Quick update – February/March plans

Quick update – February/March plans

Sorry Guys!

It has been a quiet February so far. While I had some ideas on what to post, I was struggling whether to work on them. I prefer higher quality posts to just posting for the sake of posting.

No worries. I have a few items planned for the next few weeks.

I will be heading over to Kaohsiung, Taiwan again later this week for work. Fortunately, I will have some free time there to attempt to do up a few quality posts for you guys. Expect to see places to go to and places to eat at. Surprisingly, the Taiwanese like to give their restaurants names like “Chicken Big Brother” or “Cow Second Brother”. I will hopefully be able to cover one or two of those restaurants this time around. Until then, do check out my earlier posts on Kaohsiung here.

I will also be doing short updates leading up to my trip to the Golden Triangle in India (i.e. Delhi, Agra and Jaipur). I hope the mini guides will be helpful for all those heading to India (e.g. How to apply for visas online before visiting India and booking the dreaded railway tickets). God willing, I won’t have to shift my travel dates due to work obligations.

Meanwhile, have a look at this hidden gem in Singapore (Photos were taken at CHIJMES). It looks really pretty with all those lights. Very dreamy… Perfect place for a drink or two with your SO. For my foreign readers, CHIJMES was previously a convent/school that was converted to an entertainment facility showcasing various restaurants and pubs! Cheap booze anyone? (Tip: If you want happy hour prices, stay away from the main square and head deep into the interior corridors for better prices!)





Fantastic 2017! Whats up 2018?

Fantastic 2017! Whats up 2018?

A happy new year to all my readers out there.

It has been a roller coaster year for me.

2017 saw me leaving the honourable profession of being a lawyer and going in-house as a legal counsel (which I still hope is an honourable profession). 2017 also saw me starting up my own spot in the world wide web with the creation of Etraveller Times. When I started this blog, I thought it would be merely a hobby of sorts where I get to share the many tips and tricks I picked up along the way. Well, that was how I saw it back then in August with me posting what I thought was cool travel hacks or tips that can make your travel a better one. I sought to answer questions like:

The blog then started to take a life of its own.

From a mere how to guide, it became my diary of sorts where I record the many experiences I had overseas and locally here in Singapore. Part diary and part guide to any willing reader wanting to know more. It started off as a simple introduction to Singapore’s attractions and must eat foods. That saw me making a special trip down to Singapore’s very own Botanical Gardens and the Chinese Gardens. It also saw me being a glutton taking in rich and exotic foods like Bone Marrow.



Sup Tulang aka Bone Soup

Sup Tulang, Golden Mile Food Centre, Singapore

It then branched out to a mini-Taiwan guide (as a result of my constant business trips to Kaohsiung) where I discussed its night markets, its custom of betel nut chewing and my first in depth hotel review – 85 Sky Tower Hotel (again compliments of my generous employer).



Then came my Bangkok series where I shared my 1-day itinerary historic/cultural itinerary and half day itinerary shopping/spa itinerary. Don’t worry, I have more installed for Bangkok ><.



Jogjakarta was another awesome place to visit (especially for all those quitting from Drew & Napier’s Insolvency Team – Apparently it has become a pilgrimage for all of us quitters). Its more than just temples with an awesome hidden beach with a death defying gondola ride and also an exhilarating jeep ride to an active volcano:




If that doesn’t sound like enough for a year, I also visited Malaysia’s Melaka (Malacca) and Johor Bahru before finishing the year in Hokkaido, Japan feasting on my many bowls of Kaisendons, drooling over fresh seafood all around me, looking at my girlfriend hugging a kick ass cabbage instead of me, soaking our feet in a natural hot spring river and seeing snow fall for the first time.






What a wonderful year it has been for me! How has your year been?  


Guide: 擂茶 Lei Cha or also known as “Thunder Tea” Rice

Guide: 擂茶 Lei Cha or also known as “Thunder Tea” Rice

While my colleagues queued up for their usual fish soup at Amoy Street Food Centre, I decided to go explore the place. If you remembered my last post on this food centre, you will recall I covered an odd fusion dish combining elements of Indian and Cantonese cuisine. It is time to find another interesting dish to help tide me through the day.

I did not have to search long before I saw the eye catching words “擂茶” meaning “Thunder Tea” at LIN DA MA 林大妈’s (Stall is on the second floor). And no, the dish has no links to Zeus but more on the “Thunder” bit later.

I was always intrigued by the dish with not only its unique name but also its presentation. It always looked too healthy and bland to me.

You can be your own judge:

Thunder rice tea.JPG

But what is this dish actually?

“Thunder” “Tea”

Technically, the word “擂” (lei) does not mean “thunder”. While it incorporates the base word for Thunder “雷”, it actually means to “pound” or to “beat”. This links the dish back to its Hakka (a group of people from the Hakka-speaking provincial areas of Guangdong, Fujian, Jiangxi, Guangxi, Sichuan, Hunan, Zhejiang, Hainan and Guizhou) roots where part of the dish is made using a pestle and mortar.

Unlike the small ones we now use in our kitchens, those pestles and mortars were way larger so as to accommodate the large amount of ingredients and were used to pound and reduce the ingredients for the dish into a paste. This pounding mimicked the sound of thunder and thus the association.

The paste is then used to make a “tea” soup that is to be served with a bowl of rice topped with condiments.


The stall owner recommended I try tea soup first before mixing up the bowl of rice with all the ingredients. From then on, she suggested I alternate between having spoonfuls of rice and occasional soup.

It was surprisingly good.

Despite its bland appearance, the dish was actually quite flavourful. While you won’t get overly strong flavours (think spicy, salty or vinegary), both the rice dish and the tea soup hit the mark.

When I downed that first spoonful of tea soup, it struck me as being a very “rich” creamy soup. Although there was no cream added, the taste was oddly satisfying. A few more spoonfuls of the soup revealed another taste that I failed to pick up on my first try: The fragrance of the thai basil used to make the paste. For those wondering, the tea paste is typically made from a few base ingredients such as toasted peanuts (which gave the soup that creamy taste I noted), toasted sesame, Thai basil, mint and tea leaves.

Then came the main part of the meal.

I mixed the rice with the condiments comprising mainly of stir fried long beans, some sliced vegetables, peanuts, fried anchovies and bits of beancurd. Sounds quite tasteless right? You cannot be more wrong. The vegetables have been lightly salted when being stir fried and helps impart some flavour. The peanuts and the anchovies also add their own layers of flavour to the rice dish and also some texture. After days of meat heavy and other rich foods, this simple rice bowl felt therapeutic. I was doing my body not only a flavour in terms of the actual taste of the food (the rice was delicious) but also helping cleanse my body of all those “toxins”. Leaving aside this health hocus pocus, so long as the dish tastes good to me and also looks decently healthy, I think that’s good enough for me.

Yes, I did finish my bowl of rice. Towards the end when I had maybe 3 to 4 spoonfuls of rice left in my bowl, I poured some tea soup into the bowl and created my own Thunder Tea porridge and far easier to scoop the remaining bits out from the bowl. While I don’t recommend doing it for the entire bowl worth of rice, I think a small portion of soup mixed with the rice towards the end of the meal helps tie it all up together and also helps you mop up the remaining bits of rice and vegetables.

For S$4 a portion, I think it one worthwhile health food in the city area without having to munch on a boring salad to stay healthy.

Have you tried Thunder Rice Tea? If not, will you be trying one any time soon?

If you enjoyed reading my guide on this unique dish, please remember to like and also click follow to be informed of any new posts.


Street Cobblers: A dying trade?

When I was young, I read novels from the Victorian period and these novels had accounts or descriptions of street side cobblers who will not only shine your shoes but also fix them for you for a nominal price relative to the shoes themselves.

Fast forward a hundred years, it appears that such a trade is dying out or at best evolving where cobblers move off the streets into small shops hidden by a corner in a mall. Lets face the facts. When was the last time you saw a cobbler by the street?

Perhaps I was wrong.

While going through my facebook feed, I happened to come across an interesting clip of a cobbler still practising his trade along the streets of Singapore:

The cobbler is a Mr Lee Tai Chin who took up cobbling in his golden years having left the construction industry during the economic downturn in the early 2000s.

According to the news article that I read, he now “spends his busy days in a makeshift tented stall dealing with a constant flow of customers, who bring him all manner of footwear from pasar malam (night market) knockoffs to branded sports shoes and S$1,000 Pradas“.

The prices appear to be affordable ranging from being “free” (for a very simple glue job) to S$18 (USD13) (to sew a shoe together to keep it as a whole). Seats are provided so customers can sit and wait for their shoes to be mended.

So if you are in need of a shoe repair and going to visit Singapore for a holiday or business, why not bring that old pair of shoes down to Waterloo Street for some tender loving care by Mr Lee or any other local cobblers?

While you wait, consider visiting these few places nearby:

A few reviews taken from Tripadvisor

This temple of one of many famous and popular temple local visit. It was build with Chinese craftmen and the shrine and statues are of traditional Chinese buddhism artform. Apart from this, visitors can go to the counter and get the bamboo oracle, and get a fortune, or some query in mind answered by shaking the bamboo oracle and get an interpretation from the number on the stick.”

Not the largest of temples but very busy, on entering there are free josh sticks for you to light, place in the sanded area and say a prayer. Very colourful, not allowed to take photos, worth a visit.”

A few reviews taken from Tripadvisor

It has the best marble statues and sculptures of Narasimha and MahaVisnu adorning the sanctum Santorum of lord Krishna. It also has a standalone Surya Bhagavan vigraham for surya devotees. Andal and her dad are on the temple perimeter. So is Ramanujan – the great Vishnu Saint/scholar. It’s the intimacy and beauty of the temple that makes it worth visiting esp for the morning Pujas. Buy a lotus from the vendors outside and say a prayer. It’s a very moving experience for devotees seeking peace of mind or a shot of inspiration. Or both.”

The place is colorful and exotic. There was some sort of ceremony going on when I was there. Makes me resolved to go to India in the near future!

If you enjoyed this tiny snippet of life in Singapore, please remember to like and also click the follow button below so that wordpress’ digital pixies can keep you updated on my new posts.

Super Makan Asia’s Beef Rendang – Food Review

Super Makan Asia’s Beef Rendang – Food Review

Super Makan Asia @ Tiong Bahru Plaza

During one of our quick short lunch outings, my colleagues and I headed over to Tiong Bahru Plaza (if you followed my blog from its infant days, you would have read my short post on this hidden gem).

Instead of some restaurant or a fancy eatery that would normally have justified the train ride out of the city area into the suburbs, my colleagues brought me to a small eatery at the basement of Tiong Bahru Plaza called “Super Makan Asia” (SMA).

The eatery can seat at most 25 diners at any one time and serves simple local fare at affordable prices between SGD 4 to SGD 6.50.

I was deciding between having their Nasi Lemak (check out my other post where I had Nasi Lemak from another stall that is frequented by dignitaries including the Sultan of Brunei) or their Beef Rendang.

For those uninitiated, “Rendang is a popular dish of meat stewed in coconut milk and spices, commonly found in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.” Singaporeinfopedia describes it as:

The meat, usually beef but sometimes chicken or mutton, is stewed in coconut milk with spices such as ginger, chillies, galangal (blue ginger), lemongrass, garlic, shallots, kaffir lime leaves and turmeric. A wide rather than a deep pot is preferred to allow the milk to evaporate during a slow boil of up to three hours. Skill is required to ensure the liquid does not overboil and cause the milk to curdle. However, if the fire is too low, the meat could burn. Correctly cooked, the liquid will thicken into the distinctive rendang gravy. This cooking process has several purposes – it adds flavour to the meat as it is braised in the spices; it softens and tenderises the meat as the dish dries up; and it enhances the preservation of the dish, allowing it to remain edible even two to three days later without refrigeration or up to two weeks in the refrigerator. The dish is best eaten with rice and is sometimes consumed with ketupat (steamed pressed rice). It is more often served in hawker centres as one of several dishes in nasi padang.

I decided to go for their Rendang. As the portion appeared small on the menu, I decided to add one bowl of curry vegetables as a side:

Super Makan Asia Beef Rendang

Curry Vegetables at Super Makan Asia

My verdict?

Skip the vegetables and just go for the Rendang.

The eatery offers a no frills experience with their Rendang. It is back to the basics of just plain rice with Rendang. I would have preferred slightly softer rice though.

Nothing here that will distract the person from the rich gravy generously coating each tender beef cube. The flavour is intense and is enriched by chunks of fat that gives the dish an extra punch (if you are health conscious just leave those bits on the side). The serving is also commendable unlike those served by normal Nasi Padang stalls. In fact, I think I could have done with two servings of rice for the amount of Rendang on my plate!

At S$6.50 a portion, SMA’s Rendang is, I think, not only value for money but also offer a taste of classic Rendang in a modern setting. SMA’s Rendang deserves one and a half stars out of three. I may just make that trip to have it again.

If you enjoyed reading this review, please be sure to like and click follow for more content.

Guide and Review: Bus to Melaka – Booking and Ride Experience

Guide and Review: Bus to Melaka – Booking and Ride Experience

Booking bus tickets to Melaka from Singapore using Easybook

I was away in Melaka, Malaysia over the weekend. This time around, I brought my mum and my girlfriend to Melaka, Malaysia for a 2D1N trip. It was a good chance for my mum to unwind and have some time off.

I will be covering, in the next few posts, different topics in relation to this trip. So keep an eye out for my review of the hotel I stayed at in Melaka, a food review of a Peranakan restaurant that I visited and also a half itinerary covering the must see sights in Melaka. 

The trip was planned last minute after my return from Bangkok (if you have not checked out my posts on Bangkok, I posted both a full day cultural itinerary and also a half day shopping and spa itinerary).

As Melaka (also known as Malacca) is a small city unlike Kuala Lumpur and Penang, it does not boast an international airport. Most travellers either come in by bus or car. As I am unfamiliar with the route, I booked for the three of us return bus tickets on Easybook.


Easybook is a website that “provides the largest bus, train, ferry, car rental and tour booking services in South East Asia” and offers “long distance express bus ticket booking for over 500 bus operators and 20,000 bus route to and from Singapore and Malaysia.”

I used this website before for my other trips to Penang and Kuala Lumpur and found their services to be good and reliable.

The prices are also affordable (I averaged SGD30 per ticket per way) and you get to pick from a list of departure points and also arrival points. This feature is awesome as you can alight at a location close to your hotel and also get picked up from that same hotel on the way back.

Booking was a breeze.

I just made sure to double check that the buses go to and pick up from the hotel that I will staying at while in Melaka: The Pines Melaka.

Bus ride to Melaka

We boarded the bus early on Saturday morning (7.30am) at Textile Centre. The bus departed on time.

The bus ride was comfortable with seats that could be reclined and also USB charging points for each seat. This allowed for me to charge my phone and/or battery bank during the entire 4 hours ride to Melaka. Nothing is worse than a flat phone battery on a bus ride without any on board entertainment system.

Bus interior - Singapore to Melaka (Malacca)

Spacious seats and clean interior

Leg room - Bus from Singapore to Melaka (Malacca)

Sufficient legroom

The ride to the Singapore border took approximately 30 minutes. We were in and out of both customs in about an hour. Phewww. The entire crossing was smooth probably because the driver had went via the second causeway at Tuas instead of the crossing at Woodlands.  If the crossing is at the Woodlands causeway, expect the Malaysian customs to take approximately an hour or so. 

During the bus ride, the time was largely spent either napping or playing Risk with my girlfriend on my mobile. There will be a pit stop along the way for passengers to use the washrooms. Depending on your driver, the stop can be at Yong Peng (a common stop along the way) or some random stop after a toll exit.

For my journey to Melaka, the driver decided to stop at a random place approximately 21km from Melaka. As this is just a small stop, don’t expect to find any eateries other than a small push cart selling the basics.


Bus waiting alongside a random pit stop after a toll exit

Rest stop after toll exit from Singapore to Melaka (Malacca)

Lonely food stand servicing pit stop

If your driver, however, stopped at Yong Peng, you will have some time to shop for snacks to help tide you through until you reach Melaka and also grab some classic Malaysian street food that I make it a point to have each time I’m at Yong Peng. If you have the chance, be sure to look out for the Ramly Burger Stall by the entrance. They offer good old classic Ramly Burgers (a Malaysian variant of the classic hamburger?) at affordable prices (Beef patty with both egg and cheese for just MYR  7.50 (USD1.80 or SGD2.40) or a double patty for MYR 8 ++!

Yong Peng - Ramly Burger - Quick Bite

Ramly Burger stall at Yong Peng

Ramly burgers being prepared at Yong Peng - Quick Bite

Auntie Chefs in action preparing Ramly Burgers: Unlike normal hamburgers, towards the end of the cooking, an egg is cracked and spread out over the center of the hotplate. The patty is then placed onto the egg and folded over with the egg. Typical Ramly burgers come with a generous amount of mayonnaise, worcester sauce, margarine and curry seasoning.

Have you gotten your Ramly yet?

Bear in mind that for a bus ride to Melaka, there is typically only one pit stop along the way. So please use the washroom when you can and not when you need. You don’t want to be that unfortunate soul trying to keep it all in for that last one hour stretch to Melaka.

If you found this review/guide useful whether be it for your upcoming trip to Malaysia or for KIV purposes for your future exploration of the Peninsular Malaysia, please remember to like and follow for more awesome content.

A small word of thanks and gratitude to all those currently following me. Your “follow” matters and help inspire me to continue writing and making content.

Food Review: Ah Loy Thai @ Tan Quee Lan Street, Bugis, Singapore

Food Review: Ah Loy Thai @ Tan Quee Lan Street, Bugis, Singapore

My girlfriend suggested we have dinner at Ah Loy Thai.

The reason for her suggesting that was because we had accidentally walked into the restaurant days earlier and the restaurant was packed. The reviews on google was also good with an average score of 4.0. Pretty decent a grade by Singaporean standards.

The restaurant is located at Tan Quee Lan Street near Bugis MRT station.

Ah Loy Thai - Authentic Thai Cuisine

Ah Loy Thai - Store Front

No reservations are allowed after 7pm so we just headed in and got a queue number from the cashier. While we were waiting outside (there are stools provided to make the wait more bearable) and pondering over the order chit for what we shall soon partake, it dawned on me that I should check whether the restaurant accepted cards. NOPE! The restaurant does not.

Please remember to bring cash with you or else you will be running around like me finding an ATM machine.

By the time I am back from my ATM hunt, my girlfriend was already seated inside.

First Impressions of Ah Loy Thai

Ah Loy Thai - Interior

The restaurant space was well utilised but not overly packed. There was still some space between the tables and chairs despite the restaurant being almost at full capacity during dinner service.  

The restaurant was clean and looked inviting.

From the decor, it appears that the owners are actually Thai. Another plus point since I would expect the food to be more authentic.

The restaurant is partially self service. You place your orders at the cashier and help yourself to the plates, bowls, cutlery and condiments at a side counter. The food, however, will be sent to your table when ready.

Food at Ah Loy Thai

The menu was varied. Although not wide, it offers a wide enough spread for a few visits without having to “repeat” a dish.

We ordered:

  1. Tom Yum Soup;
  2. Green Curry;
  3. Glass Noodles;
  4. Crispy Butter Squid; and
  5. Kang Kong.

The entire meal (inclusive of beverages) cost us about $47.50.

Ah Loy Thai - Food spread

The food was great!

Normally, other restaurants only excel in one dish and you get disappointed with all the goodness of one dish being drowned out by the other sub par dishes.

This was one of the few restaurants that I found generally well balanced in terms of the quality of their dishes. Each dish was, by my standards, good. The portions are also generous. While we ordered 5 dishes, it was a tad bit too much and could have comfortably fed 3-4 persons if we dropped the Tom Yum Soup and ordered another main.

The Tom Yum Soup while spicy was not over the top. It doesn’t burn you from the start. It’s a persistent burn but without that sharp pain making it enjoyable to sip during the course of your meal.

Ah Loy Thai - Tom Yum Soup

The green curry was surprising. Although more white than green, the dish was surprisingly flavourful. It came with an uncommon combination of chicken and fish balls giving it a mixed texture. The gravy paired well with the white rice I ordered.

Ah Loy Thai - Green Curry

The glass noodles were great. It was piping hot when served and felt “fresh” from the wok. It was tasty without the chef having to overdo on a particular flavour. Sometimes chefs then to overload on the pepper such that all you taste is just that spice. Ah Loy’s glass noodles was sitting right on the fence and maintaining a balanced taste profile.

The Kang Kong was also nicely done with the stems retaining some crunch. It balanced out the meat heavy nature of the other dishes.

Ah Loy Thai - Kang Kong

While all the dishes were good, the Crispy Butter Squid was, I think, the highlight of the meal. If you have ever tried butter prawn and are familiar with the butter taste, this dish has that. However what makes it even better is that the squid had been deep fried previously and the fried layer holds onto that rich butter taste. Despite being covered with the butter based gravy, the outer layer retained its crispiness. Each bite was heavenly. The butter gravy was so good that I was experimenting it with both the rice I had and also with the glass noodles: My own version of buttered rice and glass noodles. YUMMMY!

Ah Loy Thai - Crispy Butter Squid

Will I return to Ah Loy Thai?

I don’t think I have a choice (My girlfriend, I think, is hooked to this restaurant).

But if I were to give my usual rating, I would say it deserves one and a half stars. It is good for its category and I think borders close to something that is worth a detour to have if you are passing by.

If you enjoyed reading my review, please remember to like and also follow this blog for more awesome reviews and guides.


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