Singapore American Newspaper September 2016

Page 1


Since 1958

September 2016

American Association.... 1-3 Member Discounts............. 3 CRCE & Business.................4 Community News.............5-8 Living in Singapore..... 10-11 Travel......................... 12-15 Wild Kingdom............. 17-25 Health & Wellness............26 What's Happening...........27

Living in Singapore 10-11

Should the Lion City Really Be Named the Tiger City?

Travel 12-15

Heatlh & Wellness 26

Wild Kingdom 17-25

Getting Up Close and Personal with Gentle Giants

Why Your Teeth Will Love Living in Singapore

All You Need to Know about Animals in Singapore

Goodwill, Glitz and Glamour By Glenn van Zutphen


resident Obama said it best: “Singapore is an anchor for the US presence in the region, which is a foundation of stability and peace.” The Official US State Visit and Dinner for Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in early August was a major moment for a bilateral relationship that has already been strong for decades. Singapore’s privilege in being the first Southeast Asian nation to be officially hosted by the Obama administration (and only the fourth Asian nation) is a testament to the importance and strength of Singapore-Washington ties in such critical areas as trade, defense, anti-terrorism and cultural relations. The visit included official and unofficial bi-lateral meetings on the sidelines, but the main events were the Singapore delegation’s arrival at the White House and the black-tie dinner on August 2. Both were a veritable who’s who in US and Singapore politics and business. In addition to Prime Minister Lee, the Singapore side included: Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan; Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office Chan Chun Sing; Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) S Iswaran; Acting Minister (Education) and SMS (Defence) Ong Ye Kung; Singapore’s Ambassador to the US Ashok Kumar Mirpuri; additional Members of Parliament; Stephen Lee, Chairman of Singapore Airlines; Ong Peng Tsin, Founding Partner of Monk Hill Ventures and Loh Chin Hua, Chief Executive Officer of Keppel Corporation. The US Embassy here, led by US Ambassador to Singapore Kirk Wagar and former Deputy Chief of Mission Blair Hall and the hard-working Embassy and White House Protocol staffs made sure it all came together. Both leaders offered greetings and toasts to each other and President Obama even made light-hearted

reference to Singapore’s food culture: “Now, we all know how seriously Singaporeans take their food. In Singapore, even the street vendors – the hawker stalls – earn Michelin stars (see story page 11), which creates some pressure this evening. We have a lot to live up to. We were tempted to offer each of you a Singapore Sling or some chili crab. However, for those of you who know its unmistakable scent – which never seems to go away – you’ll understand why we are not serving a fruit known as durian here in the White House.” Additionally, there was what the Washington Post called “the officially unofficial” post-State Dinner After-Party hosted by Ambassador Wagar with 200 DC and Singaporean movers and shakers attending, including performances by Singapore Rapper ShiGGa Shay and Singapore Idol alumnus Tabitha Nauser. The Post called it a “Washington first.” Our Ambassador really knows how to throw-down.

American Association of Singapore's Annual Strategic Partners

MCI (P) 116/04/2016


A Message from the President... Historic Month! Singapore is standing tall after Joseph Schooling took the country’s first Olympic Gold Medal! The University of Texas at Austin student made the home-town crowd proud with his Olympic record. Many hundreds of people showed their gratitude as he arrived at Changi Airport on August 15 to a hero’s welcome. Earlier in August, the US-Singapore State Visit and Dinner brought the two countries even closer. It was a very special event (the last one was in 1985) for Singapore’s government and Prime Minister Lee. Welcome Back Zoom Park will be the place to be on September 25 at our annual Welcome Back event. As we all come back to Singapore (as well as welcoming new arrivals), the 20,000-foot trampoline park (with climbing walls, foam pits and dodgeball courts) will be the backdrop for us to reconnect after a long, hot summer. Bring your family or adult friends and come out to play and see your old friends (or make some new ones), all while enjoying the great food from Smokey’s BBQ. This event is for everybody: AAS singles, couples and families. LIS Talk The 14th Edition Living in Singapore Guide (LIS) launched in May, we’ve already sold thousands of copies and I predict it will be our most popular edition, ever. On September 28, join us for an engaging and useful LIS Talk. We’ve gathered a few of the authors who will share chapter and verse on the things you should know about living in the Little Red Dot. Remember, whether you’ve been here 20 days or 20 years, LIS can help you throughout all the stages of your life in Singapore. Sponsors, we need you! We’re planning a huge smorgasbord of AAS 100th Anniversary fun events for 2017 and, frankly, they won’t come cheap. We already have wonderful and very generous Annual, Strategic and Corporate sponsors, but we need more to make our Centenary all that it can be. Whether you or your company has deep pockets or just a little to spend, we will connect you with our wonderful members. You can do this while supporting the American community and our AAS 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.” Please contact AAS GM Toni Dudsak. She’ll be more than happy to talk with you about the many exciting options. Please visit us on Facebook or Tweet us: @AmAssocSG, (hashtag #AmAssocSG for all social media). Best,

Singapore American • September 2016

SINGAPORE AMERICAN NEWSPAPER EDITORIAL Editor-in-Chief: Melinda Murphy, Publishing Editor: Toni Dudsak,

DESIGN & L AYOUT Graphic Designers: Miia Koistinen, Sanna Massala,

ADVERTISING Advertising Manager: Valerie Tietjen,

CONTRIBUTORS Anna Baldwin, Virginia Brumby, Faith Chanda, Harry Chiang, Lena Chong, Angel Corrigan, Sebastian Darmawan, Rob Faraone, Richard Hartung, Heidi Kingman, Melanie Lee, Mrinalini, James Nesbitt, Lauren S. Power, LS Power, Conn Schrader, Laura Schwartz, Marc Servos, Singapore American School Elementary PE Teachers, Eric Walter, Gail Willow For A AS: Alka Chandiramani, Melinda Murphy, Glenn van Zutphen

A MERICAN 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 American Club President: Scott Weber • AWA President: Tara Eastep SACAC Chair: Anne LeBoutillier • SAS Chair: Anita Tan-Langlois Non-Voting Member: US Embassy: Chahrazed Sioud US Military: Rear Admiral Donald Gabrielson

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. 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.

Glenn van Zutphen twitter: @glennvanzutphen


Singapore American • September 2016

AAS Thursday









Upcoming Events

Past Events

Quiz Night

USS Boxer

There is nothing better than BBQ, beer and bragging rights! Come match wits against your friends and walk away a champ! 7-9pm Smokey’s BBQ , 32 South Buona Vista Road, Singapore 118161 AAS Members: $35, Team of Six: $180 (includes a jug of beer and snacks per table)

On Sunday, July 31, the Singapore Council of the US Navy League hosted a casual welcome reception at District 10 @UE Square. Navy Officers and Marines from the USS Boxer attended, along with AAS members, US Embassy staff, Officers from Sembawang, and members of our international Singapore community. A good time was had by all!

Welcome Back Celebration

Join us for an incredibly fun Welcome Back Celebration at Zoom Park, everybody’s favorite trampoline playground. The kids will have a blast burning off energy while adults catch up with friends, old and new. There’s something for everybody! Also meet AAS’ sister organizations: AmCham, AWA, SAS, The American Club, the US Embassy and the Navy League. 3-5pm Zoom Park 200 Pandan Gardens, Singapore 609336 AAS/Sister Org Member Adult: $25; Child $13 AAS/Sister Org Family or Team of Four: $70 Non-Member Adult: $45; Child $20 Non-Member Family or Team of 4: $115

Living in Singapore Talk

Want to learn more about how to navigate life in the Lion City? Then the talk based on our very successful Living in Singapore book is for you! The updated 14th Edition was released in May so come learn all you can about Health & Wellness, Family & Leisure and Heritage & Culture from the writers themselves. 7-9pm The Tanglin Club, 5 Stevens Road, Singapore 257814 Free to AAS members and SAS families, but registration is required.

Living in Singapore 14th Edition Reference Guide

For more info and to register for an event:

The updated “bible” for life in Singapore includes:

New to Singapore? Then join AAS!

• All revised chapters • Hottest Apps • Insider Tips on everything from Education to Business to Regional Travel

Come make friends with people from all different backgrounds and nationalities. We have lots of wonderful social events throughout the year that you don’t want to miss! You can also join Career Resource Center for Excellence (CRCE) which offers a wide array of opportunities for personal and professional development. Log onto our website to find out how you can be a part of AAS now!

(+65) 6738 0371

And much, much more! For more information: (+65) 6738 0371 ·


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!

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


Singapore American • September 2016


“Speed is useful only if you are running in the right direction.” JOEL BARKER, FUTURE EDGE.

Life in the Fast Lane By Alka Chandiramani ”Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.” - H. Jackson Brown Jr


t’s that time of year when many expats are settling into their new home. Moving from one country to another is a part of life these days. Needless to say, it is never easy. Fear is everpresent. Discomfort never goes away and demons never sleep. But courage is the greatest of allies and disciplined action the greatest of skills. Life is the most difficult during transition. Many people fail because they try to follow others without a clear reflection about their own journey. With experience, we realize that everyone has a different question to answer, a different lesson to learn. Truth is, there’s no real competition as we are all winners in the end within our own spectrum, but the struggle can be hard if you are in a new job, looking for a position or adjusting to a new phase of life such as not working. Sir Edmund Hillary said, “I did not conquer Mt. Everest. I conquered myself.” The same is true about moving. It’s not so much that you have to conquer Singapore, rather you have to conquer your own fears and concerns and you have to be open to new experiences and friendships. We meet some amazing people and make many friends along the way, people who come from all walks of life. That lesson is actually the story of Mitch Albom’s book, Have a Little Faith, the tale of Henry Covington, a former drug dealer and convicted felon turned loving pastor. Perhaps this is the best lesson of all in any transition. I have always felt that friends and family are like fragments in the sky. They are with you all the time, but during the moments of darkness, they shine their divinity on you with tremendous strength to endure what life has to offer. If you’re struggling to adjust to life here, embrace relationships, old and new. Amidst all the voices, sometimes we forget that each one of us has within us a remarkable zest for life that can enlighten every heart we touch. We can build the courage and push the boundaries to strive beyond our capacity to excel even through the most difficult moments. In the realm of chaos, let us not forget to ask ourselves, “What is truly our seed of joy as a global nomad living life in the fast lane?”

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.

CRCE SEPTEMBER WORKSHOPS How Cross Cultural Communication Will Impact Your Success in Singapore/ APAC Speaker: Kyle Hegarty Wednesday, September 7 10:30am – 12:30pm Lunch and Learn: DIY Sole Proprietorship Talk Speaker: Katherine Chapman Friday, September 16 12:30 – 2pm Build Your Network with LinkedIn Speaker: Linda Le Wednesday, September 21 10am – 12:30pm Create an Effective Resume and Get Noticed Speaker: Alka Chandiramani Wednesday, September 28 10am – 12:30pm Using MBTI to Jump Start Your Job Search Speaker: Suzanna Borst Friday, September 30 10am – 12:30pm


SPOTLIGHT ON JOBS Part-time Marketing Manager and Event Planner This organization is looking for a charismatic, ambitious individual to join its team. Ideal candidates will have marketing, branding and event planning experience with a keen interest in social media marketing. Candidate must be able to work independently and be available on weekends when needed for events. Intimate knowledge of the expat market in Singapore and graphic design capabilities are a plus. (job #3341) Digital Marketing Executive The successful candidate will contribute to the development of research projects, including analysis of data; creative projects, such as collateral and white paper development; internal and external communications, including media and business partner relationship development and social media project development including content creation for multiple platforms. Strong writing skills are a plus. (job #3340) Spa Receptionist A global hospitality company is currently recruiting for a Spa Receptionist You will be responsible to provide an excellent and consistent level of service to your customers. The Receptionist is responsible to ensure the smooth and efficient running of the reception within the spa. (job #3339) Auditor Are you good with numbers? Want to do something to give back? USA Girl Scouts Overseas (Singapore) is looking for a volunteer to immediately audit the books from last year. This is a short-term project that could develop into a full-time paid position. (job #3337) Head of Government & Public Affairs A chamber of commerce seeks dynamic, committed candidates for the position of Head of Government and Public Affairs. The incumbent is responsible for conduct of the Chamber’s advocacy work, relations with Singapore government agencies and public affairs including publications, media outreach, branding, corporate social responsibility and communications; the position is one of two deputies to the Executive Director. A strategic perspective, familiarity with US business, regional understanding and analytic strength are essential attributes of the successful candidate. (job #3335) Advancement Executive The Advancement Executive will be primarily responsible for assisting with the preparation and execution of the annual giving program. The annual giving program includes written and digital fundraising communications, social media, events and volunteer fundraising activities that benefit the educational mission of the school and its students. Furthermore, the advancement coordinator will help to steward donors through appropriate recognition activities and reporting on use of funds. Alongside the other members of the Advancement team, the advancement coordinator will participate in other projects as assigned. (job #3334) Client Relationship Consultants A global organization is looking for Client Relationship Consultants who can contribute directly to its growth through client success. The ability to network and build relationships with clients is important. Client Relationship Consultants should have a passion to engage clients in conversations on their needs and to communicate how we can provide value. Candidates are preferably degree holders with business experience, a positive attitude and strong communication skills (verbal and written). (job #3333)


Singapore American • September 2016

Strong, Sustainable and Balanced Growth By Harry Chiang


ast year was a significant year for improved regional integration and economic growth in the Southeast Asia region. US businesses continue to remain optimistic about growth prospects and commercial opportunities in ASEAN. According to the ASEAN Business Outlook Survey 2017, 78% of executives project a profit increase in 2017 and close to half of the surveyed companies expect to increase their ASEAN workforce by the end of 2016. While an overall confident business outlook holds much promise for growth in ASEAN, a number of critical challenges remain for American companies. These include workforce development, government transparency, regulatory efficiency and policy engagement. The US private sector has invested more in ASEAN cumulatively than businesses from any other country and American companies emphasize hiring and encouraging local employees. As a result, the demand for an increasingly welleducated and skilled talent pool in ASEAN is important to these companies. This year’s survey dedicates a new section to talent sourcing and workforce development in ASEAN and identifies the top technical and non-technical skills most valued by US businesses in ASEAN. Close to half of executives surveyed (44%) cite technical skills as valued, but difficult to find in the labor market and 56% of the respondents in the region cite management and leadership skills as being in the greatest shortage among businesses in ASEAN. With American companies striking an emphasis on hiring locally and nurturing the skills and leadership potential of local employees in the countries in which they operate, the skills considered to be most valued by US business leaders across ASEAN are creativity and innovativeness (45%), analytical and problem-solving (44%), technical (44%) and communication and cross-collaboration (41%).

The demand for ASEAN’s young and rapidly expanding population continues to play a pivotal role to the region’s growth. Therefore, it becomes even more important for local governments to work with businesses to employ and equip their workforce with the skills necessary to excel in the global economy. For more information on the ASEAN Business Outlook Survey please visit:


Singapore American • September 2016

Welcome Back! Welcome Home! By Conn Schrader


he season of comings and goings is winding down and those of you who are new to Singapore should be settling in and those who have been here for a while are likely back in the groove after (I hope) some well-deserved time away. For both newcomers and Singapore veterans, below are some of the key things we would like you to bear in mind during your time in Singapore. • Make sure that your passports are valid for more than six months and that you have sufficient pages for your travel. Don’t head out for vacation or business only to be turned away at the airport for lack of enough time or pages in your passport. Set yourself a reminder for when your passport expires and renew before that six month window gets too close. Keep close track of how many blank pages you have remaining and renew in advance. Extra visa pages for US

passports are no longer an option. It takes a little more than a week to get your new passports back to you. • Sign up in STEP, the Smart Traveler Enrolment Program. Visit to enroll and receive notices from the Embassy in the event of an emergency of for important security and safety messages. You should also enroll trips in the region so that our embassies and consulates will know you are in their district if an emergency arises. • Vote. You must be registered and have requested your absentee/overseas ballot from your state’s election officials to vote. Visit for details. Don’t delay! Time is running short to complete the process and have your voice heard in this November’s elections. • Planning to return to the United States? Act now for non-

US citizen family members. If you believe you will return to the United States next summer or sooner with a spouse who is neither a US Citizen nor permanent resident, the time is now to prepare for their move to the United States in the proper status. The 6-12 month process ends with an interview at the US Embassy, but begins with filing a petition with the Department of Homeland Security. Visit for information on family-based petitions. Please visit us at for more information about emergency and non-emergency services for US citizens. We also encourage you to follow www.facebook. com/singapore.usembassy and to keep abreast of your embassy’s activities in Singapore.

Keep Moving! SAS Elementary PE Teachers


re children sacrificing the pleasure of movement and play for endless tuition and extracurricular classes? Screen time and sitting aren’t necessarily bad in moderation, but we often forget that the human body was made to move. Here are our physical education teachers’ five tips on keeping kids’ minds and bodies healthy! Cut Down on Sugar More than 75 percent of items in grocery stores have added sugar. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reveals that there’re more than 56 names for added sugars on food labels! The World Health Organization suggests reducing your intake of free sugars to below 10% of your daily energy intake (excluding sugars naturally present in fruits, vegetables and milk). So eat more fruits, vegetables, eggs, meats, fish and raw nuts and drink water instead of soda or sports drinks with your family. Care for Others Give your kids opportunities to practice empathy and care. Involve them in physical activities and play that require collaboration and positive communication and encourage them to focus on people’s strengths and not on negatives. Show kids how to build healthy relationships with quality family time. Hit the Sack Are your kids spending enough time in bed? The answer might surprise you. The National Sleep Foundation says preschoolers aged three to five need 10-13 hours of sleep, school-aged children aged six to 13 need 9-11 hours and teenagers need 8-10 hours daily.

Think Positive! Encouraging kids to build a growth mind set gives them the positive outlook that abilities can be built through hard work. They need resilience to reach their physical education and life goals and to find opportunities to grow and challenge themselves. Exercise for 60 Minutes Daily We often hear that “sitting is the new smoking.” Rory Brown, an elementary physical education (PE) teacher at the Singapore American School (SAS), says, “If parents are on their phones all the time, that’s what kids see and do. If parents are physically active, I believe kids get active, too.” The CDC say that children engaging in at least 60 minutes of daily physical activity benefit from a lower chance of obesity or developing chronic diseases, less stress and anxiety as well as better muscular endurance, strength and flexibility. UNESCO notes that regular physical activity can improve a child’s attention span and cognitive processing. Anne Wenstrom, an elementary PE teacher at SAS, says, “When kids are physically active, they are strengthening their muscles and bones and releasing endorphins in their bodies, which makes them happy. This turns on the learning centers in their brains while creating the understanding that their physical fitness matters.” And David Schuster, an elementary PE teacher at SAS, adds: “Physical activity isn’t supposed to stop when kids finish high school at 18. We’re trying to teach a lifestyle.”


Singapore American • September 2016

Why is the US Coast Guard in Singapore? By LS Power


hile the United States Coast Guard (USCG) is traditionally thought to be a domestic force, it has a growing and important presence in Asia Pacific. The American Chamber of Commerce and the Navy League welcomed Captain Lee Boone to give a seminar: “US Coast Guard Security Interests & Activities in the Asia Pacific.” Captain Boone is a highly-educated and decorated officer in the USCG. In 2008, he was assigned to USCG Headquarters to lead the implementation of the Coast Guard’s counter-piracy program for US commercial vessels in high-risk waters. His work on this project was paramount in shaping what would become an international standard. The USCG contingent of Asia Pacific is stationed at Yakota Air Base, where

Captain Boone works with 17 USCG members. There are an additional nine members in Singapore. These few cover an estimated 43% of the world’s longitude, an area stretching from Madagascar to the Polynesian Islands. What are they doing here, in Asia Pacific, a region that already has the most forward deployed naval vessels? Post 9/11, the USCG created the International Port Security (IPS) initiative, which assesses the effectiveness of port security and antiterrorism measures in international ports. The USCG is responsible for monitoring these standards across 42 countries in Asia Pacific and providing updated information for Homeland Security. In developing countries, the USCG provides advice and capacity building options to help local governments and communities improve security to meet these standards of compliance. This work benefits developing countries, increases global security and ultimately protects US interests. In this way, the Coast Guard serves as a unique diplomatic bridge. One of the biggest threats to port security and vessels transiting international waters is piracy. The incident with the MV Maersk Alabama in 2008, which inspired the 2013 film Captain Phillips, was a wake-up call to the international commercial shipping industry. Through creating improved US standards of compliance and influencing new international norms, USCG has helped successfully shape global counter-piracy efforts. Captain Boone says that since late 2015, there has been a steep drop in piracy incidents in Asia Pacific. He attributes this to two main factors: a higher level of compliance with international security norms and a lower price for oil, a highly coveted cargo for pirates. In Asia Pacific, the role of the USCG continues to evolve. Captain Boone and his team are proud to build diplomatic ties in the region, protect the security needs of the US and contribute to maintaining global stability. Want to learn more about piracy? Boone recommends reaading the article, “Oceans Beyond Piracy” at To find out more about the US Navy League, please visit


Singapore American • September 2016

A Win-Win

By James Nesbitt


ne of the key ingredients for the development of a society is volunteerism, an altruistic effort without monetary gain. It is about the betterment of individuals and society as a whole. Moreover, volunteering feels good. When we give our time and energy freely for another’s gain, we enjoy the satisfaction that’s a by-product of the simple act of “doing good.” But life gets busy, schedules get in the way and, despite our best intentions, volunteering often slips to the bottom of the

“to do” list. As a full time banker, a husband and father of three children, I feel everyone wants a piece of me and I struggle to carve out time to “volunteer.” However, I have found that through volunteering with Cub Scouts, I get to spend more time with my son (and, therefore, be a better dad to him) and, at the same time, give back to our community. The boys in our program also get a chance to learn about volunteerism through the many projects we do every year. It’s a win-win situation for all involved.

Getting involved in Cub Scouts is easy and there are plenty of ways you can help. If you’d like to find out more , please email me at Photos by James Nesbitt

Loola Campout Reflection

By Sebastian Darmawan


hile everyone else was enjoying their time off on May Labour Day, Troop 07 had the opportunity to go on a campout at Loola Resort in Bintan, Indonesia. We had all been waiting to go on this adventurous campout for a while. Once we arrived at the resort, the staff gave us a brief introduction and then we immediately started to prepare and build our own rafts for the great race to the “Rock” for the next day. After lots of knotting and cracking our engineering minds, we proudly finished our rafts. Next, we paired up and began to kayak all the way to a small island nearby called Survival Island where we spent a good night sleeping out in the open. Unfortunately, a couple of “guests”

decided to say hello to us and enjoyed our leftovers from dinner. The very next morning, we hiked all the way back to the main island in shallow sea water. Everyone was extremely glad to be back, especially because we were going to get to sleep in the dorms that night. But it wasn’t time to rest just yet: the big race was about to start! The whistle blew and all the Scouts ploughed their rafts through the water, desperate to get to the “Rock” first. Some rafts survived the race. Some didn’t. We learned how important knotting skills are and also that teamwork really plays a big role in building and racing a raft. After that, some of the Scouts helped with one of our Scout’s

Eagle project while others got the chance to climb coconut trees. The bravest climbed up a thin wooden beam between two palm trees seven meters above the ground which involved taking a leap of faith, wearing harnesses at the same time so we wouldn’t get squashed like a pancake. In the afternoon, we excitedly zip lined into a pool. Everyone did it, including the three dads that came along with us. Finally, we ate dinner: 38 delicious homemade pizzas which the staff had amazingly cooked in 90 minutes. It had been a fabulous day of hard work and play, another great Scouting adventure. Photos by Matt Tremblay

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


Singapore American • September 2016

By March Servos


ne of my favorite activities at the Singapore Zoo is seeing the tigers. Today, this is the only place in Singapore where you can see these striped animals, a favorite of many who appreciate wild felines. However, many years ago, these dangerous carnivores used to roam the wilds of colonial Singapore, creating a menace which took the lives of a number of inhabitants. In fact, legend has it that Singapore is called “The Lion City” possibly because the first king of the Malays (who nicknamed Singapore) saw a tiger and mistook it for a lion. The earliest record of tigers in Singapore is found in the September 8, 1831 edition of the Singapore Chronicle, the local newspaper at that time. The article was about a Chinese immigrant who was killed by a tiger and also mentioned another death, likely by the same tiger. At the time, Singapore was still covered by virgin jungle, providing part of a large hunting ground for tigers that had swum here from across the Straits of Johor. Cultivation of gambier and pepper took off during the 1840s with plantations encroaching into the jungle, which meant that Chinese plantation coolies became easy targets, resulting in increased encounters with these animals. By the middle part of that century, attacks became so intense that it was said that one life was claimed per day. In 1857, it was reported that 390 people were killed by tigers, but the actual number was likely higher as many attacks went unreported. In 1859, an entire village in Bukit Timah, an area nicknamed “A Tiger Resort,” was abandoned due to this threat. To contain this threat, the government offered a reward of $20 for every tiger killed which increased to $50 and later $100 as the number of casualties rose. Tiger hunting became a rewarding sport and adventure, which included the digging of pits and employing the help of Indian convicts who were experts in hunting them. The numbers dwindled to the point where they practically disappeared. Sporadic incidents involving tigers continued into the late 1800s and early 20th century. A man was killed by one in 1890 in the Thomson Road area. Two tigers were shot in 1896 in Bukit Timah. In 1902, a tiger managed to make its way into the Raffles Hotel’s billiard room, hiding under a billiard table. A local man who was called upon to remove it shot it five times. The whole incident came to a surprise to the guests who were enjoying their afternoon tea! Whether the tiger was wholly wild or had escaped from a nearby traveling circus has been debated. According to urban legend, it

was the last tiger shot in Singapore, but other records, including photographs, indicate that the actual last known tiger to be shot was hunted down in the Choa Chu Kang area in 1930. Today, Singapore consists of nature reserves where hikers enjoy a variety of wildlife found here. If you see monkeys roam before your very eyes at these places, imagine what you could’ve encountered 150 years ago. 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 • September 2016

Shining the Light on Pathlight By Faith Chanda


s an American expat in Singapore, it made me proud of my adopted home country when Prime Minister Lee’s wife, Mrs. Lee Hsien Loong, carried a denim clutch adorned with dinosaur prints made by a special needs student at the Pathlight School to an official visit at the White House. As Pathlight principal, Ms Linda Kho, said “We were pleasantly surprised and honored that she chose to bring this bag on her official visit. It gave such a great mileage for the artists on our Artist Development Programme (ADP) and merchandise at The Art Faculty.” For me, there was also a special connection to my childhood. I attended Ed Smith Elementary School in Syracuse, New York, which was a pioneer of the integration approach to special needs education, especially those with autism. As young children, our counterparts with autism and other challenges were an integral part of our mainstream classrooms. We learned not to be afraid and how to help when we could. We became friends and, eventually, advocates. As we grew up together, we learned that even those who are different have a place among us and something to offer the world. The Pathlight School’s Art Faculty ( retail outlets offer merchandise made by the students in their Artist Development Program, which cultivates students with artistic talent through engagement with professional artists, most of whom volunteer their time. From the sales of these items, the students receive income in the form of royalty payments. In fact, there are several enterprises in Singapore that facilitate occupational opportunities for those with disabilities and other challenges.

• The Very Special Arts Singapore’s ( Arts for Livelihood and Employment (ALIVE) Programme helps to train people with special needs in the arts and crafts. These products are for sale online and at exhibitions and on display as commissioned works. The VSA’s Arts for Performance and Expression (APEX) Programme aims to help those with special needs express themselves through acting, dance and music, gain experience in public performance and become valuable contributors to the artistic community. • Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (MINDS) ( has a social enterprise program that provides training and employment projects such as entertainment, staffing for car washes and thrift shops and art and crafts, including customized pieces for commercial sale. • Bizlink ( links people with disabilities with employment opportunities that best fit their skills, such as cleaning services, IT and data entry and packing and fulfillment. Bizlink also produces cards and gifts under the moniker “These Abled People,” which is sold online and in certain retail outlets. • Joan Bowen Café ( is primarily staffed by people with special needs. • The workforce at Professor Brawn Café ( is purposely comprised of staff who come from underrepresented and disadvantaged backgrounds, including those with disabilities. • My Foot Reflexology ( at Great World City trains and employs individuals with a variety of disabilities including the visually-impaired and deaf-mutes, physically

Reaching for the Stars By Virginia Brumby


trictly off the record (I’m applying for PR… again!), I’ve never been properly enamored of Chicken Rice. The Michelin powers that be, however, disagree with me so it seems that I just haven’t been to the right stall! Two Singapore hawker stalls, Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle (Chinatown Food Complex, #02-125, 335 Smith Street, S050335) and Tai Hwa Pork Noodle (466 Crawford Lane, #01-12, S190465), were both recently awarded one precious Micheline star, a milestone for street food in the history of the notoriously highbrow guide. Speaking in a video recorded at his stall inside the bustling Chinatown Food Complex, Chef-Owner Chan Hon Meng remained disarmingly modest, explaining that his parents were farmers and also raised animals in Ipoh, Malaysia, and that to help (literally) put food on the table, he dropped out of school and learned to cook at a young age. Subsequently, preparing simple, yet extremely tasty dishes became a personal passion. A Hong Kong chef helped him take his skills to the next level, thus the name of the stall. His signature dish, which at the (now seemingly ludicrous) price of $2, attracted long queues, even before the award. Now? The wait can be more than an hour.

The second now star-studded hawker, Tai Hwa Pork Noodle shares the same unassuming approach, paired with multigenerational dedication. Founder Tang Joon Teo founded the business in the 1930’s, passed away in 1995 at the age of 89 and left the business to his three sons. While a family from China’s Fujian province brought the Hokkienstyle bak chor mee (minced pork noodles) to the shores of the Lion City, Singaporeans claim their bragging rights for the Teochew-style of this popular dish and the founder himself concocted the stall’s own addictive blend of black vinegar, chilli paste, and other sauces, in which the succulent egg noodles are tossed. As for Chef Chan, his humble advice to other chefs (including hawkers of course) is to cook with passion, “as if the Michelin inspector is tasting your food at every moment.” Secret ingredient revealed. 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 countries.

Photos courtesy of

handicapped, mentally challenged, as well as retrenched older workers with very little skills and education. Patronizing these businesses and websites provides financial support directly to the artists, workers and other beneficiaries of these programs. Just like Mrs. Lee Hsien Loong’s dinosaur clutch has increased traffic to The Art Faculty stores and website, your buying power isn’t just about money: it’s about bringing awareness and giving back to the community. The perfect excuse to shop! Faith Chanda has reinvented herself as a writer, after spending most of her career in Marketing Communications and Event Planning, spanning multiple industries and roles.

Photos courtesy of Pathlight, The White House


Run. Reflect. Repeat. By Lauren S. Power


hy do you travel? Is it to discover the world? Or do you seek to find yourself? For many novice travelers, their holiday is defined by ticking off a checklist of the Top 10 most famous sights in their destination. On the other end of the scale, people can underestimate the importance of learning about the history, culture and geography of a destination to the degree that they are unprepared, lost and overwhelmed during their trip. In both cases, these travel mistakes can deprive people of the opportunity to make authentic connections with their surroundings and the local people they encounter on their journeys. For most of us seasoned travelers, we have made enough mistakes to learn how to strike a balance between meticulous planning and spontaneous discovery. What we crave is novelty and deeper meaning on our journeys. Some choose to take classes in art or cooking to better understand culture and tradition, while others may volunteer with a charity to connect with the local people. To create a deeper relationship with the geography – the sights, sounds and feel of your destination – there may be no better option than running. Participating in an organized run creates a special combination of physical challenge, adventure and interpersonal connection to your vacation. It is a marvelous way to encounter sights and scenery, step-bystep at your own pace and side-by-side with a host of locals and people from around the world. Sophie Li is an American that has been living and working in China since 2013. This year, she moved to Singapore for her MBA at INSEAD. Having run China’s Great Wall Half Marathon in early 2015, she was eager to try a different run in another fun location. Along with a group of 18

classmates, she embarked on a 10K run through Pyongyang, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). “The route went through the center of the city, so it was great for sightseeing. It was just like a normal run with the normal ambulance and fire truck on standby. It was a great way to see Pyongyang. I’d definitely go back to take the train north through the countryside. It is a beautiful country.” Sophie remarked. Her group was under constant supervision by tour guides from the Koryo tour group, which had arranged the entire run package. Sophie’s hotel was nicely appointed, even including North Korean microbreweries. Every aspect of her trip seemed well managed. The DPRK is a source of speculation and fascination to many, but is known to be a difficult place to visit. You don’t have to go all the way to Beijing or North Korea to get a run in on your journey and you don’t have to do it alone. Why not join an adventure with The Chain Reaction Project (TCRP), a Singapore organization that raises funds for various charities through adventure tourism? Become a part of an active, international and socially engaged community. Past adventures have included the Angkor Wat Half Marathon in Cambodia, the Run San Ramon in the US, treks in Nepal and several runs in Singapore. Create more meaning in your travel by challenging yourself and participating in a run. Whether you join in as an individual or as part of a group, you’ll find yourself changed by a surprisingly authentic and personal experience with both your destination and fellow runners. Photos by The Great Wall Marathon

Singapore American • September 2016

Find out more about the runs mentioned in this article: Great Wall Marathon, China Pyongyang Marathon, DPRK Angkor Wat Half Marathon, Cambodia The Chain Reaction Project

Lauren S. Power is a Texas native who has lived in the United States, the United Kingdom, 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 and political themes in her writing.

Singapore American • September 2016

The Amazing Elephant By Heidi Kingman


y first introduction to elephants was the movie Dumbo. It set the tone from the beginning: circus elephants have it bad, clowns are evil. I dreamed of seeing elephants in the wild and avoided the Ringling Brothers. National Geographic gave me another taste. In Maine, there was no chance of getting closer to anything larger than a moose (which I did, but that’s another article entirely). So the magazine became a window to the world before the internet existed. Head stuck in pages of glossy pictures, I learned the difference between Asian and African elephants. (Asian elephants have smaller ears, of course). I learned that these enormous intelligent beasts could be quite gentle, social creatures who work together to raise and protect the young and collectively mourn the passing of one of their own, something that happens much too frequently due to unnatural causes: the dreadful, stark reality of elephant hunting and ivory harvesting. The pictures spared nothing to the imagination: the dire position of such an amazing creature, the survival of a species questionable. That was 30 years ago and things have not changed much. At the turn of the 20th Century, there were more than a million elephants in Africa alone. Last year, according to the BBC, it was estimated that up to 30,000 African elephants die every year at the hands of ivory hunters. The number of African elephants is now estimated to be between 450,000-700,000. Assuming the worst, that means that seven percent of the population a year is disappearing. In Asia, the numbers are even grimmer. According to WWF, there are only an estimated 40,000-50,000 throughout the region. Thailand is estimated to have a total population of 2,000-3,000 wild elephants, with 3,500-4,000 in captivity. So how do we help? Do we believe that supporting local “responsible” elephant sanctuaries will eventually help to rescue, rehabilitate and reproduce a species endangered and on the brink of extinction? Or do we believe that any form of tourism associated with elephants is pure exploitation? After much research and consternation and after eight years of resisting, we decided to visit one such park in Northern Chiang Mai, Patara Elephant Farm. The mahout running the farm had grown up with elephants, his family teaming with them to farm the lands, harvest crops and manage the forest. Now, generations of children travel to the cities to study and never return, leaving few to care for the land or the elephants. This farm was established to rescue elephants and provide sanctuary far from the very city now luring the youth. Ironic. Obviously, the farm is a compromise. Of the elephants that we met, most were rescue elephants, already trained and traumatized by previous experiences. Not once in our fullday experience did we witness violence, aggressive behavior towards the elephants, nor any recent scars, and there were no scars on the elephants born at the reserve. After an hour or two of weaving about dirt roads, the forest opened and hills exposed sugar cane crops and elephants sprinkled across the terrain. The farm has more than 60 elephants today, many of which have been rescued from Thai circuses and city zoos. Several mahouts were gathering sugar cane to feed the elephants. A mother and her baby chomped happily on the greenery. Elephants are lovely creatures and very similar to humans in several ways. They live for approximately 70 years and a female will have typically give birth to no more than four offspring. The babies gestate for 22 months before birth (imagine that, mommies!) and are 198-265 pounds (90-150 kilos) at birth. The calf will breastfeed for up to five years.

Singapore American • September 2016

Parenthood is a true commitment and the relationship between mother and baby is deep. Most elephant herds are made up of related female elephants who rely heavily upon the matriarch for her knowledge and experience. Studies show that the herd with the oldest and most experienced matriarch is the one with the highest infant survival rate. One example involved a severe drought in which one herd lost most of its babies. The matriarch was only 33. In contrast, the herd with a matriarch of more than 50 years of age, survived the drought intact, with the younger elephants learning survival skills from the eldest. Male elephants will stay with the herd until their mid-teens, at which point an itchy foot and testosterone get the best of them and they go off on their own. This is known as “being in musth.” They may temporarily bond with other young males, but upon reaching full size (around 17 years of age), they tend toward more solitary lives outside of mating season. All elephants display signs of emotion such as joy, anger, grief and playfulness. It takes time, but even rescue elephants will bond, accept and create their own adopted family. Also, elephants have personalities. Babies are playful while mommies worry and fuss over the babies. Teenagers can be moody and elders stoic. In fact, we were later paired by personality one-on-one with elephants for which we would care throughout the afternoon. As a mother of a five-year-old, I felt well matched with Ming Yi, the mommy elephant, who spent most of her time reigning in her little one and putting up with the antics of baby Hannah who constantly ran through her feet, taking any opportunity to pounce and play. I am quite sure Ming Yi took great joy in spraying me at bath time. I swear she was laughing and repeated the behavior gleefully the louder my protests. Even mommies can be mischievous. Meeting the elephants and touching them was what I imagined it to be: awe inspiring and humbling. The skin, the trunk, the scent… almost exactly what I would have imagined. It was nerve-racking being surrounded at one point by five of these immense creatures, watching that my five-year-old did not get trampled in an accidental sidestep, though the elephants were probably as conscience of my son as they were of their own baby Hannah. But despite the excitement and adrenaline, an overwhelming blanket of sadness wrapped my heart thinking about what “my” elephant had endured to be trained for a circus. I did not express this to my companions caught up in their excitement. I didn’t want to be take wind out of the sails. Was she relieved that I was calm, gentle and respectful? And what about the bouncy and perky baby Hannah? Will her spirit one day be broken to entertain tourists? Or will the owners of the farm continue to rehabilitate and rescue, creating an environment where elephants will thrive naturally and free of abuse? How could humanity let these grand creatures suffer and reach near extinction only for ornaments and superstition? Leaning my head into hers upon completion of our visit, I could only hope to convey to Ming Yi my thoughts, my empathy, my dreams for her child... similar to those for my own and our next generation. And I can now attest that elephants hum. Yes, hum. Saying good bye to Ming Yi, I placed my hand at the base of her trunk between her eyes and a low vibration accompanied by a humming began. Having heard many other sounds such as trumpets, chirps and more, I like to think she was saying goodbye, but of course, she could very well have been communicating back to her herd miles away that she was on her way back home for dinner because the humans were leaving. All in all, the experience was amazing. I remain skeptical about the levels of morality of any elephant farm, but was impressed with the consistent positive attention displayed in our presence. I am more in awe of these magnificent creatures than ever.

How to identify a healthy elephant: 1. Elephants should be dirty in the morning which means they most likely had a good night’s sleep on the ground. 2. Elephants sweat through their toenails so they should be wet. Sweating means they have had enough water. 3. Tears also indicate a well-hydrated elephant. 4. They should be eating constantly. 5. They poo hourly, typically producing five, softball-size pellets that have no scent. If elephant poo is stinky, it is a sign that they may be ill.


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Elephants use dirt as sunblock, throwing it onto their backs all day long to not only block the sun, but also deter pesky insects. A grown Asian elephant can weigh up to five tons and reach 9.8 feet (three meters) in height. Both male and female elephants have tusks. Pachyderms have the largest brain in the animal kingdom weighing in at ten pounds! Elephants do not actually eat peanuts. Elephants avoid ants and bees. Ants tickle the trunk and nobody likes a bee sting! Asian elephants don’t run or jump. Elephants can recognize their own reflection. Only humans, great apes, magpies and dolphins have also passed this test. Elephants can eat 3-400 pounds (1360-1840kg) of food a day. Grass, leaves, bananas, bamboo, sugar cane and rice are the local favorite pachyderm cuisine. It is this unfortunate appetite together with shrinking habitat that often put elephants in poor standing with farmers.


• • • • • • •


How long have the mahouts been working with elephants and where were they trained? (Proper training takes years and is often a family profession). Are any of the male elephants in musth, a testosterone-fueled mating cycle often accompanied by aggression? What were the elephants’ prior experiences and how long have they had to acclimate to their new family? Are the animals roaming freely? Is there a stench of feces in the air? How are the animals cared for when no tourists are available? Does the farm have alternative sources of revenue? Are food and water readily available to the elephants?

Heidi Kingman has been living in Singapore for eight years. She’s a writer, consultant and the mother to a very active and curious five-year-old son.

Singapore American • September 2016


Singapore American • September 2016

Who’s Afraid of the Dark? By Laura Schwartz


hile it’s always a treat when loved ones visit me here in Singapore, I’ll admit that part of my joy is knowing that I’ll have an excuse to visit the Night Safari again. I first visited the park less than a year after it opened, in 1994, when I was a six-year-old convinced that a fairy godmother must have taken a liking to me. How else was it that I got to stay up late? And play outside? And see animals? I was in heaven. More than 20 years later, neither the attractiveness of the Night Safari nor my glee have diminished much. If you’re wondering what makes the Night Safari any different from just visiting the zoo during daylight hours, I have two words for you: big cats. Tigers, leopards and lions all hunt at night and take long naps during the day, managing the tropical heat much like your housecat does. The cooler postsunset temperatures are also more comfortable for us humans, as covering the entire park on foot can take a few hours. Other nocturnal creatures that you get to see in action include: Indian wolves, Asian otters, sugar gliders, owls, fruit bats, giant flying squirrels, spotted hyenas, bongos, the slow loris and the list goes on to include hundreds more. The park is a popular attraction and both the 7:30pm and 8:30pm entry times entail a bit of queueing (though there is a live pyrotechnic show to entertain you while you wait). However, don’t be put off by the crowds clogging the entrance. The majority of people hop in line for the tram straight away and forego the walking paths. While the tram is the only way to see some of the larger creatures – such as the Asian elephants, Cape buffalo and Nile

hippopotamuses – the winding paths through the dark jungle are half the fun of the Night Safari. As soon as you begin following a footpath, you’ll find the park to be not nearly so busy; sometimes, you’ll be quite alone in viewing the animals. My strategy is to tackle the walking trails first and the tram later, when your feet are tired, from one of the other, lesscrowded stations. The most surefire way to not have to compete with the crowds would be to arrive a bit later, around 9:30pm. The park closes at midnight and 2.5 hours is usually enough to see just about everything. Another reason I have such high esteem for the Night Safari is that the park is committed to animal and environmental conservation efforts. In addition to peppering the park with tips and information, they are actively involved in combatting illegal poaching and rehabilitating endangered species, such as Malayan tigers, tapirs and Asian lions, among others. If I had one complaint about the Night Safari, it would be the pricey cost of beverages and snacks, which like in most amusement parks, has been ramped up. It’s prudent to bring your own bottle of water as well as a comfortable pair of walking shoes and mosquito repellant. From the tussling cloud leopards to the walk-in flying fox enclosure to the baby porcupines spotted on my most recent visit, the Night Safari that has given me countless unique and unforgettable memories. For any child or adult with a love of animals, it’s a zoo not to be missed.

Photo by Will Ellis 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.


Singapore American • September 2016

Whippersnappers Gone Wild By Anna Baldwin


rom the “pet” geckos that lurk in the dark corners of our homes to the rainbow of birds to be found chattering in the trees to the wild boars that sometimes visit the outer neighborhoods, Singapore is a veritable zoo of wildlife most of us have never lived among. If your kids are interested in visiting animals in a more formal environment, there are also plenty of options. Wildlife Reserves ( manages several parks including the Singapore Zoo, River Safari and Night Safari as well as the Jurong Bird Park. Most Singapore newbies count these among their first attraction stops, especially if there are kids to entertain. But did you know you can also breakfast with the orangutans or lunch with parrots? All four venues also offer behind-the-scenes experiences and private guided tours. Kids can attend camps at the zoo, sleep in the zoo or even become junior zookeepers for a day! For more about the Night Safari, see Laura Schwartz’s article on page 17. Since the closure of Underwater World in June of this year, the SEA Aquarium ( has become the premier site in Singapore for viewing the ocean’s wildlife. Kids love the massive Open Ocean exhibit which many visitors find breathtaking. What most people may not know is that within the Resorts World’s Marine Life Park, unique offerings include dolphin, shark and manta ray interactions, helmet dives (for non-scuba divers) and an Adventure River ride surrounded by marine life for little ones. For a somewhat lower key experience, a visit to the Butterfly Park and Insect Kingdom ( offers a magical opportunity to get up close with gorgeous butterflies and a few other animals, as well. The butterfly aviary is the big draw, where visitors roam amongst thousands of these winged creatures. School groups can arrange tours that include helping just-emerged butterflies spread their wings and fly for the first

Photo by Faith Chanda

time! Any visitor can pre-arrange the chance for a group of up to five people to release butterflies into the wild. Nestled in the serene and carefully manicured environs of the Chinese Gardens is the Live Tortoise and Turtle Museum ( Boasting a Guinness World Recordholding collection of turtles and tortoises, this tiny area is populated with a startling number of live species. Many of the turtles and tortoises can be fed with appropriate vegetables provided by the museum for a small fee. Several larger specimens roam around the grounds, available for a gentle pet and a quick photo, but the staff advises children must be carefully supervised. For more on turtles, read Angel Corrigan’s article on page 21. The Kranji countryside hosts many animal attractions that can’t really be found anywhere else in Singapore. Farmart Centre ( offers a variety of animals for petting and feeding and acts as farm market as well as a jumping off point for farm tours in the area. Farms for goats, quail, crocodiles, koi and prawn are open for exploration or tours, as is Jurong Frog Farm ( While the primary function is to

raise frogs for consumption, there is also a concentrated effort to educate and entertain. Kids can feed some frogs and even try their hand at catching and releasing small frogs and tadpoles in the play pen. The Animal Resort ( is a similar petting zoo venue, which also offers animal boarding and grooming. Families can even buy small pets after learning about them and purchasing all the necessary equipment for a happy home life. While native animal experiences in Singapore can sometimes be a bit jarring to those of us not used to living in tropical rainforest climes, the variety of animal attractions offer unmatched opportunities for education, interaction and entertainment. Anna Baldwin is a trailing spouse who has recently reinvented herself as a writer, after having spent the majority of her career in Marketing Communications and Event Planning, spanning multiple industries and roles. She enjoys arts and crafts projects with her children, planning elaborate theme parties and traveling the world.

Photo by Kurt Thomas Hunt


Singapore American • September 2016

By Melinda Murphy


ingapore would be a great place to be a dog – oh well – except for all that fur in the hot humidity thing. As a pet owner, however, you have a responsibility. Dogs must be on a leash in a public place and are not allowed to stray at any time. Some breeds may even need a muzzle. Also, keep in mind that the Muslim community in Singapore refrains from touching dogs in their culture, so please be mindful when you take your dog out to high-traffic areas. Here’s a smattering of places where you can take your pup for a playdate. Run to Your Heart’s Content Bishan Park Dog Run Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1 ( This park is a beauty with a fenced-in area as well as a special place for bigger dogs. But note, it gets busy, especially on weekends. Katong Park Dog Run Marine Parade, junction of Fort and Meyer Roads Want your pup to try agility? Then give this fenced in park a try. West Coast Dog Run Pasir Panjang Road This fenced-in run located on the eastern-most side of West Coast Park is open 24/7. It has everything a dog owner could want, from provided bio-degradable poo bags to water for panting pooches. There’s even a selfservice dog wash here so you can bring home Fifi all clean.

Doggie Paddle Sunny Heights 110 Turf Club Road If you have a water baby, this $16/hour dog pool in Bukit Timah is for you, complete with a water park and deep-end ramp. Be sure to check the website for times as the pool is sometimes closed for maintenance. Sun Petgamart 26 Seletar West Farmway 1 This massive pet store has a bonus in the back: a swimming pool big enough for a crowd which means you can shop for supplies at bargain prices (for Singapore) then let Rover swim a lap or two. Tanjong Beach If you go early enough, your pup can frolic in the waves. Afterwards, you can grab brunch with your dog by your side at the oh-so-fashionable Tanjong Beach Club. Dining with Dogs Happenstance Café 35 Opal Crescent A crowd favorite, this cute little spot has a great menu that caters to both you and your furbabies. Paw Pet-radise Café 530 Balestier Road Monville Mansion The human food here is nothing fancy, but the advantage of this place is that there’s a big area where dogs can play.

Sun Ray Café 79 and 81 Brighton Crescent This fab little spot is on everybody’s list of best place and it’s the one I plan to try next. They bake their own bread, roast their own coffees and serve up some amazing treats for your pup, even made-to-order dog cakes. Get Fit with Fido Doga Singapore How about doga, yoga with your dog? Yup, that’s right. You and your pup can work out together. But be forewarned. Fido can probably do the Downward Dog better than you do. Singapore Dog Hash – DASH Hashes are basically races along pre-laid trails. They’re always lots of fun, even more so with your dog by your side. Singapore boasts the world’s first scheduled hash group for dog enthusiasts. Check out one of their races on the first Saturday of every month. 5-Star Resort The Wagington Going away? Feeling guilty that you’re leaving your dog behind? Don’t. Take your best bud to The Wagington, a resort so nice you’ll wish you could stay yourself. Pups can take a dip in the bone-shaped pool then enjoy in-room gourmet (and I mean gourmet) dining.

Singapore American • September 2016


Singapore American • September 2016

Turtle, Tortoise, Tarapin By Angel Corrigan


urtles are symbols of longevity and strength in many cultures. In Chinese mythology, these reptiles represent wisdom. Native American lore believes that World Turtle carries the earth on its back. In modern pop culture, we see the cool little sea turtle named Squirt in Finding Nemo. And who can forget Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? No doubt there is much to appreciate about the humble turtle. For example, large sea-going varieties migrate thousands of miles from the nest where they hatched as babies to distant foraging sites, then back to specific breeding locations. No one truly knows how they navigate, though there is speculation that they may be using earth’s magnetic field to guide their movements. They range in size from something that can fit in the palm of your hand to several hundred pounds. A large turtle’s life span

can be more than 100 years while smaller varieties can live up to 80 years. They are truly amazing. The difference between turtle, tortoise and a terrapin is not consistently recognized. As a general rule, a turtle spends most of its life in water. The slow, lumbering and large tortoise lives on land. The terrapin lives on both land and water, such as in swamps. If you make a decision to buy a turtle as a pet you should know that properly caring for one is not a low maintenance job. They require a temperature-controlled, clean-living environment, which means special food, lighting, heating and filtration devices. You should also be aware that these pets may not come back to the US with you because selling turtles as pets is Illegal there. They, like many reptiles, carry salmonella bacteria so they are not considered safe pets, especially for small children. You don’t even have to touch the turtle to get sick as the bacteria they can carry can live on household surfaces. So it’s probably best to appreciate these creatures from afar. So book a trip to see them hatch out and make their first trek to the ocean or visit a pond where they are hanging out on a log to sun themselves. There are tour companies all over the world that specialize in turtle watching. The seasons vary. In Australia, for instance, the 2016/17 Loggerhead Turtle season runs from November to March. The Mai Khao Marine Turtle Foundation is headquartered at the JW Marriott in Phuket. Its program works with nesting turtles and gives tourists and up close and personal experience to hopefully help them develop a love of these animals. Or if you want to see them locally, check out the Live Turtle & Tortoise Museum in Singapore. They have many varieties of these magnificent creatures. (See page 18 for details.) Until then…Cowabunga Dude!

Live Turtle & Tortoise Museum of Singapore 1 Chinese Garden Road

Mai Khao Marine Turtle Foundation

Tour Operators

Angel Corrigan arrived in Singapore in 1999 with her family. She has lived around the world as a military spouse. In Singapore, she has worked at the US Embassy and in the fundraising and development field as Managing Director of her own company. Art by Lexie Forbes


Singapore American • September 2016

Watching over the By Richard Hartung


riving down Orchard Road or zipping along the expressways here, it might seem like there would be few wild animals on such a small urbanized island, but appearances can be deceiving. A surprising number of wild animals actually do live here. From coral in the sea and snakes on the ground to boars running wild and macaques in the parks, and more, plenty of animals still live in natural habitats across the island. Non-profits are doing their part to help them and there are plenty of opportunities support their activities. Primates are perhaps some of the most visible and also least visible mammals here. Head to MacRitchie Reservoir or other parks in Singapore and you’re likely to come across plenty of long-tailed macaques, for example, while a small number of critically-endangered banded leaf monkeys remain sight unseen deep within the forests. The Jane Goodall Institute Singapore (JGIS), part of a global conservation network started by renowned primatologist Jane Goodall, focuses on educating the public about how they can best interact with the primates, protecting banded leaf monkeys and supporting conservation programs for youth. Volunteers also lead regular Monkey Walks so people can learn more about the macaques. ( The Animal Concerns Research & Education Society (ACRES) organizes a multitude of public education programs, runs a Wildlife Rescue Center that hosts wild animals that they’ve rescued, and operates a 24/7 Wildlife Rescue Hotline to help save animals. ACRES also works to improve the living conditions and welfare of captive animals and to educate people on how to interact with animals. ACRES teams occasionally even go undercover to investigate illegal trafficking in animals and ACRES has passionately advocated for the release of the dolphins at Resorts World Sentosa that were captured from the wild. ( Other organizations support animals here as well through information and their events. The Nature Society Singapore

(NSS), which advocates for conservation of the natural environment in Singapore and preservation of biodiversity, has groups that organize a multitude of activities related to birds, vertebrates and other animals. ( Organizations such as Cicada Tree Eco-House also offer activities that support animal conservation. ( Along with these locally-focused organizations, international non-profits here in Singapore including BirdLife International, Conservation International and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) coordinate wildlife-related research around the region. WWF also runs local programs such as awareness campaigns to save animals ranging from sharks to tigers and Eco-Schools programs which recognize schools that make environmental sustainability a part of school life. Whatever your interest may be, you’re likely to find a group that supports animals about which you care. And whether you become a 24/7 rescue officer or simply attend their talks, these organizations will be delighted with your participation and support. Photos by Thanate Tan and tontantracvel Richard Hartung is a consultant, freelance writer and volunteer. He also serves on the board of Jane Goodall Institute Singapore.

23 Singapore American • September 2016

Living with the By Rob Faraone


moved to Indonesia in the early 70s. In those days, the expectations about interaction between humans and wild animals were different. For instance, my good friend and colleague had a big house with a large swimming pool and at the edge of the pool lived a large cockatoo and a swimming cat. Inside the pool was Walter, a three-foot caiman with large teeth whose jaws were held together by dental floss. At my friend’s frequent pool parties, he would sometimes surprise guests by throwing them into the pool, then watching Walter chase the swimmers. Another friend of mine was Gerry Hook, the Managing Director for Wyeth, a large pharmaceutical manufacturing company. Like me, Gerry loved primates. He actually rescued several gibbons, providing medication and foster care for them in his quiet suburban home. In fact, the Jakarta Zoo regularly relied on him for medicine or foster care. For those unfamiliar, gibbons are the smallest of the apes, different than monkeys as they have no tails and more human-like qualities. Gibbons can be found in the jungles of Southeast Asia, deftly swing through trees in search of fruit or simply playing with one another. Their arms are extremely strong and their body weight is frequently less than 10kg. Gerry lived near me and I would sometimes drop by to have a chat and play with some of his gibbon wards, all of which were clean, healthy and seemingly happy. Gerry came across a needy female gibbon for whom he did not have sufficient space to keep. When he mentioned this, I volunteered to become a “foster parent “and arranged to have a suitable enclosure constructed in the garden behind my Jakarta home. I named her Aji. At my home, Aji wore a simple waistband and lead which was tethered to one of the branches of Gerry Hook with Aji a rambutan tree I had in my front yard, so she was about to freely enjoy the tree and its fruits. The yard looked across a lush green rice paddy. Almost every day after work, I would climb the tree and play with Aji before going inside for dinner. She was clean and smelled good and I often mused at how humanlike her fingers were. Aji was also very playful. One of my happiest memories is how she would react when she was tickled: a broad smile came across her face and she would make giggling sounds. In those days, even young expats like me in Indonesia had domestic helpers. Aji used to love quietly descending the tree in order to snatch the gardener’s hat or take his handkerchief from his back pocket. We shared a strong bond and my then-wife did not quite understand why I spent time in the tree rather than playing with our own two-year-old child. One weekend, my wife had to fly to Singapore. The day after she left, I decided to let Aji inside the house. She explored some of the rooms and soon discovered that if she pulled the handle, the refrigerator would open, giving her access to all sorts of delicious fruits. She also enjoyed swinging on the draperies. I let her sleep overnight inside an upper level linen cabinet. My wife returned a few days later and it was not easy for me to explain the dark hair on a few towels, the footprints on our white walls or handprints on our draperies. She never seemed to like Aji as much after that weekend, nor did she leave me again for a weekend without all sorts of warnings about “no visitors.” By the way, my marriage did not last, but my fondness for gibbons still remains. I moved to Singapore in 1976 and here is where the story gets sad for me. A friend and colleague took over my job and expressed an interest in keeping Aji, but he was not vigilant about her care. Somehow, Aji was fed some inappropriate food, got sick and died. I felt so sad and also guilty. Take note: it is not ever good to take on exotic pets. Rather, if you really love nature and animals, devote your efforts or resources to wildlife-friendly or environmental organizations such as your local zoo and wildlife-related organizations (see Richard Hartung’s article on opposite page). Avoid markets where wildlife is sold or purchasing products or materials made from endangered species. Whatever you do, don’t adopt an exotic pet. Save the animal – and save yourself inevitable heartache.

Rob Faraone 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’s now engaged by the International Association of Movers and regularly writes for its global publication.



A Guide for Pet Lovers By Lena Chong


ingapore is a great place to have pets, despite the heat. With a pet shop in most neighborhoods and services from pet taxis to hotels to trainers, Singapore’s pet community is fairly vibrant. You can look forward to the occasional pet shows and events as well to learn tips from other owners and pet service providers. But there are a few things you need to know about owning a critter here. ADOPTING A PET Many animal welfare societies provide adoption opportunities. Besides the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), Action for Singapore Dogs (ASD), Cat Welfare Society (CWS) and House Rabbits Society of Singapore (HRSS), there are also other volunteer rehousing agents that often have little ones who need a home. If you’re thinking of an exotic pet, make sure you check as to what’s allowed. (See opposite page about a dog who needs a good home.) RESTRICTED BREEDS Before you adopt, make sure the animal is not on the banned list and purchased from a legitimate source. Most cats except the Bengal or Savannah cat crosses are allowed, but dog breeds such as Pit Bulls and Rottweilers are closely monitored. They need additional insurance and bank guarantees and are also required to undergo basic obedience training by an AVA-accredited dog trainer. The full list of dogs not allowed can be found on the AVA website under the “Licensing a Pet” tab. ( LICENCING AND HOMES Most condos allow up to three small dog breeds and one dog from the scheduled list. HDBs on the other hand only allow one small dog breed per unit, with a fine of $4,000 for offenders. All dogs more than three months of age also need to be licensed for disease control. Otherwise, a dog license is valid for one year only and must be renewed before expiry. The license/ annual renewal fee for a sterilized dog (or a dog less than five

months of age) is $15 and $90 for an unsterilized dog. Failure to comply with the dog licensing conditions can result in the revocation of the dog license and impoundment of the dog. Registration is easily done online via AVA’s e-service. PET HEALTH For 24-hour emergency care, Mount Pleasant Animal Hospital has several clinics around Singapore. ( Another option if your pet is sick is to call The Visiting Vets. This group has a full clinic, but they also make house calls. And they also provide emergency treatment. ( PET LOST? If your pet goes missing, stay calm and inform the nearest police station, as well as the Centre for Animal Welfare Control (CAWC) and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA). Pets picked up often get sent there. Put up flyers and notices online in social media as well as pet community areas so other pet owners to help you look out for yours. A microchip can be useful when he needs to be identified. Singapore is a pet-friendly community, which makes it a great experience for both pets and owners. So, go out and enjoy some sun and fun with yours. 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 picked Mocha up 13 years ago from dog shelter and lost her heart to him forever.

IMPORTANT WEBSITES & NUMBERS Action for Singapore Dogs (ASD) Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore Hotline (general enquiries): 6805 2992 Animal Response Center Enquiries and feedback on animal nuisance/ welfare issues; dog licensing: 1800 476 1600 (24 hours) Cat Welfare Society (CWS) Centre for Animal Welfare Control (CAWC) 1800 476 1600 (24 hours) Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) House Rabbits Society of Singapore (HRSS) Pet Central A site for the Singapore pet community Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) (65) 6287 5355


Snakes: how to stay safe By Eric Walter and Mrinalini, PhD.


ou’re hiking through one of Singapore’s national parks, exploring the coast or just going about your day in the heart of the city and you catch a slithering movement out of the corner of your eye. It’s a snake! Do you know what to do? In Singapore, as in many parts of Southeast Asia, this question is more than just academic. In addition to millions of humans, Singapore is home to dozens of species of serpents. These cold-blooded creatures are a crucial part of local ecosystems and provide real benefits to humans by keeping vermin and even other snake species under control. While some are generally harmless to humans, others can be quite dangerous. The Lion City is home to spitting cobras, king cobras, vipers, kraits and pythons. With a bit of knowledge and basic common sense, however, the vast majority of interactions between serpent and human can be resolved without serious incident. A word of advice; if you are planning to be in forests or other areas where snakes are common, wear hiking boots with good ankle protection. As you walk, keep an eye out not only on the ground, but also on nearby trees and bushes. When you encounter a snake, the most important

thing to remember is to keep cool and to back off. While you may have seen wildlife experts and scientists handling dangerous snakes on TV, bear in mind that these people generally have special training and equipment to handle snakes and to deal with snakebite emergencies. Avoid jerky or aggressive movements and do not approach. Though this last point might seem obvious, a surprising number of people are bitten every year after letting curiosity get the better of them. Always remember: a frightened snake can be a dangerous snake. This rule applies whether you think you recognize the species of snake or not. Most people don’t have the training and expertise to identify venomous from non-venomous varieties of snake at a glance. Further, some species recognized as non-venomous to humans in the past have been found to have venom and can cause medical problems to at least some part of the population. Even non-venomous species like pythons can kill and are best avoided. Your next step will depend on where you are. If in a national park or other forested area, simply leave and avoid that spot in the future. Snakes are highly territorial and encountering one in the wild almost certainly means you’ve stumbled into its personal habitat. Moreover, removing animals from national parks is illegal. If your encounter happens in an urban environment or, indeed, your own home, calling pest control and/or the authorities should be

A Home – at last! By Melanie Lee


ino was rescued off the streets by the Society for the Prevention and Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) in 2009 when he was a young puppy. He was adopted shortly after but, disappointingly, returned to SPCA in 2011 when his owners left the country for good and did not take him along. He’s been in the shelter ever since. Imagine. Five years in a shelter. But in July, the tide turned for SPCA’s longeststaying resident. That’s right. Dino was finally adopted in July. Dino’s adopters already love their easy-going pup. “He is well and is settling in very comfortably. His personality has really started to come through over the last few days. He is playful and well-liked by everybody he meets. He is really no trouble. He does not bark or whine. He walks well and is toilet disciplined. He’s the perfect house guest!” Think you have room in your heart for a rescue pet? Meet Viking, a male Singapura Special, now the longest-staying resident at SPCA since Dino was adopted. Viking was rescued off the streets of Jalan Kayu in October 2011 when he was about three months old. He loves frolicking on luscious green patches where he can sprint and put his boundless energy to good use. Viking will do well with a family who is also like him: loves the great outdoors and has the right energy to keep up with him, with daily interaction. He is a fast learner and loves his training sessions. His signature – his loose hanging tongue! Learn more about Viking (you can even watch videos about him!) and the many other animals that need a home at Melanie Lee is a Communications Officer with SPCA. Photos courtesy Furry Photos Pet Photography, SPCA

This happy guy finally found a home.

Viking is looking for a family.

your next step. Consequences of being bitten by a venomous snake can range from the relatively minor (a mild allergic reaction) to the extremely serious (permanent disability and even rapid death). Much depends on the species in question and the amount of venom injected. If someone around you is bitten, keep the victim calm and make sure they avoid vigorous physical activity, take a picture of the snake or note its characteristics (if this can be done safely) and immediately seek medical attention.

Eric Walter is a freelance writer and editor focusing on business, technology and travel. Mrinalini, PhD., is a venom biologist and herpetologist researching pit vipers at National University of Singapore.


Singapore American • September 2016

A Reason to Smile By Gail Willow, DDS


anding gear down… you have arrived in Singapore! This ultramodern city has pretty much anything you would need, including excellent dental care. Singapore is very cosmopolitan. It has a large expat population from all over the world. All of us want the same level of great dental care that we received from our doctor “back home.” The good news is you can find it in Singapore. You may only be in Singapore for a few years, but you need continuity of dental care. For this reason, most of the modern clinics use dental systems and techniques that are recognized by leading practices around the world. For example, what if your child needs to start their orthodontic treatment? There are orthodontists here who have been trained in the US. Many will use braces systems which are internationally recognized. If your children need to finish their orthodontic treatment back in your home country, this continuity will make it easier. This same situation may exist for an implant that needs to be placed or the fabrication of a crown. Internationally recognized, high-quality systems are used in many of the Singapore clinics. We also have access to excellent dental materials and equipment. As in the US, most of the modern clinics have digital x-rays. Some clinics even have the advanced imaging technology called Computerized Tomography (CT scans) used for implant placement, wisdom tooth extraction and other evaluation needs. Singapore’s tap water has the optimal levels of fluoride, to help to make your child’s teeth stronger as their teeth are developing. The pharmacies also carry many of the same oral hygiene brands you used back home. Most expats are very busy people. Long hours for work, travel and family care can mean tightly-packed days. Luckily, lots of

businesses in Singapore will have Saturday hours, including many dental clinics. I have been in Singapore three years now. It is a wonderful place to live, work and enjoy this part of the world. Having had a private practice in New Mexico for many years, I am glad to say that I can work in the exact same manner as I practiced in the US. I am still able to enhance my skills by taking more studies both in this region and in the US. So be assured that you can find a dental clinic in Singapore that will

be able to treat you just like you have been treated in your home country. Welcome to Singapore! Dr. Willow is an American dentist who moved to Singapore in 2013 after having a private practice in the US for more than 20 years. Dr. Willow currently works at expatdental in Novena Medical Center. For more information, log onto


Photo by Seth Stoll




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 – 11 September Christianity in Asia: Sacred Art and Visual Splendour Asian Civilisations Museum 1 Empress Place, Singapore 179555 1 – 25 September More Than Monkeys Singapore Philatelic Museum 23-B Coleman Street, Singapore 179807 1 September – 28 February Iskandar Jalil: Clay of the Malay Archipelago National Gallery of Singapore 1 St. Andrew’s Road, Singapore 178957 1 September – 26 March Nyonya Needlework: Embroidery and Beadwork in the Peranakan World 39 Armenian Street, Singapore 179941

ENTERTA I N M ENT 1 – 16 September The Three Little Pigs KC Arts Centre – Home of SRT 2 September – 1 October (no shows from 8-18 September) ART City Hall Chamber, National Gallery Singapore

14 September Making And Doing by Bill T. Jones 72-13 Mohamed Sultan Road 15 – 17 September A Letter/Singapore by Bill T. Jones The Singapore Airlines Theatre, LA SALLE College of the Arts 18 & 19 October Sara Baras – Voces, Suite Flamenca Esplanade Theatre 18 – 30 October 50 SHADES! MUSICAL PARODY Capitol Theatre

L I FEST Y LE 3 September The American Club Carpet Auction @ Hedger’s Carpet Gallery 15 Dempsey Road #01-09 Viewing: 5:30 – 7:30pm Auction starts at 7:30pm

S P ORTS 16 – 18 September 2016 Formula 1 Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix Marina Bay Street Circuit

ED U CAT I ON From 1 September UWCSEA Applications for Admission to UWCSEA in 2017/2018 open Dover or East Campus 2 September Stamford American International School Open House 279 Upper Serangoon Road 9am 8 September Canadian International School Open House Lakeside Campus 7 Jurong West Street 41 9am 15 September Canadian International School Open House Tanjong Katong Campus 371 Tanjong Katong Road 9am 16 – 23 September UWCSEA East UWCSEA’s Annual Open Days for K-11 - RSVP required 1 Tampines Street 73 26 – 30 September UWCSEA Dover UWCSEA’s Annual Open Days for K-11 - RSVP required 1207 Dover Road