Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Evening at Bugis

Sorry guys, I haven't written in a while now. It's just that I've been so busy with assignments. Work, work, work all the time. But I took some time off to go to Bugis Street. So I want to tell you people about it. I ate and shopped a lot there and have reached the conclusion that Bugis street is one of my favourite places in Singapore.

I heard from some friends that Bugis street used to be very different sometime ago. Now it has more shops, more eateries and more options. It's a really nice place. You can get almost anything at very reasonable prices. It is now considered a tourist attraction.

As I walked through the market, I came across an unbearable stench. I tried finding the source and was shocked to know it was coming from Singapore's king fruit - The Durian. Singaporeans love this fruit but I couldn't bear the smell and got away really quick. Walking around the market made me really thirsty. So I stopped for a drink st a juice store. The flavours were innumerable. I wanted to try all of them but obviously, I couldn't. So I settled for an Apple-Pineapple combination which was awesome.

My friend then began to feel very hungry after all the roaming around and the shopping and so she stopped at a roadside food stall to eat. She had something called 'Dang Dang Dang'. It's salted pepper chicken and cheese sausages. She said it was really yummy. You should try it sometime and check out these pictures of Bugis Street.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Come Rain, Come Shine

I was wondering what to write about in my next post. Since this is the holiday season, even my brain needs some rest (he he he...).
Just kidding.... one of the interesting things about Singapore is that it's not just a shopping paradise, it's got amazing climate.

Sometimes it can drive you crazy too. In Singapore nobody knows when it's going to rain, even though it has a tropical climate where the weather isn't supposed to change too often.
In the morning, there will be no sunshine (believe me) but around 3 pm the sun'll burn you to ashes and in the evening it's time for the rain to cool the earth... this has become a kind of routine. There are times when the clouds will show no sign of rain... but they'll suddenly start to pour out of no where. So, the most essential commodity to everyone here, is an umbrella.

I've been living in Singapore for nearly 1 year. In this one year I had never seen a rainbow. Strange, right? But then came a day in March and I saw the most amazing rainbow. It was 180 degrees exactly! A full arch. These are beautiful pictures of it. But sorry guys, my camera couldn't capture the entire rainbow because of all the tall towers.

Until my next post, enjoy the rainbow. Nature is truly amazing !

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Colours and More

Everyone in India knows it's the festival of 'Holi', but I bet everyone in my hostel also now knows it's Holi. We created a big mess of colour at the back of our hostel, which by the way we cleaned ourselves later, after the celebration. We had pre-planned the celebration so we got the colours form India when we went home for the holidays. We celebrated with a few Srilankan girls. Once we began running around and throwing coloured powder at each other, every one in the hostel got very interested and became our audience. They clicked lots of pictures, shot some videos and were quite curious to know what we were up to and why Holi was celebrated.

The truth is, none of us knew why exactly Holi is celebrated but we somehow managed to tell them the story of Lord Rama, Ravana etc. Since I am from South India, I've never celebrated Holi before. It was very exciting to throw colours at each other, though it was a pain when it came to cleaning. All in all, it was the best first Holi I had.

I've been having quite a blast this week. After all the Holi celebrations, I attended a spectacular event for Electronic shopaholics. It was the IT show in Singapore. The show was being held at the Suntec and covered an amazing 330,000 square feet of exhibit space, on 5 levels. It was a really huge area and packed with people. I could hardly walk through the crowd. I couldn’t see the floor because it was full of people.

More than 800 exhibitors featured a dynamic and comprehensive line-up of the latest and hottest gadgets from digital televisions, wireless HD, coolest new multimedia phones, ultra mobile PCs, Digital Imaging, Wireless Technology, Portable Entertainment, HDTV, Plasmas, Gaming, MP3, Networking, Digital Media, Audio & Home Entertainment/Lifestyle Products, Broadband Technology, Multimedia, Security, Software, etc.
It was so tiring to cover all 5 floors. Despite the worse economical hit in Singapore, this show generated a sale record of S$58.5 million, which is S$4.5 million more than last year.

The most interesting thing I saw was a Korean made laptop for 350$. It is really amazing. It was tiny and had an 8 sec boot up. I kind of forgot the name. It sounded some thing like EeePee. Hehe...I'm sure that's not what it's called but I really want to know what the name is. Anyone out there who knows, please tell me. And it was available in cute colours too. The other interesting thing was the duplicate Apple iphone, nobody will be able to tell the difference between the original and the Korean made. And it costs only 150$. I couldn’t take a picture because of the crowd. I really wanted to. It would have been a real treat for people who wanted to buy mobiles, TV, broad bands, and home theaters.

I wanted to buy some stuff too but maybe later. You guys can check it out on Google. I'm off, see you all later.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Fun in the Sun

After all the exam tension, my friends and I wanted to relax and have some fun coupled with adventure. There's no place better than Pulau Ubin for a adrenaline rush. It's a small island off Singapore. Just 20 min from the main land. Shaped like a boomerang, it is also known as the Granite Island. The abandoned granite quarries remain picturesque relics of Ubin. To reach the island, one has to take the Bumboat which can carry 12 people at a time, from Changi Point to Ferry Terminal. A one way trip costs only $2.5. We were allowed to carry our bicycles on the ferry. Let me tell you of some interesting things to do in Ubin. The major adventure sport there, is mountain biking. The wild life, small ponds, quarries, bicycle tracks, camping, fishing and beaches make for interesting photography. We just went there to ride our bicycles. We needed a stress buster.

We started our trip at 9 in the morning and reached the ferry point at about 10.30 am. We took the Bumboat to Ubin. Though it was short ride which lasted only 20 min, it was awesome! We took some videos of the landscape around. As soon we landed in Ubin, we got bicycles on rent. There are a lot of locals who rent out bicycles of which most are in really good condition. Then we went to the Information Kiosk to get a map. Since this place has very few hotels and more importantly, there is no vegetarian food available, we had to pack our lunch. We had a few sandwiches and some salad. First we visited the Chek Jawa wetlands. I have to mention, the place looked really close by in the map, but we had to ride really, really far to reach the place. By the time we reached our destination, I was almost exhausted. This place is supposed to have some rare species of sea creatures, but we couldn’t find much. We managed to spot only one fish which had wings. It looked as if it was flying with the wings, but it was disgusting to watch, it was in the muddy area near the shore. Guess I'm not much of a fish person.

Then we rested for a while, played some music, sang songs and had great fun. All of this was post lunch as we needed to re-energize. Then we went to the Balai Quarry. It was just a Quarry view from the top. Nothing much to talk about. Now here's the funny part, I wanted to perform the cycle stunts. They had set ups for it, like a few rocks with wooden logs to ride over. I was so close to riding on it, but I got super scared of two things; the height and the two narrow wooden logs. I tried twice, but couldn’t make it.

The day was extremely hot. Believe it or not, I was half toasted under burning sun. After 3 hrs we couldn’t go any further, so we turned back. The sun was burning, we were all exhausted, and to make it worse, we got lost! And we had all separated to meet at the ferry. After an hour of struggle, our gang, somehow, managed to reach the ferry. We just plonked ourselves down until the ferry came. The moment, the ferry arrived, we jumped into it and finally reached home sweet home. Oops, hostel sweet hostel.

The whole trip was too tiring, but the adventures were awesome! Ubin is different and beautiful, away from the city crowd, noise and tension. Ubin doesn’t have a mechanical life, it has nature's true beauty. A must see place for everyone and friends just make it better.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Bulls Eye!!

March 6, 2009.Today is Friday, the day I go to the temple each week. But today, I had an event on my calendar, that I had to attend. The Career and Education Fair 2009 at the Suntech Conventional Hall. This is the first time I went to a job fair. My friends and I decided to go have a look at it. We took the SMRT and went to level 6 at Suntech. It was not as crowed as I expected. They asked us to fill a form and then we registered at the counter where they gave us a visitor pass. We then entered the hall. It was huge and was host to so many educational institutional stalls. I had never even heard of most of these institutes before. And the jobs were only for tourism and Casino management. The stalls were so colorful and dramatic. But the crowd was not much. Anyways it was nothing related to my field.

So the next thing we did, as usual, was to roam around the Plaza. Suntech is the biggest shopping mall in Singapore with 5 huge towers full of shops. I have been to these places many times but I have never been to the top floor called SKY GARDEN. The open garden at the topmost level was very peaceful and green. It had a small play area for kids and a fountain. We chatted there for a while and then we went to the gaming zone in the next tower. The place had all the video games possible and it wasn’t too expensive either… 10 tokens for 5$. I played a car racing game and won. The games were really addictive. We were watching others playing some shooting games and we had lots of fun there. Then for the very first time I tried my hand at Archery. I held a bow and arrow for the first time in my life. It was a little heavy and my first 3 shots were way off target. But then, I got the hang of it and bulls eye!! Got it absolutely right. It was quite an adventure. I think I will be going to that place often. I love the bow and arrow.

Then we were too tired to even walk… some how we managed to walk back home. And now here I am writing this post. That’s it for today guys. I am too tired. Going to have good some rest. Catch you guys in the next post.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Sentosa Calling

Singapore is full of tourist attractions. The one which caught my attention is Sentosa Island. What's interesting about the place are not only its artificial beaches but the Flying Train. I've never travelled in a sky train before! So this was something I really wanted to check out.

Sentosa has many attractive places to visit like the Tiger Sky Tower, Underwater World and Dolphin Lagoon, Songs of the Sea, Sentosa 4D Magix and Sentosa CineBlast. These are the few I know of.

The best way to reach the island is by train. So we went to VIVO city, 3rd level and took the Sentosa express from there. The ticket, including the entrance to the beach, cost only 3 S$. The train that arrived was purple in color and had a party picture on it. I want, specifically, to mention; here in Singapore, they paint everything very colorful. (From buildings to the trains. You name it, it's coloured. The first time I ever saw 3 coloured buildings {red, green, yellow} was near Rochor Center). It was just 7 min ride to the beach. Sentosa has 3 beaches, Palawan Beach, Siloso Beach, and Tanjong Beach. These beaches are artificial, made using sand brought from Indonesia and Malaysia. We visited the first 2 beaches.

Once we got off the train, we had different transportation options to look around the Island. We could take a bus, mini bus or bike it. We decided to take the bicycle. I have to mention, I rode a bicycle after 5 years. Initially, I was scared to get onto it, but after a few seconds I felt like I'd been riding all these years. We rode the bike around the beach. It was very hard to ride the bike in a few places where it was really steep and windy. But on the whole we had great fun riding the cycles. After 2 hours, we returned the cycles and went to play in the water. We played a few games in the water, took lots of funny pictures and saw the beautiful sunset from the beach. It looked amazing. You can check out the pictures in my Flickr account.

Around 7 in the evening, we went to check out the Songs of the Sea. It is a laser light show and a play. It was mind blowing. The lights were so fantastic. It went on for about 20 min and cost us 8 S$ but was totally worth it. We didn’t have time to browse the other stuff at Sentosa. And plus we were so tired after riding the bike and playing in the water. So we decided to leave by the next train. The whole trip was wonderful. I told my friends,we had to come back to see the dolphin show and tiger towers.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Chinese New Year in Singapore

My friends told me about the way the Chinese New year is celebrated in Singapore. So I decided to go and check it out. I was very excited to see the Chinese New Year celebrations for the very first time.

So I conducted a Google search to find out the best events and programmes that take place during this time. I also tried to find out the places and markets to visit in Singapore. I was particularly interested in the celebrations at Marina Bay. The celebrations were to take place from the 24th of Jan to the 1st of Feb. Most of my friends went back to India to spend their holidays. I missed them a lot.

I went to the River Hong Boa near the Esplanade theatres. The atmosphere was so welcoming. Near the entrance, a small stage performance by local groups was being held. The roof was beautifully lit up and was very nice to look at. It had shades of pink and purple. I did not understand a word of what they sang. It was all in Chinese. But nevertheless, it was pleasant to hear. Cotton candy was being sold near the theatres and this was the first time I saw this in Singapore. I was so excited, I wanted to grab one for myself (but it didn’t taste too good… but anyway I was happy just seeing it)

The audience was silent during the performance. This is one thing I've observed about Singaporeans. They are always silent and very shy (Even during the seminars I attend hardly anyone asks any questions). But there was an old man who noticed that the spirit of the crowd was not too high so he stood up and walked to the center of the stage and started dancing. The crowd was surprised and the best part was he was really good at it. He had some very fascinating moves to show off. He made the crowd come back to life. After that everyone began clapping and shouting.

After this we moved on to the floating stage. The red lights around us were amazing. It was a wonderful sight. Inside the floating stage they had statues of the 12 signs of the Chinese Zodiac decorated with colorful lights, Chinese buildings and some flowers and soldiers. They were calling this 'a festival of lights' just like we call 'Diwali' that. People were rushing to take pictures near each sign of the zodiac. The crowd was full of families and kids.

We also saw a wishing well. The well had a wall behind it. There were 7 bells hanging on the wall. Each bell had a card that carried words of blessings. We had to aim at the the bells with our coins. Hit any one and the blessings are yours. If you miss, it doesn't really matter. All the money goes to charity anyway. I hit the prosperity card.

My Mates and I

I landed in Singapore on a Sunday night. My best friend’s friend works in Singapore for the tourism department so he had come to pick me up. I had never meet him (Arun) before. Arun took me to the hostel, he got me dinner and a sim card. He was so helpful. He told me where to buy things and how to get around. Later I started to get around using a map. I started to explore the city with the help of the map and the internet. Initially, I always managed to get lost where ever I went. That's because in Singapore, every street looks very similar, clean and well maintained. Now I'm a pro. I know at least half of the city at the tips of my fingers.

Since the day he helped me, Arun and I became really good friends. He introduced me to Ramesh and Mohan who are his room mates. What came as a surprise was that all of us had studied at the same university in Coimbatore, but I'd never met them before. I was really lucky to find such good friends in a foreign country. Actually, they made me feel very comfortable here in Singapore.

In the hostel, I was first introduced to Navya. She's from Bangalore. She is such a sweet heart. Very helpful. We were to join the same college, so she was the one who took me to college the very first day. Through her I met Nayomi and Neelakshi who is from Srilanka. Then I met Anu, Komal, Bavna, Divya and Rama. Not all of us were close buddies, but we used to hang out often.

Some of them have now left Singapore. My close friends here are Samtha (she's my junior in college), Nayomi, Neelakshi, Sudha, Gauri and Divya. We make a good team. We went to Sentosa, Chinatown and Marina Bay. We have tons and tons of fun here. Melisa is my best friend. She's from Indonesia. Some of my other close friends are Kamal, from Singapore and Sebastian, from Vietnam. They are much older than I am so they treat me like a kid. Kamal is really smart, it's like he knows everything in the world and he's up to date in general knowledge and technology. He is Muslim, so he always gives me a lot of information about his customs and how he got married and about festivals they celebrate like, Hari Raya.

Sebastian is quite talkative and some times I really lose my temper around him but he's a really nice guy (except when he talks nonstop). He's creative and quick-witted and is very good at business solutions. He works as a video editor. He likes sharing his experiences with us and believe me, he's got a lot of interesting stories to tell.

Melisa is a cute looking, fun loving girl. She likes to roam around a lot. She doesn’t have much work experience, although she did live in Germany for 2 years. She has a lot of stories about their culture and how different the education system is in Germany. Thanks to me, she is now a huge fan of Indian food. After college we hang out in Little India and Bugis.

These are the nicest people I've met in Singapore. I hope to meet some more interesting people soon.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Down Memory Lane

I visited Little India during Diwali last year. Diwali or Deepavali, as it is sometimes called, is known as the 'Festival of Lights' and a celebration of good over evil, light over dark. So the best time to visit Little India is after 7 pm, when all the fairy lights are twinkling and the colourful arches along Serangoon Road look their best. But it is still busy, exciting and full of activity during the day, so either way people will have fun.

First I visited the Sri Veerama Kaliamann Temple where there were lots of school children, tourists and devotees wandering around. Everyone is accepted here, no one excluded and they are quite used to tourists, especially this time of the year. Everywhere the temple is decorated with garlands of jasmine and marigolds, and there are little oil lamps and incense burning everywhere, so it looks and smells divine. The sight of the Marigolds and the fragrance of Jasmine made me feel I was back home. In Kerala women wear Jasmine flowers in their hair as ornaments. It's really beautiful to see the stark white of the flowers against the jet black of the hair.

As you all already know, I love visiting temples and so I explored this one a little. It's a fascinating temple, with detailed deities and shrines everywhere you look. The temple was built in 1855 by Bengali laborers to worship the Goddess Kali, consort of Lord Shiva. She has many pairs of arms and hands; each hand carrying weapons of destruction used to fight evil on earth. Many different Hindu Gods and Goddesses are depicted, but the main shrine houses a jet black statue of Goddess Kali, flanked by her sons Ganesha and Murugam.

I left the temple and walked down Serangoon Road to the Deepavali market at Campbell Lane. As is the case in most festivals, food plays an important role and there were plenty of treats to choose from at the bazaar. There was a largely colourful variety of bangles, lanterns, handicrafts, costumes, henna stalls, and the ever popular peacock feathers. By the time I finished shopping, I was quite hungry. I bought a few bangles and lanterns. I had to bargain with them. It's fun doing that. But it was all the bargaining that made me so hungry.

So to top off my Little India experience, I had some yummy, spicy dal and vegetable curry at Komala Villas Vegetarian Restaurant, Buffalo Road branch. I think I had mentioned earlier that I love food, so this was the perfect end to a perfect day.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Holidays in India

There were only two things I did back home, eat and shop. That's pretty much all I did. I bought two very pretty salwar sets for my birthday at Naiha (things in India are becoming very expensive these days). I was hogging so much fast food, that I fell sick the second day (what else one can expect if a small person like me eats one whole pizza, ice cream, a north Indian meal, vada, coke and badam (almond) milk all in one day?). I got food poisoning. It was really bad and on top of it my wisdom tooth started to ache. So I had to get it extracted. I was put on a bland diet for a week. That was no fun. But it's home and all that is okay.

This time I had a very quiet birthday. I just went to the temple and then for a nice dinner with my family. It’s been 3 years since I finished college and yet all my friends wished me on my birthday. It felt really good. I always feel I'm gifted when it comes to family and friends.

Since I fell sick, all my holiday trips were cancelled. But I visited many temples in Trichy, Srirangam, Samayapuram, and Veeraganoor. I love going to temples.

This is a picture of my favorite elephant. Each time I go, I take picture of him (or her, I don’t know). I love elephants (now u know why I like temples).

This is the picture of our family deity Aayanaar in Veeraganoor. It’s a small village. My dad used to say that he is a very powerful god. We always make sure that we visit the temple at least once in 2 months. In the picture u can see many horses, people who come here offer these mud horses to God as a token of thanks. I still remember, when I was ten years old there were only 4 or 5 horses, now there are countless. All four sides of the temple are surrounded with horses.

I have some more pictures of other temples. Check them out here.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Returning to India

It was one of the happiest days of my life (actually most days are like that), I'm going home after seven months. This is the longest that I've stayed away from my family. It’s time to say hello to my country. Indiaaaaaaaaaa, here I come! I was supposed to book my tickets with Jet airways but I couldn’t. So I finally booked my tickets with Air India Express. The flight was an airbus, really small and a little smelly (believe me it was)! And what’s with the air-hostesses? They're not at all friendly. My flight from Singapore goes to Trichy and then to Chennai.

Most of the passengers were from villages near Trichy so they didn’t understand English or Hindi and the air-hostesses were quite mean to them (except one lady, I don’t remember her name, she was really sweet). There was one very, very arrogant lady. She spoke with a really high pitch (she reminds me of my annoying mess supervisor at PSG college). And the food ( which usually makes me forget other issues) on the flight, consisted of 'jeera' rice, potato gravy, cake, tea and apple juice (yuck! I had apple juice). It tasted ‘okay’. I took a really cool picture of the clouds.

The beautiful clouds from the plane. It's like floating on a bed of cotton or being in heaven.

Oh, I forgot to mention something. The security check. Oh my god! They took nearly 4 hours to check all the baggage. This is the first time they even checked laptops with a strange machine. They used a piece of paper dipped in some liquid and rubbed it all over the laptop. Security was very high in Trichy and Chennai. It's all because of the terror attacks in Mumbai.

I finally landed in India and it felt so good, I have no words to explain the feeling. I missed the Chennai traffic, smoke, pollution, stray dogs, roadside fast food, cinema halls and of course my family and friends. I was glad to be back and my holidays were really good. More in my next post.

Until then, bye.

About Me

Hi everyone! I'm Sivani. Welcome to my blog, Lion City Days. I'm from a small town in Tamil Nadu, India. I did my under graduation at PSG Tech, Coimbatore. Now I am in Singapore to do my Post graduation in design. It’s been nearly 10 months since I've come to Singapore. For the first few months I was quite lonely, but I enjoyed the quiet. Now my life is rocking, not a minute alone. Too many friends you see.

Do you wonder how it happened? It’s very simple, actually nothing about me changed every since I came here. I adapted to this environment. As I started doing it, life turned out pretty good. I actually didn’t make any sacrifices, didn’t lie, and the best part is I didn’t try to act like someone I'm not. I am a very simple person, who doesn’t have much interest in clubbing, high heels and revealing clothes. On the contrary, I love to going for mid night walks, watch the sky with all its twinkling stars, listen to romantic songs with the volume really loud and get drenched in the rains.

I've learned one thing in life, never expect anyone or anything to be the way you want. Just live each and every moment fully, everyone’s life is gifted by GOD, it's just that not too may people bother to open their gifts.

Let me tell you about my blog. I am trying to update all the good and adventurous days that I'm enjoying in Singapore. I will really appreciate your comments and would love to hear about your adventures too. So let's make this blog our place to paint all our good memories and capture moments we experience everyday.