November 2011

I wish it were November 2011 again.

Hotel rooms full of delegates for a journalism conference in Kuala Lumpur.

Worried about nothing else other than class the following day. Or finding dinner in a city sliced by highways.

Bak kut teh to A&W.

AirAsia luggage tag tossed into the rubbish bin.

Uno cards.

The x-mini I bought playing Beyoncé’s Countdown while I’m washing away stupid sorrows in the bath tub.

The gym upstairs with a balcony overlooking those endless highways in KL.

Malay food, spicy. Teh tarik.

Riding in a Malaysian classmate’s car.

Riding in an angry Malaysian classmate’s car. (Traffic road rage?)

Bukit Bintang.

KLCC with visiting friends from Singapore.

Cultural nights.

Hotel lobby wi-fi and skype with friends and family back in Manila.

The set A or set B buffet breakfasts. By the third week I couldn’t stand it. But on the last day as we all parted ways, that restaurant on the ground floor became ground zero for all things bittersweet.

Malaysia, KL, images and scents that I miss.

Singapore: Song Fa Bak Kut Teh

We were supposed to go to Balastier to look for Founder Bak Kut Teh but we ended up at Song Fa since we were nearby.

I was first introduced to the peppery pork rib soup broth back in Kuala Lumpur. My classmates in a journalism fellowship brought us to what felt like a remote part of that city. Never in my life have I felt possessed while eating. Spoonfuls of rice and soup and pork rib and veggie and a dumpling made of sweet dough… Slurping and wiping soup off the edges of my mouth… the soup was hot, the weather humid…

That experience sort of set a standard. Having been in Singapore for over a year I will admit I haven’t been able to try bak kut teh much.

Song Fa across The Central in Clarke Quay is one answer to your bak kut teh craving in Singapore. At first I thought it’d be too commercial given its location. But the taste of the pork rib was pretty good. Not powdery like in one hawker centre I tried in Yishun town. The broth taste isn’t as “deep” as one i tried in Penang. But each place has its own take like what one kind taxi driver explained to me.

I’m still looking for other bak kut tehs in town. At Song Fa a large bowl of pork rib soup is SGD 8.00. Add veggies (kai-lan) is about SGD 7.50 for a large plate. The sliced dough is about SGD 3.00. Refills of the soup base is free. It will be refilled in front of you. Service is extra fast (they have a queue outside).

Any bak kut teh recommendations? 🙂20130603-011458.jpg20130603-011509.jpg20130603-011517.jpg20130603-011526.jpg

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Singapore: Jollibee finally opens shop

Jollibee Singapore opened about two months ago but the queues were so long! There’s even a holding area next to the restaurant.

My boyfriend and I decided to give it a shot earlier. We arrived about an hour before closing. The end of the queue was at the holding area but not as crowded as our first attempt.

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Within 15 minutes we were already at the counters inside. Quite fast! I heard it took half an hour before when it opened.

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We ordered the staple Chicken Joy with rice and gravy. I got Jolly Spaghetti for takeaway while Neil got a Yum (the Jollibee burger).

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The restaurant is pretty large. It was filled with Filipinos from all walks, and there were many Singaporeans too (usually Lucky Plaza is swarmed with fellow Pinoys). I’m excited to bring my local colleagues to give our crispy chicken a try.

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The selling point isn’t the taste though. Jollibee is a Pinoy brand, a household name, a childhood memory, a go-to tasty alternative to McDonalds or “Mak-Doh” as my fellow Filipinos say. It’s like Coca-cola. It comes with that fuzzy feeling, a brand that connects you to the past. Well… that’s how i describe it.

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So nevermind if we notice small things like the chicken may taste a little dry (compared to a Philippine branch), the spaghetti being 85% close to one at Jollibee Quezon Avenue… it’s the fact that a visual of the “jolly” bee mascot connects you instantly to “home” when you are thousands of miles away.

A 2 pcs. Chickenjoy meal with rice and drink is SGD 6.60 (PHP 214.00+). Jolly Spaghetti ala carte is SGD 4.00 (PHP 130.00+). They also serve Burger Steak and Jolly Hotdogs. No palabok (thin noodles with tasty orange prawn sauce gravy) yet. They have sundaes.

A second branch is rumored to be opening in Singapore. Serves it right since Singapore is 2nd highest origin for remittances to the Philippines behind Japan. The Filipino community is large and busy here and we also want to share a piece of Filipino culture to our Singaporean friends.

Jollibee Singapore is located on the sixth level of Lucky Plaza. Closest MRT is Orchard. Open from 10am to 9pm.

An attempt at breaded pork chops

Read: Attempt

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It was my first time to prepare breaded pork chops. I used Pagoda Fried Chicken Mix which, if I’m not mistaken, is a legacy product from Singapore. Yes, not imported?! The taste was pretty good. I’m thinking of trying a different technique similar to the one demonstrated in the video below.

So far I’ve cooked taco rice and butter garlic shrimps. I’m having fun learning how to cook. 🙂

Star Trek Into Darkness

Loved every part of it. How they blend an old favorite Star Trek movie to a new visually-powerful one is awesome. The film is littered with easter eggs for older Star Trek fans like myself. It was a real treat.

I caught the advance screening last week at Shaw Lido thanks to a company perk. I saw it again in Imax format in Shaw Lido earlier. It’s a real sci-fi/action film that blows the competition away. Hello, Oblivion?

JJ Abrams and crew… Love!

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Singapore: Stupa Exhibit at the Asian Civilisations Museum

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For Filipinos who love to snack on junkfood, it may look like a floating display of giant Granny Goose Cornets. But it is actually a beautifully crafted “floating stupa” art installation by Thai artist Jakkai Siributr. Look closely at the divisions.

The Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM) in Singapore currently features “Exploring the Cosmos: The Stupa as a Buddhist Symbol” an exhibit which runs until August this year.

Stupas are structures that shield relics. These are found in many Asian countries from Myanmar to Japan. The exhibit features almost 30 artwork stupas representing the different kinds you can find in the region.

One particular series of stupa I want to see are the ones found at Borobudur in Indonesia.

The exhibit at the ACM is free as long as you pay the entrance fee for the whole museum at about SGD 5.00. The museum itself is a lovely escape from Singapore’s humidity and a welcome introduction to Asian culture. Worth about 1-2 hours stay.

ACM’s Website 🙂

How it is today

I think I’m beginning to pick up slightly with a Singaporean accent. Or some of my terms are uniquely Singaporean. Like can and cannot. I think I utter lah sometimes at the end of sentences. I’m quite certain I’ve said “aiyooh“. But not alamak! It still sounds funny to me.

In short, I have been living and working in Singapore for a little over a year. Definitely it’s been an experience to work away from your own country. I’ve adapted well and know I can do better to integrate.

I’m living in an HDB with my partner. We are trying different recipes for cooking. We invite guests over occasionally. I enjoy the ayam penyet a few blocks from where we live.

Money has been an adjustment. It’s about balancing what you need to buy from what you want to buy. If you are not careful, all the hard-earned money you make can be spent in one go. And Singapore is a fast-paced and active place where expenses can double quickly.

But then again you work so hard so why not splurge a little?

A cheap meal for me would be anywhere between SGD 3.00 to 6.00. A meal at a burger joint near the office can reach about SGD 10.00 to 13.00 including the drink. Expensive would be anything SGD 16.00 onwards.