Posts tagged: singapore

Our Luxurious Staycation – Raffles Hotel (Where the Legend Began – and Where it Continues Today)

By , July 10, 2013 12:08 am

Source: Aussie Pete Blog

As is becoming quite the norm these days, I am way behind posting articles on my blog that I’ve been meaning to get to… along with this post, I still have many ‘WTH’ articles lined up, for which my blog has for a long time become synonymous with.

When Sammi, the boys and I were invited to attend the long weekend at the world renowned Raffles Hotel, I can tell you – we did not need to be asked twice.



A term that is widely becoming popular, is ‘Staycation’ – now you certainly won’t find it in the common English dictionary, and you will absolutely get the red squiggly line underneath it when you type the word into any office application (for incorrect spelling), but the term is obvious in and of itself – a vacation where you stay close to your home location.

In the case of Raffles Hotel, we knew it first as tourists many years ago (that place where all visitors go to try the ‘Singapore Sling’ at the Long Bar), and now after 8-years living in Singapore, we have tried it first hand – as hotel guests and as diners, drinkers and vacationers.

Welcome Gifts & Drinks:





Here’s a fun fact – or perhaps busting an urban myth… Sir Stamford Raffles never stayed in the hotel – in fact, he missed it by around a century or more. This is probably no news to Singaporeans… but for those lacking in lessons on Singapore’s history, it was quite surprising to us.

If I were to describe the hotel itself as ‘luxurious’ or ‘full of splendor’, I would in no way be doing it any justice at all. Baked in tradition and a feeling of opulence of yesteryear, words could not begin to describe the nostalgia that emanates from every corner of the place.

Another fun fact – the Raffles Hotel is the first choice for travelling dignitaries and celebrities alike. To think that I had to tell Jaime not to stand on the lounge chair of the ‘Sir Stamford Raffles Suite’ – the very same lounge where both Michael Jackson and Queen Elizabeth II have deposited their posteriors.



The Queen Of England actually sat here on these same cushions??:





Before I take you on the journey of our Staycation, let me tell you how you can discover it all for yourselves and also take part in this wondrous adventure.

From now until September of this year, Raffles HotelSingapore is having a special suite package, available from S$550++ per suite per night for any day in the week.

From September onward, it will only be available for the weekends. The package is aimed at locals and includes:

  • Children below the age of 12 stay (using existing bedding) and dine for free with their parents at hotel-operated restaurants (adults must dine at the restaurant)
  • Welcome Singapore Slings and fruit upon arrival, while children will enjoy fruit smoothies and cookies
  • Complimentary breakfast at Tiffin Room on the first morning
  • Complimentary Buffet Dinner at Bar & Billiard Room or Tiffin Room (once during the stay)
  • Complimentary in-suite internet access
  • 24-hour Butler Service
  • Complimentary S$500 Raffles Hotel Arcade Shopping Discount Vouchers
  • Complimentary late check-out until 6pm
  • Complimentary parking

As I mentioned, this promotion is aimed at locals, with these special rates only for residents of Singapore (Singapore Citizens, PRs and work pass holders).

So here we go… as soon as we were greeted by the famous and iconic Sikh doorman and stepped foot into the lobby on the Friday afternoon, our collective jaws dropped at the sheer elegance.


The hotel staff at check-in were not just accommodating, but made the entire process swift and painless (not always the way, as any oft travelers will attest). It was at this point that we were assigned not just a concierge to carry our bags to our suite, but were given our very own butler who would remain at our service for the rest of the stay…. I couldn’t help but wonder how he came to be a butler and what he had done (thinking back to an old Seinfeld episode – apologies to non-Seinfeld fans who will have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about).

Our Suite, Balcony & View:










After the family opened their gifts from the hotel, which included the boys’ very own Sikh doorman stuffed toys, we enjoyed our welcome drinks – smoothies all round and a Singapore Sling for me – believe it or not, this was the first time I’d ever tried one… so sweet and fresh – perhaps even a little dangerous?

We were in total amazement as we checked out the suite – the sheer size alone is something to marveled at – a bathroom alone, the size of perhaps a standard living room.

The décor was historic and rustic in feel, with all the modern amenities to which we have become accustomed. Absolutely outstanding!!

After lounging around a while, we decided to take a walk around the hotel itself, the shops and restaurants around the courtyard. We also took a quick wander around the surrounding area, and realized just how convenient the location is to the major downtown shopping district.

Alfresco Dining at Raffles Courtyard:




Boys being boys, Jaime and Casey immediately showed immense interest in the lovely roof top swimming pool (right next to the  well-equipped gymnasium and the relaxed atmosphere of the Raffles Spa (which Sammi also had the fortunate task of trying out). So we made arrangements (deal) with the boys that if they behaved themselves while eating the lovely fresh Italian salads, pizzas, pasta and gelato we enjoyed for dinner at the Raffles Courtyard alfresco restaurant, followed by the specialized session of making cocktails at the Long Bar – including of course, the one and only Singapore Sling!

Mocktails & Cocktails at The Long Bar:



Even the kids got to make their own mocktails… ONLY if they behaved themselves, we would go swimming in the evening breeze at the pool – of course, they are so spoiled that they would have got to have gone swimming even if they were their usual naughty selves. 🙂

Playtime at the Pool:



The next morning (along with another swim), we had breakfast at the Tiffin Room. Eating fine foods seemed to be the theme of the weekend – all good in my opinion!

We then went on a guided tour with resident Historian Leslie Danker… where we got to experience the life of the famous and infamous alike… the highlight being the aforementioned Sir Stamford Raffles Suite (got a spare S$10,000 for a night’s stay?)









After the tour and a quick rest, we took the boys home and Sammi and I settled in for a rare evening without kids – what happen at Raffles Hotel STAYS at Raffles Hotel (nudge, nudge… wink, wink). We had a great local dinner at the Empire Café. Serving local Singaporean food and Asian delicacies, I was a sucker for dessert.

Somewhere amongst all of this, Sammi managed to fit in an hour of pampering with an aromatherapy Swedish massage at the Raffles Spa – I must say, this made me a little jealous, but looking back on it, giving me an hour for a power nap on a Saturday afternoon was quite the treat for me :p









The next morning, after a quick run back to Sengkang West to collect the kids, we found time for another swim before what I consider to be one of the absolute highlights of the weekend – Brunch at the Bar and Billiard Room.

My, oh my!!! Guys – you want to impress your ladies – this is the place to bring them. 3-hours straight of eating nothing but the finest seafood, pasta, cold dishes, meat galore (Australian grain fed Prime Rib on the bone, US Beef tenderloin “Bordelaise” sauce, Roasted Welsh leg of lamb, Roasted Welsh rack of lamb with herbs crust, Slow oven baked Welsh lamb shoulder, Organic milk fed rack of veal & BBQ Iberico pork ribs) – mouth watering – desserts, pan-fried Foie Gras (and I’m only just touching on what’s available)… top it all off with free flow champagne… need I say more?

Brunch at the Bar and Billiard Room:



Probably the world’s most famous hotel. ‘While at Raffles, why not visit Singapore?’ Indeed.

Not just a hotel, an icon; Raffles Singapore is an oasis of colonial style, calm and charm in the heart of modern Singapore – exclusive, historic, and one of a kind.

The Original.

“Perhaps the world’s greatest hotel, Raffles Singapore stands where it has always stood, at the crossroads of civilisation and culture, a colonial oasis in the heart of one of the world’s most exciting cities.

No trip to Singapore is complete without a stay at Raffles; tradition demands it. First opened in 1887, and since then a destination in its own right, Raffles Singapore epitomises the romance of the Far East – an intoxicating blend of luxury, history and colonial ambiance that no other hotel can match.

Immortalised by writers including Somerset Maugham, Rudyard Kipling, Ernest Hemingway and Alfred Hitchcock, Raffles is the perfect place from which to explore Singapore. Or in which to merely sit and watch the world go by. The legendary Palm Court, the white marble colonnades and the unique air of romantic grandeur transport you back to a more elegant age, while the seamless service, contemporary technology and attention to detail is completely of our time.

Liveried Sikh doormen usher guests through an ornate wrought-iron portico into a lobby that seems unaltered from the turn of the century. Stroll the polished teak verandas past tropical gardens to suites with an elegant parlour, period furnishings, a bedroom that leads to a dressing room and en suite bathroom. Luxuriate in the history, in the scent of frangipani in the evening, in the Raffles Spa, or order room service from the legendary Raffles butlers.

15 restaurants and bars also await; from the famous Long Bar, home of the Singapore Sling, to the Bar & Billiard Room, Raffles is alive with history, infused with atmosphere, and open to the moment. Conveniently close to the financial hub of this entrepreneurial city, Raffles makes business a pleasure, a luxury of leisure – and any visit an indelible memory.

Where the legend began – and where it continues today – Raffles Singapore is exciting, enchanting and loved by those with an adventurous spirit and a taste for the very best.”

The story continues…

The Shame Of Timezone Singapore – The Adult Animal Kaiser Boss Man Nerd

By , June 17, 2013 2:50 am

Source: Aussie Pete

I’ve got to be brutally honest here – I hate using my blog and the traffic I get to promote negativity and have a whinge or complain… it takes away from the all around ‘niceness’ and good feelings that I try to promote (and anyone who knows me or reads my blog regularly would know that the following post must be the result of  something highly irregular to make me so p**sed off).
 

But if something occurs in the real world outside of the blogosphere that upsets my kids, I’m going to have a rant. Especially when the incident could well have been taken care of by a company the size of Timezone. I will be sending a link to this article to the PR guys from the global family entertainment giant and hopefully they will do something to address this moment of shame.

Here’s the background – for those who are not aware (mostly anyone without young kids, I suspect), the latest in crazes sweeping the globe among young children, is the brain-child of Bandai Namco Games. It takes the age-old hobby of card collection (when I was a kid, we collected football player cards) to the next level by combining it with modern-day computer gaming… it’s kind of like the old Pokemon card collection on steroids.

The way it works, is that by collecting cards – animal cards, strong cards and miracle cards – kids can scan the barcodes and use the combination of their strongest collected cards to fight other animals. At the end of each game, they will receive a new card (whether they win or lose).

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Rightly or wrongly, it’s something that my 5-year old and his mates are right into. They collect the cards and each day after kindergarten, spend the time comaparing cards and swapping any duplicates that they may have collected.

So that’s what Animal Kaiser is… really they are just printed pieces of cardboard that end up getting sold by the geniuses behind the craze for a retail price of around $2 a piece. Unimaginable profit margins, if you ask me!

In Singapore, Animal Kaiser machines can be found in innumerable locations – from 7-11 stores to banks of machines at all Timezone outlets. The game is so popular, one can see queues of kids waiting for their turn to fight the computer battle and collect their latest card – even more, they are now at ‘Evolution 7’ of the machines, because the demand for even newer cards than the first sets available is increasing.

At the top of each machine are the clearly printed words – “Kindly Respect Others Behind You Waiting To Play”… words that have absolutely no meaning when it comes to grown adults (nerds) who hog the machines from young kids and play for hours on end.

This is where my rant begins! Under any other circumstances, grown men who ‘loiter’ around games that are clearly designed for kids could raise eyebrows. My son has (on many occassions) been approached by these strange creatures, who have asked him to swap his newly acquired card with one of theirs, because they have been trying for weeks to get a particular card to add to their collection. This is strange enough in itself, but the attempted exploitation of children in this way by strangers, is almost criminal. I fear for those kids whose parents are not with them in Timezone while these ‘predators’ are floating around.

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One of the highlights of my 5yo’s week (and I know it’s a fad that he will very soon outgrow), is to get a few new cards after his drawing and inline skating classes on a weekend. So I take him for around 10-minutes to Timezone to play a few games and add to his collection. It’s great to see his face when he receives a card that he really likes.

The Shame… this Saturday just gone past, we attended the Timezone centre at Parkway Parade for Jaime’s weekly game of Animal Kaiser (Evolution 7) – I also took my 2-yo Casey with us. As is often the case, the bank of machines was full with players, so we took patiently took our place in queue awaiting for one of the players to finish.

It was at that moment, that I noticed that one of the players was a grown man (as mentioned above, this is not so unusual with the ever-growing number of Animal Kaiser adult nerds – NERD ALERT!!). What amazed me, was that he was multi-tasking… playing on one machine, while his son (or perhaps, nephew) was playing on the machine next to him. This still would have been ok, but he was actually not ‘playing’ the game – he was just scanning his payment card in his machine and then allowing the game to ‘play itself’ – that is, by not pressing any buttons, the machine (after 30-seconds each time) makes selections for him – making the process last twice as long. So he starts a game and then just chats with an old auntie sitting next to him – every now and then, reaching over to press a button on his young relative’s machine or to collect a card or to scan his payment card for a new game.

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He was completely oblivious to the growing queue of kids behind him. I use this term lightly – he knew how many kids were gathering and patiently waiting, because occasionally he would glance back and then continue on with his hogging of the machines (plural).

This is where things began to get ugly – I almost thought that I might have been on hidden camera on that American show ‘Boiling Points’… my kids were starting to get restless after around 20-minutes. I reminded them (in earshot of the uncle nerd) the importance of remaining patient (at the same time, feeling my own patience growing very thin).

Finally, the Animal Kaiser adult hog looked like he was going to finish and give those in queue a chance to play – but hold the phone!!!! He asked a young girl who he obviously new (but was not in queue) to come and sit at the machine and start playing – many of the kids and adults waiting behind all looked at each other incredulously, but still nothing was said directly to this guy – perhaps the girl had been in queue at some stage and went away for some reason – so we gave them the benefit of the doubt.

The hog now sat behind the young boy we suspect was his relative – we all heard him tell this kid to finish playing after his next game – yoohoo!! Finally other kids will get a chance to play. But alas!! It was not to be!!! The girl on the machine he relinquished passed it to another boy who was not in queue – by now everybody behind was getting restless, and complaints were changing from simple looks to actual comments suggesting that people should queue up and wait their turn.

The Animal Kaiser adult nerd, now changed into the ‘Animal Kaiser Boss Man’ – he turned and said “it’s ok, they are family” (so they don’t need to queue up – because the boss man said so).

By now, my wife had arrived at Timezone, wondering why we still had not finished the mere 10-minutes that the kids wanted (this was almost an hour later at this stage). I explained in ear-shot of the ‘Animal Kaiser Boss Man’ what had been going on and how the entire crowd now waiting were beginning to get frustrated.

This is when I lost it!! The young boy in front of the boss man now had finished and stood up. As my 5-year old moved toward the machine, this rude and arrogant ‘pr*ck’ who had been causing all the frustration quickly jumped in the vacant seat, laid out his books of game cards and swiped his payment card… he took over this newly vacated machine as though he can just change from one machine to another and not consider this jumping queue (again).

Everybody behind now began getting vocal – I reached over this knuckle head and pointed to the sign “Kindly Respect Others Behind You Waiting To Play”… his reaction now was to completeley ignore me and he did not even have the courage to turn and face me… he just continued on with his oblivion.

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It has been a long time since I have felt so angry that I thought a vein was going to pop in my head. It wasn’t me I was worried about – it was my kids, one of which was now crying becuase they could not get to play any machine because of this arrogant, thoughtless, ungracious and downright rude a**hole!!

My wife rightly pulled me away from the situation before I completely lost it (which would have been the worst thing for everybody). By this stage, I was creating my own scene, yelling at this nerd about what it means to be gracious, telling him to look at the group of kids now crying behind him. I am ashamed of my own lack of composure – but this had gone on long enough… and he was upsetting my children.

We decided it would be best to leave (even after waiting so long) and drive to somewhere else for Jaime to play – which we did.

This is where Timezone should be ashamed… I approached the counter on the way out and told the staff what was going on – how and adule had gone from playing two machines at once, not actually playing but scanning his card and chatting to an auntie every time, how he was directing traffic as to who could get to a machine next, regardless of any queuing going on and his direct cutting of queue himself.

TIMEzone

The male staff memmber raised a broad smile on his face and said, “what’s wrong, you are waiting for the machine so you’re angry?”… and then giggled at the girl working there… WTF!!!?? My son was crying at the hands of a nerd who has no respect for others, ignoring all the signs on the machines and acting as the Animal Kaiser Boss Man… and the staff member had the hide to smile and laugh about it??? SHAME ON YOU, TIMEZONE!! SHAME ON YOU, ANIMAL KAISER NERD!!

Now I feel better that I’ve got all this out – I was seething with anger after this incident for hours… the only thing is that I wish I had have taken the guy’s picture to post here on my blog – or a video of his behaviour – perhaps I will go back looking for him to do so, next weekend… 🙂 And to any of my readers – if you want to ridicule someone – go check out the Animal Kaiser Boss Man at Parkway Parade Timezone – he’s a sight to see!!

DOCUMENTARY: Dru Chen – Intentions Tour: (Singapore / Malaysia)

By , April 28, 2013 2:36 am

Source: Aussie Pete

From January to March 2013, R&B / Soul Artiste, Dru Chen performed 20 shows in Singapore and Malaysia to promote ‘Intentions EP’. This footage, collected and painstakingly put together by director Edwin Tejoz tells the story of his journey.

[youtube p5JmOQHfxTs]

With a talented crack-team of R&B, Rock and Jazz musicians including Adam Shah, Weiye Tan and featured guests Charlie Lim, Kerong Chok, Jase Sng, Chris Toh, Brandon Gan, Dru Chen performed at the ‘Mosaic Music Festival’, while also headlining Timbre, Blu Jaz Cafe, Sultan Jazz Club (Singapore) and The Bee (Malaysia). Radio and college appearances included 93.8FM, NUS Live Lounge, RadioPulze, Ngee Ann Poly RadioHeatwave.

For more information, please visit http://druchen.net. ‘Intentions EP’ is available at http://druchen.bandcamp.com.
(Press contact: info@druchen.net)

‘Instant’ Citizens?… I Think Not, Sylvia Lim!

By , February 5, 2013 10:20 pm

Source: Aussie Pete

Before I make the observation below, let me state extremely clearly that as a permanent resident of Singapore I absolutely WILL NOT even try to enter the debate on the Singapore Government’s Population White Paper. Not only would doing so be completely inappropriate as it would be out of place, but I would rather do without the online harrassment, bagging and attacks that I’m sure would ensue (thank you very much). 🙂

What I would however like to make a brief statement on, is the seemingly unusual language that is being used by Workers Party member and MP for Aljunied GRC, Sylvia Lim, when debating the paper in parliament.

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Specifically, I would like to suggest that she, her speech writers and/or her PR team seriously consider the impact of her words.

The following extract is from Sylvia Lim’s speech on the White Paper:

“Madam Speaker, instant citizens can be Singaporean in name and have all citizenship rights, but for the Singapore core to be strong, the core must be strongly Singaporean in values, worldview, culture, sense of place and history, and network of friends and family. This can only be cultivated over time, in institutional settings such as schooling, national service and community service. A strong Singaporean core should be made up of Singaporeans who grow up in and with Singapore.”

Firstly, coining the phrase ‘instant citizens’ as opposed to ‘new citizens’ could actually be considered quite demeaning to those committed to Singapore, who have often moved halfway across the globe, renounced their country and birth-right and have gone through the required due diligence and process required to pledge allegiance to their new home (in many cases, having lived here for the lion-share of their lives). ‘Instant’? – I think not.

If, and when, we decide to personally apply for citizenship of this wonderful country we call home, personal sacrifices would need to be made, my current citizenship and any allegiances would need to be denounced… this, along with the many years of dedicated community service and integration efforts already undertaken, would not be an ‘instant’ decision, nor if we were honoured enough to have the citizenship application approved, would it in any way be ‘instantaneous’.

If history shows us anything, it is that providing ‘labels’ that potentially attempt to incite divide (in this case between ‘true blue’ Singaporeans and instant new citizens), is often a very dangerous road to travel and diverts attention and emotions away from the real issues at hand.

On another related note, when I asked the question, “If an instant new citizen gives birth to children (SG citizens) who are ‘cultivated over time’ through institutional settings such as schooling, national service and community service, is this not in line with Sylvia Lim’s vision of the ‘Singapore core’?”, I was told that it requires the lessons of previous generations and cultures handed down to create the ‘Singapore core’.

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This is quite interesting – I remember back to an integration workshop I attended a few years ago, where over half of the 300 attendees were citizens, the moderator asked everybody to stand. He then asked all those not born in SG to sit down – a lot of the crowd obliged. He then asked for anyone with at least one parent who was not born in SG to sit down – around 25% of the audience remained standing. Finally, he asked for anyone with at least one Grandparent not born in SG to sit down… one sole individual remained standing out of the entire room… the moderator then asked the ‘rhetorical’ question – ‘What makes me a true blue Singaporean?… how many generations does it take?’.

So I pose the same ‘rhetorical’ question to Sylvia Lim (no need to answer) – how many generations does it take for children or grandchildren of instant new citizens to be accepted as part of the ‘Singapore core’? 

Anyway, don’t get me wrong, I sincerely wish Sylvia Lim all the best in her efforts in parliament. I strongly believe that having the ability to bring different viewpoints to debates such as this one on the population white paper is extremely constructive and can only bring about good things for any democratic country.
 

Exclusive Announcement – You Heard It First Here From Aussie Pete!

By , February 1, 2013 9:51 pm

Source: Aussie Pete

Many of my faithful long-term readers and followers would most probably recall an article that I wrote back in late 2009, about an extremely talented singer / songwriter by the name of Andrew Chen.

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Well let’s now move the clock forward to January, 2013 and having rebranded himself as ‘Dru Chen’ he has really found his groove and developed into THE most progressive and unique talent to grace this generation.

dru002If you do remember my article of all those years ago, you will know that Dru spent the best part of a decade living and growing in Singapore, before heading down-under to pursue his career.

Now here’s the scoop – he’s back!!!

I’m talking about his first ever overseas tour – “The Singapore Solo Tour”. Dru will be performing with a guitar, voice looper, and a notebook full of dreams…

Check out his announcement video:

[youtube PETMi_nHiYU]

…and if you want to get to meet Dru in person, feel free to visit the events page on Facebook and RSVP so he’ll know to look out for you 🙂

Here’s a bonus: All gigs are FREE entry!!!

Details of the dates and gigs are as follows:

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But wait – my exclusive news just not stop there… Dru’s brand new single, “You Bring Out The Best In Me” is complete and the official release will be happening on February 18th, 2013. This will be the first released single from his upcoming EP, “Intentions”.

In conjunction with this release, there will be an official music video – watch this space!!

To keep across the launch and how to get a hold of the new track, be sure to like Dru’s fan page on Facebook.

Be sure to link up with Dru and keep him at the front of your minds… drop down to his events in Singapore and see for yourself that I’m absolutely spot on about how freakishly talented this guy really is.

Facebook: http://facebook.com/druchenmusic
Website: http://druchen.net
Email: druchenmusic@gmail.com

It's a Wrap! Dru has completed the filming of the video clip for the upcoming release of his brand new single, "You Bring Out The Best In Me"

It's a Wrap! Dru has completed the filming of the video clip for the upcoming release of his brand new single, "You Bring Out The Best In Me"

The 2013 Speak Mandarin Campaign – If I Can Do It, So Can You!

By , January 29, 2013 9:08 pm

Source: Aussie Pete

Senior Minister Mentor Lee Kuan YewIn 1979, the Prime Minister of Singapore at the time, Mr Lee Kuan Yew launched The Speak Mandarin Campaign (SMC). The intention of the campaign was to “transform a deeply entrenched social-linguistic habit of Chinese Singaporeans who were long used to the speaking of dialects”.

The objectives of the campaign were as follows:

1. To simplify the language environment for Chinese Singaporeans.

2. To improve communication and understanding amongst Chinese Singaporeans.

3. To create a Mandarin-speaking environment conducive to the successful implementation of our bilingual education programme.

Now 34-years on, the campaign is once again gaining momentum. This year the ‘Promote Mandarin Council‘ has teamed up with OMY, to challenge all Chinese Singaporean and Permanent Resident parents to create a five minute performance and stand to share in up to $8,000 worth of prizes.

There are two categories – Open Category and Parent-Child Category. Participants may choose to participate in either one or both categories. Parent-child interaction must be shown in submissions to the parent-child category.

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So bring in Aussie Pete and the kids!! A couple of weeks ago, we attended the studio to produce our own sample video for the website and to promote the competition… ours was only around 40-seconds thank goodness – 5-minutes of me speaking mandarin would be an absolute nightmare for me, the producers and my kids who can already speak three languages fluently!!

Check out our video below: 

[youtube eTdY3i1VEFM]

Now that you’ve stopped laughing and poking fun at me, be sure to jump on board and create your own videos and perhaps share in the wonderful prizes.

All the details of how to enter, the timelines, process and of course the prizes, can be found by clicking here.

 
MORE INFORMATION

According to the Speak Mandarin website:

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“Singapore is a young country of many races that heralds its immigrant population from all over the Asia-Pacific basin – Chinese, Indians, Malays, and many others. Their diverse backgrounds make Singapore not only a culturally rich city, but also one with many potential divisive lines. The forefathers of the Chinese community came from many parts of China, belonging to a multitude of dialect groups and speaking different languages. The Malay and Indian communities have less problems with dialects as they each have their own common language to communicate in. Being the majority race making up more than 70% of the population, there was thus a need to unify the various Chinese dialect groups via a common language, Mandarin.

For the Chinese community, our aim should be a single people, speaking the same primary language, possessing a distinct culture and a shared past, and sharing a common destiny for the future. Such a Chinese community will then be tightly knit. Provided it is also tolerant and appreciative of the other communities’ heritage, able to communicate with them in English, and work with them for a common future, Singapore will grow to become a nation.

 – PM Goh Chok Tong, 1991 Speak Mandarin Campaign Launch

 

Learning To Swim in Singapore – Choose Your Instructor Carefully

By , December 18, 2012 12:12 am

It’s time for a brief update on what the kids have been up to over the school holidays. Obviously, I’m still stuck in the office every day, so I’m not getting to take part in many of the activities unless they happen to fall on a weekend.

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In terms of the holiday programs and camps, all the fun starts for Casey next year as he begins his Kinderland journey and attends kindergarten with his ‘ge ge’ (big brother) – it’s not much fun for Daddy’s wallet though… 🙁 – this year, Jaime has attended both a ‘Chinese News Presenter’ course at Mediacorp and this week he’s making an ‘Angry Bird’ robot.

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The one key thing that I wanted to touch on, is the progress that Jaime is making in his swimming classes. Now, here’s the wrap on sports classes in Singapore… and for parents just starting out on this journey, please note this down very well.

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There are literally dozens (or perhaps even hundreds) of swimming schools in Singapore. Before signing our son up many months ago, we wanted to be sure that he would have an instructor that would help him get the most out of the once-a-week lessons, as well as someone who was kind and understanding, but a little firm at the same time.

We made the right decision to enroll him in the “Bubbles ‘N Splashes” swim school. He attends every Friday afternoon and over time, we have seen a remarked improvement in his ability and just as important, his confidence.
Tomorrow, he will attempt his first ever formal (Level 1) swimming test.

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Given that I am always at work when classes are going on, I’d not had the opportunity to witness first-hand the format or teaching style of his swimming instructor.

However, on Sunday, Jaime attended an ‘extra’ session, as he prepares for his first ‘test’. We took both the boys down to the Anchorvale swimming pool at the AV Community Club (where I sit on the management committee) for the morning, and our decision to go with “Bubbles ‘N Splashes’ was reaffirmed… not just by watching the way the teacher interacted with the kids and offered special attention where needed, it was also by watching teachers from other swimming schools who were sharing the same pool.

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Now, I understand that working with young kids can be testing on any grown-up… but to hear the way that some of these other swimming teachers spoke to the children and constantly scolded them and yelled at them (for example, something as simple as sitting on the side of the pool while waiting, when they had not been instructed to sit). I was left speechless – this is no way to get kids to learn or to show respect. If teaching young kids makes a person frustrated and angry and leaves no option but to yell, scream and scold, I strongly suggest that it’s time for that person to search for another profession.

Not only is it this behaviour not conducive to a positive and healthy learning environment, it can be demoralizing for the kids… and the parents are paying hard-earned cash for this privilege.

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My message is – before you sign up, do a little research online in local forums and get feedback from other parents… perhaps go and watch the teacher in action (covertly) and see if they behave in a way which you think will benefit your child.

Once again – “Bubbles ‘N Splashes” is the school for us. Firm but fair, caring and understanding, and the results truly speak for themselves… BRAVO!!

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Speaking of confidence – Casey has no problems when it comes to the water. In fact, he is so overly confident, that he will just jump directly into the deep end of the pool for me to catch him (even when I’m not looking or ready for it). I’m kind of guessing it’s the Queenslander in his genes, but he absolutely loves swimming and playing in the pool – he has been talking about ‘jumping in the water’ for the last few days… and not failing to mention it at least ten times every hour.

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Finally, on another topic, the boys have not been immune to the ‘Psy’ phenomenon and the YouTube smash hit, “Gangnam Style”. Now it seems that as well as watching the video dozens of times and knowing the dance moves, the marketing engine behind it all have started producing merchandise… and what demographic do you think the campaign is focused on? Yep, you got it – young kids!!
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I’ve been told so many times before by friends and colleagues, that running, jumping and dancing is a great way to make sure that their kids are worn out by the end of the day and they will want to sleep peacefully and earlier after a session of physical activity. I hereby pronounce that Casey and Jaime are obviously different from the norm / exception to the rule… in the video below, it’s already 11:30pm at night, they are “full of beans” and they show no sign of wearing down, even pleading for more at such a late hour… BUT, IT IS VERY CUTE THOUGH!! “Oppa Zheng Jia Style”…

[youtube ALLSbc3fHxI]

[BROWSE MORE SWIMMING PICTURES HERE]

Ah Boys to Men OR Ah Pete to Man? GV Great Movie Race…

By , December 2, 2012 9:52 pm

Source: Aussie Pete

November 24th, 2012, will go down as a memorable day for a variety of reasons… it was the day that Sammi and I competed as a team in the GV (Golden Village) Great Movie Race, as well as the day that I competed for the screaming fans with the cast of ‘Ah Boys to Men’ and it was also the day that I learned that I cannot trust someone who says, “it’s not that physical – looking at everybody here, it won’t be too challenging”.

Husband and Wife Team - Before The Sweating Started

Husband and Wife Team - Before The Sweating Started

 

Aussie Pete Fans? Or are the there for 'Ah Boys to Men'?

Aussie Pete Fans? Or are the there for 'Ah Boys to Men'?



All pictures in this article are courtesy of GV and OMY. The video is courtsey of OMY (watch the vodcast at the bottom of this article).

It was a bright Saturday afternoon when Golden Village (GV) held its first movie-themed race, known as “The Great Movie Race” at City Square Mall. The race was part of the opening of the 11th Golden Village multiplex at the mall.

My wife Sammi (Zheng Liang) and I formed the OMY media team (aptly named “Aussie Pete Dot Com”) and were the tenth team of finalists competing on the day. Although we didn’t win, we certainly learned all about our stamina limits in this ‘Amazing Race’ style competition, which proved much more physical than intellectual.

Team 'Aussie Pete Dot Com'

Team 'Aussie Pete Dot Com'



The other finalists were shortlisted from over 500 participants to compete in various tasks, including running 2.4 kilometers on a treadmill, guessing ice-cream flavours, a tug-of-war, archery and even testing ourselves in a karaoke version of ‘Don’t forget the lyrics’.

The various pitstops wera all based around movie themes – well-known box-office hits such as “Indiana Jones”, “Ice Age”, “Ah Boys to Men”, “The Hunger Games”, “Sherlock Holmes” and many others.

Sammi and I were actually extremely competitive (we smashed the poor girls who came up against us in the tug of war – their combined weight was probably 20kg less than my individual mass), and more than once my wife proved that she is definitely the ‘better half’ by out-performing me – surprisingly, she ran much further and more efficiently than me in the 2.4km run and was the only one in our team who knew the words to Elton John’s smash hit, ‘Can You Feel the Love Tonight’.

Sammi beat me hands down in the Karaoke 'Don't forget the Lyrics'

Sammi beat me hands down in the Karaoke 'Don't forget the Lyrics'

 

The problem for us kicked in at the 3rd pit-stop (at Amore gym – the location of the treadmill run). We checked in in 6th postition, and given that only five treadmills were utilized for the event, we could not start until one of the first five tems had completed this mini-marathon… putting us a full 10 to 15 minutes behind the leaders, that we could never make up… although we did almost catch up at the food court pice challenge, where we checked in before the race leaders had checked out.

The 2.4km run spread the field early

The 2.4km run spread the field early

 
Running the 2.4km - Sammi looking on in the background

Running the 2.4km - Sammi looking on in the background

 

Thanks OMY and GV for a fantastic day – we had a blast!! However, I think it will be a long time before I ever attempt again to eat five bowls of dry cereal with no milk or water. 🙂

Also, a huge congratulations to students Sherman Ho and Gan Chong Zhi (both 23 years old), who checked into the final pitstop first and scored around $2,350 worth of cash and prizes. Well done guys!!

The Winners

The Winners

 
All the Competitiors with 'Ah Boys to Men' Cast

All the Competitiors with 'Ah Boys to Men' Cast

 
Ah Boys to Men - Gangnam Style

Ah Boys to Men - Gangnam Style

 
Watch the VODCAST below:

[youtube ccrBtwmfEyE]

1970s Adult Film Star? No – Promoting Men’s Health!

By , November 1, 2012 9:40 pm

The catch phrase, is “Knowledge is Power, Moustache is King”!

Source: Aussie Pete

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Well, I don’t actually know about that, but the ‘Movember’ movement is a brilliant way of raising vital funds and awareness for men’s health issues.
Please read to the links at the bottom of this article to help me out!! I don’t want to beg… but I will if I have to… 🙂
movember01In short, I have joined forces with a bunch of my colleagues who have all agreed to grow a moustache for the entire month of November (Movember), and are calling for all of our friends, loved ones, colleagues and anybody and everybody who feels as strongly as we do about raising awareness of men’s health issues to donate (even small amounts are fine) and help the whiskers grow that little bit quicker.

My own personal problem, is that any hair that grows on my face these days, ends up in what is referred to as a ‘salt and pepper’ hue… in fact, I’m sure there is going to be more ‘salt’ than ‘pepper’. This wouldn’t be too bad if it was just me doing it solo, but when I’ve got members of the same team who are of ‘European’ descent, my ‘mo’ is going to look very pale and weak in comparison – not to mention that I have feeling I’m going to end up looking like one of those ageing movie stars of the 1970s (I’m talking about those sleazy looking guys in the movies that are definitely not suitable for children).
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My wife, Sammi, has already begun dictating which personal family events that we have scheduled for Movember that I can and cannot attend. The end of year concert at the local kindergarten will probably require a ski mask if I want to be allowed to go and watch.

With fear of being accused of plagiarism, I’ve copied the background of the cause and the movement below from the ‘Movember and Sons’ website:
“During the month of November each year, Movember asks men across the world to grow a moustache with the aim of raising vital funds and awareness for men’s health issues. Movember moustaches were first grown in Australia back in 2003 and since that time word of Movember and its men’s health messages have spread across the globe. Movember currently runs official campaigns in Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Ireland, the US, Canada, South Africa, Finland, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Spain, Hong Kong, Singapore, France, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland and
Austria. In addition, Movember is aware of supportive Mo Bros and Mo Sistas dotted around the world; all of whom have played an important role in growing Movember into what it is today.”

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“Guys start Movember 1st with a clean-shaven face and for the remainder of the month dedicate themselves to growing a fine moustache. Supported by the women in their lives, known as Mo Sistas, Movember Mo Bros raise funds by seeking sponsorship for their Mo growing efforts. At the end of the month, it’s traditional for Mo Bros and Mo Sistas to celebrate their awareness and fundraising efforts by throwing a Movember party and awarding the highly sought after titles of Miss Movember and Man of Movember.

Mo Bros are helping to change the face of men’s health by effectively becoming walking, talking billboards for the 30 days of November and through their actions and words raise awareness by promoting private and public conversation around the often ignored issue of men’s health. Together, we are truly changing the face of men’s health.”
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The Men’s Health partner for Singapore, is the ‘Singapore Cancer Society’ (incidentally, I have been donating personally to the SCS every month since my dear departed Dad was diagnosed with cancer):
“Established in 1964, Singapore Cancer Society is a self-funded voluntary welfare organisation which is dedicated to minimising the impact of cancer in Singapore through the provision of cancer treatment subsidies, financial and welfare aid to needy cancer patients, home hospice care services for terminally-ill cancer patients, as well as rehabilitation support programmes for recovering cancer patients and cancer survivors.

In addition, the Society also provides free cancer screening services and promotes cancer awareness and prevention through its public education and community outreach programmes. Annually, the SCS helps more than 1,000 needy cancer patients and reaches out to more than 50,000 individuals through its cancer screening, public educational and community outreach programmes.”
Global Action Plan
Movember’s vision is to have an everlasting impact on the state of men’s health. To this end Movember has established the Movember Global Action Plan, which aims to accelerate prostate cancer outcomes through global research collaboration. Funds raised in Singapore will be allocated to research conducted in Singapore that supports the Global Action Plan.
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So, what are you waiting for? (this is where the begging starts) – even if it’s just a few dollars, please visit my personal Movember page and donate to support the cause!! I will definitely personally thank you and you get a mention on the page as well… and remember to check back regularly, as we will be uploading pictures throughout the month as the (fuzz / fluff) whiskers grow to something very sleazy.
Be generous – support the cause… and have a great laugh at my expense!! I encourage you completely!!

Kindergarten Marching Band or Rehearsal for National Service?

By , October 16, 2012 11:56 pm

Source: Aussie Pete

One of my mates that watched the video below commented that Jaime was very well-rehearsed in his debut in front of a large crowd and obviously knew exactly what he was doing… I agree completely, and this was as a result of months of practice and dedication.

He then went on to say that the marching band reminded him of the structured marching at Singapore’s annual National Day Parade and suggested that perhaps Jaime was being primed for his future in National Service  🙂

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I kind of doubt that, but it was wonderful to watch and when the crowd screamed in appreciaton at the end of each segment, I was filled with an uncanny sense of pride. Later, Jaime told me that he was extremely excited and amazed when he marched out to see so many people watching.

The performance was part of the opening ceremony of the 2012 “Singapore Kinderland Sports Fiesta” held at the Toa Payoh Indoor Stadium.

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The day itself was themed around, “it doesn’t matter if you win or lose, it’s about having fun” – and this was reinforced by the fact that every single child received a gold medal at the end of the event.

Kudos to the organizers and well done to the kindergarten staff members who went above and beyond their duties as school teachers to make this day a memorable one for all.

Casey also had a great day watching his ‘ge ge’ and was also beaming with pride when he saw his efforts in the marching band – I think his voice was louder than the rest of the crowd combined.  🙂

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Although the day was never about winning, it was quite amusing to see how serious some of the parents took the family and parents events… Sammi’s team came first in the ‘Let’s move as a team’ event (a variation of the old three-legged race) and we combined with Jaime to be a part of the first placed team in the ‘We are a Happy Family’ segment.

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Somewhat disappointing was our efforts in the Yio Chu Kang Kinderland team for the ‘Tug-o-War’. If my back was not feeling old and sore before, this event just sought to remind me that I’m not as young and strong as I used to be… (of course I’m kidding – there was no disappointment – we had an absolute blast with our fellow parents)  🙂

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Watch the amazing Marching Band Video here (remember, these kids are only Kindergarten age):

[youtube jzFHnz46dmE]


Again, thanks to Kinderland and the staff and volunteers. Special congratulations to the band master, Mr Victor Tan.

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Jaime had his own “End of day Gold Medal Celebrations”:

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