Sunday, March 30, 2008

Day 5 - Science centre and the buffet

It is absolutely bucketing down rain again. As I deliberately coincided my holiday with the kids school holidays, we decided to go to the Science Centre. Completely indoors! My sister has a membership there that gives them unlimited entry. She also had a membership for the zoo, but unless I'm a maid, I can't use their free membership. So today, at the Science Centre, I'm the maid.

I wasn't too fussed with all the exhibitions, the kids were way more excited than I was.

If only I really COULD turn it on....

We also went to their omni theatre, which is a massive dome like theatre. Kind of like IMAX. But much bigger.

After 2 hours at the Science Centre, we decided to have lunch at the buffet outside the Omni Theatre. Japanese buffet! There is even a kitchen section, where you can order food made to order and delivered to your table!

Clockwise: Whiting, abalone, squid, king fish, tuna, salmon, octopus, ginger
Centre: Tamago (Egg)

Paper hotpot - Black chicken soup

Prawn and black chicken herbal soup

Grilled chicken chop

Baked oyster with ketchup and cheese........
Tempura prawns

Satay chicken sticks

Black pepper pork chops

Stuffed bean curds, siw mai, glutinous rice, corn, chickpeas

Me gorging on siw mai, steamed dumplings and tempura prawns


Cold Cha soba

Taro and sweet corn ice cream


After stuffing ourselves to the brim, it was time to head home and pack for Vietnam tomorrow. My sister was busy packing the kids school bags, sleepover bags, swimming bags, bowling bags, golfing bags, movie bags etc etc. I was busy packing my stuff for the trip.

I convinced my sister to share one suitcase and one hand luggage thinking it'll help us pack light. My sister had filled the suitcase before I even had a chance to put my stuff in! She even packed a chopping board for crying out loud!

It was a wet and dreary weather.

The clearest day I've had

Instead of going out for dinner like we originally planned, we sent my brother in law to go bring us back some dinner:

Hainese chicken rice with bbq pork

Fried hainese chicken rice with bbq pork

Hokkien Char Mee - Malay style

After dinner, we had to rush the kids over to my sister's friend's place where they're going to sleep over for the night. We then ran around trying to find a money exchange to make sure we had money to spend when we got to Vietnam! We also picked up a few buns for breakfast before crashing into bed after midnight.

Day 4 - Cycling at East Coast

Its been a good 10-15 years since I've been on a bike. But they're right in saying that you'll never forget how to cycle. Mind you, it didn't seem like that the first 2mins I got onto the bike. I narrowly missed crashing into a tree, and almost plowed my nephew over. But within 15mins, I was racing him down the bike track at East Coast, whilst my niece was trailing behind us asking us to slow down.

My sister, on the other hand, was breaking her back trying to teach my youngest nephew how to cycle without his training wheels.

I'm so proud of him!! It took him about 30mins to start cycling on his own! The rest of the time was spent trying to steer, start and brake. He didn't really get the braking down pat, and opted to crash land every time he wanted to stop. Hehehe

We cycled for 2 hours before lunch. t was my niece's special lunch day where she can eat all the gluten, dairy and egg that she wants. She gets 2 of these meals a week, so for today's meal, it had to be Maccas. One thing I love about Singapore Maccas is their fried chicken. Yes I know.... but their fried chicken is really really good! There's probably as many people eating Maccas chicken as they do KFC chicken.

As the kids scoffed down their Maccas meal, me and my sister had a light snack before dragging them to Subway with us.

After Subway, the plan was for the kids to go watch a movie with my sister whilst I went to Junction8 to do more shopping. They actually missed the movie, which turned out to be a good thing considering my sister had to prepare a whole heap of stuff before we went to Vietnam.

Since we knew we were going to be eating out every night in Vietnam, we decided to make our comfort detox soup for dinner.

Our "detox" soup usually involves a HEAP of veggies (About 80% is all veggies). Almost always have to have wongabok, mushrooms and mince. We also add a bit of fish balls and other types of veggies. This time we also added some sliced fish and topped it with fried onions.

Day 3 - The news and the Zoo

I don't know if it was the jetlag, or the anticipation. But I ended up waking up around 5:30am and tossed and turned for about 15mins before I got up and turned my laptop on. I immediately logged into my work email to find out what is going on. You see, today is the day that they're going to start having the one-on-one talks to let you know if you stay or if you go. First email I saw was that there is a team meeting for an "announcement". Then I saw the emails from my workmates telling me they're cutting 75% of the people. When I saw this, I immediately accepted the fact that I would not be staying.

I got up and went about making breakfast and coffee etc when the phone rings. I dash into my room to take the call and it was my manager. She immediately told me that she wanted me to stay on. Since I was overseas, I wasn't exactly in any state to negotiate. So I basically said "OK. Sounds good", the whole conversation lasted less than 2mins. I guess that gives me a lot to think about and a lot to talk about whilst I was on holidays. But right now, I'm busy helping my sister get the kids ready for a day out at the zoo.

We eventually get ready and carry out 6 bags for 5 people to the car. Yeh that's right. 2 bags for food. 1 bag for spare clothes for the kids. 1 bag for raincoats (as its threatening to rain today). 1 bag of swimming gear (Incase it DOESN'T rain). That doesn't include the bag I am carrying with all my camera gear.

We get to the zoo and its just like I remembered it about 10 years ago. Certain animals are free to roam through the zoo. Unlike the zoos in Australia, not all animals are behind bars and separated from you by a moat. If you dare, you can actually reach out and touch some of the animals. Like this one:


The kids haven't been to the zoo for awhile as well, so we were all having a fantastic time. The kids and the animals, whilst I was happily snapping away with my camera.

Monkey swinging through the trees

One of my fondest memories of the Singapore Zoo is that you can get up close and personal with the orangutans. The last time I was here, I had a photo taken with a baby orangutan in my lap. This time, I was happy to take photos OF them, rather than WITH them.

About half way through our trip, it started bucketing down rain. Great for the kids with their raincoats. Not to good for the Aunty with the DSLR trying to take photos. We walked around to a few more enclosures before the rain died down a bit. We went to the kids area where there are picnic tables, playground equipment and a pool/water area.

We got the kids changed into the swim gear, and let them run around in the rain and into the water area. Then me and my sister sat down, and pulled out our picnic lunch of Thai prawn and pork glass noodle salad. We did get a few looks, not only because it was delicious, but also because Singaporeans don't picnic. They generally just don't cook. Out of 10 people, 9 of them will buy their food, which is why the KFC there was completely packed. Didn't stop us going in to grab a zinger burger and potato and gravy to satisfy our cravings.

When the kids came back dripping wet, they spotted our leftover KFC wrappers. This probably wasn't a good thing since we made some sushi and chicken wings that morning. But I am the aunt that spoils them. After 4 more trips to KFC, we packed up and continued the rest of our tour through the zoo.

There was the delicate rainforest section that the kids just HAD to visit. Even though it was utterly pissin down rain at this stage, I followed them and almost walked right into this sloth!!


Fruit bat

By this stage, I'm feeling cold and miserable. We headed on home where most of us ended up having a nice long nap. When I woke up after a 2 hour nap, I quickly helped my sister get ready:

Sambal prawns

Nam Yu Pork (Wine fermented bean curd and pork)

Boiled organic choi sum

Steamed silky tofu with oyster garlic sauce

When the rain died down, I promised to buy a few things for the kids at the supermarket. I went for another roam through the fruit section and found this:


I've never had this before. After my kiwi berries, I was hoping these were mini mangoes. WRONG. These were nasty. They had this pungent NASTY aroma and strange strange texture. I just had to spit it out. My sister liked it though. Each to their own.

I also picked up a little dessert to end the night:

Kueh Lapis

Friday, March 28, 2008

Day 2 - More food and house hunting

Jetlagged kicked in, so I woke up extra early and went downstairs to grab breakfast. My favourite breakfast!

$1.20 mixed noodles with fried stuffed beancurd skin

Chwee Kueh - Steamed rice cakes with preserved veggies

I met up with my sister and the rest of the family after they went to church. We decided to have an early lunch where I managed to get myself the last plate of Nasi Lemak.

You see, in Singapore, there are a lot of specialty stalls in the hawker centre. Sometimes, they're so specialised, they only sell breakfast and when they're sold out, they close.

Kopi bing - Iced coffee

After lunch, I went with the rest of the family to go house hunting.

Kids having a blast in the park opposite the house

After an hour, my sister headed on home with the kids whilst I went to my favourite local shopping centre, Junction8 for some retail therapy. 2 hours later, I am completely exhausted carrying my 10 or so shopping bags so I stopped by for a quick snack.

Pork with glutinous rice - Looks terrible, tastes great

I get back home in time to have a bit of a nap to catch up on my jetlag. Me and my sister had booked for a pedicure, which took us a good 1.5hrs, but it was something we both needed desperately. It was also a fantastic chance for us to have a catchup without the kids pestering us.
After our pedicure, we met up with my brother in law and the kids for dinner. Whilst Singapore is a mixing pot of all sorts of Asian cuisine, Cantonese is not one they do well, or often. For decent Cantonese food, you need to go to a fairly expensive restaurant or hotel. Luckily, they found a pretty authentic one at a fraction of the price.

The best salt baked chicken I've had in year

Beef in black pepper sauce

Garlic Gai Lan

Gluten and egg free chicken and salted fish fried rice

Sweet and sour pork - My Bro-in-law's fav dish

Pei Pa Tofu - Minced and fried tofu

We got home around 8pm. I decided to go to the local super market for a bit of a walk. As I walked passed the fruit section, I found these:


I have been looking for these all over Sydney! I grabbed a packet and went home straight away to try these out. And they basically taste like mini kiwis! hehe yes I am easily amused.