Sunday, March 29, 2015

Our 10-Hour Journey For Paying Respect to Mr Lee Kuan Yew

From 23 to 28 March 2015, the Parliament House was opened for public to pay their respect for Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, for the last time. The initial opening hour was from 10am to 8 pm daily. However, it had already attracted a very large crowd since its very first day when the State funeral procession was carried out from Sri Temasek at the Istana at 9am.

Remembering Lee Kuan Yew 1923-2015

Many people came and created an extremely long queue from Parliament House to as far as Clarke Quay area, even under the scorching sun. The estimated waiting time that afternoon was 8 hours, but it didn't deter them from queuing. Our Prime Minister, Mr Lee Hsien Loong was moved by the overwhelming response from the public. He thanked everyone for queuing and with such effect, the opening hours had been extended to 24 hours daily up to Saturday, at 8pm. Other than that, the MRT opening hours were extended too to open 24 hours on Wednesday and Friday.

Map to direct public where to start their queue - Photo source: Channelnewsasia.com

On Thursday early morning, the army started arranging tents in Padang, the large open field located near to City Hall MRT. This time, they planned it in a more proper way as to provide a systematic queue and convenience for public. The water, snacks, umbrellas were provided for free as to ensure they were safe, in good health, and to protect them from sun and rain. Portable toilets were also provided adequately.

View of the Padang in the afternoon (Photo source: unknown)

The crowd were coming non stop. Some came at wee hours to avoid a long queue time, complete with their office and school uniforms so that they could still go to office and school once they finished. Some companies gave time-off to their staffs to pay their respect. Some even provided them with bus and meals. The waiting time varied with the longest waiting time of 10 hours.

On Thursday night I almost wanted to join my sister-in-laws to queue starting at 11pm, since the night before, it's reported that the queuing time at midnight was only about 2.5 hours. But since I had to work (and no time-off provided by the company plus we were still lack of staff and busy preparing for month-end closing), I decided not to. I was feeling tired too and thought of visiting early in the morning. Luckily I didn't join them as they only finished at 5.30am or equivalent to 6.5 hours of queuing time!!!

View of Padang at night (Photo courtesy: Ian Tan)

On Friday morning, I had prepared myself to take the first MRT from Punggol at 5.25am. However, the train never came and it would only arrive 12 minutes after. While waiting, I was asking the situation there to my sister-in-law and she sent me an update from Channel News Asia that the current waiting time as per 5am was 8 hours!!! I almost couldn't believe it!! But with the delay of the upcoming MRT and knowing the fact of their real 6.5 hours waiting time, I decided to trust my gut to cancel my visit and walk back home to catch some sleep.

During lunch time at office, my Indonesian colleague asked me if i wanted to queue. Her husband planned to go on Friday night. If I was interested, he would come and fetch me, then we would queue together. Her husband, who was a former Indonesian, just like me, had been wanting to queue since the very first day. However, due to work required at office, he couldn't take time off nor day off, and could only go on Friday night. We both were at the same boat. I agreed to her almost immediately.

Crowd at City Hall MRT on Friday, 27 March 2015 at 10pm

So, yesterday night, we went to City Hall and met up with his two Singaporean colleagues. We started walking from City Hall MRT at 10pm. It was very crowded. Expected waiting time was 10 hours. However, it didn't deter us from queuing as we had set our mind to go for it no matter how long it would take.

Slowly walking to Padang on Friday, 27 March 2015

From City Hall MRT we were directed slowly to Padang area. Many people were assigned to regulate the traffic and to ensure our safety. We were lucky going there early as the crowd had come non-stop. At 10.41pm, the police at City Hall MRT had to announce the temporary suspension by stopping public to queue and asking them to disperse.

Sea of people occupied Padang on Friday, 27 March 2015

The other side of Padang on Friday, 27 March 2015

We had to stand up all the way for about 3 hours until we were requested to sit and take a rest while waiting for some empty tents for us to stay for the night. While standing up and waiting, water, biscuits, sweets, bread, and apple were passed on from the front to the back. Whoever required it, just took it at no cost. Many people came and volunteer to ensure people were in good shape. At 1am we were finally able to rest our feet and look at the Singapore night view and sky.
 
Finally sitting down after 3 hours queuing on Saturday 1am, 28 March 2015

Half an hour later we were directed into the tents provided. We entered into the Row 6 tents. Everyone found their own comfortable space as we would stay there for at least for the next four  hours until the rest of the tents were cleared. Some brought their own folding chairs. Many were not. They relied on the mineral water empty cardboard to sit on the grass. Some were sleeping on top of the grass just like that.

View in some other tent at Padang on Friday, 27 March 2015

Our tiring faces - Queuing at Padang - Saturday morning, 28 March 2015

I brought only one mat to be shared for four of us. We were sitting and waiting there under the tent. At 2.20 am, it started drizzling. Luckily it lasted only for a while. Perhaps they knew we were there and needed to stay for some time. It didn't affect most of us. We continued sitting, talking, and finally resting for a while.

Portable toilets available near the entrance to Padang

As Padang was closed from outside, literally we were quite free to roam around the area as we had to visit the portable toilets located near the starting point. Despite that freedom, most people didn't have an intention to sneak around to other tents in order for them to go in faster, or to move to an earlier side of the tent. People queue for the toilet and in their lines properly and in good manner too.
 
Tribute to Mr Lee Kuan Yew at Padang

Flowers and well wishes for Mr Lee Kuan Yew at Padang

As I browsed around the area, I found the space above where people gave their flowers, cards, drawings, well-wishes and gratitude messages.

Feeling like inside the refugee camp at Padang on Saturday morning, 28 March 2015

The army was around guarding the place, cleaning up the empty tents from rubbish, passing the water and snacks around, and helping us with direction and anything else that we required. Staying inside the tent, I felt just like being a refugee, but a very safe refugee in a very safe country. That's something that many country was unable to provide and that's one of the reasons why I decided to stay in Singapore.

Padang early morning on Saturday, 28 March 2015

At 5.50am the place has emptied slowly at Padang - Saturday, 28 March 2015

People who were there coming from different races, places, nationalities, ages, background. Some came alone. Some came with friends, colleagues, family members, and so on. But all shared the same purpose to be there. We all determined to pay respect to Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, in front of his coffin, for the last time, as well as to convey our heartfelt gratitude for his contribution, his vision, his leadership, and most importantly, his LIFE.

Morning walk to the Floating at Marina Bay at 6.20am - Saturday, 28 March 2015

At 6.10 am we were awoken by the claps. It's time for us to continue walking. We were led to the floating platform at the Marina Bay and return, walking through the snake-lines. It took us about 45 minutes and from Esplanade theater onwards, we started walking slowly, went through the underpass into the Parliament building, which took us another 45 minutes. We went through the security check before entering the Parliament House.

At about 7am in the morning - Good morning Singapore!!! :)

Brisk morning walk into the Parliament House - Saturday, 28 March 2015

20 minutes to the Parliament House - Saturday, 28 March 2015

Heartfelt cards tribute to Mr. Lee Kuan Yew - on our way to Parliament House

Finally reached the Parliament House at 7.45am

One by one entered the highly secured building. It was peaceful and serene. It was divided into two rows. We were led into the back row, which contained less people. I stood up right in front of his coffin, bowed three times with two hands joined together in front of my chest, and conveyed silence prayers and gratitude representing my whole family members. Before leaving the place, I took a look at the overall scene inside and it was exactly same with what I usually saw from the photo posted in newspaper. However this time, was in real.

Scene inside the Parliament House - RIP Lee Kuan Yew (Photo source: Channel News Asia)

The coffin was covered in most part using the Singapore flag (except the top part) with four vigil guards standing at each corner of the casket with their head bowed, back turned away, and ceremonial sword inverted, with a senior officer standing at the head of the casket facing inwards.

Bhutan King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and wife Jetsun Pema were at Parliament House later in the afternoon (Photo source: Channel News Asia.com)

It passed so fast. The whole 10-hour waiting and queuing lasted only for a while but we were happy being able to accomplish our goal and mission for the night. My heart was warmed as we left the building. I was touched and amazed with everything that happened to me that night, one of the incredible moments I ever experienced in my life. I would always remember this moment and thank you SB for making this all happened smoothly. Thank you, thank you, and thank you!

And last, let me post this touching video shared by PAP Facebook page for you to have a picture of what kind of wonderful and great person he was, worth it for respect and love from all of us!!!

video

In case the above video is not working at this page, please click here to watch.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Rest in Peace Mr Lee Kuan Yew (16 Sep 1923 - 23 Mar 2015)

Like usual once I woke up, I turned my mobile phone on. My What's App blinked. My mom wrote a message in our family group chat saying that our Singapore leader, Mr Lee Kuan Yew passed away early this morning, at 3.18am, just like what my father predicted last Saturday, as they were waiting for a 'good day'. (Just like when human birth, people are hoping to get their children to be born in a good day and timing as we Chinese believe that it will affect the rest of his or her life's journey).

Singapore First Prime Minister Mr Lee Kuan Yew (Source: Google.com)

Whatever it is, here, I would like to offer my deepest condolences to our Prime Minister Mr Lee Hsien Loong and his families for the passing of his beloved father who had spent his lifetime to build Singapore from the third world country to the first world country.

Mr Lee Kuan Yew and Mr Lee Hsien Loong (Source: Google.com)

Because of him Singaporean are mostly bilingual where English is used as a main language in school and working environment, while other languages, such as: Malay, Mandarin, and Tamil are used as a second language, mainly as daily conversation with fellow friends and family members.

Mr Lee Kuan Yew also put greater emphasize on the importance of education towards its citizens so that everyone has the opportunity to learn and grow.

Singapore has become to what it is now also thank to him: clean and green environment, modern city, housing the nation, etc.

Singapore then and now (Source: paradoxoff.com)

His famous quote:

"I have no regrets. I have spent my life, so much of it, building up this country. There is nothing more that I need to do. At the end of the day, what have I got? 

A successful Singapore. 

What have I given up? 

My life."

~ Lee Kuan Yew ~

Thank you Mr Lee for everything! Thank you, thank you, and thank you!

Below is the message that I would like to pass on as extracted from Channel News Asia today:


Singapore's first Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew


Prime Minister declares period of National Mourning for Mr Lee Kuan Yew

SINGAPORE: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has declared a period of National Mourning from Mar 23 to 29 (Monday to Sunday).
The Prime Minister will be addressing the nation live at 8am on Monday, the Prime Minister's Office said in a statement. 
As a mark of respect to the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, the State flags on all Government buildings will be flown at half-mast from Monday to Sunday, the PMO added.
A private family wake will be held from Monday to Tuesday at Sri Temasek.
Mr Lee’s body will lie in state at Parliament House from Wednesday to Saturday, for the public to pay their respects. Those who wish to pay their last respects at Parliament House can do so from 10am to 8pm daily from Wednesday to Saturday, the PMO said.
A State Funeral Service will be held at 2pm on Sunday at the University Cultural Centre, National University of Singapore, it added.
The State Funeral Service will be attended by the late Mr Lee’s family, friends and staff, the President, Cabinet Ministers, Members of Parliament, Old Guards, senior civil servants, grassroots leaders and Singaporeans from all walks of life. The State Funeral Service will be followed by a private cremation at Mandai Crematorium.
Condolence books and cards will be available in front of Istana by the Main Gate from Monday to Sunday, for those who wish to pen their tributes to the late Mr Lee. Condolence books will also be opened at all Overseas Missions for overseas Singaporeans and friends.
The public can express their condolences and share their memories of the late Mr Lee at the official website, http://www.rememberingleekuanyew.sg.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Bhutanese food recipes - Kewa Datshi (Potato with Cheese) and Phaksha Pa (Pork Curry)

Here I would like to share the recipes of the two Bhutanese dishes that I learn recently from my Bhutanese friends. Both dishes are very simple to make and can be whipped everywhere in the country, as the ingredients used are very easy to find, almost everywhere.

Kewa Datshi (Potato with Cheese)

Kewa Datshi or Bhutanese dish - Potato with cheese and chili

Ingredients:
- 4-6 pcs of potatoes (medium size)
- 1 pc of tomato
- 1 pc of white/red onion or shallot
- 1 clove of garlic (optional)
- 4-6 fresh red and/or green chili / dried chillies (whatever available at your country)
- 1-1.5 pcs of Datshi (Bhutanese handmade cheese) or 2 pcs of slice cheese


Ingredients required for Kewa Datshi or Potato with Cheese

Preparations:
1. Peel and wash the potato. Slice it round and thin.
2. Slice the tomato and onion.
3. Chop the garlic.
4. Wash and cut the dried chili into two or slice the fresh chili. Removal of the seed is optional.
5. Pour 2 cups of water into the pot.
6. Fill the sliced potatoes on it.
7. Pour some cooking oil and salt.
8. Put the sliced tomato, onion, garlic and chili on top of the potato, and let it boil. Ensure the water isn't too much or too little.
9. When the potato gets soften, add the mashed Datshi or slice cheese on top of it. Do not mix it. Just let it boil, and it's ready to eat.

Phak Sha Pa (Pork with Chili)

Phak Sha Pa - Bhutanese Pork with Chili :)

 Ingredients:
- 500 g of pork belly
- 1 pc of tomato
- 1 pc of white/red onion or shallot
- 1 clove of garlic (optional)
- 4-6 fresh red and/or green chili / dried chillies (whatever available at your country)
- Spring onion (optional)

 Preparations:
1, Wash the pork belly and slice it thinly about 2 inches width.
2. Slice the tomato and onion.
3. Chop the garlic.
4. Wash and cut the dried chili into two or slice the fresh chili. Removal of the seed is optional.
5. Pour 1 cup of water into the pot.
6. Fill the sliced pork belly on it.
7. Pour little bit of cooking oil and salt.
8. Cover the pot and let it boil until the pork cooked and water slightly reduced. If you use the pressure cooker, open it after 2-3 whistles.
9. Add the sliced tomato, onion, garlic and chili on top of the meat, cover and let it boil until it gets dried.
10. Stir it well and add spring onion (slice into half) into the curry until it gets soften, and it's ready to eat.

The beauty of cooking the Bhutanese food is that you can adjust the ingredients as per your taste bud. For example, for the Phak Sha Pa, you can add ginger paste in it if you like, or garlic. And there is no right or no wrong on how you cook it. Whether you want to boil the onion with tomato first or you just dump all the ingredients together with the potato for the Kewa Datshi, it is all entirely up to you as long as it's cooked and tastes delicious at the end! :)

I've been practicing these past one week on how to cook these two dishes with a guidance of Bhutanese who personally came to my house (read here), entered into my kitchen, and produced the more or less the same results. I was seeking advice from other Bhutanese staying oversea too to ensure that the steps I follow were correct. But again, like I said above, the steps were kind of flexible, and so do the ingredients. 

My teacher number 2 :D

Next time I will explore to cook other type of dish and if you want to send me recipes of other delicious Bhutanese food, please send it to my email or message me through the Google+ or Facebook and I'd love to try and practice it until I have enough confident to share the recipes with all of you.

Bhutanese dishes - Rice with Kewa Datshi, Phak Sha Pag and egg with cheese - Enjoy! :)

Voila!!! Serve the two dishes above with a steamed white/red rice and Bon Appetit!!!

Bhutanese Whiskey - K5

Accompany the dishes with K5!!!

Wonderful dinner serving Bhutanese and Singaporean food altogether!!! :)

And you can hold a wonderful dinner gathering with your fellow Bhutanese and other nationalities friends at your humble house!!! :)

It uses such simple ingredients and very easy to make. If I can do it, so you do!!! Zhey go bay gay!!! Let's cook, happy trying, and good luck!!! :)

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Memorable evenings with food and drink in Singapore :)

After our first meeting on Sunday, Luzee and I met up again on few occasions. On Tuesday night, I joined into her meeting with Uden at eating place called Strictly Pancake, located at 44A Prinsep Street. I checked their website before reaching the place and looked at the review and recommended food to eat. It seemed like a nice place.

Strictly Pancakes - 44A Prinsep Street

Once work was over, I took MRT to Dobhy Ghaut, continued with a journey of one bus stop (many buses passed the bus stop from in front of Plaza Singapura) and walked there for less than 10 minutes. It’s between rows of restaurants and three of us were seating at the second floor.

Luzee and Uden were there when I reached the place. They had reached for quite some time and were just about drinking their Earl Grey tea. Once seated, we started taking our orders.

The Sunny Porker from Strictly Pancake

I heard their Garlic Buttered Prawns Pancake was highly recommended online, however, I wasn’t in a mood of eating that. I preferred something common and easy to taste. So I chose The Sunny Porker – bacon and sausage pancake topped with 2 sunny side egg, black pepper and mozzarella cheese with unsalted butter and maple syrup plus sautéed capsicum and corn at one side, instead.

Uden and her Red Velvet Pancake from Strictly Pancake

Luzee was vegetarian so she ordered two slices of pancakes with salted butter and maple syrup, added with sautéed mushroom and sour cream, while Uden jumped directly to sweet pancake and her choice was Red Velvet – the red velvet pancakes topped with cream cheese, a scoop of Vanilla ice cream, and sprinkles of hearts.
 
With Luzee - Strictly Pancake

Both of them used to work together before and I felt great being able to gather with them, as three of us were becoming much familiar with each other now.

As time went by, more people were coming in and having their late dinner there. For me, the pancake was delicious. It didn’t have floury taste and texture. It’s smooth and melted in the mouth. Uden’s pancake was not bad too, but too sweet to have it all alone.

If you were looking for a quieter place and something light and simple, this could be one of good choices. Only that the place wasn’t that big and could accommodate not too many people in it.

On Thursday night, we met up at another place. Again, Uden recommended us the place. Hmm.. I started wondering if Uden was Singaporean now? She browsed more eating places than me you know? :D This time, we headed to Food for Thought - Good Food For A Good Cause. 

Food For Thought at 8 Queen STreet
 
Food For Thought - Singapore

They had few branches and we went to the one situated very near to the Singapore Art Museum at 8 Queen Street. Fyi, they also had a branch inside the Singapore Botanic Garden. Ladies, we can visit that branch when we had our morning walk there one day, huh? ;)

Portobello with Cheese Feta Salad - Food For Thought

Crispy Curry XL Chicken by Food For Thought

Again, before reaching there, I browsed online to see what food they offered and what’s nice. Initially we would love to order their Chef Recommendation - Pulled Pork Burger and Fish and Chips Burger. However, they only served it up to 5 pm. Uden and I had to change our orders and we both shared Portobello with Cheese Feta Salad and Crispy Curry XL Chicken.

Vegetarian Risotto - Food For Thought

Caesar Salad - Food For Thought

Fish and Chips - Food For Thought

Luzee ordered Vegetarian Risotto, Sonam (Luzee’s friend) ordered Caesar Salad, and Chencho (Uden and Luzee’s friend who came here to attend training) had Fish and Chips.  

View from inside - Food For Thought

They had both indoor and outdoor space for eating. We chose sitting outdoor as the weather was good and both Sonam and Luzee weren’t feeling very well with the humid and ever changing weather over here.

They had transparent windows so the light from outside could enter the restaurant easily and they decorated their place with some arts too. Oh, another great eating place with reasonable prices to attend to next time!!! Hope to visit this place again anytime soon!!!

We ate and chit chatted like usual. After dinner, Uden asked if they would love to continue our meeting to Clarke Quay. Chencho was asking about the place earlier and put a lot of interest to visit. They were asking me if it could be reached on foot. Yes, sure! It wasn’t that far, yet not very near too, but reachable on foot. Since the weather was great too and the time was still quiet early (about 8pm), all of us walked there together.
 
Four of us at Clarke Quay, Singapore :)
They were very excited with the Singapore River and the ambiance they felt in Clarke Quay area. I suggested them to have a drink while sitting next to the river. And fortunately, the weather was extremely great!!! It was windy and calming. Since it was Luzee and Sonam last night in Singapore, they agreed having a glass of wine or cocktail to chill and unwind.

Sonam and her Long Island Iced Tea - Clarke Quay, Singapore



Uden and Chencho - Clarke Quay, Singapore

We sat down and had our glass of wine, beer, and cocktail. With the alcohol sipped through the body, our conversation became more intense. We talked a lot about many things, such as: people’s perception about Bhutan (in general), about Gross National Happiness and its reality, the Bhutanese and Singaporean lifestyle, how they spent their evening back there, how easy to grab someone in Bhutan for a drink and how difficult to have a planned gathering with Singaporean where at the end the appointment was even cancelled due to any other reasons, why people decided to quit their civil servant’s job (the most stable job they could get in the country) and moved abroad to earn more money and get other kind of happiness in life, and so on. Chencho too, shared what he had during his training here in Singapore. He even explained Singapore’s history to the rest of us.

Cheers for our friendship Charo!!! Miss you.... :)

It was really a pleasant and enjoyable time. We talked and continued talking but the time was ticking away and it was time for us to say good-bye. Well, perhaps it wasn’t good-bye. Every one of us was hoping to see each other again, but this time, back in Bhutan.

Thank you Uden for arranging the lovely evening and making memorable moment to all of us. Although I was the only one non-Bhutanese there, but I could feel deeply what all of you felt and thought about living in Bhutan. We hugged before we separated and headed back home/hotel. So, shall we meet again dear friends…  Tubga? Wish you have a safe flight back to Bhutan everyone!!! Take care!!! :)  
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