort took a bit of time (waiting for buggies, or walking, or cycling), campers were very co-operative and by and large, very few people were late for the official events and church messages.

The church camp committee wisely arranged for the older campers to stay on the main trunk, so as to minimize the distance of travel.  For the younger families, it was more fun to stay on the branches, because it was quieter.  The main trunk gets busy with plenty of traffic.

The overall feedback was positive, as we enjoyed a very different experience as compared to what we have in Singapore. This place was also popular for church camps, as we know of other churches which have had their camps here, and right after our camp, there was another church coming in for their camp.

Thank God for a safe and pleasant camp, and for the wonderful fellowship and the messages.

Colossians 3:16 (KJV)
"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord." 

Address of Resort
No 67, Jalan Pantai Bagan Lalang, Kg Bagan Lalang, Sungai Pelek, 43950 Malaysia

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Beijing Trip Day 4 - Beijing Underground, Lama Temple (outside), Hutongs, WangFuJing, Din Tai Fung

We have reached Day 4 of our wonderful trip to Beijing.  To recap, we are here for a short couple holiday (without the kids), and we had tremendously enjoyed Day 1 (SQ Flight and Hotel), Day 2 (Mutianyu Great Wall) and Day 3 (Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City).

Today, we will get around the city ourselves, using the Beijing Subway! Now, the Beijing Subway is quite a subway to be reckoned with.  According to Wiki, the massive network has 19 lines, 345 stations, and 574km (or 357 miles) of track. The subway is the world's largest in terms of ridership, with 3.66 billion trips delivered in 2016, averaging almost 10 million trips a day, this is more than double of London Underground's ridership of almost 5 million a day.

The Renaissance Beijing Capital Hotel is across the road from the Viva Plaza (富力広場), and the Shuang Jing (双井) Underground Station is connected to the Plaza.  Of course, you could enter the Shuang Jing (双井)  from the road.

Now, where were we going?  Here is an extract of the Beijing Subway map.  ShuangJing station sits on a Line 7 and Line 10 intersection, and we were headed to YongHeGong (Lama Temple).  In the image below, I circled both stations in black.

"You are here" - Exit A for the Viva Plaza.  That was the entrance we used.  Very cool.

Buying Tickets and Security Checks
Alright, we got to the station.  It was time to buy tickets.  In the video below, you will see us fiddling around with the self-service machine.  Click on the English option.  It was straightforward to use - locate the station that you wanted to go to, select the number of tickets you wanted, confirm and pay.  You'll get the tickets (which is a contactless card) plus change.  Pretty simple.  Now what gets very interesting is the security checks.  I soon realised that in every station, they X-rayed the bags of every passenger before they let you enter.  They also asked you to take a sip of your water.  Security is tight in Beijing, no doubt about that.

Somebody told me to be very careful with the X-ray machines, as sometimes, theft does occur.  The below video is an example.  The chap just behind the lady was planning to steal her bag all along.  He puts his hand into the X-ray machine, fishes her handbag out, and leaves. Scary.

We reached YongHeGong station and found our way to the Lama Temple.  The place was crowded! This was the line for tickets.

And the entrance to the temple after you have bought tickets.  The gate looked good in the bright sunlight.

Anyway, we decided not to enter.  This video shows you the ticketing area and the crowds.  Also something on Beijing Bicycle share.

HuTong Opposite Lama Temple
We realised that opposite the Lama temple, there was a Hu Tong.  What is a Hu Tong?  From wiki, these are narrow streets or alleys, commonly associated with Beijing. Hutongs are alleys formed by lines of siheyuan (or courtyard houses). In recent times, a large number of hutongs have been demolished, to make way for modern developments. Nowadays, the remaining hutongs are protected.

In this video, we take a walk around the Hutongs.  Check out the juxtaposition of old and new, especially the new cars!

See the Hutong conversion, to modern shops.  Just keep the shell of the place. Fascinating stuff.  Also plenty of locals walking around, enjoying the place.

A word of caution about Hutong toilets.  Not exactly first world.  No doors, mostly squatting, no sink to wash your hands.  My wife told me the female toilet was like this too.  Welcome to China! Check out the video below.

Heading to WangFuJing
Well, that's China.  Anyway, after the Hutong, it was time to go to WangFuJing.  Again, we took the Beijing underground. It was very easy.  To get to WangFuJing, we took the underground from YongHengGong to WangFuJing station. I circle the two stations below.  It was an easy ride, with one change at DongDan.

WangFuJing, Beijing, is one of the most famous shopping streets in China.  We weren't here to shop, but more to check the place out. Until the late 1990s, traffic could go through, but it is now largely pedestrianized, making it easy to walk. It was a bright and sunny early afternoon when we got there.

This video shows you our leisurely walk along WangFuJing, as we headed towards the APM Mall.

What we were looking for in the Mall? Lunch!  Our plan was to have lunch at this place called Din Tai Fung, which is a rather famous eatery, well known for her Xiao Long Baos (Pork Dumplings).

Xiao Long Bao Controversy
Time Out caused a controversy by likening Xiao Long Bao dumplings to popping zits.  I've watched the Time Out video, which isn't very flattering.  Basically making fun of the awesome Xiao Long Bao.  Anyway, here is how you should eat Xiao Long Bao. We had a share of delicious Xiao Long Bao at Din Tai Fung, at Beijing APM Mall.  The food was good, though I must say that I couldn't taste much of a difference between the normal Xiao Long Bao and the Crab Meat Xiao Long Bao, though the latter was twice the price of the former!

This was the entrance to the Din Tai Fung at Bejing APM Mall.  I recall it was on level 5.

WangFuJing Snack Street
After a good lunch, as we were heading back to the underground station, we passed by the snack street (almost by chance) and decided to head in to take a look.  Oh wow, this place was crowded, and sold all types of exotic food.  Grilled tiny lobsters caught my attention.  Check out the video - the tiny lobsters were still alive, but skewered on a stick, ready to be roasted.  Seeing is believing!

Alright, our last stop before heading back to the hotel was the Silk Street.  We took the Underground there, but really, this place is more like a tourist trap.  Many shops, but very few people.  Didn't want to haggle, so decided not to buy anything.  Saw posters like these, and felt that they were trying too hard.

So, after all that walking and taking of the underground, it was time to go back to the hotel to chill out. We were too early for dinner in the Club Lounge, but we parked ourselves at the lounge anyway, helping ourselves to some drinks and light snacks.  Made this video during tea time.

It was good fun watching the staff set up the place for dinner.  Many staff, all very busy.  Wonderful place to chill, and watch our dinner being laid out.

And soon, it was time for dinner!  Plenty to eat, as usual.  Plenty to drink as well!  Tonight, the speciality was Panini. Rest of the food was pretty good too.

Pandas Bei Bei & Jing Jing showing you the Studio Suite
And, the final video of this post?  A rather silly one done by my two toy pandas, Jing Jing and Bei Bei.  They will show you our studio suite again!  Take it away, Panda!

Thanks for watching!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Saint Joseph's Institution (SJI) Open House 2017

Attended the SJI Open House at Malcolm Road today.  Decided not to drive, as the school had warned that parking was very limited and there would be congestion. So we took the MRT, which was a good thing because now I know for certain how far the School is from the nearest MRT station, which was Stevens MRT station on the Downtown Line.  The walk from MRT station to school didn't take more than 5 minutes.  Very manageable.

SJI, founded in 1852, is the 3rd oldest school in Singapore.  The school had recently been renovated (and in some places rebuilt), and they moved back to the Malcolm Road campus earlier this year.  The sight that greeted us going into the school.

School field, and the new Indoor Multipurpose Hall (which incidentally is huge inside - 8 badminton courts)

Very nice field.

SJI Open House 2017

The whole process was very well organized.  When we arrived, we headed to the registration foyer, and the students found my son's name (we had pre-registered), and we quickly joined a tour of the school.  Well, the tour was a private one because we were the only tour participants!  The school got many of their Sec 3 Uniformed Group students to lead tours, and our tour guide was from the NCC Cadet Air.  He gave us a tour of the school, including the library, science labs, humanities room, indoor sports hall and many more areas.  It was a big school.

Glass paneling at the library.

Secondary 1 Talk
We were registered for the 12:30pm Sec 1 talk, and we got there early.  See the empty lecture theatre!  But not to worry, it filled up completely very soon.  There was large interest.

Father Adrian (SJI Principal) Speech
The talk started with a Sec 1 boy giving the opening prayer. Prayer is an integral part of school life. After that, the Principal, Father Adrian, gave a speech, which was very interesting because he quoted from two of his favourite poems.  He told us that he was an English major.  I managed to record the entire speech, and here it is.

The two poems cited were Days by Philip Larkin, and the Summer Day, by Mary Oliver.  Fascinating stuff.  Father Adrian cited the closing line from 'Summer Day' - "Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?"  Worth pondering over.

The main segment of the Sec 1 Talk was conducted by the Secondary 1 Level head, who gave us very insightful information.  I will just highlight a few points here.  SJI offers both the O-level and the Integrated Programme Route.  In terms of numbers, about 220 boys for O-level, and 120 for the IP route accepted in previous years.

The Integrated Programme is different from most schools because SJI offers the IB, or International Baccalaureate.   Most IP schools offer the A levels.

Cut-Off Points
In terms of cut-off points (a very important question), the parents were shown this slide.  You can see that the Cut-Off Points were high.  For O0level route, non-affiliate schools was 246 in 2016 and for Integrated Programme (IP), it was a hefty 253 in 206.  Take note - no affiliation for IP programme.  Even the Cut-off for affiliated schools (for the O-level track) was rather high at 238.  In short, if you want to get into SJI, your PSLE score must be pretty good.

School Fees
There was also the issue of fees.  SJI is an independent school, and the fees are not insignificant. This was the chart shown below.  For O level track, it was $340 per month, for IP Track, it was $380 per month. MOE provides a means-tested Independent School Bursary (for Singapore students only). Finally, the Level head assured all parents that if any kid had financial difficulties, please talk to the school.  They would find ways to help the kid.

Distinguished Alumni - parents were also shown several slides on the distinguished alumni of SJI. This is one such slide. Bottom right is Dick Lee, who infamously caused a controversy  by saying that everyone 'did drugs' at SJI.  Oh well, maybe during this time!

I have no affiliation with SJI, but decided to visit SJI because I had read that SJI was achieving very good IB results.  My impression of the school was generally good.  I think the focus on values and character is important, yet there is also an increasing pursuit of academic excellence.

After all, SJI must the one of the few mission schools with such a high cut-off point for its affiliated schools.  Also, there is no affiliation for their IP programme, and hence the student quality (as measured by PSLE score) would be high.

Definitely gave us a lot of food for thought.

For those kids taking PSLE this year (2017), good luck and God Bless!

Thanks for reading.