May - August 2015
  • Day79

    Happy SG50 from Sentosa!

    August 9, 2015 in Singapore ⋅ ⛅ 29 °C

    Hey everyone, sorry for neglecting the blog these past couple weeks. I've been having a bit of trouble getting the paperwork done for my research position but it eventually sorted itself out. My last day of work was Thursday, it's a long weekend here as Singapore celebrates it's 50th anniversary as a country. Anyway, onto the good stuff!

    Yesterday some friends and I visited Sentosa, a small island located at the southern tip of Singapore. Home to a number of attractions including the SEA Aquarium and some of the nicer beaches around, we made our way to the main event: Universal Studios!

    Admittedly, it was better than I had expected. I thought it was going to be full of screaming kids tugging on their parents' arms, but some of the rides were really fun. There were many exhibitions, all themed after Universal Studios productions like Madagascar, Shrek, Despicable Me, Jurassic Park and Transformers. My favorite was Battletar Galactica roller coaster whose track was above you (as opposed to under you; think of being in a child swing with your legs dangling). The line was long but worth it; I definitely got my adrenaline fix for the next little while.

    After all was said and done we made our way back, crossing the beautifully lit boardwalk connecting Sentosa to the mainland. Hungry beyond belief, we had dinner at a German restaurant, feasting on bratwurst, spaetzle, pork knuckle and fine beer. I have only a few days left in Singapore; looking forward to seeing you all soon!
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  • Day58

    Wildlife on Pulau Ubin

    July 19, 2015 in Singapore ⋅ ⛅ 31 °C

    I forgot to mention that besides the animals, I saw a number of cool plants such as banana, cocoa, rubber, coconut, durian, jackfruit and mangrove trees. Unfortunately I failed to spot the rare mud lobster and hornbill...I'll have to go again sometime!

  • Day58

    The Island of Pulau Ubin

    July 19, 2015 in Singapore ⋅ ⛅ 31 °C

    Hello everyone, hope you are all well and happy! Yesterday I visited Pulau Ubin, a small island off the north-east coast of Singapore. Although it is well-visited by tourists year-round, it has maintained its rustic kampong (fishing village) look. This is what Singapore itself would have probably looked like in the 60s before its mass industrialization.

    I started by taking a 15-minute bum-boat ride to the isle, which was a bit nerve-racking at first. It rocked over large waves as we passed alongside huge cargo ships and at some points I thought we might capsize (and no one had life jackets). Thankfully we all made it to the island in one piece and relatively dry. After a quick lunch I rented a bicycle and started making my way through the trails. Most of them were paved, but some were only gravel and others just thin dirt lines through the fields and hills. It was really neat to do some actual mountain biking here, reminding me a lot of a wonderful family trip to the Rockies a few years back.

    When I got to the easternmost part of the island, I dismounted and started making my way to the coastal board walk and wetlands. Here I saw a lot of interesting wildlife, both plant and animal. Besides the flurry of birds and insects, I spotted big wild boars, large lanky lizards, slithering snakes, and of course the infamously mischievous macaques! The last ones can be especially nasty and will not hesitate to steal your belongings and eat your food (as the pictures will attest to), so after taking a few photos I thought it best to be on my way.

    Making my way through the trails, I visited a few interesting places, including a Buddhist temple and the 'German Girl's Shrine'. Legend has it that while being chased off her plantation by British soldiers, a young German girl fell off a cliff and died. Cremated, her ashes are venerated to this day by the locals. I also climbed to the highest point on the island, overlooking the Ubin Quarry (now a lake).

    After doing some more biking on the trails of the Mountain Bike Park, I decided to head back to the main village as I could feel a few a slight drizzle coming on. I turned my bike in and proceeded to indulge in a long-awaited feast of black pepper and chilli crab, tiger prawns in roasted garlic, green vegetables and (of course) rice. It was beyond what I had hoped for, and, sustainably sufunctified, I took the bum-boat back home. Enjoy the pictures!
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  • Day52

    Pics from National Orchid Gardens

    July 13, 2015 in Singapore ⋅ ⛅ 29 °C

    Here are some more pics; for the musicians out there, can you guess who is the man sitting at the piano? Hint: he is famous for his waltzes, mazurkas, nocturnes and polonaises...

  • Day52

    A weekend to remember

    July 13, 2015 in Singapore ⋅ ⛅ 29 °C

    Hey everyone, hope you are all enjoying yourselves and making the most of the hot summer weather! This weekend I had the chance to revisit some of the more memorable areas in Singapore. I woke up Saturday morning to (yet another) another beautiful seems like I cannot take enough pictures of them. I made my way to the National Orchid Garden, home to hundreds of native and hybrid species, some even named after celebrities. There was also a "Cool House" which, besides playing host to a number of exotic high-altitude plants, provided some relief from the hot sun. The rest of the morning was spent perusing the shops in Orchard Road, where free samples were scored at the Singapore Food Festival. I have taken a special liking to Pocky, a sort of chocolate-covered biscuit sticks, and made short work of the green-tea-flavored pack I was given.

    After picking up a few things in the Chinatown street market, I made my way along Boat Quay, where short breaks were punctuated by jet flybys and flag-carrying choppers. Looks like everyone is preparing for the country's 50th anniversary. This was confirmed later in the evening, while having a bite to eat and enjoying some live music at Clarke Quay I was surprised by a few bursts of fireworks, none of which unfortunately were long enough to take a quality video.

    After a well-deserved rest my legs were telling me to take it easy, so Sunday was mostly spent strolling through museums and galleries. Worth mentioning was the Peranakan Museum, whose three floors of exhibits gave much historical and cultural context to my experience in Joo Chiat last week. The Gillian Barracks, refurbished to display fine and abstract art collections, were also very interesting and a nice break from the bustling crowds. After waiting out a short monsoon, my explorations were concluded with a delicious beef goulash in a bread bowl (which I sadly devoured before thinking of taking a picture). Even though I still have 30 days left in the country I can't help but look back at everything I've seen and done so far. The people, the places, not to mention the food, are absolutely fantastic and I wish you could all be part of it. Hope you're all enjoying the posts; I'll leave with some pictures.
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  • Day44

    Visit to Joo Chiat

    July 5, 2015 in Singapore ⋅ ⛅ 32 °C

    Hello everyone and happy belated Canada Day and Independence Day (to those living in the US)! Yesterday was quite the adventure as I visited Joo Chiat, also known as the Peranakan District. This area used to be a Malay fishing village, and Peranakan refers to the Straits Chinese, the descendants of the early intermarried Chinese and Malay community who settled here a while ago. I visited the old ruins of the Grand Hotel as well as a number of conserved shophouses, temples, churches and confectioneries. I tried out some of the local specialties such as 'nonya chang' (rice dumplings wrapped in fragrant pandan leaves with minced pork, winter melon cubes and spices) and 'soon keuh' (turnip and minced meat dumplings). But by far the most interesting place was the Joo Chiat Complex and Malay Village, where locals come out at night to shop for everything from fabrics to rare Malay and Indonesian spices, Persian carpets and household goods. It's also a great place to buy traditional Malay clothes, called 'baju kurang' for ladies (an elegant loose-fitting long-sleeved dress over a long skirt or sarong of the same fabric) and 'baju kebaya' for men (a full shirt and sarong of identical material). The shops went on for miles and miles, and I guess in all the excitement and confusion of following the masses I lost myself in one of the shadier neighborhoods, Geylang. It took me almost an hour to re-orient myself, needless to say I now know where not to go. Still, it was fascinating to see this darker, poorer side of Singapore, standing in stark contrast to the squeaky-clean ideas most people have about the 'Garden City'.Read more

  • Day37

    Biking along East Coast Park

    June 28, 2015 in Singapore ⋅ ⛅ 31 °C

    Hello everyone, hope you are all having a great time wherever you are! Yesterday I went to the other side of the island and visited East Coast Park. It took a while to get there, but the shoreline view was well worth the wait. Everyone was out and about, playing soccer and Frisbee on the beach, barbecuing and picnicking, flying kites, and even pitching tents to stay overnight. There were also a number of people, young and old, fishing on the docks. Although the water isn't too clean for swimming, what with the cargo ships anchored nearby, the sand is smooth and pleasant to walk along.

    After eating some chicken, pork and beef satay at a nearby food centre, I rented a bike and headed up the coast. Although I lost myself in a construction zone on the way, I eventually made it to Changi Beach Park, passing the airport on the way. There I managed to catch the sun set behind Pulau Ubin, a small island where locals fish and tourists often visit. I hope to be able to back there again sometime as it's one of the nicer areas I have seen so far.
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