AM ERICAN AS S O C IATION O F S INGAP ORE
American Association..... 1-4 Member Discounts............. 3 CRCE & Business............ 5-6 Community News........... 7-9 Living in Singapore..... 10-11 Travel........................ 12-13 Shopping Smarter...... 14-21 What’s Happening.......... 22
Living in Singapore 10-11
Shopping Smarter 14-21
On Board the USS Ronald Reagan
Fun Things to do for Free in Singapore
Up Close and Personal with Komodo Dragons
All You Need to Know about Shopping in Singapore
MCI (P) 197/03/2017
The Grandest of Grand Prizes Awaits… By Cath Forte
ast your mind back to the beginning of 2017, as we welcomed in the New Year the American Association of Singapore (AAS) was gearing up for a whole year of celebration and, with it, a great year of prizes for our members! The pinnacle? One lucky member will win two, roundtrip, Economy tickets to the United States on EMIRATES. But how can I win? Remember that cute little Centennial Passport we sent you at the start of the year? Or for those members who’ve joined more recently, that cute little passport that was with your welcome letter? For those of you wondering just what this passport is and, more importantly, what it means to you, read on… This year, we celebrate 100 years of AAS and all of our major events have been themed to reflect a particular era in our history, such as the spectacular 1920s-style George Washington Ball in March and the 1940s funfilled Ambassador’s Cup Golf Tournament in April. To track our journey through the ages, we issued special
Centennial Passports to all AAS members. At each of these major events we invite members to bring along their passports to be stamped and as a bonus, we pre-stamped all passports for our Independence Day extravaganza back in July. Why collect stamps? Americans arriving in Singapore in the early 1900s had their passports stamped as they disembarked from the ships, the promise of a new and exciting life in the tropics being their reward. One hundred years later, AAS members are having their passports stamped for a different kind of prize. All members who collect four (or more) stamps will be entered into our lucky draw to win some swanky prizes, the star of which is two roundtrip Economy tickets to the United States on EMIRATES. Since Independence Day was a given, even if you start today, you only have three to go! How do I get stamps? Join us at any of our major events and bring your
passport along. Our next is Welcome Back on September 24; there are two further eligible events before the end of the year: Turkey Trot in November and Toys for Tots in December. In addition, you can get stamps for taking part in our 100 Acts of Charity initiative; activities for which have included helping out at Willing Hearts soup kitchen and cleaning up litter at the Mandai Mudflats. Winners must attend at least one paid-for event. If you forget to get a stamp at an event, that’s fine; just bring your passport along to the AAS office and we’ll be happy to add any stamps you’ve missed. What if my passport is lost? Don’t worry – we have some spares! Come by the office and we can replace your lost passport (including any stamps you’ve already received) with a new one. Supplies are limited, though, and when they’re gone, they’re gone, so it’s best to get in quick. Completed passports mst be returned to the AAS office.
American Association of Singapore’s Centennial Partners
2 AMERICAN ASSOCIATION
Singapore American · September 2017
A message from the President...
SINGAPORE AMERICAN NEWSPAPER
Welcome I’m so pleased to be welcoming all the new members who have recently joined the American Association of Singapore (AAS) to our community. I’m sure you’ve been busy signing up to attend our upcoming events, but if you haven’t gotten around to that yet, you can check out what’s on offer on page three. This month’s paper is all about shopping, whether you want the lowdown on the wet market or you’re considering ordering your groceries online, we have all the information you need. What’s going on at AAS this month? September is a busy month for us and we’re really looking forward to catching up with members, old and new, at our events. Our annual Welcome Back celebration will be held at Café Melba, Goodman Arts Centre. Come along on September 24 for an afternoon of fun and friendship. There will be activities to keep the kids busy, plus family-friendly food and some ‘grown up’ drinks for the adults, too! We’re also looking forward to our Living in Singapore Talk this month. This free event for AAS and The American Club members and parents from Singapore American School will provide invaluable practical advice and insider tips from our panel of experts to help both newbies and more seasoned members of our community to navigate their way in Singapore. Office move At the time of writing, work is well underway with the fit out of our new AAS office in the Thong Teck Building on Scotts Road. We’re sad to be leaving our friends at The American Club, but happy to be staying close by. It’s also great to be located on the same floor as our sister organization, the American Women’s Association (AWA). Progress updates will be sent via our weekly email newsletter. Thank you A big thank you to the 2017 Ambassador’s Cup Golf Tournament players for their fundraising efforts from which we are donating $2000 to Food from the Heart charity this month. Volunteer with us Would you like to get involved at AAS? We’re always keen to hear from members who would like to share their skills. Whether you’re interested in helping out at events or something a little more behind the scenes, there’s always something we need help with! Contact us at email@example.com to discuss further. If you’re a budding writer and would like to join the team on the Singapore American newspaper, please get in touch with our editor, Cath, who would love to talk with you (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Editor-in-Chief: Cath Forte, email@example.com Publishing Editor: Sarah Alden, firstname.lastname@example.org
DESIGN & LAYOUT Graphic Designer: Miia Koistinen, email@example.com
ADVERTISING Advertising Manager: Valerie Tietjen, firstname.lastname@example.org
CONTRIBUTORS Hazlyn Aidzil, Faith Chanda, Joyce Chung, Ed Cox, Priscilla Koh, Laura Schwartz, Marc Servos, Kinjal Shah, Frances Strong, Jim Tietjen, Arpawan Waen Vejjajiva For AAS: Cath Forte
AMERICAN ASSOCIATION BOARD MEMBERS President: Stephanie Nash • Vice President: Shawn Galey Treasurer: Michael Borchert • Secretary: Joseph Foggiato Directors: Sammie Cheston, Blair Hall, Bill Poorman, Brian Schwender, Jenn Wood Immediate Past President: Glenn van Zutphen • AmCham Chair: Dwight Hutchins The American Club President: Kristen Graff • AWA President: Rohita Rajkumar SACAC Chair: Greg Rutledge • SAS: Dr. Chip Kimball Non-Voting Members: US Embassy: Michael Wheeler US Military: Rear Admiral Donald Gabrielson
PUBLISHER – AMERICAN ASSOCIATION The American Association of Singapore (AAS) is a professional, not-for-profit organization established to enhance the well-being and living experience of Americans residing in Singapore and to promote relationships, both business and social, between Americans and those from different cultures and nationalities. 10 Claymore Hill, Singapore 229573 T: (+65) 6738 0371 • F: (+65) 6738 3648 E: email@example.com • www.aasingapore.com 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 www.aasingapore.com 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.
Stephanie Nash Follow us on Facebook or Twitter: @AmAssocSG, (hashtag #AmAssocSG for all social media).
3 AMERICAN ASSOCIATION
Singapore American · September 2017
Let’s Talk Travel “Down Under”
Are you considering planning a vacation to Australia or New Zealand? Learn about where to go and what to do from a local. Join AAS for an informative lunchtime talk with Vicki Baensch from Australia Expat Travel. A former Shanghai expat, Vicki has been helping expat families plan and book holidays since 2004. Take advantage of Vicki’s insider knowledge and personal experience to start planning a holiday you’ll never forget!
SAVE THE DATE! AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF SINGAPORE PRESENTS
A light lunch will be served. 12:30-1:30pm AAS Office (new location!) 15 Scotts Road, #03-02 Thong Teck Building, (S)228218 Free for AAS members, but registration is required ($10 no-show fee applies) Limited space available.
Helping Hands at Willing Hearts
Do you have some free time to lend a hand to the less fortunate in the community? Join volunteers from AAS at Willing Hearts to prepare, pack and distribute meals to those in need in Singapore. Register to show your support for this charitable act. 8:30-11:30am Registration is required.
Living in Singapore Talk
Looking for some help to demystify life on the Little Red Dot? Come along to this talk, based on our popular Living in Singapore book, covering Health & Wellness, Heritage & Traditions and Lifestyle, for some practical advice and insider tips on how to navigate your way through life in the Lion City. Hosted by AAS and Singapore American School PTA. 6:30-8:30pm The American Club, 3rd floor, 10 Claymore Hill, (S)229573 Free for AAS & The American Club members and Singapore American School parents, but registration is required ($10 no-show fee applies) $30 Non-Members
George Washington Ball
Welcome Back Celebration Join us at Café Melba for our 2017 Welcome Back Celebration, sponsored by AAM Advisory. This family-friendly event is a great way to catch up with old friends and to make new connections, too! Meet and mingle with representatives from our sister organizations, as we enjoy a relaxing afternoon of fun, food and friendship. In honor of AAS’ centennial anniversary, this year’s Welcome Back has a 1960s and 70s twist. Think flower power and tie dye, fun games for the kids and great music, combined together with some peace and love to make for a very groovy time! 4-6pm Café Melba 90 Goodman Road, Goodman Arts Centre, Blk N #01-56, (S)439053 AAS/Sister Org Member Adult: $30; Child $20 AAS/Sister Org Family or Group of Four: $90 Non-Member Adult: $50; Child $25 Children aged 5 and under: Free, but registration is required. Price includes a meal and your first drink.
W Singapore - Sentosa Cove
Our premier black-tie social event, enjoyed by the community since the 1930s. Tickets on sale soon. www.aasingapore.com
For more info and to register for an event: www.aasingapore.com
AAS MEMBER DISCOUNTS
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 www.aasingapore.com/member-discounts.
AAS members enjoy 2 hours free handyman service (valued at over $200) on their moving day when booking a move with Allied Pickfords.
Present AAS membership card to receive 15% off total bill. Valid for dine in on a la carte menu at all Brewerkz and Cafe Iguana restaurants through December 30, 2017. Limit to one (1) redemption per bill, per table. Not valid on
concert days, eve of and on public holidays. Not valid with lunch menu, other set menus, discounts, vouchers, promotions or privileges. The management reserves the right to amend the terms & conditions without prior notice.
Book online using promo code SGAME17 and enjoy a 10% saving on regular fares or a 5% saving on promotional fares in Business Class and Economy Class to the United States, Europe and Colombo. www.emirates.com/sg
Get a six-month free membership to Expat Living magazine. Redeem: www.expatliving.sg/aas
Present your AAS membership card and receive $10 in vouchers when you sign up for a Warehouse Club membership. Valid till December 31, 2017.
4 AMERICAN ASSOCIATION
Singapore American · September 2017
iconic 80s By Marc Servos
he 1980s were my coming of age years with high school and college. But prior to finishing the latter, I served active duty in the US Army. In the geopolitical world, the Cold War went through tense periods followed by a notable improvement in relations between the superpowers. Back home, harsh recession was followed by economic progress, and the high gasoline prices plummeted giving more relief for motorists. In music, heavy metal, new wave, alternative rock and even Euro disco filled the airwaves, while popular 1980s figures included musicians, such as Prince and Michael Jackson, and, of course, Princess Diana, all of whom are sadly no longer with us. The 1980s is also widely recognized as the period during which Singapore rose to developed nation status. Milestones involving the nation’s infrastructure include the openings of Changi International Airport in 1981 and the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system in 1987. Bumboats, ever present in old pictures of the Singapore River, ceased operation in a commercial capacity in 1983, and Boat Quay was gazetted for conservation in 1989. Kampong (village) life still continued for some Singaporeans, but increasing numbers of people were moving into HBD flats and to other developments. Singapore sadly experienced several tragedies during this decade. One was the January 1983 cable car incident, which cost the lives of seven people when the derrick of the oil rig Eniwetok struck the cable, causing two cable cars to plunge 55 meters into the water. An additional 13 people stranded in four other cable cars were rescued in an operation led by Colonel Lee Hsien Loong, now the Prime Minister. The Singapore Cable Car system was shut down for several months afterwards. March 1986 saw the collapse of the New World Hotel, in which 33 people lost their lives. 17 survivors were rescued from the rubble. Major floods hit Singapore in 1980, 1984 and 1985, but fortunately without fatality. As a result, flood control measures with drainage canals were implemented in the late 1980s. The American Association of Singapore (AAS) continued to hold annual musical productions as a major activity, involving hundreds of Americans
working together. Begun in 1973, by the late 1980s, interest and participation led to a separate organization, Singapore Theatre’s American Repertory Showcase (ST*ARS), which eventually became an independent entity. In 1985, AAS was granted the charter to own Boy Scout Troop 07 and Cub Scout Pack 30171. The George Washington Ball, which celebrated its fiftieth anniversary during this period, was held at various venues such as the Seaview and Mandarin Hotels. The annual Fourth of July Picnic, as the event was officially named, was held at the Singapore American School campus, which was located at Ulu Pandan at that time. The Cold War struggle continued into the 1980s. During 1985-86 I was stationed with the US Army in Germany, working with NATO ally the Belgian Army; Eastern Bloc troops were not too far away. Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev rose to power during this time. Facing stronger US foreign policy and internal problems, he set out the reforms Glasnost (openness) and Perestroika (restructuring), coinciding with improved ties with the West, and formed a friendship of sorts with President Ronald Reagan. In late 1989, some three years after I had left Germany (I was in my senior year at Indiana University), communism fell in Eastern Europe and the Berlin Wall came down. This was the beginning of the end of the Cold War struggle, but other serious issues lay ahead at the dawn of the 1990s. Meanwhile, with its continued economic progress, Singapore had achieved what its pioneers had sought at the time of independence. Their success continued then, as it does today. References 1 Tawnya Harsberger, USA Scouting in Singapore, SAN May 2017 Marc Servos is a Hoosier in terms of his home state and alma mater. The Fort Wayne native and US Army vet is married to a Singaporean and has been living here for a number of years. He has two children, ages 15 and 7.
5 CRCE & BUSINESS
Singapore American · September 2017
Planning for Life One of the most common questions we get asked in our initial meeting with individuals and couples is “We have life insurance, but is our cover adequate?”
here are two key elements in assessing the level of cover that is appropriate. The first is the amount of debt that you have and what your essential living expenses are. It is important to work out a household budget and look at what you and your family would need to cover if you are unable to work or, even worse, die prematurely. Life cover is primarily about meeting capital obligations. Ideally, if finances permit, essential expenses should be met by income protection and major financial commitments by life cover. The biggest financial obligation that anyone has is almost always a mortgage. In some countries, like Ireland, it is compulsory to take out life cover with every mortgage purchased. In Singapore, we haven’t gone that far, but it
is essential that a mortgage should be totally extinguished on the death of one partner. This not only removes the need to fund a major and expensive item but provides the remaining partner with an asset that may be used to manage a different financial environment. The other major issue is affordability. What ‘affordable’ means will vary from family to family and is dependent not only on your income level but on your priorities. One important point is that you should buy cover at as young an age as possible, as this will mean it is much cheaper and will often obviate health concerns. Another point to take into consideration if you took life cover out in your home country is to check the fine print. Some policies become
void if you are not resident for a certain time period in the country in which you took out the policy. You may be paying for something that won’t actually cover you. At AAM Advisory we offer a complete financial planning service for expatriates, Permanent Residents and Singaporeans, focused around wealth creation and preservation strategies. The company has a team of fully experienced financial planners backed by a wealth of research, knowledge and expertise servicing over 4500 clients and in excess of SGD 900 million under advisement. If you would like to review your current life insurance or book a complimentary financial review, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 6653 6652.
Stars & Stripes
100 Acts of Charity Duke Club SG, Duke-NUS: Volunteering at Kampung Senang
Daisy Troop 60 at SPCA
Students from the Duke Club SG, Duke-NUS, joined together to attend a workshop on wheelchair repair, following which they broke into groups to put their training into practice. They got their hands dirty, fixing up wheelchairs at the Mobility Aids Services and Training Centre in Tampines.
The girls visited the SPCA and presented information they put together about what they learned to teach their troop how to better care for our four-legged friends.
Brownie Troop 82 Bake Sale
Junior Troop 48
The girls raised $262 at the Cub Scout Wheel Day to be donated to a clean water project. They also educated buyers on why clean water matters for everyone.
Girls from Troop 48 visited ACRES and were inspired to have a charity drive to help collect key items for the day-to-day running of the center.
Brownie Troop 66 Book Drive The girls organized a campaign and book collection at SAIS for Dignity Mama, an organization established to help special needs kids hold jobs, working alongside their mums. They sell books and sundries at hospitals around Singapore.
Beach Clean-Up Nine troops (more than 60 girls) participated in a beach clean-up at East Coast Park.
Brownie Troop 87 Wonders of Water The brownies organized a 30 day, five-minute, power shower challenge. 61 students signed up to take part, which has the potential to save of 43,920 liters of water in one month.
Brownie Book Drive More than 80 Brownies held a book drive while working on a Journey called World of Girls.
Follow 100 Acts of Charity on Facebook: www.facebook.com/100ActsofCharity
CAREER RESOURCE CENTER FOR EXCELLENCE PERSONAL & PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” THEODORE ROOSEVELT
What is CRCE and How Can it Help You?
any people find themselves moving to Singapore to further their partner’s career. It can be a lonely place at first, without the familiar routines, family and friends back home. Feelings of isolation can be further exacerbated for those who have left their own careers to support that of their partners, missing the buzz of the office and the associated feelings of usefulness that go with being gainfully employed. Rather unceremoniously referred to as ‘trailing spouses’, this is the position many people find themselves in when they arrive in Singapore. How can the Career Resource Center for Excellence (CRCE) make a difference? The first thing to mention about CRCE is that it isn’t an employment agency. Jobs in Singapore are becoming increasingly difficult to find and those looking in a particular industry or field should be engaging specific agencies or contacting headhunters to pursue their career. What CRCE excels at is preparing members for the job market, through oneto-one advice from an expert, workshops and networking events. That being said, CRCE does have a jobs board; exclusively for members, it lists details of vacancies that are available for residents on dependents passes, often in expat environments. An email newsletter is sent out to members each week, with details of the latest positions available. In addition, members can upload their resume for employers to search. CRCE is for all nationalities and is of value to both newcomers to Singapore and more seasoned expats; the personal and professional development opportunities are relevant to everyone. Membership begins on the day you join and runs for 12 months. Annual CRCE membership costs $160. If you’re a current AAS member, for an additional $90, you can add CRCE access. New and renewing members will receive one free registration for a networking event, the next of which is our Coffee Connexions for CRCE members on September 5. If you’d like to find out more about what CRCE membership can do for you, please call Katie on 6738 0371 or stop by the office for a chat.
CRCE WORKSHOPS Coffee Connexions: CRCE Members Tuesday, September 5 9:30 – 11am Career Clarity Speaker: Sandra Quelle Friday, September 15 10am – 12pm Lunch and Learn: Career and Job Search Roadblocks Speaker: Suzanna Borst Friday, September 22 12 – 2pm
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 www.aasingapore.com to find out more.
LOOKING TO REINVENT YOURSELF? AAS OFFERS PERSONALIZED CAREER COUNSELING SERVICES. SIGN UP NOW FOR A PRIVATE APPOINTMENT WITH A PROFESSIONAL CAREER ADVISOR. PLEASE CONTACT CRCE.INFO@AASINGAPORE.COM
SPOTLIGHT ON JOBS Associate Director of Development The Associate Director of Development will be responsible for the overall development, management, supervision, and implementation of the comprehensive annual giving fundraising program. The annual giving program includes written and digital fundraising communication, social media, fundraising events, and volunteer coordination for fundraising activities that benefit the educational mission at the school and its students. The primary functions will be strategy development; high level volunteer engagement and coordination; supervision and management of staff; and coordination with school leaders, faculty, and staff, and overall project management of the annual giving program. The Associate Director will participate in other projects as assigned and as a senior member of the advancement office team. (job #3486) Central Administration Receptionist The Receptionist is the first point of contact for visitors and school families. This position is responsible for receiving, handling, or redirecting incoming calls or visitors in a prompt, professional, and customer focused manner; while demonstrating the highest degree of extraordinary care and customer focus. Additional responsibilities include providing clerical support to the Admissions Office. It is expected that the Central Office School Receptionist will assist other members of the Admissions Staff and Administration, as needed. (job #3485) Admissions and Career Consultant (full-time or part-time) The Admissions and Career Consultant’s duties will include: Interviewing clients to find out their academic and professional background, aspirations and preferences; recommending universities/career paths; coaching candidates on developing their written personal statements for university admissions; facilitating group workshops for career and soft skills development (e.g. emotional intelligence, leadership and teamwork). The role also includes some sales and marketing duties, such as organizing and/or participate in seminars, fairs and related recruitment activities; working closely with corporate organizations, educational institutions and media partners; and promoting online engagement on social media platforms by publishing articles, press releases and blogs. (job #3484) Volunteer with AAS Are you a budding writer? AAS would love to expand the team of Singapore American newspaper writers. Whether you’re passionate about food, local culture or anything in between, get in touch with Editor Cath Forte at email@example.com.
7 COMMUNITY NEWS
Singapore American · September 2017
Beating the Back-to-School Blues By Kinjal Shah
ummer break is over. School has started. Parents, teachers and children have all hit the ground running. Everyone’s excited and ready to go. The homework, the assignments, the reading… the rollercoaster ride of the year that is has only just begun. If you feel like your children are already caught on the non-stop hamster wheel, you need to get them to stop. Breathe. Repeat. Here are some ways to beat the back-to-school blues and have an amazing year ahead: 1. Remember that it usually takes a couple of weeks (sometimes more) to get kids into the swing of things. So, take it slow. Nobody goes from zero to 100 in one day. 2. If your children are still struggling with bedtimes routines, slowly move them back to what they should be during the school year. This can happen gradually over one or two weeks. If meal times or other regular routines have been disrupted over the holidays, take time to reset those as well. 3. Avoid rushing to catch up. Avoid pushing your children along too fast. Avoid comparing yourself or judging yourself and stressing out over what anyone else is doing. 4. One-on-one time is key. A few extra minutes of book reading with your toddler, some fun, games and stories with your preschooler, or a stargazing session with your oldest after the rest have gone to bed. 5. Stay calm. Stay positive. At school, encourage children to find friends they can talk to and stick with to smoothen the transition. 6. Observe. Listen. Understand their struggles and help them overcome. The first two weeks of school are a time when students and teachers build relationships, set expectations for learning, and lay out the routines for behavior. Reinforcing these at home will help children fall into a routine easier and quicker. To find out more about Singapore American School, visit: www.sas.edu.sg.
Photo courtesy of Singapore American School
8 COMMUNITY NEWS
The Rise of a Global Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN):
Developing the Next Generation of Leaders By Hazlyn Aidzil
outheast Asia is experiencing steady economic growth, fuelled by the region’s expanding domestic markets. With increasing populations and a rise in disposable income, ASEAN is witnessing the blooming of a large consumer class, and businesses are responding by localizing their operations to cater to the needs of these consumers. Accordingly, both domestic and foreign companies are taking a strong interest in the region’s human capital and sourcing local talent. In order to reap the full benefits of these opportunities – and capitalize on the trends defining economic development in Southeast Asia – it is prudent to develop local talent across ASEAN and nurture a workforce that is ready to take on leadership roles. Looking inward, American businesses continue to play a major role in Singapore’s economic development, and companies invest heavily in the nation’s key domestic pillars: infrastructure development, jobs creation, talent development, technology transfers, and management best practices. Mirroring the strong relationship Singapore and the United States share, the American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore (AmCham) is committed to deepening US-ASEAN relations through nurturing and developing leaders of tomorrow. Together with Workforce Singapore (WSG), AmCham helms the NextGen Leadership Program, which serves as a springboard for young Singaporean, non-American, and American talent to build global networks and establish long-lasting ASEAN roots. The program is designed to enable rising stars to fine tune their professional capabilities and skilfully steer future regional economic growth. Global leaders from AmCham member companies, including Google, Marina Bay Sands, Mercer Singapore, Procter & Gamble and VISA, lead workshops covering vital topics such as geo-political risk, personal brand development, crisis communications, and leadership and management strategy. This year, AmCham launched the NextGen Alumni Network, drawing upon 250 young professionals from past and present cohorts. The alumni network serves as a platform to further enhance the young professionals’ business connections and seamlessly allow for the continuation of insight and best practice exchanges from anywhere in the world. For more information about the NextGen Program visit www.amcham.org.sg.
Singapore American · September 2017
9 COMMUNITY NEWS
Singapore American · September 2017
The Rewards of Being a Girl Scout Leader By Joyce Chung, Troop 56, The Winstedt School
well-known Scouting motto is “Leave this world a little better than you found it.” For me, being a Girl Scout leader fulfilled this motto. After starting as a new Girl Scout leader two years ago with the first troop at The Winstedt School with 12 girls, I have had the wonderful opportunity to watch them find a sense of belonging and caring. This has been the foundation for them to cheer each other on as they take risks, learn to work better together as a team, and become good friends. Initially feeling a bit unqualified, I quickly learned the most important lesson: I already had what it takes to be a Girl Scout leader. I had some grit to get things done, access to countless Girl Scout websites, and most essential, a heart that genuinely believes in the power of girls. Creative ingenuity and outdoor ruggedness are not necessarily needed to be a Girl Scout leader. I am glad I made this commitment even if this was not in my original plans in coming here. It has been amazing to work with a team of likeminded volunteer leaders, who together oversee the largest overseas
non-military Girl Scout council. The training and support have pointed me in the right direction to lead the troop well. This is a team effort, we are to be leaders together. At every leader meeting, I meet at least one inspirational leader who has also made the choice to help change the lives of girls. The women and men (yes, men) who make up the Girl Scout council are themselves changemakers and leaders, just as we want our daughters to be. Being part of USA Girl Scouts Overseas as a leader has lightened my spirit. The girls surprise me each time we meet. We have shared fun, laughter, hugs, and smiles. Our troop sold “unicorn poop” (minimarshmallows) at the school’s bazaar, the girls swam in a “Milo Swamp” (muddy waters) at camp, and we sang songs (loudly!) about bananas and squashed bees. Being a Girl Scout leader has not only made the world around me better, but also made me better for it. Photo courtesy of Joyce Chung
SCOUTING IN SINGAPORE Boy Scouts Troop 07: www.bsatroop07.org Boy Scouts Troop 10: www.facebook.com/BSATroopX Cub Scouts Pack 3010: www.sgpack3010.org Cub Scouts Pack 3017: SGPack3017@gmail.com Girl Scouts: www.singaporeusagirlscouts.org
News from the Navy League By Priscilla Koh
All-Hands Social Event The Navy League hosted an All-hands Social Event at The Exchange with the Sembawang Community US Navy Chief’s Mess on Friday, May 12. It was a treat to be able to get to know these highly accomplished sailors and learn about some of their experiences. As part of a 1990 agreement between Singapore and the United States, the Task Force 73/Commander, Logistics Group Western Pacific (COMLOG WESTPAC) command has been headquartered in Sembawang since 1992, providing logistic support for the US 7th Fleet in its operations in the Pacific and Southeast Asia. Tour of USS Ronald Reagan with the Singapore Chapter of the US Navy League On Saturday, June 13, members of the Navy League were treated to a tour of the USS Ronald Reagan, America’s flagship, a Nimitzclass, nuclear-powered supercarrier. Named in honor of President Ronald W. Reagan, she is the ninth ship of her class. The ship was operationally part of Carrier Strike Group Nine as of May 2012. Administratively, she is under the command of Commander, Naval Air Forces Pacific/Commander, Naval Air Forces. Despite the two administrative titles, it actually refers to one command carrying out two functions. In October 2015, the USS Ronald Reagan took over as the flagship of Carrier Strike Group 5 as part of the United States 7th Fleet, replacing the USS George Washington, at the Yokosuka port in Japan. On May 16 this year, USS Ronald Reagan set sail for its annual cruise, relieving the USS Carl Vinson which was deployed near North Korea. The ship provides a combatready force that protects and defends the maritime interests of its allies and partners in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.
After her June visit to Singapore, USS Ronald Reagan participated in the Talisman Saber exercise with Australian and other forces in July, returning to Japan in August. This visit to Singapore is not the first for the Reagan sailors who have experienced this sunny island through the nine tours offered by the ship’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) Department. Photos courtesy of Navy League and Valerio Rossi
10 LIVING IN SINGAPORE
Singapore American · September 2017
Cheap and Cheerful Days Out GARDENS BY THE BAY Supertree Grove Free to wander around during the day, at night Gardens by the Bay dazzles with a beautiful light and sounds show. This amazing display starts at 7:45pm and repeats at 8:45pm each day and is totally free of charge. It’s truly a sight to behold! Address: Gardens by the Bay, 18 Marina Gardens Drive, Singapore 018953 Opening hours: Outside areas: 5am – 2am Closest MRT: Bayfront Cost: Free Website: www.gardensbythebay.com.sg/en/attractions.html Far East Organization Children’s Garden Also at Gardens by the Bay, this fantastic play area combines an interactive play area (think bridges, treehouses and more) and a huge splash zone, with sprinklers that respond to movement. There’s even a special toddler section, designed for inquisitive little ones. Pack a picnic or visit the onsite café for some snacks – the kids will want to stay all day! Address: Gardens by the Bay, 18 Marina Gardens Drive, Singapore 018953 Opening hours Weekdays: Tuesdays to Fridays, 10am – 7pm (Closed on Mondays) Weekends & Public Holidays: 9am – 9pm Cost: Free Website: www.gardensbythebay.com.sg/en/attractions.html ESPLANADE FREE CONCERTS Often held in the indoor concourse area or the outdoor public spaces, there’s more to the Esplanade than big performances. They often have free concerts from performers including singers, dancers, actors and more. There’s a page on the website dedicated to free events, so be sure to check it regularly to see what’s coming up. Address: Esplanade, 1 Esplanade Drive, Singapore 038981 Closest MRT: Esplanade Website: www.esplanade.com MOVIES BY MOONLIGHT Free outdoor cinema? Yes, please! Movie Mob organizes regular outdoor film screenings at locations around Singapore. Go old-school and bring the car, drive-in style, or join the party on the grass with a blanket and a picnic, all you need is a FM radio! Register for updates on the website and follow their Facebook for newsfeed posts, too. Website: www.moviemob.sg Facebook: www.facebook.com/apemoviemob BOTANIC GARDENS Singapore’s UNESCO World Heritage Site is an amazing place for you to wander, both during the day or the evening. Free to enter and easily accessible by MRT, the Botanic Gardens are home to a multitude of plants from around the world. Wander at your leisure during the day, it’s a great place for people watching with bootcamps and yoga classes, dog walkers and joggers and everything in between. At the Shaw Foundation Symphony Stage you’ll often find a free concert, so pack a picnic, grab a blanket and enjoy an evening of entertainment under the stars. Address: 1 Cluny Rd, Singapore 259569 Opening hours: 5am – 12am Closest MRT: Botanic Gardens Website: www.sbg.org.sg
JURONG EAST SWIMMING COMPLEX One of the largest public complexes in Singapore, Jurong East boasts both a large, competition pool and a wading pool. Even more appealing are the wave pool, lazy river and slides. With entrance fees ranging from $0.80 to $2, this is a super inexpensive way to have a splashing good time. Address: 21 Jurong East Street 31, Singapore 609517 Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 8am – 9:30pm Closest MRT: Chinese Garden Website: www.sbg.org.sg DISCOVER SINGAPORE’S ISLANDS It might sound pricey, but stay with me…Singapore has a number of outlying island, accessible by boat. To take a trip back in time to the 1960s, take a bumboat ride to Pulau Ubin. You can rent bikes, hike or just chill out in this little slice of Singapore nostalgia. Getting there: Bumboats leave from Changi Point Ferry Terminal Boat time: Daily, 5.30am – 9pm Cost: $3 per person (cash only); $2 extra if you bring your own bike Note: Boats depart when they have enough passengers, so don’t expect a schedule! EXPLORE GILLMAN BARRACKS As its name suggests, Gillman Barracks was once a British military camp; built in 1936, it still carries the echoes of Singapore’s colonial past. In its modern incarnation, the Barracks now houses 17 contemporary art galleries, displaying exhibitions by a range of international artists. Walking tours of the Barracks are free and their volunteer guides are more than happy to share their wisdom on art and history. Great if you’re looking for a little culture in the metropolis. Address: 9 Lock Road, Singapore 108937 Opening hours: refer to website Website: www.gillmanbarracks.com CHECK OUT THE HERITAGE TRAILS Want to explore Singapore, but feeling a little overwhelmed about where to start? A great first step is to download the free Singapore Heritage Trail apps. Available for both Apple and Android devices, this series of apps will guide you through Singapore’s neighborhoods, taking in the best of the local sights and sounds. SINGAPORE SPORTS HUB Finding the cost of private gyms a little out of your budget? Check out the Singapore Sports Hub. Along with budget-friendly gym and pool options, there are also lots of free facilities at your disposal. Run a couple of laps of the 100 Plus track, then work on your strength at the outdoor fitness stations. If you prefer less strenuous activities, why not try your hand at lawn bowls? Cool off in the free kids’ pool and water play area, or take a leisurely float down the lazy river (small fee applies). There’s plenty to do at this fantastic community resource. Website: www.sportshub.com.sg Photo by Marklin Ang, courtesy of Singapore Tourism Board
Managing Your Domestic Helper and Money
mbarking on a new life as an expat can be exciting yet challenging, especially with a family in tow. Thankfully, Singapore blends career opportunities and a quality lifestyle, making it a great place for expats to work and live. Another plus point of relocating to Singapore is the ease and affordability of being able to hire domestic help. If you’re new to hiring a domestic helper, it’s important to set expectations and build trust. Explain to your helper her roles and responsibilities, establish rules and boundaries, and draw up a schedule. Expat newcomers often face challenges in managing their domestic helpers’ finances. Common pitfalls include: #1 Paying salaries in cash Many helpers prefer to be paid in cash but this exposes you and your helper to risks. For instance, large sums of cash could get lost or stolen. If your helper has a bank account (surprisingly, not all do!), a bank transfer can be set up. Another option would be to use a mobile wallet service, which provides a safe and convenient option for salary payments. #2 Not keeping a record of salary payments Did you know that you’re required to record salary payments to your helper and have her sign off to acknowledge the payment? This is crucial, especially when payments are made in cash. A lack of documentation could leave you vulnerable to payment disputes and even false accusations. Using an electronic payment system gives you an indisputable record of your payments. Your domestic helper can also view her salary transactions each month as proof of payment. #3 Dealing with money remittance problems Most domestic helpers visit money remittance outfits in places such as Lucky Plaza, City Plaza or Peninsula Plaza on Sundays to send money to their families. Many helpers have just one off-day a week and queuing to send money back home can waste this precious downtime. In addition, they are unlikely to get the best exchange rates, since the remittance offices are aware that many helpers do not have the liberty to send money during their working days. #4 No system for keeping track of petty cash Your helper may often run errands from grocery shopping and collecting the dry cleaning to taking a taxi to pick up your kids from school, which will most likely need to be paid with cash. Therefore, it’s important to have a system to log receipts and transactions to keep track of what’s being spent. It takes time to build trust with a new helper and you might feel uncomfortable handing over large sums of cash for household expenses. In order to alleviate some of these worries, you might like to consider a smart solution. FlexM offers a virtual wallet, controlled via a smartphone app. Salary transfers can be made into helpers’ virtual wallets, which both eliminates the need for large sums of cash and provides an electronic record of payments; while a pre-paid Mastercard with a personalized spending limit provides a great solution for cashless shopping. For more information about FlexM’s cashless solutions, visit www.flexm.sg.
Singapore American · September 2017
Dragons By Ed Cox
here’s only one place in the world where you can walk up to an eight-foot lizard, and it’s not far from Singapore. Indonesia’s Komodo Island has more Komodo dragons than people. Technically they’re monitor lizards, the largest monitor lizards in the world, but it’s much more fun to call them dragons. If you can get to Bali, you can take a few days to visit Komodo and see these magnificent creatures for yourself. Komodo National Park comprises not just Komodo Island and its fierce dragons but the waters around it as well. The park sprawls over 600 square miles and includes more than two dozen islands and some of the richest marine diversity on Earth. A standard trip to the park includes a stop at Komodo or Rinca island to see the dragons as well as several snorkeling or beach stops. Only a 75-minute flight from Bali lies Komodo Airport (LBJ) in the small town of Labuanbajo, the main starting point for travelers going to Komodo National Park. Labuanbajo is on the island of Flores. Komodo Island is a few hours away by boat. It can be done in one day but it requires starting at 5am and getting back to your hotel around 7pm. I recommend an overnight cruise instead, with one night in Labuanbajo before and after to avoid being rushed. This allows you to spend more time snorkeling and exploring. We landed at Komodo Airport and took obligatory selfies with the airport in the background. The airport is just a few kilometers east of the town, so our ride to the hotel was quick and painless. Where to Stay There are lots of small hotels in Labuanbajo, from budget backpacker pads to resorts. We chose the boutique Bayview Gardens Hotel. There aren’t many taxis, so I recommend staying in town or picking a hotel that can arrange transportation for you. The town has several good restaurants and two small grocery stores. ATMs are few and far between, so make sure you have enough Indonesian Rupiah (IDR) to get by. Perched on the hill overlooking the harbor, Bayview Gardens had terrific views. It was just a five-minute walk to the town’s main street and the hotel’s friendly staff were happy to arrange a boat tour to Komodo. Our room had a large patio, which was perfect for sunset views, and we thoroughly enjoyed the novelty of the ensuite bathroom’s outdoor shower. Boat Cruise Before sunrise we left our hotel and boarded a longboat in the harbor to begin our adventure. The two-man crew provided us with fins, snorkels, and breakfast. They greeted us warmly and moved around the boat finishing preparations. As we sat at a table near the bow, their movements
indicated that this once-in-a-lifetime trip for us was routine for them. The sun was just coming up behind us as our boat slipped out of the harbor. The steady puttering of the boat’s motor caused Labuanbajo to gradually recede on the horizon. The sun steadily rose in its place. We took turns napping on the roof of the boat’s cabin, shaded by an awning a few inches above us. I woke from dozing to find that we were at our first stop – Manta Point. Manta Point Komodo National Park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991 and it’s easy to see why. The islands of the park are part of Indonesia’s Coral Triangle, an area of global focus because of the rich marine biodiversity. Makassar Point, more popularly known as Manta Point, is known for the manta rays that swim there. Indonesia banned fishing for manta rays in 2014, creating the largest manta ray sanctuary in the world. Only a few boats were in sight when we drifted into the area. Our captain stood on the bow, scanning the waters below. At his signal, the boat slowed and we jumped in with our snorkels and masks. The current was strong so we held a rope on the side of the boat and slowly motored around the area for an hour. We could clearly see the ocean floor 30 feet below us, as well as the huge rays winging their way past us. The water was quiet except for the constant crackling of shrimp. Pink Beach After about an hour of snorkeling, we continued on to Pink Beach. Tiny pink marine organisms called foraminifera and coral have been crushed over hundreds of years to form the pink sand. There was a massive yacht parked in the distance, so big that it had an interior dock for “toys.” We anchored about 100 meters off shore and swam to the beach. Beautiful coral stretched out in every direction below us. One of the best things about Komodo National Park is its sheer size. There were only two other boats in the area, making it feel like a private beach. My sons loved walking on the pink sand and seeing the colorful fish darting around among the corals. Back on board, the crew had lunch prepared for us as we made our way to Komodo. It was a tremendous spread of traditional Indonesian dishes. Fish, tofu, mee goreng, rice, veggies, and fruit for dessert. There was enough food for eight people.
Singapore American · September 2017
Dragons! We arrived at Komodo Island and reported to the ranger station. There are fees to enter the park. Lots of fees. A fee for entering the National Park, which includes the water around the island. A fee to enter Komodo Island itself. A fee to hire a guide, which is mandatory. A fee for bringing a camera. A conservation fee. All told, it was IDR940,000 for the four of us, roughly S$25 each. There are three trekking options on Komodo, ranging from one to four hours. The massive dragons were all laid out in the afternoon shade. Our guide explained that they’re more active in the morning. Standing three feet away from a seven-foot monitor lizard, I was happy to catch them being lazy. A few yards away, a deer lay in the grass resting. Even though deer are the main source of food for the dragons, they only eat about once a month. I guess the deer thought he could risk it. Two more dragons lay under a porch next to the kitchen. As we wandered along trails through the jungle, our guide pointed out more dragons as well as native birds and plants like custard apples, tamarind and palm trees. There are over one hundred bird species on the island. Toward the end of our hike, we startled a few boar piglets as we came to a fork in the trail. Our guide explained that one path led to a souvenir shop while the other led directly back to the boat. I admired the fact that he gave us the option. Most museums make it impossible to leave without passing through the gift shop. We opted to check it out anyway and came away with some souvenirs, including the usual t-shirts and hats, along with some beautiful abalone shell bowls. Motoring back to Labuanbajo, time has an elastic quality. Each island you pass seems to never get closer until suddenly you pass it. We passed the time by watching a pod of dolphins chase our boat. We flew home to Singapore the next morning, feeling very fortunate to have seen these dragons in the wild. Other activities The island of Flores offers several other adventures for those who are willing to spend some time there. You can visit the remote and traditional Wae Rebo village, see the “hobbit cave” near Ruteng, or watch the sunrise over the crater lakes of Kelimutu, one of several volcanoes on Flores. Ed Cox is the author of Travel With Kids: How to Travel With Kids Without Losing Your Mind. He blogs about travel at www.nomadicdragon.com. Photos by Ed Cox
Where to Stay Bayview Gardens Hotel (www.bayview-gardens.com) has beautiful views of the harbor. Fair warning: it does have a lot of stairs, so it may not be suitable for everyone.
Getting There Fly to Komodo Airport (LBJ) via Bali or Jakarta on Garuda Airline or Wings Air.
For Further Information Komodo National Park www.komodonationalpark.org
14 SHOPPING SMARTER
Singapore American · September 2017
in Singapore By Laura Schwartz
hysical books are basically the best thing on the planet. Unfortunately, when you move between countries on said planet, your library can get awfully heavy (and costly) to take with you. Although it’s easy enough to fill your shelves in Singapore should you miss the crates of books you left in storage, even the most casual bibliophile will notice that prices here are higher than in the US. Don’t despair just yet! Researching your options will save you money and get you inhaling that delicious book smell in no time. The Big Guys Singapore’s largest bookstore is Japanese chain Kinokuniya in Ngee Ann City, with smaller branches elsewhere around the city. Though Kinokuniya’s Japanese section is expectedly robust, it is far from the only offering, as the store has expansive fiction and non-fiction sections, everything from old classics to new bestsellers to cookbooks to graphic novels to magazines to travel guides. The prices – especially for new or hardback books – make me wince, but the selection is hard to beat. MPH, Times and POPULAR are other bookstore chains that can be found in multiple locations across the island. Keep an eye out for their sales, as you can often find some steals. The Indie Bookstores I’m a huge advocate of supporting independently-owned bookstores and since prices in Singapore are expensive anyway, I might as well put my money towards these community lynchpins. Manned by three indifferent cats and some passionate people, BooksActually in Tiong Bahru is a hub of the Singapore literature scene that features a variety of literary events, including readings by local writers. Just down the street is the adorable Woods in the Books, which specializes in thoughtfully-curated young children’s books. Taking up two stories in a cozy shophouse on Duxton Hill, Littered with Books has the personal air of a librarian’s home. The staff are happy to give you recommendations, but will also let you browse undisturbed for hours. Bliss. Secondhand Books For those more focused on content than presentation or those excited to spend an hour digging through piles of titles, pre-loved books are the way to go. Singapore isn’t big on secondhand items, but there are three well-established used bookstores that will serve you well, both in price and selection: Ana Bookstore in Far East Plaza, Book Treasure in Parklane Shopping Mall and Evernew Bookstore, which spills out of Bras Basah Complex onto the street. Happy hunting! Specialty Bookstores Sometimes your love of a subject goes deeper than what can be found on the average bookseller’s shelves. Also in Bras Basah Complex, Basheer Graphic Books’s astounding selection of books and magazines makes it a mecca for anyone fascinated by design in any iteration, whether it’s architecture, fashion, animation, typography – you name it. For those who don’t mess around in their love of the printed word, there’s GOHD Books on Bencoolen Street. Specializing in rare tomes and first editions (some from as far back as 1595), their stock isn’t cheap but it will make any book collector salivate. If you’re captivated by the continent we live on, look no further than Select Books, whose archive of publications on Asia is so wide, they supply resources to universities, researchers, libraries and governments (including the US Library of Congress). If their retail store in Toa Payoh is out of your way, you can also order from them online. The Internet The Internet, of course, is the most convenient source of books. However, don’t think Amazon is your only option. Shipping costs hike the price up and although used books from third-party sellers on Amazon can be wildly discounted, you’ll find that many won’t ship internationally. With the recent launch of Amazon Prime Now, options will grow, however the range is limited at present. Your golden ticket is Book Depository. Though books often appear more expensive than Amazon at first glance, once shipping costs are added, you’ll find Book Depository to be cheaper as they offer free shipping to anywhere in the world. They also don’t require you to create an account
to make a purchase. No store’s selection of books can beat Amazon’s, but Book Depository does come close. If you want faster delivery times, OpenTrolley is a Singapore-based online bookseller with prices comparable to local brick-and-mortar stores. For the bibliophile who wants to support their reading addiction and support others simultaneously, Better World Books not only has free shipping worldwide and an enormous assortment of new and used books, but also donates a book to someone in need for every book purchased. As of today, they’ve donated over 23 million books and raised over $25 million dollars for literacy programs, including the non-profit Room to Read. Thanks to them, you can feel good about restocking your library, no matter where on the planet you find yourself. Laura Schwartz was born in Ireland and grew up in Japan, Singapore and New Jersey, finally becoming an American citizen at age 18. She graduated from Bard College in 2010 with a BA in Japanese Language & Culture. When she’s not traveling or devouring a new book, she juggles her nine-to-five as an Admissions and Career Consultant with freelance writing.
15 SHOPPING SMARTER
Singapore American · September 2017
Shop Smarter Eight simple ways to save time and money on your grocery shopping in Singapore By RedMart
hether you love it or hate it, grocery shopping is one of life’s necessities. With today’s technological advantages, there’s no reason to battle your way around the grocery store. Follow these top tips to take the pain out of your weekly shop.
Always make a list It sounds obvious, but check your cupboards while making your list so you don’t end up buying things you don’t need, but do buy everything you DO need! Check with your family what is needed, and who is buying what – you don’t want two of everything! When shopping online, use a service that allows you to save products to your list so it’s easy to find the items you usually buy. Shop online Sticking to your list is all well and good, but beautiful displays of totally unnecessary, but oh-sotempting items can undermine even the strongest of resolves. Not to mention the minefield of shopping while hungry or thirsty, when you inevitably buy more than you need. Shopping online can eliminate all these obstacles; with the versatility of a smartphone app and a website, services such as RedMart allow you to shop at home or on the go, saving you time and money. Compare prices Shop around for the best deals and make sure your favorite store has the best prices for the products you frequently purchase. Most supermarkets in Singapore have a website where you can check prices. When buying groceries online, look out for price match guarantees on branded items, so you can be safe in the knowledge you’ll get a good deal. Stock up Multibuys, case deals and buying in bulk can save you money, and shopping online with a convenient delivery time means you don’t have to worry about how you’ll get them home either. Just make sure you have room to store it all! Use the right credit cards Many stores offer great discounts, cashback or extra credit for using a particular bank or credit card. Savvy Singaporean shoppers carry multiple cards to maximize these great deals. Join a loyalty program Membership schemes, such as LiveUP, are the smart shopper’s friend. For an annual fee of $28.80, LiveUP members get 5% store credit on every purchase made on RedMart, with similar benefits for Netflix, Lazada and Uber.
Beware of hidden costs Singapore’s kiasu culture can mean shoppers travel across the island for a great deal. But once you consider time spent and the cost of transportation, is it such a great investment? Online shopping can be done at any time and from anywhere, in a matter of minutes, with free delivery to your door (minimum spend usually applies); saving you valuable time for something much more fun instead! Treat yourself Saving money by comparing prices for your basic goods is sensible, but make sure you include some treats for you for being such a smart shopper! RedMart has the largest selection of grocery products in Singapore, including many favorites imported from the US and elsewhere, so grab yourself something delicious, kick back and enjoy your free time! Shop on RedMart and you can enjoy island-wide deliveries from 7am-10pm, seven days a week. Minimum order $40. Use code “AAS17” when placing your first shop and receive $10 off a minimum spend of $80. Visit www.RedMart.com or download the app for shopping on the go.
16 SHOPPING SMARTER
Singapore American · September 2017
Handknotted Carpets By Jim Tietjen
ave you ever had the urge to purchase an Oriental carpet but were not quite sure where to go, who to talk to, what to look for, or how much to pay? Handknotted carpets have been around for more than 2,500 years. They are an art form, like a finely-crafted tapestry or a hand-made garment. Carpets have adorned palaces and stately homes for centuries and can be seen in many historic paintings. They are often a sign of good taste and even wealth. Each handmade carpet is unique and usually holds its value over time. Singapore is blessed with many carpet shops. Many of them are members of the Handknotted Carpet Association of Singapore (HCAS). They may have a decal on their window or door, a HCAS tabletop stand, and may use the HCAS logo on their invoices and letterhead. You can also check their status on the Singapore Registry of Societies website. HCAS members ascribe to professional standards and guarantee authenticity. Caveat emptor, there are some “false advertisers,” “fast talkers,” and “fake news” around, so it is best to deal with reputable shops or have a solid referral. Dependable establishments stand by their carpets and ensure customer satisfaction. The serious dealers want you to come back, and for you to tell your friends about your great carpet experience. As you begin your carpet journey think about what you need or may desire. A small rug or a big carpet; a sturdy piece for the entryway or an intricate wall-hanging; silk or wool; red or blue; rectangle or round; Russian or Persian; tribal or city; new or antique? There are many parameters you could consider. You can probably answer many of these questions yourself, though a dependable shop/ dealer would be able to assist. If you are not sure, or are looking for a conversation piece you may have a bit more (re)searching to do – and that’s fun. Buying a carpet is a journey, not a destination – get ready for a magic ride!
17 SHOPPING SMARTER
Singapore American · September 2017
– getting started and having fun! Carpets are like other fine goods – you will pay more for name brands, higher quality, rarity and size. Finer, older, larger carpets can be expensive. Big-knotted, newer, smaller carpets, though perfectly good, will go for less. You will pay more for an older Turkish Hereke or Persian Isfahan than for a newer 20/20 Raj (great quality) Pakistani or a playful Kurdish Gabbeh, but these are all wonderful carpets! What is most important is that you like what you buy because a good carpet will be with you for a lifetime, and perhaps your children’s as well. By the way, if you are not a traditional “old-style” carpet fan, do not despair. Nowadays most carpet shops carry very modern designer carpets with fantastic designs, colors, sizes and shapes. If you don’t see what you like ask for it, or try another shop. You may be pleasantly surprised. A caveat: buy what you want, not what a shop/dealer wants to sell you. Some seasoned dealers are very good at diverting your attention and/or changing your mind based on what they want to sell. Listen carefully to what they say, but stick to your guns if you are sure you know what you want. Want to learn more? Sign up for a free carpet-appreciation class. Several local shops offer these informative sessions. They will teach you about the history and artistry of handknotted carpets so you can better appreciate this venerable art form. Well-respected shops offer such classes. Check out the HCAS website or call these shops for details. Another great way to learn is to attend a carpet auction. Be sure to arrive early, around two hours before the auction begins, to touch and feel the carpets. Ask lots of questions. NEVER feel obligated to buy anything. Learn first, buy later. A good auctioneer will educate his audience before and during the auction – they want you to appreciate and understand what you are buying.
Ask questions during the auction. From my experience, Hedger’s Carpet Gallery has the best auctions in town. Peter Hedger’s expertise is amazing, informative, and just plain fun, whether or not you buy a carpet. These auctions are free and include substantial food, drink, and fun! What could be better? You and your friends will have a grand time! So, will it be a tribal, village, or city carpet; single-knot, double knot, or Kilim; Persian, Caucasian, or Turkish; wool, silk, or cotton; Tabriz, Turkoman, or Hereke; Mahi, Shah Abbas, or Herati design; or are you just looking for a good-old magic carpet ride? Search online, go to a shop, ask questions, take a free class, attend an auction, and let the journey begin. The author has enjoyed learning about carpets for 40+ years. Any questions – drop him a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. He is also an avid volunteer at the Singapore Space and Technology Association, National Gallery Singapore, and Gardens by the Bay. He has no commercial affiliations with any carpet businesses, individuals, or otherwise… just a passion for art. Photos courtesy of Alice Chong (Hedger’s Carpets) and Jim Tietjen
19 Singapore American · September 2017
The Thrill of the (Bargain) Hunt By Faith Anna Chanda
ingapore is known for many things: as a destination for some of the best high-end shopping in Asia, and a cost of living that tops the charts annually, among others. What it’s not known as is a place to catch a great bargain. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible – it just means you’ve got to work for it! Here are a few ways you can stretch your dollars while living in one of the most expensive cities in the world: Think like a local. Heather Honerkamp has been in Singapore for four years and is an admin for the Facebook group Singapore Smart Spenders, where members offer tips for living frugally in Singapore. “Expat places mean expat prices. So, I try to ask myself ‘Where would a local Singaporean shop for this?’” Also, notice that the local shopping customs are quite different than in many western countries. You can’t just run to the supermarket and grab all your foodstuffs in one place, not if you want to live on any kind of budget. Traditional households in Singapore tend to shop more often, at different places for different items, and in smaller batches. Eating like a local won’t hurt either, as Asian foods tend to be less expensive than the less common ‘expat’ ingredients. Do your research. Comparing prices of common household purchases can result in big savings. Once again, thinking like a local helps here, too. Prices at Chinese retailer Sheng Siong are often a fraction of those at Cold Storage, a grocery chain popular with expats. For example, approximately 700g of broccoli from Australia costs about $5 at Sheng Siong and about $15 at Cold Storage. Filipina helper Aloha Sotto Hermano has worked in Singapore more than four years and has learned her budget goes further if she compares prices for the items she needs across multiple outlets. “Most meat and fresh fruits and vegetables are least expensive at the wet markets. For non-perishables, I shop at Sheng Siong or FairPrice. For spices, rice and baking ingredients, I go once every month to Mustafa. And western foods like cheese and bacon are cheapest at Foodie Market.” Any time a new item is added to the regular shopping list, she checks out the prices across all the shops to find the best value. Reap the rewards. Many local retailers take reward cards, such as Passion card and NTUC Plus card. It may be worth checking out the local bank’s credit cards which often offer rewards or discounts as incentives. Join forces with other thrifty folks. For example, Singapore Smart Spenders on Facebook is one resource for money saving ideas. You can also buy pre-loved items like furniture or clothing on many buy/sell/trade websites such as Carousell, Gum Tree, and Craig’s List, as well as Facebook groups such as Real Singapore Expat Wives Classifieds and IKEA Singapore - Buy/Sell Secondhand in SG. Be flexible. One thing that I find difficult in Singapore is indulging in my love of New York-style pizza. I just can’t find one that I like and can afford on a regular basis! So, we decided to turn this negative into a positive and instituted “make your own pizza night” on most Fridays at our place. My helper makes the dough ahead of time and prepares all of the toppings, then each of us spread out our own dough to make a personal sized pizza, exactly the way we want it. We even have an unofficial contest to declare the best looking and best tasting pizza of the night! Once I realized I had to give up on my expectation of finding a neighborhood pizzeria to tap as my regular pizza source, we discovered that making it at home provides a far better bang for our buck. Explore new brands. Try to let go of the idea of shopping for (western) brands and you’ll find a wealth of great value food, toiletries, clothing and more that are just as good or even better. This applies to stores as well; I’ve found some of the best values in Singapore at stores I never knew existed until I moved here. I cannot pass by a Daiso without stepping inside for just a quick look around. This Japanese retailer’s gimmick is that everything in the store (with a few rare exceptions) costs just $2. And they carry quite a variety: I’ve picked up everything from party favors to cleaning products to home décor and have always been pleased with my purchases. The shops in and around HDBs and other less expat-heavy locations can be great sources – after all, this is where the locals shop! Among them, Valu$ can indeed be a great value for your dollars; my helper recently picked up Dove brand hand soap there at $1/bottle! Plan ahead. Spending a little time getting organized ahead of time can save you lots of money on the back end. With many expat jobs in Singapore requiring significant travel, consider ordering things you need online and having them shipped to the hotel to bring home. If you’re devoted to certain brands or just can’t find what you like here, this can be a life-saver as these items may be less expensive elsewhere. When you do find great deals, especially with items that will keep, such as kids’ clothes and shoes, “buy ahead” – purchase them in bigger sizes for your kids to grow into later. This works best, of course, as long as you live in a place like Singapore where the weather is pretty consistent year-round and you don’t have to worry about seasonal clothing adjustments. While it may not always be easy, keep in mind that with a little legwork and a lot of patience, it can always be ‘savings season’ in Singapore. Faith Chanda relocated to Singapore in January 2015 with her husband and two young children. She is a freelance writer and marketing consultant as the sole proprietor of F. Chanda Communications & Events. Faith enjoys exploring food, culture, nature and design through her travel adventures and looks forward to many new discoveries throughout Asia.
Join the American Association of Singapore Today! Want to make friends and take part in fun social events? Join the AAS community to meet like-minded people and enrich your Singapore experience. www.aasingapore.com
21 SHOPPING SMARTER
Singapore American · September 2017
Navigating the Wet Market By Frances Strong
isitors to Singapore might see them as something of a tourist attraction, but the wet market is often the best place to find fresh, locally sourced food. The market opens early, so if you want to get the best deals, prepare to set your alarm! Most markets kick off as early as 6am and will close by midday. You might find some fans, but there’s no air conditioning in the markets, so dress in light clothing and prepare to sweat as you line up for the best deals of the day. As a foreigner, shopping in the wet market can be a little daunting; the pace is fast, the pricing isn’t always obvious and you might feel like the veggie uncle or the fish aunty is going to charge you a lot more than seasoned Singapore marketers. However, this is part of the fun of the market!
How to manage your first visit
Make a list Shopping 101, I know, but it is important to know what you want before you hit sensory overload with all the sights, sounds and smells. Do your research Ask friends and neighbors who have been to your local wet market before for their stall recommendations. If you’re lucky, they’ll offer to guide you on your first visit; but if not, at least you will know which vendors have the freshest chicken. Price check It’s a good idea to know how much your chosen items would cost in a supermarket, so that you can benchmark your market purchases. You shouldn’t be paying more. Bring cash The wet market stall holders are not geared up for credit or debit card transactions, so be sure to have plenty of cash. Smaller bills will be appreciated, if possible. Reconnaissance When you arrive at the wet market, take 10 minutes to stroll around and orient yourself before you buy anything. This is especially important if you haven’t been able to get any recommendations for stalls. Take note of the vendors with the longest lines – these will have the freshest produce at good prices. Don’t be afraid to bargain a little I’m not suggesting you ask for half price deals, but if you intend to buy a large amount of a particular item, or spend a lot at one stall, it’s always worth asking if there’s a discount for a big purchase. Travel light Wet markets get busy, so it’s a good idea to leave large handbags or backpacks at home. But don’t forget to bring along some re-usable bags to help save the planet from unnecessary plastic. Check out the food court It’s always worth factoring in some extra time to visit the food court – consider it a reward after your hard work! Again, check out the stall with the longest line and treat yourself to a kopi and something interesting to nibble on.
Must-see Markets Empress 7 Empress Rd, Singapore 260007 A good introduction to the wet market, Empress has a mixed clientele of locals and expats alike. Knowledgeable stallholders are always ready to help out with your questions about the best cuts of meat for your recipe or how to cook an unfamiliar vegetable. Visit the same aunties and uncles week on week and they’ll soon be sharing recipes for barley tea when you’re sick and asking after your children. Tiong Bahru 30 Seng Poh Road, Singapore 168898 Recently renovated, this wet market takes center stage in trendy Tiong Bahru. Popular with an international crowd, you can find imported products alongside local specialties. Be sure to check out the Australian and New Zealand beef – a great price when compared to the supermarkets. Flowers are another great buy at this market, so treat someone special to some pretty orchids (or just get some for yourself ). Tekka Market 665 Buffalo Rd, L1 Tekka Centre, Singapore 210665 In the heart of Little India lies Tekka, Singapore’s biggest wet market. Consider this your go-to for all things Indian, and so much more. Aside from the glorious selection of produce, Tekka is also a fantastic place for tailoring. Head upstairs for a one-stop tailoring solution; bring your own fabric or choose from the vast selections on display, both traditional Indian and Western styles are available. Insider tip: if you have an item you particularly like, bring it along and ask for it to be copied.
WHY IS IT CALLED A WET MARKET? The name comes from the market’s wet floors, a result of melting ice that keeps fish fresh, and the frequent cleaning of the stalls. It’s likely the floor will be wet when you visit, so closed shoes are recommended. Don’t be fooled by the name, though, as there are plenty of dry goods to be found at the wet market, including food, clothes and household items.
Originally from a tiny seaside town in the UK, Frances Strong has called Singapore home since 2011. Six years later, she’s still exploring the Little Red Dot and loves to find new and quirky places to wow her visitors. When she’s not playing taxi driver for her three children, she likes to write about travel, motherhood, food, life…and anything in between.
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MUSEUMS 1 September – ongoing Glass Rotunda: Story of the Forest and Singapore, Very Old Tree National Museum of Singapore 93 Stamford Road, Singapore 178897 www.nationalmuseum.sg 1 September – 8 October A Little Magic Exhibition Singapore Philatelic Museum 23-B Coleman Street, Singapore 179807 www.spm.org.sg 1 September – 8 October Gallery Children’s Biennale: Dreams & Stories National Gallery of Singapore 1 St. Andrew’s Road, Singapore 178957 www.nationalgallery.sg 1 September – 4 December Rediscovering Treasures: Ink Art from the Xiu Hai Lou Collection Strokes of Life: The Art of Chen Chong Swee National Gallery of Singapore 1 St. Andrew’s Road, Singapore 178957 www.nationalgallery.sg 1 September – 30 December Reviving Myanmar Celadon Ceramics NUS Museum 50 Kent Ridge Crescent, Singapore 119279 www.nus.edu.sg/museum 2 September Saturdays@ACM: Roads to Arabia Asian Civilisations Museum 1 Empress Place, Singapore 179555 www.acm.org.sg
ENTERTAINMENT 9 September Bert The Machine SOTA Concert Hall www.sistic.com 3 October Dream Theater in Concert Zepp @ Bigbox Singapore www.sistic.com 18 October Sebastian Bach Live in Singapore Kallang Theatre www.sistic.com
LIFESTYLE 4 – 10 September The Young Warriors Ninja Warrior Course The Seletar Mall www.theseletarmall.com 8 – 9 September A Night in the Mall Parent and child overnight camp The Seletar Mall www.theseletarmall.com
20 – 21 October Dada Masilo’s Swan Lake Esplanade Theatre www.esplanade.com/dansfestival
9 September Carpet Auction Hedger’s Carpet Gallery 15 Dempsey Road #01-09, Singapore 249675 Viewing: 5:30 – 7:30pm Auction: 7:45pm email@example.com
24 – 25 October Benjamin Millepied’s L.A. Dance Project Esplanade Theatre www.esplanade.com/dansfestival
18 – 24 September BHG’s Toy Fair The Seletar Mall www.theseletarmall.com
27 – 28 October Rocio Molina’s Bosque Ardora Esplanade Theatre www.esplanade.com/dansfestival
28 September Expat Traders Asia’s Welcome Back Bazaar Orchard Parade Hotel Ballroom Level 2 1 Tanglin Road, Singapore 247905 firstname.lastname@example.org
SPORTS 17 September Yellow Ribbon Prison Run SAF Field, Farnborough Road www.yellowribbonprisonrun.sg
EDUCATION 6 & 7 September Stamford American International School Open House 279 Upper Serangoon Road 9-11am www.sais.edu.sg