Oh Look, Krill!

Oh don't worry. Whales don't eat clownfish, they eat krill.


A Girlfriend’s Experience with NS and Reservist

National Service (NS) is something that most able-bodied Singaporean male has to go through. It’s a time when boys are challenged and molded into men. It’s also a time when relationships are tested. I’ve heard of girls leaving their boyfriends because the poor boy doesn’t have enough time for dates or that they don’t have enough money to spend on their girlfriends. I don’t understand that but then, my experiences with having a relationship while the boy is in NS, is slightly different.
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Memories Of The Science Centre

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When I was in school, nothing excited me more than a field trip. It meant that we get to go out of the class and not be stuck listening to sometimes boring teachers. The Science Centre has always been a favourite of mine because it’s so interactive.

SMOOSH ALL THE BUTTONS!

I love running around the different exhibits and smooshing all the buttons. Back then, we didn’t know you’re supposed to be patient and wait for something to happen before pressing all the buttons to see what happens. Of course, nothing worked when we did that so we kept running from one exhibit to another, doing exactly the same thing.

While I was doing some spring cleaning I found something that brought back a lot of memories.


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I found a Young Botanist badge that was part of the Young Scientist Program. I don’t know if it belongs to be or one of my sisters since we have a tendency to misplace tiny things like that. I had a Young Botanist and a Young Zoologist badge when I was in school. I didn’t have time to complete the Young Astronomer one before I headed to secondary school.

I think that most of my peers would have tried for at least one of these badges and like what Seriously Sarah said, it’s the original Gotta Catch ‘Em All!. I definitely learned a lot from doing the activities on the card and I think that was the whole point of it.

Apparently, this program is still done even now, though I wouldn’t know how active it is. It’s interesting programs like this and the entire experience of growing with the Science Centre that I’d love to share with my future children one day. It’s sad that some of the exhibits seem to always be under maintenance but I guess having hundreds of kids running around almost every day, smooshing all the buttons, will do that.

I’d love to see the Science Centre continue growing and being a wonderful educational place for our future generation.


Reliving Our Heritage Along The Footpaths

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The previous weekend, my friends and I dropped by the Heritage Along Footpaths event organised by the National Heritage Board. It’s an event to showcase some of the disappearing trades that used to be a common sight along the footpaths in the good old days. These trades include the cobblers, barbers, ice ball sellers, fortune tellers and kachang puteh sellers.

You can still find some of these trades around the island but they’re few and far between, so having this event was very interesting and educational for those of us who’s never seen them before.


We were told to bring enough coins to spend for the day and so we did.

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Everything at the event ranged between 20c to 50c and we might have gone a little overboard at the kacang puteh stall.

It was a very humid day and the ice ball was a wonderful treat.

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The shaved ice was compacted into a fist-sized ball and coloured syrup was poured over it, making it look very much like an ice kachang, except that it’s not in a bowl and doesn’t have any read beans or other things in it.

My grandmother used to tell stories of how they used to buy these ice balls when my mum and aunts were children. Back in the 40s and 50s, these ice balls used to cost 5c or less and they used to just wrap them up in news paper or sometimes, nothing at all. Kids would sit and enjoy these ice treats, sucking out the syrup and then throwing the ice at each other when they’re done.

The sugar syrup left use with stained hands, lips and even our faces but we didn’t care because it’s not often that we get to have ice balls.

When we were there, there wasn’t anyone at the barbers. I would have gone but I didn’t need a haircut nor do I think do they cater to women.

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I remember as child, back when I was still living Malaysia, I’d follow my babysitter to his barber for his haircut. I’d sit quietly, watching the barber trim my Abah’s short hair, giving him a shave and even doing a shoulder massage. I know that my late grandfather used to go to these barbers too.

When Dude told me that he needed a haircut, I suggested that he go to one of these barbers but he refused, something to do with wanting to keep his ears. Pffft, as if the barbers would cut them off.

I would have taken more pictures but I was too preoccupied with my lovely ice ball to be taking anymore. Not even when we got our fortunes told at the Indian gentleman’s table. His cute little parrot/parakeet (I’m really bad at bird identification), came out of it’s cage and picked out our fortune card from the pack.

The entire event was an interesting and educational experience and I hope that more such events would be held, just so that we don’t lose these old trades.


Remember The Kampung Days Through A Child’s Memories

Eid is a time when members of the family, how ever extended, comes for a visit and without fail, they tend to talk about the good old days of staying in a kampung. Everyone assumes that I was too young to remember life back then but I do, though it’s through the eyes of a four year old, it might be a different kind of memory.

My grandparents moved from the little wood and mortar house to our current apartment in the mid-80s, when the government was gobbling up land for development. My parents had taken my sisters and I for a drive to see what had happened to the site of her former home. It seemed that the area had been developed into a series of private condominiums and also some industrial area.

I might have been four and might not have spent a lot of time at my maternal grandparents home as I was staying across the Causeway at the time, I still had many fond memories of the laid back, simple life back then.

I remember the big, shady trees by the road side as my mom and I alighted from the bus. The bus stop was nothing but a metal pole with a metal sign with the numbers of the buses that stop there. A little, mom & pop shop with sweets, snacks and other wonderful things that a child loves, was situated very close to the bus stop.


My mom would take my hand and we walked along the sandy lane, hedged by tall lalang grass. I was small for my age so the grass looked so very tall. I remember hearing the cicadas chirping as we made our way to the house.

My grandparents’ home was relatively brightly painted in glossy blue, green and yellow. The verandah was where my late grandfather would sit, smoking his pipe or talking to guests. As a child, the house compound seemed so big; the kitchen to one side of the house and the other side made up if fruit trees and a large (to me) poultry coop.

The house was shaded by a large tree that grew on a slope behind the house, so the darkest part of the house was the room facing the slope, where the fridge and the large grandfather’s clock was. That room had always given me the creeps and I found out much later that it creeped out almost everyone too.

I had very fond memories of spending time with my grandparents at their house. In the morning, I’d follow my grandma to the poultry coop to help her feed her chickens and ducks. All I had to do was grab a handful of corn and chuck it at them. It fascinated me as the animals would waddle over, making a lot of noise and pecking at the ground for the bits of corn.

Grandpa would be feeding his pet songbirds while I watched. The afternoons had me playing in the sand in front of the house or helping my grandma gathering the fallen dried leaves for burning. (It was the 80s, everyone burnt stuff openly)

Great-grandma was staying with them and on days that she was well, she would sit outside and preparing the central vein of the coconut leaf to be made into a broom. I’d sit outside with her on the concrete wrap-around the side of the house.

Being the youngest grandchild at that time, I wasn’t allowed to roam off the compound unless I was accompanied by an older cousin (which rarely happens) or by an adult (which is even rarer). So I spent a lot of time getting into mischief with sand, disturbing my grandma while she cooks or just doing what most children at that age do; nap.

I’m a little sad that my sisters never got to experience a similar childhood since they were born a couple of years after we moved but at least we have pictures to show them and so many stories to tell.


I Wonder What First-Time Visitors To Singapore Think

When they go through the city and experience life here as a non-local?

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Photo by jjcb

I wonder what do they think of the clean streets and beaches, without knowing that there’s an army of cleaners who work very hard in the wee hours of the morning to clean up the mess that we, ‘responsible’ Singaporeans make.

I wonder what do they think of the strange, seemingly owner-less tissue packets on the tables in the hawker centres and food courts. I wonder if they think it’s complimentary for guests.

I wonder what do they think of the never ending construction every where. Do they feel it a good thing? An inconvenience?


I wonder what runs through their minds when they go to the local clubs and see people dancing like this.

I wonder what do think of the Singaporean obsession with queueing up for everything and anything, even if they don’t really know what they’re queueing up for?

Or how rude and ugly the commuters can get if they happen to encounter them during peak hours, off peak hours, every hour of the day while on the ‘public’ transport.

I wonder if they’ll ever come back.