Monday, February 26, 2007

Sunset At Ikea Tampines

Sunsets are just lovey.

More so while having dinner. I took these shots at IKEA Tampines.

And oh, IKEA's Swedish meatballs are to die for. A heavy meal composed of 10 meatballs, potato, gravy and lingonberry jam, this all-time favorite Swedish dish is priced at $5.80.

We bought a kilo of the meatballs at the frozen section to cook at home. Amd we didn't forget the ingredients for the gravy — some special kind of powder and cream, but we did skip the lingonberry jam and potatoes. Still yummy!

Labels: ,

Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Kaya Toast

My serendipitous discovery of a heavenly treat happened on the day I first started jogging.

It had been an hour since I left the apartment when I got to the Pasir Ris Town Park. I came to an area that allowed me to get a glimpse of what looked like a familiar building. It didn't take long for me to find out my hunch was correct. No longer covered by the trees that initially obstructed my view, the MRT Station was plainly visible on the right. The white and blue building was the White Sands Shopping Center. The Bus Interchange was at the back. I was in Pasir Ris Central.

The pungent smell of coffee greeted me as I entered the mall. It was hard to resist the invitation; I had taken a break from my daily dose of the addictive beverage back at home. I decided to go around the mall to look around. Apparently, there wasn't much to see. At this time of the day, only the coffee shops on the ground floor and the grocery in the basement were open.

Having nothing else to do, I decided it was time to jog my way back to the apartment. But the coffee aroma chased me as I went through the exit. The coffee shop's name read Ya Kun Kaya Toast, Coffeestall since 1934. I took a quick glance at the menu and made some rapid calculations. The coffee was sold for S$1.20 and what they called kaya toast was tagged at $1.90, not bad at all.

I was ahead of the line but decided to give way to those behind me so I could see what they ordered. All of them went with kaya toast and coffee, I also noticed that nearly everyone seated was having the same thing. I simply followed suit. The lady behind the counter offered me the combo A instead. Priced at $3.90, the meal included the 2 pieces of toast, coffee and eggs.

Parts of the food preparation I witnessed appeared unique to me. For the coffee, a cloth resembling a sock was used as a filter, and a white liquid, which I later found out was condensed milk, was poured into the cup to complete the concoction before being served. The eggs were taken from a pitcher containing hot water, dipped only long enough to make them soft-boiled. The bread were charcoal-grilled to a crisp before kaya and butter were applied to make it a sandwich.

The coffee was just right for my taste -- it wasn't too strong nor too sweet. The toasted bread blended perfectly with the taste of the kaya jam and the butter. At first, the eggs seemed too raw and desperately needed a dash of salt. On my second try however, a few drops of soy sauce was enough to do the trick, something I learned from observing other diners.

It was very much later that I found out that the kaya toast was a traditional breakfast for the Singaporeans and it was so popular that McDonald's once made it part of its local breakfast menu.

p.s. I have since tried several Kaya Toast stalls around Singapore. So far, Ya Kun Kaya is still my favorite.

Labels: ,

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Jogging Along Pasir Ris Park

February 9 marks the 1st week of my stay here in Singapore. I've managed to see a bit of the neighborhood through my newly found morning routine, jogging.

I wake up a little past 8 and leave the house with my uncle who's off to work at Tanjong Pagar. He points me towards the road that should take me to the Pasir Ris Park.

My short journey starts with an upward trek. To my left is a dense collection of trees while a grassy hill sits quietly by my right.

After some painful strides, I see residential houses lined up on both sides of the road.

Shortly after I enter the Pasir Ris Park, I couldn't help but notice the lone woman sitting on the ground towards my right.

The yoga lady hums in her meditation. I try my best to whizz past her as silently as I could.

Another few minutes and I get to my favorite spot, the beach.

From afar, I could make out a fisherman doing something with his net. We pass each other but he doesn't seem to notice me and he just goes about his business.

A few years ago when I stayed for about a week in Aklan, a province made famous by Boracay and the Ati-Atihan, I found out it wasn't easy to jog along the sandy shorelines. So at this point in my routine, I simply walk and revel in the magnificent view. Sometimes I sit by the benches nearby and watch the crows or read
The Straits Times.

Speaking of birds, it had been a long time since I last enjoyed the sweet cacophony they made. I pass by 3 parks each morning: the Sungei Api Api Park, the Pasir Ris Park and the Pasir Ris Town Park. The ambience just wouldn't be the same without the chirping. If I do this long enough, maybe in the future I'll be able to identify the birds from their sounds alone.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

The View From A Room In Pasir Ris

The building I see from my window is numbered xxx. Having thirteen floors, it's mostly white except for the red and green brickworks from the fourth floor up. Shoes, sandals, and different pieces of clothing - socks, underwear, shirts, pants, beddings, towels, etc. - are left hanging out to dry. Along the corridors are plants in pots, shoe racks, portable clothesline and a few bikes. On the upper floors, bird cages and orchids hang from the ceilings.

Of course, things don't change too much when the sun hides to make way for the moon. I can still discern that the trees are only two of a kind. As for building 629, with about 5 flourescent lamps per floor, its corridors are well-lit. If there were prowling thieves, they would have found a hard time trying to be inconspicuous. It is interesting to note however, that there is a very low crime rate in Singapore. This is definitely a plus whether you're relocating to Singapore or simply making a short visit.

There was this one time when the smell of burning plastic reached my nose; so looking out my window was my immediate reaction. It appeared to me the family was incinerating remnants of the Lunar New Year's fireworks. With no apparent reason, my next course of action involved grabbing the camera and taking a few snaphsots. I hope I didn't violate any privacy laws; I don't want to get fined. Hmm... Is burning plastic illegal in Singapore? Singapore isn't called a fine city for no reason. If you have a list of things to bring, it wouldn't be a bad idea to come up with a list of things not to bring. Put chewing gum and pack of cigarettes at the top of your list.

The multi-storey carpark can also be seen from my window, on the left side. From what I heard and what most people would certainly expect, there's a parking fee. Just out of curiousity, maybe I'll find out how much.

There's not much to see on the right side, my view is limited because I'm too near one of my building's post. The camera shots reveal a lot more because I can extend my hand and just click away.

On a final note, these buildings are called HDBs. HDB actually stands for Housing & Development Board -- the government office responsible for public housing here in Singapore. But locals refer to these government-built housing units as HDBs.

Labels: ,