• ‘Crowdsource rating of toilet cleanliness’

    HDB’s Dawson Place Shopping Mall which is a 5-star Happy Toilet. (Photo: RAS)HDB’s Dawson Place Shopping Mall which is a 5-star Happy Toilet. (Photo: RAS)

    In his weekly column "The FlipSide", local blogger Belmont Lay lets loose on local politics, culture and society in his weekly musings.  To be taken with a pinch of salt and with parental permission advised.  In this post, he tackles the topic of rating toilets.

    The National Environment Agency (NEA) will be conducting more inspections of loos for their cleanliness after the Restroom Association of Singapore (RAS) recommended a compulsory grading scheme to be implemented for all public toilets.

    Currently, toilets get inspected once a month. This is expected to increase to three times a month for dirty toilets.

    What a giant leap forward for mankind, right?


    In fact, getting NEA inspectors to rate the cleanliness of toilets is the most primitive idea I've encountered since last week.

    That was when someone thought it wise not to lay out a time frame for calling for a by-election in Hougang.

    But I digress.

    Think: toilets have not varied much in terms of concept even with technology

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  • NSP member Nicole Seah confirmed on Monday that she will not be contesting the Hougang by-election. (Yahoo! file photo)"I have no intention of contesting in the Hougang by-election if it happens," National Solidarity Party (NSP) member Nicole Seah posted on her Facebook page. "Anyone else who does so is not taking into consideration the work of Workers' Party MP Low Thia Khiang in retaining one of Singapore's longest-serving opposition wards."

    Seah's statement puts paid to speculation of her possible involvement in the contest. However, her party itself is keeping its options open. Its secretary-general, Hazel Poa, when asked by reporters in February about the NSP contesting in Hougang, said the party was "unable to give a definitive reply… as its Central Executive Committee needs to meet and decide on whether to contest."

    The Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) has also said it will not be contesting the by-election, explaining that its "primary concern is that the constituency of Hougang remains in the hands of the opposition." However, the SDP does not seem to rule out entirely its participation in the

    Read More »from ‘Multi-party contest in Hougang? Unlikely’
  • By Fay Gaffigan for Yahoo! Travel

    When you're in a cultural melting pot like Singapore, you don't exactly have to hop on a plane to discover the very best of what the world has to offer.

    Start with a stay in the rainforest at Treetops Executive Residences...

    Instead of spending money at the same ole' hotels, enjoy some time with your family and loved ones at Treetops Executive Residences (7 Orange Grove Road Singapore 258355).

    While it may just be a stone's throw away from Orchard Road, walking in to Treetops feels like you've been transported to a lush, well-kept rainforest with five acres of lovingly tendered grounds.

    You don't have to don your heavy trekking boots for a stroll through their canopy of native trees. It's quite literally an escape within your urban escape!

    Then get an Aussie java from Singapore's latest hippest hood...

    Ran by an Aussie who gets his coffee beans blend from an artisinal roaster that he knows back in Australia and has them shipped to Singapore every 1-2

    Read More »from Travel around the world while being in Singapore
  • Travelife Magazine Publisher Christine Cunanan, a 20-year-resident of Tokyo, shares her favorite sightseeing spots in one of Japan's lesser-known prefectures.

    Yamagata is famous for its natural beauty, with beautiful mountains, lush forests, and a gorgeous coastline. Unknown to many tourists who bypass this northern prefecture in favor of more famous destinations like Tokyo and Kyoto, Yamagata is full of history and there is a direct link between Yamagata and Kyoto via a sea route often taken by the shogun from these districts.

    Yamagata is also famous for its cherrie, pears and beef, as well as for producing the most delicious rice in Japan. It's only a bullet train ride away from Tokyo. Travelife recommends the top three things to see in Yamagata.

    1. The Sankyo storehouses of Sakata

    Sakata City flourished due its safflower trade during the Edo Period (1603-1868). At one point, it was considered one of Japan's most important port towns together with Osaka. The city is still full of

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  • TRAVELIFE Magazine Publisher Christine Cunanan checks into a hotel with a colorful history in Malacca

    First-time visitors to Malacca will undoubtedly be charmed by its picturesque views and old-fashioned atmosphere. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is both enchanting and comforting, with 600 years of diverse architecture and multi-cultural flavors. And in such a charming city, it's worth staying at a boutique hotel that is up to the task of completing this unique travel experience.

    The Majestic Malacca is simply magical. We arrived at this boutique hotel - Malacca's best - after a two-hour drive from Kuala Lumpur. This restored 1920s mansion undeniably complements the city's ancestral houses, colonial squares, and well-preserved ruins. It has an equally colorful history, having once belonged to a prominent Chinese businessman who reportedly lost his fortune to gambling after only two years. The mansion had to be sold and it became a backpackers' hotel for many years, until a local

    Read More »from Timeless charm
  • AFP Relax

    It's the kind of travel guide that won't appeal to sensitive stomachs averse to dirt, grease and questionable hygiene. Because in Lonely Planet's new list of the world's best street food, there is no foam, architecturally plated dishes -- or plates at all for that matter.

    Instead, the first edition of The World's Best Street Food provides gastronomically intrepid travelers with 100 authentic recipes for street food delicacies that will transport readers back to taco carts in Mexico that served the best tacos al pastor, noodle stalls in South East Asia, and octopus balls from Tokyo.

    "Street food is the most democratic grub in the world, a place where politician eats alongside peasant, and flavors are unashamedly bold," says food writer Tom Parker Bowles in a forward for the book. "...Lack of native language is unimportant. Communication of pleasure and delight is universal. A smile, or vigorous rubbing of the gut...The only phrase your really need is ‘thank you.'"

    Read More »from Travel guide releases 100 best street eats from around the world
  • Singapore youths at popular drinking spot and nightclub Zouk.

    In his weekly column "The FlipSide", local blogger Belmont Lay lets loose on local politics, culture and society in his weekly musings.  To be taken with a pinch of salt and with parental permission advised.  In this post, he reflects on what youths get up to on a night out.

    According to the top news item on The Sunday Times on 11 March, youngsters nowadays are a cackle of hedonistic and irresponsible drunkards who are also a nuisance to the public.

    These youths often dress to the nines, go out to town, paint it red, puke all over and spend the night on the streets or in custody for touching other people's body parts without permission, or go home for some gentle thrusting -- if they're lucky.

    Apparently, this phenomenon has become such an issue that older and more serious people with PhDs are on the case and they've even written an academic paper about it.

    And the verdict of the degree-laden researchers? If you're young, you're twice as likely to commit binge-drinking.

    Wow. That's

    Read More »from Youth binge-drinking: Come on, how bad is it really?
  • By Gael Hilotin for Yahoo! Travel

    I find it ironic that something destructive can give birth to splendor. Apart from Anawangin Cove and the Crater Lake which was redesigned by the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the 1990's, Puning Hot Spring is another impressive outcome of its madness.

    Our 4x4 jeep swayed past a wide expanse of desert-like sands with lava rocks, canyons, hanging valley, and Aeta villages. En route to Sitio Puning in Porac, Pampanga from the base camp in Sitio Target in Sapang Bato, we found ourselves driving through scenic valleys with towering pinnacles of lahar and boulders of rocks as backdrop. We followed a trail that passed through a series of streams, motley of rocks and gorges. We were swept away by the sparse vegetation and hanging valleys after finally arriving at the base camp where the indulging thermal spring is located.

    Puning Hot Spring has been developed for the convenience of tourists. Cemented pathways lead tourists into the hot spring pools where

    Read More »from Off-road adventure in Pampanga
  • District Guide – Pasir Ris

    By Sheena Chua

    iProperty explores Pasir Ris living. For a resident's view of living in Pasir Ris, click here. For expert analysis of the Pasir Ris property market, click here.

    Peace and serenity is the name of the game at Pasir Ris, situated all the way to Singapore's extreme east.

    Downtown East. Image courtesy of Singapore Tourism Board.Downtown East. Image courtesy of Singapore Tourism Board.

    Part of District 18, Pasir Ris is cordoned off by Serangoon Reservoir, Tampines Expressway, and Loyang Avenue. To the north of Pasir Ris are the smaller islands of Pulau Ketam and Pulau Ubin.

    The estate can be further divided into three areas: Loyang (on the east end of Pasir Ris), Central, and Elias (west).

    Pasir Ris is a well-planned estate with ample public transportation and lifestyle facilities. Large herds of Housing Board (HDB) flats are generously peppered with landed homes and condominiums.

    A bevy of schools from primary to tertiary levels are available, making the location a great choice for young families.

    As for recreational facilities, one crowd-puller is NTUC's Downtown East—a massive

    Read More »from District Guide – Pasir Ris
  • Singapore has been ranked the most competitive city in Asia and third globally out of 120 of the world’s major cities. (Yahoo! file photo)Singapore has been ranked the most competitive city in Asia and third globally out of 120 of the world’s major cities. (Yahoo! file photo)

    Singapore has been ranked the most competitive city in Asia and third globally out of 120 of the world's major cities, according to a report by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) released on Tuesday.

    The report ranked cities based on their ability to attract capital, business, talent and tourists by using eight categories of competitiveness and 31 individual indicators.

    Overall Rank City
    1 New York
    2 London
    3 Singapore
    4 Paris, Hong Kong (joint 4th)
    6 Tokyo
    7 Zurich
    8 Washington, DC
    9 Chicago
    10 Boston

    Singapore performed well in most of the eight categories, coming out tops in terms of physical capital and financial maturity. It is also ranked fourth for global appeal and sixth for institutional effectiveness.

    The report, which was commissioned by Citi, attributed Singapore's strong ranking to its efficient transport system, lean bureaucracy, safe and clean environment and its increasingly highly regarded reputation internationally.

    In addition, Asian cities dominated the economic

    Read More »from Singapore most competitive city in Asia and third globally: report


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