25 September 2006

Leading An Astray Person To The Right Path

I do not usually write about relationship or social problems. I also do not like to dish out advice to others because I am no trained counsellor. However, I like to write about personal experiences, especially amusing ones. And like what Chun See did here, here and here, I also like to give misleading titles to my posts. So this post is still about an amusing personal experience.

Today, my colleague was scheduled to service his car at Leng Kee. He requested a favour from me - to follow him in my car during lunchtime so that he could leave his car at the workshop and then hitch a ride back to the office after we had lunch together. After work, he would hitch a ride to the workshop to collect his car. After he reminded me that I might need his help in return someday As I am always glad to help someone, especially since he is also a good friend of mine, I agreed without hesitation. As a gesture of thanks, he insisted on buying me lunch which I accepted to avoid arguing with him in public.

After work, we proceeded to collect his car. On the way there, he was worried that after collecting his car, he was not too sure of the way to get to PIE as that was the only way he knew how to get home. So I offered to lead him to Orange Grove Road where he should make a left turn into the road. As I would be going straight into Orchard Road, I told him that I would signal left near that junction but I would not be turning into that road. He said "Okay" and followed me in his car.

When we reached the Tanglin Road and Napier Road junction, I saw that he wanted to make a wrong left turn into Napier Road. I hand-signalled to him that it was the wrong road. He corrected his mistake in time and continued to follow my car. When we were in front of Tudor Court, I signalled right to overtake a long queue of slow moving traffic. Alas, he misinterpreted it as a signal for him to turn left, so turn left he did into Nassim Hill, just before Orange Grove Road. I called him immediately to tell him that he went into the wrong road. He asked me not to worry as he would find his way.

About 5 minutes later, he smsed me and said "I saw PIE".

I smsed my reply, "Good. Just don't end up in Tuas Jurong. Wahaha. I've to blog abt this."

A while later, his 1st reply came: "U still dare to mock me. Gave me wrong signal. U said u signal right but won't turn wat. I saw e signal so I turned lor. But same way. Ended up in Steven road."

Realising his mistake, he sent a 2nd reply: "I meant u said u signal left but won't turn. And I know where's Jurong and Changi Airport, ok?"

Sigh 这个人真的是死要面子.

I will not be very wrong to say that this colleague has little road sense - he got lost right in the smack of town! I wonder how he managed to topo his way out of the jungle in his army daze days. Don't tell me he is not familiar with Tanglin/Orchard Road area? Hello, that is the main shopping belt for tourists and locals alike okay? You mean his wife never asked him to fetch her to Orchard Road for shopping ah? If she did, she most certainly must have directed him there all the way.

To avoid any miscommunication when I am leading the way in future, I will switch on my hazard lights instead for signalling a turn to the following driver.

You could have guessed it by now - that colleague was Chris.

23 September 2006

The Invasion Of The Kims, Lees And Parks

This post is titled as such because about 40 percent of Koreans have Kim, Lee or Park as their surnames. Make no mistake - I am not against attracting foreign talents to our country. Neither am I xenophobic. I am just relating a fact that only dawned on me recently.

There is no doubt that South Korea is an emerging economic superpower. South Korea has several dozens chaebols. (Note: Not chabor or women, although I am sure she has them as well and many pretty ones too.) A chaebol is a large, family-controlled Korean corporate group, assisted by government financing. Chaebols have played a major role in the South Korean economy since the 1960s. Some have become well-known international brand names, such as Samsung, Hyundai, and LG. But let's look back in history to see how the Koreans managed to slowly garner a share of the Singapore market in almost every product.

Hyundai's debut in the Singapore car market began when its first Pony galloped onto our shores a quarter of a century ago:

It was then a horse with no name. I have not ridden driven a Pony before but I have heard enough horror stories about it. As Mr Christopher Tan, Straits Times' Senior Correspondent put it in a recent article, the only other car that could rival it in terms of notoriety "was the Lada Samara, a thinly-disguised Russian loaf machine that arrived a decade later".

Today, Hyundai cars are the third best-selling in Singapore, according to LTA's 2005 figures, losing out only to Toyota and Nissan:

Hyundai even beat Honda and Mitsubishi to fourth and fifth places respectively. And the best-selling mini-MPV was the Hyundai Matrix:

The confidence that Singapore consumers have in Korean products is evident to me when Chris recently bought two Korean products:
The reasons why more Singaporeans are now accepting Korean products must be as follows:

a. Korean products' designs, quality, durability and reliability have all improved through the years. Many people now prefer Korean-made products to China-made ones even though they have to pay a bit more.

b. The products are competitively priced. Their prices are at least 20% lower than similar products that are made in Japan. (However, I have also heard many people complaining that Korean cars consume at least 20% more petrol than their Japanese counterparts.)

In terms of TV entertainment, I remember in the early 80s, Singaporeans were crazy over Hong Kong serials. The first popular one was "The Man In The Net" starring Chow Yun Fatt:

Mr Ong, my primary school classmate whom I met recently, told me that his wife watches Korean drama serials almost every night till early next morning. She then catches up on her sleep in the day. What an exciting life! Only blogging seems to be more exciting. The shows that she watches must have stars such as these:

Now I know why the handsome lad in the last photo is also called "the aunties' heartthrob" by people like Chun See. There is even a Wikipedia entry on, not Chun See, but Bae Yong Joon. My wife got my alarm bells ringing when she recently told me that she found the show Da Chang Jin "quite nice".

Would you believe it? Korean snacks are also invading our supermarket shelves:

But this was the last straw that broke my back prompted me to write this post:

Korean ice cream!

They even teach you how to pronounce it (the Korean way, I suppose):

It is not pronounced the way it is in "preferred bra" but "pray-fair-ray".

So "pray-fair-ray", I've had a wonderful time too writing this post.

16 September 2006

Singapore: The Encyclopedia

The above tomb tome (a large heavy book) is the first comprehensive encyclopedia written about Singapore. (More details about the encyclopedia are available in the National Heritage Board's (NHB's) press release here. At 3.2 kg, the encyclopedia is heavy as a tombstone.

The encyclopedia was launched on 11 September 2006. Why they chose this date, I do not know. Maybe it is because it was a memorable date. I read somewhere that the launch was timed to coincide with the IMF/World Bank meetings. It was hoped that every delegate could bring buy one home as a souvenir to remember Singapore by. However, there might not be enough copies to go around since the first printing only consisted of 8,000 copies. Moreover, one selfish individual, i.e. yours truly, had already reserved 5 copies through my NHB contacts via yesterday.sg. At 50% off the normal price of $75, it was an offer many found hard to resist. (Chris obviously could not resist either as he had placed his order through me.)

I heard that the encyclopedia was sold out at several bookshops only a few days after the launch. Indeed, when I checked with Popular Books in Eastpoint this morning, they had run out of stocks. This evening, I popped into MPH at Parkway Parade. They still had some stocks, but not much:

Moreover MPH offered only a 20% discount.

You may be wondering why I am so interested in this encyclopedia. The answer is in Pg 119 of the book:

The encyclopedia is proof that our society has opened up quite a lot over the years. We are no longer so "conservative or even close to Victorian", as BG George Yeo claimed us to be. Besides showcasing Singapore's many achievements of being first in many areas, we are also not shameful to show the warts as well. The fact that Annabel Chong, Adrian Lim and Michael Fay earned separate entries in the encyclopedia showed that the documentation of the facts is balanced. That, I feel, is certainly a good thing.

Woah! This Convenience Store's Really So Convenient Ah?

While other bloggers like to write about controversial and serious topics that attracted over 60 comments from people we didn't even know existed, I prefer to blog about sex light-hearted and funny stuff.

Just a while ago, I was at this convenience store to buy a copy of Wan Bao and some condoms. While I was paying for my purchase, a scrolling message on the cash register caught my eyes:

I did a double take. Woah! I thought that this convenience store has now diversified into selling not only cups of Slurpy but also "cups" like these:

It's so convenient. At least, now my blogo-friend Elaine need not go all the way to Isetan to get her B-sized cups.

I stared at the scrolling message for one more split-second:

Then another split-second:

Cheh, I thought what. That's the trouble with scrolling messages. There's a real danger that you might get the wrong message if you don't stare at it long enough. Haha.

Okay, I better stop here. If not, the blogo-policeman will again ask me if I have run out of topics to blog about. :p

09 September 2006

5 Things To Eat Before I Die

Evan tagged me on 31 Aug 06 to do this meme. As I seemed to be dragging my feet over it, she refused to do a 'counter-meme' originated by me and even threatened 'not to friend me' anymore. Hence this meme was written as I treasure her friendship. I learnt that just like death and taxes, a meme is something that you can't avoid.

Some of the food I mention here are no longer available because either the person who served up the dish is no longer around or the stall might have stopped operating altogether. Some are still being served but by lesser cooks. The last item I would definitely like to have the opportunity to sample before I die but, sigh... it's not up to me. (I mean the sampling, not the dying although both are not up to me).

I don't know why but I like soups of all kinds. Maybe being Cantonese has something to do with it. Or it could be because when I was still single and staying with my mum, she served soup at almost every dinner, hence cultivating my liking for soups. So here goes:

1. One of the most memorable soups I have not tasted for a long time is salted fish head soup cooked by my mum. Although an unusual soup, it is actually quite simple to cook (I think). Just chop up the head into pieces and soak them in water for a while (so the soup won't be too salty). Then transfer them to a pot of hot water and let it simmer for a while. Just before serving, cut up a slab of tofu (bean curd) and throw them in the pot. Sadly, I may not have chance to try this soup again before I die because my mum passed away in 2003 and so far, I can't find any food stall or restaurant that brews this soup anymore.

2. Another soup that I love is turtle soup. Long ago, on learning my penchant for turtle soup, one of my colleagues exclaimed in amazement and disgust, "Omigosh, how could you ever eat turtle soup? I used to have a pet turtle you know?" I replied her nonchalantly, 'To you it's a pet. But to me, it's food. Remember, we Chinese eat any animal that moves with it's back facing the sky." Many years ago, I tried the turtle soup sold by the famous shop at Lorong Tai Seng. The soup was thick, dark and full of body. You could taste the distinctive wine and medicinal flavour. It was just heavenly. Sadly again, this shop had since been torn down. I know that there are many other shops serving turtle soup now. Some of them even sport the 'Tai Seng' label. Although I have not tried them all, I suspect that none of them cooks soup that comes close to that served at the original Tai Seng shop.

3. I also love mutton soup, both the Hainanese version as well as the Indian one called soup kambing. For the former, you can get any part of the lamb's anatomy in your soup; you only need to ask for it. One perenial favourite with old men 'who can't get it up' is what is known as the 'best of the lamb' or lamb's penis, otherwise known as c***. Just in case you are wondering, I haven't tried it yet. It's not that I dare not to, mind you; it's just that I don't need the extra boost. (Uh-oh, the blogo-policeman is going to cry foul again on 2 counts - my use of that dreaded 4-letter word and boasting about my capabilities yet again.)

The Indian version comes with various options as well:

a. otak (brain) - quite gory-looking, I must say. Like a scene from a horror movie;

b. mata (eye) - even more gory than the otak, I feel. Imagine a pair of eyes staring at you from your soup, as if asking, "Why are you eating me?"

c. lidah (tongue) - with which the lamb says "Blair" "bleh" with;

d. tulang (bones with tendons) - very good for suckers sucking;

e. isi (meat) - all other parts of the lamb not already classified above.

I have only tried the last two items on the menu, mostly isi. Dipping bits of French loaf into the soup provides for a more filling (and fulfilling) meal.

For Hainanese mutton soup, the one at Golden Mile Food Centre (Beach Road) is best in my opinion. It's called Queen Street Mutton Soup. There is another stall in Dunman Road Food Centre that comes a close second. As for soup kambing, I used to patronise a stall at Haig Road Food Centre where I lived almost 30 years ago. The seller was an Indian man who wore all white which showed the curry stains on his attire very clearly. He not only sold the soup, he also smelled like it as well, hehe. I must say that his soup kambing was second to none which was why I always asked for a second helping of soup which came free if you had ordered bread as well. This man stall is no longer around. I heard that there is another stall with the name "Razack" at Blk 17 Upper Boon Keng Road that serves excellent soup kambing but I haven't tried it before.

4. Beef is my favourite meat. Hence I like beef anything, cooked anyway (but not anyhow). I like beef stew, beef noodles, beef brisket noodles, beef steak and beef balls (not the organs but those made from minced beef). If I had to choose just one dish, I would choose the Hainanese dry beef noodles. Long ago, there used to be a famous beef noodle stall in a coffeeshop near to the old Odean Theatre in North Bridge Road which I mentioned in an earlier post. That stall is no longer around but you can find another delicious beef noodle stall at a coffeeshop at Blk 203 at Hougang St 21. However, be prepared not only to self-serve but also stand in queue for up to half an hour before you get your food. If you can, you must order the cham-cham (mixed) version. This comes with tripes (stomach) which has a rubbery texture and balls (of minced meat, not the organs). And don't forget the chilli and the chinchalok (fermented shrimp sauce that is dull pink in colour). Hmm... it makes my mouth water just thinking of the beef noodles.

5. Last but not least, I would really like to try Evan's homemade popiah before I die. It looks so very delicious that it is kind of sadistic to let us only see the photo but not taste the food. To show you what I mean, I am reproducing her popiah photo here without her permission. (Hope you don't mind, Evan):

Don't let the uncles wait too long, Evan. For the uncles may not have very long more for waiting (or for anything else for that matter). You can see that the other four items above are really unhealthy food and should best be consumed as deathbed food. But your popiah is different - it is healthy, nutritional and life-giving - something I would certainly die for.

There Evan, you can do my meme now. If not, I don't friend you.

03 September 2006

Ten Things That Make Me Singaporean

Yes, National Day was last month and a book with a similar title was already published in 2003. Chris also had a timely post on the same subject.

However, a comment by fellow blogger Frannxis on my last post prompted me to write this one to explain what I meant by being a "100% true blue Singaporean". Moreover, Evan "tagged me for a meme" (whatever that means) to write about "5 things I want to eat before I die".

I am not very much into food because I am afraid that I may grow to be like this man someday:

Disclaimer: The word "victorkoo" in the above photo only describes the owner of the photo and not the subject of the photo. (The real victorkoo is only about half his width and probably about twice his height.)

Moreover, I do not like to talk about my death. Therefore to compensate, I am writing about 10 things that make me Singaporean instead. I am counter-tagging Evan (sweet revenge), Chun See (sweeter revenge) and Chris (sweetest revenge) with the meme. As for Etel and Frannxis, the meme is optional.

1. I register for a flat with my fiance only to find that by the time the flat is ready, I she has changed her heart mind. I don't propose but when the time is ripe, I just suggest, "We go apply flat?" No wonder many people are not getting married;

2. I volunteer in a premier primary school or buy a condo located within 1 km radius of the premier school just so that my son can get into its primary one class. Because of that, I lost a lot of money buying a condo. Now I could only afford condoms;

3. My newspaper calls STD (sexually transmitted diseases) as STI (sexually transmitted infections), making me confuse it with the Straits Times Index. Because of that, I also lost a lot of money speculating in shares - another reason why I buy only condoms now;

4. Like Chris, I also "chope" seats at food centres with packets of tissue paper after having lost a few wallets, keychains and handphones that way;

5. Although food centres abound in Singapore, I can never get "mee siam mai harm" here without risking a tongue-lashing from mee siam lady because "mee siam here is got no harm one what";

6. Anything free like tin cups and digital cameras I also want, as the hundreds of people queuing for 35 free digital cameras yesterday will tell you:

Note: The queue didn't end at the left of the photo. I didn't have a camera with a wide enough lens and I was already backed up to the fence on the other side of the road. There were at least 3 times the number of people shown in the above photo in the queue.

7. I always have the right of way on the road; everyone else is a bad driver. I suka-suka change lanes without signalling. (Just like I suka-suka switch from using Singlish to English and terbalik with no advance notice. Cannot meh? I like or you like? Not your business what.)

8. I live in the only place on earth where the people need to be told when to have (or not to have) children, when to smile, where to smoke but not to chew gum, no matter when or where;

9. I live in a place where regardless of whether I blog about good things or bad, people will find you in time, be it 1 day or 38 years. It's the only place I know where you can get a rap from a National Day Rally because of a podcast about bak chor mee. And then later, you literally get a rap from a National Day Rally; and last but not least

10. Whenever I use a 4-letter word (actually only 1 letter and 3 asterisks) or mention anything even only remotely connected with the subject of sex, I can be sure that the "blogo-policeman" will reproach me. Does he even know that the Internet has much more harmful stuff and young girls who only read wholesome stuff on the Internet are getting AIDS in their teens, all because of lack of sex education? Take for example this traffic-signs montage with a story which was emailed to me by a "young blogo-girl". (WARNING TO THE YOUNG GIRLS READING THIS POST - click on this link ONLY if you read more than wholesome stuff.) Those with a cheeko humourous mind may find it funny. But I don't know about the blogo-policeman.

So Frannxis, how Singaporean are you?