Aug 25, 2015

To Market, To Market: Admiralty Wet Market

Retrospectively, an established wet market then was in an open air context, where fresh produce stalls gathered and arranged uniquely along roadside or a vacant compound, ie open carpark space. Usually, siting in a shophouses area, brought in the crowds and business to kopitiam (coffee shop), kedai runcit (provision shops) or clinic(s) from morning to noon, vice versa. Sellers would think of a way to pipe in water, or set-up a gas and stove if cooking was required. Cages for poultries, big rotan baskets for bundles of green leaves, or sometimes, big lorry just behind the seller! Raining days brought in challenges to the sellers and patrons too. When a market was over populated, it would be expanded naturally to the nearby gas station, to next junction and into the minor arterial road in the adjacent housing zone, like crawling branches of a money tree plant. It caused huge chaotic to morning traffic in the vicinity, and everyone would do adjustment to each time of expansion. One of my friends was affected, the market nearby her house extended further and went into the road right in front of her house. Patrons' cars were parked in front of her house inconsiderably. Big frown. Essentially, market was where people had gather for purchase and sale of provisions, livestock and other daily goods. People didn't mind the disorder of a market place mostly, as it brought many conveniences than inconveniences. Maybe they minded, but just had to close one eye.

Well, I'm from Malaysia, grown up and stayed in a suburb of the city of Kuala Lumpur and then moved to a small town called Lunas, Kulim- up in the northern part of Peninsular Malaysia. Those were my past experience with pasar, aka wet market. People improvised along the way in siting a market or should I say it is the evolution of a market.

(To be fair, over these years, wet market is slowly becomes part of a township and well-planned to be fitted into a neighbourhood and serve the people, not just the morning, but until dusk too. There is physical, structured infrastructure to house a market orderly and provided ample car parking lots, such as the one in the new neighbourhood that my parents moved into few years ago. I have yet to familiarise with that market yet though.)

By and large, it is pretty different from local wet market, where mostly are sheltered and well-facilitated. Since we relocated in Singapore for coming to ten years, I didn't have issue with transiting and patronising the indoor wet market here in Singapore... except the stuffy environment part.

Supposedly, I am part of a blog train sharing about the market I frequenting here in Singapore. But the task of writing current unlocks my past. Those days, I was dragged to market by my mum, to learn to adapt the buzz and to help her with her loot. This part of the memory was locked for long, until this blog train. All the sudden the images of the old pasar I visited flashback, and I have to pen it down.

Aug 14, 2015

Edinburgh: Museum on the Mound

While I decided on visiting National Museum of Scotland, this was the museum, that handpicked by my daughter- Museum on the Mound.


The Museum on the Mound is housed in the marvellous, purpose-built head office of the Bank of Scotland. Today the building also serves as the Scottish headquarters for Lloyds Banking Group. Paid a visit to the bank sure got to learn more about the fascinating history of this beautiful building, as well as learning some knowledge of currency and monetary of Scotland. Unlike most countries where it is only the governments, through their central banks, who are permitted to issue currency, in Scotland, there are 3 banks are allowed to issue banknotes, namely Bank of Scotland, Clydesdale Bank and The Royal Bank of Scotland. 

Aug 3, 2015

Review: Jane Means' Gift Wrapping Workshop

On the first day of August, I had the privilege to attend Jane Means' Gift Wrapping Workshop. I got to relearn some of the skills I left behind for many years.

I no bluff. I was an excellent gift wrapper. I loved dong it and I could wrap a present beautifully with minimum 3 pieces of scotch tapes, just to seal the edges of the wrapping paper over the gift. Before I learnt about the use of double sided tapes, I could hide those scotch tapes if I wanted to(you probably know how). At one time, I was obsessed with fancy gift wrapping papers and I collected lots of them. Who doesn't like pretty things? I made good use of them for embellishing a bookmark or a card, or gift wrapping. I was good with pleating wrapping technique after seen it in a mall's gift-wrapping service corner. For many years, I have books' and dictionary's covers protected by beautiful wrapping papers. These days, I do more of impressing my daughter by recycling a page of Kikki K's catalogue into an envelop, neatly.

But I am not good with ribbon tying. Terrible, terrible, terrible. If you see one bow perfectly tied by me, it must be my lucky day!

So usually my gifts were without ribbon and bow.



Jul 27, 2015

Edinburgh: National Museum of Scotland

There are a number of Museums to visit in Edinburgh, of course. But National Museum of Scotland stood out among all. The kids wanted Natural History (the dinosaurs!) and I was keen on its World Cultures gallery. It was not too far from the Royal Mile (we were there earlier), approximately 10 - 15 minutes walk via George IV Bridge. As the museum situated at very beginning corner of Chambers Street, we were able to see the magnificent Victorian building when we were approaching the junction of Chambers Street and George IV Bridge. 

The building of the Museum of Scotland after the merger, opened in 1998, not just to tell the country's history from earliest times to the present day, it created a landmark museum in Edinburgh.

Entrance Hall at Level 0 (left picture above);
Grand Gallery at Level 1 (right pictures above).

Jul 20, 2015

Little about Edinburgh's Architecture

I was intrigued by the Scots Baronial, gloomy grey stone wall and uneven rooflines with feature towers adorned by small turrets. The Royal Mile of Edinburgh probably the best place capturing Scottish rich architecture. It has many interesting buildings all within walking distance. With the excellent accessibility by the Closes, we spent a half-day strolling and exploring the Medieval Old Town in the Royal Mile and, another few hours in Princess Street, the renowned shopping street in planned Georgian New Town. Having booked an accommodation in the heart of the city saved us time in in-and-out. We were the residents of the gloomy Medieval, and we were tourists to admire the beauty- how exciting!... even though for the shortest time.

It was really exciting to be in Edinburgh, so much so I didn't have enough photos to impress you all. I was engrossed with what surrounded me, the architectures were glorious. I was freezing cold too, my body was not yet adjusted to Scottish's weather. And I was with the kids, One of them very curious and mummy, mummy non-stop, while the another girl needed water, needed jacket, needed toilet. 

Anyway, I should not rambling. I do have some of beautiful shots from The Royal Mile...

Jul 11, 2015

Edinburgh: A Lost and Found Story in Waverley

I left my own backpack in Edinburgh's Waverley Train Station when we first arrived. We had too many things to lug with for the trip, from London to Edinburgh- two big full luggage, two backpacks, one camera bag, two girls and their bags. Some rubbishes in hand too, or kids' papers that they scribbled during train journey and insisted to keep/bring along. I can't remember for sure. It happened too often.

Sorry, I digress. Anyway, we only realised it after 3 or 4 hours later when we were settling down in our rented apartment in Cowgatehead. My heart sunk. Immediately, we dashed to the train station. I dashed, due to the urgency of the matter and the girls couldn't be speed up in view of the steep slopes and flights of stair. SC and the girls caught up with me from behind. 

Jul 5, 2015

Edinburgh's Closes, Cowgatehead and Grassmarket

If anyone ask me my impression of Edinburgh, I probably would tell you about the Closes in Royal Mile. Closes are those narrow alley between buildings. We passed by them a lot during our carless days in Edinburgh. The medieval town was built on an undulating terrain and yet fabulously well-connected. Once we arrived the Waverley Train Station, we started to navigate towards the Old Town where our rented apartment was. From the exit of Waverley Station at Market Street, we walked across the road, into one of the nearest Closes to reach Royal Mile- Fleshmarket Cl. After that, we found Old Fishmarket Cl to reach Cowgate. Once we were in Cowgate, we turned right towards Cowgatehead for our apartment, passed by an arch tunnel where George IV Bridge was right above.


Other times, when we roamed around the Old Town, passing by Royal Mile, we used Jackson's Cl, or Anchor Cl, or the renowned Mary King's Cl. Similarly, we wandered and used Stevenlaw's Cl towards the train station and further up to Princes Street.

Jun 30, 2015

Scotland: Falkirk Wheel

Have you heard of Falkirk Wheel? It is the world's first and only rotating boat lift!

It is sited in a countryside of Scotland, approximately 23 miles (37 km) from both Glasgow or Edinburgh. To be precise, it is situated in the Falkirk Town, Central Lowlands of Scotland, historically within the county of Stirlingshire.


Falkirk Wheel was the only point of interest I earmarked for my trip in Scotland, after I stumbled upon. [My entire trip plan is free and easy and by that mean, the rest of the plan is blank of places-to-go, only the places-to-stay].

I was very impressed with such a futuristic structure, in the middle of nowhere, just for the purpose of connecting the Forth and Clyde Canal with the Union Canal. For the first time, I heard of Falkirk, for the first time I learnt about canals' history (brief) of Scottish. For this case here, the two canals had been historically joined at Falkirk by a flight of 11 locks that stepped down across a distance of 1.5m (since 1800s), but these were dismantled in 1933, breaking the link.

Falkirk Wheel was meant more than just to restoring navigability across Scotland actually.

Jun 26, 2015

Chinese Glutinous Rice Dumpling

In the pantry of my office right now, I am having Chinese glutinous rice dumplings (肉粽) as lunch. I have a sense of gratification as this is something I made from scratch. And seriously, it ain't easy! There are lots of preparation work prior to the wrapping, cleaning and washing numerous utensils after wrapping and waiting at least 2.5 hours of cooking thereafter. I always know it, that's why I didn't want to do it myself, alone. I grown up in typical Chinese family where every year praying of Dragon Boat Festival (or Dumpling Festival, 端午节) and eating dumplings are part of the family tradition. I have the vivid picture of my mum wrapping dumplings, siting on a stool with all the ingredients laying on the kitchen floor; I have fuzzy memory of my grandma doing the same. Long hour of hard work.

Then we grown up, my mum demanded helps from me and my sister. I didn't learn dumpling wrapping skill from my mum willingly. Well, I didn't resist it either. I found it challenging and wanted to overcome it and I sensed, she needed company. In retrospective, this was probably one skill that she passed to me with little confident, as she admitted that she didn't like the work and not good at the technique of wrapping the dumpling. Sometime, we would had wrapped dumplings leak/loosen up while cooking. She repeated the same confession more than once. Her little fear blocks her from improvement. Yet, it didn't stop her from doing. My dad loves dumpling apparently and we love it too. I reckon, family love gave her a push to do it. Over the years, she saw my sister's and my wrapping technique doing better, and better. I think, she was relieved.

One little dumpling revived One little family tradition of mine.


Thanks to Mrs Kam and Lynn, gladly joined me last Sunday (Fathers' Day!) to wrap dumplings from 2kg glutinous rice, 1kg of pork belly, and many other ingredients (I used Diana's recipe). If not, I would not able to complete the entire process of dumpling making! whew~!

May 29, 2015

How I Find Places to Stay in Scotland

SC and I started to plan our trip to UK about three months ahead of the departure. Upon our decision to spend our time in Scotland mostly, I narrowed down my search for accommodation to these cities/Loch/Isle/Shire- Edinburgh, somewhere near Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, near Fort William, in Isle of Skye, and lastly close to Loch Ness (or Inverness) before we headed back to Edinburgh to take train back to London.

We broke down 10 hours of road journey into a week, by having 5 pit stops along the way.

Pit stop as in, spending a night in a selected accommodation.
source: Google Map

That made my effort to do accommodation reservation easier. I searched accommodation not too far from those places of interest. So strategic location of a accommodation is essential to me, Google map was my best friend during this period of time. Most hosts/agents would provide address, if not, the town or the street name of the listed apartment/hotel/house/B&B, etc. When some listing are vague about the location, I wouldn't want to have second look at it.
"让生命稳稳流动(也)是我的功课之一。" by Bubu Tsai