Sunday, October 26, 2008

Baba King: Sedap-ly Good!

Ok, there's no such word as sedap-ly (aka in malay, totally tasty), but since this restaurant have been raved about on this website, I just somehow had to give it a go. But what better way to put the restaurant to the test than to bring along my dad who's a true blue Peranakan, born and bred with the unadulterated food from the nonya kitchen.

Mr Philip Khoo, the owner of the restaurant warmly welcomed us to his restaurant. Knowing that we're Peranakans, he was quick to quip that the Peranakans are very "cherewet" or fussy about how the food tasted and that food from home is always better than anywhere else. Man with much foresight. To start us on the right track, he threw in the chlli padi and achah.

The food came at break-neck speed, pre-cooked. But that's usually the case for Peranakan food as it requires much preparation.

Ayam buah keluak was delicious and the chicken bits were tender and chewy, but it was the finer things such as the nut was not chunky that caught the attention of the patriach. Philip explained that this was prepared in view of the taste-bud of the general public.

Chap chye was not too bad, though I'd prefer that it would have come with "tau ki" and "black fungus".

Next, Ikan pari masak kuah lada - A dish that Philip said that we should try. The stingray was pretty tender and the kiam chye (Salted vegetable) was a nice addition to its taste.

The other two dishes we ordered were sambal kangkong with its big and fresh prawns, and ngo hiang.

My wife, who's a pure hokkien, enjoyed the food totally. While I, a Peranakan of the 21st century, felt that the food was pretty tasty but lacking in certain areas, while my dad, oh well, Philip will have to return to tradition to satisfy him. Mind you, I've not brought in my mother yet, who's away on a mission trip.

But overall, it was a good experience. I'm glad that Philip has kept the flag of the Peranakans flying. Totally proud of him and I truly wish him well.

Baba King Nonya Delicatessen Pte Ltd
1 Expo Drive, #01-31 Singapore Expo, Singapore 486150.
Tel/Fax: 67813128

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Quaint Japanese Restaurant in the Park

I was at first put off with the sign even though it was shouting out to me, "sushi for 99 cents!". What gimmick is this? I asked my wife.

But lo and behold, we found ourselves in that restaurant still. Why? For the sheer reason of being too lazy to search for another restaurant.

We were shown to our table and even before we warmed our seats, we were told that we had to head to the outside to pick our food. What happened to the tried and tested menu at the table?
Outside, we walked like 100 metres to pick our food. Ok, that's exaggeration! But you make a diner walk for their food, and then, we still have to fork out 10% for service charge? That's totally unpalatable!

So what helped to calm my jittery nerve of expecting the worst? Well, the food did come and I can say that the yakiniku beef ramen was delicious. The sashimi was also pretty fresh, though it could have been sliced a little more thinly. But having it thickly-sliced means it's value for money right? I'm such a cheapo!? But truly, it'll be much easier on the mouth if the slices are thinner.

The sushi, though was pretty attractive with row after row of coloured plates moving around the sushi train. What's more, it's 99 cents! Great draw for a hungry hippo like myself.

A point to note for the management, please don't make us walk for our food, unless your sole intention is to make us hungry again so that we can go for another round.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Hong Kong In A Mall

This is definitely hard to miss because it has been strategically located whereby in order to find a short cut to the escalator, you'd have to go past their seating area, cross the disposal bin, before reaching to the other side.

Thankfully, that's not the main reason why you should find yourself at the restaurant!

Well, for one, the food though not great, is still pretty decent. Maybe I'm a sucker for chinese sausages, but yes, I enjoyed their fare. Before I even move off to what else they offer, I must say that their green chilli is nice and crunchy. "That particular huh?", you might ask. But the smallest of details can make or break your enjoyment of certain dish. So yes, one tick for the restaurant.

The menu includes bake rice, wanton noodles and shrimp dumpling noodles. This time, I tried the chicken with sausage and black mushroom. Why? There's a bowl of free soup! Not true!

Anyway, no harm when the cost of the soup has already been absorbed in the price right from the start right?

The down side? no privacy as it's located along the main thorough-fare. The public will have full view of what you have ordered. What's more, they can possibly catch a whiff of the piping hot rice or noodles. Erm, definitely not a place for a hot date, unless you want are aiming to get your date to dump you!

The workers there were more of cleaners than waitress. You write down your own order, and do your own ordering at the counter. To top it all, it's self service. You'd get dumped for sure!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Seeking out Bak Kut Teh

I took part in a market survey awhile ago. The respondents and I had to pick out (Bak Kut) pork with bones that whet our tastbuds. What's more, we were paid S$50 each for our effort. Bak Kut Teh may not be my favourite, but when someone wants to feed you, why not right?

Fast forward to today. Where can we find a shop where we can get good bak kut teh? My wife and I drove to an obscure food centre in Ang Mo Kio. The place? Teck Ghee Court Market and Food Centre. The stall? Eng Kee Bak Kut Teh.

Now an expert after doing that market survey, I'd say that the meat is rather tender and it's also quite tasty. The soup's laden with pepper but my wife said that there are possibly some herbs in the soup as well. They have a host of award certificates that were pasted at the front of the stall.

One bowl of Bak Kut Teh costs S$6, and what's more, the stall also sells pig trotters. Many around me seemed to be eating that dish. (But that's so fattening!)

Eng Kee Bak Kut Teh
#01-04 Teck Ghee Court Mkt and Food Centre, Blk 341 Ang Mo Kio Ave 1

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Ice Cream on The Go

Walking down Orchard Road, you'll bound to see a man with his motorcycle and his uniquely designed side carriage. These imodern-day ice cream man are licenced and are subjected to cleanliness checks. So if you're thinking, "India roadside stall", you don't have to fret.

In our cleanliness-conscious Singapore, we ourselves are concerned about ensuring that we do not fall prey to tummy aches. I can guarantee that the ice cream here is safe to eat.

There are different flavours and also, how you'd like your ice cream to be served - In a cup, a cone or wafer. Well, I like mine to be served on a loaf of bread. All this for just a dollar each.

So go ahead, try the Singapore way of savouring our ice cream.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Sugarcane Juice: A Must Try

In tropical Singapore, anything that keeps one cool naturally becomes the favourite of Singaporeans. I can definitely vouch for this drink - Sugarcane juice.

When I was much younger, I was shown the traditional way of extracting the juice. That was through your bare teeth crunching into the sugarcane. It's a risk to your teeth, but it raises your manlihood quotient, proving how strong your teeth are.

For the normal man on the street, my advice to you is to just visit the local hawker centre, look for a suagrcane stall, and order a glass of the sweet greenish liquid. Throw in the ice and lemon, and you'll get one of the best drink in the land.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

ERP: Ever Ready to Pay? More Gantries?


In the past, Singaporeans would complain about very high car prices and no one could fault them as Singapore cars were one of the world's most expensive. Just imagine that in the 90s, a brand new Toyota Corolla would have cost you a hefty US$50,000.

So how do we try to keep Singaporeans quiet albeit unhappiness still prevails? Build a electronic toll system called the Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) that charges by the usage. While car prices have seen some reduction (Toyota Corollas cost US$35,000 now), maintenance and daily cost for using the car has sky-rocketed.

There are now more than 60 ERP gantries in Singapore, ranging from those located in and around the Central Business District (CBD) and city area, to literally every expressway in Singapore.

The toll charges also differ, ranging from a mere S$0.50 to S$5 per gantry. So if you're renting a car in Singapore, do remember to ask for a cashcard when you rent a car. Also, try not to travel during the peak hours. i.e. 8-9am, 6-8pm as that's when the toll charges are the highest!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

MRT: Moving People En Mass

One of the things you must try when you're in Singapore is the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT). The first line was completed in the 1987 and from there, the number of MRT stations around Singapore has grown leaps and bounds.

There are alot of pluses about taking the MRT and they are definitely good reasons why you should try out our trains.

1. No messy train cabins
The one thing the government meted out was a No drinking, no eating and no smoking rule. We did not have any problem with that as the people in Singapore has been primed not to do all these even in our public buses. The great thing about the trains are that they are pretty new and that the older trains (Most of them are at most 15 years) have been phased out. So the air-con filters in the trains are well maintained.

2. It's Safe
I have never heard of train robberies in the MRT. It's pretty safe and the train stations are very well managed. Also, there's no need to worry about which cabin is safer. I still remembered taking a train in Europe where there're safe train cabins where there are guards to protect you. If you ride in other cabins, you're left to your own perogative.

3. Not Crowded if Travels Are Done Off-Peak
Don't rush with the working crowd during the 7-9am and 6-8pm timebelts. Other than that, travelling in the train is a breeze. Still, there's enough standing space even during peak hours and yes, there are no official "pushers" to help you into the train such as in Japan.

4. It's Efficient
There are no confusing signs nor major train delays. You'll know that you'll get to your station safe and sound.

Do note that you can even take a train from the airport to city. Totally cost effective!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Let's Talk About Trains

In 1902, the railroads in Singapore used to link Bukit Timah and Woodlands to the city. Then in 1923, a railway line linked Singapore directly to Johore via the Woodlands causeway.

That was more than 100 years ago and I had the opportunity to visit the Bukit Timah Railway Station twice. Getting to the station, one must hit the dirt track. You can vaguely see the train station from the main road.

Nostalgia engulfed me once I stepped into the train station. Location signages read in malay rather than english - Singapura. Gambier plantation owners and their workers would have stood at this train station, waiting for the train to bring them into town.

The railway station still looks authentic and have weathered the change of the century well. Walking along the railway line also brought me to a small bridge that should be decades old.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Singaporeans are sometimes known to be a population of complainers. With the latest survey results by Mercer, I hope that they will stop complaining. But if you're always looking at glass as half empty all the time, it will continue to stay that way. But here're the results.

Singapore emerged tops in Asia for quality of living and is ranked 32nd in the world, according to Mercer's annual quality of living rankings. For a small country without any natural resources, it's a privileged to be listed as best in quality of living - the government has ensured that they have provided Singaporeans with affordable housing, while also making sure that the homes are of quality.

If you're concerned that you'd be mugged in those big cities, it'll definitely not be so in Singapore as the country tops Asia for personal safety. Of course, general safety has still to be observed. Guns are outlawed and anyone found in possession of a gun will face the gallow.

As the scientific term goes, with every action there's equal and opposite reaction. The cost of living for expatriates rose from 17th to the 14th most expensive city in the world.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Dining With The Jews

Singapore is a cosmopolitan city with a wide array of food for various community. I've lived in this melting pot of cultures all of my life.

The more common food that you can find in nearly all food courts are Chinese chicken rice and fried kuey teow, the Malay nasi lemak and mee rebus, the Indian roti prata and murtabak. You might also find Japanese bento set and asian-ised version of the speghetti.

But what I've not tried all my life until recently was kosher food. So what is kosher? Well, it's food prepared in a traditional Jewish way according to the biblical old testament. Meat such as pork and pigeon will never find their way on the dining table. Also, seafood that do not have scales and fins are not to be consumed.

So when I made my way to Awalfi, Singapore's only Kosher restaurant, I was filled with excitement over the thought of having a kosher meal.

Located at 24 Waterloo Street,within the Jacob Ballas Centre, this restaurant is totally out of view of the general public. First, you have to go through a secure-looking gate. Then you have to take a lift up to the seventh storey before you arriveat this small but amply decorated restaurant. They seem to keep everything under a veil as they don't even publicise about their restaurant online.

Well, the food that they serve is a spread of asian, greek, middle eastern and even western.

Pita bread, humus (ground chickpea spread), falafel (deep fried mashed chickpea), together with a variety of fried appetisers really got me going for more.

I ordered fried fish with rice and thought that it would be served differently, but lo and behold, the fish looked like what any fried fish and chips would look like. Now I understand that it's the way they cook their food, and not that it'll taste anything different. Also, don't expect the waiters to be Jews. The one that waited upon us was a Sikh, while those in the kitchen looked either middle eastern or indians.

As for the food, it does not cost you a bomb to have a taste of a kosher meal (About S$16-$30 depending on what you are having). But for me, it's priceless to have a meal among the practising Jews and Rabbis.

24, Waterloo Street

6336 5166

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Changi Prison Museum: Lest We Forget

It was a phrase used by the Australian and New Zealand (ANZAC) as a remembrance to the soldiers who were felled during the war, and there were truly many brave fighters who took on the Japanese during World War II.

The British, Australians, New Zealanders, Chinese, Indians, Malays and Eurasians all fought side by side but was no match to the Imperial Japanese troops. Singapore fell on 14 February 1942.

The pain has not totally healed for these defeated soldiers, but many still come to this Museum to seek solace. It was a useless war that brought pain and suffering to all parties involved in this episode of life. Many lives were lost in this prison, and from here, many were sent to meet their deaths while building the Death Railway in Burma.

Though located in Changi - East of Singapore - it is still a museum worth visiting if you want to understand the hardship of what the 1942 populace had gone through during the Japanese Occupation.

My paternal grandad, being educated in English, was executed as he was a civil servant and was deemed to be in collaboration with the British. While my maternal grandad escaped the Japanese tyranny by hiding in a drain and only returning home after three days. He then made peak caps for the Japanese just to get that little bit of food supply to keep the family from starving.

More than 60 years have past and all of my grandparents have passed on, and this little museum holds the history to that era of suffering. Lest We Forget.

1000, Upper Changi Road North, Singapore 507707

Operating Hours:
9:30am - 5:00pm daily; last admission at 4.30pm

Admission: Free


For direction, please visit

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Oil Sheikhs and Words About Subsidies

The dependence on oil is taking a toll in the South East Asian region and beyond. The prices of fuel has skyrocketed by about 50% since last year and the only people benefitting from this phenomenal rise in oil prices are the oil sheikhs and shareholders of oil companies.

Singapore had never banked much on our natural resources. Palm and rubber trees provided us with some revenue, but in this little island, scarcity of land is an issue and thus, much of this land are now used for commerce with tall towers and skyscrapers peppering the island.

Ok, back to the fuel issue. The government has not given any subsidies but how they are helping is by keeping the value of the Singapore currency high, thus offsetting inflation. So, yes the prices of fuel has increased, but in the first place, fuel has always been used to power luxury vehicles, so the owners of these vehicles should be able to afford it. Prices of diesel has gone north too, and that has impacted taxi and lorry drivers. But still I believe the increase is manageable.

So if you plan to drive in Singapore, do not expect fuel prices to be cheap. Currently we are paying about S$2.10/ litre.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Travel with Tiger Airways

Planning a visit to other asian countries or even to Australia? Well, you can travel on shoe-string budget with Singapore's own Tiger Airways. Exotic routes include Haikou in China and Chennai in India.

There are times where the airline would release rock-bottom prices for their tickets. For example, during the school holidays period, one-way flight to Thailand might cost you only S$9.99. This price does not include airport tax and fuel surcharges. With a return ticket and after forking out for all the taxes, you might be able to save between S$40-S$80 versus if you travel with an international carrier.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Time For Kids To Get Wet!

Wild, Wild Wet

"Ding, Ding, Ding", sounds the bell as the big overhead container starts to pour it content down onto the eager crowd below. Squealing kids mixed with the thunderous sound of gushing water floods the air.

Opened in 2004, the Wild Wild Wet is probably the only water-themed park in Singapore. Filled with water rides, the park is made for all ages. The bigger kids can go hitch a ride on the slides, while the younger children are able to enjoy themselves in areas where water level is only 10 centimetres high.

So if you're an expatriate staying in Singapore, take a little breather and lug your children along for a good family time.

Downtown East, Pasir Ris Close

Admission Fee:
S$13.80 for adults, S$9.40 for children, Free for children under 3 years of age


Sunday, May 4, 2008

If I Only Had One Day In Singapore...

Then I'd say that the stay is just too short! But really, if you only have one day in Singapore, what should you be doing? Well, it really depends on what you're after. But if you're a compulsive shopper, then you're in for a treat. You might want to consider planting yourself in the heart of all the shopping malls - Orchard Road.

Let's use the MRT stations as a movement guide.

At Orchard MRT train station, you can pop by Shaw House where you can shop at Isetan. You can even catch a movie on the fly. But if you're only visiting for a day, I guess we'll have to skip the movies and continue thronging the malls. Around this shopping mall are Tangs, Wisma Atria and Wheelock Place.

Taking a train to the next MRT station at Somerset MRT Station. Shopping malls that you should visit include Orchard Cineleisure, Centrepoint and Heeren.

Next stop, Dhoby Ghaut MRT Station. There is only one big mall here - Plaza Singapura.

Finally, City Hall MRT Station. Right above the MRT station is Raffles City Shopping Mall and if you really can't get enough, talk a stroll towards Marina Square and Suntec City.

If you managed to visit all the malls in a day, congratulations! You're not a compulsive shopper. If you really are, it would take you two weeks to complete the entire shopping trip. Make sure you've asked your credit card company to up your limit, ok?

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Nice Restaurant on Mount Faber

Faber Rock

Once in awhile, one has to pamper oneself, and that was what I did. Set on top of Mount Faber, the Faber Rock not only offer great food, it also provides diners with one of the most fascinating view that you'll ever find in Singapore.
The portion offered was tremendous and the spaghetti and the seafood were mindblowingly delicious. It's a little pricey though with one serving costing about S$30. Another thing is that Al Fresco dining can turn out to be a pretty warm because there was not much of a breeze.

To find out more about the resturant, do check out this website

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Crossing Into Malaysia

Tuas Second Link

There're advantages for being a small country such as Singapore.

1. You can get to any part of Singapore within two hours
2. Being an island, you can easily find a nice stretch of beach
3. Our country is small enough to allow street lighting on all main roads

Being small also allows you to visit our neighbouring country - Malaysia - with very little hassle. No long bus journey to reach the crossing point to the next country. Tuas Second Link is an alternative crossing into Malaysia. Opened in 1998, the bridge helps to ease congestion on the other link called the Woodlands checkpoint.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Building With Rich History

City Hall

3, St Andrew's Road

Getting There:
Take an MRT to the City Hall station and then ask for directions

What Can You Do:
If you're a history lover, you would definitely want to visit Singapore's City Hall. Completed in 1929 and was previously known as the Municipal Building, the City Hall proved to be THE building when it comes to historical significance. The British used the building as a government building to manage the running of Singapore. So too did the Japanese during their occupation of Singapore. The steps of the City Hall also played an important historical role when the Japanese surrendered to the British on these very steps.
The City Hall was also a chosen site where our first National Day was held in 1966. Currently, the site is closed for renovation, but it's still well worth the visit.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Singapore's Largest Wetlands

Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve

301 Neo Tiew Crescent Singapore 718925

How to Get There:

Getting to the wetland reserve is by no mean an easy feat. From Seletar Expressway (SLE), look out for a large brown signboard on the left of the expressway. After that, turn left into Turf Club Avenue.

Shuttle Bus:
You can take a shuttle bus from Kranji MRT Station. Click
here to find out more.

What do you need to bring along:
- Cap/ Hat: To protect your face from the sun
- Insect Repellent: To prevent the mozzies from getting to you
- Sun Block: Hot sun, even under the canopy of the trees

What Can You Do:

Tucked away in the far corner of Singapore, it is unconceivable that an island so small and developed as Singapore could see such biodiversity, all in a small parcel of forest. But the obscure location allows the wetland to co-exist by itself and will only see visitors who are interested in learning more about nature.

During my short one hour at the wetland reserve, I was totally excited with the sightings of egrets and herons, large monitor lizards, and even otters.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Easing Your Pain

Picture taken off the Tiger Balm website

The first time I'd ever heard a foreigner using our product was when I visited my mom's friend in Germany in 1995. Even before we arrived in her country of chic Mercedes and BMWs, she had contacted us to bring along boxes of Tiger Balm.
I know that my grandparents and parents swears by it, and I'd also used this blam whenever I had a tummy ache or a headache. This traditional formula was first concocted for the imperial court of China more than 100 years ago. Just imagine, you're using the ointment of what past Emperors of China have been using!
Well, the person who concocted this formula is the late imperial herbalist - Mr Aw Chu Kin, whose children moved his business to Singapore. The balm has henceforth been a mainstay of homes in Singapore. Try buying a couple of bottles. It's definitely affordable.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Electronic Road Pricing

The Electronic Road Pricing Gantry

Sometimes, great solutions comes with a price, no pun intended. The Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) is the first-of-its-kind electronic toll system that helps to empty the pockets of drivers like myself. Singaporeans have always complained that buying cars are way too expensive. A basic car could cost you US$28,000 in the 1990s. Prices have dropped but owning a vehicle will still burn a big hole in one's pocket.
If you plan to rent a car, taking to the road is not that difficult. The drivers here may not be the courteous of the lot (i.e. Filtering into lane without signalling), but they are generally quite harmless.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Mount Faber

This is not the tallest hill in Singapore (That title goes to Bukit Timah Hill), but it's one that has commercialisation written all over it. Standing at 105 metres, the hill avail visitors with a panoramic view of the islands to the south, and government housing and the central business district to the east. In the past though, the hill was used by the British as a signal station and later an observatory.

What to Do There

Relax with Nature

The best time to visit Mount Faber is on a weekday. There's no need to jostle with the crowd and the entire place, because of its serenity, seems to have been prepared solely just for you. There's also a park on the upper most top of the hill.

Possibly the highest standing tree on Mount Faber


To soak in the full view of the surroundings, you might like to consider visiting Mount Faber in the evenings. There are a couple of
dining places here that'll provide you with a view that may not be as lovely as The Peak in Hong Kong, but it still offer one of the best views within Singapore.

Cable Cars

Mount Faber is also the place to try out an interesting ride -
The Cable Car. I remember my parents taking my on this breathe-taking ride when I was much younger. Try this ride just before sunset. It'll offer you with the loveliest of all view.

How Do I Get There?

Well, you can take the grab a taxi, or if it's over a weekend or a public holiday, you might want to take a bus. If you're game enough, you might also want to take a hike up. Check this link for more information on how to get to the summit.

View of the South

View of the East

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Building It Tall

A View of Singapore's Public Housing

If you had visited Singapore in the 1950-60s and have not stepped in this island since then, I guarantee you that you will no longer recognise the building, the roads nor the way Singaporeans handle their daily lives.

The population grew rapidly after the end of World War II and the government also had to look for ways to move its citizens out of the undesirable slums. So the government started building high-rise flats, some as tall as 24 storeys.

The government also implemented self ownership whereby the occupants will purchase rather than rent the flats from the government. These flats will generally appreciate over the years and the occupants, after paying up, will then have a place to call their own. The prices of these flats are dependent on the floor area. The cost range anywhere from S$120,000 to $350,000. The most expensive flat to date stands at S$740,000.

Do take some time to visit our public housing to experience how 85% of Singaporean lives.

Friday, March 28, 2008

You Mean It Snowed?

Hailstones the size of a small coin - File Picture

Not really, but it did rain ice today. Although it's not the first time that Singapore has seen hailstorms, it is still somewhat of a phenomena as Singapore is located near the equator.
The last time that Singapore experienced a hailstorm was on 27 July 2007, nearly a year ago.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Newton Food Centre

Frontage of the Newton Food Centre

The Newton Food Centre is one of Singapore's most well known food centre for both locals and visitors alike. Built in 1971, the food centre offers visitors with a mouth-watering spread of local dishes. This means that you can indulge in food from the Malay, Chinese or Indian cultures all under one roof.
You should try out the fried hokkien noodles, or the satay (skewered meat - chicken, mutton or beef).Other food that you should try when you are at the food centre are the seafood and desserts. That's what I really call a food paradise.
One thing that I do not enjoy when visiting this food centre are touts who would badger you to patronise their stalls. One of their tricks to lure you to order from them is when they kindly offer to find you seats. Do not take up their offer unless you really want to try out their food.
To ensure that you have no problems with seating, try going on a weekday as eating at the food centre on a weekend can get quite crowded.

Better to Visit Newton Food Centre on a Weekday

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Going Back In Time

An Alternative to Tour Buses When Touring Singapore
Chuckling down the river, these humble bumboats has a rich history behind them. Known either as "Tongkang" or "twakow", these bumboats were used to ferry goods from docked ships to the various godowns that lined Singapore River.1 Each of the bumboat have a pair of eyes painted on the front of the boats. It is said that the eyes will help ensure that the bumboats are kept safe and their passengers will arrive at their destination in one piece.
Now, not only can you see the bumboats, you can also get to experience what our forefathers experienced more than a 100 years ago, but for a fee. We definitely encourage you to go for this boatride of a life time.2

On 15 June 2008, the last of the diesel-powered bumboats left the river for good. But do not fret! The company that runs the ride - Singapore River Cruises & Leisure have replaed the boats with more eco-friendly bumboats that run on electricity.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

What, We Are Not Happy?

Palm Trees, Lovely Sky Scrapers, Ain't This Paradise?

For travellers in Singapore, getting around the island is so much easier as our official language is English, the lingua franca of the planet earth. Very often, tourists would tell me that Singaporeans are a friendly bunch of people. Asking for directions is a breeze and to top it off, Singaporeans will always help with no premeditated reasons, and often comes with a smile.

Are We Happy?

But in a recent
Happy Planet Index, Singapore was listed as a nation with very little to be happy about. We were ranked 131 out of 178 countries surveyed.1

Sadly, we are ranked lower than war-hardened Cambodia (92nd placing), natural calamity-hit Indonesia (23rd placing) and even in the police state of Myanmar (77th placing). In fact, we are the unhappiest of all the countries in South East Asia, even when we have about everything - cash, car, credit card, country club and condominium.

But thank God that discontentment in life does not translate to Singaporeans not being able to smile.

1. The Happy Planet Index. Date Visited: 23 Mar 2008.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Wet or Dry?

So what are the similarities between Singapore and countries such as Maldives, Uganda, Congo, Colombia and Brazil? Well, all these countries are located on or near the equator.1
The countries around the equator also heats up more rapidly than countries along the tropics. With the sun coming directly upon the land, you can expect generally warm weather in these countries.

Weather 2Singapore is located not too far away from the equator (Latitude: 1.5 degree North) and thus, the weather is similar to any countries along the equator.

Northeast monsoon season (December to early March)
During the northeastern monsoon season, it tends to be wetter with frequent showers and thunderstorms. This also means cooler weather and would be a boon to those who are adverse to warm weather.

Wet, wet weather in December

Pre Southwest monsoon (Late March to May)The weather starts to get a little warmer - about 30 degrees celcius, and you may experience thunderstorms during this period.

Monsoon clouds over Sengkang New Town in May

Southwest monsoon season (June to September)
June tends to be the hottest months in all of the 12 months . If you need a tan, this is the best time to visit Singapore.

Sunset at Changi Beach in June

Pre Northeast monsoon (October to November)
The weather starts to cool off slightly and you will get your occasional showers.

Fair weather at Pasir Ris Beach in October

Daylight Savings
Being on or near the equator has its benefits. For one, we do not need adjust our clocks as the length on daylight is consistent throughout the year.

1. Date visited: 22 Mar 2008.
2. National Environment Agency. Date Visited: 22 Mar 2008.