Friday, May 31, 2013

Simple American in Singapore, Part 2.

The Outram Park Fried Kway Teow Mee. Stall #02-17.

(continued from Simple American in Singapore.)

After a very short weekend in Singapore, Simple American and his missus returned yet again to the garden city of Singapore. Given the short duration of their time in Singapore, what would leave them with positive memories to reminisce many years later? 

Our visit to a hawker centre
Enjoying treats to good food at one of our popular hawker centres came to my mind! The dictionary's definition for the word "hawker" is "a person who travels from place to place selling goods" (source: The Free Dictionary). Based on this definition, we would have expected a hawker to be someone who peddles from places to places to sell goods. However, in today's Singapore, the word "hawkers" commonly refer to people who sell food or goods in purpose-built facilities called hawker centres.

It is intriguing for me to read about the history of hawker centres in Singapore. In the days of my parents' childhood, street hawking was very common. Many people were travelling from streets to streets selling goods and services. However, one of the problems created by street hawking was poor sanitation. This posed to be a threat to public health. To improve the situation, between 1968 and 1969, there was an island-wide registration of street hawkers being carried out. From 1971 to 1986, the government constructed purpose-built facilities called the hawker centres to house these hawkers. These hawker centres providing marketing and eating facilities for residents of the public housing estates.

Outram Park Fried Kway Teow Mee stall. Stall #02-17.
Photo by Simple American.

My pick for our overseas friends was the Hong Lim Food Centre and Market at Blk 531A Upper Cross Street. It was situated in the heart of Singapore's Chinatown and was reasonably nearby the hotel that my friends were staying. My key recommendation was the Outram Park Fried Kway Teow Mee. For S$3 per plate, the stall serves an outstanding plate of delicious Kway Teow Mee, also known affectionately as Char Kway Teow.

Mian Jian Kueh from Granny's Pancake. Hong Lim Food Centre.
Photo by Simple American.

At the Hong Lim Food Centre, we also saw many other wonderful food treats such as the Mian Jian Kueh (pancake), curry puffs, and more. Simple American's missus shared that in her birth country, Mian Jian Kueh were available from the street-hawkers. I felt grateful to our hawkers for serving us with food at reasonable quality, affordable price and with good enough standards of hygiene.

Photo by Simple American.

Exploring South Bridge Road
After a fabulous treat to breakfast with my friends, we explored Chinatown. My original intention was to bring them to the Thian Hock Keng temple. It is one of the most important Hokkien temples in Singapore. Many Chinese immigrants would visit this temple to give thanks to the Goddess of the Sea for their safe voyages. However, due to the interest of time, we only had the opportunity to explore a part of the Chinatown, mainly along the South Bridge Road.

Traditional handmade BBQ pork slices from Kim Joo Guan.
Photo taken by Simple American.

During our stroll along South Bridge Road, our guests got themselves delicious traditional handmade BBQ Pork Slices from Kim Joo Guan's flagship store at 257 South Bridge Road. We also visited the Birds Nest Gallery inside Eu Yan Seng's International Ltd's Corporate Office at 269A South Bridge Road. We caught glimpses of Sri Mariamman Temple (the oldest Hindu temple in Singapore) and the Jamae Mosque

Jamae Mosque.  218 South Bridge Road.

Sri Mariamman Temple. 244 South Bridge Road.

Although I was well aware that Simple American and his missus were pretty full from our breakfast, I thought it would be worthwhile to get them a few egg tarts from Tong Heng to sample. Located at 285 South Bridge Road, Tong Heng has earned a good reputation of serving one of the best egg tarts in Singapore. Food that is made with good pride and love somehow tastes delicious.

Tong Heng's egg tart.
Tong Heng.

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple.
Taken by Simple American.

We did not visit the famous Thian Hock Keng temple. We did visit the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and also explored the adjacent Sago Street. A brief visit to Tai Chong Kok seemed to have brought nostalgic memories to Simple American's missus. For me, it was somehow heart-warming to see moon-cakes even though I confess that I have been consciously not eating moon-cakes so as to keep to a low-sugar diet. The moon-cakes reminded me of the occasional times during my childhood years when we could enjoy the moon-cakes during the Mid-Autumn Festival.

Moon-cakes from Tai Chong Kok.
Taken by Simple American.

The coffee treat
Simple American and his missus love having coffee. Simple American's missus spotted the Nanyang Old Coffee at 268 South Bridge Road and they generously gave me a treat to a tasty cup of coffee. There is a humble-sized coffee-museum inside this establishment. Somehow a visit to the coffee-museum further enhanced our brief break for coffee at the Nanyang Old Coffee. 

Lunch at Bras Basah Complex
For our lunch, we visited the Bras Basah Complex's Coffee Express. Simple American and his missus  ordered desserts while yours truly ordered noodles from the Parklane Teochew Mushroom Minced Meat Noodle stall. 

After lunch, we spent some time exploring a part of the Bras Basah Complex. I felt that this neighbourhood was quite a convenient and friendly one to live in.

Friendships are strengthened. Memories are created. May Simple American and his missus have a meaningful and memorable visit to the South-East Asia, including Singapore. Other bloggers from Singapore have also brought them to other parts of Singapore for interesting experiences.

Hopefully I did not work Simple American and his missus too hard physically during our adventures about Singapore. I am notorious for travelling long distances on foot during my adventures about Singapore. Whatever it is, may our overseas friends remember fondly, the taste, the smell, the sights and the friendly people of Singapore.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Simple American in Singapore

Breakfast at Chin Mee Chin Confectionery.
This coffee-shop is affectionately known by many as CMC.

One of my blog-friends, Simple American, and his missus, visited Singapore during two of weekends this May. His visit has brought together once again a group of bloggers from Singapore.

A morning along East Coast Road
On their first morning in Singapore, fellow blogger Eastcoastlife took Simple American to the Chin Mee Chin Confectionery at 204 East Coat Road for breakfast. This confectionery is a landmark coffee-shop in that neighbourhood. It is well-known for its kaya, a kind of custard jam.This confectionery roasts its own coffee beans and bakes its own confectionery. It is a lovely place to enjoy a simple yet savoury breakfast. Many thanks to Eastcoastlife and her husband for a generous treat to breakfast.

Breakfast at Chin Mee Chin Confectionery with lovely company.

After breakfast, we visited the Katong Antique House. This is a very beautiful place to find Peranakan related artefacts. I was impressed by the collection of antiques, beaded slippers, porcelain wares and more that were spotted in this shop. The Katong Antique House has an interesting collection that makes it good enough to be considered a mini-museum.

Eastcoastlife has written about our adventures with Simple American and his missus here: Singapore American's Singapore Holiday - RT.

Exploring Singapore
In the afternoon, Simple American, his missus and I explored a part of Singapore.

Merlion. Taken by Simple American.

One of our first stops was the Merlion. This sculpture with a lion's head and the body of a fish was created by Singapore sculptor, Lim Nang Seng, in 1972. Merlion spurts out water from its mouth with great might. My glasses were partially wet with droplets of water from the Merlion's mouth.

The Merlion Park is a good location to catch good glimpses of the nearby Esplanade on the Bay, the Marina Bay Sands, The Fullerton Hotel, and the Singapore Flyer. After the visit to the Merlion Park, we took a stroll about the Esplanade Park. This park is one of the oldest parks in Singapore and many historical landmarks such as the Lim Bo Seng Memorial and the Cenotaph can be found here.

Lunch took place just below the observatory wheel of the Singapore Flyer. We visited the Singapore Food Trail and met up with yet another friend whom Simple American had gotten to know through blogging too. It is fascinating to learn how blogging has connected people of diverse nationalities and backgrounds together.

It is my humble opinion that the Singapore Food Trail is one of the places to enjoy a collective of interesting and delicious local hawker fare. We treated ourselves to the Fried Oyster, the Satay Beehoon, Bak Kut Teh and Popiah. In the company of friends, lunch tasted extremely wonderful.

Sultan Mosque in the background. Taken by Simple American.

Malay Heritage Centre. Taken in Apr 2013.

After lunch, we visited the Kampong Glam district. We walked along Arab street to take a good glance at the various textile shops. That afternoon, we enjoyed the view of the Sultan Mosque from the Bussorah Mall. The Sultan Mosque is regarded as Singapore's principal mosque. I particularly like the architecture of the Sultan Mosque which somehow reminded me of Taj Mahal, doesn't it?

After taking a good glimpse of the Sultan Mosque, we visited the Istana Kampong Glam which is now the Malay Heritage Centre. There is a sense of beauty in symmetry from the Palladian-styled architecture of the Malay Heritage Centre. I imagined that a life living in this building as a member of the royalty would have been dignified and blissful. Won't you think so?

Teh Tarik.

Our visit to Kampong Glam was made complete with a treat to tea at the "No Name Teh Sarabat Stall" at 21 Baghdad Street. This is one of the place in the city area where one could find very tasty tea served in the most no-frills manner. I am deeply grateful to the gentlemen who passionately served good tasting tea at affordable rates at this sarabat stall. They reminded that a life of service may seem simple, yet it can be done with great pride and the attitude of excellence.

The dedicated gentlemen serving tasty tea at 21 Baghdad Street.
Taken by Simple American.

Dinner together
In the evening, various bloggers met up with Simple American and his missus at the Banana Leaf Apolo restaurant (54 Race Course Road). It was a meaningful time to get together with one another. I particularly like the Fish Head Curry from the Banana Leaf Apolo restaurant.

Breakfast on the Beach the next day
The next day, Eastcoastlife planned a special breakfast on the beach for Simple American and his missus.  She and her husband were very thoughtful to buy breakfast from some of the most reputable food stalls along East Coast Road. Many thanks to Eastcoastlife for a memorial experience enjoying breakfast on the beach.

We hope that Simple American and his missus would have positive memories of their visit to Singapore to savour.

To be continued: Simple American in Singapore, Part 2.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Read: Stephanie Dowrick's Creative Journal Writing


Title: Creative Journal Writing: The Art and Heart of Reflection
Author: Stephanie Dowrick
Publisher: Penguin Group, USA.

On several occasions, I had borrowed this book from the library. Each time, I read a few chapters of the book. Recently, I have managed to finish reading most chapters, if not all, of this book.

This book provides ideas for anyone who is interested in journal writing. Stephanie Dowrick, through her writing, reminded me that the process of writing journal is not to be understood, it is to use writing as a process to understand ourselves people.

I like the practical suggestions and the key principles that were mentioned in this book. To illustrate the joy and benefits of journal writing, the book includes stories of how people have used journal writing to transform their lives.

As I read this book, I started to rekindle the activity of journal writing using pen and paper. While blogging is in some ways a form of journal writing, I find that writing down one's journal using pen and paper is a more direct experience.

One of the ideas I find helpful to use when I experience some kind of creative block is to write about 'nothing'. Exploring 'nothing' can be a journey of the unexpected in itself.

I also like the idea of writing to my wise self. There seem to be a sense of connection with the divine in the process of doing so.

This is a book to re-read from time to time as we engage in journal writing.

Also see: Creative Journal Writing: The Art and Heart of Reflection.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Places: A glimpse of Art Garden 2013 through the eyes of a...

There is a new contemporary art fun programme for the children. Yet yours truly decided that this programme, Art Garden, would be good enough to please an adult. So through the eyes of an adult, here is my account of my recent visit to Art Garden: Places: A glimpse of Art Garden 2013 through the eyes of an adult

Friday, May 17, 2013

Read: Value Investing for Employees


Title: Value Investing for Employees
Author: Clive Tan
Publisher: Candid Creation Publishing (Jan 2012)

Some time last year, I attend a work-related course on practical financial counselling. Other than the concepts of saving, creating new sources of income, debt-management and protection, I also learnt the concept of investment. That course got me to be more aware that my level of financial literacy needs to be greatly enhanced.

In an effort to gain more financial literacy and to figure out what value investing is, I found myself getting a copy of the above-mentioned book to give it a good read. It took me more than three weeks to read the book as I still find the technical concepts such as current ratio, cash ratio, price to earning ratio requiring more time to fully understand.

The other sections of the book that focuses on the foundations of value investing, the investment principles and investment process were much more accessible to read and to understand. I appreciate the examples that were used in the book to illustrate the concepts though I admittedly still find myself struggling a bit with the technical concepts.

Nevertheless, this is a relatively accessible and good read for anyone who would like to get themselves started on learning about value-investing so as to find out how it could be applied. Many thanks to the author, Clive Tan, for putting this book together. The fact that he is a Singapore citizen makes this book even more applicable to our local context.

For more information on value investing, you may wish to visit:

Monday, May 13, 2013

Read: Arabs & Israel for beginners by Ron David

Title: Arabs and Israel for Beginners.
Author: Ron David
Illustrated by Susan David
Published by: For Beginnners LLC (2001).

One of the issues I cannot make sense of simply by reading the newspapers and watching the television is the Middle East conflict. A lot of issues do not make sense. I think I was too puzzled by the entire conflict between Israel and the Arabs. It is strange to me that we are all members of the human race, how is it necessary or even permissible to allow for war and violence to exist amongst ourselves? Perhaps there is a dark side to humanity?

Ron David's book, Arabs and Israel for Beginners, is a very accessible book to read. The sections on the history of the Middle East especially during the ancient times are particularly complex to understand. Nevertheless, I think for such a complicated long period of history, Ron David has done a very remarkable feat in organising the materials in an accessible form. The language used is clear and simple to understand.

This book presented materials on the following topics:

  • History of the Middle East
  • The Ottoman Empire
  • The Ottoman Land Code of 1858
  • The Hussein-McMahon corespondence
  • Theodor Herzl and early Zionism
  • Article 22 of The Covenant of the League of Nations, in 1919
  • The 1917 Balfour Declaration
  • King-Crane Commission's report
  • The Passfield White Paper
  • The Declaration of Principles

The author's intent of writing this book appears to be to give the readers some background about the issue and then point readers in the direction of sources to get the most credible facts on the issue. Readers are welcome to make up their mind on this issue. I like the fact that the author listed some of the best books on the subject. It looks like more readings to be done and a good searching for the books. Here are the books that were recommended by Ron David:

While this book is accessible to read, I am very perplexed by the issues discussed. Perhaps this meant more reading and keeping an open-mind for now.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Read: The Happiness Project

Title: The Happiness Project
Author: Gretchen Rubin
Publisher: Harper, USA (2009)

I had gotten myself this book in Oct 2012 when I was in Bali. It was extremely affordable when I saw Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project at the airport thanks to a strong Singapore dollars and a favourable exchange rate. I had gotten this book for less than S$10 so much more affordable than what I could get it in Singapore! So I just have to buy this book for myself as a gift.

However, with so many books on hand waiting to be read, it took me a long while before I started reading this book in Mar/Apr 2013. I had pleasantly surprised myself when I decided to buy this book for myself. The thing is that after realizing that one of my greatest challenge is that I have more books on my reading list than the time I have to read the books, I have resorted to borrowing books from the library and occasionally only buy books from my favourite authors.

This book is an inspiring and very pleasant read. Gretchen Rubin has a gift of making it seem so fun and achievable for everyone of us to find happiness in our ordinary everyday lives. Even when everything around us may remain the same, because we take steps to be happy, we can find happiness.

In this book, Gretchen Rubin chronicles her adventures over a period of twelve months dedicated to her happiness project. During the period of her project, she read and did research about how to be happier.

These are some of the endeavours of her happiness project that I personally like:
1) Go to sleep earlier:
This is an endeavour I would like to strive to do more of. My body has been giving me messages that it needs quality rest.

2) Act more energetic:
This is one of Gretchen Rubin's Twelve Commandments in her happiness project. The insight behind acting more energetic is simple: we often feel because of the way we act. To some extent, it does help to use this "fact it till we feel it" strategy.

3) Give proofs of love:
This is a wonderful reminder. She began with a quotation by Pierre Reverdy: "There is no love; there are only proofs of love" reminding us it is only through our actions that people could experience the love from our heart.

4) Enjoy the fun of failure:
I do not like to failure or make mistake. I tend not to fell good. Then again, it is the process of taking risks that can help me grow as a person. Making mistakes as an inevitable part of the learning process can be fun. I shall remind myself to see the fun and the learning points from failure.

5) Ask for help:
It can be very humbling and many of the times challenging to ask for help. I feel vulnerable to ask for help and there are times when I am hesitant to ask for help. Then again, this endeavour to ask for help when we need would remind me to learn to receive while the tendency is to give.

6) Take time to be silly:
Oh well, this is something I could do more of. It can be fun to be serious about playing.

7) Keep a gratitude notebook:
This is a simple and effective way to count our blessings. There are a lot to be grateful for!

8) Give positive reviews:
I tend to be critical. This endeavour could help me to look for the positive in everything.

The Happiness Project is worth reading. Just reading this book can make me smile, and think.

Monday, May 06, 2013

Places: Jonathan Cooper's talk - Beyond the trenches, wire and hell fire

Have you heard of the Adam Park Project? A talk by Jonathan Cooper on 26 Apr 2013 gave me a glimpse of the Adam Park estate. I was particularly intrigued the existence of the Bureau of Record and Enquiry.

For an account of the talk and what had transpired after the talk, please read: Places: Jonathan Cooper's talk - Beyond the trenches, wire and hell fire.

Bukit Brown Voices

Image credit:

If you have wondered why there are people who are drawn to visit Bukit Brown many times and again, yet the thought of having to brave yourself under the sun or the elements are too much to bear, here is another way to witness the beauty of this secret garden in air-conditioned comfort:

Watch the documentary, Bukit Brown Voices, by Two Chefs.
Date: 11 May 2013 (Sat)
Time: 12 noon
Venue: Screening Room@The Art House, 1 Old Parliament Lane, Singapore 179429.
Tickets are at $12 (regular price) each, from

I have had the pleasure to watch it a few months ago. I strongly recommend this documentary. I love its unpretentious presentation and how this documentary captures the beauty of Bukit Brown Cemetery as well as how the Bukit Brown Cemetery is rich in heritage/history and is a habitat for fauna and flora. There is a thoughtful review of this documentary by Woo Wei Ling here: That's pretty unbelievable, don't you think?

It's a moving documentary. I will watch it even if I have visited Bukit Brown Cemetery several times.
Perhaps as a community, we have to pause and rethink the costs and benefits of building a eight-lane highway through the Bukit Brown Cemetery. The inherent costs of building the highway could be more than estimated because once Bukit Brown Cemetery is lost, it is lost forever.

In the meantime, congratulations to Bukit Brown Vocies for being shortlisted in the “Best Asian Documentary” category at the inaugural Endeavours Documentary Film Festival.

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Places: The Tiong Bahru Pre-war Air Raid Shelter tour

Have you visited a pre-war air raid shelter in Singapore? I recently had the privilege to visit one. Please visit Places: The Tiong Bahru Pre-war Air Raid Shelter tour for more accounts on my recent visit to a pre-war air raid shelter.