Sunday, February 23

The New Zealand Plan

Travelling on a budget can be tough. Finding work on a budget can be tough. Arriving in a new country where you have no friends or family can be tough. So how was I going to cope in New Zealand?

I found my answer about 4 weeks before I left by talking to a colleague (great first hand experience of why you should be nice to those around you).


HelpX is a website where a host and helper communicate and arrange a stay. The host provides room and board, the helper provides around 4 hours work per day. For those who want to meet new people, can afford to travel for weeks and have a limited budget HelpX is perfect. HelpX is what I've been using to travel New Zealand.
My aim was to travel the from Auckland to Wellington with HelpX, which has so far been successful with 5 hosts in; Auckland, Hamilton, Hawkes Bay, Otaki and Pukerua Bay.

HelpX has allowed me to meet new people, listen to new perspectives, find helpful advice, travel the country, try new things, create contacts and allow me to apply to jobs online. Its not been sunshine and rainbows the entire time, but its been great overall.

My current plan is to go to Christchurch and from there I will consider my next move. Within the next month I will settle in Auckland or Wellington and find short term work to pay for bills, while I find a career. Whatever happens, my experience has been great and the future will be interesting.

Blog Posts In 2014

In June 2013 I moved to Singapore.
In January 2014 I arrived in New Zealand to travel and eventually work.
Going forward I only have one Singapore relevant post to cover and from then on my posts (where applicable) will be New Zealand centric. 

Saturday, February 15

Food Review: The Clan Restaurant

Cuisine: Fusion
Price: $45 per person
Location: 18/20 Bukit Pasoh Road, 089832

The Clan restaraunt was quiet when we arrived, with only a few couples for company. The decor was nice and minimalistic and the waiting staff were friendly and attentive. The menu was split into several courses with around half a dozen dishes per course. We shared the 6 course dinner menu (and an extra dessert). We went with a French inspired theme. We ordered: foie gras terrine with focaccia and lychee crumbs. Potato gratin, marinated crab meat with aged balsamico and pumpkin sauce. Crab bisque cappuccino and prawn twister. Duck confit with plum mustard, truffle mashed potato and seasonal vegetables. Peanut caramel feuilletine. Chocolate lava with home made gelato.

The chefs starter was composed of the 3 items above. Nothing memorable about it, the fusion style flavours did not blending well.

I've never been a fan of livery foods, preferring terrine but I wanted to try the foie gras in Singapore. The foie gras tasted like I expected; livery, creamy texture. The lychee balls were a treat, explosions of honey in your mouth.

Monday, February 10

Food Review: Riders Cafe (Return)

Cuisine: Western
Price: $50 per person
Location: 51 Fairways Drive, 286965 

This review is long over due (ate there on January 1st) so excuse the poor details! I had visited Riders Cafe once before and enjoyed it immensely. I went a second time but the experience wasn't quite as a great as before...
We ordered items from the New Year's and standard menu. From the New Year's menu the fried camembert with quince jam, cauliflower salad with yoghurt and pomegranate, grilled lamb and double cut pork chop with creamy polenta and grilled root vegetables. From the regular menu the lemon posset for dessert.

Crispy and creamy. The camembert tasted great and the jam (which included chilli) worked great. Delicious.

The salad was cold and pretty bland. The pomegranate was the only saving grace.

Saturday, February 8

5 Romantic Dates Ideas For Singapore

With Singapore's fast pace of life and cramped island, it can be hard for you and a partner to get away from it all. Here are 5 ideas for you to spend time together. As a general rule weekdays and night time are the best time to get some privacy. Do not, I repeat do not, try these on weekends during the day!

5. A Car

You need privacy, but home isn't an option. Be extra classy by bringing newspapers to stick to the windows.

4. Picnic

MacRitchie Reservoir and Bukit Batok Nature Park are beautiful during the day. MacRitchie Reservoir is a particular treat where you can lie back on the luscious grass which overlooks the lake. Just watch out for those bloody monkeys who will steal your food, and more, if you turn your back.

Monday, February 3

The 5 Worst Things About Singapore

Despite having a great 8 months working and living in Singapore, like any where in the world, it isn't perfect. Here are the worst aspects of Singapore that I encountered.

5. The weather

Impromptu rain storms force those without umbrellas into cover, or be soaked within seconds!

Singapore hovers around 28 degrees Celsius all year round. There are no seasons as such. Doesn't sound too bad right? Singapore is extremely humid and if you merely walk a few meters outdoors, you'll find yourself breaking into a sweat. Air con or fans are a must in day time and even into the evening. Exacerbating this issue is the temperamentality of the weather. Its not uncommon for the day to start out sunny, have a tropical rain storm around lunch, ending with the sun returning in the afternoon. It makes planning out door activities  hard; want to sun bathe and swim at the beach? Better pray to the weather Gods that there will be no clouds to be seen.

4. Hidden racism

It happens, but it's rare to see races mixing.

Singapore has a thinly veiled racist culture which may not be obvious as a Westerner. Many Chinese look down on the Indian and Malay populations. Its not uncommon to hear otherwise sensible Singaporeans describe Indians as 'lazy', 'rude' or 'all talk'. Racial groups generally stick to their own and don't intermingle. Despite Singapore's insistence on one country, there are clearly some subtle and not so subtle divisions.

Sunday, February 2

The 5 Best Things About Singapore

After spending 8 months living and working in Singapore I can say I had a wonderful time. It wasn't all perfect, but Singapore is unique city with lots to appreciate. Here's my 5 favourite things about Singapore.

5. Public transport

Modern, efficient transport at its best. Also the buses look kinda cool.

The public transport in Singapore is comprised of buses and the MRT (train/subway system). Both are unified with a single card payment system. Buses are everywhere and anywhere, and the MRT is extremely fast. Getting around most of Singapore is a breeze and preferable to driving on congested roads. Let's not forget that it is extremely cheap, typically costing under $2 for an hour bus trip.

4. Greenery

Orchard Road at Christmas. The trees are an integral part of the street.

Around 50 years ago the Singapore government decided to improve the aesthetics of the city by planting trees and vegetation through out the concrete jungle. Although the vegetation is not an organic, natural sprawl it really does a fantastic job of keeping this city state lush, vibrant and fresh.

Saturday, February 1

Food Review: Tim Ho Wan

Cuisine: Chinese/Dim Sum
Price: $25 per person
Location: #01-29A/52, Plaza Singapura, 68 Orchard Road

January 2014 menu

Tim Ho Wan is famous in Hong Kong as a Michelin star restaurant. A branch was recently launched in Singapore. The restaurant at Dhoby Ghaut's Plaza Singapura is walk in only (no reservations) and I waited about 20 minutes on a Sunday night before we were seated.

There is a large variety of food on offer at a reasonable price. We ordered the baked bun with BBQ pork, pan fried carrot cake, steamed egg cake, vermicelli roll with beef, pork dumpling with shrimp, beef balls with beancurd skin, beancurd spring roll with shrimp and finally mango pomelo salad. Quick description of each item follows:

Baked bun with BBQ pork: Unlike most chae sui bao Tim's is baked and the bun is crispy. It had sweet crust on it. Certainly a unique twist, however I did not like the crispy bun. The pork filling was tasty.
Pan friend carrot cake: Standard fare, tasted good.
Steam egg cake: This was a real treat. Moist but springy cake.
Vermicelli roll with beef: The beef filling was extremely sweet and chewy, stick to the shrimp variety.
Pork dumpling with shrimp: Good quality. Each piece had bite to it.
Beef balls with beancurd skin: A personal favourite and I was glad to find them at Tim Ho Wan, lived up to my expectations. Firm texture and succulent meat.
Beancurd spring roll with shrimp: Crunchy and tasty filling.
Mango pomelo salad: The dish is mango juice, mango chunks and a small quantity of pomelo. It was refreshing but uninspired.

Tim Ho Wan's insistence on queuing doesn't do the restaurant any favours. The food is certainly satisfying and it comes at a reasonable price. However the wait is a significant draw back, when there is so much other reasonable dim sum on offer in Singapore.