Posts tagged: Darren

Dragonboat Carnival 2010 – The Capsize!

By , August 17, 2010 7:25 pm

Dragonboats heading back to the startline
After fueling up on breakfasts, we headed to the Dragonboat Carnival at the Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade. The three-day event was culminating that Sunday. The carnival saw 12 countries and 191 teams participating this year.

Dragonboats crossing Victoria Harbour
It was a beautiful day, despite weather forecast for rain and Typhoon Chanthu’s visit which flooded the Northern Territories.

Lots of fans waiting for their celebrities to show up
Lining the promenade were scores of people as far as the eye could see – athletes, spectators and supporters, with everyone feeling the buzz. Lots of screaming fans too, awaiting some celebrity participants. Korean boyband U-KISS would be rowing for the KBS Dream Team. I don’t really know any of the celebrities, so pardon me if I get any of them wrong.

Dragonboat supporters
Some dragonboat supporters went all out in wigs, colourful costumes and tattoos.

Our gallant brood of bathtub racers
We were participating too! Well, four of us (from left to right: Violet, Peter, Darren and Geck Geck) were in the “Bathtub Race” – a 100m race just for fun.

Aussie Pete and Darren cheered on by fans...right!
It was hard not to believe the rabid cheering was not for us.

"You mean the strategy is to capsize so we get on TV?"
Miss Ang Geck Geck, whom we affectionately call AGG for short. I mean, not because she’s short, although…well, umm. OK, just the name. She would be rowing with Pete, who is more than twice her size, weight and age rowing power. Here she is, and you can almost picture her saying, “You mean the strategy is to capsize so we get on TV?”

Getting ready for the bathtub race
Our four bloggers all geared up! They did some warm-up rowing exercises.

Some celebrities I don't know
I am guessing these are more celebrity paddlers. My apologies, I’m awful at recognising celebrities.

All set and ready!
This is the bathtub that paddlers will race in! When I first saw it from afar, I was going, “Oh no, surely not these wobbly plastic sinks!”

Well, that’s Pete and AGG waving their last goodbyes. What happened next…I will have to show via Jerome’s most excellent photos. Halfway into the race…


It looks like balance is more difficult to achieve than speed. Darren and Violet were streaking ahead though…and got second place, just like their boat number.


Poor Pete and AGG got a marine bath instead. Honestly, this was not planned, even though we joked about it. Fortunately rescue came quick. The saltwater taste remained a souvenir throughout the rest of the day, but the capsize memories will remain with us for a lot longer!

Check out Jerome’s post with all the close-up photos of the capsize!

The Pink Spartans won! They are a team for cancer survivors and supporters
Part of the special highlights is the Pink Dragonboat Race, which aims to raise awareness of breast cancer and to encourage survivors to lead active lives. We were there to support the Singapore team, Pink Spartans, made up of cancer survivors and supporters. They won first prize!

Korean boyband members waving
This must be the Korean boyband members. Looks like they won something? I had been a little skeptical if boybands knew anything about rowing dragonboats…

Korean boyband members
OK, I take it back. The guy on the right sure looks like he’s well-equipped for rowing!

The trophies featured ornate dragons
This is what all the paddling is for. The shiny trophies featuring ornate dragons along with some heavy-looking medals, plus the honour that comes with them. Congratulations to the teams who won, and kudos to everyone who participated!

The delectable world of Margaret Xu

By , August 8, 2010 8:30 am

I guess what must have been the highlight of the trip out of the four days of fun and adventure the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) had lined up must have been the experience at Yin Yang, which I have made a brief mention of in a previous post and which deserves a little more attention.

Yin Yang is a three table private kitchen run by celebrity chef Margaret Xu.

The setting for Yin Yang, a three table private kitchen, is a delightful four storey shop house of 1930s vintage in the Wan Chai district, which has been well restored and beautifully decorated shop house. Entering the shop house, one is greeted by reminders of a simple and bygone era: a tiffin carrier, an old refrigerator, an old style thermos flask … that in the soft light that filters through the old style frosted windows and grills, provides the ideal setting for what Xu attempts to create in her kitchen. It is in creating what is a fusion of the old cuisines of Hong Kong, which Xu goes back to basics.

The setting for Yin Yang is a four storey beautifully restored 1930s shop house in Wan Chai. A model of which is seen here.

The old style decor of the restored shop house provides an excellent setting for what follows up the staircase to the third floor where the dining room is.

The old world charm of Yin Yang is seen in the many simple objects that Xu decorates the interior of the restored building with.

An old styled thermos flask ...

An old tiffin carrier.

Old style windows and grills through which soft light filters through ... creating an ambiance which adds to the flavours of Xu’s creations.

Grills that are perhaps a reflection of the food that Margaret Xu prepares ... a fusion of old styles ...

Another delightful old style window and grill ...

An old refrigerator.

It is perhaps the simple and traditional ways that Xu uses to good effect that defines what Yin Yang is. Old and simple preparation and cooking methods are used by Xu, simple perhaps not by the effort put into the preparation, but by the means in which preparation is done, as it was in the good old ways of food preparation. Yin Yang’s signature dish, “Yellow Earth” chicken is roasted slowly in a clay oven that Xu designed herself, fashioned out of two upturned terracotta pots. The chicken we had, moist and full of flavour from the slow roasting, with a beautifully browned crispy skin, was not craved with a knife, but torn and shredded on the spot and served. The menu was selected by Xu herself, who attempts to surprise her guests with her charming creations as was seen in the other dishes that were served, each equally delightful and full of flavour. The roasted pork leg which followed a shellfish dish also deserves mention, the rich flavours of roasted pork with a crackling crispy skin, was made all the more flavourful with a lychee sauce that had the sweetness of fresh lychees in it. Throughout the entire meal, we were certainly treated to food that was prepared with the dedication and care of a chef who takes great pride and delight in the way she cooks.

The specially designed oven that the "Yellow Earth" chicken is roasted in.

At Yin Yang, knives are not used to carve meat. Meat is torn and shredded in the traditonal way.


The menu that Margaret Xu selected for us.

For all that, I was certainlty surprised to learn that Ms. Xu wasn’t always a chef, or even been formally trained as one: Xu had until a few years back, run her own advertising agency. With a lot of imagination and schooled by her Hakka neighbour, and the mainly Hakka rural villages she frequented, Xu learnt how to prepare traditional food in the traditional way. I guess what defines her and how she cooks is summed up in an article about her in Theme, in which we are told that Xu “grew up loving the Chinese wet market behind her childhood home”, and “instead of lunch money, her parents gave her money to go shopping to cook for herself when they were away”. These days it is not so much the market where Xu hand picks her ingredients from. The vegetables that she uses are 100% organic and come from her very own organic farm.

And there was dessert of course!

Was this Darren wanting seconds?

Beer accompanied the meal ...

and soft drinks ...

After the wonderful meal, there was still time for Xu to share a treat to a few of us who opted to stay behind … how to make a simple green chilli sauce. The sauce was made from a generous helping of fresh green chillies, hand picked from Xu’s organic farm of course, together with fresh ginger and spring onions, which were washed and duly chopped up with some of Darren’s help. The vegetables were then fried in a wok with a generous amount of vegetable oil until they were soft. Salt was added and mixed in, before the vegetables were removed and then transferred into a blender. The mixture was then blended and … voilà! There we had it … a spicy tangy tasting pesto like paste, which our food blogger Catherine of Camemberu tells us goes very well which Chicken Rice … and perhaps as a dip. The warm mixture was then put into little jars which each of us were given a piece to bring home with us.

The main ingredients of the green chilli sauce: Green Chillies, Spring Onions and Fresh Ginger - all from Xu' organic farm.

Preparation of the green chilli sauce includes chopping the spring onions, ginger and chillies.

Darren had a hand in the sauce preparation.

The wok is heated up.

Vegetable oil is added ...

Level of oil in the wok.

Is the oil hot enough?

The ingredients are added and fried.

Salt is added.

Once the vegetables have softened and before they turned yellow they are removed from the wok.

and blended into a puree ...

and there we have it ... a tasty spicily tangy pesto like paste which goes well as a dip ...

... which we each had a jar of to take home with us.

Hong Kong Paaartaaay – A Video Pictorial

By , August 4, 2010 3:23 am

I was feeling a little ‘creative’ tonight (it’s a shame that my talents do not match my desires), so decided to savour the memories of our fabulous Hong Kong trip with some of my favourite moments in a short flash video pictorial – thanks and also apologies to all my fellow bloggers from whom I’ve ‘borrowed’ many of the pictures… :p

Sit back, turn up the volume and PAAARTAAAY along with me – Enjoy!!

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Day 3 in Hong Kong and finally able to get a feel of the gorgeous hotel room

By , July 28, 2010 6:37 pm

Having had two fully packed days of excitement that the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) had planned, the ten bloggers were provided with an opportunity to sleep in on Day 3. We were all grateful for it, having caught very little sleep amidst the excitement the night prior to the trip. And I suppose for the members of the two teams preparing for the much anticipated bath tub race the next day, it was a time to get some needed rest. With my body clock waking me up at a time when I would usually wake putting paid to an hope I had to sleep in, what was left for me to do was to savour the gorgeous room that the HKTB had arranged in one of the 66 “Coolest New Hotels in the World” as the Condé Nast Traveller Hot List for 2010 would have it. Indeed, The Mira does qualify as super cool, a feeling you get just stepping into the lobby. Based on the information kit provided by the hotel, the Mira has a total of 492 guest rooms and 56 suites and specialty suites, the rooms are decorated in one of three vibrant themes: Red, Green and Silver, furnished with handpicked fabrics and materials and feature the Egg Chair by Arne Jacobsen, a 40-inch LCD TV, 500GB Sony Personal Computer / Entertainment Centre, Bose in-room soundscapes, a “My Mobile” Nokia phone service (which assists guests to connect anywhere, anytime, inside or outside of the hotel) and complimentary high-speed WiFi and wired Internet.

The Mira is a stylish boutique hotel at the corner of Nathan Road and Kimberly Road in Tsim Sha Tsui which opened in 2009.

The Mira is a stylish boutique hotel at the corner of Nathan Road and Kimberly Road in Tsim Sha Tsui which opened in 2009 (all images of the Mira are courtesy of the hotel).

The three coloured themes that the rooms are designed in: Red, Green and Silver.

The three coloured themes that the rooms are designed in: Red, Green and Silver.

Indeed, the room was really cool, and having already used the Bose sound dock the previous two nights, I set out to discover what else was cool about the LCD TV and the Sony Personal Computer. What was a really nice touch was just this, combined with the wireless keyboard, one could do just about anything on the internet from the comfort of the luxurious bed, or from the red Jacobsen Egg Chair in the red themed room that I was in. Super cool!

The PC and Wireless Keyboard.

The PC and Wireless Keyboard.

Room One, a lounge which is seamlessly woven into the hotel's lobby.

Room One, a lounge which is seamlessly woven into the hotel's lobby.

Yamm: an international buffet restaurant.

Yamm: an international buffet restaurant.

The day’s activities started at 11 with brunch, and I guess I was so engrossed with what I had at my disposal in the room, that I had almost forgotten about the time. Brunch was at a café prior to making our way to the promenade where the much anticipated bath tub race was to be held. If there was tension between members of the two rival teams at brunch, it was not really evident. Darren seemed intent on fuelling up with food, while Pete was all cool and smiling. Violet was her usual talkative self and Geck Geck was a picture of cool composure. There was some evidence of paparazzi gathered outside the café, but that did not seem to affect our stars.

Darren was intent on fuelling up before the race.

Darren was intent on fuelling up before the race.

Geck Geck was cool and composed, as was Aussie Pete.

Geck Geck was cool and composed, as was Aussie Pete.

Were these paparazzi gathered outside the cafe?

Were these paparazzi gathered outside the cafe?

Pre-race tension ... Darren giving Pete the cold hard stare!

Pre-race tension ... Darren giving Pete the cold hard stare!

By the time we got down to the promenade, a large crowd had already gathered and although Pete imagined (or hoped) that the screams of excitement were directed at him (see my previous post on the bath tub race), the largely teenage crowd had in fact come to see the stars from the Korean entertainment network KBS. We were to discover that the four had almost missed the boat or rather, bath tub … as we were a little late for registration. Well, register they did, and it was fortunate that they were able to, as we would have certainly missed out on the excitement of Pete’s and Geck Geck’s big splash into the harbour.

Were those Pete's fans?

Were those Pete's fans?

Pete's turn now!

Pete's turn now!

We're gonna win it says Pete!

We're gonna win it says Pete!

Go Singapore!

Go Singapore!

The reporter was on hand to interview Pete for what was to be his famous victory which somehow became a dip in the harbour.

The reporter was on hand to interview Pete for what was to be his famous victory which somehow became a dip in the harbour.

The crowd excitedly rose to catch a glimpse of Pete's famous dip.

The crowd excitedly rose to catch a glimpse of Pete's famous dip.

Darren and Violet came in second.

Darren and Violet came in second.

We had to leave behind the excitement and electric atmosphere of the Dragon Boat races that were going on, but not before catching a glimpse of the KBS Dream Team receiving an award, and the presentation ceremony for the Pink Spartans a team of breast cancer survivors and supporters from Singapore who won the Pink Dragon Boat Racing Breast Cancer Survivor Invitation Race.

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The crowd had gathered to catch a glimpse of the KBS Dream Team which included members of U-KISS.

The crowd had gathered to catch a glimpse of the KBS Dream Team which included members of U-KISS.

The Pink Spartans.

The Pink Spartans.

Saying goodbye to the races.

Saying goodbye to the races.

It was time for some rest and relaxation at the hotel, and then for me, a walk around town. I somehow found myself taking the Star Ferry to Central and back just for the fun of it, I guess something I would devote another post to. I made it just in time to catch a quick shower and dress up for dinner, which was at the Hong Kong Old Restaurant on the fourth level of the Miramar Shopping Centre, just across Kimberly Road from the hotel. The popular restaurant which serves Shanghainese cuisine and also features dishes from Yang Zhou and Szechuan we were told was named in a way to discretely draw reference to the “old money” in Hong Kong, a reference to the wealthy Shanghainese that had settled in the territory.

The Hong Kong Old Restaurant in the Miramar Shopping Centre.

The Hong Kong Old Restaurant in the Miramar Shopping Centre.

Entering the restaurant.

Entering the restaurant.

The menu.

The menu.

Dinner was an interesting affair, perhaps with the mood lightened by a loosening of tongues brought about by the familiarity of having been together for three days, some Tsingtao and perhaps due to the face that it was our last evening as a group, most choosing to return as scheduled the following day. The food wasn’t quite the usual Shanghainese fare that I had previously been used to, with a variety of very interesting concoctions which included pig trotters that had been soaked in vinegar prior to cooking, in typical Shanghainese fashion we were told. The highlight I guess most would say was dessert, ice cream that had been fried – simply delicious! After dinner, there was still time to walk through the emptying streets, which some of us did, ending up around the Granville Road area – which I would again attempt to cover in another post. After that, it was our last night to savour the interestingly cool hotel room, before we say goodbye to what had up to that point been an exhilarating three days in the Fragrant Harbour.

The Tsingtao may have helped with the loosening of tongues ...

The Tsingtao may have helped with the loosening of tongues ...

Umm ... a few of us couldn't resist more of the beer ...

Umm ... a few of us couldn't resist more of the beer ...

The excellent food was the highlight.

The excellent food was the highlight.

An egg dish...

An egg dish...

I even tried the pigs trotters ... something which I usually wouldn't even look at.

I even tried the pigs trotters ... something which I usually wouldn't even look at.

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Point, point, shoot, shoot ...

Point, point, shoot, shoot ...

mmm!

mmm!

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More point, point, shoot, shoot

More point, point, shoot, shoot

Fish!

Fish!

Objects of desire!

Objects of desire!

Someone had seconds ...

Someone had seconds ...

The super model had fun as well!

The super model had fun as well!

It’s hard to remain dry with a model in the tub!

By , July 27, 2010 8:25 am

I guess that was what Pete found out, much to the dismay of his cheering fans ashore in Sunday’s Media Bath Tub Race that was held at Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong, part of the weekend’s highlight, the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Carnival. The exciting race, which saw the team from the Philippines winning, also featured two teams representing omy.sg, one with Pete and model Ang Geck Geck, and the other with Darren and Violet, who eventually came in a close second to the team from the Philippines.

Screaming girls cheering for Aussie Pete?

Not cheering for Pete as Pete might have imagined. A face amongst the thousands of fans who had gathered to scream at the sight of the KBS dream team.

There were literally thousands of screaming fans gathered for the race, and as Pete would have it, they would have been rooting for him in the race. Having made all the necessary preparations in the run up to the race, the two teams from omy.sg were expected to do fairly well, and based on the strategies that were discussed by the repective teams, it seemed like the teams had everything worked out.

The race started with the blast of a horn, and from the vantage point of the media cordon amongst the very large numbers that had turned out, as it turned out, to greet the Korean Dream team from the KBS network which included U-KISS with the popular Alexander, who were taking part in an international media networks race (and not disappointingly for Pete, Pete and Geck Geck – although I must say that both have got star qualities). As the race progressed, the clumsily fashioned “bathtubs” laboured their way forward to the almighty efforts of the teams of two that seemed to want to have their bathtubs capsize with every stroke of the paddle, and midway through the race, spectators got more than what they had bargained for as with a big stroke of the paddle, Pete had put his weight to the starboard side and while not as graceful as the dolphins in Ocean Park, the sight of Pete and Geck Geck falling into the depths of the Fragrant Harbour appeared to be graceful and choreographed (hmm, maybe it was staged). The incident was greeted not in stunned silence, but with a big roar from the crowd … and any fears for the safety of the two was quickly proved to be unfounded by the quick appearance of the rescue parties (maybe it was the pretty damsel in distress that they were all concerned with).

The moment it happened, it did appear to have been a carefully choreographed move.

Into the depths of the Fragrant Harbour went Pete and the model.

The rescue.

I guess it was certainly a blast for the participants in the race, as it was for the fans who caught a glimpse of their KBS heroes, and for us bloggers to have had a chance to soak in the atmosphere of a dragon boating event in the very home of Dragon Boat racing as we know it today. The race also featured teams made up of breast cancer survivors and their supporters in which a team from Singapore, the Pink Spartans won.

Darren and Violet paddled their way to second place.

The soaking wet pair after being rescued from their bathtub adventures.

Even the buoys seemed to give Pete and Geck Geck a perfect 10!

Day 1 in Hong Kong and it looks like Pete and Geck Geck got a head start on Darren and Violet!

By , July 24, 2010 7:31 am

Arriving in Hong Kong after what was for me an eventful preparation for the much anticipated trip to Hong Kong, which included having the drama of not being able to find my passport and warnings on the weather in the wake of Typhoon Chanthu which made landfall in Guangdong on the previous day, it was nice to first be greeted with sunny skies instead of the wet and windy weather I had anticipated, and then by the gorgeous hotel room in the Mira Hotel where we are being put up in.

The gorgeous room in the Mira Hotel that I am staying in.

The gorgeous room in the Mira Hotel that I am staying in.

For the few of us who had decided to follow on the optional programme put up for us by the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB), the first day started with afternoon tea at the hotel, followed by a visit to the opening ceremony of the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Carnival and the accompanying Cross-over concert, and culminated in the highlight of the day – a sumptous feast at the charming busy suzie Japanese restuarant.

The day culminated in dinner at busy suzie, a Robatayaki restaurant in Tsim Sha Tsui.

The day culminated in dinner at busy suzie, a Robatayaki restaurant in Tsim Sha Tsui.

In getting to the opening ceremony, we took a detour to the Avenue of the Stars, where the very amusing Aussie Pete, the author of the best “What the Hell” blog category at the 2010 Singapore Blog Awards, managed to not only survey the route for Sunday’s bathtub race in which he is partnering the petite Geck Geck, the author of the best Modelling blog who was also with us, but also get his picture taken with Jackie Chan! Peter even got his hands on the paddle during the day’s events – Geck Geck too, which will become apparent further on in this post. I guess that you can say now that Pete and Geck Geck hold an unfair advantage over the other competitors – and besides, with their relative sizes, the bathtub would be loaded in a way it might actually plane (as in a planing boat)!

Aussie Pete got his picture with Jackie along the Avenue of the Stars.

Aussie Pete got his picture with Jackie along the Avenue of the Stars.

The opening ceremony and concert was graced by the appearance of Sherman Chung, a popular cantopop artiste and U-Kiss – a Korean boyband which, one the evidence of the many screaming fans who had come, popular with teenage girls in Hong Kong – not surprising I suppose, as amongst the members of U-Kiss, is the (I guess some would consider) cute Alexander who apparently has a Hong Kong father and a Korean mother and also speaks Cantonese.

The Hong King Dragon Boat carnival is officially opened.

The Hong Kong Dragon Boat carnival is officially opened.

Drum display at the official opening of the Hong Kong Dragon Boat carnival.

Drum display at the official opening of the Hong Kong Dragon Boat carnival.

Sherman Chung made an apperance.

Sherman Chung made an apperance.

But the highlight for the many gathered seemed to be the appearance of Alexander of Korean boyband U-KISS.

But the highlight for the many gathered seemed to be the appearance of Alexander of Korean boyband U-KISS.

which was greeted by the screams of the adoring teenage crowd that had gathered.

which was greeted by the screams of the adoring teenage crowd that had gathered.

and more screams!

and more screams!

Sherman was not without her fans though!

Sherman was not without her fans though!

Alexander charmed the crowd with his fluent Cantonese.

Alexander charmed the crowd with his fluent Cantonese.

Members of U-KISS on stage.

Members of U-KISS on stage.

U-KISS on stage.

U-KISS on stage.

Fans of U-KISS were out in full force.

Fans of U-KISS were out in full force.

Leaving the concert and with it the blast of great music and screaming girls which had my ears ringing for a while, we then made our way on foot through the busy streets of Tsim Sha Tsui towards busy suzie’s – but not before Pete was grateful to be finally able to find what he had been looking for several hours earlier.

Aussie Pete's saviour!

Aussie Pete's saviour!

The restaurant is located at former lighthouse building which is now part of the very charming 1881 Heritage complex, a mix of Victorian styled buildings which once were used as the Marine Police headquarters, a lighhouse and a fire-station. The complex was opened last year and also features a very exclusive boutique hotel, housed in Hulett House, which we were informed, had only six lavish suites and is booked up to as far ahead as November.

Hulett House in the 1881 Heritage complex is now an exclusive boutique hotel.

Hulett House in the 1881 Heritage complex is now an exclusive boutique hotel.

The former Kowloon Fire Station.

The former Kowloon Fire Station.

The time ball of the former lighthouse.

The time ball of the former lighthouse.

busy suzie, a robatayaki restaurant named after an intended play on the word “Lazy Susan” to reflect the unique style of serving food robata style in which wooden paddles are used by the chefs seated in front of diners to pass the dishes which are prepared on the spot to them. This practice is said to have originated in the simple beach resturants of Sendai in northern Japan where Robatayaki traces its origins to, where fishermen cooked their catch over an open fire with only a boat oar to use. The layout of the restaurant is unique in itself, being arranged in a circular fashion and features a curved lounge bar and seating arrangements which is set in a modern contemporary fashion that is in keeping with the restaurant’s intended theme of old cusine served fusion style.

busy suzie features a unique circular layout.

busy suzie features a unique circular layout.

and wonderful decor!

and wonderful decor!

Pete got to practice with the paddle.

Pete got to practice with the paddle.

I must say the overall dining experience was really something to remember. We were provided with a superb selection of food exquisitely prepared by chef Iwagami Yoshiaki, which certainly went down very smoothly in the company of the HKTB’s representatives, the omy representatives and my fellow bloggers. With this it was back to the very nice hotel room, a soak in the bath and some long awaited rest to recharge for a second day packed with some more exciting events lined up for us by the HKTB.

A Robata chef at work.

A Robata chef at work.

Food is flown in fresh everyday ...

Food is flown in fresh everyday ...

Chef Iwagami San at work.

Chef Iwagami San at work.

Iwagami San preparing a Kinky Fish.

Iwagami San preparing a Kinky Fish.

Iwagami San.

Iwagami San.

Hands on the paddle.

Hands on the paddle.

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And finally, if you are ever at busy suzie's, don't forget a visit to this important place ...

And finally, if you are ever at busy suzie's, don't forget a visit to this important place ...

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