Give Your Loved Ones, Friends Or Colleagues Free Tigerair Flights This Festive Season

Start counting down early with Tigerair as they give away 2014 pairs of air tickets in their Friend Fly Free Contest.

It starts today and all you have to do is nominate your best friend, colleague or family member and tell them why Tigerair should fly him or her to any Tigerair destination for free!

Simply leave a comment on Tigerair’s FB posts between 29 November 2013 – 13 December 2013, tag or mention your friends/colleagues/family member and say:

“I wish <Friend> can fly to <Tigerair destination> for free because <he/she is awesome>.”

If your friend/family/colleague isn’t yet your BFF, they’d definitely be your BFF to infinity and beyond if your nomination won and they get a pair of return tickets!

Quick, think of who you know who deserves a break – like friends who’ve gotten married but haven’t gone on their honeymoon! Or your colleague who’s been so kind as to cover for your slackness! Or your boss, so that you’re in her/his good books.

They could end up lounging in Lombok or diving in the Maldives – just look up Tigerair on Facebook facebook.com/tigerair for where your friends wanna go next year!

There’ll be 134 tickets for each of the next 14 days and another 138 on 13 December 2013.

 

tigerair

*Only one entry per person per day. Only open to nominees who have not travelled with Tigerair in the last 6 months. Vouchers are valid from 5 Jan – 30 Jun 2014, excluding taxes and surcharges. Other terms and conditions apply.  

Eating tour of Shanghai in pictures

We left Shanghai with a lighter heart and heavier tummy, and this is why:

This beer cost 10 RMB. That's S$2. Basement of Times Square, Shanghai

You are not allowed to eat the menu

We didn't know that Ye Shanghai wasn't the same as Old Ye Shanghai, and we paid for it

French coffee in the French Concession

An inviting vegetarian cafe in the same district

Candied hawthorn fruit sold on the street, which we were later warned against, cos they're not hygienically prepared. Oops.

In case you didn't know how to drink Chocolate - at Whisk!

The best Peking Duck in Shanghai - Xindalu

Lillian's slogan borrowed from Carlsberg: Probably The Best Egg Tart In Shanghai

Franck's was a most delightful bistro on a most delightful street

Putting Naomi in a candy store is like putting Naomi in a candy store.

Best dumpling in the world. About to be eaten.

They mixed the sweet and savoury dumplings in the same bowl. Which was weird.

Best Taiwanese food in Shanghai is here, apparently

We were a little horrified at the lack of pedicure. Our Shanghainese relatives didn't share our concern.

Bound to be eaten - Shanghainese Hairy Crab

We found the cafe chain Wagas to be surprisingly good.

No, it wasn't a baby turkey. We asked.

Possibly the best meat dumplings in the world

At Hong Kong New World Plaza, they served freshly made beancurd (douhua) in a tub like this. And we emptied it like this.

These were the most delicious black sesame filled pumpkin dumplings we ever tasted

Naomi's late brother loved this Xinjiang kebab vendor's fare. So did we.

The skewered meats/vegetables were infused with the flavors that only some inedible fuel could create

My forefathers ate bowls of chicken droppings

Bowl of Chicken Poop
Photo by Lee Xian Jie

“My family is descended from Confucius”, said the chubby Year 12 Boy to me when I didn’t ask about his pedigree. I must have doubted him or given him some dismissive look prior to that statement that prompted him to reveal that fact.

This was some years ago in Sydney, when a friend asked me to give tuition to his son (the Year 12 boy) who had been struggling with some of his HSC subjects.

“So, his full name is Confucius Chan?”, I said, before asking him how he and his family found out this fact, and whether it had been orally handed down (son, I am your father) through generations, or whether some Chinese genealogist had told his family their glorious past and then said thank you after a cheque was written out.

Yes, it was after a consultation, Year 12 Boy said. That made him and his family about the fourth group of “Confucius Descendants” I had met in Sydney alone. That Chinese genealogist/fengshui/kungfu master must be living it up in Vaucluse or somewhere similarly awash with money, while several of his clients languish in their fair dinkum fortune cookie businesses.

I’m not sure if it’s the same guy’s work, but a distant Chinese-Australian cousin I met at uni told me her father told her that her grandfather participated in the Long March. A check with my dad later revealed that the only march that cousin’s family ever did was around the Katong area, together with the other wealthier Hainanese families who, I’m told, populated that district back in the day.

There was also another Hainanese enclave in the Upper Thomson area, which was known alternatively as the estate with 800 (terrace) houses or Hainan Hill.

I’m not sure whether that’s really true, as I know of only two Hainanese families who used to live there, and the same Hainanese relative who told me this also told me that the embattled Malaysian PM has Hainanese blood, as does the wife of Cambodian PM Hun Sen. Lubricate this relative a little with some traditional Hainanese drink, and he’ll tell you how Hainanese the Soong Sisters were, and how the Americans should vote for Hilary Clinton because she has Hainanese blood.

I understand why so many diasporic ethnic groups yearn for some connection to some glorious ancestry (excepting of course, the Anglo-Celtic Australians). This is especially so if you happen to be ethnic Chinese. You have some of the universe’s most common surnames, like mine, and there’s not much distinguishing you from the other 1.4 billion lookalikes.

Take Peranakan Chinese for instance, they’re immensely proud of their heritage, even if it means they’re only Baba through marriage via second cousins thrice removed. I’ve heard of some boasting of a genealogical line dating to Admiral Cheng Ho (Zheng He), notwithstanding the fact that he was a eunuch. At the temple to Cheng Ho in Malacca (known as San Bao Kung), hundreds of Malaysian and Singaporean Chinese pilgrims pay their respects each year to that great Muslim eunuch admiral for planting the um… seeds of their rich Straits heritage.

My ethnic relations, on the other hand, made a world famous cocktail drink, and I’m rather proud of that, and I wouldn’t have wanted a lineage of warriors and other martial heroes. Eating is always better than fighting, as a Hainanese saying would go, if there was such a saying.

And so we were eating together some time during the fifteen days of Chinese New Year, at a non-Hainanese restaurant, when the topic of Hainanese greatness was brought up. A scientifically inclined cousin who is a very high-ranking office bearer at a local university thought it sensible to burst our collective bubble, lest we conjured glorious but unrealistic images of past Hainanese Heroes.

“Hainanese is not a race, lah!”, he said.

“Yah I know, but”… I said.

“It’s just a dialect group from south of China, that’s why it’s called Hai Nam – South Sea”, he said.

“Yah I know, but why do people say Hainanese men have a flat patch at the back of their large heads and have high foreheads?”, I said.

“Rubbish”, frowned Scientific Cousin, rubbing the flat patch at the back of his large head.

“But as a dialect group, we’ve managed to create national foods for two countries – Singapore and Russia“, I said.

“And there’s one more. Chicken Droppings Dessert. That would have been a great national dish if they changed the name”, I said some more.

“Chicken Droppings Dessert?”, asked Scientific Cousin, at which point, the rest of the Cousins triumphantly explained that it was a traditional Hainanese dish made from some unknown herb, and that if you were to ask any old Hainanese timer what the herb was, he or she would simply tell you, “Chicken Droppings Plant lah! Don’t ask so much, just eat the shit cos it’s good for you.”

I’ve only ever tasted the dish, Guay Dai Bua, literally translated as “A Bowl Of Chicken Droppings”, once, on a trip to Hainan, and I was chuffed to discover another Singaporean-Hainanese make the pilgrimage and sample from the holy grail of sorts.

Lee Xian Jie has documented his trip with many photographs of the Old Country, and his blog is a good place to visit if you’re ever interested about Hainan and her peoples (with large heads and high foreheads).

It makes me all proud and queasy at the same time, which is what being Hainanese is all about.

National Days

Flags for sale

I was just wondering the other day that there were lots of independence days in August. We had ours, they had theirs, and they shouted Merdeka till they were hoarse.

Then a couple of days passed and I thought it was a little late to talk about things happening in August. But then, fortuitously, I looked things up and found out that August and September are tied for the most number of independence days at twenty one each! Amazing – the wonderfully useful pieces of information you find on the net and then feel like you’ve achieved something by finding them! Isn’t it? No? I don’t care, I’m going to list them here anyway:

August:

Benin, Switzerland, Niger, Burkina Faso, Bolivia, Jamaica, Singapore, Ecuador, Chad, Pakistan, Bahrain, India, South Korea, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Ukraine, Uruguay, Moldova, Kyrgystan, Malaysia, Trinidad and Tobago.

September:

Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Qatar, Swaziland, Brazil, Macedonia, North Korea, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Armenia, Belize, Malta, Bulgaria, Mali, Botswana, Tajikistan

If a tie-breaker was needed, I’d give it to August, because the nations of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua just happened to be granted independence from Spain on the same day in 1821.

The other interesting thing in my little foray into wikipedia was that Israel has an independence day (Yom Ha’atzmaut) that lies between between April 15 and May 15, because it’s based on the Hebrew calendar.

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Mr Loh’s national song

Mr Loh

As I rushed to find a wireless hotspot to sit down at and email urgent work to a client, I heard a familiar tune in one of our great city’s many underpasses, and so decided to trace the source.

But when I got to it, the busker had just finished his harmonica rendition of one of the tune. I rummaged through my pocket and produced some money to put in his basket, and said very nicely to him, “Uncle, can play that song one more time?”

“You like that song? OK, short one ah, I play one more time”, he smiled and said:

After he was done, he asked me why I liked that song, and so I explained that I lived in Australia for a period in the 90s.

“So did I”, he said, beaming, “but before you were born, probably”.

Mr Loh then went on to tell me that he went to Sydney in 1962, studied Mechanical Engineering at Sydney University, and moved to Melbourne for a while before returning to Singapore in 1972.

“Hmm… Lee ah? I don’t know any Lees there, but I have many relatives still in Melbourne”, added Mr Loh when I explained that my parents lived in Melbourne for a period during the 50s and 60s too.

“I would love to move there again, I can work there picking fruit in the orchards”, said the lively 73 year old as he checked to make sure his mic and amplifier were turned off.

“But I love doing this. It’s not for the money. You don’t have to give me money, as long as you enjoy my music, and I will play for as long as I am having fun”, he said as he told me about busking three hours a day, five days a week in the same underpass.

Before he packed his harmonica wheeled his basket and amp off home, Mr Loh and I stood in the underpass for another few good minutes, talking about other stuff that I’d like to keep between him and myself because he deserves it.

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More time plumbing

If you’re not having a good day, or even if you’re having a good day, this file is double guaranteed to put a smile on your dial. Try not to listen to it while you’re driving or operating machinery that might take your fingers off if you didn’t pay attention.

Then again, ‘there’s nothing that schticky tape cannot fix’.

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A royal Thai affair

Thai Festival 2007 - Thai Embassy Singapore

I never know when the festival is at the Thai embassy. So it was good that I happened to drive past it last Saturday, and we managed to sneak in a good hour on the festival’s last day on Sunday afternoon looking at such Thai fare as Tom Yum, Pad Thai and coconut.

There were also several stalls selling handicraft such as ‘breast pins’ and also stalls which sold clothing as you’d find in Chatuchak on the weekend. Only this was Orchard Road, and so were the prices. We eyed a piece of clothing and asked for the price, only for the saleswoman to ask her colleague in Thai how much it was. Her colleague said ’40’, and she asked to clarify: ‘I thought it was 30, now 40?’

Good thing we were in Chatuchak mode, and we did manage to get the price down to something more between Singapore and Bangkok, and then sauntered off to the food stalls, and then browsed some more through the other stuff we wouldn’t buy.

Such as ointments called male gel’ and ‘breast cream‘. Instructions for the former are simple to follow:

“Apply once or twice a day over private part”.

It’s a ‘unique gel’ only for ‘masculine man’ though.

Flickr set of Thai Festival 2007

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Little Slope, Big Slope and Boogie Street


Back alley, Bugis Junction = by ☆ lcy

From Wikipedia:

The fame of the original Bugis Street has spawned many namesakes eager to capitalise on the brand, even though many tourists, as well as some young Singaporeans, have no inkling as to the reasons for its erstwhile ‘glamour’.


Yes, if not for the page on Wikipedia I’d have thought that the history of Bugis Street had something to do with cross-dressing warrior tribes from South Sulawesi.

What really piqued my interest was not actually the seedy side of Bugis Street as described on that page, but rather the references to “Xiao Po” (小坡; little slope), referring to a section of downtown Singapore. I had been wondering if anyone else remembered references to “Ta Po” (Big Slope) and “Xiao Po” (Little Slope), which basically formed the two sections of the city.

If I’m not wrong, “Ta Po” referred to the area west of the Singapore River, and “Xiao Po” referred to the area east of it. This division was apparently made by the Chinese population before the 1950s. Although I’m not that old, I remember my grandmother asking the rickshaw driver to take us to somewhere in “Ta Po” for me to get my bowl haircut.

Does anyone else remember this and hopefully has a more detailed explanation of why this was so?

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