How To Save On Foreign Payments

For the big plans in Life, we’ll often have to find out how to save on foreign payments. Here are a few tips for the savvy, modern woman, for every important occasion or milestone in life.

#1: For Your Destination Wedding

If you’re engaged, you may already be planning a destination wedding at an exotic getaway that doubles as a honeymoon spot after?

Couples can easily spend around $20,000 – and often a lot more! – on a destination wedding, so the first rule is to plan ahead. Sounds basic right? But preparation is key and it’s worth familiarizing yourself with local rules and regulations. Research on- and off-peak seasons, so as to score a better deal with hotels and make sure you don’t book a beach wedding during the monsoon season!

Add together the travel, hotel and venue costs and your bill will quickly add up. What’s more, many couples choose to pay for immediate family members’ and the bridal party’s travel, and many consider it customary to pay for guest accommodation as well. If that’s the case, you’ll want to get the best deals where you can – including when making your payments. Engaging an international payments specialist can help you avoid both the hefty transfer fees and poor exchange rates people typically experience with their banks.

#2: For Your Child’s Education Abroad

A common Mother’s dilemma; should you send your children abroad for higher education?

First, take location into account. In the US, studying in a private institution can easily cost over USD40,000 per year, though it is worth remembering that some universities offer free tuition to international students. Do your research.

Also think about duration too. For example, undergraduate courses in the UK typically last three years, instead of the usual four. You’ll also need to factor accommodation and living expenses into your decision too.

What is clear is that if you send a child abroad to study, you’ll also be sending lots of money overseas to support them too. You could save money by getting your currency exchange right. Fix a rate in advance – this is known as a forward contract – so you’ll always know what you’ll pay, even if the exchange rate goes against you.

#3: For Your Overseas Properties

A discerning investor like you might be looking for passive income. Don’t miss the opportunity to invest in overseas properties. Right now, you can save substantially when you buy a second home in other parts of the world. For example, with the pound at its lowest in decades, you can snatch up that charming little house in UK, for hundreds of thousands of dollars less than before the British Referendum.

The average UK home price was around USD 297,250 just before Brexit. Now, with the historically low pound, average UK home prices are down to USD 266,500 – meaning you’d pay a whopping USD 30,750 less for a typical UK home than if you had bought one before Brexit*.

Engage with a currency broker to lock in your exchange rate, so you can ensure you take advantage of the favorable exchange rate vs the pound. That way you’ll know in advance exactly how much you need to pay upon completion, and manage the risk from adverse currency fluctuations.

Currency markets can move fast and can be volatile, especially around big events like elections. To help navigate your way through, it’s worth enlisting the help of a currency expert to help you take control of your finances and make the best decisions on your international purchases and transfers.

To find out more, visit

World First


Rebecca Snape

[ This article was contributed by Rebecca Snape, Head of Dealing Singapore, World First ]

World First provides a fast, secure and customer-friendly online international payments platform to private individuals and small and medium sized enterprises around the world. Experts in global currency markets and with a truly customer-focused approach, World First helps clients make international payments quickly, efficiently and safely, helping them to take control of their international payments.

*Nationwide House Price Index

Book Review: No Fears, No Excuses – What You Need To Do To Have A Great Career

I got to read the book before watching the video of Larry Smith’s TEDx speech, and oh my, I would most certainly have rushed out to buy the book if I’d actually seen the video first. 🙂 On the TEDx stage, Larry gave a most entertaining speech. I love how dramatic his presentation was (reminded me a little of some Harry Potter movies because of the way he speaks) and how funny this guy is. The title of his speech (which has gotten over 2.9 million views on YouTube) is ‘Why You Will Fail To Have A Great Career’, one which will make many people sit up straight in their seats. Thankfully, he picked a more customer-friendly title for his book. It’s called ‘No Fears, No Excuses – What You Need to Do to Have a Great Career’. 😀

No Fears, No Excuses by Larry Smith

Here are some tips from the book to help you find a GREAT career – not a good one, but a great one! *wink*

“A career is great when it offers satisfying work, impact on the world, a dependable and adequate income, and personal freedom.” – Larry Smith

  1. Don’t become a commodity, or else it all boils down to PRICE. Don’t be a commodity employee.
  2. Know the difference between ‘getting work done’ and ‘producing exceptional results’.
  3. SAMPLE everything in order to find your passion. But remember that you are not trying to sell yourself something.
  4. Always be a student.
  5. Be a good communicator.
  6. Have an edge, i.e. what makes you better than the others. Even interns need to find ways to shine.
  7. Stand out. Do what no one else is doing.
  8. Don’t imitate. Innovate!
  9. Great family and a great career are not mutually exclusive endeavors.
  10. Remember, a great career means at the end of it and at the end of your life, you leave your mark behind. You leave your work behind to speak for you.
  11. Don’t enter a crowded field unless you’re prepared – really prepared – to minimize the competitive pressure in that field… it’s everyone’s strategy to try, and to work hard. The truth is, you need to do better than that.

I really like this book as it is full of real-life examples. You’ll read about students who offer up excuses as to why they couldn’t possibly make a career out of their passion, how they enter jobs that parents point them to or which money lures them towards instead of following their heart or talent, and what happens to employees who do not keep up with the rate of technological change, etc.

It’s one book that undergraduates should be reading more often than their textbooks. It’s one book that fresh graduates had better read before stepping into the workforce. And it’s one book that those who feel lost (mid-life crisis, anyone?) should definitely pick up and find some answers within.

Definitely get a copy of this book if you’re ever in need of some great career advice. 🙂


Which Professions Have The Highest Divorce Rate?


Drew Barrymore and her (third) husband have announced that they are intending to get a divorce. This comes almost right on the heels of S.H.E’s Selina Jen announcing her divorce. Do we know about these celebrity divorces only because they are “high profile” people but meanwhile, many “commoners” like us are similarly getting divorced too? Or is it that certain professions tend to come with an inherently higher risk of divorce? Also, what is the divorce procedure in Singapore like? And why are searches for “cheap divorce lawyer Singapore” and “cheapest divorce lawyer Singapore” so popular? Can a divorce even be… cheap in Singapore?

Divorce Singapore

I’ve read a few articles on the web which list the jobs that are most likely to lead to divorce:

1: Business Insider’s ‘The 15 Jobs Where You’re Most Likely To Get Divorced’ has:

Entertainers and performers in the #10 spot, ‘Nursing, psychiatric and home health aides” are at #9, massage therapists at #3, with bartenders and dancers taking the top 2 spots. Interestingly, this article quotes their source for this information as the ‘Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology’.

2: USA TODAY’s ‘5 of the worst jobs for a relationship’:

In the top three spots are casino worker, massage therapist, and waiter / bartender.

‘Athlete, entertainer or dancer’ is in 4th place. So could it be that more casino workers than entertainers are getting divorced but we don’t read about these in the news because they aren’t as famous as the athletes, entertainers or dancers?

3: The Richest’s ’10 Professions That Will Likely Lead You To Divorce’ provides some explanations too:

In #7 spot is ‘Musician/Athlete/Actor‘ because “These professionals receive relationship offers from very attractive people all the time”. In #2 position is ‘Bartender‘ because “Your typical bar is the place where people go to get drunk, hit on anyone or everyone around them, lose control, and expect to go home and have sex with someone new. As much as you trust your spouse and he or she respects your marriage, bartenders will get hit on so many times and chances are that he or she will give in eventually.” And… in number 1 position is Dancer because “Dancing requires a high level of team work, time, deep emotions, and physical contact, qualities that can make dancers develop feelings for each other despite their marital status.”


Wedding Rings

In Singapore, there are plenty of divorce lawyers ready to help you file for that divorce. It is such a competitive space that they even place ads on Google that show they are now competing on price: “Divorce from $1,400 Nett”. “Divorce – $990 (Fixed fee)”, “Divorce Cost – From $1,800. Speak To Us Now” are some of these actual ad headlines.

But do not be fooled by low advertised prices. There are basically two kinds of divorces: contested and uncontested. If you and your spouse do not have children and do not own property, and both of you have agreed to get a divorce, then things are simpler. Otherwise, divorces can be long-drawn, messy and costly affairs if you fight for custody of the kid, argue over who gets what, and both parties may even have to hire their own lawyers and fight it out in court.

In Singapore, I would think a few groups of people are at especially high risk of getting divorces:

  1. Celebrities (including social media celebrities)
  2. Politicians
  3. People who work long hours in high stress conditions, e.g. medical professionals

Ultimately, I think all marriages require a lot of effort, and unless you don’t mind getting divorced and remarrying, a lasting marriage is actually worth that effort. 🙂

Does Your Part Time Job Come With CPF Contributions?

A friend of mine is looking for a part-time job to supplement his income as a freelancer, in preparation for his upcoming marriage plans, and so I have been helping him to keep a lookout for potential job opportunities. One recent offer did not come with CPF contributions, so he declined. However, my (nagging) suspicion is that most people do not know what attracts CPF contributions, and what doesn’t, especially when it comes to part time jobs for students.

If you don’t already know, CPF is payable for all part-time / casual employees. However, CPF contributions are not payable for the following groups in the second section:

CPF Contributions for Students

[ This information is from the CPF Board’s website ]

If you’re an employer, do note that CPF should be paid for the part time jobs Singapore citizens and PRs are employed to do. Also, CPF contributions are a must for payments made to your employees for overtime pay, commissions, angpows given during festive seasons (YES!), payments for good service, etc. Find the entire list here. You might be surprised at the number of payments that attract CPF contributions!

As a student, should you forego CPF contributions for what seems like (immediate) higher take-home pay? I’d say ‘no’, because your CPF monies will come in really useful later on in life, especially when you want to purchase a HDB flat. And besides, why let your employer get away with not paying you the CPF monies which are rightfully yours to claim? However, I do also know that there are special instances, such as when students have to work to supplement the family’s income, and that every dollar counts and is used for putting food on the table. In that case, if this immediate (higher) income will do more for your family now, then do what you must.

Right now, I have another pal who is looking for a part-timer (preferably a student) to help out at roadshow events. If you, or someone you know, will be interested in working part-time in the Western part of Singapore, drop me an email for more details. 🙂

Babette Restaurant & Bar: Worth A Visit With A Groupon Voucher

Babette Sashimi Salad

Happy Valentine’s Day, y’all! 😀 He and I had an enjoyable Valentine’s Day lunch at Babette Restaurant & Bar, located at 165 Tyrwhitt Road (Parc Sovereign Hotel). I have to admit: I usually view his Groupon purchases with suspicion because there tend to be more misses than hits. But even established and very popular restaurants like Dancing Crab and others under the Tung Lok Group also offer discounts on Groupon, so you never know when you’ll discover a gem. Babette’s menu and posters feature their sashimi salad (S$17), so I absolutely had to order it. You see it in the picture above. And dessert had to be their self-proclaimed “legendary” Matcha Lava Cake (S$12.80). What about the rest of the meal? Read on… 🙂

Just before putting this blogpost together, I read Daniel Food Diary’s review of Babette. Apparently there are other mains we should have ordered. But I read Daniel’s review too late lah. I didn’t know this restaurant-cum-bar was opened by a DJ, you see.

Anyway, here’s what my date ordered: Chilli Crab Pasta (S$18)…

Babette Chilli Crab Pasta

It features a deep-fried soft shell crab and well-cooked pasta, in a slightly chili crab-tasting sauce which is overpowered by the taste of ginger. Just one mouthful of the pasta and I asked him why it tastes more of ginger than anything else. He had no answer for me. And as usual, we do not return food to kitchens because we don’t want food to come back with any foreign substances, if you get what I mean. We just ate it all… together.

I ordered the Wagyu Beef Bourguignon with Japanese rice (S$18) because I thought that anything with “wagyu beef” in the name should be pretty awesome. Well… I don’t think I got it right this time. I like the poached egg and the garlic. But the beefballs could do with a bit of seasoning, and require a special touch for added texture (I dunno, add diced water chestnut, maybe??). I suppose the chef felt that the stew itself would be salty enough so the meatballs don’t have to be seasoned so much. But I would prefer it otherwise. I like the shredded seaweed on the rice though. 🙂

Babette Wagyu Beef Bourguignon

As for the dessert… WOW. Ok, now I know why they claim it’s legendary. I really like the vanilla ice cream topped with azuki red beans and a (tasty) chocolate decorative piece on top. The lava cake itself features a green tea infused white chocolate fondant dusted with green tea powder on top. And when you cut it open… yes, it flows! 😀 Unlike the usual chocolate lava cakes though, it’s green and gooey inside. LOL. Very different from other lava cakes I’ve eaten… and it’s probably the biggest one I’ve had so far. A recent one I ate at Miam Miam was so tiny that I really didn’t want to share it with him. Oops.

S$12.80 Matcha Lava Cake:

Babette Matcha Lava Cake

With regard to F&B services standards, though, I have some recommendations for all F&B operators and staff:

  1. Offer iced or warm water to customers, even before they ask you for it. I spotted a waiter coming round with a tumbler of iced water to refill the cups for the couple seated at another table. He noticed that the rest of the surrounding tables did not have water mugs on them so he returned the tumbler to its spot and that was it. No asking us whether we would like some water too. Score some points for initiative next time! 🙂
  2. It is a bit rude to (loudly) announce the amount on the bill, unless your customers cannot see very well. In most restaurants I’ve been to, the waiter just hands the bill discreetly to the customer who is paying for it, and everyone else at the table has no idea how much the meal costs. Today, unfortunately, everyone at the tables next to us heard him. LOL.

(*Will be back, when there’s a Groupon again :P)

Babette is at 165 Tyrwhitt Road (within Parc Sovereign Hotel). Tel: 6341 7727.

Fitbit With Tory Burch: The Most Stylish Fitness Accessory

Tory Burch for Fitbit

The market is inundated with fitness accessories, and even the Health Promotion Board has their own fitness tracker. 🙂 However, if I have to pick the most stylish fitness accessory available in the market right now, I think the Fitbit Flex coupled with the Tory Burch Double-Wrap Bracelet wins hands-down.

Have you seen anything more chic than this? 😉

Fitbit Tory Burch

Many people probably wouldn’t even suspect there’s a fitness tracker within the stylish metal casing!

The Fret Double-Wrap Bracelet features a smooth leather strap and metal detailing on its stainless steel surface based on the graphic, open fretwork that is a signature of the Tory Burch design. The bracelet also features a secure, easy-access buckle and tang closure on the back, allowing you to keep the device comfortably close while maintaining its sophisticated look. You’ll love it once you try it on! 🙂

Of course, it’s for those days when you need your fitness tracker to match your glam outfit.

On other days, you can take your pick from a whole range of 10 different colorful wristbands to house the Fitbit Flex unit. I own the Teal, Tangerine and Navy ones:

Fitbit Flex Colors

*I brought the teal one with me to Surabaya. And unfortunately it got dirty around the edges. So, if you’re wearing your fitbit for outdoor activities (e.g. rock-climbing, trekking, , you might want to pick a darker color.

The original black ones are great for when I head out for exercise:

Fitbit Flex

It’s almost Chinese New Year. And I know many people will be feasting on goodies, just like I will (actually I’ve already started on those pineapple tarts). Do ensure you get more exercise as you’re ingesting more calories! For instance, take the stairs instead of the lift (unless your relative stays on the 16th floor, maybe).

The great thing about the Fitbit is that it has 5 indicator lights to show you how close you are to reaching your daily target – each light indicates 20%. A quick double-tap on the device, and the resulting number of indicator lights flashing at you will tell you immediately how close you are to reaching your target. When you hit the target, the whole wristband will vibrate (!) 🙂 I’m not kidding.

Also, with the fitbit flex, you can even monitor your sleep quality. I don’t actually use any digital devices when I go to bed – it’s my personal preference, plus I get lots of sleep so it’s ok. 😀 But I do let the fitbit track my steps, distance covered, calories burned and active minutes. Find out more here:

If you need some fitness motivation, go ahead and get yourself a fitbit now. 🙂

Visiting Cambodia: Study Tour At Brown Coffee Plus A Guest House Stay


I left for Cambodia on the last day of 2015 and despite the short stay, I got quite an eye-opening experience. This is why travel is so important to me. 😀 Cambodia is about 1253km away from Singapore, the time there is exactly one hour behind Singapore’s time, and while they have their own local currency (the Cambodian Riel), payments usually involve USD! So bring your US dollars instead of trying to get Cambodian currency in Singapore. If you’d like to pay using their local currency, just convert the prices (in USD) by multiplying them by 4 to get the rough equivalent in Riel.

Cambodian Currency

A two-way ticket flight from Singapore to Cambodia, via JetStar, can cost something like S$286, depending on when you fly. Flight time is approximately 2 hours. You’ll need to fill in an arrival card and a departure card before you enter the country (the departure portion will be stapled to your passport). There’s no need to apply for a visa if you hold a Singapore passport. There’s also no departure tax at the airport when you leave, unlike in some Indonesian airports.

Cambodia Immigration Arrival Card

Once you get to Cambodian customs, go through the checks briskly. Do not hover at the exit as you may get picked up for more checks. I’ve been told by my travel companions that some items can get confiscated for no apparent rhyme or reason. Nothing like that happened on this trip, thankfully.

And you may want to purchase a SIM card at any of these booths. My pals got theirs at the one in green – USD5 for 4GB of data. It’s pretty cheap.

Cambodia Phnom Penh International Airport SIM card purchase

I decided not to purchase a SIM card because (1) If I can save USD5, why not? (2) There’ll be wifi in the guest house we’re staying at and (3) it’s best to limit your handphone usage within the country. My local pals tell me that snatch thefts involving handphones occur pretty frequently. So think twice before you stop to take a picture along the roads or to reply to whatsapp messages when you are out!


Brown Coffee Cambodia latte art

Thanks to Bong’s recommendation, we got to visit Brown Coffee’s HQ for a study tour. Brown is a popular coffee chain in Cambodia. And before we go into the business / entrepreneurship side of things (which may or may not interest you), I must say that Brown serves amazing food and drinks! I got to try their egg tarts, cake, and brownies. And their brownies are truly phenomenal! Probably better than any brownie I ate in 2015. So let’s just say that I had a really good, sweet start to the new year! Hehe! When you are in Cambodia, do pop by any of the (currently) 11 Brown outlets – more outlets will open this year!

Here’s one of the corporate videos put together by Brown:

Thank you Bong & Tiffany for being awesome pals!

ASEAN youth leaders

Bunleang Chang, the young man who conducted the presentation, is one of 5 co-founders (all cousins) of Brown. Bunleang is the face of the brand and the one who is featured in media interviews. 🙂 He’s rather cute, and I was tempted to ask him for a photo. Haha! He’s one of many young Cambodians who have studied overseas (Sydney) and returned to their homeland to help the country improve.

After facing difficulties while working in the non-profit sector, which was his original calling, Bunleang and his cousins decided to create a brand based on their passion for coffee, and create employment opportunities for the Cambodians instead. I’ve read in one report that half the country’s population is under 25 years old. So this ‘cafe culture’ is definitely one to capitalize on. 😀 And in case you were wondering, I’ve also found out that the name Brown is “t’not” in the local Khmer language, which is “the name of Cambodia’s beloved national sugar palm tree”. So while it may be Western-sounding (and easy for expats and tourists to appreciate), it is still very ‘Cambodian’.

Brown was set up in October 2009, and they opened their 11th outlet in October 2015. In 2016, the aim is to open 5 more outlets. Some reasons for their success include: building a strong supply chain (and learning to handle more aspects themselves, e.g. doing the roasting of the green beans instead of having them roasted in Thailand), investing in Training & Development, innovating processes and products, and by building a strong company culture with a clear vision and mission.

Brown will even hire locals with absolutely no experience in this F&B line and train them. Barista training takes 10 days, and will equip new hires with knowledge on how to operate the machinery and other equipment, train them to make expressos, explain SOPs and workflow, teach them basic English and hospitality skills, and also ensure they understand the importance of food hygiene and safety.

We got a tour of the facility: checked out where the beans are stored, how they are roasted, how the beans are tested for quality, how the coffee is brewed, and received a quick introduction to latte art and coffee appreciation too! 🙂

A video about the Brown Roastery (from YouTube) –

Brown Coffee Cambodia

Brown Coffee & Bakery has 11 outlets, and the company also manages Gong Cha (there are 5 outlets in Cambodia) and FOX wine bistro (1 outlet). I certainly did not expect Cambodia to have Gong Cha! What a pleasant surprise! 🙂

LOTS OF THANKS to Brown for the awesome study tour!

~ The Guest House We Stayed In: Golden Celestial Guest House ~

Golden Celestial Guest House

The guest house is just a 5 minute drive away from the airport! The location is pretty awesome, as one of the things I tend to fear would happen during my overseas trips is missing a flight because I get to the airport late. It has only happened once in my entire life, but once is already one time too many. 😛

In Cambodia, you can book a stay at either a hotel, motel or guest house. Most of them are very new, having been set up in recent years. Golden Celestial is owned by the parents of one of our pals. So it’s great to know that we’re staying at an establishment owned and managed by Singaporeans. 🙂 At the vegetarian restaurant on level 1, you’ll find Mandarin-speaking aunties and uncles, at all times of the day. 😀

I’m leaving out any commentary on the rooms we stayed in, as those are not usually rented out to guests. They are reserved for the owners and their friends.

Contact information for this guest house:

Golden Celestial Guest House Cambodia


Here’s a picture of a sunset in Cambodia, taken at one of the places we had dinner together. In the background, you see taller buildings (a sign that change has come to Cambodia), water fountains in the middle (many parts of this country are not at all ‘backward’) and there’s a balloon vendor at the corner of the street (balloons are the current fad – I’ll share more about it in another blogpost), and slicing through the picture are the overhead cables. 😄

Sunset in Phnom Penh Cambodia

Check out my earlier posts regarding this Cambodian trip. I visited Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and also spent a memorable afternoon volunteering at a Cambodian Orphanage. And stay tuned for more regarding the food, culture and sights of Cambodia. 🙂

Selfie Coffee at Haji Lane

From latte art to 3D coffee art… to selfie coffees. Just how many ways can we decorate a humble cup of coffee? 🙂 I’m not a coffee drinker but was happy to accompany my pals and their super-cute toddler to Selfie Coffee at Haji Lane. And while they tried to figure out how to stick the straws in without ruining the pictures (hur hur), I happily sipped on my Mango Passionfruit Ice Blend (with no selfie on top).

Selfie Coffee Singapore

It remains to be seen whether this novelty factor will fade off, and whether this quaint cafe will survive by the strength of its F&B offerings alone. For me, it’s kind of like going on the Singapore Flyer, whereby once is usually enough.

I love how the cafe’s all decked out though. They’ve converted a whole wall into a huge menu that’s super colorful. The dining area upstairs is rather cramped with too many chairs and tables in too small a space. But look around and look up too to see monkeys and vines and all.

Selfie Coffee Haji Lane

It’s great that this cafe largely caters to young people because there’s a fair bit of stair-climbing if you don’t sit at the alfresco area outside the cafe, and instead choose to sit at level 2. Upon entering, you’ll have to head upstairs to check if there’s an available table. And once you’re done chope-ing a seat, you head back down to place your order. Then you head back up again while your order is being prepared. And once the buzzer sounds, you come back down to collect your drinks (and food if any), and then you head back upstairs again. When you’re done with your photo-taking and makan, you will, of course, head backn down again. Haha!

It’s great exercise. So if you are one of the lazy ones… sit outside or else don’t complain ok? 😉

And oh, Selfie Coffee sells rainbow cake too. I shared a slice with Kelly, but we still couldn’t finish it. Good for pictures la. *wink*

Rainbow Cake


11 Haji Lane

Tel: 6341 7212

The Main Reason I Visit Rivervale Plaza: Nasi Padang

Rivervale Plaza

I kid you not. The main reason I look forward to visiting Rivervale Plaza is for a meal at the Indonesian Padang stall. Some people call it ‘Chumpo Chumpo’ while others call it ‘Chumpo 2’. Either way, this is the one:

Rivervale Plaza Chumpo Indonesian Padang

One thing you need to note about this stall is that the good food runs out really fast. And I don’t know why they can’t just cook more of it. Go for dinner at 7+? Well, you might not have many dishes to choose from already. You need to head there early. This is the reason why I’ll sometimes pop by wanting a nasi padang meal, but end up heading next door for some laksa instead.

If you’ve never visited Rivervale Plaza before, well, drop by and try the nasi padang.

Also, this HDB shopping complex looks rather small from the outside, but it houses over 40 shops for all your shopping needs. There’s NTUC for your groceries, a number of bakeries, fast food outlets, a wet market (there’s a stall selling durians for S$2 now!) and there’s not just one but TWO foodcourts (imagine that) within Rivervale Plaza!

Anyway, the main reason for this post is to have you join me in voting for your favorite shop in your favorite HDB shopping centre. I’ve voted for Chumpo in Rivervale Plaza, of course. *wink*

Vote for Chumpo Rivervale Plaza

From now till 31st October, you stand a chance to win prizes in the Top 50 Favorite Shops contest. And oh, I voted for Unity too. Just did a S$15 health screening there on Monday. The staff are really nice – no Monday blues at all, which is weird. 😀 So, thumbs up:

Vote for Unity

If you’d like to vote and stand a chance to win some prizes, download the app (for Android) – it’s called ‘myfavHDBmall‘. Sign up for an account and you will be sent an activation link via email to verify your email account, before you can access the app.

Also, I found the HDB Gift Redemption (temporary) booth near the security guard post at Rivervale Mall. Just spend S$20 and redeem a luggage cover:

Luggage Cover

Take note of the redemption dates though! 🙂


There are also two other contests you might be keen on, with more prizes to win…

1) #myfavHDBmall Photography Competition: 

Photography Competition

Register here:

2) Help create the largest SG50 logo made from stamps!

SG Book Of Records

Donate your used or unused stamps at the specially designed post boxes at a HDB shopping centre near you: details HERE. A total of S$2000 cash vouchers are up for grabs!

I don’t know about you, but I’m loving all the freebies, competitions, and activities surrounding the celebration of our nation’s 50th birthday! 🙂 I’m glad that even malls in the heartlands are joining in the fun! Time to celebrate with more nasi padang! Haha!

Interview with Dr Jonathan Obaje, Pain Relief Expert From URAH (Unique Recipes for Active Health)

Are you currently taking oral glucosamine and experiencing gastric irritation, nausea, shortness of breath or wheezing?

Have you purchased creams or patches to soothe your aching muscles but find that they don’t actually provide relief?

Are joint pains and body aches stopping you from leading an active lifestyle or going back to work after retirement because of knee problems?

Firstly, Glucosamine is a good biological molecule produced naturally in your body and used to make soft tissues such as cartilage, ligament, collagen and synovial fluid for the body. However, Glucosamine is difficult to deliver to the body (unlike most health supplements) because of low absorption in the gastric system. Glucosamine compounds are also acidic and can cause gastric irritations and ulceration.

And secondly, many of the off-the-counter products claiming to provide pain relief tend to put menthol or capsaicin to provide the “cooling” or “warm” sensation that makes you THINK the product is “working”. This is largely a temporary placebo sensation that may not give you any real benefit.

I’ve done an interview with URAH scientist, Dr Jonathan Obaje, and found that the company focuses research on degenerative diseases because they believe immobility is the root of many chronic diseases. URAH therefore makes products which help to keep people “mobile” and enjoy ‘active’ lifestyles again.

Confident that the technology is capable of moving into the international arena, MP Inderjit Singh came on board as the Chairman of URAH, and with more investors joining, I’m excited about the upcoming new products which will help more people regain their mobility and lead pain-free lives. 🙂

But first, here is the current URAH product range. The brand has been around since 2009. I’m using the Sporting Cream because I do sometimes injure my knees from running:

Urah cream review

Sporting Cream: Is designed for active folks, both young and old. It is very good for sprains and body aches you experience after exercising.

Joint Health: Is recommended for those above age 45. In addition to relieving the pains, it also helps people who experience numbness by improving their blood circulation.

Bone Health: Is a “Double Barrel” cream useful for both osteoarthritis and osteoporosis. It helps to increase bone density by about 10% after 7 to 8 months of usage.

Odourless and non-greasy, these creams provide quick relief for everything from neck pains and backaches to pain in the fingers and wrists from typing too much – what bloggers like me, and office workers, tend to face.

Urah sporting cream

URAH products are available at Unity, Watsons and Guardian stores. Check in-store for the latest promotions. 🙂

URAH Dr Jonathan Obaje

Dr Jonathan Obaje

1) Dr Obaje, why are there so many conflicting reports about Glucosamine therapy, with some articles saying it works and others saying it doesn’t?

The current misunderstanding and misinformation about Glucosamine is linked to the historical development of Glucosamine as a therapeutic agent. The first group of scientists who studied the therapeutic application of Glucosamine were biochemists (in Sweden 1950s). They tested Glucosamine on biological cells in test tubes and they discovered that the cells grew better when Glucosamine was added. They repeated the experiment and confirmed that Glucosamine indeed enhanced the growth of chondrocyte (cartilage) cells. They published their research findings in 1958 in a scientific journal. Then a pharmaceutical company in Europe saw the article and thought that Glucosamine would be a good drug for people suffering from arthritis and joint pain so they began to manufacture and market Glucosamine capsules, tablets and even powders. This assumption was later discovered to be naive as Glucosamine has low absorption in the gastric and may also cause gastric acidity.

In the 1980s, the European company went to USA to register their product with FDA. FDA refused to register their Glucosamine product as a drug because according to the scientific understanding of Glucosamine, our bodies produce it naturally to make proteins (proteoglycans) used for making soft tissues. Since Glucosamine is naturally produced in our body, it does not qualify as a drug, and should be classified as a health supplement because it supplements what your body already has. This was good news for the company because no rigorous clinical trials were required and the product could be sold straightaway in the US market.

Unfortunately, due to the loose regulation of Health supplements, many more pharmaceutical companies jumped onto the bandwagon to manufacture and sell Glucosamine tablets and capsules in the US market.

By 1990s, almost every pharmaceutical company in USA had its own Glucosamine brand, choking up the market. Patients would read about Glucosamine on websites and even went to hospitals to ask for Glusosamine prescriptions from their doctors.

But doctors and pharmacists, who were never taught about Glucosamine from the universities, were embarrassed to be educated by patients about the benefits of Glucosamine. Doctors and pharmacists began to complain to FDA about the lack of research done as to whether swallowing this Glucosamine stuff has any benefit at all.

In 2000, one of the US authorities agreed to sponsor an oral Glucosamine clinical trial. There were two groups of participants – one ‘active’ group swallowing Glucosamine tablets, and another ‘placebo’ group. This took about 3 years. The results were collated and analyzed at the end of the clinical trial. It was shocking to find that there was no difference between the active and the placebo group. This was a real blow to Glucosamine therapy. The full result was published in a very reputable journal in the US in 2006 (The New England Journal of Medicine Vol.354 No.8 Feb 2006). Their conclusion was that whether you take Glucosamine alone or combined with Chondroitin, it has no significant effect.

URAH’s research team was curious to know why Glucosamine is effective on the cells in the test tube but not effective when humans swallow it. Research began to show that there is little absorption of Glucosamine in the gastric system. When swallowed, not much of it gets absorbed into blood circulation. The second problem is that Glucosamine compounds are acidic and can cause gastric irritation. Many people are suffering gastric problems from Glucosamine but they don’t know about it. Some people, after taking the usual 1500mg Glucosamine tablets in the morning, ignorantly top it up with a cup of coffee too (adding on to the acidity levels)! The gastric side effect will not take long to show up.

2) So if Glucosamine is applied in the form of a cream, it is fine? 

Initially, Urah Scientists thought topical application of Glucosamine will solve these issues BUT later discovered it is difficult to formulate Glucosamine into creams because Glucosamine makes the creams separate into two layers of water and oil. This is why some of the products in the market come with a “shake before use” label, because they don’t have the technology to blend Glucosamine into cream form.

Some other companies add very little Glucosamine into the cream and they don’t state the exact amounts on the packaging. You will not see any effect from using those creams because the concentration of active Glucosamine is too low. The onus is on the consumer to choose the right product. As mentioned already, health supplements are not regulated like drugs.

The second problem of making Glucosamine cream is the skin penetration. Some brands of Glucosamine Cream which claim to have high concentration of Glucosamine do not have the technology to deliver Glucosamine across the skin layers. When you rub the cream on your skin, after 8 to 10 minutes of application, if you rub the spot again pressing a bit harder, you will notice Glucosamine powder rubbing off from your skin like powdery residue because the skin is an excretory organ and not meant to take in stuff.

Our skin is a natural barrier for taking in any drugs. In fact, what good cosmetics do is “window-dressing” of the top coat of skin to be radiant by moisturizing them for some hours. The dead cells on your skin are just going to be washed away in a few days and cosmetic products do not go past the skin layers! No matter how good your cosmetic product is, if you stop using it for one month, you may not like what you see. That’s the difference between cosmetic and transdermal products – the latter goes through the skin and into the blood circulation.

It took URAH Research scientists many years of research to come up with the Micellar Delivery Technology which is able to “deceive” the skin into “opening up” and taking in Glucosamine for delivery into the blood circulation. That is what makes URAH unique and different from all the other Glucosamine products in the market. URAH’s special technology delivers Glucosamine right to where it needs to be. And Urah formulation is based on patented Urah technology in Japan, USA and Singapore.

In 2009, we voluntarily performed clinical research, and worked with about 20 clinics in Singapore. Patients diagnosed with arthritis volunteered to use URAH products for 8 weeks each. Two of the doctors were so impressed with the results that they agreed to collate the results together and publish it in a scientific journal in 2011. URAH is the 1st and still the only Transdermal Glucosamine product with a technology patent number, and has also done clinical research and published the findings on the efficacy of the products.

3) So why do people buy those other products?

As a scientific research company, we rarely do advertisements. You can usually find us in the laboratories. While other companies focus on big advertising, we are more focused on giving scientific results and education to the Doctors and Pharmacists about Glucosamine therapy.

Many products in the market which do not have technology to deliver glucosamine add chemicals such as menthol or capsaisin to create the ‘warm’ or ‘cooling’ sensation. Many people think because they ‘feel’ it so the product must be working. We call it a ‘temporary placebo sensation’. URAH scientists decided not to add any of these. You won’t feel a warm or cooling sensation when you use Urah products but after a few days, you will notice that your pain is gone.

We need business people to take the product to the market. But so far, the product has been able to ‘sell itself’. People who use it recommend it to their friends and even doctors are beginning to support us by recommending Urah Creams to their patients. Urah products are now in most government hospitals and in all major pharmacies in Singapore.

4) Can URAH products be used on everyone?

Yes, young or old, you can use URAH products. The sporting cream is designed for people who are active. It is good for sprains and body aches you experience after exercising.

Joint Health is recommended for people above age 45. In addition to relieving the pains, it also helps people who experience numbness by improving their blood circulation.

Bone Health is a “Double Barrel” Cream useful for both osteoarthritis and osteoporosis. It helps to increase bone density by about 10% after 7 to 8 months of usage.

And did you know about the danger of swallowing calcium supplements?

Urah was the first to start talking abt this. Research has shown that people who swallow oral calcium supplements are at greater risk of cardiovascular diseases and kidney stones. Why? Because when you take oral calcium, it is quickly absorbed into your blood circulation and it stays there. It does not get taken up to make bone cells. Within the blood, calcification takes place and blocks arteries, leading to cardiovascular issues. Some get filtered out to the kidneys, forming kidney stones. This is well-researched and published in many journals.

Calcium is best absorbed from natural sources, from milk, etc, because it needs the presence of other vitamins and minerals to create the right environment for calcium to be used by the blood for bone cells. That’s why we came up with URAH Bio-Calcium + Glucosamine + vitamins – for their synergy – and delivered by our micellar technology.

We focus on degenerative diseases and on how to help people lead active lifestyles. The reason they cannot lead active lifestyles is due to joint pains and body aches. So it doesn’t matter how long you preach to them about exercise; they listen then they sit back because they already have knee pains. The government promotes active aging and encourages retirees to go back to work. But what if they cannot stand for even one hour due to knee pains? MOBILITY is key to a healthy life. Anything that hinders you from being mobile is dangerous to your health. Immobility is the root of a lot of chronic diseases so it is important to get people moving.

5) And how long should we use URAH products for?

Try to finish at least one tube in 1-2 weeks, depending on your condition. If the pain is due to wear-and-tear for a very long time, and you have been advised by your doctor to go for knee replacement surgery for example, then you need to use the products for an extended period of time because the cells need time to start repairing.

But if it is a sprain, or swelling, within one hour of application, you can feel the pain going down.

One of our customers did 2 X-rays, with the doctor advising him to go for knee replacement surgery. He used URAH for a year and he can now can climb stairs without problems, and has not had to go for surgery!

Our body naturally produces Glucosamine so continue to use the products for the purpose of replenishment and maintenance of your health.

Why do we feel pain in the first place? It’s because our body cannot make enough Glucosamine, and the soft tissues start wearing out. When your bones rub against each other, you’ll feel the pain. Use URAH and you rebuild those tissues, but once you stop, the natural process kicks in again. Even if you don’t have pain, don’t wait, use URAH as a lifestyle. Some ladies use URAH as a body lotion and they say it is because they have experienced pain previously that they don’t want to go back to the same situation again.

URAH products do not help just at the point where you rub it on. It goes into your blood circulation and helps your whole body recover. There are no side effects even if you apply the whole tube in one day.

6) How did you get interested in science / biochemistry?

As a child, I had no choice. Very early in my life, I couldn’t pass Arts subjects (e.g. History). But anything to do with Science, I could score an ‘A’ with very little effort. Therefore you can say I had no choice. 😀

That’s how I developed my passion, and an interest in the history of Glucosamine. I had initially written it off because of the initial published research findings then I became more fascinated as we learnt more. I guess I’m naturally quite inquisitive. 🙂


Head over to URAH’s website for a special buy-2-get-2-free scheme: Purchase 2 tubes and URAH is happy to sponsor another 2 free tubes of URAH creams for you! 🙂

*If you are wondering why some products have 8% Glucosamine concentration and others, 10%, the 10% ones are for those who have arthritis AND are concerned about osteoporosis. If you don’t have osteoporosis concerns, then the 8% is good enough.


Urah cream review

If you have tried URAH products, or if you are going to purchase and try them, send me your testimonials (email gracewwg AT gmail DOT com) and URAH will send giftsets to those whose testimonials end up being featured! 😀

Similarly, send in your questions for Dr Jonathan Obaje as well, and you just might win a prize too! *wink*