Tuesday, 23 May 2017

3D2N: Walk Singapore

Now that the kids are bigger, it is time to up the bar and travel in less. Every member is equipped with a backpack to keep their personal belongings. Everything is kept at minimum with no check-in luggage. How did we fare?

DAY 1: Arrival

We took AirAsia and arrived in Changi Airport. The first thing I want to see was the Kinetic Rain Scupture in Changi Airport.
 We stood there for at least half an hour. It is so fascinating to watch.

Happens that it was the Pokemon Mania season. The kids are equipped with a camera each. They had fun snapping away and it is interesting to look at things through their angle.
 Not knowing the ways well. We decided on the train from the airport to our hotel (Swissotel Merchant Court). 
Kids with own bags studying up the routes of the train. 
 After checking in, we rested for a while and off we went for the Michelin starred chicken rice. The hotel is a walking distance from the Chinatown's Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle. The queue was crazy (Singapore = queue). By the time our turn came, there were no more rice. So we ordered noodles. The noodles were springy and the chicken smooth and succulent. A bit oily, but that's how the chicken turns out smooth and soft.
 From Chinatown, we took a bus directly to Orchard Street. Not so much for shopping but sightseeing, as it is the year end and Orchard Road is famous for its decorative Christmas lights. We walked from one end to the other, taking in the crowd, the performances and decorations. When we got tired, we went into Japan Food Town in Wisma Atria (http://www.japanfoodtown.sg/directory/). If we came without the kids, we would have made a stop at the Japanese Bars. But we rested at Inaniwa Yosuke (Udon specialty of Akita Prefecture). We are not a big fan of thick udon so this thin udon fits our palate just nice. If you like cold noodles, try the one that comes with half boiled egg. Yummay!
Too tired, we took the double decker bus that go back to the Orchard Road stretch and straight to our hotel.
End-day 1 report: Pedometer recorded 20,000 steps for the day.

DAY 2: The objective 

The sole purpose of this short trip is focussed on Gardens by the Bay.
 We start off our day with Tiong Bahru Hainanese Chicken Rice, which was just across the street from our hotel. We had wanted to go down slightly further to  Song Fa Bak Kut Teh but the Singapore queue put us off. It was quite a mistake. The curry rice was pretty disappointing. 

We then walk along the river front to Clarke Quay to catch a river taxi to Gardens by the Bay. The kids made a pit stop for Tsujiri Matcha Ice Cream. The cashier recommended Shiratama Parfait (O-Matcha). We shared among us. Nice.
 The river taxi took us from Clarke Quay to Gardens Mall. Then it is a short walk across to Gardens by the Bay.
 Our first stop is the Far East Organisation Children's Garden. Let the kids run and cool off. When they are done, we walked along the bayfront towards Satay by the Bay. We chose to sit outside under the sun & wind. Very relaxing.
We then walked to the Cloud Forest. Along the way, we explored the many sculptures in the gardens.

Cloud Forest
(Note: Bring along jackets)
It was very educational and fun in the cloud forest. Though not a lot of variety and species, but at least some explanation on the height and plant type. The floor on crystals were pretty boring. What impressed us was the Black Box that explains on the Gardens self sustainability through renewable energy. The kids was much affected by the visual on +5 Degrees. 

Flower Dome
The dome is segregated by plants from the different continents of the world. We could have spent a few more hours here, but we were late after taking our own sweet time in the other parts of the Gardens.

Some of the wood sculptures displayed were grand.
 There are special area displaying seasonal themes of the dome. This year's Christmas theme is The Nutcracker. The lights and real christmas plants were great for photos. 

Christmas Special: Christmas Wonderland 2016
Part of the open area of the Gardens was cordoned off for Christmas Special. We have to pay additional SGD6 per person. Glad we did.

Super Grove Trees were impressive at night. 

The kids remembered them and kept talking about them until now.

Surrounded by Italian Luminarie light sculptures

The highlight for the kids were the snow blizzards

As we walk back, we came across this big baby sculpture. Came back and did some search to find out that this piece is named "Planet" by nternationally acclaimed British artist Marc Quinn

End-day 2 report: Pedometer recorded another 20,000 steps for the day. 

Day 3: Head back

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Bye.. The kids enjoyed it. They wish to come back. Will probably plan on a trip to the Science Centre next. We'll see..

Additional things to note: 

  1. If you are Malaysian, I got a good deal for the tickets to the Domes in the Matta Fair. Just so you know.
  2. The domes closes once a while for maintenance purposes. Make sure to check the dates before you visit.

Monday, 22 May 2017

O my Ipoh!

Ipoh, my Ipoh!
Slow and steady, you stay sturdy,
facing the currents through waves of tide.
But there are storms we cannot weather,
lashing the old soul that's seems almost eternity.
Wake up, people, wake up!
How strong we think we are,
yet when the time has come we have to go.
Iconic Ipoh tree in front of Ipoh Railway Station. Uprooted by storm in 3 May 2017.

1920s Cenotaph in front of Ipoh Railway Station. Originally built in memory of Perak Warriors.
 The British Architect that designed Kuala Lumpur Railway Station, Arthur Benison Hubback, left quite a few marks in Ipoh.
Ipoh Town Hall. Built around 1914.  Designed by A.B. Hubback.

Ipoh High Court. Another of A.B. Hubback's design. Completed 1928.

And this century old Ipoh Train Station. Built in 1914 by the same designer A.B. Hubback. 

Hubback really liked Roman-Greek grandeur in the later years of his design in Malaya. And of course not forgetting, this is the guy that introduced "onion dome" to many of the buildings (especially mosques) in Malaysia.
Fascinated by this thorny rail. Wonder what's the purpose of this rail.

 This place is wedding photo shoot favourites for local couples.

Don't forget the famous Ipoh Kacang Putih. Before leaving Ipoh, grab a couple of spiced/flavoured nuts and crackers. Ipoh's kacang putih is fresh and crunchy.
A panorama view of the Ipoh Railway Station Square. Come at night for a good stroll with plenty of little stalls offerring skates and mobiles for rental.

The Park

Many Ipoh children from the 70s-80s have some fond memories of D.R. Park (Taman D.R. Seenivasagam). When there was limited shopping complex/supermarket. When play, run and falling were norms.
The main entrance into D.R. Park.

Now children gets variety of structures in the playground. Back then it was the cement slide and monkey bars. Anything else?

Been there since...

Children can also rent bicycles and ride around the park. There are mock traffic road and signs that caters for the children.

D.R. Park is accessible by car. It is nice even for a car ride.

Waller Court

Almost as old as the country. A project by D.R. Seenivasagam. It is the first public housing project in Ipoh. There were a total of 17 blocks with over 500 units catered to the public. Back then many families squeeze into a unit. Some will have relatives staying nearby in different units. The community back then was a close knit one. Everyone knows everyone. 

As time goes by, many left the flats as their financial standing improved. Those left behind are stuck and hopeful for better replacements by the government, but help never came. The builings became bare and open to crime and destruction.

 But those who have stayed there could still clearly recall the places where they bought their breakfast fishball noodles or desserts or tuckshop for titbits. They recall the rooftops that they as kids jumped and run about. The open space that the kids played and explored freely. Life then may be lacking in wealth but never in love.

The Cantonese used to call these flats "Buck Caap Ook" (pigeon house) due to the small size and stacked like a pigeon house. Each unit is provided with a room, some with 2 rooms and a living area and the back balcony as kitchen and washing area.
Along the way into Waller Court, there are majestic rain trees that stood against the test of time. Giving life and keeping watch. Waiting its cue to call it a day.