29 June 2012

The Terminal Cast Away

In case anyone didn't catch the title of this entry, it is a mash up of two movies with a common theme.

My friends are all familiar with Ahtiong73's #howtoresignliddat. It's a series of pictures via Plurk and Twitter depicting solo travels to all the places all over the world* but to me it tells a story about solitude.

* For some strange reason, a search on Plurk yielded nothing and only 1 tweet on Twitter. Lousy search engines. Bah.

That's me right now except that it is over a much extended period of time.

The irony in my case is that I am all alone in one of the most populous cities in the world.

I wonder how many people is able to to live my Robinson Crusoe lifestyle?

It is hard. I can tell you that but I gets easier with every new day.

Time for kismet to help me find new friends out there. Non-work related ones, of course.

Image Credit: Google+ - Jeffrey Tan

- Voxeros

28 June 2012

USB Table Fan

Granted we have entered the summer months but the heatwave is not expected to hit the Capital until next month.

We are in the region of 20 to 28 degrees Celsius right now, peppered with the occasional shower here and there.

So the climate in the office now is not warm albeit very stuffy.

It is one of those awkward situations where turning on the air-conditioner is a tad overkill but yet you can't really function in a room of still air.

A friend of mine gave me this freebie USB table fan a while ago. This is the perfect time to put it to use.

Although it is a tiny fan but having it blow right at you makes working in the office alright again.

- Voxeros

27 June 2012

Muslim Restaurant In The Capital

It's the end of another day and my foodie colleague decided that we take a 2km walk from the office to this little Muslim restaurant.

We had to deliberately set off after 8pm to avoid the dinner crowd as this restaurant is very popular.

Here's the strange thing. This Muslim restaurant serves alcohol and I have picture to prove it. (See right).

Apparently, Muslim restaurants in the Capital are allowed to serve alcohol and so I assume Muslims here can drink alcohol.

(RN1209, are you reading this??)

I was glad to have visited this restaurant as the food was very yummy.

That's a plate of lamb murtabak, on the right, and unlike our Singapore version where pieces of lamb are sprinkled across the dough, this version is an entire layer of minced lamb spread right to the edges ala filling in a lasagna.

We ordered a few dishes but I took pictures of two other that I feel worth honourable mention.

The first is sliced tomato and white sugar.

A very weird dish.

The taste was so-so and it was unfortunate that I wasn't able to get the crunchy texture from the sugar ala Sugar Butter Toast as they were all dissolved by the time we can even get the chopsticks near it.

Well, I ordered it as the dinner was rather heavy on meat and I thought I'd order some vegetables to balance the meal.

I also ordered a cold tofu dish but that was just very ordinary that I felt no need to show a picture here.

It's your normal cold tofu that instead of soy sauce to taste, they added their own white vinegar recipe and spring onions.

The above was the highlight of the evening. Hotplate Lamb.

Very well marinated, tasty and very generous with the spring onions and coriander leaves.

We also asked for raw garlic to munch in between morsels of this awesome dish.

The best part?

It goes very well with beer.

Beer was RMB 6.00 (SGD 1.20) per 600ml bottle. Dirt cheap. One thing is for sure, these are not fake beers as it would have cost more to counterfeit. Feel safe and drink away!

Speaking of drinking away, the table next to us got drunk and kicked up a ruckus. Beer bottles were smashed and an unfortunate fragment of beer bottle glass flew in our direction catching my manager's leg.

Blood. Ouch. But nothing a plaster cannot fix as we continued to eat ignoring the drunken 4.

It was a very eventful evening as the whole restaurant then blacked-out shortly after and I had to settle the bill with the help of the illuminated display panel of the waitress' mobile phone.

We were welcomed by thunder, lightning and rain as we stepped out of the restaurant, into the darkness of a cool breezy night.

- Voxeros

26 June 2012

Street Fare

This picture is taken outside my office where the few of us decided to head out and grab dinner.

All you need to do is just walk up to the boss and tell him how many people having dinner and he will go round the back with tiny foldable table and short stools (see folks in the background).

Voila! Table for 3! Best part is you get to choose where you want to sit as long as it is not in the middle of the street. Haha.

Menu is relatively simple, straight from the charcoal grill. I opted for the safe options like chicken wing, lamb kebab, lamb tendon AND stop short of lamb testicles aka prairie oysters.

Beer is drunk straight from the bottle as we leave them on the floor next to our stools between quaffs.

Weather is a breezy 25 degree Celsius. Perfect weather for al fresco dining.

Food is very tasty courtesy of the generous doses of cumin but I think the secret ingredient to this delightful fare is .....

.... car exhaust. 


- Voxeros

25 June 2012

Interesting Chinese Names

I turned on the TV in the morning when I got up to catch the news. I didn't have the luxury of having access to CNN or CNA or BBC for my daily dosage of morning news.

I wanted to tune in to CCTV news anyway as I was following both the Ch1nese space expedition as well as the deep sea dive as the latter was captured in the image above. 

Then I noticed the anchorwoman's name. 天亮 which means daybreak. How apt for a morning news anchor!!

Anyway, speaking of interesting names associated with their respective profession, I have a chauffeur in my D0ngguan office.

车停. Stop car. Yes. That is his name. I kid you not.

It is almost as if their parents knew where they were destined to head since birth.

How bizarre!

- Voxeros

22 June 2012

Chilli Toothpaste

A junior sales staff and I were out and about doing our rounds to check our merchandise at the various supermarkets.

I did a double-take when I saw this on the shelf.

Chilli Toothpaste.

WUD??? Chilli?

I wonder if anyone would actually want to buy such a product. 

Most bizarre.

- Voxeros

21 June 2012

Staff Dinner

We did exceptionally well last month in terms of sales and so HQ approved our application to have a staff dinner on Ah Kong's account.

We went to this 老北京 restaurant where they served pretty awesome Peking Duck.

The place is relatively inexpensive that a Peking Duck is RMB 128 (which is about SGD 25.60).

We ordered 2 ducks for a table of 11 people.

In Singapore, I am used to putting the roasted duck skin along with shredded spring onions and other condiments inside the "tortilla" or popiah skin.

Over here, the skin itself is served as a dish for you to eat directly which I felt was a tad too oily to eat on its own.

Instead, it was the duck meat that goes into the tortilla.

As per Chinese custom, no dinner is complete without alcohol. When in Rome, do what the Romans do they say and so my staff ordered NiuLanShan (when I pick the bottle up, does it mean I kio tio gu lan?).

That bottle of spirit, which was selling at RMB 18.00 (SGD 3.60) in the restaurant, was 42% alcohol and despite its very humble price tag, it wasn't as rough as I originally expected. It, surprisingly, was quite tasty but the smell is something that one needs time to get used to.

We then ordered beer to wash down the dinner later but we hung around so late that the restaurant had no choice but the dim the lights to hint to us that they are closing.

Hope we continue to chalked good sales numbers in months to come so that we can have more of these dinners.

- Voxeros

20 June 2012

Controlling Traffic

They have this signs at the carpark entrance/exit of most buildings.

It is the Capital's scheme to reduce traffic on the roads. Today, car license plate number ending with and 3 or 8 will not be allowed on the streets.

Tomorrow it will be license plate number ending with a 4 or 9.

In other words, 2 out of every 10 vehicles will be ordered off the streets everyday. That's a 20% reduction of traffic right there and then.

Personally, I felt that this measure is a tad too knee-jerk and it does not affect the rich and elite.

The rich and elite will simply go ahead and buy more cars with different license plate numbers to be used on different days.

The average joe who can only afford that one car will be the ones affected.

This brings us to our own COE bidding system which was intended to control the car population. In a way, by restricting the number of new car registrations, you can control the population of the cars but I personally feel that the bidding system is flawed as it too affects the average joe unfairly.

The current bidding system is a variant of the Dutch auction system where the payment is the amount of the lowest qualified bid.

See table below for an illustration:

If Only 4 COEs Were Awarded... COE To Pay Under
Current System
COE To Pay Under
Bidder 1 bids $30,000 $30,000 $30,000
Bidder 2 bids $40,000 $30,000 $40,000
Bidder 3 bids $10,000 Unsuccessful Unsuccessful
Bidder 4 bids $120,000 $30,000 $120,000
Bidder 5 bids $1,000,000 $30,000 $1,000,000

Regardless of how much you bid, you pay only the lowest qualified bid and in my example, it is $30,000.

Now $30,000 is a lot of money for many of us but it is mere pocket change for the rich and elite who could easily put up more up front and then just end up paying only $30,000 when the results are announced, with the balance refunded.

I feel that the What-You-Bid-Is-What-You-Pay system is a fairer one as it prevents the rich and elite from throwing money in your face.

Punish those who bid irresponsibly. If you backside itchy and bid $1,000,000, then in all fairness, that should be the price of your COE upon your successful bid.

So don't give me the "all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others" bullshit.

- Voxeros

19 June 2012

Summer In The Capital

This the view, from the comforts of my air-conditioned hotel room, overlooking the streets. The temperature outside was 38 degrees Celsius.

Summer has arrived, more or less.

My general rule of thumb is that summer starts from the Dragon Boat (aka Dumpling Festival 端午节) and ends on Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋节) where the temperature will begin its decline in anticipation of the cold winter months.

The picture right was taken at around 5:45pm as I headed out to walk around the Capital. It was still 38 degrees.

Forutnately, it was still rather breezy and the air is dry, saving me from being all sweaty and sticky.

The breezy air felt warm as if you were standing in front of the exhaust vent of an industrial air-conditioning unit powering a building.

As long as you are moving, while you feel the warm air blowing at you, you would still feel cool as the perspiration evaporates off your body. It is when you come to a halt e.g. stopping at a red traffic light, that you feel the full effect of the heatwave hitting you head on.

I was wearing a cap to shield from the sun and so my head was soaked underneath the cap.

You can immediately feel the cooling evaporation effect when you remove the cap and brush off the excess water from your hair.

Welcome to the Summer In The Capital.

- Voxeros

18 June 2012

Leg Of Lamb - Inner Mongolian Style

My managers tooks me to a street-side restaurant as a way of welcoming me to the Capital.

The weather that day was an excellent breezy one with temperature at around 20 degrees Celsius. So what better way to dine than to do it al fresco.

The aroma coupled with the roadside passing cars exhaust was mesmerising as we eagerly wait for the old master to do our 2kg leg proper.

So what did we do in the meanwhile? Peanuts and beer lor!

Once the lamb was ready, the old master hauled up the entire charcoal trough and plonked it on our table. We were given extended knives and forks to do our own carving.

The cutlery had to extended length-wise as the heat from the charcoal was just too hot to be able to hold our hands over it while we carved.

A sprinkle of cumin, a dash of red pepper powder followed by a pinch of white sesame seeds and we were good to go.

As we carved, the uncooked insides started to show up and we had to rotate the skewer to carve the other side while we continued to cook the previously carved up side.

Rinse. Repeat.

Once we carved our way to the skewer, the old master will take the remaining leg to the kitchen and chop it up into bite-sized chunks for us to finish up.

It was an excellent dinner with the bill with beer and all working out to around RMB 290 (around SGD 58.00) for a dinner of 3.

p.s. The girl in white in the background had way too much to drink that she suddenly started sobbing, much to the embarrassment of her friends who had to carried her back to the car.

- Voxeros

15 June 2012

My First Capital Purchase

While setting down in my new office, I have been surviving on paper cups.

So I decided to go to the nearest supermarket to shop for a mug and voila. I pick this nice little blue one for a princely sum of RMB 6.60 which is about SGD 1.30.

Not wanting to pay extra for the plastic bag to hold this mug, I decided to take it home as is.

I got curious stares from people with me walking on the street holding a mug.

With that sitting pretty on the desk, I'd be waiting for my french press to arrive via Taobao. That's RMB 35.00 which is about SGD 7.00.

Afternote: The french press arrived and I had my first cuppa. Ahh.......

- Voxeros

14 June 2012

My New Office In The Capital

This is my office in the capital of TaobaoLand. It is half the size of my office back in D0ngguan but I am not complaining. The capital office itself is a smaller office than HQ and so I am not expecting it to be par for the course.

As you can see, I am back against the window which I have to pull the curtains or I can't see anything on my laptop screen due to the glare.

Problem is that the whole office is very dark as the ceiling light is busted. :(

The room is well equipped with air-conditioning for the summer and heat radiator grill (behind the chair) for the cold winter months.

Anyway, as I am writing this, a shower just passed and we are now at a comfortable 25 degree Celsius. An opened window to let the cool breeze in is good enough.

Oh and my chaps fixed the ceiling light. I can see what I am typing again.

In return for their help, I will be installing Freegate on their laptops for them to surf more sites after work.

Youtube away!!

p.s. If it is any consolation, it is still bigger than the office I had when I was working in the crap (no pun intended) company in Singapore a few years back.
- Voxeros

13 June 2012

50-Second Walk

This was pasted on the wall between the elevators, above the buttons in my hotel that I am presently staying.

There is breakfast provided everyday at the 8th floor and I felt this sign to remind us to get a bit more exercise via taking the stairs is a good idea.

As you can see from the state of the sign, this hotel is pretty run down. The rooms however, is still pretty decent although hot water takes a long time to come on and the toilet roll holder is above to fall off the wall. Still it has decent air-conditioning, clean sheets and free Wi-Fi.

Speaking of Wi-Fi while it is complimentary, VPN access is blocked which means that I am destined to be locked within the Great Firewall of Ch1na. Fortunately, my alternative solution of Freegate software managed to get me tunneled through.

I should be staying here for at least a week as I go apartment hunting which, frankly speaking, I am dragging my feet coz I doubt if I can find any decent accommodation now that my budget got slashed. Again.

- Voxeros

12 June 2012

Siri - An English Learning Tool

It's been two weeks since I have gotten myself an iPhone 4S and have been toying with Siri, the voice-activated assistant.

I guess I am one of those fortunate ones whom Siri is able to fully understand my diction without me needing to distort myself into some American-accented radio DJ.

The folks around me in the office were very impressed how I was able to use Siri with relative ease.

The folks, as I've just mentioned, are local Taobaolanders and the Siris on their iPhones are pretty useless coz they don't really speak English.

A couple of them are taking English language classes at night and I just thought of the perfect way, using Siri, to help them.

I got their vocabulary list from their classes and get them to speak each word to Siri. If Siri is able to pick up the word, their pronunciation is correct. If not, I will go over the word with them and have them try it on Siri again until Siri gets it.

Well, what do you know? Siri is useful after all.

Image Credit:

- Voxeros

11 June 2012

Hello Beijing

I arrived in Beijing today to begin my new posting.

I started packing my office and bags on Saturday only to realise that everything fits inside 2 bags and a backpack.

Yeah. It's seems like my entire existence consists of only 3 pieces of luggage.

Perhaps I was a nomad in my previous life destined to live a life without roots. A nicer way to put this would be that I am very mobile.

So for the time being, I will be living out of a suitcase (or two and a backpack) in a tiny hotel room. I will be going house hunting for the next two weeks and hopefully find one to my liking soon so that I can stop paying exorbitant laundry bills.

Then again, given how giam kana my HR is, I have my doubts if I can find a nice studio apartment within a budget that they won't kpkb. Not happy then I continue to stay in the hotel and see how that works out lor.

Short-sighted asshats.

p.s. As it turned out, there is ANOTHER Irish Pub in the vicinity. Hooray! Shall check that one out and decide which shall be my HQ after-hours. Need a place to watch Euro 2012.

p.p.s. Found a gym right outside my office. A 2-month membership is RMB 700 which is very pricey compared to what I used to be paying at Dongguan (RMB 900 for 30 entries which works out to be around 6 months). Lan lan suck thumb lor.

- Voxeros

08 June 2012

Double Yolk Eggs

I had 4 eggs that has been sitting in my fridge for a little way too long and so I decided to fry them all for breakfast before they all go bad.

When I cracked the first egg, there were 2 yolks.

OK, fine.

Over here in Taobao Land, double yolk eggs is not uncommon.

Then I cracked the second egg. Again! Double yolk!

I went on to crack the rest and whoa!! ALL DOUBLE YOLKS!!

What are the chances!!??

Someone go buy 4D??!!

- Voxeros

07 June 2012

Barney Mercedes Benz

Was on my way to another sales call yesterday when I saw this car pulled up alongside at the traffic lights.

Oh. My. Gawd.

Barney's in da house and driving a what I believed to be a Mercedes Benz CLK.


This has certainly replaced the No.1 ranking of most awful gaudy car I have ever seen. The last disaster I saw was a Lambourghini Coutach in a Datsun-Pickup-Truck Blue at Havelock Road many years back.

I am sure you can still spot these trucks in Pulau Ubin, Desaru and/or other more laid-back towns in the region.

p.s. I wonder if anyone has a better photo of the pick-up truck blue that I am talking about. The one I managed to find on the web is a tad small. Would prefer a larger image to illustrate the point better.

Image Credit:

- Voxeros

06 June 2012

I Love My Willy

I got this t-shirt when I was in London way back in 1998.

I first got to know then when they came to Singapore to perform The Complete History Of America (Abridged) at the Jubilee Hall, Raffles Hotel.

So anyway, I bought this t-shirt at the show which I thought was wickedly witty.

Wore it once and then totally forgot about it.

Interestingly, this t-shirt suddenly showed up in my drawer 20-over 14 years later, just when I was running out of shirts to wear since I don't really have much to wear back in Singapore now that I am based in Taobaoland.

Surprisingly, the t-shirt is still in excellent condition.

Check them out via the youtube clip below:

- Voxeros

05 June 2012

Free Sticker Lady

Funny stickers have been appearing at several places in Singapore in the past few months and now the law has somewhat caught up with the person responsible.

It was a good harmless prank with a dig at the government who obviously did not share the same humour.

Now everyone is worried that the police will throw the book hard at Sticker Lady, who would be liable to a maximum fine of SGD 2000 or a prison sentence of up to 3 years AND caning.

This brings up memories of Michael Fay who was caned for spray painting cars back in 1994.

However, it must be noted that there is a difference between the two incidents. This one caused no harm as the stickers can be easily removed. Perhaps the spray painting on the road was a tad over the line but still, the road markings can be undone with relatively ease.

I hope the judge presiding over this case is a wise one and can see the humour in it and perhaps sentence a slap on the wrist and move on.

If I were the judge, I would sentence Sticker Lady to a Corrective Work Order where she will have to remove all the stickers and the road markings. At most a symbolic fine BUT DEFINITELY no jail nor caning.

I really appreciate this particular street art and perhaps the National Arts Council and perhaps even the National Heritage Board and or National Library Board can archive this?

This is certainly a great idea but perhaps it took place at the wrong time. I think this would be a fabulous street installation during the Singapore Arts Festival.

I would like to go on record that I support the  Sticker Lady and appeal to the Government to lighten up and let this slide.

#Free Sticker Lady!

Click here to see more of Sticker Lady's work.

Image Credit:

- Voxeros

03 June 2012

The Wok And Barrel

I have got to hand it to Shen who has done an amazing job on Twitter that piqued my curiosity so much that it was one of the first items that I penned down on my To-Do list even before I got back to Singapore.

With modern technology, reservation was done via Twitter. I swear the human race is getting lazier and lazier. Dialing and speaking to make dinner reservation is just too much labour these days. iShame.

Parking is very easy as there is a open-space public car park right in front. Do make sure that you have parking coupons as the place has not upgraded to IU-gantry type. There used to be valet parking but it was nowhere to be seen these days.

See what I tell you about people getting lazier? iShame II.

It was a party of 3 that evening and we ordered 3 dishes to share. I picked the Rendang Pizza, Jas picked the Bak Chor Mee Pasta and Travis ordered the Bak Kwa Ribs which was later changed to The Desiree Pizza.

Bak Chor Mee Pasta

If you think this dish is going to taste like Bak Chor Mee at your local hawker centre, you are going to be sorely disappointed.

Think about it, if you want the regular Bak Chor Mee, you come to The Wok And Barrel for what? Next door got Maxwell Market what. Makes more sense to go there instead right?

I loved the texture of the pasta and the little meat chunks which I am guessing was char siew but I am sure I am wrong about this.So char siew, or sauce-coated sio bak?

When it was first served, I was frowning at the portion. How come so giam siap one!! Then as it turned out, the portion was just right as the noodle dish has a tendency to get a bit jerlat (sp?) towards the end.

Rendang Pizza

OMG, the rendang is heavenly!

I loved it. The rendang was very well cooked and it was clearly the star of the evening. It was tender, juicy and so soft that the meat disintegrates in your mouth when you only need to crush it with your tongue against the ceiling of your mouth.

It was so good that I felt that the rest of the pizza was redundant. I found myself gobbling up the rendang and then wondered what to do with the rest of the pizza crust.

The Desiree Pizza

The Margherita has always been my favourite as it is one of the rare pizzas that has something green on it and it isn't green bell pepper.

I love my Margherita with general servings of fresh basil leaves. None of those nonsense McCormick-shredded-dried-basil-in-a-bottle type.

The Desiree Pizza uses baby spinach which was very tummy and bacon was the perfect complement to somethings that would otherwise be deemed too healthy.

Bacon. 'Nuff said.

Banana Crack Parfait

This was on the house, compliments of Shen.

Thank you.

It's marscapone-based and so this is a banana tiramisu, if you can call it that.

I am never a big fan of bananas but this particular desserts is pretty good that we devoured it nevertheless.

I am going pause here for a short while to go on record that this is NOT an advertorial. Folks who are familiar with my blog knows that I keep this blog commercial-free. I am not THAT easily bribed with just a dessert lor..... please!

Now, if Shen were to offer curry pok........

Shendol Delights

A punny play on the name and an equally interesting interpretation of a very traditional local dessert.

Red beans, milk, chendol green jelly worms and gula Melaka. The essential elements of the chendol.

Shen throws in a slab of panna cotta and Bam! Shendol!

I am a sucker for panna cotta especially one that is made from fresh goat's milk.

I believed The Wok And Barrel played it safe using cow's milk instead as the "goat smell" needs an acquired taste.

Still, it was my favourite dessert amongst the three orders.

Puloh Hitam Cake

This is Jas' favourite amongst the three desserts.

I haven't really tasted this as I was very stuffed with food by the time I got to this one.

In all, we were happy with the meal and the price isn't expensive with the bill inclusive of drinks, coming up to about SGD 110.00.

I like the view from the inside looking out onto the streets but not the other way round.

I felt that when the restaurant is empty especially when it is before the meal crowd arrives, the whole place look pathetically lack of 人气. I would suggest adding a small partition (like a folding screen) breaking the line of sight from the outside to the back wall of the inside.

Besides, the the black font on clear glass signage would have better visibility if we have a light-coloured opaque background partition.

The Wok & Barrel
Address: 13 Duxton Hill Singapore 089597
Tel: +65 6220 0595

Image Credit:; Travis' lousy phone camera :-P

- Voxeros

02 June 2012

BMW 760Li

Dubbed by OfficeGal as the Asshole Car, I present to you the BMW 760Li which I had the good fortune of borrowing during my trip back this time.

The name Asshole Car, or Douche Mobile in American speak, doesn't do justice to this finely constructed machinery, the ride was very smooth and with all that power under the hood, the car practically drives itself. I found myself only needing to tap the gas pedal most of the time to get it going WITHIN the speed limits on Singapore roads.

With a 6,000cc V12 engine, it was an awesomely sweet ride.

The funny thing was that it took me 5 minutes seated in the driver's seat to figure out the controls and finally getting it out of the car park lot. I was swearing under my breath why the a car like this was built like a Boeing? What's with all the buttons and levers??

KISS! Keep It Simple, Stupid!

Luckily, I am one of those slightly more gadget-inclined people that at worst was a slight annoyance and a mild delay to finally getting out onto the streets, but I can foresee many other folks remaining stuck in the car park and not budging, struggling to find out where is what.

Then there is the i-Drive control console.

I absolutely hated it. It is super counter-intuitive. A wrong nudge and you find yourself back to the main menu needing to start all over again. I struggled with the rotating knob to get around the menu. Give me the simple up-down-left-right buttons, dammit!

The GPS navigation leaves much to be desired too. It was so bad that I had to bring along my iPad to do the navigation for me. I personally recommend Sygic (iPad/iPhone app) for those driving in Mal-Sing.

With that, I have driven two V12s in my lifetime and so between the Mercedes Benz S65 AMG and this BMW 760 Li, I am afraid that the Beemer loses pants down the S65 wins hands down.

Don't get me wrong. The BMW 760Li is a good car (from the machine point of view) but it's the i-Drive that undermined everything else good that BMW has done for the car.

It's a terrible shame. Really.

Blast From The Past:
- Voxeros