Growing up on the Canadian prairies, I belonged to our local 4-H group for many years. 4-H, so called because of the 4-Hs members pledge – head, hands, heart and health – is a global network of youth organizations with the goal to develop citizenship, leadership, responsibility and life skills of youth through experiential learning programs and a positive youth development approach. Through 4-H, I learned how to take care of and ride a horse, made great friends at the summer camp, practiced public speaking at the annual speech competition and always recited the pledge at each meeting.
December is here and with it the time of the year you might know to be cold and comfy. I, for my part, can’t help thinking of white landscapes completely covered in snow, children building snowmen and cozy evenings before the fire with a cup of hot chocolate to warm my hands. In Singapore, with an average temperature of 27 degrees and humidity of 80%, a tropical island completely covered by what seems to be a sea of apartment blocks and skyscrapers, this mental image appears to be entirely out of place. However, against all expectations, it is possible to experience winter in and around Singapore. So, all of you who miss the cold temperatures and the fun winter sports just as much as I do, here you will find some things to do that will give you a little …
Lapland’s attraction is undisputable; it is a place of magical, even otherworldly images – white landscapes of frosted forests and iced lakes. In this region of Finland, one of the coldest parts of Europe, the realms of fantasy often turn out to be more reliable than reality. Around 160,000 tourists travel to Lapland every year hoping to see the elusive northern lights, but the Finns have set up a sure thing: Santa Claus. Come cloud or snow, he’ll be on duty in Santa Claus Village with a warm smile and a beard fluffier than Rudolph’s tail.
“Hi, my name is Moulay!” said the mysterious man as he walked into my hotel lobby, the brilliant morning sun reflecting off his ivory teeth. With a broad grin, he continued “I will be your guide today!” As my gaze went from head to toe, I took in the full extent of his interesting mix of attire: Yankees baseball cap, designer sunglasses, traditional loose-fitting robe and desert sandals. Touching his heart with one hand and holding a mobile phone with the other, it was then that I knew my trip would be anything but predictable, singular or stereotypical. I had arrived in a land that blended modern and ancient, reformist and conservative, far western and near eastern so thoroughly that it created its own unique identity in the world. Welcome to the majesty and magnificence of the Kingdom of Morocco.
The Best of Singapore’s Alternative Movie Theaters
They say there is a book in all of us. More often than not, though, the valuable commodities that hold us back from making it come to fruition are ‘time’ and ‘space’. A book theme had been jittering around in my head for some months but, after choosing my moment, I negotiated exactly what I needed; a break in a peaceful location away from my two children to kick-start my publishing journey.
Built like a tank, Singapore American School (SAS) visual arts teacher Jeffrey Pabotoy looks like someone you’d never want to mess with. You’d think he wouldn't be interested in mini-anything, let alone little Lego bricks and minifigures that take hours of patient building.
The world is full of amazing places to visit, whether you’re drawn to the pristine beaches of the Maldives or Thailand, or the cosmopolitan buzz of Paris or New York City. While it’s tempting to play it safe and opt for luxurious resorts with Michelin-starred restaurants and beautifully appointed bedrooms, resplendent with crisp white linen, this might not always be the most interesting option.
We are, all of us, foreigners. Many of us living here in Singapore know this firsthand. By choice or necessity we looked over the horizon and then went beyond it, and with that came the realization that everyone is a stranger somewhere.
We’re bouncing up and down in a rickety old SUV as it races down a dry, dusty road. As I look out at the fleeting landscape, I catch a glance at an elderly farmer, sweat running down his brow, leaning on his rake and staring into the distance. As I follow his gaze, I finally lay my eyes on them; there, amidst the rice fields and straw houses, are the mountains I came so far to see. The mountains most others only dream about.