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    Amin Ismail

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  • Indonesia's Independence Day 2020: Things to Look Out For This Independence Day

    Indonesia will celebrate its national day next week on 17 August. The biggest archipelago country in the ASEAN region is going to enjoy its 75th year of independence after being under Dutch colonial rule for 350 years. Indonesia’s capital city, Jakarta, is showing its joy as many national flags are bring waived in the streets. With COVID-19 positive cases increasing day by day in the country, the pandemic is still a looming threat to Indonesia and the rest of the world. Indonesians have fought hard to gain their independence, and now they fight against this deadly virus. Next week will be a big day for Indonesia but we will never give up fighting the virus. Indonesians celebrate Independence Day by conducting several competitions that are very famous in the country that should not be missed. The health protocol is a primary thing to do, however. Everyone should wear their masks, face shields, wash their hands, and surely never forget to practice physical distancing.Here’s how Indonesians are celebrating their Independence Day in the new normal.   Celebrating from Home Image Source: What's New Indonesia In a pre-COVID, Indonesians will come from all over the country to attend the annual flag-raising ceremony in the Presidential Palace. Standing proud as they watch their national flag being raised high. This will then lead to the President’s speech to the nation. This year, with the safety measures in place, the celebrations will be taking a more modest approach, with most of the activities being moved online as gatherings are no longer allowed in order to lower the risk of infections. Citizens are not worried about missing out, as they will be able to catch the flag ceremony and celebrations in the safety of their homes as it will be broadcasted live on television and social platforms.   Independence Day Community Games Image Source: IDN Times Community games can still be held albeit at smaller scales with strict safety measures in place. This means that Indonesians can still enjoy their favorite games they always play during independence day. A long-standing tradition associated with Indonesians during independence day is surely the Cracker Eating Race or also known as “Lomba Makan Kerupuk,” which is a must in every Independence Day celebration. It is a game where adults or children will race each other to see who can finish their crackers first. This year, however, participants are required to keep a distance between one another as they play this game. The crackers will be hanged by a thread a couple of centimeters higher than the participants. All the participants will raise their heads to eat the crackers while having their hands tied behind their backs. It is a cheerful game as the participants will keep opening their mouths to chase the crackers that are wiggling around. It is a fun activity that will surely raise everyone’s spirit! Another game played by Indonesians during Independence day is the Sack Race. Similar to the Cracker Eating game, adults or children can join this competition. The participants will get inside a gunny sack. The race usually runs around a distance of 15 to 20 meters, the participants have to hop while holding the sack from the start to the finish line. Quite tiring, but yeah, it will always create a lively atmosphere with spectators cheering on to support their players. The race can be more challenging and joyful if the participants are required to wear a helmet while hopping! Want to give it a try?   Taking it to Social Media Image By: Photo by Nick Agus Arya on Unsplash During the pandemic, when many people are asked to stay at home, TikTok has been the go-to app for Indonesians to spend their free time. Indonesians could create video content that is so relatable with the current situation – COVID-19 awareness! Yes, we can still produce an exciting and creative video while reminding people to stay healthy and safe. Another way Indonesians are spreading the joy of their independence is through the internet by creating videos with the Independence Day theme. For example, uploading a video on Facebook or Youtube to tell the viewers about how grateful they are as trying to flatten the curve during the national celebration—sharing positive words of encouragement from their hearts to inspire others to do the same.   Mask Making Competition Image by: Photo by Vera Davidova on Unsplash Since face masks are the main protective equipment used during the current pandemic and have become one of the health protocols, it would be great if there was a mask designing competition this Independence day month. Where people of all ages can display their creativity by coloring and designing their masks. This competition can be an attraction for children to participate in the August race this year, it could even help in the fight against the pandemic. It will be very special (and safe!) because it could be conducted virtually to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in Indonesia. Even though the celebrations this year are being scaled down and will feel a little different from previous years of celebration, the spirit of independence still resonates with the nation, and it’s citizens where they are united to stand against the global pandemic. Happy 75th Birthday Indonesia! Stay healthy, and let’s flatten the curve!...

  • Magical Hygge Campsite: Japan's Princess Mononoke Campsite

    Japan is set to open a Hygge inspired glamping campsite in 2021. Hygge (pronounced as Hue-ga), is a Danish word which means "a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being". If that sounds like something you would enjoy, here’s a place worthy of a detour to the Inabe City while traveling on the Bullet Train between Kyoto and Nagoya. Image Source: henrik-innovation Located in the dense forest of Uga Valley in the Mie prefecture, the Hygge Circles Ugakei by Nordisk will be a breathtaking magical campsite surrounded by lush forests, waterfalls, and cool mountain streams. With its aesthetically pleasing looks, it is easy not to think that one of the key intent of this campsite is also to bring visitors closer to nature with environmental sustainability in mind. Riding on the waves of the ecotourism movement in Japan. Image Source: prtimes.jp   Different Kinds of Lodging The campsite will offer an experience closer to glamping in a sense, with a choice of available accommodations that will really make use of the natural scenery around the area, bringing out the Hygge aspect with full effect to the campers and visitors. Currently, the plans are that the campsite will feature Nordisk tents and Hygge Lodges alongside the Hygge Education field and the Hygge Nature field. Image Source: henrik-innovation Image Source: henrik-innovation Visitors will be assured to get the full and authentic Hygge experience while also enjoying the wonders of the natural wonders in Japan as the campsite will be constructed by Tredje Natur, a Danish architectural firm, alongside Structured Environment, a Japanese Engineering firm. All based on the sustainability advice from henrik-innovations, ensuring that campsite is green and eco-friendly. Letting visitors have the peace of mind while enjoying the facilities of the campsite. Image Source: henrik-innovation   Resemblance to Princess Mononoke from Studio Ghibli Avid fans of the Japanese animation house Studio Ghibli have pointed out the resemblance of the Hygge Circles Ugakei with the settings of the blockbuster hit, Princess Mononoke. The movie is largely based in the forest just like where the Hygge Circles Ugakei campsite is located in. It will definitely be a place to visit to have the full experience of the Princess Mononoke movie! Image Source: henrik-innovation For the fans of the animated studio, there will also be a fully-fledged theme park under works which is based on the studio’s animated films estimated to be open in late 2022 in Japan. With the Dondoko Forest - a My Neighbor Totoro inspired forest, Ghibli’s Giant Warehouse, the Hill of Youth - with the antique shop from Whisper of the Heart, Village of Mononoke - official recreation of the locations in Princess Mononoke and the Valley of Witches - a salute to Kiki’s Delivery Service.  Image Source: Studio Ghibli   Perfect for the Outdoor Traveller Imagine sitting by the campfire surrounded by the serene forest under the starry night sky while enjoying a cup of tea, this campsite promises to be a must-visit place for people who love the outdoors. A place where you can recharge and escape the hustle and bustle of the fast-paced and busy city life through connecting with nature. Check out our other blog on "Forest Bathing: Relax, Rejuvenate & Recharge With Nature When You're In Japan" if you want to learn more about reconnecting with nature. If you’re more of a city-dweller check out our blog on “Japan's Most Aesthetic Hostels You Need To Check Out”. Where we scour the street of Tokyo for the most awesome looking hotels you can find a piece of peace in the hustle and bustle of the city. With only the released renders, pictures, and limited information of the campsite to go by, it already looks to be an interesting development. There's no surprise that it is a highly anticipated project by all the avid travelers looking for new places to explore when the pandemic blows over. We know we will definitely keep an eye on this campsite for our next visit to Japan....

  • 8 Things to do in Singapore this August

    August has always been filled with events year in year out. With National Day around the corner, August has always been known to be filled with events and the colors of the flag (red and white everywhere). Here are some things you can do in August 2020 where you can not only have fun but might even learn more about the little red dot. via GIPHY   National Day Parade One very obvious thing to do this August is to follow the events of the National Day Parade, with the parade being significantly different this year as compared to the previous years, it might be a new and interesting experience.  You can check out what NDP has to offer in more detail on our blog here. Image Source: Photo by Tomas Vyšniauskas on Unsplash   Bras Basah Light up Until the 30th of August 2020, the National landmarks in the Bras Basah Precinct and Civic District will be lit up in the colors of Singapore as part of the National Day Celebrations. With 60 original designs submitted by local artists, it makes for a very scenic and refreshing look to the all so familiar monuments. Lighting up over 10 national monuments and arts and culture institutions, it aims to show solidarity and celebration of the nation’s 55th birthday. Here is the list of monuments that will be lit up: National Museum of Singapore Cathedral of Good Sheperd CHIJMES The Armenian Church Central Fire Station National Gallery of Singapore The Arts House Victoria Theatre and Victoria Concert Hall Asian Civilisation Museum Esplanade Visit the National Heritage Board’s website for more details. Image Source: Image by 8days.sg   National Gallery National Gallery is currently offering a free 1-year insider membership which will give you unlimited and priority access to all the exhibitions. In addition, members also enjoy a 15% discount on shopping and dining. Do take note however that there are no halal food options found there.  Membership usually costs $30 for Locals and $60 for Standard so this is a great opportunity if you are interested in everything that is art or if you are just starting to dip your feet into the art scene. If you choose not to get the membership, the National Gallery will also be offering Free Admissions to all their exhibitions for the month of August. Visit the National Gallery’s website for more details. Image Source: image by Trip.com   Asian Civilisations Museum The Asian Civilisations Museum is having a number of events for the whole month of June. Ranging from online events where you and your family can learn more about different cross-cultural art. With this month’s focus on the Islamic Art Gallery: Bird Calligram by Yusuf Chen Jinhui, a Chinese Muslim Calligrapher. Visit the Asian Civilisation Museum’s website for more details. Image Source: Image by Joyce Fong from The Straits Times   Art Science Museum Discover what the future might look like at the Art Science Museum with 2219: Futures Imagines and Future World: Where Art meets Science exhibitions now showing at the museum. In addition to those, learn more about the Global Plastic Pollutions an exhibition by National Geographic. Visit the Art Science Museum’s website for more details. Image Source: Image by lifestyleasia.com   Zoom into History If you would rather stay home, why not learn more about the history of Singapore through talking artifacts on zoom (Yes, talking artifacts). This series, which will run all the way till National Day on 9th August, will take you through history through the lens of the artifacts. Visit the National Museum of Singapore’s website for more details.   Image Source: Image by National Museum of Singapore   Run for Singapore Runners get ready your running shoes, here’s a great way to relive those running events pre-COVID. To celebrate Singapore’s 55th Birthday, Asia Online Run is holding an online Running Challenge where participants can clock their distances with the help of running apps and pedometers. All in the hopes of achieving an accumulated distance of 55,000KM this year. Registrations close on 10th August. Visit spacebib for more details on the event. Image Source: Image by Spacebib on Facebook   Star Wars Virtual Run Southeast Asia Another virtual running event happening now till September is the Star Wars Virtual Run event. Similar to Run for Singapore, participants can clock in their distance with the help of running apps and pedometers. With a choice of 5.4KM and 40.0KM, finishers will be awarded a medal based on the distance and the side they choose to run for. Visit Star Wars Virtual Run website for more details. Image Source: Image by justrunlah.com Whether you choose to enjoy August online or offline, there are more things for you to do, especially since it is National Day month. You could even go Island-Hopping on the Southern Islands or go international with Virtual Tours from the different museums around the world. Just remember to always abide and practice the safety measures during this pandemic. Ensure adequate social distancing and always wear a mask when you are outside. Have fun! via GIPHY...

  • NDP 2020: 5 Things To Look Out For This National Day Parade

    Cover Image Source: Photo by Rogan Yeoh on Unsplash No live shows at the Padang this year? Well, they bring the parade to you! 9 August marks the 55th year Singapore gained independence. With the current virus situation, this year’s National Day Parade will especially be different than in previous years. With safety measures in place for COVID-19 and no tickets to the parade at the Padang, you won't be missing much of the festivities as there are plenty of things happening around the island. You can even catch them live in the comfort and safety of your home as most or all of the events will be broadcasted live on television and on Youtube as well. The theme for this year’s NDP is centered around bringing the crowd favorites such as the Mobile Columns, Flag Flypast, Jets, the Red Lions parachuting down, and of course the fireworks closer to the people. Most, if not all, the events are focused on paying tribute and showing gratitude to the healthcare and frontline workers who have continually put their lives on the line to keep others safe during these hard times. (Thank you all!) With all the things that are different in this year’s edition, it can be very easy to get confused with what to expect on the actual day itself. Luckily for us, the NDP committee has just recently released the schedule and locations to the public. Here’s what’s different about this coming NDP. via GIPHY   Mobile Column Happening at 10 AM to 1 PM islandwide This year’s mobile columns will cover the longest distance ever for any mobile column traveling into the heartlands. Covering all four corners of the island. A noteworthy point about this is that the mobile column will be going past several hospitals to salute the healthcare and frontline workers. Image Source: NDP 2020   Flag Flypast & Roar of Unity Happening at 10:30 AM to 11:30 AM Another exciting change to the parade that is going to be a first this year will be the route taken by the Chinook, Apaches, and F-15SGs for the Flag Flypast and Jet flyovers, or as they call it the “Roar of Unity”. They will not only just fly over the Padang, but they will also make their way around Singapore as well. You’ll definitely hear them coming your way, so make sure to look out your windows to catch a glimpse of them flying by! Image Source: NDP 2020   Maritime Sailpast Happening at 11:00 AM To commemorate the country’s 55th birthday, a unique sail past with vessels from the Navy, Coast Guard, Civil Defence, and Maritime and Port Authority will be sailing past off the coast of Marina Bay. Image Source: NDP 2020   Red Lions Happening at 11:10 AM Get ready to “Ooooo”, the ever so popular Red Lions will be jumping off the planes and parachuting down into the heartlands at Sengkang and Jurong East. They will be landing near the Sengkang General Hospital and Ng Teng Fong Hospital as a sign of tribute to the healthcare workers and frontline workers. Image Source: NDP 2020   Fireworks Happening at 8:20 PM If you are like us, then the definite highlight of every National Day Parade will be the fireworks display, every single year. Whether you choose to see it live or even on the television, it serves as a great conclusion to the whole parade and celebrations itself. This year will be especially different as it has been announced that it will be set off in 10 different locations right in the heartlands. Even if it will be harder for us to get to see it in person (to get that great shot for Instagram), changing the norm might not be such a bad thing. Imagine seeing the fireworks right in the comfort and safety of your homes. The main point is, safety is still the top priority. The exact locations have been released by the NDP committee recently, here are 10 spots where the fireworks will be set off, which will mean that you can see the fireworks from around the vicinity - The fireworks are scheduled to go off at 8.20 PM islandwide. The locations of the fireworks as released by the NDP Committee are: Jurong Lake Garden Yew Tee Buona Vista Bishan Woodlands Sembawang Marina Barrage Ang Mo Kio Punggol Tampines Even if you do not live in these areas, these fireworks have been described as “High Level” Fireworks where they should be easily visible from afar. Image Source: NDP 2020   Safety is Still a Priority We cannot stress enough how important it is to remember to abide and follow the safety measures against COVID-19. If you are going out to see the different NDP events listed earlier, remember to practice adequate Social Distancing measures between one another and always wear a mask. You can also stay at home and watch it on television or over on Youtube, where all the events will be broadcasted live so you won’t be missing out on the festivities. Those are only some of the events that you will see during the National Day Parade on 9th August, with all that is happening for the parade, it will surely be a very different experience to the parades we normally see on National Day. Happy 55th Birthday Singapore! via GIPHY...

  • 10 Dishes You Can 'Travel to' Without Leaving Singapore

    Food is definitely an essential part of the traveling experience. In fact, we love to plan our itineraries around the food which we could taste at the intended destinations. Teasing our palates is a must for every journey. With the current situation, traveling overseas might still not be an option for us but that's not stopping us from "traveling" to these countries with our palates. We’ve identified 10 countries with a range of delicacies from the street to the fine dining experience for you to feast upon without even leaving Singapore.  via GIPHY 1. Hoeddeok in South Korea South Korea is definitely in most people’s bucket list. Apart from KPop, South Korea is also well-known for its food. One such interesting food that is a must-try is Hoeddeok. Hoeddeok can also be spelled as Hotteok. Hoeddeok is a pancake that is sweet with flavors like cinnamon, honey, brown sugar, and peanut. Hoeddeok is a popular Korean street food that is best eaten during the winter season. It is essentially flat, circular dough with fillings and is cooked on a griddle. This delicacy has a crunchy exterior and soft interior with an irresistible flavor.  Image Source: Mareena's Recipe Collection   2. Ramen in Japan A trip to Japan is definitely incomplete without Ramen. The oriental flavor of Ramen, a wheat noodles bowl served in a soy sauce or miso soup mixed with many kinds of ingredients would leave you feelings of warmth even hours after your meal. Typically, a Ramen has toppings such as green onion, slices of meat, egg, and seaweed; but the most important part of this dish is the soup. The rich and flavorful soup will leave you feeling very satisfied and maybe even crave for more of it. Check out our past videos and blogs on the different halal ramen shops here in Singapore. Goshin Ramen Ichikokudo   3. Roasted Duck Rice in Hong Kong  Apart from Disneyland, Hong Kong is a city that has a myriad of things to offer. One of them is their wonderful and delicious food paradise. One of the tastiest food in Hong Kong that we feel is worth mentioning is definitely the Roasted Duck Rice. The marinated crispy duck skin is enough to make you salivate! I highly recommend you to order side dishes with your duck rice that would be a great combination that would leave you tingling. Image Source: Banana Kayu on Instagram   4. Chilaquiles in Mexico Mexico is world-renowned for its exotic and mouthwatering cuisine. Food plays an important cultural role in the country as it is closely tied to symbolism and its festivals. Chilaquiles is an important dish to try in Mexico. It is a traditional breakfast meal consisting of lightly fried corn tortillas cut into quarters and topped with green or red salsa (the red salsa is slightly spicier). There are usually scrambled or fried eggs and pulled chicken on top. Additionally, a decadent amount of cheese and cream and a healthy dose of beans would make the essentials of Chilaquiles.  Image Source: BBC goodfood   5. Sour Fish Curry in Sri Lanka  Beautiful Sri Lanka not only has one of the most amazing train rides in the world, but it also has an array of tasty food that could entice you to settle down in that amazing country. Sour Fish Curry is a famous dish in Sri Lanka that is found in almost any restaurant along the street. Sour Fish Curry is not the usual spicy curry that is usually eaten in South East Asia. It is a creamy dish that is yellowish in color. The fish in the curry is cut into cubes, then sauteed in a blend of spices including black pepper, cinnamon, turmeric, garlic, pandan leaves, and curry leaves. Perhaps the most important ingredient is dried goraka, a small fruit responsible for giving the fish a sour flavor. This mouth-watering dish is best eaten with rice.  Image Source: Island Smile   6. Chole Bhature in Delhi, India India is a country very rich with culture and warmth. You could head from northern to the southern part of India and discover plentiful and colorful cultures accompanied by amazing food to top it off. One incredible dish to eat in Delhi is Chole Bhature. At its core, chole bhature is a combination of two dishes: chole - a spicy chickpea curry, and bhature - a type of fried bread made with maida flour. Popular throughout North India, the dish was invented in Delhi in the 1940s. Image Source: Times Food   7. Lefse in Norway When you think of Norway, fjords, mountains, and a proud Viking heritage come to mind. Apart from Norway’s sheer beauty, it also has interesting delicacies. One unique delicacy to try in Norway is Lefse. Norwegians love this sweetened variety of the traditional soft flatbread with a cup of coffee. The flatbread is slathered with a blend of butter, sugar, and cinnamon, then meticulously folded or rolled and cut into portions that are easy to carry.  Image Source: Emma Christensen on Kitchn   8. Apricot Blatjang in South Africa South Africa is a country that is a must-visit for the adventurous soul. The beautiful outdoors would capture any adventurous person’s heart. On top of that, you could enjoy delicious meals while taking in beautiful sceneries in the outdoors. One such delicious food is Apricot Blatjang.  Apricot blatjang is a South African chutney made with dried apricots. It is the perfect condiment that goes well with cheese. Blatjang is the pride of Cape Malay-cuisine. Before changes were made for blatjang such as putting in apricots, dates, quinces, and raisins, blatjang was imported from Java. It was made from sun-dried prawns and shrimps, which were pounded with a wooden pestle and mortar and shaped into masses. In Malay, blatjang is spelled as belacan. Thus, for a rich cultural immersion, apricot blatjang is the dish to try.  Image Source: Diana Chistruga on The Spruce   9.Seafood paella in Spain  A trip to gorgeous Spain is incomplete without a seafood dish. One amazing seafood dish that is a must-try is Spain is the Seafood paella. The rich flavors would complete your visit to the Spanish beaches as the freshness in the seafood is not masked by the colorful and flavorful spices included in the dish. The seafood’s natural sweetness is complemented perfectly by the spices in the dish. The beautiful colors would also entice you to eat this tasty seafood dish.  Image Source: epicurious   10. Chocolate Souffle in France  Who does not love a decadent amount of chocolate? Well, one of the best chocolate desserts in the world has got to be the Chocolate Souffle that is found in France. French food relies on simple combinations of rich, natural flavors that come together to create unforgettable, internationally-renowned dishes.  Soufflé came from the French word “souffler” which means “to blow” or “to breathe” and it is a good description of this dish as it puffs up during the cooking process. The simplicity in its ingredients highlights the French’s simple and elegant characteristics. This delicious dessert is soft and fluffy, thus making you float as you explore gorgeous France.  Image Source: Expatica We hope that with this article, you were able to 'travel' to some destinations by looking at the incredible dishes each country has to offer. Happy eating! via GIPHY...