Thursday, 24 September 2015

Mask for Mao

Not exactly N95, but better than nothing, The haze is un-un-un-un-believable! I better not sit at my favourite position near the kitchen sink next to the window and breathe in the haze. Better relak  one corner, as they say, and not indulge in strenuous lizard-catching activities too.  The  24-hr PSI reading for the western part of Singapore was 292 at 2pm, and the 3-hour PSI was 80! Well, I am going to wear mao mask anyways.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Ms Qua's Kitchen

Nonya kueh -- a first attempt by the chief chef at Ms Qua's Kitchen -- and a great success.
MS Qua's Kitchen offers some of the best memories of school days. From learning to ride bicycle (and knocking down countless dustbins in the attempt) to exploring old kampung places in the area which is now the Hougang HDB estate. Remember Jalan Hock Chye which had an old temple with a stage? I think I remember a well near the temple as well. It was such a lovely, long sandy road to explore on bicycle. It was a neighbourhood where "short cuts" may turn out to be rather long but scenic routes.

In the vicinity was the Daily Book Store (you remember, of course). It was along a row of old shophouses at 6th Mile. The market at 6th Mile had really great food. We always counted the attap-jis in the ice kacang. But my favourite was the slightly greenish brown grass jelly served with ice cubes in a small china bowl.

We didn't watch too many movies at the Zenith, more at Kok Wah I think. But anyway, the theatre (with a zinc roof) was more or less a landmark. And if you were taking the bus to Changi, using the old Tampines Road, you won't miss it.

Back to Ms Qua's Kitchen. It is an embodiment of the good old times. Even the telephone number remained almost the same (except that you need to add a number in front, or by now, two numbers). An old classmate once observed that if he couldn't trace any of us, he would just need to dial Ms Qua's Kitchen.

Although Ms Qua's Kitchen serves great dishes -- and memories  -- you won't find it listed in the yellow pages. So, it is a privilege and an honour to be invited to Ms Qua's Kitchen for lunch and tea. If you get an invitation to Ms Qua Kitchen's it would be a sin to reject.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

The Assassin: Not the official review

THE guy next to me yawned once every 10 mins, and gulped down mineral water after each yawn. His girlfriend though, seemed to be attentive throughout the whole show. The guy in front of me was watching something else on YouTube after the 3rd "black out" scene (there were a few of such long pauses in the movie when the screen just silently blacked out). I heard a soft snore arising from a nearby seat.

This was The Assassin (which won the Best Director Award at Cannes). It was not all that bad. Yinniang (Shu Qi) was the Angel of Death --  moving effortlessly as the wind, tall and grim. Quiet as air too -- I read that she had just 10 lines in the entire movie. She was trained from young (by a nun) to kill -- equiped with the best of skills for this function. But Yinniang has a soft heart and did not complete what she was tasked to do.

What's the takeaway for me in this movie? That you may possess the best skills in the world, but they aren't of any use if they don't result in anything meaningful (for you). At the end of the movie, Yinniang managed to find good use for her martial arts -- more for preventing deaths than to kill.

One of the best scenes in the movie was in black and white -- when death was seen through the eyes of a dying man as he was shot by an arrow and fell from his horse -- the sky through a tangled mess of twigs, leaves and branches -- and the great rustling of leaves as the wind blows through them. At the moment of death, the senses are sharpened. And then, darkness. (Okay, this is just my interpretation and may not be the director's intent.)

Here's the written story (which is still very complicated to me)

Monday, 7 September 2015

A morning at the quarry

Cross this little bridge from Fu Yong Estate at Upper Bukit Timah Road (near the Rail Mall) -- and you will be on your way to the quarries. BTW, the Rail Mall used to be an old row of shops specialising in tyres if I remember rightly, from my days living in a rented room at Dairy Farm (in the late-1980s and early 90s). At the end of the row, was a "jir char" stall selling cooked dishes such as hor fun etc. It had light bulbs hanging from wires on poles, rather like those restaurants you see in Malaysia. The food and atmosphere was good. But now, at Rail Mall, you can find all sorts of hip and happening restaurants, from Korean to Japanese to Italian. There is even a Cold Storage. 

Pictures taken on 6 Sept 2015, a very hot Sunday and pre-election time! See the  WP van in picture left, wending its way through the Fu Yong estate? Later on, there was a PAP van which went on its rounds too. 

After crossing the bridge, you step onto an old tarred road which will take you all the way to the Singapore Quarry at one end. Head the other way and you will hit the MOE Adventure Club and the Dairy Farm Quarry. We chose the Singapore Quarry as our destination. 

You'll see some interesting flowers, cuckoo birds and one or two timid black squirrels -- and the occasional cyclist emerging from one of the side paths like the one below.

After about half an hour's walk and a climb up a gentle slope, you will reach a wooden platform with shelters.

And this very helpful map.

You can back track to the Rail Mall for brunch, or proceed to cross the KTM railway bridge and onto another adventure. Or, you can visit the Dairy Farm Quarry. This quarry has been filled and the view I understand is rather splendid -- a vast green field with rather sheer, stark quarry walls.  

'Replacement' path to Bukit Brown?

Here's the entry to Bukit Brown (I think) from Jalan Mashhor which branches off from Gymkhana Ave which branches off from Mt Pleasant Road. There's nary a soul here, so again, I did not enter. Well, that "mysterious" lane I wanted to explore ( was Lorong Halwa off Kheam Hock Road, which leads to the gates of Bukit Brown. However I understand that there's construction there now and the gates are closed. So I thought I would explore Jalan Mashhor instead which I hear, may lead to the hill.  I am always rather slow on the uptake or rather, take-up. Countless tours to Bukit Brown have been conducted in the last few years, and I have not signed up for any yet. 

The long and winding road that is Jalan Mashhor leading to the shell of the MRT station (that would be the Bukit Brown station when the line is completed). 

Further up this road towards Thomson Road is the Masjid Omar Salmah built in 1973. Built kampung style, it can accommodate about 300 worshippers. 

Watch an aerial video  (by Ads Vantage) of the Omar Salmah mosque that is along this road:

As the the Singapore Polo Club is nearby, I was hoping to see horses poke their noses over the fence and say hrrmph. But I guess the weather was too hot!

Mr Pleasant Road is indeed very pleasant and you see many rambling black and white bungalows along its curvy length. Many of these are managed by Ascott of CapitaLand.  

The road is rather popular for motorists taking a short cut (or a pleasant drive) to Thomson Road. Entering from Whitley Road, you will see on your right, Onraet Road. Since it has three "no entry" signs, you had better not go in. 

Next to Onraet Road, is another narrow path, which may perhaps be the old Wong Chin Yoke Road which had disappeared from the maps today (left, reproduced from a 1963 street directory). MediaCorp when it was TCS, had used this rather eery place for a few location shoots, including a car explosion scene in the 90s. 

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Another path...

Splendid houses along this area. Huge compounds, long driveways. Lots of greenery. Kudos to your eyesight if you can read the name of the road on the signpost. But perhaps you can. Must remember that not everyone got presbyopia like myself :)

One or two paths like this one in the area. Where do they lead to? I've got a rough idea of their connection. Some of these paths,  I supposed would need a fair bit of either leaping across drains or skirting round them, gingerly treading on narrow ledges.  But first, must gather ammunition like mosquito repellent, tonnes of sunblock, a shady hat, water bottle.. Another pair of sturdy legs that are willing to explore. Eventually, it may be a better idea to use the well trodden path, by now very famous -- Lor "H" (that's a clue).