Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Media Preview: Cirque Du Soleil - Totem

After and absence of 10-years, Cirque Du Soleil returns to Singapore!

Totem traces the fascinating journey of the human species from its original amphibian state to its ultimate desire to fly.

The cast is made up of 46 circus artists, actors, musicians and singers from 17 countries, who  perform an amazing collection of  acrobatic acts that will leave you speechless, but smiling.

If you haven't been to a Cirque du Soleil performance, you're in for a treat! Below are some hightlights from the media preview.

The performers are professionals through and through; never missing a beat or losing the rhythm on their acts. From exotic cultural dances through to feats that make you wonder how is it possible. At the preview we saw amazing acrobatics with single, double, even triple somersaults in the air. There were also amazing twists mid air as well, only to have the performer land back onto a thin beam. It is all very breathtaking and you do watch in awe. This was just the media preview so imagine the other amazing acts in the full show. 

Cirque du Soleil has a wide range of souvenirs to take home with you after the show, we found the masks to be very tempting.

Totem opens in Singapore on Wednesday 28 October 2015 and runs through till December 2015. Tickets can be purchased through Sistic.

Their famous blue-and-white big top can be found on Bayfront Ave, next to Marina Bay Sands.

This blog resulted from an invitation and represents the thoughts and opinions of Expat Kiwis. All information on this blog is provided "as is", with no guarantee of completeness, accuracy or timeliness and the writer will not be liable for any losses, injuries or damages from the display or use of this information. All text and photos on this blog are the original works of the writer unless stated otherwise.

Thank you to Club Cirque for the kind invitation.

Monday, 12 October 2015

AltPizza's new location on East Cost Road

We tried AltPizza's new branch at 117 East Coast Road (opp I12 Katong). From the ground level, it seems like a smaller branch to the one at Suntec City.

But . . . if you head towards the picture with the girl on the wall, turn right, and you will see that there are stairs leading up to the second storey, where there a more seats.

Nothing is different at this branch. Same great food, great pizzas and good service!

Monday, 21 September 2015

Learning the local Lingo - Chinese classes in Singapore

Being an Expat is exciting for many reasons; a new life and being in a new environment. The new environment can mean new sights, smells, foods and even another language. Having been in Singapore for awhile now, I had always thought about learning Chinese, and to really adding to my Expat experience. How cool would it be to be able to communicate in one of the many dialects present in Singapore? I started to look around for some tuition options. They had to be a classroom scenario for me; I like the interaction with fellow students, and also getting to know more people in Singapore is always nice.

It was by pure coincidence that whilst I was searching; Elite Linguistics came along, and offered to have me join their sessions and learn some Chinese. I was trilled as it was just so timely. The commitment factor was great too. At Elite Linguistics; it is one class a week, a total of 12 classes per module. This suits a working person very well as I could finish work and still get to my lessons; which start at 7pm, and finish at 9pm. It isn't too bad for a 12 week programme and in order to successfully complete a 12 week module, you must attend at least 80% of all classes.

The location of the classes were also very important to me. I didn't want to travel too far after work. Elite Linguistics has a few locations; Jurong and Bugis, and the Bugis one worked out very well for me.

The emphasis in the classes is on conversations so you're not expected to learn how to write Chinese characters. This was ideal for me too as I wanted to concentrate on getting as much practical usage as possible. It was also good to have a text book that listed the many common phrases and words/characters.

First night of class is always exciting. It was so good to see that it was a small class of 5 people. It meant that the teacher could really focus on each of us and provide us more help if needed. The class size was also perfect for more interaction. All of us were encouraged to make sentences, translate and speak to each other using the new Chinese vocabulary we had learnt that night.
Our tutor was great as well; taking a lot of time to answer questions and ensured we all got a chance to contribute. Each of us took turns to complete Chinese phrases and sentences. Our tutor was really committed; even staying back for a few minutes to help those who needed it.
Learning a new language is very invigorating; as it made me want to use it every chance I got. When I started to pick up a few more phrases from more lessons, I found that I could have lunch at a hawker centre and use Chinese to ask the price and also to communicate the time of day to my colleagues for meetings in Chinese. They were really supportive and amazed that I was willing to try and make an effort. This was really motivating as you can see the results as you pick up more.

The topics for the module are also interesting and so far we've learnt to talk about:

  • Greetings and Family
  • Time and money
  • Shopping
  • Food and ordering
  • Directions and places
  • Going to see the Doctor

The modules are structured well so that students can use them in everyday scenarios. As you learn more during each lesson, you find that you can make more complex sentences and phrases.

I'm nearing the end of the module now; having just finished class number 10. Of all the lessons the one on asking for directions has been great and I've found it the most useful in my daily life. I've taken the MRT on many journeys and now I'm able to ask for directions; and understand, them in Chinese. The sounds can be hard to pronounce but the people in public are great and very patient. They've been most helpful as sometimes I don't remember all of the directions and get them to repeat it. I've been able to find a few shops lately using Chinese to ask for directions so I'm very proud. And most importantly; I've also been able to talk about prices too and gotten some good deals on my shopping!
Another great initiative that Elite Linguistics organises from time to time is a kind of "cultural evening". It's an opportunity for the different classes to get together one evening and listen to a guest speaker. You can learn more about Chinese culture, not just the language. Each of the students can also show off their skills by doing a short speech in Chinese. It's very good for getting feedback from other people, testing listening skills and getting to meet even more people. The text book also has great little sections called "Did You Know?" to give more insights into the Chinese culture.

So if you're planning to really capitalise on your Expat experience, do consider taking up a language. My choice was Chinese in this case as I decided it would be great for my daily life and it has been very useful in the office. Learning Chinese has made me interact in a different way and it's so good to see people being most supportive when you attempt to speak to them in one of the local dialects. I have appreciated the practical structure that Elite Linguistics has put around their lessons so very keen to carry on and sign up for the next module.

Elite Linguistics has kindly extended a special offer to our readers! The price for 12 lessons (over 12 weeks) is usually SGD$420.00; but you can get 10% off for one person (or 15% off for two people) when you quote "ELN-KIWI", when you call them on +65 6565 7166.

If you're unsure; you can do a quick trial session for SGD$3.00 before committing to the 12 sessions.

To find out more, you can also visit their website www.languageasia.com.

Have you started learning a new language on your expat adventures? Which language?

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Authentic Sri Lankan cuisine at Tekka Market

Ever since we came back from our holiday in Sri Lanka (blog pending), we've been trying to find a place where we can re-create the memory of our holiday and our cooking class.

So, we our friend Anita Kapoor posted this picture of the Sri Lankan meal that she had right here in Singapore, I did some digging.

And thanks to Anita's good instructions of where to find this stall, we found it and we like it!

Dahl, fish and sweet potato

Thanks to the directions given, I managed to find Kodi (not sure that's how you spell it), the owner of Raja Bojun at Tekka Market.

Kodi tells me that the selection is changed each day, which is good, as there is so much more curry in Sri Lankan cuisine.

To find Raja Boju, enter Tekka Market Hawker Centre from Serangoon Rd, then turn to the stalls on the left. It's the only Sri Lankan cuisine stall in the row.

Kodi tells me that he's the only Sri Lankan cuisine stall in Singapore. We'll believe him for now.

Is there another Sri Lankan cuisine place you have found? Please share it with us in the comments below.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

National Geographic Live Presents: My Nine Lives with Steve Winter

In this not-to-be-missed presentation, Big Cat legend Steve Winter will share his intense encounters and astonishing images of the big cats of India, Brazil, and Hollywood.
One of the world’s most extraordinary wildlife photographers, Steve Winter will share his gripping tales live on stage, from coming face-to-face with tigers in India’s Kaziranga National Park – one of the last places where tigers still share the land with elephants, rhinos, and deer – to capturing nocturnal adventures of a mountain lion in the Hollywood hills.

Date & Time: Tuesday, 25 August 2015, 7.30pm
Venue: Esplanade Theatres on the Bay, Concert Hall
Ticketing Details: Tickets are priced from $39* - see the Sistic website for more details.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

An audience with the King....... of Fruits

For those of us in Singapore; around this time of year, a familiar smell lingers around the air. You're almost certainly going to smell it before you see it, even from metres away. Soon you come to recognise it; as you round the corner, sitting amongst all the other fruits you'll spot the Durian. Hailed as the King of Fruits its hugely recognisable with its armour of spikes, smelly reputation and a yellowish custard banana like flesh that lies within its many chambers. 

It's hard to tell whether the Durian is loved or loathed, for as many that say they love the fruit to bits, there is seemingly an equal number that wouldn't touch it with a 10 foot (or more) pole. 

However, word has spread..... Apparently this season is the best season yet due to more favourable weather conditions or due to more rain in the neighbouring countries where the Durian is imported from. Facebook and Instagram accounts are also singing the praises of the Durian this season; so really, it had to be done. We just had to try it for ourselves. 

After dinner one night; Durian was the dessert of choice. I can just imagine most of you cringing now, probably thinking Cake or Panna Cotta is a better choice. We opted to buy a Durian at "227 Katong Durian" out on East Coast Road. We heard somewhere that they're renowned for getting in darn good quality Durian and the owner knew what he was doing when selecting your pungent medieval weapon of a fruit for consumption. We were 100 metres away from the stand but could already smell it. Yup; the force was strong this season, and it was attracting many enthusiast. There was already a queue alongside the stall.

However, it didn't take long. Minutes later the owner had chosen out a Mao Shan Wang Durian for us, he skilfully hacked into it with his trusty knife, weighed it, charged us $34, and it was ready to eat at our roadside table. We weren't going to risk taking it home as it certainly doesn't fit into the "best" air freshener category. 

Sitting at the table; I pryed open the Durian, making sure not to cut my hands in the process. This fruit; beyond the smell, can be harzardous stuff. And behold; with a sudden strong whiff of Durian as the shell was opened, the wonderfully bright yellow fruit was revealed. The colour was amazing, bright, intense and kindly "sickly". We dug right into it pulling out a seed each. I love how there is a small membrane like coating around each piece. It gives a very nice texture and crispiness as you bite into it. Within is the super rich and creamy custard like flesh. As you bite, it is almost like eating mozzarella on a pizza since it can stretch into thin strands. The Durian was sweet and very decadent. The texture was amazingly smooth and we loved how it had that weird aroma. It reminded us of "strong paint".  

There was a total of 5 chambers so we racked up an impressive pile of seeds! 

After a pretty big dessert of Durian, we must say that we agree with the majority that this year's Durian season is spot on. Whether it's at a bus stop or even in our condo complex, the smell of Durian lingers in the air as fans buy up big and indulge. 

If you're a fan; get out there and try it out if you haven't already done so. Never tried? Now is an excellent time to try. Not a fan at all? Sorry; you'll have to endure the season for a few more weeks. 

What are your experiences with Durian? Yea or Nay? :)

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Looking for great Mexican food in Seminyak?

It's always great to find a place that serves great food and in Bali, you're very spoilt for choice. Imagine though if you found a place with great music and a lot of fun thrown into the mix. That place is Motel Mexicola!

Just a little further on out of the main shopping stretch is Motel Mexicola. It isn't an accommodation place despite it's name, but a Mexican themed restaurant. Once you arrive you'll see that the theme is delivered very creatively with crazy murals, colours and decorations. It's almost like a club as it has music pumping and people with huge smiles having a good time.

At Mexicola it's all about sharing. The menu looks huge but don't be thrown off by that. It's really simple as you start off with smaller sharing plates first and then move through onto Mains. The menu is already laid out in this manner; just order from left to right. Once you come to choose your Mains, feel free to share as these are pretty big. 

The drinks are also great too. The main attraction is of course the Margaritas that are a must have. They come in single serves or a jug which is great for larger groups. We also tried the Mojitos and the Coco Colado which came in a coconut. 

The Mexican food at Mexicola is very tasty; a few squeezes of lime really brings out the flavours even more.

To start we had some Guacamole to get the taste buds going. So good when you can taste how fresh the ingredients are and the corn chips are extra crunchy. 

The slow roasted Pork Tostaditas; De Cochinitas, were up next. They're a helping of Pork on small corn chips topped off with pickles. It's like finger food so it's bite sized and one bite was it; all gone! These were great, Pork was still so juicy. 

With the taste of the Tostaditas still lingering in our mouth, we moved onto the Empanadas. These are like small pastries and you can have fillings of your choice. We decided on a vegetarian one filled with melted cheeses, mushrooms, corn and peppers. 

Eat these as soon as they come out as it is fantastic when still hot and the cheese oozing.

Now it wouldn't be right if we didn't try any Tacos. Seafood was the choice for this round so we opted for the tempura prawn and grilled fish. The Tacos were nice and soft and a squeeze of lime on the seafood was perfect. The grilled fish stood out the most though; wonderfully juicy and best eaten when it's served and hot. The tomato salsa gave it a bit of a vinegar edge too, this was perfect. The tempura prawn had a pineapple salsa giving the taco the sour/sweet treatment.

Tempura Prawn Taco

Grilled Fish Taco
With these appetite inducing morsels the main was the next to come; the breaded chicken, which is stuffed with rajas poblanas to give it a good spicy kick and topped with a coriander salsa. It also comes with a small side dish of chipotle mash and extra tacos for some DIY wrap fun :)

Really enjoyed the rajas poblanas stuffed inside the chicken. It gave enough heat to the dish but had the coriander salsa to bring it back down again before you had to call the fire brigade. 

Apart from the food though; Mexicola has a great atmosphere. They have some good tunes that their DJ pumps out across the restaurant. You always know if it is a crowd favourite as people at most tables will start to bob their heads up and down or waving their hands in the air. 

The staff are also easy going as well; dancing and singing as the deliver meals but never compromising the service. They're really fun and will start clapping and dancing to get the customers into it. They got so many revved up that they all started dancing on the stage! Really fun and all the kids at Mexicola enjoyed the experience immensely; Mexicola is for all ages.

Motel Mexicola is a place we'd come back to again and again. Fresh tasty food, good variety, well made drinks and a fantastically fun atmosphere. You really feel like you're on holiday here with the whole restaurant getting into the groove and festivities. The decor is also top notch; a great courtyard flanked on both sides with bars. Incredible staff as well; friendly and always smiling. They make the place what it is. Already missing the place just by doing this post!

So next time you're in Bali; Seminyak, check out Motel Mexicola and tell us what you think. You can even make a booking via their website which is really handy. 

Oh; and don't forget to try the Magaritas! 

Do you like Mexican food? What's your fave dish?

Motel Mexicola is located at:
Jl. Kayujati No. 9 X, Petitenget
Bali 80361
Phone:+62 (0361) 736 688

Friday, 10 July 2015

Wanderlust Hotel - Little India

If you're stuck for another staycation idea, why not try Wanderlust, located on Dickson Street, Little India.

Wanderlust is a 29-room boutique accommodation where each floor has a different theme, designed by different Singapore design agencies.

The Lobby Level has an Industrial Glam theme, designed by Asylum.

Here are some of the rooms Wanderlust has to offer:

Eccentricity by :phunk Studio. There are10 Rooms are ‘capsule-like’ and playfully rendered in different hues. 

Is it just Black and White by DP Architects. Walk across the black corridor and enter into the contrasting white rooms to discover Origami and Pop-Art works.

Whimsical - Featuring 9 loft rooms with five varying themes, ‘Bling’ , ‘ASCII’, ‘Space’, ‘Tree’ and ‘Typewriter’.

For those that just want to relax by a pool, the Wanderlust has a Jacuzzi that is accessible from the second floor.

Located on the ground level of Wanderlust is Cocotte. They serve unpretentious, rustic French cuisine in a casual and comfortable setting. Encouraging social interaction and communal dining, dishes at Cocotte come in sharing portions so guests can enjoy a unique dining experience and sample a variety of scrumptious creations by the chefs. Cocotte is also open to the public.

Wanderlust is located at:
2 Dickson Road
Singapore 209494
Tel: +65 6396 3322
Fax: +65 6298 2211
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