Anyone going to Singapore day?

Not sure if you’ve seen this before, and this event has been promoted aggressively on the Singaporeans in Italy group but I’ll just share it here nevertheless 🙂

rinaz.net Singapore Day in London 2014

Singapore day is basically a day where Singaporeans living overseas get together and reconnect, usually in a place where there is a large population of Singaporeans living in. The location rotates each time. The first event was held in New York in 2007, and then Melbourne, London, Shanghai and Sydney.

rinaz.net Singapore Day in London 2014

This year, it will return back to London in Victoria Park on the 29th of March : a week after doing Maratona di Roma. Hopefully, I’ll be completely recovered by then and be moving around easily to explore the park and enjoy the different programmes there.

rinaz.net Singapore Day in London 2014

If given the chance, I’d much prefer to go back to Singapore itself to visit my friends and family. The only issue is that the flight tickets back to Singapore alone costs quite a bit and the journey takes time, so I guess this event is probably a sort of consolation.

Some of the highlights not to be missed at the Singapore Day event are, firstly the food and here are a number of Singaporean delights which I look forward to tasting again :

rinaz.net Singapore Day in London 2014

rinaz.net Singapore Day in London 2014

rinaz.net Singapore Day in London 2014

rinaz.net Singapore Day in London 2014

rinaz.net Singapore Day in London 2014

rinaz.net Singapore Day in London 2014

rinaz.net Singapore Day in London 2014

rinaz.net Singapore Day in London 2014

rinaz.net Singapore Day in London 2014

rinaz.net Singapore Day in London 2014

rinaz.net Singapore Day in London 2014

rinaz.net Singapore Day in London 2014

rinaz.net Singapore Day in London 2014

rinaz.net Singapore Day in London 2014

From what I’ve read, apart from Bakut Teh, Fried Hokkien Mee, Char Kway Teow and the BBQ Chicken Wings all the meats used in the list, are imported from halal sources so I could give them a try. Poor Cart who is a vegetarian has a much more limited variety though.

There will be a number of recognized Singaporean personalities and this year, the event will be hosted by the multi talented Hossan Leong as well as Gurmit Singh who is most famous for his role as Phua Chu Kang. I met him once while auditioning for Singapore Idol, many years back, and he seemed like such nice guy.

rinaz.net Singapore Day in London 2014

There will be Michelle Chong and Chua Enlai playing as Barbarella and Jacques Ooi from the award winning comedy-satire, “The Noose“. Have you ever watched the series? It’s so funny and I look forward to seeing them.

There will also be the Dim Sum Dollies and also Jack and Rai as well as The Great Spy Experiment.  Admittedly, I’ve been away from Singapore for so long that I wasn’t aware of these acts but a quick peek on online and giving them a listen, both these groups are the types that I wouldn’t mind listening to, on any given day.

So are there anyone from the bloggariffic family out there going? I look forward to attending Singapore day and visiting London for the first time! Cart and I are already registered for it, although we’ve yet to make bookings for the flight there.

This is how NOT to win a marathon

Hi everyone!

It’s now been a week into my #rinazdoes42km training and I feel pretty good. No pain so far, just tiredness, which is why I take my rest days very seriously for my muscles to heal and recover. It feels good to be crossing out the trainings that I’ve done. Another 15 more weeks to go!

Speaking of marathons, there was the Standard Chartered Marathon in Singapore last week. Normally it would be nothing out of the ordinary, except for this amusing incident :

Apparently, Singapore’s top marathoner, Mok Ying Ren, was leading a group of male runners with two pacers in last week’s Marathon. He was very surprised to find out that another person, Tam Chua Puh, won the men’s category , a person that he has never heard of before, finishing about 7 minutes ahead of him.

It was found out later that Tam Chua Puh, who allegedly hurt his knee at the 6km mark, hitched a ride in the medical van which drove towards the finishing point. He then decided to run to the finish line after assuming that it was safe to run after seeing some local and Kenyan runners go past.

Look at his expression when he reached the finishing line. Turns out that he was the first Singaporean to arrive :

rinaz.net Singapore Standard Chartered Marathon

I can almost hear him think, “Oh fudge. Did I come here too early? Why is this place so empty? And why is everyone clapping for me?

Several hours later, he was disqualified and Mok Ying Ren was declared the winner for the local category. When interviewed about it, the former claimed that he just wanted a t-shirt and a medal.

According to the article I read, it wasn’t the first but the third(!) attempt at cheating in three different events, all of which he was disqualified of. Reading more, he claims that he enjoys running, but only during the weekends and runs 1 km each time.

rinaz.net Singapore Standard Chartered Marathon

A lot of my friends on facebook were outraged about it, about the lack of integrity of the guy, just for the sake of getting a medal and t-shirt. Shockingly, through the discussion, I found out that you could even buy them online.

It never even crossed my mind to do that, because for me, the journey is part of the excitement, although I’m not going to judge anyone who does buy them. Claiming that they completed the marathon, however, is another matter.

Nevertheless, rather than being angry, I find the entire article amusing. What on earth was going through his mind when he decided to do that?

rinaz.net Singapore Standard Chartered Marathon

Not that I’m condoning it, but a lot of us cheat, be it in school, or life. But we all know when when we’ve reached the limit of credibility. Trains 1 km each weekend and joins a marathon. HA HA HA HA HA!

Inaugural reception for Singaporeans living in Italy

I was invited to an inaugural reception yesterday evening, among  a number of other Singaporeans, living in Italy.

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It was hosted by Ambassador Loo Choon Yong (I first met him in 2009) to introduce the newly appointed Consul-General, Dr Nicolo’ Marzotto.

By the way, while there isn’t a Singaporean embassy, (as the Singaporean community living in Italy isn’t that large) there is a consulate where you could do bureaucratic matters such as passport matters and overseas voting.

The reception was held at at Il Palazzetto, which is located near Piazza di Spagna.

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In all honesty, I felt uncomfortable there in the beginning as it was a very formal event (we were all in lounge suits) and I was surrounded by people of a different league than I am so I felt really awkward and flustered and didn’t know what to say. I was regretting in coming and told Cart that I really wanted to go back home.

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But I’m glad that I stuck around longer as I got to meet a number of really friendly Singaporeans there. Such as Elizabeth, a passionate fashion student who came all the way from Firenze to attend this event, as well as Sindy, who has lived in Rome for only a few months and seems to be adjusting well here.

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There were also a number of other interesting Singaporeans there whom I really enjoyed chatting with, but I didn’t take much pictures with, as the lighting was dark. There was one lady that has lived in Rome for the past 7 years but this was the first time that she’s met any other Singaporeans!

As the event drawed to a close, we exchanged contacts with each other before we left (I gave out my card, as usual hehe) to keep in touch.

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Some of us adjourned later to a restaurant nearby called La Rampa which by the way, I think is the prettiest restaurant that I’ve ever been in, in Rome.

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I loved being here. It was decorated to look as if we were outdoors in a piazza, so where we were sitting, there were flowers and vines on top of us and all around the walls there were faux windows and steps and doors. It was so charming.

With what I’ve tasted though, I’m not such a big fan of the food here and I think that there are better food in Rome.

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My gnochetti alla sorrentina wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t anything to shout about.

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Cart’s pasta with pesto was bitter, probably because they mixed the branch into the mixture instead of just the leaves. Speaking of which, Eu Chai found an interesting ingredient in a pesto he bought in Singapore.

I’m not an expert on Sachertorte, but I didn’t enjoy eating this. Look at the cake, it’s not at all dense and you could easily squash it to 1/4 of the size.

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My biggest disappointment was in the tiramisu which was highly recommended on Tripadvisor and Foursquare. Just no! I didn’t like this at all! What happened? Was the chef in a bad mood?

Nevertheless, what more than made up for the lacklustre food was the wonderful company that I was with. I spent most of the evening chatting with Nicolette, who’s been living in Rome for about twenty years and she’s one the loveliest person I know. She has this calm and regal demeanour that I admire and wish I could emulate 🙂

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And next to her, the blurry guy is Eu Chai, who is such a fascinating person to talk to. He has loads of stories and interesting experiences and isn’t afraid to give his unbiased opinion about what he thinks on something. By the way, he’s a tour agent so if there are anyone who wants to hire him, please contact him 🙂

There was also the charming Seema who is always interesting to talk to (I didn’t get to talk much to her as she was sitting at the other corner of the table) and new friends Alex, Sam and Dario.

(See how very pretty La Rampa is?)

I feel very comfortable talking to them and feel blessed to have met and know these lovely people. In the end, I had a pleasant evening after all 🙂

Sidenote : By the way, I also have to add how pleasantly surprised I was when so many came up to me, telling me that the recognize me from my blog and how useful Marina’s Bloggariffic has been for them. Feels so nice to be appreciated! I felt like doing cartwheels!

Another sidenote : Something interesting I found out from the meet yesterday is that new immigrants are required to fulfill points in a two year period before they are given a residence permit.

Why don’t more Italians take the bicycle to commute?

While Cart and I were passing the Lakeside MRT station, we both saw a most interesting sight – it was a double tiered bicycle stand and it made us so intrigued, we had to stop and look closer.

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I liked how rather space efficient it is. You could put twice the amount of bicycles in the same amount of space. I remember some years back, the area would be all full of bicycles, haphazardly strewn around. This looks so much tidier.

We were puzzled however, on how it functions though. Are you supposed to lift the bicycle up on the second tier yourself? That sounds challenging for me, considering that a regular bicycle can weigh about 10 – 20 kg.

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It was only later that we found out that you could pull and slide out a lever to the ground where you could just push the bicycle in. Genius! And I think it’s free to use too.

There is also an interesting way how bicycles are parked in Japan, which I really like. Here is a video explaining about the process. It’s about 4 minutes long, but I was so impressed the entire duration.

The service is not free, but the good thing is, the bicycles will be protected from natural elements such as rain, and also the risk of thieves running off with it.

I really like that there are so many people around the world that use the bicycle to commute. I think it’s a very cost effective way as well as a very healthy way of travelling. It’s not only an Asian phenomenon, but also in certain European countries such as Finland, where Juli was at, not too long ago. And she told me how almost everyone there cycled everywhere.

I don’t really see much of this in Rome though. Not to say that there isn’t, there are. But the amount is minuscule. It seems that most prefer to commute using cars or scooters. I don’t even see kids and teenagers using bicycles to get to school. Instead, the vehicle of choice (apart from public transportation) would be a 50cc scooter or a those 50cc microcars.

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It probably has got to do with the frequent strikes that we have in Rome that makes people lose faith in taking public transportation. Or perhaps the risk of bad weather in Autumn and Winter.

I myself don’t have a bicycle as I travel a significant amount of distance, which makes a scooter (or the car when it is raining) more practical.

Nevertheless, I’d love to have my own bicycle (one with a pannier would be ideal) at least for going around the neighbourhood, getting some groceries and whatnots – it doesn’t seem to make sense wasting petrol just for the sake of getting some milk and bread.

In any case, I see more and more people in my neighbourhood each day, taking bicycles while going around. It’s a good sign.

What Tarzan and I have in common

After landing in Singapore, it took a while for me to get adjusted to the place again – not that much the weather (although the high humidity was what really got me perspiring buckets) but more the amount of changes that I see.

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(No more Jurong Entertainment Center, but JCube)

I can hardly recognize my neighbourhood anymore – the empty plot of land near my parents house now has almost complete 18 storey building and not too far away, there was an area with at least 4 high rise buildings, is now completely a flattened land – my mind was struggling hard to connect the changes – My eyes sees it, but there is a nagging feeling at the back of my head that something was off.

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One of the biggest change I noticed is how very crowded everything seems. The neighbourhood where my family is living has a significant amount of traffic now, even during non working hours. While before I migrated to Rome, I had fond memories of riding my scooter in the evenings where there was hardly any cars on the road.

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(I like this design though, you can fit twice the bikes in the same space)

And heading to the smrt and the bus terminal for example, has more people than I ever remember. Being in big crowds in a contained space tends to makes me anxious. I feel like I’m a teeny tiny ant with an entire colony in front of me.

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But when I tell my Singaporean friends about the changes, I’m flabbergasted as the typical response that they give me, “Changes? What changes? I don’t see it!

Of course for them, the changes are very gradual compared to someone who visits the same place, say … once every two years?

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(Janet the evil cat. I wont forgive you for clawing my new bag!)

Anyway, the point of this post is that, I just feel a little apprehensive that with each change, I’d feel more and more disconnected each time I come back. Kind of like Tarzan (the book, not the Disney version) After growing up in the jungle and then returning back to human world and picking up new habits, when he returns back to the jungle, he doesn’t feel like he belongs to either one.

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It’s kind of like how I’m feeling right now. After living in Rome, you just naturally pick up some habits (Not to sound pretentious) that when you come back, things seem incredible. Like seeing women going out in public with wet hair. That’s really strange to me now and uh … rather unattractive #sorrynotsorry

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One could say that change is inevitable, especially in the name of progress and that change is an evolution for the quality of life. Nevertheless, I think it’s nice to have something from the past to remember by.

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But I’m still thankful to have my friends and family. I’m drifting away, and they are like my anchor. Without them, I don’t think that I have much to feel any connection. Maybe this is what all people living overseas long term feel like.

Why I am against the McDonald’s Hello Kitty Madness

Since the beginning of June, the Mcdougals in Singapore has been selling a limited edition Hello Kitty plushie with every value meal bought. I don’t know exactly how many are distributed for each though, but I guess they are about 6 k for each branch? I may be wrong though.

Anyway, here are the pussies :

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From top to bottom : The singing bone, the mcdelivery witch special and then the ugly duckling, the frog prince, the lion from the wizard of oz and little red riding hood.

To be honest, I don’t really find them special. I even saw some on someone’s dashboard while walking around in my Roman neighbourhood.

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I’m not that crazy over Hello Kitty, but if I really had to make a choice of the one I like the best between this edition, I guess I’d pick the frog prince on account that I like frogs and I like green. Moreover, my mum has been trying to collect them for me and my sister – which I think is such a sweet gesture considering all the queuing madness!

It’s bound to make the most rational person all bothered and angry. Just check out this video below.

It’s interesting to see people queuing, uniting. If only this energy was used for something more worthwhile, perhaps we’d still have our National Library.

By the way, I don’t believe that Mcdougals staff has an upper hand in collecting the kitties. My mum works there and she herself couldn’t get them all.

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What I really don’t support is when there are people who throws away their untouched meals in the trash straight after getting their plushies. So lets say that someone got their maximum of 4 plushies, that’s 4 burgers, 4 fries and 4 drinks all in the trash! What a horrible waste of food! I know they are unhealthy and all, but it makes so much more sense to at least offer it to someone who does want/need it.

And another sad thing is that there are a lot of people who are profiteering from this, selling the kitties at at least 4 times the original value. What’s even crazier is when sellers start to put an insane price like this :

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Whether the bidders are genuine or fake so as to inflate the price, to combat this situation, I think it’s a matter of simple economics. Prices are determined by the level of demand, and if there is a sucker who’d pay that amount, till then prices will continue to be high. So we have to collectively not support these rip-offs. Less support and prices will go down.

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So don’t buy pets from pet stores if you don’t support puppy mills, don’t buy ivory products if you don’t support poaching, don’t buy NDP tickets … those things are supposed to be free anyway!

But think about it, if they were really limited editions, shouldn’t they come with a serial number on each packaging? They would announce that there will only be X amount in production, and you are currently holding number Y.

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Instead, you could buy them online for even less the price that Mcdougals asked for.

Somehow, I feel that this is heading towards the same path as the beanie babies phenomenon, where it started off as something that sounds valuable as a collectable, but ended with production being so high that hardly any of them are worth much now.

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In the end, I don’t think that these collectibles have so much monetary value for selling in the long run. Take a look at the Hello Kitty collectibles that Mcdougals did in 2000 – it was all the rage, with probably the same amount of queuing and madness. I remember that there were people selling them online for hundreds of dollars.

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13 years has passed by and you could get a set for about 25 SGD. Seems pointless. So if you’re thinking of profiteering, I’d advice you to think twice.

I’m caught by the election Fever

Today is nomination day for the Singapore General Elections. This means that the parties who will be running for elections has been announced. And this time round, it feels more exciting for me since 14 of the 15 constituency has been contested unlike the elections in 2006 where most was a walkover.

This is more like it!

While I may be far away from Singapore, it is exciting to catch up with the 2011 Singapore General Elections. I managed to watch the telecast live from ge.sg and nomday.tumblr.com.

There has been a lot of drama going on. From the elections being compared to a beauty pageant with two candidates, Tin Pei Ling and Nicole Seah who are both in their 20s, to one of the constituency having a walkover because the application was sent just seconds too late.

Being in Italy, I’m very sad that I am not able to participate this time round as the population of Singaporeans in Italy are not large enough to form a functioning embassy for us to have our own polling station. The nearest polling station for me in Europe would be in London.

Theoretically, I could go to Singapore High Commission in London to vote. And unfortunately for me, I did not manage to send my overseas voting application in time as I was aware of it too late. What a shame! Though I think that there should be more ways to  keep overseas Singaporean more connected, *cough* I’m sorry but our Singapore consulate here in Italy is completely not helpful *cough* but I blame myself more for being not proactive enough.

So the only way for me to vote is to head back to Singapore. But flight trips costs 1.5K Euro alone. Where am I going to find the money on such short notice

Sigh. Maybe my one vote might not change anything. But more than a duty, I feel it is my right to do so.

Tweet via @samtjw

You may take me out of Jurong, but I’m still a Jurong girl at heart.

Hello Singapore! Finale

Its the last week that Cart and I were in Singapore. This is it. This is the last leg. The final dash in the marathon. I tried to maximize it the best I could to visit at least a couple of interesting spots in Singapore before we leave.

After our trip to Jurong Bird Park, I thought that Cart would be interested in seeing the rural side of Singapore. And thus we headed to Qian Hu Fish Farm.

The ride through Lim Chu Kang Road was very relaxing as we passed by many landmarks and places that makes me feel like we went back to the early 80’s. Like the bus stops. When was the last time that you saw the orange and white seats and roofed bus stops? It was so retro!

Eventually, we reached the fish farm and I saw this interesting looking sign :

Cart at Qian Hu Fish Farm

We entered inside. There were so many different types of fishes that I was amused looking at Cart looking so excited at the different species of fishes. I saw stingrays, some panda fishes, angel fishes as well as many others that I don’t remember the names anymore.

Cart at Qian Hu Fish Farm

Whats impressive to me was that, there were a number of really expensive fishes. Some of the breeds were up to thousands of dollars! That’s a very expensive pet. For me, if I were to have a fish tank, I’d be happy with just these Parrot fishes.

Fishes at Qian Hu Fish Farm

This is my favourite type of pet fishes. Always smiling! They look so happy and cheerful! How can anyone not like these?

After Cart and I have examined practically each and every one of the fishes, it was time for us to head to the fish spa which was just a few steps away. Cart was alredy starting to look a little stressed. We changed into slippers and then dipped our feet in the pool and immediately the little fishes were attracted to our feet.

Cart at Qian Hu Fish Farm

Although, I’ve already had experience at the fish spa, it took a while for me to get used to the fishes because the fishes were a lot bigger compared to the last time that I was there. Nevertheless, it took a while for the ticklish feeling to go away. On the other hand, Cart keeps saying that it felt wierd.

Here is a video of our fishy experience.

Well … its something to experience and I’m glad that Cart was willing to try it out 🙂

Rinaz crocs

In the end, the both of us have soft and smooth and touchably soft feet 😛

And since we were still in the farm area, I wanted to bring Cart to the Goat farm but unfortunately, when we reached there, it was already closed for the day. Darn! Ah nevermind then, we’ll just head off to the organic farm.

So we hopped on the scooter and I went past the road by the interesting retro buildings as well as a old house that reminded me of where I used to live. We finally reached Bollywood veggies where we found out that it was closed on mondays. What a shame 🙁

Oh well.

That means that we had a leisurely time go head over to Jurong East. So leisurely that we could shoot this video on my new Ixus 200 IS 😀

I hereby call this bideo – Theme from Karang Guni. You know, as a tribute towards Theme from Mahogany 😀

Soonafter we reached Jurong East! We met talented photographer and fellow blogger, YesPecan, for a quick chat and to pass her some EDM items. We shared our orders together since it was cheaper that way.

We walked past the shops where I spent years walking past after secondary school. Suffice to say, there were lots of gradual changes here. And we headed towards the hawker center where Cart noticed a new Italian food stall. Guess what he ordered?

Penne Arrabbiata, naturally!

Italian food in Jurong East

It was his benchmark food to compare if it is up to standard to his Italian tongue. Anyway Cart thought that it tasted a little strange though with the massive amount of garlic, the inclusion of bay leaves and the sweet tomato sauce. I didn’t pay too much attention though. I was too busy eating my fried pineapple rice. You cant get that in Rome!

I had a lovely chat with Yespecan and we quickly updated each other with what’s new, unfortunately, time passed by too quickly and we had to say our goodbyes as I wanted to rush home to fetch my mum to head to say hello to my old exercise class.

Mum and I used to go for aerobics together every Monday evening and after work, we’d get ready and ride the scooter to get to the community center and for the next hour, we’d burn fat together. As mundane as it sounds, I quite miss this arrangement.

Cat on motorcycle

I saw this cute little kitten on a motorcycle as we went towards the community center.

When we entered the exercise room, there were a number of new people but there were also faces that I remember. They were there for my wedding too 🙂

And naturally, after the exercise class, I disturbed them for a picture 😛

Exercise class

Don’t we look sexeh? Unfortunately for me, I cant help but to stare at my tummy. I really gained a lot of weight since I’ve arrived in Singapore. I need to exercise more and lose weight!

The ironic thing is that next day, the first place that Cart and I went to was Macdougals (This spelling is on purpose)

Yes, there are plentiful of Macdougals in Rome too, much to Cart’s disdain, but it was pretty much in Singapore and in Malaysia are the Macdonalds which I was sure to be halal.

Egg McMuffin

And the egg mcmuffin was the only one thing that I liked from this place, so I better fill up my quota right? 🙂

In anycase, we headed towards the city area and parked my scooter inside Takashimaya shopping center – the land where where tai-tai’s roam.

Rinaz act Taitai
Yeah, act Taitai only

Sidenote : Normally, when I am in Orchard Road, I’d usually park at Wisma Atria or Far East Plaza. I wouldn’t park at Takashimaya the parking rate there is crazy for 2 wheelers. When we left, at least $5 were charged to my cashcard. Freaking heck. That’s a lot for a motorcycle.

Anyways! We are here to spend my voucher which I won from the Ping.sg 2nd Anniversary event!

Guess what I decided on buying? Was it electronic items? Was it household items?

I bought bras!

Yeah, I could have bought some in Italy itself, but I wasn’t ready enough for Italian women to be fondling my girls.

I headed towards the Sloggies corner since I prefer my bras to be simple without all those embellishments. Not sure what my size was, I asked the saleslady for help.

I was surprised to hear from her that I am now a 36C cup.

I’m not too sure if that’s such a good thing.

As a sidenote, I had a rather strange saleslady, she kept knocking at the changing room, shoving in more bras and making me try on more and more stuff. But I really didn’t want to bust my voucher cap. Moreover, these bras are not what I’d regularly wear since it was a little on the expensive side. Nevertheless, the fit was pretty good.

C cup eh?

But anyway, here are my new ahem cup holders 😀

Bra!

After lunch, we dropped by Funan Center to collect my new namecards.

Loads of pigeons
There sure were a lot of pigeons right next to where I parked

I still wondered upon why I did made the namecards when there are hardly any events that I go to in Italy. Regardless, I think my new cards look spiffy with the new updated Italian words in them. But in retrospect, I think that I should have added some words regarding the things that I do at the back, instead of leaving so much green space.

Is just that I’m still not sure what to put. Writer? Photographer? Video Editor? Sexeh blogger extraordinaire?

Anyway, what do you think?

Rinaz new namecards

And since we were in the area, we popped by one of the electronic shops to get an additional battery for my new Ixus 200 IS camera. If I am not wrong, the place was called Song Brothers.

It was completely a smooth experience buying items from there. The lady serving me was polite and clear. None of the drama that happened as when I was at Sim Lim Square. She sold me a battery and even helped to stick a protective cover on my camera’s LCD.

It was then, when I asked her how much does the same camera costed there.

I dont remember what she quoted but for sure, it was a more competitive price to Sim Lim Square and even Mustafa Center. It was heartbreaking that I had to go through all that drama when we could have gone here instead! Doh!

Seriously everyone, I will never ever go to Sim Lim Square ever again and nor do I recommend anyone, locals or tourists alike to go there.

Anyhow, I was already rushing to head back to Jurong where we will be meeting my aunt and cousins later but Cart pulled my hand and insisted that we have coffee, “It wont take long, it’s only espresso”

So we walked towards Espressoul which was just a couple of blocks away from Funan Center and facing Parliament House.

Two espresso please! Make it ristretto!

And that was when Cart finally had the espresso that was acceptable to his standards 😛

And by pure chance we met with Danny! Head barista and one of the owners of former Geek Terminal. Geek Terminal is popular hangout with a large number of bloggers as it was the location where quite a number of blogger related events were held. Plus, they had really good coffee. Illy! The best coffee according to Cart.

Coffee at Espressoul

Danny told us that they have since shifted from the old location to there and rebranded themselves as Espressoul. Unfortunately, we did not have much time to chat more and we said our goodbyes and we rushed down to the Singapore Discovery center.

The last time I was at the Singapore Discover Center, it was in 2006 and I had to accompany a few club members for a competition. It seems much the same since then except for the newly functioning Joo Kun MRT station. Hopefully, now, it will be more accessible for more visitors 🙂

Anyhow the reason why we were here was mainly to watch Avatar! My cousins has been raving about this movie for weeks and was willing to watching it again!

Avatar at Singapore Discovery Center
Check out how tall the seats go up to

Personally, I quite liked watching the movie here. Its not crowded with people so it was more conducive and feels more relaxed. The screen was as good as a regular cinema since it was about 5 storey tall. Plus you could bring in your own food and choose your own seats 😀

It was good to spend some time with Cik Enon and the cousins 🙂

Just too bad that my mum couldn’t make it and my sister already fainted in bed, tired from school. I’m sure they would have enjoyed it too 🙂

Coincidentally later Juli asked me out for dinner at Holland Village just as we left Singapore Discover Center.

Why not? I thought to myself. When will be the next time that we meet anyway?

And thus, we went to Holland Village. It was an interesting place to go to on account of the number of expatriates hanging out here, thus the culture and the air is a little bit different. I guess a little more well heeled.

We met Juli and walked towards a Lebanese restaurant, and I was a little bit stunned at what was on the main road. There were at least 20 soldiers guarding the area. I was too nervous to even snap a picture lest they shoot me with the rifle they were holding.

The restaurant caretaker assured me that they were there just for safekeeping as there were concerns that there will be fights brewing from the many pubs in the area. And eventually, we made our order.

Rinaz and Juli

It was a rather nice place and I quite liked the decorations. I didn’t take much pictures though. I don’t know, I guess I just wasn’t in the mood 😛

Shawarma

Anyway the food was alright. I didnt liked the appetizer too much but I enjoyed my shawarma plate but poor Juli couldn’t eat her food as it looked and reminded her too much of the male anatomy! LOL!

After we said our goodbyes, just for the fun of it, I did a little detour to see my former schools. The gates were shut since it was night time, but its nice to be back in memory lane.

Jurong Institute

This is what used to be Jurong Institute. Jurong Institute doesn’t exist anymore but I had a lot of happy (as well as not so happy) memories here. I could probably write a teen novel based on the accounts that happened to me here. Ho ho ho! Idea!

Bukit View Secondary

And here is Bukit View Secondary. It was a lot larger than what I remembered. Even during my short stint as a teacher there, there were plentiful of changes.

One of the memorable incidents that happened there was when my friends treated me to a coke drink during my birthday. I took a sip and it was horrible! Turns out that they spiked my drink with soy sauce!

Urgh!

Happy birthday indeed!

The next day we went back to Vivo city to meet with sweet (and newly married!) UFC for lunch. While waiting for her, Cart and I contemplated on buying this made in Singapore aromatherapy diffuser. But I was worried that I would not have any space in my luggage so in the end, reluctantly, I didn’t get one.

Pirated Cooking Mama
We also passed by this shop. Can you spot something interesting?

We met UFC and we had a chat about her new married life and what she was up to and she handed me these adorable little hair sticks that I picked from her blogshop. She even gave me more discount … I should have gotten more stuff! 😛

Hairsticks
These are hairsticks, not colour pencils

And then we went to Candy Empire to buy the German version of Pocket Coffee.

Before I coming to Singapore, I was contemplating on bringing something unique from Italy. Initially I thought of bringing Ferrero Rodnoir, however a friend informed me that it was already available in Singapore. So I brought Pocket Coffee instead!

The supermarket cashier was giving me wierd looks when I bought like 20 boxes at one go. So I give them a seductive look in reply. Like this :

Rinaz pretending to be seductive
Rinaz act seductive

Anyway, to my horror, it was only when we arrived in Singapore when my friend, Eu Chai informed me that was Pocket Coffee being sold in Singapore albeit, it was manufactured in Germany. And Cart and I had to see this for ourselves.

German Pocket Coffee

Suffice to say, it doesnt taste the same as the original, Italian version. So we were a little more placated.

We said our goodbyes to UFC and that was when suddenly I remembered … I didnt take a picture of UFC!

We then rushed over to Jurong Point to meet with my friends Jayden and Mus and Hema! We had such a lovely time chatting the whole evening from Coffee Bean, all the way to Swensens where we had dinner later.

Dinner at Jurong Point

Its nice to be surrounded by happy, funny and cheerful people. Mus even declared that he wore a green sweater specially for me since I like green! Bwahahaha!

I dont remember what we chatted about, but for sure, I had big smiles and was laughing all throughout the evening.

UCB Commercial

And here were are in an unofficial United Colours of Benetton advertisment.

Thursday. It was our final day in Singapore.

I woke up early and already I felt the webs of sadness starting to form. But in any case, I had a of of things to settle before the flight.

First I headed to the ICA to collect my new passport since the old one was expiring mid 2010. It was a leap of faith thing. I wasnt sure if they would be ready in time since I applied just the week before. But luckily for me, the man behind the counter pulled out my new passport and thus I was cleared!

As a sidenote, isn’t it annoying that government websites still needed internet exploiter for online transactions such as these? It took some while for me to get through it since I was using Ubuntu on my netbook and Internet Explorer isn’t compatible with Linux. In the end, I had to use my brother’s lappy with windoze. Go figure.

And then I rushed to send some packages to friends and then to the post office as I was anticipating that my luggage might be over the airplane limit and thus I bought a Singpost box.

Little did I realise that it was a little too big for me to stuff on the scooter.

Singpost Box

Luckily for me, I had a long elastic hair band which I attached to one end and used a brochure to hold the other side. And I rode slowly, praying that it didn’t break.

I even rushed by Jurong East Library to pay my fines (How did I get one anyway? I havent been borrowing for over a year :-P)

Jurong East Entertainment

And I saw the familliar Jurong East Entertainment, which was right next to it, being half demolished. A little nostalgic for me I guess, since this was one of the places that I hang out at as a student. Anyone remember the $1.99 meal from Long John Silvers?

Finally after all of the chores, I rushed towards home and rushed to the wet market and then to fairprice to get some condiments and Singapore foodstuff, you know, stuff that I couldn’t get in Rome. My Lingham’s Chilli Sauce is my main priority!

Singapore foodstuff

Here is a portion of the food that we bought. Initially, Cart was concerned that the food might not clear the immigration, but I was gung ho about it and wrapped it neatly among our clothes.

And then we packed like crazy! So much things to pack and I was already worried that including the books that I wanted to carry with me, would be too heavy in the end and I had to reluctantly leave them, for now.

It took several hours to pack and after the whole affair, I saw that it would be impossible to have time for a family dinner at West Coast Food Center, so we had to make do with the hawker center which was next to our house instead (My dad wasn’t too fond of the food there unfortunately)

Dinner at Hawker Center

I desperately tried to eat a couple more Singapore food to ease me through the next 11 months or so. I wouldn’t be able to have these anymore

Dinner at Hawker Center

And this is the final meal that I had in Singapore. Half eaten chicken rice before I remembered to snap a picture of it. And then it was already time to go to the airport.

Hema drove us

Hema was so kind to volunteer to drive us to the airport. Juli was already there in the front seat next to her and I took in the last Singapore sights. Several of my relatives were there to wish Cart and me goodbye, my aunts, cousins and grandmother. I was mostly quiet the entire time because I was feeling emotional.

Family saying goodbye

Bye everyone. Thank you so much for your hospitality! It has been a lovely three weeks. Its too bad that I was not able to show Cart all of the places that I wanted to show him, like the Singapore Museums, Haw Par Villa and others. But hopefully we’ll be there December 2010. God willing 🙂

We’ll meet again soon! :-]

And stop pressurising me to have kids. KTHANXBAI!

Hello Singapore! Part 6

On the last day of 2009 thanks to Geri, Cart and I visited the Jurong Bird Park.

Singapore Bird Park

Its been a long while since I last been here – probably in my early secondary school days. Like the Zoo, for sure, there has been a lot of changes here. It seemed a lot larger than I last remembered it.

Singapore Bird Park

One of the interesting species of bird that I noticed was this one which originated from Egypt on account of the strange angle that its bending its legs as opposed as to how a cat will bend its legs.

Singapore Bird Park

I also saw a number of beautiful looking birds. Like this Malay Fish Owl.

Singapore Bird Park

Ohh … look at how striking the eyes are! Now if there were ever a Bomoh Potter, Asian version of Harry Potter, he’d totally take this beautiful creature.

There were so much to see in the park.

The only unfortunate part is that, still being a school holiday, the park was crowded with rather hyperactive kids

Singapore Bird Park

We went in the area where there was a penguin feeding and the kids were running around on the parquet stage despite the emcee’s plea for the area to be cleared. There were parents even encouraging these kids to carry on what they were doing

In any case, Cart and I had a really nice time exploring. We just wished that we went there earlier though. I thought that we could have explored the place in about 3 hours. Unfortunately, there were a couple of displays that we had to skip because of lack of time.

Like the African bird display. By the time we got there, we only saw these creepy displays.

Singapore Bird Park

Being it almost sunset, I was nervous to stay too long in case they turn alive and kill us both and hung us up a pole. Like this

Singapore Bird Park

I dont like human sized statues! Seriously! Look at how sinister they look!

The next day, Cart and I headed to Vivo City to meet a couple more Singaporeans living in Italy.

Singapore Bird Park

I quite like this picture. Even wearing casual clothes, we look so high society! Its a bit sad that its evident that I’ve put on quite a bit of weight while in Singapore, with the incessant stuffing of my face with local food.

It was as always nice to meet people who have experienced the same situation that I did, living overseas, overcoming language barriers and the homesickness that comes every now and then.

A few hours later, after the rest had to leave, Eu Chai a fellow Singaporean that I met through the facebook group, Cart and I adjourned to Barcelos. I’ve seen rather confounding restaurant reviews between Barcelos and Nandos since both specialise in chicken and both lets you choose the level of spiciness you want.

I loved my chicken so much.

Barcelo's Singapore

The picture might not give it much justice but its good! Red flag means Supa Peri. That means I am strong enough to take the heat!

Barcelo's Singapore

And Cart had a vegetarian stir fry. Red flag! We are both powerful people!

Barcelo's Singapore

And we gnawed a bowl of potato wedges between us.

Barcelos is a little on the pricey side if you compare it to regular fast food restaurants, my set meal costed about $14 while Cart’s was $13 but I think that its nice to try something new once in a while. Ayam penyet is still the best!

Anyhow, I had a really lovely chat with Eu Chai. I find him witty and charming with a lot of interesting stories to share. There was one time when he was in university in Venice when a classmate asked him, “How do I say in Italian, do you have a lighter?” And he cheekily replied, “You say, Can you light my fire?”

And she went up to a guy and said just that! Last Eu Chai said was that they were in a relationship because the guy was ecstatic that a girl would ask him that.

I was amused and could listen to Eu Chai for hours. But we had to leave to go to another meet. So we were forced to say our goodbyes.

Before we left, I snapped a picture of a map from Gothere.sg on how to go from Vivocity to Hillcrest Road

Gothere.sg

I still got lost anyway -_-

And Geri was furious! “Where are you guys?!” She smsed “I am hungry! You are late! late! late!”

I was flabbergasted. My internal GPS failed to function when I saw the unfamilliar road. Moreoever with a pillion behind me, I got even more confuzzled. To add to that, it started to drizzle.

When we finally reached peperoni’s pizzeria, we were about an hour late. Geri looked as if she was about to faint from hunger. I tried to bribe her with a present but I don’t think that it worked though 😛

Anyway Geri got me a really thoughtful gift in return, which I love so much 🙂

I looked at the menu and ordered a pizza. In my opinion, Peperoni is probably one of the best pizza that I have ever had in Singapore. The grand sized pizza is something to be seen


Sweska, Nicole and Daphne posing with pizza in January 2009

Anyway Cart ordered Penne Arrabiatta

Penne Arrabiatta

Its his benchmark of checking the standards of pasta in Singapore by always ordering the same item in places that serves Italian food. Even Pastamania.

While Geri ordered creamy chicken pasta

Creamy chicken pasta

Creamy pasta is her favourite type. Well, if she comes to Rome, we’d gladly whip up some creamy pasta for her 🙂

Geri, Rinaz and Cart

It was lovely to be in the company of Geri. We met a long time ago in the heydays of IRC and I always admired her intelligence and savvyness.

Unfortunately, Geri had to go soonafter the dinner since she had to go to work the next day. Serves us right for being late!

The next day, Spai, Cart and I made the decision to finally buy the electronics items that we’ve long wanted. Since Cart has been stolen of his handphone, he desperately needed a new one and I was keen to try out editing in HD videos.

So Cart has decided on getting a Nokia E72 and I was enamoured with the Canon Ixus 200 IS

And thus the three of us made a trip to Sim Lim Square to look at the prices. Personally for me, I was already disenchanted with Sim Lim Square due to the very rough salespeople there. And I really didn’t have the intention to buy anything there. But since the boys said that it will be fine, alright then.

Coffee!

After having a nice cuppa coffee right below Sim Lim Square, (Spai was most enchanted by the pretty coffee art) we looked around the first two levels since they specialised in gadgets such as these.

So after a while, after comparing the different prices in the shops, we went back to the shop with the best quoted price. I was ready to make my purchase when the boys started to ask about additional batteries that the camera could use.

Salesman : This battery is very good! Comes from Japan. $45 only!

Me : I don’t want the battery. Looks expensive. The second floor shop sells it for only $25 (And it was true)

And thats when the salesman flipped out

Salesman : YOU ARE SO STINGY! EVERYTHING WANT TO COMPARE!

I was stunned

Me : Why are you so rude? I was ready to buy from you but you are being so rude!

Salesman : GET OUT OF MY SHOP! DONT WASTE MY TIME! I DONT WANT TO SELL TO YOU!

It took a while for me to calm down. I was really pissed off by the man’s rude behaviour. I didn’t do anything violent. But the situation really hit my nerve. Its people like him that gives Sim Lim Square a bad reputation.

Moron

Please avoid focuspoint electronics at all costs. I made a feedback to Singapore Service Star. But I doubt that they would do anything about that.

To calm me down, the boys took me to have dinner at Little India which is just a bit of a walk away. I was upset more at how idiotic people could be, more than anything else.

Little India

It was always full of life in Little India. Kind of scary to ride a scooter in during the weekdays though, but there would always be something interesting to see at every corner. Indian clothes shop, Jewellery Shop, Eyebrow Threading shop …

Little India

We were joined with fellow blogger, Bradley and his friendly wife Margie for dinner at Cart’s favourite Indian restaurant, Komala‘s.

At this point of time, I forgot to take pictures due to the animated conversations that we had between the 5 of us. I found Brad and Margie to be intelligent, easy going and fun loving people. Brad shared his experiences of living in Singapore and Margie started to tell me about the similarities about tagalog and malay language and I was quite surprised at the number of words that we shared. Like Gunting for Scissors, Tolong for Help and others that I dont quite remember right now.

Serves me right for taking such a long time to blog 😛

They tucked in to a hearty Indian meal. While I had my veggie burger with potato wedges

Little India

I seriously wouldn’t mind turning into a vegetarian if I could have food like this every day. Its really flavourful and a lot more satisfying than the Steakhouse burger that I had some weeks prior to that. Thus Spai, Cart and I enjoyed our meal but I’m not too sure if Brad and Margie did though, since the next day he twittered something about having stomach pains. Uh oh.

The five of us then went over to Mustafa center which is a 24 hour shopping mart which is popular with the locals as well as tourists due to the competitive price that they had. Not to mention the much more professional service by the salesmen.

Check out our new toys 😀

Nokia E72 and Canon Ixus 200 IS

I would have preferred my camera in green but there wasn’t any for that particular model. Cart naturally couldn’t stop fondling his new Nokia E72. It was a lot easier to type on plurk and twitter on that. Darn, I should have gotten one too.

And thus, from this point onwards, the images in this blog post uses the new Canon Ixus 200 IS.

The next day mum hosted a kenduri with our extended family for giving thanks and prayers for the safe journeys that my parents had while performing their pilgrimage and for Cart and my travel here.

Kenduri

A large amount of people arrived, which was expected since my mum had 10 siblings while my dad had 12. Go figure the number of cousins 😛

It feels somewhat like Hari Raya with the familliar faces all around and for a moment, everything about Rome was forgotten. It was until they started asking when Cart and I are going to have kids. Everyone keeps asking that! This is stressful!

Anyway! To change topic, my uncle set up a chocolate fountain and all the kids scrambled to eat it! It was interesting to see the chocolate sloshing down.

Here’s a video I took of the chocolate fountain in HD!

I should have took a few seconds to include all the yummy home cooked food though. There were so much! And I ate like there is no tomorrow.

Later on during the evening, a couple of my secondary school classmates arrived – Jamaliah and Surina.

And we told each other stories of how we hanged out beside the bookshop and thus nicknamed ourselves the title of, “Bookshop Girls”. And we marvelled at how coincidental that each of us in the group (save for one) married a non Singaporean (How wierd is that?) as we looked at each other’s wedding photos.

And here we are posing with the ketupat that I bought while in Geylang. I’m totally going to hang this up for Hari Raya this year. If Italians can hang wreaths on their door during xmas, I want to hang a ketupat.

Kenduri

Its a pity that my ketupat is a bit flat from the flight back to Rome. Ketupat penyet.

Hello Singapore! Part 5

While having dinner with Juli and Hema, Hema told me a most interesting information.

Hema : You know, I’ve been allocated to school.

Me : Thats cool!

Hema : Guess where?

Me : I’ve no idea

And then she disclosed that it was at the school that I used to be attached to. The one where it was probably the longest attachment that I involved in, till I had to quit before migrating to Italy. I was amused. It was as if after one legacy, a new one comes in.

Hema : Come lah! There will be a staff meeting tomorrow!

And thus, it was the perfect opportunity for me to meet up with ex colleagues.

It took a while for me to get used to. The building and the area changed so much from the construction works that I had to make a huge roundabout looking for the new entrance.

By the time I entered the school, pretty much everyone was pretty surprised to see me. I saw a number of familiar as well as new faces. And I learnt that there were a number of staff who has transferred or had already retired.

Staff meeting

It was really nice to catch up with my ex colleagues and seeing how they were. I just wished that I had more time.

I chanced upon Hema and together we decided to have a late lunch together with my sister. I was already late for the lunch date and worried that she would be furious. And she was. When we arrived home, she looked visibly upset.

Nevertheless, a date was a date and after Hema talked to my mum we left for Sakae Sushi, which was located right next to the Boon Lay Interchange. It was interesting walking through the interchange as it was newly opened, fully air conditioned, indoor bus interchange.

Diana ordering food

When we got in the restaurant, I started to get quite excited. Sushi! Its been a long time since I’ve eaten Sushi to my hearts desire! It used to be that while I still living in Singapore, I’d go to Giant supermarket after 9 pm to get a discounted price for a party plate Sushi.

Even though there are Japanese restaurants in Rome, the prices are rather expensive due to the costs of seafood.

So, confidently I said : Lets get the biggest Sushi plate! I’m sure we can finish it all!

Sushi

And this is their 50 dollars party plate. And I started to eat with gusto. Mmm! Unagi! My favourite!

But like in the economic terms of the law of diminishing returns, as I started to eat my 10th Sushi, I started to feel full. And then later my sister and Hema both said, That’s it! Can’t eat any-more!

There were three left.

Diana and Hema eating Sushi

Of course, not wanting to waste food, I slowly forced myself to finish them. In the end, I felt so stuffed, it was uncomfortable.

Unfortunately, when we reached home, I started to have pain in my right chest which became more intense when I tried to take deep breaths and I went to sleep the pain away.

Thankfully, the pain was completely gone the next day, and after a walk around the park with my mum, Cart and I headed to Geylang Serai to meet up with a couple of Singaporeans living in Italy who were coincidentally having their vacations in Singapore at the moment.

Geylang Serai brings a lot of memories here. My family used to go here regularly during Hari Raya to buy clothes and items for the house. I loved the food here and shopping is pretty reasonable. A bit unfortunate that nowadays, when anyone mentions Geylang, the first thing that they would think of is the red light district.

There were loads of changes here. The last time that I remembered, there was a temporary wet market about 100 meters away from the Paya Lebar Mrt Station.


This picture was taken in December 2007

Now, the wet market is gone, and instead, there is a two storey market build next to it

I forgot to take a picture of the market, but here is a picture of a pigeon :

Pigeon

I’m not sure why this pigeon is lying on the floor in the hot afternoon. Thankfully, there wasn’t any juvenile delinquents teasing it at the time.

And then I saw Lana and her baby Giulio in a curious scene.

Baby leash

Its my first time seeing a baby with a baby leash. But regardless of what your stand is about baby leashes, its said to be popular in Italy as Italian kids are very energetic and the leash keeps them safe from wandering too far away.

We met up with Lina and together we headed to the hawker center, located upstairs.

Food at geylang serai

I, of course, ordered my favourite, Ayam Penyet and we had a lovely chat about our lives in Italy over local food. Lana tells me that travels back and forth between Italy and Singapore while Lina said that she had to learn Italian very quickly since her husband was relocated to work. I am still struggling with my Italian.

Food at geylang serai

After we adjourned, we headed to the Geylang Serai shopping center next door when I proceeded to buy a number of P. Ramlee movies like Bujang Lapok, Madu Tiga, Labu & Labi, Ikan Emas … but too bad that they were still in VCD format. It would have been great to have them in DVD format and most especially, with subtitles!

As a sidenote, Cart and I were watching Sepet by Yasmin Ahamd and he kept asking and asking and asking. “Is she malay? Is he Chinese? What is the significance? Why did he do that?” I had to keep telling him, “Abang, its a story. Just watch and see how the story develops lah. I am watching this for the first time also, I don’t know! Diam boleh tak?”

And then Cart would have this mournful eyes and said “You know I am foreign and dont know of these cultural implications” and for a while it will be quiet and then he starts asking again

Anyway later in the evening, Cart and I got ready to head to Clementi Woods Sakura International buffet to meet my Jurong Institute Classmates. It was a pretty impromtu meeting since I asked around only about a week before the actual day but the turnout was still pretty good. The first person that I met was CK and we got nervous when we saw loads of people at the entrance and we didn’t book in advance!

Hong Boon and Joon Kiat

Luckily for us, we got a table in the end but it was too bad that we were arranged in such a way that I couldn’t hear the other half of the conversation, but I had a lovely chat with Dorris and her boyfriend who met in Australia while Dorris was attached for work then.

They said that they would probably head to the States for work experience after they got married. That’s quite romantic I think 🙂

Jurong Institute meet 2009

All in all, I had a very lovely evening just chatting with my friends, re-acquainting with everyone. We’ve grown so much since school days. It seems that everyone is getting married or have kids already or already complaining about their works and stuff.

Rite of passage I guess.

Next : Seeing Birds