Surprising Horizons

The Joy of Travel. The Realities of New Experiences.

Month: May 2016

Bite Size Review: Din Tai Fung


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).


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.


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


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.


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.

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.

Screen Shot 2016-05-17 at 11.02.59 AM

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.



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.


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


Sometimes fellow explorers make better photos.


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


New meets old. Old meets new.


View from the control tower towards downtown.


Hangar building East.


Old hangar. Was not allowed in there.


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.

Part 4 here.


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.



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.


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.


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

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