31 August 2012

Forbidden City 2.0 - The Eighteen Arhats

Continuing from my earlier post, I decided to revisit the Forbidden City to finish up the rest of the tour since I wasn't able to complete during my first.

Yeah and I say again. The place is damn bladdy big.

This time round, I checked out the East palaces of the Forbidden City as well as the mini replica palace even further East where Emperor QianLong retired after passing the throne to his successor.

Anyway, this series of entries is not meant to be a virtual tour. I am sure there are websites out there that does a much better job than I do. Besides, I think there is too much material to cover to make this a even remotely credible tour review.

What I would do instead is to feature a few photos that have caught my eye, over the next few entries and share my thoughts on them.

So without further ado, we go to Photo No.1

I came across this exhibits of statues of the 十八罗汉. 18 high monks that I got to know from all the sword-fighting dramas and usually associated with the Shaolin Temple.

In every movie or serial drama, there will be these 18 monks that has this martial art formation by the same namesake that they either use it to defend the temple against aggressive intruders or when one of the temple's star pupil need to defeat in order to "graduate".

There are also the 十八铜人 or Eighteen Bronze Men which is a spin-off from 十八罗汉. Some movies depict them as mechanised robots which the star pupil must make it through the tunnel that is guarded by these 18 men. Other versions depicts them as monks with a bronze paint all over them.

As I look closer at the exhibit, I saw the English translation of what a 罗汉 is.


I am sorry but I first read it as The Eighteen Asshats.



--> Click Here To See The Forbidden City Photo Set

--> Click Here To See All The Forbidden City Entries

- Voxeros

30 August 2012

McDonald's Black And White Burgers

Spotted this at the local McDonald's and decided to give it a try out of curiosity.

Perhaps due to the shaking about during delivery, the burgers arrived in not-so-presentable state which to me is not a big deal.

So we have twin mini burgers where the black one was supposed to be squid-ink white sesame seed bun with a beef patty with black pepper sauce. Not bad.

The other is your ordinary white bun with black sesame seed for contrast and a chicken fillet in it with a savoury sauce.

Oh and the token leaf of lettuce to make the meal "more balance".

Overall verdict. OK lah.... not bad.

- Voxeros

29 August 2012

Bak Kut Teh Hotpot

A new friend I recently made here in the Capital is also a Singaporean himself. So one day, he told me about a hotpot restaurant that we should head over that day.

Hotpot. Nothing new right? Ahh... but this one has Bak Kut Teh hotpot.

Bak Kut Teh??!!

Shut up and take my money!!!

The place is only 4 subway stops away from my location with a little walk of about a kilometer or so.

We reached a restaurant and was greeted by a poster of Eric Tsang (曾志伟) posing with a frying spatula. Not sure if he has ownership of the restaurant or just hired to be a spokesperson.

Oh well, no matter.

We ordered the Bak Kut Teh hotpot (duh) and the rest e.g. meat, veggie had to be ordered separately. We ordered an extra portion of youtiao, of course.

The pot arrived and I dipped my spoon into the hotpot for a taste of the soup. Yup. It's Bak Kut Teh alright, with a couple of pieces of bak kut and youtiao thrown in for good measure. Not peppery at all but than again, the bak kut teh soup is meant for hotpot cooking.

My friend, Yandaokia, ordered one particular dish that I originally thought was 水晶包 (crystal dumpling) because of it's grey and glossy appearance. However, the glossy part of it is due to the "slime" which suggested that the round spheres were uncooked.

We popped these babies into the pot and within minutes they turned whitish pink. Orrrrhh..... prawn balls har!! Nice!! Very fresh!!

My only gripe was that when the soup was running low and needed to be topped up. They refill the soup using regular soup stock thereby diluting or even killing off all traces of the Bak Kut Teh goodness.

At the end of the meal, the soup that remained has turned into regular soup albeit with all the goodness inside. The bak kut teh soup was all gone.

In all, the meal was pretty good and with a jug of beer, the bill came up to almost RMB 300 which worked out to be around SGD 30.00 per person.

Not cheap.

Still, I feel that it is worth the little indulgence once in a while.

p.s. I may be wrong about them topping up the soup with regular soup stock rather than bak kut teh. It could be due to all the goodness from the meat and veggie that I no longer able to taste the bak kut teh.

- Voxeros

28 August 2012

Bicycle Rental In The Capital

I have heard of city bicycle rentals in some European countries like France and Germany and I was pleasantly surprised to see this available in the Capital too.

The bikes all looked beautiful and spanking new but I felt something was amiss.

I have never seen any of these bikes on the streets at all.

I suspect perhaps this was just a cosmetic addition, peppered all around the parts of the city for show.

I was told QQland doesn't have a car rental service (think Hertz, Avis, etc) except in big cities like Shangha¡ and Be¡jing is because they can't be sure these rental cars would come back once they are out of the parking lot. While this is mere speculation, I think this, should it be a reality, would apply to rental bicycles as well.

While it is of noble intention for a greener city, I remained skeptical that these bikes strategically placed around the city, is for that purpose.

- Voxeros

27 August 2012

"Singapore" Beef Noodle

My staff brought in a take-out order menus that was being distributed out on the streets and excitedly pointed out to me the availability of my hometown food.

Singapore Beef Noodle.

As far as I am concerned, my idea of Singapore beef noodle is the Odeon Beef Noodle type, which was very popular at Scotts Pinic food court back in the 80s and 90s.

It was the one with the thick yummy gravy.

The one shown in the pamphlet looked nothing like it.

However, my curiosity got the better of me and I decided to order one to check it out.

The noodle was not the thick rice noodle that we usually get in the Odeon Beef Noodle version. It was more like dark yellow noodles that you find in Malaysian Hokkien Mee.

The thick black soup was quite tasty and it reminded me of the 砂锅当归羊肉汤 (Claypot Mutton Soup with Dang Gui), that you can find at Alexander Village hawker centre, except that it uses beef here instead of mutton. The dang gui taste, aka angelica, is rather rich in the soup.

Anyway, I think it's a sham to be calling it "Singapore Beef Noodle" when I have never tasted anything like this anywhere in Singapore in my life.

Still, it was quite a tasty noodle and I don't mind eating it again.

- Voxeros

24 August 2012

Supermarket Fish Section In The Capital

I headed down to the local supermarket next door to get some prawn. While I was waiting for the service staff to clean up before serving me, I noticed that there were 3 taps on the wall that labeled (from left to right) Sterilised Water, Alkaline Water and Clear Water.


I exclaimed in my head as I noticed something amiss.

The three taps were all connected to the same water pipe what!!

The water come out all the same one what.... simi sterilised, alkaline, clear water?

Tok kok lor!!

- Voxeros

23 August 2012

Sleepy Dollie

The sky was starting to overcast and I felt a couple of drops of drizzle falling on my head.

That was my cue to cut short the tour of the Forbidden City and call it a day.

Besides, I was going to come back to visit another day anyway, since there is no way to complete the tour even if I had stayed on.

So I inched my way out of the Forbidden City (I don't know why they narrowed the exit paths so much that it was an extended bottleneck just to get out) which took me about what? 20 minutes just to get out?

It was stuffy in the line with everybody breathing down on everybody else.

I was welcomed by a refreshing breeze the moment I stepped into the open at the end of the exit back onto the main street.

This is when I saw this little girl perfectly perched on a shopping dollie, pulled by her mother. You can tell she is dozing off with the constant nodding. Jerk awake, regain balance, eyes heavy, snooze, falling off, jerk awake, regain balance. Rinse. Repeat.

It was most amusing as other people and I behind her watched.

Then I took the photo of this cute little girl.


- Voxeros

22 August 2012

Forbidden City

Went to check out the Forbidden City and whoa........ the place is damn freaking big!!

The entrance fee was RMB 60.00 (peak season) and I added another RMB 20.00 (for Mandarin narration. RMB 40.00 for foreign language e.g. English) for the headset that tells you the story as you walk around the place.

The device has some sort of the location device which will playback the story relevant to where you are.

I made the mistake of heading there after lunch as I didn't have enough time to complete the entire city.

Will have to go there again to complete the tour.

I was blessed with great weather and I expected a shitload of people but fortunately, it wasn't that bad as perhaps I was mentally prepared for the worst.

Security was tight as there were cameras everywhere and there was a security checkpoint prior to the entire to sieve out suspicious characters. Despite the overwhelming presence of "Big Brother", I  felt safe ironically.

This is 午门 which I reached after a rather length walk though the main entrance in the earlier picture. Just when I thought I reach the inside of the city, I realised this was only the South entrance.

I can imagine any officials reaching this gate thinking they finally reach their destination but nooo..... the emperor is still a long journey ahead. Must be really sian half to find out at this stage that you are not even half way there.

Yeah. This place is THAT freaking big.

This caught my eye. Fresh laundry belonging to the military guards, all nicely and orderly arranged.

More photos after I visit it again soon.

--> Click Here To See The Forbidden City Photo Set

- Voxeros

21 August 2012

Steak And Eggs

I love hearty breakfasts.

Whenever I travel to the US, breakfast is a daily highlight of my trip. From eggs and bacon, to waffles to pancakes. Egg Benedict or Florentine if you are at somewhere a bit more atas.

But my favourite is Steak And Eggs which I first tried at a local diner off the strip at Las Vegas for a awesome price of USD 5.99 (about SGD 7.50).

First of all, this is quite a substantial breakfast and not widely available. Hence, it's a real treat every time I have that.

This one above was taken in the Capital. Who would have thought that I'd find it here?

I found this restaurant in Sanlitun Village in the Capital. There were two American Bar and Grill restaurants side-by-side.

This was found at the Blue Frog Bar & Grill on the third floor of S4 Tower. My bill for a coffee, OJ and the Steak & Eggs was RMB 110.00 (about SGD 22.00). Not the cheapest breakfast around but I supposed once in a while is ok lah!

Their neighbour is the Union Bar & Grill which is a subsidiary (or sister) restaurant of Dan Ryan's of Chicago.

I had the chicken quesadillas there a few days before that and it was pretty good although I still think fondly of the crabmeat quesadillas I had at LAX back in 2006.

Next stop. Babyback Ribs. I think Union Bar & Grill will be the better place to check out.

- Voxeros

20 August 2012

Homemade Paos

Earlier, I blogged about paos or buns. Even had a bit of fun in the subsequent entry. Hehe.

Anyway, I returned to the Capital only to discover that the wife of one of my managers came by for a visit and decided to cook us dinner.


The buns as you can see above are made by her from scratch.

Call me suakoo but the buns I know are all machine manufactured in some factory somewhere.

I had the most awesome privilege to actually see one (or 15) being made from scratch. From the flour to the mincing of meat to the filling to the steaming.

The first batch was seasoned with fresh fennel and then she made a second batch using celery for next day's breakfast.

Ingredients were all fresh.

Good stuff, cannot bluff.

- Voxeros

17 August 2012

Airport Changing Room In The Capital

I got back to the capital and WALAN EH!! The flight was actually punctual!

You hear me?

Punctual! PUNCTUAL!!!

So anyway, I made my way down to the conveyor belt to pick up my luggage. Granted that it was just a small carry-on, it was loaded with curry and other pastes that I had to check them in, lest they be confiscated.

While waiting, I spotted this little changing rooms at the side and I was wondering why is there a need to change clothes in the middle of the airport?

My speculation is perhaps due to the Capital's extreme cold temperature during the winter months. Thick warm clothing may be too bulky to carry around and perhaps too warm to start wearing them at origin.

Imagine you are flying up from Singapore where temperature is a constant 30 degrees. You can't wear it before you fly or even during the flight. Thick clothing being what they are, are a pain in the ass to be lugging it around the airports and on board.

So the plausible solution is perhaps to chuck it inside your checked luggage and put it on after you retrieve your luggage from the conveyor before stepping out onto the streets.

Make sense?

- Voxeros

16 August 2012

ChangAn Park

I was at the foot of ChangAn Park when I took a picture of the pagoda atop it's peak.

I have been in South China for more than 10 years and have never one visited this park for one simple reason.

The entry fee was RMB 3.00 (SGD 0.60).

I was too cheap to pay the entrance fee.

So you may ask then why the exception, this time round?

Well, I found out that the park is now open to the public for free. The entry fee was abolished.

Like I said, iCheap.


Initially, I thought of visiting at night would be a good idea since it is damn hot during the summer day but it was hardly any consolation as summer night was just as warm.

I was all covered in perspiration by the time I reach the foot of the pagoda, which meant another 6 flights of stairs before I reach the time of the tower.

Ok lah. The view not bad lah. And the breezy up there was most welcoming indeed. See the bright spots with a tinge of yellow at its top? That's the front gate structure where I took picture of the pagoda in the earlier picture.

So I was like up there for a couple of minutes before I got bored and headed back down.

On my way out, I saw these four words inscribed at the back of the gate structure.


I was corrected saying that it was supposed to be 长治久安 instead.

or ?

As it turned out, I was wrong. It was the latter.

In any case, I blame it on bad craftmanship as far as the inscription is concerned or the mason-in-charge made a typo mistake.


- Voxeros

15 August 2012

iPhone Clone - KPT A88

My staff showed up at work one morning and I spotted him carrying a spanking new iPhone. Then I realised something amiss when I spotted something not right.

Since when iPhone is dual-sim one?

I took the phone over and gave it a closer look. Hmm.... the mute button is missing and there is "Qualcomm" printed on the other edge. I doubt if this is a Qualcomm phone considering I haven't heard of these guys producing any phones lately. I am guessing perhaps the CPU inside is a Qualcomm? Snapdragon perhaps?

So anyway, at this point Captain Obvious would have pointed out that this is not a iPhone.

I continued to play around with it and first stop was to go to the setup page.

Ahh... it's an Android. But here's the thing the whole interface is uncanny.

Even the software interface look exactly the same!

Heck, it even works with the original Apple iPhone cable!

Unlike the iPhone, the back cover of the phone is removable. As you can see, it uses a micro SD card for its internal memory which means that you can have unlimited internal memory as long as you have enough cards to swap it around.

The sim card is regular sim, means that you save the hassle of cutting it down to size. The second sim is directly underneath the first.

Lastly, having a removable cover also mean you can have multiple batteries and thereby save the need to charge the phone halfway through the day in the middle of nowhere.

So. Price?

A search on showed that this phone cost RMB 860 which is around SGD 172.00.

I played with the phone and I feel that the whole interface is very sleek and at that price, it's a steal.

p.s. I subsequently saw two more iPhone clones at RMB 300+ and RMB 200+. Those were rough stuff as the onscreen menu is very jerky possibly due to a very weak CPU. The 300+ phone actually run on iOS while the 200+ version was running only some domestic chupalang OS. The only bright side however their huge-assed 64Gb internal memory.

--> Click Here To See The Photo Set Of The KPT-A88 iPhone Clone

- Voxeros

14 August 2012

Aircraft Coming Apart

Can you see the blue thing stuck to the cabin ceiling?

That's a blanket soaked full of water, miraculously held up with numerous "Do Not Disturb" stickers.

It was an 11am flight and it was hot and balmy outside. The inside of the cabin was just as warm coz the airline was too cheap to turn on the air conditioning.

We were stuck in the aircraft for 3 hours presumably to allow Hurricane Vicente to pass through South Ch1na as  her path cuts across our flight path.

Finally, the cabin temperature got too unbearable and the air conditioning were turned on reluctantly.

Here's the thing, when the hot humid air comes into contact with the rapidly cooling of ventilation pipes, condensation forms quickly and by the buckets.

Let there be rain. It poured. All over the passengers directly below it.

The unfortunate lady passenger shrieked when she was caught by surprise.

The funniest moment was this uncle seated directly behind me yelled....

"服务员! 快拿个盆子!!!" <-- (*translate: Staff! Fetch a wash basin quickly!)

Harlow Uncle!! Where you go find wash basin in an aircraft one? *facepalm*

Wait. Don't say no wash basin. Sekali at the back of the aircraft got mop and bucket too! This is after all, Air Ch1na leh. Don't pray pray!

So that was one incident on my flight.

The second was this little thing that poked my butt when I took my seat.

Let's just say that I got screwed by the airline. Literally. Haha.

I chucked the offending screw into the magazine pouch in front of my seat and thought nothing of it.

Soon after take off, the PA announced that the cabin crew will be starting their meal service. This was followed by a flurry of hands proceeding to lower their respective tray tables in anticipation.

I am seated one row behind the bulkhead seats which means that the row in front have their tray tables stowed in their armrest in contrast to the rest of us whose tray tables are attached to the back of the seat in front of us.

That's when I heard the sounds of crashing. Apparently, the armrest tray directly in front of me, fell apart and was sent crashing to the floor in 3 pieces when the passenger was retrieving it out of the arm recess. The arm and the two panels of the foldable tray was strewn all over the floor as a result.

I think I know where that screw came from..... kua kua....

- Voxeros

13 August 2012

Subway Queue In The Capital

I took the subway to transfer to the airport express line on my way back to South China for a R&R weekend.

RMB 2.00 for the subway ride, RMB 25.00 for the airport express. Total about SGD 5.40 for the trip.


This photo on the right is an interesting one that I took. You see these folks queuing orderly but fully blocking the boarding gate?

Fret not, this is a terminal station i.e. the train will be empty upon arrival and so there won't be a situation where people cannot get out with them blocking the exit.

But here's the strange thing that I was not able to capture on film.

When the train arrived and the doors opened, only a small handful of people go in. The rest of the folks standing outside simply wait for the next train to board despite the train being relatively empty.

Initially, I thought it was just a regular queue to get onto the train and so I queued behind them like everybody else. So to my dismay when I remained stuck at the back of the queue when the train in front of me pull out of the station unfilled.

It took me a while before I understood what was going on.

These people were queuing for a seat on the train. If all the seats are taken, they simply choose to wait for the next train.

For people like me who prefers to stand rather than sit, you should wait at the side of the door, once the queue to stop entering the train, overtake the line to claim your standing space.

I shook my head. Stand a bit will die one meh?

- Voxeros

10 August 2012

Bandung Vader

I meant it as a tongue-in-cheek jibe when I coined the name "Bandung Vader".

Then one day, I actually found a picture of this character on the intarwebs.

Oh. My. Gawd.

Bandung Vader. Actually. Exists.

Granted that the girl in the picture was not the actual Bandung Vader that I was referring to, but to see an actual picture of a Bandung Vader is absolutely awesome!

I mean what are the chances?

Who (other than my warped mind) would have thought of a pink princessy Darth Vader?

p.s. Looking at the expression of her eyes in the photo, it almost seemed like the little girl was forced into the costume.

Together with the slouched shoulder, is it me or does anyone else also detect the LanLan-ness in her eyes?

This is too funny.

Image Credit:

- Voxeros

09 August 2012

Happy National Day 2012

After the horror of NDP's A Nation's March MV released earlier in June, I was glad someone else came up a better one.

We used to have such wonderful national day songs and I wondered what happened? Why is it getting from bad to worse?

While this one by nelsontyc is a more significantly improved version, I felt that it is not as inspirational as the gems of the past.

Well anyway, here's wishing all Singaporeans and our guests a happy 47th National Day.

- Voxeros

08 August 2012

Grapes From The Grapevine

I left the Capital on the very afternoon that the storm hit. It was just drizzling when I got on the outbound train and did not realise the magnitude of this storm until I was back in my hotel room watching the news that evening in Shijiazhuang.

This was my second escape albeit a milder one compared to Hurricane Katrina back in 2005 where I flew out of New Orleans just a day before the hurricane hits The Big Easy.

Anyway, not going to write more about the storm coz for starters, I wasn't there when it happened and besides, it's been covered to death by the media.

What I want to write about is the day after where I hitched a ride from Shijiazhuang to ZuoZhou and then took a bus back into the Capital.

En route, I stopped by this restaurant where there were car park shelters that double as grapevines. There were overhanging grapes which I initially thought were fake rubber ones.

Then someone plucked one of the fruits and put it into his mouth.

Wait. You mean the grapes are real??

I was tempted to give it a try but I stopped short when I saw the layer of dust (and a massive dose of car exhaust thrown in) covering the fruits.


In any case, I was glad to see the grapes survived the storm. Perhaps the rain here wasn't as severe as in the Capital albeit only 80 km away?

Another interesting thing I saw was that the bunch of grapes has got both white and red grapes.

I thought white grapes and the whole bunch is white viz-a-viz red grapes and the whole bunch is red? Or perhaps a red grape has to go through the white phase before fully developing into a red? Or is it the other way round?

- Voxeros

07 August 2012

Mala Stir Fry

I was caught in the rain the day before and I woke up with a bad case of sore throat. So come lunch time, my staff asked what I would like to have lunch.

Being in an unfamiliar place, I don't really know what is available and so I said to go for a light lunch and eat 清淡 a bit.

Then he brought me to eat 麻辣炒锅.


*mega facepalm*

The set up is a bit like our Yong Tau Foo stall where you pick your ingredients and hand it over to them to cook for you. It's the same here as we picked black fungus, golden mushrooms, Foochow fishballs, veggies and some other stuff. We handed it over and their stir fry everything with lotsa lotsa 花椒 (Sichuan Pepper) and lotsa lotsa oil.

With this big bowl in the middle, we tucked into our individual rice bowls and devoured a very yummy lunch.

Fortunately, my throats didn't get any worse after that.


- Voxeros

06 August 2012

The Singapore Olympic Bronze Medallist

First of all, my congratulations to Feng TianWei for clinching the Bronze Medal in the Ladies Table Tennis Singles Competition, 2012 London Olympic Game.

I congratulate her achievement as a person, regardless of nationality. I thank her for putting Singapore on the score board.

But I would stop short of hailing it as a great Singapore achievement.


Some folks said that our one true medal was the silver won by Tan Howe Liang back in 1960. Yet others said that he too was a foreign import from Ch1na then.

I agree with the former on one single point.

Tan Howe Liang is still with us in Singapore.

52 years later.

If anyone remembers Jing Junhong, she made good and call Singapore her home after retiring from table tennis. As far as I am concerned, she is one of us regardless of her place of birth.

Today, after hanging up her paddle for almost 10 years, she continues to serve as the deputy coach of the ladies table tennis team.

This is what we really want when we import foreign talents. The medal is just one of the goals that we set up to achieve but it's the short term one. The other longer objective that we want to accomplish is the "transfer of technology". The whole idea of importing is the raise our domestic standards until a time when we can be self reliant to produce our own superstar.

Then perhaps we can export our own talents to other countries to do the same for them.

Still, a medal is a medal is a medal. The only difference is that one is earned and one is bought. It looks the same but I am sorry to say the I do not feel the same.

Think Chelsea. Think Manchester City.

This is quite a difficult entry to write in the sense that while it may be belittling Feng's bronze, her efforts must still be acknowledged.

Perhaps the hurt from Egmar Gonclaves still smarts till this very day when he threw his Singapore citizenship right back at our faces.

So again to Feng Tianwei, I congratulate her for her bronze medal. I have the proverbial champagne to celebrate but I am going to keep it on ice until a time I am convinced she is one of us. For now, she is moving in the right direction at the time of writing this. I hope to see her at the finish line.

Image Credit: Screen Capture From Channel 9 Australia;

- Voxeros

04 August 2012

Bonus Items In QQland Food

This entry was earlier featured as a Guest Blogger Entry on Jeffrey Tan's Google+ (28 Jul 2012).

That is a piece of glass (with a bit of rice stuck to the bottom) found in the rice during yesterday's lunch.

My staff was lucky not to have bitten into it or worse, swallowed it.

Our usual reaction is just grimaced at it, take it out, put it aside and then carry on eating.

We see no point in complaining coz this is just going to happen over and over again.

Just a week ago, I found a strand of steel wool in my curry.

Remember back in 2005 when I found a piece of iron nail in my spinach?

I learned that if you don't talk and eat and the same time, you will be safe.

That's why I am a very quiet eater and bad conversation partner during meals.

- Voxeros

03 August 2012

Glow In The Dark Condom

Continuing from yesterday's entry, there is also a basket of items at the corner of the bathroom for sale.

The items are usually shaving kits, emergency underwear, emergency stockings etc.

Then there is the condoms that has a permanent place in this basket. I may be wrong here but I heard it is the law to have condoms available in every hotel room in their efforts to control the spread of HIV/AIDS.

The common ones are always the condom with the vibrator ring attachment.

Then I saw this.


Glow-in-the-dark one har!!!

Machiam light sabre siah!!

This reminds me of the movie Spaceballs.

"So. Your schwartz is as big as mine!!"

- Voxeros

02 August 2012

Lost In Translation XII

Went to Shij1azhuang for a weekend business trip and spotted this in the bathroom of my hotel room.

I have no idea what the first line was saying (without looking at the Chinese translation).

I am guessing that perhaps Condoleezza Rice and Bill Gates shared this very bathroom that I am standing in?


- Voxeros