12.8.06

tour de chomp chomp

tour de chompchomp

Last night, despite the lure W!ld Rice's Singapore Theatre Festival, J and I embarked on a little night cycling adventure instead.

I'll be honest. To call it an adventure would be an overstatement We stayed unheroically on park paths and street pavements, safe from the Homeric battles and journeys of growling trucks, roaring cars and squealing scooters. So modestly, ampulets present here the Tour de Chomp Chomp.

From our flat to the busy Braddell Road (which marks the border between the dusty Potong Pasir constituency and prosperous Bishan) is a quiet but broad road, wide because it was built for container trucks. At night, with the infrequent buses, it is even more deserted...

...and creepy. At least to me. Especially when the Toa Payoh Evangelist strikes.

The "Toa Payoh Evangelist" is a skinny middle-aged lady, her eyebags large behind round gold spectacles. Almost every night, she would find an unlit spot near a bus stop, or as we experienced last night, behind a clump of trees on a deserted path. Waiting in dark ambush, she would appear suddenly every time any human body walks, jogs or cycles by - and mumble expressionlessly in Mandarin - "你求救了吗? 信主能得到永远的生命." (trans: Have you been saved? Believe in Jesus for eternal life). I have observed many unsuspecting passers-by jump in shock.

Once we survived her zombied delivery, J carried our bicycles up a half-lit bridge that will bring us across the busy Braddell Road. From the bridge you will be at eye level with the Glue-sniffing Tree.

grow glue on trees!
glue grows on trees - image by J

Catapulted onto its branches are several large square tins of Tiger brand glue. Sometimes the glue is poured into small clear transparent plastic bags (the sort used in coffeeshops for drinks) and similarly flung onto the tree. I have no idea how the glue sniffers get these tins down again before proceeding to hide under that part of Braddell Road which is suspended across the concrete canal.

have I been here before?

At the end of the bridge is the start of a 2km jogging/cycling path along the slow moving waters of a canal. During the day, white mini herons can be seen picking on those nondescript grey fishes that live in our island drains. On one side of the canal are Bishan HDB flats, and on the other is the sprawling MRT train maintenance centre. At night, flood lights give an unnatural stadium-like glow to the maintenance centre. But all we could see are its high walls, behind which only a staircased tower and the occasional sounds of metal against metal rise.

close encounter of the 3rd kind
the tower that looks like a robot in the night - image by J

And in such quiet, it is best to cycle withour conversation or imagination to the end of the 2km path. Once we reached the end, we saw a fellow cyclist who was resting on a park bench. His rusty bike had a tall wire basket at both its front and end, loaded with cardboard, plastic bags and clothes. The man looked up as we cycled past, his raised arm holding up a pair of just-washed underwear.

And we emerged into nighttime Bishan - as innocuous as daytime Bishan! From then on we joined the unexciting, destination-driven vehicular world. After Bishan Road we coursed through Ang Mo Kio Ave 1, crossing the complex exit ways of the Central Expressway, and onward to Lorong Chuan. In 20 minutes or so, we would fing ourselves along the narrow private roads of Serangoon Garden where the finishing line beckoned at Chomp Chomp (oh, what a beautiful name for a food centre)!

Friends, there was no victory champagne, but what could be a more rewarding finish than this...

Chomp Chomp Delicacies #1 - Chwee Kueh (水粿)

and this...

Chomp Chomp Delicacies #4 - Macaroni soup

and more.

[To Ru in gastronomy-deficient UK, this meal is dedicated to you!]

14 comments:

fortycalibernap said...

what a great night tour. that glue tree -- i thought it was just nunavit boys with gasoline ziplocks these days, so who is it that's under the bridge huffing solvent?

. . . and i doubt they have any intention of retrieving that stuff from the tree . . . it's likely their discards.

and i wouldn't think ru is doing too poorly. she's gone native and is on the liquid diet.

wheyface said...

chwee kuei - yums!

but i think the best stall is the one in the food centre next to the bedok bus interchange. the east, the east!

gecko said...

the chai por looks damn delicious!

ampulets said...

gecko - it is! the best I've tasted, so far...

wheyface - ok, this one says "Bedok", so it's probably a franchise from your genteel east.

40C - you are probably right about the tins...but that's an awful lot of glue to have sniffed! I guess glue remains the stuff of boys - though I've never really looked under the bridge? There are little bicycle "gangs" in the area.

said...

thanks amps. as you know, i just got a bike too, and did my first cycle ride in this country, (from the shop near Liverpool St. station, along the Thames for a bit, back home) in the pouring rain. But it was really exhilarating, like a kid with a new toy.

There is also this weird woman (not skinny, no glasses, but probably middle-aged) around the Thomson/AMK area who goes round "preaching", supposedly for some charity or something. Have u bumped into her yet?

40C - :-)

ampulets said...

ru - hey, post photo of your new bike on flickr or something. heard from J it's got a really stylo mylo name. (btw, i've finally got my msn messenger to work!)

said...

the bike photos are up!

tscd said...

I am very impressed with the glue sniffing tree! Gives a whole new meaning to the phrase 'heads up'.

And that Chwee Kueh picture looks so...so...good.

samuraibunny said...

i find people who ride bicycles to be crazy =P it's so tiring !! congrats on completing though .. i miss chwee kway

wheyface said...

long live chwee kuei!

ampulets said...

wow! Chwee Kueh is # 1! Champion! Better than Milo! Woo Hoo! -TOHA

samuraibunny said...

unrelated to chwee kueh:

i didn't know that tony takitani got made into a movie !! did u know ?! did u watch ?? any good ? the guy's name is super catchy huh! i found out from someone else's blog

i doubt they will ever show it here =(

ampulets said...

SB, we saw it. A quiet film. We caught it on last year's Singapore Film Fest. I like it, quite abit...:)-TOHA

samuraibunny said...

wah laaaau =_= 1 year behind. i gotta go find it now. i doubt they will ever show it here

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