Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Singapore 2010-CAN

Singapore 2010 CAN stands for Create Action Now!
So what are you waiting for? Create Action Now for Singapore 2010 Youth Olympics !
More details here.

Will you be ushering Year 2009 or 23:59:59 of Year 2008?


If you are like millions around the world counting down to a brand new year tomorrow night with “3,2,1…Happy New Year!”, you would most probably be entering the new year a second ahead !

This is due to the existence of a leap second. I believe most of us are all too familiar with a leap year. But a leap second? I believe many would not have even heard about it. There is some complicated theory behind, which you may want to read more about if you are interested.

Thus do pause for an extra second after shouting hoarse your voice the ‘1’ tomorrow, you will then enter the New Year on the precise timing!

Let us watch whether those hosts of the local countdown shows know of this fact….else if unaware of the fact, they will be misleading the whole of Singapore and we would be in fact celebrating and ushering the last second of year 2008: 23:59:59!

The leap second is a second into the leap of a brand new year!

Reflections …

It is just 20 odd hours and counting (down) to a brand new year 2009!

At the end of every year, I am flooded with mixed feelings.

Somehow I do feel sad that another year is going to pass … it is like the end of a race, an anticlimax: celebrating all the festive seasons, the bulk of them falling in the latter half of the year, particularly the recent two months; then the year just comes to an abrupt end while we are still caught in a binge of celebration, joyfulness and merry-making! I do find it indeed shocking to wake up two days later only to find myself in the realm and domain of a brand new year. Such a realization takes some hours to sink in my head as I get to acknowledge all the fun, joys, mistakes, good and bad experiences in the preceding year are all over; it is time to charge and gear up for the brand new year!

Associated with this newfound attitude which must also have inundated many is the buzzword, ‘resolution’, a term, which comes up the most frequently on our lips and minds on the cusp of a new year. Surprisingly, resolutions can be set at any time, at any place of a year, but it is apparent many are more motivated to set resolutions at the beginning of a new year and to measure the success of their goals at the end of the year.

This brings to mind another common buzzword during this period of the year: ‘reflections’. “What have you achieved for the year?” This question is daunting to some if they have not achieved the goals they set for year 2008. Well, this guilty feeling can be ‘exonerated’ if one has at least tried to achieve these goals; the worst reason for not achieving is procrastination.

Looking back over the ‘expiring’ year, I have made some strides in some areas but regrettably; I have made no advancement in others though I have put in great efforts. SOME circumstances were beyond my control, honestly speaking and these circumstances diminish all my efforts to zero.

When results do not commensurate with the efforts put in, many will feel demoralized give up, and call it quit. It takes guts and determination to keep going at one’s goals; thus I am not calling it quits for those goals not achieved this year; I will still aim and strike for them for the coming year and keep trying till I attain the success which has eluded me till far!

Year 2008 was a year when many have it worse … all thanks to the US economic fallouts, now this crisis has taken an unprecedented global impact, and expected to cause disproportionate damages to the economy and lives in year 2009.

Year 2009 will be a challenging year against the backdrop of the global financial meltdown. Singaporeans will be keenly anticipating the January 2009 financial budget to know what the plans of the Singapore government are, to help ordinary folks like me to cushion the negative impacts of recession.

Rubix’s Cube


The Rubix’s Cube was a decades-old toy. It was a toy I encountered and played with since young; but nevertheless a toy I could never master till now!

I always find it amazing how some young kids could easily twist, turn and flip the cube till they got the 6 uniformly coloured faces ‘correct’ .. and all within minutes. The ease with which they carried out the ‘feat’ put me to shame as I have played with Rubix’s cube no lesser than 50 times in my life but have never for once mastered the feat (or trick?).

Is there a trick behind the Rubix’s Cube? Or is the game a ‘mind’ game, a game which test how flexible or inflexible your mind is? Or are the skills to solving the Rubix Cube already hard-wired in us: either you have it or you don’t?

The internet is abound with the secrets to decoding the Rubix’s Cube, with pictures and videos depicting each and every step to ‘getting it right’. Prior to this source, books on cracking the Rubix’s cube were aplenty. But I have never ‘consult’ these ‘secret manuals’, as I am harboring a hope that one day, I will be able to master the Rubix’s Cube unaided!

However, it seems like I have no passion for Rubix’s cube rather than facing the grim prospect of being resigned to the fact that my spatial cognitive ability is not that strong for I have not really tried to practise and better my skills on this great cube for years!

The Rubix’s cube is intriguing: as a toy of the yesteryears, it has not followed the footsteps of the dinosaurs like its contemporaries but has instead continued to be played as a popular game worldwide. It has continued to be evolved with time rather than being made obsolete. In fact, this simple but yet challenging cube has not only continue to be played globally, it has reignited the passion of its lovers to the extent that modern contemporaries of the cube are invented: 2x2 Rubix’s cubes, 5 x 5 Rubix’s cubes and Rubix’s cubes of a myriad different shapes, sizes, turns and twists.



The Rubix’s cube may be one of the most popular toys ever played now and before. It is an ‘evergreen’ toy and it owns its phenomenal success simply due to folks like me (who continue to think on ways to crack the ‘code’) and diehard fans (who reinvented the modern versions of the cube).

With the 5x5 cube already on the market, it just adds to the challenge of me mastering the 3 x 3 Rubix’s cube!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Claustrophobia

It has been 6 days since one of the most embarrasing incidents in Singapore happened: the grounding to a halt of the world's largest observation flyer for 6 hours.
Besides finding themselves with a full bladder to be relieved, a super dry throat to be quenched, hunger to be satiated, fear to be quelled and the belief of the high reliability of the Singapore Flyer to be dispelled, some of the passengers stuck in the capsule, suffering and reeling from the nasty ordeal felt a fear that never surfaced in their lives till that very incident: claustrophia, which is simply to be explained, fear of enclosed spaces.
I am luckily not of one those unfortunated passengers stuck in those miserable capsules but I always imagine what it is like to be stuck there.
Hungry, alarmed, panic, thirsty, feeling the urge to answer the calls of nature are all feelings I have experienced before. Claustrophobia, this feeling seems alien to me.. what is there to be scared of confined spaces? especially when I was in the army, I was often deep undergroud, in the deep self-scapes, holes, fighting some silly enemies and the irritable mosquitoes, keeping a lookout for those things I don't want to see at night.....
But soon this feeling of claustrophobia struck me !
I was at the Singapore Expo yesterday, buying some business pants and shoes from the Great Metro Sales. I took a fancy to one of those pants I saw and went to the those make-shift fitting room cubicles to try it on. It was quite a long queue with many Singaporeans out in full force, grabbing at some of the cheapest offers in town in the light of the economic crisis.
After waiting for some 20 minutes, it was my turn and I entered into one of these cubicles. The moment I shut the door of the cubicle, Claustrophobia struck me.
Wow, you might think that I am exaggerating? Claustrophobia within one second, somemore in a comfortable setting and I was not even trapped as compared to those in the unfortunated capsules ... and for 6 hours.
Yes, I am telling the truth, I feel claustrophobic within a second after entering the cubicle and so much so that I wanted to exit the cubicle FAST! Worst still, I felt nauseous and wanted to vomit immediately too!
Wow, another exaggeration? Vomitting also within a second entering, plus claustrophobic? Was I feeling sick instead rather than claustrophobia?
No, I was not feeling sick, it was indeed claustrophobia, the fear of this silly cubicle.. the reason, the reason being that this cubicle stinks like thousands of rotten eggs as my 'predecessor' to this cubicle has BO ! (Body Odor).
A more apt term for my type of claustrophobia: Bododorphobia!
Anyway, Singapore Flyer will not be open even till the first week after the new year, it seems. The flyer needs to be 'cleared' by the Singapore Police before it can resume its operation. However, there are good news: there will be a free new year concert at the Singapore Flyer for all on the island; though the reason for such concert may be obvious: to boost the sales of the restaurants and shops at the flyer which are affected by its temporary closure.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Singapore Chinese New Year 2009

This Christmas, my Dear and I took a stroll leisurely in the city and we ended up in Chinatown.
We were surprised to be greeted by new years stalls out in full force, selling goodies and trinklets. In fact, the Chinese New Year action at Chinatown began a week ago!
With the first two days of Chinese New Year falling on 26 and 27 early next January and the economic recession continuing to beset many Singaporeans, the Chinese New Year stalls were out even earlier this year to maximise their revenue window.
However, it was reported that there was a 20% drop in the number of these make-shift stalls in Chinatown, with a corresponding reduction in the number of Chinese New Year goodies and items sold.
This year, these Chinese New Year stall owners will be hit by the economic recession as Singaporeans exercise recession prudence and minimise their Chinese New Year expenses.
Expect a smaller Ang Pao this year too for those still eligible to get !
Some people, expecting a smaller Ang Pao from each of their relatives may want to visit more relatives as friends to earn more Chinese New Year 'revenue'.
For others, they may just want to take a break during the Chinese New Year break and go to nearby places for a short holiday, obviating the need to give ang baos, seeing relatives again for that one time yearly to be asked the same old questions again 'When you getting married', 'When you going to have baby', 'How is your child's results?', 'How is job' .... the usual continuum of questions.
With economic recession recession rearing its ugly head, recession will likely be the most talked-about topic between relatives and friends in the coming Chinese New Year though it is taboo to talk about such topic at the beginning of a Lunar New Year.

Red Cliff 2


This was the dashing outfit worn by heart-throb Tony Leung in Red Cliff 2.

The outfit is so smart looking that I think you need not look like a Tony Leung to be smart upon wearing it!

Lots of people stopped in their tracks to pose for photos with this and other outfits from the movie 'Red Cliff 2'.

Want to take a good look at this swooning outfit? Then head down to Plaza Singapura... while the exhibition still lasts.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Bugis


The sights and cacophony of colorful street artists plying their trade greet me the moment I step onto the bustling street. The aroma of delectable hawker fare immediately follows, wafting across the street, melding with the pungent incense and the roasted fragrance of chestnut to form a uniquely characteristic scent. This is Waterloo Street, a street pulsating with the rhythm of life, a street where I feel like home.

My parents introduced me to Waterloo street in Bugis when I was just six years of age to pay homage to the Chinese deities residing in the Kwan Imm Temple and pray for peace. Thereafter, I have made a myriad revisits to the temple as a student yearning for good results, as an executive wishing for career advancement and always as a Buddhist praying for peace and prosperity.

Since the preliminary visits to the temple, Bugis, resonating with its buzzing scores of interesting fixtures and activities has beckoned me on. I have developed an affinity for Bugis, grown accustomed to its diverse groups of people and become assimilated to its distinct ‘culture’.

I could not exactly remember in details each of the countless visits I made to the scores of hawker centres there which offer mouth-watering treats at amazing good prices (till today), but one common thread through all the visits is the warmth of the stall owners. This warmth, coupled with the pleasant atmosphere of dining with friends certainly mirrors dining at home!

The National Library, at one corner of Bugis, is till today my favorite haunt since it opened. I could still recall the long laborious hours spent there revising my studies and preparing for the examinations around the corner. Used to be my ‘study room’, the library is now a knowledge hub for me as I bone up on various snippets of knowledge from its voluminous tomes for an enriching life.

Shopping malls, fixtures not to be missed during my trip down to Bugis are where friendships are cemented, woes are shared and time seems to fly during each shopping trip. I feel like home enjoying common things with friends at these malls: interaction, dining, patronizing the shops and poring over the latest gadgets and fashion.

Over the years, new buildings have sprung up in Bugis but the warmth of home Bugis exudes has stood the test of time. I feel at ease as at home in Bugis, having a wide array of choices I could do here: shop, eat, read, pray and simply relax !
As I grow to be part of the Bugis as it grows to be part of my life, I have forged an inextricable bond with the area. I am always home in Bugis for it is a repository of my precious memories, a place where people and things are ever so familiar to me, a place which has seen me through the various phases of my life, a place where common things are shared …. a place where I feel like home

Friday, December 26, 2008

A Tribute to Maxwell Food Centre Hum Jin Pang

Introduction:

After the 3rd trip to Maxwell Food Centre, (the 2nd trip with my Dear), Singapore Short Stories feels so inspired by the hum jin pangs he has partaken at the stall that he blogs what is believed to be the longest blog post till far in his Singapore Short Stories blog !

Singapore Short Stories dedicates this blog post to the old maestro of Maxwell Food Centre Hum Jin Pang stall, my Dear who is a fanatic of Hum Jin Pang (only from Maxwell Food Centre Hum Jin Pang stall !) as well as all lovers of Hum Jin Pang!

Enjoy reading, folks! Wishing you a Happy New Year!

Maxwell Food Centre Hum Jin Pang

Day after day, night after night, year after year, the relentless firm kneads of perfectly elastic and flawless dough, the adroit pulling and twisting of the dough into fine balls of a thousand shapes and sizes, the smooth rolling of these with an ancient roller, the sprinkling of rich tau sar into each dough ball, the deft re-kneading of these dough balls and finally the dishing of each dough piece with a modicum of white sesame seeds………..all this and more greet the patrons of a little humble stall selling Hum Jin Pang in Maxwell Food Centre, named aptly and simply as such: ‘Hum Jin Pang’. This is a stall, which has withstood the test and annals of time. This is a stall, which has also withstood the rising costs of inflation, with the sales of hum jin pang at an incredible 6 for $1 ONLY! (for both salted and sweet tau sar flavor). Customers can also request for sugar-coating of these hum jin pang at no additional price too!

The stall is ‘fronted’ by a timeless old man, characterized by his severely hunched spine; the contortion inevidently caused by years of incessant bending of his back, plying his trade. The old man and his famous stall has become an enduring feature as well as fixture for Maxwell food centre and its patrons. On this public holiday (Christmas 2008), my Dear and I visited the stall to satiate our craving for these special hum jin pang. Initially, we were doubtful as to whether the stall would open on a public holiday, when the world revel in merry-making; nevertheless we were not disappointed, the stall opened, for us and for Singaporeans who love ageless, timeless, tasty, handmade hum jin pang!

My dear and I found ourselves queuing behind a long snaky queue of equally fervently awaiting customers. The old stall owner was flanked and assisted by a lady seeming in her forties (presumably his daughter) helping out with the simple logistics of the stall. We watched in awe and were spellbound at the quick, nimble manipulations of a simple dough by the old maestro, transformed into a myriad yummies of a thousand shapes and sizes all within seconds (despites the advanced age of the old man)! His reflexes were swift while he trained his eyes, which are already reduced to a weathered pair of narrow slits over the years, on each and every dough piece. His sharp focus is admirable at his age. The father-daughter pair worked diligently, humbly, oblivious to the chorus of the customers and the passage of time around them. The chemistry between both father and daughter was fantastic; it was an exemplar of teamwork!

If customers to the stall deem watching the father and daughter at work as a great traditional and historical performance; a bonus, or a prelude to the ultimate rewarding meal later, they would be glad that would also share in this historical stage with the pair as customers in dishing out the hum jin pangs they would so delightfully gulp down later! For while the father and daughter prepare the dough to be fried, the customers will be in the thick of the action- yes frying the hum jin pangs in a wok of boiling hot oil, at their own pace, at a stall which is permeated by the rich aroma: uniquely and distinctly characteristic of frying hum jin pang!

The ‘modus operandi’ for the customer at this stall is simple: when it comes to your turn to order, give your request to the stall assistant and after the customer(s) ahead of you is done with his purchases, you will be greeted with the sight of the hot wok in front of you, two pairs of giant chopsticks, of white floury hum jin pang dough pieces being tossed into the wok, sliding down the smooth surface of the wok, entering into the hot, boiling cooking oil with a uniquely ‘hum jin pangy’ sizzling sound and of rich, creamy, crispy, aromatic, heavenly, fried hum jin pang floating on the surface of the oil, a sign which marks the end of a metamorphosis of the floury hum jin pangs into golden yummies.

There are no instructions given for you on what to do next, at this time and at this point; you are expected to simply, ‘automatically’ come into the ‘play’. ‘Don’t know what to do?’ then you deserve a beating for you should have observed what the preceding customers have done: just help to fry the floury hum jin pangs in the hot boiling oil la!


I observed the father-daughter pair, hard at work, churning out floury hum jin pang by the dozens in a highly efficient, orderly, systematic and almost robotic manner. The weather was cool on the day we visited the stall or else the little fan blasting a small wind at the two could not alleviate them from the sweltering Singapore heat ... at least that is what we thought. But we must have underestimated them, for the old man and his helpers have been plying this trade for so many years and they must have already ‘acclimatized’ themselves to the hard labor of this trade and the elements of the weather. The old man is made of steel, his steely resolve and determination exemplified in his every little move throughout my observation of him. With his palms and hands toughened (no doubt by the myriad number of counts of kneading), I surmised that he might be plying this trade since he was twenty: he must have been a rickshaw cart or mobile hawker before, plying his trade in the now historical zones, then moving on to the hawker centres (by the way a hawker centre is a misnomer for a hawker is supposed to be mobile!) and being relocated to food centres by the authorities... all these years without any inch of let up in his passion throughout the years, plying his trade, no matter how hard the circumstances was and where he was, perfecting his skills to a pitch and this is evident in the hum jin pang which we savored.


The old maestro must have garnered a reputation and a loyal following throughout the years of his trade as a hum jin pang seller for I saw old customers buying from his stall who seem more like his friends than customers. Who knows, some of these customers might have been eating his Hum Jin Pang for twenty years or more? It is not surprising if they did so as Singaporeans are reputed to be food lovers and to be precise, loyal food followers, who would resort to anything to hunt down their favorite food stall after it is relocated.

The old hum jin pang master threaded each and every piece of dough in his hands into a piece of fine art. Unlike machines, no two hum jin pang are identical. I wonder what the old man was thinking as he threaded and weaved each and every floury hum jin pang? Was he thinking about the rich and colourful past of his yesteryears? Was he thinking about his wife and family? (I am not too sure about the details of his family). Was he thinking about life, income or the future? The pieces of dough he has threaded and woven are of thousands forms of shapes and sizes, each was a product of his labor, wisdom, experiences and thoughts at the moment.

Some hum jin pang look like rabbits, some look like clouds and one which my Dear and I ate was in the form of a heart shape! What each and every piece of hum jin pang means and resembles to the consumer is shaped by his own interpretations and thoughts at the moment. Amidst the thousands of forms and shapes, there is only one undeniable fact, which transpires as the hum jin pang melts in one’s mouth. Next time before you savor a hum jin pang from this stall, remember to look at each and every shape of the hum jin pang, you will be surprised what it resembles and your dining experience will be doubly intensified!

The simple preparation procedure of preparing the dough and frying them belie the untold labor of the trade. Do the work of the hum jin pang sellers once or twice, it is a cinch but to do it day after day, demands not only physical and mental strength, but also your passion… it is a perennial daily ritual! This job is just not suitable for youths of our times, who lead ‘air-conditioned lives’, embrace, live and breath new-fangled technologies, in terms of work environment, effort and pay. The old maestro earns a (what seems to many) paltry revenue of $1 for every 6 hum jin pang he sells and this is not even his profit! Yet we witness everyday some spoilt kids squandering their parents’ hard-earned money on entertainment like there is no tomorrow!

So much so for my thoughts about the hum jin pang trade at Maxwell food centre …. I jolted back to reality after tasting 4 hum zi pangs at one go. This is the real thing!


The hum jin pang were so fantastic that as through in a trance, mesmerized by the sights of these creamy treats, engulfed by the unrivalled taste, I queued up again to buy some more of these hum jin pang!

This time around, the old maestro and his daughter halted for a minute in their operations, but not for a rest. They were merely changing the cooking oil in the wok and my heart went out for the old man as he physically dismounted the old wok and mounted the new one, the veins in his arms strained from such an exertion at his age and easily discernable from far. The old man is as fit as an ox! His strength will put many men half or even a third of his age to shame.

My Dear and I bade farewell to this stall we love after making my second purchase. We know that it would not be long before we and other Singaporeans would come back to the stall once more to savor its hum jin pang.

Each hand-woven hum jin pang of a different shape and size is a product of the old maestro’s labor, passion and love. Each such hum jin pang has a story to tell, a story of the old maestro’s life, his trials, tribulations and blessing. These, coupled with the intrinsic amazing taste are not something machine-made hums jin pang can offer to the consumer. Hand made hum jin pang is a fast vanishing trade as there are no clear successors to take over this physically drenching, non-lucrative and tough job in this modern day.

Once the sun rises again tomorrow morning, the stall would open again, without much fanfare for yet another busy day. The seamless ritual would commence once more, the flames beneath the wok would be reignited and sustained till night … and the deft fingers of the old maestro moulding the hum jin pang into different forms and shapes around the clock would continue…weaving a soon forgotten part of the Singaporean way of life.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

It snows in Singapore!

Yesterday was Christmas eve, and yes there was light rain throughout the island, drenching Singapore and her people. Singaporeans did not mind as the rain gave a respite to all of us suffering from the unbearable heat and humility throughout the year and of cos, the rain lent the most appropriate touch and mood to Singapore Christmas.
However it was not only raining yesterday, it was snowing in Singapore as well in Tanglin Mall.




The snow fell more and more intensely, eventually engulfing everyone:








Local fashion of the Year Award

The local fashion of the year award goes to the new Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) 'Number 4' camouflaged uniform!
The uniform is a refreshing break from its predecessors and I first saw this new 'Number 4' uniform worn by a recruit booking out for Christmas on a MRT platform.
The recruit was carrying such a heavy 'Ali Baba' bag and he looked very tired, however he was alerted to find himself as the centre of focus among the crowd of passengers waiting to board the train.
Comments ranged from 'So ugly' to 'Cool' though the former opinion was in the majority. Asked for my opinion, I was really shocked to see such a uniform worn by our Singapore soliders! The uniform is really ugly as it is very green and it is just not suitable to be worn by our soldiers aethestically, though I must praise the relevant authorities for coming out with such a fine-pixelled design as the uniforms really make our soldiers hard to detect in the jungles! and that is the main intent for a change in the design as SAF gears up for more unconventional threats in the future.
Above is my opinion, so sorry I am not posting a photo of this No.4 uniform on my blog as I would like you local readers to see for yourself and to give your comments.
If you are free today being a public holiday and have nothing to do, head down to Pasir Ris bus interchange around 6pm or so to see these young recruits booking in these very green uniforms.
The bright green uniforms makes our soldiers look thinner as bright colours always make people dress in them looked less fatter.
Anyway, since I have read and heard of many commenting on our new SAF Number 4 uniform, thus I believe that it earns its keep as the local fashion of the year award.
Ultimately, if our soldiers wear these No. 4 uniforms, have a better rate of survival in the jungles, kill more enemies during wartimes, and leads to an earlier victory for Singapore, griping about the new No.4 uniform is insignificant........though in my opinion, I still cannot really accept the design.
The new SAF number Number 4 uniform is to Singaporeans what the esplanade is to us. When the esplanade first came up, it caused such a furore among the public on the aesthetics of its design.... but now it seems like Singaporeans have accepted it.
Oh now suddenly, I heard a rhyme in my head, it goes like this (if you know the song):
"Count on me Singapore"
"In my new Number 4"

Merry Xmas Everyone!

Dear All readers,
My Dear and I have just gone to Orchard Road and walked the whole of Orchard Road from 3pm right up to 11 pm from noon till night! We did not really walk the whole of these hours but a significant portion of time was spent walking.
We walked all the way from Tanglin Mall to Plaza Singapura. In fact it was not just one direction we went. We walked quite a bit from one place to another and then back to the same place and to the next. The reason is to while away the time slowly as we have the whole afternoon to ourselves.
It was quite fun as we practically caught all the sights and sound of Orchard Road and soaked in the festive fun on a wet raining Christmas eve.
The rain came at a right time, on a night just before Christmas. It lent a feeling of splendor and rather 'justified' the feeling of Christmas in hot and humid Singapore where it does not snow, rain should make up for snow.
Stay tuned for the sights and sound of Orchard Road during Christmas eve!
Merry Christmas!

Singapore Awards for Year 2008


Singapore Short Stories has released its own Singapore list of awards for people, events and things who and which are the movers and shakers for this year:

People

1) Singaporean of the year award: Tan Kin Lian
2) Most glamorous New Citizen of the year award: Gong Li
3) Sportsman of the year award: Feng Tian Wei / Tao Li
4) Most missed Singaporean of the year award: Lo Hwei Yen
5) Most wanted Singaporean of the year award: Mas Selamat
6) TCS artiste of the year: Chew Chor Meng
7) PAP politician of the year: Mr K. Shanmugam (from backbencher to full-fledged minister), Ms Lee Bee Wah (Table Tennis Saga)
8) Opposition politician of the year: Mr Tan Lead Shake (whose wife murdered his sister-in-law)

Events

1) Most glamorous event of the year award: F1 Singapore
2) Most unglamorous event of the year award: Singapore Recession
3) Most shocking event of the year award: White Tiger’s mauling of a cleaner to death
4) Most embarrassing event of the year: Escape of Mas Selamat
5) Most family-oriented event: Parents matchmaking for their children at Hong Lim Park
6) Sports event of the year: One Silver Olympic medal (at last) for Singapore (Table tennis)

Animals

1) Animal of the year award: Ah Meng

Places

1) Best local attraction of the year award: Marina Barrage / The Southern Ridges
2) Best hangout place: Bugis
3) Most embarrassing local attraction of the year award: The Singapore Flyer
4) Park of the year award: Hong Lim Park (from matchmaking to Lehman product investers’ meeting and rally to speeches)
5) Shopping centre of the year: Vivocity
6) Most ‘worried’ estate of the year: Serangoon Gardens (Foreign workers’ dormitory proposed there)

Food

1) Food of the year award: Donuts (seems like it has become the common snack here)

Things

1) Speech of the year award: PM Lee’s National Day Rally
2) Most drenched words of the year: the 3 ‘R’s: Recession, Retrenchment and Reduction and of course, inflation
3) Most hated product of the year: Lehman Brothers

Blog

1. Blog of the year: Singapore Short Stories (yes, my blog, the blog you are reading now, else whats the point of my writing if I don’t feel and believe in my blog?)

That’s all folks, sorry I do not have any categories for music, arts and others.. perhaps you can send in your comments on what should be in too.

Thanks and Merry Xmas!

Singapore’s Animal of the year for Year 2008


With the close of a tumultuous and somewhat eventful year 2008 for the world, the world has come to a deliberation for the persons, events, things and even animals, which are the most popular and representative of their countries in a year which will close in a week’s time.

Earlier on, I have shared with readers about the top 50 most beautiful persons in China released by the Chinese authorities, the top 10 Singapore searches this year, etc.. there are always never-ending lists of such accolades dished out every year end from different sources.

Today, China has released its animal of the year award. This accolade goes to Zhu Jian Qiang (a name which means ‘Strong Pig’) given to a pig, which has survived for 36 days beneath the deep rubble during the Sichuan earthquake. The pig is now a model of strength, courage and inspiration for entrepreneurs in this troubled time.

Singapore Short Stories has also come out with the award for ‘Singapore’s Animal of the year’, the accolade goes to ‘Ah Meng’: our dear friend who has passed away due to old age on 8 February this year. Come February next year, Singaporeans from all walks of life will commemorate Ah Meng with the inaugural Safari Zoo Run 2009.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Singapore Flyer grounded!


The Singapore Flyer experienced technical glitches around 4pm this afternoon, leaving 170 odd passengers stranded up on the world's largest observation flyer for about 6 hours when eventually the power was restored at 11.11pm. (see story),

Since the Flyer became operational in February this year, this is the third time it has encountered problems. This is what I call the Curse of the Golden Flyer (not flower as in the movie)!

Being stuck in the world's largest observation flyer is no joke. What will happen if the passengers have a full bladder or a liquid bladder? Are they expected to relieve in front of the other 10 to 20 people in the cabin? or else what else can they do or can they 'tahan' for so long?

Parents who were stuck with little children have not to contend with their own fears and inconveniences but also to pacify their children's incessant crying if any.

Singapore is a safe country, but when the MRT and now the Singapore Flyer is down, we face a long response time. This response time is not acceptable at all. With terrorism rearing its ugly head, what will happen if there is a terrorist attack here in Singapore and we see response time comparable to today's Singapore Flyer case? We will then have a cause for worry.

Expect a torrent of criticism levelled at the Singapore Flyer management from the public and netizens starting from now. It is not the first time Singapore Flyer is grounded and the flyer management should have learnt from the past experiences and launch a quicker response plan for today's incident.

Top 10 Singapore Searches for Year 2008

Today, Yahoo released the top Singapore searches in its search engine for this year, 2008 :

1. Mas Selamat Kastari

2. Lo Hwei Yen

3. Edison Chen

4. F1 Singapore

5. Beijing Olympics

6. SGX

7. Dawn Yang

8. Xiaxue

9. COE

10. Beach Bal Babes

Topping the list of the Singapore’s top searches for year 2008 is none other than the most wanted man of Singapore and one of the most wanted in the world: Mas Selamat Kastari! I can say that Mas Selamat really deserves the accolade of Singapore’s most searchable person as Singaporeans are searching for him both in the cyberworld and in the real world! The Interpol and the Singapore police as well as many Singaporeans are searching for him both in and outside cyberspace at any time of the time. The search for Mas Selamat is relentless!

Coming in 2nd is Lo Hwei Yen. This 2nd place accolade is definitely not something that her loved ones and her will want for Lo Hwei Yen has obtained the unenviable title of being the first Singaporean to be killed by terrorists. My heart goes out to Lo Hwei Yen and her family. May Hwei Yen rest in peace.

In third placing, Edison Chen, in seventh place Dawn Yang and in the eight place XiaXue, it is funny Singaporeans are searching for them as personally I find it a waste of time to follow the happenings in their life.

I am shocked that the searches for ‘F1 Singapore’ and ‘Beijing Olympics’ are below Edison Chen. With the bulk of the internet-savvy being our youth, the results go to show that our youths are more interested in sensational news and happenings like Edison’s sex scandals, the escape of Mas Selamat and the brutal killing of Lo Hwei Yen, all the top 3 searches.

COE must have made it into the top 10 list due to the $1 bid for car in the previous month and for SGX to be in the No. 6 spot, it must be related to the economic tsunamis, which sent all stock prices crashing down!

Last on the top 10 list: Beach Bal Babes? What is that? This is my first time seeing this term, let me google this term to find out:
From the words, it must be some babes on Beach Bal, don’t know where is Beach Bal too….oh I think there is a spelling mistake … it should be beach ball babes.. anyway it is just some TCS artistes wearing bikinis.. no big deal too! Again credits must be given to our youth for chalking up those searches on these TCS bikini girls…. due to our youths’ hyping up over such plot which is a cliché, TCS producers and advertisers are seeing great results!

I am disappointed with the top 10 Yahoo Singapore searches for this year with the inclusion of Edison, Dawn Yang, Xiaxue, Beach Bal (or Ball?) girls… what a waste of our teens’ time.

Too bad Tan Kin Lian did not make it to the top 10 Singapore Search as he has created many headlines too in recent months for his bid to run for Presidency with 100,000 signatures, at the very least, if placed third, it would still be better than Edison Chen ( a shame that Singaporeans are searching cyberspace for a non-Singaporean, a Hong Kong actor who is known for his ‘photography’ skills!)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Chew chor meng

Chew chor meng has been diagnosed with a rare form of incurable muscular atrophy, the popular local actor himself has announced just three days ago.

Sympathies flew fast and furious and I just watched the news that several facebook groups have emerged, with followers in the leagues of the dozens just hours after setting up. These facebook groups, while wishing Chew Chor Meng well, have also stipulated prayers times for the followers of such group to 'mass pray' for Chew Chor Meng in the hope that through such mass efforts, Chew Chor Meng could recover.
Chew Chor Meng is pitiful and I wish him all the Best in his health. But let us not forget our many average Singaporean folks who are suffering untold illness, sometimes of even greater suffering than Chew Chor Meng, their plights are never known to many simply because they are not just ordinary Singaporeans.
Singaporeans have sensationalise the illness of Chew Chor Meng, at this time, we should just give Chew Chor Meng and his family some time of quietness and peace.
Christmas is just around the corner, it is a season of giving and sharing. Let us give more to the needy and less fortunated, all the more they need our help in this period of economic tsunamis.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Hot Singapore Chirstmas

Our weather these days have returned to normalcy.. hot and humid, a far cry from the past few days when the weather was cool and windy.
These afternoons have become hot and humid again! Not befitting the Christmas session which is usually or should be marked by days of cool and wet rainy weather. That should be how Christmas is like in Singapore: rainy, sunless and cool, this is at least how Christmas shoud be like here, as Singaporeans are deprived of the four seasions.
Singaporeans have missed one of the joys of living on this planet earth: the joy and fun of experiencing the four sessions, of experiencing snow and other seasonal natural changes.
While Singaporeans have missed the intrisnic joys of experiencing the four seasons, we are lucky not to have experienced the wrath of nature: earthquakes, volcanoes, typhoons, etc.
A recent report put up by the Meteorological Services have also put the probability of Singapore being hit by a tsunamis as zero. But who is to validate this report? The answer is when a real tsunamis really hits us... then we can see whether the findings of the report are accurate or not. But let this day not happen else should a tsunamis come crashing to our little island, this tiny red dot of us would crumble and vanish with the gigantic waves!

Ao Chengkai

The top scholar for this year 'N' Levels examinations is Ao Chengkai, a Chinese national student from Yio Chu Kang secondary school, who came to Singapore only two years ago.

When he first came to Singapore two years ago, Ao Chengkai's command of English was far from average. It was due to his sheer hard work that he managed to ace both his English as well as this year's 'N' levels examinations.

Whle it is no longer surprising to find a non-Singaporean acing our national examinations, I find it really amazing how the hunger to succeed can drive Ao ChengKai to score an ace in English though being slightly disadvantaged as compared with his Singaporean counterparts who have been schooled in English since a young tender age.

A number of Singaporean students, who came to contact with English and use the langugae since young could not be able to score an ace, but Ao Chengkai with just two years, was able to master the language to a high level.

This feat must be attributed to the hunger for success. The more hungry is the person for success, he would succeed and at a higher level of accomplishment!

top 50 most beautiful people in china

Is Beauty skin deep?
China has released its list of the 50 most beautiful people in China. Without any surprise, most of them are popular artistes that we know of.
In this list, men and women are concurrently ranked in a list.. validating the use of the word 'people' for the title of this list.
Female, the fairer sex tops this list with Zhang Zi Yi leading the pack. Whether or not, these are the really top 50 most beautiful people in China is objectionable as different people have different perceptions.
To me, the definition of beauty is not just skin-deep, it is in the heart... the beauty of the heart.
Skin -deep beauty will not last...soon skin will sag, hair will recede, wrinkles form and aliments come. But inner beauty is everlasting!
Here is the list of the most beautiful people in China:
1. Zhang Zi Yi
2. Tony Leung
3. Zhou Xun
4. Zhang Han Yu
5. Guo Jing Jing
6. Li Bing Bing
7. Zhang Guo Li
8. Zhao Wei
9. Sun Hong Lei
10. Zhang Yu Qi
11. Tong Da Wei
12. Fan Bing Bing
13. Jiang Wen Li
14. Jackie Chan
15. Jet Li
16. Gui Lun Mei
17. Chen Qi Zhen
18. Donnie Yen
19. Tang Wei
20. Eason Chen
21. Chiling Lin
22. Gao Yuan Yuan
23. Andy Lau
24. Zhao Pu
25. Ge You
26. Maggie Cheung
27. Big S (Barbie)
28. Chen Kun
29. Liu Ye
30. Lu Yi
31. Shen Bing
32. Liu Yi Fei
33. Han Geng
34. Duan Yi Hong
35. Wang Luo Dan
36. Takeshi Kaneshiro
37. Nicholas Tse
38. Cai Guo Qiang
39. Ma Wei Du
40. Zhang Xuan
41. Sun Li
42. Wang Bao Qiang
43. Yuan Quan
44. Chen Guo Kun
45. Shu Qi
46. Li Chen
47. Wu Qing Feng
48. Li Yu Chun
49. Peng Lei
50. Muo Xiao Q
Anyway, I do not like these kind of rankings as what use is this ranking to us? It is just something recreational that we read and forget! How can one say one, e.g. Zhang Zi Yi is the most beautiful people in China? it always debatable and subject to each and everyone's opinion.
Back in Singapore, Singapore has its own FHM list of most beautiful people too, all this are just a hype in this materialistic world!
Gong Li might be missing in this year's list as she has become a Singaporean already.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Loud Hailer (colleagues)

In work, we will bound to have some loud hailer colleagues, colleagues whose normal voice volume is so loud (though they do not realise it themselves).
Sometimes, you need to speak to them about some confidential issues in their cubicles and when they start to reply to you and make known to the world some of the things you have told them by repeating some of your questions, you will nearly faint! I encountered this before and so I know better.
Recently, another loud hailer colleague came to my office to collect the donations we have bided to charity.
"Clift, you have donated $100, I have come to collect from you." This loud hailer colleague told Clift.
'Sean, you have donated $2 to charity, I have come to collect from you', the loud hailer told Sean when he went to his cubicle.
I almost fainted on hearing the loud-hailer's words to Sean. Imagine the whole world knowing Sean donating $2 for charity! I know Sean is just doing a part, what matters is the heart for charity and not the amount but nonetheless some colleagues would just think Sean is a 'cheapskate' donating a mere $2 for charity.

Friday, December 19, 2008

A Zirkus Christmas Fanatasy at Central By the River

Christmas is just less than a week. The shopping malls in Singapore are now having Christmas-themed events to draw in the shopping crowds and more ringing of the coffers.
It is very common for each shopping mall to have a theme for the special season. For The Central, a shopping centre by the Singapore River, its theme for Christmas this year is 'A Zirkus Christmas Fanatasy at Central By the River' .
A Zirkus is the German word for a Circus and I was in luck to catch a live skating performance by renowned Russian skaters and with my camera by my side, caught some of the live action there!




I have also uploaded the video clip of what I have shot of the skating performance:

These nights, it is amazing for it is real cool, breezy and not humid. Everytime I go out at night, I will be drenched in perspiration because it is so humid, now it feels like being in another country!
Enjoy your Christmas, readers!


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Impermanence of Life

Everything in life is impermanent.

When it is time to let go or go, just let go...

for everything in life is impermanent.

There can also be no second chance in life...

one mistake or one silly act and that is it!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Brothers

In the 1900s, the Wright Brothers gave human one of the greatest inventions ever: the plane, making air travel possible.

As technology advances, there is a fear of intrusion of privacy by technology via the ‘Big Brother’.

One of the Chinese folktales I like is ‘The Ten Brothers’ where ten brothers possess super-human attributes.

In the Army, some of the detestable commanders are definitely not my ‘Blood Brothers’ as they claimed.

I call some friends brothers to strike up a rapport.

This year, the Lehman Brothers spelt the start of a serious economic crisis which many nations are currently embroiled in.

And only recently, did I learn of a Taiwanese brand of printer called ‘brother’

So much on the topic of Brothers today.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Rule of the Jungle

Like animals, in the realm of the workplace, the rule of the jungle prevails.
I am disillusioned somehow, in organizations, it is not necessary the ones who are the most capable, who have the most potential who will be promoted; rather I see some of those who are promoted are those who have cultivated a special chemistry with the directors via 'special plotting', being lunch buddies with the directors and indulge in curry-favouring with the directors.
Others get promoted fast and furious simply because they are the organizations' babies.
Life is never fair.

The Nanyang MBA

I was shocked when I read that the Nanyang MBA will cost $38,000 to $40,0o0 come next year.
Wasn't the price of the Nanyang MBA just around $24,000 a year ago? (if I am not wrong)
Why the steep increase of price? especially in this economic downturn?

Another Cyclist Killed on Road!

I watched the Channel U news just now and was shocked to learn of a woman cyclist being killed by a SBS bus!
This accident once again attests to what I have pointed out in my earlier blog that the motorists of today in Singapore are becoming more and more reckless.
As a cyclist, everytime I dismount the bicycle to cross the junction and pedestrian crossing and give ample signals for the ongoing traffic to stop, some cars or others would just zoom by still, without any inkling of care for me.
Even as a pedestrian, just some weeks ago, I was so shocked when other passerbys and I were crossing the traffic junction with the 'Green Man' on when a car refused to stop and accelerated past us, just tens of centimetres away from us. Many of the pedestrians were soon cursing at this reckless motorist.
Those motorists who killed the innocent due to their reckless driving should not be only jailed, they should be caned and put away in jail for a long long time. They are akin to murderers for taking precious human lives.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Christmas Breads

Businesses are cashing in on Christmas, which is just next Thursday! The breads above are made to resemble snowmen but I thought these buns could pass off as cows (without the ears and two horns) too !
Anyway, time really passes so fast! Year 2009 will come in the twinkling of an eye.
At the close of the year, one would always ask "What have I achieved for the year". I too asked this question and contemplated for a while.
This year, there are some good achievements that I have made in certain aspects of life while in other aspects of life, I am disappointed that my laborious efforts come to a naught!
Let us hope next year would be a Better Year for all though retrenchments may be in the offing....

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Marina Bay SINGAPORE Countdown - The Wishing Spheres

My Dear and I visited the Singapore River on this cool and windy Sunday afternoon.
What greeted me on the Singapore River was mind-boggling and intriguing:

"What is this?" I thought to myself. Have I been transported back to the yester-years of 1950s or 1960s when Singapore River was still polluted? Even then, the refuse or debris was not something that seemed so strange: giant white balls? Even the waters towards the up and coming Integrated Resorts were not spared!

Anyway, I am exaggerating things a bit as I have known all along that these giant balls were actually wishing spheres: take a closer look at them and you could see the wishes of Singapore for the coming new year 2009 inked on them:

I have inked my wishes on one of these wishing spheres a month ago for an organization but little did I know that they were really giving these wishing spheres free for the public to ink their most fervent wishes for the coming new year.
My Dear and I went to a booth set up near the esplanade to queue up for our opportunity to make a wish for Singapore and Friends of other countries.

There were quite a number of people in front of us, including a group of Korean ladies who also wished to do their part to bless the world.
Scores of children were also having fun with the giant plastic balloons.
Alas, when it came to our turn, the officer-in-charge told us and the queue behind us that there was no more wishing spheres already and the fact that their room was also being "filled to the brim", leaving no room for them.

He redirected us and the people behind us to obtain the wishing spheres from the station in the Esplanade Concourse itself.
My Dear and I went to the concourse dutifully and we were not disappointed. We managed to get our large, smooth, sleek, elastic and bouncy ball and we immediately worked on it!


There are only 10,000 wishing spheres for the whole of Singapore. These would be released during the New Year Countdown. It is a meaningful event to be able to be one of the 10,000 to ink your wishes for the up and coming New Year!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Singapore Christmas Trees

Liang Court




The Central



Suntec City

Changi Airport

Cycling in Singapore

It has been many months since I rode my bicycle to Bedok Reservoir Park for a gruelling run. I have been busy with things here and there and hence a quick run is what I have these days. Besides, cycling is dangerous and I have a near brush with death on Chinese New Year day this year (see post).

As I rode my bicycle towards Bedok Reservoir Park, to my indignation and fury, the lacklustre, nonchalant attitudes of the motorists towards cyclists have not changed. There were so many drivers who simply zoomed and inched past me as I pushed my bicycle across the pedestrian crossings (those without traffic lightings) though I had given clear signals to cross well in advance. Many motorists of Singapore today simply drive their car in any manner they like, with blatant disregard to other road users such as pedestrians. The road situation in Singapore these days is really messy! Singaporeans’ driving habits are getting worse and worse and I hope the traffic police can do more to inculcate better driving habits among Singaporeans and not wait to respond to traffic fatalities… by then it would be already too late.

One suggestion could be having traffic policemen posing as pedestrians to cross the traffic lights. They should immediately fine and prosecute those drivers whose cars still turn to intersect, inch past them as they cross the road.

There is the perennial debate on where cyclists should belong: the pedestrian pathway or on the road. Pedestrians have complained of reckless cyclists who share their path endangering the safety of their and their children. However, in my opinion, these are just the minority, most cyclists signal well in advance before overtaking the pedestrians.

Should cyclists be ordered to take to the roads only, I should give up my passion of cycling as it is super dangerous to cycle along with the cars and other vehicles. A small bicycle is so vulnerable on these big lanes dedicated to the heavier modes of transport!

Anyway, the run at Bedok Reservoir park was simply lovely! The park has been recently renovated and now it boosts of pedestrian bridges which jut out into the sea. There are always scores of people playing remote-controlled flying planes in the sky as well as remote-controlled little toy boats out in the open waters. Speed boating skis, canoeing, dragon-boating, and treetop adventure walks and skis make up the other half of the equation.

Fountain of Wealth


Tonight (12 Dec 08), my Dear and I went to the Fountain of Wealth, situated right at the heart of Suntec City.
We were suprised to see groups of people walking around the fountain of gushing water: this is the Fountain of Wealth!

We went to the entry of the fountain and the following sign greeted us:

Everything looked interesting and so we had a go at it and had a very good time walking around the fountain, hands embracing the fountain of wealth!

The fountain architecture was mesmerizing with the stunning everchanging wizardy of light display and technology:



Once again, another dazzling city skyline which parrallels that of Clarke Quay!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Name Game

Manager
General Manager
Head
Director
Dean
Doctorate, PhD
Professor
Managing Director
Director-General
Chief Executive Officer
Group Chief Executive Officer
Chief Executive Director
Chief Presidential Director
Secretary-General
Vice-President
President
Chairman

We often hear the above appellations in our daily lives. These appellations are either something the average employees crave and work hard for in their career or something bestowed by entrepreneurs on themselves upon their pioneering of a business.

Prefix the titles of the above appellations and other designations with these: Chief, Assistant, Deputy, Vice, Executive, Senior, Higher, Prime, Lead, Associate, Acting, Honorary, International, Global, Country and we end up with even more nice sounding titles!

A higher status and salary are something many employees strive for in their career. Many want higher salaries to enjoy a better quality of life (in terms of material comfort) and a higher status (hence higher appellations) to gain recognition. Often in life, a higher appellation should translate into a higher salary with the attainment of a more senior appointment in the company.

However, it may not be true in reality these days. Nowadays, it may be common in some companies to give nice sounding titles to their employees though the salaries given to them may not really commensurate with similar titles given in the industry. For example, practically everyone can be a manager; a small company outfit can confer the title of a ‘Manager’ on an employee though he can be paid at a mere $1500 per month so long as that employee still has at least one staff reporting to him.

In other cases, an employee could still be appointed as manager, head or director though there is no reportee under him! The rationale is that this employee has been in long service with the company so that his pay has risen over the years to a significant amount, thus the company confers a nice sounding name such as a Manager to him though he may have no reportees under him.

Higher responsibility + Higher Pay =Higher Designation is often the norm, however as I have shared above, Higher Designation can also be equal to:

Higher Designation= Little responsibility + Higher Pay or

Higher Designation= Higher responsibility + Lower Pay

The worst can be when someone is given or confers upon himself a nice sounding appellation when he has little responsibilities and is paid little; an example can be someone registering a ‘Open-Shell’ company with no business and call himself a President!

The name game can also be extended to instances when renowned businessmen, successful in their business, the rich, famous and powerful want an extra icing on their cakes. It is not uncommon to read about the rich and famous pursuing doctorates from degree-mills or even buying them from some non-existent universities, just to get that ‘Dr.’ title on their name. However, I believe it to be equitable when a man successful in an arena such as politics or business be conferred ‘Honorary Doctorate’ by a renowned university in that particular field as he is very successful and recognized for his efforts and contributions in that field.

I also have no grouse when higher appellations are given to boost the image of the local service industry. For example, drivers of public buses are now called bus captains as opposed to being called bus drivers. Again, I believe such higher designation is fair and equitable as the bus driver not only has to drive his bus safely but he also has to oversee, manage the overall well-being of his passengers arising from any sudden emergencies or unwarranted incidents during the journey efficiently and effectively, e.g. crimes, fights, fires, accidents. The bus captain is the passenger’s steward and the passengers are his charges.

In light of the current economic crisis, I believe not many people care about nice-sounding titles any greater than the real practical stuff: salary.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Dog saves dog

In this oft-described 'dog eat dog' society, it is touching to witness a real dog saving his counterpart:



Sometimes, friends may leave when one is in the lurch, perhaps we could learn a lesson or two from the brave doggie!

Staycation


Staycation has been on my mind lately, I have also written a post on this subject some days ago, now this idea has returned to my mind and refused to budge. I just want a get-away from the mundane and humdrum work routine made worse by the current economic gloom and exacerbated by the senseless killing of the innocent in the Mumbai incident.

Traveling overseas should be better and if one were to visit neighboring countries, it would also be economical. Nearby places like Malaysia and Indonesia would seem decent choices, however I have personal reservations for visiting a neighboring country for I have read and heard stories (from real-life accounts of friends and news) of the hosts of crimes being perpetuated by the local criminals on Singaporeans and even on the locals, sometimes right in the eyes of the local law-enforcers. The relatively high number of traffic accidents involving travel coaches deters me too.

Our local media has been ramping up the idea of staycation recently, with an intense advertising publicity blitz on the local farm stays, is it a bid to encourage Singaporeans to spend more in the midst of the current recession so as to revive the economy? Plausible reasoning.

With a staycation in Singapore, the bulk of the related expenditure would be on local accommodation, mainly hotels, for a night of stay. I believe a night’s stay at the local hotel would be sufficient for a relaxing local get-away, at least for me.

I ran some checks on the accommodation charges at some of the better hotels here in Singapore, ‘better’ in the context of location: situated in the CBD or Sentosa. The prices are not so cheap after all, especially on weekends and nearer to Christmas and the New Year, the prices are high!

I finally decided on one local hotel after a ‘rigorous evaluation’ and the price seems fair, an amount befitting the ‘calibre’ of the hotel. Again, in this financially distressing time when ‘retrenchments’ and ‘cost cutting’ are fast becoming buzzwords, every little expenditure must be value for money, thus I decided to search for some online reviews about the hotel lest I rue not having done sufficient checks on my intended hotel if the accommodation turns awry.

With a few simple punches on the keyboard, I discovered a comprehensive hotel review website which is a boon to hotel idiots like me. I searched for the reviews of my intended hotel and was shocked at the multitude of negative reviews about the hotel! After perusing the reviews, I decided not to book the hotel.

The hotel review website underscores the importance of new social media to businesses and it can only be beneficial to customers like us. One bad service rendered by a business would be enough to send an irate customer turning to the internet and ‘proliferating’ his unpleasant experience and anger over the multiplicities of social networking sites, giving potential customers some ‘food for thought’ before their actual purchase of the goods or services.

Do you Google yourself?


I ‘google’ myself regularly (meaning to say, searching for my name in Google). I also ‘yahoo’ myself regularly.

The search engines turn out interesting information on me (provided you are really you yourself in the search results as it is common to share the same names with others).

For example, when I google myself today, I was surprised to find a new search result of myself: my name and comments being quoted on a magazine; something unknown to me till now, thus it was a pleasant surprise.

It is beneficial to ‘google’ yourself regularly, to see what have been written of you unknowingly; who knows you would also be able to pick up blogs of friends who have mentioned your names in their online diaries, it would be interesting to note what they have written of you: either good or bad comments.

I also ‘google’ and ‘yahoo’ my blog regularly and was also surprised to find my blog being picked up by some online news and articles repositories here and there.

I still feel surprised that my blog is still No.1 on www.yahoo.com.sg when one searches for ’Singapore Stories’ or ’Singapore Short Stories’ !

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Clarke Quay


Clarke Quay at night, is transformed into mini-Europe, with Eurporean pubs and restaurants contained within the magnificient Eurporean architecture.

Ten year back, Clarke Quay was quite boring and remote, fast forward to today, this little vicinity around the Singapore river has become indeed quite happening.

I love the unique architecture of the giant structures covering most of the Clarke Quay's pubbing area. Shot from below, they resemble colourful octopuses:






Monday, December 08, 2008

Giant Milo-Peng

It is December now, a month when many Singaporeans clear leave. For today, the mighty source of life, the Sun, took one day of leave in Singapore. His 1-day of leave spelt great implications for Singapore and her citizens.
I woke up late and I presume many Singaporeans did so today, including our Malay counterparts today who need to visit their relatives as today is Hari Raya Haji, a public holiday here.
The temperature throughout the day is between 24 degree to 28 degree celsius, oblivating the need for me to switch on the fans at my home, saving electricity consumption. It must be the same for other Singaporeans too who could switch off their air-conditioners for a day, without being baked in the usual sweltering and unrelentless heat. If Singapore could have today's weather everyday, we could save lots of dosmetic electricity consumption!
Singapore is like a big air-con today, everywhere is cool and raining throughout the day. It is not thunderstorm rain, it is monsoon rain, the rain which lends a feel of Christmas in December every year.
I feel so cosy at home with the weather being cool and comfortable, nevertheless, I still managed to sneak out of home in order not to 'waste' a public holiday.
I went to Raffles Place to Singapore River and I was so surprised that Singapore River has become a giant 'Milo-Peng' (Hokkien word for iced Milo) instead of the usual sparkling clean water:


The bumboats ferrying tourists still made their round today although it was drizzling. Tourists were still snapping photos of the river and the vicinity, though they might be surprised at the colour of the Singapore River today!


I did not go over to the Merlion. It would be interesting if the Merlion was also spouting out Milo!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Singapore Expo

It was a happening day at the Singapore Expo today with almost all 6 halls having events simultaneously.
Hall 1 and 2 held the CFA and ACCA test, where from 9am to 5pm, almost 4000 students battled for a distinction in the exams. After the examinations, the throngs of thousands of students exiting the hall was simply awesome!, catching me in total bewilderment!
For Hall 3, there was no event, but the regular John Little Sales again reared its head at Expo, this time in Hall 4.


As usual, too many items, too much crowd for my comfort, and there was a dazzling collection of items to choose from.
Hall 5 was a bit quiet though there was an event occuring as well in the hall: some sports and fitness exhibition.
Finally for Hall 6, it was the Borders Books Sales where new, crispy and fresh books were sold for $5 each. However, I did not buy any book each as I was too busy with my current life and existing tomes of books to peruse new titles.

PAYM Policy Forum @ East Coast GRC & Joo Chiat SMC - How Economic Recession Affects YOUth!

East Coast GRC & Joo Chiat SMC Policy Forum
COMPLIMENTARY Singapore Flyer Flight Tickets are up for grabs on a first-come-first-serve basis!


"I am graduating next year! How long before I get employed? Will I get employed at all?"

"Do I have to settle for a pay cut? My handphone & internet bills! Shopping is out! Do I really need to tighten my belt?"

"Will I get retrenched? How do I continue to pay for my mortgages? What can I do to remain competitive?"

"I am not feeling the pinch at all. Is it really that bad? Do I have to reprioritize my financial plans?"


We will address all that and more on Sunday, 14 December 2008, 1.30pm-5.00pm @ Singapore Flyer, MEGU Event Hall with Mr Chan Soo Sen, Member of Parliament for Joo Chiat Constituency & Adviser to Joo Chiat Grassroots Organisations.

Mr Chan Soo Sen is currently with Keppel Corporation Limited as Director, Chairman's Office. He sits on the Advisory Board of Singapore Management University (SMU) and is also serving as Independent Directors in a few listed companies.

Email your Name, NRIC, Email & Handphone No. to Lee_Chi_Chuen@pa.gov.sg for registration (RSVP by 10th Dec, 5pm)

Hurry Tickets are running fast!


Saturday, December 06, 2008

Archery

I have my second attempt at archery today.
It was fun firing arrows right into the target boards!
Archery uses a different arm muscle for which I do not really train, thus my arm muscles do feel strained after the archery stint.
I have the great opportunity to learn from the top professionals on this island on the fine pointers of archery and what impresses me most was the amicable and approachable demeanour of these top shooters of this island. We become friends and chatting buddies shortly.
The shooting skills of these top national players are unparralled.. just look at the picture above, and you can marvel at the preciseness and accuracy of their shooting.
My shooting can still be improved further as I have only shot for 2 times in my life before.
Shooting arrows is much fun than shooting rifles in National Service. I can still remember Orlando Bloom pumping arrows in such fashion and style at all the villains in the movie, Lord of the Ring.
Instead, 'arrows' are normally shot in office for some... for others these 'arrows' mean career growth opportunities

Friday, December 05, 2008

Mario

I saw this cute Mario toy in a display at a shopping centre here.
Mario is a very famous character in Nintendo's game. Before Sony's playstation and X-box, we have the Nintendo games and some other games like Sega... some twenty years ago.
Though most know Mario by face, most will not really know more about him. According to Wiki, Mario is depicted as a short, pudgy, Italian-Americanplumber who lives in the Mushroom Kingdom, having originated from New York. He is best known for repeatedly stopping the plans of Bowser to kidnap Princess Peach and subjugate the Mushroom Kingdom. He also has other enemies and rivals, including Donkey Kong and Wario.
Mario is actually the James Bond in computer games, killing villains and rescuing others.

Subscribe in a reader