Thursday, February 28, 2008

Stuck At The Budget Terminal

I'm blogging off a free Internet terminal at Singapore's budget terminal.
My Tiger Airways flight, which was to have taken off at 6.15 pm was initially delayed till 9.15 pm. At 6.15 pm another announcement is made, flight 108 has been further delayed till 10.30 pm. So I have been wandering the terminal, which is so cold that I had to resort to buying a long sleeved t-shirt to keep warm.
I have also bought two book at the book shop and have already finished one. I read "the diving bell and the butterfly" by Jean-Dominique Bauby cover-to-cover as it is that captivating. The book is a memoir written by Bauby who suffered a massive stroke that left him completely paralyzed and in a locked-in state. It is a much needed insight into the mind of a person who is in a locked-in state.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Butterflies Love The Heat

The weather had not been very conducive to birds and they seem to have gone deeper into the forest. Being an opportunist when it comes to my photo subjects, I've switched to more abundant creatures keeps me entertained.
The above butterfly is a striped blue crow. I caught a glimpse of the butterfly and was especially captivated by its brilliant blue fore wings. I followed it to a bush where is stayed still for a relatively long periods to feed.The next butterfly is a branded imperial, it is a small butterfly that flies around in the forest. It's hard to photograph as it seldom stays still for too long and one has to be fast to capture an image.I'm still trying to get a better image of this butterfly.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

George vs Tommy

I spotted this little fella in the curry leave tree. It is a resident on this tree and I have seen him a couple of time sitting on top of the tree from my bathroom window. Plain ole' George here is a changeable lizard and is a pretty common reptile that can be seen in gardens.Now plain ole' George, he is so successful in breeding that he pushed handsome Tommy, the green crested lizard out our gardens. To see handsome Tommy, you'll have to head into the nature reserve these days. Even then you have to be pretty lucky to catch sight of Tommy.
So folks which would you prefer plain ole' George or handsome Tommy?

Monday, February 25, 2008

A Little Red Toad

I went amphibian hunting during the rainy weather and learnt how to locate the four-ridged toad among the leaf litter.This toad reminds me of the lucky toad that Chinese people have for luck. When spotted it sit very still on the leaf litter and hopes not to be noticed.

A Hearty Bowl Of Ramen

It's nice to have a back log of material to posts especially when I've been busy with work and the weather is blah. I went to Ramen Santouka some time back to try a different a ramen. I had shio ramen with char siew. Shio ramen is ramen seasoned by salt.As you would have notice the ramen broth is milky white. Santauka prides itself for its pork bones broth. According to the literature at the restaurant, to make tonkatsu (pork) bones into mild, white colored broth, the pork bones are first simmered on their own before vegetables, dried fish and stock from dried kelp are added. In addition, the broth is never allowed to boil, this is to allow people of all ages to enjoy the broth with burning their tongues.
My bowl was hearty but I found it a challenge to finish all the char siew. Don't get me wrong, the ramen was very good.Personally, I still prefer the lighter chicken broth at Marutama but I do want to try other items on the menu when Santouka is fully operational.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Hair Style Of A Caterpillar

The weather has been extremely dry and everything is turning brown in the heat. As a result, I am trying to keep hungry bugs away from my healthy plants. Not only are mealy bugs running amok but the moths too. I keep getting these funky looking caterpillars from an unidentified Tussok moth that love to chomp up my night blooming water lily.
This is the bloom from my plant and I would like to keep the plant healthy as it took me over a year to coax this plant into flowering so I can ill afford to let the caterpillars destroy the plant.This plant is flowering freely and I don't want it to go dormant again. It's flowers also attract little bees and they make good photo subjects too when I have nothing to shoot or when I would like to practice shooting insects hovering.
Despite being a plant terror, I thought it made an excellent subject with its fancy hair do. Nature does have a way in making her creatures look funky and interesting. If you don't look too hard and you can almost see the head of the lion with bushy brows from the lion dance troupe in the caterpillar.

Cranberry Beans

I have seen other people buying these fresh beans in the market before and have always wanted to try them out, out of curiosity. So I asked my friendly vegetable seller what they were but I couldn't catch what he said in Hokkien but I did understand that they were pretty good in soups. I spent some time Googling to find out the English name for the beans and that's how I found what they are known as. You need to shell the pods and extract the beans for use.I am using them to add flavor in soups much like I would use soy beans. As they are fresh and not dried beans, they cook faster. When cooked the beans are very soft and mushy much like baked beans. I shall have to have another chat with my vegetable seller to see if they can be cooked in a different style.

Another Manic Sunday

I'm glad that Sunday is almost over. It has been manic the entire day starting from 7 am. A quick gulp of coffee and off we went to get groceries for the Sunday lunch and for the rest of the week. Next was a drive to the library to drop-off the borrowed books before I get another fine. Last stop was to buy personal toiletries. All that done by 8.45 am.
Then the garden needed tending to. The heat had brought out mealy bugs and the plants needed to be treated with insecticide. Next came massive pruning my heliconias were becoming leafy giants. Then the plants all needed to be fed their fertilizer.
11 am rolled in and it was time to start lunch and also bake the banana chiffon cakes. Lunch was a simple two dish meal Pad Thai noodles and Thai-styled pumpkin soup.I changed the pumpkin soup recipe slightly to brighten up the flavors. I added a bay leaf from my garden and a couple of sweet potatoes. To finish off the soup, instead of coconut milk, I used thicken cream which gave the soup a lighter after note. The soup disappeared very quickly.
Whilst cooking, I had the help prep the ingredients for the banana chiffon. My aunt had given me a huge comb of over riped bananas which needed to be turned into something. My plan was to turn half the comb into two chiffon cakes and the balance will tomorrow's breakfast banana pan cakes.The light as feather cakes are almost all gone save a small box. The family ate some and each had a doggie bag. I also made up a box for a friend.
(Recipe to come later)

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Pho Today

I have been exploring the Telok Ayer Street to Amoy Street area and today I decided to head there again just to have another look see when I met a friend there for lunch. We had a variety of food to pick from but we decided on pho since the two of us had pretty heavy dinners yesterday when we hung out with different friends. Before meeting her, I stopped by Mr Teh Tarik and had a Horlicks Dinosaur. The dinosaur just means the Horlicks drink gets topped off with additional Horlicks which is not mixed. I also like Milo Dinosaur but I prefer to make it at home for an extra chocolaty kick.It hit the spot being nice and cold on a muggy day but it also took the edge off my appetite. We walked back to Amoy Street as I had parked my car there and I needed an extra coupon on the car. After dumping our purchases in the car, we headed for Pho99, which I had found on my previous visit. The place was small. As it was a Saturday in the heart of the business district, the joint was empty. We literally had the entire place to ourselves. We ordered rice paper rolls and pho which was just enough for us.The prawns in the rice paper rolls were a tad over cooked otherwise it was good with the tangy sauce. Next came the pho.I liked the broth as it was fragrant and yet easy on the palate. The beef was done the way I like and it was thinly sliced. Despite being just peckish, I enjoyed the good bowl of pho.

Friday, February 22, 2008


I had several opportunities to photograph various butterflies today and I must say it was a great way to learn patience waiting for the subject to settle down. Unfortunately, I not too good with insects so if someone can help me name them it will be great.
I chanced upon four long brand bush brown butterflies feeding on the melastoma fruit and I thought it would make a great shot for communal feeding.
The next is a peacok pansy, I know because a fellow photographer on treknature helped me to identify the butterfly.A pair of chocolate pansies.This lime butterfly was feeding on my orange jasmine plant.This one I photographed at Venus Link is a plain tiger. Singapore is home to five species of butterflies from the sub-family Danainae which have been given the common name "TIGER". The origin of the common name probably referred to the striped wing patterns and, in a number of species, the orange colour of the wings. I've seen another tiger either a blue-glassy tiger or a dark-glassy tiger fleeting around in my backyard.

Hunted Another Bird Down

I am fast becoming a serial stalker, watching and learning the patterns, of the birds I want to photograph. I finally caught up with this little bird that fed on bugs in my neighbor's curry leave and guava trees.
The bird is a tailor bird, which is hard to find and photograph as the bird blends so well among the green leaves and it is constantly on the move.I finally managed to photograph the tailor bird from my bathroom window as while it hunted for bugs on the guava tree. There were a pair feeding but one stayed well hidden amongst the curry leaves. The hot weather has created a great breeding season and many birds are breeding now. I am pretty sure that the pair have a nest in the mango tree together with the scarlet flower pecker couples.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

More From Jai Thai Cafe

This is a prelude to next week-end's trip to Bangkok. I will be joining friends for a foodie tour of their favorite food stalls in Bangkok's Chinatown.
I went back to Jai Thai for more Thai food last week. Since there were three of us having lunch, we decided to try two à la carte dishes.
I gave the beef noodles a try again and liked it this time around. May be, it's the cook who prepares the dish but it was definitely better than the last time with better balance of spices and the beef was tender.
We added a mango salad and a Thai fish cake each to our order. The mango salad had the right piquancy, it was very refreshing. The fish cakes were good too and I could almost hear my helper's voice in my head telling me that we've not made Thai fish cakes in a very long time. I will do so when I have time and I can find a sizeable horse mackeral in the market.

Magic Mushrooms In My Anthurium Pot

I bought this pot of Anthurium for Christmas after being seeing these plants being sold at Chartuchak.I'm happy to report that the plant is thriving and has grown to hide the potting mix and the decorative pot I have it in. Recently, I found these mushrooms sprouting together with a fern and they looked really neat as they peeked out from under the anthurium plant. They looked like fairy toadstools from fairy tales. While they were around, they always attracted attention.Other then photographing them, I left these mushrooms alone to mature.They have since withered and became fertilizer for the anthurium. I hope that they will sprout again once the next wet season rolls in.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Evening Meal Time

I've been trying to catch a glimpse of this bird and photograph it. Mind you, it is not a shy bird and you can find it well hidden in the thick undergrove and typically you'll just catch a fleeting glimpse of the bird before it's gone.
Yesterday evening, while out looking for my pair of looney birds (magpie robins) that sent me on a wild goose chase the evening before, I was presented a different opportunity instead.
The looney birds weren't around so I decided to take a walk on the edge of the reserve. I spotted movement in the undergrove and decided to investigate. To my delight, I found a pair of Striped Tit Babbler looking for their supper.
Happy to say that the flash worked wonders from the get go and I finally have a good shot of this bird. The icing on the cake was photographing it with its meal between its beak.

Fishing Where He Is Not Suppose To

Despite signs put up at the reservoir/nature reserve, there were five guys fishing outside of the designated fishing spot at the reservoir yesterday evening. The boldest were two ganster looking guys who had taken up positions close to the boardwalk. As there were too many people around, they decided to move deeper into the reservoir to avoid detection.
I spotted one of them well hidden away among the bushes near the bamboo walk fishing. He was at the same location where the monkeys I was photographing were, so I managed to watch the guy and his antics too. He was fishing and fiddling with his mobile too. My guess is with his pal. I bumped into the other guy heading in the direction of his pal as I was heading out. He was carrying a rod and two very well stuff plastics bags.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Monkey Portraits

I spent quite a bit of time with this troupe of long-tailed macaques observing them and photographing them in the evening. These are some of the portraits of the macaques as they went about their business.
A male monkey sitting on a fallen tree trunk eating some leaves.
A mother with a suckling baby.A baby sucking its thumb.A child at play.

Starling Falls Prey To A Macaque

I came upon this macaque with a dead starling in its hand. I've watched documentaries of chimps eating chimps and I also know that monkeys do include meat in their diet. However, it was an interesting scene to witness first hand and I had to stay to catch it all.
The monkey sat on a palm frond plucking off the feathers of the dead starling, sending feathers flying everywhere. After plucking off the feathers around the belly area, it proceeded to rip the bird open disemboweling it. He then tossed most of the bird to the ground. Initially, I thought it was sharing its spoils but the other monkeys that were below just ignored the raw pieces of meat that were on the ground.It then takes what is left of the bird mainly the spine with head still intact and rib cage, and samples it. After the initial bite, it tossed the piece away too.

A Pigeon And A Dove

Here's two other birds that have been living in the neighborhood. The pink necked pigeon is one of a pair that have built their nest outside my office window.
Papa here is very cautious when he approaches his nest but it wasn't hard to find it as he followed a strict pattern whenever he approached the tree.
In the shot above, he is sitting outside his nest.
This peaceful dove sat on my neighbor's roof this morning calling away till a mynah chased if off. I stood at my window to take this shot. I first spotted this bird at sungei buloh, one sat right in front of me and it took me several minutes of searching before I finally pick it out among the branches.

Winning A Bird's Trust

There is a pair of pacific swallows that have started to hunt in front of my house. Since the day an other photographer pointed out the pacific swallow at lower pierce. I realized that they were right around me all this time.
It took sometime to win the trust of these birds and to get close enough to photograph them. The series of shots here are some of the photos I took of one of the two swallows. I shoot without a flash as I don't want to scare or blind the bird.

One Giant Flower

I took a walk around the neighborhood, something I had not done in months since I switched my route. To my surprise and delight I found a huge traveller's palm in bloom. This is the first time I've seen a traveller's palm in flower.I had to take the camera along today to record this, I'll update this post again when it is in full bloom.According to my research, the traveller's palm is a species of banana-like plant from Madagascar. It is not a true palm but a member of the bird-of-paradise family. It is called the travellers palm because the stems hold rainwater that can be used as an emergency drinking supply.