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Think of Lianne as a collector of experiences through travel. She also has a sizeable heart for the community and gives her time to causes that have a deep meaning to her. She is also one of the creative brains behind Tribe’s, understands “service”, and also our de facto copy editing police.
a) “Code-switch” or the ability to switch between speaking English & Singlish.
Instinctively, most Singaporeans know when to use English in order to be understood easily and when to switch to Singlish when conversing with close friends and family.
b) Wanderlust. Singapore is a small country so most of us tend to have the desire to explore abroad, but all the while making sure we bring along little comforts of home like chilli sauce or instant local kopi with us. I grew up with an extended family of avid travellers. In fact, before my grandfather passed away, he used to tell us not to spend money buying things. Instead, he urged us to spend time and our earnings on experiencing other cultures – to see and learn how people in other countries (and cultures) live, see what they see, and to experience it for ourselves. So some years back, I did and lived in the US.
c) Community. I have a deep appreciation for my community – be it community of family, friends, colleagues, neighbours, fellow Singaporeans, or just people in general. Whether it’s showing guests around my neighbourhood; or planning educational itineraries for Singapore students abroad, or lending my unskilled hands at the local soup kitchens, I constantly try to be useful to my community.
Will have to say prata. But small confession - I have a unique (some say strange) way of eating my prata. I like to dip my prata in both curry AND tomato ketchup. I can almost hear the gasps of horror from other Singaporeans reading this! It is not the typical nor traditional way of eating prata (one usually eats prata either with curry or sugar). But, I like the mix of slightly sweet and tangy taste from the ketchup blended with the fragrant spices of the curry on a prata. This is the beauty of eating in Singapore – there are so many ways to enjoy a dish and being a true-blue Singaporean, I am fiercely loyal to my eating habits.
Kopi or Teh? I am a kopi person, through and through. Especially in the mornings, it HAS to be kopi – even if I’ve to be out of the door as early as 5am, I have to at least get in a gulp (or two) of coffee. I am practically useless as a thinking individual, without the first whiff and gulp of kopi, preferably the Singaporean local kopi.
For me, it would have to be relaxing with a book while enjoying a cuppa local ‘kopi’ on a bench at the park in my neighborhood. I live in the north-eastern part of Singapore in an estate called Sengkang. With more than 300 parks and four nature reserves, almost 50% of Singapore is covered in greenery. An incredible amount of space is devoted to the parks and gardens, considering Singapore has only approximately 714 sqkm of land area today!
This park is a 5-minute walk from my HDB home, so anytime I feel I need a quick recharge, I’d take a slow stroll around the park enjoying the plants and greenery around or buy a cup of hot coffee from the foodcourt and sit at one of the benches dotted around the park. It has to be this specific bench because it is situated under the LRT (light rail transit) tracks and is well-shielded from direct sunlight.
I like the food and more importantly the coffee at Han’s. It’s not really an outlet that no one knows about though. In fact, it has many outlets across Singapore. What I like about Han’s is how affordable and tasty the food is – in the mornings, we can have a set breakfast, at lunch or dinner, they serve set meals like chicken chop or steak, and during tea time, there are cakes or apple pie to try. I particularly enjoy having coffee and a snack at the outlet at the National Library building at Bras Basah.
Chope – it means to reserve or hold something for somebody. For example, we have an unofficial way of reserving a seat at a hawker center or food court – we can ‘chope’ a seat with a packet of tissue.
But, there is more to this word though. I quote its definition from The Coxford Singlish Dictionary: “Sometimes uttered as an apology for deviating from a topic of conversation in order to ask a more pressing question.” Another example, “Chope, so what else did she tell you about her friend?” Translation: Wait, I’m very sorry for deviating from the topic of our conversation, but I really must know what she told you first.
I think it’s just human nature to always feel the grass is greener on the other side and because of this belief, we end up feeling always dissatisfied about our current environments/state of affairs. So, if seen in this light, then perhaps complaining as a way of life isn’t all that unique to Singaporeans. What, I feel can be better, is our love and pride in our country. Maybe it’s our Asian nature where we are taught that being humble is best so we don’t seem to demonstrate our pride and love for our country enough. I am proud of my country and I am proud of what we’ve managed to achieve as a country in a short span of time. I am always gratified when my guests compliment Singapore – our people, our clean and green city or how well-built everything is.
Siem Reap, Cambodia. The country is not as developed as Singapore but it’s precisely the reason why I enjoy visiting it time and time again. I go there for another reason too. My aunt runs a soup kitchen there, called Touch a Life food programme. Set up in 2008, the kitchen provides free meals to the less priviledged in Siem Reap. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, about 150 children come to the kitchen for their lunch. On Saturdays, we’d prepare, pack and deliver food to the children’s villages and feed their families too.
I’ve already been to Siem Reap about five times in the past 2 years and feel that I’ve only just begun to skim beneath the surface of the city. In between helping out at Touch A Life, I’ve had time to revel in the grandeur of the temples of Angkor, soak in the beauty of the countryside; and more importantly, benefit from the generous nature of its people.
Captain America has a shield, I would say I have a strong bullshit radar.