Run For Good: Balloon Run 2017

Balloon Run Singapore 2017

[ Pic not taken by me. My “rep” took this 😀 ]

October 1st appears to be an auspicious date – so many events happening today. While I was meditating under an imaginary mango tree at the Space Out Competition, he was completing a 5km run at the Run For Good: Balloon Run 2017. I’d signed up for both events and only realized much later that there’s a scheduling clash. So he went for one, and I went for the other. LOL. #Teamwork

While there are many environment-related concerns because of the use of so many balloons for this run, I have to agree with the organizers that the sight of balloons (especially such colorful ones) really helps make people feel happy. That brilliant balloon rainbow for the start / end point is so cute!

I like the strap attached to the medal as well. And he also brought back a floral balloon sculpture for me. Aww…

Balloon Run medal

The race cost just $12 per pax, with the money going to charity. It’s easily one of the most affordable races and they aren’t stingy with freebies either.

He received Wall’s ice cream (if it’s sponsored, THANK YOU WALL’S!), water and a banana.

Balloon Run Singapore

[ Pic not taken by me. My “rep” took this 😀 ]

After the Durian Run, and now the Balloon Run, I really cannot wait to find out what other fun Run will take place next. So exciting! 😀

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Media Preview: Singapore Red Cross International Bazaar 2017

Singapore red cross international bazaar

Ambassador of Ukraine to Singapore, Dmytro Senik, holding an item commonly found in homes in Ukraine. It is said to be able to ward off the ‘evil eye’ and bring good luck 🙂

The Singapore Red Cross International Bazaar happening this Saturday will have 50 stalls selling food and products from all over the world, together with games booths and a full day of performances! Make sure you mark your calendar and make your way down to Suntec Convention Centre as this bazaar is for a good great cause! 100% of proceeds from the bazaar will go to the Singapore Red Cross’ local humanitarian programmes. I went for the media preview today where folks from the participating embassies showcased some of the merchandise that will be made available at the bazaar on Saturday.

There was the Kabsa (a traditional Saudi rice dish with meat) from the Embassy of Qatar. Too bad it was all under cling wrap or I’ll be able to tell you if it smells good. Looked delicious though! There’ll also be coffee, sweets, costumes etc on Saturday. So make sure you swing by their booth.

embassy of the state of qatar

And here’s some merchandise from Brazil. Expect Havaianas, sweets, tshirts, etc…

red cross bazaar 2017

I bet the stall from the Koreans will be very popular. What with the kimchi, kimbap, korean wine, lacquerware and… LANEIGE products. 😀

This is just a sampling; head to the bazaar on Saturday for the real deal:

singapore red cross bazaar

From Bangladesh, there’ll be food (samosas, briyani), fashion, jute bags, leather and porcelain items. From Egypt, look out for the hieroglyphics stencil (I think they’re so cool!) From Poland, there’ll be honey, picnic mats, cookbooks (even in Chinese!). At the Sri Lankan booth, you’ll find lots of premium Ceylon tea from 4 of the big brands.

I tried the chocolate from Ukraine – it’s really good. Also on sale will be cookbooks, some toys, design kits for children, and lots of other knick-knacks…

ukraine chocolates

Bring an empty stomach as there’ll be international cuisine and uniquely SG buys (pastry, ice cream, etc). Indulge in some henna painting or get a balloon sculpture, and definitely enjoy the cultural shows put up by the folks from Greece, Indonesia, Japan and Sri Lanka. There’ll also be a dog show, magic show and a cheerleading show!

MediaCorp artiste, Ya Hui, will also make a special appearance as SRC’s new ambassador. There’ll be a mini auction of her prized possessions and an autograph session for those who have purchased the limited edition Singapore Red Cross bears.

Do give SRC your support as funds raised go towards supporting the disabled, the elderly and the vulnerable members of our community through residential and day care, transport aid, food aid, elder aid, first aid and humanitarian training, etc. 🙂

singapore red cross international bazaar 2017

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Singapore Red Cross International Bazaar 2017

23rd Sept 2017 (Sat) Suntec Convention Centre L3 Concourse

10am to 6pm

Admission is FREE!

Coupons for sale at redcross.sg. Call 6664 0500 for more information.

Volunteering at SPD Singapore

spd singapore

The SPD used to be called ‘Society for the Physically Disabled’ but in 2014, it was renamed to SPD (Serving people with disabilities since 1964). Last week, I went to the SPD headquarters for an afternoon of Art & Craft with some of SPD’s clients. The SPD HQ is located at 2 Peng Nguan Street (very near to Books Actually)! 🙂

I’d thought it wouldn’t be too much of an eye-opener since most of us are used to seeing people with disabilities around – on trains, in malls, and even living in the same block as us. What I wanted to learn was how to react when I meet persons with disabilities. Do I proffer help with pushing wheelchairs, for instance? Do I look in their direction or do I look away (so they don’t think I’m staring at them)? Have there been things I’m doing wrong when interacting with them? (I really wanted to hear from their perspective)

And it was truly an enriching and informative session. I learnt a few things I never knew before. There were the basic stuff such as terminology: use “wheelchair user” instead of “wheelchair bound” and “persons without disabilities” instead of “normal”.

Here are 4 main takeaways from that afternoon:

#1 Ask before helping. Instead of immediately helping someone with their personal belongings, ask them if they’d like your help first. Don’t touch their guide dogs. Do not push or touch the wheelchair without first asking the person.

#2 Allow the person to hold your elbow. This is something I’ve been doing incorrectly the entire time. I’ll hold the arm of someone who’s unsteady on their feet (e.g. the elderly) instead of letting them take my arm. Somehow, I just instinctively reach out and help steady the person. But what I should be doing is to let the person hold my elbow while I walk half a step ahead of the person. So I definitely learnt something new. 😉

#3 Take the escalator if you can.  While the lifts are an easy way for us to get to another floor, the lifts are the only way for people with disabilities (especially wheelchair users) to get to the next floor.

#4 Face the person you’re speaking to. When interacting with deaf and hard of hearing individuals, face the person when you’re speaking and do not obscure your face. If you’re a teacher or lecturer, do not speak while facing the whiteboard or else your student cannot read your lips.

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There’s a social media campaign going on right now, where you’ll see videos of persons with disabilities and how, for instance, the use of technology helps them engage a lot better with their family members and the people around them. It’s certainly heartening to know how technology helps give a voice to those who might otherwise be ‘voiceless’. Those of us who don’t have disabilities will have to be more patient around them and extend our help but definitely not pity as these individuals have talents, passions and admirable attitudes towards Life.

I also like how the SPD, which used to serve only people with physical disabilities, has opened its doors (so to speak) to people with other kinds of disabilities. There are various types of disabilities – developmental (e.g. autism, down syndrome, cerebral palsy), sensory (e.g. deafness, visual impairment), physical (e.g. muscular dystrophy, paralysis, stroke, spinal cord injury). SPD’s staff strength is about 300+ (if I remember correctly) and their facilities are well-equipped. The washrooms, for instance, look nothing like the toilets for wheelchair users in shopping malls. The ones in SPD are really spacious, with lots of railings and grab bars, supports even behind the toilet seat, etc.

If you’re keen on volunteering at the SPD or other related organisations, check out this list of activities:

http://aspeneventplanners.com/ncss/

OneService App: Report Abandoned Trolleys, Overflowing Bins, And Other Municipal Issues

OneService app gifts

The OneService mobile application was launched in 2014 but I only just got to hear about it today at their roadshow at Waterway Point! 😀 Oh dear! Better late than never, I guess. It’s a very useful app for kaypoh people like myself who see something amiss in the neighborhood and wish to have it reported to the relevant authorities. For instance, I’ve emailed my town council before to report the sighting of mosquitoes and mosquito larvae in the carpark – the drainage system was choked with leaves and so there was lots of stagnant water for the mosquitoes to breed in.

And at the roadshow, simply downloading the app / liking their page on FB / posting a picture on Instagram, etc, would win you prizes. I received Toastbox kopi coupons, a notebook, an eco tote, a stress ball and their special EZ-link card! 😀

OneService App

I’ve seen so many abandoned trolleys in my neighborhood but have never known who to tell. Now I can use the app and simply “Snap. Tag. Send”. Brilliant!

Apparently, it also provides me with the weather forecast, among other things:

OneService App screenshot

If you haven’t already downloaded the app, do it now! 🙂 Or head down to the roadshow and claim some freebies while you’re at it.

Artbox Singapore: Expect Lots Of Rain And ‘Ponding’

Artbox Singapore 2017

I was at Artbox Singapore on Opening Day on Friday, but wished I had stayed home instead. There was lots of rain, *ahem* ponding, and more umbrellas than open stalls at Artbox Singapore on opening day, at 3pm. Though armed with an umbrella, we left the venue within half an hour. No point getting drenched at an event where not all stalls were open yet (some were forced to close as the rain was getting onto the food and other products).

Artbox Singapore

(bottom right) Yes, there’s absolutely no need for ice-cold Chang beer on a cold, rainy day, but it’s good if you’re seeking shelter. Roasted Marshmallows ARE tempting, though. Most of the stallholders seemed rather upset when the rain came. Only one bunch of guys had smiles on their faces – their ‘tattoo’ booth was located within an air-conditioned(?) container facility. The rest of the stallholders had to brave the rain in their makeshift stalls comprising of metal poles and canvas sheets. Once it rains, you’ll be reminded of the Chinese New Year bazaar at Chinatown – lots of people, lots of puddles, lots of stallholders scrambling to keep their wares dry. The usual MEGA pasar malam sort of set-up would be more helpful (such as the one I visited at Tampines over the weekend) – There’s a roof overhead for shelter for everyone and everything, and the rain cannot dampen the spirits of shoppers.

There are cool Kombi Rocks vehicles you can get a picture with… in the rain:

Artbox

I felt that there were too many stalls cramped into too small a space. And I’m sure more than a handful of stallholders would have their grouses – perhaps too few people stopping to browse or to buy stuff. The food stalls on the periphery should do well, but those selling knick-knacks I’m not so sure about.

Anyway here’s the map if you intend to head there…

Artbox Directory Map

Artbox Bangkok

Yup, this weekend is the final weekend for Artbox Singapore 2017. Would you be making a trip there? I won’t. Even if it isn’t raining, braving the crowded, claustrophobic space is not what I envision for a relaxing weekend. If you are so brave as to head there, please remember to bring your umbrella… Actually, bring a drone too and take a picture from above – that sea of colorful brollies should look pretty lovely from overhead! 😀

Artbox

Somehow, I suspect there’ll be thunderstorms this whole week…

weather forecast marina bay sands

Where To Park Your Bicycle(s) at SAFRA Punggol

Bicycle Parking at SAFRA Punggol

I like cycling to places like Waterway Point and SAFRA Punggol so bicycle parking lots are very important to me. The ones at Waterway Point are pretty obvious – it’s almost impossible to miss the designated spots. However, it’s not the case at SAFRA Punggol. And if you don’t like chaining your bicycle to railings or lampposts, and prefer proper lots like I do, then here’s a guide to finding a bicycle parking lot at SAFRA Punggol. 🙂

As you can see in the first picture above, look for Jack’s Place restaurant at #01-01. There’s a set of glass doors to the right of the restaurant (or your left). Once you go past those doors, you’ll enter the carpark, which is also where you can park your bike…

There are two areas for bicycle parking, and I’ve indicated them with (1) and (2) below. The first one can accommodate around 16 bicycles, I think. And another eight bicycles over at the second area.

Where to park bicycle at SAFRA Punggol

Second area right here:

SAFRA Punggol Bicycle Lots

There isn’t ample signage to tell people where to leave their bicycles. So the reason for this blogpost is to help you out if (1) you’re looking for somewhere to park your bicycle at SAFRA Punggol, and (2) you enter the carpark but see that the first bicycle parking area is already full, don’t panic, there’s still a second spot around the corner. The best part is there’s a CCTV camera pointing right at it. 🙂

Happy Cycling!~

Pikachu Meet N Greet at NEX this Weekend!

Pikachu Meet and Greet

This weekend, bring your kids to NEX to meet Pikachu! 🙂 There’s a Pikachu Meet & Greet for the young, and lots of exclusive cherry blossom-inspired goodies and popular Japanese street snacks for the young-at-heart at ISETAN’s Sakura Matsuri fair. Details as follows:

Date: 1 & 2 April
Event: Meet & Greet Pikachu
Address: ISETAN Serangoon Central Children’s Department L3
Time: 1pm, 3pm and 5pm

Also, spend $80 (T&Cs apply) at the ISETAN Sakura Matsuri fair from now till 9 April to enjoy a free traditional Japanese family photo-taking opportunity in yukata from 1:30pm to 6:00pm.

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Spring @ NEX (9 March – 30 April)
Five lucky shoppers can stand a chance to win S$1,000 worth of nexVouchers with every S$50* spent at NEX! (*Maximum 3 combined same-day receipts. Maximum 20 chances per shopper/NRIC per day.)

Combat Zone: New Team-building Activity With Nerf Blasters

Combat Zone Singapore

As I don’t work in an office now, I don’t get the opportunity to participate in team-building or team-bonding (or call it whatever you will) activities. So it was a lot of fun joining my pals from a financial advisory firm in their post-branch-meeting game time at Combat Zone Singapore, located at the third floor of *SCAPE. There were 9 of us, but our facilitator gamely (pun fully intended) joined in so we had 5 players on each team.

It might seem odd that adults are engaging in play, with foam darts no less. But hasn’t it been said that “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation”? And it’s true. 🙂 Someone would ignore instructions and cross the ‘line’, someone would bravely step into the line of fire while everyone else hides behind boxes, someone would stock up on lots of ammunition before the game begins, and there will be a few who have to win at all costs. And you can tell everyone that head shots aren’t allowed, but you’ll still get foam darts grazing your cheek during battle. No harm done though, since getting hit by foam darts is painless. But you just might want to wear the goggles provided to protect your eyes, just in case.

And the best part is that if there’s a colleague you’ve always wanted to shoot (foam darts) at, well, now you can. 😀

The good thing about this business is that the set-up is relatively inexpensive. I’d think it’s pretty easy to set up shop just about anywhere in Singapore. You’ll just need the boxes (likely collapsible), nerf blasters and ammo, and netting or some other fence to keep the darts from flying out of the game area.

nerf war singapore

Combat Zone allows for up to 10 pax per game. We completed 2 ‘missions’. The first entailed shooting down the cans located on barrels behind the opposing team. *It was rather amusing to note how we were all hiding behind boxes and firing at the cans but since we weren’t aiming at the other players, there was no real need to hide in the first place 😀 The second mission involved shooting the foam darts at the players on the opposing team, and getting all of them out of the game for 20 seconds (once they got hit) so we could retrieve the vests on their side and win the game. Tough but we managed to accomplish it. My team won both times. 😀

The aftermath:

indoor team building singapore

Halfway through the game, I was already feeling hot and sweaty – it’s a good workout! It can get quite frustrating when the foam darts get ‘jammed’ within the blaster. I can deal with paper jams, but when my nerf blaster’s jammed during ‘battle’, URGH, it’s awful. I didn’t know how delicate these nerf guns are. And the foam darts need to be handled gently as well because the foam tears quite easily.

We got to play with only the Retaliator nerf blasters as the Mega guns came with only 3 foam darts each (which wouldn’t be of much use in our missions). And we didn’t see any available Rampage or Zeus blasters there.

*Right now, Combat Zone doesn’t allow customers to bring their own blasters. And kids have to be at least 12 years old in order to play here.

*To find out more about pricing and other matters, head to combatzone.sg.

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I’m surprised Combat Zone chose to set up shop in *SCAPE. I don’t know if there’s enough of a crowd there, especially during weekdays, for the business to be sustainable. I would think an on-demand sort of business model would bring in more money, like how some companies supply bouncy castles for birthday parties and other events. Combat Zone could provide the facilitators and equipment for off-site team-building activities. Also, I suspect these ‘missions’ would be popular in malls such as Tampines Mall, on a weekend.

But it’s great for small groups, such as with my pals from the financial advisory firm. After the gameplay with nerf blasters, the group can even head over to Manekineko for a good KTV session. So, hopefully, Combat Zone continues doing well and brings in even more awesome nerf blasters so the next time we play there, it’ll be even more fun. 🙂

CNY Floral Arrangement at Bright Hill Evergreen Home

Bright Hill Evergreen Home

When a local florist contacted me regarding a sponsored Chinese New Year flower display, I asked that they donate it to the less privileged and spread the festive cheer. They then outdid themselves when they invited me to a floral arrangement workshop they organized at Bright Hill Evergreen Home which is within my neighborhood. Interestingly, I’ve gone past the home before, but didn’t know it’s a nursing home. I thought it was simply a foreign workers’ dormitory located just next to a Chinese temple. And even though I was (and still am) greatly hampered by my inability to speak dialects, I truly relished the opportunity of spending an afternoon with some elderly folks who like floral arrangements.

Channel NewsAsia did a documentary about nursing homes not too long ago, and television host Anita Kapoor spent two weeks living in a home. She described it as being as if you were “in a hospital for the rest of your life”. While Bright Hill Evergreen Home appears to be a well-run home, I’m sure it’s still tough as long as you aren’t staying with family and if you don’t get frequent visits from family members. I hope the flowers, and the company of the volunteers, brought the elderly folks some joy that day.

Here, I help hold up the spongy base that had been pre-soaked in water while one of the elderly residents puts a rubber band around the wrapping paper to hold it in place:Bright Hill Evergreen Home punggol

The company was also very generous in sponsoring fresh flowers and other leafy plants so the elderly could put together their very own floral arrangements:

Chinese New Year Floral Arrangement

Aren’t they simply gorgeous? 🙂

floral arrangement class

Floral Arrangement workshop

While I did not spend two weeks in a nursing home, what little time I spent there had me decide that being old and living in a home other than my own is not much fun at all. So, whenever possible, I hope to spread more cheer to those who are without family… and perhaps I might be able to pick up some dialect after all. 🙂Bright Hill Evergreen nursing home

Many thanks to Floral Garage Singapore for sharing the joy with the elderly at Bright Hill Evergreen Home and to Hearted Moments for the lovely pictures.

Spring-Cleaning? Donate Your Pre-loved Books to Dignity Mama

dignity mama

Credit: Dignity Mama

A former student of mine is doing volunteer work at Dignity Mama, a social enterprise which helps kids with special needs, and he reached out to me to help spread the word regarding the good work that Dignity Mama does. And since many households are doing their spring-cleaning ahead of the Lunar New Year, I believe it’s a great time to round up those books we have lying around at home collecting dust, and give them a new lease of life while helping the less privileged.

Your donated books will be sold at the Dignity Mama stalls manned by youths with special needs. My pal volunteers at the outlet in Ng Teng Fong Hospital and this stall sells used books and muffins. So do pop by if you live or work near the hospital and send them some love in the form of your used books, donations, or purchases of their muffins. 🙂 The outlet is located at Tower A of the NTFGH Clinics, at #02-10.

Opening Hours:

Mon to Fri 10am to 9pm

Sat 10am to 6pm

*They are closed on Sundays and Public Holidays.

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Some background about how Dignity Mama started:

DIGNITY MAMA is a second-hand book store started in 2010 inside Dignity Kitchen by Mr Koh Seng Choon, founder of Project Dignity Pte Ltd. It aims to equip challenged young people and their parents with entrepreneurial skills to run and manage a stall within the public domain.

Their mission is:

“To build and return dignity to the disadvantaged and disabled through vocation with passion.”

The first outlet was a pushcart at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital. This was followed by a stall at National University Hospital. The third outlet is at Ng Teng Fong Hospital.

All donated books are sorted and priced reasonably for sale to generate income.

So, instead of throwing away your used books, why not donate them to Dignity Mama? 🙂 And while you’re at it, you may even find some pre-loved books at low prices that you’ll want to bring home.

For more information, please visit http://www.dignitymama.sg.