Singapore American Newspaper August 2017

Page 1


Since 1958

American Association..... 1-7 Member Discounts............. 3 CRCE & Business............... 6 Community News......... 8-11 Travel........................ 12-13 Fresh off the Plane...... 15-20 Living in Singapore.......... 21 Health & Wellness........... 22 Food & Dining................. 23 What’s Happening.......... 23

August 2017

Travel 12-13

Health & Wellness 22

Food & Dining 23

Fresh off the Plane 15-20

Music Meets Nature in Beautiful Borneo

Are Your Vaccines Up to Date?

Could You Taste 200 Cups of Coffee Every Day?

All You Need to Know to get Started in Singapore

MCI (P) 197/03/2017

Happy 4th of July, America!


n July 1, everything turned red, white and blue, as the American Association of Singapore (AAS) held its Independence Day Celebration, co-hosted by Singapore American School (SAS). The whole community flooded the ball field at SAS, to celebrate together in true, patriotic style. In honor of AAS’ centennial, the day had a 1950s feel, full of good, old-fashioned fun! Adults and children alike tried their luck at the carnival games, which were expertly manned by staff, volunteers and representatives from our sponsors, AAM Advisory, Delta Air Lines, Expat Dental, PengWine and RedMart. Our sister organizations got into the spirit, donning their stars and stripes in the American Organizations tent. Kids bounced themselves silly on the bouncy castles, pausing only to rest and refuel at the food tent, where delicious treats awaited from our great food vendors, including Brewerkz and Warehouse Club. Everyone enjoyed some all-time American carnival treats, including popcorn and cotton candy sponsored by Allied Pickfords, and lemonade from the American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore.

The super popular Wheels of Fortune drew a huge crowd, with many people trying their luck. Winners were delighted with their prizes, which included show tickets, vouchers, toys and more! Band on the Run’s 10.seconds took the party up a notch with popular songs from golden oldies to modern day hits, packing the grassy dance floor with revelers, young and old. The formal ceremonies began as the sun set over the stage. The Navy Region Singapore Color Guard presented the colors and SAS student Rohini Prabhakar wowed the crowd with gorgeous renditions of the Singaporean and American National Anthems. AAS Treasurer, Michael Borchert welcomed special guest speakers, Jennifer Sparrow, Deputy Superintendent, SAS; and Stephanie Syptak-Ramnath, Chargé d’Affaires, a.i., US Embassy, Singapore; both of whom inspired the crowd with patriotic remarks. All eyes turned skywards as the eagerly anticipated fireworks display lit up the sky in a dazzling burst of color! The festivities continued with a flurry of

excitement as Lucky Draw prizes were announced; winners took home awesome prizes, including a cruise, island getaways, shopping vouchers and much more! All good things must come to an end and, following a final set from the band, it was time to say a last “Happy Birthday, America!” We’d like to thank everyone who attended and helped to make this such an awesome celebration. We’re hugely indebted to our volunteers for their boundless enthusiasm and hard work. We’d also like to extend a massive thank you to our generous sponsors and prize donators who made the event possible. Thanks to everyone who donated towards the fireworks display; notably our major fireworks sponsors, SAS and The American Club. A very special thanks to SAS, including Isaac Benjamin and the security team, for their tremendous efforts to help make day enjoyable for everyone. Photo courtesy of Tatyana Kildisheva, Kildi Photo

American Association of Singapore’s Centennial Partners


Singapore American · August 2017

A message from the President...


We’re back! Welcome back to many of you who are returning to Singapore after your summer break, I hope you had a great time with family and friends! If you stayed in Singapore over the summer I hope you had a fun time, making the most of the quieter roads and smaller queues. As of August 1, the AAS office is open and the team are raring to go with a new schedule of events in the lead up to the end of the year. What’s in the Singapore American newspaper (SAN) this month? In this issue of SAN, we focus on helpful hints and tips for newcomers to the Little Red Dot. From useful apps to help you navigate your way around the island to advice on what to consider when hiring a helper. We hope it will be of use to those of you who have just arrived (and perhaps the more seasoned among us might also pick up a tip or two). And don’t miss the great photo spread on our Independence Day Celebration on July 1 at Singapore American School (SAS). The soccer fields were awash with red, white and blue as thousands of people joined together to celebrate the quintessential American holiday! This awesome event was made possible by our fantastic AAS staff, the team at SAS, and a veritable army of volunteers, supported by our generous sponsors. Our sincere thanks to them all for making this year’s celebration so much fun. Welcome Back Sunday, September 24 is our annual Welcome Back Celebration, sponsored by AAM Advisory. This year, we’re taking the party to Café Melba at Goodman Arts Centre. Come along with family and friends, and to make some new ones, too. It’s the perfect opportunity to catch up on all the news from AAS and find out what’s coming up, too. In honor of our centennial, this year’s celebration has a 1960s and 70s twist, so we’re sure to have a groovy time! Living in Singapore talk It’s that time of year when we get together for another of our oft-requested talks, based on our popular Living in Singapore Reference Guide. We will hear from speakers on the subjects of Health & Wellness, Heritage & Culture and Lifestyle. Register early, as this free event for members and families from Singapore American School will book out fast!



Editor-in-Chief: Cath Forte, Publishing Editor: Sarah Alden,

DESIGN & LAYOUT Graphic Designer: Miia Koistinen,

ADVERTISING Advertising Manager: Valerie Tietjen,

CONTRIBUTORS Hazlyn Aidzil, Melindah Bush, Faith Chanda, Ed Cox, Dr. Méli Noël, Anne Perng, Bill Poorman, Ilana Rosenzweig, Greg Rutledge, Laura Schwartz, Marc Servos, Kinjal Shah, Frances Strong, Jim Tietjen, Eric Walter For AAS: Cath Forte

AMERICAN ASSOCIATION BOARD MEMBERS President: Stephanie Nash • Vice President: Shawn Galey Treasurer: Michael Borchert • Secretary: Joseph Foggiato Directors: Sammie Cheston, Blair Hall, Bill Poorman, Brian Schwender, Jenn Wood Immediate Past President: Glenn van Zutphen • AmCham Chair: Dwight Hutchins The American Club President: Kristen Graff • AWA President: Rohita Rajkumar SACAC Chair: Greg Rutledge • SAS Chair: Anita Tan-Langlois Non-Voting Members: US Embassy: Michael Wheeler US Military: Rear Admiral Donald Gabrielson

PUBLISHER – AMERICAN ASSOCIATION The American Association of Singapore (AAS) is a professional, not-for-profit organization established to enhance the well-being and living experience of Americans residing in Singapore and to promote relationships, both business and social, between Americans and those from different cultures and nationalities. 10 Claymore Hill, Singapore 229573 T: (+65) 6738 0371 • F: (+65) 6738 3648 E: • The Singapore American newspaper, a monthly publication with readership of 10,000+, has been published by the American Association of Singapore since 1958, with the purpose of enhancing the expatriate experience in Singapore.


Stephanie Nash Follow us on Facebook or Twitter: @AmAssocSG, (hashtag #AmAssocSG for all social media).

A subscription to the Singapore American is complimentary with an AAS or CRCE membership. AAS annual family membership is just $70. CRCE membership is $160. To join, visit and have the Singapore American delivered to your home. Reproduction in any manner, in English or any other language, is prohibited without written permission. The Singapore American welcomes all contributions of volunteer time or written material. The Singapore American is printed by Procomp Printset Pte Ltd, 57 Loyang Drive, Level 3 Annex Building, Singapore 508968.


Singapore American · August 2017

AAS Saturday

26 August

Upcoming Events

Past Events

Digital Photography Walk: Nature

Explore Singapore with your camera on our photo walk; meet other photography lovers, walk, snap, laugh and learn. You don’t need to be a pro, just be intrigued as to how you can approach your subject differently. We will meet at the Botanic Gardens, where we will take shots considering basic photographic techniques. We’ll enjoy a casual lunch together at the AAS office, followed by a friendly critique to decide on each attendee’s best image; there will be a prize for the overall image of the day. Participants need to bring along their own camera with removable data card. Limited space available (max. of 8 participants). 9am-3pm Exact meeting point will be confirmed upon registration. $95 AAS Members $150 Non-Members (includes complimentary AAS membership)




Welcome Back Celebration

Chit and Chat

In the spirit of Cinco de Mayo, AAS members and friends gathered at Café Iguana on May 3 for an evening of chit and chat. Conversation was flowing (along with the margaritas!) and guests enjoyed the opportunity to connect in a vibrant riverside setting.

Join us at Café Melba for our 2017 Welcome Back Celebration, sponsored by AAM Advisory. This family-friendly event is a great way to catch up with old friends and to make new connections, too! Meet and mingle with representatives from our sister organizations, as we enjoy a relaxing afternoon of fun, food and friendship. In honor of AAS’ centennial anniversary, this year’s Welcome Back has a 1960s and 70s twist. Think flower power and tie dye, fun games for the kids and great music, combined together with some peace and love to make for a very groovy time! 4-6pm Café Melba 90 Goodman Road, Goodman Arts Centre, Blk N #01-56, (S)439053 AAS/Sister Org. Member Adult: $30; Child $20 AAS/Sister Org. Family or Group of Four: $90 Non-Member Adult: $50; Child $25 Children aged 5 and under: Free Price includes a meal and your first drink. For more info and to register for an event:

The History of Singapore: VIP Walking Tour

Beautiful views and new-found knowledge were two phrases that captured the day on May 20, as AAS members were led on an exclusive VIP walking tour by Blair Hall, former Deputy Chief of Mission, US Embassy, Singapore, and current AAS Director-at-Large. Starting at Marina Bay and following the Singapore River, from start to finish, Blair’s tour took members on an informative and exciting journey with tales of Singapore’s history and how the Little Red Dot developed into a gleaming financial hub. The final stop at Brewerkz Riverside Point was the perfect setting to continue the camaraderie while relaxing and refueling over lunch. A big thank you to Blair Hall and Brewerkz for making the day a memorable one.

Coffee Connexions It was a lovely morning of coffee, conversation and connexions on June 13, as both AAS members and non-members came together at Wild Honey, Scotts Square to chat about all things AAS, Singapore and beyond.


AAS members enjoy discounts at a range of local businesses. Present your AAS membership card at time of purchase. Please see a full list of discounts at

AAS members enjoy 2 hours free handyman service (valued at over $200) on their moving day when booking a move with Allied Pickfords.

Present AAS membership card to receive 15% off total bill. Valid for dine in on a la carte menu at all Brewerkz and Cafe Iguana restaurants through December 30, 2017. Limit to one (1) redemption per bill, per table. Not valid on

concert days, eve of and on public holidays. Not valid with lunch menu, other set menus, discounts, vouchers, promotions or privileges. The management reserves the right to amend the terms & conditions without prior notice.

Book online using promo code SGAME17 and enjoy a 10% saving on regular fares or a 5% saving on promotional fares in Business Class and Economy Class to the United States, Europe and Colombo.

Get a six-month free membership to Expat Living magazine. Redeem:

Present your AAS membership card and receive $10 in vouchers when you sign up for a Warehouse Club membership. Valid till December 31, 2017.

Photos courtesy of Erick Lo Photography and Tatyana Kildisheva, Kildi Photo

Major Event Sponsors


Medical Support

The Band

Thank you to our volunteers: Nohelia Aleman, Suzanne Anderson, Rosie Barra, Jeremy Berman, Valerie Brandt, Anna Bryant, Josephine Chen, Sammie Cheston, Ed Cox, Justine Darby, Natalia De Roock, Lauren Dickey, Alexandra Dolibic , Mary Ferrante, Joe Foggiato, Dylan Khanduja, Joanne Khi, Maria Koh, Katherine Krummert, Shaun Li and team, Gregory O’Brien, Jacklyn Ong, Bill Poorman, Chris & Nikki Rudnick, Laurie Shapiro, Carol Shaw, Ruth Smith, Suzanne Swiderski, Dale Taubman, Yvonne and Tina Tay, Janice Vallesfino, Robert Victoreen, Jenn Wood and volunteers from the US Navy and US Marines. • The Beer Team: Dave Alden, Blair Hall, John Herberger, Steve Kreutter, Alastair MacLean, Hayden Madry, Chris Maurillo and Mike Meston. • Anthems: Rohini Prabhakar • Navy Region Singapore Color Guard: Jason Bennett, Jhirrell Bush, Justin Cartwright, Melven Duatin, Josue Garavito. • Navy League supported by SAS and Marunda Engineering.

Transport Sponsor

Fireworks Sponsors

Prize Sponsors

Major Fireworks Sponsor

Food & Beverage Vendors

Dave & Sarah Alden • Joe Foggiato • Shawn Galey & Katherine Krummert Blair Hall & Valerie Brandt • Steve & Holly Kreutter Hayden Madry & Sarah Walston • Chris Milliken & Stephanie Nash Keith & Weena Moore • Bill & Margaret Poorman Brian & Carmen Schwender • Kim & Debbie Seidelman Timothy & Susan Twinam • Glenn & Kat van Zutphen Stovall Witte • Steve & Jenn Wood

Logistics Partner

and special thanks to: AAM Advisory • Capri by Fraser Cha Cha Cha Mexican Restaurant & Bar • Chili’s • Disney Eastern Carpets • Four Seasons Organic Market McDonalds • Hard Rock Cafe • Harley-Davidson of Singapore Huber’s Butchery • Komoco Car Rentals • McGettigan’s PengWine • RedMart • Resorts World Sentosa Singapore Repertory Theatre • Tango’s Restaurant & Wine Bar The American Club • The Great Wall Musical W Sentosa – Sentosa Cove • Wag the Dog Theatre


SPOTLIGHT ON JOBS “Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.”

Job listings will resume in September, in the meantime CRCE members can check the website for all the latest available positions.



Up Close and Personal with Katie Baines, CRCE Member since March 2017 Tell us about yourself… My husband and I are originally from London, but moved to the south coast of England about five years ago. My first love was languages, and I studied French and Spanish at university. I followed this with a master’s degree in journalism, which spurred me on to travel and writing. Along the way, I picked up a camera and started taking photos, incorporating photography into my journalistic work. I’ve lived all over, in Argentina, Cuba, and Québec, Canada, all associated with languages. What made you decide to move to Singapore? We were both at junctures in our careers when we felt we would like to live overseas. My husband is a teacher and he managed to get a job teaching in Phuket for a year. We then decided that Singapore would be a nice place to live, so moved here. How did you find out about AAS/CRCE? When we moved to Singapore, I found that my sense of purpose was a little bit lacking. As a trailing spouse, it’s often difficult to break in because of obtaining work permits, etc., so it was quite a challenge at first to feel like I had a place here. I met a former CRCE member at my husband’s school, who kindly talked me through the possibilities open to me here. He suggested that I volunteer at the American Association of Singapore (AAS), as my skills were a good match, especially for the Singapore American newspaper. When I arrived, the

team was in a flurry of activity, working on the George Washington Ball. A photographer was needed to take pictures for the program. There were also tickets to cut up, envelopes to stuff… as I soon discovered, there’s always something going on. I am more than happy to roll up my sleeves and get on with things, as I think it’s great to get hands-on experience at all levels. That’s how I got involved. What were your experiences as a CRCE member? As a member, I value the potential for career development that CRCE brings. There are focused workshops, which help with resume writing. There’s also a workshop coming up about using social media effectively. This means my career development won’t stop here. I can use the workshops to further my career when I eventually repatriate. Can you share with us some information about your current position at AAS? While I was volunteering at AAS, an administration role became available. This is a great fit for me, as although there is the core of the administrative role, there are lots of opportunities for me to do other things, too, such as writing for the paper, taking photographs for the website, helping with events, etc. What advice can you share with new expatriates looking for a job in Singapore and/or anywhere else in the world? If you get an opportunity to volunteer – do it! You never know what doors it might

Resume Building Workshop: Create an Effective Resume to Help You Get Noticed! Speaker: Suzanna Borst Friday, August 18 10am – 12pm Using Social Media Effectively to Promote Your Brand Speaker: Geetika Agarwal Wednesday, August 23 10am – 12pm

open. For me, this was how I got my job at AAS. Second, be open-minded about what you can do. If you’re too specific, the likelihood is you won’t find an exact match. If you can find something that’s transferrable (or similar to what you’re into) and you can make something with that, then go for it. Photo by Cath Forte

Are you an employer with an opening to fill? Did you know employers can list jobs for free on the CRCE job board? Log onto to find out more.



Singapore American · August 2017

Bell Bottoms and Platforms: The 1970s in Singapore By Marc Servos


or me, the 1970s evokes memories of my childhood and early teens. The beginning of the decade saw the continuation of the Vietnam War and the associated protests; the hippie era was still in full swing. US forces withdrew in 1973, and Saigon fell in 1975 to communist forces. Events and trends defining the decade include the Energy Crisis of 1973, which saw gas prices increase from 30 cents a gallon to over 50 cents; Richard Nixon’s resignation in 1974 over the Watergate Scandal; recession and stagflation; and America’s Bicentennial in 1976. November 1979 saw the beginning of the 444-day-long Iran Hostage Crisis. The Seventies are, of course, widely remembered for the flamboyant and often gaudy fashion trends, as reflected by the popularity of bell bottoms and platform shoes among both sexes. In Singapore, the decade began with the continued leadership of Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew. Singapore’s first President, Yusof Ishak, whose portrait is on Singapore’s paper currency, died in office in November 1970. He was succeeded by Benjamin Sheares, who held that office until his death over a decade later. The 1970s saw continued economic growth as the young nation sought a more stable footing in the world community. Singapore Airlines was founded in 1972 and industrial development surged as the Economic Development Board (EDB) marketed Singapore as a quick operations start-up for foreign companies. Manufacturing evolved into more sophisticated production, which gave birth to the electronics industry here. Even when the world faced an economic recession, Singapore’s economy, although slowed a bit, continued to remain sound. The British military, which had retained a presence in Singapore after its 1965 independence, withdrew most of their forces in 1971, with the remainder gone by 1975. Beginning in 1974, the Royal New Zealand Navy became the largest foreign military force in Singapore and continued thus into the following decade1. Reflecting Singapore’s economic progress, more and more people were moving into Housing Development Board (HDB) units, taking advantage of the program to develop quality and affordable homes for Singaporeans, which had begun in 1960. 36 percent of Singaporeans were living in them by the end of 1970. Initially for rental, HDB units were already available for ownership by the beginning of the decade. In 1973 the American Association of Singapore (AAS) founded the Singapore American Community Action Council (SACAC) in response to the rise of drug use among young people. A non-profit organization, SACAC has since focused on promoting a healthy lifestyle, including sports activities, and providing counselling support. Also in 1973, AAS sponsored a performance of Music Man, and these annual musicals continued into the early 1990s2. The first Living in Singapore Reference Guide was published by AAS in 1977 and continues to be a valuable reference guide for newcomers and long-timers alike. Many Americans worked in the energy field during this period, and the

Patriot Partner

Eagle Partners

expat community was small and close-knit. Expat packages commonly included cars, clubs, taxes, domestic help and school fees (which were not as expensive back then!)3 I remember the Seventies with some fondness, but also awkwardness, whether by the character of the period or what was going on in my life. Either way, the 1970s seemed to have dragged on longer than every other decade to my own memory. At the stroke of midnight for January 1, 1980, when I was in my mid-teens, I warmly welcomed that New Year and especially the beginning of a new era. References 1. The US Navy in Singapore: Making a Large Impact with a Small Presence, Rear Adm. Charlie Williams, SAN March 2015. 2. AAS: From Humble Beginnings, AAS, SAN February 2013. 3. Expat Life from an Oldtimer’s Eyes, Rob Faraone, SAN March 2015

Stars & Stripes

Marc Servos is a Hoosier in terms of his home state and alma mater. The Fort Wayne native and US Army vet is married to a Singaporean and has been living here for a number of years. He has two children, ages 15 and 7. Photo courtesy of Greg Younger

100 Acts of Charity Helping Hands at Willing Hearts

The Winstedt School Girl Scout Troop 56 Help out Team N

American Association members helped out at the Willing Hearts soup kitchen, packing lunches, cutting vegetables, putting labels on food containers and distributing lunches. During the morning, AAS member, Valerie Brandt, together with AAS, also presented a donation check to help Willing Hearts fund the great work they do.

The Winstedt School Girl Scout Troop 56 made unicorn poop (marshmallows), and pins to sell at a school function to earn money, which they chose to donate to help a friend in need (Team N).

International Community School (Singapore) at Salvation Army

The Winstedt School Girl Scout Troop 56 School Fundraiser

As part of their Week Without Walls program, International Community School (Singapore) students spent a week with residents of The Haven, a residential home to care for children and young people who are unable to be cared for by their own families. They created a mural and took part in sports and team-building activities. Great job, guys!

Girl Scout Cadette Troop 63 at Willing Hearts USA Girl Scouts Overseas Cadette troop 63 volunteered at Willing Hearts as part of the troop’s voluntary service to the Singapore community. The girls helped to prepare vegetables for the next day’s meals. Well done, girls!

At The Winstedt School Health and Wellness Fair Girl Scout Troop 56 sold ice cream and water during to earn money for their troop. The Girl Scout troop decided to donate the money to the school for playground and library support.

Royal Plaza on Scotts Help Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (HOME) On June 12, Royal Plaza on Scotts (RP) extended its hospitality to migrant workers with an inaugural partnership event with HOME. RP and HOME brought 50 Bangladeshi workers together at the hotel for iftar, or break fast, which takes place during the month of Ramadan. The hotel gave out daily necessities such as phone calling cards, towels, bars of soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, razors and shaving foam, as well as food items.

Follow 100 Acts of Charity on Facebook:


Singapore American · August 2017

High Adventure and Service with Troop 07 By Troop 07 Committee


oy Scouts of America Troop 07 is all about high adventure! Some of the activities we’ve participated in this year include rock climbing, hiking, canoeing, kayaking, trekking, waterfall abseiling and river scrambling. We have gone to great places both near and far for our campouts this year: camping throughout Singapore and neighboring islands, trekking in the rain forests of Malaysia and even spending a week on a ‘liveaboard’ in Thailand. The troop has also been involved in many service projects: working with and raising funds

for Handicaps Welfare Association of Singapore, preparing meals at Willing Hearts Kitchen, helping to repair and maintain mobility aids for those in need, and working with Habitat for Humanity here in Singapore through their “UnLitter Red Dot” program. With a troop of 50+ boys, excellent Scout Masters, a supportive Scout Committee and involved Merit Badge counselors, Troop 07 is a great place for youth leadership opportunities and to advance toward Eagle Scout rank. This year we had three scouts achieve the rank of Eagle! We invite you to

become a part of our troop and join us in the adventures in store for 2017-2018. Join our weekly meetings on Tuesdays starting August 15, at Singapore American School (SAS) in room H301 at 6pm. Open to all boys 11 to 18 years of age from any international or local school. Contacts: or Photo courtesy of Paula Garner

Have Fun with Cub Scout Pack 3010 By Melindah Bush


ack 3010 is a US Cub Scout Pack sponsored by the Stamford American International School (SAIS), for boys of all nationalities in grades KG2-G5. Scouts are organized into smaller dens based on their grade level to ensure their experience is age appropriate and to allow Scouts to make new friends and share their adventures with boys of the same age. Our larger meetings are held on campus at SAIS either after school or on weekends. Scouts also

have several opportunities throughout the year to enjoy hiking, camping and other outdoor adventures around Singapore. Annual events include the Raingutter Regatta model boat race, the Pinewood Derby model car race, a cake bake, hiking, fishing, camping and tours of local historical sights and law enforcement stations. Pack 3010 is run by volunteer parents who provide our Scouts with the opportunity to learn and practice new skills and make

new friends in a supportive and exciting environment. Scouts also have an opportunity to earn various awards and badges throughout the year to encourage them to acquire new skills and to, as the Cub Scout Mottos says, “Do your Best” as they face new adventures each month. For more information, please contact us at: Photo courtesy of David Kowal

Girl Scouts By Anne Perng


oes your daughter want to be a leader? Make new friends? Go on adventures? Then sign her up for Girls Scouts where she can be involved in the top leadership training program for girls in the world! USA Girl Scouts-Singapore is part of the 2.7 million strong organization that believes girls can change the world. With the girls involved here from more than 25 countries, she

will have a chance to participate in Songfest, the Father Daughter Dance, Overnight Camp, Day Camp, Singapore Scurry (an Amazing Racestyle activity) and more. Don’t let her miss out! We teach your girls to lead and everyone has fun doing it, so enroll your daughter today. What about you? Why don’t you be her role model and become a troop leader? No

experience leading? No worries, we’ll show you what to do and much more. You will get as much or more out of it as your daughter will. Check our website for more details. Online registration is open now through September 1. Photo courtesy of USA Girl Scouts Overseas-Singapore

Boy Scout Troop 10 By Ed Cox


ome be a part of Scouting in Asia! Troop 10 meets in the Adams Café at Stamford American International School on Tuesday nights from 7-8:30pm. We had a great Scouting year that included backpacking, camping and service. We cooked a turkey in a reflector oven for Thanksgiving. We performed service projects all over Singapore. We even sent a team to Nepal for ten days to camp with Scouts from around

Asia and to work with Habitat for Humanity. Our Scouts journeyed to Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico for a ten-day high adventure trip. The Scouting adventure continues in 2017-18, with campouts planned for Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia. Scouts will do rock climbing, water sports and camping while serving their community and earning rank and merit badges. Troop 10 is a great place for youth leadership

opportunities and to advance toward Eagle Scout. We welcome boys of all nationalities from all schools who are between the ages of 11 and 18. Join our weekly meetings starting on August 15th at Stamford American International School to be a part of Troop 10! Photo courtesy of Ed Cox

Cub Scout Pack 3017 By Ilana Rosenzweig


ub Scout Pack 3017 is a dynamic group of scouts, grades 1-5, living and attending schools across the island. We have about 100 active scouts from many nationalities. Each scout is placed in a den of 6-10 scouts, based on preferred location and date for meetings, which meets once or twice a month. Scouts work towards meeting the requirements for their rank badges, completing adventures along the way. They go fishing, learn first aid, learn about their community and keeping themselves healthy. Pack Activities

happen about once every six weeks and include hikes, wheel days, community service, and of course an overnight campout. The entire Pack meets at the Singapore American School about once every six weeks, when we recognize scouts who have earned awards. Scouting is not only a great opportunity to make new friends, while learning important skills and gaining confidence, it is a great parent-child activity. We find that the best experiences come with the most engaged parents. Parents play a huge role in our Pack and we are fortunate to have

a strong group of volunteers. We look forward to the contributions that new parents bring. Our Registration Day will be August 26 at the Singapore American School Middle School, room M301, 9 am for scouts in 1st grade and 10:30am for all others. To register, bring the completed registration forms (download from:, passport information for scouts, and cash/check for dues and additional uniform costs. Please contact with any questions.

Photo courtesy of Jess Harrison

SCOUTING IN SINGAPORE Boy Scouts Troop 07: Boy Scouts Troop 10: Cub Scouts Pack 3010: Cub Scouts Pack 3017: Girl Scouts:

Singapore American · August 2017

Singapore American Community Action Council: A Foundation for the Community By Gregory Rutledge The early 1970s marked an increasing affluence of American expatriates in Singapore and a time of significant substance abuse by youth. On March 26, 1976, the headlines in The Straits Times read “200 of 700 students on drugs in Singapore school.” One approach to reducing drug abuse among youth was the formation of the Singapore American Community Action Council (SACAC). This organization provided counseling and intervention programs for kids who were at risk. It also established a host of activities to help expatriate kids fill their free time constructively. SACAC’s efforts were recognized by an award from the Singapore Anti-Narcotics Association in late 1976.

Adapted from the book Singapore’s Eagles – Singapore American School 1956-2006


ounded nearly 40 years ago by a group of concerned parents, SACAC’s initial intent was to provide recreational activities and counseling services, involving the whole community, to keep youths active and lessen the draw of drug usage and associated problems in Singapore. During the late 70s and early 80s, SACAC also worked with the Singapore Government to establish summer employment opportunities for members to help keep them occupied and active while out of school for the holidays. SACAC was established as the Singapore American Community Action Council in 1973 as a non-profit organization dedicated to serving the local and expatriate community. The organization has offered a wide range of recreational programs for kids from age three through to late teens and adults as well. SACAC provided some core programs at the time, including American football and baseball, as extramural activities. The programs were designed to provide an experience in which players will learn about sportsmanship, teamwork and commitment. This year, the Singapore American Football League (SAFL) will be celebrating our 44th year! Over the years, the league has been a stalwart of SACAC which, prior to being absorbed into the Singapore American School Community Sports and Activities included over 20 programs and activities, including competitive swimming and gymnastics, baseball, softball, tennis, soccer, basketball and more recently scuba diving, to name a few. American Football and Cheerleading are still run by SACAC. The success of SACAC can be summed up by quoting Garland Kennon’s Commissioner’s Report from 1976: “In 1974, when six men got together and talked of bringing American Football to Singapore, many people undoubtedly thought the idea ludicrous. But due to the dedication of countless people this idea quickly changed from fantasy to reality until today, football is a major foundation of our community.” SACAC has always been dependent on the involvement of the community through our various volunteer opportunities including coaching, team parents, chaperones, concession sales and other similar activities. It was true in 1974 and it’s true today, with SACAC being one of the major foundations for competitive team sports in our community. With the rise in expectations in Football and Cheerleading to include these competitive opportunities, we are now employing professional teacher coaching for these programs. Although the times have changed and the issues facing the community may be different, SACAC continues to provide opportunities for the local and expatriate community to engage together in traditional American sports. To find out more about SACAC and how you can join, please visit:


Singapore American · August 2017

Choosing the Right School By Kinjal Shah


eciding on a school to enrol your child is probably one of the most important decisions you will make as a parent. Making the right decision could lead them to a path of lifelong learning, a good college education, and then a successful career. But, what if you make the wrong choice? Talk about pressure! Choosing the right school can be pretty overwhelming. As you start exploring, you will soon realize that even here on this little red dot, you have dozens of options. And they are all a little bit different; just looking through websites and brochures can be overwhelming and exhausting! However, you will probably end up with several schools that meet your requirements fairly well. Now is the time to fine-tune your choices by visiting the schools. As you set foot on the campuses of schools that pique your interest, you will see how they work for you and your child. Discern and decide by asking the right questions and comparing the responses. To find out more about Singapore American School, visit:

Once on campus, what should you look for? What questions should you be asking and why? Here are five of the most important factors that should influence your decision:

1. The delivery of a curriculum is as important as the curriculum itself. Not all IB schools or AP schools are created equal. ASK: How long do teachers stay on average and why do they leave? 2. Look for healthy diversity of nationalities, and for learning styles that do not overwhelm individual teachers. A school needs to be equipped for the diversity it welcomes. ASK: What does the school do to manage the complexities of a diverse population? 3. Ask to see a school’s actual scores and results on learning measures. For every promise a school makes, they should offer you reasons to believe. ASK: What does your optimal student look like, and do you believe that all students can learn at high levels? What do you do if students struggle to succeed academically, emotionally or socially? 4. It is helpful to ask how many students have actually graduated from the campus your child will attend and where those students have gone to university. Beware of schools that post university placements that do not reflect the actual population from their specific school. ASK: What is the unique advantage your school offers its graduates? What are universities saying about your school and the students who graduate from there? 5. Instead of asking how central the school is, ask how long it takes to get there in traffic. Close to town doesn’t always mean quick access to schools. ASK: How long does it take to get to the school in traffic? Photo courtesy of Singapore American School


Singapore American · August 2017

Lace Up Your Sneakers!

Get your step trackers and gather friends and families for a good cause! By Hazlyn Aidzil


n the spirit of Thanksgiving, the American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore (AmCham) will be organizing its 15th Corporate Community Day (CCD) on November 4. During this initiative, which is co-hosted annually with the US Embassy, member companies undertake CSR activities on a single day, involving thousands of employee volunteers and beneficiaries. As part of CCD, the chamber also organizes its own activity that rallies individuals to bring their friends and families to take part in the NTUC FairPrice Walk for Rice @ South East. Registration is now open, so sign up and join the fun! Building on the success of last year’s walk where we welcomed over 400 walkers who raised a total of 47,687 bowls of rice for low-income families in Singapore, our goal this year would be to double the number of participants, distance walked, and bowls raised. Together with the AmCham network, Singapore Minister for Social and Family Development, Tan Chuan-Jin, and U.S. Embassy Chargé d’ Affaires, Stephanie Syptak-Ramnath, will flag off the walk and be there to join in the fun.

As part of celebrating the 52 years of partnership and friendship between the United States and Singapore, we would like to encourage every individual within the American community, young and spirited, to show your support and take the lead in becoming the change that will benefit the lives of over 7,000 needy families in the South East district. Mark your calendars now, make a difference, and be part of this exceptional opportunity to engage with the community, get fit before the Thanksgiving feasting, and spend some quality time with your family while doing a good cause. More details of the event can be found on the AmCham website. To register and for more information, please contact Photos courtesy of AmCham

‘The Implications of US Engagement in the Asia-Pacific’ By Priscilla Koh


n June 2, invitations were extended to the Navy Leaguers from the American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore (AmCham), to attend a talk by Dr. Kurt Campbell, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Asia Group, LLC, to share his insights on ‘The Implications of US Engagement in the Asia-Pacific’. The United States and its allies face an uncertain and complex set of challenges in the Asia-Pacific across security, economic, and diplomatic dimensions. As a former Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Dr. Campbell provided his perspective on the current administration’s policy priorities for the region and the implications for Asian allies and partners – both in terms of regional security and economic engagement during the closed-door session. The event was well attended by members of AmCham, American Association of Singapore (AAS) and the Singapore Chapter of the US Navy League. Photo courtesy of US Navy League


An American Art Form Goes International: Borneo Jazz Festival


t’s past 11pm on a Saturday night in Miri, a medium-sized city on the coast of the Malaysian state of Sarawak, when the nine members of funk band Osaka Monaurail take the stage. The year is 2017, the place is the Borneo Jazz Festival and the members of the group are all Japanese but their look, sound and vibe – down to sharp, matching 1960s-inspired suits, electric stage show and outstanding musicianship – are straight out the classic era of American funk. For the next hour, lead singer Ryo Nakata and cohorts proceed to blow the doors off the place. At its essence, this is what the festival (now in its 12th year) is all about; mixing the quintessentially American art form of jazz with the performers and traditions from Asia and beyond. “We have connected with music. That’s the beauty of it,” said Michael Simon. His band, Michael Simon’s Asian Connection, incorporates members from across Asia as well as Asian instruments and melodies in their jazz. “Those traditions are so rich and they just enhance the sound,” he said. Idang Rasjidi, of Idang Rasjidi Syndicate, agrees. “Jazz is all over the world. It’s a universal language,” said Rasjidi, a respected member of Indonesia’s jazz scene. As a way of illustrating his point, he relates that a musician friend of his is Russian. Rasjidi does not speak Russian and his friend doesn’t speak any of the languages that Rasjidi can converse in. What they do share, however, is a deep love of jazz: that is where the magic happens. “When we sit down together and start, one, two, one, two, three four . . . and we talk,” he said.

More than any other genre, jazz has always spoken to Rasjidi. “For me, it’s a barometer of freedom,” he said. Though American in origin, jazz for him has become truly international. “(I) cannot say America owns jazz now. Everybody in the world owns jazz now,” he said. As for Osaka Monaurail, given the band’s devotion to a subset of jazz that is very specific to 1960s America, one might ask exactly where their Japanese heritage comes into it. It’s a question bandleader Nakata has wrestled with himself. “What I’m just hoping is that our Japaneseness doesn’t show,” he said. Music does not exist in a vacuum, however, and you can’t completely separate the artist from the art he or she makes, he concedes. “The point is, your own self will shine through anyway,” he said. Case in point; when he and the other members of Osaka Monaurail first saw European funk acts perform, he was shocked to find that most didn’t bother getting dressed up, often coming on stage wearing jeans and t-shirts. In contrast, since James Brown and the other original funk greats always came out in matching outfits, Nakata has made sure Osaka Monaurail does the same. That love and reverence for tradition in even small details is very much a part of his culture, he points out. “I think what we are doing is very Japanese,” he adds.



neo By Eric Walter

Mulu National Park: A Walk on the Wild Side


or those who prefer things a bit wilder than a jazz fest, Mulu National Park lies just short plane ride from Miri. Flying into Mulu is like traveling back in time to what Malaysia was like 100 years ago. As your prop-driven plane starts its descent towards the park’s tiny airport, you’ll see no roads, cities or other signs of civilization below – only forest, hills and river stretching on as far as your eye can see. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Mulu is famous for the astounding biodiversity of its equatorial rainforest and its gargantuan 295 kilometer cave system. Among the park’s geological treasures is the Deer Cave, one of the biggest cave passages in the world. The first thing that strikes you about Deer Cave is that it is indeed big – 122 meters high and 174 meters wide at its biggest point. It’s like walking through an enormous natural cathedral. The first sound you hear is that of dripping, falling, flowing water. It’s cool and wet inside and you can feel a gentle breeze on your face coming from the interior. As you go farther in, however, a whirring sound also makes itself known. A glance up reveals the source; large black patches covering the ceiling far above. Bats. Some three million of them, according to your park guides’ estimate. The path leads deeper into the cave and loops back around, leading you back outside into the early evening light and the outside world. Experiencing Deer Cave’s treasures is amazing enough. If you time your visit just right, though, you’ll have another treat in store. If you wait outside the cave’s entrance in the early evening hours, you can see what has become known as the Exodus. From behind the massive limestone cliff surrounding the cave’s main entrance will come a trickle of dark shapes – the first of Deer Cave’s multiple colonies of bats leaving to hunt for food. After a moment, you’ll notice the trickle turn into a stream then the stream broaden into a river as the cave’s bat population pours from the cave and into the darkening sky. In addition to the park’s spectacular show caves and more rugged adventure caves, Mulu offers a range of other activities, including short to multi-day treks through the forest and browsing local handicrafts at an indigenous Penan village (where you can also try out a blowpipe). One can also explore the forest canopy via a flexible bridge of stout rope, boards and steel cable suspended some 20 meters above the ground and explore Mulu’s waterways via native craft. A range of accommodations are available: from dormitory-style hostel to the ultra-luxurious Mulu Marriott Resort and Spa.

Eric Walter is a freelance writer and editor currently based in Southeast Asia. He writes about technology, innovation, business, cybercrime and entrepreneurship for Gannett Newspapers, the Rochester Business Journal, Dolan Media and King Content. He appreciates a good bowl of noodles and likes Huskies. Photos courtesy of Mrinalini

Things to know before you go Due to the sensitive ecology of the Mulu National Park, the presence of a certified park guide is mandatory for many activities. For comprehensive information on travel and activities in the region, check out Sarawak Tourism:

15 Singapore American · August 2017

Essential Apps to Survive Singapore By Laura Schwartz


nce the realm of flashy games and clunky layouts, smartphone apps have exploded into slick convenience geared at serving any need or want you can think of. One of the most technologically hooked-in countries on the planet, Singapore seems to have an app for just about everything. Even the government ministries, banks and bill-payment services can be accessed through your phone. If you’re new to town and feeling a bit lost (or aren’t new to town but feel lost anyway), these invaluable apps will help you de-stress and streamline your day-to-day life. Settling In Though isn’t as established as PropertyGuru, their app is excellent for finding HDBs, condos and landed houses to rent or buy. GoGoVan and LaLamove are easy ways to obtain movers and couriers for jobs as small as food deliveries and as large as an apartment’s worth of furniture. If you don’t own a car but just raided Ikea, these apps are lifesavers. The biggest challenge upon moving to an unfamiliar city is to pin down amenities, like the closest hospital, most convenient supermarket, your nearest ATMs, etc. For all of those and more, has got you covered. The app is still in beta, so there are a few bugs, but the website is solid. Particularly handy for new arrivals or solo expats, Meetup is exactly what it sounds like: an app that allows you to meet people who share your interests. From walking groups to single moms to language exchanges, the choices are endless. Shopping & Eating Carousell is the local equivalent of eBay. You can buy and sell just about everything here, from hair accessories to houses. Perfect if you need to furnish a new apartment without breaking the bank. Restaurants fill up fast in this little country, so reservations can be critical. HungryGoWhere and Chope are the go-to apps for making bookings. Yes, you’ll likely need both, as their lists of restaurants don’t always overlap. Also a website, RedMart is one of the best grocery ordering apps in Singapore. The wide range of options and the ability to choose a two-hour delivery slot make this an incredibly useful service. Getting Around If you rely on public transport (and in Singapore, why wouldn’t you?), then Citymapper will be your new best friend. In addition to the convenient “Get Me Home” button, the app even tells you which routes to your destination will keep you out of the heat the most! Need a ride? You’ve got your pick of apps, from the official taxi companies, ComfortDelGro and SMRT, to ridesharing options like Uber and the well-priced Grab. Four apps might seem like overkill, but there will come a rainy Friday afternoon when you’ll be glad for back-up options. Hunting for a specific item in an unfamiliar mall can suck up hours of your day, especially since store info on Google Maps can be inaccurate or out-of-date. Pocket Malls Singapore not only allows you to search by store name and category, it also includes maps and directories of all major malls. Laura Schwartz was born in Ireland and grew up in Japan, Singapore and New Jersey, finally becoming an American citizen at age 18. She graduated from Bard College in 2010 with a BA in Japanese Language & Culture. When she’s not traveling or devouring a new book, she juggles her nine-to-five as an Admissions and Career Consultant with freelance writing.



Singapore American · August 2017

Hiring a Helper 101 By Faith Chanda


any western expats struggle with the concept of domestic help. For the majority of us, it is likely to be the first time employing a live-in Foreign Domestic Worker (FDW), as the Ministry of Manpower refers to them. But these lovely ladies are most commonly referred to as “helpers” and for good reason. Many of us can’t imagine navigating our expat experience in Singapore without their hard work, know-how and dedication. For some, it can be difficult to come to terms with hiring someone to do what you feel you should be doing for yourself or your family. It may help to re-frame it in your mind as allowing someone (who needs the work to support their own family) to take care of your home so that you can more fully participate in the amazing experiences the privilege of expat life offers. Just like any other employment situation, though, it’s a gamble. There are no guarantees, but here are some tips that can help your gamble payoff: Hire meticulously It’s easiest to go through an agency the first time around. Try to get personal referrals from other expats and then let the agency take care of the paperwork for you. When interviewing candidates, think about what kind of responsibilities your helper will have. The most common include child and/or pet care, cooking and cleaning. Some also do grocery shopping and budgeting, along with other aspects of household management. Figure out what is really important to you, for example: must she be able to cook, or will you teach her how to make what you like? If you are fastidious about cleaning, will she be willing to learn exactly how you want things done? Then interview until you find someone you feel comfortable with. Understand that expectations can differ widely for different cultures and different families; just because a helper was a perfect fit with one employer doesn’t mean she will necessarily be perfect for you. Interview at least once in your home before you hire and observe how she reacts to any kids or pets, as well as your home environment in general. Ask specific questions: Not just ‘Can you cook?’ or ‘What can you cook?’ but ‘How do you cook your favorite dish?’ We interviewed more than 20 helpers when looking for our first and finally concluded that for us, our top priorities were attitude, willingness to learn, trustworthiness and chemistry. Does she feel right with your family? Does she try to make any connection with your kids or pets? How does she react to unexpected or difficult questions? The pat answers they learn from their friends will often not tell you what you really need to know. Make sure to check references and employment history. A series of short-term assignments can clue you in to a helper who might not be what she seems. Several long-term placements indicate someone who is able to adapt to different families and is in it for the long haul. Once you’ve found a helper that you feel is a good fit, it’s time to get her room ready You are responsible for fully furnishing her space, including linens and toiletries. At the very least, she will need a bed (measure the space before you buy!), nightstand and some storage for clothing and belongings. Note that many helpers actually prefer a fan to aircon, which they often feel is – believe it or not – too cold. Access to wifi to enable less costly communication to home is very much appreciated.

17 Singapore American · August 2017

When she arrives, don’t assume that she will just know what to do As with any employee, she will need some on-the-job training. The vast majority of helpers truly want to help you but they can’t read minds. You have to be clear about what you want and what you don’t. Put everything in writing in the beginning; so much information at once can be overwhelming and it will help both of you to remember what you’ve said. Think of it as writing an employee handbook and it should include:

! !

Rules such as working hours, code of conduct and grounds for termination.


A sample schedule of a typical day in your home, highlighting times that you will need her (for example, getting the kids ready for school in the morning, serving dinner in the evening, etc.) Those with experience generally know how to respect your privacy and make themselves scarce when they are not needed.

Job responsibilities: a specific list accompanied by a schedule of when and how often each one should be completed. Write, or show in detail how you want tasks completed and with what tools or products. Responsibilities often include cleaning (which rooms on what days of the week), laundry (explain how you want loads separated, any clothing which should be ironed, how often it should be done, and where to put folded clothes away), food shopping (she will likely need to go to more than one place, so explain your preferences), meal preparation and cooking (it is a good idea to discuss food safety, dietary restrictions, and taste preferences ahead of time as these vary widely between different cultures).

Welcoming a helper into your home is a big transition all around. It’s important to keep communication lines open, and to be flexible and understanding of each other’s cultural and personal expectations and boundaries. It can be a challenge, but when things go well, it can change your – and your helper’s – lives for the better. Faith Chanda relocated to Singapore in January 2015 with her husband and two young children. She is a freelance writer and marketing consultant as the sole proprietor of F. Chanda Communications & Events. Faith enjoys exploring food, culture, nature and design through her travel adventures and looks forward to many new discoveries throughout Asia. Photo by Cath Forte



Singapore American · August 2017

Where to Live? By Frances Strong


nless you have the luxury of a couple of months in a serviced apartment built into your package, you will need to find somewhere to live as a matter of high priority. You might come from a large house in your home country and want to replicate this kind of space, maybe you’d love to live in a Black and White house, or perhaps you’d like to try out the convenience and full facilities of a condo. Whatever you fancy, there are lots of factors to consider when you’re looking for your Singapore home. Location, location, location! There are lots of great areas to live on the Little Red Dot, from the quirky charm of Tiong Bahru to the lazy sea breeze of Sentosa; but the old adage is as true here as it is all over the world, location is key. If you find your dream home, but you have to take two buses and a train to get to work each day, you might want to think again. Important things to consider when looking at different areas: Commute – not just for yourself, but also for any other members of the family. Most schools have a comprehensive bus service, collecting kids from landed houses and condos. However, even though a school seems close when you travel directly by car, the bus route might well pick up lots of other children along the way, so it’s worth checking out before you commit. Transport links – cars are pretty pricey in Singapore and many people choose to use public transport and taxis instead. If you’re not going to have a car, check out which bus routes and MRT lines serve your chosen location and see if these are convenient for your workplace/family members’ regular destinations. Amenities – what do you want around you? Is space the most important thing for you or is it convenience for shopping, places of interest and eateries? Be sure to take a good stroll around your shortlisted areas to get a feel for how practical a place it is to live. Housing Development Board (HDB) Flat, House or Condominium? There are many apartment buildings with units available to rent, from Housing Development Board flats to privately owned condominium (condo) complexes. HDB flats As part of its drive to provide sanitary, affordable housing for all Singaporeans, which began in 1960, the HDB has built (and continues to build) apartment buildings, incorporating community amenities, such as recreation areas, food courts, shops, medical surgeries, vets, dry cleaners and more. HDB flats cannot be purchased by foreigners, however they may rent the flats through private landlords. Condo Living Lots of expats opt to live in condos; properties range from brand new, never-lived-in buildings, which tend to have smaller rooms, to older condos, which often have larger rooms and more outdoor space. View plenty in your chosen areas and make a checklist of the facilities that are important to you. Is it preferable to have lots of outdoor space (think large pool area and kids’ playground); is a well-equipped gym a must

for you; would you sacrifice some square-footage in exchange for a brand-new place with beautiful marble floors, pristine bathrooms and swanky kitchen appliances? If you are planning to employ a helper, you will also need to factor in suitable living space for her.

Checklist: What is important to me?

√ Commute √ Local amenities

Houses Also referred to as Landed Properties, some families prefer to live in a more traditional home, with a garden (and maybe even a private pool). There are a couple of different types of houses available, including:

√ Pool

Cluster Houses Usually newer developments, with a group of houses sharing some facilities, such as a gym, pool and barbeque area. Great if you enjoy living in a house, but be sure to view plenty as some are built very close together, and you don’t want to be living on top of your neighbors, however nice they are!

√ Community

Black and Whites These houses get their name from their dark timber beams and whitewashed walls and many date back to the early 1900s. Positively palatial by comparison to most of the newer properties, they were the homes of the upper classes, plantation owners and influential people in days gone by. Many black and white houses are owned by the government and to lease one you need to go through a bidding process. Details can be found at: How to find a property You can rent privately, looking on sites like Craigslist and Facebook groups, which often advertise shorter term rentals. For your first rental, it is advisable to use an agent. Although they charge a fee, the peace of mind of having your transaction handled by a professional might just be worth it. A good agent will help you throughout the duration of your tenancy, but particularly during the check in and check out stage, helping to ensure you get all (or at least most) of your deposit back at the end. Most leases are for two years, although a diplomatic clause is usually included, which will allow you to leave after a 12-month period, with due notice to the landlord (usually two months). If you want to leave before your contracted period, landlords will generally allow this if you can find someone to take over your lease, some will follow the contract to the letter and expect you to pay full rent until the end of the lease period. More great information for newcomers to the Lion City can be found in our Living in Singapore book, now in its 14th Edition. See: for more information. Originally from a tiny seaside town in the UK, Frances Strong has called Singapore home since 2011. Six years later, she’s still exploring the Little Red Dot and loves to find new and quirky places to wow her visitors. When she’s not playing taxi driver for her children, she likes to write about travel, motherhood, food, life…and anything in between. Photo courtesy of Singapore Tourism Board

√ Gym √ Playground

√ Privacy √ Space √ Quiet √ Budget √ Transport links √ Pets welcome


Singapore American · August 2017

Experience Many World Religions on one Little Red Dot – One Singaporean Advantage By Bill Poorman


ven if you are coming to Singapore for the first time, you likely already know that it is a diverse country, with a population coming from Chinese, Indian, Malay and European backgrounds. Along with that national diversity comes a number of different religions, providing a rare opportunity to investigate and experience a wide variety of faiths in relatively small space.

The latest study of the religious make-up of Singapore’s resident population (native Singaporeans and permanent residents) was the General Household Survey from 2015. Among people aged 15 or older, this was the breakdown of religious affiliation: • The largest religious group in Singapore was Buddhism/Taosim at 43.2% of the resident population. 33.2% were Buddhist, while the remainder were Taoist. • The second largest religious group was Christians at 18.8%. • The next largest group was people who reported no religion at 18.5%. • Muslims make up 14% of the resident population. • Hinduism was the religion of 5% of the resident population. • Other religions were reported by 0.6%. The survey also called out a few other findings about religion in Singapore: • Only people with no religion and Christianity saw an increase in percentage terms since the last survey in 2010. The non-religious increased by one-and-a-half points, while Christianity increased half a percent. • Even so, the proportions among the various religions have remained relatively stable. • Virtually all Malays are Muslim in Singapore. Only a half a percent report other religions, and 0.3% report no religion. • Among Chinese Singaporeans, more than half are Buddhist and Taoist. Almost a quarter report no religion, while about a fifth are Christians. • Among Indian Singaporeans, almost 60% are Hindu, while 21% are Muslim, and 12% are Christian. About 5% report other religions, and 1.4% report no religion.

So, with that as background, if you’re looking to explore some of the religious diversity of Singapore, there are many, welcoming places of worship to visit throughout the country. Also, there are many religious festivals to take in throughout the year. In case you need reminders of the festivals, you’ll find that many of the national holidays in Singapore celebrate religious holidays. To tap into the non-religious community, look for the Humanist Society (Singapore), a registered society started in 2010. Should you choose to visit a place of worship, be sure to observe any customs regarding clothing or purification before you enter. If you don’t, you can count on being gently reminded by attendants or worshippers. And while it’s highly unlikely that you’re here to cause religious trouble, be aware that Singapore law is designed to make sure you show respect to various faiths. Insulting a group’s religion, deliberately disturbing religious services, and stoking religious divisiveness are all crimes, punishable by prison terms, fines, or both. But enough about that. Have fun exploring your new home and the religious diversity it has to offer. If you’re especially curious, do a bit of homework and compare how the Singaporean

communities celebrate various events compared to the country of origin. Sometimes you’ll find small differences, like a name change, while other times you’ll find entire practices that are different. Despite the cultures it’s inherited, Singapore remains a place unto itself. Bill Poorman has lived in Singapore for three years and enjoys exploring the religious landscape of the country. To answer the question you might have had in the back of your mind, it’s no religion. Photos by Bill Poorman

Singapore is often referred to as the Little Red Dot, a reference to its appearance on the map. As you find your way around Singapore, you will see this phrase in many forms, from national celebrations to magazine titles to the names of breweries.

21 Singapore American · August 2017

The Singapore Overbooked Men’s Association (SOMA) Support and camaraderie for the male trailing spouse or partner By SOMA


n increasing number of men are finding themselves in the trailing role, following a spouse or partner on an international assignment. That’s as true in Singapore as it is elsewhere. As trailing female spouses and partners have known for a long time, having a group of people to provide support and camaraderie can make all the difference when settling into a new country. Also, that support, in turn, can make all the difference in whether an expat assignment is successful or not. That’s where the Singapore Overbooked Men’s Association comes in. Started three years ago by male trailing spouses who had previously lived in Shanghai, SOMA is an informal organization that primarily arranges social events and outings that help create a soft landing in Singapore. From there, men get plugged into a network that can help with a variety of issues ranging from the more complex (What’s the best way to go about a job search in Singapore? Should I get a helper, and how do I do that?) to the more mundane (Where’s the best place to get a haircut? Who wants to play a round of golf?). While several SOMA members are Americans, it’s open to all nationalities and currently has members from at least ten countries. You might be wondering about that name; that is, the overbooked part. To find out about that, come to one of our events, such as our recent 10km hike down the Singapore Rail Corridor, an old railroad track that’s on its way to becoming a parkway, finishing up with lunch (pictured). We also recommend starting with one of the lunches we host twice a month. To find out more, visit See you soon! Photos courtesy of Rodney Allen, Dom Monteiro and Bill Poorman



Singapore American · August 2017

Vaccinations and More By Dr. Méli Noël


n Singapore, we are blessed with excellent healthcare, but with a new country comes a new set of potential health issues. Here is the lowdown on what vaccinations are required and any other health alerts newcomers to the Lion City should be aware of.

Do I need specific vaccinations? To ensure that all family members stay healthy during your stay in Singapore, it is important that everyone is up-to-date with their childhood vaccinations. The American calendar is very thorough, and incorporates almost all the vaccinations recommended for Singapore, including Diphtheria/Tetanus/Pertussis (your last booster should have been done in the last 10 years to still be effective), Polio, Hib, Measles/Mumps/Rubella (MMR), Varicella (chickenpox), Hepatitis B, and Pneumococcal vaccines. The only vaccination that is usually recommended for living in Singapore that does not appear on the USA schedule is the BCG (tuberculosis vaccination). In Singapore and many other countries around the world, it is given to newborn infants. Children that are more than six months old who have not been vaccinated will need a special skin prick test to determine if they have already been exposed to tuberculosis prior to being vaccinated. We do not recommend the vaccine for children of six or older, or to adults. My child follows the USA vaccination schedule – is it the same as Singapore? The two schedules differ slightly in terms of the timing of immunizations, but as I like to tell parents, everybody gets there in the end. Some differences include the BCG vaccine that Singaporean infants receive at birth, and the omission of the chickenpox and meningitis vaccinations in the Singapore schedule. Meningitis is not a major issue in South East Asia, but if you are planning on going back home for holidays, or if your children are planning to attend college in the USA, we recommend that they follow the USA schedule of meningitis vaccination. We plan on travelling in Asia – are there specific precautions I should take? A huge part of the fun of living in Singapore is discovering neighboring countries. However, it is important to get appropriate advice before travelling as some diseases that are not present in Singapore are frequently encountered in the rest of South East Asia. The two most common vaccines recommended for regional travel are typhoid and hepatitis A. Depending on where you are going and the type of activities planned, we might also recommend other specific vaccinations (Japanese Encephalitis, Rabies, Yellow Fever, Cholera). What other tropical diseases should I be aware of in Singapore? Singapore is generally very safe and clean, but we must remember that we still live in the tropics! The most common tropical disease encountered in Singapore is Dengue Fever, a mosquito-borne illness. Insect avoidance offers the best protection against Dengue Fever, including using DEETbased mosquito repellent and removing stagnant water around the house. There are also two other viral mosquito-borne illnesses that are less common but still worth mentioning, Chikungunya and Zika Virus. Again, mosquito bite prevention offers the best protection.

Vaccinations Recommended for Singapore ROUTINE: Diphtheria/Tetanus/Pertussis Polio Hemophilus influenza Type B (Hib) Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) Hepatitis B BCG (Tuberculosis) Pneumococcal RECOMMENDED: Rotavirus Seasonal Influenza Varicella (chickenpox) Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) SPECIAL SITUATIONS: Meningococcal B/C/23

Vaccinations/products recommended for Travel around Asia RECOMMENDED: Hepatitis A Typhoid Influenza WORTH CONSIDERING: Gastro and travel medication kits DEET-based insect repellents SPECIAL SITUATIONS: Yellow Fever Meningitis ACWY Meningitis C Cholera/Traveler’s Diarrhea Japanese B Encephalitis Rabies Anti-malarials

Dr. Méli Noël is based at International Medical Clinic, Jelita. Learn more:

Mindfulness By Cath Forte


e hear an awful lot about being mindful these days, but what does it actually mean? I know I certainly have a mind full of stuff…when is my next meeting, what shall we have for dinner, what time is the bus going to come, where is the cat hiding…but this is, perhaps, as far from mindfulness as we can get! Being mindful is something that is integral to Eastern philosophies, such as Buddhism, and is really about being present in the moment. Not just turning up, but actually engaging, paying attention and giving your full mind to the situation. So often we run from place to place, appointment to appointment, without taking a moment to just be; even our transit time is spent reading emails, checking social media or making phone calls. Pressures from work and a busy home life compete to leave us with very little time to breathe. Ironically, devices that were designed to make our lives easier actually contribute to the problem, with many of us feeling anxious if we are away from our smartphones for more than an hour. Perhaps even more of us never actually turn them off, lest an important message should come through out of hours that requires immediate attention. Partners, children and friends can often feel they come in a poor second to the latest smartphone. If this sounds familiar to you, then perhaps, like me, you would benefit from practicing a little mindfulness each day. Not sure where to start? Try these: Meditate This doesn’t mean you have to spend hours chanting in the lotus position. Set aside a little time each day to sit still, close your eyes and focus on breathing. In today’s busy life, it might feel like there isn’t a moment to spare, but think hard about that five-minute video of cats doing funny things you just watched on Facebook…you can spare a few moments! If your thoughts wander,

take a second to acknowledge this, then return your focus to your breath. Set a timer, if you feel you need to, or just sit for as long as you’re able. Aim towards an achievable goal of five minutes each day. Eliminate Time Thieves Fear of missing out (FOMO in social media shorthand) is a real thing and it’s become commonplace to check in to any establishment on Facebook and photograph all food before consumption to feed the virtual hunger of your Instagram followers. Next time you’re lunching with a friend, silence your phone and leave it in your bag. Resist the urge to hashtag your way through the meal, and be present in the moment. You can listen, laugh and enjoy each other’s company without posting selfies to prove to the world that you’re having a great time. Explore It’s normal to get caught up in the daily grind and not take time out to check out new things. Remember the curiosity of your childhood and ensure you keep on exploring: countries, sports, crafts, books, whatever you like. New experiences broaden the mind. Be Grateful Sad, but true, many people’s default setting is to lament the things they don’t have, rather than being thankful for the things they do. The next time you open your mouth to complain about something (or entertain a negative thought), stop and take a breath; recognize all the things that are good in your life and be grateful. It will help to put the minor niggles into perspective and contribute to your overall happiness.


Singapore American · August 2017

He Tastes 200 Cups of Coffee Every Day; and What I Learned By Jim Tietjen


y Grandfather was an amazing man, but this is one story that’s hard to believe! A May 14, 1958 interview in the Bermuda Mid-Ocean News begins, “Currently visiting Bermuda is a man who sits down to 200 cups of coffee every day.” This was my Grandfather, a “coffee expert” for the Ausch Coffee Company, 111 Wall Street, NY, NY from 1920-1960. The article continues, “[he] can take a sip from a cup and instantly tell the various countries which produced the beans for the blend ... After sampling a demitasse at the Bermudian Hotel ... he declared that the blend came from Columbia, Brazil, and Ethiopia.” (Wow!) “ ... he’s found that no special diet nor restrictions regarding smoking (and he did, a lot) or drinking (ditto) are essential to preserving requisite sensory perceptions. He smokes while he’s taste-testing. Drinking, though, is restricted to after hours.” The interviewer then rightly asked, “Can [you] face a cup for consumption after sampling an average of 200 cups a day?” [He replies] “Two in the morning, one for lunch and one for dinner. [With] two spoons of sugar plus cream.” (I’m sure there was always a cigarette within reach.) Circa 1959, when I actually accompanied my Grandfather to a coffee tasting, he told me he could differentiate five beans in single cup of blended coffee. and what I learned… Making really good coffee is more art than science. Like art, you have to learn the basics: beans, roasts, blends, grinds and brewing. And then practice…a lot! Beans Was it not Hamlet who said: ‘To single bean, or not to single bean, this is the dilemma.’ Well, maybe not quite! Single origin coffee beans are from a single location, like the Limmu region of Ethiopia or the highland forests of Papua New Guinea. Roasts There are basically three, but in reality too many derivatives to count. An American light roast is light-to-medium in color/flavor; an Espresso medium roast has more body, is darker and more flavorful; a French bold roast is dark, full-bodied and sometimes bitter to the taste. Blends Blending is also an art. A careful medium roast of beans from Colombia, Ethiopia, Sumatra and Rwanda could produce a bold dark, full flavored, slightly sweet/floral, very smooth taste. Beans from Brazil, Ethiopia, India and Papua New Guinea in a medium roast would offer a rich but mellow brew with a floral, zesty smooth finish. Two to five different beans per blend is normal (and Grandpa could tell how many and from where!) Grinds When choosing beans tell the barista what coffee maker you use and what taste you prefer. This is important. Different grinds (coarse, medium, fine) suit different coffee makers and palates!


This will make a big difference in your coffee experience. Brewing French press, filter/drip coffee maker, aeropress, espresso machine, or maybe you drink it Turkish style grounds and all? Consider your brewing method before you buy and grind, with help from your barista. There’s lots to learn about coffee; my Grandpa “[he] still learns something new every day.” Tasting many different coffees is important. You can learn the basics by taking a coffee course. Well-trained baristas can help give you confidence to make great coffee at home. You’ll have to lay down some dollars for a cup of coffee art/science, but you’ll walk away with more than just caffeine in your veins. Perhaps your grandkid will remember your coffee prowess! Jim Tietjen currently does volunteer work at the National Gallery Singapore, Gardens by the Bay, the Singapore Space and Technology Association, and the American Association of Singapore… it’s his passion! Photo courtesy of Jim Tietjen



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MUSEUMS 1 August – ongoing Glass Rotunda: Story of the Forest and Singapore, Very Old Tree National Museum of Singapore 93 Stamford Road, Singapore 178897 1 – 31 August South Asia and the Islamic World: Highlights from the Collection Asian Civilisations Museum 1 Empress Place, Singapore 179555 1 August – 3 September Yayoi Kusama: Life is the Heart of a Rainbow National Gallery of Singapore 1 St. Andrew’s Road, Singapore 178957 1 August – 8 October A Little Magic Exhibition Singapore Philatelic Museum 23-B Coleman Street, Singapore 179807 1 August – 8 October Gallery Children’s Biennale: Dreams & Stories National Gallery of Singapore 1 St. Andrew’s Road, Singapore 178957 1 August – 4 December Rediscovering Treasures: Ink Art from the Xiu Hai Lou Collection Strokes of Life: The Art of Chen Chong Swee National Gallery of Singapore 1 St. Andrew’s Road, Singapore 178957 1 August – 30 December Reviving Myanmar Celadon Ceramics NUS Museum 50 Kent Ridge Crescent, Singapore 119279

ENTERTAINMENT 8 – 27 August Forbidden City – Portrait of an Empress Esplanade Theatre 12 August A Celebration of Dreams: John Williams – The Music Makers Esplanade Concert Hall 16 August The Great Circle 2017 – Live in Singapore The Star Theatre 18 August Kenny Sebastian Live Nexus Auditorium 21 August Richie Kotzen Live in Singapore Annexe Studio @ Esplanade 31 August SSO Pops Concert: A Night at the Movies Esplanade Concert Hall

LIFESTYLE 1 – 31 August Carpet Sale – up to 70% off Hedger’s Carpet Gallery 15 Dempsey Road #01-09, Singapore 249675 10:30am – 7pm

EDUCATION 11 August Singapore American School Open House 40 Woodlands Street 41 17 & 18 August Stamford American International School Open House 279 Upper Serangoon Road 9am


31 August – 2 September Drum Tao 2017 ‘BUKYO’ MES Theatre at MediaCorp

15 – 17 September 2017 Formula 1 Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix Marina Bay Street Circuit

2 September An Evening with Kronos Quartet Drama Centre Theatre

17 September Yellow Ribbon Prison Run SAF Field, Farnborough Road

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