Lifestyle: Common Man Coffee Roasters



(All photos by Wedding & Travel)

Coffee aficionados have reason to rejoice with the arrival of Common Man Coffee Roasters. Created by the same team — Harry Grover and the Spa Esprit Group — behind the popular  40 Hands Coffee at Tiong Bahru, Common Man is not content with just serving quality coffee. Instead, the store’s Martin Road outlet is a coffee roaster, specialty coffee bar, 60-seater restaurant that offers all-day dining, and retail space with coffee accessories on sale, all rolled into one.

The unique experience that Common Man seeks to provide to its consumers is clear from the get-go. All visitors are greeted by two imposing statues at the store’s entrance, a rather unconventional interior design choice by local standards, may we say. Upon stepping in, it is a refreshing change that Common Man provides good table service, from showing you to your designated seat, to taking orders — something that you don’t get often in other cafes. The spacious interiors also feature well demarcated zones for different users — those who are here to sample the bistro menu will appreciate the well crafted furniture that are of the Scandinavian aesthetics; single visitors with a laptop looking to finish up some undone work will be delighted with the generous number of counter seats (and with comfortable chairs!); last but not least, there are also a small number of tables for groups of friends.

Common Man’s bold take is not restricted to its design. The coffee roaster seeks to “experiment with different coffee flavour profiles, all in the name of helping customers open up their palates to other exciting possibilities”. What this translated to for us, was quite a wild cuppa that was high on acidity. Apart from the usual espresso-based drinks, you can also expect to find other variations of coffee, for example, filter coffee here. No worries if you’re not quite the coffee specialist — it is a joy simply to observe the baristas going about their work at almost clockwork precision on the bar! The wait staff are also on hand to answer any queries you might have.

Our visit on a weekday afternoon was a pleasant experience as the place was only half-filled, but don’t count on that, because we know that there is no hiding good coffee places from Singaporeans. With the quality experience over here, we bet everyone’ll be checking in to Common Man pretty soon.

Common Man Coffee Roasters
22 Martin Road, #01-00
Singapore 239058

Travel: Penang, Georgetown

(All photos by Wedding & Travel)

Penang, how Singaporeans love you so. After all, it’s hard not to do when you’re a place with glorious shiok food (and god knows Singaporeans love our nom!), traditional heritage and modern street art, and amazing scenery combined into one. If you’ve only got one single day in Penang, check out our itinerary of only the must-dos to get the most out of your short getaway!

1. Georgetown Walking Tour (half a day)


Much of Penang’s charm can be found around its street corners, which make for a delightful walk with its eclectic mix of traditional shophouses and contemporary street art. You can easily spend half a day wandering around Georgetown — we suggest that you start in the neighbourhood of Armenian Street, where Penang’s most iconic street murals, “Little Children on a Bicycle” and “Skippy Comes to Penang” (aka the Giant Cat mural), can be found. Just so you know, these amazing art were done by Lithuanian artist, Ernest Zacharevic, as part of the annual Georgetown Festival.


As you take in the art, feel free to wander into the many interesting shophouses along the way. Expect to find stores where you can get your hands on exquisite handmade beaded slippers or some fashionable local togs. In fact, if you’re lucky, you may even catch sight of the artisan working on their products right in the store! Apart from these, we also loved the stores selling retro toys that made us feel like a kid all over again! And the best part is, with every few steps along the way, it’s easy to find vendors selling cooling remedies and ice sticks (we recommend the sour plum flavour) to drive away the scorching summer heat.

2. Peranakan Museum (2 hours)


Take a short visit to the stunning Pinang Peranakan Museum, which was built at the end of the 19th century by Chinese businessman and community leader Chung Keng Kwee. In case you might be having a moment of deja vu, this beautifully restored traditional house has in fact served as the set for various drama productions in Asia, including our very own The Little Nonya! We felt as though we were spying on a Peranakan family’s lives, as we transversed between the many rooms in the building, taking in the awesome collections in each. Despite the fair number of tourists present, the building somehow managed to retain its calm and graceful disposition, making it a totally pleasant way to while away the afternoon.

3. Gurney Drive


And what better way to end off a rewarding day than to indulge in Penang’s finest street food at this seaside promenade? Take your pick from fresh seafood zichar, char kway teow, Assam laksa, barbequed cuttlefish, satay, oyster omelette and many more! With so much goodness in one place, we bet you’ll be torn over which stall to pick! But then again, there’s no need to worry too much — there’s always room for a second round.

Getting to Penang is a breeze as it is only a 90 minutes’ flight away, and is served by many budget airlines including AirAsia and Jetstar Airways.

Life as a Wedding Singer: Ruth Kueo Miaoru

(Photo Courtesy of Ruth Kueo)

Ask any wedding singer which song is a must-sing at weddings, the answer would almost definitely be: Teresa Teng’s “The Moon Represents My Heart” (月亮代表我的心).

But of course, the song list, which usually comprises of more than 20 songs, is more varied and challenging than just crooning crowd pleasers like the above-mentioned timeless 70s ballad, as the professionals would explain. In multiracial and multi-lingual Singapore, wedding singers need to be well-versed in music of different genres and be more than just effectively bilingual.

And for Ruth Kueo Miaoru, overcoming hurdles of singing in dialects especially, involves lots of hard work.

“Languages I’m not familiar with are, for example, Hokkien and Cantonese. I started to romanise those languages so that I could pronounce them as accurately as possible while singing. But this also meant I had to spend time jotting down the Romanised form of every word in the song.

It was also difficult to deal with song genres I’m not too familiar with, e.g. authentic jazz tunes and really old evergreen classics, but this pushed me to listen to more songs and expose myself to more genres.”

The challenges of being a wedding singer don’t end there, but the sweet-faced 22-year-old who has sung at more than 100 weddings so far, remains undeterred. Apart from compliments and feedback from guests who have heard her sing, what fuels Ruth on is her passion for music.

Having participated in various singing competitions around the region like Taiwan’s “One Million Star” and singing demos for famous Mandopop stars like JJ Lin, the NUS graduate embarked on a journey to make music her career upon graduation. Ruth’s first baby step was the founding of her own company, White Ribbon Live Music.

“Music is my passion. I set up White Ribbon Live Music because I thought it will be a really great idea to make a living out of it. A live band company which provides live music for weddings and corporate events allow me to make a decent income and at the same time, with this stability, it gives me the freedom to continue to pursue music and establish myself as an artiste/singer.”

Now armed with experience, Ruth is ready to take the next step into realizing her dream. Soon, her debut EP with 4 of Ruth’s very own compositions, will be released! We spoke to the petite girl with the courage to dream big, about her experiences as a wedding singer and singer-songwriter in the local music scene.

W&T: Do you remember the first wedding you performed at? How was the experience?
Ruth: Very meaningful. I could still remember the couple’s name. It was pretty nerve wrecking as it was in one of the luxurious hotel in Singapore, with a very big ballroom (St. Regis) and many distinguished guests. Meaningful and fulfilling when you hear compliments from the many guests, and keeps you going after that.

W&T: Can you let us in on some of the hard work as a wedding singer that people outside the trade don’t know?
Ruth: Learning songs one by one and having to sing 25 songs in a wedding, is different from singing just one song in a competition or performing one song in a showcase. We have got to keep up with the stamina and deliver every song to the nicest possible. During peak periods when I get back to back wedding gigs, it is easily 50 songs in a day and stamina is really important.

Singaporeans are rather passive crowds, hence in a dinner setting at a wedding celebration, we don’t really get much applause as compared to when we sing at my regular bistro bar performing outlets, but we just have to get used to it and do our best to smile and entertain the couple’s guest during the joyous occasion.

W&T: Many wedding singers have gone on to release their own material and music they put out tend to be happy and optimistic. Will yours be the same?
Ruth: I will actually have more sad love ballads in my EP! However, I always try to have a sense of lingering hope in my lyrics so as to create a hopeful image.

W&T: What have you learnt in the process of producing your album?
Ruth: (I’ve learnt that) album making is a time consuming yet fruitful process! From writing melody, to writing lyrics, recording demo, arrangement, actual recording, backup vocals, all of these take up a lot of time but the results are very fulfilling, especially when you see the final product.

And regarding producing an album, I realise the final product must represent yourself and I believe people will only be able to feel the sincerity in your music if you are comfortable with your own music style, so, it’s the best to be yourself, and be comfortable in your own skin.

To know more about Ruth Kueo Miaoru, pop by her site ( or facebook ( to learn instant updates on her performances and upcoming EP.

Travel: Penang Spooky Tour Packages

Psychologists have long proved that scary experiences help to increase feelings of affection, albeit temporarily under those circumstances. Couples looking for that something to get your hearts pumping, here’s the perfect getaway for you — a short trip to Penang, Malaysia for a Spooky Tour.

The Penang Spooky Tour, now in its second year, is a special package that Tourism Malaysia came up with to be launched in conjunction with the Chinese Hungry Ghost Festival. Under this tour, you can visit spooky spots like a T-junction that is famous for ghost sightings, and the Protestant Cemetery, where Penang’s European founders lie. You can also expect an up-close look at the local Hungry Ghost festivities, which is a fresh experience, even for Chinese. Unlike its Singaporean counterpart, which has become characterised with commercialised getai performances, the Penang festivities still retain a whole lot of traditional charm, with roadside Teochew opera performances, and elaborate ceremonies for the worship of the God of Hades.

But the highlight of the Spooky Tour is no doubt, a visit, and if you’re up to it, an overnight stay at the notoriously haunted Penang War Museum. In fact, the War Museum has just wound up as one of Asia’s top 10 haunted sites in National Geographic’s new documentary, I Wouldn’t Go In There! For the uninitiated, the Penang War Museum is situated on a hilltop that was historically dubbed as Bukit Hantu (translated as Ghost Hill). First built as a military defense fortress in the 1930s by the British, the site was later used as a torture and prison camp by the Japanese after Penang fell during World War II. As you can imagine, there is certainly no lack of chilling happenings over there!

Adhering to the principle of retaining as much as the site’s original state as possible, the Penang War Museum is designed as a trip ‘Back to Malaya’, to take the visitor back to the days and state during the World War II. Likewise, expect no luxury accommodations over here — visitors on the overnight stay will sleep together in the Museum’s old barracks, which once served as interrogation and torture rooms for Prisoners of War! Facilities are basic, with only a sleeping bag provided, and shared toilet facilities. The Museum can accommodate a maximum of 20-30 people per night, so do make sure you book ahead if you don’t want to miss out on this once-in-a-lifetime experience! A 2D1N Spooky Tour package including the overnight stay costs RM$269 per person. (For other shorter packages, do check out the image below.)

spooky brochure2

Psst, we spoke to the owners, who told us that they hire a Malay bomoh (i.e. Malay witch doctor) on-site if visitors stay overnight just in case anything happens… don’t say you haven’t been warned!

To book, you can contact the following operators:

Capital One Leisure Sdn Bhd
66, Lobby Arcade Penang Road
Cititel Hotel
10000 Penang
Tel: 04-262 3790

Ravi Sharma Travel Sdn Bhd
46, Leigh Street
10200 Georgetown, Penang
Tel: 04-263 2145

Jouis Holiday
No 457, Chulia Street
10200 Penang
Tel: 04-261 8828

Pacific Style Holidays Sdn Bhd
Rooms 3-A, Kompleks Muzium Perang
Lot 1350, Mk 12 Daerah Barat Daya
Batu Maung, 11960
Tel: 04-626 5742

Lifestyle: 50 Greatest Photographs of National Geographic

If you, like us, adore the works of National Geographic’s photographers, be thrilled to know that you can now view these stunning snaps up close at Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands!

Taking up residence at the Art Science Museum, the “50 Greatest Photographs of National Geographic” will be showcasing 50 iconic snaps by some of National Geographic’s most remembered and celebrated photographers, like Steve McCurry, Chris John and Joanna Pinneo.

Joanna Pinneo is most famous for this photo titled “Sub-Saharan Mali”. It was taken on an assignment to Mali to uncover how drought is affecting the Tuareg nomads in sub-Saharan Africa. In shot are a local family whom Pinneo had met on the trip and constitutes a poignant moment, reminding the world about the catastrophic effects of climate change.

This is the first time the exhibition comes to Southeast Asia and coincides with the 125th anniversary of the National Geographic Society this year. So, expect more than just visual delights for there will be a vast array of engaging programmes, interactive spaces and workshops lined up just for you.

For the photography buffs, make a bee line for the workshops like “Negative to Print” and “Darkroom Developments” and discover for yourself the thrill of developing a 35mm film into negatives or vice versa. The best part of it all is that, these workshops are absolutely complimentary for exhibition ticket-holders!

For more information on “50 Greatest Photographs of National Geographic” and its related programming activities, visit

The World’s Best Wedding Photos

Ever heard of the Fearless Awards?

Just in case you are thinking about reality show “The Fear Factor”, this has nothing to do with that.

Instead, the Fearless Awards is a bimonthly award organized by Fearless Photographers, an online directory boasting of the world’s best photographers, curating extraordinary wedding photos. Some have called the awards the equivalent of Oscars in the world of wedding photography and more than 200 photos are unveiled once every two months as the crème of the crop.

For this post, W&T looks at some of our favorites amongst the tops from over the world and hope they inspire you for your big day.

Where the lovebirds take centre stage.
Clovergraphy , Australia

Kajul Photography, Germany

Apresh Chavda, United Kingdom

Gary Evan, Indonesia

Hiram Trillo, Fort Worth

Because weddings has never been just about the couple, so we particularly love it when photos capture families, friends and not forgetting, our pets.

Erika Mann, Canada

Andrea Corsi, Italy

Gardner Hamilton, New York

Cole Kor, Singapore

Which are your favorites? Tell us your thoughts! To view more amazing snaps from the Fearless Awards, go to

Polyamorous Relationship… I’m Sorry, What?

(Original article:

The strange things you find around — we recently read the above article on BBC News about polyamorous relationships, which is defined as “the practice of having simultaneous intimate relationships with more than one person at a time, with the knowledge and consent of all partners”.

What happens is that these four people, namely, Sarah, Chris, Charlie and Tom (from top left, clockwise), live together in a house, and have close relationships with each other’s partners, and they’re totally cool about it. They might also be cool to someone new joining their “circle”, but all parties have to agree. So what counts as crossing the line, you ask? Only if any party tells a lie.

While this practice may seem baffling to the majority of us, Sarah, Chris, Charlie and Tom, see it as a viable and arguably, legitimate alternative to monogamy. After all, they say, one learns to navigate monotony in monogamous relationships, and accordingly, in the case of polyamorous relationships, one learns to deal with jealousy. Apparently, the polyamorous circle has even come up with their own word, “compersion” to describe the “little warm glow that you get when you see somebody you really care about loving somebody else and being loved” — their “antidote” to jealousy.

Well, to be honest, we at Wedding & Travel can hardly see the attraction to polyamorous relationships. After all, we’ve seen so many perfect couples and weddings through the course of our jobs, and we have no doubt that monogamous relationships work. Surely, there can be no more beautiful thing than two people feeling brave enough to pledge themselves as the one and only to each other, and devoting effort and time to maintain the exclusive relationship. It is definitely not easy, and we want to pay homage to that. In the article, Charlie admits that she was afraid of commitment, and with a polyamorous relationship, she felt that she could love her partner as deeply as she wanted to, without the fear of breaking his heart if she fell in love with someone else. To be honest, this sounds a wee bit too self-serving for us — is this not just a lack of courage or will to believe that both of you are settling for the right person? There may be someone ‘better’ who could come along, but we all know that love can never be measured in the tangibles, and who’s to say who is better than who?

But of course, it is not our job to pass judgment on the lifestyles of other people. At the end of the day, all’s good as long as all parties are happy with the arrangement, and they live a fulfilling life, isn’t it? We won’t deny something different just because we won’t do the same ourselves. Diversity is the order of the day, and it is only right that we celebrate that.

We hope this was a thought-provoking piece to read. Do share with us your views, we’ll be waiting!

Lifestyle: Singapore Night Festival 2013


The annual Singapore Night Festival is back again! Happening on the weekends of 23-24 August and 30-31 August 2013, this year’s Night Festival is bigger and better, and will cover the area all the way from Raffles City to Plaza Singapura!

detail_img (1)
Pyramid of Void by Compagnie Retouramont

As with previous years, you can expect extravagant acts including aerial performances, installation fireworks and music and dance performance across cultures. Looking at the line-up this year, we are rather fascinated by the Oomoonbeings by Singapierrot and the Pyramid of Void by Compagnie Retouramont, both of which appear to be mysterious performances that celebrate the night and its beauty! The latter, particularly, is a stunning aerial item whereby the dancers create a visual dialogue, only supported by a pyramid of ropes.

Night light installations at the Singapore Art Museum

It is no surprise that you can expect the crowd-pleasing night light installations to be on, when our museums will take on a new skin during the festival period. A new addition this year is the Public Garden Flea Market, which will be taking place at Chijmes during the festival. Now here’s your chance to satisfy those late night shopping cravings by indulging in this local creative market!

Speaking of local, the Singapore Management University Campus Green will be the venue for the HOMEMADE music showcase. As suggested by its name, the showcase features favourite homegrown names such as Pleasantry, The Obedient Wives Club, Inch Chua and The Bushmen. Also look out for The Electric Symphony Project — a 23-piece band who will make its debut during the showcase!

Of course, on top of these special events, the museums in the Bras Basah Bugis precint will also be open for free admission during the Night Festival. With so much to do and see, there is no excuse for not getting out there in the night!

Lifestyle: The Phantom of the Opera

(Photo Credit: Base Entertainment Asia)

It has been staged twice in Singapore, first in 1995 at Kallang Theatre then a most successful sold-out run at the Esplanade Theatres in 2007. In between, it was also given an airing on our big screens with Gerard Butler as the tortured protagonist.

But it seems, Singaporeans still can’t get enough of this timeless story, adapted from a novel penned by French writer Gaston Leroux in 1911, which tells of a tragic love a disfigured and tormented musical genius has for his beautiful and talented protégé, Christine.

The Phantom of the Opera” musical, which is back in Singapore since July 16 and is taking up residence at the Marina Bay Sands’ Grand Theatre, has seen a spectacular box-office thus far. New tickets added to the classic musical, created by Andrew Lloyd Webber in 1986, have been snapped up instantly.

This is, of course, nothing new for the timeless musical which celebrates its 26th year on Broadway this year, making it still the longest-running musical to date. Along the way, the much loved musical, characterized by elaborate sets and wardrobe as well as stirring music like “Music of the Night”, has picked up 130 million audience members in 27 countries and earned more than US$5.6 billion.

(Photo Credit: Base Entertainment Asia)

Also returning to our sunny shores along with the show is American actor, Brad Little. The 49-year-old is only one of four actors in the musical’s history to have performed the tortured lovelorn “Phantom”. Having acted in more than 2,200 shows across the globe, including the 2007 run in Singapore, Little says he never got and will probably never be bored with his role. “I know what an honor it is to be one of the gentlemen to play the man behind the mask. I keep that in the back of my mind every time I step on the stage. (On how I keep myself fresh,) I have the beautiful privilege to perform opposite two wonderful Christines. Each of them are very different in their take on the role but both have such truth to their performance it makes me always stay fresh and on my toes.”

And taking on the role of the ingenue “Christine”, is Australian songstress Claire Lyon. The 26-year-old was previously a ballet dancer before delving into classical singing. Prior to “The Phantom of the Opera”, Lyon was an understudy for Christine in the musical’s sequel “Love Never Dies”. On whether it was stressful to act against a most experienced Little, Lyon said, “Not at all. Brad and I have come to form our own bond and we really trust each other on stage and the choices that each of us make. We just have fun up there every night and enjoy the whole experience.”

Brad Little and Claire Lyon have been performing to a hectic schedule of about eight shows per week so we at Wedding & Travel are very lucky indeed to have an interview with them. Read on about what the two leads have to say on love for their respective characters and the classic musical.

Brad Little and Claire Lyon as the Phantom and Christine. (Photo Credit: Base Entertainment Asia)

W&T: Which is the most difficult scene for your role?
Claire: One of the most difficult scenes is actually ‘Think of Me’. I have a quick change into an extremely heavy skirt which weighs me down a fair bit, not to mention I’ve just done a whole scene full of dancing so I can get a little puffed at times.

Brad: The first scene the Phantom has, when he sings “Music of the Night” is the most difficult. This is because, you sing the most famous song from the show right at the beginning of your night on stage. You must be high-energy and perfect.

W&T: What is it that you love most about “The Phantom of the Opera” and your role?
Claire: I love the journey I get to go on every night. I start out as a naive young girl and grow into a woman throughout the course of the show. I also love that I get to do classical ballet as well as sing and act which is quite rare for a lead role.

Brad: (I love most that) I’m a part of musical theatre history. “The Phantom of the Opera” will continue to amaze people long long after I retire and have left this world. To be a part of this legacy is truly mind blowing.
It wasn’t until playing the Phantom that I learned how important it is to the people of the world. It is therapy without having to see the doctor. The letters I receive, on how Phantom has changed their lives, has made me realize that the show is far more than just entertainment. So, it gives me thoughts about life. Big time!

“The Phantom of the Opera” is on from now till Sept-1 at the Marina Bay Sands Theatre. Tickets can be purchased at, 6688-8826 or in person at the Marina Bay Sands Box Offices or SISTIC.

Ticketing information as below:



A Reserve

B Reserve

C Reserve


E Reserve

Tue – Fri – 8pmSat – Sun 2pm & 8pm







Traditional Confectioneries for Guo Da Li

As all of you couples will be aware, Guo Da Li (过大礼) is the traditional procedure whereby the groom delivers wedding cakes and confectioneries to the bride’s family. The bride’s family will then distribute these cakes and confectioneries to their family and friends when they deliver the wedding invitations.

Depending on the family, the guo da li confectioneries might not figure as such a big part in one’s wedding preparations nowadays. After all, it is easy to get them at almost any of our modern confectioneries around. Some people have even made the switch to distributing cake vouchers instead! But if you’re like us, and still hold some conviction and nostalgia towards our older-day traditions, we’ve rounded up some of the traditional confectioneries around that will serve up just the perfect guo da li cakes, like the ones our Moms had before.

Gin Thye
423 Sembawang Road, Singapore 758392

With six branches in Singapore at Sembawang Road, Bukit Batok, Bishan, Kallang, Ang Mo Kio and Bangkit Road, we suppose it would be a breeze getting your Guo Da Li confectioneries from Gin Thye. From what we’ve gathered around, Gin Thye is particularly popular among couples for their Teochew confectioneries. An added bonus would be the shop’s comprehensive website (something hard to come by among such traditional confectioneries), where you can easily check out the wide range of wedding cakes available online, before heading down.

Le Café Confectionery & Pastry
Elias Building, 264 Middle Road, Singapore 188990

It is easy to get an inkling of Le Café’s illustrious history from the single fact that it has been located at its Middle Road outlet since it was established in 1949. While the confectionery will count Andy Lau’s order for his Golden Horse Awards celebration cake as one of its glorious moments, it is equally conscientious when it comes to their daily work as well. After all, it is not every day that you find a shop that has been faithfully serving wedding couples since the 1960s, when they started producing guo da li cakes.

Tai Thong Cake Shop
35 Mosque St, Singapore 059513

Set up in the 1950s, Tai Thong specialises in Cantonese confectioneries and is perhaps most famous for its jianvbing (嫁女饼 — literally translated as ‘biscuits for a daughter’s wedding’) and longfengbing (龙凤饼 phoenix biscuits). While the shop has passed over to its second generation owners in 2002, you will be glad to know that it retains its age-old philosophy of producing all its cakes and pastries at its shop with only the best ingredients. A piece of trivial here — the cooking oil used in its products are sourced from Sime Darby Edible Products, the only edible oil refinery in Singapore!

Apart from our 3 picks above, you may also wish to consider these other names we’ve listed below!

Neo Kian Guang Confectionery & Cake
Blk 7 Hougang Ave 3, #01-50, Singapore 530007

A traditional confectionery that supplies Hokkien, Teochew, Hainan cakes for weddings.

Tong Heng Confectionery
285 South Bridge Rd, Singapore 058833

A traditional Cantonese confectionery most famous for their diamond-shape egg tarts.

Ng Kim Lee Confectionery
4 Chun Tin Road, Singapore 599591

A confectionery with more than 50 years of history that serves up traditional Chinese and Western treats.