BEST VALENTINE’S DAY CELEBRATION IDEAS- THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX

Love is in the air…!!!

It’s the time of the year, when we want to pamper our beloved the most. On Valentine’s Day , couples plan something special to make the day a memorable one. Be it showering our Valentine with gifts or going for an intimate dinner date. A romantic gesture on Valentine’s Day, is all it takes to create a strong bond in a relationship.

Everyone wants to spring the best surprise on their loved one. And these days it’s not about how much it costs, but how unique is your idea! So, we have come up with a list of fun and romantic, yet out of the box ideas on how to best celebrate this day. And yes, we have kept your budget in mind too!

Valentine’s Day Special (Under $100):

  1. Knock them Down:

Pump up the jam with glowing lights, luminous balls and pins together with some disco music. Yes, we are talking about cosmic bowling! Orchid bowl outlets have created a glow in the dark atmosphere for you to get romantic with your Valentine’s date.

ten pin bowling

 

  1. Get in the Groove:

Dance the night away to spicy Latin American tunes with your Valentine. Book a session of Salsa and get into the sensuous mood on the beat of bongos.

Salsa dancing

 

  1. Ride into the Sunset:

If you are into outdoor activity, why not try a horseback ride on Valentine’s Day. Situated at Pasir Ris, long trail provides ample opportunity for a romantic talk amidst nature.

Horse riding

 

  1. Go Green:

Why not plan a romantic picnic amidst the lush greenery of Botanic Gardens. Pack a picnic basket with a bottle of champagne, some cheese and crackers. Create a playlist with romantic songs and watch the starts lying on your picnic mat.

romantic picnic

 

  1. Celebrate Love by the Beach:

A breezy evening by the sea will add more romance to your dinner date. Celebrate your love by heading to S andBank. They have special 4-course meal for this Valentine’s Day, which includes oysters. And we all know, oysters are an aphrodisiac. For a perfect ending try or shall we say smear the chocolate paradise cake and lick it off each other.

Valentine’s dining

For Your Valentine (Between $100-$300):

 

  1. Dorn the Apron:

What can be better than cooking with your loved one by your side! This Valentine’s Day, Cori ander Leaf offers a 7-course cooking class. So, take this opportunity to enroll yourself for this class. As, they say “Couples who cook together stays together”.

 

  1. Scent of Attraction:

We all know there is a strong connection between scent and sexual attraction. So this Valentine’s Day created a special perfume unique for each other. At  Jetaime Perfumery, couples will be asked few questions. Then they will create an exclusive fragrance for you and your loved one. Each couple will get around 210 ml of their own personal fragrance with your own unique formula!

 

  1. Paint your Love:

If you like working with you”h ands” then why not showcase your artistic side on a canvas. Tea lounge Arteastiq offers this therapeutic experience while savouring a variety of teas . Bring out the inner Picasso out from you while sipping on some gourmet tea with your loved one. It is a quiet activity for couple looking to spend some quality time together.

 

  1. Dine with a View:

Take your loved one for a 5 course meal at 1919 WaterboatHouse. Soak into the panoramic view of MBS and the surrounding Heritage buildings. End the dinner date with Valentine’s Day special with a delicately plated Mon Cheri – a luxurious chocolate ganache served on a bed of Italian zabaglione and topped with caramelised banana, liquid passion fruit, and c andied ginger.

 

  1. Hire a Private Chef:

In the comforts of your own home, enjoy a private dinner for you and your loved one. So, hire a private chef this Valentine’s Day. Let the chef prepare dinner for you two, while you can gaze into each other’s eyes or simply enjoy a romantic movie at home. Club Vivre offers ample options from various cuisines for a 3-course meal. Depending on your favourite food, you can select your menu.

Indulge with your Valentine (Price No Bar):

  1. The Ultimate Relaxation:

Pamper you and your loved one at the six-times Forbes Five-Star Auriga Spa, Capella. Enjoy a rose scrub body massage, a romantic c andle-lit bath followed by cocktails at Bob’s Bar. Also, the packages offer an afternoon’s tea at Chef’s Table.

 

  1. Wind beneath your Wings:

One does not get to see the skyline of Singapore from helicopter every day. So, this Valentine’s Day book 30 min rides for you and your loved one. You will fly above the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, CBD, Northern coastline, Southern Isl ands and much more, while the pilot gives you a live commentary via the stereo headsets.

 

  1. Top of the World:

Surprise your loved one by taking them to a sky-high dinning experience at the Equinox. Indulge into the five or six course dinner the restaurant offers. End the dinner with on a sweet note by savouring Elderflower Jelly with Peach Ice. You will also take home a box of pralines.

dine on top of world

 

  1. Romance by the Bay:

Pamper your loved one by a luxurious stay at the Fullerton Hotel. The room will have rose petals strewn across the bed and bubble bath for the tub. There will be a complimentary bottle of wine or sparkling juice to get the romance flowing. This offer also includes – an intimate in-room 4-course meal just for the two of you. Next morning, linger over a complimentary breakfast for two at Town restaurant for the perfect finish to your lovely little celebration.

 

  1. Eat-Swim-Drink-Repeat:

Away from the hustle and bustle of the city enjoy a luxurious stay at the W Hotels, Sentosa Cove. This Valentine’s Day the hotel offers an exclusive glamping option for just 8 couples. Enjoy the night by gazing into the stars with a meal prepared by the hotel’s chef. You can go for a dip at the iconic WET pool or go for a long romantic walk along the cove. Don’t miss enjoying some Instagram worthy cocktails at the Woo Bar.

Additionally…

  1. Why not kick start the day and pamper your loved one with a chauffeur driven limousine pickup to your favourite Valentine’s day spot. You can throw in a surprise with sparkling champagne and a bouquet of red roses to make Valentine’s Day truly memorable.

 

  1. You can also go for a movie night at Screening Room. The place is screening some romantic movies at their boutique theatre. So, cuddle with your loved one and enjoy an evening of romance.

 

Hope these suggestions help you add sparkle (without breaking your bank) to your Valentine’s Day celebrations . Do share, if you tried any of our ideas or if you have some interesting suggestions of your own, in the comment section below.

 

Author Bio:

Author Gauri

Gaurangi Verma is a freelance Content Writer residing in Singapore with her husb and. She is an avid reader and a Netflix junkie. Originally from Dehradun, India, she misses the cool and breezy mornings of her home-town.

EXPATS GUIDE TO CHINESE NEW YEAR CNY – 2017

CNY Rooster

Chinese New Year (CNY) symbolises the beginning of spring, as per Chinese Lunar calendar. An animal represents each year as per Chinese zodiac. There is a total of 12 animals – Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Ram, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig, respectively. This year is celebrated as the year of Rooster.

CNY Rooster

 

 

Chinese celebrates CNY all over the world irrespective of their religion or dialect. However, each ethnic group can have their own customs and traditions. Here are some interesting facts, myths, and traditions to know about CNY.

How is CNY celebrated?

CNY is all about family time. Authentically, only the family members are invited to the reuniondinner on CNY’s eve. The next two days are spent in visiting extended family members or inviting relatives and exchanging gifts.

What to gift on CNY?

If you are invited by your Chinese friends for dinner, try to gift the items in even numbers. As in Chinese Culture, even number signifies happy occasions, while odd represents unhappy occasions. Traditionally, fruits like oranges, tangerines and kumquats are appreciated because of their warm colour. Plants can also be a gifting option, but that has to be chosen correctly. Cactuses are a big no-no, while flowering plants like peach, sunflower, chrysanthemum are welcomed!

cny gift

Another gifting ideas can consist of traditional Chinese food items like bak kwa, prawn cracker roll, pineapple tarts, peanut cookies. And don’t forget to wish them “Gong Xi Fa Cai” (if you are in Singapore, M andarin) or “Kung Hei Fat Choi” (if you are in Hong Kong, Cantonese)

What to wear?

Red is far most the favourite colour of the season. Other colours like orange, yellow can be worn. Colours like black and brown should not be worn as they symbolise death.

cny clothes

What is “Ang Bao” or “Lai See”?

Ang Bao is the red envelope that contains money, generally h anded to children by their parents, gr andparents, or relatives. If you are married, then it is customary to give Ang Bao. But if you are single then you are not expected to give Ang Bao.

The money given is generally in the denominations of 8, as it is an auspicious number in Chinese culture. While number 4 is completely avoided as it is considered an extremely bad luck.

cny hongbao

“Lai See” is the Cantonese term of “Ang Bao” in Hong Kong. Similarly, like “Ang Bao” married couple are expected to give. Managers give “Lai See” to the employees. If you are living in an apartment, then it is encouraged to give “Lai See” to the security guard, door man or cleaners.

Depending upon the closeness with the person the amount of “Lai See” is decided.

Generally, SGD$20 “Lai See” is acceptable to give to the doorman, security guard or cleaners. For young kids, below 10 years old, SGD$10 is a good amount. Ang Bao

Tips: Always prefer crisp bank notes to give “Ang Bao” or “Lai See”. And avoid coins.

 

What to eat during CNY?

Apart from eating oranges, pineapples, and steamboat dishes, “Yusheng” is the most significant dish consumed during CNY. It is a raw fish salad serves as an appetiser. On the 7th day of CNY, family members gather around the table and start tossing the “Yusheng” while st anding and exclaiming prosperous wishes. Higher the salad is tossed higher will be the chances of prosperity in the coming year.

cny food

Do and Don’t Chinese follow during CNY!

The doors and windows are open at the midnight which means the old year to go and the new year to come. It is highly encouraged to begin your meal with eating something sweet as it symbolises a good start of the new year.

During CNY holidays sweeping and cleaning of the house is strictly forbidden as it is believed that the trash will take away the good luck and money. Borrowing money is avoided during CNY, as it is believed that throughout the year you will have money trouble. Porridge is termed as “poor man’s breakfast”, so consuming porridge during CNY is considered as a bad luck for the coming year.

 

Events to attend during CNY!

Singapore

Expats living in Singapore can have a gala time during CNY, as there are numerous events lined up during this season. One can visit Chinatown area and can witness the stupendous decorations and performances by local and international artists. On the 11th day of CNY, one can witness the Chingay Parade, that highlights artist performing fireworks and astonishing floats during the parade.

Gardens by the Bay, have put on display in the Flower dome- dahlias and begonias in the auspicious shades of red and yellow. Not only this, one of the largest LED Phoenix will make its debut appearance in Singapore at Gardens by the Bay.

Esplanades theatre is geared up for Huayi – Chinese Festival of Arts. The famous Shakespeare’s play “A Midsummer Night’s dream” (Chinese Adaptation) will be performed here. One can groove to the beats of Taiwanese singer Yoga Lin. Special play for kids will also be the highlight of “Huayi”. There will be plenty of music, dance, visual arts, and workshops lined up at the theatre.

Keeping in mind the festivities around CNY, the malls will remain open a little longer than the usual timings.

 

Hong Kong

CNY celebration in Hong Kong is one of the most spectacular celebration one can witness. Hong Kong’s fireworks over Victoria Harbor is one of the best firework display of the world. This breath-taking show lasts for approximately 23minutes. The best place to catch this show is from Tsim Sha Tsui side with Victoria Peak and Central Skyline in the background.

hongkong marching b and

All over Hong Kong the streets are decorated with Chinese traditional decorations. The festivities consist of music show by local and international artists. Also, there are food festivals to look forward to.

 

Hong Kong’s CNY festivities is incomplete without mentioning the parade that has lively dragons, marching b ands, acrobats, traditional Chinese dancers, and international troupes from all over the world.

Traveling Tip

Expats living in Singapore and Hong Kong have several avenues to immerse into the culture and experience Chinese New Year. However, many of us sometimes take advantage of the long holiday season. And plan family trips around South East Asia. During this time of the year the beaches of South East Asia offers best time for water activities. But travelling to China during CNY should be avoided at all cost. As workers go back to their family during CNY, so there is always a mad rush at the airports and train stations.

cny rooster

So wherever you are celebration the auspicious new year, put on your best red dress and revel in the festivities.

Here’s wishing  Gong Xi Fa Cai to my friends in Singapore!

And Kung Hey Fat Cho to my friends in Hong Kong!

 

Author Bio:

Author Gauri

Gaurangi Verma  is a freelance Content Writer residing in Singapore with her husb and. She is an avid reader and a Netflix junkie. Originally from Dehradun, India, she misses the cool and breezy mornings of her home-town.

 

 

IS SINGAPORE REALLY THE WORLD’S MOST EXPENSIVE CITY?

Seven  Ways Expats Can Live Less Expensive Lives in Singapore!!!

Singapore has a reputation for being the most expensive city in the world. On the upside, it combines a low tax environment with great safety and political stability.

So if you’ve just moved to Singapore, you don’t need to worry too much about your physical well-being. Spend the time fretting over your wallet instead, because this city can empty it in record time.

Here are some time-tested tips to help you survive the world’s most expensive city:

Watch Where Singaporeans Eat or Drink:

Newcomers are often amazed that locals can eat out (all three meals) for around $9 a day. But if you don’t know what you’re doing, and keep walking into cafes or restaurants, be prepared to fork out $75+ per day if you eat out every meal. 

Watch where Singaporeans (or anyone who has lived here a while) go to eat and drink. The sooner you learn from the locals, the sooner this will stop being the world’s most expensive city for expats. Being a food hub, you’ll quickly realise that a $3 meal can taste as good as a $35 one. And yes, portion sizes are equal. So despite being the most expensive city, you never have to go far for a hearty meal and even a pint of beer after work for less than $10. 

hainanese-chicken-86

Is Singapore a paradise for shopaholics or not?? …Maybe Not!!

Retailers will hate us for telling you this, but mark-ups in Singapore stores can be high. This is doubly true for high-end br ands and touristy areas, such as the shops along Orchard Road. Even among Singaporeans, there are shoppers who prefer to get their br anded bags, clothes, shoes, etc. in HK, US or Europe instead.

So do check out the prices online before you buy. Chances are, you may be able to get it cheaper on an online store. But with affordable br ands like H&M, Uniqlo and Topshop, at your drop step putting together a swish outfit for a night doesn’t hurt your wallet that much.

b8780327cfe590259994935b0ec5f837

Whom are you Banking with??? Local Vs International Bank

As the region’s financial hub, there are well over 100 banks in Singapore. Beyond well-known banks like ANZ, SCB , HSBC or Citibank are local banks such as DBS, UOB, and OCBC. Local banks bring an accessibility advantage with more ATMs and branches, which makes it easy to withdraw cash. Singapore is also host to a range of private and offshore banks that may offer you a better deal if you are affluent. 

It is advisable to pick two banks when you l and. The first bank should be an international bank which can be used to remit money back home at better exchange rate. The second bank should be a local bank, through which you can have your salary credited and conveniently h andle withdrawals or deposits. 

huge-49-248446

Consider a Regional or Global Insurance Policy

If you need private health insurance, it may be more cost-effective to get a regional or global policy, especially if you’re staying less than seven years or travel a lot. You might get sticker shock once you see the premium, but it may be financially efficient, depending on your situation.

Many local insurers will terminate your policy once you leave the country.  Or may not want to cover you if you spend a lot of time going in and out of Singapore. Getting a global policy may still be cheaper than repeatedly adding coverage from a local insurer.

Speak to an independent financial advisor if you want global insurance. 

insurance

Public Transport Will Help You Save Pretty Well!!

Singapore can proudly boasts its world class transportation system, that will definitely help you save some extra bucks. With 5 metro railway lines and over 300 public buses, all the areas are well connected for daily commuters. The average commute for one direction is $1.40.

Hiring a cab will not leave a hole in your pocket as well, with 5 cab companies operating in this little isl and  and competing each other over fares, the consumer always have a happy ride to home. 

 

knowsg_travelaround_-thumbnail-image-path-350-197

If You’re Buying a House Here, Be Picky About Conveyancing Fees and Loan Packages

 You can choose which law firm h andles the paperwork, as long as they are recognised by the bank. Conveyancing fees can range from $1,500 to $3,000, and are rarely brought up by the mortgage banker. If you’re not too lazy to compare (you can get an independent mortgage broker to do this), you can save a tidy sum.

 If you’re getting a property loan , use a mortgage broker instead of just letting the estate agent point you at one. It’s not their forte, so you may not be getting the best deal. Mortgage brokers are generally free in Singapore, so go through them instead.

home-buying-tips-resize-original

 

If You’re Renting, Ensure There is a Repatriate or Diplomatic Clause

By convention, this clause should be present if you have a lease exceeding 12 months. This allows you to terminate the lease on two months’ notice, with no penalties if you are retrenched or transferred elsewhere.

If you are unfamiliar with the document, ask your property agent or the l andlord to point out the specific page on which the clause is printed.

 

house-for-rent

Author Bio:
Lauren Dado is the Content Manager at SingSaver.com.sg, Singapore’s #1 comparison site for credit cards and personal loans . She has 8 years of digital and content marketing experience under her belt, and has recently been writing about personal finance. Originally from the Philippines, she loves to surf and misses the pristine tropical beaches of her home country.

 

RELOCATION TO A DIFFERENT COUNTRY- RIGHT FOR YOU?

relocation is it right for you?

Relocation to a different country is never easy…..ask me, I have relocated 10 times through 7 countries in the last 16 years! It’s not the actual move that’s so hard but it’s taking that decision. Those sleepless nights, dazed mornings, spending countless hours gripped by this fear of getting it wrong. Hoping you’ll wake up one morning and have the right answer in front of you!

The decision is somewhat simpler if you are single but when you have a partner it starts to get complicated. To that, add kids and pets, now you are talking about a whole new dimension. When my to-be-husb and (at the time) first relocated, it was all very exciting and his only fear was not being able to underst and the Aussie sense of humour. But when the time came for me to relocate, the conversation was very different. Now we were discussing my job, cost of living and how will we make friends.

AFTER THE 3rd RELOCATION….WE GOT PRETTY GOOD AT IT OR SO WE THOUGHT!

As we started to make a habit out of relocation, we got more organised. We made a list of pros and cons, we also conducted extensive research on housing, safety, public transport, sports facilities….basically things that affected our day to day life. We spoke with people living in that country (locals and expats), we made excel spreadsheet of costs of moving, living etc. in the new city. Thanks to company’s relocation policies we even got the opportunity to go on a look-see/familiarity trip to that city to gauge what it would be like to live there. Yet we were always unsure about our decision and whilst we made the best of every relocation, we did get it wrong sometimes.

TO RELOCATE OR NOT TO…THAT IS THE QUESTION (ANSWERED)!!! 

In most cases the reason for relocation is linked to our jobs or for a better quality of life. But these are not independent of each other. It’s not sustainable to live in a city you hate because you have a good job. Similarly, you can’t live in your dream city and have a crap job. Yes, there will always be certain adjustments to be made wherever you live. This is rather true for your home town too. It’s just that we don’t think of it like that because we don’t need to.

The easiest way to know is by simply taking the decision to relocate. If you love it, then the decision is probably right and if you hate it….then you have your answer too. Now if you got it right then high five but if you got it wrong then it’s an inconvenient way of finding out. Ok…don’t take your gun out at me yet. Having relocated so many times and resorting to rather different ways of figuring out if we were or are right, I have finally formulated a simple methodology to help make that crucial decision. Here’s what you need to do:

3 STEPS TO KNOW IF RELOCATION IS RIGHT FOR YOU

STEP 1:

List out your top 5 priorities in life, in a descending order. The first being the highest priority and the last one the least of the top 5. These will differ if you are relocating as an individual or as a family. And these will keep changing as you move from different phases in your life. So just list them out for today. For e.g. this is your list:

  1. My Job
  2. Day to day convenience
  3. Kid’s schooling
  4. Partner’s job
  5. Social

STEP 2:

Now think about how your current city/situation rates against these priorities. Then put a score against each from 1 to 5; 5 being the best and 1 being the least. It’s always much easier to score the place you live in currently because you know all the parameters well. Scoring for the new country can be harder especially since you haven’t lived there before. Therefore, in order to score these, you will have to rely on your research and talking to people who have moved there preferably from your current country. Here’s an example where I have compared my current city with two other choices

Priority

Current City 1

City 2

1

My Job

3

4

3.5

2

Day to day convenience

2

5

3

3

Kid’s schooling

3

5

5

4

Partner’s job

2

4

2

5

Social

2

4

3

STEP 3:

The next step is to divide each score by the priority ranking. So you would divide the scores in 1st row by 1 for first priority. The scores in 2nd row by 2 for second priority and so on. And here’s what you would get for the example cited above:

 

Priority

Current

City 1

City 2

1

My Job

3

4

3.5

2

Day to day convenience

1

2.5

1.5

3

Kid’s schooling

1

1.6

1.6

4

Partner’s job

0.5

1

0.5

5

Social

0.4

0.8

0.6

TOTAL

5.9

9.9

7.7

The total score you see for each city tells you which city scores the best for what’s important in your life. If you wanted to, you could add more priorities but personally I feel top 5 is what you should be looking at.

This of course is not a fool proof method. But still worth considering.

ANOTHER IMPORTANT FACTOR TO CONSIDER- INTUITION 

With so many relocations under our built, we eventually realised that every single time we had already made the decision in our head way before we resorted to any of the items above. And what we were doing, was simply using these to validate that decision.

Honestly think about it! How often has your decision changed from when you were first given the opportunity for relocation?

6 years ago, when we were living in Hong Kong, we had an opportunity to either relocated back to Sydney or go to Singapore. After endless days of discussions and finally exhausting all means of taking a decision we resorted to writing the name of the cities on two pieces of paper and drawing out the name. We started with best of 3 then best of 5 and finally best of 7. Reason being, every time we drew out, Sydney was the winner. Yet we kept going till we got Singapore because that’s where we wanted to move. And so we did!

Intuitions are not baseless thoughts or something a higher power is telling us. Our intuition or as we often say gut feelings come from past experiences, our knowledge and probably our inner feelings about certain things and situations. So, it’s not wrong to listen to our intuition because there is a strong reason for feeling what we feel. Unfortunately, I don’t have a scoring system for that. But I can say we some certainty, the scores we put in the above table do reflect our intuition.

FINAL WORDS OF WISDOM

After all this we can still go wrong! And the best way to combat this and trust me, I say it with outmost experience, is to have a two-year plan if you decide to relocate. Having a two-year plan gives you the comfort of going back or elsewhere if things don’t shape up. You also feel less pressure to make things work. Perhaps some times it may leave you complacent, but more often it will encourage you to make the best out of the situation. So after two years if things are looking up, you may decide to stay on but if not, you have the option of changing it.

Finally, do bear in mind you need to be patient and have a positive outlook whatever your decision is.

Wishing you good luck and a happy relocation!!!

 

Author Bio: 

neera-1

Neera Gupta, is a published author and runs an  event management company. She has lived in more than 10 countries and recently moved to Hong Kong with her husb and, 15 month old daughter and two dogs. She frequently delivers talks on art of networking and supports expat communities locally.