Sunshine Coast – Sun, Sand & Sea @ Noosa Heads


When in Brisbane: Take a day trip up north to Noosa Heads in the Sunshine Coast to take in some of the most beautiful sights of sun, sand, sea and sky you will ever see. This is Laguna Bay where you can folick in the waters, build sandcastles, or stretch your leg mucles on the boardwalk that takes you all the way to the top of Noosa National Park where a lookout offers breathtaking views of the entire area. Actually, considering the long drive – 3 hrs each way – best to stay a night or two cos you still need time to check out all the shops and cafes along the main street, Hastings Lane. Hmm, should I go again?… 

Photo by Marguerita Tan

Brisbane – Sunset over the River

When in Brisbane: Catch sunsets (about 5ish during winter) over Brisbane River by positioning yourself on the extremely busy Victoria Bridge. Just be careful and avoid being knocked down by vehicles or pedestrians. Besides sunsets, you can see beautiful fluffy clouds posturing themselves in a clear, blue sky almost everday in the city. Naisee.

Photo by Marguerita Tan

Brisbane – Street Art “City Roos”

When in Brisbane: Look around everywhere you go as it is likely you will find various forms of street art – on the walls, on the roads or on the pavement like this pair of kangaroos. Made out of scrap metal by local sculptor Christopher Trotter, these City Roos – including another pair just a stone’s away on George Street (off Brunett Lane) – are said to be the most photographed street art in the city, especially the one on the bench. Well, if you dont have time to see one in a zoo, this metallic pair will have to do!

Photo by Marguerita Tan

Bumbu @ Kandahar Street

2017-01-31 14.39.46 (640x640)Was meeting two longtime-no-see friends for lunch and we decided the best place to find a restaurant that will appeal to all our tastebuds was down at Kampong Glam (which is fast becoming a favourite haunt of mine). After walking up and down the most popular streets (Arab, Bussorah, Haji Lane, etc), we settled for the halal-certified #Bumbu restaurant at #KandaharStreet.
2017-01-31 14.37.20 (640x640)Bumbu serves Thai-Indonesian cuisine, housed surprisingly in a very quaint Perankan shophouse. For a moment we thought it was a fancy place but it just simply well-decorated with beautiful furniture, with comfortable ambiences in both its dining areas upstairs and downstairs.
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Bumbu’s menu is decently extensive with a good range of appetisers, meats, seafood, vegetables, noodles and rice, and desserts.

As we were severely hungry by the time we sat down, we decided to go for the signature dishes. For an Indonesian choice, we opted for Tahu Telor which was a very good choice as the tahu (fried tofu) was fresh and crispy and the peanut sauce sweet and delicious.
2017-01-31 13.23.47 (640x640)For Thai, the Tom Yum Seafood Soup was another good choice as it was chock-full of ingredients such as mushrooms and seafood items such as squids, prawns and fish. Not to mention it offered the right amount of tom yum spiciness.
2017-01-31 13.32.01 (640x640)Eyeing other tables, we noticed that the Cereal Soft Shell Crab so we ordered that. And yup, it was as good as it looked on the other tables. 🙂
2017-01-31 13.33.55 (640x640)We thought we probably need a meat item but the Beef Rendang was rather disappointing. It looked good and the gravy was fine but the meat wasn’t very exciting. It wasn’t tough but it wasn’t very tender either. Probably was having a bad day. Should have gone for the Pandan Leaf chicken instead…
2017-01-31 13.33.00 (640x640)Veggie wise you can’t really go wrong with Sambal Kangkong and we have no complaints about this one.
2017-01-31 13.36.08 (640x640)Of course, all of the above were washed down with white rice and accompanied by these really tasty prawn crackers. We didn’t go for desserts by the end as we were too full – too much rice and crackers – and also we ordered Chendol as our drinks.

All in all, the three of us paid about $35 each which is decent for a restaurant. The food is value for money and it’s a place I would come again if I’m with a number of friends.

Bumbu Restaurant is at 44 Kandahar Street, opens from Tue to Sun, 11am-3pm and 6-10pm.

Flying Monkey @ Bussorah Street

[Credit: Marguerita Tan]

Flying Monkey interiors [Credit: Marguerita Tan]

Have to confess: have yet to check out all the cool eateries in and around Kampong Glam and new ones are already popping up. Last week, Musings on the M49 was chuffed to be invited to the opening of #FlyingMonkey, the first #Indiantapas restaurant with a full-fledged cocktail bar to set up along bustling #BussorahStreet.

[Credit: Marguerita Tan]

[Credit: Marguerita Tan]

Owned and managed by engineer-turned-entrepreneur Sumeet Singla, the same chap who owned the popular Pizza Fabricca next door, Flying Monkey is a bright, spacious space filled with colourful motifs on the walls, while al fresco seating is available as well. A gaming lounge, to be located on the second floor, is presently in the works.

CONTEMPORARY PAN-INDIAN CUISINE
The simple yet attractive menu features an extensive list of contemporary Pan-Asian cuisine served tapas style, comprising small plates, large plates, desserts, and sides such as breads, rice and yogurt.

The kitchen is helmed by Head Chef Azad, formerly from Yantra, who leads a team of chefs with strong traditional backgrounds and five-star restaurant experience.

Here’s but a small selection of the best dishes:

[Credit: Marguerita Tan]

Nalli Gosht aka Lamb Shank [Credit: Marguerita Tan]

This Nalli Gosht ($26), which is lamb shank cooked for hours overnight and served with garlic naan, is da bomb. The meat was tender and flavourful, and comes off the bone easily, while the creamy peanut-cashew curry tasted so good with the naan slices. Needless to say, this large plate item scored high points with this carnivore!

[Credit: Marguerita Tan]

Tulsi Cod [Credit: Marguerita Tan]

I’m not a fish person but this Tulsi Cod ($15) is utterly awesome. Every bite of the cod fillet, which is marinated in Italian basil and charred in a 500-degree Tandoor oven, truly tantalized the tastebuds. One of the standout dishes on the menu.

[Credit: Marguerita Tan]

Quail Musallam [Credit: Marguerita Tan]

Flying Monkey’s Tandoori Chicken ($10) marinated in yogurt and spices is one of their best sellers, but if you are willing to try a bird of a different kind, the Quail Musallam ($26) is it. The whole bird, which is of a decent small size, is slow cooked and served with curry and a hard-boiled egg on Kashmiri Pulao (tasty yellow rice cooked with dried fruits and nuts). A large plate that is good enough for a single meal, I don’t really fancy sharing it with anyone else if truth be told!

[Credit: Marguerita Tan]

Galouti Kebab [Credit: Marguerita Tan]

Galouti Kebab ($14) is one of Flying Monkey’s signature dishes and it has a great story behind it. Long long time ago, there was an Indian king who loves to eat meat but couldn’t do so after losing all his teeth. So he ordered the royal chefs to come out with a plan and this was what they came out with: mutton meat grinded into a gooey paste, marinated with spices and unripe papaya, and then made into mini kebabs that His Majesty could easily munch on. This “melt-in-your-mouth” kebab was cute and invitting but it has a spicy flavour that was way too strong for me. It’s definitely an acquired taste which it would take a long while to get used to.

[Credit: Marguerita Tan]

Chilli Poppers [Credit: Marguerita Tan]

Okay, if you are just here for the drinks, you can’t not have “bar grub”. Here’s one of the best choices on the menu but only if you can handle the “hotness”. These Chilli Poppers ($10) are Rajasthani-styled green chilli stuffed with potato masala. Crunchy, spicy and deliciously hot – on a chilli hot scale of 1-5, it rates a #4 – it’s a great snack to go with your poison of choice.

[Credit: Marguerita Tan]

Calamari 65 [Credit: Marguerita Tan]

Another great snack to go with liquor is Calamari 65 ($10), a play on the popular deep-fried snack Chicken 65 from Chennai. Unlike the calamari you find in western diners, these calamari rings are crunchy with a spicy taste as they are deep fried with curry leaves. A real good beer snack.

[Credit: Marguerita Tan]

Jalebi [Credit: Marguerita Tan]

Last but by no means least, do make room for the wonderful dessert that is Jalebi ($10). Freshly made-to-order each time, this crispy, super sweet Indian pretzel is best eaten when it’s still warm and dipped in aromatic syrup. You can’t leave Flying Monkey without trying this!

The menu also have a number of tasty vegetarian dishes worth trying such as Baigan Salan ($16), which is eggplant braised in peanut-cashew curry and served with rice, and Mustard Gohbi ($8), which is cauliflower marinated with mustard and charred in the Tandoor.

CLASSIC COCKTAILS WITH AN INDIAN TWIST
Flying Monkey owns the distinction of being one of the few restaurants in the Kampong Glam vicinity to have bespoke cocktails available. But if you are the kind who rather just order your drinks straight off the menu, it has a cocktail menu filled with fascinating choices ($14-$20) such as classic cocktails with an Indian twist on flavours.

[Credit: Marguerita Tan]

“The Beard” in action [Credit: Marguerita Tan]

The bar is manned by Head Bartender Kannan aka “The Beard”, seen above preparing a Monkey on Fire ($20), which is Monkey Shoulder Whiskey, Grand Marnier, Maraschino, Honey, 3-Spice and Coconut Water. Don’t worry, the cocktail will be served without fire but in a cute little clay pot filled to the brim with ice. It has a smooth, sweet taste while the fiery smokiness does add an edge to it.

[Credit: Marguerita Tan]

The Flying Monkey [Credit: Marguerita Tan]

If you like a strong whiskey taste in your cocktails, try the signature, The Flying Monkey ($18), which contains Monkey Shoulder Whiskey, King’s Ginger, Jaggery Syrup and Bitters.

[Credit: Marguerita Tan]

[Credit: Marguerita Tan]

Other interesting cocktails include Goa Mamma Lassi ($18, Mango, Passion Fruit, Aylesbury Vodka, Plantation Dark Rum, Milk,Yogurt) and Yo Yo Mani ($18, Plantation 3 Stars, White & Overproof Rum, Koko Kanu Coconut Rum, Coconut Water & Cream, 5-spice Kerala Rice Syrup).

If you are looking for a casual place with good Indian food, Flying Monkey is worth trying out. For me, the curry lamb shank with naan, for one, is worth coming back for. Prices are relatively decent for a tapas bar, and although I wished they have more beer choices, India’s Kingfisher beer is seriously not a bad accompaniment for Indian cuisine.

Flying Monkey is at 67 Bussorah Street. Lunch: 12-2.30pm; Dinner 5.30pm-11pm. Weekends till late, last order 10.30pm.

 

Celebrate Canada150 in 2017!

moraine-lakeMoraine Lake in the Canadian Rockies (Credit: Angsana Seeds Photography)

“Blame Canada, blame Canada!” That’s the chorus of a silly song from the hit animated film, South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut (1999), which I would sing out loud whenever I hear anyone mentioned “Canada”. In 2017, I might change it to “Go Canada” instead as this is the year that the country with the swoonsome PM celebrates #Canada150 – the 150th anniversary of the Confederation of Canada.

Truth be told, there’s nothing much to blame Canada for – not Celine Dion, or Ryan Reynolds, and definitely not Justin Trudeau. Maybe, just maybe the Justin Bieber of some years ago but all is forgiven after his last pretty good album, Purpose.

Anyway, there’s definitely more to Canada than just standout entertainers and hunky politicians. It’s a country long famous for its picturesque gardens, lakes and mountain ranges; exquisite activities such as whale watching and northern lights sightings; and cultural festivals ranging from music and film, to flowers and giant balloons.

A fortnight ago, Musings on the M49 was chuffed to be invited to attend a Canada150 event organised by Trafalgar Asia and the High Commission of Canada. Held at the official residence of the High Commissioner of Canada to Singapore, Ms Lynn McDonald, we learnt from her that there will be all kinds of exciting Canada150 events taking place in almost every key Canadian city and state throughout 2017. So, if there is ever a good time to visit Canada, it is NOW.

Mark the Date – July 1, 2017 is Canada Day!
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If you want to be at the height of the C150 celebrations, the date to aim for or plan your travels around is  July 1, the official Canada Day. Below are but a very mini selection of the interesting things you can do in the land of Mounties and Maple Leaves, plus some of the Canada 150 events happening in and around July 2017 in these regions.

ONTARIO (www.ontariotravel.net)
Here’s where you will find the capital city of Ottawa; the country’s largest city Toronto; and the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. Things you can do here includes shopping/dining in the cosmopolitan cities, seek adventure on hiking trails and waterways, or chill out at lakeside resorts. Canada150 activities include:

July 1: Ottawa – Canada Day celebrations on Parliament Hill and throughout Downtown
July 2: Ottawa – Interprovincial Picnic on the Bridge
July 26-30: Ottawa – Urban theatre group La Machine featuring larger-than-life mechanical creatures (pictured – Credit: Ottawa2017.ca)
July 28-30: Toronto Festival of Beer
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ALBERTA (www.travelalberta.com)
This is where the glorious Canadian Rocky Mountains lie, plus four other World Heritage Sites such as Dinosaur Provincial Park and Wood Buffalo National Park; and also the political/commercial/cultural hubs of Calgary and Edmonton. Most people come here for the Canadian Rockies which offer breathtaking sights in every season. Canada150 events include:

July 1: Calgary – Canada Day at Heritage Park
July 7-17: Calgary Stampede
July 7-17: Edmonton International Street Performers Festival (pictured – Credit: travelalberta.com)
edmonton-international-street-performers-festival-l-5
BRITISH COLUMBIA (www.helloBC.com)
In BC, Vancouver is the city most people are familiar with but this is where you will also find spectacular scenery off the beaten track such as Cariboo C0untry and The Okanagan, as well as Whistler, one of the best ski resorts in North America. Canada150 events include:

July 1-2: Bella Coola Rodeo
July 7-9: Whistler Children’s Festival (pictured – Credit: Tourism Whistler/Mike Crane)
July 14-16: Vancouver Folk Music Festival
July 20-23: Victoria Festival of Food and Wine
Whistler Children's Festival
QUEBEC (www.bonjour-quebec.com)
Bonjour! For French culture and style, this is where you will find it in Canada. Quebec City is a World Heritage listed city, highlights of which are its Winter Carnival and Summer Festival, while Montreal has its fair share of classic buildings and modern commercial spaces. Canada150 festivities include:

June 29 – July 8: Festival International de Jazz de Montreal
July 6-16: Festival d’ete de Quebec (pictured – Credit: Quebec City Tourism)
July 14-30: Montreal – Just for Laughs Festival
quebec-festival
As mentioned, the above is but a very small selection of events that will be happening throughout the year in Canada. For more information, visit the various websites listed.

For Canada150 events in Singapore, follow the High Commission in Canada (www.singapore.gc.ca) on Facebook (Canadainsingapore) or Twitter (@CanHCSingapore).

For info on Canada tours, visit Trafalgar Asia at http://www.trafalgar.com.
ottawa2017-ca_150                                                                 (Credit: Ottawa2017.ca)

Main Photo of Moraine Lake in the Canadian Rockies by Ivy Ho of Angsana Seeds Photography.
If interested, you can purchase prints of this gorgeous photo at:
https://www.etsy.com/sg-en/listing/205859208/canadian-rockies-photo-moraine-lake

No text or photos from this post are to be reproduced without permission of the blog author.

 

 

 

Cairns: Thrills & Spills (III)

When in Cairns: Yes, there’s loads to do in this Australian city that is flanked by the Great Barrier Reef. Here are two more options:

Inhabit the Island

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Sunset as seen from Fitzroy Island (Credit: Fitzroy Island Resort)

Just a 45-minute ferry ride from Cairns, Fitzroy Island (www.fitzroyisland.com.au) is a 99-room tropical island resort with its own rainforest and beaches, located on the edge of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. Snorkelling is great here as beautiful corals and fish are located close to its many beaches, such as Shark Bay and the scenic Nudey Beach. If you are lucky, you can even spot giant turtles in the waters.

You can also check out the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre, which nurses injured and sick turtles back to health. There are various bush-walking trails that lead to sights such as a working lighthouse, crystal-clear springs and panoramic views of the Barrier Reef at the summit.

A rare evening storm ruined our chance of catching a gorgeous sunset, but then again simply chilling on a breezy beach with a cold beer in hand and ending the night with scrumptious Australian cuisine at the island’s only restaurant more than made up for it.

Push your Vertical Limit

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                              Soar above a rainforest canopy on the Kuranda Skyrail (Credit: Kuranda Tourism)

Kuranda is a picturesque village set amid the World Heritage Site Barron Gouge National Park, and the best way to explore this ancient rainforest is by taking the Skyrail, a 7.5km cableway that glides just metres above the rainforest canopy. (A Diamond View glass floor gondola offers rarely-seen views of the treetops.)

There are three stops where you can hop off and get onto boardwalks and lookouts to take a closer peek at the diverse fauna and flora, as well as stunning views of the 260m Barron Falls and Gorge. Look out for signs that list the guided tours by Skyrail’s Rangers.

For an alternate return trip, hop onto the Kuranda Scenic Train for different viewpoints of the gorge and its waterfalls as it travels through 15 hand-carved tunnels.

To be continued…

My article on Cairns was originally published in TODAY newspaper on December 15, 2016.