Diabetes In Singapore; The Bitter Sweet Truth

This month I’m going to focusing more on health in Singapore; my last article touched on mental health, and this one I wanted to talk about Diabetes.

  Singapore offers us a lifestyle that is often perceived to be luxurious- nice restaurants, bars and our weekends filled with relaxation. But, there is a darker side to this, and this is the increase of chronic diseases. In 2009, 1275 people were diagnosed with end-stage kidney failure…this increased to a shocking 1999 in 2017. And what was the cause of this? Not only the aging population, but also due to the high rate of diabetes.

  Here in Singapore, more than 400,000 people have diabetes. The PM has declared a ‘war on diabetes’ for the past 5 years, implicating stricter rules on advertising sugary food, and promoting nationwide health screening. The cost burden of diabetes, stood at more than $940 million in 2014. This is expected to increase to $1.8 billion by 2050. Not only does diabetes impact one’s own health; leading to heart conditions and strokes, it can complicate the treatment of other diseases, including Covid-19.

  So, what sort of things can we do as individuals to prevent this from happening? Of course, prevention is better than cure, so going for frequent health screenings helps tackle an unexpected diagnosis. Making small improvements to our diets will also prevent onset diabetes; managing and cutting back on our intake of sugary foods, drinks and carbohydrates, cutting back on smoking and being more active can help.

  Being more active not only helps with keeping fit and healthy, but it also improves productivity throughout the day and has a positive affect on your mental health. Exercise, along with a diet of lots of vitamins and fibre, can increase blood sugars and prevent pre-diabetes.

  Did you know that diabetes is a declined risk for most insurance critical illness plans on the market? With 3 in 10 Singaporeans having diabetes before 40, it’s obviously best to stop diabetes from happening before it affects your life! However, if you have diabetes, following the above tips can help manage your situation. Not only that, there is now critical illness and insurance coverage available to you!

Use the WhatsApp link below to contact me with your thoughts on diabetes, and if you have diabetes and need help getting cover, let me know!

Circuit Breaker Anniversary: Mental Health Awareness

As we surpass the one-year mark of the start of circuit breaker in Singapore, I would like to reflect on our mental health and how the pandemic has affected us. Although things are definitely doing well in Singapore (we can go the bars, restaurants and beach clubs without worrying), it definitely doesn’t make things better in terms of our mental health. Many of us are still worried about the situation overseas, particularly with our families and some feel anxious with the large crowds and normality in Singapore.

  About one in three people in Singapore feels their mental well-being has worsened since the circuit breaker kicked in a year ago, a poll commissioned by The Straits Times showed. Working from home has highlighted how blurred work-life boundaries have become. If you work from home, it can often feel like you must always be in work mode- there is not escape and no change in environment.

  Covid-19 has brought to the forefront the need for change in Singapore, especially for breaking down the stigmas surrounding mental health. I think the one thing we must all remember is that it’s ok not to be ok. No one ever expected this pandemic to happen and last this long. If I were to look back to the start of 2019, I would never think that I would be stopped from seeing my family. I would never think that I would have to rely on technology so heavily (the thought of my parents only being able to see me get married via Zoom fills me with such despair). And, I wouldn’t have thought that job security in Singapore would be so touch and go. Not only that, travelling was a way for me to relax.

  We must remind ourselves that our problems are valid to us. I often feel incredibly guilty thinking about things back in England; I get stressed over the smallest thing here in Singapore, but in the UK, life right now is much more challenging. But, it’s ok for me to feel these things.

  Singapore is definitely moving forward when it comes to mental health awareness. The National Care Hotline, which was set up in April last year to provide psychological first aid and emotional support during Covid-19, was the first of its kind in Singapore, and just shows how far forward we’ve come in such a short space of time. The increase in avenues like webinars, shows that there is a need and a hunger for employers to learn more about their employees’ mental health. Insurance companies in Singapore are now including mental health diagnoses in their coverage.

  While we are definitely improving with mental health awareness here in Singapore, there is a lot of growth yet to be done. Let’s come together and support each other during this tough time. Be open to talking and hearing from each other, don’t be afraid to ask for help and remember that you are not alone.

Best Hawkers For Expats…Part Two!

It’s back! Another list of hawkers that expats might not know about, but should! I got a bit of backlash from my first post so, just to reiterate…this is not a list containing all the well-known expat locations like Newton or Lau Pa Sat; I am not writing about these because a) everyone already knows about them b) I sometimes think they’re a bit overpriced.

If you’ve tried my previous list and are looking for more suggestions then please read on!

Old Airport Road

Must Try: Curry Chicken Noodles

To be honest, I don’t know why this wasn’t in my first list. Old Airport Road is great; it has such a wide selection and it is huge- there’s something for everyone. The chicken rice there is great, the curry chicken noodles are delicious and there is an abundance of beer, what more could you ask for!

Chom Chom

Must Try: Stingray, Carrot Cake

This made the honourable mentions list last time but I went back recently and tried pretty much everything there! The food there is very reasonably priced and it is your one-stop-shop for all Singaporean food. The feast I had contained satay, chicken wings, black and white carrot cake, stingray, rice and kangkong. Can I just say that the portions are huge so be careful when ordering! I definitely over-ordered!

Seah Im Food Centre

Must Try: Boat Noodles

This hawker centre is a short walk away from Vivocity. It’s incredibly underrated and is great after a long day at Sentosa. During the day a lot more stalls are open than at night, but no matter what time of day you go I would highly recommend the Thai stall that sells beef boat noodle soup; it’s spicy, flavourful, comes with or without beef stomach (I personally like it with) and you get a good bowl for a cheap price! There are many stalls to choose from, so if you’re not particularly in the mood for Thai you can always grab something else.

Golden Mile Tower

Must Try: Leng Saap

Speaking of Thai food, next to the very famous Golden Mile Complex is Golden Mile Tower. In the basement there is lots of great food, notably leng saap, or pork spine soup. This soup is not for the faint of heart; imagine a vast bowl filled with spicy coriander soup, and protruding out the top, massive pork spines where the meat falls off the bone. You can choose your size and spiciness level, and the soup is usually refillable. The meat that comes off the pork spine is so juicy and tender, it’s making my mouth water just typing about it!

Eunos Crescent Market and Food Centre

Must Try: Yong Tau Foo, Indian Rojak

Right next to Eunos MRT Station, this hawker is packed full of choices. It may seem small, but each stall as something different. I also think that, because it’s not very well known by expats, it tends to be more reasonably priced. The satay here is great, and you can get hand pulled noodles at the ban mien stall. Behind the first set of hawkers is another, mostly specialising in Chinese and Hong Kong cuisine. Here I recommend relaxing with a beer and trying the Mala Xiang Guo. When I don’t know what to eat, my go-to is either the Indian rojak stall, or the Yong Tau Foo with laksa gravy.

So there you have it, another 5 great places to eat around Singapore. I hope this list has got your mouth watering enough to go and try all my latest top picks! Which hawker is your favourite?

Singlish For Expats!

Many expats move to Singapore thinking that life will be easy because everyone speaks English. Then you walk around the hawker centres and just think ??? What is everyone talking about?! Don’t fear, here is a mini Singlish dictionary for expats- impress your local friends and make them say, “Wah! This Angmoh speak Singlish leh?!”

Can lah-

Your most commonly used Singlish phrase. A phrase used to affirm a statement or question.

Example: “Are your free for lunch at 2pm?”

“Can lah!”

Shiok-

A term of general approval, showing that something is very pleasing.

Example:

“These chicken wings damn shiok!”

Makan-

Malay word meaning ‘to eat’.

Example:

“You want go makan or not?”

Lepak –

To rest or to chill.

Example:

You want to go Seletar Bridge to lepak?

Correct-

Another word of affirmation. Simply means ‘yes’. Top tip, drop the sound of the ‘t’ at the end.

Example:

“You don’t have NS in UK is it?”

“Correc”

Confirm one-

Even more affirmation than ‘correct’. Adding ‘one’ on the end of your sentence adds emphasis one.

Example:

“You speak Singlish meh?”

“Confirm one.”

Kena-

A word with negative connotations that means ‘to be affected by’.

Example:

“How was that restaurant?”

“Not shiok. I kena food poisoning.”

Kaisu-

A Hokkien word denoting a fear of missing out, pushy and somewhat selfish attitude. Often used to describe Tiger Moms.

Example:

“She puts her kids in so many enrichments. She’s so Kaisu.”

Kaypoh-

Another Hokkien word, this one often describing someone who is nosey, not minding their own business.

Example:

“Stop looking across at that table, you’re so kaypoh!”

Sien-

Bored, fed up, sick of it.

Example:

“Everyday I go office, come home. I’m so sien lor.”

Wah lao eh-

Singlish version of OMG! Usually used when something frustrating or annoying has happened.

Example:

“I spilt my kopi on my shirt, wah lao eh!”

Singlish may seem confusing and tricky at first, but the more you hear it the more you get used to it. Try some of these on your local friends!

Outdoor Singapore

Singapore’s weather has been incredibly hot and sunny lately, and if you would prefer to spend your days off being outdoors soaking up the sun, rather than indoor activities, then have I got a list for you! Read on for my top picks for things to do outdoors in Singapore!

  1. St John’s and Lazarus Islands

Don’t you miss being on holiday? Sandy beaches, relaxing by the ocean and sipping beer? Me too! Whilst we can’t travel overseas, the closest thing I can think of is heading over to St. John’s and Lazarus islands. You can take a ferry from Marina South Pier over to these islands, along with Kusu Island. To be honest, I wouldn’t really recommend Kusu island as last time I went half of it was closed and there was just a small temple to visit. But the beaches at St. John’s and Lazarus islands are way better than the ones on Sentosa. Think white sand and warm clear seas. One thing to note is that there are few to no facilities, especially on Lazarus island. So, it’s best to bring everything with you, especially extra water, as it gets so hot!

2. Kayaking

There are many options for kayaking in Singapore, and it really just depends on your preference. If you want a fun couple of hours on a kayak you can do it at East Coast Park. If you want a longer adventure you can kayak to Pulau Ubin and explore all its mangroves and waterways! And if you want something totally different and unusual, you can try a kayaking fishing trip (don’t worry, fish are released after you catch them).

3. Pulau Ubin

Speaking of Pulau Ubin, if you love cycling then this is the perfect day out. Catch a boat from Changi Jetty over to the island and enjoy the rugged landscape by foot or by bicycle. You can rent bikes over there, even tandem ones, and ride around the whole island. If you’re lucky, you may catch a glimpse of some wild boars! And, when the long day is over, you can chill at the Little Island Brewery at Changi and relax with some cold beers.

4. Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve

If you love wildlife and want to spend your day exploring mangrove wetlands, this Heritage Park is the place for you. Not only is this area abundant with migratory birds, but you can also catch a glimpse of otters, lizards and even crocodiles here! If you want a change of scenery from the hustle and bustle of the city, then head up to Kranji and enjoy this ecological gem.

5. Nature Walks

There is a plethora of nature walks in Singapore, and in my opinion, they are all worth doing. Head to MacRitchie to do the famous tree top walk (watch out for monkeys!), Bukit Timah Nature Reserve (maybe my favourite nature walk), Bukit Batok Nature Park, Labrador Nature Reserve…the list goes on! Considering Singapore is such a small country with so many people and so many high-rise buildings, it is amazing how many parks and outdoor trails there are! Which one is your favourite and why?

Singapore really does have a lot of outdoor activities to offer, so get out there and explore!

Singapore: Important Updates to Insurance You Need To Know About!

As we all know, Singapore does not offer free healthcare; for locals, a lot is subsidised by their Medisave but for expats we must pay the full cost and wait for reimbursement from our insurers.

But there will be some new changes this year that all insurers in Singapore will have to follow, which will affect the consumer. Here’s what you need to know.

In March 2018, the Ministry of Health announced that insurers will have to stop offering plans that cover the full cost of hospital bills, and riders that do so will have to contain a ‘co-payment’ feature. This means that patients will have to foot part of their hospital bill, in order to keep healthcare costs sustainable.

From now on, if policyholders are hospitalised, they will have to pay 5% (at least) of the hospital bill. This co-payment is the government’s attempt to maintain policy premiums, and encourage responsible usage of the Singapore Healthcare System…doctors and patients alike.

So what can we, as a customer, do to ensure that we can keep up with these changes? The first is to double-check what your company provides in terms of insurance coverage, as company plans will often cover different things than personal. Second, ensure you have an accident plan that includes some medical reimbursement benefit. Therefore, if you are hospitalised due to an accident, you can claim somewhat off this plan. The third and, in my opinion, the best method is to ensure you have some sort of plan you can use as an ‘emergency medical fund’. Pay into this fund for a few years and, should anything happen, you can use this to cover the co-payment. It can also include features that will cover you should you become disabled, or suffer from a critical illness.

Have you readjusted your medical planning? Do you have any questions in regards to your insurance or future planning? If so, comment below or send me a message!

Covid Vaccine Cover!

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Best Hawkers For Expats!

  When the conversation of coffee shops come up around expats come up, Newton is ALWAYS mentioned. It’s the one in Crazy Rich Asians, it’s the one where people try sting ray for the first time, but it’s pretty touristy and they jack the prices up. So, I’ve come up with a list of my favourite hawkers across Singapore, and what my favourite food is from those places.

Maxwell

Best Things To Eat: Chicken Rice, Shanghai Dumplings

  This is my favourite hawker in the whole of Singapore; the food is so delicious and very reasonably priced. My top picks for food would be the chicken rice; there’s a lot of famous chicken rice stalls at Maxwell and they’re all so tasty. But my absolute top pick for food here is the Shanghai dumplings; they’re incredibly juicy and soft. And, the beer is cheap!

Bedok Food Centre

Best Things To Eat: Mala Xiang Guo

  I don’t know why people don’t talk more about this hawker- it’s MASSIVE and there are so many amazing and delicious things to try here. It gets very busy on the weekends to make sure to bring some tissues to chope your table! The mala xiang guo is very fresh and yummy and incredibly reasonably priced; I often find mala to be quite expensive if you’re eating for 1, but this only costs $5!

East Coast Park

Best Things To Eat: Satay

 Of course I was going to put this on the list- there are so many fantastic foods to try. I love the stingray, the carrot cake, the fried rice but especially the satay. People say that Lau Pa Sat has the best satay but I disagree- East Coast Park takes the gold. What’s more, the beer is the best here- so cheap!

Yishun Park Hawker Centre

Best Things To Eat: Mee Jiang Kuah

 This is my favourite hawker in the north. It’s near where I used to live so during circuit breaker I would go there once a week just to treat myself and get myself out the house. I would highly recommend the mee jiang kuah; these fluffy pancakes come in many different flavours. I like the charcoal and peanut butter ones.

Satay By The Bay

Best Things To Eat: BBQ Sting Ray and Kang Kong

Even though the satay here is very popular I would also recommend their tze char, especially their stingray and kang kong. This hawker is a great place to go after a cycle around the Marina Bay area. It feels so rewarding chomping down on delicious food after a long day exercising!

Honourable Mentions: Nasi Lemak at Boon Lay Food Centre; Curry Fish Head at Zion; Hokkien Mee at Chom Chom

What are some of your favourite local Singapore delights?

An Expat’s Guide to Chinese New Year

Gong Xi Fa Cai

It’s almost Chinese New Year! On the 12th February, the Year of the Ox will begin. Hopefully it will be a lucky year for you and you enjoy your days off. What do you do over Lunar New Year? And how do you plan to spend it this year?

  Many expats (myself included) spend this time to relax, maybe go to the beach club, or hitting some bars at Haji Lane- but what about the local traditions? What could we take part in? What is the process?

Reunion Dinner

Similar to Christmas Day, on the Eve of CNY, people will gather with their immediate relatives, usually three generations, and catch up. Sometimes the matriarch of the family will cook their famous dishes. Single relatives are often berated with questions about their love life or when they’re getting married. Many who celebrate love the Reunion Dinner, as the food is normally the best, but some dread this day as it may feel like the Spanish Inquisition.

Chinese New Year

Normally people meet at one house, and the owner of the house is presented with two mandarin oranges. This is to signify good fortune and wealth. If you’re not married, the owner of the house normally gives you a red packet with money inside. If you are married, you are given good blessings. In Singapore, people will normally visit their older relatives’ houses. If you’re the oldest, you’re the host. The house will already be full of food and CNY snacks. Depending on how big the family is, there could be multiple visits.

Next up will be the Yu Sheng; the Prosperity Toss. This is a Cantonese-Style raw fish salad. The raw fish, normally salmon, is mixed with vegetables and sauces. Each ingredient represents something to do with good fortune. The Yu Sheng is tossed into the air with chopsticks; the higher the toss the more likely your wish will come true. So be prepared for some high-flying vegetables! Many people will shout their wishes out loud and is an integral part of CNY. If you’ve had a bad 2020, this could be a good start to your 2021.

 It is believed that what you eat is coming your way that year.

The night is normally the fun part. This is when friends will gather and secretly gamble and play games. After eating, chilling and watching shows together, locals will often play Blackjack, Mahjong, In Between, 3 Kings or Bacarat. Those who do not want to gamble can still sit and join in with the tradition; watching others gamble with their Ang Bao money. If your luck is good for the new year, you can win yourself some extra cash.

A Day To Relax

For all those relatives that weren’t visited on the first two days, they will be visited on the third day. Still expect some snacks, but the best food has already passed. Others who don’t have such big families, will just spend this time to chill.

You could use this time to visit Chinatown, maybe you may even catch some fireworks.

  Chinese New Year is one of the biggest and most important festivals to many in Singapore. It’s something that we may not experience in our home countries. Instead of the usual this year, why not spend time with your local friends and colleagues and try and immerse yourself in this local tradition? You may try some food you’ve never eaten before; learn a new game or just see a point of view that you never normally would.

What’s your favourite Lunar New Year tradition?

Singapore Rediscovery!

We’ve all been stuck here for a pretty long time. Singapore is a small city, so you may feel like you’ve ran out of things to do. But fear not! I have complied a short list of awesome and exciting things to do on this little red dot. Perhaps you may find something that takes your fancy, or end up doing something you’ve never tried before.

HydroDash, Sentosa

Located in Sentosa, the HydroDash is Singapore’s first floating aqua park. This inflatable obstacle course is a thrilling challenge that also has discounts in January! You can use SingapoRediscovery vouchers, or Klook has $20 tickets right now.

Skyline Luge, Sentosa

Keeping on the Sentosa theme; the Luge is also incredibly fun. It’s like go-karting but without electrics; you can drive your luge round several courses, then take the skyline back up to the top! Not for those who are afraid of heights (trust me!), but racing your friends is a lot of fun. One person costs about $23.

Bird's Eye Photography Of Sea

Art Jam Session with drinks, 313 Somerset

If you fancy something a bit different and the weather isn’t as sunny as you’d have hoped- you can consider unleashing your creative side. For just under $50, you can spend a few hours chilling, vibing and being as artistic as possible, with a group of like-minded people. Coffee in included, as well as supplies.

HomeTeamns, Adventure HQ, Khatib

I went here the other day and, although it was terrifying, in retrospect it was a lot of fun. Inside you will find many height-related activities, such as Singapore’s longest indoor slide; a 16-element ropes course; and loads of things that you climb and jump off of. For the adrenaline-junky, this is a perfect day out. Treat yourself afterwards to a few beers at Orto down the road.

Boulder+, Kallang

If that wasn’t enough fear-factor for you, try bouldering at Kallang. Rock-climbing without harnesses, bouldering is a high-intensity workout. Day passes are $24, with youth passes at only $19. It’s a fun day out for all, and something to try if you’ve not done anything like this before.

Asian alpinist ascending climbing wall during workout

Holey Moley, Clarke Quay

If you haven’t tried this indoor golfing experience, you really must. I don’t even like golfing that much but this is honestly so much fun. There are 27 holes, each with a different theme (my personal favourites being Jaws and Bat Out of Hell). Not only that, there’s a range of cocktails; a cool dining area and good music. There are even a few vegan-friendly options on the menu, so don’t be put off by the bar food. Plus, it’s pretty affordable, with different deals on throughout the week.

Haw Par Villa

If you’re looking for something a bit stranger and more bizarre to do on your day off, why not try visiting Haw Par Villa. Apparently, people used to bring their kids here to frighten them into behaving. There are over 1000 statues depicting Chinese legends, with my personal favourite being the Ten Courts of Hell, where you can go and see for yourself what happens to those in the afterlife. Best part, it’s free.

Timezone, various locations

Unleash your inner kid with this indoor arcade. You can find something for everyone here, with all your classics like claw machines, shooting hoops and even bumper cars. Most games win you tickets, which are uploaded to your Timezone card. The prizes are also pretty good, too; not only can you get all the usual kids’ stuff like sweets and plush toys, but you can even get slow cookers, toasters and coffee machines. Plus, they frequently have promotions when you top up your card.

Led Lighted Bowling Arcade Machine

Jurong Bird Park

This attraction is so underrated in my opinion. It is such a good day out, with regular shows, a nursery full of baby birds and even the chance to feed the penguins yourself, there are lots of cool things to do. One of the highlights in the giant greenhouse aviary that has a massive waterfall inside. I also would recommend feeding the paraquets, although be careful, they tend to bite!

Tiger Brewery Tour, Joo Koon

I have saved the best till last- the Tiger Brewery. For only $20, you get an hour-long tour around the brewery, which includes the chance to win free beer if you answer questions correctly about beer. At the end, you are shown to the on-site pub, where you can cash in your free beer coupons for lots of different beers (not just Tiger). The pub has pool and darts, but the best thing is that the beer (if you purchase) is only 4 bucks a drink! So cheap!

Blue Plastic Pail

Comment what’s your favourite thing to do in Singapore!