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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Bali, an Indonesian island located between Lombok and Java, is one of Asia’s popular travel destinations. Although there are many beach retreats in Asia, this paradise island is still worth a visit with its offerings of beautiful beaches & landscapes, sumptuous yet affordable food and friendly locals. It is ranked as one of the top 5 best islands in the world by Travel & Leisure Magazine (the only island in Asia to make it to the top 5 list) while Lonely Planet’s Best of Travel 2010 ranked Bali second place among the world’s Top Regions. What makes Bali so unique? From pristine beaches, lush green rice paddy fields, gorgeous romantic sunset or a mysterious peek at the volcanic Mount Agung, Bali welcomes its visitors with its very best. You can choose to seclude yourself for a peaceful recharge, party to a beautiful sunset or just enjoy the turquoise sea and the lively greens of Bali with your family & friends. What’s more, this luxurious yet romantic oasis can be enjoyed at an extremely affordable price.
Bali is blessed with quite a few beautiful beaches with soft, powdery sand. The beaches are usually popular with surfers and not all are safe for swimming with its big waves and strong currents. Kuta beach is the most popular amongst tourists with availability of a multitude of restaurants, shops and pubs within walking distance. However, the place can be rowdy and packed. Sanur beach is more popular with families with children with its calmer waters. Seminyak beach draws a more high-end crowd with its trendy shops, cafes and bars. The beach has strong waves but is good for surfing and body-boarding.
Bali is also ideal for scuba-diving with its most popular season in August. During this period, scuba-divers have a high chance of seeing the rare ocean sunfish or mola mola. Macro-lovers can also enjoy Tulamben wreck and Secret Bay. There is also spectacular wall diving at Menjangan known as one of the best diving spots in Bali.
Less adventurous travelers can head to Lovina beach for a dolphin watching cruise.
Bali is known for its rich green paddy fields which can be a sight to behold. Tirta Gangga in central Bali is home to some of the most beautiful rice paddies in Bali. Around this region, enthusiastic hikers can also arrange for a hike up Mount Batur (1,771 m) – a volcanic mountain in Bali with a beautiful view of the surroundings and Lake Batur. The hike takes about four hours round-trip. For those who are not hiking, you can arrange a day trip with a personal driver for your group to have lunch in Tirta Gangga while soaking in the enchanting views of the rice paddy fields or enjoy a cup of coffee at a café with a view of the volcano and the lake. The drive can also the hilly region of Batur which has a multitude of small shops selling local crafts and furniture as well as some art galleries where you can obtain a large, beautiful oil painting for about SGD 100 or less. Most will also include Ubud as part of their destination in the day trip where you can visit the Ubud Market, Monkey Forest or even head off for white-water rafting at the Ayung River!
Those seeking peace and quiet can find respite in Ubud – a mountainous area in Bali which has a few resorts offering yoga retreats. Bali is also known for its spas which one can easily find in any hotels or tourist areas. One can choose from a simple foot, head or shoulder massage or a full body treatment that includes a body wrap or scrub, bath and massage. A good, luxurious full body treatment typically does not cost more than SGD 120. Those on a budget can enjoy a 1.5 hour massage for SGD 20 at Cozy Spa – a simple and basic massage center popular with locals and backpackers. But for those who wish to indulge a little, a good place to visit is the Mango Tree Spa at the Kupu Kupu Barong resort in Ubud. It is a unique experience where you can to enjoy your treatment on top of a tree inside a cosy bamboo tree-house whilst listening to the soothing rhythms of the Ayung River. The two-hour Mango Tree treatment cost about SGD 200. Do note that reservations are mandatory for any kind of spa visit to avoid disappointment.
Bali offers a wide variety of food options partly due to its foreign settlers from mainly Australia and a large community of Europeans. One can choose to have a nice fine-dining experience (around SGD 80) or a rugged meal consisting of rice with mixed vegetables and meat at a local warung (eating house) for as low as SGD 2. Some of the popular establishments with tourists are Made’s Warung (Indonesian food), Naughty Nuri’s (bbq ribs at Ubud), Ku De Ta (fusion) and Trattoria (Italian). Made’s Warung offers mainly local Indonesian dishes among which Nasi Campur (above picture) and Nasi Goreng (fried rice) is especially popular. Those wishing to enjoy a beautiful sunset, good western food and drinks can visit the swanky Ku De Ta which converts into a trendy club by night.
What you definitely should not miss is the sumptuous selection of fresh seafood available in Bali. Jimbaran is an area synonymous with fresh seafood in Bali. Here, there are many restaurants serving fresh seafood by the beach. The setting is typically a romantic candlelit table on the beach. Feel the soft sand on your feet while you feast on your grilled seafood. Another place for fresh seafood is in Echo Beach, Canggu located on the south-west coast of Bali. It’s a good idea to check with your hotel on the local sunset time before heading out. This way, you can enjoy the sun painting the sky and the sea into a magnificent golden hue while having dinner.
There are a variety of accommodation options available in Bali: from backpacker’s lodges, boutique inns, hotels to villas – a vast selection for travelers to pick from. It really depends on the travelling group size, the activities you’re planning and of course your budget. Bear in mind that even the most luxurious option of a villa may not always be the most expensive. If you are travelling in a group of six or more, a villa may be an extremely feasible option. These villas are self-contained with your own living, dining area, kitchen, 2 – 4 bedrooms and even your own private pool. Search for online deals for villas in Bali and you may pay as low as SGD 40 – 50 per person a night!
It is fairly inexpensive to get around Bali. One can easily rent a bike or car. Taxis are extremely affordable. A more popular way is to hire a driver which typically, for a group of eight, can cost about SGD 60 nett per vehicle for a full day of touring any destination of your choice. Some resorts even offer free shuttle transport to popular tourist areas.
Getting to Bali
There are daily flights from Singapore to Bali daily. The flight only takes 2½ hours. Major airlines such as Singapore Airlines, Garuda Indonesia and Qatar Airways all fly direct to Bali. For the cost conscious, budget airlines such as Jetstar and Air Asia flies direct from Singapore to Bali as well. All-inclusive fares cost as low as SGD 128 for promotional fares offered by the airlines.
Remember, it’s not all about studies and gaining professional experience while in Singapore. Take off during a long weekend and bask in the sun & sea of mythical Bali! After all, it’s not every day one gets to earn a world-renowned MBA degree and yet have the opportunity to enjoy one of the world’s top 5 best islands at the same time.
Note: You may like to avoid the Nyepi – Balinese New Year in March to travel. The Balinese calls this day the Day of Silence and the shops and restaurants will be closed.
Having one of our alumni, Mr Greg Chiu, working as a senior executive in Infinite Frameworks Studio provided us the excellent opportunity of extending our network to Indonesia through an overseas company visit earlier this year.
When we first arrived at IFW, we were really impressed by the wonderful environment of the company. Surrounded by lush greenery and located right next to a stylish swimming pool complete with palm trees decorating the vicinity – it felt like a relaxation haven!
After we got accustomed, the company visit commenced. It began with the introduction of IFW’s development and its major projects.
We learned about the operation, marketing and HR matters of IRW. We were even shown some creative animation clippings.
Mr Chiu elaborated on the different factors and how they affect the company’s business decisions as well as shape the course of their development. It was a great case study with first hand information coming straight from the company management.
Following our fruitful exchange, we were told that IFW would approach our students for help regarding their future projects! It was a truly advantageous experience and I believe our Nanyang MBA students certainly learned a lot, just like I did.
The trip certainly ended on a high note with all of us networking and dining al fresco at a modern Indonesian restaurant and reminiscing about the great experience we had. It was really a really good way to just relax, and have fun with your peers, when the journey’s done!
Having to live away from home is really not easy. Luckily, being Malaysian, Singapore is just next door, which means that the culture, food types and style of living is quite similar.
Personally, I prefer living off-campus over on-campus accommodation options. I like having my own space and also experience living amongst Singaporeans. So, I found myself a room not too far away from NTU in Jurong West; which is less than 5 bus stops away from Nanyang Business School (where classes are held). It is also only 3 bus stops away from the nearest MRT station (Pioneer station) and the heartland malls. (One of them, Jurong Point, is actually Singapore’s largest heartland mall which is like a self-sustainable mini city on its own!)
Most Singaporeans (about 80%) live in government-built apartments known as HDB (Housing Development Board) flats. These flats average 100 sqm (1076 sq ft) and usually have 3 bed rooms. The master bedroom has a connecting bathroom/toilet, while occupants of the other two common rooms will need to utilize the common bathroom usually located next to the kitchen.
These types of public housing are affordable ways for Singaporeans and residents to live comfortably without having to pay exorbitant prices for condominiums or landed properties and their utilities. Although one may argue they get to luxuriate in facilities like swimming pools and tennis courts, I will point that just opposite to where I stay, is a huge sports complex (Jurong West Sports Complex) – a 4-storey building that has an Olympic-sized pool, a fun-themed pool (it’s huge!) with slides, tubes and fountains and lazy rivers, and badminton/squash courts, kickboxing, yoga, pilate and dance classes, a running track, a football field, and more!
Multiple common lifts on every level of the HDB flats also means more convenience and the maintenance of the flats (Cleaners come to sweep and mop the common areas) on a daily basis also provides a clean and hygienic state to live in. I like that when I have rubbish to throw, I can simply chuck it down a rubbish chute, which has an opening in every flat. The collection point is cleared every day, making it again, very hygienic.
Money-wise, I think I am paying a fair fee for rental of my room (I settled for a furnished common room with a family of 4). My monthly rent of S$500 includes electricity, water and wireless internet broadband). I’m so thankful the family I live with also hired a domestic helper, so the house is always spick and span.
At meal times, I simply take a lift downstairs and walk 3 minutes to a hawker centre (food court style) to eat. They’re mostly opened till the late hours of the night, providing satisfaction for my post-study hunger pangs! When I crave something more up-market, Jurong Point which has more than 40 restaurants and cafes, is just 1 MRT station away!