Toa Payoh Town Park

Took a walk down memory the other day when I dropped by Toa Payoh Town Park previously known as Toa Payoh Garden. In its hey days in the seventies, it was probably the 2nd most popular place in Singapore for wedding photos after the Botanic Garden. Now it is a shadow of its past mostly deserted and frequented only by exercise enthusiasts on weekend morning and Myanmar maids.

Toa Payoh Park is a smallish 4.8 hectares park dominated by a pond with beautiful overhanging willow trees.

Time seems to stand still here. Practically all the iconic landmarks are still there. Good thing is looking at the paintwork, it appear that there has been regular maintenance and everything seems relatively well maintained. 

The restaurant is still there but now it is the famous Oasis Porridge restaurant that used to be at the old Kallang Lesiuredome.

One interesting thing about Toa Park Park is that despite having a small little pond, it has multiple bridges like this nice zig zag bridge

And a similar design but straight bridge

More unique is this stone bridge reminiscent of those traditional Chinese bridge in China

The most famous of all landmark is of course the 25 metre high Observation Tower. There are only 2 other similar towers in all of Singapore – the more famous Rocket Tower at Upper Seletar Reservoir, and the gigantic one at Jurong Hill. Unfortunately the tower is now locked and the public are not allowed to go up to the top for the view not that there is much of a view. A better view can be obtained from the Toa Payoh Hub and other HDB flats around the area.

The tower was given conservation status in 2009 so which means the park is probably going to be there for a long long time to come. Nice little place but probably have outlived its purpose.

The Animal Resort at Seletar

Recently I went to the Animal Resort at Seletar. The last time I went there, the kids were still in primary school. I had thought the place had relocated a few years ago to Johore when the farms there were cleared to make way for the Seletar Aerospace. But it seems I was wrong. The farm is still there and very much unchanged except that now to get to the place, one has to go in by a new road, Sengkang West Road Farmway instead of from Jalan Kayu.

It looks like time has stand still there. The same old gate; the same old shed and the same old animals. The horse is still there.tar_5616

And the Cassowarytar_5690

There was the usual goose, ducks and chicken but something which I swear was not there before. A pair of guinea fowl.tar_5681

The ducks looked weird though with all the warts or whatever it is on the faceduck

There were the usual rabbits and guinea pigs and smaller birds in cages and visitors can buy food to feed them.  There were a pair of peahen and a peacock as well but these were in a big closed enclosure just like the Marabou Stork. Guess these 2 will bite.tar_5672

The new addition was this beautiful African Crown Crane though.tar_5764

The Animal Resort is not exactly a zoo but it still is a great place for kids to get up close to some animals and have a fun 1 hour or so. And other than paying for the animal feeds, admission is free!

4 Uniquely Singapore Sandwiches

Some time ago, some “ang mo dude in the United State of Awesomeness~” mocked and dissed one of our beloved sandwich – the delicious heat busting ice cream sandwich that can be found in street corners all over the island and in Malaysia and Indonesia. Now why is it that I am never surprised at the fucked type mentality of these people who thinks they know what is best for the rest of the world never mind that the guy had never even tried it. For those of us who have eaten this, this must surely ranked as one of the best treat whether you out shopping at Orchard Rd, or at the beach or just walking out of the school compound.

Ice Cream

Ice Cream (photo from foodinmouth.com)

That post got me thinking though. Beside ice cream sandwich, we have some other sandwich that is really shiok and unique and which even the Malaysian and Indonesia cannot claim is their heritage food. Here are 4 of the best. For illustration purposes, the photos are taken with a single slice of bread instead of the usual 2 slices.

Pork Floss Sandwich

Most of us are familiar with the pork or chicken floss bun made famous by Breadtalk and now sold in every single bakery in Singapore and other parts of Asia. But before the pork floss bun, there was the Pork Floss sandwich.

Pork Floss

Pork Floss Sandwich

Seen here is crispy pork floss on a single slice of bread. Best eaten together with a thin spread of butter on the bread. I prefer the non crispy floss but the Mrs prefer the Crispy version. Either way this is great for breakfast.

Barbecued Pork Sandwich

Practically every one of us ie the non Muslim must have eaten barbecue pork or bak kwa before. But how many have eaten it between 2 slices of bread?

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Barbecue Pork or Bak Kwa Sandwich

This is one of the best treat when one is out in the trails and doing a long race or ultra. Oh… the kick that you  get from just biting into one mouth of this when you hot and tired after hours and hours of hiking and running. If you never try this before, pack one for your next hike/race. You won’t regret it!

Hae Bee Hiam Sandwich

This is one of my favourite especially if it is my Mum’s version of Hae Bee Hiam or spicy dried prawns. A slightly different twist to this is to use pork instead of Hae Bee.

Hae Bee Hiam

Hae Bee Hiam Sandwich

This is best eaten with the Hae Bee Hiam hot. Spread a thin layer of margarine or butter on the bread. Toast the Hae Bee Hiam if it is not hot. And then spread them liberally on the bread. Best as a tea time snack or even a full meal by itself.

Braised Pork Sandwich

Last but not least, my personal favourite. A big piece of succulent braised pork tucked between 2 slices of bread with just a little bit of the black sauce. This is similar to the Kong Bak Pau that is served at Hokkien restaurant and sometimes funerals.

Braised Pork

Braised Pork Sandwich

I usually eat it with the pork steaming hot and sometime throw in the skin or egg that is usually served together with the pork. Best eaten? Anytime!

What other unique local sandwich have you eaten before?

The Changing Face of the Singapore Skyline

By now most of Singapore will be very familiar with our Singapore skyline around the Marina Bay what with the one thousand and 1 events held there every year. If it is not at the floating platform, it will be at the F1 track or it will be at Marina Promontory. Whatever it is, this the very familiar sight that greet us whatever we are in the area.

But most of us won’t know what it was like say 50 years ago or even just 5 years ago. Recently I stumbled upon an exhibition at the URA and I thought it will be interesting to share our changing skyline right from 1967 till now.

The tallest building then appears to be Shell House and the Bank of China buildingDSC_1259

Fast forward 10 years later and OCBC Centre and UOB Building are now the tallest kid on the block.DSC_1260

1986 and OUB Centre or what is now 1 Raffles Place has taken over the title of tallest building. And the gaps in between buildings have started to fill up.DSC_1261

Moving into 1995, UOB building has now been replaced by UOB Plaza and which incidentally is the only commercial building in Singapore to house a mosque in its basement!DSC_1262

Another 6 years later and Maybank Tower one of the building that is very visible at night is up.DSC_1263

And last but not least 2011 which is almost as complete as it is now with the Sail @ Marina Bay and One Raffles QuayDSC_1264

And this is the sum total of all these buildings

Running Lab Funan Thursday Night Run – End of the Road

After close to 11 years, the weekly Thursday Night Run at Running Lab Funan finally came to an end. This has gonna be the longest running store based group run in the history of Singapore. Many have started and spluttered but the Funan TNR has went on and on and on and I am proud to have been a big part of it since its inception.

I was one of the original Run Leaders from its inception and continued with that role even after all the original super duper Run Leaders left. Now the run are in new hands and growing strongly with a core group of regular runners.

I will miss the big open space between High Street Centre and the Singapore River where we do our warm up and cool down.1-DSC_1177

Over the years there has been many changes. When we first started. to run to to Marina South we have to run on the road side via Marina South Garden. There was no Marina Barrage then but now there is a traffic free route to Marina South and Marina Barrage. To run to Tanglin Road or Jervois previously, we had to cross 3 major roads, namely Kim Seng, Zion and River Valley Road. Now there are 2 nice underpass connecting the Havelock area to Kim Seng and Zion Roads.2-DSC_1188

I will miss the familiar and convenient access of the shop at Funan Centre where we had lot of fun posing for photos after our runs. But one thing that won’t be missed is the small little toilets there and the miserable food court on the 4th floor.4-DSC_1195

But fortunately, the Running Lab Weekly Night Run is not going to end any time. There is still the weekly Tuesday Night Run at Novena Velocity and the Thursday Night Run will start afresh at the Running Lab’s new outlet at Marina Square from 2nd June onward.

For the inaugural session on 2nd June, Running Lab has lined up a great program for runners. International ultramarathoner Vlad Ixell will be leading a 5km run followed by a training and Yoga session. A goodie bag worth $25.00 will be given to each registered participants.  To join in the fun, register here.

Before the Wrecking Ball Comes – Rochor

I never really noticed the flats at Rochor. Even when news emerge that the whole lot of flats there will be tear down for a new expressway or mrt line, to me it was just another lot of HDB flats. But when friends and photographers started posting of the colorful flats and the pigeons, I decided I must see the place for myself before it is all gone.

Similar in design to Tanjong Pagar Complex, Bras Basah,  Cross Street even Smith Street and York Hill, the flats are built on top of a few floors of shops. I guess those were the usual and I must say practical design then. 4-DSC08055

Most of the shops especially those on the upper floors are empty now. Only a few remains. In the past there were many shops selling Taoist prayers peripherals but now there are only 2 left.  Or at least that all I noticed.8-DSC08079

What differentiated these flats from the rest was the colorful facade of the 4 blocks.5-DSC080691-DSC07989

And the pigeons. 1-DSC079933-DSC08015

They were everywhere I guess because there are residents there feeding them. I enlisted the help of  2 young ladies who like me were there to kaypoh, to make the pigeons fly but no go, the pigeons weren’t going to listen to any young ladies.

After the 3 floors of shop, there is this open courtyard with a fairly new playground7-DSC08071 6-DSC08070

Fitness corner and even those sharp pebble walk. Unfortunately with most of the residents having moved out, there was nobody to use them.

These lot of HDB flats were built in 1977. Over the years the HDB moved away from this concept which I though was pretty good as it makes very good use of space to the flats with the void decks. It has now gone full circle and flats now in Punggol and Sengkang comes with a spacious landing somewhere up between the floors and which in most cases are nicely landscaped and comes with playground, fitness corner and even barbecue facilities.

Will people miss these Rochor flats? Perhaps only the residents who grew up there.