Sunday, 18 August 2013

A colorful weekend

If not for our friend, we wouldn't have heard of the Color Run. She was looking for running mates and we agreed to sign up without hesitation. The run was so popular, all the 16,000 spots were sold out within hours. The irony was, she didn't even sign up.

But we have to thank her for the wonderful experience. Having done quite many races, we're getting quite picky and Color Run appealed to us right from the start. We wanted to run in 'The Happiest 5k on the Planet' and be doused in gaudy coloured powder at the end of it all.

Since we were prepared to indulge in a weekend of fun in Sentosa, we also booked a room at Amara Sanctuary to complete the experience.

We arrived at Siloso Beach to find a sea of excited young people engaged in taking photos of each other. Being surrounded by energetic, screaming youngsters dressed in colourful tutus, afros, sunnies and high socks suddenly made us feel so sedated and old. Their photo taking antics continued throughout the 5k run. They were so engrossed with taking selfies and having fun that they forgot to run.

At every 1km mark, we were showered with coloured powder. By the time we crossed the finish line, we were covered in pink, yellow, blue and red. The youngsters loved it. The more colours, the better!

CH doing the Gangnam Style.

 I didn't end up plastered in colours.

Bananas in colourful Mini.

I'm so glad we picked Amara Sanctuary for our staycation. Set amidst lush greenery, the hotel is quiet and elegant. After jostling with thousands of excited runners, we were happy to retreat to some tranquility while the youngsters continued to party.

For dinner, there are two good restaurants to choose from at Amara Sanctuary - Than Ying Thai Restaurant and Shutters.

We settled for the 2-course set meal (at $30 each) at Shutters and enjoyed the excellent food and service. The portions were generous and we were even given a complimentary basket of assorted bread.

Our appetizer, Tuna Tataki ala Nicoise, is perfect for sharing.

For the main course, CH had the Miso braised beef cheek, served on a bed of truffle-mash potato. The meat was cooked to perfection.
My choice of soy glazed cod topped with bonito flake was also delicious. I am amazed at how the thick chunk of cod can be so tender and succulent.
I was quite skeptical when I saw the chempedak creme brulee but it proved to be a surprise hit.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Going tripping is looking for kaki.

To me, traveling is no longer about sightseeing and ticking off a checklist. It's the holistic experience I'm after. Very often, I find myself wandering off the beaten track, away from the tourist traps and into the residential areas where the locals live. In Singapore, we call such places the 'heartlands'.

I've sat alone in a playground in Bologna watching kids play while their grandparents engage in chit chat. I've walked along dirt tracks in Siem Reap, looking quite out of place as the dust swirled around me. I've also wandered around the harbour in Copenhagen, bundled up against the biting wind and wishing there was a local who could walk with me.

Some of my best trips were the ones spent with the locals who brought me to their favourite haunts. I've been lucky to have been to the hometowns of many friends around the world. Thanks to them, I've had such enriching experiences.

In Hanoi, it was a blessing to have the Hanoi Kids who not only showed us their city on foot but also brought us to sample their local delicacies. At the end of the day, we were bowled over by their zeal (to learn and practice speaking English), warmth and diligence, we wished there were more of such voluntary student organisations in other countries.

When I first heard about Going Tripping, my first reaction was surprise, followed by admiration. J and C are two undergraduate students who love meeting new people and gaining fresh perspectives.

In their own words, "Going Tripping was conceived out of a desire to get out there and make new friends, and also to share our pride for our Singapore culture."

If you’re looking to experience Singaporean food, culture, history and way of life like a local, they’ll be more than happy to show you around – as a friend, as a *kaki.

How cool is that? They are the True Blue Singaporeans who will bring you to the Singapore they grew up in.

Don't you just love to have a kaki like that?