Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Singapore Day 4 - The Zoo

After the cooking class we headed back for a nap and then headed out for our next adventure.

The Singapore Zoo is very large and a first-rate establishment with a variety of animals. Click any pic to embiggen as they say.

There were Wallabies

A majestic White Tiger

Orangutans, including an orangutan doing a John Travolta impression:

Meerkats:

Zebras:

Cheetahs:

Elephants, that put on a show:

There were many animals I had never seen in person before, including a Rock Hyrax:

A Komodo Dragon:

This large lizard:

A sloth bear:

The rare White Rhino:

The zoo also had an enormous Crocodile:

Amazingly, just 6 degrees north of the equator, they had a polar bear. He was kept in a very cold area behind some plexiglass hence the lousy picture, but still, a polar bear in the tropics - he did not appear to be a very happy camper.

Lots of other animals and birds were at the zoo and we spent a lot of time traveling to the various exhibits.

Then we had a snack and waited for the sun to go down and then did the Night Safari. On the Night Safari, you ride a tram to see the animals at night. This was neat as obviously many animals are more active in the cool of the night, and in some areas you drove through the animal areas and got very close encounters indeed. Unfortunately, there was no flash photography and no pictures, bit it was a very cool experience.

Singapore has a very large and impressive zoo.

That was a very full day indeed.

You're Supposed To Kill It Before You Grill It

An Arizona man during a party saw a rattlesnake creep into his yard and decided to hold an impromptu barbecue of the animal by picking it up and planning to put it on the grill - alive. What could possibly go wrong?

The snake rightfully took umbrage to that idea and bit him on the face and chest.

Fox News: Man tries to barbecue rattlesnake, gets bit on face

Oh, Darwin missed it by just that much this time.

Singapore Day 4 - Learning To Cook Hainan Chicken Rice

In Chinatown we headed to Food Playground Singapore for our next activity.

It was a cultural cooking class.

Taught by a Singaporean chef, she had grown up learning her mother's cooking and recipes and then did them herself as a stay at home mom. Now that her kds are grown she works for Food Playground teaching others the traditional dishes. She first gave us a brief overview of Singaporean culinary history and its traditional cooking and dishes.

Singaporean cooking tends to be labor intensive and was indeed the province of the ladies of the house. Nowadays those ladies are either working long hours or studying long hours, and don't have time to cook many of the dishes so much of the traditions are not being done in the home anymore. In her case one daughter is in college studying night and day and has no time to learn or to do cooking arts.

Hainan chicken starts with chicken with skin on that is salted and then steamed with ginger pieces on top, then once cooked the chicken is dunked in ice water to stop it from overcooking.

Then rice is first fried and then boiled in chicken broth along with garlic, ginger and the pandan leaf, a fragrant leaf, similar to lemongrass, that imparts a very nice flavor and smell. We aso made a chili sauce the old fashioned way to accompany it - mashing the chilies in a mortar and pestle.

Then we made wontons including making the filling for them for wanton soup, and learned a few different traditional folding methods.

The final product was awesome.

Certainly a great class to learn about Singaporean history and cuisine.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Capacitors Losing Capacity And Sawing Limbs

First the garage door has been humming along. Humming that is when the open button is pressed, but not opening.

The to get it open you had to climb up and hold down the load limit button on the garage door unit itself and then it would grudgingly open, work for about 24 hours and then refuse to open until the reset was hit yet again.

This would not do, and I was ordered to get it fixed.

Some research indicated the humming but no power to start the motor meant that it was most likely a bad capacitor. So I ordered a replacement and it arrived in time for the weekend garage door opener project.

After unplugging the unit I took off the side panel and had remarkably little room to access the existing capacitor - it was in there tight and the band holding it in place had a screw that was angled away from the side door, making loosing the band rather difficult as a screw driver would not fit. Then the capacitor wouldn't move far enough away from the band as there was a plastic piece blocking its rearward travels and there was nowhere to go towards the front of the unit. It was a rather tight fit.

Of course the wires were short and it was hard to see what I was doing in there and to remove them form the bad capacitor, but I managed to get the wires off and then back on in the proper places on the new capacitor, get it snugged back in, tightened up, and the garage door now functions wonderfully with no hesitation. No leftover screws form that job, but vocabulary was enhanced quite a bit.

Thence to the side of the house, where a few very large and heavy tree limbs had fallen from a black walnut tree, blocking the path on the side of the house. At least they missed the air conditioner when they landed.

A nice manual saw was used to cut through the limbs, and black walnut is rather hard to cut through, and then we carried them off.

Leah enjoyed using the saw a little too much, declaring sawing through stuff was very satisfying. The limbs started out taller than she was but over time they were cut down to size.

Ah, the joys of home maintenance.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Singapore Day 4 - Breakfast at The Hawker Center

Hawker Centers were the Singaporean government's answer to street food vendors. To make it cleaner and easier to inspect for health reasons, they build centers where multiple vendors' stalls would be located to sell their food and tables are provided for people to sit and eat.

Singaporeans don't rally seem to have a separate "breakfast" type of food - Noodles, soup and dumplings are popular for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Interestingly each Hawker Center had a large Halal section as well and many stalls were labelled as "Islamic Food" - which typically meant Indian/Pakistani fare.

The longer the queue waiting for a turn at the stall, apparently the better the food. Singaporeans would on occasion in a very friendly manner come up to me and point to a stall for me and say "Good food, very long queue". Each stall prominently displays the sanitation grade it gets form inspectors - A or B grades are good to eat at, but I'd advise shying away form the C or Ds.

My favorite booth at the Hawker Center a brief walk across the street from where we were staying:

I actually ended up creating a queue there one time, as people started lining up behind me after I ordered and I said that I really liked the food there - great service and the vendor there was very friendly and rather patient as she only spoke Chinese and I surely did not, but we made it work out well.

I would order this for breakfast:

Soup, noodles, steamed wantons, and fried wontons all for S$4.00 or $2.80 US, and it kept me happy for a long time and tasted great.

How Singaporeans stay so slim on a diet like this so full of carbs I have no idea, but you don't see many overweight Singaporeans at all - must be all the heat, humidity, and walking they do.

The Hawker Centers provide cheap nutritious eats at a price significantly less than the sit-down restaurants and I found the food there to be as good if not better than many restaurants. Getting up early, going to the Hawker center and then heading on ur way became an almost daily ritual.

They also made Singaporean coffee at the Hawker center to die for - coffee brewed until it was dark and practically thick then cut with condensed milk and served either over ice on in a mug and was pure caffeinated heaven.

Over ice it would be served in a plastic cup and a nifty plastic handle would be added for carrying it. Since Singaporeans walk so much carrying lots of things, this simple plastic handle makes transporting it easy.

After breakfast and a swim, we headed to Chinatown for our next adventure.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Who's Afraid Of Kid Rock?

Apparently Michigan Democrats are, considering that he may run for Senate against the rather lackluster Debbie Stabenow.

How do we know this? Because they suddenly decide to write editorials against him and accuse him of racism and protest him being the opening act at the new Little Caesars Arena.

I sure as heck hope he runs, it's quite clear that Democrats both consider Stabenow vulnerable and Kid Rock a real threat to her seat considering they're playing the race card at him fast and furious. He'd certainly not be an establishment Republican.

Singapore Day 3 - Resorts World Sentosa

On Day 3 of our trip, we took an Uber to Sentosa, Singapore's Resort Island, connected via a bridge to Singapore proper.

From Sentosa, you can get a decent shot of the Singapore skyline and docks.

As you can see, it was a rather overcast day, with rain to come. It did rain at least for a bit every day we were there, typically in the afternoon for an hour or so, that's life in the tropics when you're all of 6 degrees north of the equator.

Sentosa has casinos, Universal Studios, an aquarium and other fun things to do.

We were originally going to go to Universal that day.

Unfortunately it seemed the entire population of southeast Asia decided to go there that day as well.

That's just the line to get to the line to get tickets to get in.

Turns out, it was both mainland China and the Philippines end of school period and everyone had brought themselves and their kids to Universal. Hours to get in to stand in line for hours for rides in the heat and humidity was not exactly going to be a great way to spend a day.

Since that was not going to turn out well, we decided to go to the Aquarium instead, which while rather busy was not as crazy as Universal, not to mention it was indoors and rather cool.

It had huge tanks and a walk through tube so you could really get a good look at the sharks and other aquatic life close up.

All sorts of marine life were represented, from jellyfish to dolphins and everything in between.

Then we decided to wander around Sentosa Island, and after spending a good hike sightseeing, we decided to look for some lunch.

Sentosa had quite a few choices including Starbucks and Krispy Kreme, and the kids wanted to try an Italian restaurant.

We did not however try the Durian pizza:

Our Durian eating experience came later. The food was decent but nothing to blog about.

Then we left Sentosa, went home for a nap as the jet lag was demanding tribute, woke and headed out to Bugis Market and the Arab area of Singapore.

The market has tons of stuff - food, trinkets, shlocky shirts, groceries and other household goods, and it was pretty full of people.

Then as the sun went down we headed out for dinner and browsinf various shops in the Arab street.

The Masjid Sultan is rather a prominent landmark in the area:

Various small shops selling middle eastern arts and carpets abound in the area, especially on the Arab Street.

Then we went to a road that had been closed to all but pedestrian traffic and was lined with restaurants all offering some sort of middle eastern food with patio and indoor seating.

We decided on a Turkish restaurant and ordered a lamb dish that came in a clay pot, on fire, to your table before being opened up in front of you:

Tasty lamb inside, cooked to perfection:

After that we wandered around a bot more and then went home.

It was a very full day indeed.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Singapore Air Force Museum - Part 2 Inside

As you enter the building, setup as an open hanger on the main floor, you're greeted by more aircraft, parked close together without a lot of space between them.

"Hey", I said to Jonathan as I pointed to one hanging from the ceiling - "I can fly that one":

Indeed, it was the first aircraft the Singaporean Air Force ever purchased, the Cessna 172K.

Prior to 1968, the British had been in charge of Singapore's air defense, and with the British pulling out and Malaysia kicking Singapore out of Malaysia to be an independent city-state (this is not how the Singaporeans recall the event however), it had to look to itself for air defense.

In addition to the Cessna 172s, they acquired BAC Strikemasters for lead in jet training:

They also acquired T-33 Jet trainers:

Another Hawker Hunter sat inside the hangar, suitably armed:

And there were A4 Skyhawks, both the A4S and the A4SU, the Singaporean upgraded Super Skyhawk.

The A4S:

The A4SU is easily distinguishable from the A4C:

A Huey and an Alouette rounded out the aircraft collection:

A Bloodhound missile, and a target drone that was shot down in training, complete with shrapnel holes from the missile that knocked it down round out the collection on the hangar floor.

Above the hangar is a gallery, quite dark as Singaporean museums tend to be, with spotlights that played heck with getting decent camera shots, that related the history of the Air Force from its beginnings to the modern day.

There was an interesting set of placards that showed the changes in the Air Force's emblem over time (note the differing roundels on the various aircraft in the pictures above):

The remainder of the exhibit had various pictures of aircraft, discussed the force's composition and change in various eras through to the modern day, where they now fly F16C and Ds, and F15SGs (A Singaporean upgraded F-15 Strike Eagle).

Interestingly enough, due to having extremely limited airspace, the Singaporean Air Force trains in the USA (including at Mountain Home Air Base and Luke Air Force base), Australia and France.

Overall it was a very nice museum to go to and well worth the visit.