Friday, August 17, 2007

7 things I love about Singapore

About a week before Singapore's National Day, I gave myself a writing exercise. To come up with 7 things I love about Singapore in time for the nation's 42nd birthday. I will not allow myself the obvious Singapore subjects, like Chicken Rice, or Zouk. I will also treat the nation Singapore as Singapore the lady, a fast approaching middle aged needing something uplifting to look forward now that she is past the big Four Zero. So there will be abit of music, lots of movies, abit of food and abit of speed and a big heaping of love.

Alot of internet writing tend to be barbed and ribbing. So this will be a reminder we still love Singapore.

Read on.

number one

I love music so the first on the list is

Baybeats is one of the biggest music festival in the region.
Yes. The scene actually travels down to Singapore (hooray for regional budget airlines and local budget hotels) once a year to check out what Singapore bands have to offer.

Baybeats is loud,
it is massive and best of all
it is free.

What more could you want?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

number two

ok, number two on the list

Singapore made movies

If there is any doubt that there is a film scene in Singapore, the month of August will erase that notion.

For the past coupla years, August has been the traditional harvest month for local filmmakers to showcase their work. Last August saw Gloria Chee's Smell of Rain, Gilbert Chan & Joshua Chiang's S11, Leonard Lai's High Cost of Living and of cos, Colin Goh & Woo Yen Yen's Singapore Dreaming.

This year continues that tradition.
We have Nicholas Chee's Becoming Royston,

Royston Tan's 881,

Wee Li lin's Gone Shopping

and Tan Pin Pin's Invisible City.

And for those who missed out on the past years, Arts Central has (very generously) decided to air all the good stuff on (free to air) tv in the next coupla weeks.

Yes, they are really going to show Eric Khoo's Be With Me on local tv. and yes, are they going to show that (in)famous liplocking scene at the end of movie? who knows?
What I'm more excited about is the screening of Singapore Gaga 5 days after the National Day Parade. For those who have seen Pin Pin's work will appreciate this (understated) irony.

only in singapore

number three

I've been busy unpiercing my ear drums over at Baybeats this weekend, so I will be posting part 3 and part 4 together.

Number 3 on the list.

Where do you go to cool off on a hot saturday afternoon in Singapore? You can join the hordes at the many many shopping complexes. But wouldn't you be rather be chilling with chicks in bikinis instead?
Of cos.

And for that, one of the best spots in Singapore is

The Jurong East Swimming Complex

For a mere S$2.00 (thats 5 times cheaper than wild wild wet)
and a stones throw from Chinese Garden MRT station (you don't even have to take a shuttle to the island of Sentosa)

you get
not 1 but 3 water slides
a big ass wave pool tat comes alive every hour on the hour with waves with enough tossing power and a rain spray to cool off the afternoon soon
a easy relak longkang to pull you around the whole complex
plenty of water games for your toddler nieces
but thats not all
you also get a proper pool for serious lap swims
and a kentucky fried chicken store to offset all those calories you burnt in the pool

For those peeps staying in the west side of Singapore, (west side, represent!), the JE swimming complex has long been our undiscovered gem

I love singapore!

number four

I've written about singapore made films. But where do singaporean filmmakers get their filmmaking chops? By making short films of cos.

Singapore has a vibrant short filmmaking scene. To take a snapshot, this week alone has 2 separate short film events.

The Substation's First Take
First Take is a democratic showcase of the newest short films made by local filmmakers. if you have a short film, submit it, and they will show it. every first monday of every month. the only catch being, you the filmmaker has to appear and participate in the post screening discussion with an audience of peers and film lovers alike. And its been going strong for the past 10 years. There is one happening tonight. Details here
Admission, as always is free

National Museum's Short Cuts
The Short Cut series is a well curated series organised by the National Museum as a "best-of" showcase for local short films made in the last year or so. The series kicks off this coming weekend with an excellent collection by some of the more experienced local filmmakers.
details here
You can start collecting the free tickets from today.
Get in early, as tickets traditionally gets picked out on the first day.


number five

If you wanna go really fast, and you're stuck in Singapore,
there are not that many places that you can go to.
In fact, totalled up, you can count them down in one hand.

But what we make up for quantity,
we sure make up for it in quality.

One of the best "tracks" Singapore has to offer is our infamous pasir panjang slope.

Easily accesible from the AYE, you start off from NUH. Accelerate past the students hostel and then you start blasting down this twisty series of chicanes as fast as your balls allow you.

Trees on your left, a semi hazardous slope on your right, slow drivers on your front and not forgetting a very very harsh penalty for speeding
if you get caught.

If you make it down to pasir panjang road at the bottom, you can always chill out at the nearby hawker centre with one of THE best satay stalls in singapore and a long cool drink.


number six

2 more days to her birthday
and I have not even touched on lunch.

Singaporeans love food. Ask any singaporean what/where their favourite chicken rice/laksa/steak/risotto and get ready for a 500 word full on essay.

I'm a Singaporean
and I love food
and of the many many things I love,

I love spring rolls.
I've tried many many popiah from many outlets.
My favourite thus far is Qi Ji Popiah

Qi Ji PopiahI love that Qi Ji has outlets located all over Singapore, and not at some hard to find one single outlet that might be closed the one day I decided to have some popiah.

I love that despite being a roaring franchise, the popiah is still made by aunties
(who look like they do have some cooking experience). As opposed to some button pushing instruction-following teenager at Burger King.

I love that I can tah pao their popiah home and it will still taste pretty good

And I love that their popiah taste awesome paired with their laksa sambal and kopi o.

Lest I become a biased QiJi unpaid spokesman,
let me state that their nasi lemak is crap.


number seven

I completely missed her birthday, since I spent it
along with hundreds and hundreds
of other Singaporeans

out of the country.

Which is apt, since this final piece is all about transits and transitions.

I pay tribute to one of singapore's favourite icon, The Changi Airport

The love hate relationship we have with our biggest airport is symbolic of our love hate relationship with Singapore. Singaporeans love the new things; we love the shiny and the bling and whatever is on the hot list of some magazine editor.

Changi is off that category by a mile.
A little old, a little aged here and there. Not quite elderly enough to fit into the current retro love affair sweeping the country (that award goes squarely to chinatown and kampung glam).
But not quite a spring chicken that she does need a nip and tuck reno these past few years.

All her parts still work perfectly. but still that botox injection of a new Budget Terminal and a Terminal 3 shows that the old girl is up and fighting to court new business from air travellers now starting to flirt with the new chicks on the block like KLIA, Suvarnabhumi.

Why do I love Changi so?

This comingDdecember holidays will see record numbers of Singaporean leaving for holidays all over the world. While they will be more than happy to leave this stress filled island, Changi does it for them in the most stress free manner possible. Changi has one of the best departure halls in the world. Great facilities. Wide berth toilets. Internet access everywhere. Good kopi catering to all price classes. Comfy chairs. Even the smoking area does not stink of smoke. Compare and contrast with (god forbid) heathrow.

Changi ensures Singaporeans leave in peace, not in pieces.

But do we come back? Of cos we do. and Changi pulls out all the stops to welcome us back.

Everytime I fly back to Singapore, I insist on a window seat. As the plane approaches Singapore, and the pilot does a sweep turn to Changi. I peer down my cheap economy window seat, down into the sea, and I see the rows of ships parked just off east coast beach, the lights of hdb flats of Tampines, Bedok and Simei twinkling in the night. This sea of lights replacing the dark sea thats been the view for the past hours cramped in seats too small for dignity.

I love it, this view that changi brings to the airplane audience. It still does bring a lump in the throat at this light show.

We might bitch and moan and complain about her stolid ways. but still. Singapore, she still knows a thing or two about the right buttons to push

Its so fashionable to be cynical and blase when writing/blogging on the internet, but I'm not afraid to say this

Singapore is a keeper

I'm a day late
but still
happy birthday, babe

i heart singapore