Actually, I’m kindda ‘forced’ to do it, haha! You see, I’d blogged PART 1 of my Bistro 1855 outing last night, and there’s still a PART 2 which I had intended to take my own sweet time with.
Then 17th September happened.
I really really wanted to blog about this 17th September thingy, and I gotta get it out on 17th September. Ya, that’s like today, hee!
So… unless I ‘interrupt the transmission’ of the 1855 SERIES to blog about 17th September, I don’t really have much of a choice than to quickly get Part 2 out, so that I can blog about the 17th September!
Did you know it’s Love Confession Day today?
In Korea, that is.
Yup, yup, it’s Gobaek Day (告白日; 고백데이) today! Gobaek Day falls on the 17th of September every year.
Why 17th September? Coz…. on this day, if you confess your love and the other party accepts your confession, you will be celebrating your 100th day anniversary on Christmas Day!
Soooooo cute leh, these Koreans!
Or maybe I should say romantic? But I guess it’s nice to celebrate and spend Christmas together on the 100th day you’ve been together as a couple. Especially in Korea where it’s super cold and usually snowy-white during that time of the year. How nice to cuddle up, right right right? Hehe!
If you’re into K-dramas or even K-pop, am sure you’ll be familiar enough with these days. Koreans seem to like celebrating 100th day, 200th day, 300th day… 1000th day… they do so as A COUPLE IN A RELATIONSHIP, and tese are also notable milestones for IDOLS IN KOREA.
Just in case you’re wondering if there’re any easy ways of calculating the number of days between two dates, yup, you can use Excel to do that, or just use sites like THIS and THIS.
Hee, sooooo convenient!
So… if someone makes your heart race (in a good way, I mean!), maybe you should consider confessing your feelings today! Then, who knows? Maybe you’ll be celebrating your 100 days of love come Christmas!
While I’m at it, I might as well do the full works about the days of our livesthe days of a Korean’s life, hehe!
Other than having to remember to meet and buy pressies for their special other half every 100 days, the 14th day of every month might be something special too!
Yessssss! You heard right! EVERY 14th DAY OF EVERY MONTH!
We You ordinary folks probably only know of 14th Feb, Valentine’s Day, ya? But but but, to the Koreans, it’s lots more special days in a year than just that!
14th is the Special Number!
January 14: Diary Day
Couples exchange diaries as gifts, perhaps to wish good luck for the New Year.
February 14: Valentine’s Day
Observed by Western cultures, women give chocolates to males.
March 14: White Day
The origin is uncertain but some maintain it originated in Japan. Men give candies to women on this day.
April 14: Black Day
The only 14th event for singles — they get together and eat Chinese noodles, providing a cheerful occasion for those depressed about not having a significant other.
May 14: Rose Day
Couples exchange roses as gift on this day.
June 14: Kiss Day
Couples share a kiss on this day.
July 14: Silver Day
Couples give each other gifts of silver jewelry on this day.
August 14: Green Day
Couples enjoy the great outdoors with a walk in a forest or up a mountain.
September 14: Photo Day
Couples take pictures together on this day.
October 14: Wine Day
Couples enjoy drinking wine, considered exotic in Korea, on this day.
November 14: Movie Day
Couples go out for a movie together on this day.
December 14: Hug Day
Couples give each other a hug on this day.
So busy hor? Anyway, you can click HERE to read more about these special days.
But in all honesty (and in my mind, practicality too!), most Koreans only bother themselves with Valentine’s Day and White Day. Except maybe if you’re single or just broke up with someone, then you might be particularly sensitive come Black Day.
On top of all this, there’s also the Pepero Day on 11th November!
Mostly popular with and ‘celebrated’ by the younger Koreans. The numeric way to write this date is 11.11, the skinny numbers resembling Pepero, which are long and thin crackers covered with chocolate, strawberry, whatever…
Or some of you might be more familiar with Pocky. Pepero is Korea’s answer to Japan’s Pocky, keke!
So on Pepero Day, the young people in Korea will buy Peperos to give to their friends and all. The significance of this is sharing love and friendship.
I kid you not. This is a much much bigger (commercial) thingy than you’d ever imagine. Take a look at how the supermarkets would dress itself up for Pepero Day!
Oopsies, closing in to 3AM once again! I’d better go sleeeeeeep!
Whenever I find some new place to eat or hang out at (yes, like RED PIG, hehe!), I’m nearly always torn between wanting to tell all my friends about it and wanting to keep the gem of a place to myself.
Of course, if they’re our friends, it’s understandable that we’d want to discover the joy we’ve found. So after pretending to struggle for awhile, I usually just share. After all, just like you can’t keep a good woman down, you can’t hide a good hangout place too, hee!
Location’s pretty central and convenient too! It’s located at the ground level (street-facing) of Suntec City Tower 4. Right next to one of the exits of Promenade MRT station. Or you can also alight at Esplanade or City Hall and walk over.
Or there’re buses. I took bus #97 from Raffles Place to Suntec last night.
And nope, you probably shouldn’t drive since the whole idea is to wine and unwind!
There’s a not-too-big but rather inviting outdoor area if you so prefer.
The inside of Bistro 1855. There’re high tables, low communal tables with benches and booth seats for variety.
See, see? Told ya the place’s brighter, breezier than the usual watering holes, ya? Nope, not too glaring too, just right. I like the feeling of space too, and trust me, it’s really a nice place to have real conversations with your friends.
Maybe the place’s new, so the service staff are still not so familiar with the operations yet, but they ain’t rude or anything. Just…. new *shrugs*
I had very late lunch and also some snacks in the afternoon yesterday, so I wasn’t hungry. Decided not to order any mains, and went for the tapas instead. Hehe, seems like everything under the tapas section is $8!
Sorry, bad pic! The photo really didn’t do the olives justice; they were nice and fresh, and all gone in no time, hee!
The Salmon Ceviche Bruschetta!
If you like salmon and tomato, you will like this! The tangy taste of the tomatoes bring out the best and fresh of the salmon, and it sits perfectly on the crispy bruschetta. The layers of flavors that explode in your mouth are just perfect for peeps who adore the excitement of tangy flavors!
Here comes my fave, the Duck Rilette!!
Disclaimer hor…. I love duck meat, so I’m probably biased. But the braised duck and duck fat cooked with special stock and spices served on toasted bread is just heavenly!! The duck meat was nicely warm and the the meat’s from duck leg, so the texture is, whoa, to die for!
Soooooo…. good that I swore to myself last night that I’d order the duck confit the next time I go to Bistro 1855! *MUST!*
And oh, we also ordered the Chicken Wings.
Was a tad surprised when this was served, coz haha, they looked more like KFC (Korean Fried Chicken) than a fried chicken dish from a bistro! To be fair, their chicken wings are actually very tasty, and not at all soggy. The meat’s just right and all too, but still, the pseudo-korean in me still screams for authentic KFC!
All in, I had a good experience chilling out there last night, and I wanna go back soon!
If you’re working at Suntec, then me jelly!! Coz you can go before I go, and you apparently get a discount too if you flash your building or office pass!!
Noticed that Bistro 1855 describes itself like this?
Salad Bar Buffet by Day,
Wine Bistro by Night!
Ya!! Those of you working around there can go check out the salad bar buffet during lunch! Read that the salad bar has over 50(!) salad items! And it comes with soup and ice-cream too! All for only $12.90 leh!
And hor, you can top up $5 for a main course of your choice leh! Five dollars only leh…! So worth it!
Guess I just gotta go back soon! There’re actually two items on the menu that I’m keen to try. One is the Duck Confit ($20), and the other is the Lamb Shank ($26)!!
I saw someone order the lamb shank last night, and it looked… nom nom! Hehe, I even made a point of checking if the fellow finished his food and ya, he lapped it all up! Must be nice then! Can’t wait to try it!
And oh, they also have a projector, so the place’s also good for product launches and company functions or events. Think it can seat about 100 people comfortably, or even 120.
One more thing… (Haha, trying and failing miserably to pull a Steve Jobs here, in case you haven’t noticed!)
If you’re curious about the name 1855 like I am, here’s why! The name’s inspired by the classification of fine wine of Bordeaux Grand Cru Classe which began in 1855!
You can read more about the classification of Bordeaux that is a monumental milestone in the history of wine HERE, HERE and HERE.
What a gem of a find this place is!! They got everything right! the space’s good, the ceiling’s high and doesn’t trap sounds, the food’s tasty and good value for money, and…. this place has got the loooooongest happy hour EVER! In fact, so long it never ends!
Pop in anytime and grab a drink for $7!
Fab for people like me who usually can’t leave the office until, like, 7pm, and usually ain’t early enough to have a second drink at happy hour prices.
It’s got both indoor and outdoor seating, and is really a nice place to chill. What I like about it is it’s actually pretty conducive for some conversation. You know how some watering holes can be too dark, too noisy and too cramped? Won’t feel that way at Bistro 1855; lovely!
Actually as the evening went by, I was sufficiently impressed to want to blog about it. I started by not wanting to snap any pics at all since I wasn’t gonna blog, but haha, when the food started arriving and I had my first taste of the duck, I found myself picking up my phone and snapping away. In fact, I’ve so much to say that I wanna split this into two posts!
Will share more about the bistro proper in the second post; wanna do some fun stuff in this first post! Saw the blog post title?
In Vino Veritas actually means in wine, there is truth.
So no prizes for guessing it right that this post’s about the boooooze! You see, Bistro 1855 is the sister company of 1855 THE BOTTLE SHOP. So wine (and yes, beer too) feature quite highly at Bistro 1855. In fact, they’ve carved out one side of the space for the retailing arm, 1855 The Bottle Shop.
Let’s go check it out!
And yup, they have a sommelier on hand to assist with whatever queries and of course, she (yes, it’s a SHE *bursting with female pride!*) can also make recommendations based on the dishes you’ve ordered and hehe, of course, based on your budget too.
Oooooh, before we check out some interesting wine labels, wanna say they have craft beer too!
What is craft beer?
Basically, craft beer is beer from craft breweries, hehe! Craft beer simply refers to any beer that ain’t produced by the big corporations, and tend to come from small, independent and in some cases, even traditional, breweries.
Some of the packaging’s so cute! And, I found something I just gotta try the next time around!!
Take a close look at the label! TOP!!
Ohhhh… the YG FAMILY CONCERT just happened on our tiny island over the weekend. I’d gone and it was so damned goooooood! So, yea, sorta having a wee bit of withdrawal symptons!
Something that perhaps this ‘OP & TOP‘ beer can cure?
Okay, okay, moving on, moving on to the wine! So many interesting ones…!!
This shiraz from Australia is called… WHAT…?!!
Bwahwahwahwah!! Mother’s Milk?!! First Drop at that too!
Mentor Cabernet! Can’t find a more suitable gift for your mentor, teacher, boss and even parent, keke!
Interesting! This one’s called The Verdict! I understand that a lawyer owns this vineyard he has all sorts of courtroom-sounding names for his wine! There’re names like Confession, The Guilty, hee!
Oh, Purple Angel! Miyo might like this! Her fave color is purple! What? Is she an angel? That’s for me to know, and you to find out!
Omo! This Kanonkop…. sounds like ‘Cannot Cope’! Probably a good one to open on frenzied, crazy days!
Hee, kindda apt to have ‘Cannot Cope’ next to ‘Good Hope’…
Or… if you prefer to drown your sorrows at home on your ‘Cannot Cope’ days, then you can swing by to pick up this perennially popular McGuigan Black Label.
It’s a red (Cab Sauvignon) and woohoo! It’s at a very affordable $32.50!! Was told the wine’s fantastically great value for money, so try!
Or you can always bring one (or what the heck, bring two, bring three, lol!) when you go visit someone’s house. The 1855 wine carriers are pretty classy!
And I’m saving the best for last! See this wine fridge thingy?
They don’t just have new world wines, they have old world too! In fact, they stock over 500 different wine at Bistro 1855 *wolf whistles!*
And… apparently these two French wines are quite premium and mighty good.
Nah, let you see the labels, keke!
Anyway, the one on the right is supposedly really smooooooth and gooooooood! Keke, I know my description sucks… and you should be able to tell by now I know zilch about wine, so forgive me my lack of vocabulary when wine-blogging. To be honest, my ‘knowledge’ of wine is limited to ‘I like that’ and ‘I don’t like that’… *Oopsies*
But I do love to drink, wakakaka!
Did you know I love love love champagne?
So, what’s a wine place like this without bubbly, right? ZZANG! The champagne’s all here on the rack closest to the cashier!
And…. have you seen ‘fat fat’ champagne before? *grins* Yes, these are champagne! Truly from the place called Champagne in France!
I wanna try this! Gotta ppali ppali find an occasion to pop champagne!
If you’re in the area, I really really strongly recommend you check out Bistro 1855! I like how they’re brighter and breezier than other chill-out places.
And of course, the all-day-and-night $7 happy hour drinks are fab, but don’t hesitate to open a bottle or two too! Unlike some other wine places, Bistro 1855 is hardly intimidating! Nice!
Their tapas should be quite yummy! I tried three tonight and they’re good! Will share more in the second part, k?
Other than tapas, they also have platters! They’ve cheese platter and sausage platters, my favessssss! I will also be sharing some pics of the interior of the place in Part 2. It’s 3AM now, and I need to sleeeeeeeeep!
If you can’t wait for my Part 2, you can check out the menu MENU first.
Incidentally, Bistro 1855 will sometimes have promos and all that jazz. I assume they will announce it on their FACEBOOK PAGE, so go like, go like!
Anyway, I was checking the page out as I’m blogging Part 1 out and saw that they’re having a promo wor~
Free two signature tapas with every bottle purchase of September featured wine…! Looks good and sounds like a mighty good deal, so leggo!
I’d said on Facebook that I would blog over the weekend, but I lied.
The lazybum in me got the better of me, and the Korean dramas and variety shows won the battle. Almost embarrassed to come clean that I’d done absolutely nothing over the weekend except sleep, eat and spend time on my iPad *Oops!*
Then again, you know what people say about Sundays….
Some of you might have noticed that I’d blogged about PROGRESSIVE WAGE MODEL a couple of weeks back. I swear I wasn’t going to say much more about it so soon, but I didn’t think I’d read something that would move me and make me wanna blog more.
…. But on 1 September this year a mountain moved and I thought this was an event worth talking to the kids about.
“I sometimes feel like the process of bringing about big change for low-wage workers is akin to trying to move a mountain with your bare hands,” Labour MP Zainal Sapari said during the Budget debate in March last year.
At that time, he called for the Government to require companies in the cleaning, landscaping and security industries to adopt the labour movement’s Progressive Wage Model (PWM). Under the PWM, cleaning companies are required to have a skills and salary upgrade and career plan for their employees, or their business licenses will be revoked by the National Environment Agency (NEA).
On 1st September this year, the PWM for the cleaning industry was legislated. The mountain had moved.
Why was I blown away by this?
Coz it sorta put into perspective and drove home the point how hard it is to actually change the way the cleaning industry has always worked. Yes, as hard as moving a mountain.
Yes, the mountain has (finally!) moved
And I’m so glad the labour honchos didn’t give up moving the mountain despite the PWM push having taken so many years to finally come into full play.
Seriously, after I’d known how much the workers in the Cleaning Sector had been earning and after watching and reading so many personal accounts of how hard they’re working to make ends meet, it’s just heartbreaking.
As a working adult, have you ever had to live on a salary that’s less than $1,000? And to have your wages suppressed at less than $1,000 for years?
I’d bet my last dollar that it’s near unthinkable for most of us. But that’s the sad fact of life for many low wage workers who are trapped in some sectors of the economy. And I think it’s important that we, as fellow Singaporeans and in fact, as human beings, understand what others go through and yes, maybe even be humbled.
The Painful Truth about Cheap-Sourcing
Since about a decade ago (or more, I really don’t know…), many businesses started to outsource the non-core part of their operations, so things like cleaning and security are outsourced. Companies these days rarely have cleaners or security guards in their direct payroll, instead they award jobs to contractors.
And the sad outcome of this outsourcing is cheap-sourcing, so we see service buyers awarding jobs to service providers who have quoted the lowest prices. And how, then, do the service providers keep the prices low? Yes, by keeping wages low or stagnant.
Let’s take the example of an office building. Every year or every other or few years, it will award cleaning contracts to cleaning companies. Back in the past, there’s a very high chance that the building manager would award the contract to the cleaning company with the lowest quote.
And then this would go on and on. If the building manager continued to pay the same or only slightly higher cleaning fees, then how would the cleaners be accorded higher wages? For a very long time, cleaners’ wages were in the region of $650-$850.
We Should be Best-Sourcing Instead!
If there’s no intervention, this vicious cycle is likely to just repeat itself all the time. So the workers in these sectors will see no wage increase, and of course, the nature of the industry is such that the contractors see very little point in sending the workers for courses and training to upgrade their skills. It’s like being stuck at the bottom of a well, no way out.
Heard of NTUC? Pretty sure most of you would have. No no no, I ain’t talking about the supermarket chain, that’s NTUC Fairprice.
NTUC refers to the Labour Movement of Singapore, and its key aim is to better the lives of all workers. It’s all-inclusive, and so it caters to all workers in Singapore, all collars, all colours, all jobs. (And by the way, this is where I work.)
It has been encouraging BEST SOURCING, to urge service buyers to award contracts not solely on price, but to also consider other aspects like quality and even to take on corporate social responsibility to ensure workers get fair wages.
First off, there’s a basic wage accorded to the workers, this is the Step-Up. And then there’re skills training, career progress opportunities for the workers, and that’s the Flow-On, without which the workers might be stuck at the floor wages for years. And of course, with the upgrading in skills and NTUC grants for the companies to invest in machinery and automation, there will be productivity gains as well.
The Progressive Wage Model (PWM) is first implemented for the CLEANING SECTOR and it has already come into full effect from 1st Sep 2014. Tens of thousands of cleaners are all set to be positively impacted by this.
Meeting PWM in the Flesh!
I was fortunate to be able to tag along a Learning Journey last Monday, the day the mountain moved. I could see for myself how the Progressive Wage Model (PWM) works.
There is actually severe manpower crunch in the Cleaning Sector for years. Not hard to understand why; not many locals, especially the young and increasingly more and more educated, want to take on cleaner jobs. Seen as manual and even menial, and aggravated by the stagnant low pay, it is very hard to recruit and retain workers in the Cleaning Sector.
Hiring foreigners is also not a total solution, since there’re strict hiring quotas in the government’s effort to push for a strong Singaporean Core in our workforce.
The Skinny on the Inclusive Growth Programme (IGP)
The PWM works out well in this case. NTUC has the INCLUSIVE GROWTH PROGRAMME (IGP) , which allows companies to apply for grants for their productivity initiatives, including investing in machinery. In return, the companies usually have to commit to sending their workers for training, and also to share the productivity gains (yes, that means wage increases).
MANY COMPANIES have successfully applied for the Inclusive Growth Programme (IGP) grants and embarked on the journey to automate work and to use more high-tech solutions. Now cleaning companies have machines like this…
And even this…!
For the workers, they will have to be sent for training to operate these machines under all these high tech solutions. So in a way, they have become (more) skilled workers, and you can even say many of them have progressed from manual cleaners or sweepers to machine operators! What this means is that cleaners, too, get a chance to progress in their jobs as they learn to operate more and also more complex machines.
For the companies, productivity has gone up as it is now faster to get the cleaning jobs done. In fact, the companies may be even able to hire fewer cleaners, but workers who are more skilled. And also, all these automation and high tech machines also have a very positive impact on staff recruitment and retention.
For the service buyers, it is also a happy situation as they now see cleaner environments. Not just because the machines can do a more thorough cleaning job, but also because there is lower absentee and staff turnover problems, so the estates, buildings or areas are routinely cleaned per scheduled.
Let me share a clearer example on the productivity gains.
This machine is used to clean the carpark area at HDB estates. Yup, that’s the same machine as the first one posted earlier.
What’s even better is that these cleaning machines are also built in such a way that the workers can sit inside and be protected against the weather, be it the scorching hot sun or even the rain! Other than having the opportunity for wage increases and skills upgrading, the cleaners’ work conditions would have improved.
During the PWM Learning Journey for the Cleaning Sector, we met workers who have benefited from the implementation of Progressive Wage Model.
Like this gentleman ‘riding’ on the cleaning machine here.
His name is Anuar Abdul Rahman (41), and I’d met him during the PWM Learning Journey last week. He works for Weishen Industrial Service.
Anuar has attended WORKFORCE SKILLS QUALIFICATIONS (WSQ) COURSES, and also has received in-house training on operating machines. He now can operate various types of cleaning machines, so that’s where he can add more value than other workers. So the cleaning company has redesigned his work, and he is now a floater instead of a general cleaner. Since Anuar is now multi-skilled and can be deployed to cover for absent staff, his pay has also seen an increase from the previous $950-1,000 to the current $1,400.
For a long time, in the cleaning industry, the cleaners have been looked upon as cheap labour. Today, with the licensing, we hope this will change.
Minister Lim Swee Say added that cleaners too, like other workers, aspire for career progression, with the PWM coming into full effect from 1st Sep, it is hoped that cleaners will not be looked upon as cheap labour but as valuable human resources, and that companies will invest in their career development and upgrading.
While the Progressive Wage Model (PWM) can be applied in all industries, since all workers can benefit from having a clearer career path, NTUC will only be working with the government and employers to push for it to be enforced (via business licensing) in three sectors for the time being.
The reasons are one, these are the most likely services to be outsourced and two, workers’ wages have been suppressed for a protracted period of time. Therefore, ‘intervention’ is necessary to push things faster and also to work the tripartite engine to ensure that all parties win.
During the Learning Journey, something Minister Lim Swee Say said struck a chord in me. He said the Progressive Wage Model is all about the four pillars – Wages, Skills, Productivity and Career Progression.
All four must move up in tandem, else the model will fail and the wage increase will not be sustainable.
I’d spent some time thinking about it, and now better understand why Singapore has chosen to go the PWM way instead of just adopting a minimum wage.
You see, if only Wages go up, with no improvement in Skills and Productivity, then we’re just transferring the increased costs to the service buyers (that would be end users like us!) That would not be sustainable as wages cannot keep going up for no reason, right? And with no skills upgrade, there is also no Career Progression.
However, if with Wages going up, the workers are also trained and thus Skills go up, then Productivity can also go up and that’s where there’s more value added for the service providers and service buyers. Then it’s worth paying more Wages. And of course, it goes without saying that there’ll be Career Progression with more skills upgrading. See how this is a more sustainable and forward-looking model now?
Hee, I won’t apologise for this loooooong post since my readers all know I cannot blog short posts to save my life. And I also dislike stuff like vetting, editing, shortening and all that jazz. So hor, please just read.
Here’s a short and sweet clip of a cleaning operator, who was nominated for the Better Worker award as part of NTUC’s APPRECIATING U MOVEMENT to thank workers from all walks of life.
Peeps, meet Mr Tan Yew Lam.
It is my personal wish this year to live more simply through wasting less and also being more green, and I also wish to be kinder. To be kinder, one of the first steps we can take is to try and understand others more, their plights and their points of view.
You now know how workers in the Cleaning Sector have had their wages suppressed for so long, would you please gorgeous please be a little nicer to all cleaners? Eat less messily at food centres, say Thank Yous to the aunties and uncles clearing your trays, say Hello to the cleaning troop at your estate.
I’d chanced upon AN INTERESTING POST ON PWM BY My 15HWW. A fantastic read with clear writing and lotsa heart. I so feel him when I was reading the closing part of his blog post. Here’s what he’d said,
“… And anyway, I am willing to pay 50 cents more for every hawker dish if the bulk of it goes to raising wages for our cleaners. Or higher conservancy fees.
I hope you would be willing too as that plate of char kway teow priced at $3 is an anomaly that is not seen in other developed countries. It’s indirectly subsidised heavily by our cleaners.”
Some pretty strong words there about the cleaners subsidizing our char kway teow, but it really drove home the point, ya?
I felt compelled to leave a comment on this post. One thing led to another; someone read his post too, saw my comment and came to read my PWM post too. And this gentleman who was initially quite passionately against PWM came to soften his stance and BLOGGED HIS HEART OUT IN THE EARLY HOURS OF THE MORNING. Love this piece too, so go read both blog posts, k??