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Posts from the ‘Singapore’ Category

Travel Contest: Win a Trip for Two to Singapore!

Three years after I moved out of Singapore, there is something about this little island state  that still lingers in my mind. Most of us travel to find solitude in nature or to relive parts of ancient history. But Singapore, with its manmade beaches, solar-powered gardens and city lights glittering almost more magically than stars, is a glimpse of what travel might become in the future. When the world has culturally assimilated and technology surpasses even the wonders of nature, won’t we travel to witness progress? Read more

4 Time Zones, 2 Bucket List Items, 1 Month.

What a month March has been. I’ve travelled along the mountains, rivers and rice paddies of Thailand’s north, revisited with much nostalgia the familiar streets of Singapore, revelled in the festivities of Las Fallas in Spain, and finally made that illusive trip to India’s northeast to live with the Mishing tribe of Assam and explore the wilderness of the eastern Himalayas.

And in the midst of all these adventures, I’ve been overwhelmed to see my travel story about Turkey’s Black Sea region, published in BBC Travel, a travel publication I’ve always held in such high regard. Read more

Boutique Hotels in Singapore Under US$ 150.

Based on your feedback to some of my recent blog posts, I am now trying to intersperse my travel stories with reviews of places I’ve stayed and eaten at – practical information that can help you plan your own trips. I’m starting with reviews of two boutique hotels I recently stayed at in Singapore – Naumi Liora and Parc Sovereign – both moderate budget hotels under US$ 150. Read more

Singapore: 10 Best Free Things To Do.

Let’s face it. Compared to its neighbors, Singapore can be a tad expensive! If you’re on a budget trip, take my list of free stuff, free activities, free places to visit, and free things to do in Singapore, and keep your pockets happy. 

As I packed my bags for Singapore in the end of February, I was swamped with shopping lists, mostly from my mom. “What else can you do in Singapore?” she asked. As someone who can’t bear to spend more than a few minutes in a store, I felt perplexed. I suddenly wondered what I did over weekends in Singapore, while I studied and worked there for almost half a dozen years, because I certainly didn’t shop (and didn’t have the money to, either). If you ask me, some of the best experiences on the island nation are in fact, free: Read more

5 Years On, Singapore Still Surprises Me.

My 17-year old self landed on the shores of sunny Singapore in 2005, filled with curiosity to see the other side of Asia. Despite my 5-year long stint, some things about this tiny country continue to surprise me, and I’m not talking chewing gum bans and jay-walking fines. Read more

10 Must-Try Vegetarian Food Places in Singapore.

Many people rave about Singapore being a food haven, but vegetarians probably try to steer that conversation towards shopping. Finding a satisfying vegetarian meal in Southeast Asia can be challenging, so I put together a veggie-loving, kind-to-your-wallet guide to finding some great vegetarian food in Singapore from all over the world. Click here to read my article on CNNGo.

vegetarian humor

Warning: The following content may cause you to rub your tummy, salivate in temptation, and rethink all your dinner plans. Read more

5 Weekend Getaways From Singapore to Pamper You.

Close to each weekend, I desperately resort to Google to find offbeat ideas for weekend getaways from Singapore. In the midst of my travel research, I came across these 5 weekend getaways in Malaysia and Indonesia that will pamper your senses and indulge you. So ditch your weekend travel to Kuala Lumpur, and rejuvenate in lesser know Southeast Asian hideouts!

1) Tempat Senang, Indonesia

An hour’s ferry-ride away from Singapore, in the neighborhood of Batam Island (Indonesia), lies this exotic little gem. It’s a boutique resort, with under 10 suites, each designed, decorated and modeled after an Asian country. Besides the likes of Bali room, Indian room and Japanese room, there’s a Tree Room with a bed suspended in mid air. It’s also home to a traditional Balinese spa with a wide range of rejuvenating massages, and a pampering staff.

Tempat Senang, weekend getaway, Singapore, Batam, Indonesia, Spa, offbeat

The Tree Room at Tempat Senang. Picture courtesy

Also read: Tempat Senang: Rejuvenation

2) Nikoi Island, Indonesia

Close your eyes and imagine you are sprawling on a beach chair on white sands, in the company of crystal blue waters, sipping a drink. Just across the shores of Singapore, Nikoi Island affords you that luxury. Many describe this private island & its ecotourism resort as magical. Of course, a picture speaks a thousand words.

Nikoi Island, Bintan, Indonesia, weekend getaway, singapore, offbeat, ecotourism

From my trip to Nikoi Island

Also read: Nikoi Island [Bintan, Indonesia]: ecotourism, beauty, magic

3) Lake Kenyir, Malaysia

Most spas have an artificial waterfall in the background, to soothe your senses with the effect of trickling water. Imagine looking into a lake instead while being pampered, reflecting upon life in its vastness. That’s the Lake Kenyir ecotourism resort & spa for you, in Terengganu, Malaysia.

Lake Kenyir

Lake Kenyir. Photo credit: 2121studio’s Flickr stream.

4) Tanjong Jara, Malaysia

Tanjong Jara replicates the magnificent palaces and the pampering luxury of Malay kings in Terengganu, Malaysia. On the coast of turquoise seas, this traditional resort swept away Time‘s editors too. After all, you must live life king size, at least once!

tanjong jara, weekend getaway, Singapore, malaysia, terengganu, offbeat, spa

Tanjong Jara Resort. Photo credit:

5) Pangkor Laut, Malaysia

You have probably heard of Pangkor Island on Malaysia’s west coast, but Pangkor Laut, a private island resort, is a world in itself. Think crystal blue waters, white sands, chalets on stilts. Think indulgence.

pangkor laut, singapore, malaysia, weekend getaway, offbeat, spa

Pangkor Laut Resort. Photo credit:

Which of these 5 getaways have you already pampered yourself at? Do you know of any other secret pampering getaways?

Also read: 5 offbeat travel destinations in Southeast Asia

To read & share more travel recommendations, join Shivya Nath on Facebook & Twitter.

ZoukOut 2010 – I came, I saw, I survived!

ZoukOut, Southeast Asia’s biggest beach party, is a right of passage for party-goers in the region. I lost my ZoukOut virginity last night, at the 10th ZoukOut, together with David Guetta who performed for the first time in Singapore. And what a performance it was!

Zoukout 2010

Thanks to AirAsia and their Singapore Facebook page, we won passes to this all-night party at Siloso Beach, Sentosa. As expected, people had poured in at the beach in thousands, and as the night went by, the percentage of sweat and puke probably exceeded the total amount of alcohol. Everyone was trying to hold out for Tiesto at 3 am, followed by David Guetta at 5 am. Finding a place in front of the main stage (arena A) meant being pushed around incessantly by a mob of sweaty people, dropping drinks everywhere.

We decided to spend the night instead at the area right behind the stage, and managed somehow to get entry into a restricted zone! From there on, it was party time indeed. Both Tiesto & Guetta performed a few feet away from where we were jumping and screaming and shaking a leg or two. I even saw David Guetta at arm’s length distance when he was making his way to the back-stage!

ZoukOut, pictures, 2010, guetta, tiesto

Side view of the ZoukOut stage

Zoukout 2010

Zoukout 2010

zoukout 2010

Watching Tiesto perform live is something else. As he gears up the crowd to his beats, you can see his face lighten up, as though there’s nowhere else he’d rather be and nothing else he’d rather be doing. His spirit, just like his music, is mind-blowing!

Tiesto, ZoukOut 2010

Tiesto performing at ZoukOut 2010

Tiesto, ZoukOut 2010

Tiesto performing at ZoukOut 2010

Guetta was the night’s headlining act and ‘impressive’ would be such an understatement. Song after song, he kept the entire crowd on its feet with their hands in the air, even after 5 am in the morning! Hats off to his music.

All in all, ZoukOut is one of those things that you need to experience, at least once. It was exhausting battling the crowd, but the Tiesto-Guetta act more than made up for it.

On Social Media & Free Speech

I am a little flustered right now. My head is flowing with many thoughts, but I must start at the start.

A month and a half ago (mid Sept), I had an unfortunate lunch-time experience at a restaurant I frequented. In a nutshell, a server spilled all kinds of food all over me and my clothes while I was eating, seated along the corridor, and the “service recovery” after that was excruciatingly bad; all in the middle of a work day! Expectedly, I was appalled by the experience, and also exhausted by the conversation I had with the restaurant manager. I resorted to HungryGoWhere, a popular Singapore-based site where I often review food joints. Here is my entire review on Zaffran, the restaurant in question.

With little else to pacify myself, I moved on and went about my life as usual. Until a few days back, when HungryGoWhere’s moderator wrote to me the following message:

To this, I immediately replied with my contact details, standing by the integrity of my review. Following 4 days of silence, I received an email from Zaffran this afternoon, and you have to see it to believe it:

I guess you’ll understand now why I’m flustered. (And a little angry and a little amused)

Rule #1 of Social Media – I’m an online citizen and I have the right to share my experiences with my fellow citizens.

Over to you – Any thoughts, insights, suggestions, comments? Any lawyers?!

UPDATE: Calvin Timo, a Twitter friend, wrote a post about the incident on his blog and received an email from Zaffran claiming that they are “friendly and reasonable” people. Well, actions speak louder than words.

Disclaimer: This is a personal blog and all thoughts expressed here are my own, not intended to harm anyone. Via this post, I only seek support from the online community and share my experience of the situation I’ve found myself in.

My First Chinese Wedding

A wedding is a must-attend to graduate in the understanding of a culture. A batch-mate at work took the plunge last night, giving me my first sneak peak into a Chinese-Singaporean wedding.

Gate crashing

The title’s a misnomer. It’s a Singaporean tradition in which the groom must earn the right to his bride. The groom, accompanied by his brothers (the western equivalent of the best man), shows up early in the morning at the bride’s house. They are greeted by the bridesmaids and tasked to pass tests on life’s essential skills (culinary, physical, endurance etc). Before the tasks started, all the brothers were made to sign indemnity forms! In this particular wedding, the tasks were considered rather mild, and included doing push-ups, decorating a cake, dancing & eating dumplings of 4 kinds – sweet, sour, spicy (stuffed with chilli) & bitter (boiled with panadol!) After completing all the tasks, the groom is given the key to his bride’s room where she waits in her bridal gown – rescuing the girl, Bollywood style :)

Tea ceremony

The gate crashing is followed by a tea ceremony at the groom’s house, where the bride & the groom kneel down and serve tea to the groom’s parents, as a symbol of respect.


I was part of this, primarily dinner, at the ballroom at a hotel. Lack of much literature online of what to wear, what to gift, what to expect, prompted me to compose this post! A simple party dress sufficed – the range of dressing varied from very evening wear to rather casual wear. In my little research, I had read that black & white were considered inappropriate to be worn at a Chinese wedding, because black signifies death / bad fortune while white is the distinct color of the bride. However, black was a prominent color at the wedding and the tradition is mostly limited to the much older generation.

Much to my surprise, the reception area had a registration booth for guests to tick against their names & see their pre-determined table numbers! There was a box to drop the red packets – the ang-paos – the standard practice is to give cash the equivalent of your seat at the ballroom (or gift vouchers of the same amount). The sit down dinner was interspersed with videos of the bride & the groom growing up as individuals & as a couple, along with one on the gate crashing before.

I feel so much more in the know of Chinese culture!

[I still keep my view on marriages being societal rather than necessary, but more on that later.]


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