Category Archives: Singapore heartland

Rediscover what makes Chinese New Year special with Google

Chinese New Year is a busy time of the year for Singapore.

A look at the top related searches on Google shows just how busy: Singaporeans are planning celebrations with traditional treats like “Pineapple tart”, “Yusheng” and activities like “Chingay 2014”.

Most Searched Chinese New Year Related Searches in Singapore
1.    Chingay 20142.    Pineapple tart recipe3.    Abalone

4.    Horse

5.    Feng Shui 2014

6.    Chinese New Year

7.    Chinatown Singapore

8.    Lunar calendar 2014

9.    Yusheng recipe

10.  Egg tart recipe

 How many of these search terms did you contribute?

In between cooking for the big family reunion, visiting relatives, and stuffing lucky red packets, preparing for Chinese New Year can feel overwhelming. Google has launched an interesting microsite with lots of tips and tricks to help with the preparations at

Here are some tips for how you can use Google as you ring in the year of the horse:

●        Reunion meal prep: Google Search is the first place many turn to for recipe ideas. But let’s say you don’t like certain ingredients, like chives in your dumplings—you can type in [dumplings recipe -chives], and you can take those out of your results. After you’ve picked a recipe you like, you can keep track of all the ingredients you need to buy with Google Keep, which is a bit like sticky notes for your phone. Not sure how to fold dumplings? Search for videos by expert chefs on YouTube to brush up on your cooking technique. You can also share your recipes with friends and family on Google Docs.

●        Visiting relatives: Visiting three relatives in one day might seem daunting, but it’s not a problem if you have Google Now set up on your Android or iPhone. Google Now will automatically remind you of when you need to leave so you can beat the traffic and get the best routes, either by driving or by public transportation. If you’re driving, Google Maps will give you turn-by-turn directions spoken out loud so you can focus on the road ahead.

●        Send greetings abroad: Greet your friends and family face to face, even if you can’t be in the same room. Google Hangouts allows you to have video conversations with up to ten people at the same time, so you can chat to your cousin from Australia and your aunt in Canada all at once.

●        Remember those magic moments: Back up the photos you take on your phone using Google+ Auto Backup so you won’t ever lose those photos again.

Happy Horse Year everyone! I am looking forward to better luck, better fortune and more rewarding experiences in the year ahead. 🙂

30 Minute Cookin’ with Celebrity Chef Eric Teo and Panasonic

A few weeks back, I was invited by Panasonic Singapore to do a sharing session on food photography and blogging at celebrity Chef Eric Teo’s Studio in Henderson.

Group photo
Group photo
A glimpse of Chef Eric Teo's work station
A glimpse of Chef Eric Teo’s work station
Media coverages on Chef Teo adorned the wall of his studio
Media coverages on Chef Teo adorned the wall of his studio
Some of Chef Teo's various award wins and trophies
Some of Chef Teo’s various award wins and trophies
Chef Teo's super bling bling robe
Chef Teo’s super bling bling robe

If you are interested to find out more on my presentation, the deck is available here (Food Photography and Blogging Basics from Alvin Lim):

Other than me sharing on photography tips using the awesome Panasonic Lumix GX7, the highlight of the day was the cooking demonstration by Chef Teo:

Chef Teo at work
Chef Teo at work
Chef Teo frying the mushrooms
Chef Teo frying the mushrooms
Chef Teo plating
Chef Teo plating
Chef Eric Teo's mixed mushroom fried with beer batter
Chef Eric Teo’s mixed mushroom fried with beer batter
Take pictures!
Take pictures!
Black tofu from black soya beans
Black tofu from black soya beans
Pouring the blended black tofu into little cups
Pouring the blended black tofu into little cups
Cooking prawns
Cooking prawns
Chef Teo working on scallops
Chef Teo working on scallops
It's just stir-fried seafood and red pepper, but Chef Teo cooked them so beautifully everyone present could not wait to taste them
It’s just stir-fried seafood and red pepper, but Chef Teo cooked them so beautifully everyone present could not wait to taste them
Adding the seafood into the tofu cups
Adding the seafood into the tofu cups
Chef Eric Teo's black tofu with seafood
Chef Eric Teo’s black tofu with seafood – my favourite dish for the day 
Moving on to the last dish - sambal fried rice
Moving on to the last dish – sambal fried rice
Chef Teo joked that experts only add the eggs right at the end
Chef Teo joked that experts only add the eggs right at the end
Close-up on the beautiful rice grains
Close-up on the beautiful rice grains
Plating the fried rice
Plating the fried rice
Chef Eric Teo's sambal fried rice
Chef Eric Teo’s sambal fried rice

You can view all the photos I took at the event with the Panasonic Lumix GX7 in this public facebook album.

The event was organised by local production company, Rolleyes. Teaming up with six renowned local chefs, Rolleyes seeks to make gourmet home cooking a reality for their viewers through their new 30 Minute Cookin’ series:

In each episode, viewers are shown how to achieve two to three-course meals within 30 minutes. Chef Teo’s demonstration is as part of this programme.

Visit 30 Minute Cookin' for more details
Visit 30 Minute Cookin’ for more details

You can watch Chef Teo’s cooking demonstrations as well as more from other  renowned chefs via the official website for 30 Minute Cookin’. 🙂

Usher in the year of the Horse with BBC’s exciting line-up of programmes and festive favourites!

This Chinese New Year holiday, BBC will be featuring a series of special holiday programmes, all day, from 31st January till 2nd February 2014, on the following BBC channels – BBC Knowledge, BBC Lifestyle, BBC Entertainment, and CBeebies (available on Starhub channels in Singapore).

I have 5 sets of BBC CBeebies Chinese New Year red packets to giveaway! To win them, simply LIKE my facebook page or FOLLOW me on Twitter and PM me with your name, contact number, email and mailing address to send the red packets to. The first five persons to do so before 9am tomorrow (25 Jan) will be the winners. 

More on the BBC programmes: 

Go back to where Chinese New Year started with BBC Knowledge (Starhub Channel 407) by taking an in-depth look into Beijing: Biography of an Imperial Capital. Also, take a peek into the driving forces of one the world’s largest economies with China on 4 Wheels and Gok Wan: Made in China.

Learn tips and tricks to preparing easy and delicious Chinese cuisine with fashion stylist Gok Wan in Gok Cooks Chinese on BBC Lifestyle (Starhub Channel 432). Craving for something different? Follow Rachel Khoo into her home kitchen in Little Paris Kitchen: Cooking with Rachel Khoo, where she teaches you how to whip up simple and rich French cuisine.

Lose yourself in the magical world of Arabia on BBC Entertainment (Starhub Channel 521), with the Sinbad (series 1) marathon.

Get your little ones in the mood for arts and crafts with a Mister Maker (series 3) marathon and the first episode of the new series of Mister Maker Around the World on CBeebies (Starhub Channel 303). Join Sarah & Duck as the little girl and her duck friend go on their adventures and try to solve problems that they encounter along the way. Ever wondered how the rest of the world celebrated Chinese New Year? Let’s Celebrate shows you how.

[25 Jan 2014, UPDATE]

The five winners are:

  • Koh Hui Chen
  • Keith Tan
  • Lim Xinyi
  • Adlena Wong
  • Val Lim

Congratulations and happy new year! 

New Haircut and Hair Colour for 2014

To usher in 2014, I got a new haircut at my regular salon, Naoki Yoshihara by Ash and coloured my hair to a lighter tint of brown:

I blogged about this japanese salon at Liang Court previouslyYou can visit their official facebook page to find out more about them. 

I will be turning 34 this year in October… I need to feel young again. The hair colour seems to help. Friends whom I had not seen for a while all commented that I look younger, fresher or trendier.

This feels good, even though my waistline is expanding, my hair is thinning and I feel less capable of taking on and conquering the world with each passing year.

With Chinese New Year round the corner, might be a good time to change your hairstyle or try something different to surprise your relatives and loved ones when house visiting? 🙂

If you are thinking of popping by Naoki Yoshihara by Ash, please note the following festive period changes:

18th Jan 2014 – 28th Jan 2014: there will be a 30% increase on the total bill.
29th Jan 2014 and 30th Jan 2014: there will be a 50% increase on the total bill.

During the Chinese New  Year period, operation hours are:

30th Jan 2014: 10.30am to 3.00pm
31st Jan 2014 to 6th Feb 2014: Closed
Normal operation hours will resume from 7th Feb.
10.30am to 8.30pm (Closed on every Tues)

A Year in Singapore Search: Google’s Top Searches of 2013

Yesterday, Google announced its annual Year End Zeitgeist, a look at 2013 through the collective eyes of the world on the web, offering a unique perspective on the year’s major events and hottest trends based on Google searches conducted in Singapore.

So what got Singaporeans buzzing online in 2013?

The Southeast Asian haze grabbed attention and headlines this year, as Singaporeans searched for information about the phenomenon by looking up the latest PSI readings, facts about haze particles, and preventative masks. Singaporeans also kept an eye on other local news and events, including Singapore’s bird flu readiness, the investigation into American engineer Shane Todd’s alleged suicide, and news of local actor, Huang Wenyong’s death from lymphoma. Another celebrity death to make waves in Singapore was that of movie star Paul Walker, who died suddenly in a car crash in November.

Basketball is here to stay among Singaporean sport fans with the NBA’s Houston Rockets, Miami Heat, and the Dallas Mavericks emerging on Singapore’s most searched sports teams for the first time. The nation continued to follow international football favourites as well, with Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea, and Tottenham Hotspur all making the list, along with local team LionsXII.

Ever gadget- and bargain-savvy, Singaporeans searched for key dates for events like the 2013 IT Show, COMEX and the Great Singapore Sale. The nation also indulged its love for food—especially its sweet tooth—with searches for traditional treats like Kueh Bangkit and Snow Skin Mooncake, and contemporary favourites like Rainbow Cake, Leche Flan and Nutella Blossom, spiking on the trending recipes list.

Short trips and weekend getaways remained popular as Legoland Malaysia, the first Legoland theme park in Asia, came in as the top travel destination for Singaporeans for the second year in a row, along with Hong Kong, Penang, and Bangkok, cities famed for good food and shopping. On the whole, however, holidaymakers preferred to relax under the sun with well-known beach destinations such as Bali and Langkawi snagging 5 out of the top 10 travel hotspots.

Google spokesperson Sana Rahman said: “Google’s year-end Zeitgeist is a cultural barometer showing us what quickened our national heartbeat and drove our curiosity in 2013.”

As someone is online 24-7, I couldn’t agree more. Online trends often mirrors what goes on in the real world and sometimes give clues and insights on human behaviours.



1.       PSI Singapore

2.       Harlem shake

3.       Little India riot

4.      Anonymous

5.       N95 mask

6.       Malaysia election

7.       Deepavali 2013

8.       Gwiyomi

9.       Boston

10.   Tampines accident


1.       Paul Walker

2.       Cory Monteith

3.       Huang Wenyong

4.       Nelson Mandela

5.       Gordon Ramsay

6.       Margaret Thatcher

7.       Lea Michele

8.       Jennifer Lawrence

9.       Rowan Atkinson

10.   Tom Hiddleston


1.       Wrecking Ball

2.       Gentlemen

3.       Blurred Lines

4.       Counting Stars

5.       Clarity

6.       Royals

7.       Get Lucky

8.       Thrift Shop

9.       Road

10.   Heart Attack


1.       The Conjuring

2.       Pacific Rim

3.       Despicable Me 2

4.       World War Z

5.       Man of Steel

6.       Iron Man 3

7.       The Great Gatsby

8.       Gravity

9.       Oblivion

10.   Warm Bodies

What is…

1.       PM 2.5

2.       Gwiyomi

3.       Twerking

4.       Obamacare

5.       Lymphoma

6.       OOTD

7.       Hail

8.      Mastectomy

9.       Gluten

10.   H7N9

How to…

1.       Rap

2.       Harmonize

3.       Cycle

4.       Twerk

5.       Paint

6.       Beatbox

7.       Factorise

8.       Crochet

9.       Deadlift

10.   Blog


1.       iPhone 5s

2.       Samsung Galaxy S4

3.       Samsung Note 3

4.       iPhone 5c

5.       iPad Air

6.       Nexus 5

7.       iPad Mini 2

8.       HTC One

9.       Sony Xperia X

10.   Xbox One


1.       Shepherd’s Pie

2.       Kueh Bangkit

3.       Lasagne

4.       Snow Skin Mooncake

5.       Nutella Blossom

6.       Rainbow Cake

7.       Chicken Wings

8.       Beef Steak

9.       Leche Flan

10.   Cornflake Cookies

Most Searched

Travel Destinations

1.       Legoland Malaysia

2.       Bali

3.       Hong Kong

4.       Maldives

5.       Bangkok

6.       Taiwan

7.       Bintan

8.       Langkawi

9.       Krabi

10.   Penang

Local News

1.       Bird Flu

2.       Shane Todd

3.       Huang Wenyong

4.       Kovan

5.       Khaw Boon Wan

6.       Flood

7.       Singapore haze

8.       Singapore property

9.       Tey Tsun Hang

10.   Singapore riot

TV Shows

1.       Running Man

2.       Game of Thrones

3.       Breaking Bad

4.       Suits

5.       Naruto Shippuden

6.       The Big Bang Theory

7.       The Heirs

8.       The Voice of China

9.       The Walking Dead

10.   We Got Married

Korean Stars

1.       Kim Jong-kook

2.       Super Junior

3.       Girls’ Generation

4.       Hyuna

5.       Park Shin-hye

6.       Yoon Eun-hye

7.       Lee Min-jung

8.       Gary Kang

9.       Jo In-sung

10.   Jang Geun-suk


1.       Singapore F1

2.       IT Show

3.       Australian Open

4.       COMEX

5.       PC Show

6.       Standard Chartered Marathon

7.       Wimbledon

8.       Sundown Marathon

9.       NATAS Fair

10.   Great Singapore Sale

Sports Teams

1.       Arsenal

2.       Manchester United

3.       Liverpool

4.       Chelsea

5.       LionsXII

6.       Tottenham Hotspur

7.       Houston Rockets

8.       L. A. Lakers

9.       Miami Heat

10.   Dallas Mavericks


1.       Cristiano Ronaldo

2.       David Beckham

3.       Jeremy Lin

4.       Roger Federer

5.       Wayne Rooney

6.       Oscar Pistorius

7.       Rafael Nadal

8.       Jose Mourinho

9.       Thiago Alcantara

10.   Andy Murray

on Mobile

1.       PSI Singapore

2.       SGX

3.      Weather

4.       Arsenal

5.      Manchester United

6.      Liverpool

7.       iPhone 5s

8.      Restaurants

9.      Running Man

10.  Samsung Galaxy S4

To see more information about Google Zeitgeist across the globe, use interactive data visualizations and to watch Google’s annual video, visit

What is Google’s Year-End Zeitgeist?

Google reveals the Internet “Zeitgeist” (German for “the spirit of the times”) through an exploration of the over one trillion search queries received each year. In addition to the Year-end Zeitgeist, which highlights the top trends of 2013, Google also have several tools that give insight into global, regional, past and present search trends. Google Zeitgeist tools can never be used to identify individual users because Google relies on anonymized, aggregated counts of how often certain search queries occur over time. These tools are available year-round for us to play with, explore, and learn from at

Winners for MasterCard PayPass™ Cards Contest

Together with MasterCard, I ran a contest on 21 November to give out three MasterCard PayPass™ cards with a cash value of S$100 preloaded in each card.

This was in conjunction with a MasterCard campaign to win a Priceless trip for two to Justin Timberlake’s ‘The 20/20 Experience World Tour’  live in New York when you pay with PayPass™.

Without further ado, here are the three winners selected via a random draw:

Congratulations to Weijie Tan, Tina Loh and Lim Qin Liang!

I will be contacting the winners shortly on the prize collection details. Have fun shopping with your MasterCard PayPass™ cards and I hope one of you win the trip to New York!