More Things You Might Like To Know…

The response to my first “Things you might like to know” was so overwhelming I promised you part two.

Well, here it is. Please let me know what you think.

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The most beautiful city at night

So just over 13 months since we moved to Singapore and I think it’s safe to say we’ve all settled in.  Dog included. No longer is the supermarket run quite so daunting. I don’t always have to switch the satnav on whenever I leave the house.

There are so many little things that have helped me that it’s difficult to know where to start. So, in no particular order here’s a run down of more things you might like to know if you’re living in Singapore…

Sweating
This is the one we all want to talk about – but don’t – right?

Let’s get it out there once and for all.
Living in Singapore you will sweat LIKE A PIG.
Sorry, there’s no other way to say it.

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Is anyone else hot?

With an average temperature of 81 degrees (I’m still old school with the weather guy) it’s pretty hot. Add on the fact that we also have 80% humidity, you end up with a situation that is frankly similar to a sauna. So at some point you’ve got to get over the sweat issue.
Let’s clear up some questions/concerns straight away:

  • You will sweat in places you didn’t think you could. Down your back, legs, neck, behind your ears, backs of knees,  head, eyes… you get the picture.
  • Yes, sometimes you will leave that ‘little triangle’ on a chair as you get up. Don’t worry, it will evaporate faster than you can say, “I haven’t wet myself, honest.” Just walk away with your head held high, no one will notice – and if they do, they’re only looking because they want to be sure they’re not the only ones this happens to.
  • It rarely smells. Don’t think you’ll be surrounded by people who stink – or that you need to spray deodorant every two minutes. Sweat doesn’t smell straight away, it’s all about the reaction with the bacteria on your skin. If you’ve had a shower, you’ll be fine for a while. So don’t panic.

There’s not much you can do about it bar have surgery to remove your sweat glands – and even then you’ll probably still drip from the humidity. But there are some things you can do to help.

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    A girls best friend

    Take a fan out with you. My dear friend Toni always carried an elegant fan in her bag and gave me this advice early on. She suggested buying a few – a smaller one for evening bags, large one for when you’re off out for the day etc. They cost a few dollars from the stalls at China Town market and will become your best friend. Don’t bother with the little battery operated ones as you do look a bit daft wafting those around. Much more elegant to daintily fan yourself with a pretty fan. (I’m still working on the dainty and elegant!)

  • Avoid wearing anything not made of a natural fabric. I can’t stress this enough. Believe me, I’ve been there and done that. Thinking that viscose top that is so lovely and floaty at home will be fine when you’re out. It won’t, it will stick to you and make you feel much sweatier. Anything with a nylon lining should be packed away for trips home. It will be like going out in a sweater. Do not do it.
    Cotton, linen, silk – all the usual favourites. They won’t stop you sweating, but they’ll help you keep it under control.
  • Avoid colours that will show the sweat more – light blues, grey, certain light browns, the kind of colours that can turn a shade darker in water. They will give away any signs of perspiration long before you notice. Men have it easier here as they can wear a cotton t-shirt under their work shirt, ideal for soaking up wet patches.
  • Plan to stay out of the sun for as much as possible. Most, if not all, shops, cafes, hospitals, etc. will be air-conditioned so it’s quite easy to keep cool. If you’re going about your day to day business you’ll usually be able to take advantage of some air con most of the time. If you’re out enjoying some of the fabulous walks and sights that Singapore has to offer, then you’ve just got to suck it up. Take plenty of water with you and become friends with your sweat. Oh, and pop a flannel or two in your bag – great for mopping up.
  • But really – literally, don’t sweat the small stuff. It’s just part of living here.
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Release your inner Monica

Hair
Really, I don’t know where to start. I guess I’m just going to start with a suggestion. Go find the episode of Friends when Monica goes to Barbados.

Watch it.
Laugh.
Then resign yourself to being Monica.

Seriously, it’s not quite that bad (for some people). But it can be a battle. Much like the sweat, it’s part of living in the tropics. You may well straighten it, blast it with anti humidity spray and only run from the house to a cab. But, by the time you reach your destination it will start the frizzing game. By the end of the day or evening you will look like you just got out of a hot tub. But hey, so will most other people so it’s ok.

Those that don’t look like that? Well, they fall in to a few categories:

  • Keratin treatment – a “wonder” treatment that gets mixed reviews. It’s an anti-frizz straightening treatment that costs quite a lot of money but lasts a good few months. Get a recommendation of where to go from someone before you decide. In my experience, it is pretty amazing and works like magic – I’ve tried it a couple of times and was pretty impressed.
  • Olaplex treatment – this is supposed to deal with the root of the problem and repair damaged hair. I have also tried this as it’s meant to be great for coloured hair (gasp, that’s not your natural colour I hear you cry!) To be honest, I never saw the fab results it promises but I do know people who’s hair looks amazing from it.
  • They have naturally straight, glossy, perfect hair.  So a little bit of frizz just gives it a lovely natural wave. We don’t talk to those people. 😉
  • They have a wig on.

There are other treatments around too. If you see someone who you think has fabulous hair – ask them. Who wouldn’t want to be told they looked great?

Should I talk about the hair falling out now? You know right?

Going Out
If you’re thinking of heading to a concert or a show whilst you’re here. Go for it! Singapore has some great venues and there’s almost always enough tickets to go round. If there isn’t, keep your eye on the expat sites as there are often people who, for whatever reasons can no longer go, so will need to sell theirs. But, just to say, the experience is slightly different here.

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Yes, that’s right, we’re part of the show…

Singaporeans tend to be more reserved than you may be used to. So, whilst you may don your platform heels, dig out the white jump suit and slap on the 70’s wig to go along to the Abba tribute night (you know who you are hidden behind the disguises), the rest of the audience might not. That’s not to say you won’t have fun – in fact, you might well become part of other people’s evening entertainment. No one will mind, you just have to front it out and enjoy yourself.

Concerts can be tricky, depending on who you’re seeing. The sports stadium is huge but from my experience when a concert is sold out, this doesn’t actually mean there will be a full stadium. Not sure why? Maybe it’s an overcrowding concern (or fear of it?), but generally the big venues aren’t quite as crowded as you’d expect. If the artist you’re going to see is any good, they’ll have you on your feet and you’ll have  blast, if they’re a bit reserved, expect to be sitting down nodding along. Oh, and they will usually start and finish on time. Check if there’s a s support act, if not, don’t stroll in an hour after opening and expect to see much.

Packages
Oh my God, shops here LOVE a ‘package’

A ‘package’ is basically a way to pay for a service – such as nails, waxing, etc – up front. You pay for an agreed number of treatments up front and get a discount or something extra in return. They are basically buying your loyalty.

It used to really get on my nerves that every time I had my nails done (cos that’s all I do all day dahling, that and have free flow lunches right?!) I would have to listen to a huge sales spiel about a free manicure if I buy blah, blah. They’re good too. Next time listen out for the pitch. They start out asking if you’re here on holiday. When you proudly reply, “no, I live here” you will see them literally beam – Ah, an expat!  You see, they know you’re probably not too sure of things and know you’ll be around for a while. Or long enough to come back one more time at least.

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Beauty packages – a good deal?

It’s entirely up to you if you decide to opt for a package or not. Some of them are worth while, offering really good discounts and, of course, you become a regular customer – and so feel more comfortable. But, some people have found the service changes once you’ve bought a package and others are left out of pocket when the company ceases to exist. If it’s a service you know you’ll use a lot you could save yourself a small fortune though so it’s worth considering. Some things to ask before you buy are:

  • Can you transfer the package to someone else – meaning if you have to leave before you’ve used up all your package you can give, or sell it, to someone else to use.
  • Can you share the package with other people. For example, if your mum comes to visit, can you both go to get your nails done within the package.
  • How long has the shop/company been around for and do they offer any assurances if they have to shut down?
  • What exactly is included – be careful of those that are vague. Your six manicures may only include a certain type of polish or, as I found, may only be the ‘deluxe’ version which takes so long to do you never actually have time for it.

Fogging
You may have heard the rumble first, or caught site of a very strange guy wearing what looks like chemical warfare clothing. Or, like me, you may have been driving down the road and seen a thick cloud of smoke rising up from the grounds of a condo you are passing. Don’t, like me, panic and assume there’s a huge fire and you ought to call the fire brigade.

It’s just fogging.

Fogging is used by most landlords to control the number of pests (mainly mosquitos) in and around your home. It happens regularly here and it’s something you soon become accustomed to. If you’re in a condo you should be given fair warning of when it’ll happen as you do have to shut all doors and windows. Some people suggest taping up air vents and rubbish chute openings too as those critters are on a death sentence and will try to escape wherever they can.

I’m never quite sure how assured I am by the “not dangerous ma’am” comments when I see a guy all kitted up with face mask and overalls. But the pest control companies all give the same assurances that the fogging is safe (and by ‘safe’ that means not toxic to us). And let’s face it, we live in a country that has a prevalence of dengue fever (a highly infectious disease spread by a certain breed of mosquito) as well as other mosquito borne diseases. So better safe than sorry eh? Just stay indoors whilst the fogging is going on and you’ll be ok.

Acronyms
Why oh why???

What is it with Singapore and shortening every bloody word, phrase, name there is? Jeez it’s confusing. But, don’t worry. I found this handy wicki guide that helps. Just be prepared to keep re-referring.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Singapore_abbreviations

For now. Ladies and gentleman I give you the motorways. Apparently, once you know the full names you will know where you’re going – or where to head for.
Err… the jury is out on that one!

• AYEAyer Rajah Expressway
• BKEBukit Timah Expressway
• CTECentral Expressway
• ECPEast Coast Parkway
• KJEKranji Expressway
• KPEKallang-Paya Lebar Expressway
• MCEMarina Coastal Expressway
• NSENorth-South Expressway
• PIEPan Island Expressway
• SLESeletar Expressway
• TPETampines Expressway

Cabs
One of the many things you will learn to love about Singapore are the cabs. I talked about them in the first part, but let me expand. They are cheap – back home in the UK the equivalent journey would cost three times as much. They are plentiful; even if it doesn’t always seem that way. There are generally lovely Uncles (and the occasional Auntie) driving them, some of whom will share their stories and wisdom with you, and some may even give you a pack of tissues too (which, by now you obviously know is the currency of hawker centres).

So, to clear up the taxi business. It’s all about the signs on top.

  • If it’s free and ready for a job, it’ll be lit up green and say ‘taxi’.
  • If it’s been booked it’ll be red and either say ‘hired’ ‘busy’ or ‘on call’.
  • If the signs says ‘shift change’ this means the driver is finishing for the day.

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Now, many expats rant and rave about a cab that wouldn’t take them (me included) because it was not ‘on their way.’ But once I learnt why I stopped the moaning.

These guys are signing off and are on the way home. Why should they turn around and take you where you want to go if it means adding another 20 minutes to their already long day?  Sometimes the light on top will tell you where they are heading which is always handy (if you know where it is you’re going of course) If it’s not going your way – don’t flag it down. Move on and find a cab that has a green light.

Also, don’t be offended if you are in a cab line and someone at the back steps forward and jumps in the next cab that pulls up. Before you lynch them, check the sign – if it’s red then they’ve pre-booked it. It’s their cab. Done deal.

Which leads me to my last point on cabs. GET AN APP! There are many cab apps to choose from and they all work well. I’ll list some at the end of the article, but input your details and you can be the one jumping straight to the front of the line. Some of them you can link to your bank card so that you don’t need to have cash on you. Handy when booking for errant kids and hubbies!

Quirky sights
As you move around the island you’ll become familiar with some of the quirky sights that make Singapore so unique. Here are some of my favourites to look out for.

  • The poles that stick out of HDB windows. Washing lines! Nope, no idea how the washing stays on either but I would love to find out. I’d also love to know how many pairs of knickers are lost per year, how many odd socks are swept up every morning any how many cursing helpers have to run down 30 floors to retrieve washing that has fallen.
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    Be respectful and interested

    Temples, temples, temples. You literally can find a temple round every corner in Singapore. If, like me, you’re a keen photographer it’s a dream and a curse. You can waste many an hour photographing some of the most beautiful buildings. From my experience so far most temples are welcoming to guests who are respectful. If you are not sure if you should take your shoes off, go in with shorts on  or take photographs – ask! Some places have a small poster up outside to give guidelines. Or, like me, you could join one of the tours that show you around places like Little India. The lovely Pooja (Tekka Tours), who ran the tour was very helpful in explaining how to behave and it was quite eye-opening.

  • Phones – everywhere. People talking, watching, listening, cradling them. It’s the nations obsession. And don’t even get me started on selfies. Love or hate them you can not avoid them lah!
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    Always something new to see

    Graffiti – this isn’t so much something you can see. But something you can’t. Unlike most cities, the side streets and old buildings are not littered with scrawlings referring to someone’s football team preference. It’s only when you see some – and this will always be organised “allowed” graffiti – that you realise the lack of it. There are some spectacular examples around so keep a look out.

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    Friendly locals

    The people! If you open yourself up you’ll be surprised what you learn.
    This couple was delightful when we stopped at their shop to buy drinks after a hot day photographing around Little India. They happily told us about their local food business and posed for snaps.  Just last week I was eating at a hawker centre and a guy busy eating his rice dish (with his fingers – totally normal here) got chatting to me and my family.  He told us what he was eating, and offered to share it. Not wanting to be rude – and despite all my British reservations – I tucked in. It was delicious! I now know that you can get huge pots of sauce to add to your dish at that particular hawker stall. Yum!

Public holidays
There are a lot of public holidays in Singapore. Yay! Nothing to complain about there at all. If you’re planning on going away, plan well in advance as they get booked up. For a list of public holidays coming up look at the MOM website.

http://www.mom.gov.sg/employment-practices/public-holidays

There are also lots of cultural festivals that happen and you may not even realise it. For example, right now, (August) is the Chinese Ghost Month. You may have noticed the smell of burning quite a lot. This is the Chinese tradition of burning joss paper to please the unknown ghost. Local Chinese will also pay respect to their own deceased ancestors by honouring them with food and burning incense.

Always be respectful of local festivals. Ask questions if you want to learn more and keep an eye on information at community centres for more details.

Making Friends
Once you’ve got over the shock of moving here you’ll start to feel like you might want to get out and about. Really, there are so many ways to meet people here you should find something to suit you. From courses to learn Mahjong and quilting, to groups that meet to walk the green corridor or run up Fort Canning steps a dozen or so times. Not to mention the hundreds of coffee morning, brunch and lunch meet ups. Oh, and of course the ladies nights (see here for more on that). Then there are groups for specific people such as those who have children with special needs, or business women, stay at home mums, empty nesters. The list goes on and on.

facebook-login-sign-inI’ve listed a selection of Facebook groups and the main website at the end of this. Choose which ones you think suit you and press that join button. You’ll be amazed at what you end up doing. If you’re not sure, just head to Facebook or a search engine and have a look. This is by no means an exhaustive group. Please feel free to add your favourites to the comments box at the end of this.

Finally,
Enjoy it! I have met one too many people here who have said they’d wish they had joined in more, gone to see more of what Singapore has to offer, visited some of the many beautiful islands and countries that are so close. Do it! You never know how long you’ll be here and the fun will be over.

Cab Apps
Grab Taxi: http://grabtaxi.com/singapore/
Uber: https://www.uber.com/cities/singapore

Little India Tours 

Expat Facebook Groups
For all expat women
More for expat women
And more still
If you have teenage children
To meet for coffee
If you’re new here
Casual meet ups
For those who like travel
To buy or sell stuff 
Business women
More business women
If you are an empty nester
Interested in photography

Websites
For meet up groups

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Fitness in Singapore

It’s no surprise that in a country where even the oldest in society are encouraged to get up and active, here in Singapore the health and fitness industry is huge.

ohzumba-2121214e_2xLeading a healthier lifestyle is pretty much something most people want. But actually doing something about it is what 90% of us struggle with right? We know we should – and could – be eating a clean diet, detoxing, juicing, drinking 3 litres of water and cutting out the junk. We have heard all about choosing a paleo diet, going gluten-free or dairy free, eating vegetarian or vegan. You may also have heard about drinking activated charcoal, matcha tea, bone broth and the so last year – coconut water.

You can’t turn a corner in Singers without bumping in to a nutritionist who can help you on your path to food righteousness. Whether it’s learning how to combine foods better, or working out food labels, or even helping you navigate the supermarkets. There is someone who can help you achieve your healthier eating plan (NO ONE calls them diets anymore).

Alongside the nutritionists and dieticians you will also find a truck load of personal trainers and group classes – and I mean a truck load. Whether you want to sweat it out in the blistering heat running up hills at Fort Canning or chill to the sound of waves crashing at Sentosa beach. Singapore has it.

o-FUNNY-FITNESS-SHIRTS-facebookHITT (high intensity interval training) and body weight training are two of the biggest trends with classes popping up all over the place. Then you’ve got good old Zumba still paving the way for dance based fitness. Along with belly dancing, salsa, Kpop, Bokwa to name but a few.

Or what about boot camps?  Boot camps seem to be to new mums what parent and toddler groups used to be. The difference being rather than drinking tea and eating biscuits whilst watching your little one play, you now get down and sweaty to get the perfect yummy mummy figure whilst your child drinks juice, eats biscuits and is thoroughly entertained by said yummy mummies sweating their butts off. (By the way, the perfect YM figure does NOT mean being stick thin; rather it’s all about getting strong)

Other classes to look out for include Piloxing, Power Pump, Step, Boxercise, Core, Body Jam, Body Combat, Body Attack, Cycling (in and out of water!), Stability Ball – I could go on. There is literally a class to pound every part of your body and then some. Then there are the slightly less obvious ones like pole dancing, aerial hoop, Sh’bam, Hot Slim, MovNat and even Indoor Surfing. Yes, these are all real classes.

And when you’ve hit your high energy peak or your cardio limit you can turn to the core of it all – literally – and hit the mat with yoga or pilates. Some say this is THE best type of exercise you can do, or at least something you should do as well as everything else.

imagesYoga is an ancient practice which most of us know about. There are various misconceptions about yoga, not least that it makes you pass wind. Yeah, we’ve all thought it, haven’t we? Lying there in that oh so comfy happy baby pose hoping we don’t let rip. You’ll be pleased to know, if you’ve never tried it, it’s not a given so don’t let it put you off. Just be prepared to hold that position and a straight face.

Oh wait. Yoga you say? It’s not that simple is it? There’s Hot Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga, Sivananada Yoga, Hatha Yoga, Dynamic Yoga, Flexi Yoga, Power Yoga, Yoga Flow… you get my point? If you think yoga isn’t for you, perhaps you just need to try a different type? Just think how bendy you could be!

Pilates is the newer kid on the block but gaining in popularity as it again works on your core, building a stronger, more flexible you. I’ve only tried it once and it’s tough. But can see the benefits if you keep it up. I’ll add it to my list – along with Aerial hoop!
If you want to start moving a bit more, from my experience here in Singapore, the best thing to do is GO. It sounds easy enough right? Sometimes just the actual going is hard. But it’s the only way.

Find out where there’s a class you like the sound of – and go.

girl-gpoy-gym-illustration-lol-Favim.com-112215Yes, you might well be the only one who can’t do one full sit up, let alone 20. You may well feel a bit of an idiot grinding your (very creaky) hips like some teenager at a club. You might even be asked if you’ve ever exercised before (after spending the past six months diligently trying your best at Zumba and in the gym). But you will also – at some point – have fun throwing your body around a room to the sound of Ricky, will probably laugh at the fact that rather than a push up you managed a grunt up and feel slightly giggly trying to body roll. You will also feel great afterwards from the rush of exercising.

Don’t be put off that you don’t know anyone. I’ve found going it alone strangely liberating. Rocking up to a class where no-one knows how fit (or unfit) you are and just getting on with it means you have no one to please, or let down, but yourself. No giggles of embarrassment when you properly try the body ripple.

The fact that here in Singapore you’ve got a whole bunch of women (and men if you choose) from all around the world makes for a different dynamic I find. Being British means I am, of course, cursed with the ‘please don’t get too excited or enjoy yourself too much’ gene. Those of you from the US have no such inhibitions (ok, I’m generalising, but you know what I mean!) You guys throw yourself in to every class with whoops and shouts of encouragement that, once you get your head around the randomness of it, is actually quite encouraging and makes it all the more fun. When an American friend first said “great job Jo, you’re doing amazing” I thought she was being sarcastic. But she wasn’t, she was genuinely happy for me and expressed it. Wow! So not British.what-i-think-i-look-like1

So, whatever country you’re from you’ll find a class, trainer, group you fit with. It may even be the one you think you’ll hate. I now love the class that I very nearly left mortified at the ‘have you ever exercised?’ comment. But the trainer wasn’t being mean, she just needed to know so she could watch out for me. After all, I was slightly less athletic than the rest of the group (still am!). She actually sent me an email the next day to congratulate me on finishing ‘what was a really tough class’. I literally glowed all day from that one little email. So, don’t give up.

A friend in the UK put it brilliantly recently when I asked her what new stuff was happening back home. “I’m doing that class when just at the point where you think you might puke, it’s over” Can’t wait to try it when I’m back. I’ll even surprise them all with a few whoops and cheers as we work out.women-fitness-vector4

So, tell me, what is your favourite way to keep fit? We could make a great list to share around.

I’ll start – Ben’s Zumba class and Pippa’s fat burning class at Singapore Polo Club, the amazing Melanie Richards who gave myself and my friend 3 months of fabulous yoga before heading back to Oz. I’m still looking for a great replacement if anyone knows of someone?  Then there’s Aaron and his gang at ifcPT. For great, honest nutritional advice try Karin at Nutritious n Delicious. Finally, I love the vibe at Body Temple and am currently ‘enjoying’ the boxing class there.

Oh, one more thing. There’s a great Facebook page dedicated to fitness called Singapore Slim. Don’t be put off by its name – it’s full of motivation for women to get fit and strong (rather than slim) and has some great tips and suggestions.

I’d also like to hear your best tracks to work out too. This one just reminds of a the fabulous Delphine and her squats. Ouch!

Over to you…

 

 

Just a little sweet treat

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As difficult as it may be to believe, the Handbags and Teabags ladies are quite busy. We don’t always have the time for a lovely, long, afternoon tea. But that’s not to say we don’t still want to have a natter over a cuppa and some cake.

So when we were invited to try out a ‘dessert cafe’ that promised to ‘sweeten our day’ we thought it was the ideal chance to do just this.

Velvet Confectionery is a little place tucked away just along the beautiful Robertson Quay. It would be very easy to miss it and, in fact, one of us did completely (next time Sara).  To find it you might be best to look for the ever popular Kith Cafe (which is just beyond the Pulau Saigon bridge) but don’t stop there, walk on just a few paces and you’ll find the Velvet Confectioner, right next to the SevenEleven. If you’re driving, head for Rodyk Street and you can park in The Watermark car park. Be warned though, the guys on the gate are sticklers for the rules so will ask which shop you’re visiting and ask you to get them to sign the slip to say you actually go there (hey, it’s Singapore).

Once you’ve found it though, take a seat and feast your eyes on the delights in front of you. There are only a handful of tables and chairs so space is limited, but it was pretty quiet when we went.

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Generous portions and good selection

Aniqa – the lovely Singaporean owner – started the cafe over a year ago. She told us that she bakes all the cakes herself and prides herself on adding just the right amount of sweetness to each one. Her bakes are known for not being overly sweet which is just what I like to hear as too much sugar in a cake just spoils it I think. She also offers customised large cakes and cupcakes.

With a cabinet brimming with delicious cakes we decided the only option was to choose a selection to share. Narrowing it down to just five cakes was difficult but in the end we opted to try the carrot cake, red velvet swirl brownie (one of Aniqa’s specialities), a chocolate cup cake, a wedge of Nutella cheesecake and a slice of the healthier sounding olive oil, lemon and yoghurt loaf.

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Refreshing ‘sparkler’ drinks

Alongside the cakes we were offered a selection of artisan teas and coffees or various cold drinks, including some very yummy sounding ‘sparklers’. You can even get a very cute babychino if your little one fancies a grown up looking treat. The presentation was simple with cute doilies and rustic boards and the helpings were generous.
But how did it taste?

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Red velvet swirl brownie

The carrot cake was a-ma-zing. We are all big fans of carrot cake and so are quite picky. This one hit the spot for sure. Just the right amount of walnuts, the frosting wasn’t too sweet and the sponge was beautifully moist. The red velvet swirl brownie was rich without being sickly and the fact it looks so dam pretty means you’re sure to try it. The Nutella cheesecake was sweet – and ideal for the chocolate lover.  The lemon yoghurt loaf was the kind of cake you want to take home and eat at leisure with a whole pot of tea. And the cup cake? Well, we never got to try it as we were all so full up.

The Nutella cheesecake

The Nutella cheesecake

We sat there for over an hour chatting about cake and eating cake and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Very relaxed – in fact, we were the only customers so no hassle to move on. Our only gripes were there was no toilet (I assume there must be a public loo along the river, but couldn’t locate it) and it’s pretty hard to find. We would suggest a bigger sign outside for people to spot from the river walk.

Overall, we agreed this little bakery/cafe/dessert restaurant is worth looking out for if you are in the area. Proper home baking and the fact you can get occasion cakes too makes it worth knowing about.

We couldn’t score it though as it can’t really be compared to a high tea at the big hotels. Suffice to say we are still talking about the gorgeousness of that carrot cake though!

The Velvet Confectionery
7 Rodyk Street,
01-30 Watermark @ Robertson Quay
238215
Tel: +65 6238 6234
http://www.velvetconfectionery.com

Rose Veranda at The Shangri La

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The Shangri-La (there are two, this one is in the city, just off of Orchard) is one of my favourite hotels in Singapore so I’d been keen to try out their afternoon tea for a while. The ‘high tea’ is very popular and is served in the Rose Veranda lounge. The grand sweeping staircase that leads to the Rose Veranda is a good indication of what to expect.

There were quite a few of us so we were given a long table right in the middle of things. Low, comfy chairs (maybe a bit too low?) and large tables on which to stack up your plates of goodies. Personally I prefer a round table as it’s more sociable. But, as I say, there were quite a few of us.

IMG_5025To begin we were given a complimentary glass of amber coloured liquid which was delicious. It was some kind of tea, but am not sure what (the waitress did tell me, but the old brain doesn’t seem to retain that kind of info anymore!) We were also handed a tea menu where there were over 150 teas to choose from. I’m sorry, that’s TOO much choice, even for the fussiest of tea drinkers. We all deliberated far too much (actually, most of us glanced at it, saw how long it was and gave up!)

In the end I chose from the ‘recommended tea’ page and went for a New York Afternoon Tea. It wasn’t great; quite bitter and not refreshing. I asked to change it to an ordinary breakfast tea and was told that this wasn’t allowed – you choose you tipple and you stick with it. However, I must have looked a bit sad as they did change it, so all was good. One of the Handbags and Teabags ladies chose a delicious smelling fruit tea that many oohed and aahed over so maybe I should have been a bit more adventurous?

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Delicious dim sum and pork buns.

On to the food – wow!
The selection was amazing. In fact, it was more like a full buffet lunch than an afternoon tea. From dim sum, pork buns and sushi to finger sandwiches, individual quiches and individual glasses filled with caesar salad – oh, and not forgetting the Turkey station, laksa and curry dishes. There really was something for everyone.

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A wide choice of sandwich fillings.

The sandwich selection was a nice change with traditional egg mayo and chive sitting prettily next to funky eggplant, sundried tomato and arugula. Some of them were open sandwiches, some were dainty little triangles. I tried the shredded smoked chicken with avocado and the egg mayo – both hit the spot perfectly. Whilst you are eating the staff come round with taster dishes too. We were offered a cold soup – similar to gazpacho, but it wasn’t to my taste.

The sushi bar was easy to miss as it's tucked around a corner.

The sushi bar was easy to miss.

There was so much to choose from with lunch it’s tempting to eat too much and not leave room for the desserts. Now that WOULD be a big mistake. Just from looking at the selection you could tell it was going to be good – and it didn’t disappoint. Where to start?

The chocolate fountain with fruit kebabs? A perfectly sliced piece of cake? The trays of macaroons? An individual pot of yummy looking mousse? Some ice cream with one of the many toppings? So many cakes, so little time.

Everything is prettily displayed with a chocolate fountain taking centre stage.

Everything is prettily displayed with a chocolate fountain taking centre stage.

In the end I opted for the daddy of all desserts at afternoon tea – the scones. Hidden under a silver turin the scones were bite-size pieces of heaven. With the choice of plain or raisin I had to try both (I owe you that much right?) along with a generous dollop of jam and cream. They were delicious. All of those who had them agreed they were sooo good.

I also tried the chocolate cupcakes which were moist and rich and the creme brûlée which had just the right crunch. One of us adored the tiramisu and there were noises coming from the lady eating the pumpkin and raspberry shortcake. Everyone found something they liked.

cakes

All the cakes are pre-portioned on their own daily plate.

All in all the selection, quality and quantity on offer was amazing. The beautiful china tea pots, the delicate cups, silver spoons and pretty napkins all added to the traditional ambience of the afternoon. The room was noisy enough to be able to have a good old natter and the big windows meant the room was full of light.

A lovely final touch was when I was presented with a beautiful birthday cake, a signed card along with a photo of our group and a round of happy birthday. All quite unexpected as my birthday was the month before. It seems the original date (we had to postpone it previously) was my birthday and they’d taken note of it. Just what the Shangri-La do best; personal service.

We were all having such a lovely time that before we knew it we were being asked to vacate the table (they have two sittings so you only have the table for a couple of hours). We decided rather than rush of we would head downstairs to the rather Lobby court and treat ourselves to a cocktail. A perfect end to a lovely afternoon.

It was there we compared notes and agreed this was the best yet. We tried hard to criticise, but everything was just lovely. Our only complaint? The loos were too far away from the restaurant. But really, that was it. If you’re looking for a lovely setting, plenty of delicious, food to choose from and a comfy setting, this is your place.

What, when, where, how much?

High Tea Buffet
Monday to Sunday.
11:30am-2pm and 3pm-6pm
The Shangri-La Tower Wing
22 Orange Grove Road
Tel: +65 6737 3644

http://www.shangri-la.com/singapore/shangrila/dining/bars-lounges/rose-veranda/

$48++ per person.

Overall score from The Handbags and Teabags Ladies:
a whopping…

imagesimagesimagesimagesimages imagesimagesimagesimages(out of 10)

Aside

Err… Yes

The life of an expat wife in Singapore is getting more fun there’s no doubt. I have friends that I feel comfortable with, more going on day-to-day, getting lost a bit less, I am actually starting to feel like I live here. With my new years resolution being to say yes to more things I’ve kicked it off with my first proper ‘ladies night.’

In the UK, this ladies night malarkey doesn’t exist. Well, not in the way it does here. There are those ladies nights where groups of women get together and scream embarrassing stuff at male strippers whilst drinking copious amounts of alcohol and dancing around handbags*. But, that’s never appealed to me, I’m just not in to that kind of thing – the stripper bit, not the alcohol (as if!) So I was a little wary of the ladies nights here, wondering if they are similar in their playful debauchery.

*no offence to those that enjoy this kind of shindig!

And as a service to you all I felt obliged to find out.

True to my ‘say yes’ to more things mantra, I forced my butt out of the house midweek. I won’t lie, it was a struggle. Drinking, on a school night and everything. But apparently it’s what us expat wives do here.

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Those in the know are fully conversed in which bars offer the most or best ‘free-flow’ (I’ll come back to that), pizzas and cocktails on ladies night. I don’t, so I just went along to one someone else had organised hoping it would be alright.

I’d met one of the ladies who was going the day before and she was bringing a pal. Lucky she did as numbers started to drop first thing Wednesday morning. By mid afternoon many of those that were coming were bailing. it looked like there would be just the three of us. All good though, I was still going. YES I was.

When I arrived at the bar – The Exchange at Asia Square for those who want to know – it was heaving and I hesitated before going in. After a quick shifty around I spotted another ‘lost’ looking woman and approached her. Something I probably wouldn’t have done before becoming an expat. Turns out she was the friend of the lady I was meeting up with. Lovely, we’d found each other and we chatted whilst waiting for our mutual pal to arrive. We must have looked a bit lost as another woman approached us and asked if we were ok. We admitted we didn’t have a clue so she gave us a quick run down of how it was done.

This is what is great about Singapore, people are willing to say ‘hey, you ok there, do you want some help?’ – especially amongst the expats. So, this very helpful lady explained how this particular ladies night worked (they are all different apparently).

X marked the spot

Branded!

We simply had to go to find the lady with The Stamp. She was to be found behind what looked like a sink full of beer dishing out stamps to women and buckets of beer to men. X marked the spot quite literally. She branded us (our other pal had arrived by then) and gave us a (plastic!) cocktail glass each and nodded towards what looked like juice dispensers.

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Dangerously innocent looking

Red, milky white and bright orange and green were our options. Cosmo, lychee martini and no idea as wasn’t going to drink anything that glows like that.

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Lychee martini’s – yum!

We opted for lychee martinis and boy were they good. This is where ‘free-flow’ enters your vocabulary. Turns out, just because I have a pair of breasts, on a Wednesday I can drink as many of these rather lovely concoctions between 6-9 and NOT PAY A PENNY! Weird right? It’s free-flowing you see? There are free-flow brunches, free-flow ladies night, free-flow parties galore here.

You just have to know where and when.

So, there we were happily quaffing our free cocktails and rather enjoying ourselves. Another lady joined us which made us a merry gang of four. Perfect.

But, come 9 o clock they shut you down. Take away your glass (plastic thing) and you have to slide back in to the reality of paying through the nose for a drink. By then, of course, you’re quite happy to do so. After all you’ve had a few freebies, so why not? The bar definitely emptied out though after the 9 o clock curfew. There are some very astute drinkers in Singapore you know.

We stayed put though and had a fab night of girly chatter and got chatting to some other expats – again something that just seems to happen here. There may even have been a spot of volleyball going on somewhere, but that could have been a rumour.

To top the night off, in a nod to my Essex routes – and the insistence of the Aussies I was with – we did what would be the equivalent of going for a bag of chips and a kebab back home. We hit the hawker centre and devoured some pratas. They were gooooood! Sitting outside on plastic stools in what was essentially a car park, we had the best tasting chicken and banana prata’s ever. Think we may have been ripped off with the price, but still, a bargain late-night meal!

Regretted them the next day though…

So, yes I went out midweek – on a school night and everything – when I didn’t really feel up for it. Yes I went not really knowing anyone. Yes I went along to a bar I’d never been to on my own. Yes I met some great people. Yes I had a great time.Yes I’d go on a ladies night again. And yes, I felt like the proverbial you-know-what the next day. But it was worth it.

See, this saying yes thing is working for me.

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Playlist…

 

Things you might like to know…

imagesWhen you land on the wonderful little red dot it’s very exciting. The sights, sounds, smells are all new and for most people the start of a new life here is quite a buzz. But, in all honestly, it doesn’t take very long before you can become completely overwhelmed by it all.

Suddenly the most mundane things become a huge deal. Going to the supermarket can feel like an expedition to the North Pole (actually, much more like the Sahara desert). Finding a doctor is like choosing Godparents for your child, and knowing what eggs to buy – well, that’s just completely baffling.

Nearly six months in and I’m starting to feel less overwhelmed and I got to thinking of all the little things that have helped me settle in. Those subtle nuances that stop you feeling like a prize fool.

Being the kind, generous person I am I thought I’d share them with you all. So, if you’re heading over to Singers or have just arrived, have a look at this list and make notes. Sometimes it’s the smallest things that can send you over the edge.

(Did I ever tell you the organic basket story??!)

Before You Arrive

  • What to bring and not to bring from your native country is such a HUGE topic I’m not going to go in to it here. What I will say is please rest assured, you can get pretty much anything you want here. Yes, some of it will be double the price of back home and you’ll kick yourself you didn’t bring a container load of it. But, you’ll also bring a whole load of stuff you don’t need, want or will ever use. For me, it was far too many clothes – and not even winter clothes, just regular stuff that never gets worn due to the heat. And stock cubes! I was led to believe you couldn’t get them here and panicked. I have a cupboard full if you want any. So, please don’t panic – and if you  are really desperate for that box of M&S chocolate shortbread, there’s always the internet.
  • If it’s at all possible visit Singapore for a week or two at least before you move. It will help you feel more comfortable with the move. If you can get to know someone who already lives here through social media or work connections, even better. Ask if they’d mind meeting you for dinner. Then bend their ear off and ask every question you’ve been storing up. Most people have been there and done that and are only to willing to answer all those questions that are keeping you up at night.

On The Road

  • If you hire (or buy if you’re stonkingly rich and flash, err, I mean if you can) a car, you will have a little device in the front window. This is called an IU device and it will be your best friend. It will get you in and out of car parks and around the roads of Singapore. However, it does need a ‘cash card’ in it and this needs ‘topping up’ regularly. IMG_2155To do this is easy – once you know how and where. You can do it at most ATM machines – just pop your bank card in and follow the instructions. A lot of shopping centres have ‘Top Up machines’ usually situated by the walkway or lifts. They can be pretty hard to spot but look like this:
    You can also top up in 7/11 stores and some petrol stations. You will also get charged when you use certain roads – you’ll notice gantry’s across roads that have details of the prices charged. Usually only a couple of dollars. Always make sure you’ve got at least $20 on your card as it can be easy to go through it in a day, especially if you’re parking in the CBD (Central Business District). However, once you know where you’re going you’ll find the money on it lasts much longer.  Keep your cash card topped up and you’ll be fine, if not, you’ll be fined (do you see what I did there?).
  • However, don’t think just because you’ve got one of these you can park anywhere. Oh no! If you go in to a car park without a barrier, or want to park in a road (check you can first!), it’s likely you’ll need ‘coupons’ to park. These coupons can be bought at 7/11 and garages and cost 50c or $1 each and are bought in books of ten or so. Check the colour of the parking bays and read the back of the coupon book to see how many coupons you should display. Pop out the little round tags for time and date and you’re good to go. Always worth keeping a book of them in the glove compartment.
  • Satnavs don’t always recognise flyovers. I have nothing more to say on this. Just be aware. SAT NAVS DO NOT ALWAYS RECOGNISE FLYOVERS. Nuff said.
  • Oh, and roundabouts don’t really exist.
  • Pedestrians like to wear headphones and listen to music/watch tv whilst walking along. Don’t assume they can hear you coming in your noisy car or hear the bell on your bike. They can’t.

Time To Shop

Shopping in the supermarket can be fun. It can also be a nightmare as the choice can be baffling, the layout a bit odd and payment for things not straightforward.

  • If you buy loose fruit and veg, more often than not there’s a set of scales/weighing machine you are supposed to take the loose – but bagged items – to to be weighed and priced. These may or may not be manned. I love the diy ones as I get to play shops for a bit.
  • There may also be a bakery section within in the supermarket – that’s separate to the supermarket (even though it’s inside the shop) Usually you’ll need to pay for things from there separately. Always check before you pop something in your trolley and wander off.
  • Tissues are big here. They are used to reserve seats at hawker centres and it’s quite common to see a solitary pack of tissues sitting in the middle of a table – which basically means someone has bagged that table and are off getting their grub. Cab drivers like to give them away – no idea why! You will find them being sold outside MRT stations or in busy shopping areas, often by disabled people. As far as I understand it, this is the only way some people get to earn any money. A couple of bucks can go a long way. And who doesn’t need tissues right? Some may say they are unlicensed hawkers. Personally, I think it’s someone who’s trying to get by.
  • When shopping for clothes get ready for ‘Free Size’ This is the sizing many of the local stores use in their clothes and they will convince you that it’ll fit just fine – the size is free and meant for all. Err… no. Unless you’re size 10, possibly 12 at a push, 5ft 9 and with perfectly honed arms and cheek bones don’t bother. It won’t fit. However, don’t be put off by all the talk of being sent away from shops head hanging low after being told ‘you’re too fat for our clothes’. There are plenty of good clothes shops that stock normal size clothes in Singapore. You’ve just got to go and look. Often they look like tiny girls sizes from the outside, but inside there’s an array to choose from.

  • At the till you will be asked “Nets or Visa?” I still am not sure what the difference is between the two apart from you use a pin number for Nets and sign your signautre for Visa. I believe some stores offer discounts/promotions sometimes if you choose one over the other. At the petrol station recently, for example, I got 10% off for using Visa rather than Nets. Check you don’t get charged if it’s Visa though. Really I think it’s comes down to your personal preference. Can you remember your pin number or not? Bear in mind you need a 6-digit pin number here, so make it one you can remember.
  • If you are planning on buying big items when you arrive, or during your time in Singapore – and you are fairly well organised enough not to get in to debt – it’s worth opening a credit card here. There are lots of credit cards that give great cash back, air miles, discount options. Choose well and you’re first flight to Bali could be courtesy of your monthly food shop. Obviously look around and be sensible, there’s no point sticking everything on credit if you don’t have the money to pay it off each month.

Out & About

  • Tipping – no one tips. Well, almost no one. There is a sign at the airport apparently that says Singapore is a non tipping country. Certainly in restaurants, hotels and so on, it’s not expected that you tip as a service charge is always added. However, some people do give a couple of bucks to the petrol station attendent who fills your car up and cleans the windscreen (yep, you only have to swan out of the car, say how much and what petrol you want put in, then pay at the till – no smelly petrol hands here). But, it’s not the norm.
  • At the hawker centres, don’t be embarrassed to ask what’s what. They can be intimidating places but do offer great, cheap food. Have a wahawkers_1820293bnder round, decide what you think you may like and go for it. As it’s so cheap it really doesn’t hurt if you get it wrong. Oh, and once you’ve got your food, take a seat and a lovely Uncle will come over and ask what drink you want and bring it to you. I’m still learning when it comes to what is good, but here’s a link to a great article I read which helps explain some of the dishes. http://www.yoursingapore.com/editorials/top-ten-things-to-eat-in-singapore-hawker-edition.html
  • If someone refers to an ‘Uncle’ they don’t actually mean a blood relative – or any kind of relative. In Singapore, Uncle is a term of respect for elderly gentlemen. And Aunty is the female equivalent. I guess a bit like the British use of ‘Sir’ or ‘Madam’. Although do be offended if you’re under 40 as I believe it is really meant for the elderly. For us ‘younger’ women, we’re called ‘Sis’ however, I’m not sure what the male younger person is called as it’s not ‘bro’. Anyone help me with this one?
  • If you are going to be getting cabs, download one of the many Apps that are available to help you book a cab. Eg. there’s Grab Taxi, Comfort Cabs, Uber etc.  You can’t just stand anywhere and stick your hand out as there are certain rules the cab drivers have to adhere to. So stick to cab ranks if you can. There are plenty around – outside shopping centres, busy areas, hotels, even large condos. Don’t panic if the line seems ridiculously long, there are A LOT of cabs in Singapore and lines tend to move quickly.
  • Don’t assume the cab driver will know the way to your destination. It’s always a good idea to have an idea of what way you want to go. I can’t work out if this is because the driver doesn’t want to be accused of taking you the ‘long’ way round or they simply do not know. (Any London cab drivers reading this?!) Google map it if you have to.
  • If a cab stops, don’t assume you’ll get a ride. This is a bit of a bug beaLook out for the green one!r of people living here and a can of worms I’m leaving be for now. If a cab is on a ‘shift change’ they’ll only take you if you are going their way.  It may helpfully say on the top of the cab where it’s heading. If it’s pouring with rain be prepared to wait a while for a cab and if you see one coming with the haloed green light – stick your hand out and wave like your life depends on it. You might get lucky…

Passes & Cards

  • If you’re going to be using the public transport system it’s worth getting an EZ Link card. These are available at most MRT stations (MRT is the local rail network – it’s brilliant), 7/11 stores and other places. Initially you have to pay about $12 and some of this is kept as the card payment, the rest is then credit to use on trains, buses, some cabs and even food and drink and leisure outlets. Very handy piece of plastic to have if you run out of cash (so long as it’s been topped up of course!)
  • Get a Passion card. It’s kind of like a Tesco club card (a UK reference, sorry for those non British) and you’ll be asked if you’re a Passion card member in a number of places. Look on the local community centre website and sign up. Costs around $12 but means you’ll get money off, coupons etc at shops and be able to access local classes at community centres.

!TOP TIP COMING UP!

  • FrazzledMake an effort for your DP pass photo. Now I’m not that vain a person, but this is one tip I wish someone had shared with me. It’s likely that you’ll rock up at the Ministry of Manpower (or the MOM as you will soon know it) probably having just arrived in Singapore. Feeling a bit low, probably a bit frazzled and definitely a bit confused. All of those feelings will show on your tired, haggard, unwashed face. Take my word for it, brush your hair, slap on a bit of makeup and look confident. That pass is going to be the one thing you see almost every day whilst living in Singapore. Which leads me to my next tip…
  • Take your dependents pass/employment pass EVERYWHERE. It’s not just the obvious things like opening a bank account or getting a TV package you’ll need it for. When buying any kind of ticket, entering a play centre or visiting the doctors you will be asked for it. You need it more often than not so keep it with you. It’ll save you a lot of hassle.

Locals

  • Can Lah or Can Can – mean yep, I’ll do that for you. You will find yourself saying it without realising. There are hundreds of other phrases and words you will hear in ‘Singlish’ – which is the local dialect/language. There are some great books to help you if you want to learn more. Or, just google Singlish and away you go.
  • There are lot of people employed here which means there is lots of help. From the petrol pump guy who will fill your car up to the many shop assistants. Don’t be surprised by the fact you can get someone to bring dog food to your house, someone else who is responsible for the garden, another person who sorts out the pest control and another guy who delivers everything from water to chips. This is the country that  ‘can lah.’  Don’t be embarrassed, this is the culture of Singapore.*

*ahem, I don’t want to start a war here, but some say that customer service is different here. Don’t take things personally if it isn’t what you’d usually expect.

Home Sick?

It’s tough leaving everyone and everything you know behind. No matter how excited you are about the move and how much you think you’re ready for it, you will have days when you wonder what the hell you’ve done. Read my piece on here about how I felt – “Home is where the heart is”. But here are some other tips for helping survive those first few months of home sickness.

  • Say yes to every suggestion of meeting up, coffee morning, play date you can. You may not like everyone you meet – you don’t have to – that’s not the point. The point is, get out there. Often, it’s not the person you’ve met, but someone you meet through them that ends up being your turn-to buddy. It’s scary to start again but it’s a necessary part of relocating. So, try not to be shy. You won’t be the only one feeling like an idiot sat at home on their own sobbing because they haven’t had a chin wag for days. It takes time, so the sooner you get going the sooner you’ll have a friend or two. I hesitated far too much and so missed out on some great meet ups I’m sure. Now I try to be much more open and say yes more.
  • Remind yourself where you are every now and then. The fact you are living in this amazing city with so many stunning places on your doorstep waiting for you to explore. Also, it doesn’t hurt to have a look at the weather, news, or local FB page of your home town. That often helps pick me up  😉
  • Pick up a tablet (the electronic kind, not the packet!), phone or get on the computer and FaceTime, Skype, email someone back home. Tell them how you’re feeling. My sister sent me a lovely bunch of flowers when she knew I was down and a card with such kind words it made my day. Also, remind your friends that there is nothing quite like a hand written letter through the post. But make sure you reciprocate and write to them too.
  • Talk to someone here about how you’re feeling. Without a doubt someone else will be feeling the same, or have been through it.
  • If you need help don’t be shy and ask for it. Where to find the best meat? What to do about child care? Should you worry if you’ve upset the neighbours dog? What does a red letter gift mean?  Whatever it is, someone else has probably asked it before. There a quite a few Facebook sites now – just put in Singapore expat and a whole load will come up. Singapore Expat Wives and The Real Singapore Expat Wives are two of the most popular. They can become addictive though – be warned!
  • In a similar way accept help too. You’ll be amazed how quickly people – locals and expats alike – will offer to help, especially if they know you’re stuck or struggling. Whilst you may only ever have left your child with their Nanna at home, here you’ll have to get used to asking friends to help out now you’re here (again, reciprocation is the key). Need someone to feed the cat whilst you’re away? Then get to know your neighbours. It can be weird as you barely know these people who offer their help, but saying yes and thanking them is the best way forward, believe me.
  • And finally, when all is said and done remember…

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This is by no means an exhaustive list. Any newbie Expats reading this, please add your tips to the comments section below. Any old hands – come on, pass on yours. Anyone a soon-to-be expat? What kind of tips are you looking for?

For more useful advice and tips, take a look at ‘more things you might like to know’ here! I wrote this after the overwhelming response I got to part 1. Hope you like it.

10 Scotts

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10 Scotts, is the place to go at the Grand Hyatt, for afternoon tea – or high tea as they call it. 10 Scotts is just one of the hotels five dining options. The setting is cosy and informal, but elegant. They seem to be aiming for a modern but homely setting basing the restaurant on a house theme – albeit a very grand one. We were sat in the ‘verandah’ which is apparently right by the five metre waterfall (sorry, we didn’t really notice it, just looked like a water feature outside the window), but you also could sit in the dining room, living room or library.The library looked like a cosy place to be and somewhere I’d definitely head to if I wanted a quiet chat with a good friend over a cuppa to escape the hustle and bustle of nearby Orchard. Our table, with comfy chairs and benches and squishy cushions was nice and big with plenty of room for pots of tea and trays of scones.

As I arrived after some of the party I was unaware that there was the option of a buffet AND the tray of high tea goodies at the table. In fact, those that were already there weren’t sure either. I was immediately offered a wide selection of tea and coffee to choose from. I opted to start with good old English Breakfast as hadn’t had my fix for the day. The pots were complimented on as there was no annoying drips or spillage as you poured. Although for me, tea should be served in a china pot.*  Yes, I know this sounds picky, but sometimes it’s the little things that make something stand out from the crowd.

After a little confusion over whether we should go up to the buffet or wait to be served, we were brought a two tiered stand full of interesting asian inspired delicacies. This is definitely not your typical afternoon tea.

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The crab cakes were a hit.

On offer were curry puffs, baba ganoush and crab cakes, Singaporean spring rolls; along with tiny smoked salmon sandwiches and a modern twist on the ham and cheese sandwich, as well as a few canapes. Everyone agreed the crab cakes were delicious, as were the curry puffs. In fact, all of the treats were flavour full and there was a good selection.

You are also served warm (nice touch) scones with jars of clotted cream, raspberry jam and kaya jam. The scones were gorgeous – soft and buttery with the right amount of sultanas for me. I forgot to try the kaya jam, which is a shame as I’m sure it would have worked well. But, the raspberry jam and cream hit the spot perfectly.

10 Scotts high tea buffet

The buffet – is this lunch or afternoon tea?

The buffet – which you can have as well as all of the above – offered a strange mix of curry, bread and cheese, cold cuts, treat size custard tarts (yummy), macaroons, chocolate mousse and other sweet treats. It felt more like a small lunch buffet than an afternoon tea, and for me, I don’t think it worked. It was as if they are trying to cater for two things at once.

My friends agreed, this wasn’t the traditional British afternoon tea any of us were expecting. Although the non Brits amongst us weren’t really sure what to expect. However, it is great value for money. The staff are happy to keep topping up the stand and you can help yourself to the buffet as often as you like. For another twenty bucks (ish) you can get free flow champagne too. A few of us were driving so we stuck to the tea and coffee. Next time though!

The service was a tad slow. A few times when we needed something no-one was around to help. They were also a little shy in explaining exactly how the afternoon tea worked. (If we’d known the buffet was included we would have tried that out first and then had the tray maybe?) Overall we had a lovely afternoon. We were surprised at the time when we were asked politely to vacate our table for the second sitting. But, as this was our first outing as Handbags and Teabags we were frugal with our praise. Watch this space to see if our next afternoon tea will hit the mark.

*I swear I was NOT this posh before I became an expat wife! Now I could almost be the Queen…

What, when, where, how much?

Afternoon Tea
12-2:30pm or 3-5pm.
Monday to Sunday.
10 Scotts at The Grand Hyatt Hotel
10 Scotts Road, Singapore, 228211
Tel: +65 6732 1234

http://www.singapore.grand.hyatt.com/en/hotel/dining/10SCOTTS.html

$43++ per person. More for free flow champers.

Overall score from The Handbags and Teabags Ladies:

imagesimagesimagesimagesimages (out of 10)