Night Herp Walk

Went for another night herp walk. The first one was this.

This time round with more knowledge gleaned from the previous walk and some other training in between, thought I have a better shot of seeing some snakes and other reptiles. But sadly despite Singapore having more than 60 species of snakes, we didn’t spot any at all. How disappointing! The other groups did saw a python, a Oriental Whip Snake and a Paradise Tree Snake though!

Anyway, despite it being a fairly dry night, we did see quite a number of frogs and toads 

Asian Toad

Four Lined tree frog

Banded Bull frog

Beside frogs and toads, there were gecko aplenty. They were all over the place once we know where to look. Most of them ran away when we shine our torches on them and armed only with a basic camera without any flash or diffuser, most of the photos of the geckos didn’t turn up well just like this one with a moth in its mouth.

Spiny Tailed Gecko

The highlight of the walk was seeing this big lizard – the Tokay Gecko. Never knew we got such big gecko in Singapore. We saw 3, with the first being almost 1 foot long. These 2 are smaller. 

Tokay Gecko

Tokay Gecko

Interesting time. Now looking forward to the next walk.

 

 

 

 

Cheap and Good – Foon’s Thai Wanton Mee

One of the hottest food fad in Singapore is Thai Boat Mee. Apart from the famous Soi 19 Wanton Mee, there are now many noodle bar/cafe/restaurant selling Thai Boat Noodle at atas prices. Which seem so ridiculous considering that the original Thai noodles are street food meant to be cheap and good.

Fortunately, tucked in an obscure corner of Old Airport Food Centre, there is a little stall that is sticking faithfully to its origin and selling cheap Thai Wanton Mee at a mere $4 per bowl.

The noodle is dished out by a Thai lady. Not too sure whether Foon is her name though. And unlike all the other atas places, she only sells Wanton Mee. There is a sign that said they also sell Ice Blended Coconut although the few times I went, I have not been able to get that as it is always unavailable. 

Back to the Wanton Mee. I ate there a few times. Tapao a few times. And it taste great either way.

It not a very big portion but you can upsize up to $6.00 and apparently they have it in dry or soup version. Never tried the latter though. To me wanton mee has to be eaten dried. And with chilli. And their chilli is one of the best around. The stall opens about 9 am and most time it sells out by the early afternoon. Do I need to say more about it?

Windsor Nature Park

Singapore opens another “nature” park – the Windsor Nature Park which is actually what to me used to me part of the MacRitchie Reservoir entering from the Venus Road side. And naturally knowing how authorities’ fixation on clean and neat, what used to be a nice semi-wild trail is now very sadly sanitised.

Like this broadwalk here. Previously it was just a nice trail with railings at the side to prevent people from encroaching into one of the few remaining natural stream left in Singapore. Now there is this nice broadwalk. Oh well, I suppose if it helps to keep the people from trampling all over.

The stream that goes into the forest. When the kids were younger and I was not into this nature protection thingy, we came here to catch the little longkang fish like guppy, mosquitoes fish, cichlids and the occasional barbs. Nowadays, activities like that are forbidden and carry a heavy fine which is good as we need to protect the little bit of nature that we have left although I must said most of the fishes there nowadays are not “local”. 

In addition to the broadwalk from the Venus Road carpark where there is now a Visitor Centre and a toilet, there is another new broadwalk, the Drongo Trail running almost parallel with the old trail adjacent to the SICC road. This broadwalk is above ground level and allow visitors to see at least the mid level of the trees and its inhabitants. This will leads to MacRitchie Reservoir.

From Venus Road entrance, there is another trail called Venus Walk but this is a cemented path and leads to the Windsor housing estate. It does look very nice though and very “runnable” hahaha.

Fortunately, my favourite part of this trail which is now officially known as Venus Loop has been left largely untouched and there is still this beautiful canopy tunnel as well as the winding trails for me to run through.

Overall I must admit Nparks have done a good job of striking a nice balance between keeping the place as natural as possible and yet protecting the environment. The expected popular area have been reinforced with the broadwalk and most of the trees and plants appear to be left untouched.

Saucony Kinvara 5

The Saucony Kinvara 5 has been released so long ago in 2014 and now the latest edition is the Kinvara 8 and believe it or not, I just started wearing my Kinvara 5 this year in April! And it was actually purchased way back in June 2015 at an outlet sale. That made it like 3 years late.

I only took this out to replace my well worn Kinvara 4 and now barely 1 month later, it has clocked almost 100 km. But since it is such an old shoe, there is no point in doing a review suffice to say that I really like it. But there is only 1 problem with this particular edition though.  And that is the topline of the shoe where the shoe meets the ankle bone is rubbing against the foot but only on the left foot. So its either the shoe is not properly aligned or my left ankle bone is lower. And despite that, I raced it in once without any problem so I gonna keep on wearing it. Review online has it that it is not lasting. Let see whether it will break the Kinvara 4 record of 1000 km!

And of course when will I be getting the Kinvara 6. 

Cheap and Good – Taste Affair at Amoy

A few months ago, a new stall opened on the 2nd floor of the Amoy Food Centre.It was next to Han Kee Fish Soup and the stall front was permanently blocked by the long queue for the fish soup. It didn’t help that the stall facade was a bit boring and didn’t inspire anyone to patronise the stall. Which was  a pity. I noticed it only because I am a regular at Han Kee.

So one day I had a try. Business was slow and the 2 young men manning the stall came out to have a chat with me and asked about the food. Taste Affair sells “European cuisine” which is actually our usual pasta and grilled chicken but with a twist. I remembered I ordered some angel hair pasta, the chicken and this came with some side of vegetables and a nice poached egg. Unfortunately it also came on a disposable box and they have only plastic cutlery. The food was actually pretty good and when queried about the disposables, the 2 young men explained that the paper box tray was actually made from recycled sugar cane pulp. They have to use disposable as otherwise they will not be able to manage the washing. Which was a great shame as the food was seriously good.

The next round I had the favoured rice which was actually saffron rice. I still prefer the angel hair pasta though.

Every time I queued up for the fish soup, I could see the 2 young men standing around. Not many customers. Poor thing.  And then somewhere in mid March, a string of reviews from food blogger came out and wham, business seems to pick up overnight. Sometime at 1.45 pm, they had already sold out for the day! And if not, there was invariably a short queue.

When I finally got a chance to eat it, I discovered that fame has brought about some changes. For one, they no longer use disposable! Yay! And there seems to be more option now.Business according to one of the young man, had picked out 4 folds since the reviews came out and humble man that they are, they did not unlike other stalls paste them all over the facade. Instead I think they rather let the food speaks for itself.

And at between $5.00 to $8.00, it is a steal. Pity about the heat though… now if only they can change that as well:)

Kranji Marshes – the Conservation Area

I been trying to get to the Conservation area of Kranji Marshes since my last visit to Kranji Marshes in June last year. But because Nparks only allow for guided tours and that only once a month, I have not been successful in getting there until last weekend. Nature Society Singapore in conjunction with Nparks was conducting guided tour and I was lucky enough to secure a place. Turned out it was the last guided tour for this period and the next one will only be held towards the end of the year! Whew!

We started our guided tour from Sungei Buloh Wetland Extension and were brought straight to the back gate of Kranji Marshes at Turut Track saving us the 1 km+ walk in from the Visitor Centre.

Once inside the gate, immediately I saw 2 birds on a palm tree. Turned out to be a Spotted Dove and a Green Pigeon which nobody was interested in since they are pretty common. The same birds were still there when we came back this way 2 and a half hour l

There was also a Grey Headed Fish Eagle on a perch but it flew away before anyone of us can take a photo. What a great start!

We next spotted a Purple Heron. Interestingly, that was the only Heron we spotted throughout the tour. No Grey Heron. Seems like bird of the same feather flocked together and this is Purple Heron territory and the Grey Heron knows how to stay away. 

Next  I saw a bird up high and took a snap. Turns out to be a Pink Neck Green Pigeon.

Walking along the edge of the marshes, we saw many Scaly Breasted Munia. It is just amazing how these birds can hang on to the thin reefs without bending them down with their weight.

Just a short distance away, we came upon an injured Barn Swallow lying on the floor inside one of the hides. The bird is either totally exhausted and dehydrated or is injured. Our guide decided to bring it along with him and try to save it but unfortunately it died shortly after.

Just before we reach the public area of Kranji Marshes, we saw a Lesser Coucal, or at least that what I think it is. Again it is amazing how these birds can just hang on to a few stalks of thin plants without bending it downward.

We reached the public area of Kranji Marshes. There were many Barn Swallow flying around and I tried to snap some photos. Nothing came out well. They were too fast, too far and too tiny.

Didn’t see many birds here although we certainly heard many. As we were walking back to the coach, we were treated to an aerial duel between a Brahminy Kite and a Crow. The audacity of the crow trying to attack the much bigger Kite!

The next bird we saw was outside the fence but it was a beautiful Long Tailed Shrike which apparently is a resident bird.

Just before we reach the exit, we were treated to the sight of a big group of Lesser Whistling Duck and Red Wattled Lapwing. Unfortunately they were on the far bank of the marshes and all i could manage with my puny little lens was this heavily cropped blurry shot.

I saw a Sunbird. Think it is a Olive Backed Sunbird, more Purple Heron and a Stork Billed Kingfisher.

And just before we board the bus, we got a final treat. A very rare Black Capped Kingfisher. Unfortunately this again was too far for my lens and even binocular and after cropping, all I got was this.

So it was a good trip. Our guide from NSS told us all in we spotted more than 40 species of birds although I think with my poor eyesight, I didn’t spot even half of that. And while I didn’t get to see what I was hoping for – the Moorhen, I am still pretty happy to have seen so many birds in one short morning. 

The bonus was that back at the carpark of Sungei Buloh, I saw this bird high up in one of the tree. Another very heavily cropped photo but I got a Scarlet Backed Flowerpecker!  It has been a great trip and I hope to go back there again and hopefully I get to see some more rare birds.