Monday, August 31, 2009

Foreign customer service staff should speak English in Singapore

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I called up a service provider today, enquiring about some matters regarding service delivery.

Though I started off my enquiry in English, I was startled to hear the man on the other end of the line, a Chinese PRC, answering my enquiries in Mandarin.

Well, though the customer service officer might have known that I am a local Chinese from my voice, however, should he not converse in English with English being the official common language of Singapore?

I persisted in talking to the officer in English, however the latter insisted in replying my queries in Mandarin to my indignation that I have to speak to him in Mandarin too, as his spoken English, however few, was also hard to bear!

Should Singapore aim to raise the standard of spoken English here, the Singapore Government should really ensure foreigners fronting customer service desks be conversant in good spoken English and to use English as the medium for interacting with customers as the norm.

It is really no joking matter for the case I highlight above was definitely not my first experience. In departmental shops in major local shopping centres, I was really appalled to hear Chinese PRC customer service officers telling me that he or she cannot understand English and whether I can speak in Mandarin instead!

Hello, Customer Service Officers should learn to interact with customers and not the other way round: we customers have to learn to interact with the customer service officers! I believe tourists who visited Singapore and had experienced the same experience as I, would leave Singapore with a negative impression!

While I do not mind Singapore opening its gate to the flocks of foreigners, I hope the government can ensure these foreigners are able to communicate with Singaporeans and not dilute the standards of our common language, English. Beside Singlish (Singapore English), I do not want to see an emergence of a 'Chinasinglish English' or hybrid English.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Fengshan Food Centre

Mention Fengshan, and the image of an ordinary town will appear in the minds of many. Indeed, Fengshan is an ordinary town in the East Coast GRC, so what is the distinct landmark in this town?

If you were to ask me the aforementioned question, I would unanimously say that Fengshan Food Centre at Blk 85, Bedok North Avenue is the icon of Fengshan. Every night, you would see that the food centre is packed with food lovers and the many owners of the highly acclaimed stalls are busy cooking and tending to their patrons!


Just look at the food stall above which sells a mix of delicacies like Char Kway Teow, Or-Lua, Carrrot cakes, the owners are busy cooking and cooking through the dinner rush hours, serving steamy hot delicacies to placate the hunger pangs of foodies.



Or Lua



Char Kway Teow

NATAS


NATAS Travel Fair 09 is currently ongoing at Expo Hall 4 and 5 and will be on till tomorrow. Another exhibition is also ongoing from yesterday till tomorrow though it is held on a more low-key note as compared to NATAS Travel Fair: Asian Food Delights 09

If you are thinking that the food exhibition is akin to the Singapore Food Festival exhibition, you will be a tad disappointed, for Hall 6 where the exhibition is held contains not only food stalls but also stalls of other household themes. Nevertheless there is still a slew of great stalls offering great food at good prices! Just look at the people eating:


After my Dear and I toured the NATAS travel fair yesterday and decided on the plan, it was already past 9pm! Our stomachs were growling as we rushed to the fair right after our work to avoid the weekend crowds and to clinch an 'early bird' deal. How timely the food exhibition was! We proceeded to visit the food exhibition and with the closing of the food stalls at 10 pm, it was a great bargain for the two of us as the food stall operators started slashing their prices!

We had 1 bowl of Tom Yam noodles and soup for $2, two bowls of laksa for $2 each, 1 cup of curry fish balls for $2, 4 fish otahs for $2 and 1 bowl of fish maw for $1... totalling $11, not bad as we ate a slew of dishes (though all curry) for this price!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Singapore Kite Festival

Go and fly kites today and tomorrow!

Oops I am not scolding you, do not get me wrong! What I am saying is that there will be an inaugural Singapore Kite Festival 2009 held from today till tomorrow at West Coast Park from 4 pm to 7pm and admission is FREE!

I must comment on the organizers for holding such a traditional hobby event. Kite flying is actually a great activity which can involve family and friends, build camaderie and simply rest and relax! Traditional and simple hobbies are fast fading, what we have these days are legions of computer games and entertainment which causes many of us to be "computer tubbies"

For more details of the event, visit this link now!

NATAS Fair 2009

My Dear and I just came back from the NATAS Holidays Travel Fair 2009 commencing today (28 Aug 09) and held till 30 Aug 09 (Sunday).

Huge crowds thronged Exhibition Hall 4 and 5 right on the 1st day today! The NATAS Holidays travel fair was supposed to be where one could get the best bargains but for the destination my Dear and I had planned to visit, the price, on average, was quite normal, not really a discount.

There was a mix of big and traditional travel agencies and many other smaller and newer travel firms. I believe if one were like to get a better pricing, the smaller and newer travel firms would be suitable, however for my Dear and I, we prefer the old and trusted brands. I believe trust of the customers is the barrier for the smaller and newer firms to cross.

Finally, after a detailed planning and analysis, we chose a firm which offers the best value-for-money package for our destination. The number and type of free gifts in this fair is not as generous as the previous fair, at least to me. Nevertheless, it is still a worthwhile opportunity to check out the different travel deals in town offered by a good number of travel firms under one roof, albeit for an admission fee of $3.



Thursday, August 27, 2009

Joo Chiat


This is Joo Chiat, one of Singapore's best haunts for foodies with its wide array of stalls offering Peranakan, Japanese, Korean and Western cusines as well as local ethnic dishes.

Joo Chiat is not only about food, it is also about culture as one can see a slew of heritage buildings adorning the precint. I would encourage one to pay Joo Chiat a visit as it is indeed a colourful town.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Geylang Serai Hari Raya Light Up

Geylang Serai was a buzz of activity last Saturday with the launch of a community carnival at the annual Geylang Serai Hari Raya Light Up! The area was attractively lit with bright streams of lights, an annual attraction to usher in Hari Raya Puasa



Geylang Serai becomes transformed into a hub of Malay heritage with the setting up of giant 'Pasar Malams'. Inside these beautifully set-up tentages, you can find almost everything related to Malay celebrations accessories such as clothes and lightings.

I took a double glance at the giant billboard below and for some moments, I could not figure out which Malay community leader was in the billboard, it was only after sometimes that I realised it is Dr Ong Seh Hong, PBM, Member of Parliament for Marine Parade GRC and Advisor to Kampong Ubi Constituency Grassroots Organisations. Regrettably, my Dear and I visited the area a bit late as the celebrations of the community event graced by Dr Ong has just ended an hour before.


Singapore Short Stories would like to wish all Muslims a Happy Hari Raya Puasa!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Sin Heng Claypot Bak Kut Teh

Last Saturday, my Dear and I tried the one and only Claypot Bak Kut Teh from Sin Heng Claypot Bak Kut Teh along Joo Chiat Road, next to Joo Chiat Community Club. Claypot Bak Kut Teh is Bak Kut Teh cooked using the claypot-fired method, as such the Bak Kut Teh that results appears to be finer and 'smoother'.




With fried dough sticks and black sauce, the Claypot Bak Kut Teh surely is a delectable fare though my Dear and I would prefer white pepper soup as compared to black pepper soup. The Claypot Bak Kut Teh, though is not the best I have tried, but it is definitely worth trying.

Joo Chiat where this stall is based, is a trove of Singapore's greatest food haunts, I will show you some of these great places for foodies in the coming few posts!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Geylang Serai Market and Food Centre reopens


About 3 months ago, I have written a post on my visit to the temporary Geylang Serai Market and Food Centre which has become 'notorious' due to the mass food poisoning incident caused by customers eating poisoned Rojak from the "Rojak Geylang' stall. The mass poisoning caused the death of an old woman and a pregnant woman to lose her baby, it was such a sad case.

Fast forward 3 months ago, the new Geylang Serai Market and Food Centre was finally opened! Confidence is definitely restored as my Dear and I visited the new spacious and swanky premise which looks like one large elegant giant Malay heritage cultural centre last Saturday. This new market and food centre is located near Paya Lebar MRT station in the hub of the Malay Village.



There is a galore of food and new shops selling Malay costumes and accessories and I must tell you that hygience is defintely of the highest standards as there is a plethora of wash basins and restrooms which are really clean!





The revamped Geylang Serai Market and Food Centre has accentuated the Malay culture and heritage with the thematic design of the 2-storey market and food centre characteristic of an ancient Malay cultural building. I have not really tasted the food and so I cannot give my comments here yet. If the food is nice, and coupled with the nice environment of the food centre and market as well as the cultural architecture, I have no doubt that Geylang Serai Market and Food Centre will soon become one of the many iconic food centres in Singapore!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Getai


Yesterday, I caught one of the best Chinese Lunar Seventh month Getai shows ever when i was passing through the field next to the new Geylang Serai Market and Food Centre.

The few rows of chairs were definitely not enough for the audience with part of the crowd spilling into the adjacent road and a two-lane road became a one-lane road, which caused mini-traffic jams and traffic police to interfere.

I did not know when the actual Getai show started but I could tell that it was one of the stronger Getai with the popular Getai host, Lim Ruping as the MC; and true enough more popular TV artistes appeared:

The artistes were the cast from the movie "Where Got Ghost", doing a promotion at the Getai. The cast as you can see from the photo included Mark Lee, Henry Thia among others.


It was a hilarious night at the Getai yesterday with the Getai show peppered with a galore of jokes, some were quite crude, from the hosts. Overall, it was also an educational Getai show as the movie cast educated the audience on the perils of addictive gambling and the need to gamble with caution and responsibility. The segment ended with Mark Lee singing a song to raise awareness on the importance of gambling prudently.

Paramount Shopping Centre Bar Girls


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Yesterday, when I was passing through Paramount Shopping Centre, a centre popular for its slew of pubs and bars, I got more than what I have expected: there were too many scantily dresssed girls of the bars and pubs walking around the shopping centre, some coming out from the toilets and others entering into the centre from other entrance points.

The women I saw were really revealing too much of their flesh and cleavage. One hostess I saw, has her upper body held just by a pair of bikinis and her abundant cleavage was overflowing and seemed threaten to burst the straps of her tight biknis. There were also many other hostess outside the pubs or just wandering around, dressed in very tight, very skimpy hot and short dress or tight bottoms.

I have read before that there were some fights before in this shopping centre famed for its pub and nightlife, it seems that things are still very hot or even hotter in this shopping centre!


Saturday, August 22, 2009

Ride for Hope and Screen for Life 2009


Dear Readers,

A very meaningful charity initiative and event is coming up! The media release of the event is appended below. Do give your fullest support to the event for charity! Thanks!


NUS MEDICAL STUDENTS CYCLE TO RAISE FUNDS FOR NEEDY PATIENTS AND CONDUCT FREE PUBLIC HEALTH SCREENING



1) Ride for Hope 2009



Two groups of medical students from the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine will take time away from their undergraduate studies on 29 August 2009 to do their bit for charity.

One group will join wheelchair athlete Dr Wiliam Tan to raise funds for needy patients. The medical students will be going on an 80 km cycling expedition around Singapore.

Another group will conduct health screening for the public. Both endeavours will be flagged off by Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan at the AMK Hub.

Ride for Hope 2009, as the students’ cycling event is called, will see about 40 cyclists make pit stops at six public hospitals, whose patients will benefit from the $100,000 that the cyclists aim to raise through sponsors and well-wishers.

“As doctors-in-training, we recognize the importance of providing holistic care for our patients, including addressing their psychosocial, medical and financial concerns. Through this event, we hope to raise funds to alleviate the financial difficulties of needy patients who are Singaporeans and Permanent Residents at six public hospitals in Singapore.” said Perry Liew, Medical Society Special Projects Director.

In planning for the event, the students, comprising a mix of second, third and fourth year medical undergraduates, benefited from the experience of Dr William Tan, who is fighting chronic lymphocytic leukemia, or cancer of the white blood cells (CLL).

“When I was first diagnosed with CLL in April 2009, I was both frustrated and devastated as I was not prepared to overcome this additional stumbling block in my life. Through the course of my treatment, I got to know other cancer patients who battled cancer, taking in their stride the various medical, social, psychosocial and financial challenges which they braved through and overcome. Together with the medical students from the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, we hope to inspire and bring hope to more needy patients,” he said.

Apart from Dr Tan, the cyclists will include triathlete Mok Ying Ren, also a medical undergraduate at the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine. Mok clinched the men’s triathlon gold medal for Singapore at the 24th SEA games in Thailand in 2007.

The cyclists will be flagged off on 29 Aug 2009 morning by Mr Khaw Boon Wan, Minister for Health from AMK Hub and finish their ride that evening at the National University Hospital.

How can the general public help?

A. Public Appeal for Funds

If you would like to support this cause by making a donation, please send a cheque, to be made payable to "Medical Society, National University of Singapore”. Please indicate “Ride for Hope” on the reverse side of the cheque.

Mailing Address:
NUS Medical Society
c/o The Dean’s Office
Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine
National University of Singapore
10 Medical Drive
Singapore 117597


B. Supporting our cyclists during the event

If you would like to support Dr William Tan and his team of cyclists on the expedition day, you can join them at the AMK Hub on 29 August 2009, 10.00am, where the flag-off takes place.

In conjunction with Ride for Hope 2009, a Public Health Screening Programme will also be held, offering free health screenings and providing free consultations for the public. You are encouraged to participate in this health screening as well.

Alternatively, the cyclists will also be making stops at the six public hospitals, so do come down and lend them your support! Please visit www.rideforhope09.blogspot.com for more details, or email us at enquiry.rideforhope@gmail.com

2) Screen for Life 2009


While some of their schoolmates set out on two wheels to raise funds for needy patients, another group of medical students will be wielding stethoscopes and other instruments of their training to conduct health checks for the public at the same time.

They will be joined by nursing students from the Alice Lee Centre for Nursing Studies (part of the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine) for the Public Health Screening (PHS) 2009. This is taking place as part of the National Day celebrations, under the theme of “Come together - Reaching Out, Reaching Up”. PHS is part of a series of events organized in line with the National Day Parade itself. Sponsored by AMK Hub, PHS 2009 will be held at AMK Hub from 29 August 2009 to 30 August 2009.


“As future doctors, it is our duty to help fellow Singaporeans lead years of healthy life. We believe strongly that preventive healthcare is the key to healthy living.” commented Tan Ze Ying, Project Director, Public Health Screening 2009.

The event will underline the call, for a healthy lifestyle, as well as provide free health screenings at a nationwide level. Targeted at early detection of chronic diseases to prevent death and morbidity, PHS aims to increase public awareness of health issues by providing free basic health screening services.

Participants aged above 21 years will benefit from free screening, consisting of a health screening questionnaire, screening of their Body Mass Index, blood glucose and blood pressure as well as free consultations by medical doctors and registered nurses.

Participants will also benefit from health education booths set up by the Singapore Heart Foundation, Singapore Cancer Society and Health Promotion Board. There will be anti-smoking exhibits as well as stations where Singapore Cancer Society representatives will hand out free colon cancer screening kits.

Lauding the students for their effort, Professor John Wong, NUHS Deputy Chief Executive and Dean of the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine said, "The effort and work put in by the students in organizing the Ride for Hope 2009 and Public Health Screening 2009 is most admirable. It is heartening to note that as future doctors, they have shown keen interest in serving the community and encouraging Singaporeans to lead healthy lifestyles.”

Friday, August 21, 2009

How much insurance coverage do Singaporeans need?

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How much insurance coverage do you think you as a Singaporean require? Many would say $100,000 would be enough. For others, they may not be having any insurance at all too. According to an article published in the Straits Times today, a typical average Singaporean would require an insurance coverage of $494,851, however the average Singaporean has just an average insurance coverage of only $165,628 with many falling short of this coverage amount!

Though the pace of life in Singapore is generally hectic, one must really sit down and plan for his retirement, his insurance coverage because time and tide really waits for no man! Before you know it, 10 years will be gone in a flash! I have always know that to grow your retirement amount, saving is not enough, what one must really do is to invest your money into unit trusts etc! However, I have not done that, as the rates of return really do fluctuate with time but generally one can still invest in blue-chip stocks and wait for a longer time horizon!

Money is really essential to living, we must start planning for our retirement and insurance today!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Hungry Ghost Festival & Chinese Lunar Seventh month

Today I woke up to the wafting burning smell of incense estate-wide. Yes, it is that time of the year again when the gates of hell are believed to open and where a myriad of ghosts make their reappearances back on earth. Many of the ghosts are coming to earth to relieve the good old times: the offerings offered by the streets, the entertainment galore in the ‘Getais’ (Chinese variety shows); to visit their relatives or some are even back with a vengeance!

Though I am not a superstitious person, I would still rather believe in the ‘safety precautions’ to take during this hungry ghost month. Let us take a review of these
top 10 ‘safety precautions’ I have compiled:

1) Avoid outdoors where possible (good suggestion, with so many of the ghosts on the streets, as believed)

2) Avoid outdoors at night (some believe the ghosts will lurk only during the night and not just the day).


3) Avoid swimming and water sports (you would not want to be ‘pulled’ into the deep seas!)


4) NEVER step on the offerings by the roadside or even worse grab the oranges or apples to consume.


5) Do not sit on the first row of empty seats in front of the ‘getais’: these are reserved for ‘them’.


6) Be more gracious this month, stop all those “Go to hell !” or those ‘brothers’ will think you are one of them, speaking their ‘language’.


7)Do not wear black, else you may see xxxxxxx


8) Do not be afraid, live your life normally, else your ‘self-prophecy’ may lead you to see them more easily!

9) Avoid overseas travel

10) Ghosts love the wild jungles too, try not to do so much trekking else you may mistake some white fog appearing from nowhere as mist!

Above is my list! Meanwhile during this month, you may want to catch the dozens of ‘Getais’ featuring artistes singing in Cantonese, comedy slapsticks, scantily-dressed singers and dancers (much to the delight of ‘Lau Ah Peks’ (Old Uncles) or should we call them “Chee Kok Pehs” (Lustful Old Uncles)!

I will see whether I have time to attend one or two ‘Getais’ and pose my experiences here!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Ear Candling

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With some time to spend today, I tried a service I have always wanted to try before: ear candling!

As I have mentioned in the blog before, I am not really a rich man, however no matter how 'un-rich' I am, no matter how many people despise me due to my 'un-richness', who says 'un-rich' people cannot enjoy life and indulge in a little bit of pampering at times? Anyway the ear candling services I had today was at a discounted price for 30 minutes.

Ear candling is touted to rid the wax residing in one's ear, eliminate toxins and possibly sinuses. There is also some skeptism about ear candling, saying that it is just a fad! and worse, some articles even report that during the candling, the wax can drop off into the ear and causes serious injury to the ear!

When the ear candling treatment started, I was assured that the ear candle used was not an ordinary candle (not something like you see above). I do not really get to see the candle as the funnel pentretated into my ear. I cried for mercy a little when I felt the tip of the funnel almost poking my eardrum.

Anyway, the treatment was quite alright. I could feel a little bit of heat and a smell of ashes (even till now, felt some smell). I started off with the right ear and then the left. The whole treatment was fast, relaxing and not much of a pain.

After the event, the funnel was cut, and the receptionist handed me the 'fruits' of the treatment which was, sorry to mention, my ear waxes! There were not much of the ear waxes which were removed, though I have not been clearing my ears for sometime now due to my busy schedule. Though I was encouraged to come for addtional treatments, I believe one time was good enough already.

You should go and try ear candling if you are curious. I am not sure whether you would like it, definitely not for me, as till now, smoke still seems to billow from deep inside my ears. Actually, ear candling sets a covection current which causes the ear waxes to come out, it is science and not a magical act. This is the application of science to the body.

One ridiculous idea came to my mind now (especially at this time of the night): can there be a procedure similar to ear candling for people suffering from constipation? Called it anus-candling! Poke a funnel into the anus, set the top of the funnel on fire and there the shits come out from a constipated man fast and furious... it can be like small chocolates or cholocate milkshake and then the receptionist will put all these in front of you after your treatment and tell you the story about your constipation status!

I sincerely apologised if my vivid imagination costs you your meal! Sorry!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Living in Singapore



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All of us were born like lions: when we were young, we dreamt of many big things, we dreamt of being a millionaire, we dreamt of having a big bungalow and we dare to dream!


This is what I was when I was a young kid. I did not know the adult world, being sheltered and protected by my parents, living in an ivory tower, living in childhood fantasy.


Time and tide however do not wait for man, soon like the others, I entered the adult world after graduation into the 'university of life'. I started to experience the rules of the corporate jungle. However, as a lion which has been caged in captivity for years, it was hence a cultural shock for me to learn the rules of the jungle where I saw colleagues scheme, plot and backstab; the rich and wealthy discriminating the poor like me, evil people plentiful in the world, and hence like a tamed lion freed in the jungle, the once fearsome lion hence became bullied even by a lesser animal such as a deer!


Though I am disappointed with many of the people in the society, who will go all out to achieve the money, the status, the power and the motives they want, I have to accept that this is LIFE. To survive in this corporate jungle, the tamed lion must once again unlearn its old habits and learn the rules of the jungle! The lion need not be merciless and starts to kill all its preys and enemies but at least it will start to be more assertive, learn the rules of the corporate jungle and ensure that there is enough prey in the corporate jungle after competiting with the rest of the predators.


This is the rule of the corporate jungle. When it comes to the debate of foreign talent in Singapore and why Singaporeans are fearful of the China Chinese, the India Indians and the so called foreign talents, I believe it is due to the 'hunger' of these foreign talents that Singaporeans may be worried about.


When foreigners like China Chinese come to Singapore, they are driven and hungrier for success and hence determined and perservanced to make it big in Singapore,it is ineviden typical Singaporeans who after years of living in comfortable Singapore find it stressful to be living with them and vying for the same jobs on the local job market. Singaporeans may grip about good paying jobs going to these foreign talents, but these jobs may be given to them the better candidates.

In my opinion, on the back of increasing regional competition, I believe to sustain Singapore's economic advantage in the coming decades, Singaporeans must learn to be 'hungry' again and strive to improve their personal competitve advantage. Instead of asking government for help after being retreched, Singaporeans should always upgrade, reinvent themselves, enhance their employability to stay competitve.




Monday, August 17, 2009

ASTONS

ASTONS Specialties, located at 119 East Coast Road, directly opposite Katong Mall is one of the dozen ASTONS stalls in Singapore. The restaurant is famous for its steak and other beef offerings, though it is equally well-known for other Western fare. There seems to be a perennial queue outside the restaurant everyday as the restaurant with its delicious fare at very reasonable prices (no service charge) is a hit with many Singaporeans.


My Dear and I visited ASTONS Specialties at East Coast yesterday and we ordered a set of New York Strip (Beef) at just $14.70 and a set of chicken chop at $7.20; each set accompanied with two side dishes which you can choose. Though the frontier of the stall is small, it belies the average-sized restaurant setting inside.

The waiting time was slightly longer than the norm, however when the set of New York Strip came, my Dear and I were simply awed as we became enveloped in the wafting aroma of the steaming and juicy beef served hot and fresh! We simply could not resist the temptation or called it a seduction in front of us and soon, our forks went, right into the heart of the targets!


We almost melted as we chewed on the tender, soft and succulent meat. The juices which oozed out generously from the chewing of the tender meat, served medium-cooked was just right!


The taste and smell of the beef was really heavenly and non-describable! You have to taste the beef itself to know the heavenly taste! My stomach went hungry again as I recollected the gastronomical experiences!

On the other hand, the set of chicken chop was as great, though it was not as impressive as the beef offerings in ASTONS.



Beef is to ASTONS as Laksa is to Katong, thus you must eat beef when you come ASTONS if you can!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

328 Katong Laksa vs Famous 49 Katong Laksa

I was very hungry after the 10 km Army Half Marathon and Sheares Bridge Run hence we decided on a great feast that afternoon!

First we headed to Aston for its famous steaks and other Western yummies! Well I would touch more of our great Aston experiences shortly in the coming post as there is really a wealth of great yummy experiences to share!

After Aston, we proceeded to eat the Laksa that Katong is famous for! There are two particularly strong contenders for Katong’s No. 1 Laksa: 328 Katong Laksa and Famous 49 Katong Laksa! We decided to try the laksa from 328 Katong Laksa first!

I have not been to 328 Katong Laksa for close to 3 years already! The walls of the shop are as before, adorned with pictures of the stall owner with all stars, either local or foreign! Displayed on the front of the stall is a picture of the owner with Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister Wong Kan Seng too! I was a bit shocked but not really surprised that now one bowl of laksa at 328 costs $3.50 as compared to $3 three years back.


It has to do with inflation and the rising cost of living, thus it came hardly a surprise to me. When the bowl came, the laksa portion is as usually not big. I could easily gulp it within a minute. However, when it comes to such a reputable Laksa stall, it is quality more that matters to Singaporean foodies than quantity! For if you want quantity, one can easily get an average Laksa from the scores of other hawker centres here!



This Sunday (16 Aug) afternoon, my Dear and I went on a food hunt in Katong, reputed to be the island’s No.1 food haven for Singaporeans as here in Katong, one could taste a wide variety of food which is uniquely local! From the Peranakan (the heritage of Katong) to Chinese, Western, Muslim, Indian as well as food of other countries! The laksa from 328 scored in its presentation. My Dear and I found it tasty and delicious and after the meal, we proceeded to try the Laksa from 49 Katong Laksa.

It was evitable that the customers for 49 Katong Laksa are fewer than 328 Laksa and the walls of 49 Katong are adorned with fewer local and foreign artistes. However, there was a picture of the owner with ex-Deputy Prime Minister and his wife. The Laksa sold at 49 Katong cost $3, 50 cents lower than the price of 328 Katong. I was a tad disappointed when the laksa came, the soup of the laksa seemed watery and the bowl it was served it was not too impressive though it was traditional.

Moreover, the stall was non-air-conditioned unlike 328 Katong. My thought is that in hot and humid Singapore, 49 Katong Laksa may consider revamping the layout of the stall and have its shop airconditoned to draw in more customers. Singaporeans are really a pampered lot when they are outside. There is not much of a choice as it is really very hot and humid and one would need to find solace in an air-conditioned place.


It was not after my Dear and I had tucked into the bowl that our impression of 49 Katong Laksa changed. It was not bad at all! The soup, though not as ‘smooth’ as 328 Katong Laksa, was more grainy with more ingredients, which combined to give a uniquely yummy taste! There were more fish cakes in the 49 Katong Laksa though the cockles may be slightly smaller than its 328 Katong Laksa counterpart!

It was hard to come to a deliberation of which of the two stalls served better laksa. Both stalls have their own USP (Unique Selling Points), but after some consideration, we decided that 49 Katong Laksa serves better laksa in our opinion!

National Day Rally 2009

Today, Prime Minister Lee Hisen Loong would be making his annual National Day Rally speech in the Cultural Centre Hall of the National University of Singapore.
Every National Day Rally is of significant importance to Singaporeans as the rally is often a platform for the Prime Minister to inform Singaporeans about the coming policies and incentives if any, as such it is the most closely watched talk for businessmen, investors and average Singaporeans.
It is anyone guess on what Prime Minister Lee would be talking about, however I believe these are likely the topics Prime Minister Lee would touch on:
a) Economic recession and whether Singapore's economy has recovered and whether any stimulus package would still be given out to tide Singaporeans over the reigning economic crisis
b) Anti-terrorism efforts
c) H1N1
d) Foreign talent
e) Youths
f) The search for Prime Minister's successor
And who knows, with the General Election timeline approaching, Prime Minister Lee may give a clue or even inform Singaporeans of when the next General Election would be held!
So, lets us tune in to hear PM Lee's National Day Rally tonight!

Sheares Bridge Run & Army Half Marathon (Singapore Bay Run) 2009



I just returned from the Sheares Bridge Run & Army Half Marathon (Singapore Bay Run) 2009!

Waking up at 5.30 am on a Sunday is definitely a challenge to many, but I would call it a discipline, a committment to a cause; the cause being to run the annual Army Half Marathon 2009!

The morning interval of the MRT was very long, resulting in my arrival at the Esplanade at exactly 7 am (start time of the 10Km race I would be participating)! No sooner than I exited from the Esplanade, I heard the blast of the horn and the race started!

Everywhere around me was jammed packed with runners! There was hardly any running space at the beginning as due to the crowd, everyone just strolled slowly and it took me around 5 minutes to reach the starting point from where I was!

After the starting point, the route was okay. "Run your own race" was definitely the mantra of many as you would need to know how to run the race. This race called for knowing just when, where, how to overtake other runners, what to look out for (any dangerous spots along the way) and why were you in the race in the first place; in essence: 4 'W's and 1'H'.

I did not train up for the 10 km race though I am a regular weekly '5km runner' around my neighbourhood. I participate in the Army Half Marathon and Shears Bride run annually since year 2006 as it is the one of the very few occasions when you can take to the roads in the CBD, and not forgetting 'taming' Sheares Bridge itself and run around the skyscrapers in Singapore's key finanical district.

Along the way, there were a number of water points, performers who included scantily dressed dancers and cheerleaders as well as army men holding motivational posters!

I ran the race, stopped for water occassionally, ran at my own comfortable pace and the timing was really embarrasing: 1 hr 15 min!

Wow, compared to my army days almost 10 years ago, when I could easily run 10km within 50 min, my body is definitely not as fit as before; I have definitely aged.

One consolidating factor may be the twists and turns of the running route, the slope and the different terrain which could be tricky for amateur runners!

After the race, I queued among a myriad of sweaty and 'salty' bodies and grabbed 2 cans of H-TWO-O and with the banana I grabbed from a marshaller along the route (and I ran to the end point holding a banana!), found a spot and savored them to replenish my energy.

I perspired until my shirt sticked to me like a second skin! Well, I am going for a shower now! What a rewarding Sunday for my mind, body and soul!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Singapore F1 2009


This will be one of the dazzling scenes which will greet the international audience from 25 to 27 Sept 2009 when the live broadcast of the Singapore's leg of F1 which is also the world's second night race is shown to thousands around the world!

As you can see from the photo, the stage has been set with the flood and flash lights all erected! The world has complimented Singapore for successfully hosting the world's 1st F1 night race last year. now the stakes are even higher for Singapore to host an even better F1 race!

What might spoilt the race in my opinion are not the logistical factors, some slips-up may be possible but they may not be major enough to derail the whole show. What would really affect the smooth running of the race would be something which we could not control and that is the weather!

It is not the rain that I can talking about! If it rains, the whole race can still proceed and it will be even more thrilling! What I am saying would be the haze which might always return at this time of the year!

Moderate haze may still be expected as Singapore does not suffer from really serious haze all these years, hence the chance of racers not able to see their tracks and colliding, crashing their vehicles is definitely very remote.

The haze, if it returns and envelopes the skies of Singapore will tarnish Singapore's image and reputation when thousands around the world view the race only to find a highly polluted Singapore's skies. Definitely, explanation on the source of the haze may help, but it will not be enough. Let us hope for a haze-free skies on 25 to 27 September!

Science.09, Singapore's Largest Science Festival is here!

Singapore's largest science festival, Science.09 is here!

Science.09 will be held from 14 August to end September and will kick off with X-periment!, a three-day science carnival at Marina Square Central Atrium from 14 to 16 August 09.

Highlights at X-periment! include special performances by Dr Bunhead from the UK. Dr Bunhead is sure to be a hit with the kids and adults!

So come with your family on Saturday, 15 August 2009 between 2pm and 5.30pm to Marina Square Central Atrium! Dr. Bunhead will perform twice during this time slot. The organizers will also be handing out special ‘Ask Why’ goodie bags to lucky participants!

This year, the organizers are igniting that spirit of inquisitiveness at the heart of science, which has led to so many of its discoveries, with the theme – Ask Why.

In that spirit, the organizers are encouraging Singaporeans to ask your science questions and who knows, you may win an Apple 16GB iPod Touch!

To participate in the contest, please

Submit your questions along with your full name and email on the science.09 website (www.sciencemonth.org.sg) or

To submit questions and qualify for the contest via Twitter, please
a. Follow @ProfWhy (www.twitter.com/profwhy), the science.09’s mascot Professor Why
b. Tweet your questions to @ProfWhy

The more questions you ask, the greater your chances of winning!

Every Monday, Professor Why will also respond to a selection of the previous week’s questions. Check the science.09 website for answers!

The contest will begin on Tuesday, 11 August 2009 and end at midnight (Singapore time) on Friday, 4 September 2009. For further details, visit this link!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Singapore


Singapore's cityscape is always undergoing constant transformation and rejuvenation! It is hence no wonder that some tourists who have not been to Singapore for some years may find that certain streets are beyond their recognition already!

Above is the photo I have snapped at Clarke Quay. You can see the silhouettes of the looming Integrated Resorts taking shape, with the opening of the Integrated Resorts expected at the end of the year!
Though certain historical buildings such as the Old National Library have to make way for new development, I believe this is inevitable in land-scare Singapore. Overall, I believe Singapore has an excellent land use policy which maximise the best use of our limited land to accord Singaporeans the best in leisure, recreation, residential and cultural living.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Singapore Unlimited


The title for today's post is "Singapore Unlimited". Why do I choose such a title? Well, to many of us, Singaporeans, we always lament the fact that our country, Singapore is such a little country and there is 'nothing much' in Singapore owing to its small size. But I must say that though Singapore is very limited in size, there is an unlimited number of places we can discover in this little island! Just a few days ago, I stumbled across a place called "Robertson Walk" (see picture above, does it not look like a mini-resort kind of setting?) Well though some of you may have definitely visited this place, for me, it is my first time there. In a nutshell, what I must say is that in Singapore, there is still a suite of places that you and I may not have visited or stumbled before despites our persistent claims that Singapore is a small island. For some of the most exciting places I have visited in Singapore, please click on the picture hyperlink to the right of this blog. I am also going to discover more uncovered jewels on this island too, so do keep a lookout for my next posts!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Breaking News: Lion Spotted at Sin Ming Avenue!

Workers at Sim Ming Ave car workshops were having a normal day at work, when a nervous looking LION suddenly came out of no where...seemingly hungry because of how skinny his body looks.

Everyone freaked out, jumping over each other, some locking themselves up in cars, some in the offices, and some just ran away...but one brave guy took the picture of this Lion without making a sound....and there was the SHOCK when the Lion turned around...
Turns out that one co-worker had shaved his dog in such a way to look like a Lion.... A lion wannabe!
(Disclaimer: Just another funny email I received :)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Burgers


It has been some time since I tucked into the Burger King's burgers, hence I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered that there was a change in bun used for the fish burger sold at the Burger King outlet.

Instead of the usual sesame bun which I and I believe many of you have always partaken, I faced, for the first time, a completely different bun: a bun sprinkled with oats or wheat on top of it, it was like a bread bun!

It was a nice change of buns! I have no preference for either the sesame bun or the oat bun as both buns when eaten together with the fillet and the sauce is simply delicious!

Largest Singapore Flag made from 8,000 Greeting Cards!

Changi Simei celebrates National Day with a Live screening of the actual parade at the open field besides Eastpoint Shopping Mall. Hundreds of residents flocked to the field, all decked out in red, ready to celebrate the joyous night with the community!

Goodie bags were sold at $3 each, entitling the residents to a lucky dip, with great prizes to be won! The coveted prizes for many residents were the National Day's tote bags as these bags were only given to Singaporeans who attended the actual parade or its previews.

The host of the night was well-known artiste, Pornsak and the signature item for the celebrations was none other than the largest Singapore's flag made of 8,000 cards containing the wishes of residents for Singapore! The flag entered into Singapore's National book of records!


Everyone had a fun time celebrating the night in Changi Simei watching the parade together as one community! The air was poignant with the old kampong spirit! And celebrating National Day together with the community definitely has its 'oomphs' which could parallel or even surpass the celebrations at the floating platform!




Sunday, August 09, 2009

Singapore National Day Songs: We Live in Singapura by Hossan Leong

This is not exactly a National Day Song but its one of the funniest songs about Singapore by artiste Hossan Leong! Enjoy!




Singapore National Day Song: Home by Kit Chan


One of Singapore's earliest top foreign Singapore Pop export, Kit Chan gives Singapore a beautiful, soothing rendition of "Home", another National Day Song of Singapore, the lyrics are so touching that it brings tears to even a grown up man like me. Enjoy!


Singapore National Day Song: We will Get There by Stefanie Sun

This National Day song, sung by top Singapore Chinese Singer, Stefanie Sun is one of my favorites too! It truly rocks! Enjoy!



Singapore National Day Song: We are Singapore

Yeah, I am going to my community National Day Celebrations later, me so excited and so looking forward to celebrating with my community!
I have chosen this rendition of "We are Singapore" sung at last year National Day Parade, enjoy!In the video, for foreign readers, you can see the top leaders of Singapore too!

However, I still love the orignal version of "We are Singapore", it brought me back a lot of memories of the past years!


The two videos, I must tell you are almost 20 years apart, but the key few top leaders in Singapore are in both videos, this exemplifies the ageing political leadership of Singapore and Prime Minister Lee is currently looking for his successor in his 30s to be fielded in the next General Election.

National Day Special Deals ! (An offer not to be missed!)

Dear Readers,

To celebrate National Day 2009 as well as to reward loyal readers of my blog, I would be partnering with many companies to offer loyal readers of my blog: special discounts and treats to many places of interests, restaurants and shops!

If you have been reading my blog regularly or a new reader who have just started reading my blog, you are welcome to send in the following particulars to be eligible for the proposed dicounts and treats:

Name:
Email:
Country:

Its that simple! Whenever there are great offers and discounts, I will email you the offers!

Do rest assured that all particulars received will be treated with the strictest confidentiality and addresses sent in masses will be included in the 'bcc' list.

I look forward to your emailing to Singaporeshortstories@gmail.com Please titled your email as "Read & Win: Singapore Short Stories". Happy Reading and have a Great Day ahead!

Happy National Day Singapore !

Today is Singapore's 44th National Day.

To celebrate this joyous occasion, I have included the following video for all to view! This is actually my most favorite National Day song out of the dozens of National Day Songs over the years!

Happy Viewing :)


Singapore's Largest Flag at Carlsberg Tower, Sentosa

(courtesy of 'Lianhe Zaobao')

The picture shows what is supposed to be Singapore's biggest flag, measuring 700 square metres, erected on top of Singapore's Carlsberg Tower in Sentosa! The flag could even be viewed from the building in the Central Business District!

But sorry, if you have not seen it and would like to go and take a look, the flag has now been removed! The flag was removed just hours after erection on Thursday due to logistical issues keeping the massive flag flying continoously!

However, the authorities responsible for th flag are confident of staging this giant flag next year after learning from the 'lessons' this year.


Tng Jie Min

Amidst all the joy and merry-making surrounding the celebration of Singapore's 44th National Birthday, it is indeed sad to learn of 12 year old Tng Jie Min being hit by a car after her National Day rehearsal at her school (read full article here). She was just 5 days shy of making her appearance on National stage. Jie Min now remains unconscious in an Intensive Care unit in a hospital in Singapore.
Indeed, I am sad to hear of such tragedy! The cause of the accident is not known, and I would like to advise all Singaporeans to cross the roads really carefully, even if the lights are in your favours to cross as pedestrians, do take a double check on all vehicles to ensure all vehicles have stopped before crossing the road. Many times, I was almost killed by reckless drivers who drive with blatant disregard for lives. Sometimes, I feel pitiful for people who are killed by reckless drivers: the victims lose their lives but the drivers would at most be sentenced to some years of jail, fine, banning of driving or a combination of the three. Singapore wishs Jie Min recover soon. I really hope Singapore drivers drive carefully and responsibly!

The Straits Times error


(courtesy of The Straits Times)

I did a double look at the headlines of yesterday's The Straits Times (8 Aug 09). The typo error was very obvious! It was so shocking to me that our National Papers could really make a typo error in its headlines! Typo errors do occur at times, but to have one in the headline is very obvious!

Singapore Short Stories Salutes Singapore

Today, being the Happy Occasion of Singapore's 44th birthday, Singapore Short Stories would like to salute Singapore !

HAPPY BIRTHDAY SINGAPORE!

Saturday, August 08, 2009

National Day Awards 2009

Every year, the National Day Awards are given to Singaporeans who have rendered invaluable service to the public and the community.
Topping this year’s recipients of national day honours is Mr Fock Siew Wah, Group Chairman of PSA International Pte Ltd, who is awarded the Distinguished Service Order.
Many are also awarded the various categories of the National Day Awards 2009.
The full list of the awardees here.

Singapore National Day: What happened a year ago?

National Day 09 Special:


I would like to share with readers what happened a year ago on our National Day:




Close to 50,000 Singaporeans flocked to the floating platform and the vicinity of Esplanade and Raffles Place to partake in, participate in, or view the nation’s most spectacular parade of the year, painting the town red (literally).

Red is the colour for today as Singaporeans jammed the streets from City Hall MRT all the way to the Esplanade area.

1500 hours, parade-goers already began thronging in, law and orderliness is being continuously reinforced by the hundreds of police officers stationed all around the area, preventing a stampede J.

While yesterday, the world reverberated in the China’s Olympics, Today is a day belonging to Singapore and Singaporeans!

The
parade is as spectacular as ever , though for the first time in many years, it rained for an hour an hour into the parade.

Nevertheless, Singaporeans soaked the fun as much as the rain!



Yesterday, the sky was not cooperative in the celebration of our National Day Parades as in all years except 1968, but all Singaporeans still have fun!

I would like to revise the figure of the number of people who I said participated or went to watch the extravaganza last night in my post yesterday. The actual number was in the range of 200, 000 to 300,000.

No wonder the streets around City Hall were quite empty as all Singaporeans flood around Marina Bay and Singapore River for a glimpse of the action and the fireworks.

Missed the dazzling fireworks? Here are the videos that I have captured for readers:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u-efG51X6Xg

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hg6r4uvy-YE

Enjoy!





There is a dearth of national flags hung up and displayed by residents outside their apartment units this year (if one is to exclude those flags hung up by the town councils).
I noticed that Marina Mandarin Hotel is patriotic and supportive and thus have captured the above photo for it is not that common for a hotel to be decked in national flags.
Maybe other hotels will start to take a leaf from Marina Mandarin Hotel next year and we may see more hotels than housing apartments being decked in red and white !
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