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Two things in life are certain: death and taxes. (c) benny franklin

April 15th is fast approaching, which means it’s time to fork over some dough to Uncle Sam. It also means it’s time to fork it over to Uncle…Tan? I find the Beatles always make this time of year more bearable.

I looked up the Singaporean income tax structure this morning, and was shocked to discovered that after credits and tax rebates, my total tax rate works out to be less than 5%.

That’s insane! And as a single person, my US taxes would have been somewhere around 25%. Crazy! If I were living in France: approximately 30%.  And probably close to 50% in Scandinavia.

I spend more than that on gasoline in a year in the US. I spend more than that on a plane ticket home. I spend more than that on restaurants in a year.

I’m living in one of the wealthiest nations (per capita) in the world, and paying less than 5%? Hmm…maybe best not to ask questions.

Well, who needs the Beatles now? Laissez-faire baby, and long live free market economies!

[Disclaimer: my SG health insurance sucks].


Somebody let me into a kitchen today. Obviously they had never heard about my butter chicken fiasco (a year ago, to the date). Nor about the time I called my mother screaming while I gutted a chicken (poor George). Nope, if they knew, they never would have given me this sweet hat.

We did the group cooking class/bonding experience at Coriander Leaf, which happens to be one of my favorite restaurants in Singapore. Fortunately no one asked me to use an open flame. I did however roll a mean rice paper spring roll (aka Vietnamese burrito).

Crystal and I decided to make a video to share our underwhelming culinary prowess with the world (aka Mom and Dad). We also wanted to share Assad’s creative vision, as he felt it was “misunderstood.” [A’s peanut sauce not pictured]

We may not be excellent chefs, but it turns out we can mash peanuts and fold a damn good spring roll. I expect the food network to call any day now.

Below, for your Thursday morning amusement, descriptions of the symbols you will find at Unversal Studios, Singapore.

My personal favorite is the illustration for what happens if you are a guest who has “medical conditions that would be aggravated by strobe effects.” Brilliant.

Reminding guests to remove prosthetic limbs? What percentage of USS visitors have prosthetic limbs? Enough to warrant a symbol (rather than a statement)? What exactly happens on a ride where you would need to take off your leg?

Well, it’s official: I’ll be leaving Singapore this summer.

I’m moving back to the States where I’ll be working on my PhD at Yale!

As I was reminded these past few weeks,  it turns out that making major life decisions is… not so easy. I don’t think I’ve been so on-edge since, well… since I decided whether or not to move to Singapore!

It’s a bit strange to know my days in the Little Red Dot are numbered, but I’m exited to move on to a new chapter in my life and for all the exciting things on the horizon!

I suppose it’s time to make a SG Bucket List.  Who’s in for the Night Safari?

I’ve been in my own little personal feminist hell this week (see yesterday’s post for further evidence), but my taxi ride this afternoon was really just the icing on the cake. Please, read an excerpt of the conversation below.

***Taking a taxi back to work from lunch with J at the marina:

Uncle Taxi Driver: You are researchers? Waaaa what a waste!

Me: What??!!

Uncle: Such a waste two lovely ladies in a lab all day nobody can see their beauty.

J: [sarcastically] yeah well that’s why we come out into the sunlight for lunch.

Uncle: You are lovely ladies, so I’ll tell you how it is.  Men like all the Barbies. First you have beautiful Barbie, but next week, newer Barbie!

J: Yeah, I know a lot of guys like this…

Uncle: Yessss I know how the guys. Cheeky cheeky. Got Barbie, but then new Barbie comes and wah lan!  Must have new series.

Me: You mean guys wanna have Malibu Barbie too? Or even Malibu Ken.

[my inappropriate joke is unappreciated]

Uncle: Well, if you can get fresh milk you don’t need to bring home the cow.


J: Wait let me guess, the woman is the cow in this story?

Uncle: Correct! If you can drink the fresh milk, why you need to bring the cow home? Then you got to feed the cow.

Me: Hey! What if the cow doesn’t want to come home with you? What if she doesn’t want you pulling on her udders, trying to get her fresh milk all the time?

Uncle: Well, the mans need a lot of different flavors: vanilla milk, chocolate milk, strawberry milk, milk in the coffee…

[a lot of suppressed snorting in the back seat]

Uncle: …and I like this Irish coffee. Good milk.

J: Well, I for one never saw the appeal of a redhead…

Let’s have a moment of brutal honesty, shall we?

I’m speaking as a woman raised in the west when I tell you that it’s incredibly frustrating to be a strong, independent and powerful woman in Southeast Asia. My frustration stems from a bevy of reasons, but it is never more salient than when I’m trying to shop for clothes. (I emphasize the word trying).

For the time being, let’s forget about frustrations with difference in sizes, body types and/or curves.

Today I’d prefer to rant about how I find it insulting to look at women dressing like children. When I walk into a store for women, I don’t want to try on foo-foo frills, lace, ribbons, bows or ballerina skirts. And for Pete’s sake – enough with the frilly white socks.

Ladies, if you dress like little girls, you can expect to be treated like girls. And frankly, I don’t want to see you in the professional sphere, where I’m trying to earn some respect in a world where women are still paid substantially less than a man, and are virtually nonexistent in the highest levels of management. Women of Southeast Asia, the little kitties on your sweater aren’t helping.

Furthermore, will wearing cutesie dresses and hello kitty earrings and sailor costume-esque dresses find you a quality man? NO. It will find you a pedophile or a chauvinistic fool. And in the meantime, it undermines the rest of your fellow sisters who are trying to be classy and beautiful women who are respected for their intellect, their accomplishments, and their vibrant personalities.

Whether we like it or not, our clothes send a message about ourselves to the rest of the world. And if I’m on the MRT in the morning and I can’t tell if you’re the boss, if you’re going to work for the boss, or if the boss is your daddy, then the message is clear: we have a real problem on our hands.

So put away the butterfly belt.  You can be feminine and sexy without dressing like a 5 year old. It’s perverted and you’re doing your sisters a disservice.

Man, the MRT ads are on FIRE this month!

Lao Fo Ye can! Singlish al palo, baby.

Did you hear the joke about the monk who walked up to the Durian stall?

No? Me neither. But it sounds like the start of a good joke.

In the meantime, I’ll take a durian and a tattoo please.


Happy Year of the Rabbit!

Of course, I knew it was gonna be the year of the rabbit last month when I found this little bunny in the leftover sludge of my Turkish coffee:

Yes, I read my own fortune and found that my future would be February. Yes, it was totally anticlimactic. Yes, I’m a horrible coffee fortune interpreter.

Can you see the rabbit in the middle? Also I see an old man with a cane (on the left) and a Chet (the 8th letter in the Hebrew alphabet) on the right. So clearly, this means I’m going to win the lottery soon.

And that I’m going to have a 4-day weekend. Sweet.

CNN just came out with a list of the world’s coolest nations. Not sure I agree with the rankings (really….Mongolians are cooler than Spaniards?), but interestingly they rank Singaporeans as the second coolest nationality on the planet.

(image via CNN/Straits Times)

While I agree that yes, my Singaporean friends are definitely cool, are they really cool because they “know 6 programming languages” and are “absurdly computer literate”? No – Singaporeans are cool because they’re unpretentious, unapologetic lovers of food, because they make amazingly creative DIY projects, and they’re compassionate, beautiful people (among other reasons).

Who wrote this damn article?

Moreover, are Americans really cool because they know how to surf?

And Mongolians are cool because they “line their undies in fur”?  Ok, wait, fur-lined undies could be pretty cool…

Who do YOU think is the world’s coolest nationality? Personally, I’m gonna say Argentinos…

May 2018
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