Singapore American Newspaper December 2016

Page 1


Since 1958

American Association..... 1-4 Member Discounts............. 3 CRCE & Business............... 5 Community News........... 6-9 Living in Singapore..... 10-15 Nightlife..................... 16-22 Food & Dining............ 23-24 Science........................... 25 Sports............................. 26 Arts & Culture................. 27 What’s Happening.......... 27

Living in Singapore 10-15

Christmas Fun: for Kids and Adults Alike

December 2016

Food & Dining 23-24

Science 25

Hot Restaurants Perfect for Celebrating the Holidays

Where to Learn More about Singapore’s Night Sky

Nightlife 16-22

The Inside Scoop on Nightlife in Singapore MCI (P) 116/04/2016

A Fond Farewell By Melinda Murphy

Photo by Sue Levens


he US elections will bring a wave of change in the US and throughout the world, even here in the Lion City. In January – soon after the Obamas board the helicopter and leave the White House for the last time – US Ambassador to Singapore Kirk Wagar, his wife Crystal and their children will head back to the United States. Many are sad to see them leave, as the couple has been known for their warm and welcoming attitude, often opening their home and their hearts to both the American and Singaporean communities. In their three years in Singapore, the Wagars have been witness to some amazing political events, such as the death of Singapore’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew and the State Visit and Dinner held in Washington DC for Singapore. Their personal life has also been special, traveling around the region as expats here do. In August, they

added a new baby girl, Avery, to the mix. Kirk’s son (who lives in Miami) will be 11 in February and their daughter Rhys is now two. Crystal also faced a challenge all working mothers understand: finding balance between her personal and professional lives. Eventually, she gave up her law practice in Miami, choosing to focus on her public responsibilities and motherhood. Singapore has definitely changed their lives and touched their hearts. SAN: Has this job been what you expected? KW: The job itself is humbling and fantastic, the best job I could ever imagine. I don’t mean the role of ambassador. I mean being the US Ambassador to Singapore. I think I won the lottery of all of our friends who are serving elsewhere. [It’s exhilarating] when people come into the embassy to talk about what their companies are doing in this region, the choices they’re making, how they are using Singapore

as a platform, what’s going on in China and in India, for example. I just didn’t expect to learn as much across such a wide swath. It’s just unbelievable. That’s been the coolest part because who gets to learn that much at this point in their lives? CW: I came here with an idea of what we were going to be doing and what we were going to be learning and engaging in, but I think that I’m leaving with a different idea. I’m leaving with a lot more knowledge of not only the expat community living in Singapore and the Singaporeans, of course, but also of myself. My life has been totally changed and you couple that with learning what it means to be the wife of an ambassador and you’ve got this whole new sense of what the world looks like. Continues on page 9.

American Association of Singapore’s Annual Strategic Partners


Singapore American · December 2016

A message from the President...


Happy Holidays and farewell to a LONG year: Who knew at the beginning of 2016 that this would turn out to be such a crazy year?! Olympic medals and scandals, “Netflix & Chill,” non-stop flights (again) to the US (on Singapore Airlines and United Airlines), US-Singapore State Visit, my Cub’s World Series WIN after 108 years and now a new US President. I’m exhausted. But hopefully all Americans will come together with President-elect Trump and get to the business of solving the challenges that we all face. With the transfer of power in Washington, we’ll also be seeing changes here. Notably, Ambassador and Crystal Wagar will sadly leave our Little Red Dot in January. I had the pleasure of conducting the first interview with them for the American Community more than two years ago about their expectations and goals. In this issue, Singapore American newspaper closes the loop and finds out about what they’ve experienced on the diplomatic and family fronts, as well as their new fondness for Singaporean food. One thing for sure: we will all miss the Wagars. Fun Stuff: Thanks to the US Navy MWR for working with us on our best-ever Turkey Trot fun run event. It was great to see so many singles, couples and families running through the streets of Sembawang and then enjoying a great pancake breakfast. Coming up on December 5 is our annual Toys for Tots event with the US Marine Embassy detachment. Sign up today and bring your family to see Santa, hear Christmas carols, enjoy great food and craft-making and, above all, have the chance to give new toys to underprivileged kids right here in our host country. AAS 100th Anniversary Events: Finally, after months of planning, the AAS 100th anniversary is here. Reserve your early-bird tickets by December 31 for the George Washington Centennial Ball in March. This will be the best-ever GWB, so get your tickets and prepare to be amazed. We kick off a full year of celebration events in January, with our 100 Acts of Charity. We will not only offer you the chance to give back to Singapore, but we will collate all of the charity deeds that Americans and American organizations are doing throughout the year on our website. By December 2017, we should have an amazing collection of deeds and a tangible representation of how Americans give back. Profits from the Ball will go to support these acts throughout the year. The “Coast to Quay” kickoff on January 21 will see 200 lucky AAS members on the Royal Albatross tall ship down at Sentosa, for a night of music, food and fun. This tall ship represents the way that Americans arrived in Singapore in 1917, a fitting way to start our anniversary year. AAS 100th Anniversary Sponsors, we need you! We still need individual and corporate sponsors to help power our anniversary activities. Please support our mission to be “The leading non-profit organization that enhances, promotes and celebrates American culture among expats from all countries and the Singaporean community – through social events, charitable activities and career support.” For details on the many exciting programs and sponsorship options, contact AAS General Manager Toni Dudsak ( or Business Development Manager Shu Khanduja ( Our office number is 6738 0371. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter: @AmAssocSG, (hashtag #AmAssocSG for all social media).


On behalf of the Executive Committee and the AAS staff, Happy Holidays and New Year! Best, Glenn van Zutphen twitter: @glennvanzutphen

Editor-in-Chief: Melinda Murphy, Publishing Editor: Toni Dudsak,

DESIGN & LAYOUT Graphic Designer: Miia Koistinen,

ADVERTISING Advertising Manager: Valerie Tietjen,

CONTRIBUTORS Hazlyn Aidzil, Sumedh Bhattacharya, Virginia Brumby, Faith Chanda, Laura Coulter, Lucia Damacela, Melissa Diagana, Sue Harben, Lindy Hiemstra, Koh Xin Tian, Linda Le, James Nesbitt, Shailesh Paul, Lauren S. Power, Conn Schrader, Laura Schwartz, Marc Servos, Jeff Tejcek, Eric Walter, Betty Warner For AAS: Melinda Murphy, Valerie Tietjen

AMERICAN ASSOCIATION BOARD MEMBERS President: Glenn van Zutphen • Vice President: Steven Tucker Treasurer: Patrick Jones • Secretary: Shawn Galey Directors: James Arpin, Joseph Foggiato, Mary Beth McCrory, Ana Mims and Stephanie Nash Immediate Past President: David Boden • AmCham Chair: Dwight Hutchins The American Club President: Scott Weber • AWA President: Tara Eastep SACAC Chair: Gregory Rutledge • SAS Chair: Anita Tan-Langlois Non-Voting Members: US Embassy: Chahrazed Sioud 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.

SUBSCRIPTION 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 · December 2016


Upcoming Events


Toys for Tots


Past Events

Santa Claus is coming to town! Get into the holiday spirit to support Toys for Tots. Bring an unwrapped new toy for the US Marines to distribute to children around Singapore and Southeast Asia. Come see Santa, meet the US Marines, participate in some Christmas activities, enjoy the SAS High School Choir and share some refreshments. 5-7pm The American Club, The 2nd Floor 10 Claymore Hill, (S)229573 Visit for pricing and registration.


We Need You!

Taste of Italy

Work with the AAS team that contributes to programs, publications and events for our Singapore community. The 2017 Nominating Committee is now accepting interested candidates who have experience in marketing, membership, finance, sponsorship or community outreach activities.

The hidden secrets of making delicious Italian recipes were revealed at our fantastic Taste of Italy event. Guests wined and dined on Italian treats while learning all of the tricks of cooking authentic pasta dishes and tiramisù in a demonstration by Clessidra and the AAS staff. The event took place in The GoDown’s fabulous shophouse setting. Guests also had the opportunity to do a bit of holiday shopping and find unique holiday treasures.

The position is for two years starting in March 2017. Each month there is one afternoon/evening meeting. No prior board experience is necessary, but candidates must be a US citizen.

Turkey Trot

Volunteer as a member of the 2017 American Association of Singapore Executive Committee & Board.

Send your resume and a brief note as to why you’d like to join to: Deadline: December 31, 2016. All interviews completed by January 31, 2017.

Gobble gobble…the young and old alike had an amazing time running through the gorgeous Black and White homes in Sembawang. Afterwards, everybody enjoyed a yummy awards breakfast. Be sure to pick up the January issue of Singapore American for photos of this event co-sponsored by the US Navy MWR.

Santa Claus is coming to town!

Get into the holiday spirit to support Toys for Tots

Monday, December 5 · 5-7pm The American Club, The 2nd Floor 10 Claymore Hill, (S)229573 Honorary Chairperson: Mrs. Crystal Wagar For registration and price info:

Major Event Sponsor


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

Two hours free handy-man service worth more than $200 when you book your move with Allied Pickfords. Call 6862 4700.

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 from January 4-December 30, 2016. 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.

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

Enjoy cash rewards of up to 50% of the first month’s nett rental when you lease an apartment/ house or refer a friend to us. Valid till December 31, 2016. Terms & Conditions apply. Call 6223 5223 or visit

FIRST DRINK FREE – every day, every visit for AAS members. Valid on house pours until December 31, 2016. Show your membership card at the bar to claim. Check out their new location at: 32 South Buona Vista

Survival Chic Discovery Dining Program 30% off the table bill (including alcohol and guests) at 50+ top restaurants around the city. $25,000+ in savings, for less than $1/day. 10% off Survival Chic Membership for AAS members!


Our contributors The Singapore American newspaper wouldn’t be possible without our wonderfully talented writers who give their time and talent each month. While we have a number of people who contribute from time to time, the people below contribute often and make up the core of our publication’s team. We’d like to take this opportunity to say, “Thank you!” for all this incredibly capable and diverse group does for us.

Rob has lived in six countries in the region over 30 years, including three stints in Singapore. After a career in the moving/relocation industry, he now enjoys sharing settling-in tips with new expats in Singapore. Rob often writes interesting stories reflecting on times gone by in the Lion City, giving a glimpse into what life was like before most expats arrived here.

Faith Chanda Faith fell in love with Singapore soon after she moved here in early 2015 with her family. She enjoys the unique opportunities that being a “trailing spouse” offers such as the time to travel, write, do arts and crafts projects with her kids and meet up with friends and family. The majority of her career has been in corporate Marketing Communications and Event Planning, spanning multiple industries and roles. Recently, Faith has experienced a bit of a reinvention as a freelance writer and sole proprietor of F. Chanda Communications and Events.

Laura Coulter

Angel Corrigan Angel has lived in Singapore since 1999. She is the mother of three grown children and grandmother of three. As a military and expat spouse, she has lived and worked in Europe, Middle East and Southeast Asia. Currently, she is the Director of Special Projects with an anti-sex trafficking NGO based in Nepal, having recently completed a major library project for their schools in the Kathmandu region.

Laura is a globe-trotting coffee drinker, international school teacher, event planner, fundraiser and builder of houses. She enjoys hosting fabulous events that give back to her community and causes in which she believes. Creator and host of the long-running clothing swap, “Your Clothes Friend Swap,” held four times a year, Laura promotes both fashion and fundraising by using the funds for her volunteer builds with Habitat for Humanity. She is launching the “Champagne Resolution” in January as a chance for others to join her in the annual resolution to enjoy life, one pop at a time.

Kevin Cox Kevin is a culinary explorer and writer for magazines and websites in the US and Asia. For five years, Kevin roamed Singapore’s heartlands, making them his home and their food his obsession. After two years back in the US, he has now headed south to Santiago, Chile where he is exploring South American food from the Andes to the sea. He loves to get low to the ground and experience how people live and what they eat, yearning for authenticity in the food and passion by those who make it. Join him at

Richard Hartung Richard, the Managing Director of Transcarta, is a freelance writer for Today, gtnews, Challenge, OOSSKAnews, The Asian Banker and other media as well as the author of Changing Lanes, Changing Lives. He is also a consultant in retail banking, focusing on payments strategy and efficiency, with more than 20 years of experience in Asia ( Richard has a BA from Pomona College and an MBA from Stanford University. He volunteers with the Metropolitan YMCA, the Jane Goodall Institute (Singapore), Protégé and other non-profits.

Rob Faraone

Andrew Hallam Andrew is a global nomad who taught at Singapore American School from 2003 until 2014. He’s the author of the international bestseller, Millionaire Teacher. Its second edition is being released in December 2016. He’s also the author of The Global Expatriates Guide to Investing. Andrew writes a weekly investment column for AssetBuilder, a US-based investment firm and he writes a bi-weekly column for The Globe and Mail, Canada’s national newspaper. He also blogs at

Laura Schwartz Lauren S. Power Lauren is a Texas native who has lived in the USA, UK, Japan and Singapore. As an independent writer and researcher, Lauren uses her involvement with Southeast Asian institutes and think tanks as inspiration for the social, economic and political themes in her writing. Her work has been published in magazines, journals and anthologies in London, New York, Singapore, Washington DC and Frankfurt. Lauren serves as the Public Affairs Officer for the Singapore Chapter of the US Navy League and is an avid volunteer in the Singapore community. View her work at

Born in Ireland, Laura grew up in Tokyo, Singapore and New Jersey, before returning to live in Singapore with her husband in 2012. She has a BA in Japanese Language and Cultural Studies from Bard College. In addition to writing for the Singapore American newspaper, she also writes freelance for a range of other publications (including The Wall Street Journal) about travel, expat life, Singapore culture and so forth. She also teaches workshops for students and professionals on business skills, such as resume writing, how to interview, personal resilience and more.

Marc Servos Marc is a Hoosier in terms of his home state and alma mater. The Fort Wayne native served in the Army in Germany during the mid-80s and later as an officer in the Indiana Army National Guard. Married to a Singaporean, Sherley, and living here for years, he has two children ages 15 and 6. He juggles family, real estate, English instruction and writing.

Eric Walter Eric Walter is a freelance writer and editor currently based in Southeast Asia. He writes on technology, innovation, business, cybercrime and entrepreneurship for Gannett Newspapers, the Rochester Business Journal, Dolan Media and King Content. He served as associate editor and project coordinator of the Encyclopedia of Cybercrime. He is a two-time winner of the New York Press Association’s Better Newspapers contest. He appreciates a good bowl of noodles and likes Huskies. Check out his work at


“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” CHINESE PROVERB

In conversation with Linda Le, LinkedIn Speaker at CRCE In Singapore since 2013

CRCE WORKSHOPS Using MBTI to Jump Start Your Job Search Speaker: Suzanna Borst Friday, December 2 10am – 12:30pm

Linda Le pictured center, holding book.

Tell us about your CRCE involvement: I have run three seminars for CRCE. For me, I enjoy sharing and imparting my knowledge with others. If it helps them in their lives, businesses or careers in some way, I feel rewarded for having done so. I enjoy working with the friendly team and I enjoy meeting the diverse range of members that attend these sessions. What’s your background? I’m originally from Perth, Australia and my background is in Public Health. I ran a statewide “teach the teacher” program, helping mostly older Australians to lead healthier lifestyles and prevent long-term health problems. I then got my certification in executive and career coaching. I discovered the power of social media and was captivated by the whole tech and digital realm. When I learned the untapped power of LinkedIn and discovered that no one else in Perth was offering any training or programs to teach people how to use it properly, I found my calling and set up my consulting and training business, teaching how to harness LinkedIn’s untapped potential. In 2013, I moved my company to Singapore simply because I feel LinkedIn makes the world my oyster. With it, I can unlock doors and new opportunities wherever I wish to embark. The big plus is that I get the added benefit of immersing myself right in the middle of this fast-paced, transient Asian hub. I have since coached and trained thousands of business professionals and executives from both large and small companies.

Do you have tips for setting up your own business here? It took me a while to get a foothold in Singapore and set up my business properly. I strongly recommend having some people who can offer transparent advice so you don’t waste time and money. In the beginning, I was sent around in circles and unnecessarily spent thousands of dollars simply because I didn’t have the right people with the right guidance on my side. Government agencies and sites such as the SME Centres can be quite useful for those starting. They provide free advice on available grants and resources for new businesses as well as some free info sessions and talks which are beneficial. Business networks such as AAS, BNI, Guan Xi Network, Athena, LadyBoss, all the Chambers of Commerce, your Alumni network and such are great ways to get a feel of the market and meet people who have the experience of doing business here and are happy to share their stories. I feel that networking is the key to being successful in any market. Not being biased and all, I wholeheartedly recommend embracing LinkedIn. I moved here with next to zero networks and have built my business and opportunities all through the power of networking and reaching out to people on LinkedIn. For Linda’s tips on how you can get the most out of LinkedIn, log onto and check out the “Extra! Extra!” section under “Read Our Publications.”

Did you know CRCE offers one-to-one career counseling? And one-to-one small business advice? Log onto to find out more.

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.

Photo by Alka Chandiramani


SPOTLIGHT ON JOBS Marketing Executive Job responsibilities include: create, implement and oversee communications programs that promote the company’s objectives in accordance with management direction and strategy; collaborate and work with all departments and regional offices to support and ensure efficient and effective communications programs in all areas. (job #3406) General Manager A non-profit organization is looking for a General Manager who will have overall operational responsibility for the organization and staff, programs, expansion and execution of its mission. Under the direction of the Executive Committee, the General Manager will implement strategies for the year. The successful candidate will manage the non-profit organization’s core programs, operations and business plans. (job #3405) Assistant to Founder and Managing Director The successful candidate must be: flexible and adaptive; resourceful and self-motivated; exhibit high energy and positivity; result-driven; goal-oriented; customer-centric. The candidate is expected to be hard working and to go the extra mile to achieve business objectives. English verbal and writing proficiency and social media savviness are required. (job #3404) English Language and Communications Skills Trainer A language training company is looking for a part-time English Language and Communications Skills trainer to conduct a Communication Skills Foundation course for newly-recruited cabin crew. The course focuses on speaking skills, service recovery language, vocabulary, listening skills, grammar revision, proper pronunciation and communicating with passengers in situations onboard the aircraft. (job #3403) Advancement Executive The Advancement Executive will be primarily responsible for assisting the Chief Advancement Officer and serving as primary liaison to the school’s foundation and the foundation boards. Foundation work will include administrative aspects including meeting preparation and record keeping as well as project-oriented work that will ensure board members’ productivity (briefings, list generation, etc.) Alongside the other members of the advancement team, the advancement coordinator will participate in other projects as assigned. (job #3402) Career Coach (full-time & freelance) A consulting company is looking for a competent Career Coach to help people enhance their strengths and improve their job skills. You must assist your clients, including recent graduates, senior executives and the unemployed, in identifying personal goals, developing leadership skills and planning career moves. Having communication skills partnered with critical thinking are key prerequisites for this job. (job #3400) Accounting Clerk (part-time) Reporting to the Operations Director, the Accounting Clerk is responsible for the administration relating to the accounting and financial aspects that support the organization’s core business. This is a part-time position with a typical work week being 15-20 hours. The Accounting Clerk is responsible for, but not limited to: inputting revenue information and payables into online accounting software (currently Xero); reconciling revenue and payables with the actuals from the bank statements. (job #3333)


AmCham Members Give Back By Hazlyn Aidzil


he American Chamber of Commerce Singapore (AmCham) raised more than 12,000 bowls of rice for needy families at the inaugural FairPrice Walk for Rice @ South East held on October 22 at ITE College East. Supported by Citi, Coca-Cola Far East Limited and South East Community Development Council (CDC), the walk was one of several volunteer events held island-wide during the US Embassy and AmCham’s Corporate Community Day (CCD). This initiative, now in its 14th year, raises awareness about the importance of volunteerism and encourages organizations and their employees to build stronger ties with the Singapore community. Guests of Honor Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin, US Ambassador Kirk Wagar and South East District Mayor and Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Defence & Ministry of Foreign Affairs Dr. Mohamad Maliki Bin Osman flagged off 400 walkers. They collectively walked 1,200 kilometers to raise the bowls of rice, which will be distributed to low-income families in the South East District. Noting that this was his third CCD, US Ambassador to Singapore Kirk Wagar said, “As Americans, community engagement is in our DNA. American businesses know that giving back to communities where we work and live is a high yield investment. I am proud to see so many businesses demonstrate their commitment to Singapore through a variety of volunteer and engagement activities today.” Every year, in cooperation with the US Embassy Singapore, AmCham organizes Corporate Community Day. CCD is an initiative designed to raise awareness about the importance of volunteerism. Through this initiative, AmCham encourages its members to volunteer for a variety of causes around Singapore, all on the same day. This enables American organizations and their employees to build stronger ties with the Singapore community and encourages year-round engagement. CCD has become the largest one-day volunteer event in Singapore and impacts thousands of beneficiaries from all walks of life. Walk for Rice was one of the more than 60 activities held on CCD. Photos courtesy of AmCham Singapore

Tough, Bold and Ready! By Lauren S. Power


he Singapore Chapter of the Navy League of the United States was proud to host the 241st Navy Ball at the Ritz-Carlton Millenia in October. We celebrated our outstanding service men and women and highlighted the importance of camaraderie and partnership with the sea services both in Singapore and around the world. Guests had the opportunity to be a part of a noble tradition and spirited community of diplomats, military leaders, corporate partners and other distinguished members of our Singapore family. Guest-of-Honor Kirk Wagar, the US Ambassador to Singapore, delivered a touching keynote address, reflecting upon his years of service in Singapore with his family. Also speaking, Rear Admiral Donald D. Gabrielson, Commander of Task Force 73, who shared his wisdom and anecdotes from his highly-decorated Navy career. Raymond B. Corrigan, President of the Singapore Chapter of the Navy League of the United States, gave a warm welcome to all guests and reinforced the importance of the US Navy in our community in Singapore and what an honor it is for the Navy League to provide support. The US Navy originated during the War of Independence and October 13, 1775 is observed as the Navy’s birthday. In 1789, a newly ratified US Constitution gave the country the right to “provide and maintain a Navy.” On April 30, 1798, the Department of the Navy was established. Since that time, the US Navy has been operating 365 days a year to protect US interests at home and abroad. We are thankful for the opportunity to recognize the sacrifices made by the men and women who serve and to celebrate their legacy. The Navy League of the United States was founded in 1902 with the support of President Theodore Roosevelt. Since then, the organization has grown to include more than 245 chapters around the world. The Singapore chapter was chartered in 1994 and maintains close ties with both visiting and resident military communities. Our mission is to educate members of our international community in Singapore about the importance of having capable and fully-prepared sea services, to support the men and women of the sea services and their families and to advocate for maintaining a strong US industrial base to carry America’s future. We welcome all ages and nationalities to join the Singapore chapter. We provide our members with the chance to explore US Navy ships and subs on tours and receptions, engaged with military leaders and dignitaries, meet service men and women and celebrate tradition with balls like this one! The Navy League thanks all our sponsors, members, community partners and affiliates for making this event possible. We especially want to recognize the dedication and hard work of our Navy Ball Planning Committee. We hope to see everyone next year! For more pictures from the 2016 Navy Ball, please visit the Navy League website:

Photos courtesy of the Navy League

Singapore American · December 2016

Singapore American · December 2016

Holiday Books For All Ages By Koh Xin Tian


f you’re still undecided on what to gift friends and family this month, why not thrill your young recipients with a book? Teachers and staff from the Singapore American School (SAS) bring you their recommendations for all ages! For elementary schoolers yearning for snow:

SAS elementary learning support teacher Bridget Gambell says, “Santa Koala by Colin Buchanan (ages 4-7) is one of our favorite Christmas books gifted to us from a friend in Australia and is set to the tune of ‘Waltzing Matilda.’ It’s now a nightly favorite and comes with a CD for a fun family sing-along.” Second grade teacher Erica Simons adds, The Christmas Wish by Lori Evert, The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg, Snowmen at Night by Caralyn Buehner, Snow by Uri Shulevitz, and The Mitten by Alvin Tresselt are great books for early elementary students. I also recommend Pete the Cat Saves Christmas by Eric Litwin and Stella, Queen of the Snow by Marie Louise Gay.”

US National Book Award for Young People’s Literature:” For high schoolers into superheroes and movies:

The Newbery Medal is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children. For those who can’t wait for next year’s list to come out, middle school instructional coach Scott Riley suggests, “Check out ‘Mock Newbery’ lists on Google or which are composed of hot titles for middle level books this year. One of them is I also recommend the finalists and longlists of the

Happy Holiday Travel By Conn Schrader

ith most schools breaking for the December and January holidays, many people are getting ready to take some time off to be with family or to spend a week or two in the region for vacation. If you will be traveling, we want you to keep a few things in mind that so that you enjoy your time away. Limited passport validity remains the single biggest reason why we process emergency passports here in Singapore. Most countries in the region require that you have a passport valid six months past the end of your planned stay. With less, the passenger will not be allowed to board their flight, or worse, will be turned back to Singapore after being denied entry at their destination. Keep tabs on your and your family’s passport validity and consider renewing when you have less than nine months until the expiration date. A new, full-validity passport takes between one to two weeks to arrive from the United States. If you do lose track and need to travel sooner, we may be able to issue a limited one-year passport for your immediate travel plans. Please plan for one business day for our processing. Beyond Lonely Planet, Yelp! and TripAdvisor, we would like you to take some time to learn about travel and safety considerations at your destination. Try this website for a host of information on the basics such as entry and exit requirements. It also has important material on health and security issues including vaccination recommendations, local laws and specific security issues for areas in countries around the globe. We include information from Department of State reporting on crime, Human Rights, Religious Freedom and Trafficking in Persons to provide the US public with as much information as we can on conditions abroad. Finally, please be sure to sign up for the Smart Travel Enrollment Program (STEP) at and include the details of your trip. The Embassy or Consulate nearest to your location will be able to provide local updates key to your safety if there is a change in conditions in the country where you will be staying. While we hope nothing gets in the way of your vacation or holiday fun, we want you to be prepared ahead of time and while you are on the road. Photo by Ted Eytan


High school teacher-librarian Bob Helmer says, “The Alex Awards and Printz Award winners are great choices and I highly suggest any book by Gene Luen Yang and John Green. Both capture the voice of teenagers and make accessible and interesting books for them.” It’s the season for reading! All the above books are available from bookstores that ship to Singapore.

For middle schoolers who love to stay ahead of the game:




Singapore American · December 2016

Cub Scouts Pack 3017 By James Nesbitt


ub Scout Pack 3017’s calendar is in full swing. We’ve had our kick-off pack meeting, Indoor Sports Day and our Halloween Carnival, successfully organized by a team of ten-year-old boys! The ideas for the carnival games mostly came from the boys and they ran all six events. The energy which the boys brought to the evening was infectious. In November, we had our Wheel Day at Pasir Ris Park. The pack met early on a Saturday with our bikes, scooters, skateboards and other wheeled machines and cruised around the park. After the event, some dens shared a picnic lunch. It’s always a great event for families as siblings were also welcome to join. In addition to the pack-wide events, numerous den meetings are taking place where the boys and the volunteer leaders of Pack 3017 spend time learning, playing and getting to know each other. Building connections is one of the most important parts of the Cub Scout Trail. Spending time together, asking questions and learning from one another is how we grow. Cubs is also about connecting with your community and getting to know about the place in which we live. My own den and I went to the National Museum of Singapore to work on our “Art Explosion” and “Looking Forward, Looking Back” achievements. The boys had a great time and the experience added another layer to their Singapore journey. Singapore has so much to offer in terms of places to visit and explore; visiting all these places as part of a group, and with a learning purpose in mind, makes the experience and memories all the richer. It’s hard to believe that the holiday season is nearly upon us. Before we know it, we’ll be ringing in the New Year and, close on its heels, we’ll be packing our coolers, tents, marshmallows (and hand-cranked fans) for our Pack-wide campout in January. Preparations are underway already. Now, if only I could find one hundred mini, portable air-conditioners…or at least one for the Cub Master? Photos by James Nesbitt

Troop 07: Memories for Life By Sumedh Bhattacharya


eing in Scouts, you experience many different things from hiking mountains to eating exotic foods, but for me, camping has always been the reason I love Scouting. When camping as a Boy Scout, you have to exemplify all the core values of scouting: leadership, kindness and honesty – the list goes on. Recently, I went on a campout in Pulau Ubin, an island close to Singapore. It was one of the greatest scouting experiences of my life. The scenery was astonishing; the activities we did were fun and the time I spent teaching young Scouts was great. When we first arrived at Pulau Ubin, we walked through the forest to our campsite. After an hour of hiking, we finally reached the campsite, just in time to catch a refreshing ocean breeze. After setting up our tents and eating, the Scouts played in the sand by the beach. Once the frolicking was finished, the senior Scouts started to teach the younger Scouts different skills such as how to tie a knot or bandage a bleeding leg. The naughty young Scouts had to knit their minds together to solve the knotty problem of tying knots. At night, we had a campfire where we got to eat marshmallows, sing campfire songs, laugh at jokes and listen to scary stories. The next day, we woke up to a scenic sunrise and prepared for a five-mile hike around the island. Once the trek was complete, we went back to our campsites and enjoyed some delicious, fresh-picked rambutan that quenched our tremendous thirst. We then played some more games on the shore and helped a few Scouts with the requirements for rank advancements. We also got to learn different camping skills from the knowledgeable Scoutmasters. At night, we had a relaxing campfire as we prepared for our journey back to Singapore. Being in Scouts, I have experienced many things such as traveling to Mongolia and climbing mountains, but these trips are only one of the many breathtaking and spectacular experiences you will have if you are involved in our fantastic troop.

Photos by Juay Seng Tan

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


Singapore American · December 2016

A Fond Farewell Continued from page 1

KW: She has a much tougher job than I do. I’m not just saying that. I have a structure. I have a staff. I have direction. And a lot of what Crystal has had to do is make her own way herself all in the midst of that having two children and being this far away from family and friends while being a first-time mother. I’m unbelievably appreciative of the effort. One of the things I love most about Crystal’s role here is young women and girls, particularly of color, have really looked at Crystal because she is a professional, poised and approachable. This whole group of young folks in town who have no idea who I am or what I look like, but they know Crystal. She’s embraced Singapore, from wearing a local designer to the State Dinner to making sure that on AmCham’s Corporate Community Day that a good portion of our events were reaching out to that community. When we walked into one of these things with our daughter Rhys, I was basically the person who was holding the baby bag at that point. And it was really great. CW: Just going and meeting with young girls and young ladies who are brown and knowing that I may have made an impact on their lives in just the 10 or 15 minutes that I was there warms my heart. That’s a way of giving that I had no idea would happen. SAN: What’s been the biggest surprise? KW: For me, it’s got to be the pace. My wife will be the first to say it’s my own fault, but the pace is really really tough…A lot people say, “Why don’t you stay a few more months?” and I don’t know if we could do that (both laugh). It’s not that I’m physically tired, but we don’t have much one-on-one time. We’re always talking to other people, in a divide and conquer mode and, well, I miss her. Every parent knows how hard it is to have time for yourself, but you add the job on top of the travel on top of the two kids and it’s demanding. I think that’s the part that surprised me and it’s a little bit more difficult than I thought. SAN: Crystal, you’ve been a first-time mother here in Singapore. Has it been tough to be so far from home? CW: The challenge of it is not to have your presumed support base and that is sort of a shock to the system because you have to figure it out (laugh). But it’s also kind of an opportunity because now I’m forced to do things and get out with my child… which gave me an opportunity to meet other mothers from around the world… It’s a privilege to raise your children in Singapore because of the help they provide and all the activities that you can possibly engage in with your child. I’m kind of spoiled by it. The downside is that we have a really hectic demanding schedule and so sometimes I’m unable to put them to sleep or get up and have breakfast with them, although I try to do it as much as I can. SAN: Will you leave behind lots of friends? KW: You know, there comes a point in your life after college when you don’t have a lot of opportunities to make new, great friends and I think that has also been an incredible part of this journey. We’ve made friends from all walks of life. SAN: What’s been the hardest part of this assignment? CW: The biggest change for me [was giving up my law firm] just because I worked so hard to establish it. And I don’t think I would have ever thought that I would be what they call the “trailing spouse.” I’m an autonomous, independent woman so having to make that decision was difficult

– very, very challenging in terms of my own psyche, my self worth. Who am I then? If I’m not running this law firm then does that make me a lesser person than I am? No, because I eventually came to the conclusion that having two children and being his wife was my job. It took me a while to get there (laugh), but that’s a job in and of itself without the paycheck. Parenting is THE hardest job. But giving up the law firm also gives me chance to re-establish myself. I don’t know if it’s in the same field or a different field or maybe something that I’m passionate about. But it does give me an opportunity to stop and think about where to go from here with my life and my career. I do want to work. I do want to contribute. SAN: What’s next for you? KW: Well, first thing is spending as much time with my son as I can. [Being away from him] is the hardest part of this job. He’s been out here ten times. He turns 11 in February and, while we spend a lot of time together and technology is fantastic, I’ve missed the last three birthdays and my goal is to never miss another one as long as he wants me around. But professionally, I don’t want to lose the knowledge that I’ve gotten here and it’s very important for me to figure out a way to continue to being a bridge between the US and Southeast Asia, whether it be cultural, business-related or something else. But I want to make sure that I’m done with this job before I worry about the next job. I want to run through the tape. I don’t want to just, this may be what drives Crystal crazy sometimes, but I don’t want to just coast. I don’t want to have senioritis. SAN: What will you most miss about Singapore? CW: Certainly, the food piece of it, but I’ll look forward to having my waist back. (laugh) I really, really honestly have enjoyed the people. I have enjoyed engaging in these conversations within these various communities within Singapore. The thoughtfulness and level of intelligence – I love it. I’m going to miss that. I’m probably going to miss that the most. KW: The job itself is going to be something that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to recreate. Representing our country is humbling. And working with people in the embassy is amazing. You have people who have served in Beijing, Japan, Vietnam, India and all over and when you’re talking about [key issues] with people who have spent a huge chunk of their time in those very places. It’s exciting. SAN: Has living here changed how you look at life? CW: It gives you a different perspective. I don’t just look at things with my Western eyes any more. It gives me a different perspective or a different outlook on the world and forces me to continue to pay attention to what is going on in this region. KW: We’re trying to figure our how we can find ways to be here on a more regular basis, by that I mean the region, not just Singapore. You don’t just spend nine months preparing and three years living here, learning about this region. You can’t just pull up stakes and forget about it. For more photos of the Wagars' time in Singapore, log onto Photos courtesy of Eric Janes, Erick Lo, Sue Levens, Melinda Murphy, Natalia Wakula and The Wagar Family


Singapore American · December 2016

A Gift of Financial Freedom By Betty Warner


ast month, three American families proudly attended their helper’s graduation from Aidha, a charity that teaches financial literacy to foreign domestic workers and lower-income women. The graduation was also an important achievement for Aidha as it celebrated its 10th anniversary with its largest graduating class of 180. From its founding President, American Sara Mavrinac, to the early support of the American Women’s Association and the many volunteers and families since, Aidha has always enjoyed a strong connection with the American community. New Yorker Kristen Graff, a real estate agent, moved to Singapore ten years ago. Their graduating helper, Filipina Joyce Ito, has been with the Graff family for the last four years. “As employers, we have always been very supportive of our helpers having more financial knowledge,” Kristen says. “I encouraged Joyce to join Aidha. I wanted to show her what her options are: yes, you could start a business and, yes, Aidha can show you how to do it. We said if you’re willing to make this commitment, we’ll help you do it.” For Joyce, having her employer support her through Aidha was a blessing: “I was surprised my employer wanted to do this for me, but was very happy.” In four years, Joyce plans to open a small eatery in her home city of Ililo. Originally from Los Angeles, former pastry chef Michelle Morimoto-Pougnard has called Singapore home since 2014. Her helper, Filipina Michelle Lacamento, moved with the family from Hong Kong. With two Michelles in the one house, “People think that I’m talking about myself in the third person! It can be confusing,” Michelle Morimoto says. “It’s quite an investment if your employer doesn’t support you, but I knew Michelle would be able to commit. Last year, she had a family emergency and had to go home, but she was able to do make-up classes when she returned. Aidha’s make-up class policy is quite good.” Using the skills she has learned from her

employer and the business knowledge she has acquired from Aidha, Michelle plans to open a noodle shop on the outskirts of Manila when she eventually returns home. The Robins-Pauzes have lived in Singapore for six years. Lisa, a New Yorker, heads Deutsche Bank’s Asia Pacific Global Transaction Banking division. She has also volunteered as an Aidha business plan mentor. Filipina Cora Corpuz joined their household soon after they arrived from Beijing. “I’ve told many people about Aidha. I’ve looked at the course materials and they’re really excellent,” Lisa says. “I will say that it takes a commitment to do this. Cora worked really hard in her spare time. When you write that business case and you have not written prose before, it’s clearly a challenge.” Now that Cora has graduated, she is planning to open Corazon Home Cooking Restaurant. “I showed my business idea to my boss and she gave me many ideas, as well as feedback,” Cora says. Lisa is a strong supporter of Aidha. “If you want to support your employee, like we do at large corporations, then of course you give them more opportunities to add to their skill set and perspectives.” Thinking about a Christmas gift for your helper? Aidha courses start on the first and second Sunday of each month at United World College’s Dover campus. Courses include Improve your English ($90 for 6 months) and Module 1: Basic Computer Skills, Learn to Save & Leadership ($400 for 9 months). Check for course packages or follow on Facebook for dates of the next Campus Open Day. Photos courtesy of Elvin Ling and Xavier Pougnard Betty Warner is a mentor at Aidha where she attempts to impart her Australian accent to her English students. She’s lived in Singapore for 7 years.

A Short Flight for Fireflies By Laura Schwartz


lthough Singapore may feel like a perpetual New Jersey summer to me, something has always been missing: fireflies. Their glowing presence seemed as inseparable from the hot and humid weather as dripping popsicles. Unfortunately, populations of fireflies in Singapore have grown few and far between, despite efforts of the Wildlife Reserves Singapore, the Night Safari and the National Parks Board to breed and re-introduce species to local habitats. Found all over the island in the past, these days you’re only likely to encounter these flickering insects far from the city center, such as in Jurong or the outlying wetlands. Luckily, if you want to experience the magic of bioluminescent clouds of fireflies, you don’t have to venture too far as Malaysia, Thailand and the

Kota Tinggi Firefly Park Malaysia Located on the Sungai Johor River, the dock for this boat tour is less than a two-hour drive from Orchard. Viator even offers a package tour that includes roundtrip transport from Singapore and 45-60 minutes of gliding along the dark river to observe trees spangled by fireflies.

Amphawa Firefly Watching, Thailand Though better known as for its floating night market, Amphawa at the mouth of the Mae Klong River is also considered the best place for firefly watching in Thailand. And it’s only a 90-minute drive from bustling Bangkok. Did you know that Thailand boasts more than 100 species of fireflies?

Firefly Valley Leisure Park, Malaysia Just down the river from Kota Tinggi Firefly Park and a bit further from the major roads, this company is another excellent option for witnessing the lightshow of synchronous fireflies.

Philippines are all home to their own populations of the beetle. The best part? Unlike the species of firefly found in North America, those found in Southeast Asia’s riverside mangrove forests mate year-round. So it’s never a bad time to venture out to one of the below options with your glass jar. 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 Bard College in 2010 with a BA in Japanese Language & Culture. When she’s not traveling or devouring a new book, she writes freelance for a series of publications. Photo by Raph Su

Kuala Selangor, Malaysia Said to be home to one of the biggest firefly colonies in the world, Kuala Selangor is a small coastal village found approximately an hour northwest of Kuala Lumpur. At Kampung Kuantan, you can arrange for a local boatman to escort you in an eco-friendly rowing boat. Do note that you can only visit between 8pm and 10:30pm.

Bohol, Philippines For those looking for a longer trip, a few hours outside of Cebu, KayakAsia Philippines offers eco-friendly kayak tours in one of the last pristine mangrove forests of Bohol. Inquiries for night tours in Bohol can be made with the Municipal Eco-Heritage Tourism, Culture and Arts. The Philippines also is home to numerous other locations to gaze upon fireflies, including Palawan, Donsol and the Ogod River.

Holiday Fun! By Eric Walter


ut of town guests. Parties. Quality time with loved ones. Religious obligations. For most, the holidays are a blur of activity. Indeed, it can be easy to get so wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of holiday activities that you either don’t have time or forget to avail yourself of the many cultural activities and events Singapore has to offer. Worry not. The Singapore American newspaper has your back. Here’s a rundown of what is taking place this month here in the Lion City. Be sure to also check out the story on pages 14 and 15 about some free events this month, as well!

MUSIC 9-10 December, 7:30pm, Marina Bay Sands Jingle Bell Rocks Direct from the UK, conductor John Rigby will take charge of 51-piece orchestra, a local choir and West End soloists Laura Tebbut and Oliver Tompsett for an evening of holiday classics, pop and more. Tickets are $65. or 10-25 December

Raffles Hotel Singapore’s oldest hotel offers choral Christmas performances on various times and days, and the Raffles Hall Voices and the Symphony of Voices of Victoria Junior College on December weekends. Please take note that while some performances are free to the public, those located at the hotel lobby are available only to hotel guests and restaurant patrons. In addition, there are generally a number of other venues that offer free Christmas caroling. At the time we went to print, not all of the specific itineraries were yet available, but caroling in recent years has been performed at Tanglin Mall, Paragon Mall, St. Andrew’s Cathedral, St. George’s Church and City Square Mall. In addition, you can nurture your Christmas spirit by strolling down Orchard Road with its spectacular Christmas displays.

FOOD 1-30 December, Singapore Cable Car Dining in the Clouds Stressed out from holiday obligations? Need a break from the crowds? Take time out with your special someone for dinner in the sky in a private cable car. Dinner starts with a sparkling cocktail, appetizer of Ocean Seafood and Roast Butternut and Apple Chowder. Main course will be a choice between Braised Shoyu-Flavoured US Beef Short Ribs or Pistachio-Encrusted Cod Fillet. Dessert is Ivory Chocolate Raspberry Cream Bombe. Dinner is $288++ per couple. GENERAL CHRISTMAS MERRY-MAKING 1 December – 2 January, 3:30 to 11pm, SEA Aquarium

Merry Fishmas If you think that lack of breathable air will stop St. Nick, think again. Come celebrate Christmas under the sea at SEA Aquarium. Santa and his elf assistant have been SCUBAcertified and are expected to put in an appearance.

1 December – 2 January, 3:30 to 11pm

Santa’s All Star Christmas at Universal Studios Expect snow, spectacular fireworks, multi-media exhibits and holiday-themed performances at Universal Studios Singapore this year. Highlights include the all-singing, all dancing live

We need your help! AAS will be celebrating our 100th Anniversary in 2017! Please help tell our amazing centennial story by sharing your memories with our community. If you have a story or great photograph from the past 100 years, please contact

13 Singapore American · December 2016

show Bah Humbug! A Christmas Spectacular! featuring the cast of Sesame Street, the Minions, the Gingerbread Man, the Snow Queen and more.

1 December – 2 January, Merion Plaza

7:45, 8:15 weekdays; additional weekend shows at 9:45 & 10:15 Merlion Magic Lights Sentosa goes all out with this special light show at the island’s iconic Merlion. Local bands will also be playing Christmas favorites at sunset from 23-26 December.

2 December – 2 January, 3:30 to 11pm

Christmas Wonderland at Gardens by the Bay Come celebrate the holidays right with light displays and attractions such as a European-style festive market, Santa’s cottage, rides, carnival games and an Ice Palace complete with snow playground, ice slide and ice rink at Gardens by the Bay. Big change this year: tickets will be sold for $8 each to help control the crowds each day. Be sure to buy yours early! The Flower Dome will have a “Christmas Toyland” floral display. Check the website for “blizzard,” parade and concert schedules.

3 – 4 December, Orchard Road Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon Intend to indulge this holiday season? Do your penance a little early with the 15th annual Singapore Marathon. For those who don’t feel up to running a full 26.2 miles but who still want to participate, organizers are also hosting half marathon and 10k races, as well. A kids dash will also be held. 9 – 10 December, Siloso Beach, Sentosa Island

Zoukout Looking for something wilder than the usual holiday events? Asia’s biggest dance music festival will be kicking off once again on Sentosa.

NEW YEAR EVE SHINDIGS 31 December, Marina Bay Marina Bay Countdown The area around Marina Bay will be host to broad range of activities including a holiday bazaar filled with collectibles and handicrafts, a digital art showcase on the façade of the Fullerton Hotel, live music, wishing spheres, roving performers and a spectacular fireworks display. Also in the works is a Mediacorp-sponsored performance by local stars and international star Adam Lambert. 31 December, 6pm-6am, Siloso Beach, Sentosa Island Siloso Beach Party Ring in the new year with 12 hours of non-stop electronic music, Asia’s largest foam pool and a fantastic fireworks show. 31 December, Marina Bay Sands Sky High Social Marina Bay Sands’s SkyPark Observation Deck will be open for a panoramic view of all the fireworks and revelry. Photo courtesy of Winter Wonderland An Asian-based freelance journalist and content consultant, Eric Walter writes regularly on business and technology.



Singapore American · December 2016

Christmas Magic for Children By Faith Chanda


rowing up in the northeast US, my holiday memories are of the Norman Rockwell variety: stockings hung by the fireplace, endless hours playing in the snow and then the enveloping warmth of hot cocoa. While that nostalgia will be hard to replicate around here, there are lots of ways to make new Christmas memories with your kids right here in Singapore.


Sentosa 90 Days of Fun Enjoy a wet and wild Christmas Brunch at Port of Lost Wonder, catch holiday music and light displays at the Merlion Plaza, as well as a Trolls playground and Meet & Greets in various locations.

2 December – 1 January

ARTS AND PERFORMANCES Tickets available at

2 – 4 December Hi-5 Fairytale

3 December “BELIEVE” presented by the Singapore Lyric Opera Children’s Choir in Concert

Gardens by the Bay Christmas Wonderland Kid-friendly fun this year includes the Hi-5 Funtastic House, where fans can get a Hi-5 style makeover, sing along with Hi-5 tunes and burn some energy on the inflatables in the Ready, Set, Bounce zone. Along with Santa’s cottage and carnival rides, the Ice Palace features an ice skating rink, snow playground and a 24-metre long ice slide. Don’t miss the glow of the Luminarie light sculptures or Blizzard Time at the massive Spalliera.

4 December

3 December

Cirque Adrenaline

Kids Dash Part of the week-long Marathon Singapore festivities, the Kids Dash is a non-competitive, fun run event aiming to inspire kids’ interest in and enjoyment of running as a sport.

9 December

American Women’s Association Holiday Lights Tour The AWA Holiday Lights Tour is an annual favorite and sells out quickly. Five departure options beginning at 7pm feature pre-boarding refreshments, a 40-minute double-decker bus ride down Orchard Road to view festive light displays and loads of fun! Book the last trip of the night for an adults-only experience where alcohol is permitted and the party rolls on even after the ride is over.

City Ballet Academy presents Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

7 – 11 December

The Nutcracker presented by Singapore Dance Theatre

9 – 10 December Jingle Bell Rocks!

15 – 25 December SHOPPING CENTERS AND MALLS 1 December – 1 January

AMK Hub My Carnival of Surprises This nostalgic carnival has fun-fair game booths and rides such as Santa’s Train, a carousel and Pirate Ship, which will be free every Monday, 12pm – 6pm. There will be snow and bubbles, too, but Santa’s musical appearances with Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer and singing fairies may steal the show.

1 December – 1 January

City Square Mall “All-Star Nick Jr. Christmas” As the reigning king of TV character appearances in Singapore,


Singapore American · December 2016

City Square Mall won’t disappoint with this year’s “All-star Nick Jr. Christmas.” Passes can be earned as shopping rewards and redeemed for Meet & Greets with characters from Dora the Explorer, PAW Patrol and Bubble Guppies or for access to the outdoor Allstar Nick Jr. Wonderland playland. Free offerings include Nick Jr. A Present for Santa “Live” On Stage, Christmas caroling, roving Santa appearances and even some playtime in the “snow.”

1 December – 2 January

Tanglin Mall Fantasy Christmas Garden Tanglin Mall’s popular bubble avalanche and faux snow (7:30pm daily plus 8:30 on weekends) are back to accompany the Fantasy Christmas Garden. Musicians by the Grand Christmas tree, acapella caroling performances and appearances by Santa Claus and friends to take photos, share stories and deliver special treats to kids round out the holiday magic. The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands Celebrate the Christmas season with performances by carolers and string quartets as well as enchanting holiday displays and special shopping rewards. Check out the website for details not yet available at press time.

1 December – 2 January

United Square Mall and OneKM Christmas FamBam Shopping rewards can score you passes to Meet & Greets after performances of Peppa’s Holiday Adventure, an appearance by the cast of Peppa Pig in two parts, split between the two malls. Also catch The Little Big Club Biggest Hits “Live” Show featuring Thomas the Tank Engine, Bob the Builder, Wendy, Mike the Knight and Barney!

FOR CHARITY 5 December

Toys for Tots Hosted by the American Association of Singapore, enjoy delicious treats, meet brave US Marines, visit with Santa and take part in holiday activities with family and friends. Most importantly,

teach your kids the true meaning of Christmas by bringing an unwrapped NEW toy for the US Marines to distribute to needy children around Singapore and Southeast Asia.

10 December

Project Happy Feet Slipper Race SAFRA Punggol and Soule co-organize this non-competitive walk, made symbolically in slippers (that’s “flip flops” to Americans) to represent the many miles walked in slippers or bare feet by the less fortunate all over the world, just to get to school or work. A carnival and live performances entertain participants while profits benefit Beyond Social Services (Singapore) and This Life Cambodia (Cambodia).

If the holiday season puts you in the mood for giving back to the community, Food from the Heart also has a great tool to help you find the right volunteer opportunity for you and your family to spread holiday joy at Photo courtesy of Christmas Wonderland The majority of Faith Chanda’s career has been spent in corporate Marketing Communications and Event Planning, spanning multiple industries and roles. Recently, Faith has experienced a bit of a reinvention as a freelance writer and sole proprietor of F. Chanda Communications and Events.


Singapore American · December 2016

A Free Night Out By Marc Servos


ou might think having an evening out in Singapore is costly, but there are a number of economical ways to spend an evening in the Lion City. Many are even free! Outside of ogling the holiday lights on Orchard, here are a few other ideas to tickle your fancy. The Esplanade This amazing venue offers free performances every day and evening. • Chinese Golden Oldies: On December 5 at 4:15 pm, at the Esplanade Concourse, you can sing along to golden hits from the 70s and the 80s with performances by Singaporean songstress Shuk Fong and pianist Yao Zong. • Dwellings: Bui Cong Khanh from Vietnam takes a look at his neighbors from his high-rise flats into the dip of what exists below, a community of slum dwellers. Displayed at the Esplanade Tunnel until January 2. • The Ice Vendor: This story unfolds across a mural, drawings, puppets, framed objects and a short animation by Wulang Sunu from Indonesia. Displayed at the Community Wall, Level 3 until January 2. • Theatre State: This work by Jompet Kuswidananto from Indonesia examines how various performing art forms have been shaped and modified through the rise and fall of different rulers throughout Indonesian history. Displayed at Jendela Visual Arts Space until January 2. • BlissFullness: Created by Mit Jai Inn from Thailand, this presents gigantic landscapes that are created out of what was the simplest form of raw pigment material that were applied repetitively over a period of months. Displayed at Esplanade Concourse until January 2. Botanic Gardens. In existence since 1859, Singapore Botanic Gardens is open daily from 5 am until midnight. You can enjoy an evening strolling among the 10,000 species of flora in this park which covers more than 180 acres. Marina Barrage, nearby Gardens by the Bay, is open 24/7. Built to provide additional water supply and flood control, Marina Barrage also offers recreation as a lifestyle attraction

where you can enjoy walking on the Marina Bridge which spans the dam and connects to Marina East Park or relaxing on the Green Roof. Museums of the Civic District. The Civic District contains some of the most historical landmarks in Singapore, including several museums housed in colonial-era buildings where admission is free for Singaporeans and PRs and also free to the public on certain occasions (see article on pages 18 and 19). Parks and Park Connectors. Enjoy an evening at any of the parks in Singapore, showing more of why Singapore is often referred to as the “Garden City.” Park connectors offer you safe and often charming journeys from one park to another. Among these parks are beachside parks that enable you to enjoy scenic views offshore: East Coast Park, Pasir Ris Park and Changi Beach. Or how about a stroll through Chinatown or Little India? There are even some breathtaking views on a Sentosa in the evening. So close your wallet and save your money for Christmas presents and start enjoying an economical evening for a change. Photos by LH Wong and yeowatzup Marc Servos is married to a Singaporean and has been living here for a number of years. The Indiana native is a real estate agent and a US Army veteran.


Singapore American · December 2016

Night (Well, Make That Evening) at the Museum By Melissa Diagana


xhausted by the time Friday evening rolls around, you may look forward to nothing more than some time on the couch in front of the TV or at a bar with some buddies. But for a change, how about spending that twilight time at a museum? Some of Singapore’s many museums encouragingly remain open later than usual on Friday and/or Saturday nights. Let’s take a trip from west to east, and see what’s going on. You may have visited the Singapore Science Centre during the day, but it probably never occurred to you to head out west on a Friday evening. Since you live just about on the equator (somewhere between 1.25 and 1.45°N), you can see a whole lot of sky that is probably not visible back home. On most Friday nights, you can take turns (for free!) looking through the Science Centre Observatory’s 16-inch aperture reflector telescope, operated by staff who also can explain what you are seeing and point you to things you haven’t seen. You can admire the Moon, the most visible planets (Venus, Jupiter, Saturn or Mars), galaxies, constellations and even the color of stars (see page 25). If your star-gazing leaves you hungry, there are plenty of restaurants at nearby JCube and Jurong East Mall.

Closer to the center of the island are the Gillman Barracks. This verdant destination for international and Southeast Asian contemporary art is enticing enough for just an evening stroll, but of course it has much more: a dozen galleries that showcase a wide variety of visual art. Nanyang Technological University’s Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore is a research center specializing in Southeast Asian art which also hosts exhibitions that remain open later on Fridays. There are numerous choices for eating and drinking after your artistic jaunt, all located in calm and romantic settings: Naked Finn, Masons, Timbre and Nekkid (till 2 am!). Smack in the heart of Little India lies the Indian Heritage Centre, where you will learn all about the history of the Indian and South Asian communities in Southeast Asia. And what a long history it is: interactions started back in the 1st Century CE and, obviously, continue to this day. While there, you may also be able to catch a cultural performance or a film screening. It goes without saying that once the Centre closes its doors for the night, you will have absolutely NO problem in finding a delectable meal in Little India! 39 Armenian Street once housed the Tao Nan School, a school of firsts. Initially a Hokkien school at its previous location, it was the first Chinese school in town to accept students from other dialect groups. Then, shortly after its 1912 move to Armenian Street, it became the first school to switch from teaching in a dialect to teaching in Mandarin. Today, the building houses a rich collection of art and artifacts from the Peranakans, people of mixed ethnic heritage. For example, people who are Chinese and Malay, or Indian and Malay or Eurasian. Find out more about their fascinating history, culture and current influence on Friday nights. Then capture some music and a light meal at adjacent Timbre or walk over to Chijmes, where you can enjoy a dinner in the balmy night air. The home of the Singapore Art Museum, itself the home of contemporary art in Southeast Asia, is in another historic building. Originally a Catholic boys’ school founded by a French priest in the mid-19th century, today the museum has such a large collection that at any given moment only some of it is on display. It also partners with other art institutions to bring outside works to the Singapore public. On Friday evenings, all this is free so your after-museum dinner will taste so much better! Try Trattoria Lafiandra (in the same building) or nearby Artichoke Café. The new National Gallery is worth a visit just for its architecture, but if you decide to investigate its contents, do pick a Friday night when it’s open till late. You’ll need the time as the Gallery has the world’s largest public collection of modern art from Singapore and Southeast Asia, housed in one modern building created from two historic ones. Top off the evening with a drink or dinner on the roof, at Violet Oon’s National Kitchen or Aura. Just next door is the stalwart Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM), the best place to learn ALL about the cultures of this part of the world. Its displays are assuredly much, much more interesting than the original contents of the building, built to house government offices. Interested in Singapore? China? Thailand? Jewelry? Sunken ships? Textiles? Ceramics? Religions? It’s all there and viewable till late on Fridays. After feeding your brain, feed your tummy at one of the adjacent restaurants: Privé, Empress, Viet Lang or Olivia Cassivelaun Fancourt. And to further reward your Friday night devotion to culture, every once in a while at the ACM, there is a talk about some fascinating Asian cultural topic. Organized by the Friends of the Museums (disclaimer: I’m an active member and co-coordinate the Asian Study Groups. Please check them out!), the series “Fridays with Friends,” is yet another wonderful way to wind up your week.


Singapore American ¡ December 2016

Photos courtesy of Asian Civilisations Museum, National Gallery, The Peranakan Museum Melissa Diagana is a molecular biologist by training. She enjoys studying the broader picture of natural history as much as its reductionist details. She regularly writes about environmental and biomedical topics. With family roots and shoots in the US, France, Serbia, Senegal and Ethiopia, she has found it easy to thrive in this multi-ethnic little Red Dot over the past eight years.


Evening hours



Fri 7:45-10

NTU Centre for Contemporary Art

Fri 12-9

Indian Heritage Centre

Fri & Sat 10-8

Peranakan Museum

Fri 10-9, 50% off after 7

Singapore Art Museum

Fri 10-9, free after 6

National Gallery Singapore

Fri & Sat 10-10

Asian Civilisations Museum

Fri 10-9


Singapore American · December 2016

Post-Mistletoe Stress Syndrome By Virginia Brumby


hhh, New Year’s… hazy memories of cold shrimp in colder ballrooms; of eons lying in wait (sometimes literally) for cabs that never came; of cocoa-tinged cigar smoke and questionable cuckoo-clock-inspired kisses and confetti lodged in unlikely undergarments (a favorite anecdote from a male colleague: thanks to my own penchant for peppermint pie, not even a stray snowflake could slip inside my overstretched attire that late in the holiday season). Often accused of being “festive beyond reason,” I’m uncharacteristically reticent about making December 31st plans, perhaps due to dubious past decisions. But also thanks to aforementioned faux pas, I’ve finally got a strategy. It all starts with getting nerdy with it and defining what YOU really want to get out of the evening, be it setting a new personal best in the Jell-O shot department, a “Cards Against Humanity” marathon with extended family or chestnuts roasting on the open fire. If your priority is to see and be seen, fireworks included, pick one of the city’s high-level (in all aspects) hotspots. In a city with

skyscrapers galore, there is no lack of temptation. A couple of eye-catchers that have already announced New Year’s Eve (NYE) extravaganzas or offers include the inimitable CÉ LA VI atop Marina Bay Sands (prepare your gold heels and your platinum card for true Singapore-style revelry, details to be revealed). Love buffets? Then Grand Hyatt Singapore is the place to be with five different buffets and different beverage options. The big party is Belle Époque, celebrating the night in a Golden Age-style with live entertainment and free-flowing beverages and desserts guaranteed to make your eyes dance. Prices start at $138++. Meanwhile, incorrigible foodies and/or wine lovers are in luck; restaurants closer to sea level often offer surprisingly wellpriced menus, incorporating original dishes or ingredients that you don’t find at other times of year. Chef Gabriele at classy Burlamacco is planning a drool-worthy special set at $88++, including earthly delights from slow-cooked beef short ribs to Tuscan seafood to pan-roasted buffalo mozzarella in parma ham, while the Blu Kouzina team is ready to celebrate with guests

in all-out Greek style, featuring hearty sharing plates that are fantastic for groups that won’t break the bank (prepare your livers and skip lunch!) Chef ’s Table by Chef Stephan Zoisl, a personal favorite, will be ringing in 2017 with their exquisite 4, 6, and 8-course gourmet menus, designed by the chef on the spot to fit each diner’s personal preferences. Otherwise, channel the Dolce Vita vibe in Senso’s sleek, recently revamped S Bar, with festive cocktails and a DJ, make a reservation to dine Italian-style on the romantic patio and then carry on celebrating at one (or more?) of the next-door Club Street watering holes… no party van required. Maybe a staycation is more your speed. Try a bit of pampering at The Westin Singapore which includes all sorts of goodies such as a complimentary New Year’s day brunch buffet and 20% off à la carte treatments at Heavenly Spa. For those putting the focus on family, Coastes on Sentosa’s well-known Siloso Beach is a laid-back option that covers all the bases: sun (or at least a 50% chance thereof), sand, tasty


Singapore American · December 2016

beach grub and beverages fit for all ages. Meanwhile, a higher-octane option is Universal Studios, including not only the usual array of rides, games and attractions, but also its very own fireworks display and dance party. Finally, thanks to the recent proliferation of options such as Deliveroo, staying at home and ordering in has become decidedly less terrifying. (Previous to the existence of such food delivery companies, average waiting times for even a simple veggie pizza would have driven Confucius himself to the edge of reason.) To facilitate an accompanying NYE cheers or three without your even stepping out of the house, a plethora of wine companies provide free delivery with minimum order. For both champagnes and primarily French wines, The Vintage Club ( has an extremely well-curated selection. If Chilean wine is more your speed, then try PengWine ( In short, after years of jumping onto the first bandwagon

rolling across my Facebook feed, I no longer fall victim to that giddy, strangely ominous pressure to make New Year’s Eve THE big night. I’ve exorcised the demons, realized that there are a plethora of options and reclaimed December 31st for my own. As for the 25th… well, that one still belongs to the peppermint pie. Photos courtesy of Coastes, Grand Hyatt Singapore, The Vintage Club and The Westin Singapore Virginia Brumby is an unabashed food, wine, art and travel junkie, who grew up below the Georgia “gnat” line. She has lived, worked and traipsed across six continents (she’s waiting for Antarctica’s F&B scene to heat up before heading there...). Before coming to Singapore for an MBA at INSEAD and to set up Survival Chic, she was a regular columnist for Delhi’s top newspaper, the Hindustan Times, as well as a guest columnist for the Indian business daily MINT.


Singapore American · December 2016

Holiday Cheer By Laura Coulter


he holidays allow us a chance to celebrate and indulge. Take a special someone on a mistletoe tour of the new and the interesting bars that line Keong Saik Road in Chinatown. You can get dropped off at one end of the street and work your way along, trying innovative cocktails along the way. This won’t be your average pub crawl and you can fortify your drinking with some delicious eats along the way. What you save on taxi fares, you can put towards your next round of drinks.


Cufflinks Bar


1A Keong Saik Road

6 Jiak Chuan Road

2 Jiak Chuan Rd

Housed in the Working Capitol building, you can start your night here. Lollapalooza offers more than 20 kinds of champagne, perfect for toasting the holidays in style.

Expensive, cheeky, strong and creatively made…the cocktails here will get your heart a flutter. Don’t stay too long in any spot. There are more cocktails and interesting stops…right next door!

Stop here and sample from the largest selection of rum in the world! Lime is a Caribbean word referring to “hanging out with friends.” What could be more perfect for a holiday drink spot? They might not have rum and eggnog, which would be a bit heavy in the heat anyway, but they will find exactly what you are looking for.

The Library



47 Keong Saik Road

16 Jiak Chuan Road

24 Keong Saik Rd

This stop will take a little preparation, as you’ll need the secret password to get in. In fact, you might walk right past this shop as the storefront changes often. It could be a tailor, a florist, an art gallery or perhaps a candy shop. Take a look at their Facebook page, spot the clues in the picture and then, once at the shop, say the password to be allowed into the bar. The menu features delicious (strongly made) cocktails and bites.

By now, you’ll be hungry, so a good place to stop would be Esquina. With the small tapas plates to share, you don’t have to commit to a long dinner here, but a glass of wine and delicious dessert with give you strength for more stops.

If you are worried about the damage to your liver, you can stop in here for a cocktail made from fresh herbs, juices and flowers. Part of a vegan café, they also serve cocktails, which make even your healthiest of friends feel included in the holiday celebrations.

Laura Coulter is a globe-trotting coffee drinker, international school teacher, fundraiser and builder of houses. She enjoys hosting fabulous events that give back to her community and causes in which she believes.


Singapore American · December 2016

TGIF! By Shailesh Paul

“Come on, come on turn the radio on It’s Friday night and it won’t be long…”


t’s been a long, tiring week. Done saving the world and exhausted from the effort, you’re aching for a cold one. It’s the weekend and now’s time for a change of scene! Here are my recommendations of where to go and what to expect. I’ve sorted them with a three different plans in mind: pleasant spots for sundowners; interesting options where dinner and drinks merge and, finally, a late evening out. A word of note: since this author cannot claim expertise on nightclubs and very late evening entertainment, these have been kept out of scope for this article.

Sweet sundowners and more Singapore’s Central Business District (CBD) has an amazing plethora of watering holes, targeted to soothe the weary corporate warrior. My favorite spots include Asia Square, home to a nice courtyard with a few spots worth visiting. The Exchange is probably the most popular spot and, on a Friday, you can spot the bankers and hipsters from afar. They serve up the standard pours and do some interesting bar bites, too. If you’re in the mood for something a little more swish, try Cook & Brew on the 33rd floor of Tower 2 of the Westin Hotel. It offers a great view, nice bar bites (ask for happy hours specials) and an interesting wine-tasting offer (it’s at the far end of the bar. Ask the staff for a prepaid card). Reservations are recommended. Tanjong Pagar has a few new-age restobars that are earning a name for themselves. A good one to try is Park Bench Deli at 179 Telok Ayer Street with its meat sandwiches to die for (remember to take your pills and switch off your diet monitoring apps in advance!) and an eclectic, often-changing menu of craft beer. And if none of these seem worth the trip, perhaps take a walk around Club Street or Boat Quay will do. Or have someone take you to the Union Bar at The American Club, if you aren’t a member.

Dinner and Drinks My favorite neighborhood for dinner and drinks is the larger Tanjong Pagar and China Town area. Keong Saik Road in particular has some really nice spots (see article on page 22). Try Burnt Ends for great barbeque and The Study for some eclectic modern cuisine. Bar-A-Thym and O’Batignolles (both adjacent to Club Street) are great spots serving French-inspired cuisine – the former more indulgent and refined; the latter more rustic and relaxed. Robertson Quay is also a great spot for an evening out. Try Super Loco at the Quayside for casual bites that are more than sufficient for dinner accompanied by cool cocktails. Soi 60, virtually next door, has excellent modern Thai with really good service. An alternative cuisine approach is to hit Kinki at Customs House (Collyer Quay) for fusion Japanese cuisine (the sushi is a bit pricey, but worth it) and sake or beer. Head up to their rooftop bar if, by now, you’re happy to linger.

An evening out in Singapore If your evening had you back home, packing off the kids or packing in a workout and you’re only managing an escape later in the evening, why not plan a postprandial meander around the Esplanade Mall and find your way to the rooftop bar, Orgo? They infuse their own cocktail bases and offer an expansive view of the Marina Bay area. Food isn’t the highlight here, but it’s not shabby. I love to catch the light show at Marina Bay Sands perched at Orgo, which usually happens at 8pm, 9:30pm and 11pm. Another hot favorite is the Manhattan bar at the Regent Hotel on Cuscaden Road with its elegant surroundings, pleasant service and a very well-stocked bar. You’d be well advised to arrange for a table in advance or be prepared to wait. Another great spot is 28 HongKong Street at (wait for it) 28 Hong Kong Street. It’s a buzzing bar and a popular spot with the hip crowd. I would highly recommend a decadent dinner at the Michelin-starred

Kitchen at Bacchanalia (39 Hong Kong Street) prior to that, but will save that experience for another story. No night out list would be complete without a mention of an after-hours eatery that satisfy the craving for high-fat, high-carb hangover management cuisine. My top recommendation: Spize at 409 River Valley Road for some roti-paratha or fried noodles. PS: the opening lines on this article are from the song “Cheap Thrills” by Sia. She goes on to say you don’t need dollar bills to have fun. That could be true, but unlikely in Singapore. I would highly recommend that you carry a credit card at the minimum and a few dollar bills as well, in case you end up at a streetside restaurant. Photos courtesy of Manhattan, Mark Pegrum, The Exchange Shailesh Paul is a regional payments executive with Visa. He is a self-taught culinary crafts enthusiast (as in he can, and will, cook) with deep interest in cuisine. Shailesh and his family have been based in Singapore since 2006.



Singapore American · December 2016

Star Gazing By Sue Harben


ast month, Earth was treated to an incredible sight: the supermoon of the century. Yup, the moon appeared 14% bigger and 30% brighter than usual. The entire sky seemed to fill with a giant orb, the kind of event that used to send ancient people falling to their knees in prayer. So what is a supermoon, anyway? It’s when the moon is closest to the Earth in its elliptical path, making it appear larger than normal. The November event was particularly special because, according to NASA, the moon hadn’t come this close to Earth since 1948. And it won’t come this close again until November 25, 2034! Actually, Earth was treated to a year-end supermoon extravaganza with a supermoon also in October. What? You missed them both? Don’t worry! There’s one more supermoon this year. Mark your calendar for December 14 and turn your eyes to the heavens! Did seeing this giant ball over the horizon left you more curious about our night sky? If so, head on over to the Science Centre’s Observatory and take in the free Friday night stargazing sessions, dubbed “Night Sky Ramblings.” The sessions are in the Observatory in the Omni-Theatre building and they run from 7:45-10pm every Friday evening. Aside from these super cool and informative sessions, there’s also a live planetarium show called, “What’s Up There?” at 8pm at the Omni-Theatre ($14/person). Be forewarned: there are no Friday night sessions in December. Rather, there will be free Solar Observation sessions from 10am-12pm every Tuesday and Friday. If that’s not enough to put stars in your eyes, then check out the ArtScience Museum’s blockbuster exhibition NASA – A Human Adventure. Five galleries are filled with more than

200 uber cool space-related artifacts, including some that have actually gone to space and back. Ogle amazing thing such as the gigantic Saturn V Moon Rocket, full-size models of the pioneering Mercury spacecraft, the Apollo Command Module that carried the first humans to the Moon and a full-size model of the front sections of NASA’s Space Shuttle. Cool, right? If you want to delve even deeper, check out the Singapore Space and Technology Association which works closely with various government agencies across the globe, multinationals, small/medium enterprises and research institutions. It also runs space academies and is hosting a Global Space and Technology Convention in February. For more info check out Maybe a meteor shower is more your speed. The Lyrids, considered to be the oldest annual meteor shower, will peak on April 22 and 23, while The Perseids, one of the brighter annual spectacles, will peak on the night of August 12. The secret to viewing them? Be somewhere really dark outside! Think private island with no electricity. For all you Earthlings who like to travel, consider a trip to the southern hemisphere (pretty darn close to Singapore!) as the stars you see at night depend where you are on the globe. The sky is completely different in each hemisphere. It’s like doing your own bit of space travel, right here on Earth. Photos courtesy of NASA, Science Centre Sue Harben is a journalist and mother of young children. She’s often been accused of having her head in the clouds.


Singapore American · December 2016

A Different Kind of Night Out By Jeff Tejcek


wenty-year-old mixed martial arts sensation Angela Lee can tell you exactly what it feels like to get punched hard in the face. It doesn’t bother her a bit. “Honestly I don’t really feel anything. It kind of helped me actually. I was like ‘Wow, this is great,’” Lee said. “I don’t have any fear when I go into the cage. I actually really look forward to it. I really love the adrenaline rush that it gives me and I love being able to use all my training and put it to work on that stage.” Lee became the youngest person to ever win a world title in Mixed Martial Arts when she beat veteran fighter Mei Yamaguchi to win the ONE Championship Women’s Atomweight Title at Singapore Indoor Stadium in May. Now, Lee is without a doubt the most popular face of MMA sports in Singapore. MMA stands for Mixed Martial Arts and it’s a full-contact combat sport. Fighters can strike and grapple, both standing up and while on the ground. MMA combines techniques from a variety of combat sports and other

martial arts. The difference between MMA and other martial arts is that it’s geared to fighting whereas the other sports are more about self-defense. It first became popular in the early 90s and has since seen a huge surge in popularity. MMA fights are now being broadcast to more than a billion homes in 118 countries. “The growth rate has been tremendous,” said Loren Mack, the Senior Director of Public Relations and Communications for ONE Championship. “And the reality of MMA in Asia is that Asia is the home of martial arts for the last 5,000 years. You don’t need to explain mixed martial arts to fans here. They get it. So when we come to a major city and put on a championship event, it’s sold out in no time.” MMA has developed an unfortunate and false reputation as a dangerous sport, but the truth is that MMA fighting is no more dangerous than many other contact sports. According to the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation, “International statistics show that elite athletes competing

in MMA are less likely to attain serious injuries than in a range of other contact sports such as ice hockey, boxing and American football.” There will be more MMA fights in Singapore in 2017. So in the year ahead, consider instead of another boring movie night or sub-par dinner out, taking a fresh look at your nightlife entertainment experience by going to watch these modern-day gladiators in action. Once you experience the atmosphere with celebrities, DJs, fireworks and more, you’ll be hooked. Photo courtesy of ONE Championship Jeff Tejcek is an American author and journalist living in Singapore. He has worked as a crime reporter, school and government beat reporter and city desk editor in Colorado. He is currently the Director of Communications and Public Relations for the Virtual EMDR online therapy program. Jeff spends his spare time with his wife and daughter.

Craving the Cold? By Lindy Hiemstra


here are days in Singapore (April days, in particular), when I just downright miss cold weather. If I lived back home, I’d be planning a ski holiday. Here in Singapore, I peer out the window at the cloudy, rainy skies which look like a good ol’ cold, snowy day back home. Images of soup, blankets, boots and cold weather sports spring to mind. Then, I walk outside and bam… the fantasy is gone. But you can get a quick taste of winter sports here, if you just look hard enough. It’s not the same (not by a snowcovered mile), but for a couple of hours, you can pretend. At the Science Centre’s recently renovated Snow City (, you can try your hand at snow angels as they make 10-15 tons of snow every week using a special snow gun. The big snow chamber has a really cool 60 meter (almost 200 feet) slope for tubing or ski lessons. There’s a snow playground complete with snow slides. A coat and snow boots come with the admission price, but you need to be sure to wear your own pants and bring gloves. You can ski and snowboard a different way here in Singapore, too. Yes, snowboard. Seriously. Well – sort of seriously. Urban Ski ( offers lessons to teach the fundamentals. Instruction includes gear and a chance to conquer the slope: a continuously-moving, white astroturf, giant treadmill sort of thing that lets you feel what it’s like to whisk down a real slope. It’s not the real thing, but it’ll give you a taste. Think driving range to golf course and you’ll get the idea. You aren’t in Niseko, but you’ll be ready when you get there. How about lacing up some ice skates? Singapore has three rinks: The Rink at JCube (, Marina Bay Sands (MBS) Skating Rink ( and Kallang Ice World at Leisure Park Kallang ( Believe it or not, the cheapest is at MBS ($7 adult; $6 child; $3 skate rental). That may be because you won’t skate on real ice, but rather a very high-tech plastic surface which means you have to use their skates. And be forewarned:

it’s reportedly more slippery than real ice. If you really love the sport, check out the Singapore Ice Skating Association ( In the theme of this issue, you can even ice skate at night! Or maybe you’ll want to join an ice hockey team. Yes, they have that here, too, complete with tournaments. There’s a men’s team and a women’s team and an entire league where kids can learn-to-skate and learn-to-play ( So there is one advantage to living in Singapore and loving cold weather sports. While all the folks in the US have to pack up their winter sports gear when summer rolls around, cold weather fans like you and me can keep playing all year round here in The Lion City. Photos courtesy of William Lai and Urban Ski Lindy Hiemstra is a mother of two small children who constantly complain because she never takes them to see real snow.


Singapore American · December 2016

Books for a Quiet Night In By Lucía Damacela


our spouse is traveling and the kids are already in bed. You don’t have any outings planned and relish the prospect of a quiet night. What about reading a book that brings home samples of Singapore life? Here are a few suggestions. Fancy some love stories? Singapore Love Stories has you covered. Seventeen writers pour their hearts out and pen stories about the joy, pain and tragedy of love with a distinctively Singaporean flavor. Renowned and award-winning authors such as Audrey Chin, Clarissa Goenawan, Shola Olowu-Asante and Elaine Chiew contributed. Want to read something humorous? Accompany acclaimed Singapore writer Felix Cheong while he finds the hilarious in even the most mundane of only-in-Singapore situations in Singapore Siu Dai 3: The SG Conversation Dabao! Like its predecessors in the series, the writing is warm and caring, but also incisive and irreverent. Crave for some alternate realities? Uncanny Valley, a collection of eclectic and speculative fiction by S. Mickey Lin is the ticket. It compresses twelve stories involving a variety of Singapore plausible and implausible situations; an exploration of the human psyche wrapped up in humor, tenderness, ethical dilemmas and farcical situations. Ready to be moved by poetry? And Other Rivers is a compellingly crafted collection by Singaporean Lee Jing-Jing. The book intertwines personal, familial, communal, current and historical narratives seamlessly and unexpectedly. It traces searches and journeys, some leading to declines, some to new beginnings and growths.


What about some historical nonfiction? R. E. Hale’s The Balestiers: The First American Residents of Singapore, is the untold story of the arrival of Joseph Balestier to Singapore as US Consul. Carefully researched (using sources such as the letters written by Maria, the Consuls’ wife, to her family) the book depicts daily life and the intricacies of the plantation business in Singapore circa 1830s and 40s. Do you enjoy novels? Sugarbread, by Balli Kaur Jaswall, is narrated from the eyes of a young girl from the Singapore Sikh’s community. Issues of ethnicity, gender and religion subtly and organically emerge from the life story of the richly layered, complex and engaging characters. The novel was finalist for the 2015 Epigram Books Fiction Prize. Want to immerse yourself in the history, myths, and vibrancy of this fast-changing city? Tales of Two Cities: Singapore and Hong Kong delivers 23 moving and entertaining stories penned by writers from the Singapore Writers Group and the Hong Kong Writers Circle. Edited by Alice Clark-Platts, S. Mickey Lin, Edmund Price and Harmony Sin (full disclosure: a short story I wrote is included in this collection). Any of these books would make a thoughtful Christmas present, as well. Lucía Damacela moved to Singapore with her family in 2013. A social psychologist and researcher by training, she has started foraying into creative writing. Lucía is a Friends of the Museums docent who guides at the Singapore Art Museum, writes about culture and life in Singapore and blogs in Spanish.



Any responder should make any further enquiries with the organizer or should verify the information independently if necessary.

MUSEUMS 1 December – 19 February What is Not Visible is Not Invisible National Gallery of Singapore 1 St. Andrew’s Road, Singapore 178957 1 December – 19 February Port Cities: Hybrid Cultures and Art in Southeast Asia, 1500 – 1900 Asian Civilisations Museum 1 Empress Place, Singapore 179555 1 December – 28 February Iskandar Jalil: Clay of the Malay Archipelago National Gallery of Singapore 1 St. Andrew’s Road, Singapore 178957 1 December – 26 March Nyonya Needlework: Embroidery and Beadwork in the Peranakan World 39 Armenian Street, Singapore 179941 1 December – 26 March Artist & Empire: (En) Countering Colonial Legacies National Gallery of Singapore 1 St. Andrew’s Road, Singapore 178957 1 December – 30 June Collecting Magic – Harry Potter stamps Singapore Philatelic Museum 23-B Coleman Street, Singapore 179807 2 – 4 December Light to Night Festival National Gallery of Singapore 1 St. Andrew’s Road, Singapore 178957

ENTERTAINMENT 1 – 4 December Disgraced by Ayad Akhtar KC Arts Centre – Home of SRT 1 – 11 December Charlotte’s Web KC Arts Centre – Home of SRT 10 December Love Came Down at Christmas Esplanade Concert Hall 10 & 11 December Air Supply Live in Singapore Grand Theatre, MasterCard Theatres at Marina Bay Sands 20 December Handel’s Messiah by St. John’s Voices, Cambridge Victoria Concert Hall

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

EDUCATION From 1 December UWCSEA Applications for Admission to UWCSEA in 2017/2018 open Dover or East Campus 9 December Canadian International School Open House Tanjong Katong Campus 371 Tanjong Katong Road, Singapore 437128 9am 9 December Stamford American International School Open House 279 Upper Serangoon Road, Singapore 347691 9am

SPORTS 4 December Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore 2016 18 December Singapore Slingers vs. Alab Pilipinas OCBC Arena Singapore