Saturday, August 31, 2013

Singapore ~ Balestier Road (Zhong Shan Park)

Zhong Shan Park is located at Balestier Road, in front of Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall. 

The park has very nice landscaping which is located in between Zhongshan Mall and Days Hotel. 

In the park you can find the story of Dr. Sun.

Dr. Sun came to Singapore for the first time to rescue his Japanese friend Miyazaki Toten. He was arrested by the colonial authority but was later released with the help of Lim Boon Keng and other friends in Singapore. On June 1905, Dr. Sun met Teo Eng Hock, Tan Chor Nam and Lim Nee Soon for the first time. After the meeting, Tan invited Dr. Sun to pay a visit to Wan Qing Yuan. Dr. Sun stayed in Wan Qing Yuan for the first time and the Singapore branch of Tong Meng Hui was formally established at Wan Qing Yuan. The constitution of Tong Meng Hui's Singapore branch was drafted during Dr. Sun's stay at Wan Qing Yuan. With the help of Singapore's revolutionaries, Dr. Sun went to various places in Malaya to establish Tong Meng Hui branches. On March 1907, Dr. Sun came to Singapore to raise funds for revolutions and to advise Teo Eng Hock and Tan Chor Nam to launch the "Chong Shing Yit Pao". Dr. Sun moved to Singapore after the failure of the "Zhennanguan Uprising" and established the Nanyang branch of Tong Meng Hui in Singpaore as the regional headquarters. On July 1910, Dr. Sun re-organized the duties and the mission statement of Tong Meng Hui in this visit before leaving for Penang. On December 1911, aAfter the success of the Wuchang Uprising, Dr. Sun stopped over at Singapore on the way back to China. He came to greet Teo Eng Hock, Tan Chor Nam, Lim Nee Soon and other supporters in Singapore. It was his final visit to Singapore.

Singapore ~ Balestier Road

Balestier Road, what so special about it?

Balestier Road
The story of Balestier Road began in New England (on the east coast of America), where Joseph Balestier grew up after he was born in 1788. In May 1834, Balestier arrived in Riau (now Bintan) as the American Consul with the mission to render aid to American shipping. Balestier chose to reside in Singapore, however, as he felt the island was a more important trading hub. He was named Consul to Singapore on 4 July 1836.

In 1834, Balestier leased 405 hectares of land, on which became known as Balestier Plain, was bounded by Sungei Whampoa, Serangoon, Balestier and Kim Keat Roads. Unfortunately, the estate proved unviable due to heavy duties on Singapore-grown sugar. In 1848, the plantation was put up for sale and Balestier left Singapore in 1852. He died in 1858 in York, Pennsylvania.

Balestier's wife, Maria Revere (1785-1847), was a daughter of Paul Revere, a bell-maker and hero of American Revolution. In 1843, Maria presented a bell cast by her father's foundry to St. Andrew's Cathedral. Known as the Revere Bell, this bell is now part of the National Museum of Singapore collection.

Balestier Road and its surrounding area have been called different names by the communities who lived and worked here over time. The main road is named after Joseph Balestier, the first American Consul to Singapore.

Or Kio ('Black Bridge' in Hokkien) is an old name for Balestier Road. This name arose as a dark wooden bridge was said to have once spanned Sungei Whampoa between Ah hood Road and Toa Payoh. Another old name is Goh Chor Tua Pk Kong Koai, after a prominent Chinese temple along the road. Koai means 'street' in Hokkien, while Goh Chor is the transliteration of Rochore, the district's name in the mid 19th century.

The Cantonese once used the name Wu-Hap Thong or "Taro Pond", as this semi-aquatic root crop was grown in the neighbourhood. Thannir Kampam or "water Village" is an old Tamil name that refers to a time when bullock carts were used to ferry water from the nearby Sungei Whampoa to the city centre. Meanwhile, the Malays used the name Kebun Limau or 'Citrus Garden' to denote the are around the present Lorong Limau (off Kim Keat Road), where many lime gardens once flourised.

Singapore ~ Balestier Road (Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall)

You can find

Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall - 12 Tai Gin Road

Originally called Bin Chan House, this villa was built in the 1880s by a businessman named Boey Chuan Poh for his mistress, Bin Chan. In 1905, the house was purchased and renamed Wan Qing Yuan ('Serene Sunset Garden') by Teo Eng Hock (1871-1959), a rubber magnate, as a residence for his mother to enjoy her later years in peace and tranquility. 

Teo was a keen supporter of the revolutionary movement to overthrow the Qing Dynasty in China. IN 1906, he offereed the house to Dr. Sun Yat Sen (1866-1925) as the Southeast Asian base of Dr. Sun's Tong Meng Hui (Chinese Revolutionary Alliance). The villa served as the centre for Tong Meng Hui's activities and fund-raising effors in Southeast Asia, and important uprisings were planned here during Dr. Sun's visits to Singapore. Later, it became the local headquarters of Dr. Sun's Chinese Nationalist Party or Kuomintang after the 1911 Revolution, which led to the establishment of the Republic of China in January 1912 with Dr. Sun as its first Provisional President. In 1937, the villa was bought over by six Chinese businessmen - Lee Kong Chian, Tan Ean Kiam, Lee Chin Tian, Chew Hean Swee, Lee Chor Seng, Yeo Kiat Tiow. During the Second World War, the Japanese used the building as a communications centre and office for the dreaded Kempeitai (Japanese Military Police). In 1951, the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce obtained ownership of the villa. 

In 1966, the Chamber converted the house into a museum called the Sun Yat Sen Villa. On 28 October 1994, the building was gazetted as a national monument. It was renamed the Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial hall in 1997. To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 1911 Revolution, the Memorial Hall underwent a revamp in 2010 and reopened on 8 October 2011. The galleries now house important artifacts  paintings and photographs that trace the story of Dr. Sun and also highlight the contributions made by Chinese communities in Southeast Asia to the Revolution.

Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall
Business Hour: 10am-5pm (Tuesday to Sunday, Closed on Monday)
Last admission at 4.30pm
Fees: SGD4 (Adult)
SGD2 (Senior Citizen 60 years old above)
SGD2 (Student & Children)
SGD12 (Group of up to 5 persons)

Singapore ~ Balestier Road (Balestier Market)

At the opposite of the Fragrance Hotel, you can find a market next to Boon Tong Kee.

Balestier Market - 411 Balestier Road
Balestier Market is built in the early 1920s, Balestier Market provided local vendors with a permanent place to sell their produce. The original market, which was described in 1924 as being "secluded but busy", was an open-air-affair; a roof was added only in 1925. During the Second World War, the market served as a centre for distributing food rations. Due to its proximity to a dark timber bridge said to have spanned the Whampoa River, the market was popularly referred to as Or Kio, which means "Black Bridge" in Hokkien.

Such early attempts by the authorities to set up permanent market spaces were in part to remove temporary hawkers who would otherwise sell their wares by the roadside as well as to improve the licensing and regulation of hawkers. Perhaps to elude the authorities and avoid paying license fees, some hawkers continued to sell from makeshift stalls by the roadside.

The original market consisted of a row of small huts with a pitched zinc roof. This facility was renovated in 1999. Unfortunately, the number of vendors had fallen by then, so customers preferred to do their marketing at the bigger Whampoa Market (also known as Tua Pah Sat or "Big Market") at Whampoa Drive. As business dwindled, many stallholders who had been at Balestier Markter over generations close to retire when the market closed for redevelopment in 2004. Today, the only surviving "rural" market on mainland Singpaore houses a food court serving local favourites. The market building was gazetted as a conserved building on 1 December 2003.

The market and its neighbourhood offer hungry visitor a wealth of dining choices such as chicken rice and bak kut teh. Bak kut teh is a dish consisting of pork ribs stewed with spices, and served with rice, vegetables and you tiao (fried dough fritters). Old-time fans of this dish would wash down their meal with freshly Chinese tea to help cleanse the body of the oils and fats consumed. There are at least eight bak kut teh sellers along Balestier Road.

However, during this period Balestier Market is under construction. I have no chance to taste the food and enjoy the local delicacies.

Singapore ~ Balestier Road (Kim Keat Road)

Walking along Balestier Road, from the previous check point Traditional Shop Houses. We will reach another check point

Kim Keat Road

Kim Keat Road is named after Chua (Choa) Kim Keat (1859-1907), a Peranakan merchant and the only son of Chua Kai Hoon, a native of Malacca who move to Singpaore and died in 1865. The youger Chua was also a son-in-law to Tan Kim Cheng (1829-1892), whose father Tan Tock Seng (1789-1850) founded Tan Tock Seng Hospital. Chua Kim Keat started out as a tin salesman for Lim Tiang Wah and Sons. In 1886, he joined the newly formed Straits Trading Co. Ltd and became a leading figure in the tin smelting company.

Chua, who also managed the rice business of Tan Kim Cheng & Co., maintained a country residence off Balestier Road by the road that bears his name. He also owned a lavish house at Pasir Panjang named "Fairyland", where he hosted garden parties that were well-attended by both the Chinese and European elites. Known to be a great lover of orchids and rare plants, Chua took part in flower shows at the Botanic Gardens, where he won prizes for his roses and dahlias.

Kim Keat Road once stretched all the way to the area around the Lian Shan Shuang Lin Temple in Toa Payoh. Built in 1908, this National Monument houses the oldest Buddhist monastery in Singapore. In the past, it was possible to walk directly from Balestier Road to Toa Payoh, but the two areas are now separated by the Pan-Island Expressway (PIE) and many have disassociated Kim Keat Road from Kim Keat Link, where the temple is located.

Walk down Kim Keat Road, turn right into Kim Keat Lane, and you will come across a traditional bakery known as Sweetlands Confectionery. For more than 50 years, this bakery has produced bread loaves for coffee shops and provision shops across Singapore. Another traditional bakery, Sin Hon Loong can be found at 4 Whampoa Drive.

For decadeds, slided toast with butter and kaya (coconut jam) plus freshly brewed coffee have been the quintessential breakfast for Singaporeans. Households and coffee shops whould obtain their coffee from suppliers such as Lam Yeo Coffee Powder, which opened at 328 Balestier Road in 1960 and still stocks various coffee from around the region.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Singapore ~ Balestier Road (Traditional Shophouses)

Balestier Road is a heritage trail of Singapore.

Traditional Shophouses ~ 412-418 Balestier Road
This is surviving row of traditional shop houses at the junction of Balestier Road and Jalan Kemaman was developed in 1928 and restored in 2000. They were built by Madam Sim Cheng Neo, who also owned traditional shop houses at 292-312 Balestier Road.
These shop houses are designed by architect Kwan Yow Luen in a style that marries East and West, the shop houses feature walls with molded designs that recall the reliefs of classical architecture. The images, however, are Chinese dragons and bats. In a local twist to the Chinese tradition of placing guardian warriors by the entrance to one's dwelling, the pillars of the corner unit feature Sikh men, who were often employed as guards and policemen during colonial times.

These shop houses appeared in P. Ramlee's film "Penarek Becha", which Amran, a honest but poor trishaw man rescues Azizah, a rich man's daughter, from bullies. These shop houses were gazetted as conserved buildings on 1 December 2003.

Nearby, a small cart stands at the corner of Boon Teck Road, offering water and tea to any thirsty passer-by at no charge. This service is a legacy of past times when clean drinking water was a luxury.

The provision of water was an act of charity for poor laborers such as drivers of horse carriages or bullock carts, rickshaw pullers and other workers toiling in the area. This service continues to be provided by Thong Teck Sian Tong Lian Sin Sia, a temple and charitable organization located at Boon teck Road. The kiosk holds two containers: one with plain water and the other with a tea called Su Teh in Teochew dialect, which is said to relieve the effects of heat.

In the past, there were two other water kiosks providing free water and tea to the public. These were along River Valley Road, by the present Liang Court mall, and near the old Hoover Theatre along Balestier Road. Temple caretakers would ride in trishaws to fill up the kiosks every morning.

Singapore ~ Fragrance Hotel (Classic)

A poor experience when I was on a rush for my business trip (2 Days 1 Night) to Singapore. I have no time to arrange my accommodation before I reached here. I am taking Odyssey coach to Singapore and I am expected to travel to KL by the same bus too. Therefore, I am intended to get a hotel which is located nearby the bus boarding location. I have chosen Fragrance Hotel - Classic, since it is just a 5 minutes walking distance to Balestier Plaza (bus boarding location). But, it has totally given me a bad experience:

Fragrance Hotel has 6 floors, equipped with elevator. The room is small. It is a double room. The room is equipped with air-conditioner, wall-mounted TV, hair dryer. The bath room is equipped with hot water. Both room and bath room are looked a little bit old. And, the most terrifying is there are several cockroaches in the room. It has made me unable to sleep for whole night. Luckily, the wall mounted TV has accompanied me for the whole night.

Wireless connection is not free, though it is mentioned free connection available (I think only for those who book online from their website). Wireless connection is only available when you pay them SGD5 for 2 hours continuously surfing or SGD10 for 24 hours continuously surfing. The user experience of the internet connection is not satisfied either.

However, the staffs at Fragrance Hotel are friendly. They will greet you and asking you the experience of staying here. I do voice out to them about cleanliness of the room. I hope they will do something after I have checked out. 

It is advisable to those who is wishing to get a clean room to go for other selection, since there are several hotels located along Balestier road such as Hotel 81, Days Hotel, Value Hotel, Aqueen Hotel and more.

Location of the hotel is strategic which a lot of eateries are located nearby such as Boon Tong Kee Chicken Rice, Bah Kut Teh, Steamboat, and more. 

Fragrance Hotel - Classic
Address: 418-Balestier Road
Singapore 329808
Tel: (65) 62546888
Fax: (65) 62546882

Odyssey - A Coach for you to travel between Malaysia and Singapore

Odyssey is established since 2007, it provides a coach service between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. Odyssey coach has offered several facilities:

1) Wireless connection are enabled with the co-operation with YES. It is expected that internet connection is available along the North-South highway, but, not in Singapore. (However, based on my personal user experience, speed of connection is not at the satisfied level though number of passengers in the bus is 5). Don't worry about your power of your IT gadget, there is an electrical outlet located to each seat.

2) Ya, a good news for person who is suffering most of the time when they are boarding bus. A plenty of leg room is available to ensure you have a relaxing and comfortable trip.

3) In order to ensure that you are experiencing a different coach service from others, there is an attendant ready to serve you. the attendant will provide you a mineral water, headset (for watching TV), and small cushion once you are on-board. 

4) After certain period (KL-SG: within 30 minutes, SG-KL: after passed through both Singapore and Malaysia immigration check point), they will serve you a meal. Please don't expect too much on the meal provided. There are both non-vegetarian and vegetarian options available, you may select during ticket purchase. (I have selected vegetarian meal, however, they serve you non-vegetarian meal. After I have voiced out my opinion, they serve you a vegetarian meal which is shown in the picture below. For a pure vegan, I bet they will never eat that. When I was going back from Singapore to KL, they are serving you the same meal as non-vegetarian meal. It is disappointed with their services. And, I never request for another meal this time.)

5) The schedule of the coach is on time. This is the most promising service, but, do expect a plus minus of 20 minutes which is depending on the process of immigration check point. You are provided a form to be filled up when you are almost heading to the immigration check point.

6) No washroom on the bus. But, the bus will stop at several rest and recreation area along the highway (3 to 4 stops). You may have your toilet break during the stop. 

The location of Odyssey Malaysia is really not strategic. There is no place for you to wait and drop off and pick up your loves one. However, they are planning to move their office from Mont Kiara. This is considered a good news to us. It is because Mont Kiara is an area which is unlikely to be accessed by most of the public transport. I hope that they can move their office to a better location.

 Odyssey Deck (Malaysia)
Address: Lot 1B Shoplex at Mont Kiara,
Jalan Kiara,
50480 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 1300888121
Business Hour: 7.30am-7.30pm

Odyssey Lounge (Singapore)
Address: 400 Balestier Road,
Balestier Plaza, #01-08,
Singapore 329802
Tel: 18006397739
Business Hour: 7.30am-7.30pm

(Pictures are adapted from Odyssey Official Website, except meal served, immigration card)

Time Table

Journey time is up to 5 hours 15 minutes depending on traffic conditions & clearance at the check point

Ticket Fare
Includes one meal, hot beverage, and bottled drinking water for one pax

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Plate Culture

Introducing you a new dining culture at Malaysia, Plate Culture. This is a new platform for those who are enjoy in cooking and also those who are indulge in home cooked food.

Still can't get it?

So, what is PlateCulture?

"PlateCulture is a marketplace that connects people who love cooking and hosting dinners and those who love eating authentic home cooked meal while traveling in new places. Each dinner is an unique experience where people share food, learn new things and build friendships all over the world.

Guest have a unique opportunity to try authentic home cooked dinner while having a quality time with host and getting a real picture of the place they are traveling in.

Hosts can showcase their cooking skills and meet interesting people not leaving their kitchen. Literally, we fit entire world in your kitchen."

~adapted from PlateCulture~

Thus, we can consider PlateCulture is providing us a platform either to become a host by disclosing your secret recipe and your kitchen to anyone who is looking for authentic food, who is looking for culture sharing, who is looking for new friends and more. 

Are you wondering how to become a host?

Think of delicious dinner recipe that you would like to prepare, plan the dates when you would like to host the dinner and send an email to us at PlateCulture will assign their foodie team to come over to get to know you better and enjoy your delicious cooking.

Erm, I have to bear all the cost for hosting a meal?

Nope, guest will pay you directly by cash on that day. And, the cost of meal should depends on what you are preparing for dinner and what ingredients you use. Set the price per one portion and invite as many people as you can accommodate for the dinner. Price should based on the cost of ingredients and compensation for time spent cooking and cleaning. Most importantly, be transparent and honest.

Or you prefer to become a guest?

It’s simple and free. Register your email and PlateCulture will personally invite you to hosting a dinner or reserve a dinner. But, they are screening all registrations one by one to ensure the quality.

Are you sure the food is nice and worth for tasting?

Don't worry, PlateCulture team personally visits all the hosts and tastes their home cooking. Also we strongly encourage every guest who attends a PlateCulture event to write a review about their experience. 

For more information, you can visit their 
Official Website: PlateCulture


How I get to know about this?

I'm a loyal blog reader of Kelly Siew Cooks. From her blog, I'm learning about this new dining culture. I'm really impressed that Kelly Siew who is good in cooking works as a doctor at Melbourne for three years before she come back to Malaysia to work as a song writer and singer. Such a interesting woman, she is hosting brunch and dinner for both Chinese and Western style. 

~Bon Appetit~

Monday, August 5, 2013

老招牌 ~ 老菜色 ~ 新味道
















Canton Kitchen (Selayang Branch)
Address: No 4, Jalan Paragon Utama, 68100 Batu Caves, Sel
Tel: 03-61281033
Facebook: Canton Kitchen