Friday, April 23, 2010

Our addiction

Taking a break from my posts about travel & living in Singapore, I have a confession to make. The Girl is addicted. Hopelessly & completely addicted to playing games. Card games to be exact. I blame my friend Gaby who brought the games to Thailand & got her hooked.

Families have game nights once a week. It's game night EVERY night chez nous. After dinner, she would lug her card games to my room & we would play several hands before it's time for bed. It has become our nightly routine.

Kids are extremely competitive & she gets upset when she doesn't win. But I have a rule & that is I don't try to let her win. She has to learn how to lose graciously & only by losing, will she learn how to play better. As a result, she has gotten so good at some games that she consistently beats her mum.

All the card games I'm about to introduce are from a French company called Djeco, who by the way makes great games & art kits. The cards are all beautifully designed & very good quality. I expect the ones we have to last us a long time, despite our constant abuse. They are perfect to bring along when travelling. We enjoy them so much I fully intend to collect their entire range of card games. In Singapore, you can buy them from The Better Toy Store.

The first one of the lot that I got is the classic Happy Family that we all know & love. Djeco does it with cute animal characters depicting various occupations - dog doctors, sheep hairdressers, cat fishmongers etc. She never seem to tire of this.

The next one is called Zabifuzz. A game that requires quick reflexes & good eye. The aim of the game is to be the first to get rid of all your cards. In a centre pile, each player has to throw down their cards in the right order - hat, T-shirt, underpants, pants, socks & shoes from their own stack of cards. In the beginning I had to prompt her what comes next but now she needs no help & consistently beats me. We get very noisy when playing this. Oh & we use the same set of cards to play snap. Even noisier.

This I bought 3 days ago so she is still getting the hang of. I like this because unlike the previous one which is pure action, this requires a strategy. There is a food chain of animals from the strongest to the weakest - from the lion to the crab - clearly depicted in a series of cards which are set aside as reference. Each player will draw one card from their pile & throws down simultaneously with the other player. The one with the stronger animal in the *fight* will win the cards. This goes on until all the cards are thrown down. Whoever has the most cards win.

This seemed like a good idea when I bought it. Cards that glow in the dark. The objective being to collect all the parts to form a full skeleton. Not unlike Happy Family but because you only have 2 types of skeletons to assemble, it's not very challenging. After playing a couple of nights, it was been left sitting in a corner. Seems a pity to let this go to waste. I might have to get creative & come up with another use for these cards.

So if you don't see me updating my blog, you'll know that I'm busy playing cards with my daughter.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


It's about time I blog about food.

I love noodles & being back in Singapore, I've been able to indulge in all my favorite noodle dishes. I just did a quick search of my blog & there were 28 entries with the word "noodles". Enough said. When I was in France & craved for ramen, I attempted to make my own. Not even close but then you know what they say, beggers can't be choosers.

This is hands down my favorite ramen place in Singapore. Since it's near my office, it's also one of my favorite lunch spots. Which might explain why I found myself like a homing pigeon, heading straight for this place when we were in the neighbourhood (we were hungry after our walk).

So being a quiet Saturday evening & armed with my camera, I was finally able to snap some pictures & share this with all of you.

The menu is straight forward. You choose from 3 soup bases - shoyu, shio or miso. Then you choose the toppings - butter/corn, char siew or vegetables. I've only ever had char siew but was told butter/corn is delicious. They also give you a choice of full size or half size. I love my ramen & even then, half size is enough for me.

Char siew ramen does not come with an egg so I usually order one. It's done perfectly with a soft yolk (unlike my own attempt which is sacrilegious). But you know what's the best part. The tender pieces of char siew that melts in your mouth. Over at Baikohken, they are extremely generous. I have never eaten a bowl of ramen where I finish the noodles first before the char siew. They usually give at least 5 thick pieces of meat. Not to mention, the soup is tasty & flavorful.

The restaurant is small & cosy so go early if you are planning a weekday lunch rendezvous. If not, expect to wait. There are tables upstairs but I much prefer to sit downstairs & watch the action in the kitchen.

My half size charsiew ramen costs $13.50 + $1 extra for the egg & you get an unlimited serving of tea. Now that's what I call a good deal.

7 North Canal Rd
(opposite OCBC Centre)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Art is all Around

We finished our walking tour @ The Arts House because maman needed a drink. This part of Singapore always make me a little nostalgic. Fullerton Hotel, Asian Civilisations Museum, Victoria Theatre, Old Parliament House (aka The Arts House) - beautifully restored historical buildings. Okay so I'm revealing my age (it's no big secret anyway) but does anybody remember the old Immigration Building ? Why did I use to go there a lot ?

We had a good view of the statue of Sir Stamford Raffles & a good vantage point from which to watch all the tourists that wanted a photo op.

A good thing we were there early else we would never have been able to get a seat at Timbre, which by the way is a good place to check out local bands & musicians. Unfortunately we were too early for the set.

We were pleasantly surprised to find an interesting exhibition at The Arts House.

Art is all around
Showcase of art by 3 to 13

Creative use of recyclable materials

Kids are so competitive. She was looking at art works of kids around her age & kept saying she could have done better. Haha. Regardless of age, the art work was very impressive.

Monday, April 19, 2010

French Festival Singapore

So guess what the French Festival in Singapore is called "VOILAH !"

I'm still smiling from that.

Oh my heart be many movies, so little time.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Thien Hock Keng Temple

The walking tour @ Telok Ayer started because I wanted to visit a Chinese temple. We've obviously been to many churches & since being back in Singapore, Indian temples & Malay mosque. I don't believe The Girl has stepped foot into a Chinese temple. Shame on me & if you know me by now, you'll know it's not about religion but more about her understanding her roots.

Thien Hock Keng Temple came to mind & by googling it, I found a website that recommended the tour we did. Maybe I'm behind the times but this temple has it's own website & very well designed. All the info you need to know about obviously their history & events but also about purchasing an ancestral tablet, the location & explanation of the various deities within the temple grounds etc. Wow.

Some background & history. Built more than 160 years ago, it's one of the oldest Chinese temples in Singapore & one of the most important for the Hokkien community. Remember what I said about Telok Ayer being a coastal road, the temple used to face the sea & was used to honor Ma Tzu (Goddess of the Sea).

It has since been renovated & if you do visit, make sure you take in all the intricate details which in my opinion, makes this temple quite a gem.

Read that in Hokkien & you'll get
Thien Hock Keng

The courtyard of the temple with the skyscrappers in the background

When we were there, there were more tourists than worshippers. This place certainly piqued The Girl's interest & she had many questions about what's going on. This beats going to a shopping mall on a weekend.

I was particularly fascinated with the patterned tiles. So old school. It's hard to find them nowadays.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

A walking tour

A bit of trivial for the Singaporeans out there. Any one knows which street in Singapore has a chinese temple, a mosque, an indian shrine & a methodist church ?

It's a little street called Telok Ayer Street located right smack in the middle of CBD (Central Business District).

Another trivial - Telok Ayer was named after Telok Ayer Bay, the malay name "baywater". Back then it was the coastal road. Just imagine, most of the Shenton Way area is reclaimed land.

It's not far from my office. In fact I probably walk past some of these landmarks everyday without giving it a second glance. Last weekend, I became a tourist once again & brought The Girl on a walking tour.

Right after you exit Tanjong Pagar station in the direction of Telok Ayer Street, you will encounter the first of the landmarks I talked about - the Chinese Methodist Church. In case you're wondering why it's called that, you just have to take a look at the very red Chinese roof.

Walking along Telok Ayer, you'll see the Al-Abrar Mosque, also known as the hut mosque. It has come a long way from it's humble beginning as a thatched hut.

I must have walked past this dozen of times without realising what it is. The Nagore Durgha Shrine, erected in honor of an Indian holy man, now used as a place of worship by Indian Muslims.

The famous Thian Hock Keng Temple is of course on Telok Ayer Street too but since it has it's own website, I thought it should have it's own post.

I really enjoyed walking around this area on a lazy Saturday afternoon without the usual hustle & bustle. I noticed things I never did before when I was rushing around during lunch time. The shophouses along Telok Ayer & Amoy street are gorgeous. Most are beautifully restored & are either offices of advertising agencies or hedge funds.

The Fuk Tak Chi Temple which was dedicated to Tua Pek Kong is now a museum. Since it's part of Far East Square, most people use it as a short cut to Telok Ayer Street without even giving it more than a cursory glance. I'm guilty too.

So imagine my surprise when The Girl excitedly pointed out what she called "the playdough city". It's a miniature depiction of the lives of the Chinese immigrants back then. How could I have missed that before !

Crossing Church street, we come to Yue Hai Ching Temple which is actually on Philip Street. This temple I pass by all the time & each time, I say I have to check it out. Now armed with my camera, we ventured inside.

I could not take a shot of the burning incense without a highrise behind it, which seem to be the case of all my photos there. I love it that one of the most traditional part of Singapore is located in the midst of the one of the most urban area.

In the background is OCBC Centre which by the way was designed by I.M. Pei (another Singapore trivial). He who designed the Bank of China building in HK & the pyramid of the Louvre. At that time, I remember OCBC Centre being the tallest building in Singapore.

Within the temple grounds, there was a makeshift stage. They didn't post their performance schedule but I wonder when I can bring The Girl to watch a Chinese wayang. Come to think of it, it has been ages since I last watched one.