Category Archives: Living in Singapore

"Moon Festival" – Celebrating Chinese traditions

by Kabeer Chaudhary, Indian, Nanyang MBA Participant, Intake 2011

Diversity is key to create a great and memorable experience and we are fortunate that The NANYANG MBA fosters this and strive to have such for its students – we have 18 nationalities in our cohort! This diversity in nationalities gives us the opportunity to learn about other people’s culture without having to go that far. And we did – right here in Singapore!

The 2011 Student Executive Committee (Ex-Co) kick-started this year’s events for current students with the celebration of the ‘Mooncake Festival’ in September, also known as the ‘Mid-Autumn’ or ‘Moon Festival’ at the Chinese Gardens. The Chinese Gardens, also known as Jurong Gardens, is one of Singapore’s nature parks and is  built over 8 hectares in 1975 under the guidance of a well-known architect from Taiwan.  Twenty (20) of us, current MBA students, with our families and friends, walked through the gardens and were greeted by northern Chinese imperial style of architecture and landscaping. The place awed us with its colorful lanterns tied to ancient legends dotting the lake and the grounds and Chinese customs of the festival.

Mooncake or Moon Festival is a popular lunar harvest festival celebrated by the Chinese community all around the world. It falls on the 15th of the 8th month of the lunar calendar and it is one of the most important traditional events for the Chinese and even Vietnamese, just like Christmas and Thanksgiving for Westerners. There are many legends and folklore surrounding the festival from the Moon Goddess of Immortality to the overthrowing of Mongol Rule and to the Vietnamese legend of a wife who accidentally desecrated a sacred banyan tree and was transported to the heavens by the tree for doing so (the Vietnamese light lanterns to show her way down to earth)*. But it is also a favorable time to have a get together and enjoy one another’s company, eating mooncakes under a full moon (for us, we did at the Chinese Garden!). Of course, apart from the delicious mooncakes some of us brought, we were also delighted by mooncakes shared by gracious celebrants who were there to enjoy and celebrate the festivities.

Our Chinese classmates were excited and eager to share with us their culture specially that surround these festivities. Each of us was ‘welcomed’ with a traditional mooncake and our Chinese friends helped to differentiate between flavors such like walnut, lotus, pumpkin and red beans. , Dominic, our Swiss classmate, had a mooncake with a nut filling, and commented, “It was my first time at a Mooncake Festival. I’ve heard a lot about the famous mooncakes and I was excited to finally try them. After trying about every possible mooncake flavor, I can say that my favorite is the one with the nut filling.”

Mooncake Festival - Nanyang MBA
Some of our classmates from China (from left to right) – Zeng Cheng, Tan Yanning, Lu Zhongjie, and Wang Jie who were gracious to share with us their knowledge about the festival.

Continue reading "Moon Festival" – Celebrating Chinese traditions

A Hot, Steamy Affair

A pork soup base and tom yum soup base steamboat combination.

Author:  Jennifer Cheong, MBA Office

Along Liang Seah Street & Beach Road (opposite Bugis Junction), one can find rows and rows of steamboat or hotpot restaurants.  Hot pot or steamboat is a style of cooking  common in various place in Asia, where various types of meat, vegetables,seafood  and other Ingredients are boiled in a single pot or sometimes with dividers such as the picture below- the soup stock comes in a variety of flavors as well. The restaurants will be bustling with people of all ages and are especially popular with youth group outings because they are extremely affordable and eat-all-you-can style.

Steamboat is a traditional fare that the Singaporean Chinese especially enjoy during Chinese New Year season.  However, one can always enjoy steamboat all year round with the attractive selection of soup bases and food selections from these restaurants.  The added good feeling about steamboat is  you are cooking it yourselves-!  Here are some basic information for those of you who is a first-timer in a Singapore steamboat affair:

  1. Steamboat is usually a group affair.  It is not unusual to find big groups chatting happily over the hot pot while waiting for their meat & vegetables in the soup to be cooked.  The pot is shared among your group and everyone cooks their food in the same pot.
  2. Do not be shocked when the waiter piles plates of raw meat and vegetables on your table right beside your boiling hot pot.  You are supposed to cook these in the hot pot yourself.  Definitely not a nice experience for those who are especially particular about hygiene or cleanliness.
  3. Typically, you are allowed to choose two types of soup bases.  Depending on the restaurant, you may choose from the normal chicken, pork or duck broth or the spicy Tom Yum, Szechuan or Ma-la soup.
  4. Then pick your meat and vegetable items which can range from pork, chicken, beef, lamb, seafood (prawns, crabs, shellfish) to tofu, mushrooms and fresh local vegetables.
  5. Once the food arrives and your soup is boiling, start adding the raw items into your soup to be cooked.  Typically, it is done in rounds where you add all the items, scoop them out once cooked and add in the next round of items to cook.

So head down to Liang Seah Street for an experience of the Singaporean steamboat for your next group outing.  It might just be an oddly hot, steamy experience for you!  A good starting point will be Xian De Lai, located at 18 Liang Seah Street (Tel: +65 6336 7505 for reservations).  And yes, the more people you see queeing up, the better is the restaurant- so better call them to reserve a place.  And enjoy this wonderfully nice experience.

Starting the year at high altitude

Author, Greg Edwards

Starting the year at high altitude

Last week we had a social event for The NANYANG MBA students sponsored by the MBA Student Executive Committee, and organized by EXCO VP – Social and Sports, Andrew Humphreys (USA). The timing couldn’t have been better as we were also able to welcome EMBA students visiting Singapore from the Norwegian School of Management, as well as a group of MBA students from SungKyunKwan University (SKKU) of Korea. One of the SKKU students was recently at NTU as an exchange students, and the EMBA from Norway were introduced by a visiting NTU professor who also teaches at their university. Also on hand were students such as myself in the joint Nanyang-Waseda Double MBA, and from the Nanyang-ESSEC (France) Double Masters program.

The event was held at Singapore’s 1-Altitude which features an open air patio 62 stories above the city. The view is the best in Singapore. Although it was rainy all day prior to the event, as people started to arrive the clouds cleared up and the weather couldn’t have been better. This is definitely the best venue when you want to provide guests with a memorable experience. As many of the Nanyang MBA students had not yet visited this patio, it was a great opportunity for them as well!

We are planning additional events (coming up soon) and hope to continue to provide unique and interesting experiences for all of the Nanyang MBA students and , yes for our guests too..

Youth Olympic Games 2010 in Singapore

Singapore’s very proud moment culminated in a ceremonial close two nights ago, with
President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Mr Jacques Roc, handing over
the symbolic Olympic flag to Mr Ji Jianye, mayor of Nanjing, the 2014 host city of the
second Youth Olympic Games (YOG).

Singapore has long been in plans to be the host country of the world’s first Youth
Olympic Games, slated for 2010. Back in 2007, it put together a pitch committee
including members from governmental agencies MCYS, SSC and SNOC to prepare
Singapore’s bid. Its vision was to leverage on the golden opportunity to host talented
young athletes from all over the world to celebrate diversity, friendship and hope a for
a better future through the promotion of the Olympic ideals.

Our young, small and multicultural nation was indeed the ideal site to fulfill the
objectives of YOG as conceptualised by the IOC. Outbidding the other bigger bidding
cities of Athens, Bangkok, Moscow and Turin, Singapore was declared host in
February 2008 via a live telecast from Lausanne, Switzerland, where the IOC held its
final meet.

Amongst some key capabilities that Singapore was selected on, were its education
and culture, accommodation, security, technology and transport. However what
strongly stood out, was its nature as a multicultural nation where people of different
ethnicities, cultures and histories live in harmony and respect one another. Singapore
is also internationally recognised for its integrity and commitment to fair play.

Over the next two years, Singapore worked hard in preparation for the big day.
It involved its citizens and residents in YOG’s branding aspects, and put together its
representing teams for the games. The first YOG Learning Centre was set up to allow
visitors to discover and experience the spirit of Olympism and trace Singapore’s
journey in hosting the YOG.

The city state also invested much in engaging youths from all over the globe through
digital media. A YOG mircosite named “WhyOhGee” was set up to house the most up-
to-date information, facts and trivia, games and even a virtual community on the 26
Summer YOG sports as well as stories of sports personalities. Some 3594 young
athletes are slated to compete in these sports comprising 201 events.

Nanyang Technological University (NTU) was picked over National University of
Singapore (NUS) as the accommodation of choice for these athletes and the Youth
Olympic Village, also known to NTU as a ‘Garden, Village, Home’ was created.
Refurbishments to hall rooms and enhancements to training facilities were carried out
to create the best home-away-from-home living experience for them.

A world-class performance was also planned to welcome the athletes in the opening
ceremony on 14 August 2010, on the world’s largest floating platform which would
become the stage to 7000 performers. Technical experts from France, Germany,
Belgium, Australia, Malaysia and the United Kingdom
including Technical Director Nick
Eltis, Lighting Designer Koert Vermeulen, Special Effects Designer Jean Kohler,
Fireworks and Pyrotechnics Designer Michael Lakin, Flames Designer Francois Montel,
Sound Designer Scott Willsallen, Set Designer Raja Malek and Multimedia Director Brian
Gothong Tan, were roped in to ensure perfection to this display of theatre, music,
song, dance and multimedia shows. All of this was to be played out against the
stunning backdrop of Singapore’s Marina Bay.

And indeed, Singapore lived up to its name of always striving for the best. The next
12 days saw perfect co-ordination in terms of logistical arrangements, traffic
management and provision of resources. At YOG’s closing ceremony, Olympic
Committee President Jacques Rogge said the inaugural YOG has vastly exceeded his
highest expectations. “I did not expect this level of perfection,” he said of the
organisation – about a third of the scale of a Summer Games – in his closing press
conference at the Marina Bay Sands. “Hats off to Singapore for what they’ve done. I
now have 22 Olympic Games under my belt, and this YOG is ranking at the very top.”
The event, which caters to athletes aged between 14 and 18, has been championed
by the Belgian since he became the Olympics chief in 2001.

Let’s recap some exciting sporting moments of YOG 2010.

Singapore Millionaire Club The Fastest Growing

[Extracted from cover story of The Straits Times, Saturday, 12 June 2010]

Author: Gabriel Chen, The Straits Times – Singapore Press Holdings

Singapore added millionaires at a faster rate than anywhere else in the world last year, despite a recession that decimated wealth in many nations.

The millionaire club grew by 35 per cent here, putting Singapore just ahead of second-placed Malaysia with a 33 per cent gain, and Slovakia on 32 per cent and China on 31 per cent.

In absolute numbers, the United States still has by far the most millionaire households at 4.7million, followed by Japan and China. But you are more likely to bump into a millionaire here.

An annual study by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) showed that Singapore had the highest concentration of millionaires, as in 2008. A total of 11.4 per cent of households here own more than US$1million (S$1.4million) – defined as those with investable assets of over US$1million, exclusive of property and items like art. BCG did not provide the number of millionaire households in Singapore.

Hong Kong was next in terms of concentration, followed by Switzerland, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and the US.

Singaporean T.J Thang, who belongs to the elite group, did not fare too badly during the downturn. “Some of my stocks fell in value during the recession, but I was getting attractive property rental yields, and hence my cash grew.” said the 49-year-old businessman.

Economists and wealth managers cite a number of factors as to why Singapore is leading the way in the growth of millionaire households. One is Singapore’s “liberal admissions policy” to attract talent and the well-heeled, said CIMB Research economist Song Seng Wun.

Today, virtually every big-name private bank which caters to the well-heeled has made Singapore its regional hub.

What this latest reports means is, “for all the private bankers who are here, it confirms that Singapore is the right spot to be”, said Mr Rolf Gerber, chief executive of LGT Bank in Liechtenstein (Singapore).

BCG believes that another factor of this rise could be the strength of the Singapore dollar currency against the US dollar.

BCG’s study reviewed the assets under management covering 62 markets representing around 99 per cent of global economic output.

Top of the list
[Country growth in millionaire households]

Singapore: 35%
Malaysia: 33%
Slovakia: 32%
China: 31%
Morocco: 28%
South Korea: 28%
United Arab Emirates: 23%
Germany: 23%
Indonesia: 21%
Algeria: 21%

The Lovely Bintan

Author: Yosuke S., Japan

Singapore is just a stone’s throw away from everywhere else. Which is why, most of us would travel together regularly to surrounding cities or islands for a relaxing weekend vacation.

Recently, a group of us decided to hit the shores of Bintan, Indonesia. Bintan is an island which is just an hour away from Singapore by ferry. Most of the shops, restaurants and hotels accept the Singapore currency too, so we don’t even need to bother about exchanging currencies.
It is a perfect getaway if you had a hectic week at school, and like me, only the sound of beach waves and the sight of bikini babes can relax me. We were kept busy with sea sports like banana boating, jet skiing, para gliding and just chilling on the upper deck of a small rented yatch.

In Japanese culture, we believe in a good life balance between work and relax. So, I am glad here in Singapore, I am able to have the same balance. Although the program is rigourous, whenever I think about these affordable short getaways to relax by the beautiful beaches, I have enough motivation to work hard during the week.

Some recommendations I have in Bintan, are the spa and seafood. Go to a reputable spa and spend a few hours enjoying a massage. I am beginning to like the Balinese style of massage a lot. Since Bintan is an island, there is plenty of seafood. I suggest going out of the hotel (as they can charge more) and heading downtown for a good seafood restaurant. If only they serve sashimi.

Let me share some pictures with you.

Our ferry is called Penguin 5. The upper deck feels less shaky in the waves.

My heart jumped for joy when I saw the peaceful water and simple way of life

The sight of a quiet sandy beach is so welcoming

You will see me if you look closely. I was trying not to fall off the boat!

The view from our rented yatch. All you need is a pair of shades and suntan lotion.

You can have your massage outdoors if you wish to

Some also like to snorkel but I’m not a fan of jellyfish

I wish this is the view from my room, but it is not. One day it will be.

This is the view from our hotel. Not bad too.

There were some couples enjoying their romantic dinners on the beach. Unfortunately my dinner partners were a bunch of MBA guys.

The sunset is absolutely beautiful. I have not seen anything like this before.

If you wish to go downtown for shopping in the night, these trishaws will bring you there very quickly.

A 3-day Getaway to Phuket!

Author: Adeline T., Singapore

Just a short 1 hour and 45 minutes’ flight away from Singapore, is Phuket, and island south of Thailand which is favoured by many beach bums like myself.

Cotton candy clouds en-route to Phuket

If you have 3 days to spare, do what I did!

I bought an air ticket from Jetstar Asia, 1 of the 3 budget carriers we have in Singapore (The other two are Tiger Airways and Air Asia). All 3 of them have regular promotions, so check often to get yourself a good deal!) And simply with a passport in a hand, and a small bag of clothes and necessities in another, I was off to a weekend of sun, sand and the sea!

Phuket is not like its metropolitan sister cities, neither is it steeped in rich history. But it has one of the nicest beaches I’ve ever seen, and unfortunately, even more beautiful, after the killer 2004 Tsunami that killed over 230,000 people in the region (recorded as one of history’s worst natural catastrophes) ravaged the great mass of low lands on the island. For a whole year, Phuket was hard at work, grieving and rebuilding everything that it lost, back to its former glory.

I checked myself into the Dusit Thani, Thailand’s premier hotel chain. I was showed to my cozy deluxe room with a balcony that overlooks the Indian Ocean, by the Bangtao Beach (a less rowdy part of Phuket as compared to the Patong Beach which is peppered with many pubs and bars and other joints not suitable for mention in this blog).

The calm, blue and alluring sea just steps away from my room

The river that links the Dusit Thani to the other hotels in the same Bangtao stretch

I hired a guide cum driver, who brought me to some really good spas in Phuket. Getting a simple massage in Phuket doesn’t come cheap, but because of how hospitable and skillful the Thai masseuses are, it is well worth the money.

This spa sits on the river bank.

Check out the amazing mountainous view!

In between spa-ing and vegetating under the sun all 3 days, I managed to squeeze in an hour of ATV Quad Biking near a swamp on an uneven terrain which proved to be the most daring activity I have ever attempted at. Steep inclines, sudden drops, into a mud pool, getting a wheel stuck in sand, both legs encrusted in mud stains…beats shopping any day if you asked me.

On the final night of my stay in Phuket, I did what every tourist in Phuket would do – I went to the Simon Cabaret! Performed by only ladyboys (transvestites), the show consisted of only lip-syncs to the latest pop songs in a few regional languages amidst elaborate and grandeur setting. The ladyboys were modelesque and had beautiful features (not without the help of a good plastic surgeon actually) but they did charm the pants off the male audiences (no pun intended). They all gather at the exit after the show, so that the audiences can take photos with them for a fee.

She looks gorgeous! I was truly mesmerised…

Check out her elaborate headgear with intricate details. Wow!

Three days was all I needed for a quick rejuvenation and it was a very well-deserving holiday for all the hard work I have put in for the past 2 trimesters!

Back to my studies for now!

Sun Beams Aplenty!

Author: Cynthea Lam (Marketing Manager, The NANYANG MBA)

Last Saturday (6 March 2010) was a very special day for me, my friends and
colleagues, as we trooped down to Sunbeam Place armed with bags and bags of
groceries for the kids.

Sunbeam Place is a home set up by the Children’s Society of Singapore,
to shelter and protect children between the ages of 2 to 18, who have
abusive parents or parents who can no longer look after them because they’re both
incarcerated or have no financial means to.

The wonderful Director of the home, Dr. Siew, brought us around the home, and
introduced us to her staff, who take care of the children, each with a different role to
ensure they are eating right, studying well in school, and that they have good sports,
arts and music activities to partake in, caring for their every need.

It is a very difficult journey for some children, having been brought up in environments
that have scarred them mentally. They are sensitive souls who yearn security and
love, just like any other ordinary child.

I have earlier on gathered some donations from friends and family, and my friends and
their families have also come forth to donate. The spirit of giving is a very touching
one, and brings together strangers who have no connections to each other. That
day’s visit, was a reflection of how we can all join forces to make bigger things
happen, as long as our hearts’ intentions are aligned!

New Kid On The Block in Sentosa!

We are all very excited…that Singapore has just become even more exciting, with its very first integrated resort, featuring a CASINO, the UNIVERSAL STUDIOS theme park and GRAND hotels and the largest OCEANARIUM in the world, within a mammoth area of 49 hectares of land!

Opened on Valentine’s Day this year, which is coincidentally the first day of the Lunar New Year, Resorts World is situated off the southern part of Singapore, in a conjoined island called SENTOSA.

We Singaporeans grew up with only Sentosa to escape to during the school holidays. (Remember, Singapore is land-scarce before the land reclaiming projects started!) Back then, the island was not well-developed with hotels or other forms of entertainment. So, apart from a fast food outlet and some historic sites to visit on a monorail that runs through the island, and ok, a musical fountain, there really weren’t much sights to devour like a tourist should.

So, Singapore has truly come a long way, to become a top tourist destination today. *beams with pride*

With the exams behind us now (they just ended last week), I am planning to visit Sentosa again! (Note to Victoria Secret’s fans: VS has opened its first Asian store here in Resorts World!!! *Ballistic with anticipation*)

Looking forward to the rides, the shopping, the dining, the blackjack table, the spas. I think I should just check myself in to Hard Rock Hotel for a 3 day staycation! WOOOHOOOO!!

Updates soon!

P/S: Meanwhile, I leave you with some pictures of Resorts World I’ve seen from other friends’ blogs. I can’t wait!

Hard Rock Hotel facade: I’ve always wanted to stay in one of these but never had the chance to

Entrance to the Casino, our very first!

The Crockfords Tower Hotel entrance. WOW.

I am never going on this thing. But it looks scary enough to excite some of my roller coaster fanatic friends.

Jesters on stilts on its opening day. Charming.

Now this is charming but where’s the floor vent?!?

Chinese New Year in Singapore

I have always been extremely thankful to be born in Singapore: A home that is not only known as one of the safest country in the world, but also a multi-racial, religious and harmonious community. Our forefathers came from all over the world and within a short span of 45 years, we have evolved from a rural fishing village to today’s cosmopolitan city of magnificent sky-scrapers and happening nightlife!

Alright, enough of the self-praise. Since Chinese New Year (CNY) is coming up (14th-28th February 2010), let me tell you more about the cultural aspects of Singapore. The rich mix of cultures in Singapore means there is always a cultural event to celebrate, all through the year. These festivals usually centre on race, religion, age-old myths and traditions. Oh, did you notice the array of abbreviations Singaporeans use? That’s part of the Singapore culture as well! ERP, CPF, MOE, NTUC…you’ll learn more as we go along!


The hub of all activity during CNY is of course, Chinatown. Sense the preparation excitement in the air as enterprising merchants line Terengganu Street and Pagoda Street (Nearest MRT Station: Chinatown Station) with their colourful stalls!

Get your traditional CNY goodies such as Love Letters (thin, crispy cracker emblazoned with auspicious symbols, rolled into a hollow tube), Pineapple Tarts, Kuih Bang Kit (milky cookie that melts in your mouth, made from tapioca flour and coconut milk) and many more! The free sampling of goodies there can fill you up for a meal! Yummy. Or buy some pussy willow, red-paper decorations or baskets of mandarin oranges for good luck. If you’re married and want to join in an age-old tradition, get some Hong Bao (small red envelopes) to give to those who are single. Don’t forget to slip in some dollar notes in the Hong Bao before you give it away!

River Hong Bao Carnival (5 Minutes Walk from City Hall Station)

One of the most awaited carnivals in Singapore, the River Hong Bao Carnival is a huge and lively fair, featuring a mind-boggling variety of food, traditional arts and folklore from ancient China. You will find the entire fairground decorated with floats of mythical creatures, legendary heroes, Chinese gods, pagodas and cherry blossoms.

Visiting performers and artisans, flown in from selected provinces in China, will perform nightly cultural performances ranging from acrobatics to Chinese calligraphy. You can even have your palm read, or get a special Chinese zodiac reading of your birth sign! You should visit this place if you want to learn and experience the CNY customs.

Chingay Parade (Nearest MRT: CityHall Station)

Started in 1973 as a procession to mark the CNY festivities, this annual parade is now the grandest street and floats parade in Asia, showcasing the rich, vibrant multi-ethnic and cosmopolitan cultures of Singapore as well as hundreds of renowned performers from all over the world.

The term ‘Chingay’ originated from Southeast Asia, and is a phonetic equivalent of the Chinese words “妆艺” (which means “a decorated display of culture and traditional skills). Today, the parade has evolved into a massive multi-cultural and international event with live telecast on local television every year. For 2010, it will be taking place at our very own F1 Racing Pit on 19th and 20th February. Tickets can be purchased from Chingay is truly an all-out, multi-national party you must not miss!

Transport-wise, I would say that it is relatively easy to find your way around Singapore. Not that we are a mere “little red dot”, but it is because we have got a comprehensive and accessible transport system in place. A good way to avoid the festive jams is to take the MRT (Mass Rapid Transit, also known as our subway or train services), which will bring you swiftly to heart of Chinatown and City Hall.

It is just the beginning of February, but I can already sense how exciting this month will be! Got to go, I’m off to get new wardrobe additions for the Chinese New Year, and I can’t wait to experience the festive crowd at Chinatown tonight!