SAVOUR Wines 2016

For the uninitiated, SAVOUR is Asia’s premier gourmet festival which features the finest food and drink, live demonstrations and culinary shopping, all in one special purpose-built location. This second event in 2016 is held from 9-11 September and has its focus on wines.

DBS Treasures held a private event for their clients (before the event opens to the public) and each person was allowed to bring a friend along. I was glad to have the opportunity to check out the event’s offerings a day earlier and went to check fill my tummy with food first before going on to sample the wines. A doctor friend who was there said “why waste time on food when the wines are so good?” but I live to eat and I guess she loves alcohol more than food!


GOURMET VILLAGE

The two photos below were taken about 5mins before the event closed as I was too pre-occupied earlier with the lovely food and wine, so I didn’t take many shots of the venue, especially with the crowds.

Wandering past the various food stalls, everything looked good but I couldn’t possibly eat them all in one night and so I had to prioritise and only select the dishes which “called out” to me.

These were some of the dishes that my hubby and I had tried…

RESTAURANT EMBER – by Chefs Pan Sihui & Alex Phan
Sakura Ebi Pasta ($12)
Sakura Ebi Pasta with Konbu, Chilli and Crustacean Oil

This was a lovely start to my dinner and I enjoyed the crunch of the Sakura shrimps, mixed with the other flavours in the pasta.


Foie Gras ($12)

Foie Gras with Chinese 5-Spice Caramel and Market Fruits

The foie gras was cooked perfectly and I thought it was a refreshing touch to have it served with jambu slices.


XPERIENCE RESTAURANT, SO SOFITEL – by Chef Trevor Paulo

Beef Short Rib ($12)
Onion Puree, Broccollini, Onion ‘Paper’, Shallot Jus

This seemed to be one of the crowd favourites and the beef was very tender and easy to slice! The various accompaniments and seasonings in this dish seemed to revolve around onions but I couldn’t even tell that THAT piece of crispy “paper” is made using onion! Interesting!


MITZO – by Chefs Nicky Ng & Ben Yapp

Truffle Noodles with Prawn Ball & Lobster Claw ($12)

There was a crazy queue at this booth and I guess everyone must have ordered this dish!! It was served piping hot and the taste of truffle was well balanced and did not overpower the dish, which came with a prawn and a lovely piece of lobster claw. Ohh…the indulgence!


RABBIT STASH – by Chefs Matthew Mok & Soon Teck (Skydy)

48hrs Slow Cook Wagyu Beef with Trompette Stew, 58 Degrees 1st Born Egg and Crispy Brown Rice ($12)
French-Singaporean inspired dish with an Oriental Marinated Beef slow-cooked for 2 Days

This was another booth which had extremely long queues, in both the ordering queue as well as the collection queue. Loved the flavours in the beef, which was served with mixed greens on a croissant-like pastry that you can use to clean up the plate especially if the egg yolk has broken and oozed out all over the plate. The crispy brown rice added an extra crunch to the dish.


ANGELA MAY FOOD CHAPTERS – by Chefs Tee Lee Hing & Angela May

Lobster and Crab Roll with Salted Egg, White Wine and Kabocha Squash
+ Locally Grown Curly Leaf Kale Salad and Pomegranate Seeds
+ 1 Dark Chocolate Cream Choux with Toasted Marshmallow Topping
($26)

This was one of my initial picks for food but I ran out of food coupons and was saving the last two for dessert! There was a lady showing us a sample of the dish, so I asked if I could take a picture of it. Apologies, but I can’t tell you how it tasted.

Anyway, it was time for dessert!…

BIRD BIRD – by Chefs Fiona Ting & Bjorn Shen
Durian Softie Pie ($12)
Durian pudding, almond pie crust, caramelised white chocolate, gula melaka caramel, brown butter soft serve

I was drawn to this dessert as it sounded interesting with all the varied ingredients! Wow! There were so many flavours and textures in this dessert – it was creamy, yet crunchy and sweet but also with a hint of saltiness. The best part was when you got to the durian pudding, which actually contains real durian flesh!


There’s also an Oyster Bar and Cheese Room, which is located next to the Wine Market.

I found popcorn here…

…as well as oysters.


WINE MARKET

Go on a wine tasting journey where there are hundreds of specially curated wine labels from all around the world to choose from!

Access to the Wine Market is limited to Wine Tasting Card holders only (max 700 per session).

The Wine Tasting Card (Single) – $15 (online pre-event price) includes the following:

1 x Wrist Band for single person access into the Wine Market
1 x Wine Tasting Card with 10 Tastings
1 x Badoit Sparkling Water (330ml)
1 x Limited Edition SAVOUR Wine Glass

Here’s an idea of what you’ll get, minus the wrist band and the fact that my wine tasting card has been used up.

I had initially started tasting wines from the booths which seemed to be more popular with the crowds but as I am not a wine connoisseur and my preference is for sweet wines (yes, I love dessert wines!), so after about 3-4 tastings, I decided to switch focus and hunt down only sweet wines! ^_^

My favourites of the night were…

De Bortoli Emeri Pink Moscato NV (Australia)


Little Eden Moscato (Australia)


Balan Viola Moscato NV (Italy)

Even if you are not a wine lover or you don’t drink alcohol, you can still come to SAVOUR Wines 2016 and check out the food!


SAVOUR Wines runs from 9-11 September 2016

9th (Friday): 6pm – 11pm
10th (Saturday): 11am – 4pm & 6pm – 11pm
11th (Sunday): 11am – 4pm & 6pm – 11pm

Location: Bayfront Avenue, next to the Marina Bay Sands Convention Centre

Entry to the Gourmet Village is complimentary to all visitors. However, the purchase of dishes and drinks are on a consumption basis.

Access to the Wine Market is ticketed and limited to 700 guests per session, so if you’re a wine buff or are looking to learn more, it is to best pre-purchase your wine tasting card to avoid any disappointment! I hear that they are selling out fast…

Categories: Eating in Singapore | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Hop Yik Tai (合益泰小食) – an unassuming Michelin-recommended eatery

Sham Shui Po has too many small eateries that diners are spoilt for choice and these dining places could be difficult to spot from afar with the crowds of people out and about the bustling side streets!

Hop Yik Tai (合益泰小食) is a typical local Hong Kong eatery, which serves simple fare that can be considered as comfort food to some.

I like cheong fun (steamed rice rolls) and when I heard about Hop Yip Tai, I decided to go check it out and have cheong fun for dinner! (for those who are unfamiliar with this dish, most people would typically have this for breakfast instead of lunch/dinner)

Upon arriving, I found a long queue of people outside but they were in the takeaway line.

Inside the shop, all seats were already taken and we had to wait about 10-15min before any seats were vacated. Note that as this is a typical local Hong Kong eatery, you are expected to share your table with strangers when you dine here. It was too congested inside this small shop, with waiting staff busy walking to and fro either serving food or clearing the dishes, so I didn’t take any pictures of the interior apart from the menu on the wall!

Looking across the room, I noted that most people ordered the cheong fun with some side dishes like radish, pig’s skin and curry fishballs.

We’re not hugh fans of fishballs and so we ended up ordering cheong fun (6 rolls) and a bowl of radish with pig’s skin.

The cheong fun was slippery smooth and was served with soy sauce and sesame oil, to which diners can add sweet sauce and chilli sauce to their liking. In addition, the pig’s skin was cooked just right and went very well with the radish, which was sweet and stewed to the level of softness that I like.

I have to say that this place certainly has cheap and good eats and is a good place to dine for those who are on a tight budget.


Address:
Hop Yik Tai (合益泰小食)
G/F, 121 Kweilin Street, Sham Shui Po, Kowloon.
深水埗桂林街121號地下

[Map]

Getting There: 1-min walk from Exit C2, Sham Shui Po MTR Station

Opening Hours: Daily 6:30am to 8:30pm

Categories: Eating in Hong Kong, Hong Kong, Travel | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Givres – the place to go for Rose Gelato

When I saw pictures of pretty rose shaped ice cream, complete with petals, I knew I had to hunt down the shop to try it for myself!

Givres specialises in both artisanal coffee and rose gelato and it is conveniently located at the Wan Chai district on Hong Kong Island.

We had just finished lunch and thus dropped in for dessert. There are some counter seats at the shop, but do note that seating is limited to about 6-7 high stools.

You can choose to have up to three flavours in your rose gelato and I thought one was a bit boring, whilst three could be a bit too much and thus I went with two.

After a tough decision on which flavours to pick, I went with the combination of White Peach and Rose Petals.

My hubby on the other hand opted for Chocolate and Vanilla (boring!). We watched the staff piece together the rose gelatos petal by petal and the end results were very pretty, but my only grouse was that they melted too quickly! (probably also due to the summer heat)

Side view:

Top view:

It’s definitely a place worth checking out if you are in Hong Kong! ^_^


Address:

Givres
G38, Lee Tung Avenue, 200 Queen’s Road East, Wan Chai, Hong Kong.
灣仔皇后大道東200號利東街地下G38號舖
[Map]

Getting There:
Take either exit B2 or A3 from Wan Chai MTR Station.

Tel: 9659 0816

Opening Hours:
Monday to Thursday: 11:30am to 9pm
Friday to Sunday: 11:30am to 10pm

Categories: Eating in Hong Kong, Hong Kong, Travel | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Neko Atsume「ねこあつめ」 Pop-Up Event at Harbour City

I was thrilled that my recent trip to Hong Kong coincided with the Neko Atsume「ねこあつめ」 summer pop-up event at LCX in Harbour City, Kowloon, which ends on 31st August 2016, so I caught it just in time! Those who aren’t familiar with Neko Atsume, it is a relatively simple cat collection game.

Filled with anticipation, I went to check out the event venue first thing the next morning as my flight had gotten in late in the evening.

There were several photo spots scattered along the entire floor and even though my visit was towards the tail end of the event, I found that it was still extremely popular with the crowds. The main displays were found at this section were…

Pumpkin (しろちゃとらさん Shirochatora-san) with Bolt (きじとらさん Kijitora-san) in the background:


Gold and Silver Fish – if only I could add this into my game inventory! LOL!


Ms. Fortune (こいこいさん Koikoi-san)


Tubbs (まんぞくさん Manzoku-san):


Snowball (しろねこさん Shironeko-san):


Conductor Whiskers (えきちょうさん Ekichou-san), with Dottie (しろみけさん Shiromike-san) hiding in the pink macaron:

I had to hunt across the same floor of the mall to locate the rest of the photo spots, which were mostly standalone.


Guy Furry (びすとろさん Bistro-san):


Sassy Fran (かふぇさん Café-san) and her cafe:


Other photo spots:


In addition, there was a stamp rally at this event where you can redeem some souvenirs if you complete the entire card but unfortunately the gifts were all fully redeemed during my visit (as expected since it was already almost the end of the event!), but the stamps were still available to souvenir hunters.


“Cheapskate” souvenir hunters could also pick up a cardboard fan and a postcard…

…but note that both items have advertisements on the other side.

My colleague had asked me to purchase some Tubbs merchandise if I saw any at the event, which has a pop-up store too. The shop was selling various memorabilia from the game and it even had a giant Tubbs stuffed toy on display (not for sale)!

I guess I was probably too excited by the sight of the gigantic Tubbs that I forgot to take a photo of the pop-up store!! LOL!

In shopping mode, I then helped my colleague to purchase this Tubbs cushion (HKD$140) and a Tubbs embossed cardholder with lanyard (HKD$90). That souvenir bag can be purchased for an additional HKD$1 if your total purchases exceed HKD$100.

As I’m not a fan of Tubbs, I got myself some mementos of Peaches (くりーむさん; Cream-san) instead. ^_^

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Overall, it was good fun (plus shopping!) away from the summer heat!


Event Details:
LCX x Neko Atsume Japanese Summer Festival Exhibition
Date: 1 Jul – 31 Aug 2016
Time: 10am to 10pm
Venue: LCX, Level 3, Ocean Terminal, Harbour City, Kowloon, Hong Kong.

Categories: Hong Kong, Travel | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Oriental Dollarbird (Eurystomus orientalis)

If the Oriental Dollarbird (Eurystomus orientalis) is supposed to be a common bird in Singapore, then why is it that I’m only seeing this for the first time?

From afar it looks like a dark coloured bird but if you manage to get a closer look at it, you’ll find that its chest feathers are blue and its wings have a greenish sheen. Since it was my first encounter with this bird, I couldn’t help taking several shots of it.

Apologies that this next photo was a little blurry as I was laughing at its comical expression when I took this!

Several die-hard bird photographers were waiting to get shots of the Dollarbird in flight and I decided to wait with them for a bit – let me tell you that this really is a test of your patience!!

The experienced birders told me that this bird is rather territorial and whenever it appears, the smaller birds will fly away, so if you are hoping to get pictures of other bird species, your chances of spotting them have been greatly reduced by this one’s arrival and until it decides to fly away, all you’ll be seeing is this Dollarbird for an extended period of time.

Well, I didn’t mind since I haven’t seen it before and I just love the shine on its feathers! ^_^

Location: Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve

Categories: Nature, Singapore | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chocolate Origin – the place for chocolate desserts and now a new Dark Chocolate Gelato!


Chocolate Origin, the dessert cafe which is known for their rich luscious chocolate ganache cakes and artisanal coffees, has launched its first ever Dark Chocolate Gelato, a project which took five years to finally create that perfect recipe!

This new dessert will be available first at their Bugis Junction outlet on 18 June 2016, followed by their other six outlets islandwide from 19 June onwards.

I was delighted to have been invited to be one of the first to try out this new frozen creation (made with premium fresh milk and rich Belgian Chocolate!) and found it to be a deliciously rich, smooth and creamy gelato, which tasted just like their signature chocolate truffle cake! One taste and you will know what it means to be in chocoholic heaven!!

This Dark Chocolate Gelato will be priced at $4.50 per scoop, $6.50 for double scoop and $12.50 for a pint (takeaway only).

The inspiration behind Chocolate Origin’s Dark Chocolate Gelato was for our customers to enjoy our chocolate ganache cakes in the form of a gelato especially with the hot weather we’ve been experiencing recently,” said Kian Yong, General Manager of Chocolate Origin. “We spent hours in the R&D room perfecting an Italian gelato recipe in order to tweak it to suit Singapore’s palate and we are very happy with the final product.

Chocolate Origin will be giving out FREE GELATO on Saturday, 18 June 2016 from 10:30am to 9pm, to the first 1000 customers at their Bugis Junction outlet!


Left: Goh Kian Yong, General Manager of Chocolate Origin

The first 50 customers for the day or registered fans at gelato.chocolate-origin.com will also walk away with an exclusive set of Chocolate Origin’s commemorative button pins.

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For the uninitiated, let me tell you that Chocolate Origin is a place where chocoholics congregate to satisfy their chocolate cravings. ^_^

Besides chocolate drinks, you can also order their Signature Chocolate Truffle Cake and Cuppa Lava Cake.

The Chocolate Truffle Cake reminds me of a thick slab of chocolate but it actually comprises of two generous layers of chocolate truffles enveloped between two thin and light layers of chocolate sponge cake, which are coated by a smooth, luxurious chocolate ganache. This delicious creation is made using premium imported Belgian chocolate.

As for the Cuppa Lava Cake, both chocolate and vanilla are combined to make this hot and cold dessert, with both cake and ice cream contained within a single cup. The warm cake is fluffy and the chocolate lava oozes out perfectly when you cut into it! Yummy!


Latte Art

My coffee-loving friends will usually say that desserts are best washed down with a good cup of coffee! Well, the cafe also serves freshly brewed artisan lattes, which are made from the finest Arabica coffee beans from South America and you can pair this with your desserts.

The baristas at Chocolate Origin go the extra mile to surprise and delight their patrons with their coffee or chocolate drinks. A visit here is certainly memorable when you are presented with unique and creative latte art!

The picture below was taken during one of my previous cafe-hopping visits here (at my own expense) and on the left was my Iced Chocolate with 3D latte art and on the right, Cappuccino Delight.

This time around as part of the media event, the barista gave us a latte art demonstration and this was her creation:

I was so intrigued by the process that I decided to video it. Wow…she made it look so simple!

When she was done, it was our turn to have a go at the latte art! I was passed this cup of coffee with a big blob of foam in the middle (plus some edible food colouring and toothpicks) and told to get creative. Gosh…I was scratching my head for a long while as I had no idea where to begin!!…

Voila!…This was my very first attempt at latte art! What do you think?

I thought it was good fun, but do note that if you are too slow in creating the art, your coffee will turn cold! LOL!…

As I’m not really a coffee drinker, my hubby drank up the cup of coffee and this was what’s left of my “masterpiece”:

DIY latte art is currently not available at the cafe outlets, but if you want to hold team building events or a private event at any of their cafes, you can enquire if they can arrange to have this activity for your group.

Locations of the Chocolate Origin outlets in Singapore:

For more information, please visit www.chocolate-origin.com or www.facebook.com/chocolateorigin.

Many thanks to Chocolate Origin and Goh Kian Yong for the invite to try their amazing gelato and desserts, as well as the DIY latte art! Chocolate ice cream will never be the same again for me!

Here’s one last look at their mouth-watering desserts…

Categories: Desserts, Media Invite | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Soak Out Water Party at Universal Studios Singapore

Have some splashing fun at Universal Studios Singapore’s Soak Out Water Party with the Minions, Penguins of Madagascar, Sesame Street friends and the Woodpecker couple – this event runs from 13th June to 10th August 2016.

There is also a Soak Out After Party with DJ Inquisitive and the band Good Karma on selected dates (more details can be found at the bottom of this post).

The window displays at the Hollywood zone have been changed to fit the tropical beach holiday theme.

You can find the Lagoon stage at the end of Hollywood Boulevard, which is the venue for the Soak Out event.

There are two Super Cannons on the stage and this is one of them:

Party goers can stand anywhere around the stage as the celebrations take place all around the stage area (i.e. in a 360 degree radius)! This is the view from the back:

Other decorations with a tropical feel…

…and these are actually the refilling spots for your water guns!


Some Ground Rules if you are turning up for the Soak Out Water Party:

  • All guests entering Universal Studios Singapore must hold a valid admission ticket.
  • Guests can only use water guns sold at Universal Studios Singapore.

  • Guests can only use the water guns at the splash zone near the Lagoon Stage in the Hollywood zone.
  • Guests shall be allowed to continue playing with water guns within the boundaries of the Lagoon Stage in the Hollywood zone for a maximum of 30 minutes after the end of each Soak Out Water Party. The following timeslots shall apply: 
    • Extended water play time after Soak Out Water Party on Sundays to Fridays: 3:30pm to 4:00pm
    • Extended water play time after Soak Out Water Party on Saturdays: 6:00pm to 6:30pm
  • Guests shall not engage in water play at any other zones in Universal Studios Singapore.
  • Guests are not allowed to engage in water play after the Soak Out Water Party and at any other zones in Universal Studios Singapore.
  • Guests must wear proper attire at all times.


Now for the actual party!…

Before the party could kick off, there were reminders from the park’s crew that “you will get wet and possibly soaked!”

There are some dry zones at both Hollywood and New York (check with the crew on duty for their exact locations) and I decided to park myself next to this signboard, so that I could duck for cover if a stray stream of water came heading my way! LOL!

The Emcee was working out the crowd.

Two “floats” arrived and were parked at the two opposite ends of the stage. This is one of them:

Various characters then appeared for the different dance segments.

Sesame Street friends:

Woody Woodpecker and Winnie Woodpecker:

Penguins of Madagascar:

Minions:

Here’s a little flavour of what you can expect to see there:

Splashing away!

Super cannons in action!!

Verdict:
The Soak Out Water Party somehow reminded me of all the previous years’ New Year Eve countdown parties at the park, with character appearances and loud music, except that this is now held during the day and with an additional water component. Personally, it’s not really my cup of tea (sorry!) and I’ve probably long outgrown attending dance parties. In Singapore’s hot and humid weather, it’s a good opportunity for you to get wet and cool off from the heat (i.e. if you don’t mind getting soaked). On another note, I would have preferred if the park had organised a special parade with different floats for the event, similar to what the Disney parks do for their summer events.


DETAILS:

Soak Out Water Party
Dates: Jun 13 to Aug 10 2016
Daily except Saturdays: 3:00pm – 3:30pm
Saturdays: 5:30pm – 6:00pm

Soak Out After Party
Dates:
Jun 24 – 25
Jul 1, 2, 8, 9, 15, 16, 22, 29, 30
Aug 5 – 9
6:00pm – 9:00pm

Dance the night away at the After Party, which begins in the evening in front of the New York Public Library. Its facade will be transformed with eye-popping projection mapping displays and the crowds can enjoy the slammin’ electro beats and Top 40 hits by DJ Inquisitive and the band Good Karma.

Categories: Theme Parks, Universal Studios | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

[Review] THE PAINTERS: HERO takes Performance Art to A Whole New Level!

One word sums up my feelings about this show – WOW!!!

The Painters: HERO is an non-verbal performance that features live drawing accompanied by visual effects, incorporating mime, dance and comedy into the acts.

This 80-minute show centered around a “Heroes” theme, will take the audience through a fascinating process where 10 art pieces are created live on stage, using creative techniques which I’ve never imagined could be turned into art! There are also unexpected twists in some of the acts.

I watched the performance during its brief run at the Resorts World Theatre on 10-11 june 2016 and initially I was a little skeptical about what to expect from the show after reading the synopsis – to further clarify, I failed art during my secondary school days, so you can imagine me wondering how exciting can an art performance be?

This is the opening set which greets the audience when you enter the theatre:

The show started out a little slow-moving to me and the first art piece was created using a technique called Light Scratching, which is similar to carving a sculpture on a black canvas except that this had an added complexity involving a spinning screen. The outcome revealed a picture of Beethoven, but I was scratching my head as to whether this was an image being projected or something else.

There were several segments between the acts where the performers interacted with the audience. As this was a non-verbal performance, it initially took the audience some time to be warmed up to what the performers were doing and what they expected from the audience, but once everyone finally understood, it started to turn into some hilarious moments! Do note that those seated immediately in front of the stage would have better chances of being picked to go on stage to “perform” with the cast and you will be rewarded for your efforts with some memorabilia from the show.

The pace of the show then picked up with an Action Painting segment, which combined Jackson Pollock’s style of drip painting with dancing to the beat of The B-52’s Love Shack. Four canvases were being worked on at the same time and they each looked like pieces of abstract art! When we were all trying to figure out each of the completed pieces, they started to piece the four boards together (like fixing a jigsaw) and it turned into a painting of Michael Jackson! WOW!! Equally impressive was the dance sequence which followed and that incorporated the moonwalk!

I was also impressed with the Dust Drawing act which combined painting with sand art. A portrait was being drawn on black canvas using black paint and we were kept in the dark as to what was being drawn. Finally, sand was poured onto the canvas and we were amazed by the finished work!

There was a segment where the performers were given 3 minutes to stack cubes together in a frame to form a picture. I was seated too far away to be able to get a good look at the individual cubes, but I later learnt that they were Rubik cubes.

Over 200 Rubik cubes were used to create an amazing analog-style pixel art which revealed two different pictures at the front and back! This technique used is called Cube Art.

Superman:

My absolute favourite part of the show was the Marbling Art that was performed to Disney’s catchy Under the Sea tune. This technique involves manipulating paint on water before eventually transforming this pattern to paper. Somehow this marbling process reminded me of latte art!!

There were at least 2 surprises for me in this act when the final artwork was revealed!

Hong Boram impressed us with his Speed Drawing of a tiger in 3 minutes! 3D video projection mapping was then added to the completed artwork and this made it look like the tiger had come alive!

There are slight variations to the show when it tours different countries and for the ones performed in Singapore, the Light Drawing segment featured various Singapore icons found in the Marina Bay area. Typically one would hardly think of light as an art medium, but this was quite a pretty sight drawn to the strains of Paloma Faith’s Stargazer, which added a tinge of melancholy to the atmosphere.

The finale featured Kang Shinkoo, Kwon Wooram and So Kwangmin in a drawing contest of speed and power! Romance of the Three Kingdoms was the theme for this Battle Drawing and the portraits of Liu Bei, Guan Yu and Zhang Fei were drawn.

As with most stage performances, photography and videography is not allowed during the shows, so when the cast came out with this “PHOTO TIME” sign, everyone was taken aback and started wondering if it was another act, a joke or whether we could really take pictures!

Oh…it was the curtain call and we were actually allowed to photograph it!! ^_^”

When the show ended, I went to get a closer look at the art pieces (you can see the 2 different views of the Superman piece in the photos below).



VERDICT:

The 80 minutes just whizzed by and it’s been such a long time since I had a good laugh at the theatre!

The comic antics weaved into the performances, mime & dance routines and the entire process of creating the art pieces were not only entertaining, but also mesmerising in some acts! With my previous mime background, I could recognise the fixed point isolation techniques and I have to say – these guys were very good!

I was never a good art student and it was an eye-opener to me, being introduced to the different art mediums and techniques – this show kind of inspired me somewhat, to want to create something…

If you thought Nanta was good, The Painters: Hero takes performance art to another level!


Those of you who are planning a visit to Seoul or Jeju in South Korea, do consider watching this show as it is really fun and entertaining! Otherwise, if the show happens to be staged in your country, don’t miss the opportunity to go watch it!

The Painters: Hero performs two shows daily at two theatres in Seoul and Jeju, in South Korea.

Seoul Theater
5th Floor, 13 Donhwannum-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea.
3min walk from Jongno 3-ga station line no. 1, 3, 5, exit no 13, 14.

Halla Art Hall
(located in Jeju Halla University)
2nd Floor, 38 Halladaehak-ro, Jeju-si, Jeju Special Self-Governing Province, 690-708, South Korea.

Within five years, both the Seoul & Jeju theatres have staged 7,000 shows and reached over two million international audiences. In addition, the show has been performed in a total of 15 countries and 38 cities, including Tokyo, Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, Taipei, Bangkok, Hollywood and Washington D.C. On average, they use at least 1,900 gallons of paint and 21,600 charcoal stumps each year for the shows!

Awards:

  • Minister’s certificate of approval, ‘Best Non-verbal Performance’ by the Minister of Culture, Sports, and Tourism in 2010.
  • “Performance of the Year” at 2015 Korean Wave Awards.


There are 4 different teams of performers (Beethoven team, Chaplin team, Jackson team, Superman team) involved in The Painters: Hero as the show is not only performed locally in Korea, but it also travels to various countries. The recent shows in Singapore featured the Chaplin team and they did a great job!

Me…with the Chaplin Team – from Left: Hong Boram (홍보람), Kang Shinkoo (강신구), So Kwangmin (소광민), Kwon Wooram (권우람)


Thanks to Pentatonic Co., Ltd. and Korea Tourism Organization for the invitation to watch this brilliant performance in Singapore! It’s definitely A MASTERPIECE!!

Categories: Media Invite, Theatre | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

On The Trail of Japanese Red-Crowned Cranes

I don’t usually like winter but I braved the cold temperatures this year to go try to spot the Japanese Red-Crowned Cranes (Grus japonensis), also known as Tancho「丹頂」.

The Japanese crane is considered to be sacred and is also seen as a symbol of fidelity, love, good luck and longevity. It is also the second rarest crane species in the world. These tall, graceful birds are mainly white in colour with black lower wings. In male Japanese cranes, the cheeks, throat and neck are also black, whilst in females they are a pearly-grey. Adults have a bare patch of skin on the crown of the head, which is bright red in colour. The bill is an olive-green colour and the legs are black. Juvenile Japanese cranes are similar in appearance, although they lack the red crown and have black-tipped outer flight feathers.

Outside of Japan, approximately 1400 Japanese cranes live in the Amur River basin in Russia and north-eastern China. Within Japan, these cranes are usually found at the Kushiro Shitsugen in Hokkaido, but they will emerge from the forests during the winter to gather around feeding stations, so this is the best season to spot them! Of the various species of cranes, this is the only one that breeds in Japan! These cranes were designated as a special natural monument of Japan in 1952.

There are several places where you can go to view them in Hokkaido, but some are actually kept in aviaries, which in my opinion takes the fun out of wildlife spotting.

I’m listing some of the places which I’ve visited, so read on to find out which is my favourite of the lot! (click on the links below to read more about each of the locations)

Kushiro Shitsugen「釧路湿原」
In order to preserve the country’s largest wetland and marsh habitat which supports the only known population of the endangered Japanese Cranes in Japan, this marshland in Hokkaido was designated as a National Park in 1987. Do note that the cranes are best seen in winter when they gather at the winter feeding sites, otherwise they retreat deeper into the wetlands during the non-winter months. We did go through the marshlands by train and also by bus but both modes of transportation moved too fast for us to take any decent pictures, although we did see Sika Deer and Japanese Cranes along the way.

If your visit coincides with the time of the year when the seasonal sightseeing trains run, I would recommend that you try to book a seat on these trains as they move at a slower speed and will allow you a better chance of spotting the wildlife.


Tsurumidai「鶴見台」
Tsurumidai is a feeding ground with no facilities, but there is a cafe/restaurant and gift shop located across the road.

  


Japanese Crane Reserve「釧路市丹頂鶴自然公園」
This is more of a breeding sanctuary for the cranes and visitors can observe the birds which are in fenced enclosures.

  


Akan International Crane Center「阿寒国際ツルセンター」
The Akan International Crane Center is a museum, breeding center, and sanctuary where cranes can be seen year round. It has a good exhibit about crane history and ecology with English explanations.

  

In my opinion, this is the best spot for viewing these beautiful birds!!

However, if viewing birds in their natural habitat is not your thing as nature is unpredictable so you may not spot any wildlife on some days and you’d prefer to see other animals too, the other places in Hokkaido where Japanese Cranes can be found are:

Kushiro Zoo「釧路市動物園」
Due to a packed tour itinerary, I didn’t have time to go check this place out, but they do have a Japanese Crane enclosure.


Asahiyama Zoo「旭山動物園」
I quite enjoyed this zoo as I got to see many animals that I had previously only seen on TV/internet/magazines/books. The pictures below are of the Japanese Crane enclosure:

Now that I’ve seen this endangered crane species both in the wild and in captivity, I can strike one more item off my bucket list! ^_^

Categories: Hokkaido (北海道), Japan, Nature, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Birding at Kranji Marshes

The Kranji Marshes opened to the public in February 2016 but my schedule had not allowed me to check it out until now. This is a 56.8-hectare freshwater marshland that located along the northwestern shore of Kranji Reservoir and is one of the largest freshwater marshes in Singapore.

More than 170 species of birds, 54 species of butterflies and 33 species of dragonflies can be found here and it is an important habitat in the Kranji area for the conservation of biodiversity, especially marsh birds.

I decided to sign up for a two-hour guided walk organised by NParks for my first visit but it took me 4 attempts before I got a place on the walk!! There’s a limit of 20 people per slot and you’ll need to register your interest with NParks, after which all applications will be subjected to balloting and you will then be notified a few days before the walk as to whether you have been selected.

The sky was rather gloomy as I made my way there on a late Saturday afternoon and we met up with the NParks volunteers at the Kranji Gate. We were then split up into 2 groups for the walk.

The area immediately next to the Kranji Gate has a small pond with noisy frogs in it but they were so well hidden amongst the reeds that I couldn’t spot them although I could heard them croaking away!

This area has been quite tastefully landscaped with a nest-like archway at the end of the path.


We lingered here for a bit as we could hear various bird calls and thus tried to spot the feathered creatures. Unfortunately there was a lot of backlight and thus I couldn’t really make out all the bird species, as seen in my photographs below. I’ve attempted to identify them to the best of my knowledge.

Black-naped Oriole (Oriolus chinensis)

Pink-necked Green Pigeon (Treron vernans)

Javan Myna (Acridotheres javanicus)

Eurasian Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)

Yellow-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus goiavier)

No idea what these are:

Scaly-breasted Munia??

I learnt from a signboard after the nest-like archway that this area is called “Neo Tiew Woods”. It’s about a 1km walk from here to the “Marsh Station”, where the observation tower is located.

Along the way, we spotted a few more birds and these were the noisy ones as we could hear them screeching away at the top of the voices!

This Long-tailed Parakeet (Psittacula longicauda) seemed to be waving hello! LOL!…

Couldn’t help taking more pictures of it! It’s supposed to be a common bird in Singapore but somehow this was my first time seeing it!

Red-breasted Parakeet (Psittacula alexandri)

This next bird was so well camouflaged and I wouldn’t have spotted it if not for our experienced NParks guide! Can you spot the bird in the picture below?

If you couldn’t find it, here’s a close-up of the Large-tailed Nightjar (Caprimulgus macrurus), which is a nocturnal bird and it appeared to be snoozing.

It rained heavily about 10min before we reached the Marsh Station and I later spotted an Olive-backed Sunbird (Cinnyris jugularis) which looked like it had been soaked from the rain.

Finally, we arrived at the Marsh Station…

…and the Kranji Tower can be found here.

There are some bird hides in this area too, but I didn’t manage to spot anything apart from swiftlets that flew too fast for me to photograph them.

As part of our guided walk, we were allowed access into the restricted area (i.e. core conservation area), which is for researchers only and thus not opened to the public (unless you are on a guided tour) as this part of the marshes is considered to be ecologically sensitive.


I found the place well sign-posted and it’s a good place to try to spot more birds, so it’s a shame that the public can’t gain access to it! NParks should at least consider allowing serious birders to enter (or perhaps follow the example of Mai Po Marshes in Hong Kong, where visitors need to apply for a permit to visit!)

There was a bird sitting on the railing at the far end of this link bridge and I have no idea what it is! (sorry, I’m still an amateur birder)

We went to the first bird hide (Duck Hide) in this area and couldn’t spot anything with our bare eyes.

Our experienced NParks guide then pointed out a Stork-billed Kingfisher (Pelargopsis capensis) perched on a branch at the opposite end of the lake.

This was the best shot that I could take as I didn’t bring a tripod with me.

Alas we couldn’t venture further into this area as time was running out and we had to make our way back to the Kranji Gate for those who needed to catch the last bus at 18:33 back to Kranji MRT.

This concludes my first visit to Kranji Marshes and it was a fruitful 2 hour visit considering that I managed to spot several different bird species, although not the ones that I hoped to see as found on the signboards at the various bird hides. Probably most of them went into hiding due to the rain.


Location:

Kranji Gate:
11 Neo Tiew Lane 2,
Singapore 718814.

Opening Hours: 7am to 7pm daily.

Access:
By MRT/Bus: Take the MRT to Kranji station, then take the Kranji Express shuttle bus and get off at Kranji Marshes.

Timetable and bus schedule:

By Car:
Drive to Neo Tiew Lane 2 and the car park at Kranji Gate is located just next to the D’Kranji Farm Resort.

[Map]

Categories: Nature, Singapore | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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