Saturday, October 19, 2013

Kuching Makanathon

3 - 5 May 2013

I stopped by in Kuching on my way home to Sibu during my last semi-annual leave, arriving at Woodpecker Lodge at Jalan Chan Chin Ann slightly past mid-night. For the next two and a half days, I went around Kuching, wherever my foot could take me.

Hong Hing Cafe, Jalan Abell (N1 33.428 E110 21.296)

Early morning on 3rd May, I strolled along Jalan Abell close to where I stayed. I stumbled upon Hong Hing Cafe and saw quite a number of patrons there. Where there were many patrons, there would be good food. I decided to take the logical step of entering the cafe and ordered Kolok Mee (noodle).

I visited Hong Hing again on 5th May to see whether I could find something else for breakfast.

Open Air Market in front of Electra House, Power Road (N1 33.549 E110 20.547)
The Open Air Market was where we used to go almost every time when we went to town from our school at Petra Jaya back in the early 1980s. We always ordered Da Mee (dry noodle), which I only learnt many years later was actually called Kolok Mee. I could still feel the after-taste of Kolok Mee now. At that time, it was always colourless. Nobody heard of red-tossed Kolok Mee at that time.

The Open Air Market was the place for hawker's food back then and it was always crowded with patrons. Now, the place is so quiet. Its decline started when the Chin Lian Long Bus Station adjacent to it was moved to Saberkas. In fact, businesses around the whole area declined due to this. By that time, I had left school already. Later the Sarawak Transport Company Bus Terminal at Lebuh Java was moved too, further contributing to the decline of this area.

The first stall near the Electra House entrance was the fried Kway Teow (flat rice noodle) stall. I could still remember the owner holding bundles of bean sprout and throwing them into the wok while stir frying the Kway Teow in soya sauce. I never ordered it then because he used so much oil and the colour of the Kway Teow was not appetising. His son has now inherited the business, i.e. the guy in the following picture. This would only be the second time I ordered fried Kway Teow from this stall. The first time was during our Food Trip to Kuching in October 2009.

At the other entrance, I saw the Sio Bee stall. Sio Bee is Siew Mai in the Chinese Hockkien dialect. I have always loved it but unfortunately the quality had deteriorated so much. There was not much pork used in the Sio Bee, probably because of the increasing price of meat.

Hong Garden, Lebuh Temple (near N1 33.394 E110 20.909)
Originally, I went to look for Laksa for breakfast at Chong Choon Cafe. It had not opened for business even at 9:00 a.m., and so I went in search of this Laksa shop. The first time I came here was in 2009. I found the Laksa very good with big fresh prawn. It was prepared by an old lady then. Now, the business has been taken over by a young couple. The Laksa was okay.

Chong Choon Cafe, Jalan Abell (N1 33.403 E110 21.323)
I read many times on blogs that the Laksa here was very good. From my Garmin gps unit, I knew it was close to where I was staying. After searching for it around the area, I finally found it. I was there early but the stall owner had not arrived, although his worker was there already. I came back later but by that time, the shop was crowded with patrons, and of course not all of them were his customers. I ordered Laksa but it was no better than the Laksa at Hong Garden.

On my second visit on 5th May for my last taste of Laksa before flying back to Sibu, I had hoped that the Laksa would turn out better. I was disappointed.

A Malay stall was selling kuih and also cooked stuff. The fried carrot cake looked appetising and I decided to order a plate. I was quite happy with it.

Chinese Barbecue Specialist, corner of Jalan Padungan/ Jalan Song Thian Cheok (N1 33.381 E110 21.237)

On the second day, I decided to have lunch here. The roasted pork and chicken hanging on the display shelf looked really tempting. It was quite good.

Sin Kwang Cafe, Jalan Padungan (N1 33.352 E110 21.341)
I was walking along Jalan Padungan towards the cat statue when I saw Sio Bee. I had to stop and gave it a try. It was so-so only.

Hong Kong Pau Cafe, Jalan Padungan (N1 33.226 E110 21.475)
As I continued strolling along Jalan Padungan towards the cat statue, I saw Hong Kong Pau Cafe. I was here with friends on our Food Trip to Kuching in 2009. At that time, we bought bags of buns to be brought back to Sibu. This time, I went for the Dim Sum. It was average only.

Monday, October 14, 2013

12 Hours in Singapore

27th May 2013 (Monday)

Like in the previous return trip to Port Moresby, I took the first plane out of Sibu to Singapore via Kuching. This time, my plan was to visit Marina Bay again in order to complete my walk around Marina Bay promenade. I did not complete the last walk six months ago because of rain.

From Changi Airport MRT Station at Terminal 2, I took the MRT to Bugis Junction where I had lunch of Laksa at Tong Seng Coffee Shop. From there, I went to Marina Bay MRT Station and then walked to the bay. At the promenade, I decided to take the left path to Merlion, then to Double Helix and finally to Marina Bay Sands before going to Chinatown for dinner.

I noticed a MRT station at The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands on the Bayfront side. It did not have a name yet but everything seemed completed. There were also no passengers coming and going. Close to the Marina Bay Sands is the Bayfront MRT Station. I didn't know that the Bayfront MRT Station was closer to the promenade compared to Marina Bay MRT Station.

If I had known that, I would have taken the MRT Circular Line to come to the promenade. Since my visit to Marina Bay ended here, I took the Circular Line at Bayfront MRT Station to Dhoby Ghaut Interchange, before taking the North-East Line to Chinatown.

At Chinatown MRT Station, I exited from C Entrance, thinking that was the exit I took six months ago. I was wrong, but right there was People's Park Complex with two food stands in front. I could not be more pleased than this. I read that there were many food stalls in Chinatown but did not find them the last time. It seemed that I took the wrong exit the last time but this time, I was right on track. Next to it was the Chinatown Food Court.

There were too many choices that I did not know where to stop for some tasty food. When I saw Fuzhou Fishball Soup, I knew this would be it. I ordered the fishball soup with noodles, costing me SGD4.50.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

36 Hours in Singapore - The Last 24 Hours

14 November 2012

After waking up this morning, the first thing I did was to call up the Air Niugini ticketing agency where I bought my air tickets. I bought the tickets two months earlier and was not happy with them for not informing me about the rescheduled flight date before I flew out of Port Moresby. The agency would know that its customers would be affected by it. However, it did nothing to inform me.

Anyway, after making a call to the agency and getting the new ticket via email, I had it printed at the hotel. I have a long day ahead. After checking with the reception, I was told the nearest MRT station was Aljunied MRT Station.

While walking around the Geylang neighbourhood looking for breakfast, I saw several budget hostels around the area. This must be a backpacker district. Most of the restaurants and coffee shops had not opened for business with messy tables, plates and eating utensils yet to be cleared and washed. Nevertheless, I ended at Koung's Wan Tan Mee. On the wall was posted a newspaper clipping with the headlines "Koung - king of wantan mee". Great! I landed myself in another famous food spot. Indeed, this noodle stall lived up to its reputation as the king of wantan mee. It was good.

Just after mid-day, I checked out from the hotel and went to catch the MRT at Aljunied Station. Without the SMRT Tourist Pass, I had to cough out some cash to buy a one way ticket to Changi Airport from the ticketing machine. This time, I decided to leave my luggage at the Left Luggage Office at Terminal 1.

From the airport, I decided to go to Marina Bay, to see Singapore's latest landmark. The surrounding area outside the MRT station exit was undergoing a construction boom. From the Marina Bay MRT Station, it was a few hundred metres walk to Marina Bay promenade.

At the Bay area, I was quite fascinated with all the tall glass towers. There were not many people around and the ample space at the promenade made the atmosphere felt so relaxing. I never realised that a man-made area surrounded by tall glass towers and concrete structures could create such an atmosphere.

I planned to walk a full circle of the promenade. As I reached the double helix pedestrian bridge, it started to drizzle. I aborted my attempt and returned to Marina Bay Station, this time dropping in at The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands.

From Marina Bay, I went to Chinatown MRT Station. On stepping out of the station A Entrance to Pagoda Street, I saw the wet ground and the dark sky. It was pouring rain. There was no fun in the wet weather. The area around A Entrance has lots of souvenir shops and restaurants, all draped in plastic to protect themselves from the rain. There was nothing to see and I walked across the overhead bridge to People's Park Complex. Here, I found a few food stalls and decided to taste something there.

I left Chinatown after 5 p.m. and decided to drop by at Bugis MRT Station for dinner and to pick up some finger food before returning to Changi Airport. I had been eyeing the delicious looking finger food there and must have it before leaving Singapore for Port Moresby that evening.