Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Highlights of Singapore Garden Festival 2016

[Media Invite]

Singapore Garden Festival is one of our family's favourite event that we hate to miss. Since 2008, we have been attending the festival with great anticipation. (Check out our experience at past SGF events). This year, the scale of the festival gets even bigger and better. We roamed through Gardens by the Bay for more than 4 hours and we have yet to finish them all! Here's what you can expect to see.

Entering from Entrance D, we began our walk from THE MEADOW

CHECKMATE! - Check out the larger-than-life chess pieces, each over 2.5m in height with contrasting floral colours over the chess board. Pick your side and smile!

Time for tea already? But we just started! Welcome to Gary the Grasshopper (Not Hatter's) home as he hosts a cosy tea party surrounded by pristine greenery. Be enthralled by the display of Camellias and Orchids

I love to see how greenery can be injected into our homes and daily living. Seeing the designer works at Balcony Gardens always inspire me and I hope some day my home will also have a secluded, nature surrounded, and relaxing environment filled with lush greenery and fragrance of floral and herbs.

After tea, Gary invites you to unwind with music as he conducts a trio of the piano, cello and harp at Gary's Musical Flower Field

We are happy to see Gary once again after 2 years. 

We didn't get the catch the Landscape Design Challenge, where eight teams of students from four tertiary institutions have gone on a "buying blitz" and they transformed a 3-metre by 3-metre empty space within a span of 4 hours. How will it turn out? Who won? Would love to be back again to check them out!

We moved into Fantasy Garden where the beauty of unique and creative landscape is created by renowned local and international gardening luminaries. Here's some that I find it very inspiring.

Modern-Day Maui - Head sculpture of Maui, a demi-god and hero of Polynesia.

Dare To Dream - created by local designer, John Tan and Raymond Toh, this garden expresses the wildest of imagination, where impossible is possible, and hopes to inspire all to dare to dream. You have to see it on-site to have a visual feel of this garden.

Nature's Resolution - representing a day in the human life. Step on and walk through the path and you will come across the story boxes filled with suggestions and thought-provoking sketches that outline the relationship between man-kind and nature.

It was pouring as we exit Fantasy Garden. We made a wrong turn and headed straight for Ticketing Counter C. We missed the Landscape Garden, Magical Tree Grove, Secret Garden and Chairs of the Giants! Yikes! Am so tempted to return to the festival once again!

We found ourselves crossing the bridge and at BAYFRONT PLAZA. Since it was still raining, we made our way to the World of Terrariums. Seeing the little bottles of terrariums really made my day. Always wanted to own one as I heard you don't need to have green fingers to maintain it.

Am so tempted to take one home!

Terrarium in a light bulb! Very creative and beautiful. :)

Do not miss over 100 innovative creations by Community In Bloom (CIB) community garden ambassadors and community garden groups.

A simple, yet inspiring and motivational quote - EVERYONE CAN GARDEN! I certainly hope that I can turn my home into a garden too. ^_^

Espalier & Fruit Tree Garden - Moving deeper into the outdoors, you can find tropical fruit trees like papaya, mangoes as well as espaliers (a French word pronounced as "ess-PAL-yay"). Espaliers are great feature on an outdoor wall and serve as a decorative screen for privacy.

I must say we learnt a lot from my parents-in-laws as they quickly identified the various fruit trees or plants while I am still struggling to find the names on the labels!


Community Garden Edibles Display - Am deeply amazed how huge food crops can be harvest by local gardeners! From the heaviest pumpkin to the longest long bean, the Community Garden Edibles Competition aims to cultivate interest among Singaporeans to grow edible plants in their homes and community gardens.

Home Garden - It feels good to see plants in the house but I am not confident of maintaining them on a longer term basis. Maybe terrariums would be a good start.

Before you leave, don't forget to pick up some tips from the community gardeners on how you can grow your favourite plants and vegetables.


There's always something special at Floral Windows to the World which showcases exquisite exhibits designed by local and international designers. I am amazed by their creativity and enchanted by the stunning displays.

Initially I thought this display is a tilted version of the Super Tree. Only to realise it captures a moment in time.

Looks like a gigantic floral star

Spinning into the galaxy world.

Love this showcase which looks like man joining their heads together. :)

Dining area looks sophisticated at the Floral Table Series. I would love to enjoy a meal here surrounded by flowers. Picture perfect for food photography too!

PENJING & ARTISTIC STONE EXHIBITION & COMPETITION is one of our favourite zone. Even though it is not as majestic as the other exhibition halls, I am totally mesmerized by the collection of bonsai here. The beauty of bonsai is the delicate details within the pot. It takes the owners years of dedication, patience and passion to trim, shape and grow their 'tree of love'.

The bonsai series that interests us was with the one with Chinese wordings/calligraphy. We are privileged to meet the owner, Mr Lim, who patiently styled the bonsai using wires. He spent more than 4 years to shape the word Dragon "龍" and about 2 years for the simpler wordings!

The beauty of nature is all contained within the small pots. While admiring the bonsai, it brings peace to the mind and somehow, they vividly transformed themselves into huge trees on the mountain tops.

Grand Champion and award winning bonsai by Mr Soh Peng Heng. The colours did not attract me from afar but it was the densely structured branches that stood out from the rest of the bonsai. Taking a closer look, you will notice there are many young leaves sprouting!

Another award winning bonsai from Mr Soh

Moving on, we headed to the LEARNING GARDEN. This is not only for children but adults, like myself get to learn more about plants and spices.

MARKETPLACE - After walking for hours, it is time to shop! The Marketplace is a free zone for all where public does not need to pay admission fee to enter. I appreciate the fact that most of the stalls are situated inhouse within the shelter making shopping a much cooler, happier and relaxing experience. We no longer have to brave the heat and rain.

I was tempted to buy some terrariums back but resisted the temptations. Instead, Hubby bought a pair of scissor for trimming branches of the plants and my inlaws bought a small papaya tree!


We spent the rest of the afternoon roaming leisurely within the Flower Dome. Orchid Extravaganza will run from 22 July - 28 August where the mythical orchids, a stunning display of more than 10,000 orchid plants find their home within the conservatory. In conjunction of Singapore Garden Festival, the Flower Dome also showcase more than 400 orchids from the Singapore Orchid Show by the Orchid Society of South East Asia (OSSEA). If you are a big fan of orchids, this is a show not to be missed.

Near to 5 hours of walking within Gardens by the Bay and yet there are still so much more that we have not covered. Would love to be back again before the festival draws its curtains on 31st July.

If you are planning to spend a day at Gardens by the Bay, do not miss the free nightly performances by local artistes. Enjoy music of different genres including R&B, pop and rock, at the Alfresco Stage in the Marketplace (free admission), and the Meadow Stage. Click here for the list of performances.

If you love floral, plants or into gardening, do not miss the talks and demos at the festival! No registration is needed but seats are limited and on a first-come, first-served basis. Click here to view the listing of the Talks & Demos.


1) Tickets to the Singapore Garden Festival also includes admission to the Flower Dome at Gardens by the Bay from 23 - 31 July 2016. There is so much to see at the garden festival and one visit is definitely not enough to cover everything within. We would recommend to visit the Flower Dome on another trip. Alternatively, you may return to the Flower Dome after lunch.

2) Wear comfortable clothing and footwear as you will be spending many hours at the gardens.

3) Keep yourself hydrated and energised! Bring your water bottles and food to provide you with the energy boost needed to keep you going throughout the day!

4) Be ready for the unpredictable weather! Bring along your caps and umbrella in case of rain or shine.

5) Bring your cameras/mobile devices and standby your battery packs or mobile charger. Lots of photography opportunities and the last thing you want is your camera or mobile phone's battery going flat.

6) Ensure you get a stamp/chop prior to exiting the ticketing area. This allows you to re-enter in case you exit the ticket zone.

Date: 23 July - 31 July 2016
Location: Gardens by the Bay (The Meadow, Bayfront Plaza, Flower Dome)
Show Opening Hours: 10am to 10pm daily
Conservatories Opening Hours: 9am - 10pm daily

Friday, July 22, 2016

Restaurant De Junks (懷舊鍋) @ Mount Austin - CLOSED - [JB]

Sad to say, De Junks was closed during our recent visit in 2017.

What drew our attention to De Junks (懷舊鍋) at Mount Austin is seeing the diners cooking their food in the 4-tier steamboat hot pot, or the pyramid pot. Another attraction is the unique retro decorations on the exterior and interior of the restaurant giving it a vintage and nostalgic look. These reasons are enough to invite ourselves into De Junks.

So what exactly does the pyramid pot do? 

1st Layer - Steaming. The topmost layer where it acts as a steamer to steam your food or buns.

2nd Layer - Warmer or Chocolate steamboat. You can put your cooked food on this tier to keep it warm. Alternatively, it can turn into a chocolate fondue where you can did your marshmallow in.

3rd Layer - Barbeque. This layer is where you bbq and grill your meat.

4th Layer - The bottom tier of the hotpot is for steamboat. You can choose to have 2 different variations of soup base. Chicken and miso soup is free but an additional charge of rm5 is required for other soup selections.

De Junks - Pyramid Pot.

Our boy making himself comfortable.

While waiting for our orders to arrive, I was deeply immersed with the displays on the walls. Felt like we have traveled back in time to the old-style kampung days.

Mixing the chilli and sauces to go with our food.

We ordered the Economic Meat Platter for 2 pax at RM50 (~SGD17) which also comes with 2 bowls of rice. The set comes with prawns, chicken, pork, vegetables and corn which is pretty filling.

As we did not order the classic set which comes with marshmallow and biscuit sticks, hence we ended not using the first and second tier of the steamboat. Nevertheless, we were just as happy to grill and cook our food with the remaining 2 tiers.

Adults get to wait for the food to be served while the children do the cooking.

Flower Crab Bee Hoon - RM38 (~SGD13)

To complete our meal, we also ordered Flower Crab Bee Hoon for all to share. The soup is sweet and tasty and comes with a generous serving of beehoon within. We did not order any drinks as we drank up the entire pot of soup.

Our total bill is RM92.40 after 5% service charge (~SGD32). Very affordable and you get to experience and enjoy your food cooked in the 4 tier steamboat hotpot.  Children will love the chocolate fondue while the adults dig in to the meat/seafood.

Restaurant De Junks (懷舊鍋) 
Address: 8 Jalan Austin Heights 8/2, Taman Mount Austin, Johor Bahru