Can’t get enough of baguettes, pain au chocolat or the thought of being by the Eiffel Tower? Immerse yourself in the French culture by catching a French film from the 9th to 19th November.
The French Film Festival is back this year with a diverse presentation of French films to indulge Singaporeans’ love affair with French cinema.
I got a chance to attend a preview screening of the festival’s film highlight Ce Qui Nous Lie- Back to Burgundy by acclaimed director Cedric Klapisch and was left yearning for more! Being an avid learner of the French language, I was beyond thrilled to be able to appreciate French cinema within the shores of Singapore. Regardless if you are a francophone (one with the ability to speak French) or not, you will be able to resonate with the films as they encompass common themes of love, loss, and hope.
On top of the weekly movie screening at Alliance Française de Singapour, this festival will be providing us the opportunity to tap into the rich vein of French films produced in the recent years. Each film contains English subtitles , great for those who do not comprehend French. You don’t have to worry about the language because storytelling goes beyond language boarders. In addition, you might be able to find cultural appreciation and exchanges with the French through this Festival as well!
16 compelling French films will be showcased in three venues-Shaw Theatres Lido, Alliance Française de Singapour and The Projector. In line with the theme this year "Providing a story for everyone", be spoilt with an extensive genre ranging from sci-fi thriller, comedy, romance, fantasy which guarantee something for everyone!
Feature films this year includes Ce Qui Nous Lie - Back to Burgundy, Seuls and Madame. These two are selected by Shaw's Theatres for extended promotional release.
For more information about the films and purchase tickets, visit the official website
When: 9 - 19 November 2017
Venue: Shaw Theatres Lido, Alliance Françiase de Singapour, The Projector
I drink too much coffee and pick too many flowers.Creating content to inspire!
@ Punggol Waterway
So when all these yellow bikes (oBike, OFO) starting appearing everywhere and then orange ones (Mobike) as well, we decided we had to get our butts on them! Bike sharing has burst into the local scene and from what we'd heard - $0.50 for a 15 minute ride, it's cheaper than a MacDonalds soft serve!
With our not-so-super Gen Y and Z level of tech savviness, we started using the conventional way to look for the bikes on foot. Rae and I set off from Punggol Waterway mall and headed in the direction of the park, eyes wide open for any bright metallic yellow two-wheelers. After five minutes with no parked bikes in sight, we were praying that we wouldn't have to walk another 30 minutes to find the bikes. After another five minutes, our lightning fast minds actually realised that logically, the bike sharing companies' apps should have tracking features to locate bikes (duh~). So we downloaded the oBike app and placed a deposit of $49. After spotting some available bikes in the vicinity we headed towards SAFRA Waterway where we spotted some bikes! We scanned the small QR codes on the bikes, which released the bike locks below the seats.
The oBike was kind of heavy so we actually felt tired after a short ride (or maybe we are just so unfit lol~), but we thought it was great that it had a basket for us to put stuff in. The park was pretty crowded and easily 20% of the cyclists were on an oBike, OFO or Mobike. You've got to remember to stop the timer on the app when you are done with cycling and flip the lock switch below the bike seat back so it locks with a click sound - if not the app would continue to charge you for rent.
Some time later I tried bike sharing again when I was at the Marina Bay area but believe it or not, all 6 of the oBike and Mobike parked bicycles couldn't be used because they were defective - missing bike seat, missing pedal....... you name it. It might be a good idea to not rely 100% on bike sharing if you need to an important meeting on time! What I like about the idea of bike sharing is not having the pressure of having to cycle all the way back to the traditional bicycle rental shops before the rent time's up. :)
Yes and say hi to Raebekah! A rare find in a youth - lively, driven, passionate, and o so musically talented! Glad to have you Rae as part of the team!
With the school holidays just around the corner, it is time for the whole family to get out of the daily mundane routine and start having some fun! Singapore is no stranger to holistic family bonding activities and this holiday, SoakinSingapore brings you some of the countless things to do this June!
1. Visit Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum
Photo credits: http://lkcnhm.nus.edu.sg
Located in the heart of the National University of Singapore, Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum provides visitors a glimpse of biodiversity- from plants and amphibians to mammals and dinosaurs. It is needless to say that the entire family will be able to take away a new depth of knowledge after visiting these exhibitions.
More information to be found here
2. Catch spectacular performances at the Esplanade
Photo credits: esplanade.com
From the outdoor, under the stars performances to the jaw-dropping indoor performances in the grand auditoriums. The Esplanade is the hub for the arts in Singapore and is bustling with activities and showcases for families this June Holiday. Listed below are a few performances during the month of June, for the full schedule of events, visit Esplanade's website for more events.
3. Get in touch with the flora and fauna at Singapore Botanic Gardens
Photo credits: www.sbg.org.sg
Home to numerous plants and animals species; the Singapore Botanic Gardens offers visitors wholesome immersion of self into nature. The main garden opens from 5am to midnight daily and admission is free. Numerous activities are being organised in various areas of the Garden. In addition, do check out free evening open-air performances at the Shaw Foundation Symphony Stage within the garden.
Visit the official website for more information.
4. Visit Singapore's first Indoor Water Playground
Photo credit: safra.sg
Splash @ Kidz Amaze
Monday- Thursday, 10:00am-8:00pm
Friday- Sunday, Public and School Holidays, 10:00am-9:00pm
Splash @ Kidz Amaze is Singapore's first indoor water playground. The play elements are designed for children aged 18 months to 13 years old and children under 18 months enter for free!
Get ready for an amazingly and soaking fun time with your family this June.
More information on pricing here
In Singapore, lunch time frenzy is akin to Black Friday shopping, well almost. With a satisfying meal at a hawker centre or coffeeshop setting you back for as little as $3, most people head out of the office for lunch, instead of bringing lunch from home.
Just head to Raffles Place where the Central Business District for the classic lunch scene. The office working crowd - men in ties, women in heels, making a beeline for their desired lunch spot, which they've probably decided on already the same morning on their way to work. Well in food nation Singapore, asking "What's for lunch?" while having breakfast is common.
What's for lunch?
10 years ago, sandwiches, salads and broths were a no-no for a meal. Those were snacks, and what people described as 'ang-moh' (a Westerner's) food. A meal meant something like rice or noodles - something substantial and filling. Now that soup, salad and juice bars have been in the dining scene for a good ten years perhaps, those especially the younger generation exposed to more diet concepts are more receptive. Compared to spending $3 at a hawker centre for an imbalanced meal of chicken rice, people are willing to spend $15 for a salad. Having said this, hawker centres would still win hands down as the go-to spot for lunch. With easily 50 stalls to choose from at a hawker centre serving classic Singapore dishes like prawn noodles in a thick shrimp and pork rib broth, or moist char kway tiao (thick noodles fried in lard and dark sauce) with extra cockles, which self-respecting local would pass up at least a day's lunch in a week there?
Because of the lunch rush and the challenge to find a seat at the eateries, many just takeaway their lunch and then head back to the office to dine at their desks. Speaking of a takeaway, here, the word takeaway is used to mean to have your food order packed, instead of the phrases 'to go' or take out". A good word to pick up here is the Cantonese word 'da-bao', which is used interchangeably and colloquially here. If you are dining in, usually the phrase used would be 'having here' (as in 'I will be having my food here.'). Well, proper English might not be our thing, but Singlish sure is. Probably just about 10 to 20% of the people would pack lunch from home and pop their food in plastic containers into the microwave at the office pantry.
Most people, especially the ladies, would be armed with an umbrella and a packet of tissue. The most important function of these items would be to reserve a seat, while they go to purchase their food. Yes, when you see a long umbrella place across a table in Singapore, that means that the owner of the umbrella will be coming back to that table for a meal. It does not mean 'free umbrella'. Same goes for all other random items including packets of tissue, name cards, handkerchieves, even shopping bags, you name it. A useful Singlish word to pick up here is 'chope', which means, to put something on reserve.
Getting a seat
This requires skill, and friendly smile. Everyone understands it is impossible to have personal space during lunch eating out. Asking to share a table is almost always a must. The bigger your lunch group, the bigger your challenge of finding adjoining seats. The key is to leave the office early for lunch (say, 11.40am?), or just wait for the lunch crowd to clear out at a later time. Most people, especially the ladies, would be armed with an umbrella and a packet of tissue. The most important function of these items would be to reserve a seat, while they go to purchase their food. Yes, when you see a long umbrella place across a table in Singapore, that means that the owner of the umbrella will be coming back to that table for a meal. It does not mean 'free umbrella'. Same goes for all other random items including packets of tissue, name cards, handkerchieves, even shopping bags, you name it. A useful Singlish word to pick up here is 'chope', which means, to put something on reserve.
Caffeine, or not
Something that locals here will not exchange anything for is that daily, or twice a day, caffeine shot. Other than long queues at local coffee and tea stalls (at just over a dollar!) before work hours, the snaking queues resume post-lunch when a coffee or tea is a must for most to seal the lunch deal. While some prop their drinks over to a table to sip, most would just do a takeaway back to the office. The more health conscious folks would be found at small shops selling fruit and juice getting a packet of fruit.
Whether you’ll be living in Singapore for a couple of months or years, or will be visiting for a short period of time - Singapore is not cheap. Prices in Singapore are rising and if you’re looking to stay in Singapore on a budget, you’re going to have to stay in hostels and scrimp on several things. Fret not, because here we’ll give you some tips to save some money during your stay here!
If you’re going to be living in Singapore for a while, let us introduce to you some tips to surviving on your budget.
1. Cook your own meals
Groceries in Singapore are affordable. Not every food is cheap, of course, but most vegetables and meat at the wet markets and the supermarkets are fairly cheap. If there’s a wet market near your area, buy your food there - most of the time, it’s cheaper and fresher than the supermarkets. Otherwise, head to NTUC, Giant or Sheng Siong Supermarket to get your daily necessities. These supermarkets tend to be cheaper and have offers from time to time, especially during festive seasons. Chinese new year just passed, so you would have seen lots of discounts and festive goodies to satisfy your tummy. Shiok!
2. If you want to eat out… eat at the hawker centres
Avoid the cafés and the restaurants if you want to eat cheap. But cheap food doesn’t mean bad food. There are lots of hawker centres in Singapore that offer a large variety of delicious food in different cuisines that will leave you salivating and coming back for more. The Old Airport Road Food Centre, Chomp Chomp Food Centre and Maxwell Road Hawker Centre are some of the famous great ones you’ll find, just to name a few. Give them a shot and you may be surprised at some of the quality food you’ll be able to sniff out.
3. Don’t shop at Orchard Road
Sure, Orchard Road is Singapore’s famous shopping belt in town. That’s true, but along with its name comes the high cost. Many branded stores line its roads, rent is high, and thus clothes are expensive. Orchard Road does offer a lot of stores for you to enjoy, but if you want really cheap clothes, let us introduce you to online shopping - and in particular, an online platform called Taobao. There, you can find almost anything but for a fraction of the price. If you see a gorgeous skirt in store, chances are, you’ll find a similar or the exact same one on Taobao! I once bought a shirt for S$2. Yes, it’s possible. Everything is manufactured in China, so expect some waiting time and some products that may have low quality. There are many websites online that provide you with information on which store in Taobao to purchase from, so check them out and rock your stylish outfits!
If you prefer buying in stores, visit the cheaper stores within neighbourhoods, Bugis Street and Chinatown.
4. Don’t buy bottled water
Tap water in Singapore is safe to drink. Bring a water bottle with you and fill it up with tap water. You’ll do fine.
5. Buy an EZ-Link Card to travel around
The EZ-Link Card stores cash value in it and enables you to take public transport anywhere, be it the train or the bus. You can top up any amount you want, depending on the length of your stay. Instead of using taxis, use the card and travel around on our fairly efficient public transport system. Singapore’s not that big so you’re likely to be able to get to your destinations using just the trains the buses.
Alcohol is expensive in Singapore. I’m in Europe right now and alcohol in Singapore costs more than most parts of Europe and the US due to the high taxes imposed on it. Drinking at a bar or a club will cost you quite a bit of money and you will have to drink in moderation if you want to save.
What Singaporeans like to do is to buy drinks from the convenience stores such as 7-Eleven, then hang out with their friends to drink together. That’s a cheaper alternative you can do. Just note - no buying of alcohol or drinking in public areas after 10.30pm.
7. Go for all the Freebies
Singaporeans absolutely love freebies. Free food, free drinks, free anything - many kiasu Singaporeans will almost certainly go for all the freebies they can find. If there’s free entrance to museums, use the chance and visit them. If entry to Sentosa through the boardwalk is free - and it IS free till end 2017 - take the chance and visit Sentosa’s beaches and whatever nature it has to offer. Skip the Universal Studios because the entrance fee is expensive. But use the chance to explore Singapore and all its free parks for you to enjoy.
So there, you can survive in Singapore on a budget and yet still soak in all the charms it has to offer. Good food, city life and beautiful parks - you can be sure to have the chance to experience it all without breaking your bank. You’ll be able to experience many parts of Singapore’s culture in your everyday life and have the time of your life enjoying festivities and having fun in a safe environment.
@ East Coast Park > Tanjong Rhu Promenade, Marina Bay Sands > Merlion Park > Esplanade
Cycling! The last time we cycled was probably... when we were much younger. We had a good 2-hour+ session from the bicycle rental shop where we rented our bikes from. We cycled from point A on the map and took the route in red.
Map image from gothere.sg
This took us from East Coast Park to the Tanjong Rhu Promenade where we later saw the National Stadium across the river. We then cycled along the Gardens by the Bay (East) path where the view of the city was splendid with the sunset. At the end of the path you would see Marina Barrage. Cycle across the barrage and head up to the rooftop for a short break. The view is uninterrupted to shutterbugs hang around here to get a photo of the landscape. People also go there for kite flying or a picnic. :)
Next, follow the path and cycle along the bay area. You will pass by the hawker area Satay by the Bay - if you are there at about 6pm in the evening and detect a smell of barbecue, you're on the right track. Cycle past the towering glass panels which make up the structure of Gardens by the Bay. Head straight and you would come to Marina Bay Sands (MBS). Just as you pass under the highway bridge, get your bikes up a couple of steps and cut across MBS. You would see a wooden pathway. Follow the perimeters of Marina Bay Sands and make a right turn when you reach the end to circle round the water body. Keep going and you will reach Merlion Park followed by the Esplanade, which is large thorn-like building - can't miss it! Keep cycling along the bay and you will come to the Helix bridge, which literally looks like DNA magnified. Get across the bridge and you would find yourself back at Marina Bay Sands. Take the same route back to East Coast Park!
If you are unfamiliar with the area, you can try cycling on weekends. Following other cyclists and joggers would keep you on the right track.
There are a couple of bicycle renting shops along East Coast Park. Usually you will be given an additional hour free with an hour of rental. The subsequent hour would be charged at a lower rate. The rates range from $8 to $12 an hour. They have bicycles for adults and children. If you return the bicycle later than the scheduled time, you will have to pay the additional charges accordingly - yes, even if you get back later because of the rain.You would need to bring some form of identity document to rent bicycles as well, such as your driver's license. For a leisurely pedal down the beach, you can try the tandem bike for 2 or the 4 seater sheltered bike! :)
You would find a number of eateries along East Coast Park so food's not a problem especially if you have kids in tow. As the park stretches a distance, just take note to head to the right areas in the park. If not, you would need walk a long distance to 'civilisation' areas. Some good landmarks to tell the cab driver would be MacDonald's or Burger King at East Coast Park.
@ Port of Lost Wonder - 54 Palawan Beach Walk, Sentosa
It was the June school holidays and Yasmin and Jess decided to bring their nephews and niece to Sentosa! The Port of Lost Wonder (POLW) is great for kids from as young as 3 to probably 12. When the kids arrived they just took off their shoes and darted straight into the pool so you can imagine how attractive it was to them. Apart from the water slides and water jets, there's a gigantic bucket above the pirate ship playground which gets filled up with water and tilts over every 5 minutes. POLW also has a schedule of other activities such as Bubble Party (foam pool sessions) and Pots and Planks (DIY a pot plant). Tickets at $10 on weekdays and $15 on weekends get you in for the entire opening hours from 10am to 6.30pm.
There are a couple of other waterparks in Singapore for kids which you can check out. Some of them have fun water features without a pool and are free of charge.
Free of charge:
Far East Children's Garden (Gardens by the Bay)
18 Marina Gardens Drive, Singapore 018953
Opening hours: 10am to 7pm on weekdays, 9am to 9pm on weekends (closed on Mondays)
The 3 House Playground (Changi City Point shopping mall)
5 Changi Business Park Central 1, Singapore 486038
Opening hours: 10am to 10pm
Kidzplay (Nex shopping mall)
23 Serangoon Central, Singapore 566
Opening hours: 1 to 8pm on weekdays, 11am to 8pm on weekends/school and public holidays
With an entrance fee:
Jurong East Swimming Complex
Foreigners: $2 on weekdays, $2.60 on weekends
Locals/PRs: Adults: $1.50 on weekdays, $2 on weekends. Kids: $0.80 on weekdays, $1 on weekends.
Opening hours: 8am to 9.15pm, closed on Mondays
Sengkang Swimming Complex
57 Anchorvale Road, Singapore 544964
Locals/PRs: Adults: $1.50 on weekdays, $2 on weekends. Kids: $0.80 on weekdays, $1 on weekends.
Opening hours: 8am to 9pm, closed on Mondays
Adventure Cove Waterpark
The ultimate waterpark in Singapore, complete with major waterslides and a wave pool.
$36 for adults, $28 for kids
Opening hours: 10am to 6pm daily
Wild Wild Wet
Adults: $20 on weekdays, $24 on weekends
Kids: $14 on weekdays, $17 on weekends
Opening hours: 1 to 7pm on weekdays, 10am to 7pm on weekends/school and public holidays
Birdz of Play (in Jurong Bird Park)
2 Jurong Hill, Singapore 628925
$29 for adults, $19 for kids
Opening hours: 11am to 5.30pm on weekdays, 9am to 5.30pm on weekends/school and public holidays
Entrance to Jurong Bird Park would get you entry to the Birdz of Play waterpark
Rainforest Kidzworld (in Singapore Zoological Gardens)
80 Mandai Lake Road, Singapore 729826
$33 for adults, $22 for kids
Opening hours: 9am to 5.30pm
Entrance to the Singapore Zoological Gardens would get you entry to the Rainfores Kidzworld waterpark
*Do check out the individual websites before you go in case the parks might be closed for maintenance work.
@ MacRitchie Reservoir Park
For Elyn, who hardly exercises (the soles of her shoes falling off being undeniable proof), to enjoy the 12.6km Macritchie walk, there must be a draw about the place.
If you're looking for a unique way to burn off those calories from that third buffet in the month, or you simply want a reprieve from the air-conditioned gyms, MacRitchie Nature Reserve could be your next haunt. Surrounded by the ubiquitous sights and sounds of nature, MacRitchie is a haven for nature lovers. For adventure seekers, be spoilt for choice with the different trails leading to the TreeTop Walk, a location which many consider to be the holy grail of MacRitchie.
Nestled in the middle of the nature reserve, is the TreeTop Walk. It is a suspended bridge between the two highest points in MacRitchie - the Bukit Pierce and Bukit Kalan. The highest point of the TreeTop Walk is 25 metres above the ground which is around 7 storeys high!
The different routes to this picturesque spot can either confuse or spur trekkers on (go with friends who have a good sense of direction lol~). One may get lost along the way and end up not being able to experience swaying on the bridge, or taking a plethora of photographs of the scenic view (which we definitely did), a testament to arriving at the revered spot in MacRitchie. Should that happen, do not be dismayed. You could attempt searching for the TreeTop Walk again with sheer determination or simply enjoy trekking on the trails in the reserve that is bursting with a rich biodiversity. In fast paced city Singapore, take a hike, and take time to breathe in the crisp air and take in the sights of lush greenery!
Other places to check out:
One of the best ways to understand the way of life in Singapore is to spend half a day in a housing estate. Housing estates are self-contained each with a wet market, minimart, hair salon, coffee shops, a hawker centre, hardware stores, clinics, schools, police post - you name it! You don't have to head too far out to get everything you need in a housing estate - most people just have to take the lift down, cross a road to get to all these facilities or at the most, take a 5 bus-stop ride. That's why you would see some people dressed in just their PJs hanging around in the neighbourhood. :P
Nowadays though, huge supermarkets sprouting up at housing estates. Since the wet markets are only operational in the mornings till early afternoon (they are closed on Mondays too), many people shop for groceries at supermarkets too. Watch us visit a wet market here.
The minimarts are epic. Some have been there for a long time - you can tell from the signage (wooden and engraved with Chinese words) and the flooring in the shop. Some have been around since the 60s. It's actually pretty sad that they are being phased out gradually though because of supermarkets or convenience stores.
You can usually find one or 2 playgrounds in the neighbourhood for kids. They have evolved from sand pit playgrounds with just a single concrete slide to plastic furniture playgrounds with synthetic flooring. Nonetheless kids in the neighbourhood gather to play especially in the evenings (if they are not on their iPads). A sandpit playground from the old days which has been preserved is at Toa Payoh Lorong 6.
Photo source: Today Online
5. Hardware stores
These are the DIY stores where you can get everything from paint to pails to locks. Most have been in the neighbourhood for a long time so the shops are cluttered from ceiling to floor, and the wares flood to take up space outside the shop too. To make things easier for yourself, just tell the shopkeeper what you are looking for and he will tell you where in the shop you can find it. Prices too are much better than in DIY stores in shopping malls.
7. Emergencies and stuff
More often than not, you can find more than 2 clinics in one neighbourhood, a dentist and a police post at some. At larger estates there would be a poly clinic (government subsidised) and public library. For neighbourhoods built around an MRT station, you would find more amenities, like a money changer, a pawn shop, a Chinese medical hall, a dentist and a sports stadium with gym and badminton court facilities. O yes, and a bus terminal and shopping centre too.
Try visiting the following wet markets:
Tiong Bahru Estate (83 Seng Poh Road: Take the MRT and alight at Tiong Bahru station, then walk 400m to Tiong Bahru Market)
Toa Payoh Wet Market (127 Lorong 1 Toa Payoh: Take the MRT and alight at Toa Payoh station, then take bus# 141, 231 from the bus interchange and alight 3 stops later)
Marine Parade Central (84 Marine Parade Central: Take the MRT to Paya Lebar MRT station, then take bus# 43, 76, 197, 135 and alight at Parkway Parade shopping centre 6 stops later)
*Tip! Visit in the mornings, have a local breakfast there, and avoid Mondays as the wet markets would be closed. Try visiting on a weekend to soak in the atmosphere.
@ Climb Central at Kallang Wave Mall (nearest MRT station: Stadium)
We were checking out the new Kallang Wave Mall just next to the awesome new National Stadium when we spotted a rock climbing wall towering 3 floors right in the middle of the shopping mall.
The climbing facility is owned by Climb Central. They held a lucky draw as it was their opening month, we like any self-respecting Singaporean (:P) participated in it and were super blessed to be picked for free passes! Yay!
For first-timers (like us!), the walls definitely looked intimidating and we wondered how high our muscles (if they were even in us) could take us. But then we saw some little kids like 9 years old climbing bravely and effortlessly - there was no excuse for us. The staff at Climb Central were great to give us tips to climb the right way so that we could use minimum effort for maximum climbing fun. They took us on a short briefing tour and covered the auto-belaying system which are fixed for walls one and a half floors high. So basically you clip your harness to the system, start climbing, once you reach the top, you just let go - and pray that the system works perfectly to bring you down safely. :)
For a more challenging climb, you're supposed to climb using the same-coloured pieces jutting out of the wall, but obviously for us that didn’t happen. The objective was to get to the top, right? Lol~
There are no high mountains to trek or steep cliffs to scale in Singapore, but we are glad to have man-made rock walls across our island to work those muscles. Check out these places to rock climb!
160 Paya Lebar Road
#02-07 Orion @ Paya Lebar, Singapore 409022
Onsight Climbing Gym
100 Guillemard Road, Singapore 399718
Contact: +65-6348 8272
60 Tessensohn Road
48, Toh Guan Road East,
#05-153 Enterprise Hub,
The Rock School
850 New Upper Changi Rd
SAFRA Adventure Sports Centre