Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve – a lackluster experience

After reading some reviews on Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve in Singapore, we decided to jump on the bandwagon, following the footsteps of all these wildlife enthusiasts.

We embarked on a 2-hour bus ride from Katong. Bus 966 from opposite Parkway Parade and connecting to 925 or 925C from Opposite Blk 402, or for better use of landmark, Marsiling bus stop where folks get a public bus to Johor.

925 loops within the area and takes you right to the doorstep of Sungei Buloh Wetland Centre only on Sundays.

The reserve isn’t very large for walking trails. We saw lots of foreign couples around the observation decks, some birds, a mudskipper, a komodo lizard and some really aggressive fishes.

Our experience might have been marred by the fact that we aren’t big fans of birdwatching or gazing across mud, mangroves and breathing in the lovely aroma of something which died around the swamps.

If you are a self-proclaimed wildlife enthusiast with an appetite for that, this might be your cup of [swampy] tea. For us, we enjoy some wilderness, the experience of wildlife in our midst but I think we aren’t at the level to appreciate mangroves and swamps.

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Kent Ridge Park to Southern Ridges

Well, this walk was possibly the last walk prior to my surgery. I am definitely looking forward to a full recovery and a long walk. 

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We did this walk on 14 June 2015 as part of our Southern Ridges walk. We’ve done the Southern Ridges walk the last time without starting from Kent Ridges. 

Oh yes, hydrate well and bring a quick dry towel for the humidity.
Oh yes, hydrate well and bring a quick dry towel for the humidity.

Kent Ridge Park is close to Pasir Panjang MRT (circle line) and you could walk in through Pepys Road, which will take you up a hill. Very tranquil and great to get your heartrate up.

The park is huge but we didn’t finish a complete perimeter walk around Kent Ridge. We walked towards Hort Park (follow the signs) through a canopy walk (a raised bridge over the trees and you get a great view). You’ll see the nursery of Hort Park from the canopy park. Hort Park is undergoing a bit of a renovation for a playground it seems.

You could cut across Hort Park to the Southern Ridges walk. There are two options:
– Canopy walk
– Earth Walk

We have gone on the canopy walk twice now and will do the Earth Walk next time. The Canopy Walk is a raised bridge and the Earth Walk is along a track through a ‘jungle’ (cleared path and trees so it’s a sheltered walk for a sunny day).

The canopy walk on Southern Ridges will take you to Telok Blangah Hill to Henderson Waves. This is the best part of the walk. I’ve written an earlier Trip Advisor review on Southern Ridges with Henderson Waves. You may also refer to another post within my site on Southern Ridges.

In our opinion, the next part after Henderson Waves is all a little boring. It takes you to Mt Faber which is where you get a cable car to Sentosa. After Mt Faber, you’ll downwards to Vivocity and HarbourFront.

Estimate about 2.5 hours for the entire walk. We walked rather briskly and it took us 2hrs or under.

Walk on!

All things Singapore – in a nutshell

While looking up organisations which have contributed towards Singapore’s past, I stumbled upon eResources by National Library Board of Singapore. Yes yes, I know it’s been around for some time.

There is an amazing collection of history on Singapore from street names, places, to events and organisations. Some of them are familiar while some are new to me. It is a treasure chest of information one would need or not require but interesting to know.

For instance, which Gen X kid (or a late Gen Y-er) in Singapore would forget Yaohan?  I admit there is some nostalgia mingled with this excitement.

Taken from the website, Yaohan was opened in Singapore in 1974 at Plaza Singapura (which I can assure you looked very different even in the 1980’s). Everyone would remember John Little and Specialist Centre when you think Plaza Singapura back then.

I’m a little disappointed that the childhood game of Zero Point or Starfish weren’t included within the list of ‘Sports and Recreation’. I might have missed it so let me know if you spot them.

Zero Point and Starfish were games made out of a string of rubber bands woven in a chain. Both girls and boys at school would spend hours hopping and jumping over these rubber chains. At least I did.

There should also be a brief write-up on neighbourhood playgrounds back then when we had real sand. (Bring out those sandcastle buckets!) Playgrounds these days are mainly made of some foam material.

So which other games or items should we include in the e-depository of Singapore’s history on eResources?

Pesto from home grown basil

This has got to the best pesto. It is thick, flavoursome and it is all in the basil.

We grow our own basil which grows really well in Singapore. When the plants started overgrowing, I thought using them for pesto would be perfect.

This is as close as possible to the traditional pesto recipe except the use of salt. I used mixed pepper corns (Jamie Oliver’s) instead of salt for taste as we are no longer buying salt for the house with M eating salt with his food to a red alert for high blood.

So, making pesto is really easy once you have your fresh basil leaves. You could also buy those potted herbs from Cold Storage or NTUC FairPrice in Singapore. But you will need more than a pot of basil from the store for a jar of pesto, about half a cup, compressed.

Pesto is a great seasoning for dishes. You can have it with your fish over a pan, rice, pasta, bread or socca (you can make socca and use pesto as a spread or a dip).

pesto

What you will need: 

3 cups of basil leaves gently packed
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup, sliced and roughly cut parmesan cheese
1 garlic clove
1/8 teaspoon salt or none
Some peppercorn for taste
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil or slightly more when you feel the mixture is too dry or not mixing well in the blender.
A blender

1. Combine half of the cheese with half the basil. Include all the nuts and garlic cloves. Add peppercorns (just a little, a pinch). Blend until nicely chopped.

2. Scrape down the sides and add the rest of the basil and cheese. Blend well. You might need to scrape down the sides again as the paste will be thick. By now, you’ll have the pleasant aroma of freshly chopped basil and cheese.

3. Add olive oil or if you have a blender with a open top for juicing, you may stream the olive oil in when the blender is running. You could add more olive oil if you wish to use the sauce for pastas or rice. Or you could keep the paste thick as a spread, dip or as a pizza/socca base. If you are making a lot more than required for storing, keep it as paste and just add olive oil when you are using it again to cook. Continue blending after adding olive oil until finely chopped. You don’t want to over process it.

4. Taste and add more salt or pepper, cheese or other ingredients where required.

Storing the pesto: 

Pesto needs to be stored in a small container, compressed to remove air pockets. They stay tasty and fresh for a few days in the fridge. You could add some olive oil over the surface, cover and refrigerate for up to 5 days. Or freeze pesto if you wish to store for a few months.

Enjoy!

Love,
Ali

Growing an edible garden in Singapore

Bear with me here as gardening terms are very new for me and I might be referring to the plant in non-gardener ways.

Singapore’s climate may not be suitable for many of my favourites. Tomatoes don’t seem to grow very well. Neither do snow peas. We could try long beans. Basil definitely grows perfectly in this weather.

Growing a home garden can be rewarding as you watch the plant grow. We realised that eggplants take a while for the vegetables to show. The plant grows up to 1 metre with flowers and the vegetable starts budding after two months or so.

Imagine our delight when we saw the little purple rounded base peeking out from one of the pods. When they grow, they really do grow, almost overnight. They grow so quickly from a little plant no more than the length of one’s little finger to larger than the palm.

I harvested one of them recently (after three and a half months from when we first planted it) as the plant was getting infested. So I removed the branches which were infected and the rest of the plant seems to be thriving well enough.

Singapore’s own multicultural street festival: Chingay

When I was a kid and first heard about ‘Chingay’, I thought it was a festival for the Chinese Gays. The festival was actually celebrated as an elaborate parade of costumes on floats. This probably began from the ‘wayangs’ which also has vibrant stages and costumes. I had one thing correct. It was initially a festival by the Chinese community in Singapore, usually during Chinese New Year, celebrating the zodiac year.

According to Chingay’s official blog, the word ‘Chingay’ is translated from the Mandarin zhuang yi (妆艺), ‘which means “the art of costume and masquerade” in the Hokkien dialect’.

Chingay became an official street parade after 1973 and it turned muticultural in 1976. Since 1987, Chingay is a festival with international tropes and artistes.

I began thinking about this again recently as Chingay is now moving into the heartlands from the city. This will get more people interested and aware of the festival if one hasn’t seen it. I haven’t. The thought of going to the city with limited driving routes due to road closure, crowds, crowds on public transport, are enough to put me off. If the festival is extended to heartlands with floats and parades moving down some streets, I think that will increase the popularity of Chingay beyond just a Chinese New Year tradition, to a global level of ‘mardi gras’. It is different across countries but the festival is ‘franchised’ to various countries. Typically a festival in the Anglican and Catholic countries, this is now a street parade and celebration of national and global proportions.

The Mardi Gras Carnival is the most popular Brazilian holiday and that is also the peak of its tourism when she attracts about 70% of its tourists during this time.

So, I feel the Chingay in Singapore, originally celebrated by the Chinese pugilistic communities has potential in developing this festival into a major street festival in Singapore to even a global proportion as this is one of the uniquely Singapore festivals on the first weekend of Chinese New Year.

We could have some roads closed and turned into walking streets (yay to having less vehicles), it could also increase creativity across ages and communities, a tourist festival (more tools for STB), might move into a gazetted holiday on Monday following the weekend. Big smiles to that.

I’m looking forward to Chingay 2015 this weekend when we celebrate the Special SG50 edition. Tickets are available at SISTIC. However, I’m also looking out for the Heartland edition which starts in March. Or 14 March for Marine Parade. The parade in the heartlands is in its infancy and probably has room to improve. It has to move away from its strong political/government association for one.

If you are in Singapore and have gone for Chingay previously, let me know what you think and your opinion of it.

Cheers to a Ramtastic start to the Lunar New Year!