More nightlife spots


When you ask people about the best bars and night clubs in Singapore, most of them will tell you to go to Clarke Quay (CQ). Of course, CQ remains a top-of-mind location for Singaporeans and Foreigners. However, there are more nightlife spots that you might want to check out.

Here are a few personal favourites:

1. Club Street

Club Street is not very far away from Chinatown. It is a small circular street where you can find many restaurants and bars worth trying out! Drinks and snacks might be a little more expensive than in Clarke Quay, but the atmosphere is more refined and relaxing, and you can also choose to go there during happy hours if you are on a budget. To me it is an ideal place to go for a drink and chill.

The best bar I can recommend is Barrio Chino. But really, you can just try any bar in the area. Club Street bars are mostly shophouses, which makes evenings there very pleasant as you can step onto the roof top for some fresh air and admire the view over Chinatown.

2. The Long Bar at Raffles Hotel

Singapore is famous for being an extremely clean city. But did you know that there is ONE place in Singapore where you are allowed to litter?

It’s the Long Bar at the Raffles Hotel, where it is a custom to throw peanut shells on the floor! It’s also where the Singapore Sling was first created. Although quite pricy, the Long Bar is definitely a must-do for drinks in Singapore!!

3. Cocktail bars

If you feel like trying something a little more sophisticated, try cocktail bars! You can go to B28 on Ann Siang Road, which just recently opened not too far away from Club Street. I haven’t tried it yet but it’s definitely on my list. They also have Jazz sessions with both local and foreign musicians! Otherwise you can also go to Haji Lane and have a cocktail sip at Bar Stories, although the place is smaller.

4. More night clubs

Aside from Attica, Zirca, Rebel, Le Noir… which you can find in Clarke Quay, Singapore has more nightclubs in other areas.

Of course, Zouk is one of the most famous clubs. They have 4 different rooms and regularly have guest stars performing. And let’s not forget Mambo-Jambo night every Wednesday, where they play disco music from the 70s and 80s… Great fun! They are also very famous thanks to Zouk Out, a giant beach party organised by Zouk every year in Sentosa.

Other clubs include St John’s Power Station’s Power House, a former power station transformed in a night club, located near Harbour Front, and Butter Factory, also an icon in Singapore’s nightlife, near the Fullerton Hotel by Marina Bay (super trendy people call it “Butt Fac” !).

And you, what are your favourite nightlife spots in Singapore?

CNY 2012 in Singapore


Chinese New Year (CNY) is coming up! Although it is officially on Monday 23rd Jan this year, celebrations in Singapore begin before hand. So why not take advantage of this week-end to see as much as you can?

CNY 2012 in Singapore will include :
– streets light up in Chinatown
– lanterns and light shows along Marina Bay Reservoir
– the Sentosa flower event to celebrate the upcoming Spring
– the Chingay Parade on Feb 3rd where there will be dragon shows
– music, theatre and play performances all around time
– and of course many shopping bargains and commercial events…

You can start planning your outings here.

But for those of us who are not familiar with CNY, what is this celebration really about? Chinese New Year – also called the Spring Festival (春节— pronounced chun jie) – celebrates the end of one year (ie the Rabbit year) and the beginning of a new year (ie the Dragon year).

It is a tradition for Chinese people to gather with their families at this time of the year, enjoy good food and spend time together. In mainland China, people are usually allowed a full week of holiday, which is enough time for them to travel back home.

Homes are decorated with red paper cuttings, families thoroughly clean their houses to get rid of bad spirits and welcome good ones for the new year… and also, the elderly usually give out a little money in red envelopes to the younger members of the family. We call them 红包 (pronounced hong bao).

As this is a time of the year for peace, sharing love and gathering with your loved ones, I would like to sincerely wish you a very happy Chinese new year !!

恭喜发财
Gong Xi Fa Cai
Prosperous new year (literally : Wishing you a lot of money) 

新年快乐
Xin Nian Kuai Le
Happy New year !!

If you want to make a joke to your friends, you can tell them : 恭喜发财,红包拿来 !(pronounced : gong xi fa cai – hong bao na lai), which means “Happy New Year! Give me the red envelope!”.

English Translation:

In every avenue and street
From the mouth of everyone
The first sentence when we meet
is congratulations
Congratulations, congratulations, congratulations to you
Congratulations, congratulations, congratulations to you

The winter has come to an end
That’s really good news
The warm breeze of the spring
will wake up the earth
Congratulations, congratulations, congratulations to you
Congratulations, congratulations, congratulations to you

The heavy snow has melted
The plums are about to blossom
The endless dark night is over
We hear the crowing of a rooster
Congratulations, congratulations, congratulations to you
Congratulations, congratulations, congratulations to you

After so much difficulty
with so much discipline
So many hearts are looking forward
To the news of spring
Congratulations, congratulations, congratulations to you
Congratulations, congratulations, congratulations to you

Singapore Idol


Today I would like to share with you the Singaporean version of “American Idol”.

You know, the TV singing competition, where the winner gets to record a new album and be famous? The show was locally adapted in many countries, including in Singapore.

Sylvia Ratonel and Sezairi Sezali, finalists in the 2009 season. Sezairi Sezali won with 61% of votes.

3 seasons were broadcasted on Mediacorp, in 2004, 2006 and 2009. Candidates came from various backgrounds but were all determined to try their luck to break through in the competition. And as usual, the jury was delighted to make crisp comments on each of their performances!!

I must say the show was very popular!! But like in all “Idol” shows, some singers are really good, while others… well… just see for yourself…

I hope you can manage to understand their Singlish accent 🙂 What strikes me most is, as mentioned in the video, problems some candidates have with bad diction. Maybe this is one of the results of being part of a culturally and linguistically mixed-up environment!

And to end on a positive note, this one REALLY makes me laugh a lot !! It was during Singapore Idol‘s first season.

Singapore’s colonial heritage


You might be thinking, like many, that Singapore destroyed most of its old buildings to make way for skyscrapers and office towers… and that Singapore is something like this:

But can you spot the low old-looking building right in front of the towers? That’s the Fullerton Hotel. One of Singapore’s many colonial buildings that still exist today… Did you know that the Fullerton Hotel walls were built in 1928? That’s how old some pieces of history are in Singapore. It was once the Singapore Chamber of Commerce, before it opened as a hotel in 2001.

Another masterpiece of Singapore’s colonial heritage is the Raffles Hotel. It was in 1887 that it first opened its doors… and at that time it had only 10 rooms! And did you know that people say this is where the last tiger of Singapore was shot dead? In 1902 in the Bar & Billiard room…

Still today, the Raffles Hotel remains an iconic landmark of Singapore. You can go have a walk inside the hotel and have a look at the luxury shopping boutiques. The inside courtyard is also splendidly taken care of, and you can really feel the luxury and long history of the site when you wander around for a while. Of course, you shouldn’t miss out on the Long Bar, THE most famous place to have a Singapore Sling in Singapore… And you shouldn’t miss out on the Raffles Museum either !!

Last but not least, I would like to share with you one of my favourite things about Singapore… shophouses. They are a heritage of Singapore’s colonial era. Their structure is very simple : a shop or restaurant on the ground floor and a comfortable living space above. To give you a better idea of what they look like, here are some pictures:

Aren’t they beautiful? My favourite shophouses are located on East Coast Road. Their colours and detailed sculpted facades are simply gorgeous. You can find them basically anywhere in Singapore, like in Chinatown, Little India, or downtown around the Raffles Hotel, like on Purvis Street for instance.

Needless to say, Singapore has many hidden treasures. And unlike what people may think, she is still taking care of leftover pieces of her very valuable history!! The URA (Urban Redevelopment Authority) is the organisation in charge of preserving this beautiful heritage.

Shopping: is Singapore expensive?


Let’s say you are in Singapore and feel like going on a shopping spree. But you were told that Singapore was expensive. Well here is news for you! Singapore might not be as expensive as you think, it simply boils down to knowing the right places…

1. Garments and accessories

Of course the first place which comes to your mind is Orchard Road, the perfect place for luxury and branded items (if you haven’t been there yet, check out ION, Tangs, Ngee Ann City or the recently opened Abercrombie and Fitch store).

However, you can also find less expensive clothes in globalised brands outlets, like Uniqlo or Zara for instance. Most of these brands are in shopping malls like 313@Somerset or Vivo City near Harbour Front. If on the contrary you are willing to try unique garments, you should go for designer clothes and jewelry from Haji Lane!

Finally, if you would rather not spend too much, check out Charles and Keith outlets for shoes : they are usually comfortable, trendy and cheap. Another option for tighter budgets could be Far East Plaza’s basement, Bugis Street, Chinatown or Little India where garments and accessories are usually coming from China. Do not expect excellent quality though…

2. IT products

Singapore might not be as cheap as other Southeast Asian countries when it comes to IT, but there are still many places where you can make a bargain.

You could start with Orchard Road, the most obvious place to go first. However if prices seem to high or if you find the selection too restricted, go to Funan Shopping Mall or Sim Lim Square. Both malls are famous in Singapore for the choice they provide regarding IT products (I bought a 500GB hard drive a year ago in Sim Lim Square and it really does the job!). Also, Holland Village is a safe bet for cheap and reliable devices (try Parisilk for example).

3. Fine art and decorative objects

If you are looking for fine art or decorative objects to bring back to your home country, you can try Chinatown, Kampong Glam or Little India. They are safe bets and not too expensive compared to what you could find on Orchard Road. You might also find fine art items from Cambodia in the Holland Village Shopping Mall, and typically Peranakan objects in shophouses along East Coast Road.

**********

For other types of items, here is what I would recommend:
– Books : Kinokuniya in Ngee Ann City for their large choice of literature,
– Fun accessories : Bugis Street for cheap and shiny party add-ons,
– CDs and DVDs : HMV, or Mustafa Center in Little India,
– Fine jewelry : Chinatown, definitely.
– Sports equipment : Queensway Shopping Center of course!

Also, do not forget that the best way to make a bargain while shopping in Singapore is to wait for the GREAT SINGAPORE SALE, which takes place every year in June and July. Discounts are really worth it !!

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!

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 🙂

                    

Little India


Among Singapore’s must do areas, Little India is absolutely worth visiting. To me, Little India is the perfect place if you want to have a taste and feel of India! Here are my favourite things to do around colourful Serangoon Road.

1. Have dinner at Khansama restaurant, at the junction between Serangoon Road and Norris road. The food is excellent, the staff very friendly and prices are affordable. If you cannot really eat spicy food they can tune it down for you. And if you do not live in Singapore and are used to Indian best sellers only (like Butter Chicken or Tandoori) you will be amazed by the length of the menu… Go on, try new dishes!!

2. Wander inside Mustafa department store and hunt for bargains. Mustafa centre sells books, CDs, DVDs, electronic goods, footwear, clothing, food, house appliances… basically everything. And this is precisely what makes it fun, you can find anything there!! It’s clearly a low budget department store, so I wouldn’t recommend to go there if you are looking for high-end quality objects. However, you should go there at least once to feel the atmosphere.

3. Experience the Indian crowd on a Sunday night… if you are looking for a real foretaste of India, Sunday night is the best option. Crowds are out, shops’ products are on display in the streets, fragrances invade the streets, women wear colourful sarees…

                         

4. Visit Hindu temples and learn more about Hindu deities! Check out Sri Vadapathira Kaliamman or Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple in Little India. But there are many other hindu temples in Singapore of course.

5. Take a stroll around the area when Deepavali lights are out. What a treat!! Deepavali (or Diwali) is the Indian festival of lights. It is a public holiday in Singapore which takes place at the end of October.

6. Enjoy an Indian breakfast! Dosai, chapatis, dahl… served altogether with masala chai, and there you go, a typical Indian breakfast right in the heart of Singapore!!

Of course when strolling around Little India you have to be ready to step into the Indian atmosphere for a while 🙂 But then again, Singapore is diverse and has a lot to offer, so you might as well go for it and live different types of experiences!!

And you, what are your favourite places in Little India?