Friday, June 17, 2005

It's getting quite challenging to please all the women in my household. Today, Q-tip is a very happy girl. But June would probably want to kill me 'cos while she was out at work, I took Q-tip on a road-trip and visited some spots that were quite breathtakingly different from the usual built-up places in Singapore.

It all began last week when I foolishly accepted an invitation by the Library Board to let the Drama Club do another public reading. This time, we drew the 'Tangerine' assignment and this book by local author, C Cheong, is a difficult one to dramatize. The problem is, most of the drama in the book happens in the narrator's head while his interactions with people are quite prosaic and mundane. If there's going to be any dramatization, it's going to be quite abstract, and the kids again won't have much time to rehearse as the show date is quite close to the end of their mid-year exam which they should be studying for right now -- June hols notwithstanding. I needed some inspiration and Q-tip needed an outing so off we went.

Our first stop: Upper Peirce Reservoir. Unfortunately, just as we arrived the heavens opened up and poured buckets on our heads. Or would have if we arrived 5 minutes earlier and had got out of the car. Trapped inside M2, we waited a bit for the rain to abate, but that prospect grew less and less likely with thunder rolling in.

Plan B then. Taking the chance that bad weather would confine itself to the north, we drove south to the Botanic Gardens. The main attraction was Cafe les Amis, a dog-friendly establishment where, I remember reading recently, we could get some outstanding burgers.

Squeezing our way through a bunch of MGS girls on CIP entertaining some old folks, we managed to find an empty table for ourselves. One of the staff obligingly looked after Q-tip while I placed my order at the counter. I settled for a Mushroom 'n Swiss ($12) and wasn't disappointed. Forget the 'shrooms and cheese, the burger patty didn't need the embellishment. It tasted meaty, full of beefy goodness (and none of that fast-food nonsense -- ground up cows' ears and noses filled out with flour). It was juicy too, every bite dripping over my fingers into the plate below. Guys, if you're ever on a date here, only order the burger if your sweetheart is already used to Your Sloppyness. A most inelegant, though gastronomically rewarding dish to order. Oh, and it comes with a side of crispy golden french fries and a green salad so fresh it looks like it had just been picked from the gardens there and then.

A brief stroll around the central pond to work off the calories then we were off again. I still hadn't done any reading of 'Tangerine' so I still needed to find somewhere quiet and not crowded with people. Heading home, I remembered that I haven't been to Upper Seletar Reservoir in decades so I made a small detour and parked in the most picturesque, quiet spot on the island. No one around apart from a few dudes trying their luck at fishing, or enjoying a quiet read or polishing off a box lunch. I settled on a bench facing the water's edge and absorbed myself in a contemporary travelogue of Vietnam, my little dog patiently keeping me company.

After a chapter, wanderlust overtook me. I dumped the book in M2 then took a walk with Q-tip towards the rocket-shaped lookout tower overlooking the reservoir. Nearby, I discovered a little refreshment kiosk where I purchased an ice-cream. The elderly couple who ran the kiosk turned out to be very dog-friendly. The man offered Q-tip a bowl of water, though she was too shy to take more than a tiny lick from it. The lady was a little disappointed that I had lunch already. The kiosk seems to have a nice selection from both western and local dishes. It's good to keep this place in mind as there aren't many eating places that would welcome Q-tip like this. And it's great to walk around the grounds too. Nothing but the green of forest and cultivated gardens, the tranquil of a large expanse of water (relatively speaking, of course), and blue sky. Lovely, if you like quiet places just to get away from it all.

A brilliant afternoon. Should'a brought my cam though. *kicks self.

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