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Filipino American Expat in Singapore

I was nominated by Fairy Bread Life for the Mystery Blogger Award. I’ve learned that Fairy Bread Life is living the expat life but she strikes a point which all expats can relate to: “we simply don’t know how long we will have the privilege of living overseas”. So true! I’m in Singapore on an employment pass and no matter how much I love this country, we really don’t know how long we can stay.

What is the Mystery Blogger Award?

“The Mystery Blogger Award is an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there, and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging, and they do it with so much love and passion.” – Okoto Enigma

Origin here from 2016 I think. Doing this for fun… appreciate the nom!

The Rules

1. Put the award logo on your blog.
2. List the rules.
3. Thank whoever nominated you and include a link to their blog.
4. Mention the creator of the award and provide a link to their blog as well.
5. Tell your readers 3 things about yourself.
6. Nominate 10-20 people.
7. Notify your nominees.
8. Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice, specifying one weird/funny question.
9. Share a link to your best post(s).

Three things about me

  1. I’m an American-born Filipino living in Singapore. I’ve called Singapore my home for the past seven years. English is my first language. Tagalog is my second. After several years speaking Tagalog, I can finally speak it fluently and without an accent.
  2. I started blogging in 2003. I stopped around 2009/2010 when I was unhappy about not being able to talk about the real things that made me happy: being gay and having a boyfriend. I came out to my parents in 2013 (inside Cambodia’s Angkor Wat after an epic thunderstorm) and that was my first post on this blog. That’s why it’s bekpackr = my first post was titled “I’m back, beckies!”
  3. I still dream of being a filmmaker. I used to create homemade movies on my 90s-era camcorder (with the VHS tapes). I took music from Mortal Kombat and Mission Impossible and made little movies while on a U.S. base in Okinawa. But this is what happened. I wanted to take film in university but ended up studying journalism. I wanted to be a journalist but ended up in TV entertainment. Whatever I want, I end up with something related. I wonder when I’ll steer it in the right direction?

Questions asked by Fairy Bread Life

  1. In which part of this world do you live? – I live in “sunny on the left, cloudy on the right, raining in the middle” Singapore.
  2. If you could choose only one season (winter, spring, summer of autumn) to live in forever, which would you choose? – Definitely summer. I’m from the Philippines!
  3. Which area of your life is going really well for you right now? – My career. I’m not the best at it. But I’m learning so much from this new job. Learning so much the last five months than in the past five years in a previous role.
  4. What is one movie you never get tired of watching? – Back to the Future!
  5. If you had access to a time machine, which time/era would you visit first? – The Roaring Twenties (1920s). But I’d love to see it from Asian cities like Shanghai, Manila, Jakarta, Tokyo, Bangkok, and Singapore.

My Nominations

  1. Peterwanderhttp://peterwander.home.blog
  2. Empiredirthttp://empiredirt.blogspot.com
  3. I Want to Go Therehttps://colinstravelogue.wordpress.com/
  4. Kid Gnarlyhttp://kidgnarly.me/
  5. Thoughts of Sherylhttp://thoughtsofsheryl.blog/
  6. A Canadian in Brazilhttps://acanadianinbrazil.com/
  7. Good to Hear from Youhttps://jamypye.wordpress.com/
  8. Just Wanderinghttps://justwandering.org/

If you chance upon this, I nominate you to answer the questions too!

Questions for my nominees

  1. If money didn’t matter, what would you do with your life today?
  2. What message would you tell your younger self from 5 years ago?
  3. Describe your perfect evening in only three words.
  4. If you had to lip sync for your life, what song would you pick?
  5. You’re having lunch with Beyonce tomorrow morning. What’s on the menu and why?

My Best Post

A recent favourite one is a post called “Valentine” (it’s a video).

The truth is this. I’m aware of restaurant openings, events, and things to do wherever I go. I have lists of places I want to go to and food I want to try. So when PJ offered to take me out on a date one Friday evening, I let go. I let him surprise me.

And surprised I was.

He took me to an address: 5 Purvis Street. All I know is that it’s on the same street as the Clinton Street Baking Co. and Restaurant. But I was wondering if he was going to surprise me with something else.

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Saveur is located at 5 Purvis Street

At 5 Purvis Street is a French restaurant called Saveur (Suh-VERE) which markets itself as “French for everyone”. We entered the shophouse and it’s a casual setting. Tall white walls all the way in. You can see the whole restaurant from the door. This includes the open kitchen at the other end of the long dining hall.

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Saveur Menu

They have a three-course dinner set. But we felt like exploring and trying out some dishes ala carte and sharing the starters and sides.

Starters are divided into warm and cold or salad. We had the Saveur Pasta (SGD 9.00) which is capellini (thin pasta noodles) with ebi, chives, shallots, and in pork sauce and truffle oil. It was a burst of flavor with the pork sauce and truffle (which is normally really strong tasting, right?). But we loved the saltiness of the ebi (shrimp).

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Saveur Pasta

Being a French casual restaurant, I wanted to try the rotisserie chicken for one of the mains. PJ and I ordered the Rotisserie Baby Chicken (SGD 22.00) and Pot-Au-Feu (SGD 24.00).

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Rotisserie Baby Chicken

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Pot-Au-Feu (Pork Belly, Cheek, and Rib)

The roasted chicken was tender and I couldn’t stop dipping it in the sauce. The pork belly, cheek, and rib (Pot-Au-Feu) was in this aromatic broth. The pork belly melts in your mouth. Omg. Like… it just dissolves. Lord.

For sides, we ordered the Mash (SGD 6.00) and Braised Lentil & Bacon (SGD 6.00). This is the only way mashed potato should be enjoyed. REAL. Not like your KFC or Popeyes’ Chicken powered mashed potato. The mash was creamy, buttery, with a hint of truffle oil.

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Mash

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Braised Lentil and Bacon

The braised lentil and bacon is a strong-tasting side. At least, in that first bite! I was like, WHAT… an assault on the palate. But after a few bites, I couldn’t help myself. It’s a distinct taste from the mains. Loved it.

We didn’t order desserts at Saveur since I was thinking of taking PJ for Korean bingsu around the corner.

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Quite a number of awards for Saveur.

Would I recommend Saveur? YES. It’s French casual and the starters, mains, and sides we tried each stood out from each other. We noticed that the restaurant attracts a sizable crowd. PJ was sweet to make reservations for us.

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My date at Saveur 🙂

Location: Saveur is on 5 Purvis Street in Singapore. The closest MRT stations are Bugis and Cityhall. Learn more on their website here. It’s located near the National Library and also near Leslie’s.

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AROO! Experienced Spartan for a 2nd time earlier. Different venue, different feel! It was in Yio Chu Kang (Ang Mo Kio). Imagine running through a muddy obstacle course with HDBs in the background. Very Singapore! I loved it!

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Muddy. I should’ve worn an older pair of shoes and compression.

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Love this shot of PJ!

Three tips for beginners based on my experience (because there are elite + experienced Spartans I’ve to learn from too)

  1. Don’t wear new shoes when going to a muddy Spartan. Wear your trusty old pair which you wouldn’t mind getting dirty. This also means choosing appropriate race attire. Wear something comfortable. I wore my 2XU compression shorts and a singlet.
  2. Consider wearing gloves. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea. But gloves helped me with the climbing and grip of things (like the bucket obstacle).
  3. Beginners, perhaps take your time through the course. It’s a SPRINT. But for beginners, I say don’t feel pressured to finish the course as fast as the more experienced athletes on the course. This also means giving way and moving to the side to let others pass you. I think that’s important for sportsmanship.
  4. Smile and help others out. I wouldn’t be able to finish this 20+ obstacle course without the help and encouragement of the people around me. Some challenges require climbing up walls and it was great to hear tips from the people who were good at it. These people have trained and for sharing their knowledge, thank you! I also got to pay it forward and help out the person behind me by suggesting where to grip.

The Spartan Race is a test of strength and endurance. It’s also a test of physical and mental. After two Spartans to date (in the discovery phase), I’ve learned that it demands you train your whole body. Upper and lower body muscle groups. All of it. I can probably see why it’s so addictive for the elite Spartans (in red headbands).

Favourite obstacles (define favourite – lol)

  • Wall climb – all types
  • Sand bag on a muddy hill
  • That wall that’s tilted backward

Areas that I really need to train harder for

  • Atlas
  • Rope climbing
  • Obstacles that rely on upper body strength

I hope before I turn 40 I can accomplish a Spartan Race as an elite racer. Shirtless. 😛

This is not a sponsored post. But I’ll point you to the Spartan SG website to learn more.

Thank you Team UFIT and LinkedIn Wellness. ❤

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The previous post was both difficult and empowering to write. I wanted to make sure I jump onto a sunny entry immediately. Here’s a photo with PJ taken in Bangkok last week. We were lounging by the rooftop swimming pool the whole afternoon. I finished reading ‘China Rich Girlfriend’.

We were making fun of the calamari we ordered. Because it looked like 7 or 8 pieces.

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Love this photo of PJ. ❤

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We spent the whole afternoon at the hotel rooftop. We didn’t want to get wet from Songkran (lol, I grew a phobia of water guns on the 2nd day). We didn’t even want to leave the hotel for fear of getting drenched. So we had room service.

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Probably one of the best holidays in recent memory. ❤

So I attended a workshop to learn how I can be a first responder. But I’ll tell you why.

First of all the facts. Eight out of 10 perpetrators are acquaintances or friends of the person who is sexually assaulted. Eight out of ten! I also learned that 91 or 92% of the survivors reported are female. Men can also be survivors of assault. Add to that, with Section 377A in effect in Singapore, imagine all of the unheard cases coming from gay men who are afraid to step forward.

“Sexual assault is never the fault of the victim, no matter what they were wearing, how they were behaving, how much they had to drink or their sexual history.” 

Entering this room wasn’t easy. I’ll tell you that. Seeing the full house was a mix of emotions. Wow, look at everyone coming together for this. Wow, look at how big this really is. How important it is to help survivors of sexual assault.

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There were only three or four other men in the room who took this workshop. But did I feel out of place? Not at all.

I didn’t really get to speak to other participants. But I did get to meet my seatmate who is a social worker helping out abused domestic helpers. I was taking notes and I noticed others were doing the same. I wondered about diverse backgrounds. Diverse objectives. Were they students? Were they also social workers? Were they survivors of sexual assault themselves?

Here’s a video about consent… as a cup of tea!

If I can’t find the answers for myself, I can at least help find answers for those I can speak to. I’ve felt this way since I started volunteering for Action for AIDS Singapore last year. I can help myself by helping others and shifting the attention outwards and not inwards. I mean, navel-gazing is exhausting. It’s like being able to breathe freely again when I help others out.

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Can you imagine how many unreported cases are out there? For fear of being ostracized. Or because there’s 377A which says two men can’t have sex with each other even if it were consensual. Where would a male survivor turn to seek help? If he fears 377A.

The sessions. I liked how the sessions were conducted because the speakers provide disclaimers all throughout. They remind participants that if the subject matter is too sensitive or too heavy, we can step out of the room. The speakers also shared a grounding exercise. Initially, I was wondering why we would need it. But if my own story somehow led me into that session room, what more the stories of other people in the room. Did they have sisters, brothers, friends, cousins, classmates who are victims of sexual assault?

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Consent as a signal light. Intoxicated and resistant are in red.

At the end of the four-hour workshop, we were shown this powerful video of sexual assault survivors speaking to us on camera, unfiltered. I’ll end this post with the video.

Hey there. If you or someone you know has experienced sexual assault or harassment, please seek help. There are people who care about you. If you’re in Singapore, AWARE is one important resource: https://www.aware.org.sg/

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Great to see Mona Kee Kee again. She performed at Hans Im Glück Republic Plaza (Raffles Place) earlier as part of HIG’s dive into events that have a gay-friendly theme. The event is called Fairytale Forest since… well… you have to see Hans Im Gluck. 🙂

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I’m actually 5’5″ okay. She makes me look like I’m 5’1″.

I think it was in 2015 when I first saw Mona Kee Kee perform as part of RIOT! the drag revue with Becca D’Bus.

Mona Kee Kee in 2015

Flashback to 2015 with Mona Kee Kee.

***

Hans Im Gluck has four branches in Singapore (Orchard, Raffles Place, Boat Quay, and Vivocity). My fave branch is Boat Quay because of the waterfront ambiance. But the Raffles Place branch inside Republic Plaza is quick access to the MRT.

Today I tried their speciality burger which is found on the bookmark-looking menu card they have. I learned that it’s a recipe unique to Hans Im Gluck Singapore.

The German burgergrill has hosted some events together with events team Man About Town.

This post IS NOT sponsored. I just enjoy the burgers. 🙂

Ah, Liang Court.

One of my new favorite malls to visit. Why? Though it sits next to Fort Canning MRT station on the Downtown Line, it doesn’t have the stressful crowds of MRT stations you’d find in Ang Mo Kio, Cityhall or Tiong Bahru. Liang Court is an old mall filled with Japanese stores and restaurants. It seems to attract a crowd that stays in the nearby condos. It’s laid back.

It also happens to be a major transit point getting from my office (Marina Bay Financial Centre next to Downtown MRT) to my house in Bukit Merah. Bus 195 is a convenient ‘feeder’ bus that takes me from MRT station to my block on a 15-minute ride.

Enough about that. I’ve done some little exploring of this pocket-sized mall and I’ve discovered a restaurant in the basement that specializes in Okinawan cuisine. I’ll write about that next time. Today, I got my ramen fix from Tonkotsu Kazan Ramen. It’s located right across from Starbucks and Subway on the ground level.

Click the images to make them bigger.

It specializes in “kazan ramen” which is ramen served in a very hot stone bowl with a conical lid cover. But for my first trip here in weeks, I went for the classic tonkotsu ramen with a piece of cha shu.

For about SGD 12-15 (standard price for ramen in Singapore), it’s not too bad. Given you can enjoy free boiled eggs.

It’s good for a quick fix. But my favorite ramen places are still in the Tanjong Pagar area near Orchid Hotel. I want to try the kazan ramen next time and I’ll write an updated review about that here.

Location: Tonkotsu Kazan Ramen, Liang Court (177 River Valley Road). Nearest MRT Station: Fort Canning (Downtown Line).

So we’re trying this thing where we cook at least once a week. The idea is to save on eating out (actually, won’t we be spending more to buy ingredients lol). Currently scheduled for Wednesdays. But we might align it with the Game of Thrones season 8 finale on Mondays. Because cooking and dragons go together.

For the inaugural weekly cooking… pork steak! I was reaching Tampines around 9:00 PM so PJ ended up cooking. Ooops!

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PJ said the ingredients for the pork steak are as follows: lemon, soy sauce, garlic, onion, pepper, bay leaves and a half kilo of pork.

Next week? Shrimps! Let’s see how that goes. I’ll keep a tracker. 🙂

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This Songkran was extra special.

It’s that time of the year again! Thailand (and some neighboring countries) are celebrating Songkran. This year is special because I’m able to share the experience with PJ.

Here’s our not-so-ambitious Songkran itinerary. I wanted to queue up some of the gay clubs and scenery but for some reason, I felt exhausted. Lol.

Thursday – flew in before midnight and stayed at a friend’s house (thanks Joy!)

Friday – squeezed in the Grand Palace and ICONSIAM before checking into U Sukhumvit Hotel

Saturday – First day of Songkran, experiencing it while riding a tuk-tuk in Sukhumvit and by visiting the water fights in Silom by nightfall. Dinner at the Train Market and drinks later on at Maggie Choo’s. Followed by delish supper at Bamboo (middle eastern food) near Nana.

Sunday – omg, stayed at the hotel. I had this phobia of water guns suddenly. We spent the whole day lounging by the swimming pool of our hotel. And getting room service.

Monday – getting a massage at Health Land Spa and Massage in Asoke. Followed by some souvenir shopping and lunch at Terminal 21. We flew back to Singapore in the evening.

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PJ dumping his water on a nearby bush outside Terminal 21. You can’t bring water into the mall.

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But of course, minutes earlier we were with Ulrike buying said water guns in the Sukhumvit area.

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Silom with Colin and his friends. We reached before dark so the streets were pretty wet and messy already.

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I brought my pink water gun from the previous year.

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The festive streets of Silom with Ulrike and her friend Domenica.

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A beer break at 7-11 along the Silom stretch.

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The train night market. Drenched after someone in the alley dumped water on us! Grrr!

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Ready for an afternoon of water fights.

I’ll share tips for Songkran in my next post. 🙂

A new addition to Bangkok’s lively shopping scene is ICONSIAM. This mixed-use development brings the shopping experience to the other side of the Chao Phraya River. I wanted to take a peek during my visit to Bangkok for Songkran 2019.

My three highlights from ICONSIAM

  1. It’s a new shopping experience on this side of the Chao Phraya. It’s one of Bangkok’s new mega-malls. Until the ICONSIAM gets its own BTS station soon (on the ‘Gold’ line, sounds cool right), you can take a shuttle to access this mall.
  2. There’s an indoor floating market. It’s colorful and, well, air-conditioned. We had lunch at one of the restaurants in the basement which is tastefully designed to look like an indoor floating market.
  3. Great terrace overlooking Chao Phraya. Who’s not a fan of rooftop bars? Whenever I visit a major city I like to enjoy it with a view from the top. ICONSIAM has a nice terrace that overlooks the Chao Phraya River. It’s not a rooftop bar, but it gives a spectacular view while you enjoy your Singha or fave cocktail.

Here are some photos:

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The basement level has a SOOK Siam ‘indoor floating market’.

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ICONSIAM signages during the Songkran period.

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ICONSIAM’s gold motif throughout the shopping complex.

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Cocoon structures that house some of the restaurants on the upper levels.

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Weave designs found on the upper levels.

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The cinema area has a tall ceiling.

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Decor on one of the top floors.

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More cocoon structures on the upper levels which house restaurants.

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Indoor waterfall at ICONSIAM.

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Restaurants on the top floor.

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This one has seats.

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Makes me want to try the food in each restaurant.

We had some drinks outside on the terrace.

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View of the Chao Phraya River from the ICONSIAM terrace.

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I love enjoying a beer at the bar. Have one here on the terrace.

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The place fills up fast at sunset. Try to get here during happy hour.

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The terrace is split into two restaurants.

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The seats by the edge were occupied but we found one on a nearby landing.

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Two of my favorite beers. Hoegaarden and Beerlao.

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Enjoying the sunset with my boyfriend.

How to get to ICONSIAM?

One method is to take the train to BTS Saphan Taksin and then a free boat shuttle to take you a kilometre upriver to ICONSIAM. Another method is to take a shuttle bus which originates from Krung Thonburi BTS station.

*During Songkran, all of my transport between districts was via Grab taxi. I didn’t want to risk getting wet every so often.