Surprising Horizons

The Joy of Travel. The Realities of New Experiences

Weezer – Live in Singapore

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Want to feel old?

Here are a few of Weezer’s greatest hits…

“Undone – The Sweater Song” and “Buddy Holly” – released in 1994
“Say It Aint So” – released in 1995
“Hashpipe” and “Island in the Sun” – released in 2001
“Keep Fishin'” – released in 2002

It’s with those aural memories ringing in my old ears that I bought a ticket for Weezer. Playing in the weird venue that is the Suntec Exhibition and Conference Centre, I slalom-ed my way from City Hall MRT through the numerous Poke-Stops to make my way for an 8pm kick-off.

Having made my way up to the 6th floor by the longest escalators in the universe, I was met by some rigorous body scans from aunties who may not have known what they were doing. Or holding.

Did I mention how weird this venue is? You walk through the doors to be faced by a skyscraper of scaffold-ed seats right in front of you. No signs going anywhere else, and the “anywhere else” was dark anyway. So up I walked several flights of scaffolding thinking I would walk my way down into the standing area. But no… seating only, the entrances to the standing area were in the “anywhere else” area in the dark.

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Finally in the standing area, 8:10 came around and Weezer hit the stage. The standing numbers were a little light if I’m being honest, looking back in the seats there was a healthy enough crowd but still a number of empty areas.

So the concert.

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Again, not being a super fan, they were good. They deliver their songs a little clinically, with not too much gusto (especially from Messrs Shriner and Bell). Yes, Rivers Cuomo, the oft curious front-man, took a wander through the crowd, donned a crown and cape for “King of the World”, and they all broke out the leis for “Island in the Sun” but they’re all a little sedate while actually playing through their set.
Having said that, I’ve seen some sedate musicians/bands in my time (*cough* Nate Mendel) who play rolicking tunes and it takes nothing away from their musicianship on the night. I guess when you’re in your late 40s and still rocking you should perform however the hell you want to.

I formed a theory while standing there with my fellow head nodders. I don’t think Weezer is in the top 5 bands of many people in the world. They, perhaps, are a band that people follow for a core group of their songs and don’t buy the rest of the happy meal. Perhaps. I’m sure they have their super fans. Everyone does. Just my opinion yo.
But I saw many people get very excited (ie. scream in my ear and jump up and down with excitement) for some songs I was there to hear, then I saw said people put their heads down in their phones for let’s say “Back to the Shack” (which, actually, is one of my favs).

There you go. Enjoyable. $158 enjoyable? Nah. But they certainly have a number of great songs to bop along to until they go down your Spotify playlist once again.

Here, have “Buddy Holly” I recorded  while waiting to beat the crowd to the escalators before Youtube removes it or something.

Short Yacht Cruise from Singapore

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Our friend had some credit card points to burn so treated us all to a yacht cruise with White Sails. We set off around 6pm from Sentosa Cove (which has a Cold Storage handy for last minute food/drink purchases) on a Sunday evening, bounced our way to a cove on St. John’s Island and hung around there for a few hours soaking in the sunset. Whilst there, you can kayak, swim, or fish. I did none of those but just chilled out, had a beer, and watched the sunset do its thang. It was really nice.

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On the way back darkness had fallen so a quick detour to see some waterworks/fireworks show at Sentosa and then towards the city, dodging huge cargo ships, to see the skyline all lit up. Then back to dock around 10pm.

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All in all, a cool little sojourn made even better when nature plays its part too.

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Bite Size Review: Din Tai Fung

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Din Tai Fung in Paragon on Orchard Road

If you ever visit us in Singapore we will take you to Din Tai Fung. Oh yes, we will.

It is now a must have once a month dining experience for us having being first introduced to us in Hong Kong. We have visited the original in Taipei with 60 Grade 5 students, and now here in Singapore we have over 19 branches to choose from. But we always just go to one in Paragon on Orchard Road. We would go to the one in Wisma Atria but they, for some reason, don’t make the vegetarian steamed dumplings. Odd.

I never change what I get at Din Tai Fung. Six steamed pork dumplings if you please. A side dish of egg and rice. And a plate of greens (either spinach or Dou Miao). There is also a request for six vegetarian steamed dumplings (hence our extended trek to Paragon).

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Pork dumplings!

The pork dumplings are uniquely delicious. Piping hot you have to sate your appetite before delicately carrying one from its wooden steam..thing. Dip it into some soy/vinegar and eat. It pops open in your mouth with a pork broth spilling out with each initial bite. Perfection.

The egg and rice is amazing and a perfect foil to the strong pork tasting dumplings. Whatever vegetable side dish you get it is always a nice accompaniment.

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Vegetable dumplings

So if you find yourself in any of the following countries; Australia, Mainland China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Macau, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, the United States, Taiwan, Thailand or Dubai. Check and see if there is a Din Tai Fung near you and treat yo’self.

10 out of 10 steaming pork dumplings.

Visiting Old Kallang Airport

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The Singapore Land Authority opened up the gates of Old Kallang Airport recently to visitors so I went along to try and imagine Singapore back in the 30s with this airport being the first custom built civil airport in Singapore in 1937.

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<history>
In 1930 Seletar airport received the first civil flight from Amsterdam. Singapore was an important flight hub between Australia and Europe/Middle East. So, of course, Seletar became too small for the burgeoning market and in 1931 work began on Kallang Airport. They finished work in 1937. My aircon guys can’t even replace a motor in my aircon unit in good time and these guys back then could reclaim land from THE SEA, build an airport, and be ready for planes within six years. It’s hard to believe that they even had a slipway to the water for seaplanes (it’s now surrounded by motorways, a sports complex and other concrete..things). It was used heavily, naturally, during World War II and with the world being the world, in the 1950s demand outgrew infrastructure. And it closed in 1955.
</history>

Kallang Airport aerial photo 1945.jpg
By Lieutenant R. J. Buchanan – This image is available from the Collection Database of the Australian War Memorial under the ID number: 119757

I really got a sense of what was what by looking at the above photo and comparing to what is still standing today.

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So visiting it today is to merely get a vague impression of what things were like back then. The architecture harks back to a bygone era of early airplanes and British rule. It’s pretty neat to wander the empty and lonely rooms  and to make your way up to the tower to try your very best to remember the old Singapore. It’s pretty hard to.

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I turned the above photos black and white so you could time travel back to the 30s. You’re welcome. Kind of reminded me of the hotel in The Shining.

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The tower on top of the main terminal building looking downtown.

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Sometimes fellow explorers make better photos.

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The narrowest and thinnest spiral staircase in the world. Leading up to the control tower.

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New meets old. Old meets new.

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View from the control tower towards downtown.

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Hangar building East.

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Old hangar. Was not allowed in there.

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Old Kallang Airport has got some nice curves in places. Something that Changi has taken up. In places.

It took me about an hour to wander around the three buildings that are open for wandering around in. I would recommend taking water (which I didn’t) and a snack (which I didn’t) as there’s nothing around to fulfil those basic human requirements. Keep an eye on the Singapore Land Authority Facebook page for when they may be opening it up again.

Taste of Tasmania Part 3

Part 1 Here.

Part 2 Here.

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Cradle Mountain

Driving from Stanley to Cradle Mountain you have to go nearly all the way back to Burnie and then cut in due south. The drive takes about two and a half hours. Once you get to Cradle Mountain you can park your car, pay your entrance fee and take one of the regular buses down to Dove Lake to start your preferred hike. There are a lot of longer ones but we chose the circuit around the lake; it’s best to do it clockwise.

The people we met walking around counter-clockwise were met with derisive sneers and glares. Not really. We had a perfect day for the walk and it was quite lovely and picturesque. There are a number of uphill sections near the end so be aware of that. All in all I think it’s a must do if you are planning a trip around Tasmania.

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Sheffield

We chose Sheffield due it’s proximity to Cradle Mountain although it’s still roughly an hour’s drive away. We would have stayed nearer Cradle Mountain but all hotels were booked out during the Christmas period. The drive to Sheffield does see some steep twisty roads so be warned (hairpin bends going uphill). We stayed at the Sheffield Motor Inn (see my Trip Advisor review here) which was adequate for the night. Sheffield doesn’t have a lot going for it apart from the many wall murals around; it’s pretty much a one road town.

The only option for dinner the evening we were there was at the Sheffield Hotel across the road from the Motor Inn. Which was fine. Other than that not much to see or do here. There is a curious curios shop beside the Sheffield Hotel run by an equally curious man. We didn’t go in but had fun eavesdropping on the interactions he was having with his customers.

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Tamar Valley River Cruise

Another short one hour(ish) drive from Sheffield we decided to stay in the Grindelwald region in the Tamar Valley at the Aspect Tamar Valley Resort (my TripAdvisor review here). I didn’t really see the appeal of the place for people apart from the inclusive aspects of the resort itself; kid’s fun areas, pool, golf, mini-golf, restaurant, and shops. To get in to Launceston proper takes a lot of money and a taxi ride of around 25 minutes. Which we had to do. Both ways. There is an hourly bus but times didn’t work out. We nipped in to take an afternoon river cruise with Tamar River Cruises. It was a really nice and relaxing cruise with lots of seabirds, scenery, and jellyfish to see!

On board there was free flow coffee and a wine and Boag’s beer tasting and we finished up by heading up Cataract Gorge a little bit. All in all, probably one of the things you must do when in the region.

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The fourth and final part of our Tasmania trip is up next finishing up with Richmond and Hobart!

Bite Size Review: Pigs Fly

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“I want a food court where I can eat from a Japanese menu, Indian menu, Thai menu, a burger menu, a pizza menu, and a plain old bar snack menu. And I want to be able to pay for it up front so I can just waddle out of there after I stuff my face.”

“Yeah, right. When pigs fly…”

And so, I must imagine, went the conversations that led to the birth of Pigs Fly food ..place (it’s not exactly a court) in the Novena area of Singapore. Because that is exactly what you can experience if you happen to pop in to them.

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Japanese Chicken Curry with some broth. My fav.

It’s been my favourite go-to place for over a year now. I like getting rid of the hassle of flagging down a waiter, getting the bill, and then waiting for change or the credit card receipt. I like just getting up and leaving after shoving one last load of food in to my mouth.

Of course, the wide range of different cuisines is also a huge unique selling point. I wouldn’t know because I always get the Japanese chicken curry. It is fantastic; sweet with a little heat and the chicken is always succulent. But from seeing the other plates that are on offer it seems that good food is universal on the different menus.

Drinks wise you can get happy hour pints of Heineken or Tiger for $10 which is a great price for the area.

If I can think of any downsides it would be that if it gets really busy then the line up to order drinks and food at the bar can get long. We usually go early evening around 5 or 6pm and it’s usually reasonably quiet.

4.75 chicken cutlets out of 5.

Visiting Gardens By The Bay Singapore

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Unlike S.E.A. Aquarium I would highly recommend you buy your tickets online for Gardens by the Bay, print them out, and get them stamped at the turnstiles in to the two conservatories. Because they are actual tickets! Yes! The queues for tickets were horrendous when we went (Good Friday) so online tickets are a good thing.

It’s free to wander around the Gardens by the Bay park but it’s $20 for local residents to see two conservatories and $28 for horrible, yucky, non local tourists. That’s $8 extra for cleaning costs after you touch everything with your filthy hands. You can visit one conservatory at $12 if you’re a local and I haven’t a clue what it is if you’re a tourist. Probably $50. We went to see two.

First up was the Cloud Forest conservatory which is pretty impressive. It’s also pretty cold in there if you don’t like that sort of thing. You see, it’s replicating the climate of high altitude flora. Science. You take an elevator from the ground floor to the top and then work your way down. It’s pretty neat and has some walkways creeping out over the dome so if you’re afeared of heights you can skip that. Yeah, so that’s that one. Some nice things to see on the way down.

Next one is the Flower Dome conservatory. This was hell. There was too many people and the flowers were just not that interesting if you are being pushed and prodded from all angles. The Cherry Blossoms were in bloom but the walk through them was like wading through a tube of congealed human matter. Wasn’t fun. The blossoms weren’t even in the anticipated Japanese-esque vibrancy. Didn’t stop people stopping and taking selfies every ten seconds though. GET THE HELL OUTTA MY WAYYY!! *SOB*…

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We got out of there. It’s about 15/20 minute walk to Bayfront MRT (depending on how much energy and soul was sapped from you) to escape the madness.

So if you like flowers and stuff it’s a must see. If you want to just see an interesting attraction just pay to visit the Cloud Forest conservatory and take a wander around the park. And don’t visit on public holidays.

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Visiting S.E.A. Aquarium Singapore

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It’s always a good start when tourist attractions have tickets you can purchase online. Small alarm bells go off when said tickets aren’t actually tickets and you have to redeem them at the actual venue to get your actual tickets. Such it is with the S.E.A. Aquarium Singapore.

The confusion continued when I used the TICKET REDEMPTION machine at the Waterfront light rail station on Sentosa, got some green tickets out of it and proceeded to walk to the Aquarium. And then was proceeded to be told they weren’t tickets. A long jaunt back with the staff from the aquarium to the ticket counter and I get the correct tickets.
Me: “Why did the ticket redemption machine not give me actual, you know, tickets?”
Counter Victim: ” You need to read the back “Not to be given to guests”
Me: “My question still stands, why did the ticket redemption machine give me them then?”

Anyway it wasn’t his fault and we were soon in but, bloody hell, make online ticket purchases exactly that…ONLINE TICKET PURCHASES!

The S.E.A. Aquarium is very impressive. I had visited Kuala Lumpar and Chicago’s aquariums before but this one beats them hands down.

Large tanks for the big guys (sharks, mantas etc.) and the smaller tanks for..the smaller guys..are well displayed and lit. Just when you think you’ve seen the biggest tank you turn a corner and you reach this:

Other displays of note are the beautifully lit jellyfish tanks.

There was a dolphin in a tank but he was busy doing slave labour for the sake of tourist* entertainment in the arena above the aquarium.

I think it’s a must see for children and adults alike. It’s a little pricey at $32 for tourists and $28 for residents (don’t have to be permanent). I guess you can “buy” your tickets online but best to line up to see an actual human to redeem your tickets lest the ticket redemption machine feels like messing with the human overlords again.

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*I realise I’m a tourist too

 

St. Patrick’s Day in Singapore 2016

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It’s that time of year again where everyone takes the time out to wish me a St. Patrick’s Day as if it’s a highly religious occasion and St. Patrick is my one and only ruling god. As religious days go, it’s pretty good. People expect you to drink at some point and listen to Irish music. I’ll take that over kneeling on cold church pews listening to how I’m going to burn in hell any day of the week.

I don’t go crazy on St. Patrick’s Day. I leave that to other nationalities *cough*. But I do like to have a few Guinnesses. This year I took a wander over to The Drunken Poet on Orchard Road as they were advertising $12 pints of Guinness. Which is great quality for Singapore. The last time I was in The Drunken Poet it was a Canadian Burger joint. That’s how Singapore rolls yo.

My paranoia and suspicion wasn’t called for. I figured they would be giving us cans of Guinness or “not quite” pints. But no! They were full pints and they weren’t that bad. The first one had the perfect head and consistency but the two I had after, the heads were thin like a beer head. I don’t think bartenders are told that the head of a Guinness needs to be thicker and with a convex dome on top. Just 4 years of being a barman in Ireland talking here *cough*.

So that was St. Patrick’s Day for real but on Saturday and Sunday 19th/20th there was a St. Patrick’s Day festival down in Boat Quay that we decided to wander down on the Sunday to see their parade which was to start at 2:30pm. It didn’t and we waited as long as we could and gathered with the bagpipers and Irish population of Singapore just milling around the statue of Stamford Raffles.

We were beginning to fry inside so we had to leave and wander over to the actual festival area in search for a Guinness. Molly Malone’s had pints for $14 and The Penny Black (not an Irish bar) had them for $12.50. They wont be those prices again for a long time.

The festival itself started filling out after the parade and the three stages had three different types of live music. It seemed well organized and was well attended. And we were well hot and exhausted after a few black ones in the blazing sun so we trotted off home. Until next year…

Bite Size Review: Da Paolo BistroBar

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Happened to book a table before the recent Bon Iver concert in to Da Paolo BistroBar in Rochester Park as it’s a short walk to Star Theatre in The Star Vista.

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Click for larger. Prices.

Certainly not the cheapest plates on offer. $34 for a burger?! It must be awesome. Time to put my money where my mouth is. Literally.

As I finished up eating my dinner, I was underwhelmed by it all I have to say. I had a better $10 burger at the recent Craft Beer Festival furnished by Brewerkz. And that was lying on a hot plate for me for god knows how long. It wasn’t the amount of beer I had beforehand I swear.
Da Paolo’s burger was just..bland. There was too much flat notes in the taste; ham, caramelised onions, and brie just melded into one monotonous taste. It definitely needs a sharp or acidic bite to it. Ditch the caramelised onions and put some red onions in there or something. I don’t know, I’m not a chef yo.
The fries were also of the frozen-out-of-the-bag variety (I’m an expert on knowing this, trust me). For $34 I was expecting a flailing potato to be dragged out and peeled alive before my eyes.

I guess I wouldn’t be kicking them around so bad if it wasn’t for the price and it is Wagyu so there’s your costs up there to import all that in. I would argue, though, don’t hide the quality Wagyu beef by surrounding it in the equivalent of a beige woolly sweater.

6/10 Sad Cows.

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