Areas of Historical Significance in Singapore (2011)

Today, Singapore Post released a set of four stamps to celebrate 46 years of independence for Singapore. This stamp issue features two residential neighbourhoods Joo Chiat and Taman Jurong – the transformation from the past ($1.10) to the present (50 cents).

Joo Chiat is a residential conservation area situated between Marine Parade and Geylang in the eastern coastal region of Singapore. Up to 1917, the area was known as Confederate Estate Road, until it was renamed after Chew Joo Chiat (1857 – 1926), a major land owner there. In July 1993, Joo Chiat was gazetted as a conservation district, resulting in the preservation of many of its old buildings. Today, the shophouses and bungalows in Joo Chiat still retain the typical architectural styles of the early 20th century. In February 2011, it was announced to be the first Heritage Town, a project by the National Heritage Board to promote community ownership of heritage.

Taman Jurong is one of the oldest residential precincts in Singapore. From a sleepy rural area mainly consisting of coastal swamplands fed by many small rivers meandering through the mangroves, jungles and wasteland, it has grown into a developed suburban area today. Taman Jurong was at the heart of industrial growth in the 1960s, providing housing for workers and simple entertainment opportunities. It also led to the development of today’s tourist attractions such as the Chinese Gardens and Japanese Gardens, and Jurong Bird Park.

Text and Graphics: Singapore Post

CountTip for Android

How much does your meal cost when eating with a group of friends? It’s simple. Launch the built-in calculator app, and push 19 buttons to represent a product of numbers, say 17.90*1.07*1.10*0.9. Hit the equal sign. Voilà! You get 18.96147 and pull out 19 dollars worth of paper money. Pass your phone to the person sitting on your right and start all over again.

To make this even simpler, we have been developing the CountTip app over the past two months. After entering the amount in five keystrokes, simply tap on any combination of the buttons. This time, you know the answer in eight taps. When you pass the phone around, simply update the subtotal amount and leave the buttons untouched. With real-time calculation implemented, the answer is instantly displayed on the screen.

Aren’t there already many other tip calculators out there? Yes, there are! However, as of today, none of the apps were really suitable for use in several parts of the world. In Singapore, prices are often subjected to a 7% GST, and some eateries impose a mandatory 10% service levy – either one of them, or both. To make things better, there is a 10% discount if you pay using the preferred credit cards. Many of the existing apps do not allow for a flexible combination of these rates.

Here are some of the features for CountTip:

Universal

This app can be customised according to your local tip, tax or discount rates or when travelling to foreign countries. Storing a custom value is simple. After typing the percentage in the Edit box, tap and hold on one of the buttons for one second. If tipping is not customary, you can use this as a discount calculator by entering negative values such as -10, -15 and -20.

Built-In Calculator

Not your typical calculator with the four operators. This calculator comes in handy when you order a main course for 16.90, a drink for 4.80, and a dessert for 5.70. Enter the cost of each individual dish and tap on the + sign to add, rather than launching the calculator app.

Split the Bill

If the group decides to split the bill at the end of a meal, simply enter the number of people and pronounce the digits aloud. With this easy-to-use function, who still needs the calculator for division?

Rounding Off

Currently, you can choose to round up, round down or to the nearest degree of accuracy, i.e. 0.01, 0.05, 0.10, 0.25, 0.50 and 1.00. To save you some time, choose to round to the nearest dime.

Why Three Buttons?

After conducting a brief research, we concluded that restaurants seldom use more than three different rates when calculating the bill. Therefore, we have chosen to display only three buttons to keep the interface clean.

 

Currently, CountTip is available for download in the Android Market for Android 2.1 or later.  Download a copy today! Feel free to start a discussion below if you have any suggestions or feedback.

 

And finally, to debunk a common myth, it does not matter whether GST, service charge, or discount should come first. The total amount remains the same.

Where to Buy UV Light?

Following the article on UV Fluorescent security features on banknotes, people have asked on where to purchase a cheap ultraviolet light source. Shops which sell aquarium products and magic supplies often carry ultraviolet lamps, but be warned that they do not come cheap. A small one can set you back by at least $20, and the cost of a professional-grade aquarium lamp can lie somewhere in the mid-hundreds.

As a high level of brightness is not required for banknote analysis (unless you intend to use it for your fish tank or card trick), we are introducing you two places where you can purchase a cheap UV torch in Singapore. These sources of ultraviolet light, or black light, are often sold in the form of a battery-operated invisible ink pen, with some as cheap as a dollar each.

From back: Magic Light Pen ($2), Invisible Magic Pen ($1)

You can purchase a relatively bright Magic Light Pen from Daiso at $2. It is available in yellow, blue and pink, as far as I am aware. The ultraviolet pen is found in the stationery department and its product code is D-37, No. 299. As this product may not be in stock at times, you are encouraged to visit the larger outlets at IMM or Plaza Singapura or give them a ring to check its availability.

Alternatively, toy capsule vending machines across the island carry the Invisible Magic Pen. One of them is located next to the provision shop at Outram Park MRT, Exit B. The one-dollar product comes in the form of a keychain. While it is smaller in size, the light source appears to be a tad dimmer. As the products in these vending machines are rotated frequently, call the customer service hotline if you need to locate one.

When you feel somewhat bored at times, use the pen to write an invisible message!

UV Fluorescent Security Features on Banknotes

Placing a banknote under ultraviolet light may reveal some interesting security features. To illustrate this, we have chosen four banknotes from different countries.

From top: Peru 5000 Intis (1988), Singapore 100 Dollars (2009), Malaysia 2 Ringgit (1996), South Korea 10000 Won (2007)

The most commonly used feature is random flecks which glow brightly under ultraviolet light. These flecks cannot be seen under ordinary light and are often incorporated on both sides of the note. In order to provide a greater contrast, such notes are often printed on security paper which does not reflect ultraviolet light. For example, the 5000 Intis (1988) note from Peru and the 2 Ringgit (1996) note from Malaysia are sprinkled generously with fluorescent green and blue flecks.

Fluorescent security features can be also incorporated with other features on the banknote. On the 100 Dollar (2009) note from Singapore, the latent image bearing the MAS logo fluoresces under ultraviolet light. However, this wavy-shaped feature was not adopted by the polymer banknotes to make way for the island-shaped security thread. A security thread on the right-hand edge of the 10000 Won (2007) note from Korea gives a slight glow when placed under ultraviolet light.

Fluorescent pigment can also be used to print detailed graphics on the banknotes. The denomination is printed vertically across the 5000 Intis note, while numerals are printed in the middle of the Singapore $100 note. For example, putting a £20 (2007) note under ultraviolet light reveals a bright red and green figure 20. The serial numbers and seal on Singapore banknotes are printed with fluorescent ink.

Sometimes, these fluorescent features can be seen without using an ultraviolet lamp. For example, the numerals in the middle of Singapore’s Portrait Series of banknotes are large enough to be seen using by holding it next to the window, by means of ultraviolet rays from sunlight.

Today, many countries make use of such security features to deter counterfeiting, given that it is less easy to reproduce these features using commercially available printers. Often, these features are found on most denominations of modern banknotes. Even the 100 Trillion Dollar (2009) note from Zimbabwe has slight traces of fluorescent fibres embedded on it. Fluorescent features are found on Bank of England’s £5, £10 and £20 notes, and they are likely to be used on the Series F £50 note, to be released in late 2011.

If you wish to explore the fluorescent features of banknotes, invest in an ultraviolet lamp. This lamp should ideally emit light at 365 nanometres, which is often termed ‘black light’. For a cheaper alternative, visit a novelty store and find pens which allow one to write invisible messages which are revealed under ‘magic’ light. Here, you can purchase one at Daiso for $2.

Sundown Ultramarathon 2011

This morning, I completed the 2011 Sundown Ultramarathon. Spanning a total of 100 kilometres, the entire journey took me a net duration of 16:39:58. It was definitely challenging both physically and mentally. Starting from Marina Barrage, runners were brought through East Coast Park, Changi Village, Pasir Ris Park and Bedok Reservoir Park, then back to Marina Barrage via the same route. In fact, this was the first time I preferred an out and back route, as I could expect what to go through for the second half.

The race was flagged off at 6 pm on 25 June atop the Marina Barrage building, where I followed Alvin on his 4-minute run 1-minute walk strategy. After crossing the Barrage, we ran past the Indoor Stadium and towards East Coast Park, crossing an overhead bridge along the way. After 7.5 kilometres, we emerged from an underpass and started the East Coast Park leg. The East Coast Park stretch was some 11 kilometres long. Soon, massive dark clouds started appearing, signifying the threat of a downpour. Nearing the 20-kilometre pit stop (which was located just after the 19-kilometre mark), it started to drizzle. Luckily, the drizzle did not transmogrify itself into a thunderstorm.

The next 6 kilometres was a straight along Changi Coastal Road, and we soon arrived at the 30-kilometre pit stop (located at the 29-kilometre mark) just across the bridge from Changi Village. The next stretch was similar to the 2009 Sundown Marathon route, bringing runners up a hill and towards Loyang estate. However, I could not keep up with Alvin’s pace just before the 32-kilometre marker and continued running at a slower pace. By 36 kilometres, I had to walk in the middle of Pasir Ris Park due to a slight strain on the knee. By then, the time elapsed was 4:47. In order to have enough time to complete the ultramarathon, I had to reach the halfway mark by 7:30. The 40-kilometre pit stop was located just before entering the housing estate. There was another overhead bridge at Ikea Tampines which brought us across the expressway. We ran down a relatively straight stretch of Tampines Avenue 10 and entered Bedok Reservoir Park. With just three more kilometres to go, I gave myself 11 minutes per kilometre to reach the pit stop.

At the pit stop, I collected my Special Needs Bag and changed into a fresh set of running attire. I also managed to do some stretching and grab half a hot dog bun. After spending close to 28 minutes at the pit stop, I deposited my bag and embarked on the next half of the journey. As my legs started to hurt, I decided to walk. A few minutes later, Kelly appeared and encouraged me not to give up. By taking small steps, I was able to run for short distances and complete each kilometre in 9.5 minutes. At 72 kilometres, I decided to walk for the rest of the journey due to the strain on my knee. Indeed, I felt a sense of loneliness as the Changi Coastal Road stretch. However, volunteers cheered on as they rode their bicycles up and down the course. By the 80-kilometre mark, it was already past 7 am.

Upon entering East Coast Park, I could feel the heat from the sun. It was indeed a long and tiring stretch, and I aimed to leave the place by 9.30 am by walking at 11 minutes per kilometre. I had to consume lots of water in order to keep myself hydrated. For the last 7.5 kilometres, there was an underpass and an overhead bridge to conquer. Although my knees started to ache further, I increased my pace slightly and managed to overtake a few people. At the 98-kilometre mark, Marina Barrage was in sight. While it appeared near, it took me 18:36 to reach the end point.

After crossing the barrage, we had to run up the slope before crossing the finish line, where we were presented with a finisher T-shirt, medal and towel. Also, runners were given a bottle of mineral water and isotonic drink.

Throughout the entire route, supporters were constantly cheering. For the 100-kilometre ultramarathon, runners were encouraged to bring their own source of hydration as pit stops were located at every 10 kilometre or so. At each pit stop, I refilled my water bottle with mineral water and grabbed some food such as muffins, cookies and raisins. And I was glad I chose a 1-litre bottle instead of a 600 ml bottle, given that the last 20-kilometre stretch was somewhat hot.

Many thanks to Alvin and Kelly for pacing me, as well as to friends who gave words of encouragement during the run!

Oriental Small-Clawed Otter

On 3 June 2011, Singapore Post released a se-tenant strip of four stamps featuring the oriental small-clawed otter. An endangered species that is native to Singapore, this mammal has been spotted at the northwestern coast, the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, and on offshore islands such as Pulau Ubin and Pulau Tekong. Often found in zoos, children are attracted to its playful and inquisitive character. The oriental small-clawed otter is regarded as vulnerable by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) in the Red List of Threatened Species.

Over a year ago, SingPost approached local artiste Edmund Chen to design this stamp series. The graphics designer is Wong Wui Kong. In this issue, there are two 50 cent stamps and two $1.10 stamps. The postmark for the first day cover is designed by Chen’s daughter Yixin, 11. A total of 1000 limited edition collectors’ sheet was also released.

Image: SingPost

New C11 Stamp Cancellation Datestamp

Singapore Post will be introducing a new stamp cancelling datestamp from 8 June 2011. In a notice issued on 31 May 2011, the new C11 stamp cancelling will be used for the postmarking of mail items. The design of the stamp is similar to most round datestamps currently used, namely machines C1 to C7 and C9. The occasional octagonal cancellations are made by dot matrix printers C8 and C10.

Currently, there are no known methods of obtaining the C11 cancellation via normal post. On days with normal mail volume, it is observed that cancellations are often made by machines C1 to C4. However, the new cancelling machine is expected to be placed on a trial run, at least on 8 June, to assess its speed. If you would like to be among the first to obtain the C11 cancellation, you may try your luck by dropping a self-addressed envelope into any postbox by 5 pm on 8 June, or 7 pm for any postbox within the Central Business District.

Sundown Marathon 2011

This morning marks the completion of my third full marathon, with a net timing of 4 hours 52 minutes. This time, the organisers decided to bring forward the starting time by two hours to 10 pm, making it inconvenient for participants to leave the event venue after the race. Getting to the event site at Changi Exhibition Centre took quite some time, as the traffic congestion started building up all the way to Changi Village. Earlier editions of the Sundown marathon started at Changi Village instead.

Before the flag off, participants were dazzled by colourful strobe lights at the starting point. However, I would probably end up dizzy if these flashes continued! The race started in front of Changi Exhibition Centre, and brought participants through a relatively flat Changi Coastal Road and East Coast Park. Other than the first and last three kilometres, the scenery mainly comprised trees and cyclists. This made the route somewhat boring, especially in comparison with Sundown Marathon 2009 – which included urban and physical obstacles such as overhead bridges in the second half and undulating terrain near the end.

The weather was somewhat warm and humid, which can be felt along Changi Coastal Road. Water points were conveniently located every two kilometres apart, with signs reading ‘Hydration Station Ahead’ placed some 200 metres before the station. This time, participants may miss the energy gel station as it was located in a dark zone after a bend without any sponsor banners. Towards the end of the route, some volunteers (who reported to the site as early as 4 pm) were already sitting down or lying flat on the ground to catch some rest after standing for more than ten hours. However, as the starting times for the different categories were staggered, there was no congestion encountered.

This year, the race pack – coupled with the increase in race fees – made the entire event rather disappointing. It also made it seemingly and excessively profit-orientated. Other than a running singlet, the drawing block-sized bag was filled with promotional leaflets. On the website, it states that ’42KM Marathon Participants will receive a race kit bag containing an exclusive New Balance Event Singlet and other goodies.’ It seems that other goodies refer to the pieces of paper. Clearly, the organiser was cutting costs in order to maximise their profits as far as possible. Compared to the Standard Chartered Marathon series, the quality of the Sundown Marathon could be improved upon.

Hawker Centres (2011)

Hawker centres are a common sight in Singapore, and they have become part and parcel of life for most Singaporeans. These food centres are conveniently located near public housing estates or transport hubs to serve the residents and commuters alike. They are often said to be highly symbolic of the Singapore lifestyle and culture, some citing it as a meeting place for social interaction and family bonding.

Stalls in hawker centres sell a wide variety of food, keeping prices low to attract more customers. In fact, one can easily find hidden treasures in the form of high-quality food at these places, with some highly recommended by television programmes. Unlike food courts, these hawker centres are not air-conditioned. Over the years, efforts have been made to enhance the aesthetics and ventilation.

Today, Singapore Post has released four stamps of 80 cents each, featuring the illustrations of East Coast Lagoon Hawker Centre, Newton Food Centre, Maxwell Road Hawker Centre and the Lau Pa Sat. These stamps were jointly designed by Leon Yeo and Jean Ng.

In the 19th century, hawkers of the various ethnic groups started selling food along streets due to its low starting capital. They slowly grew in numbers, Patrons often purchase from these makeshift stalls out of convenience. The high unemployment resulted from the Second World War has led to the surge in the number of hawkers. Concerns about the hygiene of the food were raised in the late 1960s, leading to the introduction of policies to curb the growth of these street hawkers. In 1971, the government started building hawker centres to relocate these street hawkers into a more hygienic environment. By the mid 1980s, over 140 hawker centres were built across the country. In 2001, the Hawker Centres Upgrading Programme was introduced to enhance facilities. While maintaining the unique flavours of these iconic structures, improvements have been made to give them a new lease of life.

Adapted from article by Singapore Post, Images by Singapore Post

Singapore $10 Banknote with Two Triangles

A new variety of the $10 Singapore banknote with two triangles on the reverse was spotted in early May 2011. The two triangles were similarly printed in red, beneath the word ‘Sports’ on the bottom left corner of the note. Currently, there are a total of five varieties for the $10 note – with no symbol, one square, two squares, one triangle and two triangles, making it the denomination with the largest number of varieties at the moment.

Another denomination which has two triangles printed on it is the $1000 note.