Chinatown


How can you go to Singapore and not go to Chinatown?

When Sir Raffles organised the city of Singapore, he determined zones for each ethnic minority. The Indians have what is today Little India, the Malays have the Kampong Glam area with Arab Street… and the Chinese have Chinatown.

Today, Chinatown is still mostly populated by Chinese people. You can go there very easily by MRT and experience a China-like atmosphere. If you really want to see the way some locals live, have a stroll around People’s Park Complex. It is a huge shopping complex – not very beautiful, but at least it will give you a taste of locals’ daily lives.

What is there to do in Chinatown?

Visit the area to begin with. When you step out of the MRT, simply walk around. Do not stay only on Pagoda Street (which is the most “touristy” street), but instead do feel free to take a turn and go into Mosque street, Temple street… Among Chinatown’s must-do, do not miss out on the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, the Sri Mariamman Temple (an Indian temple in Chinatown! That’s Singapore’s melting pot!), and of course the Chinatown Heritage Center – a wonderful Museum that will tell you everything about how Chinese migrants settled in Singapore. Also don’t forget to look up once in a while to admire ancient shophouses and Chinese lanterns!

Eat of course!! Hawker food in chinatown is not bad, I particularly enjoy their noodles. Try “food street” (which is actually Smith street) at night, or you can also go further to Maxwell Center too, where they serve excellent Chicken Rice !! However if you prefer to sit in a restaurant and enjoy the aircon, there are many restaurants in the area that you can choose from. A personal favourite would be Kok Sen Coffee Shop, on Keong Saik Road – their Chicken Claypot is simply to die for !!

Food street at night

And shop!! In Chinatown you will find lots of decorative objects and fun things for tourists to bring back to their home country… chopsticks, key chains, small buddha statues, scarves and so on. But you can also find Chinese medicine and herbs (check out Eu Yan Sang for instance), or refined jewellery and antiques on South Bridge Road. Other shopping options include chinese dresses (“cheong sams”) or tea. There are also a few designer boutiques if you go further to Ann Siang Road and Club Street, not too far away.

So don’t just walk through Pagoda Street and say there is nothing to see in Chinatown… you will soon find out this area is more interesting than you thought!

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East Coast Park


This is a post I have been wanting to write for a while! East Coast Park is definitely one of my favourite places in Singapore, and it shows perfectly how surprising Singapore can sometimes be.

Many people think Singapore is covered with skyscrapers. But few know that there is a beach where you can enjoy satay sticks, barbecue, camp, rent a bike, fish and do watersports… all of these in East Coast Park!

East Coast Park is a park on East Coast beach, in the Southeastern area of Singapore. It’s a great place to have a stroll on a lazy Sunday.

If you have time, you definitely should rent a bike (or a tandem!) for an hour or two. It is quite cheap and very, very nice to ride a bike by the sea. The path can actually lead you quite far out in the direction of Changi airport!

Also, if you would like to escape from the urban atmosphere for a while, you can do it the Singaporean way!! Go camping in East Coast Park! There are spots allocated for you to plant your tent, and no need to worry about infrastructures, there are plenty of CLEAN showers and toilets around.

As for food (what else?), I strongly recommend you go to East Coast Lagoon Food Village. They have good satay sticks there (see Local delicacies), and also a personal favourite, Oyster Omelet! Not everyone likes it, but I really do. And it’s pretty safe too, as oysters in Singapore are usually fresh.

Oyster omelet and fresh coconut. What a treat!

And let’s not forget watersports! You can go sailing from East Coast Park, and also waterskiing and wakeboarding. I’m sure you didn’t know about that 🙂

Time to plan your outing! Check out some more information and go have fun!!

Acronyms in Singapore


Singaporeans simply LOVE acronyms!! If you live and/or work in Singapore, not a day goes by without hearing things like HDB, ECP, ERP, PAP, CTE, SBS… Get acquainted with the Singaporean lingo if you want to be part of it!

Most of the acronyms used in Singapore are abbreviations for expressways, but some of them refer to uniquely Singaporean systems (like ERP) or types of buildings (HDB)…. Also, organisations and companies in Singapore are very often referred to by their initials. They definitely are a must-know if you plan to work in Singapore. Here are the most commonly heard acronyms:

CTE : Central Expressway

ERP : Electronic Road Pricing. Refers to the fee that people must pay when they drive into the central area of Singapore during peak hours.

HDB : Housing Development Board. Refers to the Singapore Housing Authority, in charge of building public housing that are affordable and of good quality. Also refers to the flats or the buildings themselves.

MRT : Mass Rapid Transit. Refers to the train system in Singapore.

NTU : Nanyang Technology University. See other article on Singapore universities.

PAP : People’s Action Party. This is the political party which has been ruling in Singapore since 1963.

SIA : Singapore Airlines. What else? 🙂

But most of all, Singaporeans love to joke about acronyms… And I think some of them are really funny 🙂

ERP – Everyday Rob People? Everytime Raise Price?
PAP – Pay and Pay?
MRT – Mad Rush to Trains?
And my personal favourite : SENTOSA – So Expensive Nothing To See Already !!

Trust the Singaporeans to be creative with acronyms!! More jokes over here.

Singapore drinks


Singapore is famous for its large variety of food delicacies. But drinks in Singapore are also quite specific to the place. If you want to go local, try out some of my favourite drinks 🙂

Non alcoholic drinks:

Milo: The local instant chocolate drink. It is actually from Australia but is immensely successful in Singapore. It’s quite sweet, and ideal for a snack at anytime of the day, be it hot or iced! A personal favourite.

Teh Tarik: It’s a hot drink from Malaysia made of black tea and condensed milk, famous for being “pulled”. Check out this guy! The taste is quite bitter but you can add sugar. Definitely an interesting beverage to try when you’re in Singapore.

Soya Bean Milk: Also called Soy Bean Juice, Soya Bean Milk is a drink made out of Soya beans (it has nothing to do with actual cow milk) that originally comes from China. It’s best if you can get it fresh from the market in Singapore, although it exists in canned version but it’s often very sweet.

Kopi-O: That’s Singaporean for “black coffee with sugar” !! “Kopi” comes from “Coffee”, and “O” means a little sugar and no milk. Try not to get mixed up with Kopi-C (coffee with milk and sugar) or Kopi-O-Kosong (coffee with no milk and no sugar)!

Sugarcane Juice: I bet you didn’t know such a juice existed. It’s actually very good and not as sweet as it sounds. Try it out in a food court where they can prepare it before your eyes by pressing sugarcane in a machine. To me, it’s an ideal cooling off drink.

          

     

Alcoholic drinks:

Singapore sling: Probably the most famous and iconic drink in Singapore. It was originally created in the Raffles Hotel’s Long Bar by a bar tender named Ngiam Tom Boon. It is made of Gin, Cherry Brandy, Cointreau, Benedictine, Grenadine, Pineapple Juice and Lemon Juice. Dee-licious. And even more so if you try it in the Long Bar in the Raffles Hotel to experience the only place in Singapore where you can throw Peanuts on the floor!! Simply a must.

Tiger beer: The local beer. I don’t think it’s really the best beer ever but you cannot come to Singapore and not try it out. And given the heat, a beer is always welcomed 🙂