Sunday, September 7, 2014

Adventures on Rinca and Komodo Islands Part 1

Do you have a bucket list? Well, Cute Cute has one and one of his wishes is to go meet his scaly komodo dragons in the wild. So if you have discovered this post, most likely a) you are one of blankets and coffee fans b) you too want to go to Komodo isles and are finding some information. Getting to Flores island from Singapore, where Komodo and Rinca islands are situated, is actually quite easy. The Lions and friends flew to Bali, stayed a night and flew to Labuanbajo via Wings Air. Labuanbajo is a fishing town where you will be based to get to where the dragons are.
Labunbajo town. Oddly, the town centre street is one way and the people of Flores do abide by this rule lawfully.

Arto Moro Warung/Cafe. Our first meal stop at Labuanbajo. Recommended by a local.
Traditional Indonesian cuisine. Ikan Bakar, Ayam Penyet, Cumi Cumi, Bakso soup and stir fried kang kong.
The Lions chose a resort that has access to the beach. You can watch the sun as it hides among the clouds before taking a plunge into the sea.
The view from our resort swimming pool

While strolling around the beach, Cuchi spotted this man digging through the sands. What was he hunting? The treasures found were actually mussels..... but Cute Cute just do not understand why the mussels had a white tongue sticking out?
Being a fishing town, the most obvious cuisine there at Labuanbajo would be seafood. However, the Lions were surprised to see a sizable Italian community there. Maybe the town does remind the Italians of Sicily. There are a few Italian restaurants such as MadeInItaly and Mediterraneo, which deserves a try!
Squid Ink Pasta
Our dessert.... a potted plant. Nah.... it's actually Tiramisu with stalks of pandan leaves. 
Neon chicks at the market.
The morning started with the Lions checking out the market of Labuanbajo and chartering a boat to bring them to meet the Komodo Dragons. Tour agencies are plenty but go with your gut feel and always ask around for hidden cost before settling down with a reliable one.
The Lions' trusty boat. Now to find Captain Haddock....
Are we there yet?
The first island that the Lions went was Rinca Island. According to forums, you will get a better chance of seeing the Komodo Dragons but let's see....

The Y stick is a life saver should any dragons chase after you.
After 2 and a half hours of choppy sea, the Lions reached Rinca island. A guide is required to bring you around and the Lions were blessed to have Dino to guide us. Dino bringing the Lions to see mini dinosaurs. 
First stop to find Cute Cute's friends was this muddy area where a wild buffalo was devoured by a group of Komodo Dragons. The Lion was hoping that a few of them would remain and lounge around but looks like he is wrong. Push on!!
Cute Cute's adventure took him to the top of Rinca's highest hill to have a bird's eye view.
Finally, an inhabitant!!!

The 2 hour trek was fun. You get to see the different landscapes of Rinca and why the dragons love this island so much that the guy above is laughing happily.
After a long trek, lunch is always welcome.
Warung style lunch prepared by Captain Haddock
 This is just part 1 out of a 2 part series. Second part coming out soon with more photos of the Dragons on Komodo Island.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Turkish Warmth at Arkadas Cafe

Ever returned from traveling to a country and missing the cuisine there? Happens to almost all of us right? The challenge is to find an eatery that is able to bring their original culture and taste from their country. Thankfully for those of you who went to Turkey, the Lions managed to find a place to whet your appetite for Turkish cuisine.

One of the many eateries that are located inside Fusionopolis, Arkadas Cafe is situated on the 3rd floor, beside a dentist. Apparently, the owner, Chef Mustafa Gungor, had a long history with Turkish cuisine and Singapore. Chef Mustafa worked in the Turkish Embassy as a chef for 22 years before coming out and set up Arkadas Cafe. The Lion was heartened to hear that the pitas, bread, hummus, etc are all freshly made in house. As they were chatting, a fresh batch of hummus and baklava were made.....Mmmmm...
Just out of the oven Baklava... awaiting the last glistening of syrup to give it a nice shiny coat.
Home made fresh Hummus
Turkish tea cups
The server is kind enough to open up the teapot to let Lion catch a glimpse of what's inside..... Turkish tea.
Original way of serving beverages
Turkish expresso!! Don't be fooled by the flowery designs on the cup and saucer. The coffee packs a punch.
Pide with Lamb and Cheese. Thin and crispy, surprisingly the cheese did not make it chewy or soggy. The amount of lamb scattered all over the pide was generous as well.

A class of its own, the hummus was one of the best that the Lions had tried. Not lumpy but smooth. The freshness and clean taste of the chickpeas was a delight to the taste buds. The homemade bread was crispy on the outside and tender soft on the inside. Good thing that Arkadas Cafe does takeaway too. These 2 are perfect to start your mornings.
Musakka, a dish comprised of minced beef, green peppers and brinjal, comes with a choice of butter rice or bread. The Lions give this dish a paws up as it is a dish that brings out another part of Turkey. The butter rice comprises of ordinary rice and brown wheat, taste familiar like a variant of Singapore's chicken rice. The musakka was loaded with cheese, minced beef and brinjal and not at all heavy.

Baklava, Tulumba, Baklava.... Both sweet Turkish desserts. Filling for the Baklava is walnut. Now Lion always thought Baklava is filled with pistachio and Chef Mustafa explained that the original Baklava's filling is walnut not pistachio. Turkey has lots of baklava filled with pistachio because pistachios are abundant over there. The baklava at Arkadas Cafe is wonderful. Not too sweet and doesn't crumble at all. You can easily have a few of those. The tulumba was a bit sweet for the Lions' taste but if you are a sweet tooth, go for the tulumba as well.
Cream caramel for those who are more comfortable with non Turkish desserts.

Arkadas Cafe
1 Fusionopolis way
Connexis Tower #03-02
Singapore 138632
Tel: 64669918