Category Archives: Food

Singapore Heritage Festival 2017 @ Singapore River

The Singapore Heritage Festival 2017 is now entering into her final weekend, this Saturday 13th May and Sunday 14th May, consisting of many different festivities, performances, fun, food and celebration, with the Singapore River being the main attraction for this final Singapore Heritage Festival 2017 weekend.

Taking place at Singapore River this weekend, organised by Asian Civilisations Museum, it’s going to be transformed and brought back in time to the era when the Singapore River was a thriving hub that helped to define Singapore’s status as a trading port and one of the cross roads of the world shipping routes. At where the Asian Civilisations Museum is located, Singapore Heritage Festival 2017 final weekend takes place on Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th May, they are taking over the space, bringing visitors back in time to learn and understand Singapore’s early history, heritage and culture of the Singapore River through the activities, performances and of course, delicious food.

What are some of the festivities, performances and fun that you can expect when you visit Singapore Heritage Festival 2017 at Singapore River from 12th to 13th May 2017?

  • Singapore River Performances

Asian Civilisations Museum

Various timings

Free admission

The Asian Civilisations Museum presents a series of performances related to, and inspired by, food stories and migratory cultures.

The performances include:

  • Through My Eyes

by Act 3 International

12 May | 7.30pm

13 May | 3.30pm and 7.30pm

Asian Civilisations Museum (Outdoors), Hardcourt

Meet three living statues, and listen to them bring the history of Empress Place to life. Revisit hawkers by the river, the old Immigration department, and the government offices of bygone years.

  • Part I: The Dream

by TO ensemble

13 May | 2pm and 4.30pm

Asian Civilisations Museum, Level 1, Contemporary Gallery

Spice up your afternoon with fusion music that explores the founding of the Lion City.

  • Part II: Port City

by TO ensemble

13 May | 3pm and 5.30pm

Asian Civilisations Museum, Level 2, Foyer

Be transported back to the hustle and bustle of the old Singapore River scene, and experience its growth over the years through this multicultural musical performance.

  • Sounds of the Island

by TCR Music Pte Ltd

12 and 13 May | 10pm | Asian Civilisations Museum (Outdoors), Hardcourt

& 13 May | 6pm   | Asian Civilisations Museum, Level 2, Foyer

Sing along to Xinyao, Singapore Mandarin pop tunes, surrounded by the river, food, and people that are distinct to the island.

  • A Banquet of Songs

by Vox Camerata

13 May | 1.30pm and 4pm

Asian Civilisations Museum, Level 2, Foyer

Groove to a delectable collection of folk tunes, as this a cappella group tickles your aural palate with songs of adventure, travel, and longing.

  • Museum of Eating

Asian Civilisations Museum

Date & Time: 28 April – 14 May | Throughout museum hours

Free admission

We love our Singapore food, we eat a lot, however, do we know more about food, the processes, habits, quirks and practices here in Singapore? Visit the Museum of Eating inside the Asian Civilisations Museum to find out more!

  • Masak Makan Trail

Asian Civilisations Museum, Level 1, Central Staircase

Date & Time: 12 and 13 May | Throughout museum hours

For children only

This fun activity would be ideal for parents bringing their children to Singapore Heritage Festival 2017 at the Singapore River.

Question: “Do you know why the spouts of coffee pots connect near the top of the pot, and tea pots from the bottom?”

You can find the answer by going on a self-guided trail through the Asian Civilisations Museum to discover the answer!

  • Somewhere Around Here

Asian Civilisations Museum (Outdoors)

Date & Time: 28 April – 14 May | Daily

Free admission

Photography enthusiasts, history, heritage, conservation and preservation enthusiasts, this photographic installation will definitely interest you. Walk around the environment around the Asian Civilisations Museum, discover how the surroundings around it had changed over time, through archival photos. Remember to check out the stories and anecdotes from the Oral History archives.

  • Outdoor Film Screening

Asian Civilisations Museum (Outdoors)

Date & Time: 12 & 13 May | 7.30pm – 10pm

Free admission

Watching movies under the stars, have you tried it before? It’s been a long time since I went to watch a movie under the stars! At Singapore Heritage Festival 2017 at the Singapore River, catch the local films being screened!

  • Kway Chap (2015)

by Sun Koh (15 minutes)

12 May | 7.30pm

Asian Civilisations Museum (Outdoors), ACM Green

Even though filmmaker Sun Koh grew up in a family of famous kway chap hawkers, she never made a film about them. But now she makes a last-ditch attempt to document the memories of her family and their livelihood. But many of the places where they started the trade no longer exist – is she too late?

  • Old Friends (2015)

by Royston Tan (67 minutes)

12 May | 8pm

Asian Civilisations Museum (Outdoors), ACM Green

From the creators of Old Places and Old Romances comes the final instalment of the trilogy: Old Friends. Savour the stories of those who pioneered the rich, authentic flavours of traditional Singaporean cuisine – and those lucky enough to taste them – in this evocative film by Royston Tan and his team. 

  • The Missing Ingredient (2016)

by Wang Eng Eng (19 minutes)

13 May | 7.30pm

Asian Civilisations Museum (Outdoors), ACM Green

The filmmaker follows the struggles of her cousin as he prepares for the Mid-Autumn festival in Singapore. His challenge – recreating the family’s signature salt and pepper moon cake. His efforts are subjected to criticism by the rest of the family, who feel he doesn’t know the recipe. The expectations of continuing a culinary tradition weigh heavily upon the shoulders of her cousin once again this Mid-Autumn.

  • Wanton Mee (2015)

by Eric Khoo (71 minutes)

13 May | 8pm

Asian Civilisations Museum (Outdoors), ACM Green

Wanton Mee presents the journey of Koh Chun Feng, who takes his camcorder with him to local food stalls. He begins to amass the stories of the stall owners, and hidden within those, the history of how Singaporean dishes were created.

Last but not least, when you visit Singapore Heritage Festival 2017 at the Singapore River, YOU CANNOT MISS THIS!

  • New Empress Place Food Centre

Asian Civilisations Museum (Outdoors)

Date & Time: 12 May | 7pm – 10.30pm

& 13 May | 5pm – 10.30pm

Free admission

Do you remember the Empress Place Food Centre which used to be in front of the Former Empress Place Building (now known as the Asian Civilisations Museum)? I still have some memories of this place when I was a young kid!

Now, you can relive those memories again, with the New Empress Place Food Centre! Let me show you, some photographs of the delicious local food that you can enjoy when you visit!

This is the final weekend of Singapore Heritage Festival 2017, with Singapore River being the spotlight! Come on down, visit and enjoy yourselves with your family, relatives and loved ones! Do visit the Singapore Heritage Festival website for more details of activities and events taking place at other locations too!

Singapore Heritage Festival 2017 @ Singapore River (organised by Asian Civilisations Museum)

Date & Time:

  • 12 May: 7pm – 10.30pm
  • 13 May: 1pm – 10.30pm

Free admission to the whole museum during the festival, including the Joseon Korea special exhibition.

Visit www.heritagefestival.sg for more details.

* Information courtesy of National Heritage Board *

Original Authentic Indonesian Food at Ayam Penyet Ria

Whenever I visit an Ayam Penyet Ria outlet here in Singapore (I usually go to the outlet at Lucky Plaza), I know that there are more than just their trademark, iconic and delicious Ayam Penyet dish. However, I don’t look beyond their menu list and I will definitely choose their Ayam Penyet, one of my favourite food (because I like fried chicken!).

Therefore, when I was invited to a food tasting session by Ayam Penyet Ria, together with a group of friends, at Bedok Mall, I was introduced to a few more delicious dishes by Ayam Penyet Ria. During the food tasting event, I was totally enjoying myself with the different kinds of dishes on offer at Ayam Penyet that I always fail to look at whenever I visit. Ayam Penyet Ria has a number of different dishes too, just as delicious as their famous smashed fried chicken, their Ayam Penyet.

First and foremost, let me introduce their Ayam Penyet whereby most people who visited Ayam Penyet Ria will know about this dish

This is my favourite and still my favourite dish at Ayam Penyet Ria. However, I want to introduce and share with everybody some of the other delicious dishes on offer at Ayam Penyet Ria. You have to try them when you visit! Check out the photos below that I took!

Ikan Gurame Penyet (Smashed Gurame fish)

Bawal Penyet (Smashed Pomfret)

Lele Penyet (Smashed Catfish)

Kulit Ayam (Chicken Skin)

Jamur Enoki (Fried Enoki Mushrooms)

kerupuk Udang and Emping (Prawn Crackers)

Tahu Telor Fried Egg and Tofu

Dessert – Es Campur (Ice Mixed Fruits)

Drinks – Lava Boy & Lava Girl

From the different kind of dishes that you saw above, Ayam Penyet Ria offers more than just Ayam Penyet. Therefore, don’t be like me and just eat the Ayam Penyet!

Personally, I really like the Ikan Gurame Penyet and Kulit Ayam, these two dishes captured my heart and taste buds (not that the rest of the dishes are not delicious, they are just as good!)

I know Ayam Penyet is their trademark, iconic and delicious dish, however, there are more than just Ayam Penyet! When you visit Ayam Penyet Ria, have a go and try out their other dishes, especially their fried fishes! Don’t be like me last time, visit Ayam Penyet Ria and just eat Ayam Penyet only! For more information on Ayam Penyet Ria, do visit their website and check them out!

Check out the Ayam Penyet Ria locations below –

Lucky Plaza #01-45 (11am – 10pm)

Lucky Plaza #04-25 (12pm – 9pm)

Far East Plaza #05-22 (11.30am – 10pm)

Jurong Point #B1-06 (11.30am – 10pm)

Bedok Mall #01-71/72 (11.30am – 10pm)

I would like to thank Ayam Penyet Ria for the invitation to their food tasting session, opening my eyes and taste buds beyond their Ayam Penyet dish!

When you visit Ayam Penyet Ria, remember, you gonna love the original! The authentic taste of Indonesia!

The Quarters Experience

A modern communal dining experience, having the best of both worlds, a mix of traditional cuisine with a modern cross fusion of cooking style from other cultures. This communal dining experience had 10 different types of dishes, starting from the appetiser, followed by 7 main courses, there are so delicious and mind blowing beyond my imagination, rounding up this unique modern communal dinner with 2 desserts. This is the Quarters Experience.

The Quarters Experience was created by Deming, whom I knew a few years back when he was just doing just one food, his trademark Durian Crème Brulee at a pop up event at Haw Par Villa in 2014. In the blink of an eye, he established two food brands, The Quarters and Kush. Watching how Deming established, transformed and innovate his food cuisine over this period time from 2014, I had great respect and admiration for this innovative food entrepreneur friend of mine.

When I was invited down by Deming to experience The Quarters Experience, I was grateful and thankful to be part of this amazing modern communal dining experience. I arrived earlier than the scheduled start time, photographing the setup process on what creates the special experiences behind The Quarters Experience. This was also a time to catch up with my friend Deming before he got very busy during The Quarters experience, hosting and sharing with the guests on each and every dish that was served during The Quarters Experience.

Personally, this was one of the best dining experiences that I ever had, not because I am invited and treated to this Quarters Experience, not because Deming is a friend of mine. Why the Quarters Experience was one of the best dining experiences that I had was because of the love and passion for food, translated into the excellent cooking skills that can be experienced, felt and tasted inside all of the 10 dishes of the Quarters Experience. All the 10 dishes (except for durian crème brulee because I don’t eat durian) touched not just my taste buds, they also touched my heart, mind and soul.

Let me bring you into the world of The Quarters Experience, sharing my thoughts and views of every dish, and interviewing Deming, his stories behind each dish.

Achar

An innovative and unique method to showcase the Achar, it’s a breakaway from the traditional style Achar. The Quarters Experience Achar is like a small pastry/canape type of dish. I liked how the Achar taste, a good mix of the East meets West cuisine.

JH, “Deming, the Achar looks unique and very different from traditional achar, what is the inspiration behind this unique and innovative design?”

DM, “Traditionally made, it serves as an amazing Amuse Busche to whet the appetite of the diners. The combination of the crisp puff and flavour of Achar is amazing.

Shiok Bak

First and foremost, I am a big fan of roast pork and when I saw the description of the Shiok Bak from the menu, I was eagerly looking forward to it! When I saw the dish arriving, I knew I was in for something more special than I ever thought. There were buns complementing the Shiok Bak, that are usually ate with braised pork, along with fresh lettuce. The skin of the Shiok Bak was extra crispy, crunchy and dry. As the name suggests, it’s really shiok to eat this Shiok Bak! Oh yes, there is a sauce to go along with the Shiok Bak too, the spicy rempah!

JH, ”Deming, I love this dish! This Shiok Bak is really shiok and it looks like it has a mix of a few different Asia cuisines cooking style infused into this dish. Let me make a guess, Teochew (the bun for the braised pork a.k.a. lor bak) + Korean (lettuce to be wrapped with pork) + Filipino roast pork? Did I guess correctly?”

DM, “Yes. There is a myraid of influences involved here. Its combining the best of Filipino style crackling with our chinese roast pork technique. The Teochew influence comes from the braising of the pork belly and Peranakan from the Rempah inspired by the Hiam Te Bak. All in all, it is delicious!

Har Lok

A perfectly charcoal grilled prawn, fresh, juicy and declicious. The menu stated that it was Cantonese style and I got curious. What exactly is a Cantonese style cuisine prawn dish?

JH, “Cantonese style, would you mind sharing more about this style of cooking?”

DM, “ This is my contribution in preserving a dying dish in the Zhi Char world. This dish has been overshadowed by Salted Egg Prawns and Cereal Prawn. The essence from this dish is Canontese inspired with its simle yet amazing sauce. The smokiness from the charcoal grill elevates this dish which is a worthy rendition of this Hok Hei laden dish.

Ooh La La

The Venus clams, cooked in flambed style with Singapore style chilli sauce and croutons added into them. The final product is like a chilli style soup with Venus clams and croutons.

JH, “The Oooh La La dish, was it meant to be a spicy soup dish since you added croutons into it?

DM, “This is our take of Singapore’s most favourite Chilli Crab sauce. More than just a cute play on words, this clams in this dish elevates the umami experience of the dish.

Bibik’s Chicken

Another perfectly charcoal grilled dish, the Bibik’s Chicken with a rich Buah Keluak Sauce. When I ate the Bibik’s Chicken, the chicken meat was tender and not overcooked, this demonstrated the skill and experience level of the chefs charcoal grill cooking.

JH, “This Bibik’s Chicken is so delicious, so awesome! I have a few questions, is this a Peranakan cuisine? Was there any special seasoning on the chicken?”

DM, “ This dish is a tribute to the traditional Ayam Bua Keluak. Normally done as a stew, this rendition adds a few more layers into the gastronomic experience. Unlike the usual Buah Keluak Ayam, this dish brings together many more textures. The Chicken is firstly charcoal grilled to achieve a really crispy skin with the meat left tender and succulent. Infused with local herbs and spices, it is a flavour bomb when eaten together with the buah keluak paste.

Mum’s Cabbage

A plate of mixed vegetables, consisting of stewed cabbage, carrots and minced pork. This dish may not look the most glamorous compared to the other counterparts in the 10 course The Quarters Experience. Yet, when I took a bite, the feeling was like “This is Home, truly”. The type of dishes, the emotions and feelings that warms your heart, mind and soul when you are back home eating your favourite food cooked by your parents or grandparents. The menu described it as “Family favourite …” I totally agree.

JH, “Bro, this dish, a simple dish yet I felt so good, the feeling of home cooked food! They just warmed my heart! How did you do it?” 

DM, “ Inspired by what my Mum cooks at home, its about the simplicity and perfect balance of flavours which is appealing. Food done well, with love. Yum!

Quarters Fried Rice

An egg coated fried rice with two types of salted fish. The rice was so soft, fragrant and not oily at all. The Quarter’s Fried Rice was addictive because it was simply too good, too delicious.

JH, “Bro, would you mind teaching me the secret behind the secret to your Quarter’s Fried Rice?” 

DM, “ It’s yet another dish which is a hit with our diners. We go through an arduous process to make sure that the rice is of the right consistency as well as using the right combination of dried fish and cooking technique to accomplish a very satisfying dish.

“Nai You” Lobster

This lobster dish stood out among the 10 dishes, it was charcoal kissed and butter poached. The chefs of The Quarters were really skillful in their charocal cooking techniques, it was just nicely cooked, sweet and tender.

JH, “I saw it on the menu, charcoal kissed and butter poached, would you mind elaborating more on this cooking technique?”

DM, “Inspired by our favourite “Nai You” Crabs and prawns. This is our take on elevating simple ingredients with an amazing lobster. Simply put, we butter poach the lobster and finish the lobster on the grill for that bit of char and smokiness. It’s all about the right timing.

Duriancanboleh

This is Deming’s trademark dish, the original dish that got me to first know Deming for the first time (3 years ago) before he launched his food concept The Quarters. Today, I am back again to taste another revolution and innovation in his traditional and modern cuisine. I gave away my Duriancanboleh because I don’t eat durian (don’t judge me, please!)

JH, “Bro, you know that I don’t eat durian hor, not that I don’t like your Duriancanboleh hor!”

DM, “ You would have enjoyed the other renditions of crème brulee which have done over the years. Lemongrass and Vanilla. The magic and texture of the crème brulee would still be the same. It’s an in house secret which we are proud of.

Profiterole

It’s called the Kaya bomb in the menu, not exactly the profiterole that you have in your mind.

JH, “Bro, this looks more like a The Quarters mini Kaya bun leh, why did u call it a profiterole?” 

DM, “ It’s a Kaya profiterole. An amazing kaya which explodes out of a crispt choux pastry. What can be more delicious and local than this?

At the end of the 10 course The Quarters Experience, I had a very wonderful and very enjoyable food dining experience, a modern communal social dinning experience with an excellent selection of dishes, a mix of traditional and modern cuisine fusion and also East meets West fusion. The chefs excellent, highly experienced and professional cooking skills can be found in their 10 course dishes, without a doubt.

The main attraction doesn’t lie in the fusion of traditional and modern cuisine, or excellent cooking skills. For me, it’s in the heart, mind and soul, the passion and love for cuisine, traditional or modern. That to me, are what makes Deming and his The Quarters stand out, that later gave birth to The Quarters Experience.

I would like to thank Deming of The Quarters for the invitation to experience The Quarters Experience. This was beyond an awesome communal dining experience, it’s a fusion of traditional and modern cuisine. The love and passion for cooking, traditional cuisine, I totally felt it in my heart

If you would like to experience The Quarters Experience for yourself, you can visit their website and register to taste it.


Created with flickr slideshow.

Armenian Street Party 2017 by Peranakan Museum

A short stretch of the road and space in front of the Peranakan Museum closed to the traffic for two nights, transforming into a fun party venue for visitors to bring their family, children and friends down, visit the museums and soak in the party atmosphere. This was the Armenian Street Party 2017 organised by Peranakan Museum that took place on 10th and 11th March. The Armenian Street Party made her maiden debut in 2016, I was there too at the first Armenian Street Party!

For this year 2017 Armenian Street Party, I dropped by on Friday evening and managed to catch some of the performances at the street party. The theme for Armenian Street Party 2017 was back to school, going back to the good old school nostalgia days (when we were young), some of you might remember going to detention class, disliking certain subjects such as literature, tuckshop food during recess time, English and grammar class, PE class, music class etc etc.

The Armenian Street Party was also a perfect time to visit the Peranakan Museum and Singapore Philatelic Museum with their family, children and friends. This street party is perfect for the two museums to have more publicity and awareness from the public, they are two great museums with really great and wonderful artworks, contents and exhibitions, that the public may not know as much, compared to her bigger fellow sister museums such as the National Museum of Singapore.

At the Armenian Street Party 2017, on the Friday that I visited, I saw the mass P.E. class by Upside Motion, it’s not a bad idea to conduct P.E. class on the road without the vehicles! The iconic Peranakan Museum favourite band of singers, the Peranakan Sayang, were in action on Friday, with the theme “Balek Sekolah!”, translated to “Back to school!”. This group of singers are really good and they never fail to light up the crowds!

The Armenian Street Party is not just about the two museums, Peranakan Museum and Singapore Philatelic Museum, it’s a community event, the kampung spirit, with fellow neighbours along Armenian Street coming in, participating and be a part of this festive party. Timbre Group, Substation, Upside Motion, True Blue Cuisine and SMU were neighbours, part of the Armenian Street kampung. They all played a part in this year’s street party.

There were also delicious food by True Blue Cuisine, selling all time favourite tuckshop treats, I didn’t manage to go down and eat all the food on Friday. I only manage to eat the laksa during the media preview (I was rushing for time on that day) prior to the street party weekend.

I took the opportunity to visit Singapore Philatelic Museum, a very short walk down the road from Peranakan Museum. I forgot when was the last time I visited this museum, they looked small in physical size yet they packed some pretty wonderful collections inside there. Touring the Singapore Philatelic Museum brought me back many memories, I used to collect stamps when I was a young kid in school and I am beginning to wonder where have I kept my stamps? Probably somewhere in my home!

After touring the Singapore Philatelic Museum, I stayed on and watched two performances –

Literature Class: Music & Prose of the Past

By Cappella Martialis

Literature Class: Will The Night Away!

By Centre Stage.

Two great performances held inside this small and cosy Singapore Philatelic Museum.

The performance “Will The Night Away!” was about a Shakespeare classic “Romeo and Juliet”, that most students would probably have studied if they took Literature during their secondary school days (I didn’t take Literature in my upper secondary school). This is Singapore style, a Singapore spin “Romeo and Ah Lian”. Their play was hilarious, interactive and engaging, with the Shakespeare exhibition theme behind them, this was a perfect setting for Romeo and Ah Lian!

Since I was only there on Friday, I couldn’t catch the rest of the performances and activities that were held during the Armenian Street Party 2017, although I did manage to catch a glimpse of some of them during the media preview.

Personally, I feel that the Armenian Street Party is a great community event that doesn’t need to go massively big, it may not (and need not) be the biggest street party event or museums event, they just leverage and combine together as the Armenian Street “kampung”, the Peranakan Museum and Singapore Philatelic Museum, along with their neighbours along Armenian Street.

Looking forward to the next edition of the Armenian Street Party!


Created with flickr slideshow.

New hot Korean stars at McDonald’s

Korean fans alert! There are new Korean (food) stars at McDonald’s in March! Introducing the Seoul Spicy Chicken Burger and Seoul Spicy Beef Burger.

These two new burgers at McDonald’s are inspired by distinctive Korean cuisine, characterised by McDonald’s  unique spicy Korean sauce made with signature ingredients used in Korean delicacies.

Seoul Spicy Chicken Burger

The spicy Korean sauce packs a punch of flavour with ingredients such as fermented soy bean paste, sesame paste, soy sauce, chilli peppers, red paprika and garlic. The Seoul Spicy burgers come with a choice of a grilled 100% beef patty or a tender and juicy chicken patty, each glazed with this mouthwatering spicy Korean sauce.

Seoul Spicy Beef Burger

Laid atop a bed of romaine lettuce, each patty is then layered with crisp mixed vegetables with creamy slaw. The delicious combination is then served between a soft bun featuring black pepper and white sesame toppings.

Kimchi Shaker Fries

Peach McFIZZ

Melon McFlurry

The Seoul Spicy Special starts from $8.40, which includes your choice of Seoul Spicy Chicken or Beef burger , with a side of Kimchi Shaker Fries (L)  and a Peach McFizz™  to cool off the heat. You can also enjoy it ala carte from $5.95 . End off your meal on a sweet note with the Melon McFlurry® with Coconut Jelly from $2.90.

Do go and try them out, the new Korean (food) stars at McDonald’s!

* Pictures and information courtesy of McDonald’s Singapore and Golin *

Hokkaido 2016 Photography Adventure Day 7

27th October 2016 – Day 7 Lake Toya -> Usu -> Noboribetsu -> Shiraoi -> New Chitose Airport

Today is the last day of my Hokkaido travel photography adventure, my whole trip till date had been awesome, enjoying the autumn and winter seasons in this trip along with wet, cold and bright sunny autumn weather.

Lake Toya

Sunrise shoot (near to carpark beside The Windsor Hotel Toya Resort & Spa)

I wasn’t able to get a nice sunset (I did manage to get a nice sunrise at Biei) during this Hokkaido trip and on Day 6 evening, Kato san suggested to get a sunrise shoot on my last day of my trip. Why not? I set the alarm clock to wake up early and go for a sunrise shoot, keeping my fingers crossed for good weather and not too cloudy sky!

Even though it was autumn, I felt really cold on the 27th October 2016 morning, my autumn wear wasn’t warm and thick enough. Luckily, Kato san loaned me an outdoor overall suit with a pair of rubber boots. That kept me warm for this morning sunrise shoot.

Kato san drove to this hill top, where a luxury hotel is located, the Windsor Hotel Toya Resort & Spa. There was a carpark beside the hotel and it was the spot where we waited for the Hokkaido sunrise above Lake Toya. As the day started to break, we saw a thick cloud cover across Lake Toya. Initially, I was worried that there would be no sunrise with such thick cloud cover. Yet, Hokkaido again decided to bless me with a gorgeous sunset, rising above the mountain range, her rays punching through the clouds as she rose up to warm us up from a cold October autumn morning.

The next thing was to return back to our hotel, warm ourselves up in the onsen. This would be my last onsen and I wanted to enjoy it before returning back to Singapore. The onsen is the most suitable method to warm ourselves up from a cold autumn morning!

Scenic lake drive around Lake Toya

While the early morning sunrise was cloudy, the morning weather at Lake Toya was really good! I saw clear blue sky with thick fluffy white clouds. Kato san drove me around the other loop of Lake Toya. This was a very pretty scenic drive, I found a spot great for car photography shoot (driving on the road with Lake Toya and mountains in the background), we also spotted a pair of swans that swam to us on the shoreline, thinking that both Kato san and myself have some food to feed them!

Ice cream at Lake Hill Farm

When you visit Lake Toya, Hokkaido, this is one of the place that you MUST visit! I heard about this ice cream, it’s really famous, the ice cream is smooth, fresh and very delicious!! There were a lot of flavours and I couldn’t possibly try all of them, I wish I could though!

Lake Hill Farm has a very beautiful garden, with a bird’s eye view of the nearby mountain range! The green garden open space is ideal for the children to play and have fun while enjoying the ice cream!

Check out their website here – Lake Hill Farm!

Usu

Zenko-ji Temple (有珠善光寺)

Japan has many Shinto and Buddhist temples across the whole country. I always love to visit them whenever I get to visit Japan. When I visited Tokyo in 2004, I still remembered my visits to Meiji-Jingu shrine and Sensoji temple, I was in awe by their history, tradition and beauty of the holy places.

On Day 6 evening, when we on the way back from Muroran to Lake Toya, we drove past the coastal area and we spotted a Buddhist temple in the Usu area. Since it was already dark, we decided to drive there and take a look in the late morning.

Upon parking the car, we walked into the temple grounds. Nothing prepared me for this visit, I have entered into a very old Buddhist temple in Japan that is still relatively unknown to the world. This temple is listed on the local tourism body website and there are signages showing the location of the Zenko-ji Temple. However, beyond that, I am not too sure if this temple is even known to the rest of Japan and the world.

Kato san had a chat with the locals outside the Zenko-ji Temple, I couldn’t speak Japanese therefore Kato san did the translation for me, explaining the history behind this temple. We were also given permission to enter and visit the temple, along with permission to take photographs of the main prayer hall. Some temples can be strict on photography, therefore I am honoured and happy that permission was granted. They had a gorgeous Japanese garden inside the temple grounds, very rich history and heritage items inside the temple. This had been a real eye opener for me to photograph and share some of photographs of Zenko-ji Temple.

We went exploring behind the temple up onto the small hill, the walk was like entering into an enchanted forest full of mystery. The autumn foliage was in full bloom, making this temple ground even more magical with its bright autumn colours.

Through my photographs and few paragraphs of sharing, I hope this would give this Buddhist temple more publicity and awareness. If you are visiting Hokkaido, the regions of Lake Toya and Noboribetsu, do consider visiitng the Zenko-ji Temple in Usu.

Address from Google Maps: 124 Usuchō, Date-shi, Hokkaidō 059-0151, Japan

Website: http://www13.plala.or.jp/zenkouji/

Facebook Page : https://www.facebook.com/datekanko

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/f.akatsuka

Noboribetsu

Lake Kuttara

Leaving Usu, Kato san started driving towards Noboribetsu region, a very popular tourist destination, very famous for its onsen and they have some nice locations for autumn colours foliage too. First stop was Lake Kuttara, along the route u to the next few destinations that I am sharing in the later paragraphs.

Hiyoriyama Observation Deck日和山展望台

Driving uphill from Lake Kuttara, a short drive away, we arrived at the top of the hill, Kato san parked his car and we walked towards the Hiyoriyama Observation Deck. The smell was strong and pungent with sulphur fumes in the air, it was unbearable at times for me since I am not used to sulphur smell in the air. I was also able to spot the hot steam vents from the observation deck. I enjoyed the sceneries around it; this was indeed a good place for autumn colours foliage photography. However, I was struggling with the pungent fumes, just not used to it!

At the foot of the hill lies, Oyunuma Pond, where we headed to next after a short time spent at this observation deck.

Oyunuma Pond

At the foot of the hill, we arrived at Oyunuma Pond, it’s surrounded by forest and trees. The strong pungent sulphur smell was very distinctive and powerful, visitors would be learn more about the physical geography of Noboribetsu, that makes this region very famous for their minerals and volcanic grounds.

I reckon this area makes a good spot for autumn colours foliage photography especially when it reaches the peak season.

Jigokudani (Hell Valley)

Just round the corner from Oyunuma Pond, we arrived at a very famous tourist destination in Hokkaido. Welcome to Jigokudani, also known as Hell Valley, this is a very popular tourist destination with both local and international visitors. A short walking distance away is the town of Noboribetsu Onsen and the onsen in this region is very popular due to the proximity of the sulphur and minerals from the Hell Valley region. Kato san shared that the onsen in Noboribetsu Onsen town has different types of onsen baths for the visitors, I might try it one day in the future if I ever get the opportunity to visit Noboribetsu region again.

When I walked into the valley of hell, I wasn’t afraid of the place, Jigokudani is beautiful during the autumn foliage season! I am just not used to the strong pungent smell of sulphur fumes coming out from the grounds of Hell Valley!

Shiraoi

My Last (and very delicious) Lunch in Hokkaido

Kato san asked me what I would like for lunch before he drove me to New Chitose Airport for my evening flight home back to Singapore. I wasn’t sure of the food options and I listened attentively to his suggestion. He showed me some photos of this beefsteak at this nice little wooden hut restaurant, I saw the price and it was really reasonable for its excellent quality and standards (when I returned back to Singapore, eating a similar beef steak here would cost 3-4 times more)

Soon, we left Noboribetsu onsen town and head towards Shiraoi along the expressway. A short car ride of approximately 45 minutes, I entered into a farm, stopping in front of a nice little wooden hut restaurant. I am thankful and grateful to Kato san for helping me with the ordering and translation.

Two hot and sizzling pan soon arrived at our table, I was so excited! Once I took my first bite, I was like in food heaven! The beef tasted really delicious, soft, tender and juicy beef.

After finishing my super delicious beef steak, I was so happy with my last lunch! I reckon that they are one of the best beef producers around in Hokkaido (if not the best).

Website: http://wagyu-oukoku.com

New Chitose Airport

This was the final leg of my Hokkaido autumn travel photography adventure 2016, the road trip journey from Shiraoi to New Chitose Airport. I made the decision to go there early, have a rest and coffee with my friend, Hokkaido Photo Guide, Kato san.

Reflecting back on my Hokkaido autumn travel photography adventure 2016, I had so much fun traveling solo and with my Hokkaido Photo Guide Kato san. If you are a photographer and would love a customised travel photography plan, I highly recommend my Hokkaido Photo Guide, Kato san, drop him an email on his website or Facebook page!

Goodbye Hokkaido, I am sure I will be back again! Maybe I might lead a group of photographers next time, or maybe I might come back to continue exploring the other regions of Hokkaido that I haven’t visited yet!

Hokkaido Autumn 2016 Day 7


Created with flickr slideshow.

Hokkaido Autumn 2016


Created with flickr slideshow.

Hokkaido 2016 Photography Adventure Day 6

26th October 2016 – Day 6 Lake Toya -> Sobetsu / Date -> Muroran

A beautiful and gorgeous morning greeted me at Lake Toya when I woke up. The weather was really good, clear blue sky accompanied by fluffy white clouds. A quick takeaway breakfast from the nearby convenience store did the job and I was off for my travel photography adventures in the Lake Toya region.

Lake Toya

Lake Toya View Point – Sobetsu Park

A short drive away from the hotel, Kato san drove up towards a hill top. This was the Lake Toya View Point – Sobetsu Park, the road up towards this location is pretty small and narrow, suitable for cars, not for big vehicles. The bird’s eye view from there is simply amazing, you can pretty see the entire Lake Toya region and surroundings. I am really thankful for the good weather that morning!

Kato san and myself chanced upon a local Japanese who lives nearby, he mentioned to Kato san that he conducts astrophotography tours at this spot and this is an ideal location to photograph the night skyline of Lake Toya.

Camping ground at Lake Toya

After spending approximately 30mins at Lake Toya View Point, Kato san drove down the hill, back to the coastal lake drive route. A short driving journey brought me to a camping ground in Lake Toya. From what I understood chatting with Kato san, Lake Toya is a very popular tourist destination, for both locals and international visitors.

The camping ground is close to the water body of Lake Toya, I went on to do some hopping along the banks and rocks of Lake Toya. A very nice and quiet place for your camping holiday, I can imagine this camping ground packed during the summer holidays! The autumn colours foliage were bright and colourful, red, orange, yellow and green! Lake Toya region autumn foliage season is a bit later in the month of October, the 3rd week is probably their peak period while the central and northern parts of Hokkaido autumn foliage peak earlier in end September and early October.

A location along the banks of Lake Toya

Whenever I travel to different countries overseas, I would love to explore places that are not too touristy and crowded, places that the locals know. That is why if it is possible, I would hire a local guide. Kato san, is a very experienced and knowledgable Hokkaido Photo Guide, I have absolute trust in him and his planning.

At this location along the banks of Lake Toya, a big thanks to my Hokkaido Photo Guide, Kato san, I was able to capture sa few very memorable photographs of Lake Toya, a mirror reflection of the small islands of Lake Toya and the white clouds on the surface of Lake Toya whereby the water was almost “standing still”.

From some of the amazing destinations that I shared over the past few articles, you can see why I chose and highly recommend Kato san, an excellent and very knowledgable Hokkaido Photo Guide.

Sobetsu / Date

Sobetsu Taki waterfall 壮瞥滝

Continuing on after the location along the banks of Lake Toya, it was another short drive nearby, into a residential area. We parked the car along the road outside and took a short walk into the forest inside. Along the forest path, there was a small stream of water flowing down pretty fast too. Trekking further inside, the sounds of the water splashing and flow got even louder.

This short trek was very quiet, peaceful and tranquil, accompanied by the colourful autumn foliage. There were signs of fallen and broken trees along the stream, they were damaged during an earlier typhoon that struck Hokkaido a few months earlier.

Upon reaching the end of the forest path, I was greeted with an amazing view of a small waterfall! As the clear water flowed down gracefully, the sounds of the waterfall can be very therapeutic and soothing at times. I stood there, enjoying the water droplets falling on me, taking photographs of the Sobetsu Taki waterfall before turning around and walking back to the car.

Otaki Niagara Falls 大滝ナイアガラ滝

The next destination that Kato san brought me to, from Sobetsu Taki waterfall, was approximately 20mins drive away, going inland, away from Lake Toya. Crossing a small bridge, the car was parked on an open grass patch outside the entrance of a hiking trail. I quickly took a few photographs of the river before trekking down the forest trail.

I spotted wooden signboards with diagrams and codes, I was curious and asked Kato san about them. Kato san explained that this hiking trail is popular in all seasons, during winter, the locals come to this area and do cross country skiing.

Along the hiking trail, it was really quiet, peaceful and tranquil. However, the sounds of the water flowing got even louder as we were approaching our destination. The view of a few waterfalls together on the river greeted me, I was awed by her presence. The locals named as Otaki Niagara Falls and the Niagara Falls name fitted these waterfalls perfectly!

We spent a bit of time here, trying to find different spots and angles to capture this magnificent waterfall. Getting closer to the waterfall, we need to climb down onto the river banks, it was a bit wet and slippery. The extra efforts and work put in were totally worth it, I got a few nice photography memories from the river banks facing the Otaki Niagara Falls.

Sangai-taki Falls 三階滝公園

Just a short drive away from Otaki Niagara Falls, we reached Sangai-taki Park, where another waterfall awaits me, the Sangai-taki Falls. There are 3 levels of waterfall, surrounded by trees and a hill beside it. This would make an excellent location during spring and autumn season. Some of the autumn foliage had fallen, the trees looked very bare, there were still some autumn foliage likely in their final stage before falling off the branches.

Showa-Shinzan (Mt Usu and Showa Shinzan)

Located at the foot of two mountains, one is very old (Mt Usu) and the other is quite young relative to her neighbour (Showa Shinzan), there is a busy small town that attracts many locals and international visitors. For visitors who want to go up to Mt Usu, this is the location where you board the ropeway to Mt Usu. This location is a nice place to sit down, relax and enjoy the sceneries. I decided not to go up to Mt Usu, therefore, we didn’t stay too long there before driving towards Date City for lunch.

Lunch (Ramen) at Date City

From the photographs of my Japanese food that I had over the past few days, you can spot a trend of Ramen. I am a big fan of Ramen and I would love to try as many different Ramen from different parts of Japan. I had a friend on social media commenting that I am on a Ramen mission in Hokkaido, I think so too!

I am not going to write a food review here, I just want to sayおいしい Oishī !!

Muroran

Road trip from Date to Muroran

For the afternoon segment, after a short discussion with Kato san during our Ramen lunch, we drove down along the coast line towards Muroran, not too far away from Date. The short drive was really scenic and I can imagine how the other parts of Hokkaido coastal route looks like!

I saw the railway tracks along the coast line, the local trains and limited express trains in action! Luck was on my side when I managed to capture a photo of the Limited Express Super Hokuto Model Series 261 at a railway crossing.

Recently, while I was doing some reading and research in my library, I found a book that showcased Japan Railway photographs, sceneries and locations on where to to photograph them. I remembered the scenes along the Hokkaido coast line where the JR trains traveled, the view of the JR train tracks from the mountain pass at Biei, a new adventure is brewing inside me, wanting and planning to return back again, photographing JR trains and their sceneries.

When we were about to reach Muroran, a suspension bridge across the bay, along with its harbour and shipyards, greeted us, this is the Hakucho Bridge. I didn’t manage to take any photographs of the Hakucho Bridge, it mades a pretty awesome view of the bridge, bay, harbour and shipyards.

Takkarisho and Cape Tikiu Lighthouse

Along this scenic coastal drive route of Muroran, there were great views of the Uchiura Bay, tall cliffs standing out facing the sea along with beautiful rock formations. At this location Takkarisho, I was able to see all these views and it would be really nice if the weather was nice and sunny. When I was there, rain was falling down on me, blessed by the cold autumn sea breeze blowing at me. Rain + cold autumn winds (or cold winter winds) are a very powerful combination, I didn’t manage to take many photographs, just took a few of the Takkarisho and Cape Tikiu Lighthouse, and I quickly rushed back to Kato san car to keep myself warm and dry from the rain + cold autumn sea breeze.

After the last 2 locations at Muroran, we drove back to our hotel at Lake Toya for an early rest (to get ready for a sunrise photo shoot at Lake Toya) and to keep ourselves warm at the onsen. This was also my last night in Hokkaido.

Hokkaido Autumn 2016 Day 6


Created with flickr slideshow.

Hokkaido Autumn 2016


Created with flickr slideshow.

Hokkaido 2016 Photography Adventure Day 4

24th October 2016 – Day 4 Otaru -> Mikasa -> Ashibetsu -> Furano -> Biei

Day 4 marks the start of another new photography adventure in Hokkaido! I am on a photography tour planned for the next 4 days by my friend, Tsuyoshi Kato, who is also a Hokkaido Photo Guide. I first knew Kato san in November 2014 during my first visit to Hokkaido as part of the Central/Eastern Hokkaido familiarisation trip. Kato san is very knowledgable and experienced in planning for photographers who want to visit locations around Hokkaido for an unforgettable photography experience. I decided to engage Kato-san’s professional photography tour services for the next four days as I would love to explore different locations around Hokkaido whereby photographers love to visit.

Departing from my hotel Dormy Premium Inn Otaru, Kato-san’s plan for today was to visit the Furano and Biei region and we started the drive from Otaru towards Furano and Biei, making stops along Mikasa and Ashibetsu for some pretty interesting sceneries and landscapes!

Mikasa

On the car journey from Otaru to Biei, we passed by Mikasa City, this used to be a thriving and prosperous area with the coal mining industry pushing the local economy. Today, the coal mining industry is no longer in operation and this area had been quiet since then.

The Old Pombetsu Coal Mine

Kato-san made a quick stop to show me the Old Pombetsu Coal Mine. The former coal mining buildings and structures are still standing there and it is now closed to the public. There is a informative signboard that had maps, old photos and a short write up of the history on the Old Pombetsu Coal Mine.

Lake Katsurazawa

We continued our journey towards Furano, driving through roads that showcased distinct weather and climate of Hokkaido. In some areas, that would be snow falling on the forest/trees and they really made a very beautiful scenery with the autumn leaves on the branches that had not fallen yet. Another 20-30 minutes drive down the road, the sceneries and landscape might change into autumn only, no snow at all. This is a beauty of Hokkaido that I will always remember, the season can change in just some distance away.

Kato-san stopped at Lake Katsurazawa, it’s a beautiful location surrounded by forests, quiet and tranquil. The colourful autumn leaves can be seen in full foliage around the lake, making it a good spot for photographing the autumn season in Hokkaido. However, the water is brownish and unlike some of the other beautiful clear blue lakes in Hokkaido. The water is not free flowing because it is a large artificial lake created by the Katsurazawa Dam. Even though the water may not look as beautiful like some of her other counterparts in other areas of Hokkaido, the beautiful forests surrounding it would make it a place to visit during the other seasons.

Ashibetsu

Sandandaki Waterfall /三段滝(Google Map location: https://goo.gl/maps/CByHFsf3Jnz)

Leaving Mikasa, entered into Ashibetsu first before reaching Furano. That was a location in Ashibetsu that Kato-san brought me to. It’s a waterfall with 3 sections thus the name Sandandaki Waterfall /三段滝.

A gorgeous location, while the weather was a bit overcast, we were able to spot the colourful trees surrounding both sides of the river, the 3 sections of the waterfall and the downstream after that. The path to the lookout point/hut that can get you close to the waterfall and the downward stream was a bit wet and slippery due to the wet weather.

When we finished photographing and about to leave, snow fell from the sky with a bit of gusty cold wind blowing. The weather in Hokkaido can change pretty quickly in the blink of an eye sometimes.

Furano

Continuing our journey, we drove into Furano. My first impression was a flat and wide valley ground, surrounded by 2 mountain ranges on the sides, Mt Yubari, Mt Ashibetsu and Mt Furano-Nishi on one side and Mt Furano, Mt Tokachi, Mt Tomuraushi, Mt Chubetsu, Mt Hiragatake (Daisetuzan National Park side).

Living at the bottom of a valley can get really really cold during winter, from my experiences when I went skiiing in New South Wales, Australia, many years ago. Mt Kosciuszko (Perisher Blue) wasn’t too cold at the top when I was skiing yet when I reached Canberra, I was kind of freezing (in the night).

Furano had many farms growing different kind of crops. This area is a very popular destination during spring and summer, I can understand why. The entire area in summer season would be packed with crops ready for harvesting. For those growing flowers, the colourful and beautiful flowers would brighten up the whole place. I would love to visit Furano during the summer season and hope to do it some day in the future!

Torinuma Park  

Our first destination in Furano is Torinuma Park. Upon arrival, I was greeted by good weather, I saw clear blue sky, sunshine with cloud cover! This good weather made me very excited, I had overcast sky, snow, rain and chilly winds for my first four days in Hokkaido. The beautiful sunlight cast the colourful autumn leaves on the leaves into something magical, green, yellow, red and orange colour leaves against the beautiful clear blue sky. I was ecstatic and blown away, this was the autumn that I had been seeking when I arrived in Hokkaido.

We explored the forest surrounding the lake at Torinuma Park. There were some great places to take photographs from different spots with different perspectives, when the strong winds blew across, the leaves dropped and fell onto the lake, providing the lake with a pretty layer of colourful leaves on its water.

Lunch – Shinasoba ramen by Shinatora

One of my favourite Japanese food is Ramen and during that afternoon, I was brought to this local ramen shop in Furano, the name of the ramen shop is Shinatora, their shop speciality is a soup base mix of pork and fish! When I had my first taste of the Shinasoba ramen, I was in heaven!! This special and unique ramen is really oishii!! Ramen is an absolute delight during the cold autumn/winter seasons, hot and heartwarming.

Rokugo Viewing Platform / Kyohsai Farm (Furano Jam Garden)

With such a delicious and hot ramen lunch inside us, Kato-san brought me to the area near the foot of the Mt Tokachi / Mt Furano mountain range where the famous Kyohsai Farm / Furano Jam Garden was located, they had some many different types of jam for sale, along with a nice café to have coffee while resting at the same time. Although I didn’t buy any jam, I would love to come back during summer and visit this place again! Kato-san said this place is very popular during summer season!

Behind Furano Jam Garden, there was a small dirt road leading up towards a small hill, suitable for cars to drive up the small dirt road. On the road upwards, there was a famous lone tree that stood out from the row of forests beside the road. From the ground up perspective, the lone tree looked like it’s “floating”!

On top of the hill, there were farm lands, we visitors must be careful and considerate, not to trespass and trample onto the farm lands because we might destroy the crops and hurt the farmers livelihood and hard work.

There was an open area with a nice hut on the top of the hill, known as Rokugo Viewing Platform. The view up there was breathtaking, a great panoramic view of Furano. The cold autumn winds were blowing hard at us and I was freezing again when the cold winds hitted me! However, I was greeted by another iconic scene of Hokkaido, the light rays shining through the clouds onto the land.

There was another monologue tree nearby the Rokugo Viewing Platform, used by television company for some of their drama productions! It’s a very famous and iconic tree!

Mizusawa, Biei

The sky was turning dark as Kato-san drove up towards in the direction of Biei. A tale of two seasons in Hokkaido, separated by maybe 30km, from autumn into winter season. It was close to sunset timing when we arrived at this spot in Biei, snow was falling and it was cold around -1° (it’s not the coldest yet for Biei, Hokkaido).

There was a small farm house up on the hill, standing alone in the midst of the snow covered fields. While the small house stands alone in the open, it’s not alone at all, the role and significance cannot be underestimated. Somehow, I am always able to relate to lone/single objects e.g. lone tree, lone house etc etc … We might be monologue / single at times, however we are not alone because we attract the things around us to come to us.

Driving down a short distance from the small farm house, Kato san made a stop beside an open field between two forests. There were two trees that stood out in between the two forests. I stood there, enjoying the sceneries, peace, quiet and tranquility. It was really cold for me because I wasn’t really suited for winter season. After taking a few photographs, I stood there and enjoyed the moment while I am freezing myself out there (due to the chilly wind and rain).

The sun had set for the day, we also made our way to our hotel in Nakafurano, had our dinner, enjoyed the onsen and had a good night sleep.

Hokkaido Autumn 2016 Day 4 


Created with flickr slideshow.

Hokkaido Autumn 2016


Created with flickr slideshow.

Hokkaido 2016 Photography Adventure Day 1

21st October 2016 – Day 1

A good night of sleep and rest, I woke up to a cold, wet and overcast Otaru weather. That didn’t deter my plans to explore Sapporo and Otaru today on my Day 1 in Hokkaido. First and foremost, I went down for my morning onsen, refresh myself before heading out for my photography adventure. The weather in Otaru was pretty cold for the autumn season and the winds were a little bit gusty when I stepped out of the hotel as I walked towards the JR Otaru train station.

I had to exchange for my JR Hokkaido pass at JR Sapporo station and I hopped onto the local JR Hokkaido train towards Sapporo. It’s been quite some time back since I last sat on the JR local train and I happened to choose the train that made a stop at every JR station along the route from Otaru to Sapporo (I had forgotten about the semi-rapid JR train service!). The journey was beautiful, part of it was along the coastline.

JR Sapporo station is a pretty huge place, not just the central train station, it’s also a huge hub for the offices and shopping malls, all linked and connected together. My first stop was to visit the JR office and exchanged my JR Hokkaido pass, the procedure wasn’t too difficult. I gave them the exchange voucher, filled in a form, showed my passport and the friendly staff there processed my JR Hokkaido pass on the spot and I am ready to go riding on the trains.

Now to start on my Hokkaido 2016 photography adventure! First stop was Hokkaido University / Gingko Avenue.

Hokkaido University / Gingko Avenue

A short walk away from JR Sapporo station, about 15-20mins walk (slow walk due to ice/snow on the ground). I entered into Hokkaido University campus ground, it’s a nice and quiet campus, they reminded me of my St Lucia campus of The University of Queensland. Once I stepped inside the campus ground, I spotted the colourful autumn colours on the trees with snow on the ground, a gorgeous mix of both autumn and winter together.

The sceneries were really beautiful, even though the sky was overcast and gloomy, I didn’t let the weather affected me in my photography. I slowly walked, taking photos along with both local and international tourists visiting Hokkaido University.

Gingko Avenue is a very well known road inside Hokkaido University, very popular with both local and international tourists. Once I reached there, I was able to fully understand why they loved it so much. Two rows of trees, lining up Gingko Avenue, in the midst of the vehicles, cyclists and people along Gingko Avenue, this road gave a sense of aura of nature, peace and tranquility. I really had a good time along Gingko Avenue, taking photographs from different perspectives and angles.

Former Hokkaido Government Office

The city area of Sapporo is pretty well planned out, it’s not too difficult to walk around. I walked back to JR Sapporo station before walking down towards Odori Park, making a stop at the former Hokkaido Government Office first.

This is a historical building of importance and significance to Hokkaido. You can’t miss it, it’s a distinct red brick colour building and are you able to spot the red star? Due to time constraint, I didn’t visit the interior and exhibits inside the former Hokkaido Government Office.

I strolled around the compound, enjoying the peace and tranquility at the pond with beautiful trees. This place would look great during the spring and summer season with the flowers and greenery.

Before reaching Odori Park, I stopped by a convenience store at a junction facing a segment of Odori Park. Visiting a convenience store in Japan is always very interesting for me, there are so many different types of food, drinks, tidbits, magazines, daily neccessities that you can find inside a Japanese convenience store! Lunch was a simple sushi set with a bottle of green tea, at the corner of the convenience store where they have bar stools and bar table.

Odori Park

Odori Park is a pretty long stretch of green open space lined up with trees in the middle of tall concrete buildings in Sapporo. This beautiful green space gives people living/working there a nice area to take walks, relax, have their lunch etc. It’s a great place to visit major events held in Sapporo every season e.g. Sapporo Snow Festival.

I walked from one end of Odori Park to the other end where the iconic Sapporo TV tower stood. There wasn’t too many people at Odori Park during my time there, I saw some young children playing with snow and trying to build a snowman! I hope that maybe in the future, I can return to Sapporo again during a time whereby a major event/festival is held there and I am able to enjoy Odori Park.

The bright, colourful and beautiful autumn colours lined up the sides of Odori Park. I felt the aura of the autumn colours even though it was a bit cold with the winds blowing. It was a quiet and tranquil time for me when I was walking down Odori Park, I can’t explain how soothing it was for me, for my mind.

Sapporo Clock Tower

I began to head back up to JR Sapporo station, planning to take the JR train back to Otaru and explore the area in the night. While walking back, I stopped at the Sapporo Clock Tower, another iconic and cultural landmark of Hokkaido, it was built in 1878. The bell rings every hour to announce the time to the city of Hokkaido.

I would love to visit and know more about Sapporo Clock Tower history and culture inside the building. However, I had a number of places that I wanted to cover, therefore I didn’t manage to go in and visit.

Walking back to JR Sapporo station, I checked the timetable and caught the rapid express train to Otaru for a evening/night walk. The weather was overcast and there wasn’t much of a sunset scene as I reached the port area of Otaru. I felt the cold wind blowing coupled with the cold autumn season. I decided to head back to my hotel and rest for a few hours before coming out later in the night for night walkabout of Otaru.

Otaru former Temiya railway line / The Bank of Japan Otaru Museum (Ministry of Finance)

I like to explore railway lines especially those that were no longer in operation and remained behind as tourist/historical landmarks/monuments. I saw photos of the former Temiya railway line and wanted to check them out. Using the Otaru city tourist map, I found my way to a junction along Nichigindori Street. The former Temiya railway tracks and landmarks are still around, the platform and train waiting area.

I would love to return back to Otaru again and explore the former Temiya railway line again, in the daytime instead of going there in the night. There are still a number of places in Otaru that I wanted to go but wasn’t able to complete it due to time constraints and trying to cover as many locations as possible.

Not too far away from the former Temiya railway line junction, I saw The Bank of Japan Otaru Museum building. It looked pretty grand at night with the lights shining on the building façade.

Otaru Canal

The Otaru Canal is an iconic and cultural area of Otaru. A beautiful area in the night to walk along the canal, enjoying the night lights of the nearby buildings and former warehouses along Otaru Canal. Walking down from Nichigindori Street, I reached Asakusa Bridge of Otaru Canal, a good spot for taking photos of Otaru Canal.

A quiet stroll along the canal, towards Chuo Bridge, another good spot for taking photos of Otaru Canal and surroundings. This is really nice for a romantic couple walk along the Otaru Canal in the night where it is quiet, peaceful and tranquil. It’s always great to view history being preserved, the warehouses along Otaru Canal played a central role as part of the city’s busy port in the early 20th century.

I would love to explore Otaru Canal again if possible during different seasons such as winter and summer.

Night Singing Noodles of Dormy Inn Premium Otaru

The Dormy Inn Premium Otaru was highly recommended by my friend/Hokkaido Photo Guide Kato san. Not only was the location awesome, they have onsen, room rates are reasonable for a comfortable hotel room. There was also something special, they provided delicious, hot and heart warming singing noodles to the guests of the hotel during the chilly season.

The night singing noodles is known as Yonaki Soba, it might look like a small simple bowl of soba noodles. However, it was cooked with so much passion and care for their hotel guests to keep warm with a hot bowl of Yonaki Soba in the night from 2130 hrs to 2300 hrs.

After a heart warming, delicious and hot bowl of Yonaki Soba, I went for my daily onsen, to relax my aching muscles from a whole day of walking around Sapporo and Otaru. While it was a cold and overcast Day 1 in Sapporo and Otaru, I am very happy to be out there exploring, enjoying myself away from Singapore and taking photographs.

Hokkaido Autumn 2016 Day 1


Created with flickr slideshow.



Hokkaido Autumn 2016


Created with flickr slideshow.

Chinatown Heritage Walking Trail CNY 2017

The Year of the Rooster 2017 is going to start soon in about 12 days time (starting from today 16th January 2017), ushering in the Chinese New Year on the 28th January 2017. Leading up to the festive season of the Chinese Lunar New Year, we have exciting events, activities and our favourite festive bazaar at Chinatown.

Having grew up in Singapore, I visited Chinatown a number of times during the Chinese New Year festive bazaar, to indulge in the festive atmosphere. It can get really crowded during this period and this is a great time to experience the Chinese New Year festivities in Singapore.

I recently went for the Chinatown Heritage Walking Trail held during the Chinese New Year 2017 festivities on 14th January 2017. Let me bring you through some of the destinations, features and highlights that you can experience for yourself with your family, relatives and friends during this Chinese New Year festivities at Chinatown (12 more days of Chinese New Year festivities before the first day of the Chinese Lunar New Year on 28th January 2017)

This Chinatown Heritage Walking Trail was interesting for me because we had the gorgeous and beautiful Mediacorp artiste Sora Ma, leading us for this walking trail! She’s a great travel/tour guide, awesome interaction with the stall owners and walking trail participants, in the midst of the huge crowds and congestion!

Meeting point/Starting point: Chinatown Heritage Centre

The Chinatown Heritage Centre is an excellent destination for everybody, for the locals and our international visitor friends. This is the place where you can go and visit, to learn, see, feel and discover the footsteps of Singapore’s early pioneers and explore the personal stories of early Singaporeans who lived in Chinatown.

I visited and toured Chinatown Heritage Centre on a separate visit with my university alumni group during an alumni outing. It’s definitely an eye-opener and I strongly encourage everybody to visit Chinatown Heritage Centre. More information and details can be found on their website.

There are two exciting programmes at Chinatown Heritage Centre during the Year of the Rooster festive celebration

Happy Rooster Family Album

6 January to 28 February 2017

Daily: 9am to 8pm

27 Jan: 9am to 5pm

28 Jan: Closed

If you are born in the Year of the Rooster and you are visiting Chinatown Heritage Centre, you can get free admission into Chinatown Heritage Centre if you participate and be a part of the Happy Rooster Family Album!

Year of the Rooster Capteh Challenge

6 January to 28 February 2017

28 Jan: Closed

The capteh is a traditional game, I personally played it before when I was a young kid. A fun game, if you can juggle a football consecutively, you are definitely game enough for the capteh! It can be challenging yet it will be fun!

All you have to do is to catch Chinatown Heritage Centre’s signature memorable moments at 1pm and 4pm daily to participate in the capteh challenge. If you can keep the capteh flying in the air by kicking and controlling it for 8 consecutive times non-stop, you can win free admission to the Centre!

Try it out! It’s going to be a fun experience!

Chinese New Year Festive Street Bazaar

A must visit when you are in Chinatown during the Chinese New Year period, indulge and soak in the festive atmosphere of the Chinese New Year festivities, the huge crowds, the bazaar, the goods and food on sale.

It can be very very crowded, making it very difficult to walk around the congested streets during this time. Take it slow and easy, wear comfortable clothing and shoes.

Check out some of the stalls that we visited during the Chinatown Heritage Walking Trail!

YouthEATS @ Temple Street

A new addition to the traditional and regular Chinese New Year festive street bazaar, it’s my first time too! You have to check out the stalls and their food below –

Must try, I reckon you would love them! Sometimes, I don’t need to write a food review for them because I just want to show you the food and where to find them! Go try it!

Spots for Chinatown light up photography

I do love coming down to Chinatown for photography during the Chinese New Year festival season. I took photos from this location previously! There are a lot of different lightings, lanterns and displays during the festive season. Let me share with you, one of the locations to view, enjoy and take photographs!

Garden Bridge (Chinatown Pedestrian Bridge)

You can’t miss this bridge when you are in Chinatown, many people use this bridge to cross from one side of Chinatown (Pagoda Street, Temple Street, Smith Street, Mosque Street) to People’s Park Complex, The Majestic, OG People’s Park.

This would be one of the locations for me to take photos of Chinatown during the Chinese New Year festive season. Visit it during the night when the lightings, lanterns and displays are lighted up, making Chinatown extra bright and colourful!

Lepark @ People’s Park Complex

This is probably one of Singapore’s not too well known yet locations that I believe would slowly grow, transform and evolve into a destination that is popular with creative artists, youth and future flea markets. Lepark is located on the 6th floor of People’s Park Complex, the roof top carpark!

I heard a lot about this location and I had yet to visit Lepark. Thanks to this special Chinatown Heritage Walking Trail, I finally got to visit Lepark. When we were up there on 14th January, there was YHFLEA: Come Lepark Edition a first-of-its-kind collective flea and car boot market with Lepark and Young Hungry Free. Although YHFLEA was only held for two days (14th and 15th January), I hope they would return again and slowly help Lepark grows into a destination for all to visit in the future.

Lepark is another ideal location for street/urban landscape photography of Chinatown and Singapore’s Tanjong Pagar CBD sector. I have a feeling that more photographers will start to visit this location as time goes by. Let’s hope that all these activities and events would slowly transform and grow Lepark at People’s Park Complex.

After visiting Lepark, this marked the ending point for this specially organised Chinatown Heritage Walking Trail tour on the 14th January 2017. It was a fun trip with Sora Ma as our tour guide! Of course, we have to take group photos with our gorgeous and beautiful Sora Ma!

The Chinese New Year festivities are now taking place at Chinatown, do visit and explore some of the festivities, locations and food that I shared here!

Thank you Ninemer PR for the invitation and Kreta Ayer-Kim Seng Citizens’ Consultative Committee for organising this walking trail!