Food, Glorious Food – John

Hello guys! For this blog, I’ll give you some tips and introduce you to the three best dishes in my opinion and a few bars you should visit while in Singapore! I’m not going to talk about the famous chicken rice of Singapore because it’s too cliché and I still don’t quite understand what it’s so famous for (It’s literally just chicken on rice). I won’t be too wordy on this blog as the pictures will describe for itself! 🙂

ALWAYS REMEMBER that MOST (but not all) of the food sold in places have additional charges of 10% for service charge and 7% for GST charge. When you go to places like the hawker centre (food courts) or on-campus food courts, you don’t have to worry about these charges.

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This first dish is called “ayam penyet” or smashed fried chicken and is commonly sold in hawker centres under the Indonesian category. It is the first dish that my Singaporean buddies suggested to me during orientation week. I’d say it is one of the top dishes under $5 that you could get for a fulfilling lunch. There are various types of “ayam” or “chicken” so it’s always a good idea to also give other ones a try too!

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If you happen to stay in the NUS campus quite often and want to try something new, try this dish called “ma la xiang guo” or also known as “mala hotpot”. This dish is a combination of meat and vegetables chosen by you and cooked on the spot. It’s commonly sold in on-campus food courts and it also isn’t too costly. You can choose what to put inside and when you go to the counter to pay, I recommend you to ask for a “xiao la (little bit spicy)” or you could challenge yourself to a “zhong la (medium spice level)”. At first, I didn’t really prefer this dish but the more I ate it, the more I loved it.

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The third one is also quite a famous dish of Singapore and it’s called “chilli crab”. It is one of the main dishes you should try while in Singapore. But brace yourselves because it is quite pricey if you want to get a good one at a restaurant and some places even charge you the “market price”.

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This famous place is called “TWG tea” and they sell a massive variety of teas from all around the globe. When you go here, there’s a thick booklet which introduces you to all the different kinds of teas and it’s quite interesting to have a read and choose which tea you would like. If you feel like being classy one day, an afternoon tea with some chatter would make a great day.

Now that’s enough of food, let’s get to the second part of the blog; drinks! A moderate (be a sensible drinker guys or else you might get spanked by the Singaporean police) amount of alcohol goes well with enjoying the night life of Singapore fully. If you like to enjoy your weekend nights, you will fall in love with the night vibes of this city and who knows, you might even also fall in love with someone special.

 

 

This place is called “Level 33” and is a craft-brewery. They make their own beers and it tastes great too! We ordered a beer set which gave us stout, pale ales, lager, and wheat beer for a reasonable price. This is also known as one of the best places to see the night view of Marina Bay Sands (MBS) and in my opinion, the best place to feel the MBS vibes. Other great rooftop bars I recommend other than level 33 are “1-altitude” which is the highest rooftop bar in the world and “Ce la vi” on the top of MBS.

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This cocktail is called “Singapore sling” and is commonly seen in most bars. This one was when I went to “Holland village” which is the nearest place from campus where there are a lot of bars that open till late. This drink is for those people who like fruity cocktails and would like to try a Singaporean cocktail.

To be honest, there are more good food places than just these that I’ve introduced to you. Now it’s your job to explore more of the tasty and EXPENSIVE Singaporean food! 🙂

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Accommodation Awards – John

I’ll introduce you guys the on-campus accommodation that I’m currently staying in. The place is called Ridge View Residential College (RVRC) and it consists of five blocks (A, B, C, D, E), a tower block and the main administration building where the dining hall is. I’ll divide this blog into three sections so it will be somewhat of a review.

Location 

I’d say that RVRC has one of the best locations out of all the on-campus housing / school hostels. Most of the on-campus shuttle buses (A1, A2, B1, B2, C, D1, D2) are within walking distances of around 3 minutes from my place. And yes, NUS have on-campus shuttle buses that operate on a regular basis because the campus is too big to walk around. Also, it is quite close to University Town (UTown), where all the good things are at such as good food, plenty of study spaces and STARBUCKS. I have classes all over the place including the science block, Biz (Business school) and FASS (Faculty of Arts and Social sciences) so the location was perfect for me as all the buses were within a few minutes of walking distance.

Facilities

As RVRC is quite a large residential college, we have many cleaners working to clean the walkways, toilets, and other facilities. Other than the cleanliness, I’d say that the number one necessity while living in Singapore would be an air conditioner. But in RVRC, we don’t have one.

The good thing about facilities is that we have the University Sports Centre within 5 minutes walking distance. It has an outdoor and indoor swimming pool, and a gym. If you’re a student at NUS, it’s all FREE. As the weather in Singapore is extremely hot and humid, staying in the pools is the best thing to do when it gets too hot.

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Food 

Here’s a picture of a typical dinner meal in RVRC. RVRC has a compulsory meal plan included for students. I’m not sure whether it applies for other students but it does for exchange students. The food is undoubtedly cheap as it costs about $3 per breakfast and $4 per dinner. For this price, the food is worth the price. It’s not that great, but it’s not too bad! I normally wake up late so I rarely eat breakfast but I’ve heard that the breakfast meals are better than the dinner meals. The meal plan is divided into a few cuisines including Asian, Malay, Indian, Western and Noodles so you are given quite a variety of choices.
In conclusion, I personally like RVRC except for the fact that there is no air-con! I made quite a few good friends from RVRC, so I don’t have to eat every meal by myself. We made some good memories while having some late night noodle sessions and overnight talks. Overall, it has good accessibility to plenty of facilities and the food here is not that bad, too.

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First Impressions – John

Hey guys! To start off, I’ll just briefly introduce myself as this is my first blog. My name’s John and I’m a second year BCom student majoring in Accounting and Finance. I’m currently on exchange at National University of Singapore (NUS) in Singapore.

As soon as I got out of Changi airport, I could instantly feel the humidity and hot weather here in Singapore. It was quite an extreme weather change for me as I was on my way from South Korea which was about -4 degrees, to 26 degrees in Singapore. January is apparently the “cold” season of Singapore when there is unexpected rain and it is very humid. It’s similar to NZ, where weather forecasts are quite unpredictable. Local friends in Singapore told me to always carry an umbrella to prepare myself for unexpected rain. But carrying an umbrella is a bit pointless as heavy rains will make you wet anyway so it’s a better idea to just get used to it.

During my first few days after arrival, it was quite depressing because I didn’t know a single thing about Singapore. Staying in the dorms would make it worse so I decided to go around places near campus to buy some essentials. Singapore has quite a lot of welcome parties and programmes prepared for exchange students so you just have to socialize.

After arriving in the dorms, I attended two orientations, one for all exchange students and another for all business school exchange students. During orientation, I got a chance to talk to other exchange students who came from various countries such as Poland, Finland, Taiwan, Canada, US, Thailand, Taiwan and more. It was an interesting experience to talk to people with different backgrounds. I also noticed that I could even be the youngest student out of almost all the exchange students as most students were third or fourth year students. Other than that, orientation sessions were the typical informative talks which weren’t so interesting, so let’s skip to my first impressions of Singapore.

Although Singapore seems to try quite hard to promote the use of proper English, most of the locals don’t speak proper English, and some don’t speak English at all so they will directly speak Chinese to you which was quite surprising. Also, due to their local Singlish accent, I couldn’t understand more than half the things they were trying to say. The locals mostly speak Singlish which is a unique mixture of various languages including Malay, Chinese and English. When speaking to locals, it is a good idea to simplify your sentences and only speak of the main words you are trying to say or use body language if you can’t communicate at all.

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Singapore has one of the greatest night views I’ve seen in my life. The above photo is the view of taken from the world’s highest rooftop bar (apparently), 1-Altitude. They have free entry for ladies on ladies’ night but unfortunately for men it’s around S$30 for the entrance fee + one drink. It sounds costly BUT it is definitely worth it as you get the view from the highest building in Singapore and they also had awesome live music there!!

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Moving on to the country itself, it is a modern city with a very convenient transportation system. It has a country-wide network of buses and trains (called MRT and LRT) as seen in this photo. I really like the transportation system here as the trains operate on a regular basis, taking an average three minute gap between each one.

That’s my story for now and I’ll bring you with more exciting stories about Singapore and more when I go travelling around South-East Asia! I’m really enjoying my time in Singapore, living the high-end life, spending too much, soon to be seeing minuses in my bank account. 🙂

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Reflection: John

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It has been an eye-opening journey to complete my student exchange programme at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore. I definitely would love to go on exchange again.

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At the mooncake festival
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Priests at a Hindu ceremony

It was joyful to experience the Singaporean culture. I always enjoyed my attendance at local celebrations and ceremonies. They feel different than the ones back in Auckland. For instance, at the mooncake festival, I was having fun with my lit-up lantern until my friend accidentally burned a big hole in it. Despite the unfortunate incident, I had an amazing experience because I was able to participate first hand.

Getting to know the locals is a benefit. I learned a lot from my local Singaporean friends. For example, it is polite to remove your shoes before entering a home, and it is respectful to address older people as ‘aunty’ or ‘uncle’ according to their gender.

I like the local food in Singapore which is a fusion of Chinese, Indian and Malay food. If you would like to know more about Singaporean food, I wrote a post about it: click here.

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My good friends Albin and Holger with me on a trip to Malaysia

I had the opportunity to meet a lot of people from all around the world. Other than meeting friendly locals, there are about a thousand exchange students from all over the world at NTU. In fact, I made good friends in Singapore who are from Europe who I have plans to visit in the future.

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The Singaporean evening skyline
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Inside the Cloud Forest which houses the tallest waterfall in the world at 50 meters high
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You can actually dine on top of the ‘Supertrees’ at Gardens by the Bay
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View from the tallest brewery in the world – LeVeL33
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After a fun day at Universal Studios Singapore

I had the chance to travel frequently as I only have classes four days per week and I had three days off every week. I took this opportunity to travel around Singapore often. While travelling, I am always astonished by Singapore’s architecture. For starters, Singapore has a beautiful busy skyline. Singapore also has an impressive 50 meters tall indoor waterfall which is the tallest in the world and a bright ‘Supertrees’ garden, both which are built on the same reclaimed land. On top of that, I visited the highest brewery in the world located on the top of a 33-level skyscraper and was able to do beer tasting. It had a fantastic view of Singapore’s city accompanied with delicious craft beers. I also visited the Universal Studios Singapore theme park which was a blast with adrenaline pumping rides. I actually made a vlog of my Singapore travel experience: click here.

There is one thing I wish I would have done more which is to travel more to the neighbouring countries. Many exchange students used the opportunity to visit Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam and had a wonderful experience.

Lastly, going on exchange makes financial sense too. If you are a New Zealander, you might be able to qualify for the Prime Minister’s Scholarship which pays almost for your entire exchange experience including the expensive flight tickets. As an international student, I did not qualify for the Prime Minster scholarship, but I was able to obtain a University of Auckland’s Auckland Abroad Awards which was able to cover my flight costs to Singapore. However, the cost of living at Singapore is still less than Auckland.

If you are contemplating on going for an exchange programme, just go for it! It will be an eye-opening experience which you will not regret. I would do it all over again. I miss Singapore.

Questions?

I am always happy to help anyone interested in going exchange to Singapore. Make sure to comment on this blog post, and I will reply whenever possible. Alternatively, you can email me at jlee575@aucklanduni.ac.nz

If you want to check out more of my pictures, please follow my Instagram account: johnleekw.

As this will be my last post, I would like to thank the incredible 360 International team for making this opportunity possible!

Cheers!

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Campus Life: John

Hey!

Having spent the past three months at Nanyang Technological University (NTU), I think that NTU’s campus is an amazing place to live and study in. NTU’s campus feels like a town itself even though it’s just about 2km2 in size. It has everything from hairdressers to supermarkets.

Let me show you around!

1Welcome to The Hive! It’s one of NTU’s two iconic buildings, designed to look like stacked dim sum baskets! I have my business classes here.

2Let’s go inside. On the lowest floor, there is a student-managed restaurant where you get your favourite coffee, snacks and pasta.

3This is the Art, Design and Media (ADM) building, the NTU’s other iconic building. The coolest feature about this building is its accessible grass-covered roof.

4Feel free to walk up to the roof anytime. It is a great place to hang out during the evenings when the weather is cooling. One thing I noticed in Singapore, no one ever lies down on the grass to relax like in New Zealand.

5Now, let’s head over to the Sports and Recreational Centre. If you like running, you can do it here at the outdoor running track.

6Also, take a dip in the pool whenever you like.

7We can play some outdoor sports here next time! We can choose to play basketball to archery outdoors. If it’s raining, we can head indoor and play sports such as netball, badminton and squash.

8Let’s go to the canteen. We will rent the e-scooter because it’s fun and convenient. You can also rent these scooters at one of their pods located around NTU using our smartphones. But if you do not feel like riding the scooters the next time, you can always rent a bicycle or take the free bus provided by NTU.

9.jpgOther than the canteen, there are many more places to eat from a variety of eateries from cafes, McDonald’s to hawker-style food. The prices of the food here at the campus are mostly lower than outside eateries.

10.jpgMoving on, let’s head to Giant, one of NTU’s two supermarkets – which you can see on the left. Next to it is 7-Eleven which is a 24-hour convenience store.

11.jpgLet’s take a visit to the Chinese Heritage Centre’s museum. Isn’t it cool to have a museum located right in NTU?

12.jpgIf you look towards the opposite of the Chinese Heritage Centre, you can see the Yunan Gardens which is a relaxing place to do your evening walks.

13.jpgThe Nanyang Lake is located close to it which is another good place to de-stress.

14.jpgNow, let’s make our way to the North Spine building. Inside here, there is always have a big screen that is always showing live performances of music artists. I love it. It sets the atmosphere.

15.jpgOver here is the Student Activities Centre at the North Spine building. Shall we play the PS4? Or would you prefer playing either foosball, table tennis or pool?

16.jpgWell, that was a fun game. I will show you the global lounge now. Over here, they always have 9 TV screens showing different channels. You can choose which channel to listen to with your headphones plugged into the controller next to the chair.

17.jpgI guess I shall end the tour with the library. This is one of NTU’s nine libraries. You can book a private pod for your group meetings or study with one of those dual-screen computers.

Hope you liked the tour!

Questions?
I am always happy to help anyone interested in going exchange to Singapore. Make sure to comment on this blog post, and I will reply whenever possible. Alternatively, you can email me at jlee575@aucklanduni.ac.nz

If you want to check out more of my pictures, please follow my Instagram account: johnleekw. https://www.instagram.com/johnleekw/

Cheers!
Adobe Spark (2)

Food, Glorious Food: John

Food, Glorious Food:
At NTU’s orientation, I was told that “Singaporeans are food lovers” and that is indeed true. The Singaporean cuisine is a beautiful mixture of the best recipes from its multicultural ethnicities. Most of the food has been adopted from the Malay, Chinese, Indian and Indonesian dishes. It is quite different from the dishes back in New Zealand. For instance, spicy food and rice are much more common here. Portions are also generally smaller.

Top 5 FOOD you MUST EAT in Singapore

5) Satay (BBQ meat)

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The satay is a charcoal barbequed meat served on skewer together with a special peanut sauce and fresh pineapple, onion and cucumber. You can either order chicken, beef or mutton satay.

The first bite of the charcoaled barbequed satay is a burst of pleasure from its flavourful juicy meat. The meat itself tastes a little sweet and salty. But, eat it will the peanut sauce, you will experience mix textures in your mouth that is nutty and meaty. It ends with a neutral flavour that somehow manages to make you desirably crave for more.

A satay costs around SGD0.80 (~NZD0.60) per stick including the side dishes with a minimum order of usually 10 sticks.

4) Economy rice

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The economy rice is not a specific dish itself, but it is a mixture of multiple home-cooked style dishes.

The economy rice stall will serve about 20 to 30 different dishes from meat, egg to vegetables which are priced differently. You are free to pick the dishes you like and thus it allows you to be ‘economical’ in your decision. Economy rice can cost as low as SGD1.50 (~NZD1.50).

The variety of dishes to choose from may sometimes offer some interesting options. For instance, I have tried the unique coffee chicken which has a distinct sweet coffee fried chicken flavour.

3) Curry Fish Head

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This dish is a little spicy as you can observe from the red curry sauce pictured above. It is not for the faint-hearted.

Put this in your mouth and you will experience a perfect combination of its strong sour and spicy flavours. As you chew it, you will enjoy the soft and smooth fish head meat. To cool off the heat from the curry, eat one of the eggplant, tomato or ladies finger served with it.

Usually, the curry fish head is served with rice to dilute its strong flavours.

The curry fish head I tried above is from a Michelin Bib Gourmand awarded store – Zai Shun Curry Fish Head. The place is quite crowded but it is worth the wait because it is simply delicious.

2) BBQ Chicken Wing

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Although you can find BBQ chicken wings in New Zealand, the one in Singapore tastes special.

Your first bite will be greeted with the sweetness of its honey glazed skin. The honey melts away, leaving you with the gentle saltiness of its charcoal roasted skin. Chew in, and you will be lost in the tender meat that is infused with delicious spices.

If you add a squirt of green lime to it, it will wake you up, increasing your awareness of the joyful moment.

If you choose to enjoy it with its special sour chilli sauce, just imagine everything aforementioned but with a hot pop song that is playing in the background while you eat it.

This experience can be enjoyed for around SGD1.30 (~NZD1.30) per chicken wing.

 1) Hainanese Chicken Rice

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Singapore is also the first country to have one of its hawker centre stores accredited with the Michelin award. Guess what? It is the store that serves chicken rice shown above. I can assure you that it is delicious. Be prepared to line up if you want to try this store – Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice. It was not pricey too as it was only SGD6 (~NZD6). Although you can get chicken rice from around SGD2.50 (~NZD2.50), this particular one it is worth the price.

The chicken rice is served with either roasted or steamed chicken – as shown above. The roasted chicken has a rewarding salty taste while the steamed chicken’s best feature is its soft tenderness.

The rice is cooked in soup made from garlic, ginger and chicken which gives it the most appetizing light-yellow colour.

It is also accompanied with a spicy and mildly sour chilli sauce that excites but does not punish you.

Sometimes, a gently sour ginger paste is also served with it. Adding the ginger paste to your bite is like eating another dish itself as the ginger taste is strong but rewarding at the same time.

Gallery

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How Satay is barbequed at Lau Pa Sat hawker centre
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Economy Rice store – a wide the variety of dishes to choose from

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Charcoal Roasted BBQ Chicken Wings

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Roasted vs Steamed chicken
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Maxwell Hawker Centre – to the left, is the line to the Michelin awarded Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice

Questions?

I am always happy to help anyone interested in going exchange to Singapore. Make sure to comment on this blog post, and I will reply whenever possible. Alternatively, you can email me at jlee575@aucklanduni.ac.nz

If you want to check out more of my pictures, please follow my Instagram account: johnleekw.

https://www.instagram.com/johnleekw/

Cheers!

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