10 photos from Marina Bay, Singapore.

Sometimes you wander all over the world and forget what you have at your doorstep.

Almost two months ago, I came back to Singapore (not for good) after living abroad for over 10 months. Over that period of time, I saw many sights that left me in awe and took countless pictures of landscape and architecture in other countries.

I was so absorbed by the beauty of faraway land that I almost forgot the breathtaking views that Singapore has to offer. One of Singapore’s most prided sights is Marina Bay, a waterfront enclave made of reclaimed land and surrounded by an impressive line of skyscrapers. And honestly, it is way up there among the world’s most beautiful.

It of course took two friends visiting Singapore for me to remember and appreciate what I used to have literally at my doorstep for the three years I was working at Marina Bay. While showing them around Singapore, I took the opportunity to retrace the steps that I took hundreds of times previously, sometimes walking on my own, sometimes jogging or sometimes strolling around the Bay while chatting for hours with a friend.

And of course, this time round, I brought my camera with me to try and capture the lovely walk we had. The weather was great that day, albeit very warm and stuffy, with clear night sky and the moon shining brightly.

So here are 10 photos from that evening.

We started with the Gardens by the Bay in the late afternoon.

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And I was quite taken by these heart-shaped leaves.

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Avocado coffee float by Macehat in Medan.

No offence to the creator of guacamole, but when it comes to creating an excellent culinary out of avocado, Indonesians win hands down.

Whenever I went out to eat at an Indonesian restaurant as a child, there was a default drink that I, and many other people who shared the same happy childhood as I did, always ordered: avocado juice (or jus alpukat in Indonesian).

Avocado juice sounds healthy and odd to those who have never tried it before, but it is seriously anything but. A juice may be a misnomer – it is after all more of a smoothie made out of the fruit mixed with milk and sugar. And no jus alpukat in Indonesia is ever complete without a generous dollop of chocolate condensed milk.

I know, avocado + chocolate, who would ever think that the equation = heavenly?

I don’t know when I stopped drinking jus alpukat, but I suspect it was around the time when I started not being able to fit into most of my clothes. So enjoying the drink was only reserved for special occasions in a bid to stop myself from expanding too quickly.

A visit to Medan, my parents’ hometown, after more than fifteen years certainly qualifies as a special occasion. This was why I was looking forward to visiting Macehat, a coffee joint at Jalan Karo no. 20, that was famous for its coffee based drinks as well as avocado coffee float – the Indonesian jus alpukat with a scoop of chocolate ice cream, a big spoon of Milo powder and a single espresso shot, a modern twist to the classic jus alpukat that Indonesians love so much.

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The interior of the ‘cafe’.

One thing that you have to know about me: I hate coffee. It makes me dizzy and sleepy. People have served me different types of coffee drinks, but all they got from me was a disgusted look after one sip.

Continue reading “Avocado coffee float by Macehat in Medan.”

Kuala Lumpur, this time.

Kuala Lumpur, we often rubbed each other the wrong way.

Five years ago, we met after a very long time and I was frustrated by the chaos of your traffic and the craziness of your city. Which was ironic because I came from the city with probably the worst traffic condition in the world. Needless to say, it was partly my fault – I was too pampered after living in the orderly Singapore for a year, where everything works the way it should.

Last year, I travelled far for you, for a festival that got cancelled the moment I arrived after a six-hour bus ride. Not to mention that my bus broke down for three hours in the middle of nowhere on my way back to Singapore. If not for my company at the time, it was probably my worst trip ever.

So I have to be honest. I was not looking forward to seeing you again last week.

But this time, you surprised me. This time, you were gorgeous.

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The best food we ate in Taiwan.

I love to eat. A LOT.

So does my friend JY who went to Taiwan together with me (she is slightly taller than me but only half my width which goes to show that the world can be very unfair, but let’s ignore that fact for the purpose of this post).

We also don’t plan a lot when we travel. Hence it is no surprise that we did not have a list of tourist attractions to visit.

But still, we did have a list of food we needed to try. That is simply how much we love to eat.

After eating our way through Cingjing, Sun Moon Lake and Taipei, we had several hits and misses when looking for awesome must-try dishes. So in order to do the world a service and turn the wasted calories into something useful, I have decided to create the list of food we had there that was absolutely worth trying, with occasional notes of which food turned out to be disappointment.

Fried salty mini fish (Cingjing Farm, Cingjing)

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I honestly did not expect much out of the eatery at Cingjing Farm, but this mini fried fish was a nice surprise! It was served hot and crispy with just the right amount of salt, but be careful of lurking fish bones!

Vanilla Roast Chicken (Lao Ji Po, Cingjing)

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This fragrant roast chicken was recommended by our driver from Taichung to Cingjing. I was half surprised and half glad that the main dish of the mountain with the famous sheep farm is not, well, sheep meat. (I find it morally wrong to be eating any animals that I have pet previously. I may have deliberately not pet any pigs in my life because pork).

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perBED Hostel, Sun Moon Lake.

Before we went for our trip to Taiwan, my friend and I made a pact. We would each pick a city in Taiwan that we were going to visit and book an accommodation there without consulting each other.

Naturally, we both got slightly nervous, mainly because we did not want to disappoint each other with our surprises. To be honest, I am generally pretty easy with where I spend the night while travelling, as long as there are no cockroaches, demons or poltergeist present. But I have to say, not only was I fine with the hostel my friend chose in the end, I was actually very pleased with our accommodation at Sun Moon Lake.

Once she had established that I did not mind staying in dorms, she decided to research into a few places and found this new undiscovered gem called perBED Hostel. It sounded very backpacker-ish, and it did live up to its name, only with an interesting twist. Instead of having the backpackers sleep on normal bunk beds in separate rooms, the hostel has decided to convert cargo boxes and other industrial things into beds and put them all in one big room. perbed1 Continue reading “perBED Hostel, Sun Moon Lake.”

The unforgettable Sun Moon Lake.

I just came back from a trip to Taiwan with a friend, and it was wonderful. Lots of interesting things happened, mainly because of our lack of planning. Most of them were great, and I will have a few accommodation places to recommend if you are looking for something affordable and interesting in different parts of Taiwan.

But before all that, I have to talk about Sun Moon Lake, the main highlight of our trip. Which is ironic because if you have asked me about Sun Moon Lake before this trip, I would have told you that there was nothing too memorable about the place, save for a giant lake and a few temples.

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My first visit to Sun Moon Lake in 2011.

But this time round, Sun Moon Lake was determined to make itself memorable. It has definitely surged up to become the highlight of my trip, although not necessarily in a very conventional way.

We arrived at the Shui She Pier, the main pier of Sun Moon Lake, from Puli some time in the late afternoon and realised that our hostel was at the other side of the lake, at a village called Ita Thao, which was away from all the main attractions and the walking trails.

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