Tuesday, March 31, 2015

No Signboard Geylang (无招牌芽笼) - White Pepper and Chilli Crabs [Singapore]

If i had my way, today's review should have been "Cajun Kings". Due to exhaustive, non violent duress from Alex, the Gang of Four (minus SaNeVa) didn't have much choice but to follow the little boy's suggestion to his utmost favourite seafood restaurant; No Signboard Geylang.
 
Read it right; he insisted it must be the branch at Singapore's infamous red light district! A place that was also well known for its massive amount of good food and insanely difficult to find parking lots. 

Anyway, we were early and managed to secure a lot within the restaurant's premise. The first thing i noticed when i drove in were the two face sculptures of No Signboard's founders. Gosh, i would have thought its history went back a hundred years ago although it was no earlier than the 1970s. 

This has been reported countless times even though i guess there must be people who still don't know / can't remember how the name, No Signboard, was conceived. 

No one can deny the reputation of this dining establishment and it was featured extensively in the mass media, including newspapers, televisions and magazines. 

You have seen the outdoor seating in the second photograph; indoor, air conditioned seating was available but limited. Do make it a point to be early if you could not stand the sweat dripping down your forehead while you enjoy the crabs. 

Fresh Boiled Prawns
I really don't understand Alex; why paid so much for boiled prawns when my mum could easily whip them up at a much cheaper price!?! Granted they were very fresh and sweet with a touch of Chinese wine. 

Seafood Horfun w Gravy
Normal tasting despite a positive review on HungryGoWhere; either we have misread the type of horfun the reviewer was referring to or the Great Kon shall blacklist that particular reviewer. For S$10, i also found it to be rather expensive even though there were more 'liao' like chicken and fish. 

Chilli Crab
No Signboard was famous for its crabs and i have always thought it would be Singapore's national dish, the chilli crab. Turned out it wasn't and this was apparent when both Kon and i took a sip of the gravy. Something was obviously lacking and Kon hit the spot by answering it was crab roe! 

Spiciness was just right for me although the saving grace was really the amazingly solid crab meat that packed in the delectable seafood sweetness! The fried buns were forgettable. 

White Pepper Crab
Surprisingly, No Signboard's signature dish wasn't even the black pepper crab; it was white pepper crab! I am about to turn 35 years old yet i have never tried white pepper crab before! 

Extremely aromatic would be my initial impression and once my teeth sank into the meat, it was pure bliss; the pepperiness was strong but manageable (left a tingling sensation on my lips though). As a whole, it was tasty and a style i personally prefer over the popular chilli version! 

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Location
412 / 414 / 416 Geylang Road
[Next to Lai Ming Hotel]

Map 
As above

For Reservation
Call +6568423415

Addresses of Other Branches
As above (includes operation hours)

Price
Fresh Boiled Prawns - S$30
Seafood Horfun w Gravy - S$10
Chilli & White Pepper Crabs - S$68 a kilogram
Buns - S$2.50
[Subject to GST and Service Charge]

Addition Information for Motorists
Could not find a parking lot? 
Make your life easier and pay that S$4 for valet service.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Day Four of the Maldives Trip; The Foul Luck Continues


This would be a very short entry since a big portion of the day was spent at Rihiveli Beach Resort, yet again an arena of exclusivity with not one but three small isles! 

Boarded the speedboat at about 9.00 am even though i wasn't in my best form. The body continued to feel hot and i sure hoped the sun could provide a natural cure to my ailment. Apparently not. 

For my review on Rihiveli Maldives Resort, click here. In a nutshell, it was the place to take postcard-quality pictures but it ranked low on my favourite beach activity; snorkeling. My mood was also kinda dampened by the surprise water seepage of my new underwater camera! 

Nevertheless, it ended quite charmingly with a spectacular sunset.

I always think that sunset and sunrise shouldn't differ much whichever country you are in; it's the same sun anyway! Maybe it is the vacation mood that makes people view things from a different perspective. We do have beautiful sunset and sunrise in Singapore; it's just a matter of time, season and luck. 

Dinnertime with two Singaporean gals! Went for the US$10 buffet again although this time, it was at White Shell Inn which was coincidentally next to Arena Beach Hotel.

You can move the tables and chairs around to suite your preferences and we chose to have them super nearer to the water where we can enjoy the strong sea breeze and the therapeutic pounding of the Maldivian waves. 

Main serving table for the buffet which was shaped like a boat. Don't be deceived by the length of it; there were plenty to eat and i enjoyed the food much more than Arena.

If you are the type who goes for variety, maybe Arena would serve you better. Desserts, for one, were not as extensive and i didn't manage to try much as i was feeling colder by the second! 

BBQ was a mainstay for buffets; once again, i would very much prefer our Singapore style BBQ which was way more flavourful. Think aromatic satay, sambal stingray, spicy sotong! 

You don't normally see me with a jacket but this would be the rare occasion when i could feel the chill everywhere and it's not related to a paranormal experience. Well, it didn't stop me from cleaning up three servings of the incredibly tasting tuna spaghetti; definitely the best food i had in Maldives

Took a nap and woke up again to meet up with the two ladies to the beachfront where we might be lucky to catch the glowing plankton! As the subject title suggests, i just didn't have the luck to see a whole stretch of bioluminescent phytoplankton. There were just speckles of them. :(
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Click here for my 
Maldives travelogue

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Rihiveli Beach Resort - A Relaxation Retreat @ Kaafu Atoll [Maldives]

In some ways, I am fortunate; it never rained in the six days i was in Maldives and on this fourth day of my journey to this beautiful country, the sun continued to be as charming with not a dark cloud blocking its shine.

Speedboat spent about 30 minutes to reach our next exclusive island resort where we would spend another day as non-resident; Rihiveli Beach Resort!

While we visited the island, the irony was that the residents were on their way out. For all you know, they could be paying Maafushi a visit! 

The sandy walkway leading to the charming jetty - just a note, i didn't bring along my bulky DSLR and opted to carry the much lighter underwater camera; many pictures in this post were therefore taken using the Olympus TG-3.

I think this was the diving centre as i saw quite a few person removing their diving attire and gear. Speaking of diving, i am now uncertain if i should still include it in my bucket list. 

Guess everyone could not resist the above captivating sight; lighting was perfect, the colours were amazing and despite the heat, a light breeze helped to vaporise the sweating pores. 

Juliet (yes, it has a name) - resident bird of Rihiveli Maldives which was used a watermark in some of the resort's printing materials. Curious to know the name of the species? It's known as a crab plover and is a protected species in Maldives. 

Upon arrival to the reception, you would be given a cold towel to soothe the hot skin and a glass of juice (mango and lime i guess) to cool the body. 

Administrative procedure to enter the island as a resident.

Receipt for entrance fee and buffet lunch; as you can see, the killer was the service charge and goods and services tax which spiked the cost to US$110.88 for two persons. This amount excluded the transportation charge paid to iCom.

Bec De Cane - not sure what it means but most importantly, the hut was for our group's usage. By group, i am referring to everyone who took the same speedboat.

It was basic enough with dry towels and a bathroom for you to wash off the sand! Compared this to the more expensive Adaaran which didn't offer anything like that!

Feeling feverish as i was? There's a bed for you to take a nap! As the hut can be locked by key, most of us kept our belongings inside. The only problem was that there's only one key and we had to scramble around a few times to look for the key-holder.

Exploring the island is a must-do for me and a guide was on hand to inform us on the dos and don'ts. For example, don't venture in front of the 48 bungalows so as not to disturb the occupants. From the tone of her voice, it was obvious we were rated second class residents.

Well, it didn't bother me that much since i am only there for a day and we continued our exploration when she was done with her speech. The above was like a totem pole with hundreds of wooden marine fishes inscribed with messages.

Behind it was a pretty large souvenir shop and it offered quite nice stuff at rather reasonable pricing! As you can see, there were specific timings for which the store would be open for business and i decided to leave the shopping till later but for reasons unknown to us, the door remained locked at 4.30pm. :(

A spa was available although i could not find a price list to share with everyone. It was a lazy afternoon and i could not find anyone manning the counter too.

Found this pretty seashell and shocked to find a very much alive hermit crab! Had to use the microscopic function on the camera to capture this incredible experience.

A tennis court and a volleyball court were side by side; the entire place was dead quiet and i doubt the residents would appreciate the noise generated by the games. I could almost see myself retiring in such an island.

This was next to a sheltered lounge and would be a great place to catch the sunset. Those who could not stand the heat can consider chilling out at the lounge where there was a pool table to keep us entertained.

Don't you just love the random display of structures?! Some people call it arts, some people like me would term it as an accessory to beautify the area.

Other amenities include beach volleyball court and a watersports centre.

Take the catamaran, windsurf, water ski but the one thing catching my attention was the indication of high tide; the highest tide at the beach was only 0.84 meters?! That's only slightly above my waist!

I have written enough about this island and it's now time to check out the snorkeling and the two small islands within walking distance from the main island where Rihiveli resort was located.

Not very far; the two islands, known as Sunset and Bird, were only about 400 meters from where i stood. Or so i thought until i started my trek across the shallow water.

It was torturing with the water resistance! I would have preferred to swim over but the water was only about knee level, making swimming an impossible option.

Walking to the deeper end was out of the question too; the body of shallow water stretched for quite a few hundred meters!

Believe it or not; it took us ten minutes to walk across and by the time i reached the smaller island (not sure if it is the bird or sunset), i was in dire need of drinking water.

Nothing much on the island except for trees and a hut that would likely be used for the occasional parties / ceremonies (be it blessings or renewal of wedding vows). 

Snorkeling time! To read more of the snorkeling in Rihiveli, click here.

With quite a number of exclusive resorts to choose from, we eventually decided on Rihiveli due to the high probability of spotting eagle rays, dolphins and sharks! Sadly, we didn't see any of that,

I was adamant to go further away from the islands where i could be closer to the reef edge (likely to be livelier).

The stretch seemed to go forever and it didn't help that i was famished! Lunch was about to start soon and i thought i would have ample time to snorkel after lunch. 

As we trudged through the water, we bumped into our group mates from Singapore! Poor them were feeling the same frustration and exhaustion as we did! Haha.

About to reach the mainland; remembering Alex's rowing skills at Taiwan, i commented to Alex it might be worth the money to rent a kayak later! 

If you realised, i didn't put up many photographs of Alex in my blog recently. He had been identified a few times by friends and family members and the bugger said he's shy! Ass!!! 

Anyway, lunch time! For review and pictures, click here. For me, it was definitely the view rather than the food that was memorable! 

Back at the same area where the two islands were ahead of us; as mentioned earlier, we decided to rent a kayak! Bloody thing was damn expensive although you can use it the whole day.

US$30.85 - with that price, i think i can pay for two adult tickets to Gardens by the Bay conservatories, and stay the whole day too.

Poor bugger didn't realise he would have to do most of the rowing while the older man (me) shall take it easy and relax with the occasional photo taking.

Progress was unfortunately too slow as we heard from the service staff at the watersports centre that dolphins can be seen near the jetty; i had to do my part by rolling up my sleeves (figure of speech since i was wearing a sleeveless tee! 

View of the unexciting underwater world.

Last photograph i took before a fellow group mate commented that one of the two catches to the underwater camera was open. I was pissed as i consciously made sure that the catches were secured before i enter into the water! Click here for the update

With my only camera in non-working condition, i was in a super lousy mood. 

Searched for the key holder so that i can change into dry clothes and then lie on the sunbed to calm myself. Quite unlucky if you ask me; first my phone and hen the camera. Sighs.

Thank god i still had my iPad with me! For a moment of time, you can see me at the reception counter as that's the only place with free WiFi.

Killed my time by doing nothing while waiting for 6pm to arrive. By the way, the time zone at Rihiveli is an hour ahead of Maafushi; hence, technically, our tour starts from 9am till 5pm when we would board the speedboat back to our local island.  

I was the earliest! 

Rihiveli beach resort is actually one of the earliest resorts in the region and has a history of more than 30 years. Compared this to the last 10 years when resorts started mushrooming all over the islands after the devastating 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake. 

Staffers waiting for a new batch of occupants to arrive. Customer service was really good as the service ambassadors would all wait in line to greet each and every one of them. Of course, such dedication is only reserved for full-paying residents. Okay lah, to be fair, save for the gal, the rest were actually really friendly. 

My day ended on a pretty good note. 

Not one but five rays surrounded the jetty! Seeing them gliding so near to us and i can understand why marine enthusiasts are against the proliferation of aquariums. These marine creatures are better off in the wild and free from the constraints of limited space in an aquarium. 

Guess what else did we see? A white Moray eel! 

We waited 30 minutes with no sight of the speedboat. The sun was setting with a spectacular light show and i would not want to go back in darkness! A visit to the reception and a phone call later, we got notification that the speedboat was on its way.

I can bet with you; we must have been forgotten! Nevertheless, we were drawn to nature's performance and with the strong wind blowing against our face, i was in fact enjoying the moment! 

Departing the island at about 6pm Maafushi time! 
Well, we have our money's worth! 

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Location
Southernmost end of the South Male Atoll

Website

Day Trip Excursion
Those staying in Maafushi island may approach iCom tours to sign up for the package; the establishment was located near the ferry drop off point. Rate as attached above for your reference.


For my eventful Maldives 
itinerary, click here.

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