Experience · Hobby · singapore

My First Lithops

I got a lithop on my birthday as present and was so happy! My first Lithops! When I paid attention to it, I saw the lithop looked wrinkle and dry. Hmm.. it is not supposed to look like this. I know it because I saw a lot of Lithops photos before lol. They are small plump thing looking like a rock. I felt like something was wrong with this one and I did some research to find more about this plant. I know this plant is similar to succulent in term of can’t water too often, so I was only making sure I didn’t do anything wrong to it (or even worst, killed it..).

Lithops Horizontal Wrinkle Thirsty
Lithops arriving at my house!

There are A LOT of blogs and vlogs about this little guy and the information are overwhelming. Some of them are contradictory and some people didn’t really explain the detail about how to care for this plant. I spent one day (on and off) reading and listening to all those, while doing my job ( I did it when I was on train/bus commuting from one place to another for my work ). And finally the next day, I found something that seem make sense. All of those information need to be stored somewhere in case I forgot about it, so here we go! I’m gonna put it here and maybe can help someone else too who is wondering on how to take care of Lithops. Disclaimer : I’m a first time Lithop owner, so the info here might be inaccurate, BUT I will always update my findings and results to see which one works for them.

1. You got your Lithops, what to do?

Always check for the roots for newly bought plant (or if you got it as present like me). It’s good to see the root’s condition and also the kind of soil used in the pot. Pour out all of the soil and if some soil stuck to the root, clean it under running water. Gently remove the soil. Check the root. Healthy root should be white and firm when touched. Red and mushy root is bad. We need to trim that and wash the root. Be gentle. Let them dry up before repotting them. It can be within a day or even for a couple of days depending on the weather condition at your area.

Healthy Lithops Root
Check for their root. White root is a healthy one.

2. Soil and Pot

Lithop needs a well-drained soil and pot. Make sure the pot has a drainage hole. Use a deep pot, minimum 3 inches deep for Lithops as they have a very long tap roots. I’m using a 3-inch terracotta pot. For the soil, I use the mix of pumice and akadama soil. If you want to use cactus soil, use at most 10% of the total, and use perlite/pumice for the 90%. Do NOT use organic soil, such as peat mossm as it can hold moisture for too long and Lithops hate that. It can cause root to rot.

Pumice Akadama Lithops Soil Mixed
Pumice and Akadama Soil Mixed

3. Lights

They like bright location both with direct or indirect sunlight. Four to Six hours of direct morning sunlight is ideal. Move them to location with indirect sunlight in the afternoon as they can get sunburn if get hit by direct sunlight at that time of the day. If you are forgetful or too busy to move them around, just place them in location that is bright with indirect sunlight, and they will be happy. Lithops hate shades, location with not enough light. They will try to reach for light by elongate their body. If the light condition doesn’t improved after some time, they can die ( I know… I was also shocked when I read this in a blog, died due to lack of light ). I have a south-facing balcony, so I placed him there. There won’t be any direct sunlight but at least the location will be very bright most of the time.

4. Watering

When I read about Lithops, this is the most important factor that I need to master. Most people killed their Lithops due to overwatering, so I was so scared to do it. I need to find something that is helpful enough for me to tell whether it is the correct time to water them. And, I found out about they have different stages as well! How am I supposed to know on which stage they are in? Lol. I also read the general rule of watering which are “when you have doubt whether to watering or not, do not watering them” and “only watering when the soil is completely dry”. The problem is they also can’t be left out underwatered too long or they will die. So how to tell they if they are thirsty other than checking the soil? Because on some stages of their life, we can’t water them as well even though the soil is dry. Confusing, right? It was, until I found out about the trick , tried it and it worked (so far). Let’s get to know about their cycle first, while I will add a note about watering on each phase.

5. Cycle

Lithops has several stages in a year so it’s good to know on which stage they are in. If you are in northern hemisphere, water them on spring and fall season. During summer (or the hottest time of the year or your region), they go into dormant. Therefore, they don’t need water. If during summer they wrinkle, give just a little bit of water just to plump the leaves back to normal. Then how about me who lives in Singapore? We don’t have 4 seasons here. Only dry season dan rainy season. I read on one of the blogs rainy season is the time for Lithops to grow so let’s see.. Next, when they split to have a flower, you can water them. Make sure the soil dry before watering again. Then stop watering when the flower has wilted. They will grow a new leaves by using the water retained on current leaves. When the old leaves has become very dried and easy to remove, you can water them.

How to water them? Some people do the bottom watering. Dip the pot in water for a few minutes and that’s it. Or, what I always do with my succulents, water them until the water is coming out of the drainage hole (soak and dry method). They will store up that water and use it for the next couple weeks (or even months).

In summary, here we go :

  • Dormant phase : when nothing is happening –> Water only if you see wrinkle on Lithops, or if they have flattened down. How much water to give depends on how much wrinkle on their body.
  • Flower phase : when they split to have flower (usually on Lithops older than 3 years old) –> Water them. Make sure the soil is completely dry before you water them again.
  • Flower wilted –> Do not water. Wait for next phase.
  • Split to grow new leaves –> Do not water. The new leaves will grow by using the water retained on current leaves.
  • Old leaves dried up and easy to remove –> Water them. Then wait until they are thirsty by looking at the wrinkles on their leaves/body.

The lithops that I got didn’t seem to start flowering or splitting, and it had a lot of wrinkles which appeared even more in several days. Therefore, I watered him until the water came out of the drainage hole and wait. After about 1-2 days, he revived! He looks plump and healthy even more a couple of days later. I haven’t watered him again since then.

20 August 2021 – I watered him a little on 18 Aug’21 but the wrinkles were still there
The transformation after watering. I watered it until fully soaked on 23 Aug’21.

I hope you can get what you need to know about growing Lithops from here, especially if you are living in South East Asia. I’ll update here again if my Lithops has gone to the next phase. Right now, it still doing nothing. I heard they would only grow flower if they were happy. So I guess my mission now is to make it happy 😉

Thank you for reading. Ciao!

Experience · singapore

That time when I received Quarantine Order

Monday, June 14th, after the meeting call with my boss I got a call from unfamiliar number. The person at the other end said he was from Ministry of Health (MOH) and confirmed my personal data that he had and told me I got a Stay Home Notice due to contact with a COVID-19 case. What?! Stay Home Notice means I can’t go out from my place at all, even to throw away my trash on refused chute. He also told me during these 48 hours someone from Quarantine Service will call me and arrange for the pick up so I need to prepare clothes and other stuffs to stay in the quarantine facility for 5 days.

After the call ended, I spoke to my friends and they suggested me to confirm it with the COVID-19 hotline number in case it’s a scam. I was quite sure that it was not, because the person didn’t ask for money or document and he sounded legit. But then there is no harm of checking so I did it anyway. I called the hotline number on Ministry of Health (MOH) website. Once connected, I told her I that I got a call from someone who claimed to be from MOH and I want to confirm whether the call was a scam or not. She asked me what is the number that call me. I gave it it her and she did a check. After a while, she got back at me and told me that the number is registered in their database, which means the number is genuine and not a scam. Oh well, this is happening then!

So it’s real that I can’t go out.. And my next thought was how am I gonna walk my dog?? Since I can’t walk outside, I quickly contacted my friend to ask her take care of my dog as soon as possible. Luckily, another friend who’s staying at the same place with me able to help me with the arrangement so the transfer of my dog to another friend was going smoothly. One problem solved. Some friends asked me why don’t I keep my dog at home to keep me company. The reason was simple. She can’t use pee tray so she will hold it until she can go out, so she has to go on a walk. Therefore, as much as I want to keep her at home, I prefer her healthy routine to be maintained.

I was curious about the quarantine so I called the number that the person gave me. It got connected to their Customer Service. I asked her when will they come to pick me up and can I just stay at my home since I live alone, but she couldn’t answer me. She told me to wait for a call from the officer and when prompted about the pick up I could request to stay at home. Alright then, let’s just wait for the call.

Now, I’m gonna share what did I need to do during the quarantine and other informations that might help you in case you got a call from MOH (hopefully not) :

1. The next day, at 6am MOH sent an SMS to notify the official arrangement for the quarantine. On the SMS, I was told to download an app called Homer. Once I downloaded the app, I need to insert the post code of quarantine location and that I have to stay within that location the whole time or else they will fine me. By that time, I was not sure where would I be so I didn’t continue with the app. MOH keep sending the SMS about the quarantine but I had no idea why they did it. Then someone called me from MOH and asked me to download the app. I explained to him about my situation with the location and he said to just put my home post code. In the end, I inputted my home address post code with the assumption I could quarantined at home.

2. It’s no use to call the Quarantine Service number. The customer service will always ask you to wait for an officer to call you. When I was wondering about my quarantine location, I called them and in the end I still have to wait for the call.

3. Keep your phone with you all the time. They will call you at random time, and sometime video call as well.

4. Submit the report on Homer app right on time. I had to submit my temperature reading and other symptoms (if any) on the app 3 times a day during specific time range (8 – 10am, 1 – 3pm, and 6 -8pm). Sometimes I forgot to submit it and someone would immediately call me, even when I was late for 1 minute. So, if you don’t want to be bothered by the call, just submit them on time 😀

5. If you’re staying alone, you can request for Home Quarantine. They will send someone to your place and do the checking / interview to see whether you are eligible. I also found out if I chose the facility, it was in a hotel and mine was supposed to be at Hotel Swissotel The Stamford, which is quite nice I think. But no matter how good the hotel is, I prefer to stay at home. I got all my entertainment to accompany me! And secondly, if I chose to go to hotel, they will pick me up in a full cover and it might cause a commotion then.. (unless, of course, when you had no other choice).

6. If you have to go to the facility, prepare enough clothes, entertainment (books, ipad, Nintendo switch, laptop, etc), and also dining utensils (bowl, cutlery, knife to cut the fruit, glass, etc). They will provide food at the facility (most likely in Hotel), but according to my friend, who’s been in quarantine, you might get bored after 2 days eating the same menu, so you would end up ordering food delivery as well. They won’t provide utensils as it’s a precaution.

7. You can’t meet anyone at all. When you order food delivery or when your friend come over to deliver something, you can’t see them and received the item. You need to tell them to put the item/food in front of your door and leave it, then when they leave, you can pick it up. While it is true that no one will know if you meet them, I think as a ‘suspect’, we have a responsibility to protect others. Assume we could bring danger to others so it’s better to be careful.

8. Garbage disposal. I need to rely on a friend to throw away my garbage. I put them inside plastic bag, tied them up and left them in front of my door. Then my friend, who is my neighbour, took it and helped me throw it away. I’m really grateful for this friend! Imagine to keep the garbage for a whole week, how disgusting the smell would be.

9. Need to do swab test two times. The first one was supposed to be done on second day of quarantine but they were late. They just came late night on 4th day without notice. He told me gonna do 2 times swab for ART and PCR test. The swab for PCR test was horrible! The ART result was fast. Within few minutes, it showed Negative result. The PCR result was announced the next day by SMS. Although, I’ve found out the result through Health Hub App first (This app is amazing btw). It was negative as well. Then on the day before last day of quarantine, another person came to do swab PCR test. This time with notice. He called me before and came at promised time. He did the throat and nose swab. My first time doing throat swab and it wasn’t that bad. The person was really gentle and patient. This time they didn’t even notify me the result! I only saw it at Health Hub App. It was negative 🙂

10. “Where did you get it? Who was the person?“. Many of my friends asked me this question. When I told them I didn’t ask, they said “Why don’t you ask?”. I don’t think knowing the person or where were you can help you in any way. I don’t see the importance of it, so I don’t need to know. I did asked the officer out of curiosity, and he said only the Contact Tracing Officer know the detail but even so they can only tell you the date. Not much helpful either eh?

11. “Check from your Trace Together App. You can see it under ‘possible exposure’ tab”. Some of friends also told me this. They must have thought I didn’t know about this tab on the app lol. Well, I checked my Trace Together App to see if this exposure was record on “Possible Exposure” Tab but it wasn’t. So, apparently you can get a Quarantine Order even tho there is no possible exposure on the app.

The last thing I wanna share is the mentality when this happened. I understand that some of my friends were curious and care for my well-being so they asked those questions. Some of them also offered me help to deliver food or ordering something, which is very helpful. Although, they only asked in the beginning and later on seemed like everyone’s moving on with their busy life. So, if you really need help, do not hesitate to ask for it.

Some people might suspected you go to ‘dangerous area’ hence you got the quarantine order. It sucks, but normal reaction. I hate it when people started to ‘accuse’ me doing something bad that brought this QO to me but then I must remember it’s a normal reaction during this pandemic. Therefore I tried to reply them still in a nice way or just ignore them lol. Why bother with toxic people, right?

Most important thing when we serve on quarantine order is to keep on positive thinking and enjoy your ‘relax’ time in quarantine. Do something you like, something that can divert your attention if you get panic easily. Or you can get busy with your work as well. You still can do your office work at home/facility. Anxiety doesn’t help you overcome this. We need our immune system to work by feeding it with happy thoughts 😀

People thought I got bored by staying at home for a week. In fact, not at all lol. I enjoyed it. Yes it suck can’t go outside. But well, I can’t do anything about it, so why ruin my mood by thinking of something I can’t do?! If I can’t go out, then let’s do something fun at home! 🙂

Thanks for reading this long post. I wish you all stay healthy and safe. Wear mask and wash hand frequently ( I know.. heard this so many times right? Lol). You can share your quarantine story with me as well or if you’re currently under quarantine, please comment below.

Ciao.

Food · singapore

Uncle Ho Tuckshop – Authentic Hanoi Cuisine

Since I moved to Singapore, I’ve been looking for a place that serve authentic Vietnamese food. I love them! One of Vietnamese dishes that I like is Bun Cha. Yup, not Pho. I’m not a big fan of Pho. I prefer their Bun (vermicelli) dishes.

Bun Cha is a dish from North Vietnam. I tried it in Saigon and people said Saigon version is ‘sweeter’ than Hanoi version. Well, for me at least it’s already great lol. Maybe someday I will have a chance to try the real Hanoi’s Bun Cha. But hey, I’m in Singapore now so what is the chance of finding a Bun Cha (any version is okay!)? Quite big chance actually. There are a lot of Vietnamese here, so I’m sure there is a decent Vietnamese restaurant around (not those chain restaurants). And here it is, I found Uncle Ho Tuckshop! I don’t remember how did I find this place, but that doesn’t matter 😀

Uncle ho Tuckshop front door
Uncle Ho Tuckshop front door
Uncle Ho Tuckshop interior
Uncle Ho Tuckshop interior
Uncle Ho Tuckshop review
Uncle Ho Tuckshop interior
Vietnam Corner
Wall Decorations

I decided to try this place out. The place is pretty easy to find. They have a big signage, you won’t miss it. The interior is simple. There are some Vietnam-themed decorations at one corner. You can sit in that area to feel the ambience. Other parts of the room are just like a normal restaurant. Or.. more like a canteen, with their big tables.

Looking at the menu, it seems authentic. And of course, my eyes are only looking at Bun Cha ❤ I didn’t really read other dishes. Just go straight to Bun Cha! 😀 I ordered at the cashier, paid them and waited for the food. Once it’s ready, they will call us out and we need to collect them.

Bun Cha
Bun Cha

I was so excited with my bowl of grilled pork and the vermicelli! Without delay (after taking photos), I dig in to try. It was sooo yummy! I’m happy with the meal. Grilled porks looks awesome. There are also pork belly. And, the soup contains young papayas as well. Authentic!

Do you know how to eat Bun Cha? A friend taught me like this : Take vermicelli, dip it in the soup, put it on top of lettuce, add in meat and other leaves, make a roll then enjoy! But since we’re not in Vietnam and they didn’t give many lettuces nor small bowl, this is what I did : Take the vermicelli with chopsticks, dunk them into the broth then enjoy it~ Eat it with the meat and vegetable as well. Yum! The soup can be too salty for some. If so, just dip the vermicelli a little so it won’t soak too much of the broth.

I would recommend this place to anyone who’s looking for great bun Cha. The only downside of this place is the location. It’s very far from the place I live and there is no nearby bus stop, so need to walk a bit. Unless you go there by taxi/grab.

Have you tried this place as well? Or do you have any recommendation of Vietnamese restaurant to try? Let me know in comment below.

Thanks for reading 🙂

Experience · singapore · Travel

Indonesian Passport Renewal in Singapore

It’s the time to renew my passport again~ Even though we can’t travel abroad for now, it’s better to renew it when you can. As a foreigner living in Singapore, passport is somewhat needed as well, for instance for the transaction on your bank. Since we are in covid period, there is a protocol that we need to follow before we can renew our passport. They have limit on how many people they can serve in a day to avoid getting too crowded, so we have to make an appointment online at their website.

Website

Clicked on “Daftar” then pick the date and time. After you’re done, you will get the confirmation email.

Documents to be prepared : Old passport, Singapore Identity Card (IC), Form Perdim 11.

Make a copy of passport and IC each on A4 paper. Also don’t forget to buy a smartpac (small) at post office. Put your address detail on smartpac envelope.

Fee for passport renewal is $35, cash only at that time. I didn’t know this so I didn’t bring any cash and had to go elsewhere to withdraw money first. I wonder how they don’t use non-cash payment for this.. when other services are encourages to be cashless, our passport renewal still need cash payment.

Anyway.. on the day of appointment, I came there 15 mins before the time. Reported to the security and was asked to show old passport to the guard. He then gave me a visitor tag and a queue number. Mine was A91.

The queue number was at A60 when I entered the building. That’s a lot! I waited until they called my queue number. It took around 40 mins before they finally called my number. I went to the designated counter, submitted form perdim 11, old passport, copy of old passport and copy of IC. The officer asked me if I have smartpac. Yes I did, so she gave me a new form to fill out and sign. It’s a disclaimer form that they are not responsible for the delay of delivery or if the package is missing on delivery.

Once I signed and submitted all the form, I waited again to be called for photo taking and finger prints recording.

This time, I didn’t wait for long and they called me. I went inside a small room on the left. Got my photo taken and my finger prints recorded. It’s quite fast. Next, I just need to pay the fee at the cashier. $35 in cash only. So really make sure you bring cash.. or else you will have to find nearby ATM (which is not that near) to withdraw money. Like me 😦 It was quite troublesome.

The new passport was sent to my house around 3-5 days after. And I love my new passport! Every page has different picture and they are all uniquely Indonesia ❤

That’s my experience in renewing my passport here in Singapore. Hope this helps! Thank you for reading 🙂

Experience · singapore · Travel

Doraemon Exhibition @ National Museum of Singapore

Two weeks ago, I passed by the National Museum of Singapore (NMS) on a bus on my way to Somerset area and I saw the installation of Doraemon on their front yard! They were still preparing but I could see a lot of Doraemon statue in many poses. I’m not a hardcore fan of Doraemon but still it made me excited somehow. Maybe because I grew up watching him on television every Sunday morning. Two weeks later, which is today, I decided to visit the museum by myself. It was an impromptu decision because I was not in a good mood and needed refreshment.

It turned out to be a good decision! When I reached the NMS, I saw a lot of people at front yard. At first, it kind of turned me off to see so many people there on Thursday afternoon, but I continued walking into the main building. Since I’m not Singaporean nor PR, I have to buy the ticket to enter the other exhibitions. The Doraemon photobooth and ourdoor area are free admission though, also the exhibition on basement. So, I didn’t buy a ticket. I just need to see the Doraemon (and take photos, of course). Besides, I don’t think I have enough time if I went around the whole building and exhibition. It was already late afternoon and they are closing at 7pm.

Anywhere door at the entrance

The guy at reception was very nice. He let me know where to go (and make sure I don’t go to the paid exhibition lol) to the photo booth. I went straight behind the staircase and saw the Time Machine exhibition! There was a queue to enter the restricted area. I wasn’t sure if I wanna queue, since I already took some photos from outside and I didn’t have anyone to help taking my photo.. but I saw the queue was not bad, so I went ahead and stand there. It took me maybe about 10 minutes and it was my turn already. They called up about 8 people each time, to enter the area.

There are only 2 exhibits there. The time machine with Doraemon on it, with background effect that made it look like moving forward. The other one is Dorami, his sister. I took some photos of them and didn’t plan to get my photo taken, until someone asked me to take their photos. Chance!! I asked them for help in return 😀 And voila! I got photos with both of Doraemon and Dorami. Happy me~

Doraemon Exhibition Time Machine
Time Machine
Doraemon Exhibition Dorami Invention
Dorami

There’s nothing more to see there so I went outside of NMS to the front yard. Did the safe entry on the entrance to exhibition area, then started taking photos of the cute Doraemon. Sometime I got lucky to find someone to take my photo too! There was a closed area where we couldn’t go in because they were doing maintenance (or maybe still installing more Doraemon).

Safety Protocol
Doraemon Exhibition National Museum Singapore
Doraemon Exhibition National Museum Singapore
Doraemon Exhibition National Museum Singapore Leaf

Lastly, before I left, I queued to take photo with the famous door of Doraemon, Anywhere Door (or Doko Demo Doa in Japanese). It’s also my favorite Doraemon’s invention! I could go every where with that door, especially during this covid situation.. Okay, back to happy thoughts.. happy thoughts.. I asked someone to help me take the photo. It was hard to take photo without someone on the background but I think this is good enough.

Doraemon Exhibition National Museum Singapore

Overall it was a great exhibition. There were not many things to see for the free admission though. I’m not sure whether they still have another exhibition for Doraemon inside (need to pay the General Admission Ticket for non-Singaporean and non-PR). From the website looks like there is something else.

Tip before you go there :

  1. Wear a cute clothes, and mask (because mask is needed at all time)
  2. Bring someone else to help taking photo of you (and of course, you help them too). If you go there alone (like me), you can ask for help from the stranger next in line, but make sure to clean up your phone and hands afterward.
  3. I think it’s better to come early in the morning, or even late in the evening, to take photo with Anywhere Door. Less people around is better. For other part of exhibition, coming as soon as the museum open is maybe a good idea too.

Most likely I’ll visit it again next time with a friend (and this time I will go to the paid exhibition area), but before that I need to think of another pose for the Anywhere Door! Any idea? 😀