Monthly Archives: August 2012

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The One With A Nuuk Experience – National Greenland Museum, Santa Claus Post Office, Katuag Cultural Centre & Kolonihavn

Our first and only full day in Nuuk began in earnest. We woke up at dawn… then again, dawn is relative here in Greenland. It is hard to quantify what is day and what is night when the sun is still shining at ten p.m., and after a brief darkness spell the sky turns bright once again come four a.m.

Day 2 at Nuuk, Greenland

And then we were out of the door to visit the National Greenland Museum, where we learned much about the history of the Greenlandic people. In fact, the museum seems to be the only place you can learn about the history of this country. Unlike other European nations, where you can glean its past and culture while exploring the place itself, much of Greenland’s history has been erased with foreign colonialism, Christianity “war” and harsh climate. It is impossible to connect the disparate Nuuk with its illustrative past… save for the immaculately curated exhibits at the museum.

And that was a shame.

Day 2 at Nuuk, Greenland

Further to our dismay I realised our Lonely Planet was far from being helpful. The world famous Nipisa Restaurant was closed during the entire duration while we were there. Its location has moved from the Maximut Pub to above the Nuuk tourism office, which was also gone by the time visited, replaced by the cheerful Tour Greenland.

Santa Clause Post Office at Nuuk, Greenland

The Santa Claus Post Office was also somewhat diminished, reduced to a Christmas postal service, while the picturesque postal post was moved to Illulisat. Or so we were told.

With so many changes afoot in Nuuk, how can anyone be prepared for a trip here?

Katuag Cultural Centre Cafe

But there were some upside, of course. Disappointed though we were that the boat trip we booked was cancelled due to insufficient tourists (in the height of summer, no less!), the extremely friendly tour operators told us many nuggets about getting around Greenland, including one of their favorite cafe in town, located at the Katuag Cultural Centre. The Greenlandic tapas was to die for. And so was the waitress, whom wasted no time in telling us that the music played over the stereo was of a Greenland singer, which was her friend.

Everyone knows everyone in Greenland, it seems. I am not kidding. You should hear our cabbie yesterday.

Kolonihavn at Nuuk, Greenland

And then we walked around the Kolonihavn. From certain angle Nuuk looks like the postcard-perfect European town, complete with a statue of its famous Norwegian conqueror and possibly the only stone house in the region, yet one can’t help but notice the sad state of development and housing in this town. Perhaps I was a little cynical, coming from developed cities like Singapore and Hong Kong.

Kolonihavn at Nuuk, Greenland

For the locals certainly didn’t seem to mind the hardship they must be enduring. In fact, they are enjoying the great summer weather, which at 10 degrees or so was “warm” by the local standard, so much so that we could help but smile at the children’s laughter and friendly nods from the adults.

Kolonihavn at Nuuk, Greenland

Visiting Nuuk made me realise we often take too much for granted.

See more of my Greenland 2013 posts:
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The One With First Impression Of Nuuk

Day 1 at Nuuk, Greenland

At first I didn’t realise if we were flying over Greenland. All that I can see out of my 20-seater propeller plane was vast expanse of whiteness. Is that cloud, or land mass? Or more accurately, (gasp!) snow-covered land mass? Turned out that it was the latter. I was witnessing, for the first time in my life, the unbelievable large continent of ice this far up north of earth.

Day 1 at Nuuk, Greenland

It was incredible, not only by how dwarfed I felt, but also how vulnerable I was flying this high up in a small plane. But soon enough, the flight ended and we landed in the smallest airport with the shortest conveyer belt in the world. There was no security to speak of and I almost volunteered myself to take my luggage directly from the plane’s cargo compartment.

Kolonihavn at Nuuk, Greenland

First impression of the people – incredibly nice and friendly. And I do mean it. Everyone we met spoke to us with great sincerity and seemingly enthusiastic to help. Much later on I realised that’s properly they find us intriguing; we look like one of them, only much Asian.

For Greenlanders are devastatingly good looking people. A definite cross between Caucasians and Asians, many of the people we saw here spotted blonde hair with cherubic, white skin, yet slanty, dark eyes. It was intoxicating to be surrounded by such beauty, and their surprisingly good grasp of English didn’t help my over-the-top adoration for them.

Day 1 at Nuuk, Greenland

Nuuk is the capital town of Greenland, and by any standard it was the smallest country capital I ever visited. Though I didn’t realise then, Nuuk town is a mix of the old and new, the traditional and modern, the local and the colonial, and it is not always pleasant.

Day 1 at Nuuk, Greenland

But against the backdrop of snow-capped mountain, candy-coloured dainty houses and icebergs drifting lazily across its surrounding sea, there is a magic in the air that is almost tangible to the touch.

Day 1 at Nuuk, Greenland

Liping made an excellent, excellent choice with our accomodation. It is a large apartments with plenty of space and look out to the sea, I can see icebergs – icebergs! – out of the window while I sipped on my Nescafe – Nescafe! – and type this.

Charoen Porn at Nuuk, Greenland

A quick word about our dinner that night. Charoen Porn was my choice as it was indeed recommended by many guides and even some locals, but I was left decidedly underwhelmed by the food we experienced that night. Though probably not the wisest decision to go for set menus for the two of us, the Greenlandic sushi was certainly a first, where I get to taste whale meat (a delightful cross between beef and chicken) and whale skin (blubbered skins that tasted like crunchy pork neck).

What will tomorrow bring?

See more of my Greenland 2013 posts:
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The One With Blue Lagoon, Iceland

blue lagoon

It was difficult not to gasp at the wonder that was the Blue Lagoon.

When I first touched down at Iceland airport, the weather wasn’t promising. Dark clouds rolled across the sky, disastrously complete with a light drizzle and strong wind. It was hard to believe this was Iceland in summer.

The dire sights along the countryside didn’t help my spirit. Miles after miles of jaggered black stones and dull green moss made me wonder why some tourists put Iceland as one of their top destinations.

But that changed with my first sight of Blue Lagoon.

The turquoise blue water stood in stark contrast with the dark stones. As I lowered myself into the water, I inhaled in appreciation at how warm the water was. My fellow bathers swam, soaked and splashed in delight, seemingly ignorant of the chilly weather.

It was certainly an experience of a lifetime. As I wallowed in the mineral-rich water, enjoying my (free) silica mud mask and sipping on Egils Gull beer (served right at the pool bar!), I was overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude that, yes, I was indeed lucky to be able to make it here.

The One With Olympic Days in London

Razlan at the Olympics

It wouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone for me to say that the highlight of my stay in London must have been the Olympics. The entire city was wrapped in the euphoria for the games. Team GB spirit was spotted everywhere, from volunteers on the streets to generous support offered to all participants of the games.

I got into bit of the action with the semi finals volleyball games between Italy and Brazil. It was a great, great experience. The Brazilian fans were out in drove sporting green and yellow gear, adding much festive spirit to the occasion. The game itself was a nail biting experience – what the Italians lacked off in games prowess, they match it up with good looks and great style.

I am only saying.

Of course I also put in some time doing sight seeing around this fabulous city. From Tower Bridge to Borough Market to Tate Modern to Temple Church, I have done it all. The weather was great by London standard – I was repeatedly told for being so, so lucky – and it certainly lifted my spirit.

Oh yes, and Tom Daley? Absolutely adorable. I cheered with the rest of Britain when he clinched the bronze medal in the 10 metres men’s diving.

Now excuse me while I catch some sleep before my flight tomorrow. I can’t believe that in less than 24 hours time, I will be in Greenland!

The One With The Beginning – London Day 1

120809 - London Day 1

So here’s to the beginning of (yet another) trip of a lifetime.

As I am typing this, my energy is hitting a critical level and my eyes brain can shut down at anytime. I thought the jet lag won’t hit me bad as I traveled from east to west, but obviously I was wrong. But I am determined to be living it up on London’s time right away, so hey, look, it’s only midnight, so it’s time to put down those memories in writing.

Jet Airways. A pleasant, pleasant surprise. The cabin, though old, was surprisingly pleasant. That was helped by the many unoccupied seats as I travel from Hong Kong to Mumbai. The entertainment unit even serves on demand movies; how cool is that? So I watched “We Bought A Zoo” and “Devil Wears Prada” while devouring my curry chicken meal. The transit at the Mumbai airport was more than harrowing so wasn’t something I’d like to commit to memory. But we arrived on time at London airport, and in record time I cleared the custom and off to meet my dear friend, Liping.

Granger & Co. After a quick freshen up, we were off to this iconic Australian restaurant. Despite the many “un”-recommendations by fellow foodies, I found the food to be surprisingly pleasant. True to its namesake I ordered the Aussie breakfast, and in each components I found great taste and wonderful cooking. Now isn’t that what it is all about?

Hummingbird Bakery. Continuing on my culinary adventure, we sauntered down Portobello Market. Summer in London was on its best behaviour, complete with sunshine and blue skies. I bought myself a Red Velvet and Malt & Milkshake cupcakes. Finished half of them in record time.

The Bull & Last. And so after a quick nap, we were off… to dinner. The Bull & Last lived up to all its hype. Wonderful food, in a leafy neighbourhood, and in a gastropub setting that I was quick to warm up to. We were lucky to be there early, as the seats was fast filling up halfway through our meal. Of course I would do a proper review.

Parliament Hill. As Liping was off to see her boys and I had an hour or so to spare, so I walked around the Parliament Hill trying to expense my newly consumed calories. Parks and fields in summer do seem different in London. I won’t say it was a glorious day, but at least the locals were out in force to enjoy the rare sunshine. Hey, even the sun was still up and it was close to 9 p.m. already.

Royal Oak. And then it was a bus-and-overground adventure to get to Kitson’s place for a quick catch up over wine. Ahhhh… nothing beats good old gossips and juicirific news as the wine poured. But my eyes couldn’t take it anymore, hence the early night back in Notting Hill.

All in all, a great start to my holiday.

The One With Kalok Restaurant – My Fav Neighbourhood Chinese Joint

In the blink of an eye, it has been half a year since I moved out from Sheung Wan. I do love my new place in Happy Valley, but there is something about the unpredictability of Sheung Wan which tugs at my heartstrings. The dingy back alleys, ubiquitous bars, hazardous wet markets and rowdy char chan teng are just some of the oddities of this westerly town on Hong Kong island which one might want to pay a visit.

Of the last oddity, I loved Kalok Restaurant the most. I lost count the number of times I had my breakfast, lunch, dinner and meals in between, alone and with friends. At the best of time the waiters are loud, rude and of questionable hygiene, but it was the food which I fell in love with. It was nothing fancy, but for a Chinese-styled cafe standard, they are good and reasonably priced.

Here are some of my top picks:

French Toasts

Lunch @ Kalok Restaurant

I blogged about this before and I had to blog about this again. The French Toast at Kalok is my absolute favorite. Two pieces of bread spread with peanut butter, fried with egg, served with a healthy dollop of melting butter and enough golden honey to drown a colony of bees. Every bite is a calorie-laden heaven.

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The One With Heirloom – Hip Mexican Fare

I overheard about Heirloom quite sometime back, but more of a breakfast cum brunch kinda a place. So when it popped up in an SCMP’s article about Mexican joints in the city, I was pleasantly surprised. Since then I have tore out in the entire article and pinned it to my wall, as reminder to myself to check out these places out one day.

Saturday Lunch at Heirloom

Obviously, the day came way sooner than I thought. It was late Saturday afternoon and I needed a place for lunch at Sheung Wan. I thought, why not?

So I walked my way in the hot, humid weather to Heirloom and wasn’t entirely pleased to find the place was packed and the upstairs seatings were not open. Had no choice but to wait under the sweltering heat (urgh!) but lucky for me, some twenty minutes a large table was made vacant, so I plonked myself onto the generous seat, ordered a beer and settled in with a book while waiting for my lunch companion to turn up.

Saturday Lunch at Heirloom

While waiting (it was a rather long wait, ehem), I couldn’t help but notice the little details that went into the design of Heirloom. Decked in black, beige and other decidedly neutral colours, Heirloom projects a very understated setting but in a very classy way. The chandelier on the ceiling was a clue, so is the beautiful, beautiful toilet. You have to check it out.

And so it was time for food! We decided to order quite a few small-portioned dishes to try.

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The One With Cooking For Family #CookForFamily

What does cooking for your family mean to you?

To me, there are two parts to this question. One is of course on what constitute as cooking. To a man who has been living on his own for some 13 years, the term “cooking” can be very… subjective ;)

It could be a sumptuous spread like the amazing dishes my mom and aunt could conjure out of the family kitchen back home:

Family Dinner!

A dinner at home always have these: steamed chicken, meat ball soup, some sort of cooked vegetables, and that sauce! I don’t even know what’s the name of that magical herb, but it always, always perk me up when I eat at home.

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The One With Thasevi Food – Jalan Kayu Roti Prata

I have been living in Singapore for ten years and not once had I been to the famous Jalan Kayu Roti Prata. When I exclaimed as much while we were on our way there for breakfast during my recent trip back to Singapore, my friends looked at me in incredulity and wondered what kind of university life I had.

Not much of a life, if you don’t count endless book mugging and computer games, heh!

Jalan Kayu Roti Prata

So! Apparently Jalan Kayu Roti Prata is one of those place university students hanged out for late night suppers when the semesters are in session. I don’t know about you, but unless you have four wheels at your command (together, not separately), it is kinda hard to travel all the way out from Boon Lay to Jalan Kayu, and back. The ridiculous taxi fare alone could probably buy you enough roti prata to last you one whole year.

So there we were, sitting in my friend’s car (look ma, no taxi fare wasted!) all excited about having a spot of true Singapore experience. My worries for lack of parking space was ultimately unfounded; a spot was open right in front of Thasevi Food (that’s the stall of choice, folks). We didn’t even have to go far in search for one and then walk miles back to the restaurant.

Jalan Kayu Roti Prata

Roti telur (egg) with onions.

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The One With Roast Pot – Must-Visit Hotpot / Steamboat Spot in Wan Chai

Since moving to Hong Kong, I have grown to love hotpot aka steamboat aka the best invention of Hong Kong food, ever. It is not like there wasn’t any steamboat (or hotpot) in Singapore, but they are really far, far inferior when compared to their Hong Kong counterpart.

Hotpot Dinner at Roast Pot

I have a few favorites. One of them is New Star Seafood Steamboat, which was my first hotpot discovery and I loved it to death because of its endless all-you-can-eat buffet, which include beer! And then I went a little high end and tried the Golden Valley Restaurant, which earned thumbs-up from round the table but at close to $400 per pax for ten shared dishes, it is not something you can indulge in often.

Which was why, when Roast Pot (南燒北鍋) came along, I sighed with relief.

Hotpot Dinner at Roast Pot

For Roast Pot fall squarely in between New Star and Golden Valley. The food variety and quality are much better than New Star, and price was it was way below of what you would pay at Golden Valley. Now come to think of it, I think I have been to Roast Pot for at least five times in the past half a year.

Yes, five times! Is it a wonder why my waistline never fall below 30″?

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