Category Archives: Travel

[Johor Bahru] People and Places Cafe

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This semester break, I started venturing into Johor Bahru to café hop and I did wonder why I haven’t done this earlier, especially since a dish there can cost only up to a third of that in Singapore. Apart from the more common cafes, I went to this gem of a place most recently and in my head I’ve been deliberating whether to share it asap, or make a few more return trips first. But here I am starting to write just less than a week after my brunch and thus so it is that I am pretty bad at keeping such news to myself.

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Located in the industrial area near Taman Mount Austin is People and Places, a 2 months old café serving up Melbournian brunch and coffee. Having already seen pictures on Instagram, I knew what to expect. Everything from the 2-storey high ceiling to the concrete layout to the drapey plants and succulent furnishings completed the look of the industrial warehouse café theme. It reminded me so much of my laid back, café hopping days in Melbourne.

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To my coffee-drinking friends and readers, don’t skip the coffee here. I ordered the Mocha (RM10.5) for myself and was surprised by how smooth it was. The acidity level was also just right for me. I have not gone to many cafes in JB yet but so far, this was the best cup. The Matcha Latte (RM13) was legit as well with its distinct tones of matcha yet not leaving a powdery aftertaste.  

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Our main courses then came very promptly, and very prettily. I mean – look at those pink poached eggs of the Aussie’s Avo on Toast (RM25), which also came with mashed avocado, pomegranate, feta, dukkah and dried chili flakes served on dark rye bread. This was a simple and comforting dish and I loved the colours at play.  

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Call me basic as you wish, but I can never resist getting hotcakes if I spot them on the menu. The Melbourne’s Signature Hotcake (RM23) came in a portion smaller than what I expected, albeit with a price 1/3 of what I usually pay in Singapore/Melbourne. Though decent, the hotcake could be fluffier (note to self: shoot more quickly next time I’m here) and infused with more blueberries on the inside. I also thought that the pea sprout’s bitterness didn’t match the taste profile of the hotcake.

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And it turns out that our favorite was their Asian take on the quesadilla – the Quesadilla Breakie (RM25). What won us over was the smooth, creamy tomyam scrambled eggs paired with sriracha aioli sandwiched between tortilla sheets, exuding an authentic but not overpowering taste of tomyam. This felt like a refreshing breath of air amongst the old western brunch classics.  

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The prompt and friendly service here, short waiting time for food and drinks, and quality ingredients used here proves that this place is more than just an Instagram worthy café. It’s somewhere I would like to frequent, as it is for my usual haunts. Yes, I will be back for sure.  

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P.S. As of current, the exact address of the café is not on Grab/Uber so you might have to re-pin the location to elsewhere nearby, like the adjacent road.

People and Places Café

6, Jalan Kencana Emas 2/3, Perindustrian Tebrau III, Johor Bahru

Tel: +60 7 351 5303

Tue to Sun 10am – 6pm (Closed on Mon)

New York City 2013 – The city that never sleeps

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FOREWORD \\  Last month was a whirlwind of adventures. This month, I’m trying to welcome the new year with a bad jetlag and pick out photos from the past month. This might be the longest photo journal yet. Friends would know I’m a die-hard fan of everything American. The dreamer in me has always lust for a trip to the east coast, so when it was confirmed 2-3 months prior to the date, I’ve been jumping around (and doing a whole lot of research) ever since. It’s time to party in the USA.

As our tour bus first drove into NYC I was spellbound. I had seen too many pictures of NYC from my smartphone in the past few months that when I finally see the city with my own eyes it feels surreal. Our maiden day touring the city was led by a tour guide and it started off with breakfast in Chinatown. We had the traditional fried dough fritters and porridge at Big Wong King (a dim sum restaurant) and they were really good. Turns out that in dim sum restaurants here you take plates of whatever dishes you want as they are taken around by servers (so you don’t have to order them individually). Pardon the grainy shot of Mott Street below, was testing out the camera for the first few shots!

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Well then we traveled to a pier and took the Circle Line Cruise round the island of Manhattan featuring the iconic Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island. Lady Liberty was glinting in the sunlight. (Motion sickness ached up – no good pictures)

Wall Street was nearby so we walked over to the towering skyscrapers – the official financial district of New York. And probably that of the USA. Here are some scenes taken en route and along Wall Street.

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The Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum was next on the list – a display of warships, fighter jets and planes. This shot taken from the USS Intrepid (ship) overlooks a snowy rooftop. Amazing weather we had that day, by the way. The gorgeous deep blue hues of the sky, though not being captured here as depicted, are extinct here in Singapore.
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Moving on to another museum – Ripley’s Believe It or Not. or aka a museum which I’m really interested in because I’ve watched Ripley’s Believe it or not shows on tv since young. It was situated in the dazzling 42nd Street of Times Square.
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By then, the sun was starting to set and the last light of the day was casting long shadows over the city – the perfect time to get high up on a skyscraper and get a magnificent view of NYC. That skyscraper is none other than the 103 storey high Empire State Building. It was peak hour for tourism on the observation deck so we queued for a pretty long moment… but all would be worth it when you stand amidst the cold gusts of winter at dusk, viewing the panoramic sea of lights that lies before you. Can’t help but proclaim that I love this shot so much. I mean, just look at that blazing trail of light.
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Later that night we headed back to the state of New Jersey where we would embark on a East Coast tour for the next 5 days or so featuring Philadelphia, Washington DC, Boston and more. I’ll leave the details and pictures out of this post for next time, so let’s just fast forward to when it ended and we were dropped off at Chinatown to end our 6-day East Coast Tour. For the first time ever, I pulled out a map on foreign land. And then navigated the rest of them from Chinatown to our hotel in Times Square via subway – the 4 of us were lugging 5 luggages.

It took us a while to get to Crowne Plaza Times Square, our residence for the oncoming 6 nights. Times Square is full of human activity. The crowd is no joke. Think about Orchard Road on a Sunday afternoon and double or triple that amount of people. No wonder it is dubbed Crossroads of the World. A rather polluted one indeed, especially with the smell of smoke from cigarettes and barbecued meats and the occasional nasty pong wafting up from the underground sewer.

That night we had dinner at a Thai restaurant (can’t remember it’s name) nearby and boy portions are huge. The lethargic me could barely finish half of my pad thai!

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The whole of the next day was dedicated to shopping and nothing else but that. We got on a bus which drove out of NYC to Woodbury Common Premium Outlets… shopped… and then went back. Funny how I didn’t take a single shot of the place though.

After another sleep.. Christmas Day! The streets of Times Square were eerily empty in the morning and we were fighting against cold winds in the -7°C weather while heading to the Rockefeller Center. My hands were so numb I couldn’t bear to retrieve my camera from its bag to get the Rockefeller Tree in a solo shot. It was only when I stumbled upon the masses of skaters and tourists on the other side of the tree facing the ice skating rink did I decide to just do it. But seriously, this place had an air of Christmas spirit.

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Right next to the tree was the GE Building which held the Top of the Rock Observation Deck, or our next attraction to stop by at. Unfortunately, snow was a no show on Christmas Day. We were met with a cloudless blue blueee sky which cast the city in a bluish hue. Over here we got a great view of the Empire State Building and Central Park.
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En route the US National Tennis Center in Queens we made a stopover at Grand Central Terminal  we traveled back to Times Square for some Christmas shopping. By that time, Times Square was already full of tourists trying to snap up holiday deals. I would be a little mad at the crowd if not for a stranger who said that this was part of “experiencing New York”.

Boxing Day came right after Christmas and everyone was rushing for Boxing Day sales. So of course we had to join in the fun. On the way there we stopped by a cafe (yay) Culture Espresso (post coming soon!) where I got a cortado. The true cortado.

That night was an awesome one. We caught a WWE show at (possibly) the world’s most famous arena, Madison Square Garden. You gotta love the hype from the crowd.

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On Friday we ventured uptown to the must-visit Central Park which divides Manhattan into her upper and lower parts. We didn’t get snow that day which was to my sadness since I suppose Central Park looks a lot more gorgeous in white. Well but it was freezing even without the snow so I can’t imagine how much colder it can get. We wandered and walked the width of the park and spent some time getting engrossed in a street performance.

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Psst these ducks were going round and round in circles.
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“If you move, you’ll never catch High School Musical again.”

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Raving at yet another one of my own shots, haha. Love these leafless branches.

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So we walked across the park to get to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Met). Truly too profound for a noobie like me to fully appreciate. By the time we left and arrived at yet another museum,the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), we were drained from walking the entire day.

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And then on Saturday we went downtown Manhattan to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, which connects the island of Manhattan to Brooklyn (eventually we only walked half the distance). But wait,  before that we had an incredible breakfast at a well known brunch spot, Peels (post coming soon!). Anyway, the amount of pedestrian on the bridge was crazy and it was impossible to get a good shot with no tourists in the distance. The winds we experienced up here were equally crazy, but views were spectacular.
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Nearby was Chinatown and we headed back there again for a dim sum brunch at Jing Fong Restaurant  followed by ice cream at the one and only Chinatown Ice Cream Factory (post coming soon!)

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During our trip, we frequent Fifth Avenue for shopping and things really went bonkers on Saturday when there was massive human traffic. Roads had to be cordoned off and the traffic police were kept busy. Still, I tell myself that that was part of experiencing New York. Experiencing New York wasn’t always joyous, neither was it always magical. But when you piece each and every moment together, you get the complete story of New York City – a story that lives to be told. An experience that is always to be remembered.

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I am never the type who writes long essays, types long whatsapp messages and long instagram captions. Yet this time I broke my own rules. If you’ve managed to keep up with me till here… thanks.

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Bali 2012: Skies to seas

A recent 5-day field study trip to Bali, Indonesia:

That was my first overseas trip with my SLR as my travelling companion so I got pretty excited. I will let pictures speak for themselves – my favorite 36 shots out of 900 over of them.

Sanur Paradise Plaza Hotel was not next to a beach, but fab enough. The 4-star hotel had a cool swimming pool enclosed by lush greenery surrounded by bright orange towers.
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Dinner on the first day was at the Legong Restaurant where we had a first sight of the Balinese Legong Dance.
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The mangroves near a beach.
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Sanur Beach was bustling with locals on that particular holiday. Kids and teens were everywhere and the heat did not seem to get into them.
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The Uluwatu Cliff was a sight to behold. It was surreal.
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This man was at the bottom of the cliff, doing what he was doing for a living in the sea at low tide. Before that we saw how he slipped out of an opening at the top and disappeared within seconds. Then in minutes he was there. A tiny figure, but it was him alright.
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Staring out from the cliff – what I saw was not a horizon, but The Horizon.
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At the temple on another cliff.
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That evening/night, we had dinner at Melasti Cafe by the beach at Jimbaran. Correction, we had barbecued seafood dinner on the beach. One of my most amazing dinners ever – I have probably not seen such a beautiful sunset in my life.
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Bajra Sandhi Monument in the morning.
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We spent nearly an entire afternoon at an orphanage. I could still remember their faces – happy in the most innocent way. They made friendship bands with us; we taught them English.
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The next morning we were at the Singapadu Cultural Village for egg-painting, wood-carving and batik painting.
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The rest of the afternoon was dedicated to the breathtaking Mount Batur in Kintamani. When we arrived we had Indonesian buffet with a great scenery across craters.
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A small group of us were driven down to the crater lake of Mount Batur to conduct surveys with the locals. It was incredibly peaceful down there. I would call it the beauty of the soundless. The lake area was full of plantations of tomatoes, chili and cabbage with scattered houses.
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The lake was a nice sky blue matching the sky and that was when nature touches you.
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Last attraction stop was the Bali Bombing site.
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And as cliche as it can be, I shall end with a quote.

“We are torn between a nostalgia for the familiar and an urge for the foreign and strange. As often as not, we are homesick most for the places we have never known.” – Carson McCullers

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Snapshot: Marina Barrage Singapore

It was a beautiful day of fluffy clouds at the barrage.

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

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Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition, Singapore ArtScience Museum

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When you first step into the exhibition, you will be handed a ‘boarding pass’. The back side holds the information and facts of a real passenger who has gone on board the Titanic back then. Near the end of the exhibition, there is a board indicating the names of all survivors and non-survivors, and so you can find out whether your identity has lived on. Being a first-class female passenger, she had survived.

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Throughout the exhibition, I was filled with a sense of awe, pity and tragedy. Some artifacts were retrieved from the bottom of the sea nearly 70 years after the sinkage of the Titanic, while others were begotten from the survivors themselves. From mechanical items such as screws and technical systems in the ship to pieces of clothings and personal items, the artifacts seemed timeless.

I also remembered vividly the environment of the cabin corridors, upper deck and the Grand Staircase that weren’t real but depicted and made such that it mirrors those areas of the ship. The first class cabin corridors were a touch of grandeur, making the Titanic seem like a “floating hotel”. That said, the first class passengers were one of the richest group of people at that time, with tickets costing a few hundred thousands of dollars in today’s context. First class cabins also came with their own toilets in them, whereas public bathrooms were provided for second and third class cabins to share. But, it was not considered a terrible thing as they only bathed once a week in those times. First class passengers also had the privileges of a gymnasium and better quality materials of cutlery and tableware.

It was a tragedy that the “unsinkable” ship as people called it, faced its icy death on 15 April 1912. Many stories were told. A priest stayed on board to help the many others, a woman only wanting to stay behind with her husband, a mother and child who were separated by lifeboats. There were mishaps, the number of lifeboats could only bring about a third of the passengers to safety. The unfortunate victims mostly perished from hypothermia than drowning – the ocean was freezing. Within minutes, their lives were gone.

The news was unforgettable. From the awe of the massive structure, to the breathtaking insights, to the saddening incident, I believe everybody finds an interest in the sinking of the RMS Titanic on its maiden voyage, so this experience will be a one to remember.

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Universal Studios Singapore

The power of time. I went to USS a year ago, and now I’m back with another group of friends!

 
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I love the Hollywood and New York area the most. That’s due to my fetish for the States!

 
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The Revenge of the Mummy ride… after taking it twice last year I completely forgot how scary it felt like. Now the feeling got refreshed in my mind. Help! Body-shaking experience.

This ‘pharaoh’ or whoever you call it accidentally stepped on my foot when we were about to take the picture. I was waiting for him to at least apologise… but I don’t think it’s their policy to do so, seeing his permanently stern look plastered on his face.

 
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We had lunch at Loui’s, located at the New York area. This self-service restaurant serves Italian food and their specialty features the 20-inch pizza. I regretted so, so much not ordering it. Even though the 3 of us couldn’t have finished it I still wanted to try it so much. Having a 20-inch pizza on your dining table is hell’a cool. Well, that was my biggest regret of the day.

 
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 I ordered the Spaghetti with Meatballs ($9.80) and the tomato sauce was great, but the meatballs weren’t the best I tasted. Please blame it on IKEA’s specialty meatballs. You can also choose to have Spaghetti with Sausage ($9.80).

 
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Mozarella sticks! Crispy on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside. It would be even better if the cheese is even softer, close to the extent of melting in your mouth.
 
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Other dishes include the Beef Lasagna and some cakes as well. Somehow I feel guilty not trying the oreo cheesecake as it was big and looks great. Somehow food looks a little more appetizing in bigger portion sizes.

 
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I really felt like restaurant hopping around all of them in USS because some of them looks great as well.

We were told by kind waiter at Loui’s that the new Transformers ride opening on 3 December 2011 will be having a technical rehearsal/sneak preview today, so of course we had to try that out. The ride brings you on a 3D journey in a ‘car’ and moves you about. Unfortunately I have mild motion sickness and the jerkiness was too much for me to handle so I didn’t feel good. But it’s supposed to be thrilling and the 3D effects creates the thrill, so don’t get the wrong idea from me.

 
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Upon much conviction from my two other friends I finally took the Cylon side of the Battlestar Galactica since they affirmed me that it was not as scary as the Human. Woah. I did not dare to open my eyes at all. The 360 degrees turns were rather scary. There were like sudden gushes of strong winds hitting you and you feel your face being slammed down. However I can now claim that I SURVIVED IT!

 
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We visited the Hershey’s and Garrett’s stalls outside the theme park. Amanda decided to get the customised Hershey’s chocolate syrup bottle on which we get to take a photograph there and be featured on the label. I feel like a model.

 
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Thanks Amanda & Rebecca for the great day. Happy birthday Rebecca!

EwF by Everything With Fries + Botanical Gardens II + Dialogue in the Dark

It was a great, great day out with two of my closest primary school friends. It’s been a year! 🙂

 
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Alright so I met Guo Xuan at the MRT platform, and he wasn’t happy about me being 7 minutes late. Ok but that didn’t become that much of a great deal anymore, since Yi Xian ended up 24 minutes late. I don’t think I’ve seen anyone so late before. But anyway, it was depressing to see both of them taller than me now. Boohoo. We headed to Holland Village and had lunch at Everything With Fries.

 
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This is quite a casual restaurant serving western food in affordable prices. After today’s lunch there, my verdict is that you gotta try this place! For starters, Guo Xuan and I had the One Egg Soup ($4.90). Even though the egg broth tasted a little weird for me, I would still say that the dish is itself a unique one. I especially love the deep fried egg white in the middle of the dish which makes it superb.

 
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For Mains, I had the Grilled Ham & Cheese Sandwich ($9.90) along with Yi Xian. Every main course at EwF comes with coleslaw or baby caesar salad and a fries which you can choose to either have it shoestring or straight cut, and they come in 5 different flavors: garlic & herbs, sour cream & onion, curry, original, vinegar. I chose shoestring fries with sour cream & onion.

The sandwich was rather tasty, what with the bread toasted to a perfect crisp, and the ham and melted cheese being fused into a great item especially suitable for brunch. The caesar salad was crisp too, and sprinkled with an enriching seasoning which I can’t make out of. The sour cream and onion fries were more disappointing, as they start to taste bland to me after a while. Guo Xuan tried their fish sandwich and said that it was really really nice. Now I kind of regret not having it.

 
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The serving sizes there were more than adequate for us, and we felt quite full after the mains. But nothing is complete without desserts. Ah. I ordered their most popular dessert item over there, the Nutella Tart ($5.90). Now listen. It is the best slice of cake I’ve ever had in my life so far. GX and YX should regret not having it. Being a huge lover of nutella, this cake was the best for me. It had oreo biscuit for its base which was incredible. The cake is purely nutella-based and is even better than scooping out nutella from the jar and eating it.

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40 Lorong Mambong

Holland Village

Tel: +65 6463 3741

Sun-Thurs: 12pm-11pm

Fri-Sat/Eve of P.H.: 12pm-1am

 
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After that we were hesitating about where to go next. YX’s suggestion of Bukit Timah Hill put me and GX off. Apparently I do not like to get up close with animals and it just didn’t sound appealing. In the end we ventured off to the Botanical Gardens since it was a couple of stops away. GX, being a fan of kiddy stuff, suggested to go into the Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden. However it was unfortunately only accessible to children below 12. A fail.

 
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Under the sweltering heat, we were unable to continue walking to the other end of the gardens, so we sat on a bench and rested for a moment, till we decided to visit Dialogue in the Dark. The entrance fee is 12 bucks and bookings have to be made in advance. As GX was using my phone to make the booking, he said “Crystal” when asked for his name. And I think the entire staff of helpers there at Ngee Ann Poly is spreading this joke around. It is basically an entire experience/journey in the dark for an hour. You cannot see anything at all, so you experience how it is like being a blind person for an hour. We were given a walking cane each and assigned to a visually impaired guide who will help and guide us along the journey.

 
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It is a pretty cool experience, even though it was scary not knowing where to walk at all. Throughout this trail we will “visit” places like a forest, market, hop into a boat ride, roads, and at last come to a bar where we can buy drinks. Unfortunately for us the cookies have already been sold out so we all opted for lemon barley. Note that this is still in complete darkness. Then we will sit down and have a short chat with our guide, before we finally see light. We only get to see our guide after the entire thing, which is a pretty good arrangement as you don’t know what to anticipate.

 
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Booking Hotline
(+65) 6460 6222Fax Number
(+65) 6467 6606
Email Addresses

General Enquiries: enquiry_dialogueinthedark@np.edu.sg
General Booking: genbooking_dialogueinthedark@np.edu.sg
School Group Booking: schbooking_dialogueinthedark@np.edu.sg
Marketing / Outreach: marketing_dialogueinthedark@np.edu.sg

Postal Address

Dialogue in the Dark Singapore
Ngee Ann Polytechnic
Block 5 #01-03
Singapore 599489

Singapore Botanical Gardens

I couldn’t live my life being kept behind bars at home.

Thought I would bring my cammy to a place to photograph, so I ended up at the botanic gardens. Unfornately, I explored less than half of the gardens because my mom was complaining, so I may be going there again soon. No adventure comes half-done to you.

Photos courtesy of yours truly

The path to choose
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 Red lustre
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I love such flowers that stand out and hit you from nowhere. I literally run to them when I catch sight.

 One fine day
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 On a bench
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 Mixed skies
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I love the American famillies having their family days there. I love how they do team sports together. And I didn’t capture the guy on purpose…. well maybe for my sole purpose.

 The garden
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After some nature trekking, we had dinner at Casa Verde in the gardens. I didn’t have a good dining experience. Almost all the tables were reserved and the waiter led us to a table at which, two huge dogs were resting beside. Don’t find me fickle minded or sensitive, but I dislike the prospect of being too near to animals. And I am not someone who squeals about how cute a dog is for every dog seen on the street. But anyway, we got another table in the end.

 
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The Italian Herbs Roasted Chicken I ordered was quite ordinary, and I would just call it a normal-roasted-chicken if I could. I regretted not ordering the pizza or pasta there because after looking around at other customers’ tables they really looked delightful and more popular…

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I was kind of miffed that I didn’t get to have dessert at Casa Verde, so on my way home I went to Starbucks to satisfy my sugar craving. Finally got myself a Starbucks card, as I realised that I’m becoming their addicted fan. Got home two whoopie pies (American cake/cookie/pie that looks like a macaron) – the classic vanilla and cookies and cream, since I’ve never tried them before. I would describe them as sweet cakes – mmm.

 
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Punggol Park Connector + Punggol Promenade + Lorong Halus Wetland

This entire lane comprising of areas of Sengkang and Punggol interlinked together may just be your new spot to destress. This is quite a new piece of land developed near a waterway leading to the Serangoon Harbour that few of heard of.

Optimising your time with work is great, but with the school holidays approaching, why not use this time to make peace with nature?

For those living in the Sengkang area or even in the Hougang area, you can easily access this playground of nature via a connector leading away from Punggol Park. Then, it is about a 2 kilometre to the Punggol Promenade, otherwise known as Tebing Lane.
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Over here, you can expect to find cafes, restaurants and other facilities like for billards, fishing and soccer on the upper deck. The lower deck is for people who are jogging and/or strolling, as well as those sitting on the benches and just watch life pass. For Punggol residents, you can access this area via the Riviera LRT station, it’s just a 3-minute walk.IMG_1712

 
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A few hundred metres from there, you can cross over a red bridge and expect to find Lorong Halus Wetland Reserve. I didn’t get to walk and snap pictures there since the sky was darkening and a slight drizzle was approaching.

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