Komala Vilas is yummy

Komala Vilas

We decided to walk over to Komala Vilas Vegetarian Indian Restaurant today after reading a few reviews. I’ve got a serious weakness for South Indian cuisine and I’d heard this place was known for it’s idly. Damn straight. Super delicious. It’s actually located on Serangoon road on the same block as that place that used to be Chellas, I think it’s called Big Box or something now. Anyway, it’s a good block for veggies. I also had a Masala Dosa which was the size of a baseball bat and completely yummy. No folks, knives or napkins here which is fine by me but might freak some tourists out. Fairly inexpensive as well, we had a few other things and drinks and it was S$12. Not bad at all.

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Vegan in Singapore

Speaking of being vegan, I’ve been on the hunt for good vegan food since setting foot in Singapore. Anyone who knows vegans, we’re kind of an elite class of foodies who are constantly seeking out the best spots in any city we visit. I’ve been lucky enough to have a vegan friend to guide me in most places I go, but when I first got to singapore I was completely on my own. One of the first things I found which was really helpful was the Singapore based Living Vegan blog. The site has a lot of general animal rights and veganism info, but it’s peppered with restaurant reviews so worth spending some time scrolling through.

I think that is where I found Annalakshmi which has been my favorite find so far. Given the population break out here there are a lot of veg-Indian spots in town (like Ananda Bhavanand Chellas – though I think they have recently been renamed) but Annalakshmi stood out to me because it’s Chinatown Point location is a super crazy underground spot, there are no prices so you pay whatever you think your meal was worth, and the food was just plain delicious. It’s not 100% vegan, but it is vegetarian and if you tell the server you are vegan they seem very happy to point out the dishes to avoid. I went there 3 days in a row after I found it and others seem to agree.

There’s also a pretty good list of spots on Happy Cow and I plan to check each and every one out in person as soon as I can. Living Greens is apparently right around the corner from HackerspaceSG so I’m kind of embarrassed that I haven’t been there yet, but that neighborhood is kind of bursting with options so it’ll take some time to work my way through them all.

If you have any suggestions, please let me know!

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Seen on the streets

Inverted. Digging it.

One of the things I’m always really excited about when I get to a new city is soaking up the street art scene. Perhaps it’s from growing up surrounded by graffiti, but I always keep an eye out and feel that when the creativity of a society is exciting it bursts out onto walls around a city it’s a good thing. Not everyone agrees with me, but I love it and love digging into a new scene. I spotted the above piece and it caught my eye because I’m not used to seeing this inverted stencil effect and thought it was a pretty original take on the idea. I’ve also been following the guys at ARTKORE, the oldest graffiti crew in the country, and am really looking forward to checking out the recently released Graffiti Asia book which is supposed to be packed with images and history of the scene here. I missed the launch of the book at Paper People the other night because I was on a plane, but hope to check it out very soon.

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Straits Records is now on Haji Lane

New Straits records location. They had a snapcasr 7" in a glass display case.

I should have posted this back in April so that is was actually relevant, but whatever. Before my first trip to Singapore last year I read about Straits Records in the Monocle Magazine Singapore Survey. What?! A record store run by a vegan straight edge guy specializing in hardcore? Obviously this was a place I needed to check out and get familiar with. Unfortunately that task turned out to be harder than I imagined, and after several visits to various addressed only to find the shop closed or recently moved, I kinda gave up. In April Shannon and I were walking around near HackerspaceSG and stumbled (he knew about it beforehand to be fair) on the shops new spot over on Haji Lane. It’s pretty much parallel with Hackerspace, just a few streets over. There was a pretty fun glass display case with some old hardcore memorabilia inside – if I ever end up getting rid of everything I own like I keep threatening to do, maybe this store would be a good spot to donate some vinyl. Given the seemingly transient nature of this store, and the fact that this info is several months old, it might have already moved again. I’ll check sometime this week and update the post if it’s not there anymore.

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Going local, spotting the tourist

5am Singapore

It looks like it’s been over a year since the last post here and since this is my 5th trip to Singapore in that same time, I thought I might as well make some posts. I’ll be here for a month which will double my “on the ground” time here and likely start giving me enough local knowledge to start offering some advice to newcomers, and if nothing else this will be a fun place to keep track of travel notes and thoughts. And if it ends up breathing some live back into this blog, well, even better.

I had resisted posting here before because my trips were pretty short and usually single purposed, where as this time it’s definitely more just ‘living here,’ even if for just a brief period. At Metblogs we’ve used the “you can’t post on a site unless you are going to be in a city for more than a week” rule because when people are traveling somewhere for only a few days (even if only a few days on several occasions) their posts, and I include myself in this, sound like that – like someone passing through looking for locals to help. Since we want the sites to be interesting for locals, well, you can see the problem. We don’t want a site full of tourists.

Speaking of, when I travel somewhere it’s very important to me that I don’t stick out too much and generally try to blend in. This is more effective sometimes than others, but I usually ask friends in a city how they spot tourists. We all do it, in every city, without even trying you can walk down a busy street and easily point out the people who aren’t from there. This is because those people aren’t blending in and don’t match the “social baseline” of the residents. Sometimes one simple action can be the tell. In Singapore, it’s wearing sunglasses. On my second trip here I started asking friends about how to spot tourists and they all said “anyone with sunglasses is a tourists.” I started paying attention to this then, and while there are tons of sunglasses shops around, it does seem that almost no one wears them on the street, except a few folks who accurately don’t seem to be from here.

What are your tips for spotting tourists? What advice would you have for someone like myself trying to blend in a little better?

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Come Blog With Us

moar.gifWriting for Metblogs has the potential to be the most rewarding experience in your entire life. It’ll make you rich, famous, good looking, will help you lose weight, make your clothes fit better, and get you a super good deal on a new car. It will make you the most well known person on the entire planet. Yes, each and every one of you. Really.

OK maybe not. Actually those are all lies, but it’s fun at least. The truth is Metblogs is the largest network of locally focused blogs on the web, covering almost 60 cities around the world and we’re looking to add a few new bloggers/writters/authors to this fine site. If you wanna know more about us check out this wikipedia entry but it’s kinda boring so I won’t waste time repeating it all here again. If you wanna write for us, here’s the scoop:

  • All author positions are volunteer. That means you don’t get paid.
  • You must live in (or very near) the city you plan to write about.
  • Anything you post must relate to the city somehow. That means you shouldn’t post a movie review, but talking about going to see a movie at a local theater is fine.
  • There’s no requirement for how much you can or should write, but we ask that if we set you up as an author you make about 3 posts a week.
  • You can post about things you love, you can post about things you hate. It’s entirely up to you

Additionally, because of our global network, there’s plenty of options for things you write to be read by people all over the world. Interested? Want more details? Post a comment and we’ll be in touch!

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Singapore Boleh!

Thanks to the powers that be, the banner has been fixed and Singapore once again says a tearful goodbye to Malaysia. Makes one appreciate one’s independence :)

Does that mean Singapore Metblogs has to celebrate its independence day on April 14 from now on? :P

Singapore is not a part of Malaysia

At least “not since 1965”!

Recently a metblog singapore reader and friend of mine pointed out something which has been eating at me for a while as well. He asked me, “if it’s ‘melbourne, australia’ on the Metblogs Melbourne header, shouldn’t it be ‘singapore, singapore’ on ours?”

Of course if you looked at the Metblogs Kuala Lumpur site, it does say “Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia”. It seems to follow a city, country format. However, being one of 3 modern city states in the world, shouldn’t we be SIngapore, Singapore?

We’re not a part of Malaysia, not since 1965! And for those who are wondering, we’re not a part of China either.

Our Number 1 Blogger on the iPhone

Found this on Gizmodo. What can I say. We’ve embarrassed ourselves on the international stage again? At least she liked the asian version of the iPhone.

Clementi no more?

This photo of the old cinema at Clementi, beside the MRT station was taken on Sunday, 30 March 2008. At that point in time, there was already a gapping hole in the wall of the building. Yesterday night at 11pm on 31 March 2008, The whole entire wall down the front was a giant gapping hole. I wonder if they are only renovating the exterior or are they pulling the whole building down? Here’s a last glimpse before the new Clementi of tomorrow rises from the ground.

This cinema building is one of those rarer few that have survived from the 70s-80s although the cinema itself has ceased to function since the last 5 years. But today, most have been torn down or replaced by multiplexes like Golden Village with 10 small cinemas in 1 place. Soon the next generation wouldn’t even know we ever had such “antiquated” cinemas with 1 or 2 giant theatres, booklets of paper tickets where seating was 100% manual and the ticketing auntie (or uncle) will write your seat number on it with a “crayon pencil” before tearing it out from the stack and issuing it.

This is how the ticket used to look like. Image taken from National Archives of Singapore

Is the recent past really not worth treasuring at all? Onwards with modernity then!

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Giant greek statue, "without the fig leaf"

I can’t think of a better way to describe this piece of art but I shall instead borrow anonymously the following eloquent description. “Basically its’ a giant egg-plant purple replica of a Greek statue – David. The naked statue of David, to be specific. And there is NO FIG LEAF. :)”

An art installation at the National Museum of Singapore to promote the now-over Greek Masterpieces exhibition, I wonder if the giant … “egg plant” is still there. It greets visitors the minute you enter the sanctum of history and heritage that is the National Museum of Singapore. It did not fail to draw the lenses of Singaporeans who just could not resist capturing this egg plant on film. Less blatant than the sex convention, these exhibits from the Lourve’s Greek collection also comes with a smattering of nude forms. Perhaps that explained the long queue on the second last day of the exhibition when I visited.

Is this also perhaps the only time I can put NSFW content on Metblogs in the name of art, history and culture? *grin* Alas if you didn’t catch the exhibition while it was still on, perhaps you’ll just have to wait till the next sex convention, visit the Lourve in Paris or check out my limited photos of the exhibition.

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Earth Hour Singapore 2008


At 8pm on the 29 March, 2008, millions of people in some of the world’s major capital cities, including Copenhagen, Toronto, Chicago, Melbourne, Brisbane, Tel Aviv and Manila will unite and switch off for Earth Hour.

This year Singapore will be part of this global effort organized by the WWF to attempt at making a statement in energy conservation. Apparently Sydney did it in a big way in 2007 by going as far as switching off all the lights on the Sydney Harbor Bridge for 1 hour! The efforts in 1 hour on 1 day reduced Sydney’s energy consumption by 10.2% for one hour, which is the equivalent effect of taking 48,000 cars off the road for one hour.

Earth Hour is not the only such effort in the world where you have Lights Out America in various cities in the United States and Candle Night Project in Japan and Taiwan.

Now Singapore’s organizers are calling for more people, businesses and government from Singapore to be involved in Earth Hour and get them to turn off their lights for one hour at 8pm, March 29, 2008. In fact, their efforts even appeared in the press today! What more, to join the ranks of Sydney Harbour Bridge, Singapore’s Suntec City is going to turn off the multicolored lights on top of the sails above the convention center from 8-9pm! So don’t be surprised. There’s no black out. It’s Earth Hour!

Of course you don’t have to sit in the dark. Here are some ideas for things you can do for one hour without light:

1) Join a lights out party!
There are several held around Singapore. Turn off all the lights in your house, grab your family and head on down to these venues to join in the fun. An hour away from the computer is an hour with humanity!

2) Go for a night walk
There are several nature areas and parks in Singapore where you can go for a nice stroll with your family, children, friends or partners. Quite romantic! How about just take advantage of all the street lights we have and read a book in the void deck for an hour while enjoying the night breeze?

3) Stargazing
Enjoy the darkness and admire the stars with a group that has organized a stargazing session at the field in front of Chinese Garden.

4) Go camping!
Grab your children and family and go on an adventure camping on the beach! There are many islands and beaches in Singapore where you can camp at for free. If not camping, maybe you can grab a big group of friends and have a BBQ or campfire on the beach while getting them to turn off all the lights in their homes!

Here are more things individuals can do. Find out more on the Earth Hour Singapore blog. Many of the metblogs cities are also responding to this call for Earth Hour. Check this list out.

Are you the happiest person in Singapore?

The search for Singapore’s happiest person is on.

In conjunction with “The New Science of Happiness & Well Being Conference” being held from 16 – 17 April 2008 at Singapore Expo, a leadership consultancy firm, Global Leadership Academy, is looking for the happiest person in Singapore.

Global Leadership Academy Pte Ltd (GLA), a Singapore-based leadership-consulting firm, is launching the first-ever Search For Singapore’s Happiest Person, a two-week campaign starting on 16th March and ending on 30th March. The Search is held in conjunction with The New Science of Happiness and Well-Being conference which is taking place on the 16 – 17 April 2008 at Singapore Expo and Convention Centre.

If you meet the following criteria, you may just be this person!

1. Singapore citizens above 18 years of age.
2. Happy smiling disposition – others feel good to be around them
3. Ability to be happy no matter what life presents them with
4. Has a strong sense of community and belonging – family and friends
5. Stays consistently happy – not up one moment and down the next
6. Contributes to society by bringing happiness to others

Any Singaporean, Singapore PR or resident of Singapore of any age, can nominate a Singapore citizen for the title of Singapore’s Happiest Person 2008. Anyone nominating a candidate should write a short description (300 and 1,000 words) on why their nominee is a model of happiness. Nominations via email should be sent to happiest@simply-happy.com by midnight 30th March. More information can be found here.

According to the official press release, Singapore being voted one of the most stressful places to live in has prompted them to search for this search for happiness.

Meanwhile the conference will be open to public via ticket sales but unfortunately I am unable to find any such details online. Even the Singapore Expo link is display errors. What can we learn from a conference about the science of happiness and well-being? Perhaps a lot. I am very curious to find out who the happiest person in Singapore is. Surely not one of us who’s caught up in the rat race. Which enlightened soul would this be? Some how I imagine a white haired grandpa or grandma who lives the simple life. What do you think the happiest person in Singapore would be like? I can’t wait to find out!

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We’re back!

It’s been 2 months since the last post on Singapore metblogs and you may have realized that Metblogs has gone through a total revamp. During this time, lots of big dramatic happening have taken over Singapore.

Cranes crashing, terrorist escaping, and the first extensive and prolonged manhunt all over Singapore. Has anybody not seen the infamous wanted poster of Mas Selamat yet?

The day he went missing, I saw the wanted posters being distributed around Singapore

It didn’t help matters that for the first time in many Singaporeans’ lives, they heard a gunshot fired in public. At an MRT station no less! A man was shot inside the Outram MRT station, on the platform. When many first heard, the first thought was, is it connected to the wanted fugitive? Well it wasn’t related but I can’t forget how my colleague was relating to me when she saw the covered corpse on the platform as she alighted from the MRT. Yikes! In Singapore where it’s illegal for civilians to own fire arms, much less witness a gunshot in public, added with escaped fugitives, my little shell of a world is definitely cracking. Alas.

On less traumatic news, this monkey was on the Singapore Flyer, the (soon to be former) Biggest Observatory Wheel in the World. I was there on its opening day on 1 March and the queue was incredible. Then again, enough people have also complained about its poor service that I won’t harp on it anymore. Nonetheless kinks are always to be expected in all new ventures. Personally I’ll give it a while to work these things out. After all, my nephew was excited to go on it again the minute he came out of the 30 minute ride but we simply couldn’t afford another $40 to send him on yet another 30 minute ride again. If anybody is interested, I posted a video from the Singapore Flyer capsule. Sadly it was at night and that’s not much to be seen.

View from Singapore Flyer

There must be some bad luck streaking across the island for even the F1 ticketing site crashed on its first day of offering and there were even news of people complaining about the poor Singapore Air Show management.

On the brighter side of things, Singapore has won the hosting rights of yet another mega event – the inaugural Youth Olympics! This is exciting news indeed. What more it is going to coincide with the opening of the various integrated resorts in Singapore in 2010. With all that buzz, hopefully Singapore can pull it all off with grace and its prided efficiency.

There’s definitely been a lot of uproar in little Singapore over the last 2 months. This brief news roundup hardly does it justice. Hopefully Metblog Singapore will see more contributing authors in the coming days.

The new voice

Did anyone realize that the train station is using a new announcer on the trains? There’s something very awkward about the way she says “doors are closing”, or the way she pronounces the names of some of the train stations. Perhaps it’s just me, but I can’t seem to put a finger to it. Accent perhaps? I once read an article by a lecturer which spoke about how Kallang (pronounced : Car-Lung), was being pronounced Care-Lang, a result of certain socio linguistic forces that led to the shift in pronunciation towards the American accent.

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