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Since 1958 Singapore American • January 2016

AM ERICAN AS S O CIATION O F S INGAP O RE January 2016 American Association.....2-3 Member Discounts..............3 Turkey Trot......................4-5


Toys For Tots...................6-7

New Year


CRCE & Business................8 Community News...........9-11 Living in Singapore......12-13 Weekend Getaways....14-24 Health & Wellness.....25-26

Community 9-11

Living in Singapore 12-13

Health & Wellness 25-26

Weekend Getaways 14-24

Food & Dining..................27

Moving Home with Non-US Citizens

All You Need to Know about Getting into US Colleges

Tips on Keeping Your New Year's Resolutions

Where to Spend the Six Long Weekends of 2016

What's Happening..........27

MCI (P) 185/03/2015

Adventure for the Not-Too-Adventurous By Faith Chanda There are six long weekends in 2016. Six! And if you decide to take off the Monday before National Day, you can stretch it to seven. Wow! So where to go? Our family of four is a mixed bag when it comes to adventure. Some of us love roller coasters while others suffer from motion sickness. Most of us love the outdoors, but one of us gets bitten by insects every time. Three of us love the water, but our littlest is still learning to swim. So it’s a challenge to find activities that all four of us enjoy. But in Bintan, we did! Newly built, The Canopi ( boasts giant tents furnished with four-poster beds, televisions, aircon and attached bathrooms. Glamourous camping, indeed! One day, we hired a taxi and drove about 45 minutes to Trikora Beach, which is frequented mostly by locals. Its natural beauty was well worth the lack of luxury. Small raised huts were there for good reason: watch out for the sand mites! But the water was cool and refreshing and the sand soft, with seashells of all shapes and sizes abundant at the shoreline. On the way back, we passed through a small village where we saw traditional fishing vessels at sea. On the opposite end of the spectrum, we also visited the chic Banyan Tree Bintan (

for a quick bite. The Cove Mediterranean restaurant requires a buggy ride down a steep path which runs behind authentic-looking villas that practically hang off the cliff side. At The Cove, the staff was as warm and generous as the food. We showed up a bit bedraggled between lunch and dinner service, but they never batted an eye. We enjoyed scrumptious food amidst a photo-worthy view all to ourselves. Heaven! Another day found us checking out Nirwana Gardens ( We rode elephants, visited their tiny zoo, bought inexpensive day passes to the infinity-edged pool overlooking the ocean and ate at Dino, which quickly became our favorite restaurant, a respite of kid-friendly food. One afternoon, we took a boat tour in Bintan’s mangroves. With the wind in our faces, we sped through ever-narrowing canals spotting sleeping tree snakes, tiny crabs and even a small monitor lizard. Word is the evening firefly tour is breathtaking, but our adventures had the kids nodding off earlier than usual (and sometimes during dinner!). In still-developing Treasure Bay’s Crystal Lagoon, we tried almost every activity they offered. Our seven-year-old bravely attempted cable wakeboarding

with the instructors at Bintan Wake Park and was immediately hooked! I briefly kayaked for the first time without tipping over. We goofed around in bumper boats (like bumper cars, but on water!) and zipped around the resort on rented motorscooters. We were pleasantly surprised at our first-ever ATV tour: pretty quickly we were roaring over branches and rocks in the undulating forest path like pros. My oldest rode with the leader which was really fun for her! We aren’t usually very adventurous, especially on vacations with our kids, but Bintan provided plenty of excitement to keep the kids happy and just enough of an adrenaline boost to thrill an adventure lightweight like me.

Photos by Faith Chanda, Robert Lowe Faith Chanda has written for SAN since moving to Singapore from New York with her husband and two children a year ago. As a trailing spouse, Faith has reinvented herself as a writer, after spending most of her career in Marketing Communications and Event Planning, spanning multiple industries and roles. She enjoys exploring food, culture, nature and design.

American Association of Singapore's Annual Strategic Partners


Singapore American • January 2016

A Message from the President...



appy New Year from all of us at the American Association! We hope you had a fantastic holiday, whether you stayed here in Singapore or traveled near or far. It’s hard to believe that another year is beginning! In our 11 years in Singapore, my family has found that time seems to go faster here than back in the US. Perhaps it’s because we don’t have distinct seasons or maybe because we’re always on the go. Whatever the reason, we tend to mark time with things like school year activities and the major, annual AAS events to which we look forward. One such event is the 83rd George Washington Ball on February 27. With a theme of Fabulous Las Vegas, the ball committee, under the leadership of Tere Aloma and Valerie Brandt, has been working hard to make sure that our black tie event at the W Hotel – Sentosa Cove is the best one yet. If you haven’t been to the GWB (as we call it), it’s a blast. Our hallmarks: fun people, great music, delicious food, generous Lucky Draw prizes and Silent Auction for charity. This year AAS will again be donating to the Singapore Children’s Society. This fantastic organization annually supports tens of thousands of at-risk Singaporean children and families. It’s an unforgettable night on the town, for a very good cause. Get early-bird pricing on your tickets before January 4. Another popular and fun event resumes in January: our quarterly AAS Quiz Night on January 14 (see page 3). Even if you’re not a “quiz person,” everyone has fun with American, Singaporean and global trivia; food; drink and guaranteed laughs. Get a team of six together or sign up as a single or double and we’ll hook you up with some new friends. Of course, we have a lot of other events that you can see here in SAN, on our website calendar of events and/or every Sunday when we send out an email with AAS updates. If you do not get that email, contact Holly at the AAS office and she’ll make sure that you do. In this issue of SAN, you’ll see pictures from Turkey Trot in November (pages 4-5). Some 300 AAS members and friends huffed & puffed through the beautiful streets of Sembawang and then on to a hearty pancake breakfast at the US Navy Terror Club. It was a great morning. We also have a look back at Toys for Tots (pages 6-7), one of our other very special events with the US Marines sponsored by General Motors. If you have a great idea for an event, we'd love to hear it. Please contact me or General Manager Toni Dudsak: Also, please visit our Facebook page or Tweet us: @AmAssocSG, (hashtag #AmAssocSG on Facebook, Twitter).



10 Claymore Hill, Singapore 229573 T: (+65) 6738 0371 • F: (+65) 6738 3648 E: •

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

DESIGN & L AYOUT Graphic Designer: Mandee M. Astuti

ADVERTISING Advertising Manager: Valerie Tietjen,

CONTRIBUTORS Suzanne M. Anderson, Aw Shao Giee, Arianna Carisella, Jerome Chan, Faith Chanda, Lena Chong, Jeremy Craig, Nithia Devan, Rob Faraone, James Garner, Koh Xin Tian, Vinti Mittal, James Nesbitt, Bill Poorman, Lauren S. Power, Conn Schrader, Laura Schwartz, Lindsay Tighe American Association: Alexandra Dolibic, Anne Morgan, Melinda Murphy

A MERICAN ASSOCIATION BOARD MEMBERS President: Glenn van Zutphen • Vice President: Steven Tucker Treasurer: Joseph Foggiato • Secretary: Stephanie Nash Directors: James Arpin, Shawn Galey, Christopher Keen, Mary Beth McCrory and Ana Mims Immediate Past President: David Boden • AmCham Chair: James Andrade American Club President: Scott Weber • AWA President: Annette Foster SACAC Chair: Stu Wilson • SAS Chair: Catherine Poyen Non-Voting Member: US Embassy: Chahrazed Sioud US Military: Rear Admiral Charles F. Williams

PUBLISHER - A MERICAN 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. AAS was established in 1917 by a small group of Americans living in Singapore to provide a safety net of community support for American residents. AAS continues to provide community welfare as well as programs and community events.

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.

Glenn van Zutphen twitter: @glennvanzutphen

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.

The American Association of Singapore & The American Club present the

2016 Ambassador’s Cup Golf Tournament brought to you by Shell

Texas Scramble Format, All Levels Welcome

May 7, Palm Resort Golf & Country Club Senai Johor, Malaysia

Packages include: Continental Breakfast • Lunch • Refreshments and Free-Flow Beer All-Day • Post-Round Cocktails & Snacks Gala Dinner with Free-Flow Beer & Wine • Goodie Bags and amazing Lucky Draw Prizes

AAS & TAC Members: $295 • Non-Members: $365 To register or for more information visit:


Singapore American • January 2016

AAS thursday




27 january

Upcoming Events

Past Event

Quiz Night

Take the challenge and join us for Quiz Night at The American Club! Test yourself against your contemporaries in a wide range of trivia categories while enjoying a margarita, some snacks and lots of laughs. Gather your team and reach for trivia victory! Prizes for the top three winners! 7-9pm The American Club, Poolside AAS and TAC Members only: $50, Team of six: $280

Living in Singapore Talk Are you new to Singapore? Or do you simply want to meet some friends and get all sorts of insights about this tropical island we call home? Then join us for this exclusive event for AAS members and SAS families. Come learn all about Singapore’s culture, medical landscape and business environment from our panel of experts. 7-9pm The American Club, Colonial Room (Level 3), 10 Claymore Hill Free Event • Exclusive to AAS Members and SAS Families

Using Social Media to Grow Your Business We had a fantastic turnout to hear an expert panel discuss the latest thinking about social media and technology. We all learned some tricks of the trade; how to make the most of cutting-edge technology; met new business owners and networked with some industry and thought leaders. Don’t miss the next one! We owe a big thank you to the panel and to Money Matters for co-hosting.

For more info and to register for an event:




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.

JAL is offering a special promotional discounted air fare to AAS members at about 7-9% off the published market air fare. Please take note that this is applicable only for travelers who book through Country Holidays.

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

Receive a 10% discount on a one-year membership.

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

Present your American Association membership card and receive $10 in vouchers when you sign up for a Warehouse Club membership. Valid till November 30, 2016.

Present your American Association membership card and receive: 5% Discount for long term leasing on a Harley-Davidson 10% Discount for daily rental on a Harley-Davidson Call 6475 0123 or email to

American Association of Singapore


By Anne Morgan


he annual AAS Turkey Trot was an absolute joy! Jostling for position on the starting line, the enthusiastic young and not-so-young alike all indulged in good natured bantering as a few over-eager toes crept past the line. Race Director Michelle Bryan had it all in hand and flagged off nearly 300 runners through the lush Sembawang countryside. AAS, along with the US Navy League, US Navy Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) and Singapore American School (SAS) hosted runners for the 2k fun run, 5k and 10k races. The 10k winners were Patrick Nelissen in the men’s division and Anne Marie Williams in the women’s division, who each won an AAS trophy and a gourmet basket from The American Club. Second place went to Russ Ferguson and Emma Ryan, who both received an AAS trophy, vouchers from Clessidra and a US Embassy hat. Capturing third place were Hans Akerboom and Fleur Ayliffe, who each took home Dan Ryan vouchers and an AAS trophy. The 5k Under 30 champions were Parker Meredith and Taylor Buechel, who each won an AAS trophy and a $100 voucher from Smokey’s BBQ. Dillon Morgan and Caitlyn Reighley grabbed second and took home an AAS trophy and Chili’s vouchers. Meanwhile, third place went to William Dike and Amber Rigdon, who each received an AAS trophy and sports bag.

The 5k 30 and Over category champions were Ian Coppell and Kay Monteville, who each won an AAS trophy and a luxury Clessidra hamper. Chris Smith and Jeanne Buechel came in second and took home an AAS trophy and a Clessidra voucher. Rounding out the top were Conn Schrader and Lisa Oakley, who each received an AAS trophy and Chili’s vouchers. The 2k run was keenly contested, with participants focused on giving their all, right up to the finishing line! In the boys’ division, Lukas Smith came in first, Aiden Taber in second and Mason Anderson in third. In the girls’ division, Sara Dougherty placed first, while Michelle Luque took second and Tara Ryan third. The 2k winners took home gifts from the US Embassy and tickets for the family from Singapore Repertory Theatre to see the new production of Treasure Island. There were also fabulous Lucky Draw prizes, including a turkey from the Navy Exchange, golf umbrellas and Disney toys. The highlight was an Apple watch donated from Expat Dental. Everyone enjoyed a delicious breakfast in the Terror Club and runners took home a goodie bag which included a T-shirt as well as a water bottle by Expat Dental. Make sure you make a date with your running shoes for next year’s Turkey Trot. This is one not to miss!

Photos by Natalia Wakula.

Singapore American • January 2016

Singapore American • January 2016

Singapore American • January 2016

By Alexandra Dolibic


t’s a holiday tradition that dates all the way back to 1947: US Marines collecting toys and distributing them as Christmas gifts to needy children in the community. This is the fifth year AAS has organized a Toys for Tots event, a hugely anticipated highlight on the AAS calendar. This year’s donations scaled new heights, aided by a herculean effort from General Motors, who donated $17,000 worth of toys! Great excitement filled the room as families thronged to see the Marines and enjoyed such activities as making tree ornaments, getting temporary holiday tattoos and decorating cookies made by the US Embassy with icing donated by Hoe Brothers Catering. AAS President Glenn van Zutphen welcomed everyone and thanked The American Club for co-hosting. Then it was time for the Lucky Draw which included Mars M&M dispensers and a spectacular hamper from The American Club. There was also a special children’s Lucky Draw with great prizes from Disney and Kids Treasures as well as Star Wars goodies, donated by the Stormtroopers themselves! Lori Arpin and Madalon Blaszczyk from General Motors, the major sponsor for Toys for Tots for the second year, spoke movingly about how enthusiastically the GM staff supported the toy collection. Finally, Deputy Chief of Mission Blair Hall thanked everyone for their support.

Hall represented Honorary Chairperson Crystal Wagar, wife of US Ambassador Kirk Wagar, as she was unable to attend the event. Children gathered in front of two special guests from Singapore Repertory Theatre who gave a rousing rendition of a song from their Treasure Island show. The Singapore American School Middle School Choir, under the direction of Kristin Symes, sang beautifully. As “Here Comes Santa Claus” rang out, the children were delighted to see Santa himself making his way to the stage. They quickly lined up for pictures and a chance to tell Santa their Christmas lists. Each child received a General Motors goody bag filled with treats donated by Expat Dental and Kids Treasures. Guests also took home a keepsake picture of their time with Santa and the Marines. We would like to thank all of our members, volunteers, in-kind donors and, in particular, our major sponsor, General Motors, and our supporting sponsor, The Visiting Vets, for making this event so special. Additionally, we would like to thank the American Women’s Association for volunteering at the craft tables and our logistics partner, Allied Pickfords, for delivering the donated toys to the US Embassy. Photos by Erick Lo, Natalia Wakula

Supporting Sponsors

Major Sponsor

Venue Partner

Logistics Partner


Singapore American • January 2016




Prior to Singapore, I lived in Edinburgh and Nice on assignment. I am now part of the Johnson & Johnson Corporate Program with CRCE. It is a great resource for new people who move with partners to Singapore. I have a degree in Public Relations BA, International Fashion Marketing MSc. I was in medical device sales for Johnson & Johnson. I also write a fashion blog on personal and professional experience in styling/wardrobe revamping. When you relocate, you have to build something from scratch. Joining groups like the AAS and CRCE to network professionally really opened doors for me. Meeting other women who have also relocated with partners or husbands and grown personally and professionally has been highly motivational. Creating and building something of my own (my blog and personal network) really helped build my self-confidence as a capable woman in a new country.

Creating personal networks that directed me to the right stores, restaurants, airlines and more helped us feel like Singapore truly is our home away home! Moving overseas can be difficult because you feel alone and far from home. To help with that, I make friends who become like family and make a point to schedule time with them at least once a week. I’ve also felt envious of my partner’s professional achievements while I’m searching for my own job in Singapore. To help with that, I set long- and short-term personal growth goals such as cleaning out my closet and selling items. I also learned things I’ve always wanted to learn such as becoming a better cook and yogi. I made “giving back” a goal which has helped me feel accomplished and fulfilled. I also put my energy towards making Singapore feel like home, not just for me, but for my partner, too. Moving abroad can be hard on couples, but if you can find a way to feel as though you’re providing support for your partner, you’ll also feel more accomplished. The best advice is to put yourself out there. Join groups. Add people on LinkedIn. Ask other professionals out to coffee. Try it all until you find the right path for you. Remember CRCE has people of many nationalities, not just Americans. Singaporeans are more indirect when hiring. Americans have a tendency to come in with guns blazing, which is not always received well here! Maintain persistence, but with patience. There are bound to be growing pains. Be kind to yourself and remind yourself you are in a very small percentage of people who have chosen an adventurous expat life! It’s okay to feel lost sometimes because it’s all a part of finding comfort in the uncomfortable. Create goals and networks of friends. You’ll be amazed at the things you’ll learn about yourself and the world.

CRCE JANUARY WORKSHOPS Singapore Salaries: What to Expect in 2016 Speaker: Tatiana Ohm Friday, January 15 10am – 12pm Starting Your Own Business Speaker: Asha Dixit Wednesday, January 20 10am – 12pm Jump Start Your Job Search Speaker: Alka Chandiramani Wednesday, January 27 10am – 12:30pm

Thinking about

setting up your own business in Singapore? Book an appointment with Michaela Anchan, CRCE’s own small business advisor. Get going now on your path to entrepreneurship!


SPOTLIGHT ON JOBS Admin Executive This organization is seeking an Admin Executive to maintain up-to-date and accurate client records on the organization’s salesforce database, which includes scanning and uploading documents. At least three years of administrative experience is essential. A background in insurance is also preferred although full training will be provided on the portfolio of insurance products. (job #3191) Sales & Marketing Executive This is a varied role that includes planning, advertising, public relations, event organization, product development, distribution, sponsorship and research. The work is often challenging and fastpaced; approaching potential customers with the aim of winning new business; sales executives work to maintain good relationships with existing clients, gaining repeat business wherever possible; developing marketing campaigns to promote the product. (job #3192) Freelance Sales/Marketing/Business Development Consultant An American luxury brand with salon and retail distribution in more than 35 countries worldwide is seeking an experienced Sales/Marketing/Business Development Consultant for a temporary, freelance assignment. Responsibilities include: serving as temporary key point of contact for APAC regional brand distributors, while the person who is currently playing this role takes maternity leave. (job #3194) Training Manager This company is looking for a Training Manager, native English speaker with excellent communications skills to work with a portfolio of brands from Fashion, Retail, Food & Beverage. Five to ten years in retail or hospitality industry required. (job #3195) Retail Assistant Retail store selling wines, beers & spirits is seeking candidates, preferably wine lovers, with some retail experience and also willing to work weekends. Good English communication skills required. Training will be provided on the retail Point of Sale system. (job #3197) Shadow Support Teachers A school is looking for passionate Shadow Support Teachers who want to make a difference in helping children with special needs. You will help facilitate a smoother learning experience within the classroom environment, enabling the child to perform independently. The successful candidate must possess post-secondary qualification with at least one year of experience working with children. (job #3198) Events Manager An association is in search of an enthusiastic, conscientious, organized Events Manager who will be responsible for the association’s annual events from conception to completion, including managing the event budget ensuring events are creative and innovative. The role requires an effective communicator with initiative and a keen eye for detail, someone that can perform efficiently under pressure ensuring deadlines are met. (job #3199)


Singapore American • January 2016

Listen Up! By Koh Xin Tian


aula Silverman is an institution at Singapore American School (SAS). As the school’s theater coordinator, Silverman’s vision and leadership for 29 years has expanded the school’s dance program and supported the Theater Tech Club, Theater Makeup Club and Usher Society. A former student has made sure everybody will long remember Silverman's name by anonymously giving a major gift to the SAS Foundation in her honor. Southeast Asia’s first Meyer Sound Constellation® acoustic system has been installed in the school’s upgraded auditorium. Student and community productions will benefit from this learning resource, giving SAS students first-hand knowledge of cutting-edge, digitally-controlled acoustics and offering audiences a complete, customizable sound experience. The Meyer Sound package of equipment and technical support services, involving the Variable Room Acoustics System™, enables sound settings to be pre-programmed and instantly altered for different performance types, setting the auditorium apart from other Singapore performing arts venues. A canopy of 38 microphones and more than 200 speakers is hung over the stage and audience to capture, process and then relay sound with customizable reverberation times. SAS high school senior and choir member Tia Abdi said, “Before, it was really difficult to project sound in the auditorium. You could often only hear yourself sing and it was hard to hear any other

parts. Now, I can hear the people around me a lot more easily and the audience can definitely hear whether our sound is flat or ringing.” Assistant theater manager and teacher Paul Koebnick explained, “As much as you can operate lighting to focus someone’s attention on something on the stage, you can also change the focus of what they’re hearing. Students responsible for sound operations can change the sound settings in the middle of a show, when a different group comes on with a different song.” Superintendent Dr. Chip Kimball said, “As a school, we have a bold vision to be a world leader in education, cultivating exceptional thinkers, prepared for the future. The Constellation acoustic system allows us to be that world leader; it truly is the epitome of excellence. Of course, it doesn’t change the work and the talent it takes to create great art. Our students and our staff are tremendous performers and talented individuals and they work very hard to perfect their craft. The acoustic system shines light on their art. Every time we do a renewal project, we think about how a new facility can best support our programs and what we want for our kids.” Come hear the difference for yourself! The SAS auditorium is hosting a Middle and High School band concert on Tuesday, March 15 at 5pm and a Middle School strings concert on Thursday, March 17 at 5pm. All are welcome to experience an auditory treat! Photo courtesy of Singapore American School

The US Marine Corps Turns 240 By Lauren S. Power


he United States Marine Corps celebrated its 240th birthday last month and recognized the Marine Security Guard Detachment assigned to the US Embassy in Singapore with a ball, appropriately filled with solemnity, tradition and respect for a legacy of courage and service. The Guest of Honor for the night was The Honorable Kirk Wagar, US Ambassador to Singapore. The Singapore Chapter of the US Navy League is a proud supporter of the US Marines and the Marine Ball. On November 10, 1775, the Continental Congress created the Marine Corps. Since that time, the United States Marines have been at the forefront of conflicts and protecting US interests at home and abroad. Among the US Armed Services, the US Marines are known to be an exclusive group of highly-trained individuals with unrivaled dedication and tenacity. In keeping with the traditions of the Marine Ball, we paid tribute to both the youngest and eldest Marines present. Cpl. Sean White, part of the Singapore Detachment (enlisted on August 1, 2011) was the youngest Marine at 22 years old. The eldest Marine present was Cpl. William Hook, born on June 16, 1925 (enlisted on August 1, 1942). It is hard to believe that William Hook is 90 years old. With a straight back, keen eye and strong presence, he engages all those around him in captivating conversation with his deep

voice. Hook is a storyteller. He published a book entitled Liberating North China – 1945: A China Marine’s Story last year, detailing his memoirs of service during WWII. The book was one of those featured at the AAS “Meet the Author” night. According to an interview with The Epoch Times: “Hook said he wanted to capture the history of the US role in China because it is a history that is now being forgotten. He says that he wants people to remember that it took place—and as someone who bore witness to the events, he has a responsibility to state what actually happened. ‘I resurrected history as it happened, not as the Communist Party says it did,’ Hook said. ‘Even the communists today will say they know nothing about it.’”  Hook is now based in Singapore with his family. He has enjoyed sharing his story with our international Singapore community and feels proud of the legacy he has created. It was an honor for all who attended the Marine Ball to meet him. The contingent of US Marines based in Singapore may be small: only eight Marines, but they are an impressive group. Members of the Singapore Chapter of the US Navy League enjoyed joining our international community in celebrating the remarkable contributions of the US Marines at the 2015 Marine Ball! Photos by Lauren S. Power


Singapore American • January 2016

The Balestier Series

Moving Home with Non-US Citizens

By Aw Shao Giee

By Conn Schrader


n 2014, the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) established the Balestier Series to celebrate two centuries of economic and commercial exchange between Singapore and the United States. Through the series, AmCham invites distinguished Singaporeans from both public and private sectors to offer their insights and address issues of current concern and expected future significance. The speakers have delivered with consistently insightful remarks that do not shy away from tough issues. For instance, Singapore’s population policy and foreign workforce tightening continue to be pressing topics among the American business community in Singapore. Balestier Series speakers such as Lim Swee Say, then-Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister and SecretaryGeneral, NTUC and then-Minister for Manpower Tan Chuan-Jin addressed the concerns directly. The speakers used the series as a platform to connect with AmCham members and, in doing so, they acknowledged the

problems faced by AmCham member companies and worked to find collaborative solutions. AmCham Executive Director Judith Fergin said, “AmCham aims to enrich our members’ understanding of the environment in which we live and work in order to take maximum advantage of the opportunities to contribute to the success of both sides of the partnership. The Balestier Series allows our members to be better equipped to relate to the issues Singapore faces and those that the country expects to face in years ahead.” This year marks the beginning of Singapore’s next 50 years of independence and AmCham’s most recent Balestier Series speaker, Minister for Finance Heng Swee Keat, touched on the potential trials ahead during Singapore’s next phase of development. His words follow those of Ambassador Bilahari Kausikan, Ambassador-at-Large, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Professor Kishore Mahbubani, Dean, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, who also provided insights on how the city-state of Singapore would weather the next 50 years. Americans and American companies have been active participants in the growth of Singapore for almost 200 years. American companies have been and continue to be the largest foreign direct investors in Singapore. The partnership has been long and fruitful and, by connecting the leaders of American business with the leaders of Singapore, the Balestier Series will ensure that the relationship will continue to be so. Photo courtesy of AmCham Singapore


t is difficult to believe that 2015 has come to a close! For some of us in the community, 2016 will be the last year in Singapore. If plans to move back to the United States include taking a non-US citizen relative who isn’t already a US Legal Permanent Resident (LPR), it is important to make preparations in advance. While there are wait times for certain types of immigrant visas that are limited annually by law, spouses, children under 21 and parents of US citizens have no numerical constraints. The process takes a considerable amount time and goes through three, separate phases. First, the US citizen must file a petition with the Department of Homeland Security in the United States (visit for info). Documents and fees can be sent directly from overseas. Processing times vary, but will likely take four to six months. The key to quickest approval is to be detail-oriented in your preparation. Once approved, the petition will

be sent to the State Department’s National Visa Center for the collection of additional documentation, fees and preparation for scheduling the case for an interview at an Embassy or Consulate abroad. Once an interview date has been set, the applicant will need to take a medical exam and have their original civil documentation ready to bring to the interview with a consular officer. If all ducks are in a row, the visa is usually ready within one week. If a document or two is missing, it will take longer. So which of those ducks are most likely to waddle out of line? The things we encounter most frequently that slow people down: 1) Get all of your police clearance letters. These are essentially letters of good conduct that must be received from every country an applicant has lived in for one year or more from age 16 onwards. Depending on the country, this can take time to obtain and our authority to waive this requirement is very limited. 2) Make your original appointment. Because of resource constraints and demand in the busy spring months, we will have limited availability to reschedule appointments. 3) Bring your original documents with you! We won’t keep them unless we must, but the officer must view the original of every required document. Photo by Ana Paula Hirama


Singapore American • January 2016

Be Prepared

Scuba and Other Fun in Borneo

By James Nesbitt

By Jared Garner


he haze is gone and we are so glad! High PSI readings meant that many of our planned Cub Scout events had to be reworked, not an easy thing when this involves re-organizing 100 boys, aged six to 11. All of our outdoor events and pack-wide gatherings were altered so that they could be held inside. The most memorable, for me, was the Kite Flying Day which became an Indoor Games Event at Singapore American School (SAS). The boys played dodge ball, detangled a human knot, stomped on

balloons, decoded ciphers and participated in human foosball. The event was a huge success. The haze also gave us an opportunity to talk to our Cub Scouts about the Boy Scout motto, "Be prepared." We explained to the boys that life doesn’t always happen the way we plan, but with a little flexibility and preparation, we can adapt and find new ways to have fun. With that said, we are really hoping for great weather for our Camp Out in January! Photos by Iliana Rosenzweig


ver the course of Fall break, Troop 07 went to the island of Borneo near Kota Kinabalu. We did everything from scuba diving to zip lining at Dive Down Below on Gaya Island. We started our week with introductions to the staff and getting settled. We camped on Gaya Island in a very large tent. Most of the scouts were introduced to scuba diving and several scouts became certified scuba divers. We did lots of snorkeling. My favorite underwater sight was Nemo Village. The clown fish were amazing, but also a little territorial.

Other favorite activities included hiking in the surrounding jungle, sea kayaking around the bays and zip-lining from Gaya Island to a smaller island. Some of the wildlife we saw included hornbills, monitor lizards and monkeys. One of the monitor lizards was bigger than me! To add to the adventure, we were able to clean up the beach, work on an oceanography merit badge and play some chess. This was one of my favorite campouts and I hope Troop 07 can visit this place again. Photos by Down Below

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


Singapore American • January 2016

Because They Can By Jeremy Craig


"American universities make up 17 of the top 25 world universities in a recent (and highly dubious) international ranking. American universities are some of the best and most costly on the planet."

Photo by Luiz Gadelha Jr, HarshLight, InSapphoWeTrust, James MH, Adam Jones, Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism, Bro. Jeffrey Pioquinto, SJ, rafeejewell, Adam Solomon, WalkingGeek

ubjective. Byzantine. Unfair. Biased. All of these are valid descriptions of the American university application process. Compared with other countries that adopt a rational and transparent process based almost entirely on academic results, American universities require about five times more work per application and, even then, it is often a bit of a crapshoot. Intangible factors are carefully considered such as personal background, leadership and athletic prowess. There are other factors, too, such as legacy, familial connections or just plain net worth. These considerations are largely absent from the gushing, glossy university prospectus where the grass is always impossibly green, the sun is always shining, the food looks amazing and a student of every ethnic group imaginable is sitting around a weathered, wooden table with a copy of The Iliad led by a professor right out of central casting. Why do the universities insist on such an onerous process? Because they can. In the past 20 years, the number of American applicants to universities has roughly doubled. More people want a higher education now as an undergraduate degree is considered the bare minimum for the modern workplace. Also coming into play is sheer demographics, as the baby boomers all tended to have kids at the same time and there are more high school graduates now than 20 years ago. Purely based on these domestic trends, universities can afford to be more choosey. American universities make up 17 of the top 25 world universities in a recent (and highly dubious) international ranking. American universities are some of the best and most costly on the planet. This quality is attractive to foreign students of means and the flow of foreign students into America has increased after a slight bobble following the 9/11 attacks. In 2013-14, there were more than 866,000 foreign students at American universities. Of these, almost 275,000 were from China, more than four times the number in 2005. Most of these students work really hard, don’t cause a fuss and, importantly, pay full fare with no need of financial aid. Most have

their eyes on the usual suspects such as the Ivy League schools and also large public universities with strong STEM programs. University of Illinois is now nearly 10% Chinese at the undergraduate level. Why are top universities accepting such a small percentage of applicants? Because they can. So, what to do? There is still a chance of kids getting into Stanford and Brown, but just not as good as it was 10, or certainly 20, years ago. The most attractive universities now have single-digit acceptance rates and coming from Singapore doesn’t help matters. Smart Singaporean students are the most concentrated of all foreign students in the US, thanks to Singapore’s many government scholarships that pay for everything, but have very short lists of which schools are “acceptable.” Our best advice is to venture off the well-trodden path and look hard at schools that have specific programs of interest. If students are still undecided (a great feature of American universities), then look for a school in a location where you’d like to live for four years with a range of solid programs. Next, talk to the university guidance counselor at the school. They know best and hiring outside agents is largely a waste of money for someone to tell you what they think you want to hear. Lastly, the SAT has been mismanaged in Asia so badly by the College Board that most schools are switching their students over to the ACT, which is also universally accepted. The SAT is also changing format in 2016 to something that looks suspiciously like the ACT to the untrained eye. Make sure that you register for these tests well in advance, especially if you are at a school that is not a closed ACT test center as seats are taken quickly. The ACT is on April 9 and the first new-look SAT is on May 7. *All data from For more information about ACT and SAT tests as well as advice on applying to US colleges, check out

AAS NEEDS YOU! Home Hospitality is a wonderful program run by AAS that connects sailors visiting Singapore with families living here who host them for dinner or perhaps a tour of the city. We are looking for the right person to run that program for us. It's a wonderful way to give back to those who serve.



Singapore American • January 2016

Singapore Treasure Hunting By Suzanne M. Anderson, aka WhiteWizard

Photo by Suzanne M. Anderson Suzanne M. Anderson has lived in Singapore for 16 years. She is a counsellor and specializes in crisis and trauma. Suzanne took up Geocaching as a stressrelieving hobby with friends and family.

Start hunting for treasure now


ant to go on a scavenger hunt in Singapore? Then try geocaching, a modern day treasure hunt that can be enjoyed by all ages. All you need is some curiosity and a GPS-enabled smart phone, loaded with the Geocaching app. Geocaching started back in 2000 when an American decided to try using satellites to create a game after the US government removed “selective availability” of the GPS satellites, making the technology available to the public. He stashed a box with goodies and posted the coordinates (longitude and latitude) on a GPS Internet group. Within two days, somebody found it and others also began hiding treasure and posting coordinates. Geocaching was born! (Geo means earth and cache refers to the containers hidden at the coordinates.) In 2001, Singapore joined in the game and its first cache was hidden in Labrador Park. Today, there are 484 geocaches hidden from Tuas to Pulau Ubin and from Sembawang to Lazarus Island. Caches are hidden outdoors, but there are

urban as well as jungle caches. Caches range from a micro size (that can be size of the tip of a little finger) to small, regular and large caches. To get started, set up a free account at You will need to choose a name. Have fun! Some of my favorites are IndianaJanes, SpaSusi and JavaMama. Load the geocaching app on your smart phone. In the early days, Geocachers had to use handheld GPS units. Many still do. There really is treasure in the larger caches so, before heading out, pack a pen and some SWAG (Stuff We All Get). The treasure is why my family prefers the regular and larger sizes. You take some treasure out and replace it with SWAG you brought. I use a lot of the little toys my kids no longer want. Make sure the SWAG can survive moisture. You can look for interesting caches on the Internet before you leave home or you can walk out the front door and choose “Find Caches Nearby” on the app. The GPS will get you to about ±25 feet and then you will have to use your geosenses to figure out where it might be hidden and camouflaged. They are not always easy to spot! Most importantly, don’t let the muggles see you get the cache. Muggles in geocaching are those who are not geocachers and might vandalize the caches. Welcome to the positive underworld of geocaching! I hope you have as much fun as my family does. If you enjoy this, I challenge you to discover a Travel Bug (a traveling piece of SWAG) and be the FTF (first to find)!


Singapore American • January 2016

Pandas and Pagodas By Melinda Murphy


andas. That’s the reason most people head to Chengdu, me included. The Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding is home to more than 80 giant pandas. The pristine park is beautiful in its own right, impeccably planted with lush walking trails, water features and all kinds of bamboo (fitting as bamboo is what pandas eat). Even if you don’t see a single panda, a visit to the park would be a fabulous way to spend a day (though the air quality in Chengdu is sometimes quite bad). But don’t worry: you will see pandas - lots of them, especially if you go first thing in the morning for feeding time. There are several different areas with guaranteed panda viewings of not only the giant panda, but red pandas too. The adolescent enclosure is the most fun. Here, young pandas delight as they wrestle and play tag. When we were there, more than a dozen young adults were in the den together. Watching them frolic made me think of kids romping around, teasing each other mercilessly. My own kids were absolutely fascinated, giggling at their antics. The longest line was for the chance to merely walk by the nursery windows where you can see baby pandas, some of whom haven’t even opened their eyes yet, newborns who look more like pink baby rats. The bigger babies looked like stuffed plush toys. You can’t help but gasp, “Ooooo” when you see these tiny souls. When we went, visitors were able to take a photo with a panda for a whopping US$325. Once I convinced my husband this would be my birthday present and forked over the money, I had to put on a surgical gown and shoe covers, an effort to keep harmful germs away from the pandas. I handed over my camera to the people working in the area and sat down on a bench next to a big ol’ panda who was busily eating so he wouldn’t notice me next to him. After I got a close up look at his teeth and claws, I figured that was a good idea. I knew I was supposed to look at the camera, but I couldn’t stop staring at the panda. His fur was coarse, kind of like a bristle brush, not nearly as soft as I thought it’d be. I was in awe. Note that this photo program has recently been indefinitely suspended at this particular research center, but they have opened a brand new place 40 miles (65 km) northwest of Chengdu called the Dujiangyan Panda Base. There you can take the same sort of photo or even volunteer to work with the pandas. After our morning with the pandas, we headed to the People’s Garden where we saw locals doing everything from Tai Chi to an Asian version of line dancing. Little pieces of paper on stakes all over the garden were apparently

the Chengdu version of a personal ad. We fed goldfish and then stopped at the local tea house in the garden, unlike any other I’ve seen. Here, we were surrounded by locals who arrive every afternoon to hang out in an open-air cafe. They gather to sip hot, chrysanthemum tea poured into iced tea-like, tall glasses and catch up with old friends. It was the Chengdu version of Starbucks. Each face was more interesting than the last, some heavily lined from years of laughing, probably right there at that very cafe. Many felt like a National Geographic-worthy photograph waiting to be taken. Most interesting were all the men carrying odd looking tools, sporting red and black silk brocade jackets and headlamps, reminiscent of the kind miners wear. I looked quizzically at our guide who said (as though it was the most normal of things to say), “Oh, they’re the ear cleaners.” Naturally, I gave it a try. My guy adjusted his little head lamp and went to work, changing tools from time to time. He ended with an ear massage, inserting a long, tweezer-like instrument that he somehow made vibrate, kind of like a pitch fork. Hmm. An ear massage. Something I never knew I wanted, but loved. It was probably the most true, local experience I’ve ever tried. Not a bad way to spend about five bucks, if you ask me. The pandas were definitely my favorite part of Chengdu, but I also absolutely loved Huanglongxi Ancient Town, a historic Chinese town located about 50 km from Chengdu where we spent our first afternoon. It is named after the Huanglong River which flows through it and it felt like the most transporting place I’ve seen in Asia. The town is more than 1700 years old and has been restored to retain its rustic charm, with ancient cobbled streets, temples, wharves and houses along its curving alleys. There are prayer flags everywhere. The majority of the buildings in Huanglongxi date from the Qing Dynasty. It’s a larger version of Jinli Street, an ancient street in the middle of Chengdu where we went for twilight on our final evening. This equally gorgeous area dates back to the Qin Dynasty, but was renovated in 2004. In both areas, I adored the quaint little alleys and shops and loved that we were the only Westerners I saw, even though thousands of visitors come here yearly. In both places, I felt like I was walking through a scene of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. We stayed at the BuddhaZen Hotel, housed in a traditional courtyard-style building which was another one-of-a-kind experience. Several airlines now offer 4.5 hour direct flights from Singapore. Go… it’s a magical place.

Photos by Melinda Murphy

"But don’t worry: you will see pandas - lots of them, especially if you go first thing in the morning for feeding time."


MesaStila: A Private Paradise By Nithia Devan

Singapore American • January 2016


"I enjoyed the breakfast spread, which incorporated some local delicacies and also a jamu menu, the local name for Indonesian herbal medicine. Around 1,000 plant species are commonly used in the remedies and it is considered a powerful healing tool in Indonesian culture."


s soon as we arrived, I knew MesaStila was special. The reception of this resort in Central Java used to be the lobby of a real, wooden train station, complete with hatches for purchasing tickets! The 23 villas are unique, too. All are antique structures of various styles of Javanese architecture: joglos, kudus or limasan houses, sourced from Central Java. Unwanted pendopo pavilions, which were going to be sold for scrap wood, were also rescued and lovingly restored, a great example of recycling! Making it all the more magical, the plantation sits in a valley surrounded by eight volcanic peaks. Originally called the Losari Plantation Resort and Spa, MesaStila was a Dutch coffee plantation that Italian hotelier Gabriella Teggia bought and restored, turning it into a luxurious hideaway. When Teggia passed away in 2012, the grand resort was taken over by an Indonesian hotel company. Our villa was beautifully decorated with traditional Javanese décor and artifacts. We had a private entrance with a mini garden and water feature and a large wooden balcony with comfortable loungers, overlooking the coffee plantation. The gardens were lush and beautifully kept by a team of gardeners. The Plantation Clubhouse was originally the home of the Dutch coffee plantation manager. The marble floors and dark brown mahogany wood interiors were reminiscent of the Dutchcolonial style. It had a mini library, a grand piano and an antique

gramophone. There were comfortable armchairs for lounging, plus a couple of day beds. Opposite the Plantation House was the Plantation Lounge, once coffee storage buildings. From there, you can see the peaks of Mt. Sindoro and Mt. Sumbing. Afternoon tea was served here everyday. MesaStila is eco-friendly and embraces a wellness concept. The focus is on healthy eating, exercise, planned relaxation and stress management. The restaurants offer a good range of healthy, Javanese fusion dishes with some fish, but little meat. Much of the produce is grown on the plantation. We were offered a selection of daily activities including morning yoga sessions, village walks, guided runs and even batik-making. Ours was a full board package, which included all meals, an afternoon tea break and a daily massage, plus a hammam (Turkish steam bath) session. MesaStila is proud to house Southeast Asia’s only authentic hammam. I enjoyed the breakfast spread, which incorporated some local delicacies and also a jamu menu, the local name for Indonesian herbal medicine. Around 1,000 plant species are commonly used in the remedies and it is considered a powerful healing tool in Indonesian culture. The selection of jamu drinks served at breakfast were prepared daily in the local village nearby. I have to admit, not all the remedies were pleasant, some were suspiciously inky black and incredibly bitter. You can arrange a consultation with a local

jamu doctor for a personalized healing ritual. My favorite part of the stay was the tour of the coffee plantation, walking along rows of beautiful coffee plants: Robusta, Java and Arabica varieties, sprouting out from the fertile volcanic dirt. Some of the plants were in bloom. The flowers of the coffee plant are small and white, with a subtle fragrance. Some of the plants had cherry red coffee berries. We learned how the berries are collected, processed, dried and finally packaged. At the end of the tour, we were served glasses of freshly brewed Robusta coffee and encouraged to crunch roasted coffee beans with teaspoonfuls of the local palm sugar, a deliciously novel way of enjoying a dose of caffeine! The verdict? Staying in one the most beautiful boutique hotels in Central Java and experiencing three days of Indonesian wellness, made me feel relaxed and entirely rejuvenated inside and out. Go! To get there, take a two-hour direct flight on SilkAir to Semarang, then a 1.5 hour drive Photos by Nithia Devan Nithia Devan is a freelance marketing communications professional, copywriter and editor. She is passionate about supporting Singapore theater and getting more people fired up about local productions and the arts scene. Nithia also writes on theater events for City Nomads. Her other passions are cookery, cinema, travel, arts and crafts. She is also an active member of PrimeTime.


Singapore American • January 2016

Travel Secrets By Laura Schwartz


ith Singapore being so small and the surrounding region being so rich with culture and beauty, it would be a shame not to travel as often as possible. There are what seems like a million websites and apps out there to help with everything from packing to pinpointing the ideal snack joint, but here are some of the resources I’ve found most helpful over the last three years. If you’re looking for flights: Southeast Asia is a hive of budget airlines that compete with each other, which means plenty of cheap offers every week. Sign up for emails from TigerAir, Jetstar, Scoot and AirAsia to gain access to flash sales. Even Groupon has some great offers. Websites such as Skyscanner and Kayak are also ideal for comparing cheap flights, while sites such as Zuji go further and offer hotels, car rentals and entire holidays.

If you’re looking for hotels: is always my go-to due to their free cancellation policy. If you’re not sure about visas: The State Department’s SmartTraveler app lays out everything you need to know about passport requirements, visas, entry and exit fees, locations of American embassies, local laws, tips on staying safe and any other restrictions or requirements you can expect to encounter. If you want someone else to do all the work: It’s a lot of fun planning out a personalized itinerary for a new destination, but it does take time and research to pin down all the details. Companies such as Eco Adventures provide everything from English-speaking guides to hotels to internal flights, while making your trip as environmentally and economically sustainable as possible. If you want the inside scoop: Each article on WikiTravel is a comprehensive breakdown of what you need to know before you go and after you arrive. It’s easy to navigate due to clearly marked sections like “Get In” and “Eat.” It’s also one of the more reliable sources of information about ATMs, local scams, what prices to expect and how to avoid being disrespectful. TripAdvisor’s website and app have also proved invaluable for finding hidden gems, from UNESCO World Heritage sites to affordable nail salons. If you’re looking to get around: Uber has proven a lifesaver multiple times in multiple countries, from the United States to Vietnam. Since the Uber app is already

hooked up to your credit card, you don’t need to worry if you’re stranded somewhere without cash. And since the driver will have you and your desired destination located on GPS, you don’t need to worry about giving him directions or language issues. If you’re looking to just explore: Google Maps is hard to beat. Look up your destination and save the map so you can access it even offline. If your phone has linked with the local phone network, the satellites will also be able to place you on Google Maps. If you’re hungry: TripAdvisor and Yelp are probably the most universally reliable, though sometimes digging through the piles of reviews can be exhausting. Usually, I just recommend following your nose and taking a chance on a place that looks good. Long lines of people waiting to eat are also a good sign. If you want a crazy adventure: Koryo Tours are the people who got us in and around North Korea, but if that’s a bit too crazy a destination for you, they also offer adventures to remote parts of Russia, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Mongolia. If you’re in an emergency: Hopefully, you have travel insurance. I personally recommend ACE Travel Insurance. They found me a clinic up to international standards when I contracted salmonella poisoning in Myanmar. If you’re already in the thick of things, the Travel Safe app is a directory of police, fire and medical services around the world. Illustration by Paul Downey When Laura Schwartz is not traveling around the region or devouring a new book, she juggles her 9-to-5 as an Admissions & Career Consultant with freelance writing. You can read her articles, travel anecdotes and series of tips on how to be a better tourist at:


Singapore American • January 2016

Other Great Travel Apps


Your body clock off? This app tells you when to sleep and eat in order to help you kick your jetlag.

XE Currency


This app goes beyond restaurant reviews and helps you find that certain dish you’re craving.

Google Translate

This is probably the best currency conversion app, supporting most worldwide currencies.

Dictate short sentences into this app and let your phone do the talking.


This audio guidebook lets you listen while you look and learn.

If you travel for business, this app is brilliant for tracking your expenses.

Field Trip

With this app, your phone will automatically tell you what’s within walking distance.


This app is great for tracking flights with detailed information about departure gates, delays, cancellations and more.



Confused about what to pack? This app makes sure your suitcase has just what it needs.


Turn your own snapshots into paper postcards that you send right from your phone.

Topo Togo

TopoTogo is a brand new app about Singapore, launched just last month. Designed for families with kids ages 6-12, it features family-friendly trails; cool, secret places and engaging fun facts for kids. Available in several languages, there’s also a book you can buy to go with it.


Singapore American • January 2016

Beijing and the Great Wall By Bill Poorman


"Having a translator was a huge comfort... she knew how to plan our short visit to maximize sight-seeing and minimize crowds."

ore than once I said out loud, “I can’t believe we’re actually standing here.” The family and I were on the Great Wall of China, the global cultural icon just north of China’s capital, Beijing. For a history buff like myself, this was the trip of lifetime and it’s easy to travel there from Singapore for a quick four-day trip. On Day One, we met our guide at the airport who proved invaluable. Having a translator was a huge comfort. She arranged a driver for all parts of our trip, including from and to the airport; and she knew how to plan our short visit to maximize sight-seeing and minimize crowds. Altogether our guide, driver and car cost about US$700, including tips. We thought this was a bargain, but friends later told me we likely overpaid. Maybe you can do better. Day Two was Great Wall day, but first our guide took us to a large jade shop. This was not on our itinerary, but we got the sense that guides are trained to bring all tourists here and yes, of course, we bought some souvenirs. Next, we stopped at the Ming Tombs, the burial complex of the Ming imperial dynasty. Visitors often come here after the Great Wall since it’s on the way back to Beijing, but our guide smartly brought us here first, which allowed the morning tourist buses to clear out. By the way, make sure to time your trip to Beijing carefully. Some weeks (such as the time around Chinese National Day) can be very crowded and the wintertime can be quite cold. After a great lunch in the valley below, we finally made it to the Great Wall. There are several sections you can visit from Beijing. We chose to visit the Mutianyu section because we had read that it can be less crowded and has some family-friendly features. While you can hike to the hilltop, we took a chair lift, which our kids enjoyed. From there, we simply walked back and forth, although if you’re feeling more ambitious, you can hike

for hours. To get back down, we rode the nearby single-person toboggan ride. Yes, it’s touristy and doesn’t exactly date from the Ming period, but the kids loved it. Day Three we visited Tiananmen Square and The Forbidden City. Again, for a history buff, standing in Tiananmen Square was extraordinary. At the north end of the square is the Tiananmen Gate with its famous giant portrait of Chairman Mao, where, of course, we took a family photo. The Forbidden City itself was impressive, but I would recommend briskly moving through it to save time for other sights. Walk along the side, rather than down the middle where the crowds are. After The Forbidden City, we had fun touring a hutong, a preserved section of old Beijing, on a rickshaw. On our final day before we left for the airport, we quickly visited the Temple of Heaven complex, where the emperor prayed for a good harvest. If I had it to do over again, I would have spent more time here. The Forbidden City feels like a museum, while the Temple of Heaven is a park that is alive with activity. On that weekday morning, groups were doing Tai Chi exercises, musicians were performing and people were playing games and talking. Beijing is a fabulous and easy trip from Singapore and we’re glad we took the chance to visit while living in Asia. While you can’t see everything in a few short days, you can get a flavor of imperial China and the capital of one of the oldest cultures in history. Not bad for a quick get-away. Photo by Bill Poorman Bill Poorman is a part-time writer and a budding sinophile. He has lived in Singapore about a year-and-a-half. He also doesn’t like crowds, which you might have been able to tell.



few days away are refreshing, but air travel can mean wasted time and, well, it’s too much like business travel. There are interesting places nearby and more interesting ways to get there. We’re talking road, ferry or rail to neighboring Malaysia and the nearby Riau islands of Indonesia. Destination information for both countries exists in abundance, so I won’t go into detail here. Road If you have your own car, don’t overlook the diversity of Malaysia. Their road system is very good and is punctuated by

Singapore American • January 2016

rest stops, reminiscent of the US Interstates. Service stations are clean and travelers get to enjoy local fare rather than ubiquitous Western fast food. Visit and you will see 23 attractions in the state of Johor alone. The undervalued Malaysian ringgit helps travelers from Singapore, too. You might prefer traveling by luxury coach (bus). I spent a year commuting to Kuala Lampur (KL) from Singapore and found traveling by bus rather than plane more relaxing and enjoyable. You can even charge your laptop on board while relaxing in the very comfortable, business class-type seats. Transit times equaled

checkpoints (Woodlands or Tuas), but coaches handle this well and efficiently. Metro traffic in Singapore or Malaysia peaks at certain times so choose your departure times accordingly. Ferry Going by boat can be fun. Departures to Indonesia’s Riau Islands are from HarborFront and Tanah Merah ferry terminals on very decent and clean vessels. Common destinations cost around S$50 return (round trip), but there are often special offers for less.

air travel, too. Aeroline has a common lounge “downstairs,” complete with a big screen television and table for card games. Transtar Travel has individual massage seats and individual TV screens that felt a bit like business class on an airplane. The cost is S$59 one way. You can also take a road trip to places like Melaka, a UNESCO world heritage site. Or perhaps the cooler weather of the Cameron Highlands is more your speed. There are lots of places to explore by car. The potential downside of road travel is the Immigration

Here are a few favorite ferry destinations: Batam, Indonesia As large as Singapore, this tropical feeling isle has no urban elements. Accommodations range from budget to luxury. This island has a real city if you want it, but it also offers golf and luxury resorts. Desaru, Malaysia You can drive here, but the ferry’s nicer and it departs Changi Ferry Terminal. Hotels are limited, but nice, with nearby Wolf resorts.


Singapore American • January 2016

There are also some smaller, more rustic, islands accessible via very basic vessels from HarbourFront, but most of these ferries depart from Batam. Most have basic accommodations in fishing village, but one exception is Telunas Beach Resort on Sugi Island. Owned and operated by American expats, it offers a familyoriented resort on one island and a more upscale resort across the water. For more ideas:

Rail Like the ferry, trains provide an added element of adventure through Malaysia. The KTMB rail line serves peninsular Malaysia and Southern Thailand from Johor Bahru Sentral station. The KTMB Shuttle service operates seven trains a day between Singapore and Malaysia. Perhaps the first time you try a train you should go to Kuala Lumpur (6+ hours). Stick

to First Class and consider the Sleeper, which doesn't cost much more than a regular ticket. Book in advance for Intercity at If you really like the experience and have the time, combine rail and ferry for a holiday in Langkawi, Penang or Batu Batu. And be sure to avoid the Malaysian school holidays between November 21 and January 4.

Corporate Partners

Beverage Sponsor Illustrations by Rob Faraone has lived in six countries in the region over 30 years, including three stints in Singapore. After a career in the moving and relocation industry, he enjoys sharing settling-in tips with new expats in Singapore.


Singapore American • January 2016

When to Go Where By Lena Chong

December - January

February - March

April - May

With the climate cooler, this is generally the best time to visit most places in Southeast Asia. But be forwarned: school holidays and good weather also mean prices can be steep. Beach holidays in Malaysia, Northern Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand are excellent choices, as is a trip to Myanmar. It is also a good time for southwestern Sri Lanka, but avoid the monsoon season in the northeast. Similarly, places in southern India and southern China and Hong Kong are great, while their northern parts experience extremely cold temperatures.

This is one of the best times for tiger safaris in India (though tigers are more easily spotted between April to July, as they must search for water then, but those months are unbearably hot for people). Trekking in Nepal is ideal, too, as winter snows have melted and the monsoon season has yet to hit. This is also the sunniest time to visit Siem Reap and the Angkor Wat temples. Singapore and China celebrate Chinese New Year now with dragons, lion-dancing and street festivals. In March, calm seas in Palawan, Philippines also mean fantastic snorkelling, kayaking and other seaside activities.

By April, most cities in Southeast Asia are really hot, but rates also drop. This is Borneo’s driest season and the best time to visit the rainforest and Mt. Kinabalu. China is also lovely, with the north thawed and south yet to feel the summer heat and humidity. In Japan, their must-see cherry blossom trees are in full bloom (though some areas flower as early as February). May in Sri Lanka is between the summer and winter monsoon seasons and probably the best time to visit, with plenty of wildlife visible in Yala National Park (although February is best for sighting blue whales). In North Vietnam, clear blue skies and sunshine make visiting Hanoi or Halong Bay a glorious sight. Check out the dry weather in Indonesia’s Borobudur and Prambanan near Yogyakarta. This is party season for much of Asia, with songkran in Thailand and various others celebrations in Laos, Bhutan and Nepal.

June - August With the school summer break, this is also a prime tourist season, which means prices are up. However, with monsoons all over Southeast Asia, southern India and Nepal, you can get still get some cheap deals if booked early. The rainy season in Cambodia lasts from June to October, but often storms are short, so it could be a cheap and good opportunity to avoid crowds at Angkor Wat while taking picturesque photos with stormy skies and lush green landscapes. If you want to avoid crowds in India and get a good deal, the north of the country is still sunny in July, while the monsoon drenches the south. This is also peak season to see the majestic Mt. Rinjani in Lombok, but you can snag better deals if you wait as the weather stays good through the Fall.

There are so many great places to visit in Asia, but it can be a bit tricky navigating the heat and the monsoon season. So where to go? Here's a quick weather guide to help you plan that magical holiday.

September - November This is monsoon season across mainland Southeast Asia and southern India, with Thailand’s Andaman Coast getting the worst of the rains. Instead, go diving in Phuket on the East Coast of Thailand, which is drier at this time. You can still find sunny, green pockets in places like northern Vietnam, Cambodia and Burma. Avoid typhoons in Japan. You can find great weather in Northern Vietnam and Myanmar, as well as in Thailand’s Chang Mai and Chang Rai which celebrate Loy Krathong at this time when the weather is warm and dry, but not too hot. This is a great time to go trekking in Nepal. November to March is also a good time to enjoy the serenity of Luang Prabang in Laos or visit Malaysia’s Penang. Although Borneo is good all year around, November is the wet season so avoid climbing Mt. Kinabalu or visiting the Kinabatangan River. Avoid China the first two weeks of October if you are adverse to billions of locals on holiday. Illustrations by Lena Chong is a traveler, fashionista and eternal optimist who hates to admit she adores food. Her love for life shows in her curiosity and fascination for all things. She has trekked through malls, villages and forest alike to look for the illusive new restaurant or new outfit, eating tarantulas and burgers along the way.


Singapore American • January 2016

Relocating with Children By Vinti Mittal


his is one of the two times of year when families typically relocate, which can be a  highly  distressing  event,  particularly across continents. Some of the challenges may be purely organizational and practical, such as  looking for a new home, new schools or transporting  belongings.  Another challenging aspect of moving  is the emotional impact:  saying good-bye  to  friends and families, dealing with the unknowns along with anxieties, resentment and anger for having to leave behind the known for the unknown. Families  relocating  with children  are additionally taxed given the concerns about  their  adjustment. Research shows that children  react  differently to  transition. Young  children may worry about being separated from parents whereas teens may be concerned about new routines, social scenarios and fitting in with the crowd. At times, Expat Child Syndrome (ECS), an emotional stress caused by frustration from multiple foreign moves,  can be  seen in teens, impacting some  more than the others. Some tips to facilitate the transition: 1. Keep them informed and involved. There  is nothing  scarier  for a child than not knowing details about the move. Share the plan and encourage discussions, while providing opportunities for all to express their feelings and concerns.  2. Introduce them to the host country. Help  familiarize  children to  the  new country  by looking for information online.    Honest, matter-of-fact information is always helpful. Over-selling can raise expectations, leaving room for disappointment.   3. Choose a school for your child. The child’s input in choosing the school is important.  Before deciding, ensure they have the required information about the school.

4. Involve them in house hunting. Include the children in the process of selecting a new home. If they can’t accompany you, bring back pictures and information for their feedback. Remember, it’s their home, too. 5. Organize a goodbye party. One of the most  difficult  parts of  moving is saying goodbye. Hosting a “See You Soon” party will emphasize that separation is not permanent. Ensure everyone exchanges contact information to keep in touch.   6. Prioritize setting up their room. At the destination, set  up  the  children's rooms  first.  Having their  belongings  and familiar routines in place helps expedite feeling settled. 7. Explore the new place. Once in the new country, explore whatever the new place has to offer with friends and family. It is also important that children start connecting with peers to develop their new social circle.  8. Make the move an enjoyable experience. Children often model adults, taking clues about how they feel about the move.  Displaying  a positive attitude towards the relocation  enables the  child  to feel safe and more confident about it. 9. Stay emotionally attuned.  Keep attuned to your children needs and feelings. From time-totime, reassure and connect emotionally with them, encouraging them to  accept and  embrace  these uncomfortable emotions. Also, ensure they are settling well in school. 10. Stress the positives Although relocating may present many challenges, it also brings in a lot of opportunities. Talk about new things they can do that they couldn’t do before.

Learning to let go of the past and staying fully in the present is paramount to such an important transition for the whole family. It's important to make the most of  the new opportunities. Celebrate the things you can do now that you couldn't do before and try not to focus on what you've left behind.

Photo by Barney Moss For more information about how to help your children adjust, come to the upcoming AAS Repatriation Talk on March 9.


Singapore American • January 2016

New Year's Resolutions! MAKE TIME FOR “ME TIME” “Taking time for yourself on a daily basis is essential for a good life balance. Between work and family duties, it is often difficult to find time during the day. So to ensure you are getting your ‘me time’ on a daily basis, make it a habit before getting up. Start the day with a 10-minute yoga breathing exercise (like sitting on your bed with your eyes closed, inhaling and exhaling slowly and deeply through your nose and focusing on the flow of your breath). Or learn the practice of Reiki and try a 15-minute energy boosting, self-reiki treatment. If your mornings are really too rushed, you could practice the same options just before sleeping. Your body and mind will definitely thank you!” Adeline Blachere, Yoga/Pilates Instructor and Reiki master

LEARN A NEW LANGUAGE “Find a friend who only speaks that language (or who will at least commit to only speaking that language with you) and arrange to meet your ‘language buddy’ at least once a week. Ideally, set up a language exchange, with each of you practicing the other person’s native language or make it a conversation club all in one language. This will help you commit to practicing on a regular basis because that’s what learning a language (or any skill) is about: practice. Just because you can read the music for a famous concerto doesn’t mean you can sit down and play it. It’s about learning the skill and then three more words: practice, practice, practice.” 

GET FIT My advice is to steer clear of making resolutions! The fact is that if we hate exercising or watching what we eat, making a New Year’s resolution is not going to miraculously change us. Don’t sign up for a Zumba package if you have two left feet and no rhythm. You will leave feeling inadequate and miserable and never follow through. Think of something you think you might enjoy, sign up for a trial and later you can buy a package. Making resolutions sets us up to fail. Then we use that failure to give ourselves a million and one excuses to bin those good intentions completely. So first, set small milestones and gradually build on them. With each success, you will grow in confidence. And if you are desperate to make a true New Year’s resolution, make it about obsessing less about what the scales say and instead, use a tape measure or better still an item of clothing that’s currently too tight to track your weight. The euphoria you will feel when it finally fits will be all you need to keep you focused on your goal.”

Lia Testa Teismann, Academic Manager, British Council Katong

GET YOUR FINANCES IN ORDER “Statistics show that those who write down their goals are more likely to achieve them and that is especially true for financial goals. But, keep it SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound. The best way to kick-off this process can be to start with a budget. Track your income and expenses and consider setting up a separate account into which to direct your surplus cash-flow (like bonuses). Keep a balance sheet and analyze your budget every quarter to see what you can improve. It’s never too early or too late to start!” Belinda Barclay, Senior Client Adviser, Aon Hewitt Wealth Management

Sam Blakey, Owner & Fitness Director, Ooberfit 2015 winner of Best Fitness Provider and 1-1s,

Expat Living Magazine

TRAVEL THE WORLD “Tune in to new resources online. These can be great forums for travel inspiration and information about lesser-known destinations or offbeat experiences. Try Facebook groups like Travelling Expats, or Matador Network, which caters towards a younger demographic. My 2016 resolution would be to make better use of these and other online resources for planning shorter getaways. That way, we can use more of our weekends to see Southeast Asia, without waiting for a long holiday.” Anne Pinto Rodrigues, author of Peranakan Tiles Singapore and blogger at

By Lindsey Tighe


anuary is the time when most of us resolve to do better or try harder, but many find it hard to stick to those resolutions. Why? Because they don’t set good goals and they don’t have strategies in place to support them through making the required change. The key is asking the right questions so you can set a good goal which includes some ideas on how to stay motivated. What do I want to change? Be specific and include a definitive, but realistic, timeline. Why MUST I make this change? List a number of positive reasons that will keep you motivated through the challenging times. The stronger the emotional pull of these reasons, the more likely you are to be successful. What are the steps required to enable me to achieve this goal? Break the goals down into manageable chunks that feel achievable and put them on a time line. Who can support me with making the change? Having your own “cheer squad” will make all the difference so choose carefully who this will be. How will I keep myself motivated? Figure out your own personal strategies that will work for YOU. Keeping yourself on track and motivated is the critical ingredient to your success. Here are some ways to do that:

1. Tell lots of people what you are doing! As human beings, we find it easy to let ourselves down, but not others. Knowing that others know what you are doing will make it more difficult for you to throw in the towel. Make sure you choose who you share it with carefully as you don’t want negative people to throw cold water on your dreams. 2. Write it down! Create something visual that will remind you of your goal on a regular basis. Use prominent places where you will see the reminder regularly such as the bathroom mirror, the shower or your computer screen. More creative people may use pictures or collages to achieve the same result. 3. Remind yourself of the reasons why you are making the change. Again, it helps if these are written down and can be referred to easily. In moments of weakness, read this through and connect with the motivational reasons why you are doing this in the first place. 4. Find an appropriate reward for yourself. Give yourself a pat on the back at regular intervals as you make progress towards your goal. Each of us is different so choose something that is meaningful and appropriate for you.

5. Be kind to yourself. Sometimes taking two steps forward and one step back happens! The main thing is that you are moving in the right direction. Very often we give up too easily at the first sign of failure. Instead, recognize that we are human and that we will make mistakes. This enables us to forgive ourselves, dust ourselves off and move forward. Taking time to answer the questions above will undoubtedly give you a head start over most people and absolutely give you the best chance to succeed in achieving those New Year’s resolutions. GOOD LUCK!

Illustrations by Lindsay Tighe is an author, speaker and coach. Her book The Answer – Improve Your Life By Asking Better Questions and other resources are available on her website

Singapore American • January 2016

A Happy Mistake By Jerome Chan

How to Make Buffalo Wings 1 tablespoon vegetable oil 1 teaspoon salt 1 cup all-purpose flour 1 1/2 teaspoon tablespoons white vinegar 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce 1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce 1/4 teaspoon salt 6 tablespoons Louisiana hot sauce 6 tablespoons unsalted butter or margarine celery sticks Blue cheese dressing


uffalos do not have wings and neither do they fly! So then why are buffalo wings, buffalo wings? How did this bar grub become an American diner staple? Hailing from Buffalo, New York, Buffalo Wings were created by Frank and Teressa Bellissimo in their Italian bar, and were first served in 1964. It was once said that Teressa received a wrong shipment of chicken wings, when she originally ordered chicken necks to make spaghetti sauce. Not willing to waste the wings, she fried them without breading and tossed them in a concocted tangy sauce of butter, hot sauce and red pepper. The wings were also served with celery sticks and blue cheese sauce. They became a hit with the bar and the rest was history. Although various sources had alternative recounts of the story, one thing remains true: buffalo wings and sauce are so good that you don’t mind how messy your fingers and clothes get, no matter how many napkins you use!

Toss the chicken wings with oil and salt, then coat evenly with flour. Spread the wings on a baking pan and bake for 20 minutes in a preheated oven to 425 degrees F. Turn wings over and bake for another 20 minutes or until golden and brown. Mix ingredients for the sauce in a pan evenly over low heat. Whisk wings and sauces evenly in a large mixing bowl to evenly coat. Serve with celery sticks and blue cheese sauce.

If this is all too messy, you can get your Buffalo Wings fix right from Smokey’s BBQ! Visit the new location at 32 South Buona Vista. Photo by Yuri Long




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

M U SE U M S 1 January – 26 May Chua Ek Kay: After The Rain & Wu Guanzhong: Beauty Beyond Form National Gallery of Singapore 1 St. Andrew’s Road, Singapore 178957 1 January – 29 May Treasures from the World from The British Museum National Museum of Singapore 93 Stamford Road, Singapore 178897 1 January – 31 May South Asia and the Islamic World: Highlights from the Collection Asian Civilisations Museum 1 Empress Place, Singapore 179555 18 – 19 January National Museum of Singapore Curator’s Tour National Museum of Singapore, Gallery Theatre 93 Stamford Road, Singapore 178897

ENTERTA I N M ENT 7 January The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra Esplanade Concert Hall 13 – 24 January M1 Singapore Fringe Festival 2016 Various Locations

15 – 24 January The Illusionists Marina Bay Sands


20 – 31 January Kidsfest! 2016 SOTA Drama Theatre 24 January National Geographic Life Ocean Wild Esplanade Concert Hall 29 January SSO 37th Anniversary Concert: Ein Heldenleben Esplanade Concert Hall 31 January Discovering Music! - All about Suites (SSO) Victoria Concert Hall 16 & 17 February Diana Krall Singapore Esplanade Concert Hall

L I FEST Y LE 1 – 31 January Hedger’s Carpet New Year Sale – up to 70% off 15 Dempsey Road #01-09 21 – 21 January Singapore Contemporary Art Show Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre

From 1 January UWCSEA Applications for Admission to UWCSEA in 2016/2017 open Dover or East Campus From 2 January United Educare Pre-school Pte Ltd Applications for 2016 Admission open 35 Lotus Avenue, Singapore 277618 15 January Stamford American International School Open House 279 Upper Serangoon Road 9am 21 January Canadian International School Open House Tanjong Katong Campus 371 Tanjong Katong Road 9am 28 January Canadian International School Open House Lakeside Campus 7 Jurong West Street 41 9am February 20 Start of Testtakers ACT prep program for the April 9 ACT Chatsworth International School 37 Emerald Hill 12:30pm

Singapore American Newspaper  

January 2016