Sunday 30 November 2014

Growing avocado in Singapore - Transfer to pot

Growing avocado in Singapore! It may take a long time before it can bear any fruit or not at all. However, there is nothing to do except some time wasted but at least I try…

I cannot remember when I started to put the avocado in the water. I guessed it was in August 2014, about the same time when I started to sow the strawberry seeds. Well, after 3 months or so, I think the avocado seedling is ready to be planted into a pot. I used up the pot for my pineapple, so I guess I will use recycle plastic bottle for this until I can find a better pot.

Avocado seedling in water
I have about 5 leaves on the avocado seedling but two leaves started to turn brown and I trimmed them away. I think since the leaves started turn brown, I better plant it into soil medium instead of water.

Roots of the avocado seedling in water
Roots of avocado seedling out of water
I used a plastic bottle and cut it into halves. Made a few holes in the cap and re-cap it. Turned the top half upside down and placed it onto the bottom half. That way, the excess water can be drained into the bottom half.

I kept the toothpicks to secure the seedling into place (centre) and then poured the soil into the container.
Toothpicks can be used to secure the seedling
After putting the soil into the container, I removed the toothpicks carefully. At this stage, the seedling is very delicate and can be harmed by excessive forces. Tried to twist the toothpick and held onto the seed and pull out the toothpick carefully. Do not cover the crown of the avocado seedling. Kept half of it above the soil level.

Half of the crown is exposed. Do not cover the seed.
Avocado seedling planted on 30 Nov 2014!
So today, 24 November 2014, an avocado seedling has been planted. I will update the growth next time… 6 years to go before it can bear fruit… meanwhile I will need to prune the seedling so that it will not grown into a tall tree...

Saturday 15 November 2014

9D8N Taiwan Free & Easy Trip - Day 4 (Cingjing/Taichung) - 1

Another day to watch the sunrise but we chose to sleep more... Hahaha, we were quite tired waking up early for the past two days, so we were trying to catch up with our beauty sleep…

Sunrise view from Sunnydale Minsu
Breakfast was as usual and we wanted to go to the Old England Manor Cingjing to take some photographs before our booked taxi arrived at 11 am. The Old England Manor is just a few minutes walk downhill from Sunnydale Minsu.

A few minutes walk downhill to The Old England Manor
This is not the main entrance….
I was wondering whether this Old England Manor is a Minsu or hotel. You can drop me notes on this. Anyway, I would assume this is a Minsu. The security was quite tight at this Minsu. I presumed that since it is the most expensive Minsu in Cingjingand, it is trying to step up security and offer exclusivity to its guests.

Main entrance of The Old England Manor
We went in to take some photographs and when we just about to leave, the cleaner actually asked us whether we were staying at the Minsu and what were our room numbers. We quickly left without saying anything. So if you want to take some photographs of the Old England Minsu, please be discreet and quietly take your photographs. The other way to take some photos there will be to have afternoon tea there. Since you are a customer there, I think it is ok to take some photos.
Notice: No sight-seeing for non-guest & diner

First thing that greets you...

Panoramic view of The Old England Manor
View of the clock tower
Royal private property - Do not enter….
We saw a couple taking their wedding photo shoots there...

We went back to Sunnydale Minsu at 10.45am and checked out (check-out time is 11am). The taxi was already waiting for us and we set off for Taichung at 11am. You can enjoy the scenic views along the way downhill…

Goodbye Sunnydale Minsu...
The journey to Fengjia area, Taichung was about 2hrs 20mins when a toilet break along the way (Taxi was getting a refill at the petrol kiosk). We reached the Becon Hotel at Fengjia at about 1.20pm, check in time is again at 3pm. So, we decided to rest a bit at the hotel lobby which is at level 12 before going around the area to search for food...

Just a few metres' walk down the hotel, there was this Dong Dah Steaks (东大牛排). It was cheap and for NT180, you could have a wide variety of salad, ice-cream, sides and more… Definitely value for money!

Dong Dah Steaks @ Fengjia

This is first part of Day 4. Please visit the second part of Day 4

Tuesday 4 November 2014

9D8N Taiwan Free & Easy Trip - Day 3 (Cingjing)

You can book a Hehuanshan tour to see the sunrise. However, you need to wake up at 3am to take the tour. We didn't think we could wake up at that time and moreover, it was raining the night before and we thought that the clouds would block the sunrise. So we gave it a miss…

But we woke up at 5.50am to catch the sunrise at 5.57am but the clouds were thick and covered the sun. Below is a link to a YouTube video of the mountain view from the balcony of Sunnydale Minsu. You can see a bit of the sunrise (at 6.05am) and also the Old England Hotel on the right.

Mountain view from Sunnydale Minsu

Breakfast was provided by the Sunnydale Minsu. Well, it was the typical breakfast such as porridge, assortment of pickles, bread & butter, etc…

The breakfast closed at 9am. At about 9.30am, the Minsu staff sent us to the Cingjing Farm. The weather was fair and cooling, it was a good day to visit the Farm.

Cingjing Farm
Queuing up for the tickets
First rock you will see in the farm
On the right of this rock, you will need to stamp a chop on back of your palm just in case you need to exit and return to the farm. This is because there are two farms in this Cingjing Farm. You will need to exit one farm and then enter the other farm. So, it is better that you get a stamp before you exit this farm.

Stamp a chop on your hand
You can buy some food for the sheep and feed them. The lambs are in the enclosure and the sheep are free to roam in the farm. The sheep may follow you if they think you have food for them.

The lambs are kept in the enclosure on the right
Lambs in the enclosure
Sheep food vending machine
Notice that the sheep is waiting at the dispenser
The sheep knew the food vending machine and waited for people to buy the food.

Cingjing Farm - Yes, you got to walk…
Feeding time
If you are not tired and have checked the time for the performances at the farm, you can walk to the stage to watch the horse-riding show. But be careful of where your foot lands, there are sheep's droppings everywhere.

Be careful of Sheep's droppings!
While walking down the slopes, there are many sheep roaming around. I saw this brown sheep and had the chance to take some selfies with her.

Brown sheep, nice posture!

Sunday 2 November 2014

9D8N Taiwan Free & Easy Trip - Day 2 (Taichung/Cingjing)

After a night stay in Ximending, we had the complimentary breakfast at the hotel. We checked out and headed to the Ximen Station at about 8.30am. We reached Taipei Main Station at about 8.40am and bought the HSR train tickets to Taichung Station. We queued up at the counter (instead of the machine type) as we wanted reserved seatings and it is cheaper at the counter. The price is NT$700 per pax, single trip. The train left at 9.18am exactly and reached Taichung Station at about 10.16am.

HSR Single Trip ticket
We were supposed to catch the 10.20am bus at Exit 5 in Taichung Station. We had planned to take the bus and the journey via bus is about 2.5 hrs. A taxi driver approached us and offered NT$500 per person to bring us up to the 日光青境民宿(Sunnydale Minsu) at Cingjing (清境).

As we had luggages and also didn't know where to drop off if we took the bus, we decided to take the offer from the taxi driver. It took us 1.5 hrs to reach to our Minsu. However, do note that the roads up to the Cingjing farm are steep and winding, so some people may get dizzy during the 1.5hrs ride. We arrived at the Sunnydale Minsu at about 12pm and could not check in yet (as the check-in time is 3pm). The Minsu staff gathered us around and explained the activities for that day and the next.

Sunnydale Minsu @ Cingjing
After that, he sent us to the nearby restaurant, 纸箱王 Carton King, for lunch. If you spent a certain amount at this restaurant, you could get complimentary tickets to visit the Small Swiss Garden (小瑞士花园) next to Carton King.

Carton King Restaurant - chairs and decorations made of carton

Carton King - Drink in box and cup hold made of carton

Carton King - Lunch set menu
Carton King - My Set Lunch (yummy!)
Carton King - Exterior view
Note that the entrance to this Carton King restaurant is on the left. Take the stairs on the left to the 2nd Floor, passed by the "bees".

After the satisfying lunch, remembered to redeem the tickets for the Small Swiss Garden. The Minsu staff (aka driver) said that he would pick us up at 1.30pm at the entrance of the Carton King. So, we quickly toured the Small Swiss Garden. It was not a big garden and we managed to "see see look look" and also took pictures within half an hour. The weather was quite unpredictable and started raining.

Small Swiss Garden
At about 1.40pm, the driver came and picked us up. He drove us to the Cingjing Farm (清境农场).

Cingjing Farm - slightly misty due to the rain
We shouldn't have gone to Cingjing Farm when it was raining. There was nothing much to see in the rain and you would not be able to take good photos. Furthermore the land would be muddy and slippery. In the end, we decided not to buy the entry tickets and just do our shopping at the castle store.

We waited for the rain to stop and walked downhill. In my opinion, it was quite dangerous to walk on the narrow roadside. We reached the mid way point and there was this resting area (this area is at the lower end of the farm near the exit). It might be due to the rain, many stalls were closed. We bought a pear 雪梨 from a store and later then we realised that the stall had overcharged us.

雪梨 (overpriced in this stall - beware!)
As  we approached the pathway to the main road to get a taxi, we saw this ice-cream stall and we bought 4 ice-creams.

Nice ice-cream!
The taxi ride is about NT$200 (just less than 5 mins drive), so we shared among the four of us. There is another transportation which is about NT$50 per person, however, according to the taxi driver, it is not safe as there is no insurance coverage for the van type if there is an accident. So, if you want to take the van sharing with strangers, please be careful. My advice is to take the taxi which is safer (for insurance coverage).

The day is shorter during this period. The sky darkens at around 5.30pm. We went back to the hotel and enjoyed a brief view from the balcony of the hotel. Strange, it was not raining at the hotel which is just 5 minutes away from the Cingjing Farm.

Mountain view from Sunnydale Minsu
View of the Old England Hotel from Sunnydale Minsu
Before it got darker, we walked uphill from the Minsu for a couple of minutes, there is a 7-11 store. We bought beers and tidbits to enjoy in the Minsu. At the 7-11 store, there are interesting and beautiful flowers to enjoy…

Purple and black flowers - Can anyone identify this?
Unique flower - suspect it is a type of morning glory?
Complimentary dinner is served at the Minsu from Monday to Thursday. So today happens to be a Thursday and we rushed back to the Minsu for home cooked dinner at 6pm.

Continue my trip at Day 3.