My 21st Birthday Celebrations

Hey I am back again. I know it has been like about 6 months since I turned 21st, but I think it’s really time to update this blog with photos and records of my other two 21st birthday celebrations. You can recap on my first celebration here.

29 October, 2017

A week after my confinement ended, I finally have the chance to actually spend my weekend out of camp. As it was the weekend right before my field camp, I feel that this was the moment I should really enjoy my hearts out before booking back into THAT ISLAND, facing nothing but army boys and trees.

The bunch of lovelies from JCFC got me out to BOUNCE Singapore, a trampoline park located at the top level of Orchard Cineleisure. It wasn’t my first time at a trampoline park but I knew the last time when I went to one left me with some soreness at the tip of my toes. I was praying that this time around, my muscles would spare me some agony.

The moment we went into the arena, we just kept jumping on any trampoline that we stepped onto. I was like trying to jump as high as I could, so as to feel free – although I knew right at that moment that it was meant to be a temporary one. I just left every inch of stress and thoughts to the back of my head and told myself to enjoy every single moment with this bunch of friends.

At some point, some of us started to try out ‘synchronised trampolining’. As the term suggests, it meant that two of the players will execute the exact same routines concurrently. Something like this:

But as we all expected, the first few trials weren’t something that we were really proud of. Either the timing was off, or we landed up lying flat on all fours. HAHAHA. Yet, some of us eventually executed it well. That’s some kind of achievement, I supposed.

Anyway, it would be rather boring to keep jumping up and down for the entire duration of one hour, so we decided that it would be a good idea to try out one of the ‘challenges’ there: the X-Park. Also known as the Ninja Warrior Obstacle Course, it consisted of a rock wall, running pathway and even a zip-line. The objective is to complete the course in the shortest time possible.

Of course, none of us really quite made it through every single obstacle. I have already lost count the number of time I came crashing down to the ground.

The zip-line was probably the easiest out of all the available obstacles there.

At the end of the hour, our bodies were fully worked out. There were sweats but there were more laughter and memories made. Ever since enlistment, I’ve felt that my life has been confined to nothing but military businesses. I realised my time with my closest friends are getting more and more limited. I knew that I need to treasure every moment with all of them, despite just a short evening out. Well, it’s not about quantity of time, but quality of time after all.

After we were done cleaning ourselves up and getting changed, Mish had to return back to Hall so we were left with the 5 of us. And apparently, there was a second surprise of the evening.

Nic and Yapz hailed a private hire car each, with Nic sharing one with Wanz and I, while Yapz travelled with her boyfriend. I was forced to put on my earpiece while Nic and Wanz told the driver our destination. Despite me being seated in the co-driver seat, I felt as though I was being kidnapped by two very familiar persons and was on the way to uncertainty.

The vehicle drove off as I was blasting my favourite playlist into my earpiece. I looked out of the window, trying to make a guess where this would lead me to. The vehicle went up the CTE, bypassing some recognisable scenery that I used to enjoy while running downtown from home. About three songs later, I found ourselves on Braddell Road. It was the route I would take if I were to return home by private transport from the city. That moment I thought, could I be heading straight home?

Before I even questioned my guess, the vehicle made a swift turn into a secluded Woodleigh Park. There was no way I knew where we were going. I got more confused when I saw JSSL training grounds. The vehicle came to a complete halt right outside this cafe called Cafe Football.

The moment I alighted from the vehicle, I felt exactly like this:

via GIPHY

Cafe Football seems to be a quiet dining option for football fans. Apparently partly owned by Manchester United’s legends, Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville (alright, I seriously didn’t know about this until I was doing research while trying to write this piece), the cafe provides a comfortable surrounding for football viewing and also, if you are in the mood, a game of footy at The Arena – where the cafe is located at.

We ain’t here for a game, especially not after an hour of bouncing up and down. We were here to fuel ourselves after a rather tiring day. For me, I took it as a chance to get pumped up ahead of field camp. You just don’t understand how much I miss salad in Tekong.

Charmz joined us after work for the dine in.

After eating, the girls decided that they wanted some desserts. And guess what, when the order came, it was accompanied by a candle and a few of the cafe staffs. Much to my amusement, THE SONG echoed around the cafe.

Thank God we were the only large group there. There was a couple whom I thought was too engrossed in their conversation to ever notice any foreign disturbance. No doubt, I was touched by the gesture. For the second time over the span of 2 months, I got to feel loved.

And look, they even got me a Ralph Lauren pullover!

11 November, 2017

As long as I am in any clique together with Junwei, he always had to be the one ‘fishing’ me out and make sure I had some free time in the evening. The case on 2 September was being repeated again two months later.

He wanted to chill at my house after I returned from Kranji Camp (yes, I was being posted there after my one-month ordeal in Tekong) after a remedial training. Well, that’s what he said. The last time he said that, I ended up having a whole group of Pedoro darlings appearing at my doorstep. (Ok, to be fair, that’s like good 3 years ago)

He was supposed to reach my house at 5.30pm but ended up only to leave his own house at around 6.20pm. I knew that was not like him at all. I didn’t give much thoughts to it nevertheless. Slightly later, after our last Whatsapp exchanges, the doorbell rang. I opened my door and see 4 humans standing outside.

It was another surprise. Although this time it wasn’t the entire group of them but at least I was reassured that I am not a loner celebrating 11.11. Junwei, Weihao, Hong Kiat and Wei Fang walked through my door, wishing me a belated birthday.

We chilled a while over at my place, watching some Fresh Off The Boat episodes before heading off for dinner at one of the nearby food centres.

One of the reasons why I love my neighbourhood is that there are many delicacies around the area. We were so close to ordering one dish each from every stall but thank God, we didn’t. Instead, we did have some absurd ideas in mind. We decided to try out the spicy ramen challenge.

We ended up having 6 packets of Buldak Spicy Ramen and a carton of fresh milk in our groceries bag on the way back home. But before that, we stopped by a Lazada advert at the bus stop for a snap. No particular reason, just to show how single af we four guys are. (Look, I am still using the present tense of ‘are’ 6 months after we took the shot. Oops~)

I ended up creating 2 bowls of spicy ramen once we reached back home. One of which I named it the ‘Ultimate Devil’s Bowl’, where I actually added the satanic bhut jolokia chili together with the chili packet provided. No doubt, it proved to be one of the hottest things I’ve ever tasted.

The rest of them just rejected my creation and went straight to the less torturous bowl of noodles. Despite that, they still managed to finish the carton of milk without actually finishing the noodles.

via GIPHY

Our months didn’t stop right there despite being a little numb, no thanks to the spiciness. We took out the Oreo cake that they’ve bought for me and lighted the candles. They were so thoughtful that they got me a cake with less sugar. DAMN THOUGHTFUL PLEASE.

via GIPHY

But even without less sugar, the sugar level will still be lesser than the sweetness in them.

Taobao or Lazada doesn’t have the best 11.11 deal. These darlings are my best deals in life.

My Dayre and I

On February 10 this year, Dayre announced through its CEO Desmond Kiu that they are going to close down the microblogging platform for good.

Here’s the full transcript of the announcement:

Dear Dayreans, 

The news about the closure of Dayre saddens me, beyond words can describe. I empathize with all the Dayre users, especially those who’ve expressed their thoughts in the comment thread of the news piece.

I thought that the least I could do is perhaps explain the key factors which led to this decision – a picture that you would likely have no visibility of, as a user.

1. Did not hit critical mass.

Dayre is a platform. The goal of every platform is to grow its user base. Once you have a significant user base, you can monetize it by a) selling ads, b) selling user data, c) selling subscriptions, d) selling the platform (like Instagram did) and etc to sustain your platform. There are also platforms like Wikipedia, which sustains itself by raising donations from its users.

But before you could do (a) or (b), you will need big numbers to make it worthwhile for advertisers, advertising and media agencies to spend their time selling it to decision makers, planning a campaign, scripting, QA, trading, monitoring, optimizing the campaign and reporting. Unfortunately, we did not have those numbers. For illustration purposes, FB & IG have 23 million active users in Malaysia alone. Dayre on the other hand has less than 50k active users across the world.

I will explain (c) under point 4.

2. We did not have the funds to take it to critical mass.

To take a shot at bringing it to critical mass, you will need a development team, a marketing team and plenty of marketing funds. There’s also time cost from the management team, administrative and regulatory costs. 

To give you context, you should Google up the size of development teams behind popular apps that you use. And Google up marketing dollars spent by apps like Traveloka and Grab too.

I’ve been a marketing man all my life, and even the thought of the prospects of developing and marketing Dayre at a large scale excites me. However, we simply did not have the funds (we’re talking millions of SGD) to pursue the Dayre dream.

3. Did not generate enough ad revenue. 

Considering all the monetization methods mentioned above under point 1, selling ads is always the lowest hanging fruit. And that’s what we tried to do for almost a year – despite us not having the numbers to begin with. We had to swim against strong waves, but my team is always determined to take on challenges.

We created a sponsored post ad unit – like the ones you see on your FB and IG newsfeeds. We started selling sponsored posts on Dayre, like what we do with our Nuffnang community. We gave away free brand and product mentions to allow advertisers to sample. We bundled it with sponsored events. And many other methods explored by my very capable team that come with decades of experience working in the largest global media agencies.

We also made our top sales people spend additional hours to bundle Dayre into their client pitches and do diligent follow ups. We were able to generate some ad revenue, but regretfully, it was not sufficient.

4. Did not generate enough subs.

When I was appointed by Netccentric in March 2017, I have looked at our subscriber base of Dayre Plus and it was not at all encouraging. I remember discussions with my team to ramp up the base of Dayre Plus and one of the ways we agreed to pursue was to lower the barrier of entry. We went on to reduce the price of subscription and saw the base grow significantly, from where it started at least.

Today we have 338 Dayre Plus subscribers. We are very thankful to all our subscribers, but again it wasn’t enough to help us make Dayre a viable platform.

5. Commitment to shareholders.

As a CEO of a public company, I represent all the executives and am answerable to a board of directors, who then report to shareholders.

When I was appointed in March 2017, my biggest mandate was to turn the group around and start generating profits. One of the key strategies deployed by the management team was to scale down on loss making entities and scale up profit making ones. Dayre unfortunately belonged to the prior and in spite of that, we went on for a year to try and turn it into the latter.

Regretfully, we’ve come to this day. Beyond the above explanation, which I’ve tried my best to personally deliver, I would also like to offer interested parties the opportunity to make offers to acquire Dayre. This would perhaps be another way to keep the Dayre community alive. 

Thank you for all the support you’ve given us. 

Best regards,
Desmond

Fast forward a month later, it seems to be business as usual for the app. Some of my friends are still using the app, ‘liking’ posts and/or posting their entries. It felt like nothing has changed, everyone’s still using the app like before. I guess Dayrians will just continue with the microblogging platform until it disappears. One day.

9 days after the announcement of closure, I wrote my final entry on Dayre, roughly two years after I started using it.

With a heavy heart, I wrote:

Goodbye everyone. This is probably my last post here on Dayre before it closes.

Dayre has served me well over the past 1-2 years I’ve been using it. It accompanied me through one of my toughest time (during the 2nd half of 2016) and my fitness journey last year. So many milestones and memories have been recorded over here and I am thankful for its existence.

It provided me with the platform to vent my frustrations whenever I need some kind of venting outlet – be in relationship, work or fitness. Although at the start of the year – even before Dayre announced its closure – I’ve been using it sparingly, but I know there’s a place I could seek comfort in at the end of the day.

Through the help of Dayre, I managed to embark on my fitness journey some point at this point in time last year. The 100 days might seem short but it was hell lot challenging. Through Dayre, I recorded my progress and everything that comes along the way. Getting to know like-minded people and encouraging one another to become fit together. That was the best moment in my life thus far.

I know I lost myself towards the end of last year and undoing what I’ve worked so hard for. Gaining 5kg eventually, I feel that I’ve let down a lot of people – those who’ve encouraged me and those who, if any, were inspired by me – and most importantly, myself. I have no face to talk about fitness anymore and I am unfit – pun intended – to be speaking about it anymore.

The closure of Dayre seems to come at the right time for me. I will need time to get myself back and I promised right here, right now, that I’ll 振作起來. This journey will be tougher than the one I embarked on last year and my only hope is that I can survive this totally. As mentally and physically draining it’s going to be, I will not fail this time because I have everything to lose.

I will take a break from everything after this as I search for my motivation and my resilience. 

But I’ll promise a different me in a year time. And let’s hope the better me will emerge as a result.

I’ll be back. Stronger.

Dayre has gradually become a vital part of my life ever since I started using it. It was like a medium for me to vent my frustrations and also for me to sort out some of my deepest thoughts. It is like a haven to me. Like I’ve mentioned in my entry, Dayre accompanied me through my toughest times.

It was the period when I was suffering from a heartbreak and pressure amounting from schoolwork and internship. I basically threw all my thoughts onto Dayre. Dayre was like a public diary for me, I penned down my thoughts openly. During the initial phase, I was a little restrained because I was afraid how people would view me.

But, as time went by, I realised that I am more reliant on Dayre to seek some sort of mental asylum. As soon as I am done ranting, I felt a little better. I could compare it to breathing into a paper bag to calm myself down. I didn’t really bother about how I would be viewed, I placed my mental well-being ahead of anything else at that point in time.

Whenever I was down, there was no restriction. I will just pour out whatever that was on my mind. Everything.

via GIPHY

Every time I finish ranting on Dayre, I felt that I’ve freed my soul from the inner struggle. Yes, the problem might still be there, but at least, I ain’t facing it with a heavy heart.

Of course, apart from negative pieces of stuff, there are also hilarious incidents that were recorded.

Look, I ain’t that negative after all. Dayre is basically where my inner thought resides. Yes, I might have a blog right here where I could post my daily happenings and thoughts, etc, but it can never be as convenient as Dayre. When thoughts came in, I’d just whipped out my phone from my pocket and start typing it right away.

Dayre was also the platform for me to jot down my fitness progress last year – although the efforts eventually went down the drain by the start of this year. Nevertheless, it recorded my journey to fitness – for a period of time – and how I eventually lost my sense of direction. It’s a tough journey and I really wonder what motivated me to actually embark on such a journey.

To be fair, I was given the support I needed during that time. Dayreans like Eunice, and friends like Viv and Yap Qi, would spur me on. I realised as I enlisted in the army, my time with Dayre dropped and maybe that’s why my motivation went down the same path.

Nevertheless, as Dayre meets its fate, it looks like its time for me to start all a new again. My life and my fitness journey will never end, just that I might have to take some time off to really think about those things and plan it well.

It’s just painful to see how your efforts go into waste.

Just like all those entries we had inside Dayre.