The Geylang Serai night bazaar is open for business once again as we begin the month of Ramadan. While the location of the bazaar has not changed, the surrounding landscape has changed significantly over the past few years. The revamped SingPost Centre opened for business at the end of last year and the new Wisma Geylang Serai, which sits adjacent to the bazaar, opened just days before Ramadan. By this time next year, the retail component of Paya Lebar Quarter is slated to open as well.
Long before the Bitcoin bubble, there was a–believe it or not–tulip bubble, back in the 1600s in the Netherlands. At the time, the newly-introduced flower enchanted the country with its uniquely colourful petals and led to a speculative bubble, which, at its peak, led to tulip bulbs selling for more than the price of a house. If you’re interested, there’s a movie Tulip Fever featuring Alicia Vikander (now of Tomb Raider fame) which was set during that time period.
Singapore's Central Business District may just be about the last place you think of when spotting wildlife in this urban jungle. Still, I gingerly ventured a little south towards Gardens by the Bay and the Marina Barrage and with a little patience, I was in for a little treat.
Now in its sixth edition, i Light Marina Bay 2018 is currently running until 1st April. It's technically also the last edition of i Light Marina Bay as the festival of lights will be renamed i Light Singapore from next year onwards to reflect its expansion into the Civic District. I took a quick walk last Friday night after work to soak in the festivities.
After the salted egg and nasi lemak chicken burgers, McDonald's Singapore is once again trying its hand at whipping up something novel. This time, they have diverted their attention to fish for a change and, as a bonus, decided to introduce throw something savoury in the mix too. How do they fare?
Not to be confused with Marina Bay’s i Light festival or the Singapore Night Festival, the second edition of the Light to Night Festival, which is currently ongoing until 26 January 2018 as part of the Singapore Art Week, spans Singapore’s historic Civic District, from Esplanade Park to Padang and all the way to the Asian Civilisations Museum.
December. It’s a month of nostalgia, of reflection, where you look back at the past eleven months, and marvel at how much you’ve progressed (or regressed?) since. It’s the Friday of the months, the season of giving, and a month of school holidays (and clearing leave, now that I’m an adult). And in the absence of snow in Singapore, at least we have the annual Christmas light-up along Orchard Road, a staple since 1984.
With some spare time on my hands, I made my way down to the Promontory at Marina Bay, camera in hand, on 29th July, the final National Day Parade preview before the actual day. My intent was to get some practice with my new camera as well as to soak in the festive atmosphere despite not having a ticket to the show itself.
I had done this once before some eleven years ago with a Canon PowerShot camera. Back then, the parade was still held at the old National Stadium. But after that, it felt like such a chore having to lug a tripod around and camp for a good spot hours before.
This time around, I wasn’t that prepared either. I adopted an “anything goes” attitude and brought my D7500 with kit lens and 55-200mm along.
McDonald’s staple menu of Fillet-O-Fish, McSpicy and Quarter Pounder with Cheese is rather stale by now, even with the seasonal items like the Prosperity burger and Samurai burger. McDonald’s seems to have realised this over the past two years and have tried to mix things up every now and then since.
My favourite of the new mixes was the “Create Your Taste” concept, which I enthusiastically wrote about last year. “Create Your Taste” has since quietly disappeared (to my great disappointment), probably because it took up too much preparation time for a fast food restaurant. It did give birth to two new staple items, though–the Angus Cheese burger and the Chicken with Apple Slaw burger, which they (thankfully) replaced with Buttermilk earlier this year. In retrospect, perhaps “Create Your Taste” was just a crowdsourced experiment all along.
Then, of course, there was the salted egg burger, which garnered mostly mixed reviews. Now McDonald’s is back with another locally-inspired creation, the Nasi Lemak Burger. Or, should it be known as the Roti Lemak burger instead?
Back in the early 2000s, the name K Box, to Singaporeans, was perhaps synonymous with karaoke. It offered decent prices relative to its competitors like Party World KTV, had many outlets islandwide, possessed the latest the largest song collection and also served meals, tidbits and refreshments.
Then, Teo Heng burst into the scene around 2007 with its first outlet at Katong Shopping Centre. It offered a no-frills concept, charging by room size instead of per pax, at far more affordable rates. While it didn’t offer any food or beverages, it allowed you to bring in your own food and (non-alcoholic) drinks, a trade-off most people are more than happy to accept. Originally situated at less accessible places like Katong and Sembawang, it has since expanded to places such as JCube, Rendezvous Hotel and Suntec City. Today, it’s safe to say that Teo Heng has displaced K Box as the first thing that comes to mind when you say ‘karaoke’.
Meanwhile, K Box went through some tough times. Many of its outlets were shuttered, perhaps due to poor business, and it made the news in 2014 for the wrong reason–hackers managed to access K Box’s database and leaked personal particulars of its 300,000 members.
Ramadan is upon us once again, which also signifies the start of the annual Geylang Serai Market Bazaar. Billed as the biggest pasar malam event of the year in Singapore, it hosts 900 stalls across a few roads right outside Paya Lebar MRT.
Stalls are well in demand, since the bazaar is always teeming with crowds all month long, Muslim or non-Muslim alike. Rental is said to be as high as $17,000 this year, and some shops (probably those not selling food and those not blessed with TheSmartLocal’s or LadyIronChef’s midas touch) are still struggling to break even.
As you would expect, prices are exorbitant (at least, by pasar malam standards) and are at least on par with that of recent large-scale pasar malam events like Artbox and River Hongbao. Still, that isn’t enough to deter the millennial crowds, who are apparently willing to pay $20 and upwards for a slice of avocado toast.