Category Archives: Singapore

Japanese Sweets Buffet

I’ve seen ads about this sweets buffet since forever. Today I really wanted to try it.

And I wanted to experiment with posting via iPhone. so here you go some pictures:

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What impresses me about Japanese themed restaurants in Singapore is the blend of western and Japanese concepts. The pizza, originated from Italy, is distinctly Japanese with the salmon and crab fillings and wasabi coating, definitely tailored to the Asian taste. The neighboring restaurant employs a similar concept, where spaghetti is topped with Japanese ingredients and flavors and seafood. Even hawker centers here in Singapore are following the same concept. The western spaghetti dish sold for $3 or so can be requested with chili sauce spicy enough to burn your lips and stimulate your tears – that is if you request too much, as I always do.

My first time in life updating a post through iPhone. That brings infinite joy, indeed.

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Just a side note, the waiters here are all guys, and they are quite cute.

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The Role Love Plays in Deciding Your Citizenship

US Embassy in Singapore

US Embassy in Singapore

I went to the US Embassy to add pages to my passport. While I was waiting, I overheard a young Asian lady endeavoring to renounce her citizenship. Initially I thought she meant to renounce her Singapore citizenship. After all, the majority of foreigners I’ve met in Singapore are quite resistant to embracing PR – Permanent Resident, let alone giving up their own citizenship. I’ve met two Indonesian guys in their early 20’s who’ve been living here in Singapore for 10 years, yet they refuse to acquire PR status. That is certainly understandable for a guy, taking into account of the National Service (NS) mandatory for PR. My landlord from mainland China has been in SG for over 15 years, yet she’s reluctant about becoming Singaporean. I’ve met a Scottish lady who’s been here for over 20 years and perfectly happy with her PR status and British passport.

These are not rare, but rather common cases. In view of this, I was a bit surprised when I realized it was her US citizenship that she was renouncing for the sake of acquiring Singapore citizenship.

I could only make one bold assumption: the power of love.

What confounded me was her accent – sometimes distinctively American, other times evidently Singaporean.

Again, my assumption stands: the influence of her loved one.

She fell deeply in love with a guy in Singapore. 

If she’s a vagrant like me, I suppose whichever passport she holds will be of little significance to where she resides or retires. After all, either of the two passports grants easy access to most countries in the world. So to renounce one or the other it wouldn’t make a gigantic difference.

Now coming back to my passport, I found the way they stitched the extra two set of 24 pages (48 pages in total) to my existing 27-page passport rather morbid. Instead of attaching both sets after the 27th page, they simply inserted the two sets in the middle.

That poses a problem for frequent travelers like me. Not all customs officers are smart and considerate enough to make the stamp on a page that has only been partially filled. Some of them are so vicious that they imprint a thumb-size stamp on a whole new page when other partially filled pages are begging for attention. That’s how I ended up paying $82 USD for new pages in spite of the few partially filled pages that are still available. Why? Some countries like Thailand, according to their website, request tourists to enter their territory with 2 – 3 completely blank pages.

It seems inevitable for me to mention travel. I might as well. I do have another blog dedicated to travel, but work is still…in progress.

Sim Lim Episode Follow-Up

Magistrate's Complaint

A form I filled out at Crime Registry, Subordinate Court of Singapore

Read: Sim Lim Square Shop Cheats & Hits Customer

Sim Lim Scam is Rampant
Sim Lim Scum is Hideous
Make Sure to Do Tedious Research
Or Else Lose All Your Dollars

After I filed the Magistrate’s Complaint at Crime Registry, Subordinate Court of Singapore, I was led to a little chamber to meet the judge.

Glancing through my file, the judge said, as a matter of fact, that it was not the first time he received cases about Sim Lim. “It is very common for this to happen to foreigners and tourists at Sim Lim.”

“You mean they’ve hit other customers, too?” I sought solace in community grievances.

“No, but overcharging is quite common. I don’t even go to Sim Lim myself. I never go there. Places like Mustafa and Burlington are better,” the judge educated me. “To shop at Sim Lim you need to be very intelligent and asking a lot of questions.”

The reason he went on and on about the reputation of Sim Lim was that I didn’t really have any hope in my case – primarily due to not having a witness.

Without a witness, I was only telling a story. The security camera, according to him, was a dummy camera that would erase all the record in 24-48 hours, and it wouldn’t capture very well. Even if it did capture the incident, the Sim Lim scum could defend himself by saying it was completely an accident that the calculator hit my ankle. Without a witness, it’d be a difficult to accuse the other party.

“The security guard saw it. Should I ask the security guard to be my witness?” I asked.

“The problem is that Singaporeans have not reached the stage where they’d go all the way to the court to help a stranger,” explained the judge.

Oh I totally believed him in that.

“What if I ask my parents’ lawyer in the US to help?”

“That wouldn’t work because this happened in Singapore.”

So, it is against the law to throw trash on the sidewalk and chew gums but legal to have citizens steal off of foreigners.

How ironic is it that they know about the Sim Lim practice yet they don’t investigate? Instead of sending undercover cops, they simply close one eye and let it corrode?

A friend suggested me to do investigative journalism and post it to Youtube – that would really embarrass Singapore.

I’ve found quite a few already:

Sim Lim Square Shop Cheats & Hits Customer

Read also: Sim Lim Episode Follow Up

In a nutshell…please do not go to Sim Lim. I almost got cheated out of $515 today. I cried, called the police, and argued for 3 hours and by 9pm received full refund. Do not go to iGadget on 1st floor. Tomorrow I am going to the subordinate court to sue the iGadget staff who threw a calculator at my ankle.

You would not believe what happened to me. Some days in Singapore feel like emotional torture to me. I just cannot believe what people would do for money.

I’ve had so much emotional stress today that I’ll just keep this short:

1. I went to Sim Lim Square to inquire about unlocking my phone. I told the staff at iGadget that I upgraded my phone so that’s why my sim card bought by my dad wouldn’t work. I asked them if they had an upgraded micro sim for unlocking my iPhone.

2. The two salesmen at iGadget, Edward Lim and Eddy Wong, said yes. Unlock sim is $80 and they would give it to me for $60. I agreed.

3. I asked around other shops while they were unlocking. Other shops were asking for $50-80 as well. So I thought it was the market price.

4. After they unlocked it, I asked if it had been jailbroken. The white T-shirt guy named Eddy Wong said that you can’t jailbreak with a sim card (well Youtube said you can?). Eddy said that jailbreak is trickier because it’s a US phone. I just wanted to get it over with it and said okay, how much is jailbreak. Eddy answered, “$60.” I asked, “How about $100 for unlock and jailbreak. He bit his lips, slanted his head, and agreed. Whoa wasn’t I good at bargaining?

5. Hours later, I came back. Eddy and Edward said my iPhone had been unlocked and jailbroken successfully. According to them, the two Gevey sim cards my dad sent me had been spoiled, and therefore they replaced it with another one. I nodded. They asked me if I wanted to pay by card or cash. I handed them my Mastercard.

6. Minutes later, they swiped the card and told me to sign the receipt. I signed my name on the receipt, then IMMEDIATELY crossed out my signature when I saw the staggering number: $515.

I thought it was a typo. I was like, WHAT? $515? It was supposed to be $100!

The Ed brothers (Eddy and Edward) smiled maliciously and explained to me, “$100 was only software. Your original turbo sim was spoiled. So we had to replace it. So that was another $!#$#. Then the other thing would cost another $@#$#. So everything would be $515.”

I felt as if I had been struck by lightening.

Find out What Happened Next!

Office Affairs = a Matter of Power Imbalance?

The scandals between a male boss and his personal secretary have been told countless times that they cease to be scandals and start to smell stale. What about affairs between an older lady boss and her subordinate?

Older men prefer younger, pretty girls. That is out of the question. Older women prefer younger, cute boys. That seems to be the trend in Singapore and perhaps anywhere else that practices gender equality.  It doesn’t technically violate society’s standards until these preferences invade the work space.

A huge proportionate of managers and directors in Singapore are female. It’s great news to aspiring female leaders or career-oriented young women. Sadly, with the reversal of power, same sins are committed behind the office walls – that is if you deem them inappropriate. We witness similar patterns of office affairs where certain female bosses would leer at their male assistants, give preferential treatment, and eventually take action based on mutual consent. Female superiors most likely have a better shot than their male counterparts at obtaining this mutual consent. After all, most young male assistants wouldn’t hesitate to jump at ready-at-hand opportunities like this one.

However, different mindsets buttress the same type of “sins”.

Whereas female assistants fall for male superiors in pursuit of power and money, male assistants are more interested in exploring the mature beauty of their female superiors. Their thirst exactly feeds the female superiors’ vanity. Taking pride in their ability to “charm” young boys, they believe that youth and beauty are still on their side. Furthermore, with not much of a real life they tend to seek excitement in the unusual or the forbidden, which is why everyone in the world is bored enough to have extramarital affairs. On the contrary, those who keep personal love affairs out of the office sphere tend to have more access to stimulation in other forms – such as traveling.

Like businessmen in China who embark on business trips involving nightclubs and making new encounters,  some female superiors also like to dabble in office affairs. Perhaps this is their only break from stress at work. Work is their life and their way of fulfilling their life. Where else do you expect these busy folks to mitigate the stress when the amount of leisure available is dangerously deficient?

Irregardless of their newfound financial and emotional independence as they rise to power in their career, many of them still can’t break free of their own vanity and their role as sex objects. Or maybe they don’t want to break free. It’s deeply ingrained and it is natural for women to desire sexual attention. That is why Princeton, Cornell, Yale kids have repeatedly appeared on ANTM (American Next Top Model) and Harvard-educated Sonia Dara chose to pose for the cover of Sports Illustrated. She rose to fame not because of her intelligence, but because of her external beauty. Most people in the world are blind enough to confuse the two that they start applauding “Wow a beauty with brains! How rare!”

Human nature will never change no matter how hard we try, and thus we’ll never be able to achieve absolute gender equality – as in assigning same values to men and women – unless we first change how we fundamentally perceive ourselves.

Exploring LASIK Options in Singapore (with No Success)

I’ll skip the blog intro and make it up later.

Singapore conjures up images of the “best in the world” – one of the best transportation systems that rival that of Paris or London or New York? Agreed. Great urban planning?  Agreed. A cultural potpourri where Malay, Chinese, Indian, and everyone else live in harmony? Indeed, and special thanks to this diversity you can find the most delicious Southeast Asian and western delicacies in any food court or hawker center. SG is so ahead of other countries in the region (and in the world) that every human being owns an iPhone regardless of his or her income.

Best doctors? Entirely the contrary. That also depends on your definition of “best”.  I’ll skip my previous experiences and concentrate *solely* on today’s experience, part of my struggles of researching Lasik clinics and doctors in Singapore. Dr. Lee Sao Bing rejected me for Lasik, declaring that I wasn’t suitable for it due to the scars on my cornea. “I am a very conservative doctor,” he emphasized.

Dismayed and distrustful of his sole opinion, I wanted to seek a second opinion. On Saturday I attended a forum held by Dr. Lee Hung Ming and found him surprisingly funny and knowledgeable.

First impressions can always be misleading….

Today’s appointment at Parkway Eye Center turned out to be a very unpleasant experience. First I was informed by the staff that the $185 assessment would only be free (waived) after the surgery, which came as a huge shock to me because no one ever warned me of the details and conditions. I argued that 1) in the email 2) at the forum  – it was advertised as “free lasik assessment”, and that it was an extremely misleading message.

They said someone else would attend to me and that to see the doctor I’d still have to pay $185 for consultation. I expressed my discontent: I took half a day off just to come here and even rescheduled another doctor appointment [at LSC] to accommodate this one, just because a friend of mine strongly recommended me that doctor. He urged me, “Go see Dr. LHM. My parents got Lasik from him years ago and they still have perfect eyesight.”

After the marketing staff did eye screening for me, she said that instead of having the full lasik assessment, I could opt for just the doctor consultation, which would be $75. I had no choice so I agreed.

The famous doctor did explain things well, but I must sidetrack a bit first. He said, “Yes in your case there’s a risk. There’s 1% of chance that things might not go well with your right eye, and if that happens you can’t blame it on me.”

Huh?

He continued, “I already heard some commotion out there made by you.”

I was utterly shocked when he *blamed me* for causing commotion (seriously?) when his staffs were the one who employed DECEIVING, MISLEADING advertising message. LSC and Shinagawa clinics offered me free assessment without any hidden charges. yet this reputable eye center refused to even apologize.

Then after the session, at the reception counter,  I advised them to please change their PowerPoint content – instead of writing “Free Assessment” – they should LIST the conditions and INFORM the patient beforehand.

Yet the staffs were almost giggling at my serious request.

Going back to Dr. LHM’s consultation, basically the scars on my cornea are not in the center, so I am still suitable for Lasik. HOWEVER, for IntraLase on my right eye, there is a very rare 1% chance that laser might be blocked by the scar and if that occurs, I could have a flap melt (basically it means bad) and I could end up with irregular astigmatism. Or I could opt for the older method – Microkeratome blade – for 0% risk. Nevertheless, because my power is so high, I would end up with very thin cornea, which means I wouldn’t be able to have lasik enhancement again if my power ever came back, and I wouldn’t be able to wear contact lenses either way due the changes in the cornea shape.

He said there’s a 97-98% chance of me achieving 20/20 or 20/30. As for the 1% risk for my right eye, he said he’s handled many cases like this before and is very confident that it wouldn’t happen in most cases. And of course, due to my high power and my scar, I’m only suitable for the most expensive lasik (IntraLase Custom/Ace/Tissue-Saving) – $4000 + for both eyes.

I somewhat believed in his expertise but I hated what he said about me causing “commotion” in the clinic. Experience and expertise cannot compensate for the lack of integrity and honesty in medical practice. You’re not just treating a case. You should be treating a patient in the most sensitive, considerate manner from his or her point of view. As a doctor, you shouldn’t be accusing your prospect client blindly instead of investigating in the issue. If I were him, I’d sit down and reflect, Why did she react that way? Why did she feel cheated? The case is simple: because they were not being honest.

What they failed to grasp was that the consultation fee was not the problem. The problem was that they used unethical marketing schemes and ambiguous communications to lure clients. It didn’t matter if it costed $1 or $200 for consultation. What was crucial was the reason and the expectations that I was charged for it. Since I were  told explicitly in email and in person that attending the doctor’s forum would qualify me for free lasik assessment, I was only mentally ready for free lasik assessment. If I’d been told that consultation would not be free, I’d be mentally prepared to pay.

Nothing beats the feeling of being cheated.

I’ve lost a huge slice of confidence in that clinic. Regardless of his expertise or experience, I no longer feel safe in his hands, and I almost have a presentiment that I might really fall into the unlucky 1% risk category (and still not allowed to complain about the foreseen disaster if it ever occurs).

My lasik journey has only begun. I might not do it in Singapore if I can’t find a doctor with whom I’m comfortable.

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