Project Ondoy

30 September 2009

Google has set-up a page in cyberspace which outlined the ways in order for us to help in the victims of this typhoon. Click on any of the photos below to be redirected to that page.

Last September 26, 2009, Typhoon Ondoy (international name: Ketsana) brought a month’s worth of rainfall to Metro Manila and nearby areas in just a span of six hours. This has caused massive flooding that resulted in the loss of many lives and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Filipinos. Our house in Brgy Kapitolyo, Pasig was spared from the destruction and all my siblings and relatives are safe. However I know a lot of people close to me that were affected. Luckily though, they are all safe.

Below are some of the widely circulated photos in the web; this was taken probably sometime last Sunday morning.

a scene somewhere near Katipunan Avenue, QC

a scene somewhere near Katipunan Avenue, QC

one of the underpass in Ayala Avenue, Makati City

one of the underpass in Ayala Avenue, Makati City

the Fort in Taguig City partially submerged

the Fort in Taguig City partially submerged

It is heart warming to note that the Bayanihan Spirit has been ignited during this difficult time in my country. People here and there has been helping in their own little ways.  International aid has also brought relief to our affected brothers and sisters. Even the smallest things when added up can make a very huge difference…

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One City Three Festivals

27 September 2009

Each year here in Singapore, the cultural enclaves of Kampong Glam, Chinatown and Little India come alive in a festive mood to celebrate Hari Raya Aidilfitri, the Mid-Autumn Festival, and Deepavali. Along with it are various performances, bright lights, street bazaars, free walking tours and culinary delights.

The Singapore Tourism Board has been promoting the One City Three Festival Event for the past two years already. This festival aimed to showcase the unique heritage of this small nation to both tourist and foreigners (such as me) who are living in Singapore.

As mentioned, free-guided walking tours in the three ethnic precincts have been prepared for everyone interested. This 45 minute tour is available daily from 18 Sep – 11 Oct (except 19 Sep and 3 Oct).  All you have to do is show up and register at the meeting place 10 minutes before the tour starts.

 

Hari Raya Aidilfitri

Hari Raya Aidilfitri

Kampong Glam

5:00pm 6:00pm 6:30pm 7:00pm

Meeting place: Malay Heritage Center

 

Mid-Autumn Festival

Mid-Autumn Festival

Chinatown

4:30pm 5:00pm 6:30pm 7:00pm 7:30pm 8:00pm

Meeting point: Chinatown Heritage Center

 

Deepavali Festival

Deepavali Celebration

Little India

6:00pm 6:30pm 7:00pm 7:30pm

Meeting point: The Verge (formerly Tekka Mall)

 

If you are not available on the various schedules above, you can be able to do some exploration at your own pace by downloading the self-guided walking map HERE

If walking in not your cup of tea, the breezy open-top light-up bus ride is available for you to enjoy the festive lights and sounds in three places mentioned above. This hour long bus tour is available at just 5 SGD. Just like the walking tour above, this is available also from 18 Sep – 11 Oct (except 19 Sep and 3 Oct). The bus departs half-hourly at the Chinatown Heritage Center beginning from 7:30pm until 10:00pm.

I recommend these festive deals to all those tourists who will be coming over to Singapore and even those working here. It is fun, and most of all it doesn’t cost too much. Definitely in the next few week, I will be donning my tourist hat and will be taking advantage of these offers while they are still available. 😉

I have always been a fan of the Formula One Racing. I can still remember during my high school and college days, my dad and I would often save selected Sundays to watch an F1 Race live on television. During those days, as far as I can remember, the races rotated mainly on the rivalry between Michael Schumacher and Mika Häkkinen.

The first Singapore Grand Prix to be part of the Formula One Championship happened in 2008, it was well received by fans around the world, as it was the only race to be held at night. The venue for this event was the Marina Bay Street Circuit. Sadly, I was not able to join the inaugural race last year.

Moving forward to the event this year, at first I did not have any interest at all in watching the race live as it was a bit costly to get good tickets. However, I said to myself, why not just experience watching even just the Friday night practice session with a walkabout ticket?

I got our tickets just some days ago at around four in the morning while I was on my way to the apartment from work. The driver of the Mercedes taxi and I were having small chats about the upcoming race and I briefly mentioned that I wanted to watch the event on Friday but I did not have the tickets yet. He offered me two single day walkabout tickets for 100 SGD (retails at 38 SGD per piece but as of that time, it was already sold out), I didn’t accept it at first and offered a much lower price. My haggling didn’t do wonder here as I only managed to shave 5% off his offer. Nonetheless, I got my ticket and decided to call an early weekend in order to watch the event.

Friday Walkabout Ticket

Friday Walkabout Ticket

The 2009 version of this event promised to be even bigger from the first one with huge foreign acts such as Beyonce, The Black Eyed Peas, No Doubt, and among others taking part in the inaugural F1 Rocks concert taking place on September 24 to 26 at the Fort Canning Park. Inside the venue, there are several performances as well by notable names such as The Backstreet Boys, Chaka Khan and the Philippine’s very own Rivermaya Band.

Mr Whattaworld started very early for this event; I was already inside the Marina Bay Street Circuit at around 4:30 PM, very early considering the 1st round of practice starts at 6:00 PM. At this time, they were holding a practice session as well for the Aston Martin Asia Cup. I just stayed for a few minutes within the racetrack and after that I roamed around and take a look at the various stalls inside the venue.

taken before entering Gate 3

taken before entering Gate 3

There were various activities awaiting patrons inside; for those that are interested in purchasing F1 memorabilia, there are various booths all over the place selling original goods. I myself got a Felipe Massa Puma Ferrari T-Shirt. A bit pricey at 70 SGD but I liked the design and the color.

expensive memorabilia...

expensive memorabilia...

my most expensive shirt to date...

my most expensive shirt to date...

The various sponsors such as LG and SingTel had their very own booth inside. All of them had different tactics to lure the possible customers inside their booth. Singapore Tourism Board had its own booth their as well, a good move since there were a huge number of tourists coming in just for the night race who might be needing some assistance.

guess who I met inside?

guess who I met...

Food were also available inside (albeit a very inflated price); a whole variety of cuisine can be ordered within with a portion of the street very near the Padang Field converted into an open air hawker like eatery.

signage to ensure you don't lose your way inside

sign to ensure you don't lose your way inside

The two-practice session started on schedule and lasted 90 minutes each; we were very lucky enough to get good spot wherein we were really very close to the racetrack. The only drawback though was we were standing the whole time. It started out dull at first with cars appearing one at a time. Good thing though that after a while, it became more interesting with several cars popping in successively. The sound of the car engine and gearbox was both very loud and very different. A friend of mine said that the joy of watching the race in more on being able to hear the deafening sound and from this experience, I could say that he was partially true.

excited for the 2nd round of practice

excited for the 2nd round of practice

Although we got an excellent view of cars passing by, there was no way we could know what was happening from the other side of the racetrack apart from the two race announcers talking on the PA system. The roars of the car engine though always overpower their live narration. This was the reason why we were not aware that Romain Grosjean and Mark Webber crashed out of the practice session.

I tried to get some photos of the cars passing; unfortunately my camera has no match for the speed of drivers.

a Ferrari in action

a Ferrari in action

this I believe is Brawn GP

this I believe is Brawn GP

i think that was a McLaren

i think that was a McLaren...

Overall, it was an evening well spent. I went back to the apartment partially deaf from the engine noise but was very satisfied. Finally, I was able to watch a Formula One Grand Prix Session live, such a truly marvelous experience. I am looking forward to the 2010 version in which I hope to get some grandstand tickets by then.

money well spent!

money well spent!

Swedish Meatballs for Lunch

22 September 2009

A lot of my friends and relatives from all over the world have been raving about the delicious taste of the Swedish Meatballs served in the restaurant of IKEA stores. One Sunday afternoon, I decided to give this a try. 

There are two IKEA outlets here in Singapore; there is one in Tampines, more than an hour away from my apartment, and the store in Alexandra Road, which was just approximately less than 10 minutes away by bus. I decided to go to the outlet in Alexandra for obvious reasons as it was more convenient for me.

IKEA Store in Alexandra Road, Singapore

IKEA Store in Alexandra Road, Singapore

It was already lunchtime when I woke up that Sunday; I initially thought that my timing would be perfect, I would be arriving there at around 2 in the afternoon and the lunch crowd would have dispersed by then. Damn, I was wrong!! When we arrived, this is what I saw…

in Singapore, long queue means good food...

in Singapore, long queue means good food...

I decided to queue with the crowd, as we were already very hungry at that time. It took me 20 minutes before I was able to get my orders and another 5 minutes before I was able to pay for it. The set-up in this restaurant is like a cafeteria; you queue up, get your food and pay for it.

ordering food, cafeteria style...

ordering food, cafeteria style...

The waiting was comparable to that time I tried eating Tian Tian Chicken Rice some weeks back. We ordered the 15-pcs Swedish Meatball (SGD 8.00) , 6-pcs Chicken Wings (SGD 7.50), a cup of Java Rice (SGD 2.00) and a refillable cup of cold drinks (SGD 1.50).

The meatballs were topped with gravy and were paired with French fries. It was supposed to be mashed potatoes but I asked the person serving if I can have fries instead as we are not fond of mashed potatoes. The dish also came with a small serving of lingonberry jam (honestly though, I don’t know how this would compliment with meatballs and mashed potatoes). It was a simple meal but it was a good one especially when paired with the java rice I ordered.

world famous Swedish Meatballs

the world famous Swedish Meatballs

The chicken wings were still as good as how I have tasted it last year when I was still visiting as a tourist here in Singapore. Actually it tasted more or less the same as the ones they sell in Lau Pa Sat but the clincher for this dish is the size of the chicken wing – it was really Scandinavian size I should say. 🙂 Despite its size, the chicken wing still remains juicy and tender. I paired this with ketchup mixed with Tabasco sauce.

big crispy chicken wings

big crispy chicken wings

We were very full when we finished our food. As a result, in order to melt down what we have just eaten, we decided to stroll around and look at the wonderful displays inside IKEA.

sarap (delicious) to the bones!

sarap (delicious) to the bones!

An hour later, we decided to head out and go back to the city. I got a surprise that day when I saw that there was still a long queue in the restaurant counter, this time it was much longer than the one I queued in 90 minutes earlier. It probably just goes to show that the people here in Singapore do really love the food in IKEA. 😉

IKEA Alexandra
317 Alexandra Road
Singapore 159965
           

Pinoy Lah!

21 September 2009

Any plans of visiting us here in Singapore soon? Look no further and check Pinoy Lah – a new online project by the Singapore Tourism Board, which was launched yesterday at the Podium Mall in Mandaluyong.

click here to visit the website!

click here to visit the website!

Although this new website does not provide yet a very comprehensive list of what to do here in Singapore, the basic travel essentials as well as some travel stories should give every Filipinos an idea of what to expect in this small island state.

From a page in Pinoy Lah:

What’s LAH got to do with it?

You know how we use ‘Po’ and ‘Opo’ here in the Philippines? Well that’s how Singaporeans use their ‘LAH’. This is the most famous of Singaporean expressions used at the end of sentences for emphasis. “OKAY, lah” or “SORRY, lah” “Very funny, lah”

And yeah, if you register on the website and answer a very short online survey before the deadline on 16 October 2009 you might stand a chance to win one of the 12 MP3 players, which they are giving away. Click HERE for a chance to become one of the winners.

If you have further questions regarding Singapore that is not tackled in the above website, please feel free to direct it to me and I will try my best to answer it. 😉

Eid Mubarak!!

20 September 2009

From Wikipedia:

Eid ul-Fitr or Id-ul-Fitr (Arabic: عيد الفطر ‘Īdu l-Fir), often abbreviated to Eid, is a Muslim holiday that marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting. Eid is an Arabic word meaning “festivity”, while Fir means, “to break fast”; and so the holiday symbolizes the breaking of the fasting period. It is celebrated after the end of the Islamic month of Ramadan, on the first day of Shawwal.

Mr Whattaworld would like to greet the Muslim world Eid Mubarak in light of the Eid ul-Fitr. Since this holiday falls on a Sunday, it is a non-working holiday here in Singapore (and the Philippines) tomorrow. Unfortunately for us in our bank, it is a regular working day. I will however earn leave credits for this though as well as some additional pay. 

Enjoy the long weekend guys!! 😉

Eid Mubarak!!!

Eid Mubarak!!!

Weekends in Trikora Beach

13 September 2009

One thing that is missing about living here in Singapore is the absence of a decent beach to swim around. I have always been a fan of the beach ever since I was a kid. I have lots of good memories of my dad taking us, the whole family plus our grandparents, to the beach during special occasions such as birthdays. For me, just being in the beach doing nothing can be very relaxing.

In Singapore, the closest thing to a beach is Sentosa and the one in East Coast Park. Please don’t get me wrong as they are decent beaches; swimming there however is something that I cannot really do as I just don’t feel comfortable in seeing huge ships 200 meters from the shore. And we are talking here about not just a couple of ships but dozens of them, either it passes by or it is docked in the sea. 

What we do usually to have a weekend fix of the sun and the sand is to go out of Singapore and ride a ferry towards this small island in Indonesia called Bintan. Unlike most people from Singapore who would opt to be stay in the area known as Bintan Resorts, we prefer to stay in Trikora Beach – an area famous amongst backpackers.

immigration queue at the Tanah Merah

immigration queue at the Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal

Getting to Bintan is easy, as there are several trips coming from the Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal in Singapore. We are usually in the terminal before the break of dawn for us to take the first trip to Tanjung Pinang at 8:50. As of our last visit, there were 3 Ferry Operators: WaveMaster, Penguin and Falcon, which provide their service from Singapore to Tanjung Pinang and vice versa. The return ticket is affordable at around 50 SGD inclusive of the terminal fee in Singapore. The ferry ride is approximately two hours.

welcome to Tanjung Pinang, Bintan!

welcome to Tanjung Pinang, Bintan!

our ferry ride to Bintan

our ferry ride to Bintan

The immigration in Bintan can sometimes be a pain as there are only a couple of counters open and all the passengers have to queue around a room with no air-condition. Upon heading out of the terminal area, hordes of touts will offer you either a room or transportation. It is best to just turn all of them down politely with a smile and head towards the exit area. From there you can easily hire a taxi for less than 150,000 IDR for a trip to Trikora Beach.

Getting from Tanjung Pinang to Trikora Beach is not a quick one; it is usually more than an hour drive. There is nothing much to see along the way except the Indonesian countryside.

shorelines of Trikora Beach

shorelines of Trikora Beach

Our destination is Shady Shack, a bunch of rustic beachside cottages in Trikora Beach owned by an Indonesian man named Lobo. It didn’t take much problem pointing out our destination, as most taxi drivers know Lobo. Whenever we are there, we always ask our driver to bring us back to Tanjung Pinang the following day, as there are not much taxis plying around the area.

Shady Shack is an off the beaten path accommodation where you can enjoy a laid back lifestyle and relax at beaches of Bintan. There are eight cottages all in all in Shady Shack, each of them come with your very own toilet and your very own veranda. There are no aircon here; instead what it can offer is a very refreshing wind from the sea. Needless to say, this was really going back to the basics in every sense of the word. The rate here starts at 25 SGD per cottage and comes with breakfast for two persons.

image of us in one of the cottage in Shady Shack

image of us in one of the cottages in Shady Shack

The family of Lobo can take of your food requirements at a very affordable price. If memory serves me right, it was around 2 SGD per meal and 1 SGD for a cold drink or a hot coffee. You definitely cannot eat a meal with drinks with this amount if you prefer to stay in the Bintan Resorts area.

enjoying ayam goreng at the cottage veranda

enjoying ayam goreng at the cottage veranda

One of the things I really appreciate whenever I stay in Shady Shack is the atmosphere wherein you can feel that you are very much relaxed. No one is conscious of the time when you are staying in this place; instead you just lounge around in your idle time perhaps with a good book in your hand and a beer in another, eat whenever you feel like eating, drink whenever you are thirsty or dip in the waters whenever it gets a bit too hot. What I enjoy doing the most though is sleeping by the veranda with the sea breeze humming a lullaby for me.

taken one rainy morning in Shady Shack

one rainy sunday morning

Living in Singapore comes with a lot of perks but sometimes there is definitely a need to just get out and stay out from a fast paced city life. Trikora Beach and the cottages of Mister Lobo has become our decompression chamber wherever we wanted to experience a quick weekend that is definitely back to basic.

Shady Shack
Teluk Bakau Mengkurus,
Pantai Trikora, km 41
Mobile: +62 813 645 15 223