Monday, September 21, 2009

Singapore 360 - Day 17: Marching To Vivo City's Marché Restaurant

I am a fan of Roger Federer, the Swiss Army knife and Swiss watches. I liked Toblerone as a kid too. If I didn't know any better, I would've said I liked Swiss Miss a lot as a child (I really did, except that it's an American brand, not Swiss). I am a fan of Marché too. If you missed the connection, Marché is a Swiss restaurant.

The first time I got to try Marché was in 2004 when I first visited Singapore primarily for work-related reasons (I ended up extending a week). They had an outlet along Orchard Road back then. I had an instant liking to the ambiance. More importantly, I thought the food was great.

It made such a positive impression on me that when I saw they found a new home on the roof deck of the Vivo City mall, a few years after my first sampling of their menu, I vowed to give it a try. I did and it has become one of my favorite restaurants ever since.

I like their version of the Spanish paella, which is one dish I keep coming back for more. I find it best to share the solo size with someone and get a portion of their salad and a grilled steak or hotdog. I also like the Rösti, a potato dish that must be a relative of the French fries and the hashbrown.

I'd say vegetarians and meat-lovers alike would enjoy Marché. Food for both the young and old are readily available. They serve fresh fruit juices as well as coffee and beer. For a snack, the combination of crepes and coffee is a good deal. It's really not a difficult restaurant to like, unless you're not fond of Western food in general.

I think it's about time I visit the place again.


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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Beyond The Run - Yellow Ribbon Prison Run 2009

When I accidentally trespassed into a lot sometime ago and found out too late that the other side was fenced, just when it was getting dark and there were no lamp posts to light my path, I imagined running away from prison while trying to get back on the road. Maybe it was a side-effect of watching too much Prison Break or 24, I don't know. But I never considered doing that in real life, much more running towards a prison. But then again that was exactly what I did just a few Sundays ago in the first Yellow Ribbon Prison Run.

An overcast sky hung above that morning, threatening to give reason for the inaugural run to be cancelled — a possibility more apparent to me after it happened to the NUS Run, where the pouring rain forced the organizers to cancel the event while the runners scampered for the nearest shelter. I wasn't in the rush to leave home early, thinking that Changi Village was just a few minutes away anyway. But a traffic jam slowed us down as we got nearer our destination. Once again I had forgotten to take the road closures into account.

We were nearly there when it started to drizzle. Then we met the initial surge of runners who had just taken off from the starting line. Clearly I was late, but I had company.

In my haste I skipped the ritual of making use of the portalet and started running immediately, a decision I would later regret. Like an answered prayer however, the drizzled didn't turn into rain. In fact, the weather was absolutely perfect for a run.

Somehow I managed to catch up with the tail end of the batch of runners who flagged off earlier. It was one of the few runs where I was more relaxed. Perhaps it was because we followed a scenic route, running near double fences of the prison and rehabilitation facilities; perhaps it was due to the cool weather; or perhaps it was because the entire thing was being done for a good cause — influencing society to become more accepting and willing to give ex-offenders a second chance at making good.

The man seen in posters and in the run's official site took part in the race too. His name is Hanniel Choong, a heroin user in a previous life, whose self-imposed mission was to break his personal best of 48 minutes as he celebrates his 48th birthday. I was among those who cheered while he got on stage during the awarding ceremony as the announcers exclaimed "mission accomplished!"

The finish line was located inside the Changi Prison Complex. Runners had to go through the open gates of the formidable Changi Prison Wall. Even with the fun and games, the compound still felt intimidating. I could only describe the experience as unique.

It was a very well organized run. From the starting point up to the finish line, things were in good order: distance markers, drinking stations, cheerers, road closures, volunteers, giveaways, food and games. Of the nine runs I have participated in this year, this has to be the best. I wouldn't want to miss next year's Yellow Ribbon Prison Run.

As a last note, I managed to beat my personal record for all the 10 km runs I've participated in this year by two minutes. I look forward to a better performance next time.


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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Singapore 360 - Day 16: Airplane Watching, Watching Airplanes

One lazy Sunday afternoon after a fairly wild morning spent running towards a prison instead of away from it (more on this later), we spent a few hours on a nice couch chatting while watching airplanes.

From where we sat we could watch planes land and taxi on the runway over and over again. It would have been great if we had only to turn our heads and watch other planes take off. Unfortunately that wasn't the case, but we were glad we got the chance to do what we did, grateful even that we had the luxury of time not to do anything productive if only for a short time.

I learned to anticipate the white smoke produced shortly after the plane's wheels touch ground. I couldn't get the perfect shot I wanted so after several tries I gave up and simply enjoyed the view. Why it didn't occur to me to take a video then beats me.

Of course there were other things to see, such as people getting on and off the planes and luggage being loaded and unloaded. But nothing topped watching planes touch down. It's one of those simple joys akin to watching how the creamer slowly melts in a cup of coffee.

The only thing missing from our experience was the sound. We were behind thick panels of glass the entire time. Well, the words exchanged more than made up for that — it was a good time to trade stories.

I recommend doing something similar to anyone who hasn't tried. Imagine sitting on a comfortable couch with a freshly brewed coffee to go along. It's one good way to relax the mind and prepare for the full week ahead.


Here's a nice song entitled Watching Airplanes by Garry Allan from YouTube. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

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Monday, September 7, 2009

Singapore 360 - Day 15: A Buddhist Temple In Serangoon

Singapore is home to many races and therefore many religions. For obvious reasons, racial harmony is of utmost importance.

One of the great things about such diversity is food.

Another is the number of holidays in a year. Well, that depends on how you look at it. In my case, I like holidays in general. ;)

It it not uncommon to come across different temples and churches. I used to come across this temple almost daily.

I didn't hesitate when I finally got the chance to take a few shots.

I hope to be able to take photos of other temples next time.



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Sunday, September 6, 2009

Singapore 360 - Day 14: Mini Cooper Celebrates 50 Years

So one day we were looking for the International Plaza in Orchard Road when we came by Ion Orchard and saw the Mini Cooper exhibit in celebration of their 50 years of production. I couldn't resist taking photos.

I'll let the photos do the talking from here. Let me just say that I will always be reminded of the movie The Italian Job when I see a Mini Cooper.


Here's an interesting video I found on the Web:

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