All posts by Ian Tan

Ian worked in the media industry for a decade, focusing on communications, photography and technology. He now works in the IT industry, permanently plugged into his PC and Facebook.
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A Practical Guide For Motorcycle Owners In Singapore

Now that you’ve decided you want to ride a motorcycle, passed that really difficult Traffic Police riding practical test and have purchased your dream machine, here are some ownership tips that I’ve learned from others, or from trial and error over time.

Many people think that owning a motorcycle is easy and low-maintenance, but to be honest, it’s not.

A motorcycle requires a minimum amount of TLC and your personal time because it needs to be road-worthy and safe to ride. It is also easily stolen or vandalized. Some of the tips here may sound shallow but they’ll resonate with more experienced bikers who will get it. Continue reading

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The Age Of Decluttering

An odd thing happened over the past year as I cleaned up my diet and changed my taste palate – I started to declutter the rest of my life too.

To most people, decluttering is a matter of throwing out old junk from the house. I did just that over the past few months as I finally got around to renovating my HDB flat for the first time since 2003, and fixing many of the things I implemented but didn’t know better back then.

For example, I custom-built a TV cabinet that was designed to hold an extremely heavy CRT TV and store as many DVDs and CDs as possible.

Who would know that over the next decade, TVs would become a fraction of the weight with LCD technology and that physical media would become obsolete?

Books, for me, have become a thing of the past as I moved to ebooks, freeing up an incredible amount of storage space. People say they miss the feel of paper under their fingertips. I say I don’t miss that yellowing piece of tree bark at all.

Another thing I learned over the past decade was that the more storage space I had, the more I would fill it with junk. So in 2014, I no longer have big cabinets or coffee tables in the living room. I have enough storage space to store the essential things, but every few weeks I’m going into my tiny storeroom to see what else I can throw out.

So one key trick in decluttering is preventing future clutter.

The next thing that I started to declutter was my social media life.

Continue reading

M1200S at Sail 01

A Ducati Monster 1200S review by a Monster 1100 Evo fan

Monster 1200 at Sports Hub
The Monster 1200S outside the new Sports Hub

I did something I haven’t done so for a long time today as I was riding my motorcycle home from work – Instead of taking the CTE highway, I took the “scenic” route with the most number of traffic lights in heavy peak hour traffic.

To my surprise, I didn’t feel irritated or tired when I arrived at my house. It was actually a rather relaxing ride where I was going at a slow speed of 50kmh most of the time and was at peace with other car drivers on the road as I kept running into red stop lights.

That is the Ducati Monster 1200S experience in the congested city – it can be really easy-going even when other temperatures are flaring up around you.

This was not really possible on my older Monster 1100 Evo, where the engine would jerk and shudder violently below 70kmh and always insist on either going fast or engage the half-clutch constantly to rein in the unruly beast within.

That’s not to say that the 1200S is a meek bike.

Oh far from it.

Continue reading

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Higher aspirations, higher cost of living?

The 11 May 2014 article from Today newspaper
The 11 May 2014 article from Today newspaper

In recent years, I’ve been hearing this line “Control what you can control” more and more often. I think it’s a very useful line for time management and job prioritization but it is increasingly used when people are handed a lousy situation not of their own doing, and asked to “just deal with it”.

That thought came to mind when I read this news story in Today where our Defence Minister insists our cost of living here has become more expensive because of our personal aspirations in life:

SINGAPORE — Having higher aspirations in life is a reason why Singaporeans find the cost of living here expensive, despite real wages having gone up, said Defence Minister Dr Ng Eng Hen yesterday (May 10).

But Singapore has to ensure that opportunities to get out of poverty must not be priced out and remain abundant to fulfil the dreams of younger Singaporeans, said Dr Ng.

The Defence Minister was speaking at a Singapore Medical Association dinner and responding to a question from the audience concerned over the rising cost of living in Singapore.“If you look at household goods, per household, what people have – handphone, TV – has actually gone up,” said Dr Ng. Unlike the past, mobile phones are almost an essential item for children, he added.

That Singaporeans find costs of living expensive due to higher aspirations is a reason that will not please people, including himself, said Dr Ng, as the reason is “objective” and does not address “issues of the heart.”

Dr Ng added that while the Government makes sure that nobody should have their potential stunted just because their family cannot afford it, this is “difficult argument” to sell as some parents pay large sums of money to provide tuition for their children.

Before writing this post, I’ve actually spent the past three days mulling frequently on the story and on my personal situation.

I’ve asked myself – so is this true? Have my aspirations led to the increasing costs that we’re all experiencing around us? I’ve always respected Minister Ng (hey, he’s an old ACS boy, so he can’t be that clueless right?) so I kept asking myself if it was me and not him. Continue reading

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The art of weight maintenance

The Pandan Cheese Roll from Bengawan Solo is a constant temptation that I resist.
The Pandan Cheese Roll from Bengawan Solo is a constant temptation that I resist.

Losing weight is a science, but maintaining your weight is an art.

I coined this phrase on Facebook a few months ago as I realized that it was actually more challenging to keep one’s weight constant than to lose weight.

You see, as I’ve found out and written in my book Anyone Can Lose Weight, as long as you stick to some simple calorie counting, you will lose a predictable amount of weight.

The science is rock-solid reliable as long as you don’t give up - every 7700 kcal that you remove from your food intake over time, will result in approximately 1kg of weight loss. (Read my book to better understand this simple science that nobody teaches in schools)

But when you’ve finally reached your desired weight, it gets very tiring to keep counting calories, and your body is telling you that it deserves better than the minimal calories it has been enduring for weeks or months.

The risk of lapsing back into one’s old eating habits is extremely high.

There is also no fixed diet anymore to follow, as I have to eat just my daily requirement of calories to maintain weight. So what dishes should I eat today?

At the same time, your weight can never remain absolutely constant like a non-living object – your body’s fluid and mass is constantly in flux daily as it goes through hormonal changes, water retention, illness, responses to weather conditions and so on. That’s why some diet plans advise you not to weigh yourself daily, but perhaps once a week.

That’s why I believe maintaining weight is an art – it requires a lot of flexibility and there is no hard and fast rule to follow. There are some general guidelines to remember though. Here are some of my personal findings and opinions after maintaining my weight for the past six months. I’m still figuring this out every day, but here goes: Continue reading

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Should I Ride A Motorcycle In Singapore?

In recent months, I’ve seen more people considering taking up motorcycle riding lessons in response to the dismal Certificate of Entitlement (COE) situation for cars.

It’s a natural outcome, given that riding is always going to be a cheaper transport solution than cars, even though the motorcycle COE premium is now hitting new highs of over $4,000 (nearly three times of what it was last year).

But I’ve also heard many people express doubt and uncertainty, because motorcycling is seen as an undesirable and dangerous form of transport. I’m writing this to help shed light on some important things before you make the decision to go on two wheels.

You might think that my immediate answer to the question “Should I ride a motorcycle in Singapore?” would be “Yes”. Actually, serious bikers focus so much on safety, that you should be asking “Am I able to commit to being safe on the roads if I want to ride a motorcycle?”.  Many inexperienced bikers think that the Traffic Police is too preachy when it comes to road safety – well, you wouldn’t think that way if you know more about road riding.  Continue reading

The humble 125cc scooter may soon be an endangered species on our expensive Singapore roads.

The COE system is now hurting motorcyclists too

This letter was published in Today, 22 Mar 2014. Note that the COE increase for motorcycles was 240%, but was mistakenly edited to 140% in the printed letter.
This letter was published in Today, 22 Mar 2014. Note that the COE increase for motorcycles was 240%, but was somehow edited to 140% in the printed letter.

Most people may not know that between 2003 and 2013, the car population jumped from 405,328 vehicles to 621,345 vehicles, a staggering 53% increase, according to official Land Transport Authority data.

In the same period, the motorcycle population only increased from 134,767 vehicles to 144,307 vehicles, a 7% increase.

Private cars now form 64% of the total vehicle population, while motorcycles make up 15%.

A 125cc scooter like this Yamaha Zuma may soon be an endangered species on our expensive Singapore roads.
An affordable and efficient 125cc scooter like this Yamaha Zuma may soon be an endangered species on our expensive Singapore roads.

Despite the minimal impact of motorcycles on road congestion and pollution, in the past four months, the Certificate of Entitlement premium for two-wheelers has increased 240% to $4,289 as the LTA has applied its one-size-fits-all formula to capping vehicle population growth in Singapore.

While the LTA is doing the right thing in correcting the over-supply of COE in the past decade, it may not realize how its myopic approach in severely restricting the release of motorcycle COEs  is hurting the motorcycling population and intensifying a growing social equity problem. Continue reading