Spring Reset

That brings to mind what I had originally intended to blog the last time round – essentially my visit to Gardens By The Bay for the Sakura Matsuri cherry blossoms display.

This came timely since my plans to do a Sakura trip to Japan didn’t work out due to various reasons. And in a way, I still get to ‘sort off’ tick this item off my intentions list for year 2018. More importantly, a break from the stifling and the downs of my still toxic work environment, ‘smell the flowers’ and get inspired again 🙂

Given that the display happens primarily in Flower Dome, decided to get tickets just for that alone as I have already visited Cloud Forest before. Googled and noted that there’s a further 10% discount if tickets are purchased online on the Gardens By The Bay website – and so that’s sweet!

I shall let the pictures do the ‘talking’ next!

The sakura-adorned entrance to the Flower Dome

A brief description of the different types of sakura.

Came across this sculpture while 1/4 way through the entire sakura display. Don’t recall seeing this in my last visit, hmmm ……

The next major part of the display – sakura garden with miniature Japanese dolls

More Sakura Details before coming to the end of the display with yet another garden exhibit.

Left Flower Dome / Gardens By The Bay around 6 to this view.  Not yet sunset time, but still nice to be able to capture this on a clear day.

The irony of this post that I only managed to complete it a good 1 month from my 1st draft back in May, and now we are into the summer solstice season.

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Food Mission 2017: Menya Sakura

Yet another entry intended for February that got ‘carried forward’ into March 😛

Another food outlet that I managed to tick off in year 2017 itself – Menya Sakura.

Menya Sakura specialises in Nagoya-style ramen and tsukemen. Speaking of tsukemen – it is basically cold ramen/noodles being dipped into a hot sauce/stock as versus to the soup version (you can read more about the difference here) and this is a style of ramen that I first tried in Japan and loved.).

In Singapore, most of the ramen shops serve the soup version and there are not many that specialise in Japanese style tsukemen. Did try a few here and there, but a good one remained elusive until I read about Menya Sakura where some bloggers have proclaimed it to be one of the best on our Singapore shores.

Location wise, they are located at 69 Boat Quay. It was a pretty long walk down from Raffles Place MRT (UOB Plaza Exit) as No. 69 is located right at the end of Boat Quay itself (towards the direction of Singapore River).

Interior wise, it is pretty simple / functional. There is also the option of al fresco seating right beside the river, but the al fresco area was closed since it was not crowded on Saturday (plus it was also a very hot day). There is also a complimentary salad bar at the side. Took a bit of the stuff there and it is cold and unappetizing at best.

The 2 signature items on their menu will be their Pork Tonkotsu Ramen (Soup) & Tonkotsu Tsukemen (Dry with Dipping Sauce/Stock). As mentioned above, the Tonkotsu Tsukemen for me is a must-try since I have been on the hunt for a good/decent Tsukemen in Singapore 😛

As there was also a concurrent JPassport promotion, I got the set which includes the gyoza. In addition, I also got the complimentary drink (green tea) since it was my 1st visit to Menya Sakura. On hindsight now, it was a good choice to get the set which included the gyozas as the ramen portion itself is quite a bit smaller than what the picture above shows.

In terms of the noodles itself, they use a thicker version which works better when dipped, while the broth has a nice flavour (I believe it is both tonkotsu and seafood based) without it being overly oily. Really decent bowl of Tsukemen. As mentioned above, the only complaint I have is that the portion is rather small (considering that in Japan itself, they even offer noodle refills for some outlets).

Another plus is that they are linked up with JPassport, and have various promotions from time to time. Will go back to check out their tonkotsu ramen next time!

 

Details:

Menya Sakura                                                                                                                                                     69 Boat Quay

Opening Hours:  Monday to Thursday & Saturday 1130 to 2230 Hrs (Last Order 2200 Hrs)                                                   Friday 1130 to 0100 Hrs (Last Order 0030 Hrs)                                                                                                 Closed Sundays & PH

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/singaporemenyasakura/

Website:  http://www.menya-sakura.com/sg/en/index.html

Christmas Weekend

Felt like ages since I last enjoyed a long weekend that went into a public holiday on Monday.

In fact, the Christmas long weekend began early for me starting from Friday (22nd December) which happened to be Winter Solstice. Since we made plans to eat out this year for Winter Solstice – it felt right for me to sort of take the day off and have an early start to the long weekend 😀

And so dinner @ Peony Jade was the 1st highlight. We opted for their signature ala-carte buffet dinner so that we could sample the various items on their menu (as versus to being restricted to a set menu of 8 to 10 courses) …… and out of 60 items on the menu, we sampled about 18 in total (not including desserts). It was a good experience and most importantly, time spent together doing something as a family 🙂

And then the weekend where I finally got to do not just 1 yoga class …… but at the same time a yoga workshop as well – my 1st yoga workshop after practicing for the past 1 year.

First up – back to 75 min Power class after a sort-of hiatus from tougher classes. Once again, same as when I previously attended K’s class, it was an arm-balance class where we become Crows + also exploring transitions into Tripod Headstand and EPK2.  Slight difference was since it was the Christmas season, and K was back at Yoga Lab for the 1st time in a while, the theme for the class was on ‘Community’ and coming together over the festive season. Even ended up striking a casual conversation with my mat neighbour as a result of this intention. Real moment of truth for me once again as I need to continue to build on both my arm strength and core strength, although I skipped some of the transitions due to slight throbbing tension headache on my left side *sigh*. Despite the challenging, and hot & sweaty class (due heat generated from within from practicing arm balances), for the 1st time ever, I went into a sea of blue (and flashes of green) at the ending Savasana …… which meant that my throat and heart chakras were at work – a recurring theme for me throughout this last quarter of the year!

The calories burned came in handy as it was Christmas gathering with the girls (or more accurately half the group) afterwards. Class at CBD / Telok Ayer worked out well into my schedule as it was 2 MRT stops from Telok Ayer to Fort Canning via the Downtown Line. Got the sushi that I set out to get at Medi-Ya @ Liang Court before heading down to G’s place next. Smaller, cosier gathering that was very last minute put together, but nevertheless left all ‘bad’/’negative’ feelings aside and had a good time with the food and fellowship …… especially when such gatherings are rare these days.

Side Note: The Lemon Cheesecake Z baked was so good that I had 2 helpings *gulp*

And since I had done 1 class on Sat afternoon, this meant that I could sleep in as planned (or else I would have headed out to Yoga Inc earlier for a class before workshop). Got up at 945-ish, which was not very late still …… BUT since workshop is at 1330 Hrs, did end up lapsing into a bad habit of dily-dalying around the house, and ended up leaving my house only at 1215 Hrs. Reached Bugis MRT a little after 1, and decided the best plan will be to grab a bread from Four Leaves (since I only had 2 small buns for breakfast) and hop onto a cab/Grab to Guillemard (since Bus 7 / 197 will take a while arrive based on SG Buses app and I will most probably just reach on time). However due to some miscommunication, the 1st Grab Driver I booked cancelled on me (the human jam at Bugis Junction basement also meant that I could not get up to level 1 taxi stand fast enough) …… dropped the idea of getting a bread and instead, proceeded to quickly book another Grab drive that thankfully got me to Guillemard with 5 min to spare 🙂

As mentioned above, 1st time doing a yoga workshop proper (signed up for it since Z happened to have signed up too) …… and this Christmas Eve workshop is on backbends. Thankfully, unlike arm-balances and inversions, backbends are a less weak aspect of my practice, no doubt helped a lot by the #survivederica Thursday backbend classes that I do every now and then (the tough drilling really did work!). As this Ekhart Yoga article eloquently puts it – Open Your Heart And Release Your Spine! In a typical back-bending class – we open up the front body (and spine) physically and eventually open up our hearts emotionally. Which sounds about right as I experienced my heart chakra (green colour) at work the day before in class, and after that put aside my misgivings/grievances for a while and managed to have a normal conversation even with L during the gathering. Back to the workshop proper – it was more of a 2 hour class where the warm-ups and prep poses are more in slow-motion, with various explanations in between the poses/drills which may not be possible in a 60 minute class setting. It was a good 1.5 hour worth of warm-ups and prep poses before the peak pose for the day – Wheel, Forearm Wheel and Dropbacks! The shoulder mobility exercises helped greatly, as this time round, I managed not to experience any strain on my right wrist. The 1st Drop Back was scary though as there was some fear and hesitation within me (when trying something out of my comfort zone), but managed to get into it thanks to ‘some support’ later in the workshop. Another asana that I will keep working on come year 2018!

After which, it was time for some much needed food (only had 2 buns for late breakfast and no lunch, which somehow worked well for backbending workshop) and catch up time with Z. Didn’t manage to eat at The Masses (as that was our original plan for Christmas catch-up) …… ended up instead at Wild Market and later at a new coffee joint Caffè Vergnano 1882 Singapore at South Beach – which was nice, cosy and not crowded.

After a busy weekend, Christmas Day itself will be a ‘slow-living’ day as I intended to just catch up with my drama backlog, and do some reading …… only to end up taking a long afternoon nap thanks to the hot weather!

Two-Thirds Of The Long Weekend So Far ……

Another long weekend beckons ……

And a much needed one as well after running pretty much at full steam end May / June. Of course some pretty unpleasant stuff / minor setbacks occurred over the past week – putting a brake to the ‘momentum’ I have been building up, to my discontentment.

Which means its time to take a step back, take stock for a bit and do some necessary ‘re-charge’ to get back to a more ‘optimal’ state of mind again.

Long weekend started early for me as Friday was my usual-out-of-office day. However couldn’t shake off my restless state of mind (must been the angst I have been carrying out throughout the week). Meditation …… heart opening yoga sequence (only to end up struggling on the balancing poses) did not help much. Guess I need more time to get over this ‘bump’ ……

Yesterday (Saturday) – went back to office as planned to do my monthly scanning/clearing/decluttering/archiving. Somehow, at the half-way point of the year, I feel that my progress on the scanning/clearing/decluttering/archiving front has been rather slow. I’m still working on older stuff (pre-2013 materials) before even getting to the newer records (year 2013 onwards) that I will need to start extracting from the common data folder provided by company. Not sure if just 1 Sat afternoon per month (which I started only in April proper) is sufficient to finish up by end of this year …… but just like yoga/life, have to keep going …… and going! Perhaps for the next round in July, I shall try to reach office earlier (around 11) to give myself a better headstart.

Of course, the highlight of going back to work on a Saturday is always filling myself up with a nice lunch. Initially planned to have pasta at Everton Park, only to realise said restaurant is closed on Saturdays. So walked to Amoy Street Food Centre …… saw that not many stalls were open.  Ended up walking further down right to the end of Amoy Street, and settled for Korean lunch @ Wang Dae Bak – one of my ‘more regular’ favourites that serve tasty and value for money Korean set lunches.

Had a seafood soup + seafood pancake …… and together with side dishes, it made for a pretty appetizing and filling lunch. Moreover, I had a pretty light breakfast and was kinda hungry as well 😛

Packed up and left office a little after 6 …… and came home just in time for dinner. Decided to take a break / day off from yoga practice / stretching (have learnt not to guilt trip myself for taking breaks) …… and sat down to finally think about and start jotting down some ideas/things to do/destinations for my next holiday!

Nothing firmed yet. The only thing I know right now is it will be 90% a solo trip as I desire to have some space & quiet this time round. I hope I can make it happen, at the time period that I’m looking at (Q4 2017). Being in the last lap of the banding year, there are also work considerations to think about. It will also mean $$$ spent (versus saving it) …… but let’s think abundance 🙂

Rather than wasting away my Sunday, got up nice and early to go for my once-a-month YIN yoga class @ Yoga Inc Gulliemard – as a ‘treat’ to myself for the long weekend. Probably my ‘longest’ break from YIN class – 6 weeks to be exact as my focus was on rebuilding strength and flexibility post Bali and post food poisoning (a.k.a Bali Belly). As one would describe YIN class, it is about feeling 1% uncomfortable (in the form of holding poses for longer periods – up to 5 mins) to be 99% comfortable (i.e. to allow the muscles to relax). And the tightness in my hips is apparent …… and it does feel slightly uncomfortable and getting used to be holding poses for long periods again after all the ‘yang’ workouts that I have been doing.

The bonus was the rain, and it was really chill and calming to have the cool air coming into the studio. Just like the saying from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow goes – The best thing one can do when it’s raining is to let it rain. 

And enjoy the moment!

The theme of ‘courage’ floated in my thoughts throughout the 1 hr 15 min class – it will be something I will think about/reflect/meditate upon in the next couple of days.

Preferred to have local food for lunch post class, and so braved the rain (with umbrella in hand) and walked over to Lor 28 Geylang to check out Fishball Story as originally planned. The noodles did not disappoint and I am very happy with my lunch. Realised there are many coffeeshops within Geylang itself and wondered why didn’t I venture out earlier (the default choice is always to walk to Old Airport Road FC after class for a meal). Gonna google some food bloggers’ Geylang recommended eats as I type now 😛

Took a bus down to Bugis after lunch – specifically to Sephora at Bugis+ to get a new shampoo to try. Starting to feel the YIN in my legs, and so headed back home, lazed a bit and writing this blog entry.

Probably gonna play catch-up on some work and my journalling (super back-log dating back April *gasp*) after dinner. Was deliberating between doing 9am class @ Yoga Lab CBD for another early start tomorrow versus a longer self practice …… but since the 9am class is waitlisted (it was still book-able during lunch), it seems like self practice will be the plan for the last part of my long weekend!

Significance

In my previous entry, I posted this collection of stones – which were used to mark our attendance for classes at Radiantly Alive.

After blogging my previous entry (while struggling with writer’s / blogger’s block), it occurred to me subsequently that there is a deeper meaning to these stones other than simply getting 3 prosperity stones in a row and a good luck stone for my ‘last’ class at Radiantly Alive. Thus this follow-up entry.

Classes attended in the following order:

1.  Starting From Top Left – Gentle Flow at 0730 Hrs on a Monday morning (1st May 2017 no less).

My original intention was to attend the Meditation and Pranayama (yoga breathing) class happening concurrently to the studio’s signature Gentle Flow class.

However for some reason, the Meditation class was cancelled last minute, and having paid RP 50,000 for the driver to take me there – it means that I ended up doing Gentle Flow instead. I could have been pissed and simply turned back, but decided to be open and do the Gentle Flow class that I have been wanting to try (although this instructor was not my preferred instructor).

I liked the sequencing for the class – very focused on hip opening and working the spine, which left me feeling really good for the day ahead. More than sequencing / the ‘asana’ part of the class – the teacher’s main theme for the class is heart, mainly on opening your heart to a brand new day, new experiences etc. …… Thinking aback now, I guess this was what we mean by an open heart – in going into something with no expectations.

2. Top Right – Still Gentle Flow, albeit the next morning (Tuesday 2 May 2017)

And still a prosperity stone – which I believe is a reminder for me to keep an abundance mindset as always.

This class was taken by Jasmine Danino – one half of the husband-and-wife team who own Radiantly Alive, and she came highly recommended as a teacher in various online reviews that I have come across (thus wanted to do her class).

Jasmine started going into the theme of the class – which was family. She shared with the class that she was thinking about her family back home (Note: She is Peru-vian). And co-incidentally, it was a packed class, with the majority of the Radiantly Alive teaching team in attendance as well to flow along with the rest. In her words, her Bali family showed up just when she thought about her own family …… which I thought was really sweet. Personally, I did think of home for a moment as I looked forward to getting home after hols come to an end.

3. Bottom Right – Still A Prosperity Stone.

Returned back in the afternoon for some much needed Roll & Release as my mid upper back is starting to feel tired/strained after all the downward dogs 😛

Apart from the recurring message of prosperity, I think of it now as prosperity in having a ‘free’ body – and being strong and flexible at the same time. In fact, I’m looking into ways to maintain this Roll & Release routine that is good for my fascia / overall body and incorporating into my practice / daily life.

4. Bottom Left – Meditation & Pranayama

Since we had to go back to the warung further down the road to ‘reclaim’ our umbrellas (that we accidentally left behind), we went back to Radiantly Alive on our last morning for classes. Although my mid upper back felt much better after the Roll & Release the afternoon before, but I decided to skip Gentle Flow (was getting sick of doing downward dog after downward dog) and do instead the Mediation and Pranayama class that I have been wanting to do.

Not only did I learn how to get into a good sitting position for Meditation (to keep the spine straight aka above ground and not sink), also learnt proper breathing/pranayama techniques. These are stuff that I have been experimenting/DIY-ing myself over the past year, and it was good for me to learn some of these basics as I have always believed that Yoga is beyond asana practice.

Anyway to cut the story short – the teacher shared something very personal at the end of the class, which to me is the most poignant – the most important thing to do in yoga (and in life) is to show up!

May Reminiscence: Bali 2017

2 mins to the end of May and here I go to log in a blog entry (in order not to leave the month of May ‘completely blank) ……

Now where did ALL the time in May go?

Ended April & Started May in Bali – my only holiday for year 2017 so far (with plans for another one in the works). Came back to Singapore, came down with food poisoning / stomach virus (because it could be airborne as well), and spent pretty much the remaining 3-4 weeks of May (ironically the month of May is a 5 week month by itself) getting back my footing (and struggling quite a bit along the way) …… and experiencing quite a roller coaster of emotions. Somewhere along the way – had wanted to do 1 photo challenge as well but life got in the way.

And that sums up May for me!

And now for the highlights of my Bali Trip – the main title of this blog entry!

For this trip, we were based primarily in Ubud, and did not venture out to other areas (i.e. Seminyak, Canggur, Kuta etc.)

Very ‘quotable’ quotes that we spotted along the streets of Ubud

 

Not forgetting the delicious local Balinese cuisine we had throughout our 4 days stay ……

Starting right from the top – Bali Guling (balinese suckling pig) from Ibu Oka

2nd row, from the right side – Fried Duck from Bedek Bengali (which was only 5 min walk from our hotel!), Balinese style Paella from Casa Luna (easily one of the best meals we had, and fantastic blend of flavours and ingredients), Ribs from Pundi Pundi (within vicinity of our hotel as well)

3rd row, from right side – Seafood Skewers with Mash Potato from Pundi Pundi as well, Ayam Betutu (Balinese style steamed/roast chicken which looked very unassuming and took the kitchen rather long to prepare, but it was really delicious as well), Tomato Omelette & Fish from Run’s Warung (looked unassuming too but was really really delicious as well).

Weather was generally great save for 1 rainy day (3rd day of our trip). Even managed to capture a beautiful moon picture (with no headlights obstructing) after Yin Class on my walk back to the hotel.

Not forgetting the main objective of this trip – DIY Yoga Retreat. Ubud is literally yoga heaven. Which means Yoga Barn (of Eat Pray Love fame) was a must-visit!

Both myself and Z have very different objectives and ideas about our individual practices. For myself, I didn’t feel strong enough to do 2-3 classes in a day, and was intending to do like 1 physical asana class per day. Did end up having 3 days of 2 classes (out of which for 1 day i.e the rainy day we mixed 1 morning flow class together with a roll and release class, while I did a meditation & pranayama class on my last day). In the end, we were able to compromise and come to a common understanding on class scheduling and it worked out well.

Also visited Radiantly Alive – another major yoga studio in Ubud as well. Have heard about the stones that were given to ‘mark’ your attendance when attending class …… and I was really looking forward to receive them.

Below are the ones that I got for the 4 classes I attended at Radiantly Alive. Notice the pattern – prosperity (X3) + good luck (which was the last stone I got on my final day). Definitely a manifestation of my innermost consciousness as having a abundance vs scarcity mindset was consistently on my mind ….. while good luck was obvious as I had a challenging follow up to do at work.

The yoga itself deserves a separate entry of its own. Will blog if I can get over my acute writer’s block.

Ubud is also known for having lots of clean eating options, however the local Balinese cuisine (see earlier photo collage) was relatively inexpensive and too delicious to miss 😛 …… Do miss having the fresh cold pressed juices from Garden Kafe (part of Yoga Barn). It was not only fresh, but really cheap at 45,000 IDR (rupiah) – which is around SGD 4.70! A similar sized bottle from Juice Junkie goes for SGD 10 to 11 *gasp*

As much as this was meant to be retreat to rest/recharge/refresh and do lots of yoga – by the 3rd day, my mid back was starting to feel strained/tired simply by just holding downward facing dog. And so it was pretty much it, no more asana-based flow classes for the remaining 1.5 days in Bali.

Unfortunately too, immediately after touching down in Singapore, started to get the runs (which interrupted my sleep completely – when I didn’t sleep that well in Ubud) and it was full blown food poisoning post trip for the next 2-3 days that completely drained me and lost my appetite totally.

Instead of feeling refreshed and recharged …… I ended up in a really dark and negative state and being unhappy/frustrated at every single thing post trip and post food poisoning. It didn’t help also that I suddenly felt regretful of not enjoying much scenery (be it the scenic Bukit Campuhan Ridge walk or a gorgeous beach / sunset view) during the trip as well. Thankfully, I’m pretty much out of this negative state after some reflection and self-adjustment. After taking a yoga ‘break’ post trip, and despite having to rebuild my strength and flexibility again post food poisoning – am happy to say I’m getting the ‘mojo’ and enthusiasm back in my practice again, and with a stronger focus 🙂

In fact, I am thinking of a return trip next year. Hopefully by then, I will be a much stronger yogi than I am now. And if I were to return – will definitely have mountain/ridge/beach/sunset time incorporated in as well.