Tag Archives: Singapore

masala dosa

My introduction to a masala dosa was in a Brahman restaurant near the Ramanthaswamy Temple in Rameswaram. If I timed it right, a boy in a white sarong wearing a Brahmin string over his shoulder whisked past swinging an urn between tables. Perfumed incense filled the air hovering like mist above the hungry crowd.

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my first encounter with india

My Air India flight arrived from Singapore at something like two in the morning. Like a lost lamb, I edged my way through the chaos of coolies and taxi drivers badgering for business. After I slunk into the back of a wonky taxi seat, the driver whizzed through the darkened Chennai streets (Madras back then). 

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singapore’s orchard road

I hadn’t visited this area in decades, but as I walked along its busy street I realized why. The famous road was lined with highend brand name stores and other shops that could be found in any other part of the world. Even Tangs, one of Singapore’s first department stores with a hint of Chinese architecture on the outside, looked like every other department store once I stepped inside.

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Singapore’s emerald hill road

Just off Orchard Road was a quiet street where tall trees shaded part of the road and old style houses lined both sides. This was one of Singapore’s most beautiful areas where I could gain a glimpse of its past.

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a taste bud for singapore

At the end of 2018 I entered Singapore for the eighth time. One of the reasons I’d been back so many times was food. My mouth had watered at the thought of venturing into Komala Vilas again. I ate breakfast there every morning, but there was more to taste than just South Indian vegetarian food.

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Bukit Batok nature park

Set close to the centre of Singapore Island, I hiked towards an abandoned quarry site in Bukit Batok Nature Park. Not only the sound of birds hovered in the air, but a distant wooden flute breezed a relaxing melody through the park that was established in 1988. When I reached the old quarry, now filled with water, a man faced the lake, his flute notes echoing off the cliff face opposite. His melodies rang through most of the park which was in the process of eliminating all plants that weren’t native to Singapore so that it would truly be a nature park.

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changi parks

Returning on the bumboat from Pulau Ubin Island, Changi Village and the nearby parks beckoned. At the ferry terminal I headed to Changi Point Coastal Walk first. A trail wrapped its way over the shoreline where I was one of only a handful of other hikers. 

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Pulau ubin’s sensory trail

The afternoon reached thirty degrees. The humidity was 80%. I walked the three plus kilometres back to the Main Village for an oyster omelette and a much needed coconut water. With shaded paths and a slight breeze, the island may have been a degree cooler than mainland Singapore, but it was still steamy.

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Pulau ubin island’s chek jawa wetlands’ mangrove boardwalk

From the lushness of the sea grass around the mangrove roots, the walk changed into a quagmire of mud and what appeared to be anthills. I soon discovered that these muddy mounds which could sometimes be as high as three metres, were the work of mud lobsters that burrowed through the slush to extract rich organic matter. They acted like earthworms by mixing up and aerating the soil. Additionally, the mounds provided habitats for other animals such as crabs, spiders and snakes. 

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pulau ubin’s chek jawa wetlands

The few tourists on the island rented bikes. But when I biked around Taiwan’s Taitung, I had to watch the road, and missed some of the sights. So I hiked to Chex Jawa Wetlands’ boardwalk, and was rewarded with spotting butterflies, but not so lucky to discover a wild boar glaring at me through the forest.

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