I am not afriad of tomorrow, for I have seen yesterday and I love today~William Allen White

Posts tagged ‘singapore’

Chinese new year in Singapore

This is the first time I spent Chinese New Year (CNY) in Singapore and Chinatown is definitely filled with bright red colors and the mood is festive and boisterous leading up to the celebration.

the year of the dragon started off on a good sign, a rainbow over Chinatown

this is the year of the dragon, one of those really great signs within the zodiac

The Chinese character for "blessing"

lots of flowers and positive and happy blessings written on red scroll paper to ring in a new year

lots of sweets for many happy sweet moments for the new year

traditional snacks for guests who stop by to greet and wish each other a great year ahead

the temple in Chinatown is decorated and prepared for all worshippers to ring in a great year

candles are lit for blessings made

wishes are written on placard and become a part of the wishing tree

 

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Tough Love: restrictions on moneylenders and gamblers

I am the first one to raise my hands in support to stop harassment marketing which include shoving leaflets into your face, receiving text messages, and the worst culprit, annoying phone calls.  In Singapore, it appears the government is limiting  the marketing channels registered moneylenders can advertise and reach out to potential “customers”, often people down in the dumps with gambling debts.

It appears that with casinos now established in Singapore to continue attracting tourists, even with a $100SGD tax imposed on citizens and PR, many addicts are still heading to the casinos to try their luck or to win back what they have lost with high interest loans from loan sharks (moneylenders).

From a documentary broadcast on Channel News Asia earlier, foreign workers with work permits from Malaysia are falling victim to casinos, incurring heavy debts, losing their houses, breaking up of families, and even miscarriage from a wife worried sick of a gambling addicted husband.  Some of these gamblers are blaming moneylenders for their problems because apparently their “in-your-face” marketing and tempting text messages and easy loans are helping them dig a deeper and deeper grave for themselves.

I would say, stop blaming other people for your addiction, you caused it!  But then I also remember times when I see tempting ads and I suddenly have this impulse to “buy that bag of chips now”, or “buy that notebook now”;  I slowly start to understand the power of marketing as they tug subconsciously in your head and tempt you to indulge.  It appears to be a pretty big problem because there are now policies in place that allow family members to register names with casinos that will “block” them from entering.  The government has then moved to the next step, restricting moneylenders’ their marketing channels.  Aside from their business name on the Yellow Pages, the only other place the money lenders can reach out to customers is through their own business websites.

Is this government intrusion of a free capitalistic market?  Yes, I think so, but it is also tough love to try to curb a rising social problem that can have detrimental consequences on society and families.

Singapore bak Ku Teh

the famous bak ku teh shop--we estimated its sales revenues to be in the millions

I was quite excited to visit this little shop that has served over 1 million bowls of this herbal style pork bone soup since it opened in 1988.  I was especially excited to visit it because it made news in HK when it refused to serve the chief executive of HK, Donald Tsang because he went during its off hours.  The next time Donald Tsang was in Singapore, he made a mental note to visit this shop during its operational hours and finally tried the broth, haha.

I am not sure if I am not quite adapted to the Southeast Asian tastes yet or what, but I actually don’t think it’s anything special.  Aside from the pork knuckle dish that I really enjoyed, I was disappointed with the famous star dish, the bak ku teh.  I think it was too peppery and salty, I just keep dunking the fried dough into the soup and slurp it up.  My friend keeps saying it’s too peppery and he keeps drinking it till the last drop, lol.

highlighting this braised pork knuckle dish, the meat was tender and the sauce was very good

my bak ku teh lunch with an impatient companion

There really are a lot of tourists that visited the shop, while eating or lining up for a table, I see millions of cameras just flashing, I actually felt kind of weird over this experience.  I like the Malaysian style bak ku teh better, with the herbal soup flavor, yummy.

 

 

what kind of government is good government?

Growing up in the West, I believe in the freedom of speech as any of my American counterparts, but I am also quick to admit there are a lot of hindrances with democracy/freedom, however you like to put it.  Nowadays, I often feel like democracy means in-your-face fighting between opposition parties.  To oppose or reject policies for the sake of opposing, to reject even if the proposed policies are serving the people, just to gain attention in the media.  This is the democracy I know of today, a bunch of yelling and screaming opposition parties, and polling for votes through “motivational” (empty) speeches.  I feel like it’s just polling and voting, and then it’s polling and voting again, that’s all there is, I don’t really see anyone really working.  But then again, you can’t really work when the policies are never passed but just “up for dabate” to be rejected.

Then, in HK, the confidence of the current administrative government is just declining as the days go by.  You would have no confidence in them too if all they do is go  on television saying “I am here to do my job” all stone-faced and expressionless.  I don’t feel any passion or love for citizens.  I slowly begin to nod my head when protesters get angry and denounce the government for colluding with property giants and business owners, because I am feeling like that might be true.  I would even agree with many people who insist the salary of  government officials are high because they are expected to stand in front of the media and be yelled at by angry and frustrated citizens while acting like nothing is wrong when people say they are useless and not listening to the wishes of the people.

Then, upon arriving in Singapore for around a month now, through reading the newspaper, I feel this government actually care about its citizens.  I might not be in Singapore long enough thus I am singing praises; however it feels like there are so much things going on in the city to make the lives of citizens better.  There is this strong goal to continue increasing greenery and parks, there is a strong focus on investment in health care and day care for the elders as more and more Singaporeans are retiring.  The government is building more and more HDB  (public) housing and creating upcoming new towns ahead of forecast population increase to ensure supply meets demand.  I feel all these policies are being done to benefit the people.

I feel the people in Singapore are being cared for by government officials.  I sure hope this is not a honeymoon phase and I will continue to have such positive sentiments toward the government and its policies in Singapore.  If it is as good as it seems, I cannot wait to get my PR, smooch!

Pet moving caveats

So I found out pet moving can be very stressful and full of paperwork, especially if you’re importing a dog into a rabies-free country, ie.  Singapore.  This is not the first time little Pretzel has relocated, but I absolutely do not remember going through such stress importing him into Hong Kong from Canada.  I remember staying up late to work out the time zone difference to call the fishery department of HK to ask about the application procedure, and the long wait on the phone for the cargo department of Cathay Pacific to pick up so I can reserve a seat for Pretzel, but not all the medical steps involved like I have to do in HK to satisfy the Singapore authorities.  AAAAAHHHHHH, ACCCKKKK!!!

Since a third of Singapore population is made up of expatriates, it might be useful for others thinking of relocation to plan with plenty of time ahead!  I also recommend getting a professional pet export company to help with the move, especially since moving the human is already plenty of stress.  The most important thing to note is to plan at least 3 months ahead for the dog.  The dog needs to prove rabies antibody in the system, so after getting the rabies shot, you must wait 1 month before doing the antibody test.  For me, the struggle came when I realized not every country in the world conduct rabies test.  I seriously thought it would take a maximum of 5 business days to get the blood results.  Nope!  The blood needs to be courier to the UK to conduct the rabies test, which pushes me back at least another 3-4 weeks.  There are only 3 countries in the world that test for rabies and they are the US, UK, and Japan; so unless you’re relocating from those countries, expect one month before the blood test be returned to the vet and you can proceed with other vaccinations.

There seems to be a big trail of paperwork from the Singapore authorities as well, which you cannot request and sign for your pet until you have received the rabies test.  I have heard if you are doing it personally instead of through a pet immigration company, it can take quite awhile and lots of followup with the authorities before an import license can be granted.  If you have a pet immigration company to represent you, they could get the license and all the paperwork completed within a week, so you can finalize the flight for yourself and the pet.

I have chosen a pet export company to help me out, it seems very professional, and the service fees seem quite fair to me.  The company will personally pick Pretzel up and bring him for his all his shots and blood work, that would save a lot of time for me and I know all the necessary shots have been implemented.  I’m flying the same flight as him on Cathay Pacific, so I can pick him up in Singapore while he’s being examined by vets at immigration.  The best part is there will be a car that drive me and the dog to the airport in HK and to my new home once I am in Singapore.

Sauces and Spices make Singapore

 While Singapore is a very diversified country with expats from all over the world, the 3 predominant groups found in Singapore are Chinese, Malays, and Indians. However, the Singaporean identity is very strong; thus the locals all refer to themselves as Singaporeans, rather than I am Chinese, or I am Malay. That is one of the very appealing things about Singapore that I like, the ability of the government to build a very strong identity for its country and that its citizens proudly embrace the Singaporean identity.

I always believe that you could learn a lot about a particular culture base on the variety of foods that are available; located in Southeast Asia, Singapore serves up a host of delicious foods that are found in many Southeast Asian countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, etc. What makes all street foods I have eaten over the weekend so delicious is the use of rich and flavorful spices in all the dishes; the sauces and spices take centre-stage in all the dishes, and they are so delicious, you’ll crave for more.

A Nepalese dinner on Arab street of mutton, curry vegetables, and fragrant rice with sauce blended with curry

An Indian lunch of roti prata (fried flour-based pancake that is cooked over a flat grill) served with meat curry + a giant piece of masala chicken

I scarf down curry puffs everytime I am in Singapore from Old Chang Kee, they're delicious! They are made with a blend of curry, potatoes, and eggs, yummie!!

For brunch, I have seleted a tunisian breakfast; the sizzling pan is a mixture of eggs & sauages with lots of sauces and spices for bread dipping

A giant pepsi mural at Harbourfront MRT station--I am a coke person, but I luv it, so eye-catching

The world is at my feet--found at the National Geographic shop entrace at Vivocity

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