Happy 55th birthday, Singapore.

Happy 55th birthday, Singapore.

Almost 20 million people worldwide have been hit by the virus.

That’s over 20 million lives and their families, friends, social circles, workplaces, churches that have been changed by what started out as just another news item back in December.

I recognise that I’m lucky to be in Singapore which has done an aggressive job to keep its citizens and residents safe from the pandemic. But it is heartbreaking to see the effects of this virus ravage the Philippines (now Southeast Asia’s Covid-19 epicenter) and the land of my citizenship, the United States (global no. 1 with 5 million people affected).

Sometimes I feel bad that all I have to do is wear a mask and head outside relatively in comfort compared to millions out there in quarantine.

***

I had a long weekend because of Singapore’s 55th National Day. With Covid-19 cases going down and life resuming to this new normal, the past weekend felt relaxed. I met up with a friend from university. I watched the mobile column pass by the nearby MRT station. I spent it at home watching For All Mankind on Apple TV.

I also spent it updating my portfolio which I set up during my job hunting a few months ago. I’ve deactivated the portfolio and put a classic splash page directing visitors to head over to my LinkedIn account. I’ve also called three people I’m thinking of having as my first podcast guests. Yes, I’m going to come out with a podcast very soon!

PJ and I have also started packing some boxes for our upcoming move to Pasir Ris. I’m in-charge of selecting the movers. We’re excited to move to Pasir Ris. I’m trying not to stress about it too much. Unlike when I moved to Tampines in April, this time there’s two of us working together to pack our things. And there’s five of us moving altogether to a new house.

I feel we’re at the closing stretch of 2020. Cautiously heading into the next few months by staying extra hygienic, saving money where and when possible, and getting through this pandemic. It may be comfortable in Singapore… but it’s not an excuse to let our guard down.

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The baristas being sweet.
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Catching up with my friend A at Chjmes over the weekend.
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Anticipating the trucks and tanks that will pass by Tampines West MRT.

Have a great week everyone. 🙂

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My last 2 days in Bukit Merah

My last 2 days in Bukit Merah

This quiet neighbourhood is a refuge for me. I moved here two years ago after a traumatic ghosting which put me in a very dark place. It’s here where I regained confidence again. It led to finding love and finding a cool job.

I call my room here Red Keep because of the towering view outwards. I’ve said this before, but you can spot HDBs of different shapes and sizes across the horizon. If you look beyond the concrete walls of distant buildings, you can see the trees of Mount Faber. The sunsets are extra beautiful.

It’s time to leave Bukit Merah. I need to cut costs due to my unemployment.

This means I am moving in with PJ. We’ve been together for 20 months and it makes sense for us to finally move in together. I’ll be moving to Tampines on Sunday.

***

Singapore is under a “circuit breaker” partial lockdown. It means everyone must stay home. They are only allowed to go out to buy groceries or to dapao (takeout) food. I’ve checked, moving houses is still allowed. I rushed my move to an earlier date because new restrictions might make it harder in a few weeks.

One nice thing that the government has done is to provide reusable masks for registered residents. I took my IC with me to the nearby community club to get my mask.

Singapore residents: From 5 April (Sunday) to 12 April 2020 (Sunday), residents with registered home addresses will be able to collect one (1) reusable mask at the designated CCs or RCs. Learn more at maskgowhere.sg

Wherever you are in the world… stay safe and take care.

Lucky before the “lockdown”

Lucky before the “lockdown”

Non-essential businesses and workplaces are closed starting today. Tentatively scheduled to resume from May 4. These are new measures popularly known here as the “circuit breaker” that PM Lee and his ministers announced last week for the people of Singapore.

I rushed to Lucky Plaza to pick up balikbayan boxes at LBC. Apparently, they have not received instructions yet if they will shut down as they deal with logistics. Other stores at Lucky are closed and I started seeing signs posted. Jollibee, like many restaurants on the island, will remain open for takeaway or deliveries.

Mood was sad. Add to that a rare evening thunderstorm that happened over rush hour. Since I was at Lucky, I topped up on my supply of Filipino-style white vinegar and soy sauce. I haven’t cooked adobo in a while. I also added some cans of Ligo and Mega sardines. And, 900g of spaghetti noodles!

The next few weeks are crucial to contain the new wave of growing COVID-19 cases in Singapore. I’m obv staying home through this or spending it holed up at PJ’s. Gov’t says stay with family and this is the family I have here. Priorities now are to 1) ensure my kitchen shelf and PJ’s shelf are well-stocked, 2) communicate regularly with family and loved ones in isolation, and 3) continue my employment search. Keeping calm is necessary. I struggle with anxiety. I am learning to “let go” of control and to be kind.

Trip to the groceries

Trip to the groceries

Non-essential businesses will close from Tuesday. The new measures will be in effect over a month. People are advised to stay home and avoid meeting with friends. People are to stick to immediate family members.

Except for us non-Singaporeans, we’ll be staying home. But not with family. We live with flatmates, partners. I get a little anxious if the government will monitor S or E-pass holders. Or if Aunt Lydia will be waiting at the void deck. There are many things I appreciate and admire about Singapore’s response to this crisis. But I’ve seen too many episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale. The scenes in the Gilead grocery store… felt that earlier. Like CCTVs, social distance ambassadors in plainclothes. Lol.

Absolutely horrible time to do the groceries earlier. We went to the Fairprice at Bukit Ho Swee which is 24/7. We went around 7:00pm. The vegetables are sold out. The meat sections were almost empty. The mood inside the store was sombre.

Here’s the thing. You enter the grocery store with a list of ingredients you need to complete a meal plan. However, with empty shelves… you end up scrambling discreetly (aka looking calm but screaming inside) to grab whatever is left and then while you’re queuing to pay… you’re wondering “okay, what I am going to do with this minced pork without onions or vegetables”.

We ended up cooking pork adobo.

Singapore: Soi Thai Kitchen in Tampines

Singapore: Soi Thai Kitchen in Tampines

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

Singapore: Little Elephant Thai Bistro in Tiong Bahru

Singapore: Little Elephant Thai Bistro in Tiong Bahru

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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Singapore Favourites: Lao Ban Soya Beancurd

Singapore Favourites: Lao Ban Soya Beancurd

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!