Friday, August 29, 2008

Women’s deadly foe...

It was a tiring and a very stressful week. Work, by default, was one of the culprits, so what were the other causes? First, it was my sister-in-law and now my own sister - they were diagnosed with breast cancer!

My sister-in-law had a surgery and is undergoing chemotherapy and observation. My sister is waiting for some further tests before a surgery could be performed. Though they were the victims but this has affected the rest of us in the families. There was something I found about these two women – they knew about this earlier but chose to delay treatments. When the rest of us found out, we only know to reprimand them. What was more important to them than getting treated? It was the thought of their young children! Who would take care of them when mums were not around? Now you see, aren’t WOMEN great?

I have read psychology and couselling as this has been my passion. Since then, I’ve been conducting counselling sessions for children at a FSC on a voluntary basis. Turning “bad apples” into “not so bad apples” and eventually become “good apples” have been my greatest satisfactions. What more fantastic are more and more of these “good apples” become our ambassadors.

However, when it comes to talking to my own next of kin, I was like, kind of “lost of words”. They would laugh if I say, “everything would be fine”, even doctors don’t assure their patients 100%! But I know I have to say something. After pondering for a while, I told my sister “go for your surgery, your children will be in good hands, I’ll be there for them, wherever, whenever and whatever…” She nodded in confidence... So, I’ve got another task for the next few months – “kids sitting”!

Thanks Gary, you’ve been a great pal. Although you are already very tight-up juggling among work, attending briefings for the coming F1 and doing up your new apartment, yet you’ve never failed to call and check the status. I'll take care of myself and will try not to miss your calls anymore.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Good foods are to be shared (12) - bak chor mee vs bak chor mee

Bak Chor Mee is Hokkien for Minced Pork Noodle (肉挫面 in Chinese). Most bak chor mee in Singapore are topped with generous amount of bak chor (minced pork), slices of mushroom, pork slice, pork liver slice and lettuce. Some stalls give a tiny piece of salted fish and/or one fish/pork ball and/or a pork dumpling (depends on whether the tau kiu (hawker) is a Teochew, Hokkien or …) For $5 and above, you may even get 1 or 2 slice of abalone, depends.

I usually order my bak chor mee with 'you mee' (the thinner yellow wheat noodles). The cooking process usually consists of blanching the noodles in hot and cold water a few times, this increase the "springiness" of the noodle. The noodles are then drained substantially and placed into the sauce. Small amount of vinegar is added to give it an aroma. Don’t underestimate this small amount of vinegar, it determines the right balance of savoury and sour of a bak chor mee. Beside vinegar, another break factor is the chilli sauce.

If the chilli sauce and vinegar blend together well, it will make the noodles very tasty and thus a good bowl of bak chor mee. This noodle is usually served dry and it would be advisable to eat it immediately once it is served, so as to avoid getting the noodles too soggy.

Tried the following stalls of bak chor mee, few of these were highly-rated by bloggers. You may have your own favourite stall.

Tai Hwa Bak Chor Mee, $4 & above, Blk 466 Crawford Street.
Many rate this as one of the most famous Bak Chor Mee in Singapore so it’s a die, die must try lor. The noodles are real Q, good chilli, fresh lard with the right amount of black vinegar which just get you going back again and again. But be prepared to queue. Rating: 8/10

Teo Kee Mushroom Minced Pork Noodle, $3 & above, Blk 137 Tampines Round Market and Food.
Been to this stall many times. What I love about this stall, something different from the rest, is the braised pork soft bone. The braised pork soft bone was cooked till you can bit every bit of it in your mouth, leaving nothing behind. Coupled with special egg noodles which are nice and Q. There is no regret travelling from the west to the east of Singapore for this bowl of mushroom minced pork noodle. Rating: 8/10.

Ah Kow Minced Pork Mee, $3.50 & above, Hong Lim Food Centre.
A good characteristic of this bak chor mee is “chnee” (in Teochew) or fresh. The noodle was nice and Q and complemented very well with the sauce and the special china manufactured black vinegar. Rating: 7/10.

Minced Pork Noodle, $3.50 & above, Sim Lim Food Court.
Because of my work nature, I go to Sim Lim Square quite often. I remember I saw some bloggers’ recommendations and decided to try this stall at the building’s food court. Honestly, my opinion, nothing great but just blogged it. Rating: 3/10.

Capitol Puay Heng bak chor mee, $4 & above, Wisma Republic at Wisma Atria.
Capitol Puay Heng was famous for its special made noodles and a 40-year old secret chilli sauce mix. A stall that goes way back to 1968 when it first opened in Toa Payoh, then shifted to Capitol Hill. The noodles were nicely timed, and the pork tasted sweet and fresh. Ratings: 6/10.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Good foods are to be shared (11)

Wee Nam Kee Hainanese Chicken Rice, $4, Thomson Road.The rice is fragrant with just enough flavour and not oily. Chicken is the tender non-kampong type, juicy and good for those who enjoy tender chicken but are concerned about their waistline. Rating: 6/10.

Fried Kway Teow, $3, Golden Mile Food Centre. When you mention Char Kway Teow, most of us will connect it with pork lard and then clogged arteries, heart disease…! Thus Char Kway Teow is often viewed as unhealthy. I belong to this group and when I know about this version of healthier Char Kway Teow, I was super delighted. Besides not using pork lard to fry his Kway Teow, they also topped the plate of Kway Teow with generous servings of green vegetables and ikan bilis. Despite the absence of pork lard, the Kway Teow is as fragrant and flavourful, complementing well with the juicy cockles and crispy ikan bilis. Rating: 8/10.

Chilli Noodle, $3, Golden Mile Food Centre. If you are a chilli lover, then you should try this noodle. The chilli is a combination of belachan, dried shrimps plus some other secret ingredients that produce delightful and unforgettable sensation lingering on the your taste buds for the rest of the day. I like the pork ribs which are really
soft, tender, sweet and tasty. Rating: 8/10.

Yong Tau Foo, $3, Chinatown Food Centre.They knew people will ask, so they prepare the answers first: "我们的酿豆腐全由手工制作,因此非常的新鲜、爽口。汤底则以江鱼仔、鱼骨细熬,口感清甜、芳香。最独特的地方是在米粉、面里撒了香脆的江鱼仔,因此吃起来就有另一种风味。" Good foods are worth queuing so be prepared to queue. Rating: 8/10.

Hai Sing Ah Balling, $2.50, Chinatown Food Centre. Ah Balling is also known as tang yuan (stuffed glutinous rice flour dumplings) Here, the Ah Balling are handmade. The skin is super smooth and soft and the 5 Ah ballings here have 5 different types of fillings: crushed peanut, crushed black sesame, red bean paste, green bean paste, lotus paste and mashed durian. My favourites are the peanut and sesame. Rating: 7/10.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

RUN NUS 2008

Not many people know about this run, even my ex-classmates or alumni. This was my first participation in this run. A friend dragged me into it and I kind of 'regretted'.

This was organised by the NUS Students’ Sports Council. Probably that explained why many issues were overlooked. Roads were not blocked thus when you came to a traffic light, you have to slow down or stop, wait for the marshal to stop the traffic, then you crossed the road and continue the run. I can understand this, probably the number of participants (just more than 500 participants in 2007) could not warrant the organizer to request for road close.

There were no water point along the 10km or even 5km route. Next, there were free Cool Rhino Drink at the finishing point in the morning however when we returned from the run, the stock ran out and runners need to buy their own water/drink. This was my first of such thing. The event organiser should know that water supply is the most important item of such event. In most other runs I have participated, water was ample and runners were coaxed to keep drinking and drinking.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

What makes a Champion?

A champion does not compete with others for the gold.
Instead, he compete against his own personal bests.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Congratulations Singapore...

Purposely rushed home to watch the live telecast of Olympic women's table tennis semi-final – Singapore vs. Korea. And my effort was paid off.

Yes, our Singapore women's table tennis team made it to the final! The team won 3-2 in their semi-final against a skilful and tenacious South Korean team. Singapore is now guaranteed a medal, either a gold or silver. They will next meet the victor of the other semi-final, China or Hong Kong in the final. Jia you, Singapore!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Lake Kenyir Escapade...

This was organised by a group of speeding enthusiasts. On 8 Aug at 5am, we met at McDonald's West Coast Park, had our big breakfast before departing for 2nd Link. After clearance, our fleet of 7 cars traveling in convoy headed for our destination - Terengganu. On the way, we stopped for lunch, tea-breaks and of course, not forgetting --- durians!

It was almost 7pm when we arrived at our hotel - Lake Kenyir Resort and SPA. We survived!

Located inside Terengganu and spanning over 209,199 hectares, Tasik Kenyir or Lake Kenyir is the largest man-made lake in South East Asia. Covering an area of 369 km2, it is also Malaysia's largest rock-filled hydroelectric dam.

With about 340 islands which were once hilltops and highlands, more than 14 waterfalls, and numerous rapids and rivers, Lake Kenyir is also home to numerous species of freshwater fishes and exotic wildlife. Rich with numerous types of flora and fauna, its vast boundary leads to endless discoveries and adventures. Its picturesque landscape of natural grandeur and tranquil serenity transforms Lake Kenyir into a perfect getaway for city dwellers and an ideal retreat for nature lovers, anglers, photo enthusiasts and fun seekers. Some of the activities that could be carried out here are fishing, watersports, canoeing, boating, bird watching, cave exploration, and jungle trekking.

Our hotel room overlooking Lake Kenyir. It's so picturesque!

Don't keep looking at my carrot juice, look at the scenery behind the glass!

Day 2 and 3 were spent at Lake Kenyir. We went boat cruising around the islands, visiting the Herbal Island and the Lasir Waterfall, the Bewah and Taat caves and the Sultan Mahmud Hydro-electric Dam.

Lasir Waterfall is located about 16km to the south of Pengkalan Gawi took us about 30 to 45 minutes by boat to reach there. This is one of the many spectacular waterfalls within Lake Kenyir. With a majestic fall about 500 feet high, Lasir drops gracefully onto a multi tiered level of boulders and rocks forming cascading showers of foaming white sprays of the water. This waterfall is well shaded by leafy green canopy of the surroundings tropical rainforest and all of us enjoyed the cool refreshing bath.

The Taman Herba Tasik Kenyir (or Lake Kenyir Herbal Park) - located in Pulau Sah Kecil with the size of almost 15.84 hectares. It is planted with more than 200 types of traditional herbal species that includes Tongkat Ali, Kacip Fatimah, Haji Smad, Misai Kucing, Mas Cotak and others. It is only accessible by speed boat that requires 10 minutes to reach there. Here you can see the myriad of herbal plants that are for therapeutic and general healthcare purpose.

left: entrance to Herbal Park
right: briefing hut

left: Tongkat Ali plant
right: brewing of herbs

Cheers, bottom up herbal drink!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Happy Birthday, Singapore!

You are a little red dot who do BIG things.
I'm so proud to be born a Singaporean.
Happy 43rd Birthday!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Spare some time to stop and stare...

Most of us complain of "no time", no time for this, no time for that... Today, I decided to slow down my pace, walked into the lanes and discover... Some of us may not even notice their existence but they have been there for a long, long time... Take a look at these diminishing trade, who knows how long more can they survive?

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Good foods are to be shared (10)

I always think of this place whenever I crave for nasi lemak. It's none other than Ponggol nasi lemak at Upper Serangoon Road. If you want to eat here, you must be prepared for a at least 30-minutes queue. But it’s worth waiting when you look at the varieties of food they offer. From chicken wing, drumstick, otak, fish, ikan bilis, fish cake, various types of vegetables, etc. But what’s more important is the very shiok chilli! Rating: 5/10.

After the meal, you definitely need a walk to get rid of the extra calorie. And it will be none other than the Ponggol boulder beach. From the jetty you can see pulau ubin and other smaller islets. The beach is now a favourite fishing place.