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.