Gardens By The Bay: A Nighttime Stroll

Our last visit to Singapore gave James and I the opportunity to take a closer look at another one of Singapore’s iconic masterpieces. Gardens By The Bay was recently crowned World Building of the Year at the prestigious World Architecture Festival 2012 in October. While not exactly a building per se, the attraction houses some of the most amazing pieces of man-made architecture one would ever lay eyes on. Just so you know, the award-winning horticultural Gardens span a massive 101 hectares and houses over 250 thousand rare plants. What’s more, at night, you get an absolutely striking view of the gigantic Marina Bay Sands integrated resort, all lit up and imposing. Truly a magnificent sight. This recent online article published by the Daily Mail (along with some gorgeous pictures) pretty much sums up the spectacular Gardens By The Bay.

Why am I sharing this with you? Because I’m heading back to busy, bustling Singapore tomorrow and to celebrate that, I’m giving you guys a little snippet of my hometown. I seriously can’t wait to take my camera out on regular excursions over there and come back here to share new pictures with everyone! You don’t get Christmas lights here like what you get in Singapore, so I’m very excited to get see what the amazing little island has to offer this year!

GARDENS BY THE BAY
18 Marina Gardens Drive
Singapore 018953
Bay East Outdoor Gardens | Open 24 hours daily (free admission)
Bay South Outdoor Gardens
 | Open 5:00am – 2:00am daily (free admission)
Cooled Conservatories | Open 9:00am – 9:00pm daily (SGD$28/adult | SGD$15/child)
OCBC Skyway | Open 9:00am – 9:00pm daily (SGD$5/adult | SGD$3/child)
http://www.gardensbythebay.com.sg

Related Posts:
A City Made of Stars: The Singapore Flyer at Night
Beauty Over Water: The Helix Bridge @ Marina Bay

The Appeal of Black Swans

These guys drove my dog absolutely crazy when they came by my house for a quick bite. Black swans love the taste of bread crumbs, it seems. I took care not to give them too much. I was more interested in getting my camera to work under the lighting conditions of an early sunrise. I wonder where they came from. Black swans don’t generally stick around this area. It’s usually the ducks that come round for a snack or two.

A City Made of Stars: The Singapore Flyer at Night

“The Singapore Flyer is a giant Ferris wheel located in Singapore, constructed in 2005–2008. Described by its operators as an observation wheel, it reaches 42 stories high, with a total height of 165 m (541 ft), making it the tallest Ferris wheel in the world, 5 m (16 ft) taller than the Star of Nanchang and 30 m (98 ft) taller than the London Eye.” – Wikipedia

I wasn’t expecting much of the Singapore Flyer. I mean, how exciting could a Ferris wheel be? Granted, it is the tallest wheel in the world, with booths that are probably the size of my bedroom. And there’s also the fact that it towers over a pretty fancy, quaint little shopping complex near Promenade Station that has a massive man-made rainforest garden with water features and rock formations right smack in the middle of the building. But, yeah, I hadn’t expected much of the ride itself. I don’t know why. Given how expensive a single half-hour flight was, you’d think I’d be more excited. Maybe it was the fact that I knew we’d have to share a capsule with a bunch of other people.

But really, all my negative preconceptions about the Flyer melted away once we actually went on it. It was amazing. Everything about the ride was amazing. Even the little girls who boarded the capsule with us provided everyone with some awesome Disney music (their singing was fairly off-key but they were good entertainment). Within that wonderful glass capsule decorated with lovely colour-changing lights, we oohed and aahed at the incredible panoramic view of Singapore by night.

I’ve always preferred Singapore after the sun goes down. You get to see millions of twinkling lights in a sea of amazing architecture and the inky darkness of night cunningly eclipses the gloomy grey blanket of clouds that frequent the skies. At night, Singapore looks like another world. At night, Singapore is a city made of stars.

What iconic landmarks can you see from up there? Well, the Singapore River, Collyer Quay, Raffles Place, The Fullerton Hotel, The Esplanade, Merlion Park, Empress Place, Fort Canning Park, The Float @ Marina Bay, the F1 Circuit, the Helix Bridge, the Youth Olympic Park, Marina Barrage and Marina Bay Sands, just to name a few. And on a clear day, you may well get to catch glimpses of the Indonesian islands, Batam and Bintan, as well as Johor of southern Malaysia.

I highly recommend that you give the Singapore Flyer a go. Nighttime’s the best time to fly, in my opinion. It’s too pretty an opportunity to pass up! For the 30 minutes that you’re up there, the some-say-steep price that the Flyer asks for (S$33 per adult) is definitely worth it. Other Ferris wheel rides last a measly 10 to 15 minutes. You also get to go through the Journey of Dreams, a neat little attraction that presents itself just before you board the Flyer. It involves an array of engaging multimedia displays that showcase the story of Singapore and how the Flyer came to be.

And, if you’re willing to pay more, you get to experience some sweet VIP treatment with the following packages to choose from:

Singapore Sling Flight (S$69.00)
Signature Cocktail Flight (S$69.00)
Moët & Chandon Champagne Flight (S$69.00)
High Tea Flight (S$99++)
World’s First Full Butler Sky Dining (S$269++ per couple)

THE SINGAPORE FLYER
30 Raffles Avenue
Singapore 039803
Daily Flights: 8:30am – 10:30pm (last admission @ 10:15pm)
Ticket Sales: 8:00am – 10:00pm

Related Posts:
Gardens By The Bay: A Nighttime Stroll
Beauty Over Water: The Helix Bridge @ Marina Bay

The Promenade, Robina Town Centre

After a morning of shopping and a beautiful lunch at River Penang, James and I hung around Robina Town Centre’s waterfront Promenade. The sun was out and we revelled in the warmth of impending spring. Yes, the days are indeed becoming noticeably warmer. The end of winter is nigh! I can actually wear shorts, skirts and uncovered shoes without my legs and feet going numb!

One Sneaky Little Kitty Cat

This is Gem. Not to be confused with Rossi, the neighbour’s other cat, whom I’ve written about in a previous post. She is quite a lovely cat, with a surprisingly bushy tail and a pretty bling collar. She enjoys rubbing herself on the ground and attempting to enter through the front door of your house when you’re not looking. Adorable!

The Orangescape

Wowed by the brilliance of this sunrise at 6 in the morning, I sneaked downstairs to take a few shots of the orange spectacle, despite the biting winter cold outside and me dressed in just a nightie. James was still in bed, nursing a headache and trying to go back to sleep. The poor baby woke me up for some Panadol, thus the trip downstairs to the kitchen to fetch some. That was when I spotted the sunrise out the back and knew I had to take some pictures.

I’m quite happy I did.

Low Carb Mixed Berry Almond Meal Muffins


I’ve been on a health streak lately, what with baking an array of low calorie snacks. It’s a little harder to make treats when you shy away from using regular white wheat flour (high carb content, high G.I., contains gluten, blah blah). That way, you’ve got to hunt for alternatives such as almond flour and rice flour, which are much less flexible to use as a baking ingredient because of their varying textures. I’ve found that almond flour (also known as almond meal) is my favourite substitute for wheat flour, although you can’t say it acts the same way so it’s tricky to use. I enjoy using it because of its low carb benefit. Also, almonds are very good for you! Now, I’m gonna share with you another of my recipes that uses almond meal. Anyone up for some low carb almond meal muffins studded with a colourful concoction of mixed berries?

This recipe uses frozen berries. You can find them pre-packaged at your local supermarket, or your can freeze them yourself! An assortment of berries is good. For these muffins, I used a combination of blackberries, strawberries, raspberries and blueberries. I also used Natvia for this recipe. Natvia is a new ingredient that I’ve been incorporating in much of my baking the past week. It is a natural sweetener that, according to their website, contains 95% fewer calores than sugar (Natvia = 0.6 calories/teaspoon, sugar = 16 calories/teaspoon). It is low carb, low G.I. and tooth friendly. Best of all, it contains no aspartame or saccharin and leaves no bitter aftertaste that many artificial sweeteners are guilty of. The downside is, Natvia is more expensive than normal sugar. You pay a lot for just a small amount of it. I suppose you may use other sugar substitutes instead, or even just normal sugar if you aren’t counting calories, but I’m not sure how that will change the taste/texture of the muffins. But if you don’t have Natvia and don’t mind experimenting, go ahead!

Anyway, these muffins are great if you’re looking to lose weight. Extremely low carbohydrate content for such a filling thing! Eat one muffin and it’ll satisfy your sweet cravings and keep you full for awhile.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup salted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup Natvia natural sweetener
2 cups almond meal
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
2 cups frozen berries of choice

Preparation:

  1. Leave frozen berries out to thaw, or defrost them in a microwave.
  2. Preheat your oven to 190°C and line muffin tray with muffin cases.
  3. Cream the butter and Natvia until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time into the creamed mixture, mixing well after each addition.
  5. In a separate bowl, combine the almond meal and baking powder.
  6. While constantly mixing, alternate the milk and the almond meal mixture into the creamed butter.
  7. Fold in the berries.
  8. Fill each muffin case 3/4 of the way with the batter.
  9. Bake for 25 minutes or until the tops of the muffins start to brown and crack.
  10. Remove from oven and let stand on a wire rack to cool for half an hour before transferring to an air tight container.

These muffins come out extremely moist and soft, which may be a little troublesome to eat because they crumble easily. But give them an hour and they will harden up a little. They have a wonderful texture when left overnight in the fridge and eaten the next morning. Have them for breakfast when you wake up the next day and you won’t be disappointed!

Chewy Fudgey Butterless Chocolate Cookies

Sometimes, experiments don’t go too well. Sometimes, things don’t work the way you want them to. See those adorable looking bear-shaped cookies? They came out of the oven tasteless and dry. Not the best combination, huh? It was a waste to throw them and the rest of the unused cookie dough out. It made me sad that the recipe didn’t work. But then again, I experimented a lot with baking and knew that there would be other chances to get it right. Anyway, I was a little resentful of the oven after that disaster and decided to stay away from the kitchen for awhile.

But then, a few days later, the experimental spirit inside me decided to give baking another shot.

This time, I created something tasty. This time, I got something right.

My boyfriend thinks these are the best cookies I’ve ever made. I wouldn’t say they were the best, but I guess it all boils down to an individual’s personal preference. I thought they were too chewy for me, but James loves chewy cookies so obviously he found them amazing. I used an amalgamation of cocoa powder, hazelnut meal, almond meal and flaxseed meal to form the body of the cookie. Obviously, this makes it a gluten-free cookie. No wheat flours here! Also, I used no butter whatsoever.

The result is a chewy, thick and chunky chocolate cookie reminiscent of fudge brownies. The density of the cookies is a little unreal. I never expected them to turn out like they did. I was expecting them to spread out a bit more, but they didn’t do that so well. So they were, well, dense. Not that that’s a bad thing. They were still lovely and had a mildly grainy texture that was both interesting and unique.

We ate them all in less than a week. James says I should make them for him again. Greedy! ;) Anyway, I’ve talked too much. Here’s the Chewy Fudgey Butterless Chocolate Cookie recipe you’ve been waiting patiently for. Be prepared.

Chewy Fudgey Butterless Chocolate Cookies

Ingredients:

¾ cup cocoa powder
1 cup raw sugar
1 cup brown sugar
pinch of salt
1 cup flaxseed meal
¾ cup hazelnut meal
¼ cup almond meal
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 large egg whites
1 tablespoon milk

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 190°C and line baking tray with baking paper.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the cocoa powder, sugars, salt and meals. Set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk the egg whites, vanilla and milk until combined.
  4. Gradually add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until very well combined.
  5. Roll tablespoons of dough into balls and place onto baking tray, flattening them slightly with a fork.
  6. Reduce the oven temperature to 160°C and bake cookies for 15 minutes (for a chewier cookie), or 20 minutes (for a harder cookie).
  7. Remove cookies from oven and transfer them to a wire rack to cool.