google doodle rocks on.

23 May 2012 § 4 Comments

Google’s Google Doodle has always been interesting and quirky, but today, I think they’ve outdone themselves with a playable replica of the Moog Synthesizer on the web.

Read about the back story of the doodle’s development here at Mashable and head on over to Google’s home page to play, record and share your tune with your friends! Here’s mine…I tried out a riff of ‘Axel F’, inspired by Wired (tho recording and playback seems a tad bit wonky).

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timetoattack 2012 – lean engines and mean machines.

22 May 2012 § 2 Comments

‘Twas a bright sunny Sunday as the boyfriend and I headed down to Sepang International Circuit early in the morning to watch cars burn up the tarmac for the first round of TIMETOATTACK 2012. Having applied for a ‘media’ pass prior to the event, I brought along my trusty Canon to brush up my rusty photography skills – it’s been awhile since I’ve spent a day toting my dSLR around, and what better occasion than a full day photographing deliciously pimped up, sizzling hawt cars!

TTA2012 – scorching up the tracks at Sepang!

The atmosphere was already buzzing with excitement when we arrived and a walk through the pits saw participants busy gearing up (pun unintended!) their cars for the open track session as well as the time attack event that would be commencing later. The crowd of spectators were also building up – there were photographers carrying some serious equipment (I’m talking two cameras complete with Canon L-series zoom lenses- be still my heart! – and tripods) lying on the floor while trying to get the best angle for a photo and plenty of car enthusiasts taking the chance to oogle at the gathering of super cars. It almost felt like a carnival – there were also families with babies and kids in tow, complete with strollers!

The event kicked off with an open track session which saw both stock and modded cars zooming around the circuit. I spent most of this time photographing the cars that were parked at the pits (an excuse to stay in the shade for as long as possible) before venturing out under the blazing sun.

Every second counts

The open track session was promptly followed by the parade lap at 12 noon – you could hear the engines purring as the drivers lined up their cars in preparation for the time attack segment, all focused on obtaining the best lap times and getting their names featured in the Hall of Fame at ZerotoHundred.com. Touted as the “time focused challenge that sets apart the boys and the men on the race circuit”, these winners stand to gain some serious bragging rights in addition to their trophies, yo!

Making a statement

By the time the first round of TIMETOATTACK began at 1pm, the sun was already blistering hot, but this didn’t deter the spectators and speed aficionados from crowding the barricades to support their friends who were taking part. Eager to join in the excitement, I found a nice spot along the barricade. Talk about being in the thick of the action – I could literally smell scorched rubber in the air as I snapped photos of the cars speeding past! These may not be F1 cars, but the roar of the engines as the cars flew down the straights and the faint echo of squealing tires as they took the corners while valiantly trying to shave milliseconds off their lap times undoubtedly heightened the level of excitement for the day!

Sports Hybrid Class Category

Safety car – what a beauty!

Burn, baby, burn!

Start your engines, gentlemen!

The time attack segment was followed by the MCKEE GTR-ONLY drag battle where the main stretch right in front of the pits was turned into a makeshift drag strip. After snapping a few shots at the starting line, I took a long walk down the strip and finally found a lovely (shaded, yay!) vantage point at the finishing line and spent a good hour watching and photographing cars battling it out head-to-head. How exhilarating it must be for the drivers to floor the accelerator and zoom down the track while watching the needle on their speedometer go from zero to hundred in a matter of seconds – talk about a need for speed!

Bringing…

…sexy…

…back!!

With the weather showing no respite, we made numerous treks to the F&B area, buying bottle after bottle of cold water to cool ourselves down. There were stalls selling food as well, from fruits to popcorn and even packed boxes of sushi, but I’m pretty sure the stall with mineral water bottles and 100-plus cans floating in ice-packed containers had the best business! At any one point in time, I would’ve gladly welcomed an ice-cold bottle of water poured over my head – I was feeling so sticky and grimy from sweating it out under the sun!

Gorgeous cars lined up as far as the eye can see!

My favourite of the lot – an eye-catching blue Audi R8

The crowd rushing over to watch the drag race

Keep your eyes on the prize, boys!

Time to put your money where your mouth is…or rather, pedal to the metal!

Unpredictable weather

The sky began to darken ominously about 4pm and sure enough, a slight drizzle started soon after. The drivers were undaunted by the wet tracks and the second segment of time attack continued right on schedule. When the rain finally let up, I quickly headed over to another area of the tracks to take more photos – a kind photographer had mentioned to me earlier that the curved segment of the track provides a nice vantage point as the cars had to slow down when taking the curves – and he was right! I trekked through the wet grass and spent some time trying to capture shots of the cars navigating the curves before the rain started up again and had me running for cover.

Bragging rights

The event ended with a prize-giving ceremony and other than a slight delay in getting the results in, everything went as planned and the event wrapped up about 7.30pm. Kudos to the event organizers as they managed to keep pretty much within their published schedule – a refreshing change from most Malaysian events that start and end predictably late!

Winner’s podium

Money can’t buy these trophies!

We headed home soon after, sticky and exhausted from the day out. As I scrolled through my shots later that night, I realized that I had such a low hit rate of clear photos when it came to the panning shots (my first time trying out panning techniques – it definitely sounds easier in theory!) that it was literally frustrating to have spent so much time sweltering under the hot sun just for one or two decent shots. For the first time in my life, I actually acquired faint tan lines, heh! Nevertheless, it was a great experience – if you’re a car photography enthusiast, do look out for the next round of TIMETOATTACK on Sunday, July 22nd…you have my word that you won’t be short of subjects to photograph!

Yours truly, grilling under the sun with my modest camera and (lack of) equipment, heh!

ramen @ menya musashi.

18 May 2012 § Leave a comment

I was still pining for the two bowls of delicious ramen I had at Ippudo and upon reading that there’s a new ramen joint at Isetan @ One Utama, I was more than eager to check it out. Booked the boyfriend in advance on Monday evening and off we went to sample Menya Musashi’s ramen.

Menya Musashi is located on L2 of Eat Paradise at Isetan, and despite it being dinner time, the queue was relatively short. I was quite surprised though when we were ushered inside as we were taken straight to the register to place our order and pay! I’m the type who likes to leisurely study the menu, hence standing at the counter with the pressure of other customers waiting behind wasn’t a very nice experience. Nevertheless, we quickly placed our orders and was brought to our tables to wait for the food.


The menu has a ‘build-your-own-ramen-bowl’ option whereby you can choose the amount of meat you prefer – there are altogether four options: one slice of pork belly (RM22), or one slice of pork belly with a whole egg (Ajitama, RM24), or two slices of pork belly with half an egg (Musashi, RM26) and three slices of pork belly (Chashu Men, RM30) if I remember correctly – followed by the type of oil in the ramen broth. The three types of oil offered were Shiro, Kuro and Aka (onion flavoured, special oil combined with fried shallots and garlic oil, home made Musashi chilli oil respectively).

I ordered the Kuro Musashi Ramen – this was the closest I could find to Ippudo’s  version with the black garlic oil, while the boyfriend had the spicy Aka Musashi. Feeling hungry (ok, greedy!), we added a side order of gyoza (RM9) as well.

How to eat Tsukemen

We didn’t have to wait too long before two steaming hot bowls of ramen were set on our table. The serving was HUGE! One slice of pork belly was about the size of my palm, I kid you not. Unfortunately, the noodles were of the thicker variety which was not to my liking, although it was cooked al-dente and remained springy throughout the meal. The ramen was served with bamboo shoots and spring onions which added a nice crunchy texture to each spoonful. However, the pork belly was a let-down – it was sliced too thickly and a tad bit tough, none of the ‘melt-in-your-mouth’ texture that I was expecting and I only managed to finish slightly more than a slice.

Kuro Musashi Ramen (RM26)

The soup, however…oh, the soup was spot on! It was flavorful and tasty and ultimately quite decadent as you can taste the slight oiliness as you slurp it up (just tell yourself it’s full of collagen-goodness and you’ll be fine). I definitely could not finish the ramen and the pork belly slice, but I was quite happily enjoying spoonful after spoonful of hot soup (by the way, ice cold green tea tastes divine at the end of the meal, cutting thru the richness and slight saltiness of the broth).

Aka Musashi Ramen (RM26)

The gyoza was rather tasty as well, with a generous filling and crispy skin on the outside, although some parts were slightly charred.

Gyoza (RM9)

All in all, fans of thicker noodles would probably enjoy Menya Musashi’s ramen, however I doubt I will return for a second visit as I prefer the thinner variety and I wasn’t impressed with the pork belly slices – after all, one cannot survive on ramen broth by itself! The bill for two bowls of ramen, a plate of gyoza and two cups of cold green tea came up to RM75 which I found somewhat pricey as well.

There seems to be an expansion of ramen restaurants around PJ and KL (Yamagoya at Publika, Menya Musashi and Gantetsu at Eat Paradise @ Isetan, Santouka at Pavilion)…would it be too much to hope that Ippudo will be opening here soon as well? Am keeping my fingers crossed!

you will know when it’s right.

17 May 2012 § Leave a comment

I’ve just finished reading a lovely novel, Delicacy (by David Foenkinos), and just as how bits and pieces of good books stay in your mind long after you’ve turned the final page and placed the book back on the shelf, this quote by a Polish philosopher remained ingrained in mine:

“There are incredible people

Whom we meet at the wrong moment.

And there are people who are incredible

Because we meet them at the right moment.”

The right moment doesn’t come along as often as we’d like it to, but perhaps that’s why it’s pure magic when it does. And the scarcity of catching or even being aware of that fleeting moment should make us all the more appreciative of the times when we do encounter a brush with kismet.

After all, it’s not often when someone ordinary in your life today becomes someone extraordinary tomorrow.

happy bellies full tummies.

16 May 2012 § Leave a comment

Here’s a very quick, somewhat photo heavy rundown of  some of the cafés and restaurants we visited whilst in Singapore:

Ippudo @ Mandarin Gallery

Ippudo’s magic hour has got to be 4pm – you can stroll right in and there’s no need to jostle for elbow space. Lovely!

Shiromaru Chashu, Ippudo’s original tonkotsu broth – boiled for hours with pork bones, and served with generous portion of pork belly. The soup is light and slightly creamy, and the ramen noodles were cooked just the way I like it (we requested for ‘medium) – slightly springy with a nice bite to it.

Akamaru Shinaji, the heartier and heavier version which is served with blended miso paste and fragrant black garlic oil (just typing this out makes my tummy growl in hunger!). Despite my preference towards soups that are ‘qīng’ (light), I actually prefer this to the Shiromaru as the miso paste and garlic oil gave it a more unique and robust flavor.

Pork bun (basically pork belly sandwiched in between a steamed bun). Order one per person – you really wouldn’t want to share this!

Wild Honey @ Mandarin Gallery

My staple, must-visit breakfast café whenever I’m in Singapore. I ordered the Belgian breakfast set during our first visit (yes, we went twice!) and it was just as good as I’d remembered – fluffy soft waffles with generous lashings of mascarpone, fresh mango and toasted coconut flakes. I happily scoffed it down before realizing I didn’t take a photo!

Norwegian breakfast set. The boy declared it similar to the European breakfast with exception that it’s wrapped with salmon instead of prosciutto. And there are asparagus. And avocado. Same same but different, eh?

European breakfast set. Sadly, it’s not as tasty as it used to be…perhaps it’s time to try something new the next time we go!

Chatterbox @ Mandarin Orchard

I will never again pay SGD25++ for chicken rice! It. Just. Isn’t. Worth. It. No doubt the serving of chicken breast was generous (but then again, anything less than a C-cup-worth portion of meat would be highway robbery at SGD25++!) and the minced ginger sauce that was served as a side condiment was extremely nice, but paying RM60+ for chicken rice was definitely a moment of madness that shall never ever be repeated.

Most. Expensive. Chicken. Rice. Ever.

Antoinette @ Mandarin Gallery

I have a funny story to share about our visit to Antoinette. We arrived at 9.00pm for some post-dinner dessert, thinking that the cafe would be empty on a Thursday night. Upon our arrival, we were told that the waiting time for a table was 30 minutes. While contemplating if I was desperate enough for dessert to wait, the waiter decided to helpfully tell us that the last order is at 9pm. Gee…helpful info, terrible sequencing. /rolls eyes. A guy waiting outside overheard the conversation and he couldn’t help but to quip to the waiter, “You’re just trying to make life difficult for your customers, aren’t you?”

The Antoinette – a chocolate cake infused with earl grey tea. Wasn’t too impressed with it, in fact I found it a tad bit too sweet, but perhaps that’s just me (I tend to favor slightly bittersweet chocolate). The interesting bit about the cake was the cherry right on top, or what I initially thought was a cherry! It was in fact a round ‘skin’ that had raspberry juice inside which kinda freaked me out – the skin had a rubbery texture that felt and looked like something that would never biodegrade! Needless to say, I left it out of my tummy and in the box.

Note: Some websites have mentioned that the last order at Antoinette’s is actually 9.30pm, not 9pm as I was told by the waiter.

Jones The Grocer @ Dempsey Hill

Sadly, The White Rabbit had already closed when we arrived, so we had to settle for Jones The Grocer instead. And I really mean ‘settle’. The boy ordered the beefburger while I had the club sandwich, and both were extremely mediocre. The sandwich came with a measly piece of chicken and was pretty much dry and tasteless. Service was rather haphazard as well, with our bill and credit card left on the counter for quite a while as we tried to signal a waiter to take it to the register.

The beefburger

Club sandwich

All in all, some hits and misses this time around with old staples proving to be the most reliable in taste!

a day out: universal studios singapore.

10 May 2012 § 1 Comment

I love how Singapore is practically a hop, skip and a jump away – a three hour drive and there we are, in a country that’s almost always immaculately clean and safe (with impeccably spotless washrooms that’s always stocked with toilet paper, heh!).

Well, the boyfriend and I made a short trip to Singapore over the past weekend to utilize the tickets that we’d previously purchased for Universal Studios (our plans in December were thwarted by the horribly rainy weather). The past week had seen a series of hot, sweltering days so I was quite disappointed when I peeked out of the windows of Mandarin Orchard early Friday morning to see overcast skies instead – “Not again??“, I thought. Luckily for us, the weather held out, and with exception for a short drizzle at 11am, the sun came out to party for the rest of the day!

Posing alongside a vintage car

This is the first time I’ve visited a theme park in a hot and humid climate, and to be perfectly honest, it’s an experience I’m not too keen to repeat despite repeatedly wishing for sunny weather prior to our visit. The short mid-morning drizzle only served to increase the humidity as the rain evaporated off the pavement, and by the end of the day, I felt sticky and grimy all over, which was altogether a thoroughly unpleasant feeling. The day was punctuated with short visits to souvenir shops, eateries and shaded areas for some relief from the scorching sun, and if time permitted, I would’ve gladly spent more time in the air-conditioned washrooms!

The Rockafella Boys performing at the Big Apple

At 49 acres, Singapore’s Universal Studio is apparently the smallest amongst all the Universal theme parks around the world, and yet it was already 6pm by the time we covered the entire park (including meals), even with the Express Pass! Thinking back, I really wonder what we did with our time there as we only went on the main rides, didn’t watch all the shows and performances, and hardly spent any time taking photos with the gaily dressed characters that were wandering around the park…I guess it boils down to poor time management, perhaps?

Nevertheless, we did manage to ride the main attractions of the park, namely the two dueling Battlestar Galactica roller coaster tracks, Revenge of the Mummy as well as the much-talked-about Transformers: The Ride and the Jurassic Park Rapids Adventure, so all’s good!

Star attraction: Battlestar Galactica – Human (Red) vs. Cylon (Blue)

I wouldn’t call myself an adrenalin junkie, but I do love a good roller-coaster ride despite my last minute misgivings when I’m at the front of the line, and Battlestar Galactica and Revenge of the Mummy definitely does not disappoint. Between the three rides, I would have to say I enjoyed the Cylon track the most…the inverted roller coaster meant that our feet dangled dangerously free while our world was turned topsy-turvy by a series of cockscrews, loops, a cobra and zero-g roll as we screamed at the top of our lungs at near misses while we ‘dueled’ with the Humans. Not forgetting that drop into a pit filled with artificial mist…what a rush!! The Human track did pale slightly in comparison after the Cylon track (plus point: it was drizzling slightly when we were on the Cylon, which only served to add more excitement to the ride), though the stomach-churning drop on the Human track definitely brought back good memories of riding the Pepsi Max @ Blackpool – at that time, it was the tallest roller-coaster in UK with a heart-stopping drop of 62m (I still remember muttering ‘oh-my-god-oh-my-god’ non-stop as the carriage click-clacked its way up the 65m hill)!

The Revenge of the Mummy is an enclosed ride, and most of the ride sequence takes place in pitch-black darkness which only heightens the excitement. There is something dangerously exciting about not knowing whether you’ll be plunged downwards or flung side-to-side in the yawning black hole ahead!

As for the other two rides, I personally felt that Transformers: The Ride did not live up to the hype. It was fun, but nowhere near as exciting as I thought it would be. I didn’t quite enjoy the Rapids Adventure either – being turned round-and-round was too dizzying for me and the drop at the end was not as high as I’d expected it to be (though my friends who got thoroughly soaked would probably beg to differ, heh!).

Live performance at Mel’s Drive-In

We ended the day with a stroll along the Sentosa Boardwalk which connects Sentosa Island to Vivocity, whilst drinking in the lovely sight of the sun setting in the distance. After a quick dinner at Oriole Cafe right outside Somerset313 and a hot shower, it was truly a big relief to crawl into bed to rest our aching feet and tired calves!

Gorgeous sunset along Sentosa Boardwalk

Here are some of the highlights and tips I can share about our visit to Universal Studios Singapore:

  • There is a complimentary shuttle bus for foreign tourists from certain hotels to USS (there are two routes: Orchard and Bencoolen/Marina); the earliest pickup for the Orchard Road route is from Concorde Hotel at 9am and you will arrive at USS at 9.55am. You will need to show the bus driver your passport and Singapore Embarkation card before you’re allowed to board the bus.
  • Try to arrive at 10am when the park opens. We scheduled our visit on a Friday to avoid the crowds, but there were already a fair number of visitors there by the time we arrived. The morning sun from 10am till noon is still pretty bearable, so you have a good 2 hours to complete the major outdoor rides. 1pm – 3pm was just sweltering hot!
  • Buy the Express Pass (SGD30)! Although most of the rides had a short queue of about 15 mins with exception of the Canopy Flyer at The Lost World which had a whopping 50 mins queue (we were quite mystified by that crazy queue!), it was wonderful to be able to walk right up to the turnstile whilst bypassing the long(ish) line of people. In addition, we were given priority when entering the shows and we even got front row seats for most of the rides (Human vs. Cylon, Revenge of The Mummy).
  • To be honest, there are only a few rides worth going on for adults, namely:
    • The dueling roller coaster ie. Battlestar Galactica (do go for the Human ride first, then Cylon) @ Sci-Fi City
    • Transformers: The Ride @ Sci-Fi City
    • Revenge of The Mummy @ Ancient Egypt
    • Jurassic Park Rapids Adventure @ The Lost City
  • Shows worth watching:
    • Lights, Camera. Action! @ New York (special effects simulation of a Category 5 hurricane in New York)
    • Waterworld @ The Lost City (be prepared to get wet if you’re sitting in the ‘soaking zone’). The queue is kinda crazy for this show if you don’t have an express pass, so go early and be prepared to wait!

Battle scene @ Waterworld

  • Do utilize the computer operated, keyless lockers that are free-of-charge for the first 30-45 mins. The lockers are conveniently located near the Battlestar Galactica rides, Revenge of the Mummy and the Rapids Adventure as you are not allowed to bring loose items with you on the ride.
  • Buy the poncho when you go on the Rapids Adventure unless you don’t mind a soaking (it’s random – the driest seat from the previous round does not necessarily guarantee you’ll emerge nice and dry!). For those who do end up getting soaked, there are two drying pods at the exit of the ride, however, it’s not free of charge.

More details:

Ticket prices from Resort World’s website (tickets can be purchased online, just print out a copy when you go):

Ticket Type
Adult
(Ages 13 to 64)
Child
(Ages 4 to 12)
Senior
(Age 65 and above)
One Day Non-Peak Pass1
68
50
32
One Day Peak Pass1
74
54
36
Two Day Pass1
118
88
58
Annual Pass-
Fun Pass2
338
258
208
Annual Pass-
Action Pass
488 408 358
Annual Pass-
Superstar Pass
638
558
508

Express passes are highly recommended, especially if you’re going on a weekend or public holiday – don’t say I didn’t warn you! Each express pass costs SGD30 (off-peak) / SGD50 (peak).

Have fun!

the dash – how will you spend yours?

1 May 2012 § Leave a comment

Sharing a lovely poem by Linda Ellis which I came across on Meena‘s FB timeline a few days ago.

The Dash
by Linda Ellis

I read of a man who stood to speak
at the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on her tombstone
from the beginning…to the end.

He noted that first came the date of her birth
and spoke of the following date with tears,
but he said what mattered most of all
was the dash between those years.

For that dash represents all the time
that she spent alive on earth
and now only those who loved her
know what that little line is worth.

For it matter not, how much we own,
the cars…the house…the cash.
What matters is how we live and love
and how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard;
are there things you’d like to change?
For you never know how much time is left
that can still be rearranged.

If we could just slow down enough
to consider what’s true and real
and always try to understand
the way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger
and show appreciation more
and love the people in our lives
like we’ve never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect
and more often wear a smile…
remembering that this special dash
might only last a little while.

So when your eulogy is being read
with your life’s actions to rehash,
would you be proud of the things they say
about how you spent your dash?

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