Monday, 22 May 2017

They tried to bury us. They didn't know we were seeds.

So today was one of those days when I really needed a drink. But I am sick and coughing like my lungs are going to give up on me so I cannot drink and can only curl up in a corner and bawl my eyes out. And now that I am done with that, I have decided to just type away. This is going to to come out like a stream of consciousness and maybe I will delete this tomorrow. But hey, I should not be ashamed of myself in this weak shitty state. If you are reading my blog for flowers, pretty sights and the untrue side of social media, stop reading now. I have no lies to feed you with tonight.

I heard this story sometime ago:
One evening an old Cherokee Indian told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, ‘My son, the battle is between two ‘wolves’ inside us all.One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.
The other is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.’
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: ‘Which wolf wins?’
The old Cherokee simply replied, ‘The one you feed.’
My Evil Wolf has been growing stronger day after day for a long while now. The little voice, the gnawing thought that I am lousy, that I am not good enough, that nothing I do will ever be good enough, that little voice has been grow louder, stronger, and more real each time I feed it. And it has been so easy to feed that voice nowadays. So many people have been helping me feed my Evil Wolf these days. I used to have a strong Good Wolf. Strong enough so that I know when people are just being mean, unhelpful and demeaning, and not let them get to me. I learnt early on in my job that people can sense weakness, and once you are weak, you are dead because people will just go in for the kill. Applies in the jungle, applies here. So my Good Wolf was always strong, my mind was always strong, and I know what I was doing, where I was going. 

I don't know what happened but one day the balance tipped. And now here I am, in a sad pathetic ball, not knowing how I got here. A little like being drunk except that this is reality and I did not drink a drop. 

At my saddest moment today, I went to Bugis and bought a kebab from my favourite kebab store Stuff'd. I have never realised it before but today I noticed that there was a quote on each kebab! And mine was so apt...
They tried to bury us. They didn't know we were seeds.
Evil Wolf says, "Please, woman, you are a rotting corpse. Just accept it and do your part as an organic fertiliser."

Good Wolf says, "See? You are a seed. One day you will grow into a big strong tree and you will thank the people who buried you."

I will feed the Good Wolf tonight. Even if it takes all the strength I have left, I will feed the Good Wolf tonight. 

Saturday, 20 May 2017

11D8N Eastern Europe Tour with Chan Brothers Day 1 - Berlin (Germany)

So this is the first of my series on our recent Eastern Europe Tour with Chan Brothers and I feel like I should get the disclaimers out of the way. I am in no way affiliated to Chan Brothers, I was definitely not sponsored to write this, and my family paid the cost just like everyone else to join this tour. *Signs imaginary statutory declaration*

Now that that is done, I shall share a bit about my experience with Chan Brothers. If I am going for guided tours (which I have learnt is the best way for family trips), I will definitely choose Chan Brothers. I have joined Chan Brothers for a Taiwan trip and a Korea trip. I find that their tour packages are the most value-for-money, they provide generally good hotels throughout the trip, the tour guides are experienced and, you know what is the most important? I always know upfront what the optional tours or meals are, and how much they cost. I like honesty and transparency, no hanky panky going on there man. I tell everybody who is willing to hear to go for Chan Brothers if the price is right. I am, in a way, the unpaid and overly enthusiastic Chan Brothers fan. I guess I am secretly afraid they will go bust and I would have no more value-for-money tour operators to go on family trips with in future.

Thus, we signed up for the 11D8N Eastern Europe Tour with Chan Brothers and traveled from 20 Dec to 28 Dec 2016. Yes, we had a white Christmas! Very exciting but I will share the downsides of being in Eastern Europe over Christmas in a later post.

Flew Swiss Air and landed in Berlin on a grey wintry morning together with the tour group and our tour leader Eva. Heard about the truck attack in one of the Christmas markets in Berlin just the night before and felt the somber mood through the capital of Germany. Flags were at half mast through the city and it was a very real reminder that such attacks can indeed happen anywhere.

We had a rather boring cream and rice lunch at Potsdamer Platz before heading to the city tour. Potsdamer Platz brought back lots of fond work memories. I came to Berlin twice for work and, despite the crazy busy meeting schedule, we managed to stop by both times for a quick bite at the Potsdamer Platz Christmas Market and I collected two mugs from the market.

Visited the Holocaust Memorial, Checkpoint Charlie, East Side Gallery, Museum Island, and drove past a bunch of interesting places (like the huge Russian embassy) while listening to the local guide's description of World War II.

Checkpoint Charlie.

Museum Island.

East Side Gallery. Did not manage to take much pictures of the artwork on the wall because my hands were shaking too badly from the cold.

We pulled up at the Brandenburg Gate where the German flag was also at half mast. The Goddess of Peace stood at the top of the gate and in the distance, the Victory Column was a familiar sight.

We returned to the Mall of Berlin where we had a bit of free time to shop. Walked around a little in the mall and eventually ended at the food court where we bought currywurst and fries (yippee!!).

The coach took us to Mercure Tempelhof Airport Hotel where we checked in and were free to find our own dinner. We walked along the main road and searched for dinner. Eventually, we stumbled upon Jasmin, as Asian eatery that served really good pho. If you are staying at this hotel and don't mind venturing out, Jasmin is a great place to have some yummy hot pho on a cold wintry day. The hotel was conveniently located beside a few supermarkets and we bought bottled water from one of them before heading back to rest.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Upin Hot Pot, Clarke Quay Central

My bro told me about Upin Hot Pot before he left for his exchange in Seoul and mentioned that the concept was very similar to Hai Di Lao but at a fraction of the price and without the queue! Love Hai Di Lao (especially the fresh ingredients and the yummy tomato soup base) but always felt it was a little too expensive and the queue was just too long, so I was really looking forward to trying Upin.

Made a reservation for Friday dinner with Zg, Tx and Ben and the place was full. No long queue at the door but there was a healthy crowd in the steamboat restaurant. We ordered the tomato soup base, the seafood soup base and the pork bone soup base. My all-time favourite was definitely still the tomato soup base, although I was also very fond of the seafood soup base. The pork bone soup base had a slight herbal taste so you either hate it or love it. We ordered a lot of ingredients (black pork, chicken, vegetables, mushrooms and assorted balls) and all of them were so fresh. The bill was approximately $35 per pax.

Service was great. The staff was attentive, helpful, and provided very good information when we asked about the various soup bases. They may not be hovering around all the time, and when it gets busy, it might take a while to call for a waiter or waitress, but generally I have no complaints. There was also a 变脸 performance halfway through the night!

Returned for lunch with friends from the office. Upin was extremely empty during lunchtime. In fact, I think we were one of two tables during that lunch. Great place for a quiet, peaceful chat over lunch. We tried the mala soup base, tomato soup base and seafood soup base. My friends enjoyed the mala but I am afraid of the spiciness so I did not take too much of it. 

Returned a third time with my aunts for lunch on a Sunday and, similarly, it was so empty! We ordered the tomato soup base, pork bone soup base, and mushroom soup base this time. The mushroom soup base was clear and fragrant, quite a good choice! 

I am so happy with Upin Hot Pot. Finally a place with great steamboat (quality ingredients, thick delicious soup base), good service, and reasonable pricing. Also helps a lot that we did not have to brave the crowd to enjoy such good steamboat!

#03-87 Clarke Quay Central

Sunday, 16 April 2017

A Noodle Story, Amoy Food Centre

I have always wanted to try Noodle Story but the queue at the stall (especially after they were listed in the Michelin Bib Gourmand Guide) was rather daunting and I never got around to battling the crowd to try this bowl of Singapore-style ramen.

So when TT suggested lunch at Noodle Story (largely because I needed to start saving for my upcoming wedding and house, thanks guys), SQ and I headed over in a heart beat. The queue was crazy long and TT kindly helped us queue (thanks again!) while I did the millennial thing to Instagram the long queue. After about 20 minutes, it was finally TT's turn and he returned with 3 bowls of noodles. We took the small bowls for $7. You could also choose the medium-sized bowls for $9.

The noodles were so, so good. Totally worthy of the long wait. Springy noodles in delicious sauce, juicy wantons, tender char siew, freshly-fried prawn wrapped in potato, and that running egg yolk <3. The soup was also surprisingly thick and fragrant, not the usual watery soup that goes with dry noodles. Recently, they have also started distributing wet tissues with each bowl of noodles!

I will definitely return often slurps. 

7 Maxwell Road
#01-39 Amoy Street Food Centre
Singapore 069111

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Open Farm Community

Throwback to Sunday brunch with Stef at Open Farm Community. Been wanting to try it out for the longest time but never got my lazy ass here because Dempsey is just rather far. So glad we took time off on a sunny Sunday morning to grab brunch together at Open Farm!

Love the greenery of the place, but was more thankful that the cafe was air-conditioned. 

Used our Entertainer App so we had 1-for-1 for our mains. 

Risotto:Saffron, choriso, cuttlefish, green peas, ebi. Very interesting combination and definitely a very special risotto. Love the savoury ebi with the fragrant saffron. 

Rigatoni, mushrooms, smoked pancetta, balsamic glaze. Very interesting dish too! Love the chewy rigatoni and the delicious sauce. 

Ended our brunch with coffee but was surprised when the staff came over to tell us that they needed our table as someone else had a reservation, just as our coffee was being served. They were nice about it and told us we could continue sitting outside in the al fresco area but we would have appreciated it if they had informed us that they needed our table before we ordered our coffee. At least we didn't have to sip our hot coffee in the heat outside and could have headed to another cafe in the area.

Still a good place for brunch, as long as you are seated in the air-conditioned area!

130E Minden Road
6471 0306

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Conrad Centennial Wedding Show

We were very interested in two hotels for our wedding lunch and Conrad is one of them. We met our coordinator a few weeks before the wedding show, and she was very friendly and responsive in the weeks we were communicating with her. We really liked Conrad's ballroom, the decoration, and we thought the location of the hotel would be great for our guests since it is right in the city center. So we were seriously considering signing our wedding package with Conrad during their wedding show.

Advice for future brides-to-be 

If you do not have time to read everything I have to share in the next few paragraphs, just remember this - if you intend to hold your wedding banquet at Conrad on a popular date, and you intend to secure your wedding date during the wedding show, you may wish to head to Conrad early in the morning and place your deposit even before the wedding show starts. We know this because we learnt the hard way…

So our proposed wedding date is apparently rather popular and we were told that it would be on a first-come-first-serve basis during the wedding show. Unlike other hotels which would share the wedding show perks before the wedding show and allow bookings with the perks before the wedding show, Conrad does neither and you would only know the perks and secure a booking with the perks on the day of the wedding show. 

As such, we asked our coordinator if we could meet earlier to place our deposit before the wedding show starts (registration starts at 11:30 am) and were told that it would be difficult as the sales team would be busy with preparation beforehand. Completely understandable so we decided that we shall be one of the first few to register when registration starts at 11:30 am in order to secure our proposed wedding date.  

We reached at 11 am and, to our utmost dismay, were told that another couple had arrived in the morning, placed the deposit, and booked the day we were looking at! I cannot describe how unfair and unpleasant I felt this was. We had made a similar request to meet earlier before the start of the wedding show but our request was rejected. Yet another couple, who did not have to take time to join Conrad for their wedding show and perhaps did not even have to pay for the wedding show, managed to secure the date even before the wedding show registration started!

For the sake of future couples who I hope would not suffer the same disappointment as us, I have written to the sales team and humbly suggested that for future wedding showcases, Conrad may wish to accept bookings of wedding dates only upon registration. Otherwise, if Conrad is going to accept bookings from the morning of the wedding showcase, this should be extended to all couples.

I am not sure if Conrad would change their internal policy (most likely not, but we shall see), but in the event they do not, future BTBs hoping to secure a popular wedding date should definitely go down early in the morning before the start of the wedding show and place your deposit. 

Why do we have a fixed wedding date?

The short answer is, the date was calculated for us and it was the only suitable date in the second half of 2018 for us. We could not have our wedding banquet in the earlier half of 2018 because of some personal reasons. To cut a long story short, we had to scramble and get another date in the middle of 2018. 

Wedding show

Eventually we did sign with Conrad because the food at the wedding show was great, the ballroom was beautiful, and service (aside from the glitch of booking wedding dates) was good. Our coordinator had been warm, friendly and approachable through the weeks and we really liked her. 

The LOVE theme with baby breaths and white hydrangeas, and a giant LOVE sign on stage. 

The HAPPINESS theme with the traditional red double-Xi sign on stage, and red roses with pink hydrangeas. 

The invitation cards.

It would have been a much better experience if we did not have to go through the unpleasantness and unfairness described above. But we trust that Conrad would deliver on the actual day and I would update our experience next year. 

If you wish to learn more about the package or my experience with Conrad so far, feel free to email me at

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Golden rules for wedding preparation

If you have caught up with Zg and/or I recently, you would probably know that we have (finally) started our wedding preparation. Frankly, there are so many to-dos, so many items to check off the list, and so many wedding vendors providing so many different services. All these choices just mean that it is very easy to forget that the wedding is just an event (albeit a very happy, meaningful and exciting one) and we still have the bigger task of enjoying our marriage thereafter.

So, while I still have clarity of thought and have not been completely suckered into signing a million things that we will probably regret, I have decided to set some golden rules which I hope we (I, mostly, since I am the more impulsive one) would remember in the months to come.
  • Stick to the budget. It is okay to exceed the budget by a little bit (up to $100) but it has to go if it is really too expensive. Just think about the amount of food that amount of money can buy and walk away. Recently, I have also been thinking about money in terms of the number of man-hours I have to put in to earn that amount of money. If the number of man-hours sounds too gross, then that item has to go. 
  • Don't have to please everybody. As long as we like it and we are happy, just smile and nod when the naysayers strike. There will always be naysayers and we don't have to mind what other people say. Frankly, why should we? It is our wedding and our money, and I do think we can decide for ourselves what we want to do thank you very much.  
  • Research. I'm a nut for researching so this one is easy. I think I research everything to the death of it so no problemo.
  • Know what you need and what you don't and don't budge. I'm stubborn as a mule and Zg is an Ox so we probably don't have a problem here too. People will probably have a harder time trying to convince us than we do resisting it. 
  • If you like something and the price is right GO FOR IT. Prices in the wedding industry only go north and vendors tend to increase their prices every year. So stop procrastinating, just go for it and hope that they do not pull down their shutters before your actual day. 
  • Have fun! Zg and I are pretty good at planning things in general (we are crazy fond of tables and spreadsheets) so I hope we would be able to have fun in the process of planning the wedding. We are also champion saikang warriors (otherwise known as staffers) so I think we should have no problem staffing ourselves. 
Hopefully I will get around to sharing my wedding preparation in the months to come!