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Birthday Weekend in Singapore

Every year, on my birthday, I take some time off and fly to a local or international destination - depending on what the queens planned for.  Last year it was Coron, Palawan.  This year, that destination is Singapore.  We decided to go to Singapore this year because Lion King was showing at the Marina Bay Sands Theater.  I've always wanted to watch the play ever since its pre-showing at the Orpheum theater in Minneapolis.  That was close to 14 years ago.  So 14 years after - I finally caught the play.  The show was great.

However, we thought that it would really be a waste to fly to Singapore - and just watched a play.  So we played the part of tourist - and toured the city.   Singapore is a good destination for Filipino tourists.  It has great architectural marvels like the Marina Bay Sands hotel,  the Art Science Museum, and the Esplanade.  It also has great parks like the Jurong Bird Park and the Night Safari.  Food trippers can also partake of the very flavorful cuisine which is a mixture of Chinese, Malay and Indian food.

The only downside to the visit in Singapore is the heat.  It's very close to the equator - so it can be really hot.   Yes - it's even hotter than Manila. 

These are the sights of the city - that we were able to experienced during this visit.

Marina Bay Sands Interiors

Sculpture of Little Boys Playing at the River Banks

Anderson Bridge

Bicycle at Anderson Bridge

Twin Bridge along the mouth of the River

The Merlion is under maintenance.  So it was covered in Scaffolding

Night Market in China Town

The Shop Houses

Esplanade - which look like Durian Fruit

A Girl taking pictures of the Lotus Flowers

Balloons Promoting the Dali Exhibit at Art Science Museum

Iconic Melting Clock from one of Dali's famous Works.

The Art Science Museum. Yes it talks about the Science behind Art or the Art behind Science

Clock - melting from the heat of the Tropical Sun

Marina Bay Sands - Tower - one of them.  There are three of them.

The interior of the Marina Bay Sands Shopping Complex.  It reminds me of Musee d'Orsay.

Chewing gum is illegal in Singapore.  This is a bust wrapped in Chewing Gum Wrapper.

An uncle feeding the pigeons along Clark Quay

Twitter Bird - is that you?

The Art Science Museum.  It does look like a Lotus Flower

The little girl - mesmerized by the Lotus Pond.

Friendly Taxi Drivers in Singapore

The taxi drivers in Singapore must be the friendliest drivers in the South East Asian region.  I can compare them to the Thai, Hong Kong, Malaysian and especially the Filipino drivers - and the Singaporean drivers are the most courteous.  They also seem to be the most chatty - and typically I don't like chatty drivers - and I will plug my ears with headphones when they chat with me.  Singaporean drivers ( who we call Uncle ) are ok - because they tend to be talk about positive topics - like their recent vacation to the Philippines or their children or Singapore weather.  That's unlike what I can hear from our Manongs back home.  

Moreover - how many times have you tried to hail a cab in the streets of Manila and the Manong asks you where you're going and turns you down if you're too near - and turns you down if you're too far?  On the other hand in Singapore - you go to a taxi queue and the driver doesn't seem to have a choice but take you in - even your destination is miles and miles away.

The Taxi Card provided by PS Cafe to their guests.
I wonder if it's because of the surcharge system in taxi fares in the City State.  You see - in Singapore - everything seems to have a surcharge.  Hail a cab between 5:30 and 9:30 in the evening and there's a surcharge.  Go into the City and there's a surcharge.   Take a cab into the airport and there's a surcharge.  Call them to pick you up and there's a surcharge.  To be honest - the taxi fare can be pretty expensive - but I guess this scheme makes it easier to get a cab without the haggling that you have in other South Asian cities.   You hail a cab - or you go to the nearest taxi queue - and you get a cab.  Besides - those surcharges make sense.   Between 5:30 and 9:30 in the evening is when you can encounter heaviest traffic.   The city center is more congested.   That taxi fare also seem to imply that the drivers can earn a decent living as compared to their counterparts in the region.   So maybe that's why they are nicer.

This prompts me to ask - is the surcharge scheme the answer to our Taxi woes in Manila?  Do you think it will improve the overall demeanor of Taxi Manongs? 

Brunch at Masseto

The dinner experience at Masseto was great.  However - it was a business dinner and in between the first course and my main course, I had to step out of the restaurant and take a call.  So when I got back from the call - my dish had to be re-heated.  The dish was good - but I think the re-heating reduced the crispiness of the pork belly.

So I thought it would be good to check the restaurant out again in a much relaxed setting.  Fresh from the great brunch experience from Singapore,  I thought I would check it out again for brunch on Saturdays.

In my previous blog post, I raved about the service personnel of the restaurant.  They were attentive and they know their menu well.  This time however - there were two waiters that seem to be the opening staff.  I think one of them needed some training.  When asked about a detail in the menu - she didn't know and she had to go back to the kitchen to ask the Chef.  Thank God that at middle of our meal - the other waiters came - and they were as good as I remembered them during our dinner.

Dining in Masseto it turns out becomes a magnificent experience when you relax and enjoy your meal as if it was your last.  I think that during brunch - I experienced food Nirvana.  From the starters ( which was Portobello mushroom on top of Filo pastry ) to the main course ( Bacon, and Egg on top of Toasts ) to the dessert ( Masseto Sundae ) - it was as if I was going through a great symphony of flavors.  My taste buds were experiencing orgasm - with every bite.  The scent of the food and drinks ( especially their home made iced tea ) also awakens my olfactory nerves like they have never been before.

So as I went through each dish - and drink - I took time and relished each flavor.   So citizens of Manila - I must proclaim that Masseto is definitely the best restaurant in the city.   You just need to try it to discover what I have experienced.   

For now - I will try to reminisce and recall - the overall experience and hope that I am able to return to food Nirvana.

The AluPen from Just Mobile

Ever since I got the iPad and the Note Taker HD, I have been looking for the perfect capacitive stylus to go with it. I have tried brands from Targus and Pogo and found that they do the job but not quite all the time. While I was at the Hong Kong international airport, another stylus caught my eye. This time it's from Just Mobile. The name of the stylus is AluPen. It is priced 10 HK$ more than the other brands and it brags that it is Editor's choice from iCreate. So I bought it for 175 HK$.

My verdict - it is the best stylus I have bought. It is sensitive enough that it never misses a stroke but not too sensitive that I end up with unwanted strokes on my document. The only complaint I have is it's weight. It is a bit heavy for me. But I guess those who are used to heavy expensive pens won't mind its weight.

So my dear readers, who are also iPad enthusiasts, I think I found the best iPad Stylus in Just Mobile's AluPen.

The Fleming at Hong Kong

This was my home for the couple of days I spent in Hong Kong for another business meeting.  It's 1/3 the price of Renaissance Marriott.  The room is spacious (for Hong Kong standards).

I'm staying at the all male floor so the room amenities and the in-room bar is tailor fit for men.  The room even features an XBOX and a practice putting green.

It is located at the Fleming Road right behind the Church of Latter day saints.   This means that it's merely 5 minutes away from my office and 5 minutes away from the Wan Chai MTR.   It's great value for money - which I'm sure our Finance Team will appreciate.
Double Bed
Office Desk
Office Supplies

Practice Putting Green

XBOX Controller

View of Gloucester Road.

Dining at Masseto

Masseto is one of the premiere restaurants in Manila.  It opened last year and it has become a favorite destination for Manila's elite.  We have always wanted to try the restaurant but never had time to do it.  That's actually sad because it is a stone's throw away from the house of queens.  Last week - we were finally able to make the reservations and try the restaurant. 

The restaurant is definitely great.  It has great decor - although I think it's too dimly lit.  The food is delicious.  The staff are well trained.  Of course - one cannot go to Masseto without trying their wine.  I just wish they had a degustation menu with wine pairing.

The logo which looks like a wax seal.

The specials menu.  

The wine selection.  BTW - they have an iPad app which you use in selecting your wine.

Parmesan Crisps.

House Iced Tea.


Truffle Oil Chips.

Sweet Pumpkin soup.

Pork Belly.