Limitless Hours of Local Lit

The phrase ‘reading local literature’ often conjures the vision of a prolix tome about a regional historical event packed with unfamiliar vocabulary and inscrutable character motivations, but Singapore’s literature is as dynamic and alive as the city’s hawker centers. And like good food, a good story is one of the most enjoyable ways to get to know a different culture.

The latest issue of the Living in Singapore magazine is out and features my recommendations on engaging with the local literary scene, fun reads by Singaporean authors and a few of my favorite bookstores.

Read the full article HERE!

Limitless Hours of Local Theater and Film

The Living in Singapore magazine is back from its summer holidays and features my piece on how to enjoy Singapore theater and film in 2020:

WILD RICE’s “The Importance of Being Earnest”

In the few months between pitching this article and writing it, the world pulled a rather sudden and unexpected transformation. The COVID-19 crisis has been a difficult challenge for theater and film in particular. Now that we have entered Phase 2 of the end to the ‘circuit breaker’, theaters and cinemas are able to welcome their audiences back, but I expect it will be months if not years until people feel comfortable crushing into a packed performance space again.

However, as with many industries, the arts have adapted and evolved, finding new ways to bring heartfelt productions to their fans through a greatly expanded presence online. This trend will doubtless continue, at least in part, thanks to the unexpected opportunities for connection and content it has provided both the performers and the audience.

Whether you’ve been released into the wild or remain sheltered at home, here are some ideas for how to bask in Singapore’s performing arts and local film.

Read the rest HERE!

12 Hours in the Civic District

Now out! The latest issue of the Living in Singapore magazine, featuring my piece on the cultural and historical heart of Singapore.

From architecture to food, heritage to nature, war memorials to high tea, the Civic District is the cultural and sociopolitical heart of the Singapore. If you have visitors who only have 12 hours in the country, this is where to spend it. If you have 12 months here, I highly recommend devoting a number of weekends and afternoons to exploring everything there is to see in this very walkable part of town.

Considered the birthplace of modern Singapore, the exact borders of the Civic District (sometimes called the Civic and Cultural District) vary, depending on who you ask and what search terms you put into Google. Generally, the area is considered to begin at the National Museum of Singapore and stretch southeast, ending at the waterfront.

Start your day with one of Singapore’s most iconic buildings, Raffles Hotel, which reopened this year after a lengthy refurbishment. Everyone goes for Singapore Slings at the Long Bar or for high tea, now served in the Grand Lobby instead of the Tiffin Room. While both are worthy outings, visiting Raffles Hotel early in the day allows you to see the gorgeous colonial architecture in the blush of morning light, and it’s likely to be far less crowded.

Read the rest here!

12 Hours in Punggol

Now out! The latest issue of the Living in Singapore magazine, featuring my piece on the island’s northern coast.

Perched on Singapore’s northern coast, a day in Punggol means fresh air, seafood and plenty of physical activity. Believed to be one of the oldest settlements in the country, historical documents indicate that Kampong Punggol, situated around the jetty, existed over 200 years ago, predating the arrival of Sir Stamford Raffles in 1819.

Unsurprisingly, due to the proximity to Malaysia, the first settlers were Malay and mainly fishermen who made their living off the waters surrounding the marshland. However, from the mid-19th century onwards, the area saw a steady influx of Chinese immigrants, most Teochew, who were primarily rubber tappers and poultry and pig farmers. Catholic missionaries also developed a foothold and built several churches and schools.

Punggol is a Malay word that loosely translates to “hurling sticks at the branches of fruit trees to knock them to the ground” and is presumed to also refer to a place where produce was sold wholesale. Up until the area’s very recent redevelopment, the forested areas along Old Punggol Road were prime hunting grounds for durian enthusiasts, who would sometimes wait hours for free, delicious durians to drop.

These days, the region has quite a different reputation. Over the past decade, Punggol has received a lot of TLC and attention from the government, thanks to a revitalized planning project initiated in 1996, but delayed by the Asian financial crisis. Positioned by the Housing Development Board as Singapore’s first eco-town, Punggol manages to be both a highly modern hub as well as a peaceful nature escape.

Read the rest here!

Living in Singapore: Lifestyles Chapter (Updated!)

LIS title

The Living in Singapore Fourteenth Edition Reference Guide is finally out!

Written by expats for everyone, the guide gives essential information for a seamless move to and maximum enjoyment out of the Lion City. It’s published by the American Association of Singapore and each chapter is written by an experienced writer with many years of living in Singapore (like me!), giving readers the best possible insight into life here.

Living in Singapore

I wrote the original Lifestyle Chapter for the Thirteenth Edition in 2014 and this year I had the opportunity to update it. The chapter covers everything from political activism to pornography laws to libraries to the LGBT scene to environmentalism to religion. Here’s an excerpt from the introduction:

So, you’re fully unpacked. You’ve figured out your morning commute. The kids are settling into their new school. Your phone is loaded with local emergency numbers. You know where the nearest grocery store is. All the basic necessities have been taken care of. Now what?

In a diverse, modern metropolis such as Singapore, there’s no reason to simply hunker down and survive your time as an expat. While it’s always difficult to leave behind the communities that matter to you, you don’t have to sacrifice your passions just because you find yourself living abroad. It’s important to tailor your life as an expat to your preferences, lest you begin to resent your new environment.

Perhaps you’re a devoted Protestant seeking a church to attend. Perhaps you’re hearing impaired and wondering how to find a new circle. Perhaps you’re a compulsive environmentalist or a BDSM fetishist or a bookworm. Perhaps you’re all of the above. Our lifestyle choices are what make our lives ours, no matter where we are. This chapter covers a few ways to transplant your old habits, hobbies and values into this fresh setting. You might even be inspired to try something new.

This year, we even have a funny commercial to promote the guide!

You can purchase Living in Singapore as an eBook through Amazon, Apple iBookstore, or Google Play.

Living in Singapore: Lifestyles Chapter

The Living in Singapore Thirteenth Edition Reference Guide is finally out!

LIS

Written by expats for everyone, the guide gives essential information for a seamless move to and maximum enjoyment out of the Lion City. It’s published by the American Association of Singapore and each chapter is written by an experienced writer with many years of living in Singapore (like me!), giving readers the best possible insight into life here.

I had the opportunity to write Chapter Eight: Lifestyles, which covered everything from political activism to pornography laws to libraries to the LGBT scene to environmentalism to religion. Here’s an excerpt from the beginning of my chapter:

There’s no doubt about it: relocating to a new country is daunting. There are a great many crucial decisions that need to be made but we know it’s the little choices that make your life not only enjoyable but recognizable as your own. It’s what you do with yourself on the evenings and weekends. It’s your hobbies and beliefs. While it’s always difficult to leave behind the communities that matter to you, you don’t have to sacrifice your passions just because you find yourself living abroad. There’s no need to simply survive in a diverse, modern metropolis such as Singapore.

Once you’ve sorted out the basics, you’ll probably want to find out how you can tailor your life as an expat to your preferences. Perhaps you’re a devoted Catholic seeking a church to attend. Perhaps you’re gay and wondering how to find a new circle. Perhaps you’re a compulsive environmentalist or a computer gamer or a bookworm. Perhaps you’re all of the above. This chapter covers a few ways to transplant your old habits, hobbies and lifestyles into this fresh setting. You might even be inspired to try something new.

You can purchase Living in Singapore as an eBook through Amazon, Apple iBookstore, or Google Play.