Saturday, 19 December 2009

朋友你最近好么?

有点儿迟了,但还是要对老友 CY 说:生日快乐,长大啦! :)

记得那天在餐馆我们聊了很多,不知不觉就是几个小时。其实,我们 meet up 时都很尽兴的。我总想把每一刻快乐的时光都用文字或是照片记下,可总也没有时间。“翻看” mf-ism 就知道了 - 近年来的 entries 已比以往的少。

别说纪录了,就连聚会的时间也蛮难碰到。就过去一个月来,有两个朋友家里传来恶讯。因为礼俗,因为时间,至今一直还没有机会 meet up。你们还好吗?

婚礼上,我(记得好象!)说道,我很高兴能和在场的朋友一直保持联络,甚至追溯到小学。是的,我很庆幸。唯一遗憾的,应该是没有更经常联络。好久没有 la kopi (or teh) with prata,好久没有 K 歌,好久没有好好坐下来聊些有的没的。

今年参加了许多婚礼。其中就有牧师说,男女朋友做了夫妻更要努力维持这段感情,更要有 commitment。我在想,在忙碌的生活中,要好好维持友谊,也是需要努力的。

现在开始了生命里的另一个阶段,我需要好好安排时间,让自己有足够的时间和精力来把工作及功课做好,把家里理好,把老公管好继续和老公约会,再和朋友聚会。我想,这一段话可要耗上好一段时间来做调试⋯⋯让我加油吧!:)

突然想起这首歌,唱出今晚的心情⋯⋯ Enjoy ~

歌词:朋友最近好吗?
歌手:欧得洋
词 : 陈静楠
曲 : 方文良
编曲 : 方文良

一样的月光照在我们掌心 何时小叮当改名哆啦A梦
春风少年兄唱着浪人情歌 红红青春敲呀敲变成men's talk
美丽花蝴蝶飞出青苹果乐园 飞向未来风真透还有爱相随

朋友最近好么 今晚出来走走 新歌会了哪几首
KTV里唱着 当时我们拿手 林强张宇张学友
朋友最近好么 啤酒再来一手 谁会在乎谁出糗
唱破我们歌喉 唱完一起拍手 天王天后也点头

谁说过其实你不懂我的心 谁约定不会忘了你忘了我
无情的情书太傻执迷不悔 转眼恋爱症候群换新恋情
说好天空不要为我们掉眼泪 认错之后向前行未来不是梦

唱到时光倒流 那年我们十九 梦在心里加满油
啦⋯⋯啦⋯⋯啦⋯⋯啦⋯⋯

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Being on long leave

It's a rather surreal feeling, to wake up on a weekday morning at 7-ish and realise that there's no need to jump up to get ready for work. It's even more so when this is repeated for more than a few days at a stretch, albeit at 8-ish, 10-ish, and even 11-ish.

We spend time washing, cleaning and hoovering - now our place is more like a home. We laze in front of the TV, often with some food to share. We also cook some meals and boil a lot of water.

This morning, I was staring out of the study window. It looked pretty quaint down there. Low buildings. Old. The new flats could be seen just a little further.

Now, it's raining. I'm snacking on cashew nuts, typing this and listening to the radio. He's a few steps and a door away, in the comfort of aircon even in this pouring rain.

I know I have things to do, like drawing up a shopping list for the Isetan private sale this Friday - we desperately need some plastic ware. And I need to figure out how to work the high-tech rice cooker. Heck, I can't even manage the TV or the aircon controller!

But I'm feeling light-headed, in part due to my flu and also this feeling of being on leave, being carefree for a while finally.

I find it hard to believe that three weeks are coming to an end.

I'm dreading next Monday.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

End of an era...

Just back from dinner and drinks. LH gave a treat at Absinthe as she would be leaving for postgrad studies. Food was good but the company beat it hands down. I'm so blessed to be working with these people!

We had a lot of fun and laughter at the dining table and later at Majestic Bar where a few of us adjourned to. LH packed her son off with the dad so she could join us :p Amid the chatter, I forgot to take photos =/

I have been wanting to talk to LH since mid-year retreat, where what she said resonated with me. No chance thus far and now she's leaving! Was planning to get a card for her after wedding but had no time to sit down to write properly before meeting her just now. Made a note to get it done to pass to her next week. (after-note: done)

With LH gone, I feel like a chapter in the history of NPS has closed. She has been there since the beginning and helped to shape NPS into what it is today. Among the seven pioneers of NPS, only three are left now. Personally, she has also guided and mentored me to where I am today, for which I'm grateful. So, 有一点伤感吧... 因为我不喜欢别离,因为人事已非,也因为我晓得有一天我也会离开这里... Too much for a late Friday night, hur? :)

Friday, 4 December 2009

At the end of a phase of my life

Well, at this stage, I would say that we are done with the preparations for our wedding celebration tomorrow. If anything is not done, well, I say too bad! :p

I'll probably post details at some point but now, I just want to write about what I'm feeling, or not.

In the past few weeks, we have been busy with packing, moving, unpacking.. As I packed my stuff, I have taken loads of pictures of things I was dumping - no point hoarding. I even took pictures of the market area, where I spent many happy Sunday mornings. And just now when I was packing dinner at AMK Hub, I realised that I probably wouldn't be there as often after today.

Then when I got back, I found that I did not have the same affinity to this flat. Sure, I've lived here since I was a baby. But too many unhappy things have happened here. I only took photos of my room which I did up nicely two years ago.

And with Mother nagging at me and wanting me to do this and that and not do this and that, I was so yearning for tomorrow so that I could be officially out of this place!

Rather negative thoughts for today but they are my thoughts nonetheless.

On a happier note, tomorrow marks the start of our life together!! Can't wait :)

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

The slack BTB

Five hours after a huge chocolate muffin (and cafe mocha), I realised that I might need to loosen my wedding gown.

Barely a minute later, I realised the other gown could not be loosened.

Should I be stressed? Then I need more comfort food *.*

Didn't make any effort in keeping trim. Didn't even go to the gym for three weeks cos of nose. I think I'm going to suffer aches when I go again - maybe Thursday.. Or next week *twiddle*

Monday, 2 November 2009

From 3 Nov 2003 to 2 Nov 2009

Six years ago, on 3 Nov 2003, I put on a new dress that was rather formal and 大人样, and walked into my nice cosy cubicle in my first workplace, feeling apprehensive yet excited. I remember I had a window behind or in front of me. But that was soon gone when the office retrofitted the space to accommodate more staff.

I sat at a smaller cubicle outside my boss's room for the longest time, during which I was seconded but remained a squatter in the same office :p That is, until the office had to undergo massive renovation. We shifted into the next building and I found a more open cubicle awaiting me.

I barely warmed the seat; after some three months, we moved into our own "home" at the current location where again, I sat outside my boss's room - I planned it so :)

But I didn't stop changing cubicles. We got more staff, and the office underwent its first retrofitting after a year to yield more cubicles and I moved to a cosy corner - plenty of space for my barang.

Then we grew again and I moved into my current room only a few months ago.

And suddenly, amid all this moving (and a whole lot of work!), I found myself wearing the same 大人样 dress going to work this morning. Everything else, however, seemed to have changed.

It was a hectic Monday and I was as usual feeling hassled all the time. But at the end of the day, as I switched off the lights, I was keenly aware that six years had passed by - gone, together with those lights.

Strangely, I didn't feel lighter as I had earlier expected. Perhaps cos the weight was psychological to begin with. Perhaps cos I'm not going anywhere anyway, just carrying on the current trajectory.

But I think I shall not think too much, and just be happy for surviving these years :)

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Goodbye, Pinky..

I mourn the passing of Pinky..



She left me last Wednesday, 14 Oct 2009, more than three years after I first held her in my hands around National Day 2006, and a few hours after being cleaned with quite a bit of water..! Yes, blame me =(

She had been showing signs of ageing, restarting many times a day on her own, general slowness.. And the speaker had died earlier within the first year.. But I didn't want to give her up as there were so many memories.. I should be able to retrieve the calendars and notes etc from the last time I sync-ed with my work desktop.. But the many sms, precious sms, they are all gone now... =(

Since she left me, I realised how much I had depended on her.. For the past week, I had to use an old phone without my contacts, calendar and precious sms.. The whole of last weekend, I had no idea what I was doing or where I was supposed to be..

So today, when I got my iPhone, I name her Pinky II in remembrance of Pinky.

Goodbye, Pinky. You have been an important part of my life, and I thank you for being so :)

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Shaking my bum bum

Oh no, I'm obsessed with learning dance moves from the Nobody But Chu You MV by Wonder Girls...

But the MV is always too fast for me.. HOW???!

One last go at the chorus before I turn in :p

Monday, 5 October 2009

Nostalgia

It didn't hit me until 1am today as I read SW's note on Facebook, that yesterday marked the 10th anniversary of the start of my four wonderful years in Oxford..

4 Oct 1999. A crisp sunny morning. We - me with LS, SX and Jon - arrived in at LHR and took X70 to Oxford. Where I promptly lost the envelop containing my X-ray. Which I found in Mother's cabinet four years later - a porter at Queen's College picked it up and sent home but she never told me!

But I digress..

Despite going back just last year, I miss Oxford. I miss my time there.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Sunny Japan

We started and ended our holiday at McD in T2 :p

In fact, the running theme for our trip was food :)

4 Aug 2009 - oh, crab!

We arrived at Hokkaido on the night of 3 Aug 2009, so the fun started only the next day..

We first went to the Otaru Canal, "where all the century-old stone warehouses are lined both sides of the canal" - quoted from itinerary :p



As you can see, the weather was great! Sito was pouting cos he didn't bring his sunglasses.. Ok, I made him pout for the photo :p So I'm the only shuai one during the trip!



We were very taken by king/queen/hairy crabs, expensive melons, and icecream!!



That was a five-tier cone - soda water, strawberry, melon, milk and lavender!

For lunch, we got to hold our food in our hands before it was served..



10,000 yen! And that was the smallest taraba crab!



We boiled the plate of crab in Sito's hands, and had the other plate for sashimi - omg! -, shabu and eventually just boiled :p We took a loooong time to finish the crab. And then, we poured our rice into the soup and cooked porridge with egg! It was a lot of food. A lot...

After lunch, we went to Ishiya factory. Not familiar? How about Shiroi Koibito? :) It was some flower festival so after a bit of shopping, we walked through the gardens.

Then it was a couple of hours of shopping at Sapporo. I bought a yukata! We didn't shop the entire time, of course - we had ramen :p And that was before a BBQ dinner :p

What is a holiday without snacks and suppers? We went to the McD near our hotel to get McPork - you can't get that in Singapore! It was quite yummy, mmm...

5 Aug 2009 - steaming onsen

First stop of the day was the Ainu Museum. Ainu is an aborigine group that is now integrated throughout Japan. The museum performance demonstrated a musical instrument that was difficult to play - I tried it at the musuem shop!



That was a painting of a girl - they had to tattoo girls, including around the lips so that they could live longer.. Superstition or tradition?

The group set up home next to a lake.



And we also got to feed some cute bears!



They knew when we were near and positioned themselves at the feeding tube. The first one was breathing up the tube and we could hear and feel it- that was yucky and not too cute *.*

And we had hairy crab for lunch today! With toro but that wasn't the best for the price. We thought a chef should have cut it instead of the market auntie...



Fun picture outside lunch venue - grrr!



Our tour guide said that our itinerary was very relaxed. So he brought us to more places :p

We went to Noboribetsu, a hotspring area heated by a volcano. This reminds me of an old photo we took in Kyushu :) (oops, photo not in that post :p)



This is called Hell Valley and along the way, we saw statues of Chinese ghosts and nearby, there was a statue of the Chinese devil that changed his strict face to a scary face every day at 3 pm!

This was volcano day. Next was Mt Showa, a volcano that formed only in the 1940s.

All these volcanoes only meant one thing - we were staying in a hotspring ryokan that night! Yeah! :)

And have you watched Jap dramas before? Where sometimes the company will have a retreat and the troupe will be gathering for dinner in a hall where they are sing and dance, perhaps after (and before) a dip in the onsen? We did that! Sans the dancing...



I happened to have a purple hair accessory to match the yukata :)



That was me singing!

And what followed was a series of fireworks by Lake Toya!



On the way back from the lake (which was just behind the hotel anyway so we could stay in our room to watch the fireworks but ambience! :p), we got some ice cream from a convenient store :p

6 Aug 2009 - flowers galore!

Today was flower day! We must have gone to about three farms.

mf likes yellow flowers :)



Sito likes, um, manly plants :p



We only did a quick stop at Biei, ending with pumpkin ice cream!



Then we went to Farm Tomita, famed for its lavender fields.



But by then, most of the lavender and even sunflowers had been harvested. I don't think a field of lavenders would be very interesting but I do like sunflowers!

So at another farm, where we couldn't walk into the fields, we rented a cart instead!!



We took turns driving the cart in search of the sunflowers. And we found some..small ones...



And they were all turning away from me!! =(

Oh well, there were some other flowers too, and in full bloom.




Then we went along some Biei Patchwork Road, which offered some pretty country views, but also famous partly due to a couple of commercials along some otherwise ordinary road. And a tree.. Hmm..

We ended up at a shopping centre. And Sito got a yukata too! And we walked the shops.. Ramen shops :)



7 Aug 2009 - 七夕节

We went to Otokoyama Sake Brewery Museum in the morning. I'm not a fan of sake but it turned out to be so fun!!



We tried #3 for free and bought #1 to try.

Then we filled our bottles with spring water that was supposed to have some longevity properties.. Didn't I have five black eggs at Hakone five years ago that were supposed to extend life by SEVEN years each? :p

Then we posed :p



And when we thought we were going to leave, we had a treat - turned out that it was Hokkaido's 七夕节! (One month later than usually cos it gets warm later in Hokkaido :p)

Sito and I each made a wish under a tree next to a little stream :)



And then the museum people clad in yukata floated little bowls of sake down the stream, and we picked it up with a rod for a mid morning sip amid some traditional music - ahhh... :)



Oh, but mine was orange juice :p

Then we put the bowl back to let it float downstream..

Had some time after lunch so walked around and saw this interesting shop..



It was selling "精力剂" :p

What do we do on a hot summer day? Drink beer!



Next was shopping at a factory outlet. We bought a bit of stuff. Just a bit, really :)

Dinner that night was pseudo Chinese food.. We weren't too keen so had ramen before that.. And after too - instant ramen from a convenient store :)

8 Aug 2009 - ラブラブ :p

It was a sad day.. No more organised land transfers and meals.. But, we were free on our own to roam Tokyo!

We left the group at Asakusa and did some touristy thing - like showering ourselves with incense smoke, making a wish and getting our fortune told :)

Then we went in search of lunch :p And found two aunties in front of us:



And then we tumbled upon a conveyor belt sushi shop, and a very good one!



Stomach filled, we did otaku things at Akihabara :p Bought a Hello Kitty game :)

Then we went to Shibuya for an adventure - we got a love hotel!!

We did some shopping in the area. It was all very discreet.. The pictures of the rooms are typically shown on some screen. If the picture is lit up, it's available. If you want that room, hit a button to turn off the light and proceed to a little window where you'll pay and get the key for three hours.

But the hotels at Dogenzaka in Shibuya were nothing like those in Osaka that we saw online. The one we went to had a number of themes but only one was available when we were there - Eros or something.. it was quite plain with a big painting of two naked women and a naked man playing snooker. The jacuzzi room had a small TV screen on the side. The TV had quite a number of porn channels..

Took a lot of pictures (of the room!) but I guess not appropriate to post! :p

Then we decided to go for grill..



And ramen at a charming old place...



And ice cream!



9 Aug 2009 - Happy National Day!!

Actually that day, we forgot about it totally :p But we did go to NDP preview the weekend before! Blog later..

We got to Tokyo from our Narita hotel just before noon and spent some time getting NEX tickets for our final train ride in two days before heading for Shinjuku - it was shopping day!

But first, we had some family fare at a very family place in Shinjuku



We spent some time in Tokyu Hands - it was wonderful! We bought some practical stuff there, like a lanyard and a hair turban.. Um, yup :)

Then, it rained... So we walked to Wendy's for a snack :)

By then we were so tired from walking..

But we carried on - to Harajuku!

It was a bit late for cosplay. Anyway it was drizzling. So we went to Takeshita Dori - I'd not gone there before in my previous trips but it turned out to be quite fanciful with lots of teenagers and waffle shops! I bought an umbrella haha! When we were turning out towards Omote-sando, we saw this queue for icecream. After wondering for a (short) while, we turned back to queue too :p

Turned out to be collagen ice cream! The shop also sells other products with collagen, like buns..



We walked for the longest time until it rained before we turned back towards Harajuku station, and spent some time at Uniqlo where we felt an earthquake! But the staff didn't seem to feel anything *.*

Our hotel that night was quite central in Tokyo; the room was tiny but very new and modern. That night, Sito filled the tub to soak but I was too lazy to get wet after showering. But I was convinced to just soak my feet - and it was good! We walked so much that day...

10 Aug 2009 - feel the magic

We went to Disneyland!

I felt like crying many times that day - so happy to be there! It was indeed magical. Yes, I have been to DisneySea before but the feeling was different - there was no castle in DisneySea! The castle was lovely! It was like having childhood dreams fulfilled..

Ok, I'm gushing :)

But really, when I was a kid, a cousin gave me a huge jigsaw puzzle of Cinderella in front of her castle. I always thought that was the loveliest thing. I kept dismantling and putting back the jigsaw.

And finally! I saw the wonderful castle! Ahhh... :)



And I must have Eeyore - oh lovely Eeyore :)



Then we hit the rides! We did Space Mountain, which Sito feared as a kid but not anymore! And Star Tours, which left me nauseous cos I had to bend over to right my bag in case my water bottle leaked...

Then we had Mickey Mouse bun and burrito or something - yummy!

Did I mention it was rainy most of the day?? We queued a long time at the Haunted Mansion until the sun came out (briefly)..

And Sito was stalked by a ghostly hand, oooh...!



Not too scary but a ghost got me when it popped up - gaaar!

Had some maple churros to calm my nerves :)

It was Splash Mountain next - reminded us of the old Har Par Villa ride but of course this was more exciting!

Then we had a smoked turkey leg :p It didn't survive to see the day parade - Jubilation!

My favourite shot - Beauty and the Beast! Except that it was a prince :p Lovely gown, right...



We dashed into Thunder Mountain after the parade - we were strategically in front of the ride :p



It was damn good! I love thrill rides :) But when I was younger and more reckless, I was more adventurous with what top gun and reverse bungee - not anymore *.*

Oh, my castle! MY castle :)



We decided we wanted Jap food for dinner so we beat the dinner crowd with a slightly early tempura dinner! Quite hungry since we didn't have a proper lunch.. Just plenty of snacks :p

Next ride was easy on the stomach, MicroAdventure! And it was in English! Finally something we could fully understand!

Went for a stage show of all the Disney characters before heading for the castle where we successfully balloted for seats to this Club Monsters Inc show. We were a bit late but our seats were great - left front row! And gratefully so cos the middle front row got terribly wet when the water came spraying down as part of the show! We were only a little wet... Strange that we spent the larger part of the day trying to get out of the rain, only to walk into a water show.. Gaaar!



Next was the night parade - Tokyo Disneyland Electrical Parade Dreamlights! Couldn't take good pictures but this was cute :)



Then we went for one last ride - Ride and Go Seek! With the monsters! It was really cute, especially when Boo was around - I like Boo :)

When we went back to Hilton, it was quite late. I realised we had spent some $400+ for about six hours in the hotel, hmm... But it was great! We had a good view of what we thought was Tokyo Bay from our room - better when we switched off the lights :)

More soaking in the tub, some Nintendo (that set us back another $20+ :p), and a wonderful discovery on the TV:

るるるの歌 おとこオオカミ編
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCwcgmmdapM&feature=related


るるるの歌
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3M5bXnLqQ00&feature=related


I couldn't help humming it over and over again!!!

11 Aug 2009 - sob sob

Time to leave Disneyland.. Time to leave Tokyo.. Time to leave Japan!

When will we be back again??

We have been quite busy since our return. Now it felt as if we didn't have a holiday! Maybe we'll plan a shorter one later this year :)

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Je ne veux pas travailler

I have this calendar of flip cards that has stayed at "hysterical" since about 2005. Just flipped it to "depressed" - maybe tomorrow I'll footnote the small print:

Monday-Friday, 7am-8pm (sometimes later)

Some time ago, I was looking through websites that advise people on the best time to quit a job. So during one particularly sick session at work today, I flipped my calendar - real one with dates though it's electronic so "flipped" isn't exactly the word to use but I digress - and marked out two possible dates. I wrote them down and stuck them right next to my monitor - in Japanese - to signal some feeble light at the end of the tunnel.

Until I figure what I want to do, that light will remain feeble. And pls, no oncoming train jokes..

Just yesterday, we passed by Fancl. I thought the uniform was nice. And it would be lovely to help make people become - or more often, look - beautiful :) Now I cannot remember if the uniform has a scarf. Like the ANA uniform. I wish my neck were longer so I don't look like I'm wearing a bib when I'm wearing a scarf round my collar.

Or I could revive an old thought - have my own confectionary! If I can avoid being my own biggest customer.. Anyway, my repertoire has a grand total of only three items - Portuguese egg tarts, corn muffins and brownies. A home kitchen then? :)

But of course, I'm dreaming. Well, I like to dream. Thing is, while I'm still bonded, dreams are possibilities; after my bond ends, I fear that these dreams may just simply be dreams..

PS: It's 09.09.09 today. I think it's a magical number - cos I like 9. And 3. Maybe my depression will magically go away tomorrow..

Thursday, 3 September 2009

First lesson

Today, I attended the first lesson of my Montessori course!

I started on the mathematics module - nothing like the maths I used to do, ok.. This is learning how to teach basics..

Looks like there will be a lot of reading and homework. Have to prepare a resource file full of lesson plans, complete with pictures and captions, make learning materials, do presentations in class, hand in an essay at the end of each module etc..

But it seems quite fun cos it's rather hands-on. Today, I played a child (haha!) three times over! I thought the pace a bit slow but just as well, I should take it slow first, get the hang of it..

Looking forward to next week! =) *hopefully no more sms on work!!*

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Pins and needles

Went to a TCM practitioner recommended by a friend today. Besides describing my usual gastric pains and stomachaches, I had to vividly describe the "scenery" in the toilet bowl *.*

Conclusion: IBS and leaky gut, coupled with 血虚, 湿 on the inside and something about my liver doing OT...

Recommendations: Chew my food properly, cut down on sugars and carbs (sad!), wean off nasal spray and do acupuncture

And the next thing I knew, I was whisked into the next room, scared and unprepared for acupuncture.

"Oh, you'll grow to love it!"

Really..?

I hardly dared to move while she poked the needles into me - calves, tummy, arms, head! During the 30 minutes of resting in the dark, with some heater over my tummy, I dared not sleep in case I tossed and turned.. Soon, I could feel my calves getting numb, and when I tried to wriggle my toes, I could feel the needles near my toes poking at some nerve!

Gaaar!

And then it was done. I collected my medicine and left. Had two packets so far, bitter powdery stuff dissolved in hot water - pretty gross stuff =(

Need to store chocolate :)

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Two short trips this year

Ok, this is outdated - we took a day trip to Malacca on 31 May. My impression of Malacca wasn't the best after my first trip some years back but now, I think I will go back again.

We visited Sito's relatives - the house was super 懐かしい, reminding me of the one my paternal grandmother used to work in many years ago. They brought us to a little teahouse for breakfast - mee siam etc, spicy but good - before running some errands. The shopping malls were great and if we had more time, I could have spent some money :p

After lunch at a quaint little place whose name I forgot, Sito's cousins brought us to this Gi Kiat Huay for the yummiest chendol ever, topped with superb gula melaka. I will go back again even if it is just for the chendol!

Then more recently, we went to Surabaya at the height of H1N1. I have not taken a budget airline until 10 July.

Sito: How did you go places in Europe?
mf: KLM, BA, British Midlands, SAS...
Sito: ... How much did you save in those four years?
mf: Discounting the £500 I brought with me, maybe average of £100 a year..?

:p

I know, I'm horrible! But my usage of the internet back then was different I guess.. And somehow, I was horribly disillusioned that STA was the cheapest for students. Maybe so for normal airlines but I could have got budget airlines!

Anyway, the journey was an interesting one. There was no food except for a cold muffin. We kept them. As we touched down, we saw a plane that was quite a wreck on the grass - rather scary but..

Sito: Maybe they keep it for the spare parts..

:p

Then, we got off the plane and walked towards the arrival hall. There was only a handful of shops selling things so no shopping. Before we hit the checkpoints, we had to go through this machine. We were the first ones there and saw that the bags must go under this metal railing that didn't look like a scanner... But we just put through and guess what, the thing sprayed disinfectant on the bags!

And next to the railing was a doorway with a woman standing on the other side. She was speaking in bahasa but she was also pointing so I followed and put my hands into two black holes and pssst!! Then I was waved through and pssst! I was disinfected too!

Singaporeans don't need to be paranoid about H1N1 - other countries are more scared of us!

And along the way, I realised this was the first time I was in Indonesia Indonesia, not an Indonesian island :p

Outside the airport, we quickly found our meet-&-greet. But it took a while to wait for everyone - not too pleasant with smoke and a lot of people - before we got to this school bus - the seats were for tinier butts than ours *.* And it has no luggage compartment..

My seat's recline was spoilt and was almost horizontal if not for our luggage on the seat behind. Sito swapped with me so that I could sit upright but he had to keep his hands up else he had no room!

Hotel should be better...

And it was!

We got our room card from the dance competition organiser - oh yes, that was the purpose of going to Surabaya - and signed in for our number - 52.

Our room at Java Paragon was nice - at the 19th floor so we had a great view. The city looked nice and neat. We had a buffet dinner at the hotel that night instead of going to a welcome party by the organisers.

The competition was held in a convention centre some 30 minutes away, which was a bother. Although our competition was in the afternoon, we thought to make use of the morning practice slot for latin dancers to test the dance floor. So we woke quite early to pack our gear, do my hair :p

Results? We didn't make it past the heats this time. Waltz was slightly better; we went as far as the second round of heats. Oh well, we tried :)

So, we treated ourselves for our hard work with a dinner at Ah Yat, also in the hotel. Yup, we didn't venture out much :p We also had a massage in the hotel - turn this into a mini holiday, yeah!

We left on the third day, which was a very long day.. After checking in, we found the customs chaps on their lunch break, i.e. no one to process our passports! Isn't such work supposed to be rotated by shifts??

Before we left for the airport, we were just talking with some chaps from the studio that the Jetstar flight timings were better compared to SQ - we could get back to Singapore just before dinner time. But unfortunately, our flight was delayed for almost three hours, and the SQ flight took off first!! It was really irritating, cos there were only three shops in the airport! I really appreciate Changi Airport..

Took some photos in our room:

Sunday, 26 July 2009

It's starting to end..

Feeling happier now, and not lest because I am 99 days to the end of my bond :)

Checked my bond after reading a link a friend posted on facebook: http://s-pores.com/2009/07/once-bonded

I wouldn't say I agree with the entire article - each is a different experience, I suppose.

Some time along the course of my university - I think it was after my "huh-what's-happening" mid-term internship at MICA or then-MITA -, I did wonder if I had made the right choice when I was 19. How the hell would a kid know that she wanted a job in the civil service? And this was a fluffy girl, mind you..

But I turned 23, graduation year, and I realised I still had not figured out what I wanted to do with my life. Might as well go with the flow - follow through with the decision I made four years earlier, choose something interesting and perhaps I might like it..?

So one thing led to another, and eventually my last post. After many months of thinking and agonising, I'm glad that I have finally decided it is time to move on (soon).

Just the other day, Sito asked me if I wanted to be a housewife. No, I don't. I want to be a stay-at-home mum! :p That's different from a housewife ok.. I want to be with our kids when they're young, and at the same time, be able to do some freelance work from home so that I can have an income to support Mother and buy presents for my family.

So I put to action some plans that started brewing about a year ago.

Firstly, I found a short course on translation. But the course date was postponed a number of times. On Friday, I finally got a notification that it would start in September :) And yesterday, I finally signed up for a diploma in Montessori education after much research into the various schools and courses.

My plans are slowly falling into place :))

It's interesting how we can change. As a child, I had imagined myself strutting down Raffles Place purposefully, black suit and all. You know, having a better life than my parents. By my late teens, that had gone out of the window. I was - still am - rather meek and didn't think of any big things. I told a friend then that 我胸无大志 - and I told another that 我手上有一颗 (痣) :p Moving on to university was then a natural thing to do after JC; I didn't think about where that might then lead to. I didn't think, period.

So it is quite significant that I have taken those two important steps forward - for once, I thought, and I planned for them to happen :)

And it so happens that Sito also started acting on his plans in the past week. So both of us have new goals to work towards - we are happy! :)

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

人在江湖,身不由己?

These words - with the question mark - came into my mind this morning as I walked to the hawker centre. I cannot remember exactly why now but it was related to work.

Perhaps a premonition, cos I got a lot of shit from emails when I logged on. And at 10.30 am, I sat in for some interviews with potential recruits. When the last interviewee started talking about work-life balance etc, I had a most awful thought: I hate my life.

This wasn't the first time I had this thought. But I would always catch myself and tell myself that no, I don't hate my life; I just hate work.

But this morning, it took me a while to rationalise my thoughts that what I really hated was my working life, not life itself.

I wrote that I felt like crying earlier due to work. It happened again a few months later and I succumbed. I'm now feeling like it's going to happen again if I'm not careful =(

We're headed for Hokkaido for a holiday next month - I'm looking forward to it but I also dread the accumulated emails waiting for me ever so patiently in my inbox..

Still remember my horror after a much needed two-week break in Japan in September 2007 - I had a good time in Japan away from work only to return to a mad house of work. My question: is the trade-off necessary? Shouldn't my leave be real leave?

Related this to Kel et al over dinner and drinks one day after that. Moh said I was hardworking; Kel said I wasn't - I just worked hard.. 知我者也! Of course if given a choice, I wouldn't be working hard hence I am not hardworking!!

This evening, I sms CY and Kel about hating my working life - glad they understood. And Kel said something funny, that usually he would send that kind of msg to me instead :p Threw up all my unhappiness about work to Yan over dinner too. And as I write this, I'm feeling better.. So let me continue..

Some time ago, I was trying to analyse such negative emotions - unhappiness, stress, feeling hassled, dissatisfaction, even resentment. I realised that I had lost motivation to work because I ceased to see meaning in it when my life was negatively affected by my work.

There was this time when I was asking a colleague for urgent inputs but she was away from office with her children - school holidays.

mf: Meeting is tomorrow am =(
She: And my kids will only be this age today and never again.

What could I say? I have no case. But that really hit home. Because I suddenly understood that for every day that I worked and worked, my every today has been lost. When I turned 28 last year, I realised that the previous year kind of just suddenly disappeared; déjà vu when I turned 29 this year - time flies when you're happy; time disappears when you're busy.

I still remember that for a very long time, before Sg Day 2007, I was still very enthusiastic about work. I would wake at 6.30am to reach office before 8am, and while I loved the weekends, I actually looked forward to getting work done during the workweek. After Sg Day 2007, I was tired out by the work trip and never fully recovered. Things just went downhill from there.

Now, I quite dread Mondays and throughout the workweek, I am just looking forward to the weekend and praying hard that there won't be a need to work over the weekend. In fact, during those really tough days last year, I went to work with only one thought: to finish work and head back to bed, hopefully earlier than 3am the previous night.

But at least it was meaningful work last year. There were concrete, visible deliverables. I downloaded our lovely campaign banners off CNA website, I cut out and kept the posters in newspaper - they are testament to my blood and sweat.

Now, my job scope has changed - the main thing is quantitative research and I really don't like crunching numbers, nevermind my degree!

I should really leave this job. What has it done to me? I want my life and family to be the top priority but I have realised that whenever I have work, I would feel so obliged to do it that I neglect my life, my real self. It's a bit scary, to be honest.

Actually, why do people work?

a) For survival;
b) To contribute to something;
c) For money / fame; or
d) No reason, just a natural thing to work when you have a degree?

Re (a), I'm in a way working to support myself and Mother. But I can do that with any job.

Re (b), contribute to what? I'm happy to be able to contribute to people around me - be a listening ear when they need me, bring joy and laughter to those around me. I don't need to contribute to bigger causes.

Re (c), is it worth working so hard to put your kids through the best college only to miss everything else about life? When I die, I want to remember times actually spent with my loved ones, not how I managed to provide for my loved ones albeit not being there.

Re (d), colleague was just saying how we could be bound by our degree. Cos of it, we aim to do something that does justice to it. Why can't I take a degree just for interest? Must it lead to work that justifies the learning?

I have been thinking about leaving my job. But there are various considerations. I do understand that these are not the worst working hours, compared to lawyers, bankers etc. While I also cannot compare remuneration with these jobs, mine is honestly sufficient to raise a family well if Sito and I continue working. And the benefits and flexibility are really good - I can take leave easily, accumulated work notwithstanding.

Practical things aside, I feel attached to the organisation cos I had a hand in setting it up - on paper and right down to the renovation! And I really like the people here. I have had fond memories of tough times when only team spirit and good cheer fuelled us. This place has also given me a lot of opportunities for professional and personal development. I have very good and understanding bosses. The leadership is strong and the way we work is, in my opinion, considerably more efficient than some other organisations I have heard of. It is overall a very good working environment.

I just cannot stand the work itself.

So, I was imagining, right there in the interview room, that I would be very sad to leave this place. But right there in the interview room, I finally came to the conclusion that I must leave. The question is when.

After the interviews, the first thing I did was to do a rough calculation of how much bond I had remaining - in monetary terms: about $10,000. Not a big sum but why should I pay to quit? :p And in any case, I had unfinished business - to record institutional knowledge so that I can leave with peace of mind.

In the meantime, I refuse to be a martyr to work! I will have a life that is not just work!!

Tomorrow, I am going to the gym at 6pm - not lest of office blackout (due to renovation) at that time..!

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

First of July

Just as yesterday marked the end of half of 2009, today marks the start of the march towards the end of the year.

And I've decided that if I cannot think of a suitable title, I'll just use the date :p

Just a few randoms...

1)
Last night, I heard a loud thud and the next thing I knew, MZ was screaming that someone splashed paint on our door! I went out and saw a small splash of red - I wondered what caused that loud sound... Anyway, I called the police.

While waiting, YQ called our neighbour from upstairs - it was his ex-tenant who owed loansharks money! I just saw the O$P$ and the door number the other day, at the stairs.. Nowadays the loansharks are either blur or, more likely, employing a new tactic - stress thy neighbour!! Just a couple of months back, my next-door neighbour got the same thing...

When the police arrived, I thought YQ handled it pretty well so I went back to sleep... Think they took some pictures and gave YQ some instructions..

2)
I was in the office the other day. A colleague said bye and I was the last one in the office. Shortly, I heard the door bell ring. Did she forget something? I hit the release button but no one came in... So I went out of the glass door to the wooden door with that bell, opened it and found nobody! Then I realised that for someone to ring that bell, he/she had to get through the locked door before that!

I had all rights to freak out!

After calming myself down on the way back to my desk, making sure that the doors closed behind me, I lasted barely 15 minutes (not bad already!) before I hurriedly packed my things and left =(

Asked security guards if they went to checked 14th floor - not yet.. But they mentioned a girl went by. Maybe it was my colleague? But no! I asked the next day =(

This was different from the last time when I walked into the lift lobby and heard a loud yelp from the stairwell - had such a huge scare I fled to the toilet! Then I realised it should be a workman from another level - sounded like it..

Anyway, today I left shortly after the second last chap left...

How? Like this how to work in office at night?! =( I don't like to work at home at night...

3)
Because I like to watch dramas and anime at night! :p

Finished Macross Frontier recently. (That's why I can blog now :p) Can't get the song Seikan Hikou out of my head - it's really nice!!

4)
Update on an earlier post - put back a bit of weight but surprisingly, it kind of remained steady for the past three weeks. Quite happy :)

5)
I proposed to do X at work, twice. Didn't go through. Then someone who was n pay grades above me suggested X - or some form of it.

*ding ding ding* I self-assessed that my CEP wasn't too bad after all!

Then the next day, someone who was N pay grades above me suggested Y. Hey, I said that just a week ago!

*ding ding ding* I think my CEP just went through the roof! Woohoo!

I have decided that I should put my brains to better use - I shall strive to be a Montessori teacher :)

6)
And finally, can someone tell me why Mother, aged 63 and who doesn't know English, would tell me one night that Prison Break was getting exciting?? I don't even know what the show is about! *.*

Friday, 19 June 2009

The luxury of being able to laze in bed

There was a time when my wake-up call on weekend mornings was: "Do you want to go out this pm? Do you? Do you? Yes? Now wake up and do work!"

So one day, when I woke up naturally without alarm clocks, and the first thing I saw was my pink mosquito net, I was so full of bliss and gratefulness that I reached out for my Pinky and snapped some pictures :)

I woke up seeing this:


Sunshine outside!

(White thing at bottom of photo = Eeyore! The boy was relegated to the chair that morning *.*)

I lazed with some sun shining in..


Zzzz...

(ok, pretending :p)

I was playing with Meh and Sheep..


They are so cute!




I am happy :)

Side story of my 20-year-old pyjamas..! I love my old yellow pyjamas! They've accompanied me through childhood until now. While I didn't bring them to Oxford, they remained my faithful pyjamas every summer, keeping me cool at night - and many Saturdays and Sundays when I spent entire days in my pyjamas!

The fabric has become very thin. Some time this year, it got torn. For a while, I was so worried that Mother would throw them away.. But she didn't :) But the pyjamas continued to suffer more tears :( I think I will retire them after this hot season..
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