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Filipino American Expat in Singapore

We’re kinda in the middle of summer already. Can you believe that? Labour Day breezed by and we spent it at my friend Paul’s condo in Kallang. It has this gorgeous view of the Kallang River Basin, Stadium, Tanjong Rhu, and the area surrounding Golden Mile.

The video above is like a cutout of what a typical weekend (or public holiday) is like since I moved to Singapore. I enjoy spending it at a friend’s house having some drinks or singing videoke.

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Bonus: What am I thinking about lately?

  • Job security and fulfilling my goal of securing a sufficient emergency fund
  • Getting good work done no matter how steep the learning curve is
  • A new sport or physical activity to try (outrigger canoeing, dancing, cross-fit)
  • Looking for an opportunity for solo travel
  • Finishing the third book in the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy ‘Rich People Problems’
  • Reducing my belongings by half (donate, recycle, trash, digitize, etc.)
  • Shopping for new things as a treat to myself
  • A business trip to San Francisco
  • A holiday trip to Manila

I don’t think I’m anywhere near to being a true Spartan athlete. The truth behind these photos is that I failed at various obstacles. I hold myself accountable to a higher fitness level. Especially after being part of a dragon boat team. These photos are fabulous to look at. But they don’t represent where I want to be physically and mentally.

I am proud that I signed up for it and that my partner did too. I did the penalty burpees where and when required. I noticed I was less scared about heights and weights. I crossed the finish line acknowledging where I can improve. I only have to set realistic goals that can be measured. I’m turning 34 this year and I don’t want to turn into an MF skinny-fat Filipino gay guy.

I’m being cheeky.

I’ll sign up for the next Spartan, the next Standard Chartered race, or the next Metasprint. Until I get it done right. Because the only person I’m disappointing is myself.

My current living arrangement with my partner is simple. We take turns. Every weekend we alternate between his flat in Tampines and my place in Bukit Merah.

We plan to move in together eventually. But for now, we’re enjoying this arrangement of being able to enjoy two sides of the city.

Somewhere in Tampines West (okay, the address is at the end of this post) is a casual Thai restaurant called Soi Thai Kitchen. We both didn’t know it existed until we were walking and exploring the stores near his HDB block. There are two Thai restaurants at the location but we were intrigued with this one which had a larger crowd.

We ordered the Thai minced meat omelette (told you I’m obsessed with it based off a previous post). Added a large plate of Olive fried rice (I think we’d try Pineapple Fried Rice or Thai fried rice on the next trip). But the highlight for me was the dry tom yum. WOW. Every bit of that tom yum flavour… but imagine it as a sauce you could pour over your steamed rice. It was so good I might have it again next week.

I’ll update this post again when we try the other items on the menu.

Soi Thai Kitchen is located at Tampines Street 81, #01-28 Block 824, Singapore

There are a handful of Thai restaurants in the city and in the heartlands. Luckily here near my block, there’s one that sits right across Tiong Bahru Bakery. Little Elephant Thai Bistro sits in a beautiful spot next to coffee shops and a bus stop.

This is one of my favourites in Tiong Bahru.

I’m recently in love with Thai omelettes. These ‘minced meat’ pancakes could be quite oily at times. But they are also fluffy and filling. Add to that a plate of Thai stir-fried morning glory (a touch of spice) or a pot of green curry. Mmm. You have a Sunday brunch fix. Oh, and don’t forget a glass of Thai milk tea. Why is Thai milk tea so damn good.

Little Elephant really has a bistro setting. You can order beers as well. There’s an assortment of seating. Tall tables, tables for four inside, or even a boat-shaped table (where we normally always sit).

Little Elephant Thai Bistro is located at 57 Eng Hoon St, #01-72, Singapore 160057. Take note that it’s closed on Mondays. Closest MRT: Tiong Bahru (2 bus stops away)

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I’m so proud of myself.

I’m starting to cook something other than pork adobo. Clap! I mentioned in a previous post that my boyfriend and I will cook ‘something new’ every Wednesday and feature it in my blog. Last week we had pork steak. This week we listed down butter garlic shrimps, Filipino-style. Like where I get most of my current instructions… I learned this recipe from the ever-reliable Panlasang Pinoy. ❤

Here’s the finished result:

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It’s a very easy dish to make. You buy shrimps and you soak them in lemon soda for about 10 minutes at least. I picked out 7-up.

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Then you melt half a cup of butter and heat that up. Pouring in minced garlic (the fresh ones are probably way better, but this one in PJ’s kitchen wasn’t too bad). You wait for the bits to turn golden brown before you pour in the shrimp.

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This is one of the fun ones to cook. Waiting for the shrimps to turn orange. Watching them soak up the butter and garlic. Then you sprinkle in two tablespoons of parsley. I’m not going to get the credit for this recipe so I’ll point you again to Panlasang Pinoy this time. What would I do as an OFW without Panlasang Pinoy. ❤

Click here to see Mr. Vanjo’s recipe for Butter Garlic Shrimp.

And voila… you’re set! Delicious butter garlic shrimps ready within 30 minutes basically. I blanched some broccoli to serve as sides.

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My boyfriend PJ loved it! Can’t wait to cook again next Wednesday. 😀

Couldn’t help ourselves to some cups of rice.

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Lao Ban Soya Beancurd has become a sentimental favourite. As if I could lay stake to the word sentimental if I’ve only been living in Singapore for seven years! I used to get this for takeaway and enjoy it at home while watching Clone Wars on Netflix.

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Lao Ban Soya Beancurd – Almond Flavour (with Yuki-san the Whaleshark in the background)

There’s no Lao Ban Soya Beancurd stall where I live in Tiong Bahru. But there’s an easy-to-find kiosk at the Tampines Bus Interchange when I go visit my boyfriend at his house in the east. I got this for takeaway one evening and we enjoyed it for breakfast.

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Almond version of the Lao Ban Soya Beancurd

I think it’s one of the best bean curds I’ve tried. I love it for its silky texture. It’s great as a dessert or a cold snack. The almond isn’t overpowering. It costs only more or less $2.

Here’s the stall at Tampines Bus Interchange as of April 2019.

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Try it yourself!

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. ❤