Catch A Chili Crab Hon

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Happy belated birthday . . .

Filed under: food, friends, Thailand — Shirley @ 6:45 pm

Well, not really, just a belated post. Wanted to post Mick’s big 6-0 birthday in the month of August but we’ve been so busy – awww just missed it by one day (it’s Sept 1 here as I write). We weren’t late on the celebration, in fact, we were early. We celebrated Mick’s birthday with our friends while we were in Bangkok.

We already knew that we would be in Thailand around Mick’ birthday and thought about taking a weekend trip out of Bangkok but, since Bruce and Leslie live there and Rachel was going to be there also, we decided to stay in town and celebrate. I asked Leslie to make reservations at the Blue Elephant. You may recognize the restaurant from our trip back in November when we traveled there with Linda and Alex.

The Blue Elephant Rest a cup of tea

Here is the gang, on our side of the table is our new friend Yeon-Jung, who joined up with us for the weekend from Singapore. On the right from the back to front: Bruce, Leslie, and Rachel (you should recognize everyone from other posts!)

the gang's all here

We decided that since no one could decide on just one entree, everyone would order something different and we would eat “Chinese style”. The chef sent an amuse bouche (on the left) to get whet our appetites; and we ordered a slew of starters, one of these being black pepper scallops.

amuse bouche black pepper scallops

The presentation was as pretty as the food was good.

My selection for dinner was a fillet of sea bass baked in bamboo on the left, and Rachel’s choice was Thai spiced spareribs on the right. I can’t remember all of the choices, there were lamb chops too (weird coming from a Thai restaurant!).

sea bass in bamboo ribs

During dinner a lightning/thunderstorm rolled in. While perusing the dessert menu the lights started to go out first in our area where we were seated, and then our whole room. But we noticed that the next room was still lit. Still not suspecting anything but the storm, we were puzzled until we heard the waitstaff coming in singing “Happy Birthday”. A surprise was being cooked up back in the kitchen to bring out Mick’s candle-lit cake. Rachel and Yeon-Jung bought Mick a cake and the restaurant was kind enough to serve it for our dessert. The restaurant also brought out a candle-lit ice cream sundae!

The birthday boy

Happy Birthday Mick, may you have many more and they are celebrated with friends on trips around Europe!


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A proper pot of tea

Filed under: food, friends, singapore — Shirley @ 1:22 pm

Coming down to the wire on Rachel’s last week in Singapore. We’ve had a great time getting to know her in our two years here. We’ve shared a lot of cultural experiences, shopping trips, travels, and food – lots and lots of food. When Erin comes to visit Rachel is part of our family, they’re only a couple of years apart and get along so well. We too will be leaving Singapore soon so we’ve been sharing in all those “one more time before I leave”; one last time to see this or that, one last time to have that favorite food, etc.

Rachel mentioned she had never been to the Fullerton Hotel. She had been by it, used their taxi queue to get a cab, but never really been inside. It’s sits along the Singapore River opposite the Asian Civilizations Museum between Boat Quay and the Esplanade/Merlion Park. It was originally the General Post Office building but now transformed into a 5-star boutique hotel.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that the afternoon tea offered at the Fullerton is a British-styled three-tier service. Not an “East meets West” buffet tea that also offers sushi, dim sum and other non-“tea” fare. Cucumber sandwiches, scones, clotted cream, was de rigueur. Each of our pots were enrobed in these beautiful silk cozies, color coded to our tea selection.

tea pot in silk cozy

Oops, we had already scarfed the cucumber sandwiches before I remembered to snap a picture. The right photo is the top tier that contained the puddings (dessert). The trays are set for two, and we were three, but the waitstaff comes around with replenishment so no one was left out, or left hungry. It’s amazing, you can really fill up on all these little bites of food.

savory/scone tier pudding

Music was supplied by a violin trio accompanied by an electrified piano (not in the picture because it was just a piano).

violin trio

It was very “civilized” as the British would say. A relaxing way to wile away the afternoon, sharing a cup of tea, a laugh, and some great memories. We’re going to miss you Rachel!


Thursday, April 30, 2009

C is for koooooo-kee!!!!

Filed under: food, friends — Shirley @ 1:38 pm

“Nothing says lovin’ like something from the oven . . .” even if it’s a big conglomerate commercial oven, they’re the best things to come out of it. Yes folks, it’s that time of year again . . . The Girl Scout’s Cookie Drive! The number one and two cookie, and not necessarily in this order, are Samoas and Thin Mint, (eaten only after they’ve been seriously frozen in the freezer compartment of your fridge.)

I got a “care” package from a very dear friend whom I’ve known since freshman year of college. She’s got me pegged. THANKS CHRIS!  🙂

C is for kooookie!!!!!

This package is now dangerously accessible, dangerously.


Got milk?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Dance of the Bees

Filed under: friends — Shirley @ 12:59 pm

My new toy! Mee Bee on the left – Mickie Bee on the right – Enjoy the dance.

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the Dip . . .

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Toy courtesy of Bruce and Leslie, who indulged my inner child. Thanks!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Something borrowed, something blue

Filed under: friends, singapore — Shirley @ 2:45 pm

February 14, 2009 – Valentine’s Day. You are cordially invited . . .

Is there a more romantic date on the calendar to have a wedding? Cynthia and Daniel – are there two more adorable people to exchange marriage vows on this day? And if things weren’t perfect enough, a garden wedding held at The Lawn at the Raffles Hotel.

The Lawn

The vows and the rings –

The Vows The Rings

The kiss, and presenting . . . Mr and Mrs –

The Kiss The Couple

The girls (Michelle, Cynthia, me, Rachel); the food (there were lots of hors d’oeuvres, but I was too busy eating to take pictures and just caught these “leftovers” before they brought out the desserts) –

The Girls The Food

The photographer was finally able to pin the couple down for an “album” photo of the newly married couple.

The pose

Cynthia and Daniel, we wish you all the best and happiness on your new journey together. Thanks for letting us share in your day. We hope everything goes as beautifully when you have Part II of the wedding in Peru! xo

Sunday, November 30, 2008

We did nothing . . .

Filed under: friends, travels — Shirley @ 11:40 pm

We did nothing . . . and we did it well!

After running the gals all over Singapore and through the sights of Bangkok, before heading out to Thailand, Mick booked us into the Angsana Resort in Bintan, Indonesia for our Thanksgiving celebration. If you’ve seen or followed the international news, on Tuesday (25th), we got out of Thailand with only about an hour and half to spare before they closed down the airport due to the protesters. We deserved to just have some big down time to relax.


We went to Angsana recently and enjoyed our time so much that we decided to go back. Mick booked rooms with views of the beach and the South China Sea.

view from the room

Linda and Alex on their balcony.

linda on the lanai alex on the lanai

Mick, Alex, and Linda all booked massages for the late afternoon, and dinner reservations were at the beach-side restaurant. The most strenuous activity we did was try to figure out how to wrap our sarongs!

getting wrapped up sarong 101



Strolls on the beach, and sitting in the jacuzzi section of the pool was just two of the relaxation activities.

three amigos bubbles

Alex and Mick went for a dip in the ocean and found that it is saltier than any other body of water they’ve been in! Their funny wave reminds me of preparing for a synchronized swim move!

hi from the south china sea splash

The beautiful blue sky was beautiful matched to the blue of the pool.

blue sky and pool alex and linda

Dinner and the local brew . . .

dinner local brew

Homeward bound on the ferry. It was a fantastic trip and a fantastic time having Alex and Linda visit and getting the chance to show them our Southeast Asia home. I’m zonked! Miss you gals!

ferry ride home

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Botanic Garden Revisited

Filed under: botanic, friends, singapore — Shirley @ 1:50 am

Ok before you start rolling your eyes and thinking, “Oh no, not MORE pictures of orchids!!!” These pictures are different, and very few orchids. We went to explore the Botanic Gardens and play with our cameras, and we came up with these pictures.

This is where we started . . .


And then we got more creative 🙂 Alex got a little “cheeky”. It was hot and sunny and Alex’s cheeks must have been showing alot of color that the camera picked up.

orange Alex's cheeks

We loved playing with the color accent function on our cameras. We all have a Canon of some variety.

yellow flowers b/g yellow

A very appropriate sign – drink and pee (heehee) – and a worker taking a quick snooze!

drink/pee nap time

We’re just having a ball!!!

b&W girls

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Filed under: friends, singapore — Shirley @ 2:39 am

Picture Animal from the Muppets when he runs around ecstatically waving his arms over his head, that’s me. Early, and I mean early Monday, as in 12:30ish A.M. Alex and Linda, my two sculling buds, arrived for their two week visit! Mick and I picked them up at the airport – they were a little bedraggled from the long flight as everyone who comes here are; but we got them settled in and the adrenalin kept us up for the next couple of hours. Mick had to turn in early but the three of us stayed up til 3 A.M.


We were delayed a bit after breakfast due to a rain storm but decided that wasn’t going to dampen our spirit of adventure so we grabbed umbrellas and headed out. The rain stopped soon after we had lunch so we headed off to get in the sights. Of course a picture at Merlion Park is a must. Alex is on the left – Linda on the right.


After walking them all over we needed sustenance so off to the Raffles Long Bar for a Singapore Sling and rest our weary feet.

Mmmmm Singapore Slings


It started out with a rain shower again but stopped way before we headed out, and since it looked like no more rain was coming in we went over to Sentosa Island. We took the trip up to the crown and mouth of the big Merlion. Neither Mick nor I have done it before!

Linda and Alex from the mouth

You get a little show before you actually go up to explain the story of the beginning of Singapore; then you climb the stairs to the mouth and head. We came across the signs to point you in the right direction. Alex is a dentist in Baltimore, and this was just too good not to pass up.

Alex the Dentist

Rinse and Spit!!!!


We went over to the “southern most point of continental Asia”, another tourist must-do. Then Alex wanted to dip her toes into the water and I insisted she do one of her jumps (for joy!)

Alex's jump

Stay tuned for more . . .

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Just another weekend in paradise . . .

Filed under: food, friends, singapore — Shirley @ 9:58 pm

Mick is back in the States so as much as I want to just hibernate, not that the weather here would ever induce you into hibernation, just the opposite; I’ve had a busy week, and weekend out and about.

Friday night –

I was invited to join Jeemes and Evan to take a ride on the Flyer at twilight to see Singapore segue into a city of neon and lights. The Flyer is already dressed in color against the darkening sky. It was cloudy and I had my fingers crossed on my way over to the Flyer that we weren’t going to get one of our evening showers.

starting the ascent

The Flyer is always in motion and so does the changing of colors. You hardly notice because you’re so mesmerized by the lights of the city and the streams of cars on the highway below; but I was able to capture the changes as we moved around.

green blue

The cabins, when they take on the purple-y hue, has an eerie space-ship like glow. This was like riding in a rainbow.

purple car and S'pore at night from above red

My ulterior motive for joining the guys was dinner. We walked over to Gluttons Bay. Yes, Gluttons Bay. There’s no pretense. What a great name for a hawker food court! No holds bar, no political correctness – just calling it straight forward. Satay was the target of our gluttony.

Find a table where you can, table sharing is always acceptable.

makansutra glutton's bay

. . . if the all the chairs are taken, just pull up a stool. There’s no shortage of seating, albeit there may not always be a table to pull it up to. The glutton god was watching over us because we walked right up to an empty table. I guarded our territory while the guys went off to forage for food – you know, the hunter/gatherer instincts.

grab a stool at Glutton's Bay

A Tiger beer, and many, many skewers of chicken satay. Sam, the owner of Alhambra Padang Satay was recently in New York for New York’s Singapore Food Festival. Sorry, no pictures of the satay because I couldn’t maneuver the camera and eat at the same time! We sampled some other fare but we came for the satay.

drink stand satay stand

Saturday night –

Jazz by the Beach at Sentosa Island Cool Deck

It was Rachel who found this event. We gathered up a group of friends, and ran into others, to head over to Sentosa Island. It had just started to rain when Rachel, Lotus and I left the apartment and we prayed that it would not be one of those ridiculously big downpours we get, or maybe it wasn’t even raining over on the Island. The storm stayed over the city and never materialized on Sentosa.

The sky looked pretty as evening was coming in. It was almost pleasant while we waited for the tram to take us down to Siloso Beach.

sky at the tram station jazz friends

The stage was set up to the right of the Cool Deck bar on the grassy area. The beach was right behind the stage; a more perfect setting, I don’t know where you’d find it. We were seated in the “bleacher” area opposite the stage. Next time it’s at a table with chairs, even plastic chairs would be more comfortable than the wooden bleacher.

a glimpse of the beach the crowd at Cool Deck

As we were waiting for the show to start a peacock hen flew up on the roof of the bar. I just liked the palm trees set against the sky 🙂  The jazz concert was very nice, we only stayed through the first set. Everyone was in agreement that we enjoyed the first entertainer – she had a much more jazzy style, think on the lines of Norah Jones; while the second gal was more jazz/rock.

peacock on roof of Cool Deck palm tree at dusk

Sunday –

I headed down to Little India to meet Evan, Lotus and Cody for lunch. I forgot it was Deepavali – Festival of Lights; when I emerged from the subway the streets were thronged with locals and tourist. Once a year they close off Campbell Street for a month, tent it from the elements, and fill it with color and people. You really can’t see very far into the street! Surely there was just enough room for me to get in there.

street decoration closed of street

Evan is still working down his check-off list of must try Singaporen foods. On the food list today was fish head curry. Banana Leaf Apolo is noted for its fish head curry. I did try to get the most dramatic shot of the fish. I know, it’s pretty ugly and it looks back at you, but it is very tasty and they did not make it enamel melting hot.

banana leaf fish head curry

I love the idea of eating off the banana leaf. You can use your fingers but I haven’t mastered doing that yet and most of my food fall off before I can get into my mouth so I resort to the spoon and fork. Cody told me to watch a kid at another table for instructions! ha! Along with the fish was butter chicken, chicken 65, rogan josh (lamb), and spinach with paneer. Lots of naan and rice; and drinks to tone down the fire of the chilis.

Lotus, Cody and Evan

During lunch Lotus noticed that it was raining, not raining actually, pouring down in buckets on and off. We lingered over lunch picking up the last tasty morsels hoping the rain would stop. So what do you do if it’s still raining after the tab has been settled? SHOPPING! After all they went to all the trouble to tent over the entire street for you. It would just be rude not to take advantage of their hospitality. Besides, it’s a festival and you know the prices are going to be low. And there’s always bartering.

sensory overload

It was fun, we were dry (well that’s all relative: dry from the rain, not from sweating in the heat of all those bodies with no air moving) – great energy all through the market. Lotus and I picked up a couple of these hanging trinkets. We were, though, getting a headache from craning our necks to look up at the dizzying array. This is likely my last Deepavali celebration and I don’t want to go home without some treasures to remember it.

Poking along, Evan stopped at one of the stands to pick up gifts to bring home. We got Lotus to model and give us a little belly dancing demonstration. You can’t tell but she is shimmying. She was a good sport but didn’t buy this outfit.

Lotus the belly dancer

It stopped raining long enough for us to leave the market and regroup. We had different agendas for the rest of the afternoon, so we went our separate ways. I grabbed the bus that comes straight up the main road and leaves me off a couple of blocks from home. The rain had stopped but it was starting to rumble again. I made it inside before another storm rolled in. It’s pouring out!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

“Wat’s” up Doc?

Filed under: Chiang Mai/Bangkok, friends, Thailand — Shirley @ 11:10 am

Happy Anniversary! We celebrated our 32nd anniversary in Chiang Mai and Bangkok, Thailand. (Can it really be that many years?)

happy anniversary

Our trip started in Chiang Mai in northern Thailand. We arrived early, greeted at the airport by the driver from our hotel, checked-in, dropped off our bags and hit the pavement running! (The glass wall in the bedroom, yes — the shower. Thank goodness for the blinds!!!)

lobby area our room

All said and done it was lunch time, and with the few amenities the airlines offer any more, budget airlines offer even fewer. Without so much as a mini pretzel, (but available for purchase), and our early flight offered no time for breakfast; we were ready for some real Thai food. We took a tuk-tuk (not this one!) to the Huen Phen restaurant recommended by Monique who greeted us upon our arrival at the hotel.


Seating is out in the open air porch.

menu board entrance to restaurant

The food was simple home cooking and delicious. Monique said their specialty was the yellow noodle in coconut milk. I can’t remember the Thai name, something soi, it’s probably there on the menu board. Our meal from top to bottom: fried chicken, eggplant with egg (my personal favorite), sticky rice in the covered basket, the yellow noodle dish w/pickled veggies. And for some reason not shown, is pad thai, not because it wasn’t yummy. All washed down with the local Singha beer, that accompanied most of our meals during our stay in Thailand.

Our first lunch Singha beer

Chiang Mai was originally surrounded by a moat and wall to keep out raiders from Burma. Sections of the moat, and parts of the wall still stand today. When the Lannathai powers declined, the city lost importance and was often occupied by either the Burmese or Thais. Lanna, meaning One Million Rice Fields, was a kingdom in the north of Thailand around the city of Chiang Mai. It was so underpopulated at one point that from 1776 to 1791 its remaining inhabitants abandoned the city .

Fountains in the moat makes it less threatening and gives the area a park-like feel. The photo on the right is the left portion of the wall at Tapae Gate. We are inside the old walled city limits.

fountain in the moat wall left of gate

Chiang Mai has become an increasingly modern city; though it lacks the cosmopolitan air of Bangkok, still it attracts thousands of visitors each year. With some of the highest mountains in Thailand, this area is very popular for trekking, making it an ideal destination for backpackers.  Cheap and very affordable for adventurous travellers on a budget. (Not where we stayed, as you saw earlier.)

Chiang Mai’s historic importance is its strategic location on an ancient trade route. Long before the influx of foreign visitors, the city served as a major center for handcrafted goods, umbrellas, jewelry (particularly silver) and woodcarving.

With our appetites sated, map in hand, we started our walking journey to explore the city. Chiang Mai is noted for temples. There are over 300 Buddhist temples, called “wat” in Thai. We used the xeroxed pages with the temple information that Mick copied from the Lonely Planet book as our guide. Not only were there the main temples of interest, Mick coined “walk-by” temples for all the ones you see while walking around. They’re the Starbucks of Buddhism, you can’t go two blocks and not pass a temple.

Of the many temples we visited, the highlight was the oldest one dating back to the 13th Century, and a 158 year-old teak temple. I think I took about 1000 pictures just of temples.

Wat Chedi Luang – founded in 1401 but  was damaged by an earthquake in the 16th century. Now only two-thirds of the Chedi remains. Chedi is the mound-like structure that contains Buddhist relics, once thought to be places of Buddhist worship, typically the remains of a Buddha or saint. (I don’t necessarily have pics of the Chedis but I’ll point them out if I post one. I was concentrating on the temples. You’ll probably spot them in the background.)

The city pillar shrine on the grounds of the Wat Chedi Luang. The shrine, along with three dipterocarp trees, are the protectors of the city.


Here they are restoring the splendor of the façade, the back side had not been restored yet.

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Bells are hung all along the edges and under the eaves to keep birds away and the temples clean of bird poo! Ingenious, beautiful, and musical.

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All the staircases in temples are flanked by nagas (serpents). Most were ornately decorated with gold paint and inlaid with pieces of colored mirrored mosaics, all had scary faces.


At least the gold, colorful ones looked less threatening! These are just down right frightening.


Serpents and elephants. Elephants are also the symbol of Chiang Mai, and probably all of Thailand as they’re seen on everything. This is the Chedi Luang.

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Buddhas . . .


Sitting diagonally to the Wat Chedi Luang is the beautiful 158 year-old teak temple, Wat Phan Tao.


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A beautifully painted peacock over one of the doorways, and simple painted details on a door. The touches of gold adds an elegance to the old wood building (wihâan). I was glad to see that it had not been painted but left to weather and show it’s natural beauty.

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I went inside all of the temples, Mick picked and choose the ones he visited because you have to take your shoes off and he was wearing sneakers, etc. They were beautiful and spooky especially when they had one of these “monks in a box” sitting there meditating in the lotus position. I don’t like wax museums, marionettes are not high on my list, and forget ventriloquist dolls . . . so coming face to face with these monks . . .

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Alms bowls for believers to “buy” merit points to get into heaven. I need all the help I can get so, I just emptied out my wallet into them.


Wat Chiang Man: the oldest temple in Chiang Mai dating from the 13th century. The temple was beautiful but the architecture was reminiscent of the pictures I’ve shown above. The importance of this temple, no less than its age, are the two revered Buddha images housed here. A marble bas-relief of Buddha dating back 2000 years (which I don’t seem to have a photo of), and the emerald Buddha, which I found more interesting. It sits 10 cm high, and is thought to have come from Lopburi 1800 years ago.

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You can really over-dose on temples in this city. I will show you just one more later – the most famous one perched on a hilltop.

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