26 August 2012

Oktoberfest 2012 at Peranakan Place

Oktoberfest is a massive occasion in Germany and you can now also celebrate it in your own way in Singapore by going along to Peranakan Place this September and October.

From the 17 September 2012 until 14 October 2012, the following outlets under Peranakan Place (Acid Bar, Alleybar, Outdoors Cafe & Bar) will be selling a variety of delicious Oktoberfest foods.  To add to the festivity, they have also specially flown in, 1L stein glasses for your enjoyment of Erdinger beer. 

To kickstart the celebrations, on the 24 September 2012 and 25 September 2012 Alleybar will be organising Erdinger beer appreciation and tasting sessions.  The beers are being flown in especially from Erding, Germany and feature Alkoholfrei, Champs, Weissbier, Dunkel and Pikantus.  These sessions will include an introduction to Erdinger's brewery and the range of Erdinger products from representative Oliver Helbig.  The session also includes a tasting of portions of Erdingers as well as a hands on showcase of the perfect pour technique.

The beer appreciation event costs $45 nett per person or $40 nett for Peranakan Place Blackcard members.  It is limited to 40 persons per session, RSVP by the 14 September 2012 to events@peranakanplace.com with the following details:

  • preferred session date and time 
  • name 
  • contact number
Alternatively click here to RSVP.

Oktoberfest At A Glance

Erdinger Beer Appreciation 

Session 1 - 24 September 2012, 8pm
Session 2 - 25 September 2012, 8pm

Peranakan Place Oktoberfest 2012 

17 September 2012 - 14 October 2012


Alley Bar/Acid Bar and Outdoors Café & Bar are located at Peranakan Place, 180 Orchard Road between Centrepoint Shopping Centre and Orchard Emerald.

Bar rules apply.

For more information on PERANAKAN PLACE, please visit http://www.peranakanplace.com

24 August 2012

Geylang Serai Ramadan Bazaar

Last Friday I was invited to go exploring around the Ramadan bazaars and markets at Geylang Serai.  Friday was the eve before the eve of Hari Raya Puasa, when the month of fasting for Ramadan comes to an end, so the bazaars and markets were full of people and much hustle and bustle.  

This is my third Ramadan in Singapore and each year a temporary market appears (for the month of Ramadan) close to my home by Paya Lebar MRT station.  I've walked past it countless times and this year past it on many nights too on my way home from work.  By that time the market is seemingly at its most busiest and full of people buying and stall holders selling their wares, handing out leaflets to passers by and doing their best to attract trade.  Despite that though I've never ventured into the market before now.

Hari Raya decorations for sale

We met our guide for the evening at the MRT station a little before sunset and immediately headed into the bazaar close to the station.  Here we were surrounded by stalls selling decorations for the home to celebrate Hari Raya, traditional Malay clothing for men and women, packets of savoury treats for sharing with family and friends and the traditional hats (or songkok) that the men wear.  I learnt from our guide that once a man has made the Hajj pilgrimage he is then entitled to wear a white version of these hats.

Traditional Malay clothing for sale

From the bazaar near to the MRT station we then walked towards the Joo Chiat complex area in amongst more stalls selling jewellery, highly decorated clothing, incense and furniture for the home.  As we made our way away from the market near the station the sun had just set and we heard the call to prayer confirming that the fasting for the day was officially over.  As we continued to wander the stalls many of the owners were to be seen enjoying an array of delicious looking dishes, whilst the restaurants and cafes were teeming with life.

Hari Raya decorations

Of course after all this walking we too needed something to eat and I was not to be disappointed.  We dined at a place called the Kampong Cafe on Joo Chiat Road, somewhere my husband and I have eaten at before and thoroughly enjoyed on our last visit.  Firstly we had a delicious mutton soup.  It was ever so slightly spicy and served with chunks of mutton perfectly cooked.  We were served bread with it as well in order to mop up the soup which was a must as you definitely didn't want to leave any of the delicious soup behind in the bowl.

mutton soup

After this we were served roti prata and chicken curry.  I've had roti prata before (actually at this very cafe I believe) and fell in love with it!  I could eat it everyday to be honest though I'm not sure it is necessarily the healthiest choice so perhaps I won't, but as an occasional treat it is delicious.  The chicken curry was also very good.  I tend to avoid chicken curry usually as the chicken often comes served on the bone.  I'm afraid being a lazy Westerner, and even two years down the line of being in Singapore, I still haven't got used to that so generally only order it if the menu says it is boneless.  I'm not put off by the bones it is just simply the effort of getting the meat off them.  Nonetheless though the curry was very good and worth those bones.

chicken curry and roti prata

After our lovely meal we wandered around one further market and shopping area full with people browsing and buying goods.  By this point people were starting to burn offerings and lighting joss sticks on the roads for the Hungry Ghost festival which had also just begun.  In addition to the bustle as the end of Ramadan approached the night air was full of ash from the burning offerings.  A scene which reminded me once again of the many different cultural aspects and beliefs that are a daily part of life in Singapore.

This blog resulted from an invitation and represents the thoughts and opinions of the writer. All information on this blog is provided "as is", with no guarantee of completeness, accuracy or timeliness and the writer will not be liable for any losses, injuries or damages from the display or use of this information. All text and photos on this blog are the original works of the writer unless stated otherwise.

Thanks to notatourist.sg and NCompass Mobility for the kind invitation.

17 August 2012

Puerto Banus

Back in July my husband and I travelled back to the UK for my stepsons school summer holidays.  As part of the trip we took them to Spain for three weeks, specifically the Costa del Sol region where my in-laws have a house.  I can't deny it wasn't lovely to be in a heat equivalent to Singapore's and on several days actually hotter than Singapore but without the same level of humidity.  Dry heat is far nicer to deal with in my opinion and apart from a couple of sticky days it was blissful.  It was also fun to be holidaying in Europe again just for a change and be able to enjoy the food of the region (we had some amazing tapas) and good wine at a fraction of the price wine generally costs in Singapore.

The sunrise through the clouds from my in-laws house

One place that we tended to visit quite a lot over the course of the three weeks, as it was just a short drive away from our base, was the marina town of Puerto Banus.  This is definitely the place to come and be seen and certainly a place that the wealthy like to hang out in.  You can guarantee to spot an expensive car, many of the yachts were the size of houses and the vast majority of shops are high end designer boutiques and stores.  That said though it is a great place for car and yacht spotting (if you like that sort of thing) and also for eating, drinking and enjoying an ice cream or two as well.

The people who visit this part of Spain come from all corners of Europe (the variety of country number plates on the cars and the home port details of the yachts tell you that) as well as beyond.  There were a number of yachts moored there from the Middle East and the Caribbean also.

Whilst we weren't there on board a luxurious yacht or travelling in an expensive car we enjoyed several afternoon drinks, ice creams and evening meals at various restaurants and bars around the marina.  You can also catch a ferry or catamaran from the marina for a short boat ride to Marbella further up the coast (more on that soon).  A lovely spot for a relaxing holiday afternoon in the sunshine.

Marina at Puerto Banus

11 August 2012

Post-a-Card with SingPost

I have to admit I miss the days when getting post meant you'd likely get a letter or an exciting parcel from a friend or family member rather than just bills and bank statements.  Nowadays in the hi-tech world we live in the majority of interesting things I receive come via Facebook, Twitter, e-mail and other means of social media.  Even living on the other side of the world from the majority of my friends has done little to change that.  The only exceptions being my birthday and Christmas.  Whilst that's lovely and the instantaneous aspect of social media is great I can't deny that I still enjoy the excitement of receiving and opening an unexpected letter or parcel.

So I was interested to learn that SingPost have come up with a new phone app that might just resurrect the excitement of checking your post box for mail.  I was invited along to the recent media launch of their new app, 'Post-a-Card' which allows you to send personalised postcards to family and friends both here in Singapore and around the world (so perfect for expats too) in a few simple steps.  The 'Post-a-Card' app is described as bringing 'back a more personal touch - the joy of receiving and holding an actual postcard, an unexpected memento of love or sharing of a great experience through the mail'.

Of course, after going to the launch, I downloaded the app, which is free (always a good point for me) and available on both iTunes and Google Play and sent some postcards both locally and back to the UK to family and friends.  Having now seen the finished results for the postcard I sent here and got the reactions from family and friends in the UK, I can only say it is well worth the minimal amount of time required to select photos and write the messages.  I'm sure I'll continue to use the app on a regular basis in the future.

The 'Post-a-Card' app allows you to use one of the template designs (with your own photo), either by taking a photo there and then or selecting one from your phone's photo gallery or Facebook albums.  You then simply insert your message, add the delivery address and send it as a high-quality printed postcard (4" x 6"), all from the convenience of your phone.  It's an incredibly simple and quick process to follow and guaranteed to brighten a loved one's day.  As an added incentive when you download the app your first 'Post-a-Card' is free to send (for a limited period only).

To send a postcard to someone in Singapore will cost you S$1.90 per card and S$2.50 to the rest of the world (so hardly budget breaking) and you can pay using your credit card, PayPal account or with pre-paid credits.

Post-a-Card Chain Contest

To engage customers, SingPost have kicked off a 'Post-a-Card' chain contest from the 11 August 2012 to 5 October 2012.  Prizes will be given out for the following:

1) 'Longest Chain of Sharing'

  • First sender of the longest chain of sharing will walk away with S$1,000 cash
  • Ten lucky members of this longest chain of sharing will win S$50 cash each
  • All members of this longest chain of sharing will receive one 'Post-a-Card' credit

2) Top three 'Post-a-Card' senders will each win S$300 cash.

To find out more about 'Post-a-Card', visit www.Post-a-Card.com

Download the app now to experience the fun and excitement of sending a postcard to family and friends.

Delivered by next working day* within Singapore.

International deliveries usually take a week or a maximum of 12 working days.

*If the card is sent before 3pm Singapore Time UTC +08:00

07 August 2012

Hanoi - A Business Trip

Continuing in the occasional series from my husband about his various business trips, here's a piece on his visits to Vietnam.

I travel so much for work and am hardly ever in Singapore or ‘at home’ so I thought I’d write a review of the hotels I've stayed at in Vietnam to help readers if they are planning a trip to this wonderful country.  Although they were a business trips I visited both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City (or is it Saigon, many locals do not use the new name).

In Hanoi, I stayed at the Hanoi Hilton Opera, located reasonably centrally, near the Opera House (as the name suggests).  It is a standard business hotel the room rate was $155 (US) for the room and brekkie (an extensive selection), but there may be deals for a weekend adventure, it had the usual facilities, including an outdoor pool (not used this trip, it was freezing outside).

On a brief walk around the city on arrival I observed that the city is very European in feel. France was the former colonial power, and there are huge wide open boulevards and grand colonial buildings. It was cold too (well it was about 12 or 13 degrees) with dank overcast drizzly weather.

Dinner the first night (of my first stay) was at a local place near the Movenpick hotel called Quan An Ngon (15 Pho Phan Boi Chau).  I have actually been to Hanoi again since and am still as captivated by the colonial French buildings, so unlike any other Asian city.   I dined at this place on both of my visits to Hanoi and on my second visit also stayed in the Movenpick Hotel.  A hotel with a lovely boutique feel with well appointed rooms and comfy beds.  The restaurant though is a collection of hawker type stalls, offering an extensive selection of Vietnamese food, ordered and served to your table by an array of efficient waiting staff.  The food is excellent, including my favourite Pho Bo (the Ha Noi beer comes with ice in the glass, request it without if that is your preference).

On my first visit there we had a feast of spring rolls, wraps and the aforementioned excellent Pho Bo (my new favourite food), sitting on shared tables.  The second night (of my first stay) was at Green Tangerine, a quiet French-Asian fusion place in the Old Quarter (48 Pho Hang Be), serving great food.  Again I had the Vietnamese banquet but my travelling companions had French-inspired dishes, the duck and the lamb looked fab (it was a tad expensive for Hanoi but worth it).

In Saigon, we stayed at the Intercontinental Asiana Hotel, near the Reunification Palace and Notre Dame Cathedral.  Again a standard business hotel but connected to the best food court in Saigon (called The Link).  The rooms, or more specifically the bed in the room, were excellent with good working facilities.  I dined at Bobby Chinn’s restaurant (in The Link), which was excellent (my first dining experience in the restaurant of a celeb chef) with a truly lovely ambiance (there were rose petals on the table, not great for solo dining perhaps).  I had roast chicken with roasted veg and wasabi mash (I know, not Vietnamese but sometimes we are tourists) with a complimentary dessert (a chocolate mousse parcel) and a couple of excellent Saigon Beers (Hanoi Beer was equally great).

As my meetings were in the hotel we made the buffet lunch in the hotel’s Pier 39 Restaurant.  The Pho Bo was the best ever (perhaps I need to sample this from the dodgiest street vendor too) but the other choices were extremely extensive.  The hotel is next to the Hard Rock Cafe if you crave a burger or nachos.

In Saigon, the roads are chaotic but it is fun to watch the flow of traffic with all the mopeds, constant taxi horns and disregard for traffic signals.  I’d hate to actually drive here.

04 August 2012

Sponsored Post: A Trip to the Costa del Sol and Malaga

Kicking off my series of posts about the Costa del Sol region of Spain (where I recently spent three weeks), here's an overview of the region brought to you by the online travel agency, Destinia.com.

The Costa del Sol is located in the South of Spain. The region is known for its many kilometres of beaches and the small traditional villages peppered along the coast.


Malaga is the region's main city and can be a day trip destination for those who stay in one of the coastal towns. The Cathedral is one of the city's most visited places, known as La Manquita because only one of its two towers was completed.

Near the Cathedral stand two ancient Moorish palaces, the Alcazaba and the Gibralfaro. In the Alcazaba visitors can visit the Archaeological Museum where there are several galleries with Moorish, Phoenician and Roman artifacts. The Gibralfaro is an ancient fortress with views towards the city which is known for its colourful gardens.

To see the more historical structures and the more traditional part of the city visitors will have to visit the Malagueta area. The Plaza de Toros, a large bull ring, is located there.

Malaga is the place to visit for those who want to enjoy the city's architecture, which has ancient Moorish influences. The Pablo Picasso Museum is located in the city, and visitors will be able to see many of the painter's masterpieces.

The Pedregalejo and El Palo beaches are located in the city. If visitors want to enjoy cleaner beaches they can visit the nearby Cala de la Moral.

Beaches, food and small towns

Malaga's coastal towns are visited by thousands of locals and tourists who want to spend a day by the sea. Benalmádena, Fuengirola and Torremolinos are beach towns where visitors can enjoy the beach, practice water sports and relax.

Marbella is the most deluxe destination for a day trip. This jet set city is located a short ride away and is filled with boutique bars, chic bars and restaurants. The Puerto Banus area is known for high end retailers.

The province of Malaga, as most of Spain, is known for its food. There are many traditional chiringuitos and tapas bars where locals and visitors can enjoy pescaíto frito, small fried fish, gazpacho, a cold tomato soup, and sangría.

For those who want to get away from the city and the seaside, the mountains are only a short ride away. The Montes de Málaga Natural Park is a large natural park with several trails where one can take long walks and see the local fauna.

There are several small traditional villages located in the region, and day trips to these traditional white villages can be organized. Most white villages are only a short taxi ride away from the coastal towns. The pueblos blancos are traditional villages a short distance away from the coast known for their Andalusian architecture, small white houses and cobbled streets.


Image used under Creative Commons from Keith Roper

The village of Alcaucin is located in the Sierra Tejeda mountains and is considered to be one of the most ancient towns in the region. The most visited ones are Mijas and Nerja. In Mijas visitors can enjoy a donkey ride around the town, which has views towards the sea. In Nerja visitors can enjoy sea views from the Balcón de Europa, a former castle. The nearby Nerja Caves stretch for more than five kilometres and guided tours are available. 


Image used under Creative Commons from isidro2007

01 August 2012

Update (Or Why I've Not Been Blogging Much Lately)

Anyone who reads my blog regularly may have noticed that I haven't exactly been blogging much lately, only managing two posts in July.  Well I hope to put that right very soon but thought I'd let you know I'm still here and everything is good.  My only excuse is a job and also a trip back to the UK and Spain for the month of July and very limited Internet access throughout that period.

I've got a load of things to share with you both about Singapore and Spain so hang on in there and normal service will resume very soon I promise!
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