Saturday, March 26, 2011

We Heart Sydney

Join this contest to win a Sydney holiday and a Canon Digital Ixus camera! All we need to do is to share what we think is an awesome Sydney experience and we could be one of the lucky winners. Open to Singapore residents. The contest ends 10 Apr 2011.

I was most impressed that one of the recent winners of this contest, Christine, has never visited Sydney. Through good research and a dream to visit Sydney, she submitted her entries, and Congratulations, she won herself a pair of flight tickets to Sydney on Singapore Airlines and a Canon Digital IXUS 1000HS!

After my two memorable visits to Sydney in the year 2008 and 2010, I am open and receptive to visit Sydney yet again, preferably this autumn in Sydney. If you have enjoyed any of my blog-entries on my Sydney trips, could I please ask for your generous vote to support me in this contest: We Heart Sydney?

What you would need to do is to have a Facebook account, visit and "like" the WeHeartSydney page and click on the "thumbs-up" icon on any of my entries to this contest, e.g. Be inspired, loving the art and culture in Sydney!. And you may win yourself a bottle of Hunter Valley wine for voting. Good luck!

Your support will be greatly appreciated as I am looking forward to share my sketches from yet another sketching spree at Sydney with you.

Here are some of my ideas of other awesome Sydney experiences:

Wonderful Watsons Bay.
"Take a ferry from Circular Quay to Watsons Bay. Then climb up to the top of the Sydney Harbour Nature Park, Gap Bluff, to be treated to an awesome view. Crashing ways that release the healing negative ions. Nature has its way to bestow us with its beautiful gifts of art."

Marvelling at whales and dolphins
"Somewhere out there at the beautiful Port Stephens, which lies about five hours from Sydney city, is the unique encounter with fellow mammals of the open sea. A city dweller's dream of the sighting humpback whales and bottlenose dolphins now comes true easily. This makes Sydney so Sydney!"

On the top of the Observatory Hill!
"Sydney is about feeling at the top of the world! On the top of the Observatory Hill, surrender to the awesome sights of the Sydney cityscape, the harbour, the Harbour Bridge, the Sydney Opera House, the Anzac Bridge and the Observatory. Feel as if everything is within your reach. Everything!"

Sculpture by the Sea.
"Water breaks over the rocks of Bondi. The wind blows with might. On the rocky and sandy beaches of Bondi, one is treated to beautiful sculptures by the sea. See the coastal area of Bondi being transformed to an artistic space in this annual event. Sydney equals sculptures, sea and a creative story."

The Rocks that rock.
"My words of gratitude to the courageous and visionary people who have fought for the preservation of The Rocks. The precious part of Sydney's and Australia's heritage now stands for generations to see. Marvel at the sandstone structures, Cadman's Cottage and Sydney's history. Sydney rocks!"

Milsons Point: The tranquil point to marvel at the Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House
"Sydney is about tranquility. I was introduced to Milsons Point which I have no prior knowledge of. One can have a lovely view of both the Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House at peaceful Milsons Point. To conclude the tranquil day with some fun, one could head to the nearby Luna Park!"

The freshest calamari rings at the Sydney Fish Market
"When it comes to food, Sydney stands for quality and freshness. Head down to Sydney Fish Market and be dazzled by the treat to fresh seafood. Let the wonderful folks at the Fish Market whet your appetite with their sincere cooking. The calamari rings here are the freshest I have tasted in my life!" 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A visit to the ArtScience Museum: Traveling the Silk Road

Life often present moments that we can be grateful for. Late last month, I was planning to visit the ArtScience Museum on 20 Mar 2011 because I had wanted to see the Traveling the Silk Road: Ancient Pathway to the Modern World exhibition before it concludes on 27 Mar 2011 in Singapore.

By a sheer moment of goodwill, a few days before my planned visit to the ArtScience Museum, I received an invitation for a complimentary visit to the ArtScience Museum. The only request was to write about my experience, which I would have anyway gladly done so.

What makes this exhibition on the Silk Road worth a consideration? What could have made the Silk Road possibly one of the most treasured networks in history? I hope my post, One of the most treasured networks: The Silk Road could shed some light.

Many thanks to Shaun from the National Heritage Board and the ArtScience Museum  for the invitation. Many thanks to our wonderful host in Wendy from the ArtScience Museum too. It was a memorable experience.

Monday, March 21, 2011

A glimpse of one of Singapore's few surviving dragon kilns

Image credit: Carolyn Lim

Did you know that somewhere in this urban island, lie one of the last few surviving dragon kilns in Singapore? Where is this dragon kiln? Would this rare surviving dragon kiln survive in a rapidly changing world where at times heritage from the past disappear in the name of progress?

Find out more by reading my post titled "A visit to the Thow Kwang Dragon Kiln Firing event 2011".

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Read: Brida

Title: Brida
Author: Paulo Coelho
Publisher: Harper Collins Publisher, 2008

The first book by Paulo Coelho that I have read was "The Alchemist". Since then, I have read a few other of his books and find his writing pretty deep and thoughtful provoking.

According to the condensed summary found on the backcover of the book, Brida is "the story of Brida, a beautiful young Irish girl, and her quest for knowledge. On her journey, she meets a wise man who teaches her about overcoming her fears, and a woman who teaches her how to dance to the hidden music of the world. They see in her a gift, but must het her make her own voyage of discovery."

I find Brida a good read. I have enjoyed walking Brida's journey with her as a reader of the book. In many aspects, as a reader, reading the book was about learning to be like Brida, to learn to take risks and to risk failure.

Some of the passages in the book speak about the processes of making decisions and those of learning to muster the courage to make decisions. I quite appreciate the timely reminder by this short story between the protaganist and her father somewhere back in time. It goes like this, Brida's father led her to a large, antique grandfather clock which had stopped for years because it could no longer be repaired, and said "Nothing in the world is ever completely wrong, even a stopped clock is right twice a day."

This is one of those books that I had purchased instead of borrowing a copy from the library. It's quite a page-turner when I started reading it. Now I have to figure out how to find a space for it on the book shelves.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Delicious Japanese Vegetarian delights in Singapore

Everything's vegetarian.

In the efforts to cut down on red meat for health reasons, and after learning that it is more environmentally friendly to go on a vegetarian diet as compared to eating meat, I have been taking more vegetables and reducing on meat intake. This got me to notice that there are comparatively limited selections of interesting treats for the vegetarians in Singapore.

I like the presentation of this hot pot!

Anyway, during one of my walks about Singapore, I came across a Japanese Vegetarian restaurant, named "Zen Japanese Vegetarian Restaurant" in Middle Road. I went there on two separate occasions and found it quite a worthwhile place for folks who would like a treat to thoughtfully prepared Japanese Vegetarian food in Singapore. Yes, everything that is served in this restaurant is vegetarian.

The green tea soba was said to be one of the signature dishes. 
It tasted good even though I personally do not like noodles that are served cold.

The service there is sincere and thoughtful. During one of my visits, I was there to celebrate a friend's birthday with a few other friends, and the waitresses at the restaurant gladly helped us put on candles onto the egg-less cake that we had brought along. They even lent us a lighter to light the candles. The staff were also very prompt to refill our tea pots with water when needed. I appreciate the dignified simplicity in the ambience of the restaurant too.

 If I've got it right, this was the skewer set.
Wonderfully fried mushrooms, egg-plant, lady's fingers, and green chilli. 
I had wanted to order the grilled skewer yet this was a great choice too.
This was complimented with nice-tasting BBQ sauce. 
It's worth a try for folks who are good with deep fried food.

Overall, during my two recent visits to the Zen Japanese Vegetarian Restaurant, I have had a wonderful time catching up with great company and enjoying a healthy and delicious treat to Japanese vegetarian food. The food there looks beautiful too. The average cost per person for a reasonable meal here is about $10 - $20.

The buck wheat noodles. This was also said to be one of the signature dishes. 
I prefer this to the green tea soba. It's purely because I love the taste of buck wheat.

The sashimi set. This scores well for presentation. 
I have to remind myself that everything is vegetarian and not expect this dish to taste like the real sashimi set. 
Great effort for making this beautiful looking sashimi set. 
The serving of wasabi was generous.
The photo is courtesy of Gama W.L..

The avocado (and salmon) maki and the unagi maki stole the show!
I strongly recommend these two dishes for anyone who wants to eat sushi. 
The vegetarian unagi has a texture so close to the real thing and a good taste too. The avocado tasted brilliantly delightful too. Each of these two maki is $12 per set. The photo is courtesy of Gama W.L..

Photo courtesy of Gama W.L..

According to a review, the signature dishes of Zen Japanese Vegetarian Restaurant are the buck-wheat noodles and the green tea soba. I personally think that the unagi tasted good. One of my friends decided to order black pepper pork. I have tried it and I would say that the texture and taste was so close to the real thing that I might have innocently believed it was real pork if not for the fact that I know that all food that are served in the restaurant are vegetarian. My personal favourites were the unagi maki and the avocado maki. They were just so beautiful to look at and delicious to eat.

I would recommend this place for another who would like a treat to Japanese-style food without any meat. Reservation is recommended if you are going there in large groups and if you are visiting during weekends and the 1st and 15th of the lunar calendar.

Zen Japanese Vegetarian Restaurant

122 Middle Road, Midlink Plaza, #02-02, S(188973)
Tel: 68831586
Businese hours: 11.30 a.m. - 3 p.m. / 5.30 p.m. - 10 p.m.
Nearest MRT station: Bugis

Other reviews by other authors:
Delectable 'unagi' and 'salmon' sushi at Zen Japanese Vegetarian Restaurant (By Shelia Lim)
Review by hungrygowhere.
Zen Japanese Vegetarian Restaurant Singapore (review by All About Veggie).
Brief review by Open Rice Singapore.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sydney 2010

My visit to Sydney in Nov 2010 has left me beautiful memories and meaningful lessons. It was a visit that reminded me of the value of gratitude, courage, patience and kindness. There have been very kind and helpful souls who looked out for me, lent their company and support, provided me with the needed guidance and simply brighten my day with their genuine smiles.

There were times when I was lost, and I was found. More importantly, I am thankful that I have had a safe visit to Sydney.

I had visited some very beautiful places in Sydney, and the most memorable ones would be Watsons Bay, Milsons Point, and the Rocks. My visit to Port Stephens also helped me get closer to dolphins and whales. I had the privilege to also treat myself to an inspiring concert by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.

I am very grateful for these treasured experiences and for my friends who have played host to me when I was in Sydney.

Here is to share these precious memories with you with the following compilation of the links to all my related posts on my visit to Sydney, in the year 2010. May you marvel at how life unfolds, like a miracle.

Adventures in Sydney
13 Nov 2010: Arriving in Sydney
14 Nov 2010: A church service and an interesting lunch pack
14 Nov 2010: Bondi and Sculpture by the Sea
14 Nov 2010: Beautiful Watsons Bay
14 Nov 2010: Dinner in the city
15 Nov 2010: From Sydney to Port Stephens
15 Nov 2010: Nelsons Bay and the whale-watching cruise
Delightful breakfast, everyday!
16 Nov 2010: The spontaneous tourist
16 Nov 2010: Once again, the beautiful Watsons Bay
16 Nov 2010: After Watsons Bay
16 Nov 2010: The trees with purple flowers and the Harbour Bridge cross
16 Nov 2010: The peaceful Milsons Point
17 Nov 2010: Mammals in the Australian Reptile Park?
17 Nov 2010: I'm back in Port Stephens
17 Nov 2010: The Four Wheel Drive Tours
17 Nov 2010: The Evening at Darling Harbour
18 Nov 2010: The refreshing Blue Mountains
18 Nov 2010: Going wild at Featherdale Wildlife Park
18 Nov 2010: Cruise along the Parramatta River
18 Nov 2010: The best meal in Sydney
19 Nov 2010: Finding my way to Playfair Street
19 Nov 2010: The Rocks Walking Tour
19 Nov 2010: The afternoon get-away, and back to Watsons Bay
19 Nov 2010: The Sydney Opera House Essential Tour once more
19 Nov 2010: Back to Milsons Point and the evening stroll
19 Nov 2010: The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra's concert
20 Nov 2010: My friend's kindness to accomodate
20 Nov 2010: Utzon, Sydney Architecture Walks
20 Nov 2010: The Museum of Sydney
20 Nov 2010: The afternoon of choices made and a missed ferry
20 Nov 2010: The evening at Observatory Park
20 Nov 2010: Milsons Point and the ferry rides at night
21 Nov 2010: The Monorail and the Light Rail
21 Nov 2010: Sydney Fish Market adventures
21 Nov 2010: Darling Harbour and the rest of the day
The mystery of the name of the trees with purple flowers
Sketching and marvelling at Nature's gifts

Saturday, March 05, 2011

NUSSO presents Voyage to the Orient

It is my pleasure to invite you to the NUS Symphony Orchestra's concert, Voyage to the Orient, part of NUS Arts Festival 2011, on 13 March 2011, Sunday, 8 p.m. at the University Cultural Centre Hall, NUS.

Under the baton of Maestro Lim Soon Lee, the NUS Symphony Orchestra will be joined by award-winning UK-based Australian piano virtuoso Geoffrey Saba with a programme featuring the Asian premiere of Peter Sculthorpe's Piano Concerto and the world premiere of Raintree For Orchestra, composed by Temasek Junior College Music Elective Programme and YST Conservatory of Music alumnus, Chen Zhangyi.

The concert will round off with Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade. This symphonic suite is based on stories from The Thousand and One Nights, which is more commonly known in English as the Arabian Nights.

There will also be a pre-concert and post-concert exhibition on Orientalism and the arts, which will explore the theme of our concert programme in greater detail, and will include exhibits on Arabian Nights and Orientalist art. There will be a live gamelan demonstration from 7.30 - 8.00 p.m. and during the intermission.

Tickets are priced at $16 and $19 (not inclusive of booking fee) and may be purchased from SISTIC. There are 15% discount for NUS students and 20% discount on group bookings (more than 20 tickets).

For further enquiries, please do not hesitate to contact or visit the event page at

Thank you very much for your support. Yours truly will be performing and I look forward to have the opportunity to play for you as part of the orchestra!

I would appreciate it if you could please also help to spread the word around for this concert. Thank you.

Here's to end this post with a trailer: