Thursday, December 12, 2013

Send snail mail to Gottfrid


The pirate bay founder is held without confinement in Denmark since his extradition from Sweden. The poor guy doesn't have access to internet or anything. Send him a card this Christmas or write him a letter.

Note: mail that does not mention hacking or pirate bay will get through easier...
Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, 171084
Att: Jens Jørgensen
1567 København V

Saturday, December 7, 2013

(6 Dec) Singapur lyric opera

Sent by WhatsApp

A little of dose of Germany

A lot of things happened recently. So I was deeply comforted by this package of love from Onkel und Tante HM that they sent separately from their Christmas present. 

People asked me when I returned home from Germany if I had eaten pork knuckles while I was there. I didn't. I don't really like pork knuckles. What I do love is käsespätzle.  A love further reinforced by the fantastic dish I had at die Kleinmarkthalle in Frankfurt. Yumz. Strangely I had no problems ordering in German when I was with strangers. But when asked to speak German with friends, I drew blanks. Pathetic.

So after asking me what I missed from Germany, Onkel und Tante HM sent over volkornbrot (loved the tiny loaves from Pension Gerlinde) and instant spätzle. Of course they didn't forget to send over two cans of bier for the government. Oddly enough managed to passed through customs without being taxed. Great! Conversely the Deutsch customs was anal as usual and tried to tax HM for kopitiam "coffeeshop" coffee (the way Singapore prepares its coffee is different. A traditional taste would be coffee beans roasted with margarine or corn before being ground for flavor). The Deutsch customs thought it was something very expensive like luwak coffee (coffee  beans from a civet cat's ass) or something... now to think about it, now that HM told them it was ordinary coffee, maybe this time I could send the real luwak coffee. Hehe.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Why must I set Sensor in Google Map API request?

I was playing with the google map v3 API, and encountered this error, "The Google Maps API server rejected your request. The "sensor" parameter specified in the request must be set to either "true" or "false"." The sensor parameter doesn't give you any geo location capabilities it just lets Google know as part of their licensing terms with their data providers that the map is being used in conjunction with some sort of geo location functionality.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

50 shades of creep - Pre Booty call Agreement?!

I couldn't figure out jquery, so decided to take a break and read some creepy pms on reddit (八卦 I know). Came across this "agreement" which was super sad yet funny at the same time (though the actual creepy guy had turned stalky, which wasn't funny. He even sent the TS this 3X!). 

1 thing I many guys actually succeed with this?

Saturday, September 28, 2013

My eyes cannot unsee what they have seen

Wirklich? The Big Bang Theory... after such a long hiatus, the first thing you do is fuck my eyes over with TWO sets of hairy male boobies? 

This is some seriously messed up sh*t.

Thursday, September 26, 2013


Just realized I am even worse at coding HTML5 than android *mind blown*

Friday, September 20, 2013

A little light music

I thought I would share some of my favorite classical pieces. I always play them when I am rushing a deadline or very stressed at work.

Elgar's Salut D' Amour (this is the version I like best!)

Mendelssohn Violin Concerto in E Minor, Op 64

Dvorak's Humoresque

Schubert's Ave Maria

Smetana's Die Moldau

Friday, September 13, 2013

Typical day

Today is Friday the 13th... and a black cat ran past me from under a stationary car. Interestingly there was an old lady walking in front of me, but that black pussy decided that I was the unlucky target.

Lovely. At least I know that black cat is unluckier than me.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Opera App store invite

It's been a long time since I did android development. Everytime I start to do a bit, I lose interest because my primary interest is in games, but I am too lazy to draw graphics for them. Haha. Of course the correct attitude would be to use circles first then swap image when ready. So yeah, I am just lazy. I keep toying with the idea of building onto Burger Stacko. But I think it will be wiser to build it as a new app instead. On the other hand, should give something back to the users who bothered to keep this old game on their devices. HMmm.
Anyway I received an invite from Opera Mobile store today to join as a partner/developer. I did a little background check on them to find that it is a relaunch in 2012 by Opera after its acquisition of Handster. Joining Opera Mobile store is free, and platform free. In fact they appeared to be so friendly that they offered to publish my one and only app on my behalf.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Wildy Random Foto - Ladybug

Taken with Nikon V1 10-30mm lens

Should take lesser photos or blog more often?

Recently I am engrossed in writing a story. However my obsessive nature has driven me to check my reads and votes hungrily everyday, which isn't very healthy, so I decided to distract myself with some good old blogging.

Think it is time to break out the SD cards and look through my USA photos (I was reading someone's blog and she happened to go California one week later with her baby and husband. Amazing how two persons' experience of California can be so different. Must be the effect of traveling by first class and actually having $$). 

I just spent five minutes staring bewilderingly at some photos. I couldn't place the venue that they were taken... only to realize that they were of Frankfurt from last year. Must be the SD card that has gone missing. oopz.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Helluva Engineer

If only I still had his enthusiasm....maybe it's because I didn't go Georgia Tech.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Guess how much this was?

I bought this breakfast the first morning when we just came back from our trip. I almost jaw-dropped when the lady told me that it cost "S$4.50!? for breakfast?!" Looking through the receipt, the fried egg was S$0.70, vegetables were S$1.00.

I am really shocked.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Useful Advice: Carry a Spoon in your underwear if you are being forced into an overseas arranged marriage

I was reading jezebel when I came across this seemingly strange article "Spoons hidden in Underwear could save teens from arranged marriages". Sorry for my finding humor in such a harrowing situation, but when I first read it, I was wondering if the innocous spoon was to be used as self-defence against your amorous pedobear of an old man husband? 

Like dig his eye ball out or literally spoon him to death? 

Turns out this is very useful advice by the Karma Nirvana charity in Britain, which supports victims and survivors of forced marriages and honor-based abuse. Basically the idea is that usually these forced marriages take place overseas, so when the petrified teenager puts the spoon in her undies, it will sound off the alarm through the airport security. And because it is in a private area, the bride-to-be will be taken to a safe place to be checked, away from their interfering relatives, and they can disclose their situation.

Tried my hand at shooting guns

Guns are banned in Singapore. So naturally when I went to USA, there were four things on my mind (not necessarily in that order) shooting a gun, In-n-Out Burger, Alcatraz Island and Cheesecake Factory (or anything Big Bang Theory). 

I am not promoting violence per se (ok, I am a pretty violent person), but I really wanted to know how it'd feel to really shoot a gun or try hunting. Before we went for our trip, I started checking out the places that offered shooting in Las Vegas, because we were going to be there longest due to Bobo's work commitments. 

I found a few places that let you try shooting very scary guns, but they tend to be a tad too expensive and dubious-looking. So I was delighted to find out that Clark County (where Las Vegas is located, by the way) had a shooting complex, complete with shooting facilities and free orientation lessons by their experienced staff. I checked via email with them if foreigners could try shooting, and they said it was ok, just bring your ID along.

We wanted to drive out there Thursday night after collecting the rental car, but due to bad math, we mixed up the dates, we weren't able to go together. We could only get the car on Friday, and everyday Bobo had to work till at least 6pm, and the shooting was until 7pm most nights, except for Wednesday and Thursday nights.

So by the time Sunday (last day in Las Vegas) rolled around, Bobo still had to work till 4pm so I decided to go by myself, even though I wasn't exactly sure about the address. (1) I read on some websites that it was better to avoid other parts of Las Vegas other than the Strip, especially North Las Vegas, which coincidentally where the shooting complex was located (the northen most part~!). (2) I didn't really dare to go by myself.
The pistol and rifle complex is that little orange building, against an awesome backdrop
I summoned what little courage I had, and armed with that horrible Hertz Neverlost (it got me lost a lot of times during this trip), my printed Google maps and an abysmal data connection, I drove out to North Las Vegas. I predictably got lost, because the Hertz map ran out on the coordinates, and the area looked really lonely and wild beyond where the Neverlost brought me. The canyon loomed ahead.
Don't miss it! Past this main entrance, you still have to drive further into the canyon.
I thought the Neverlost was being dumb, and drove to a nearby shopping area, so that I could stop the car and pore over the map. I decided to try driving out into the canyon, and was rewarded for my daring.

I drove up to the highest point, which was where the rifle and pistol shooting located. They also had shotgun and archery further down the hill. Getting out the car, I took some quick photos, and flinched everytime I heard a loud crack. I figured even if I didn't dare to shoot, at least I managed to capture the experience.
There was a very friendly uncle and young lady chatting by the slope leading up to the nearest building (administration office). He turned to me and asked me if I was here to try shooting. I replied yeah!

He smiled a friendly welcome and pointed me to the door. "Go in and sign up."

So I went in, the people at the range are all very friendly folks, they really made me feel very welcome, and I had a super fun time there. I was advised to watch a short video on the simple rules they had for the complex (namely the obvious "point the gun downwards at the range"), which allowed me to collect a yellow card. I was told that with the yellow card, I would not have to watch the video again the next time. The rules were quite simple, 20 minutes of shooting, then 10 minutes of resting. During the resting time, no one can touch their shooting table where the guns lay, and everyone will go out and change/collect their shooting targets. Point the gun downwards at the range, and upwards after you leave the range.
Smith & Wesson pistol ok!
Then I was told to fill out a form and choose which shooting targets I wanted to buy. The man in charge asked me if I wanted to try a rifle or pistol. I asked him what is the difference in experience, and he told me that with the pistol, you could shoot multiple times at a go but it was harder, while with the rifle you have to keep reloading but it was easier to pick up.  The rental pistol and rifle used the same kind of bullets.
Form and card
I chose the rifle. Too bad I didn't have my own gun, so I had to rent the equipment. Thankfully, they let me swap out for the pistol later, without having to pay a separate rental fee. Aren't they great? I was quite eaten by jealousy when I saw what awesome guns the other people brought with them to the range.  
Setting up targets during cooling-off periods
Mr Mitch taught me how to load the rifle and later, the pistol. I tried shooting the rifle at 5 yards then 15 yards, then 17 yards. It definitely got harder to get bulls eye at 17 yards, especially since my arm got tired from holding and aiming the guns. 

I should have change to pistol earlier, because my arm became very tired to point and shoot properly. I tried shooting for 3 hours and changed several targets. The people in the office were super nice and equally excited with me that I was having such a great time at the range. Of course, because you have the great view of the canyon in the distance. It looks as if you are shooting into the canyon but actually you shoot into the sand banks in front. Phew phew!

As for the other people at the range, they were mostly families coming to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon shooting targets together or serious gunheads trying their really impressive looking guns (complete with binoculars, cool). There was a scary group of gangster-looking uncles at one end, but they left everyone alone. So it was all good.
Awesome gun 1
Super Awesome gun 2 (the sound from this gun made me JUMP)
The only bad experience I had was when this older man set up his two daughters at the shooting table next to mine, and every time they discharged their revolver, the bloody brass would ping me in the head because we were standing so close together.

If you are interested, 
Check out the Clark County shooting complex here with its shooting fees.
Mr Mitch explained that gunshells are expensive for other gun models, so most people buy the scrap brass so that they can make their own bullets. They can increase or reduce the amount of gunpowder accordingly, lesser for shooting range, more for hunting.

Monday, August 12, 2013

[Book Review] Pretty in Plaid

This book was quite an awesome read. Jennifer Lancaster is both snarky and witty between the sheets, even though I felt that the book came to a abrupt ending in the epilogue. Probably it's because I liked what I was reading and wanted the fun to continue. I especially liked the part where she wrote about her "rush" days at Purdue, and how various fashion pieces symbolized the various episodes in her life. Then there was the part about her mother drinking a blow job cocktail, to the amusement of Jennifer's friends and colleagues at the restaurant where she spent her college days serving disgruntled customers and getting into trouble for not giving a shit about their lives. 

"Just when I think the evening can't get any more mortifying, my mother leans in and conspiratorially whispers, "But I've had the real thing." Were I to even contemplate what she may have meant by this statement, I'd curl up in the fetal position and rock back and forth for the remainder of my life. As it is, I spend the rest of my graduation night suffering from hysterical deafness." Jennifer does have a love for footnotes (amusing as they are, give me a terrible work-based flashbacks), which would have made our お母さん proud. Still, it was a funny read, though I might have underestimated the calculating, cunning mind of a young girl, despite having been one myself.

Sleep deprivation

No wonder prisoners are tortured by lack of sleep. Because it works. Even though I only flew home yesterday morning, totally sleep starved thanks to kids kicking and whining behind me.

Last night I tossed and turned the whole night. Since coming home only slept six hours sigh. So today worked half day, which was lucky because I crashed at three pm... fortunately I set the alarm to go off at five thirty So that I will not have another sleepless night. Hopefully I will survive tonight.

Tried to send my brain into standby by reading, and then it was so effective, that my head fell forward and I banged my head against the table badly. Took me a while to sleep after that.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Planning trip to USA - tips based on my own experience

Hadn't blogged in a while. Video card died before my trip. I was also in the western part of USA for two weeks. Very eventful. More so than Germany, but I still prefer the latter.

Car Rental
I followed the tips here when renting the car for our trip. Long story short, it is cheaper to rent a car for a week than over days. I thought about using train travel rather than driving, like we did in Germany, but I have much less faith in the commuters in USA and the level of comfort that we'd expect.

Getting Alcatraz Island Tickets when the particular tour I wanted is sold out
San Francisco - Alcatraz Cruises
This is the only and official tour that allows you to walk on the Alcatraz island. I already decided to get the tickets back in June, but I wanted to get it with the City Pass. The complication with the City Pass was that if you want to buy it with the option of Alcatraz Tour, then you have to CALL Alcatraz Cruise to buy the City Pass with the option (note: the Blue&Gold cruise that comes with the tour will be replaced by this option). Email or online purchase are not allowed.You can only buy the tour ticket online.

Since I don't live in the USA, this idea sounded particularly horrible to me. So I decided to only call them when I reached Las Vegas.

Guess what? Two weeks later, when I changed my mind (decided to sit on the Blue & Gold and go Alcatraz), I went to the site to buy the tour, only to find out all the tours on the two days we are going to be in SF are no longer available.   
So I searched online for two days, trying to see how others resolve this problem? This is what I found out:

Alcatraz sells the tickets in 3 ways, over counter, on phone and on website.

What do you do if the Alcatraz Island cruise you wanted is sold out?
- Buy it on Craigslist
- Buy it on actual day when the hotels give up the tickets they couldn't sell.
Alcatraz also releases 50 tickets for only the 9.10am tour during off season, and 50 tickets each for  9.10am, 10am and 10.30am tours in high season (summer). The counter opens at 8am, and according to the company people start queuing at 5am sometimes. Everyone can buy up to 4 tickets by cash or credit but the entire party has to be in line to get the tickets (I interpret this as everyone can buy only 1 ticket) on a first-come, first-served basis.
- Buy it from people who can't go and are trying to resell the ticket at the pier
- Buy it from another tour company which combines it with another SF tour/ resells it for $$$. If you do this, make sure the Alcatraz ticket is confirmed.
- Be patient, Alcatraz Cruises will release tickets randomly on the website. You have to keep pressing refresh. The earliest this happens tends to start 5 days before the actual cruise.

It was like back in university when we had to keep clicking on websites for class registration. So you'd bet that this was no skin off my nose, even though it was a terrible inconvenience. I got the tickets about 2 days after trying, one at a time.

Usefulness of online coupons in USA!
I learnt all about the couponing culture when I watched "extreme couponing". Too bad I didn't get to try it out when I was there. One thing you should do when you are buying specific products or services, you should always google said product/ company/ service and "coupon". This helps to save a few bucks, which comes in useful when your country's exchange rate is not favorable against the USD.

Example. We went for the Warner Brother's VIP tour and I also did a Grand Adventures' Grand Canyon tour while Bobo was working. You can save USD5 per ticket with the coupon code "perk" (for Friends) or USD8 per ticket with the coupon code "ellen". "perk" worked for me. For Grand Adventures, I went to their Facebook page, and searched for the coupon code (forgot what it is now).

Otherwise there are the printable coupons, as well. I also signed up as a member on the premium outlets website (where you can buy brands at cheaper prices *tight pussy and proud of it*), which entitled me to a coupon book (valid for one month) on top of other coupons that I could print off each outlet mall's site. Example. I saved USD20 on top of my savings at Levi's with a separate Levi's coupon, versus the USD15 from the coupon book.

Las Vegas Coupons
(1) Vegas4locals

When you got to go, you got to go
The cleanest toilets in Las Vegas are on the casino floor. Duh.

Don't fly United
I can understand why USA is so anal about security with the body scans and all, but I am extremely irritated by United. First of all, they only allow 1 checked in luggage, which meant we had to pay another USD100(!!!) to check in another bag. Strangely they allow you to hand carry two other luggage, which is very dumb and causes a lot of inconvenience on the plane and during checks. The food was disgusting as well, even though it was plentiful (will upload the food pics later). At first we thought it was because of the food provider at San Francisco, but the food was also bad on the flight back to Singapore from Narita, Tokyo.

Our flights back to Singapore were 100X worse than the experience we had flying with ANA to USA, even though there was a long-legged caucasian who kept kicking me all through my 10 hour flight from Narita to San Francisco. Our 10 hour flight from San Francisco to Narita saw two crying kids (one intelligible toddler, and one psycho Japanese little girl throwing tantrums + kicking the seat right behind me), and having to share common tv screens in the economy class. I hadn't seen a common tv screen on flights since 2000, and it reminded me of taking trips on tour buses to KL where they feed you bad food and let you watch pirated movies on shaky common screens. The United one was exactly the same, and the movies would hang a bit at times as if pirated.

Not only that, all our United flights were delayed (we flew ANA from Singapore to Tokyo to San Francisco, and United to Las Vegas, then United from San Francisco to Tokyo to Singapore), and the flight from Narita to Singapore was quite a joke, especially since we were already taxiing to the runway, and the captain came on to say that we had to return to the gate because some baggage were incorrectly loaded onto the plane..

United also has a bad habit of overbooking its flights and delights in offering you USD300 to take a later flight. WTF. After 2 long flights of more than 8 hours each, I just want to get to my destination. And this, after we already paid for the tickets. Fucked up service, fucked up attitude on top of that. Everytime they played their motherhood bullshit video about how professional their service was, I nearly wanted to die from laughing. I WILL NEVER TRAVEL UNITED AIRLINES EVER AGAIN.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Camera and Food Processor

My Nikon V1 camera has helped me win the first prize at mein Büro's photo taking competition. :D Unfortunately it was not because of the pretty flowers, but because I best fulfilled the requirements of the contest. The contest stated that we needed to capture friends and flowers. When I saw what my competitors submitted, I went against my personal desire to show off my camera's features (which was tough), because I knew my colleague took an even better photo with his DSLR, and deliberately chose a photo that better suited the theme to take him down *hehe*.

Still it is not a bad prize. I needed a food processor. Now I don't have to mince ginger by hand anymore. Gott sei dank.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Delicious Onion

I'd better hurry up and finish the Bali posts while I can (will explain why soon). This was the last place we ate at before leaving Bali. 
Delicious Onion is located outside our hotel (without TV, such a sin, thanks to that experience, when I ever book accomodation, I will look out for the magical word TV, after air-con *lol*). 
We experienced sweltering heat as we wandered out of the hotel at noon, searching for food before our flight in the evening (it was yet another horrific 2 hour drive to the airport, thanks to the all-too-predictable traffic jams on two lane roads). 
I had been sorely tempted by the menu when walking past. So many burgers on the menu (the fact that we eventually chose local Indonesian food on the menu is an irony lost on me). They even had motorbikes for hire, but we were too stupid to handle one (me especially), so the lady told us to return them even before we left the premises. I want to get a motorbike licence!!!
Anyway it was too hot, so we walked back and ate there. It was cooling under the makeshift shelter and we sat on a bench. I like eateries with weird ass inconsistent seating because it makes them look effortlessly cozy. I accidentally insulted the lady again when I passed her a lollipop for the little boy I saw yesterday while we were renting the bike. She said... she is a girl. OOPZ.

Since it was the last day already, we ordered some satay, ayam rice, and Peranakan pork dish (we also ordered gyoza, don't ask me why). Turns out the cafe was owned by a Singaporean. There were two doggies at the cafe. One crazy ass poodle (I think, I can't remember), which kept barking, and this cute bigger doggie which begged Bobo for food. I think he knew Bobo doesn't eat much. When I tried to walk around the table to pet him, he wandered off. So dao!

We were worried that the food would take long because the lady still had to heat the charcoal for bbqing the satay. Luckily we were just outside our hotel (the driver was bloody late in the end). I did feel a little bad that she had to stand in the harsh sunlight and handle the even harsher heat from the charcoal grill.

The rest of the staff busied (ok it was a joke, because there was no hurrying) themselves making the rest of the dishes. The gyoza was the usual pan-fried processed ones so nothing special there. The pork dish came with a clear veggie soup, i.e. veggies floating on top of a instant chicken stock (a dish ubiquitous in Bali). I was reminded of the imagery from the Endless Steppe (I read way too many books on Jewish persecution during WWII when I was a teenager) where Esther Hautzig described the nasty vegetable soup they got in the cargo cars. *shiver*
The rice in our dishes smelled pretty good but was quite wet. Probably didn't have enough time to dry after cooking yet. I liked Bobo's pork more than my chicken because I don't really like chicken breast meat (otherwise known as white meat). 
Now to think of it I kind of regretted not ordering a burger. But the place was not bad for its ambience.

Transposed violin sheet music

I came across this blog Musical Mania while searching for sheet music. This blogger has transposed some interesting contemporary music pieces, like 1D's "What Makes You Beautiful". I thought he/she was quite impressive :)

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Hush little Kitty

Schlaft die Katz am stuhl. Bobo fotografiert die Katze wenn er mich wartet.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Seeing Humor during times of adversity - Hazed Singapore

The haze in Singapore has been getting worse, even going past 400 on the PSI today. Nonetheless everyone is trying to see the humor in the situation, like describing Singapore like "Genting (Highlands)" or "Silent Hill".
Some folks reminisced about an old show...
Others linked the Hello Kitty craze and the Haze.
For me, my nose and eyes are pretty sensitive, so I have been sneezing a lot and my eyes, watering, due to the irritation. I used to be able to see the CBD and Flyer from my apartment but now they have disappeared into the grey, scary whirls.

My Kollegen were also discussing whether the white side of the surgical masks should face outwards or inwards (turns out when you are sick, inwards, when you're not, outwards). But it doesn't matter because everyone is queuing for N95s.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

What we got for less than S$20 at the Singapore food fair

I didn't have $ so I had to borrow $20 from Mr Bear. Bär and I wandered around the hall. Hmm what can we get for $20?

First I got two Portugese eggtarts (S$2) because Bär and I were starved. We had lost Mr Bear at one point when he walked out to answer a call because there was a very noisy "getai"-like performance on stage. So we wandered on and found that the Pocky stall selling a goody bag for S$6. It came with a blown-up Pocky stick, and 9 boxes of Pocky of really weird flavors, like pizza, chilli crab!? 3 boxes expire in Aug, 3 boxes expire in Nov, and the remaining 3 expire in 2014.

I bought some fresh cherry tomatoes and eggplants for S$2.50, and some Korean beer for S$3 a bottle. I wanted to buy soju (S$11) but the stall only wanted cash payments and I hardly had enough to buy a bottle. I also bought two cans of preserved vegetables and gluten (S$2), which goes great with porridge. Finally I also bought a S$1 goody bag (worth S$4) at Gardenia Bread, which was available only to PAssion members, after they buy a bag of bread. I bought some ciabatta (S$2.20), and looking into the bag, I noticed that there was an energy bar, a can of tuna (what the f?) and a bag of hot dog buns. 

So that was S$18.70 and I had S$1.30 in change!

Why it is important to know your friend's name

Duck was very hospitable and kind to me when I visited him in Vietnam two years back. So naturally I was very excited when it was his birth year and I could mail him something special, a commemorative coin from Singapore Mint.

Unfortunately I forgot his full name (I remembered the last word in his nick formed part of his name), and he changed his company address (he prefers that I mail to the office instead of his home). So I just wrote to Mr "the last word in his nick". Anyway shortly after I sent it out, he miraculously popped up in Skype, which he never after creating it, and he told me that at least 10 persons had the same "last word in his nick" in their names. Oh fun.

Well, after 2 months, the damn thing came back. Not too bad. It has restored my faith in the snail mail system :D Not sure if it was because it was registered mail.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

A week in Bali (Day 4) - Tegalalang and Petulu

It started raining heavily during lunch and again later in the evening when we left Tegalalang. Seriously, don't bother to waste the money to enter Tegalalang. Bedugul and the other mountainous areas in Bali have rice terraces too, and the ones we saw going up Bedugul two days before were much more appealing.
We only had Petulu left. It was only 5.30pm when we left Tegalalang, so I was kind of regretting not having more places in the itinerary. Then again it was still raining so yeah, never mind. Omar said he never went to Petulu (the reason was obvious why later) with other tourists before. According to the travel guides, the Kokokan (Koko crunch - actually egrets) would fly off for the day for food (later we found out where some of them went... outside our hotel room.....) and coming back to roost at around sunset.
Flying in for a landing
Omar alighted at a booth just outside the village just like Tegalalang. So commercialized... argh. So he came back and asked us if we wanted to walk down the village which was about 800m and he could pick us up half an hour later. Or we could all sit inside the car until 6pm.

So we walked along a narrow village road (2-way!).  Little wooden shacks and tiled steps leading up to traditional homes lined the road, and we caught interesting glimpses of village life, e.g. a group of village boys gathering at one of the shacks to watch football on one CRT and play old video games on another, it kind of reminded me of my childhood, so I liked seeing that.
Village Life
Walking further in, we began to see the birds flying in and landing on their nests which were super high up in the tall trees. There were actually little warungs planted among the padi fields for you to put up your feet and enjoy the view at a less neck breaking angle.  It wasn't very easy to take photos, and being a tight pussy I did not buy a more powerful lens, and all my camera could capture were essentially tiny white long-legged things flying here and there.
kokokan nests

if you blink hard enough you can see the white birdies on the tree...
I would say it was ok, but I thought the village life was more interesting than those birds. I had more fun watching the funny ducks outside our hotel room. The tour guides painted a more intriguing imagery though: Locals sat that the birds are manifestations of souls of people killed in the aftermath of the failed Communist coup against the Indonesian government in Jakarta in 1965. Soon after some 100,000 people connected to the Jakarta coup were massacred in Bali, the egrets mysteriously appeared in Petulu in 1966.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Kho Kho Nara

A whole group of bears convened upon the hapless Kho Kho Nara for its fried chicken. It was my suggestion, because fried chicken was the one thing I craved maximus from my South Korean trip. And I still hadn't been able to find the perfect place that reminded me of that wonderful fried chicken I had there (don't ask me about the fotos, they are probably in the junk somewhere that I hauled from my other home).

The restaurant is CRAMPED. After all it is located in the CBD, which means $$$$ in rentals. I can totally understand, but it was impossible to take photos nicely when another bear's elbow is digging into your ribs while the other is reaching over  you to grab at the yummy chicken wings.
"I'll make love 2 you like you want me to And I'll hold you tight, baby, all through the night" (Boyz II Men's song)
The chicken is INSANELY GOOD. Crispy, freshly fried, fragrant. Even the original fried chicken was wonderful. If the damn chicken is a man, I would bring him home and make sweet sweet love to him all night long and then eat him. It was really expensive, but really yum. I would go there just for the wings, they were that good. There were three flavors, Original, Soy Garlic and Sweet & Spicy. I personally like the garlicky one, because it carries the piquant fragrance of garlic and is yet cloyingly sweet. Vampires beware!
김치 찌개 - affordable but blah...they used cheap belly. I don't know why I had instant image of leftover samyeopsal
Beef 비빔밥
The rest of the lunch menu is ok including the banchan. Way cheaper than its dinner menu (same items by the way), but not worth writing about because they were a letdown after having those ambrosial chicken wings.

In a nutshell,
Kko Kko Nara Korean Restaurant
57 Tras Street #01-01 Singapore
Tel: +65 6224 8186

Friday, May 24, 2013

Bebek Bengil (Dirty Duck)

Dirty Duck Diner
We continued on with being literal by having Bebek Bengil (Bebek meaning "duck"). It's heavily touted online and in travel guides that this is the most famous restaurant in Ubud. Even though I rarely eat duck nowadays ever since I decided that they were too cute, I decided to break the rule for once to try this so-called famous duck.
Beautiful garden
It is definitely an organized operation. They have the drivers drop the guests off with matching numbers, then the drivers park behind the restaurant, while the guests follow the waitress through a beautiful garden with loads of little huts. Each hut has a few tables, some even with Japanese-style sitting. Looking through the menu, we notice that they highlighted the half duck portion with a box so it was an obvious choice for us.
We thought it was a two person portion, given the price (100K rupiah!!!) but turned out it was a one person portion, according to the waitress who gave us a polite version of "WTF" face. After eating only noodles and rice over five days already, we decided to order potatoes and salad to go with the duck.
Tiny Bird, tiny portion
The duck was really crazy ass tiny, so were the potato and salad portions. And extremely dry and gamey tasting despite the vague taste of spice. I liked that there were three condiments, but they were not enough to overcome the feeling that we had been very disappointed and let down by the experience. A bit like the Pension Charlotte where we stayed at in Hakone, which was very heavily praised by another Singaporean lady but was actually not really that great.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

A week in Bali (Day 4) - Yeh Pulu

I really think that Ubud is severely ruined by "Eat Pray Love"rs. It is supposed to be the cultural centre of Bali, but it is the most tourist-driven and over-commericalized area we encountered. Every bloody sight cost 15K rupiah to enter, even Yeh Pulu, which we had been conned by the travel guides as "water container" temple with intricate wall carvings. Well... we did see a short wall of carvings, but that's all.. and we didn't see where the supposed water container was. I almost thought that the water container was this statue somewhere along the path to the shrine, because on our way back an old lady with a coterie of little children (including the bad boy - see below) was praying in front of it.
The only thing interesting about Yeh Pulu was this really adorable puppy that sniffed and followed us everywhere. Unfortunately there was a very naughty boy who ran out and chased the poor doggie to stop him from following us, at one point, he even tried to step on the doggie's head. I wanted to scold the little boy but Bobo stopped me. And he stopped me from playing with the doggie. He said I would make the doggie's life more miserable, because the boy would only be more merciless.

Ok, according to "The Rough Guide to Bali & Lombok", the small spring after which the site is named (yeh meaning "holy spring" and pulu being "stone vessel" rises close to the statue of Ganesh and is sacred. The Balinese are so literal, aren't they, first Goa Gajah (meaning Elephant cave literally with its statue of Ganesh inside) then now Yeh Pulu.

Says here too that "carved away from a cliff face, the 25 metre long series of Yeh Pulu carvings are said to date back to the fourteenth or fifteenth century. they are thought by some historians to depict a five-part story and while the meaning of its story has been lost, it;'s still possible to make our some recurring characters and to speculate on the connections between them; local people, however, describe the cravings as showing daily activities from time past. I think I believe the local people more, but seriously, who pushes the cow (look at the first photo of the carved woman pushing at an animal rump)?


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