Singapore – A Foodie’s Dream (and a Body’s Nightmare)

After 3 months and TONS of meals, snacks, desserts, and drinks, I think it’s time for my second food post. I exercise almost every day, but I seriously cannot work out enough to burn off these calories. Although it has been exciting trying out so many different foods, the Singaporean diet is very carb heavy; I am constantly asking myself, “rice, noodles, or bread?” No meal is complete without one of the three. Instead of showing you rice, noodles, and bread (cause that would be pretty boring), I’ll show you the “dream” part (which may not be good for my body, but sure is yummy when I’m consuming it).🙂

MEALS:

fish head curry with  briyani, pumpkin, chicken tikka masala, potatoes, kashmiri naan, and masala chai tea at Samy's Curry

fish head curry with briyani, roasted pumpkin, chicken tikka masala, potatoes, kashmiri naan, and masala chai tea at Samy’s Curry – I devoured that fish head! Ann doesn’t eat anything with eyes and June is tiny so she was full after a quarter of it or so

Ya Kun Kaya Toast breakfast set - 2 soft-boiled eggs, kaya toast, french toast, and kopi (coffee)

Ya Kun Kaya Toast breakfast set – 2 soft-boiled eggs, kaya toast, french toast, and kopi (coffee) – you mix the eggs with soy sauce and pepper then eat it with the spoon. This breakfast is delectable, but can sure make you gain weight if you eat it too often.

xiao long bao - 6 different flavors of soup dumplings (foie gras, spicy chicken, cheese, truffle, spicy beef, and shrimp) at Crystal Jade

xiao long bao – 6 different flavors of soup dumplings (foie gras, spicy chicken, cheese, truffle, spicy beef, and shrimp) at Crystal Jade – there are actually 8 in all, but I decided to pick these cause I haven’t seen them in the states. Yummy in my tummy!

Japanese BBQ - Wagyu beef at Gyu Kaku

Japanese BBQ – Wagyu beef at Gyu Kaku – finally got some good quality beef, but it was so pricey! I prefer Korean BBQ cause of the marinades and side dishes

BBQ stingray and satay at the Chinatown Food Market

BBQ stingray and satay at the Chinatown Food Market – first time having stingray. It’s actually really tasty and easy to eat around the big pieces of cartilage.

 

sliced fish hor fun at the Clementi hawker centre

sliced fish hor fun at the Clementi hawker centre – the fish was SUPER flaky and good. It was somewhat healthy cause nothing was fried. Just don’t think about the gravy…

Sichuan la mian (handmade noodles)

Sichuan la mian (handmade noodles) – Can’t go wrong with handmade noodles in a spicy broth – something so simple, yet so delicious.

Bak kut teh (Chinese pork rib soup)

White Pepper Bak kut teh (Chinese pork rib soup) at the Lavendar Market – pretty oily soup, but the ribs and the rice were good. Still have to try the herbal bak kut teh – aiming for next week!

chilli crab at Pulau Ubin

chilli crab at Pulau Ubin – completely understand the hype. Pretty expensive, but worth every cent. You did the mantou (steamed bun) in the sauce and it is just a piece of heaven. Can’t wait for my sister to come so I can have it again or try the black pepper crab.

prawn noodles

prawn noodles and fried goodies at Blanco Court Prawn Mee – definitely one of the best spots for prawn noodles. Plus, you could get the shrimps shelled if you wanted.

popiah (spring roll), mee siam (Siamese spicy, sweet and sour rice noodles), and barley water

1 shrimp and 1 regular popiah (spring roll), mee siam (Siamese spicy, sweet and sour rice noodles), and barley water at Qi Ji – the noodles were okay. The popiah was good, but we couldn’t see or taste the shrimp in it!

char kway teow (stir-fried flat rice noodles and/or ricecake strips)

char kway teow (stir-fried flat rice noodles and/or ricecake strips) – so greasy and bad for you, but somehow I keep going back for more…each place seems to make it slightly different.

chilli frog leg porridge at Sin Ma Live Seafood Restaurant

chilli frog leg porridge at Sin Ma Live Seafood Restaurant – one of the best meals here! I think we ate a family of frogs that night.:/ They were definitely not killed in vain though. Gotta go back to try the ginger spring onion version.

chicken murtabak (like a stuffed pancake) at Zam Zam

chicken murtabak (like a stuffed roti) at Zam Zam – eggs  + onions + chicken all stuffed in a wrapped roti = good stuff

Hokkien seafood noodle at Nanyang Executive Cafe

Hokkien seafood noodle in a claypot at Nanyang Executive Cafe – the flavor and the noodles were mighty delicious. The raw egg made it even better.🙂

kang kong and tofu dish at  Xing Hua vegetarian restaurant

kang kong, tofu dish, and fresh juices at Xing Hua vegetarian restaurant – this was mine and Ann’s somewhat cleansing meal after a day’s hike. I love the vegetarian food here, but even that is quite unhealthy cause of all the oil.

Chinese herbal soup

Chinese herbal soup at Bugis Junction – soup was a bit salty, but flavorful. Pumpkin rice was delish!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SNACKS / DESSERTS:

pulut hitam (black glutinous rice pudding with coconut milk)

pulut hitam (black glutinous rice pudding with coconut milk) – rich and delectable!

longan ice

longan ice – cool and refreshing!

radish and spring onion pancake at Lavendar Market

radish and spring onion pancake at Lavendar Market – sweet and savory!

chendol (shaved ice with rice flour jelly worms, red beans, grass jelly, and coconut milk)

chendol (shaved ice with rice flour jelly worms, red beans, grass jelly, and coconut milk) – LOVE the rich, coconut milk.

tutu kueh (rice flour with shredded coconut filling) and kopi (coffee)

tutu kueh (rice flour with shredded coconut filling) and kopi (coffee) – again, I’m a sucker for coconut. You could also get this with a peanut filling.

taro cheesecake at Maison Ikkoku (my favorite cafe)

taro cheesecake at Maison Ikkoku (my favorite cafe) – too rich for 1 person, but unique and perfect for 2.

kouign amann (salted caramel and butter pastry) and tea at Tiong Bahru Bakery

kouign amann (salted caramel and butter pastry) and tea at Tiong Bahru Bakery – this was by far one of the best things I have ever eaten in my life (and you all know that I’ve eaten a lot). The combination of the sea salt, caramel, butter, and flaky pastry is like heaven in your mouth. I have to trek there from time to time just for a fix – it’s THAT good!

Chinese rojak (tossed salad with fruits, vegetables, and Chinese fritters) at Clementi hawker centre

Chinese rojak (tossed salad with fruits, vegetables, Chinese fritters, and peanut sauce) at Clementi hawker centre – a tad sweet, but a very interesting take on fruits and veggies.

guava ice kachang (shaved ice with jelly, red beans, sweet corn, syrup, and condensed milk)

guava ice kachang (shaved ice with jelly, red beans, sweet corn, syrup, and condensed milk) – I prefer chendol cause of the coconut milk; not a huge fan of the syrups.

glutinous rice with meat and kopi at a Kopitiam (traditional coffee shop)

glutinous rice with meat and kopi at a Kopitiam (traditional coffee shop) – quick and filling mid-day snack

taro pie at McDonald's

taro pie at McDonald’s – a bit too fried and crispy on the outside (if there’s such a thing), but the taro filling was something new and exciting for me to try so it was pretty good

Portuguese egg tart and soya beancurd

Portuguese egg tart and soya beancurd – killer combo!

sweet and salty popcorn mix

sweet and salty popcorn mix  and soda – I am addicted to the popcorn here. You can get a combination of salted popcorn and kettle corn. Wash it down with some diet coke (yes, I’m on a diet…lol) – golden! Read on to see what your popcorn choice says about you!

sweet salty popcorn

assorted kueh box (desserts mostly made with glutinous rice flour, coconut, and sugar)

assorted kueh box (desserts mostly made with glutinous rice flour, coconut, and sugar) – too many names to remember. I just know that the brown one was my favorite.

sweet and salty popcorn

mango and aloe vera sago (powdered starch and ice dessert)

mango and aloe vera sago (powdered starch and ice dessert) – another cool and refreshing dessert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DRINKS:

kopi to go

kopi to go – not eco-friendly, but ingenious and convenient for your way to work. I LOVE the coffee here.  I’m not sure if it’s the condensed milk (I get kopi siew dai – with less sugar), the process, or both. It’s made with a tall metal kettle and a cotton sock filter. I need to learn how to make it the way they do cause I’m really going to miss it when I go back.

drinking coffee out of a bag

drinking kopi out of a plastic to go bag – yup, they tie the bags with a built in red string and then you can either drink straight from it when you arrive to your destination or pour it into a mug

homemade barley water

homemade barley water – this is so light and refreshing

calamansi (lime juice)

calamansi (lime juice) – these baby limes make a mean lime juice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well, that’s it for my second food post. I will post a third one before I go back to the states. However, it may not be as exciting and mouthwatering as this one. I am going to start eating better and cooking more so that I do not go back to the states 10 pounds heavier. My metabolism is definitely not what it used to be…:/

On a positive note, I can practice my culinary skills! I have already started to make some home cooked meals with my flatmate. Check it out!

shrimp young chow fried rice with marinated chicken and baby bok choy

shrimp young chow fried rice with marinated chicken and baby bok choy – not bad, right?

 

 

 

 

Exploring the Great Outdoors of Singapore

For this particular post, I’ve decided to share one of the highlights about Singapore – the greenery; the nation has done a superb job at promoting and maintaining a ‘green’ city. I try to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city-life every couple of weeks to get some fresh air and to appreciate nature. Here are my adventures in photos and captions:

1 – East Coast Park – a lovely beach park that stretches along the southeastern part of Singapore. You can find people camping out, cycling, rollerblading, wakeboarding, and running there. I went biking there with Ellen; it was probably the most stressful bike ride of my life. The park gets sooo crowded on the weekends and you have to pretty much weave around people that stop randomly on the paths or are not paying attention to where they’re going because they’re on their phones. The experience made biking in NYC look easy and safe. Nevertheless, it was nice to ride along the water and test out my cycling skills. I’m just glad no one got hurt.🙂

the paths of ECP

the paths of ECP

biking with Ellen

biking with Ellen

wakeboarding

wakeboarding

wedding photoshoot in ECP

wedding photoshoot in ECP

2 – Pulau Ubin (Granite Island) – Now, if you want a more relaxed bike ride and a feel for the kampong/village lifestyle of Singapore, you have to visit Pulau Ubin. Pulau Ubin is an island off the northeast coast of Singapore with fewer than a hundred villagers still living there. This is the REAL Singapore before all of the urban development and modernization. Many people are fighting to preserve Pulau Ubin, the kampong heritage, and all of its natural flora and fauna (I didn’t see any wild boar)😦. I hope this beautiful island does not get converted into a money-making tourist attraction so future generations can visit and appreciate old Singapore and its heritage. Click on the thumbnails for a bigger version.🙂

waiting for the bumboats to take us to Pulau Ubin

waiting for the bumboats to take us to Pulau Ubin

a bum boat (like a water taxi)

a bum boat (like a water taxi)

on a bumboat with June and Ann

on a bumboat with June and Ann

bike rental shop

bike rental shop

a traditional kampong house

a traditional kampong house

local uncle's coconut shop and home

local uncle’s coconut shop and home

drinking from a coconut that's bigger than my big head

drinking from a coconut that’s bigger than my big head

sand bubbler crab holes

sand bubbler crab holes

June cracking open an oyster with a rock - it's awesome having a knowledgeable Biology teacher and friend with us :)

June cracking open an oyster with a rock – it’s awesome having a knowledgeable Biology teacher/friend/tour guide with us🙂

the freshest oyster I've ever eaten

the freshest oyster I’ve ever eaten

coastal boardwalk of Chek Jawa wetlands

coastal boardwalk of Chek Jawa wetlands

mangroves

mangroves

slug

slug

beautiful butterfly on a leaf

beautiful butterfly on a leaf

cemetery

cemetery

crabby crab on mound created by a mud lobster

crabby crab on mound created by a mud lobster

camouflaged cicada on tree

camouflaged cicada on tree

nipa palm for thatching

nipa palm for thatching

nipa seed

nipa seed

rock formations

rock formations

view from Jejawi Tower

view from Jejawi Tower

group photo

group photo

English bungalow/cottage (House No. 1) from afar

English bungalow/cottage (House No. 1) from afar

jackfruit tree

jackfruit tree

Singlish sells

Singlish sells

quarry

quarry

passion fruit tree

passion fruit tree

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 – MacRitchie Reservoir – Singapore’s oldest reservoir!

kayaking

kayaking

treetop walk

treetop walk

treetop walk 2

treetop walk 2

proud turtle

proud turtle

family of monkeys

family of monkeys

monkey watching other monkey dig for food

monkey watching other monkey dig for food

view from Jelutong tower

Ann looking up the tower

Ann looking up the tower

butterfly attracted to Ann's shoelace

butterfly attracted to Ann’s shoelace

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 – Southern Ridges – a huge trail that links the parks along the southern coast of Singapore – Mount Faber Park, Telok Blangah Hill Park, and Kent Ridge Park – through trails, bridges, and walks.

Southern Ridges guide

Southern Ridges guide

Sign #1: no catching birds

Sign #1: no catching birds

Sign #2

Sign #2

Sign #3

Sign #3

Alexandra Arch

Alexandra Arch

forest walk

forest walk

uh oh...someone didn't pay attention to the sign...monkey eating the banana peel

uh oh…someone didn’t pay attention to the sign…monkey eating the banana peel

Henderson Waves

Henderson Waves with Ann

Henderson Waves with Ann

view from Mount Faber

view from Mount Faber

relaxing at The Jewel Box and watching the cable cars connecting Mount Faber and Sentosa

relaxing at The Jewel Box and watching the cable cars connecting Mount Faber and Sentosa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well, those are my outdoor adventures in a nutshell. I’m going to try to go to Bukit Timah Nature Reserve one of these weekends. I’ll also have a separate post about the gardens I’ve visited at some point. AND… Foodie post part 2 is coming soon!

Celebrating the Year of the Snake in Singapore

HAPPY LUNAR NEW YEAR! GONG XI FA CAI! 

snake slithering through Chinatown

snake slithering through Chinatown

Posing with some snake plushes

Posing with some snake plushes…cute in a very strange non-snakelike way

2013-02-22 14.37.41

snake at Fu Lu Shou Complex

student artwork representing Chinese New Year and the year of the snake

student artwork representing Chinese New Year and the year of the snake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 15 day celebration was from Feb 10th to Feb 24th this year. This was the first new year I was away from my family and although I felt homesick initially, my Singaporean friends and colleagues helped me overcome any nostalgia by welcoming me into their families and festivities. Come slither with me as I recount a special new year in Singapore that I will never forget…

The night before the 1st day is the reunion dinner (‘tuan yuan fan’). My teacher buddy, Shu Zhen, invited me over to celebrate with her family.

yusheng / lo hei ('prosperity toss') and pen cai ('basin dish')

yusheng / lo hei (‘prosperity toss’) and pen cai (‘basin dish’)

Lo Hei tossing

Lo Hei tossing

Lo Hei (post-tossing)

Lo Hei (post-tossing)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had a hot pot dinner (what they call steamboat here) along with two dishes symbolizing prosperity that were completely new to me.

The first one is pen cai (top dish); it consists of a basin filled with layers of ingredients (e.g., prawns, abalone, pork belly, mushrooms, sea cucumber, black fungus) in gravy. It was SO good! I need to tell my mom to prepare this next year.

The second dish is yusheng/lo hei (bottom dish); you put ingredients such as fish, oil, lime juice, pomelo, flour crisps, plum sauce, sesame seeds, and peanuts on top of shredded vegetables while saying auspicious things. Then, everyone tosses the ingredients up high with chopsticks while saying auspicious wishes for the new year. The higher the toss, the more luck you’ll receive. Some people even try to make it stick to the ceiling! It is done before the main meal and is meant to be an appetizer. Lo Hei is unique to Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia, but I am going to bring this tradition back to the US to do with my family next year. I got the chance to participate in Lo Hei 5 times and each time was extremely exciting and joyful. Thanks, Shu Zhen, Greenridge Primary, AST, and Tao Nan School for introducing me to this!🙂

people lighting up the first incense of the new year

people lighting up the first incense of the new year at Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Buddhist temple

waiting for good luck to come

waiting for good luck to come

After the reunion dinner, I had to rush home to do my spring cleaning in order to get rid of the bad luck from the previous year and to welcome in good luck for the new year. On my way home, there were a ton of people at the Buddhist temple lining up to pray for good luck for the new year. I didn’t quite finish before midnight (hopefully this doesn’t affect my luck for this year), but I did put up the ‘fu’ (‘luck) character upside down on my apt. door so that good luck could arrive. Isn’t it cute with all the cartoon zodiac animals?

Shu Zhen’s family was nice enough to invite me back for dinner (more food!) on the 1st night. Here are pictures of me with her grandpa and Jamie:

another night of feasting!

another night of feasting!

Shu Zhen and her grandfather (the man of the house)

Shu Zhen and her grandfather (the man of the house)

with Jamie and Shu Zhen, Chinese language teachers

with Jamie and Shu Zhen, Chinese language teachers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I wandered the streets of Chinatown with Belinda, my flatmate, to experience the Chinese New Year madness. Check it out!

arriving in Chinatown

arriving in Chinatown

a cured meat lover's heaven

a cured meat lover’s heaven

old shophouses with lanterns

old shophouses with lanterns

stocking up on mandarin oranges (a symbol of abundance and good fortune) to exchange with others

stocking up on mandarin oranges (a symbol of abundance and good fortune) to exchange with others

2013-02-02 22.42.03

night market

2013-02-02 22.41.37

greeters

2013-02-02 22.49.24

lanterns galore

big lit-up zodiac animals

big lit-up zodiac animals

zodiac animal lanterns up close and personal

zodiac animal lanterns up close and personal

impressive snake made out of zodiac animal lanterns

impressive snake made out of zodiac animal lanterns

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also got a chance to see the River Hongbao Festival at The Float at Marina Bay. They truly put a lot of work into the decorations on the floating platform and the performances. This was the first time I saw a Chinese face mask changing dance; the performers are able to change their masks multiple times and so quickly that you can’t catch how they do it. My recording didn’t come out so good, but you gotta check out this art on YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KwfGdJIzYZs&hl=en-GB&gl=SG

Here are some pictures of my favorite aspects at the festival:

Chinese traditional dance performance

Chinese traditional dance performance

Chinese drummers

Chinese drummers

Chinese face mask changing dance - so unreal!!

Chinese face mask changing dance – so unreal!!

the fish float

the fish float

a snake welcoming guests

a snake welcoming guests

mobile pandas

mobile pandas

2013-02-08 22.16.492013-02-08 22.29.472013-02-08 20.35.20

Last, but not least, Chinese New Year is a time for everything good – good company, good food, good luck, and good times. The non-stop eating and celebrations continued. These are the random shots:

my first cheong sam!

my first cheong sam!

with Ann and our teacher buddies, Ruth and Shu Zhen, at the AST CNY celebration

with Ann and our teacher buddies, Ruth and Shu Zhen, at the AST CNY celebration

more steamboat!

more steamboat!

yummu CNY snacks - pineapple tarts, kuih bangkit, and almond cookies

yummy CNY snacks – pineapple tarts, kuih bangkit, and almond cookies

Singapore and US Fulbrighters pic

post-steamboat pic with Ann and June – US and Singapore DAT Fulbright scholars reunite!

lion dancers bringing good luck to hawker center businesses

lion dancers bringing good luck to hawker center businesses

dragon dance on the 15th night

dragon dance on the 15th night

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I hope you enjoyed my Chinese New Year posting. So sad that the 15 days are over and I’m no longer waking up to the strong smell of incense coming from the temple nearby and the sound of firecrackers on the busy and bustling streets of Bugis. On a positive note, I can finally start to burn off all the calories I consumed (I’m pretty sure I gained a good 5 pounds from all the eating) and only occasionally snack on the leftover Chinese New Year’s treats everyone still has at their desks.  :)

Me in Action! My First Sharing Session :)

I conducted two sharing sessions for the Greenridge Primary staff last Friday during their staff meetings to sum up my observations and key learnings, as well as, share a bit of my expertise. It was an interesting experience because I did not expect the teachers to be so reluctant to speak when I asked them to respond orally. However, as my sharing session progressed, I think they were trying to participate more (which may have been caused by me forcing them to interact more). Hopefully I didn’t create any extreme anxiety for anyone. LOL.

These are the 4 videos of my second sharing session (they’re chunked since I realized from my first session that my camera can only record a certain amount at a time):

1 – A brief introduction (most of you already know me quite well so you don’t really need to watch this video unless you’re really bored :P) and part of the K-W-L chart: http://youtu.be/kz3qeoP8FGI

2 – Going over K and W, observations, and first part of the vocabulary lesson: http://youtu.be/ZdziAA2UwO4

3 – Second part of the vocabulary lesson: http://youtu.be/WbcxlLtXaKQ

4 – Key Learnings and Wrap-Up: http://youtu.be/hGStUY8OHnM

As much as I dread seeing myself on video, I think it not only allows people to see me in action and give me feedback, but it also gives me a chance to reflect on how I can improve my public speaking and presentation skills (since I don’t have time to join Toastmasters here :/). I received some really great feedback from the Greenridge Primary teachers (perhaps you were all being too kind or you didn’t want to hurt my feelings? ;)).

These are a few of the comments that put a big smile on my face as I rode the MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) home:

The nicest feedback =D

THANK YOU AGAIN FOR SUCH A WONDERFUL ATTACHMENT, GREENRIDGE! I will see most of you again next week for the onSponge workshop and maybe the Maths workshop!🙂

Please post any comments (positive or negative) about my sharing session if you have time to watch any of the videos or if you were there to see me in action and either didn’t write something or have further feedback. Thanks!🙂

P.S. I named my two Greenridge bears after my favorite students of all time – Sandy and Jessica. They are happily next to each other on my bed.

 

The Grass Always Seems Greener on the Other Side…

As part of this Fulbright program, I have been assigned to two schools that will help me carry out my capstone project. I just completed my first attachment at Greenridge Primary School in the northwest.

Greenridge Primary School

Greenridge Primary School

Greenridge Primary School is a government-funded school with a very diverse population of teachers and students of Malay, Chinese, and Indian descent. It has around 1800 students spread across levels P1-P6 (grades 1 to 6 for American teachers). Since there is not enough space to hold all of the students at once, the school days are divided into two sessions: a morning session for the upper primary students and an afternoon session for the lower primary students. There is construction going on to expand the school so that they can move it to a single session model within the next few years. 

I was there for the past month observing teachers, having post-conferences with them, working with students, and getting to know the Singaporean education system. This school reminded me of the NYC public schools. I can definitely see the western influence in the Singaporean schools, especially in the lower primary grades. You could find the teachers doing more shared literature and cooperative learning. They are also moving towards the western model in terms of demonstrating and assessing student work; I was surprised to find out that they have to worry about portfolios, performance tasks, and rubrics just like us and it has created more work and stress for the teachers. They were shocked to find out that we’re moving more towards the eastern model of assessments and that we hardly have enough time to teach because of all the data we have to gather. They were under the impression that we only have a teacher to student ratio of 1:20 and that we have a lot time and freedom to teach what we wanted, but they seem to have more teacher autonomy because their scheme of work (curriculum) is not as scripted. I thought their curriculum focused on depth instead of breadth and hence, they had more time to develop deeper understandings of the concepts. However, their scheme of work is also getting quite packed and sometimes they are “flying” just like us. It’s nice and a bit upsetting to know that teachers around the world are going through similar stresses. The grass always seems greener on the other side…

I had to say my goodbyes yesterday. Everyone was so welcoming and helpful during my short stay there. The staff rapport is phenomenal. The teachers and administrators have open communication in deciding what will work in promoting students’ learning. I conducted two sharing sessions yesterday to discuss my observations, the differences between the NYC public school system and the Singaporean one, ways to get students to express themselves and participate more, and my key learnings at Greenridge Primary. It was my first time using Prezi (a presentation platform that I just learned at a workshop at the National Institute of Education). You can check it out here: http://prezi.com/7zzybogo_mvq/greenridge-sharing-session-15-feb-2013/?kw=view-7zzybogo_mvq&rc=ref-30694685  

I will be uploading the sharing session on YouTube (within the next few days hopefully) so that you can see me in action.

The administration was so thoughtful; they awarded me with a certificate and even gave me their school bears. I’ve been looking for a stuffed animal to put on my bare bed, and now I have two! Thank you for everything, Mr Chua, Ms Liza, and Ms Tan-Kay. It was an enriching experience.

School Mascots in Uniforms :)

School Mascots in Uniforms🙂

The bears are used as mascots to promote character education. The students definitely display kindness, respect, honesty, and responsibility among other positive character traits. You can find signs with the bears around the school and you can even see them on Greenridge Primary’s own water bottles!

School Mission Water

School Mission Water

Character Bears

Character Bears

Bear waiting patiently to buy lunch

Bear waiting patiently to buy lunch

 

Well, that is my experience at Greenridge Primary in a nutshell. Here are some pictures of me with some of the amazing staff members:

Post-conference with Ms Vivian Huen

Post-conference with Ms Vivian Huen

Coffee time with Ms Julia Lee

Coffee time with Ms Julia Lee

Group shot with Mdm Adene, Queen Elizabeth, Prabu, and fellow teachers

Group shot with Mdm Adene, Queen Elizabeth, Prabu, and fellow teachers

Posing with my cubicle buddy, Mdm Jayhindy

Posing with my cubicle buddy, Mdm Jayhindy

Where do we look? Goodbye shot with Mdm Zuleha :'(

Where do we look? Goodbye shot with Mdm Zuleha😥

 

Starting Tuesday, I will be attached to Tao Nan School (located in the southeast). Off to my next adventure! =D

Katie VS. Durian (puff)

My buddy, Shu Zhen, took me to Durian Empire at Jurong Point shopping mall. This is a stand with crazy durian desserts.

durian cakes

durian cakes

stand dedicated to durian desserts

stand dedicated to durian desserts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I couldn’t go straight for the fruit so we started off small with just durian puffs.

durian-filled puffs

durian-filled puffs

Here is my first attempt at eating durian…did I love it or hate it? Was I able to conquer it? – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQgusdYfScY&feature=youtu.be

Enjoy! =D

 

A Foodie’s Heaven Part 1

Singapore is heaven when it comes to food. How did I forget to mention that I also chose this place because of the endless food options? Eating and trying new things are two of my favorite pastimes; when you put them together, this spells danger and excitement for me. Hence, I need to exercise just to maintain my food adventures and my weight (cause I’m definitely not going to lose any here).

There are TONS of Hawker Centers; Hawker Centers are open-air food courts filled with endless stal

ls of cheap food, drinks, and desserts. There are also indoor food courts in the malls and various complexes if you’re not into eating in the humidity. And then there are fancier restaurants for when you feel like splurging; I’m hoping to splurge this weekend on the chili or black pepper crab (a staple dish) at Jumbo Seafood.

It is quite overwhelming cause I want to try everything, but I don’t think 6 months is enough time. All I know is that there’s a website called hungrygowhere that I must check out. I can’t even remember half of the names of the foods I’ve eaten; all I know is that they made my belly happy.🙂

Here are just some of the many foods I’ve tried so far – sorry the pics are scattered…can’t seem to get them to line up nicely.:/ I also finally tried durian (the smelly ‘king of fruits’ that not even Andrew Zimmern could stomach). How do you think I did? Make your predictions now, people! I am going to find out how I can share the video of my experience with you…

Thank you to Derek and Ser Wee at AST for the delicious dim sum, spicy noodles, and those amazing buns at C-Jade!!

Thank you to Derek and Ser Wee at AST for the delicious dim sum, spicy noodles, and those amazing buns at C-Jade!!

first Nasi Lemak (Malaysian coconut milk rice dish) at the school canteen

first Nasi Lemak (Malaysian coconut milk rice dish) at the school canteen – anything with a fried egg on top is delicious

glutinous taro ball and gingko nut dessert

glutinous taro ball and gingko nut dessert – melts in your mouth

I love noodles! Fried Prawn Mee with sugarcane juice - YUM!

I love noodles! Fried Prawn Mee with sugarcane juice – YUM!

Hainanese chicken from the famous Tian Tian (where Anthony Bourdain went). The rice was better than the chicken!

Hainanese chicken from the famous Tian Tian (where Anthony Bourdain went). The rice was better than the chicken!

a cleaning meal - vegetarian lunch at Buddha's Tooth Temple

a cleaning meal – vegetarian lunch at Buddha’s Tooth Temple

light and fluffy tiramisu and mango & chocolate donuts at JCo

light and fluffy tiramisu and mango & chocolate donuts at JCo

red dragonfruit!! slightly sweeter and more expensive than the white variety

red dragonfruit!! slightly sweeter and more expensive than the white variety

sharing a chicken and biryani dish with iced teh tarik (Indian milk tea) in Little India with Ann

sharing a chicken and biryani dish with iced teh tarik (Indian milk tea) in Little India with Ann

First and last lychee flavored Singapore Sling at Long Bar - $26!!

First and last lychee flavored Singapore Sling at Long Bar – $26 for one drink!!

Maxwell Road Hawker Centre

Maxwell Road Hawker Centre

Lor Mee (flat noodles in gravy dish)

Lor Mee (flat noodles in gravy dish)

Fried oyster omelette, glutinous rice cakes, fried yam cake, fried carrot (AKA turnip) cake, and jcake, and steamed rice cakes topped with diced savory preserved radish (so good!) at Tiong Bahru Hawker Centre

Thank you to Ellen and Winson for the true Hawker experience at Tiong Bahru Hawker Centre! Fried oyster omelette (bottom left), fried carrot (what they call turnips) cake (top left), fried yam cake (top middle), chee cheong fun (rice noodle rolls) and puen kueh (glutinous rice cakes) (top right), and my favorite in the center – shui kueh (steamed rice cakes topped with diced savory preserved radish) – so good!!

Orientation and Orientating Myself

An orientation was held at the Academy of Singapore Teachers (AST) to give Ann, a fellow U.S. Fulbrighter, and me a better understanding of the structure of the Singaporean education system. It was nice to finally meet and put faces to the names of the people I’ve been in touch with for the past several months. AST is one of the centers for professional development for Singaporean teachers. This is where I will be working on my capstone project when I am not at the primary schools I will be visiting or at NIE.

AST

AST

I arrived in Singapore earlier than expected so that I could orientate myself. For the past two weeks, I’ve been exploring my surroundings through LOTS of walking, the MRT (Mass Rapid Transit), and the SBS (Singapore Bus Service). Here are some of the highlights so far:

I live in District 7 on Bencoolen Street. It is in the thick of the Singaporean cultures; Little India, the Arab District, and Chinatown surround my area. I have my own master bedroom in a condo that I share with 3 other females. It has a pool, a gym, and a tennis court, but I can’t find anyone that plays tennis! I need to find a tennis buddy before I invest in a racquet and rock my new tennis skirt… lol. Anyway, this is my building:

The Bencoolen Residence

The Bencoolen Residence

I love how you could find mosques, Hindu temples, Buddhist temples, and churches throughout the different neighborhoods. Here are some that I either passed by or visited during my exploration:

Veeramakaliamman Temple in Little India

Veeramakaliamman Temple in Little India

Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple right around the corner from my building

Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple right around the corner from my building

Masjid Marabar

Masjid Marabar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prayer Wheel in Buddha Tooth Relic Temple in Chinatown

Prayer Wheel in Buddha Tooth Relic Temple in Chinatown

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Armenian Church of St. Gregory the Illuminator

Armenian Church of St. Gregory the Illuminator

Masjid Sultan

Masjid Sultan

 

Goodbye New York…Hello Singapore! A Bittersweet Moment

It ONLY took me about 2 weeks to start by blog. As you all know, I’m always doing a million things at once. I’m surprised I actually sat down and started working on it. If I don’t start it now before my schedule goes into full effect on Monday, I’ll never start it. Goal: add a new post at least twice a week. Okay…let’s say once for now…start off small.

As most of you know, I got into the Distinguished Fulbright Awards in Teaching program. I will be in Singapore for 6 months observing master teachers, participating in share sessions, taking a course at the NIE (National Institute of Education), and working on a capstone project that I will share with my colleagues upon my return.

It was bittersweet saying bye to my friends, colleagues and students at P.S. 290, and family members. I have been teaching ESL (English as a Second Language) at P.S. 290 – Juan Morel Campos in Brooklyn to Kindergarten, first, and second graders for the past 5 1/2 years. It was especially hard breaking the news to my students. Here are some of the cards my first grade students made for me:

Student-made cards

Student-made cards

It has been quite a learning experience and journey at P.S.290, but I was ready to experience something new so I decided to apply to the DAT program  back in 2011. I was so sad leaving New York and all my loved ones (I wish I could’ve taken you all with me!), but I was ecstatic about this new learning opportunity in Singapore.

I chose to complete my 6 month project in Singapore because…

  • I wanted to explore best teaching practices in Mathematics (a subject area that Singapore excels in)
  • I have not traveled much of Asia
  • I love the cultural and religious diversity of the country

The day after my arrival, I met up with Jen Kulik (last year’s U.S. Fulbrighter) and Vara (one of this year’s Singapore Fulbrighters who just got back from the states). We met back in August at the DAT orientation in Washington, D.C. They are both such amazing people and talented educators. We had a reunion lunch at Vivo City (one of the many huge shopping malls – Singaporeans LOVE to shop). It was so great catching up with them and hearing about their projects and journeys. Here’s our reunion shot!

Singapore Fulbrighters Reunion Lunch

Singapore Fulbrighters Reunion Lunch

I couldn’t believe that I was on the other side of the world. It felt unreal that I had actually made it and that this place would become my home for the next 6 months. Let the journey begin!🙂

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