Tag Archive | Orchard Road

I call this hypocrisy!

It’s that time of the year when Earth Hour is again emitting more hot air and no real light.

Imagine, thousands of candles reportedly having been lit last night in Orchard Road as greenie wannabes pledge to reduce their carbon footprint!

Don’t they know that candles also emit carbon monoxide?

Still, let those who want to light candles even as other switch off their lights carry on, year in and out. Their actions didn’t and won’t affect me.

What does affect me is when big big retailers like Ikea deny me my plastic bag to carry a duvet, a set of cover and pillow cases and other purchases, if I don’t pay 10 cents!

That’s done all in the name of environmental friendliness.

While i was miffed when it happened last week, I won’t have faulted Ikea, if at the same time the cashier didn’t also asked if I drove. When i nodded, she handed me an exit pass that entitled me to free parking worth some $3+ (which i discovered when I exited).

I really don’t get the maths.

Isn’t driving even more environmentally less friendly than plastic bags? So why charge me 10 cents for a plasty on the one hand and hand me free parking benefits on the other? 🙄

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New GSF or Great S’pore Flood

With the heavy downpour this morning causing the most visible damage to the high profile and very famous crossroads of  Scotts Road and Orchard Road, many a doomsayer and climate/environment buff was quick to claim that we ain’t seen nothing yet, because of all the harm that us careless humans have done to Mother Earth.

This was exactly what a greenie claimed to me gleefully in an email after I 4warded her an album of photos sent to me by the indefatigable Narayanan, known affectionately as Raju, showing the mess from the flood waters.

“U ain’t seen nothing YET…,” my greenie pal declared. “U should have been there last Sat at EArth Day, Climate Change conference to listen to Prof/Dr Art Ong Jumsai (NASAA scientist and founder of Sathya Sai school in Thailand) and seen his SLIDES…”

I’m no doomsday prophet and have no intention to let Greenie get away with it, since I do remember at least two other occasions when Singapore seemed to be under The Deluge.

Once was a long time ago, belonging in Once Upon a Time land, when Singapore was newly independent and part of my family was living in Rangoon Road and the other part in a flat directly behind in Starlight Road. (To show how long ago, both properties have since been demolished to make way for new buildings!)

The second time I saw an equivalent of today’s  flash flood was when I was living behind  Lucky Plaza, in Kim Sia Court, in the early 1980s and certainly be4 September 1983 when I  moved out.

I remember that flood particularly well. My car was trapped in the swirling flood waters because I was silly enough to try to make it through Orchard Road after coming down Jalan Jintan and Nutmeg Road. Those were the days when I was such an eager beaver employee who die-die must get to work, come hell or high water!

I failed to make it through Orchard Road. Instead, my tiny Honda Civic bobbed about like a little canoe in the waters once I hit Orchard Road, sailing right past Fitzpatricks Supermarket (where Tong Building now is) and then slowly floated across the road into the Mandarin Hotel’s street-level carpark.

I had help for the final lap, as kids and adults eagerly waded into the waters to help steer my car out of the waters onto firmer ground. And no, they didn’t hang around waiting to be rewarded. They were pure Samaritans who after ensuring I was safe, waded back into the waters to help other motorists similarly caught.

Of course, after that my car was never the same again and was sold off soon.

When I shared this story with my Greenie friend, it triggered one from the recesses of her memory.

“Ha! ha!, ” she replied. “That must have been quite traumatic …like when I tried to 
follow a bus when Newton circus was completely flooded…and my car  floated up andI had to swim out of the window..to be rescued by my laughing husband in his car in outer lane!”

There Greenie, today’s flood has little or nothing to do with climate change. Singapore does have the occasional memorable flash floods. First world country or no. So, let’s not do a rain dance about it.

Instead enjoy the experience and remember to reassure rather than alarm others when the next flood floors us all of a sudden.

Meanwhile, keep today’s event fresh in mind with this Youtube reminder, even though the flood water has subsided and the cleaning has been done! When the next flood occurs, be blase. Been there; done that!

civil defence knight rescues fair lady in the flood? Pix courtesy of Raju's pal

Taxi-drivers: lost without direction

When an old friend back home in Singapore from the UK for her regular holiday complained about how clueless Singapore’s taxi-drivers are about directions compared to those in her adopted home, I listened half-heartedly.

Yeh, I thought to myself, your place is in Keng Chin Road, not the best known place in Singapore, unlike Orchard Road or Geylang.

I was soundly punished for such mean unsympathetic thoughts this morning.

I was going to the official opening of a friend’s hard-won enterprise and would have driven direct to the venue, had it not been for the sudden and heavy downpour that refused to go away.

Being always kiasu, I decided that the venue might not have enough car park lots and so compromised by driving half-way and parking at Bugis Junction — one of yours truly’s regular haunts — and continuing my journey from there by cab.

I was fearful that there might not be taxis and so rushed anxiously towards the North Bridge Road stand outside the covered walkway that lined one side of the Intercontinental Hotel/Bugis Junction complex.

Luck was with me. Two taxis at the stand, the first a Trans Cab, the second a Premier taxi. And no competing passengers in sight.

Got into the Trans Cab and stated my destination. Deathly silence and the driver made no attempt to drive the vehicle.

“Do you know how to get to Keppel Towers?” I asked, slightly irritated.

“No,” the taxi-driver shot back.

“Sorry?”

“You better take the taxi behind,” was the reply.

I was really taken aback by this but because time was tight, I didn’t want to hang around arguing. So I got out but I gave a parting shot in Putonghua which was simply “you are ridiculous!” or “你是荒谬的”.

That seemed to startle him in return and be4 I could close the door, he asked, a little contritely: “Do you know how to get there?”

But I wasn’t going to give him a second chance for who knew what might happen once we were on our way! I slammed shut the door and went to the Premier taxi behind, got in and found a most amenable taxi uncle. He knew the way, and drove fast but safely.

Altho I’m not into talking to taxi drivers as a general rule, I felt so incensed that I had to share my shock that there are cabs on our roads driven by people who don’t know the way and make no attempt to find out.

Keppel Towers may not be as famous as Vivocity or Raffles City but it’s still a prime office landmark in the heart of the city.

What’s a taxi driver doing inside the CBD — which the Trans Cab was — and declaring that he had no idea how to get there? Shouldn’t he have a road directory at least or a number at his hirer’s office to call to give him directions?

Even in Bali which is far less developed than Singapore in all ways, the taxis I’ve taken –always Blue Bird — have drivers who have the initiative to find out from their office, when they don’t know. Some even have GPS to guide them. And the “gangs” (tiny lanes) in Bali are far more difficult to locate than any of Singapore’s roads.

Ditto for the taxi drivers I’ve come across in Shanghai. I’ve got them to locate out of the way places that they didn’t always know and yes, they found out, by calling their office or stopping by the roadside  to ask passers by or even while waiting at traffic lights, the vehicle next to them.

So why are our clueless taxi drivers in Singapore not more proactive? Not hungry enough? Driving taxis as a hobby? Or simply because our Land Transport Authority is too lax with them?

Don’t suspend disbelief so easily

I am always sceptical whenever something too good to be true comes my way. And it’s almost impossible to convince me to part with my money, if that parting is in exchange for more money or better looks.

That’s why I never respond when I get invites to share in the secret on how to make millions without really trying. If someone truly has such a formula, he or she wouldn’t want to part with it, let alone part with it for a few thousand bucks, with up to 50% discount for early birds!

Ditto when cosmetic companies throw out promises of making wrinkles disappear, smoothening skin and uplifting sags at the wrong places.

Sure, I still spend a small fortune (in my context, of cos) on Estee Lauder, Clinique and Lancome products — mainly on perfumes because I like the smell, which is quite different from buying the promise to be made to smell nicer. This means I buy what is; not what is promised.

All this is a preamble for me to lament about seemingly intelligent people who somehow suspend their disbelief over rather critical issues.

Two recent sad examples spring to mind.

First is that terrible boo-boo by Singpost to kick start its “Express Yourself” campaign as a lead-up to publicity for the first Youth Olympic Games in August with Singapore as host and Singpost as a sponsor.

Whoever advised Singpost and whoever at Singpost accepted the advice that to “Express Yourself” you must damage public property are, to my mind, senior executives who lost both their brains and judgement somewhere on the PIE or CTE.

And not only did they show poor judgement but they also revealed that they are bankrupt of ideas.

The other example is sadder still. He lost his life. Such a tragic waste at 44! At the prime of his life and hugely successful! No mean feat to build a $1 billion retail property portfolio in Singapore’s mean Orchard Road belt. So he must have had brain and razor sharp judgement.

So, he was a bit portly where a nifty man about town — dealing with the beautiful corridors where Singapore’s beautiful people traipse — should not be portly. So he went for liposuction. Which was fine.

But what has now turned out to be a terrible lapse of judgement was that he sought to reduce the perceived fat at a clinic, which though licensed, isn’t among those that immediately come to mind when talk turns to doctors who make Singapore’s beautiful people eternally beautiful — at least judging by how they look in pictures in the Tatler or the Peak.

It’s such a shame. So astute in business but too trusting when it came to his own life?

I guess we will never know why he chose the clinic where he died and not any of the top clinics in town where he might have found more competent treatment.

The moral is: never suspend our disbelief, especially when it comes to life or money.

think me dumb?

That’s why I shall not be responding to yet another “scam” email (left) that came to my Yahoo mailbox — the 32nd since I started collecting in July 09!

Birthday haul

With my birthday already over for almost a month, I must record this year’s “haul” before more time passes and everything becomes a blur.

First, MK kindly bought lunch at Din Tai Fung at Bishan (my choice because I wanted to shop at Fairprice afterwards), followed by cake n coffee at Coffee Bean. She also gave me three CDs of Hokein songs.

Unfortunately, I misplaced two of the CDs immediately so have to make do with the remaining CD. She kept asking y I’m playing the same CD in my car when I gave her lifts and I had to tell her the truth. Of cos, she was none too pleased.

noodles, soup n dumpling

noodles, soup n dumpling

TC n CT were regular as always with their celebratory meal treat and also their regular bottle of wine gift, for me to drink at home. I like going out with them as CT always wants to drive, something I could do without at night– especially when I drink!

As usual, they picked the Cathay Restaurant and we always have the table that gives us an eagle’s eye view of the junction of Orchard Road,  Penang Lane, Bras Basar Road and one exit of the Orchard MRT that’s always “people mountain, people sea”.

The dishes they picked were:  shark’s bone soup, green Hongkong kailan and soft steamed rice crepe rolls filled with delectable seafood in a superior broth, all generously accompanied with garlic and chopped red chilli padi, followed by pomelo beads  in mango and sago soup which is my particular favourite.  

emerald green vege

emerald green vege

shark's bone soup

shark's bone soup

roll full of gdness

roll full of gdness

 

chilli n garlic

chilli n garlic

rich mango sago with pomelo beads

rich mango sago with pomelo beads

Then there’re the usual and predictable hongbaos from immediate family: Daffy and bil.

Mum skipped this year becos she’s stopped handling money in a meaningful way. Last year, she named a sum for me to withdraw.  The latest change means she’s become more detached or simply she can’t cope with money details any more. Either way, the result is the same.

Also, among the MIAs are my two regular well-wishers from overseas. Friends of over 40 years, they’ve both overlooked the day. But life goes on and life gets busier…

Nephew H provided a Philip’s electronic photo frame which I’m still trying to fill with pix… all 500 of them…be4 calling in the electrician uncle in to add a new power point to run the gadget. Wish he would stick to giving me something virtual (like MS Office which he gave as a X’mas present), as I loathe to acquire too many physical posessions.

And of cos I treated myself n immediate family to lunch at Kuishin-bo as recorded here.

93.8 Live got me choking

I usually listen to Medaicorp’s Radio 93.8 Live Gets You Talking — when I’m driving. As a result, I’ve become quite familiar with some of its programs and presenters — at least by the latter’s voices.

So, you could have knocked me down — or I could have knocked down someone — when I heard on the Foodie Lunch Pick program, a well-known Singapore culinary “expert” waxing lyrical about some dishes she’s just discovered when she ate at Prima Tower’s revolving restaurant recently.

Worse still, the presenter, Eugene Loh — he of the mellifluous voice and Slice of Life fame — was literally hanging onto every morsel of information that dropped from this “expert’s” mouth.

I won’t mention the expert’s name in case it embarrasses her, but when I heard her exhilirated descriptions about what she ate — as tho “Eureka!” she’s hit new found land — I wanted to call the station to say ” ‘allo Auntie, where u been all this time?”

93.8 Live, you really got me choking.

Because the first dish that got the expert smacking her lips is none other than the rather common dish comprising egg white with dried scallop (sometimes with fish slices added) and topped with a raw egg yolk.

Prima's version

Prima's version

Almost any of the outlets in the Crystal Jade chain have been serving their version of this dish for years. To many Chinese of my generation, it’s commonly known by the rather flowery name of “100 birds have returned to the nest”.

Another dish that got the program host and his guest apparently salivating is the drunken chicken dish. Again, most, if not all, Crystal Jade outlet serves it as do other Chinese restaurants, too many to enumerate.

But it was probably popularised by the defunct Jade Room which had its glory days on the very site that now sits the uber-ex and uber-grande Paragon Shopping Centre in Orchard Road.

And the recipe for the hic-hic chic has been extensively written about, notably very well by veteran S’porean food-blogger known as Kuidaore and here’s a screenshot to prove it.

hic-hic chic

hic-hic chic

Now if the gushing over the egg white and drunken chicken dishes didn’t take the cake, the “expert’s” rave about the dessert — the common toffee banana dish — certainly did.

I’ve eaten it umpteen times at the Jade Room in my salad days and on and off at many other Chinese restaurants.

And yes, the recipe for this dessert — fritter, coat while hot in melted toffee or sugared water and then plunge into a bowl of water with ice cubes before serving — isn’t exactly rocket science and is widely available on the Internet.

93.8 Live’s curious, misplaced enthusiasm for fairly standard Chinese restaurant fare got me thinking: can the experts who the program interviews as well as the presenters be so “suaku” as not to know what they are talking about? Couldn’t they have checked the Internet first?

Or, are programs such as the one I listened to mainly directed at the ang mos and other non-Chinese expats and tourists in Singapore who may not know better and hence will take as gospel the recommendations dispensed? 

And go away thinking they have tasted true blue unusual Chinese dishes when nothing could be further from the truth. 

Taken from this perspective and if I allowed my wicked sense of humour full rein, I could concede that 93.8 Live got me chuckling! Trouble is April 1 is still almost four months away.

Super luxe popiah lunch in a penthouse

As always, the invitation was casual and low-key. Come for lunch on Monday. I’m having some old friends.

So on Sep 1, I found myself in a penthouse about four times the size of a 5-rm HDB flat, on the top level of a 20-storey building in the heart of the Orchard Road area.

I’ve been to the place many times be4 but it was the first time I was invited to the new inner, or more precisely the uppermost, sanctum, where the presiding matriarch of this low-key but prestigious family rules the roost.

I won’t describe the ID because in line with the mega rich, the home is more comfortable than fashionable, more practical than luxurious, tho it goes without saying, everything costs an arm and a leg by my yardstick.

Instead I will zoom in onto what was served at the lunch for eight. Popiah and porridge. But not yr $1.80 per roll sold at the foodcourts or even the self-roll effort available at places such as Good Chance (is it still around, I wonder?)

And while the “skin” is quite ordinary, the items for the “stuffing” are impressive. The pix below gives an idea.

filling-deluxe

filling-deluxe

Note the large sliced prawns (not shrimps, ah!) — fresh and crunchy. Note too the crab meat, where whole deshelled pincers were included. Plus creamy crab roe. All exactly the way I like to eat my prawns and crabs.

The green mossy stuff in the center is dried fresh seaweed, from Fujian in China and presented to the hostess by a friend. I gather the stuff can’t be bought off the shelf or even in speciality shops in S’pore, since all the guests at the table said they didn’t know what it was. (I had initially thought it was springy daun kesom, or laksa leaf).

Onward to the condiments or garnishings, although I think either description doesn’t quite fit, the first because the stuff isn’t spices etc and the second because the stuff will form part of the popiah stuffing rather than enhance the presentation.

little things that add up to a lot..

little things that add up to a lot..

I gave the dessicated peanuts and the fried shallots (the two bowls nearest the camera) a miss, as I don’t like the taste of either, at least not in popiah.

I go mad however with the garlic, the chilli and the Chinese parsley and exercise a bit of retraint with the sweet sauce, mainly because from experience, too much of it leads to a burst popiah skin, spilling the delicious ingredients.

It didn’t matter too much (except perhaps aesthetically or display a lack of breeding for all to see) when eating in genteel surroundings when one is seated at table, with a plate and a knife and fork and a pair of chopsticks.

If eating standing up in a food court, holding the popiah roll between a sheet of paper and the skin gives way to spill the fillings, gravy and sauce: it could be a disaster whether the spill is on oneself or on a fellow diner, whether friend or stranger.

At the penthouse lunch, I was more relaxed with the sweet sauce than usual, as the hostess thoughtfully provided whole popiah skins and halves, so that there’ll be some insulation for guests like me who have a tendency to load up so that the final result was this:  

more popiah pillow than roll..

more popiah pillow than roll..

I couldn’t make it to a second roll, though I did have a second helping sans skin: it was a medley of crab meat, braised bamboo shoot, lettuce, bean sprouts, lashes of sweet sauce, chilli and garlic; messy but a symphony to my taste buds.

Whenever I ignore the rules of how this or that should be eaten, I always have at the back of my mind a story I heard about Lee Kong Chian.

Apparently because of his packed schedule, he was frequently late for his pre-ordered lunch (usually a noodle dish). To revive the dried up mess, he would simply tip his could coffee over the food and then slurp it all down.

When remonstrated by his more fastidious bank colleagues, I am told he would say: Everything gets mixed once past the throat.

I’m not sure I would have revived a dried up bowl of noodles by pouring coffee or other liquid over it. But I do subscribe to the idea that everything does meet somewhere inside us so let’s not be too rigid about following practices such as popiah must always be eaten as a roll and not deconstructed and eaten salad style.

The popiah was followed by superior porridge, with the rice grains, dried scallops and other tasty ingredients cooked to a fine smooth gruel, that was gentle on the mouth and stomach.

And to round off the meal, we were offered five or six flavours of ice-cream and a groaning variety of fruits that included cantaloupe, Japanese musk melon, Hawaiian papaya, donut peach, pineapple, bananas, longan, oranges and pomelo. Everything was peeled and sliced (if necessary) and nicely laid out so there was no need to do more work than stretch out one’s hand and open one’s mouth.

This level of luxury reminds me of meals at another equally prestigious family’s sumptuous table: the only thing missing at my Sep 1 lunch was rambutans.

At those long ago and far away (in time and memory ) meals,  rambutans were not only peeled but also had their seeds taken out, so that one ate the cool plump flesh without effort, only pure enjoyment. That had become and remains my constant measure of how the truly wealthy lives!

rounding up the meal

rounding up the meal