white pepper

my colleague returned from a weekend jaunt to kuching, sarawak. (haha my autocorrect actually turned that into ‘f**king faraway’, which is totally untrue given my location)

she said to me, ‘heard you’ve been cooking…’, and presented me with

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our friend in kuching insists that their sarawak pepper is different better than what we get in singapore. i took a whiff of it and boy, is it fragrant! and sharply pungent.

i took it home and got my dad to sniff it too, who, upon doing so, promptly threw away our current slightly stale bottle of peppercorn. can’t wait to use this, and yay for practical gifts!

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in conversation with two (non-marine) biology majors

“did you see a lot of sea urchins?”
“they blanketed portions of the seabed.”
“that means the reef is dying.”
“what? why?”
“there is a lack of natural predators, an imbalance in the eco-system somewhere.”

thus i learnt that the sandy bottoms so common in tioman, where sea urchins are the only creatures around in a 7-10m radius, are referred to as urchin barren(s).

the natural predators of urchins include star fish, crabs and lobsters (also, trigger fish, apparently). their disappearance from the reef can usually be attributed to overfishing, or climate change forcing them to leave in search of cooler waters.

* * *
one usually hears divers comparing dive sites, and how some places aren’t worth visiting because there are only dead/bleached corals in the sand, and not much fish. granted, divers do spend a sizable sum of money and time to get to their dive sites, and it’s understandable for them to demand to see spectacular coral seas, and kelp forests teeming with creatures big and small peeking out from behind. dead corals, skeletons of calcium carbonate, are not exactly pretty or interesting.

what surprises me is that, having seen first-hand the degradation that man’s actions have wreaked on the once beautiful seabed, we are not shocked into further action. my life does not show any change – i still pack takeaways in environmentally-unfriendly styrofoam boxes, i use disposable plastic utensils when i could use reusable steel utensils, i switch on the airconditioning more frequently than i dare admit etc… obviously, i treasure convenience far more than i do some abstract environmental concern, and im afraid to say there are many more like me, for whom laziness is the way of life.

we must do more to save our seas or risk losing forever to our foolishness this last frontier of exploration.

dive b-logging

a belated post about my weekend with scuba institute, where i dived for practice and for leisure.
(read about my first dive here!)

the team is small and therefore flexible, so i was shuffled between dive masters for different dives. the bosses, knowing that im a nervous (and therefore possibly dangerous) diver, always allocated a dive master as my buddy. i spent the first day diving with alwyn, pictured in the selfie below.

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we descended into the waters and finned off to photograph underwater objects. rather, he did, while i followed and observed whatever it was he was photographing.

perhaps what people enjoy about diving is the opportunity, in the words of william davies, ‘to stop and stare’. I’ve never stared at shrimp so closely before (you usually only see them on a dish, don’t you?)

the planned third dive was aborted as the waters were too choppy and the weather too stormy…which was a pity because i really wanted to take a look at what it’s like underwater when the surface is chaotic. (by this time my confidence was already at acceptable levels, though im likely overestimating my abilities, heh)

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(i love that i got photobombed by a fish.)

i remember the pre-sunrise better than i remember the next morning’s dives – but i followed iris, and later gerard, around, who pointed out various underwater creatures for me. saw the infamous crown of thorns – most aptly named, i must say. also, the sea fan coral.

im already looking forward to taking the ssi advanced adventurer course! early next year, perhaps – anyone wants to join me?
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daybreak over tioman

some weekends back, i sneaked out of the country for a leisurely weekend dive. due to tide constraints, we found ourselves on the boat on Sunday morn at 6am, speeding away to a dive site.

i sat on the stern, swinging my legs over the bubbly foam in the boat’s wake, and watched the stars. i closed my eyes for a while and opened them to a deep calming grey, with the outline of tioman’s hills and valleys dark against the brightening sky. a turn of the boat, and there, the sky with rosy streaks peeking out as from behind a velvet curtain, slowly turning into a salmon hue.

(and im gonna spoil it all by saying it was then time to rig up and put on the wetsuit etc., and i missed the sunrise.)

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calvin and hobbes sums everything up nicely, so, goodnight.

in prayer for mh

just two weeks ago, i worshipped at christ church melaka

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where we were still praying for those affected by mh370. it is terrible to hear now of mh17, where the premise is ridiculous enough, and each subsequent news story more preposterous than the one before.

and as much as we live in what Stephen Pinker has termed the ‘Long Peace’, one questions whether world peace is actually within reach. i do dislike bringing religion in, but anyone who has read the prophecies of Daniel before will also know that, biblically speaking, there will be no peace, but increasing tribulation till the second coming of Christ. in light of this knowledge, how is a christian to act and behave, to make the world better, when the world is not likely to get better?

queuing for chicken rice balls

have a little free time now that im stuck in a queue for famous melakan-hainanese chicken rice balls at 9 in the morning. final meal in melaka!

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in melaka, all you do is eat…then stroll under the hot sun and wait to be hungry enough, before eating again.

my first meal here on saturday was nonya laksa along jonker street (jalan hang jebat). my instincts told me to eat assam laksa, because it is harder to find good assam laksa in singapore, but i didn’t feel like sour-ish food that night.

then there was dessert – durian chendol at 88 jonker, tip overheard from diners at the next table.

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ummm im not impressed, why exactly is this stall so crowded? i daresay sg’s ice kachang, durian or no durian, is more addictive than this.

sunday – lunch at nancy’s kitchen (open from 1130-1700) for peranakan food. i reached at 1115, and was 7th in line in the queue.

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that’s babi pongteh on the left, and ayam buah keluak on the right. the intense flavours necessitate rice – although i ended up wasting a fair amount of it as i simply couldn’t finish. i wanted kueh pie tee and nonya chapchye as well, but…oh well. i suppose peranakan dishes can be found in sg after all, and i don’t need to be a glutton here. but the food is awesome. and affordable. and homely. i think i need to learn how to prepare these dishes.

awesome dinner at the awesome baboon house! photography not allowed, but i plan to blog a little more about it.

my chicken rice has arrived!

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heh heh. squishy, near melt-in-your-mouth mochi-like rice balls. i see taste what all the fuss is about.

off to enjoy my meal. another time!

an impromptu trip

greetings from melaka!!

booked last-minute return bus tickets and treated (treating, actually) myself to a comfortable getaway with a flash deal on agoda for a basic hotel. all of this done hours before departure – bus operator couldn’t find my booking which worried me a little, but she let me on anyway.

my friend was mildly envious, but i assured her that there is nothing to be envious about. i found out late that Monday is a holiday, and had a mild panic attack. since my ex left, I’ve become a bit of a workaholic, and sadly enough, dread the weekend because my thoughts wander to him (and his absence). if weekends are bad, i wouldn’t stand a chance during a long weekend.

most times, you simply need an impetus or a desire that is strong enough, to make you do something you wanna do. (this applies to relationships as well, i suppose – if he really wanted to talk to you, nothing would hold him back from the phone. sigh.)

will update when i can – most likely on my return to sg!