Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Collin's Restaurant - Pretty Good Food for the Pricing @ Marina Square [Singapore]

It was past 7pm on a Sunday after a great karaoke session at Manekineko Marina Square and we were hauling a large (and heavy) gaming monitor to the taxi stand when we noticed a busy restaurant at an otherwise rather quiet section of the shopping mall.

As it's dinnertime and we figured it will be a late meal by the time we arrived at Yishun; we decided to join the queue at Collin's restaurant which, thankfully, wasn't that long!

Faced with a wide range of Western cuisine like includes steaks, pastas, burgers, pizzas, ribs etc, i am in a fix as there's no chef-recommended or must-try logo for me to rely on... The sign holder on my table shall help in the decision making process and the winner was squid ink seafood pasta!

Avocado Mango Shake - Like any good avocado juice, this was creamy and it wasn't generous with the sweet syrup which was good. Sadly, the mango taste dominated the beverage and it was a mango rather than avocado smoothie. Alex should have heeded my advice to order the more conventional avocado shake. 

Grilled Sea Tiger Prawn Aglio Olio - Alex's dinner and he was surprised to see a sizeable portion of pasta with 4 large tiger prawns.

I stole a bite and the grilled prawns were extremely fresh with solid, flavourful meat. Even the pasta soaked in the calabrese cream sauce was delectable; sure hoping i wouldn't regret my choice.

Squid Ink Pasta - first thing, it didn't look like squid ink as there's a grayish tinge that made it seemed as though a cement mixer had dumped its content onto the pasta!

Darn; i was so looking forward to having epic looking black stained teeth that i could have shared on Facebook and Instagram.

Nevertheless, the taste was not too bad although it was the dollop of fish roes that helped a great deal. The seafood (squid, prawns, scallops) were also not the dried, tasteless, rubbery type found in some restaurants.

Overall, i did enjoy my pasta even though i would throw my lot for Alex's Grilled Sea Tiger Prawn Aglio Olio if i have to choose between the two!

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Location
6 Raffles Boulevard,
#01-204/205/ Marina Square,
Singapore 039594

Website (including menu)

Pricing
Avocado Mango Shake - S$5.90
Grilled Sea Tiger Prawn Aglio Olio - S$13.90
Squid Ink Pasta - S$15.90
(Subject to GST and Service Charge)

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Second Airbnb in Otaru (AMS Suitengu) - Better But Still Not My Cup of Tea @ Hokkaido [Japan]

Following my virgin experience with Airbnb in Furano, I wasn't looking forward to my second Airbnb the next day at Otaru even though it was said to command a splendid view due to its vantage position.

The almost hilltop location means it's a long way from the main road and we can only thank our rented car for smoothing our journey to the Airbnb!

To be honest, it was a modern mansion-like building that greeted us; built in 2009, it has actually 4 floors with a total of 22 units.

Outdoor parking was available but for the Airbnb, we were only allowed one parking lot. As we had two cars shared among the six of us, we decided to play dumb, keep our fingers crossed and park both cars outside.

Coming back, entry was via a pin-code system with a super easy code that Chinese would be able to relate to. This code was given to us before our stay and as this was essentially a private residence, please do help to maintain the quietness and peacefulness of its environment; something I find hard to do.

The cold, dim corridor and we had to climb one floor up; don't remember seeing a lift. 

Our two-bedroom, air-conditioned apartment with a sofa bed in the living room that was already laid out for us. Compared to my first Airbnb, this was definitely more comfortable and more pleasing to the eye.

With bright white walls and industrial grey columns, this wasn't as homely as the Airbnb in Furano yet the kind that I wouldn't mind staying for a couple of days.

The two official bedrooms; we actually had to draw lots to decide who will sleep where and of course, the one disliked by all would be the hard and uncomfortable sofa bed.

Guess who got the sofa bed?! Whatever the case, we had the television in front of us if we decide to TV-binge the entire night. Did I share that there's a balcony?

View outside was good (you can even see some iconic buildings along the famous Sakaimachi Street) although I would prefer to stay indoors; the balcony had limited space to move around and rather dusty.

An old staircase leading to the hilltop! From this angle, I couldn't make out what's on top; maybe a park? The answer shall be revealed in another posting in the near future.

Vanity sink and washing machine within this space connecting the bathroom. The toilet (with the electronic bidet) was housed in another space nearer the entrance. It was quite hidden and for a moment, we thought this Airbnb has no toilet for its residents!

Japanese style bath-tub with bottles filled with fragrant shower gel and shampoo; towels were provided! I really enjoy soaking in such a bathtub as it reminded me of my childhood in the kampong where I would immerse myself in a large water-filled Chinese dragon pot.

Lovely kitchen equipped with the standard microwave oven, stove, electric kettle, iron, ironing board, plates, and cutleries! Using is one thing; in Airbnb, user initiative would be appreciated to clean up the place before leaving for a better review. Hm..... I like hotels.

Window at the kitchen overlooking the private carpark.

Notices in the residence. Glad that they were in English so we knew exactly what to do and the expectations levied on us by the homeowner. Frankly, it was a pleasant stay. However, I still didn't enjoy the Airbnb concept since overseas accommodation, to me, is just a place for me to sleep at night. I don't need a kitchen and Airbnb pricing wasn't incredibly attractive compared to staying in a hotel.

Beside the Airbnb concept that I didn't like as a whole, my only complaint has nothing to do with the unit. Rather, it's the building at night when the orange glow made it appeared so eerie!

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Location
AMS Suitengu,
Otaru, Hokkaido, Japan

Location Map
Check out my google map here.

Pricing
S$459 a night for 6 persons


Monday, November 13, 2017

Otaru Unga Syokudo (小樽運河食堂) - Just a Short Post @ Hokkaido [Japan]

While TripAdvisor offers a good gauge on the top restaurants in a foreign city, i do trawl the web sometimes for blog reviews by Singaporeans / Malaysians before i narrow down my choice as our taste buds might be similar. 

Otaru Unga Syokudo (小樽運河食堂) is one restaurant that appeared on the search result although it's more than just one dining establishment! 

Essentially, it's similar to the concept of having a few eateries in one area and that explained the reason why i got confused over the reviews which were veered from seafood to ramen, buffet to ala carte! 

My objective was clear - to seek the Hokkaido crab buffet that was priced at 5,600 yen per person and i thought there's no better place than Otaru to satisfy my craving as it's renowned nationwide for the freshness of its seafood. 

Sadly, we decided not to patronize it after requesting for permission to check out the premises; there were not many people and the food served didn't appear exceptionally appetizing.... 

None of the eateries appealed to us although we did have a good time going through the souvenir store right in the middle that's bordered by the seven restaurants. 

Aside from food souvenirs, there were stuffed bears where you can use as realistic companions for your photos. Look at those terribly long claws! 

This is more than just a souvenir for display; it does have a use and i bet most of you wouldn't know what it is unless you can recognise the Japanese / Chinese characters. That long tooth-pick like thingy is a ear pick! 

Marimo, the popular balls of algae that don't require much maintenance, actually came from a lake in Hokkaido; didn't manage to visit the lake which was too far North for us to travel to.

But do you know they came in cans too?!

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Location
Opposite the Photo Spot of Otaru Canal

Location Map
Check out my google map here.


Sunday, November 12, 2017

Kusu Island - A Pilgrimage Visit [龟屿进香] in 2017 @ Singapore

It's once again the annual pilgrimage to Kusu Island (from 20 October to 18 November); i promised my mom i would bring her there and this made it my 4th visit since 2012.

Entourage this time included the two brats, my younger sister and my parents! With so many things happening this year to myself and my family, i personally feel that i should go and offer my prayers.

Tickets purchased at S$18 for each adult and S$12 for each child! With such high pricing, i am going to resort to staying longer on the island next year; maybe a BBQ picnic, swimming and snorkeling.

Queue at 10 am; was a bit late as the kids couldn't wake up on time due to staying late over at my house for retro games and movies. At the moment, i still don't have the confidence to have them bunking over for the night.

Cheeky Jovyn; more of her pictures soon.

We didn't have to wait too long; in less than 30 minutes, we were on our way to take the ferry at Marina South Pier. 

Sianz, no outdoor seating means i couldn't play games on my phone lest i get sea-sick. I am actually super prone to motion sickness although it has improved compared to when i was a kid. 

Welcome to Kusu Island; journey took about 20-25 minutes!

Knowing i was taking a photograph of the map, she immediately jumped in and struck an introductory pose. Hello, i needed the map, unblocked!

The temple that housed the Tua Pek Kong, the patron saint that everyone came for. Since Tua Pek Kong is a common enough Chinese deity with numerous temples on mainland Singapore, why the need for an annual pilgrimage?

More information is provided here for your reading pleasure. In the meantime, let's just attempt coin throwing to hit the bell in the middle of the stone lotus flower. Legend has it that your wish will come true if you hit it, i think.

Additional photos of the built-in-1923 temple.

This lagoon was named the turtle lagoon but much as i looked around, there's no turtle to be found. I did find two just a few meters from the lagoon even though they were not alive and kicking.

Praying time for the mom! I did take a few minutes to pray to the deities honoured in the temple; albeit without the offerings as i found to be environmental unfriendly. 

Waiting for the mom as she had to go through the standard procedures; lay out the offerings on the altar, light the incense sticks and place them at appropriate urns and then burn the paper offerings.

Customary photo of the three-turtle statue!

Wish-For-A-Child tree; there must be some truth to its claims even though for the Chinese mindset, never try, never know and no harm in trying.

Back in 2012 and 2013, the tentage was huge to accommodate quite a number of stalls. In the past two years, the scale has reduced dramatically to only this standalone one as above.

Have been buying quite a bit of TOTO and 4D recently for, hopefully, a better life and i was kicking myself for forgetting to purchase any when i visited Kusu Island!

Time for my late breakfast at the food centre. To know what's available, check out my posting for 2016 Kusu Pilgrimage; i should have referred to it too as i once again ordered the poor-performing oyster omelette.

After knowing i have quite a few games in my phone, our dear Jovyn has been requesting for my phone whenever she has free time on her hands!

No, she didn't feel embarrassed that her poor uncle me would not be able to check his work email, upload photos to Instagram or read the feed on Facebook.

Done with my breakfast (char kway teow, oyster omelette, fried chicken wings and a cup of kopi gao) and it's time to climb the 152 steps to the holy kramats

A breeze to reach the top; Mom didn't want to join us as she needed to go vegetarian if she intends to offer her prayers at the kramats.

Our local obsession with the 4D lottery.

Poser!

I don't understand why there were so many 4D numbers written on the yellow-painted boulders. I mean i do but compared to TOTO, the payout for 4D is really peanuts.

Next time i come, i would bring along my lucky marker and write down six digits from 01 to 49. Praying that the draw then would be more than just the usual S$1 million prize.

Immerse yourself in the smoke for "wealth, marriage, fertility, good career, good health, harmony and couples seeking to start a family"; pretty comprehensive.

Time to go down; it's so cute to see Jerald holding on to Jovyn. As Jerald would be reaching puberty soon, this type of scene might be a rarity as both get older.

Hence, take the opportunity for more photo-taking!

Going out from the other staircase. 

I find Jovyn's pose to be very funny as she appeared to be a model in a beauty pageant! A check with my sister revealed that this pose has something to do with her graduation performance! Guess i would understand when i attend it this Saturday! 

Dad did a better job! 

Jovyn again in front of the lagoon; i brought an extra set of clothing but none of them did. Hence, i had to shelve my plan to make full use of my admission ticket.

Stone barrier to protect the lagoon from the strong waves made by the thousands of ships that sailed through the busy Singapore Straits.

Kids insisted of walking towards the far end of the stone dam! I was hesitant as we are primarily responsible for the kids' safety but i always feel that a bit of risk brings out the resilience.

And i am so proud that they did! Next time, i shall sponsor them to Forest Adventure @ Bedok Reservoir; it's a darn good place to conquer the fear of height! 

My father joined us in walking over too! 

Proceeding to the kids' next favourite place; the open concept tortoise sanctuary. Tsk tsk tsk, dad closed his eyes when i took the picture. 

There were so much food for the tortoises; i am wondering if they would overfeed themselves in the way that fishes often do. 

Knowing that humans can be extremely terrorizing and the tortoises might be afraid to venture out to feed; a kindhearted man brought along a bottle of dry tortoise kibbles and threw a handful into each tortoise shelter. 

Skyline of mainland Singapore! 

Jovyn was throwing tantrums, likely due to the warm weather and Jerald shall stand in on her behalf. Poor boy was nursing a swollen eye that day. 

Frankly, my father posed quite well! Guess you would see a lot of photos of him in my upcoming trip to Phuket, the Paradise Island of Thailand. 

Me stealing a shot of dad's taking a picture. 

Remember the two not alive and kicking tortoises a few meters away from the turtle lagoon? These are the ones; two tortoise statues. Unlike the three-turtle statue near the temple, i don't remember seeing these two when i was a kid.

Happy shot of the five of them! 

Last picture of the temple as we needed to leave for a lunch appointment with my elder sister and brother in law; despite having a pretty filling breakfast just an hour before. 

Under shade, she reverted to her usual posing mood.

Our one-level boat was here! Pity there wasn't an open-air section where i can have the relaxing sea breeze blowing against my face. 

Like her mother, Jovyn doesn't survive well in hot places and her excitement in leaving was simply because the boat was air-conditioned, as confirmed by the guy manning the queue. 

Once she was in the cool arena, her mood was immediately lifted and aside from asking me for my phone, she also gamely agreed to pose for my camera! 

Big cargo ship! 

Back to Marina South Pier! In case you think it's a hassle to travel to the pier, it's really not as the pier is located right next to the Marina South Pier MRT station (red line) and it's very convenient, so long the MRT doesn't break down. 

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Kusu Island Pilgrimage in 2017
From 20 October to 18 November

How To Get There
Take the ferry from Marina South Pier
(Next to Marina South Pier MRT Station)


Ferry Ticket Pricing

Adult - S$18
Child - S$12

Map
As above.

Past Postings

Additional Information
As the pilgrimage would end this Friday, the above notice might be helpful in case you miss the last boat. If you wish to check out the nearby Lazarus Island and Saint John's Island, click here and there

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