Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Love Out Loud Asia: 10 Affordable Date Ideas

Whether the both of you have just started seeing each other, are currently enjoying the honeymoon phase, or in a long-term relationship, the typical dinner-and-movie date just doesn’t cut it if that’s all you’ve got – no matter how fancy it is. I don’t deny that it is the company that matters, but honestly after a few predictable dates of just eating and watching a motion picture, I would really prefer to be engaged in some kind of activity.

Here are some relatively affordable date ideas that won’t cost you an arm or a leg:

1. Prawning

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Prawning can be exciting, boring, or relaxing – it depends on how you look at it. And how many prawns you can catch. Unlike fishing, it is relatively easy, and doesn’t require much skill. Sean and I spent the entire afternoon at the Hai Bin Punggol branch trying to catch as many as we could, over Popeyes and some beer. We had worms as baits, and he had the honour of cutting those squiggly things up because I just couldn’t do it. The mere thought of it makes my scalp itch! Barbeque pits are also available for you to enjoy the fruits of your labour, while you take in the scenic and beautiful waterway before your eyes.


2. Pulau Ubin

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Get away from the city, and take a mere 10-minute bumboat ride from Changi Point Ferry Terminal at Changi Village to the last kampong in Singapore. Rent a bicycle each for an entire day, and discover the other side of our nation: mountain bike trials with varying difficulties, temples, shrines, quarries, wild boars, monkeys, etc. I loved the time Sean and I spent together over there, because we got to go on a little island adventure away from the hustle and bustle, and keep fit at the same time! Don’t forget your insect repellent, bring enough water along when you cycle, and keep hydrated!


3. Zoo / River Safari

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Go to the zoo, and explore nature and animals together. Visit the two pandas, Jia Jia and Kai Kai, who lead better lives than the most of us in their specially constructed climate-controlled enclosure. Also, if you can’t get enough of pandas since Jia Jia refuses to come out of the den most of the time, do check out Mama Panda Kitchen, a panda themed rest3aurant that serves stuff like their signature panda pau, spring rolls, bamboo rice, crispy chicken, and more. Besides, who doesn’t like Chinese food, right?


4. Pet cafes

Most animal resorts and pet farms are inconveniently located. Moreover, the animals can’t be cuddled! So if you have no car, or you prefer to speak your love through physical touch, here are two pet cafes accessible by public transport where you can do it – with a fee.

(a) Neko no Niwa

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If you adore cats, 54A Boat Quay is your paradise. This “cat garden” is the first of its kind in Singapore, with 13 residents cats roaming around while you enjoy some drinks and desserts. Entrance fee is S$12 per person for the first hour, and S$5 per person for subsequent half hour. The cats are well kempt and very lovely, but I have concluded that I am more comfortable with dogs – not so much of a cat person. I don’t understand their behaviors well enough; neither do I know where they like to be petted. I was so scared that I only managed to touch them twice or thrice. :/

(b) We are the Furballs

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If you find cats unfriendly, and prefer animals that are more affectionate, the dog café at 45 East Coast Road would be your kind of place. You pay about S$7-8 (comes with a free drink) to spend as much time as you want with the dogs. Since both Sean and I are dog lovers (he has a 13yo Yorkshire Terrier named Cookie!), we had a ball of a time, and I couldn’t bear to leave! Look at Dutchess, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, who plonked herself on my lap because she wanted the dog food I had in my hand! Mochi, the gentle little Maltese, just wanted to sleep on my lap. How cute!


5. Trampoline park

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(Credit: www.ampedsingapore.com)

Want an efficient cardiovascular workout besides plain old jogging? Jump and bounce your way to shape at Amped Trampoline Park, and bring out the inner child in you! This is somewhere Sean and I have always wanted to go to! Some benefits of jumping are: increased motor skills, reduced risk of arthritis, and increased metabolism. The Jurong outlet is fully air-conditioned and has showers, while the one in Katong is air-conditioned in the seating area, and does not have showers.


6. Steamboat

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Unless I stay in London just across the street from Hyde Park, where I can lay on the bare grass with a book in one hand, hold my boyfriend’s with the other, and have the cool spring breeze in my hair… I really do not fancy picnics. As Instagram-worthy as my vintage picnic basket is, let’s face it, we are located just north of the equator. Is it really that romantic to perspire in my floral dress under the blistering sun, while defending my Plain Vanilla cupcakes against the army of ants that also mistook my bowl of salad as their new leafy habitat? No.

If the same goes for you, steamboat would be a better option at the comfort of your own home! It is also a fantastic alternative if you refuse to pay for ridiculously overpriced meals especially during occasions such as Valentine’s Day, or if you simply wanna avoid the crowd – which was what we did this year. The highlight of our meal was the tray of wagyu beef we bought from the supermarket! Yummy in our tummies!


7. Catch a play / comedy

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Skip the movie date, and catch a stand-up comedy or a play instead for a refreshing change. We had a good laugh at both What Makes a Man a Man? and 3The Importance of Being Ernest last year! Admittedly, plays are not that cheap, but hey, once in a while is okay!


8. Find out where the best truffle fries are!

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Both of us are huge fans of truffle fries, and would definitely order a serving (or two) if it’s on the menu. I particularly love the one at Chillax Message Café because they are just so freakin’ flavourful and delicious! Stranger’s Reunion’s comes close. No matter how much I try to convince him, he disagrees and prefers the one at La Salsa. It’s really subjective, and you may end up in a fight if one of you is persistent like me. I’m just kidding.


9. Make somewhere "yours"

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It can be the place both of you first met, a quaint little café, a table at the corner of a hawker center… you get what I mean. CM-PB at Dempsey had always been “our” place – until they took our favourite black pepper crab aglio olio off the menu (Why???!?!?!?), that is. The food is a little expensive, but we had enjoyed lazing the afternoon away over our usual orders (truffle fries, aglio olio, pizza, etc.) with some wine/beer. It is usually rather empty in the afternoons, and it was our perfect hideout from the crowd in town. We even went there to celebrate the last day of my final exam in December!


10. Make something invaluable

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Okay. This isn’t a date idea, but is something really sweet you can do for your partner once in a while. Handmade cards and books (I stitched one for his birthday!) are always a good idea, and they mean so much more than material goods, in my opinion (although a Céline luggage wouldn’t hurt…). They are much more personal, thoughtful, and oh so precious! If handwritten notes are not your thing, a video is something to consider! I made an amateur one after our recent China trip – you can watch it at http://vimeo.com/83926668. Videos give me the kind of warm and fuzzy feeling that pictures rarely do.

These few simple dates ideas are nothing really out-of-the-box, but I hope they are helpful, and serve as some kind of inspiration for your future dates! Moreover, they aren’t necessarily targeted at couples only – I’m sure you will have as much fun doing them with your friends too! Have a great time with your loved ones, and make the best out of everyday!



This is a guest post I wrote for Love Out Loud Asia (LOLA), which you can find here.

LOLA is a SIMPLE, FUN & PRIVATE dating app that helps singles spend less time online and more time actually dating! 
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How are we different from other dating apps? We focus on date ideas and only send you one match a day at noon.. here's a short 30sec video to better illustrate how-it-works: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lqkPh3dFde4. Available on both iPhone & Android.


I think what's great about LOLA is their "no browsing" policy, since having your profile out there on a dating site can be embarrassing for people who are not keen on announcing to the world that they are looking for love. Rather than scrolling through profile after profile looking for a potential date, LOLA does the job for you by finding you a match based on your idea of a date. One quality match a day does not only save you from spams, but also limits your profile exposure, which gives you more privacy! 

Who knows you might make some great friends too!

For more info, simply visit: http://loveoutloud.asia.

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