Telok Ayer Time Warp

September 11, 2012 § Leave a comment

Lately, our weekends have been pre-occupied with work as we spend, what should be cherished leisure time, slogging away from behind our paper-laden desk at home. Lil’ Miss Maple was anxious to find an escape route from the bunker that we had been slowly building in the comfort of our abode. It was time to take a break from the monotony and re-introduce ourselves to civilization. So, off we went one weekend in search of a little urban adventure.

Often times, we plan our daytrips according to our food cravings. That particular weekend, I was craving for a local dish called “Char Kway Teow” (fried rice noodles). But, no, it couldn’t be just any old Char Kway Teow from any ordinary hawker stall—it had to be the Char Kway Teow from the Amoy food centre in Chinatown! The last time I had Char Kway Teow from the Amoy food centre was eons ago when I used to work in the vicinity and would “tar pau” (takeaway) a packet for lunch in the office. Would we be able to find that same Char Kway Teow on a quiet weekend? There was only one way to find out.

As the photo above shows, our tummies were indeed lucky that day. We tar pau-ed the Char Kway Teow, which was neatly packed in paper, and brought our loot to the nearby Telok Ayer Green—a little urban pocket park tucked in the middle of a block of historic shophouses dating back to the early 19th century.

We  found ourselves a spacious bench under the shade where we chowed down until our appetites were completely satiated to the point of eschewing Char Kway Teow for several months. Lil’ Miss Maple, however, found something of greater interest at Telok Ayer Green. Dotted around the park are life-like sculptures that remind us of a time in Singapore’s history when work was labour-intensive, gruelling, and under-valued.

All it took was a day trip to Telok Ayer and a time warp to put things into perspective for us. There will always be unfinished work that will carry over to the To-Do list for the following day. Most of this work provides for our livelihood and I suppose it would be inadvisable to neglect it altogether (lol), while other tasks are self-imposed and tend to be given an exaggerated declaration of importance (for example: I should, no, I must clean/wax/polish the tile floors next week, no, make it today, even though I have a looming deadline for a job application).

In writing this, I am reminded of the “80/20 Rule” which is adapted from Vilfredo Pareto’s concept of efficiency. The poster below transfers the 80/20 Rule to small business development, but I can imagine how the 80/20 Rule can be applied to other aspects of life such as time management. So, there’s no excuse now for you not to have a super productive week… just be sure to reward yourself at the end of it!


The Pinnacle @ Duxton

July 15, 2012 § Leave a comment

East Side Story

January 19, 2012 § 14 Comments

If you’re looking for a girl named Maria who works in a bridal shop on a New York city street, then Broadway’s ‘West Side Story’ is where you would want to be. Our version—the ‘East Side Story’—is about a furball named Miss Maple who ventures from her home in the western part of Singapore in search of sun and sand along the eastern shores of the island. Since we don’t often head out east, we decided to make it a full-day event for the little tyke.

To ensure that we had plenty of energy to expend, we fuelled up at The Garden Slug for a hearty brunch. Nestled in the bohemian-chic neighbourhood of Joo Chiat in eastern Singapore, this bistro offers weekenders a place to laze the day away with an extensive food and drinks menu that could easily take you from breakfast to lunch to dinner.

Sandwiched between a pet store and a vet clinic, it is not surprising that this eatery is a pet-friendly establishment with outdoor seating to accommodate patrons and their four-legged companions.

For once, Maple got to enjoy being perched on a chair and soaking in the views from above ground. Of course, this also meant that she was dangerously close to the table top where food is served and temptations beckon—this includes the ‘All Day Breakfast’ that MM ordered and the ‘Pumpkin Cheese Gnocchi in a Beer-Spiked Lamb Ragu’ that I selected from the Specials of the Day menu.

The description of the dishes sure had our mouths watering, but upon trying them our taste buds were soon disappointed. The highlight of the ‘All Day Breakfast’ was the lone Bratwurst, and not much else. We’ve had more memorable breakfast dishes that really wowed us, so it would take a pretty strong contender to win us over. The ‘Pumpkin Cheese Gnocchi’ was an interesting concept and all the flavours seemed to work with one another in creating a robust meal. Unfortunately, there were nuggets of minced lamb that, although cooked, seemed to have come straight out of the refrigerator. I’m not sure what happend there—perhaps this plate was meant to be served warm and not piping hot? Nevertheless, I would have preferred the dish to be heated through and through.

With our tummies full, we moved to the next item on our itinerary: Katong Park and Dog Run. Little did we know, upon entering the park, that we were standing on the grounds of a historic site. During the early 19th century, Katong Park and its vicinity formed one of the earliest settlements in Singapore. Over 150 years ago, Katong’s seaviews and abundance of lush coconut trees attracted urbanites wanting to escape from Singapore’s overcrowded city centre. Katong was the recreational/resort hub of its days. Today, what was once sea is now reclaimed land. It’s hard to imagine the Katong of yesteryear when our eyes gaze out into the horizon, only to see a multi-lane expressway!

But, all is not lost. As we would soon find out, the beach is merely a hop, skip, and jump from Katong Park. It’s off to East Coast Park we go! With a 15-kilometre coastline and unobstructed views of the sea, East Coast Park is one of our favourite urban oases in Singapore. Maple ♥ East Coast Park—she can spend all day doing just two things: (1) watching the waves roll, and (2) basking in the attention showered on to her by rollerbladers, bicyclists, joggers, and pedestrians alike. It doesn’t take much to make Lil’ Miss Maple happy 😀

By 4:00pm it was getting far too warm for comfort and we had to call it a day, but what a day it was! We’ll be back to visit the east, that’s for sure. But, until we do, Miss Maple will be dreaming of seashells by the seashore.


Disclaimer: HAPPY.BARK.DAYS is an independent entity and was not paid to write this review by any of the commercial enterprises mentioned in the article.

Playing With The Big Boys

November 19, 2011 § 22 Comments

For as long as Miss Maple has been with us (almost coming to one year), we have known her to be rather timid and skittish around large dogs. But, today’s outing to the West Coast Park dog run had us in for a real surprise—our little tyke befriended two very BIG handsome fellas named Oscar, the Husky, and Xavier, the Goldie. Of course, it also helped that Oscar and Xavier were really easy-going guys with a penchant for mighty small dogs like our Miss Maple. Here are some fun photos of our day out!

Two Sandwiches By The Singapore River

August 29, 2011 § 10 Comments

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The birthplace of Singapore is a river that, today, spans 6 kilometres east-west through the historical heart of the city. Three heritage clusters of conservation shophouses—Boat Quay, Clarke Quay, and Roberston Quay—flank the river and offer city-slickers a contemporary entertainment experience of nightclubs, bars, pubs, restaurants, cafes, and boutique retail shops. Weekend mornings are usually quieter in these parts of town, so we decided to take advantage of it despite the spattering of rain on Saturday.

We ventured to Roberston Quay (located at the tail-end of the Singapore River) for lunch at a quaint little eaterie called Kith Cafe. Our very first visit to Kith Cafe was more than two years ago—since then, this establishment has been featured in lifestyle magazines such as Monocle and has become a favourite amongst residents living nearby. With so much being said about this F&B outlet, we thought we were long overdue to pay Kith Cafe another visit and, this time, with Miss Maple in tow!  

It was a busy Saturday afternoon and the tables and stools spilling out of the cubby-hole space that is Kith Cafe were all fully occupied. After 15 minutes of pacing up and down with hunger pangs serving as constant reminders that our tummies needed to be fed, we finally found ourselves available seats. MM spared no time in placing our orders, and it was quite remarkable how quickly our plates arrived shortly thereafter.

First up was a focaccia sandwich of poached eggs over crispy bacon, avocado, and tomato served with a side of tortilla chips (S$10). I’m not a very big fan of poached eggs, so MM happily stole them off this sandwich. One of the poached eggs was severely overdone, while the other turned out beautifully with the velvety yolk perfectly intact and undisturbed (until broken enthusiastically, of course). All in all, this particular sandwich seemed to have been put together a little too effortlessly. Given its price, we were expecting a little more substance. Indeed, a rare disappointment. 

Next up was a multi-grain sandwich of ginger chicken on a bed of baby spinach, cucumber, and melted cheese with a side of tortilla chips (S$10). The bread was veering slightly towards the stale and dry side, although whether this was the intention is questionable. The chicken was moist and my palate detected an ever-so-subtle hint of ginger. I only wish there could have been a more generous serving of cheese, but that’s just my own biased opinion—I ♥ cheese!

Kith Cafe is a charming little nook-and-cranny with an unobstructed view of the Singapore River. If you can find yourself a spot here, bring a book and pass away the morning with a good read. And, if you’re lucky, you might just spot a replica of a ‘bum boat’ drift by.


We might forgo the sandwiches on our next visit to Kith Cafe, but that won’t stop us from trying their special barista coffees. Apparently, coffees are what this humble cafe is best known for. Miss Maple, on the other hand, is too young to learn about caffeine—in any case, just offer this tiny gal water and she is a happy camper.

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Disclaimer: HAPPY.BARK.DAYS is an independent entity and was not paid to write this review by any of the commercial enterprises mentioned in the article.

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