Category Archives: Singapore

Singaporean cabbie with a Stanford PhD

You can find still find yourself behind the driving wheel of a cab even after forking out loads of cash, and devoting a backbreaking amount of effort and time to obtain a PhD from Stanford. This happened to 57-year-old China-born Dr. Cai Mingjie, who resorted to driving cabs as a way to make ends meet after he was retrenched from his job researching cell genetics at a research institute in Singapore. After facing multiple rejections, he saw the taxi industry filled with job vacancies.

He also started blogging about his experiences. His latest post talks about getting an “indecent proposal” from a bar girl.

Fobber Amy and I are chasing our graduate degrees right now, so here’s to hoping that years from now, we’ll be on the career paths we wish to be on. If we ever do find ourselves in dire straits, the lesson to learn from Cai is to suck up your pride, and take on whatever job you can find.




Meet Singapore’s Rick Warren: Pastor Joseph Prince

Formerly an IT consultant, Pastor Joseph Prince (originally named Xenonamandar Jegahusiee Singh) made a complete career change and founded the New Creation Church in Singapore. Today, the church has around 19,000 members, but his ministry doesn’t end in Singapore.  His sermons are now broadcasted weekly to millions of Ps-singlehouseholds across America, Canada, Australia, Europe, the Middle East and South Africa.   In fact, I was flipping through some late-night television on my couch in Seattle, when I came across a broadcast of his sermon. Of course, the distinct Singaporean accent was what initially caught my attention.

Known for his personal and humorous style of preaching, his popularity has soared in the past few years. His recent book, Destined to Reign: The Secret to Effortless Success, Wholeness and Victorious Living was listed on Christian Retailing Top 100 Books. Making a generous SGD$500,000 (approximately US$360,000) a year, Pastor Joseph Prince just proves that making preaching a professional career may not be such a bad idea.

Check out one of his sermons here!


Where to “riot” in Singapore

Contrary to popular opinion, you can actually stage protests in Singapore. The government designated a special spot called the “speaker’s corner”  in Hong Lim Park, which is at the corner of Singapore’s business hub. It was established in 2000, and is supposed to be modeled after the speaker’s corner in Hyde Park, London. All you have to do is register for an allocated time spot here, and off you go! Well, except for a few stipulations:

– You can’t talk about racial or religious matters

– You can only protest in Singapore’s four main languages (English, Mandarin, Tamil and Malay) and related dialects

– You have to apply for a police permit if you’re a foreigner or a permanent resident of Singapore

According to a friend, there’s usually not much of a crowd. He told me that the audience usually consists of three homeless bums who gather to listen while the protesters spit their outrage.

More info here


Happy Birthday, Singapore!

Today marks 44 years of independence for Singapore, the country where we three fobs–Emily, Amy, and I–grew up.  27,000 people attended the National Day celebration at Marina Bay, and at 8:22pm, people all around Singapore stood still and recited the national pledge.


As a kid, I remember watching all those awesome/cheesy national song sing-a-longs on TV, and Emily will attest to recording each year’s National Day Parade on VHS.  Deep down, there’s only one place we really mean when we say we’re “going home.”

Majulah Singapura!



Bourdain hails Singapore hawker centers foodie’s heaven

“If you love food, this might be the best place on earth,” celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain says of Singapore.  Bourdain, who has traveled to Singapore seven times, is a huge fan of hawker centers, or open-air food courts, which were the training ground for my foodie palate.


The hardest part about eating at hawker centers?  The abundance of choice.  Still, my favorite dish has to be Hokkien Mee, a delicious stir-fry of noodles, prawns, squid and pork.  And, as with everything I eat, I need a good helping of hot sauce.  Other favorites include the famous Hainanese Chicken Rice, Malaysian Nasi Lemak, spicy BBQ sambal stingray (my inquiries on where to buy stingray here in the US didn’t go over so well) and carrot cake (the Chinese pan-fried version made of white radish).  So good!

Strangely, Singaporean cuisine hasn’t generated the popularity and hype in the US that other Asian cuisines–like Japanese, Vietnamese, and even Burmese–have.  Looks to me like there’s a huge opportunity for the next hot food trend: America’s first Singaporean hawker center!

Check out this awesome clip from Bourdain’s Travel Channel show, “No Reservations,” featuring my hometown’s foodie hotspot.


Fobs prove versatile in restroom use

On my last trip back to Singapore, I realized that we fobs are quite talented in our ability to use a variety of toilet structures.  In fact, during just the commute time from San Francisco to Singapore, I had already switched toilet styles three times:

jet-airplane-toilet1. The Western-Style Sitting Toilet

Location:  Cathay Pacific flight CX879

Tips:  For hygiene reasons, use a seat liner.  If there aren’t any, line the toilet seat with toilet paper!

2. The Japanese “Washlet” with built-in bidet509px-JapaneseToiletBidet

Location: Tokyo Narita Airport during my layover

Tips:  Don’t freak out.  The water might startle you a little a first, but after using it, you’ll wish you had one of these in your home, too!  The bidet’s high-tech console, located next to the toilet seat, includes functions such as water pressure adjustment, water temperature adjustment and drying. They are usually accompanied with “sound” buttons that mimic flushing noises to hide the shameful plops your poop makes.  My favorite feature is the heated seat that warms your butt on cold winter nights.

3.  The Squat ToiletSquat_Toilet_Shanghai

Location: Singapore Changi Airport

Tips:  If you’ve never used one before, practice the Asian Squat a couple times first to get your balance right.  Also, make sure you’re positioned in the middle of the squat–there’s nothing worse than bad aiming! These squat toilets are still very common, and are even found in posh office buildings.