This is one of the most bizarre stories I would be writing this year, probably in the history of my life as well.
This could also be one of the most successful surprises ever pulled off on me since people started celebrating my birthday half a decade ago.
Saturday, 2 September 2017.
Junwei, my ever so trusted confidant, managed to get me out of my shambles. I haven’t had a chance to head out to town with a friend ever since I was mentally plagued by some personal issues.
The only times when I was out of my house were when I had errands to run or I had a run to go. I didn’t feel like going anywhere else or meeting anyone else apart from the usual few.
Junwei wasn’t being a usual self. I didn’t realise the abnormalities even when he reminded me about our meet-up 5 days before.
“Eh reminder, sept 2 go out.” “Scared later like last time you forget.” “LOL.”
“Ok hahaha.” “Why do you sound like Elyssa?”
He had never reminded me about any meet-up over the course of our friendship.
To add on to the list of atypical behaviour he possessed, he never tried securing my schedule weeks in advance. Our meet-up are mostly impromptu. It was more of like asking each other out for dinner an hour before and praying that the other party is available.
Probably I was a little too occupied to even surmise any aberrations.
He said he wanted to go to the Kinokuniya outlet at Ngee Ann City. We browsed through some books before making dropping by Bras Basah Complex to browse through more books.
Nearing sunset, we hopped onto the train which transported us down to Chinatown.
“Actually, why do you want to go Chinatown?” I was a little caught by surprise when he initially suggested on going to the ethnic enclave.
“To get clothes.”
“Who the hell go to Chinatown for clothes?” That was the first time I heard anyone shopping for clothes in the cultural suburb. It makes more sense if it was during the Chinese New Year’s festive season when a bazaar was going on.
I continued to complain about how full I was from my lunch and how my stomach felt more bloated as the time went past. I don’t know what’s wrong with my stomach but all I recalled was that I didn’t have a heavy meal that afternoon.
On the other hand, Junwei was on the other side of the hunger spectrum. He was already hungry by the time we arrived at Chinatown.
I had asked him earlier on while we were at Orchard about what we would be having for dinner. He proposed on settling it over at a KBBQ outlet in Chinatown.
I am ready for a feast of meat. That’s what I was thinking the moment he voiced out his cravings.
Looks like I was a little wrong about how my appetite would be when he said that we are going for dinner once we stepped out of the station. Nevertheless, I complied. We went circles around Chinatown in search for a KBBQ restaurant that his friends had recommended. We got lost, turned on the navigator from Google Maps and got to our destination eventually.
We should be glad that Singapore does not have a large plot of land mass to begin with. If not it would have been a good workout before a scrumptious meal.
We arrived at Wang Dae Bak restaurant.
“Room 3.” Junwei told the waiter as he was being approached.
“Since when did you make a reservation,” I followed closely behind him, feeling kind of puzzled. We never have the habit of making a reservation at a restaurant. Besides, we only decided on having dinner just an hour before we met up.
“My friend said it’ll be crowded,” he convinced me.
I didn’t ponder much and followed him and the waiter in.
We walked past a row of private rooms which caught my eye. It looks like a scene out of an epic Korean War movie.
I was engrossed with the old-school interior that I almost didn’t realise that I was so close to losing the sight of those two ahead. I quickened my steps and we came face-to-face with a sliding door that looks like it is made of hanji material.
Someone slided the door open, revealing some familiar faces in there.
The first two persons I saw were Justinn and Sheri. It was not long before I realised the presence of Elyssa, Stefanie and Ashley.
Before I could process what was happening, a chorus erupted in what was supposed to be a serene dining place.
Anyone could see how shellshocked I was. People were singing birthday song as Junwei and I made our entrances into the room. There was no reason for them to be celebrating any birthday at this point of the year. At least from what I know, neither of our birthdays lie during the late Aug/September period.
Everything felt so preposterous.
Everyone looked at my direction whilst Junwei rushed to the nearest seat, as if sending the message to the rest that his job was finally done.
That was the earliest birthday celebration I’ve ever had in my life. And if you are wondering how early this celebration was, I was only 20 years 10 months and 10 days old on that day.
The video showed how stunned I was – and I remained that way throughout the rest of the night. In fact, I still felt how everything was so surreal at this point of writing. I didn’t see it coming but as I pieced all the abnormalities in Junwei’s behaviour up to the point, it makes sense after all.
I was presented with a cute panda, which I felt it kinds of resembles me because of the dark eye circles, and a present which I shall not unveil just yet.
Once we settled down (okay, not really the case for me because I was still recovering from the shock that they had given me), we turned our attention to the food that was being laid out so nicely on the dining table.
Photos & More Photos
After we finished our food, Elyssa suggested that we take some kind of burst mode photos. She wanted to duplicate those neo-print/polaroids-like photos tourists took when they visit some sort of carnival.
The quality of the photos came out to be nothing less than perfect. It looked as if we’ve just gone for a day out to Seoul.
Stef and I ran out of pose before Justinn prompted from the side to do a ‘throwback’ pose. I was immediately reminded of the photo we took when we were helping our school’s Red Cross unit with their skit performance in 2009.
One conclusion: We all grew up well.
I just realised I had forgotten to take a photo with Stef and Ashley together. It’s okay, there were be more chances for us three to take photo together(although I might feel as bright as a light bulb but well…)
We looked like we are about to release an ‘album of the year’.
I think we can call the album “The Early Birds”.
For the past few years, my groups of friends are kind enough to plan surprises for my birthday. I didn’t know how birthday surprises felt until the whole group of them from Pedoro dropped by my house to give me my first birthday surprise ever. The next day, Nic, Rat and the rest of the JCFC girls pulled off another surprise.
I was 17 back then.
Because it was the first two times that I was surprised on my birthday, I remembered those moments very clearly.
Two years ago, Pedoro almost made my heart stopped while I was ‘attacked’ on the way home after a shoot. That was the third time I felt the surprise element for my birthday.
Those were the three times when my friends successfully surprised me.
This time round, as I head towards my 21st year, I was given another shock of the lifetime. The difference between this and the previous few times was on the timing. You won’t get many chances to celebrate your birthday two months in advance.
“Do you feel touched?” Elyssa asked me after the celebration.
I was lost for words. My mind was blank and I had no idea how I should react. That remained the case for the entire night. Eventually, I start to get hold of what had happened to me.
Yes, I felt touched. And it will take a while before the feeling subside.
Thank you guys for making sure that I get to celebrate my 21st birthday with you guys before I enlist into the military.
Thank you – especially Elyssa, Stef and Sheri – for planning this since July. That’s like 3-4 months ahead of my actual birthday.
Thank you Junwei for coordinating with the girls and making sure I fell for the plan.
Thank you Ashley and Justinn for being there for the celebration.
I know I can’t thank you guys enough with just these few words, but I am deeply moved by the efforts you guys had put in to ensure this was a success. I think judging by my reaction, it showed how well your plans had been executed.
I will take good care of myself in the military so you guys need not worry much alrights! We will meet up again soon!
Cheers to more years of friendship ahead!
PS: I would also want to thank the staffs over at Wang Dae Bak’s China Square Centre outlet for almost getting your crews to come in with the birthday cake and singing the birthday song together with us. Thank you for your patience when we requested for photo taking and helping us with the taking of photos. Absolute class in customer service from Wang Dae Bak.
I have been immersing into the world of design and brand marketing over the past few months. Looking through sites like Behance, Awwwards and Pinterest, I came out with the eventual idea that brand marketing plays a very significant role in a brand.
Not say that my blog is very well-received or that my previous few rebrandings of the site have an up-to-expectation effect. Those who knew me from my earliest try at blogging might remember XMY, EdBlog.sg, EdBlog III: Voices of Hearts and @EddyChua (actually I’ve forgotten most of it until I dig the archive out from blogger and Webs.com). The sad thing is none of these blogs survived the test of time. Apart from branding and packaging of the entire site, content is equally important as well.
The sad thing is none of these blogs survived the test of time. I’ve either stopped writing or did some sort of rebranding before abandoning it one last time for good.
This time, it is different.
I did not change the domain, neither did I change the name of the blog (I am still shamelessly using my name for the blog). What I did this time is to ditch Blogger for WordPress. You will understand why after reading this article.
For those who have been visiting my blog since June will realise that its interface has been changing. I’ve been trying out different kinds of design in order to find out which style and graphical design suits my blog the most.
After months of experiment, I am proud of officially unveil the brand new identity of this blog:
Apart from branding and packaging of the entire site, content is equally important as well. It took me time to realise that I need to have a niche for my blog if I want to go far with it.
Ever since I started my fitness journey since the start of the year, I’ve found an interest talking about health, nutrition and fitness. Hence I decided, this blog will be about health and fitness.
However, I still will not forget about the reason why I started out blogging. I wanted to jot down all the beautiful memories of my life through words, photos and videos. Having a niche doesn’t mean I have to compromise on all these memories. I will still continue to blog about my personal life under a brand new category I set aside within this blog: the personal category.
To enhance the content a little, I also included the lifestyle category where from time to time, I’ll be writing about those very lifestyle things like Life Hacks and even reviews on movies, events or food.
Health and fitness topics will still form the main part of this site that means recipes and fitness hacks are coming your way!
Well, I ain’t fitness guru but I am also starting out on this journey together with most of you so let’s share our knowledge with each other! If you would like to submit your article, you can do so via this medium I’ve set up! And if you would like to discuss about what I’ve wrote, do feel free to comment on the Facebook comment section below every article.
Since I will be posting links to my blogs to social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, I find it would be nice if I have a template. The template will contain a relevant photo, scaled to the correct size according to the respective dimensions different social media sites possessed.
To give it a more aesthetical and informative look, the template will also contain the title of the post. This will, and I hope, interest potential readers to click on the link because they would have an idea of what to expect.
Watermark is important, especially to photographers.
Although my photos ain’t fantastic, I am still proud of my own work and want to protect my creative rights.
Can’t wait to write more content!
It’s not difficult to miss out on the developments of Tampines, especially when I have Baey Yam Keng on my Facebook feed. Over the past few weeks, I got exposed to a brand new place called Our Tampines Hub. From Baey’s post on social media to referrals while I was taking part in the activities at the Padang during the GetActive! Singapore 2017 carnival, the hype of this new integrated building is real.
The only thing I’d know about the new facilities located far in the Eastern region of Singapore is that it was built on the old ground of Tampines Stadium. I didn’t expect myself to drop by there because IT IS IN THE EAST. It’s like do you know how far that is for someone staying near the centre of the island?
To put that into perspective, imagine trying to get there from Ang Mo Kio using the shortest route (as suggested by Google Maps) and then getting lost along the way.
Ok, maybe I should explain why I was on the way to OTH.
It was 13 August and was Viv’s birthday. So the whole lot of us from JCFC decided to bring her to OTH to play a game of Laser Quest. I rushed off after work to meet the rest of the girls at the venue. I searched for recommendations on Google Maps with the objective of finding the route that will take up the shortest time.
Mind you, I actually had a direct bus there from my area – but it will take me close to an hour. (I mean, I took close to an hour taking a different bus from the same bus stop down to Bedok before so it occurred to me that the time taken to travel should be there about or even longer.)
I took the recommended route – which I have to transfer a bus in the middle of the expressway at the outskirts of Yishun (oh that God-damned Yishun). I didn’t know that the bus that I was supposed to transfer to was on the opposite of the road. Now, how on Earth am I supposed to cross the busy expressway. Although I was still surprised at the number of cars heading into the untouchable land of Yishun. (Ok, enough of the Yishun joke)
I ended up venturing into a forest because a sign told me that there is an underpass to the opposite. But screw it, after making my way through the forested area, I came face to face with an ‘Under Construction’ signage. Walaoeh.
In the end, I took another bus down the street and transferred to the Tampines-bound bus at Upper Seletar Reservoir.
As the bus made its way eastwards through the light drizzle, I couldn’t help but to look forward to the series of events that would be happening till late night – all focused at OTH.
I was late (not surprising) and they were already at OTH, hence I went straight to the newly erected building.
It is huge. It would still sound a little of an underestimation to say I am overwhelmed by the structure of the building and the facilities available. I was impressed by the architecture – the incorporation of green architecture into its designing concept makes it looks like a concrete jungle (literally!). Green architecture is my kind of thing, needless to be said.
There is an atrium where shoppers (basically anyone) can sit there and enjoy movies and *ahem* a repeat telecast of the National Day Parade on Channel 5. I was a little disappointed to realise that the middle finger kid’s footages were edited out.
Met up with Viv and the rest of the girls (Charmz, Peish and Yapz) before making our way up to the HomeTeamNS club house at Level 3. We got ourselves a little confused over the counter, got our tickets, got into more confusion.
Thank God we have someone with a tough character in Peish who managed to get us through it.
Meanwhile, that was me throughout.
There was some time to spare (close to an hour) so we took the chance to explore OTH. Not sure if we were trying to relieve our stress or what but we went up to the sky garden. It was an Eco-Community Garden to be exact.
There are different kinds of plants, ranging from spices to vegetables. These are taken care of by a group of volunteers. Looking at how well these plants grow, I am certain that they must be a bunch of botany enthusiasts (not sure if there is such term but you get what I mean).
Just right outside the garden, on the pavement, there is an indoor running track. I think it should be the second public indoor running track after the one outside the National Stadium. There’s even a locker facility, something which is very difficult to find along major running routes in Singapore. There’s a reason why I preferred running around the Marina Bay/East Coast area.
Another running route added to my list. ✔
Apart from the sports facilities, we realised there are also bean bags located beside the lift landing of every level. The girls were a little excited over its existence.
Though it was short lived because everyone else loves such cosy corner as well, including many teenage couples. Hope it doesn’t get too comfortable. ☺
We headed back to the clubhouse to chill out under the comfort of the air-conditioner while waiting for our turn. I had yet to play a single laser quest game prior to this, even though it has been on every other teenager’s ‘Done List’. I remembered the last time my Poly clique wanted to go and play at Bukit Batok but it was fully booked. Fast forward a year or two later, I finally get a chance to experience the hype personally.
a group photo a series of group photos before the start of our game. We had to be glad that the guy attending to us has so much patience. Then again, I think he might have experienced it worse.
The game started shortly after we went in. We played the full-for-all mode – that means we were each on our own. No teams or roles. It’s the simplest. The girls started shouting and screaming, while running around ‘shooting’ each other with their laser tag guns.
I got myself out of these mess for a good minute before becoming one of the most prominent targets around. One thing I know for sure is that I ain’t a sharp shooter, I couldn’t really see where I was targeting and whether if I’ve hit the right spot (the sensors on their vests and guns). I had to spend some time aiming before releasing my trigger. The chaos around me was doing me no favour. I just have to give up.
There was once I hid at one corner waiting for a chance to strike but ended up being surrounded by a couple of them shooting me left, right, center. I could have been the first one to be killed if I were to be deployed on the front line in a battle.
10 minutes of game time felt forever, although I think I didn’t actually move that much.
We all couldn’t believe Charmz got first but the scoresheet wouldn’t lie. I like how I became ‘Player 3’ and how I was ranked right smack in the middle. The funny thing was that I managed the least number of shots. Damn I was slacking.
Like how they said, we will have a rematch in JB one of these days. (Sorry but laser tag games here in Singapore is way too pricey)
Mish came and find us after that, with a bouquet of flower for Viv. She arrived while we were halfway through the game so she sat outside like a mum waiting to fetch her kids after school. The six of us then find a place (and it had to be at a prominent location on a bridge HAHAHA) for phototaking.
Damn I think I looked like some grassroots volunteer. How apt for such a location.
The kind of shit we do. We wanted to do a fun shot and a normal shot initially but we had no idea what kind of pose we should do for the fun shot. Someone suggested a running pose but it ended up becoming too much of a challenge. I think a normal shot is the best I can do. Either that or I should work harder for fun shots next time. Oops.
One of the 253489539453 portrait photos taken on a random bridge inside OTH on that day. I called that THE birthday portrait, how about that.
Peish had to leave after thaat because she had something on. Meanwhile, the rest of us headed back to the town centre for dinner. We decided to settle our meal at Lenas in Tampines 1. Wanz and Nic joined us afterwards.
(P.S. Sorry Nic, you arrived too late to be inside this video. Oops)
My Chicken & Dory with a side (garden salad).
I rushed off back to OTH after I was done with my food because I had a football match there. I was browsing through Stranger Soccer the other day when I came across two matches that would be held at OTH. It was an opportunity that I shouldn’t miss out on. I mean come on, how many people will get to play on a legitimate pitch inside the stadium?Since I would be there, I might as well go for it. I kept in mind that the birthday celebration wouldn’t stretch too late into the night hence I signed up for the 8-10PM slot.
Since I would be there, I might as well go for it. I kept in mind that the birthday celebration wouldn’t stretch too late into the night hence I signed up for the 8-10PM slot.
It has been 2 years since I put on my boots. The last time I did was during Sports & Wellness class back in Year 2. I miss playing football although I suck terribly at it. I used to imagine myself as Garrincha or Pele, dribbling past defenders and going one-on-one with the keeper before cheekily executing a chip over the keeper into the back of the net. I remembered how I kicked a mini-ball around the living room every Friday night while watching a ‘live’ telecast of a S. League match when I was young. (Yes, I am probably a handful of those rare species who followed local football).
Fantasy and reality are always contrasting. 2 years since I kicked a ball, I returned to the pitch as a center back (or what we always call, a CB). For a record, I usually play as a keeper but this time I planned on trying something new. God knows when will be the next time I’ll be on the pitch again.
It was a full match – 90 minutes, but divided into 4 quarters instead of the usual 45mins-halves. I started the match poorly, losing ball and allowing attackers to play through ball. But thank God we were 1-0 up when I subbed myself out for the 2nd quarter.
I went back out on the field for the remaining 45 minutes and it was disastrous. Mistakes after mistakes, losing my man, conceding more goals. I disappoint that Liverbird upon my chest. I felt I brought shame to the shirt I was wearing and the club I love. But I still think that I played a little better than how I used to, thanks to my improved stamina and speed amidst all the running trainings.
But it think at the end of the day, it’s the exposure and experience that will help with my improvement. I don’t play team sports like football so regularly because I don’t have the group of kakis who will want to play the game week in week out. But yet, I think with an initiative like Stranger Soccer, it wouldn’t be difficult for me to find random kakis to play a game with whenever I feel like it.
I am still living the dream.
I ain’t sure how long it’ll be before I joined another football match on Stranger Soccer, but I am certain that I’ll pay OTH another visit soon. Maybe this time to their hawker center or wellness center and health lab?
Yeah, I think I want to do another body composition analysis soon.
I didn’t believe that I’ll get the chance to sit in the audience to watch the annual National Day Parade after all these years. The previous few times where I get to have a glimpse of the parade were during the NE Shows. The last time I watched NDP live was back in 2015, I was there during every show but as a Heartware volunteer. I got a chance to view one of the NE Shows in full since I was attached to Ang Mo Kio Primary.
I haven’t really had a chance to watch NDP Preview and Actual Parade on site as an audience before – as far as I could remember. Ok, maybe in 2006, when my mum and I tagged along my god-parents for the last show at the old National Stadium. I couldn’t remember clearly if it was NE Show or Preview or the actual day — but it felt like the actual day anyway.
This year, I didn’t get the tickets through balloting – again. I’ve already succumbed to the reality that I wouldn’t get the chance see the preview or actual parade again.
But then, surprisingly, I took part in a Straits Times’ competition and won.
Till now, I still couldn’t remember which competition helped me to gain an entry to one of the most important local events.
And so, I attended the second preview show with my mum on the 29th of July.
After surviving the queue under the scorching sun, we managed to receive our NDP Fun Pack and get to our seat at the Blue Sector of the Marina Bay Floating Platform.
We couldn’t really see the stage from where we were sitting but we had a great view of the bay.
But thankfully my EF-S55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS STM lens did me some justice. It is no doubt that that is my favourite lens out of the two lenses I owned.
After I set up my camera, my mum and I started looking through the fun pack. There were the usual stuffs – flags, tissue, discount coupons, 2 bottles of drinks. One thing caught my eyes actually – the Salted Egg Yolk Fish Skin by The Golden Duck. I didn’t get to try it on site, but it tasted damn good when I had it at home later that night.
You know it must be delicious when kids just gobble the entire packet down their throat.
Alright. Enough of food, because the parade is about to start.
Dynamic Defence Display
My favourite of the entire parade is the Parade & Command (P&C) and the Dynamic Defence Display (D3). I must give all the uniform personnels the credit for having to endure the blazing sun and trying hard not to ‘peng san’. I always wanted to be one of those marching in the parade, but guess I won’t be able to do that in my army uniform over the next two years because I think it’s only for the combat fit military men.
There was aerial display by 5 F-15SG fighter jets. This is the first time in NDP where the signature bomb burst manoeuvre is performed by the F-15SG. The F-16s were used in previous years.
There was also the Red Lions, who are making a return to the NDP after a two-year absence.
Apart from the parachute team making their appearance, more than 50 military assets are also making their appearance during the parade – some of which are introduced to the audiences during a multi-agency counter-terrorism display.
If I were to choose my favourite moment out of this year’s parade, it would be the part when the RSAF Chinook carrying the National Flag and flew past the sky with two AH-64D Apache helicopters in escort.
It has in fact been my favourite and proudest moment during every NDP because it reminded me what is it to be a Singaporean. It reminded me of my duty to the country and that our success today is by no means fortuitous. Our forefathers and the generations before us had given their all and strive for excellence. They fought hard – either in the battlefield, the training grounds or in their respective field – to make sure that our flag continues to fly high up in the sky.
We shouldn’t take whatever we have now for granted. Instead, we should continue to strive for greater heights – like how we want our flag to fly.
Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob was present that day as a reviewing officer.
Although she has been reprising the role she has been taking every NDP since 2013, the internet went wild after photos were ‘leaked’. Some said this is a ‘rehearsal’ for her upcoming role. Some said everything is an inside job.
Well. Then we might have Teo Chee Hean – the defence minister – as the next Prime Minister since he appeared during Preview 1, in a similar role. We leave speculations to those who speculate.
As usual when the reviewing officer or President inspect the military parade, there will be the 21-Gun presidential salute happening from the M3G Military Raft floating on the left side of the Floating Platform.
After the parade marched off, there comes the second segment of NDP. There comes the more artistic part. There are 6 acts to it and it showcases the Singapore spirit through arts, dance, music and lights.
This is the first time that NDP will feature 300 unmanned drones – the biggest drone display in Southeast Asia. My mum was like, “How did they manage to project the lights up into the sky like this.”
Nope mum, there are drones.
I must say I am impressed by the choreography. Having to control one drone is a problem, having to bring 300 drones together to form a figure is another.
At the end of the two-and-a-half hours of parade and shows, the event ended with everyone’s favourite: fireworks display.
The fireworks might be spectacular but the pungant strong smell from the leftover smoke just got me struggling a bit.
So my mum and I took a selfie because we were waiting for the crowd to disperse before we depart the area.
Entrepreneurship is on the rise, especially with the startup trend that is taking the world by storm. According to the co-founder of Warby Parker, Neil Blumenthal, a startup is a ‘company working to solve a problem where the solution is not obvious and success is not guaranteed.”
An unguaranteed success might have put many people off from entrepreneurship, yet it has not been the case here in Singapore. It was reported that between 2005 and 2013, the number of startups in Singapore roses from 24,000 to 42,000, of which at least 5,200 are tech startups. Furthermore, the government has also pushed out various funding schemes to support local startups. The SPRING Startup SG Founder, Startup SG Tech and National Research Foundation’s (NRF) Early Stage Venture Fund (ESVF) are some of the examples.
However, despite all the resources available to start your business, it is important that one continues to read and broaden his/her knowledge. Of course, many might turn to traditional news sites like the Wall Street Journal, Forbes or The Business Insider or more locally, The Business Times for business and trends insights. As much as these traditional platforms do provide us with contents that are ‘harder’ in nature, these contents are usually ‘harder in nature’. They may not use layman terms that strike a chord with its reader.
Hence, I also make sure I expand my readings to other non-traditional sites. And recently, I encounter this site.
DBS Innovates is an initiative by DBS Bank. It is like a micro blog that is constantly updated with the latest banking innovations and insights. Of course, I ain’t a banker and neither am I interested in the banking industry. However, the site also provides readers with some motivations and ideas for business innovation.
There are 4 tabs for the site, Innovation Insights; Making Banking Simpler, Faster, Smarter; Innovate For Good, and Behind The Scenes. Personally, I feel that articles under ‘Behind The Scenes’ could provide some motivation for entrepreneurs who are just starting out. There are real-life stories of entrepreneurs who’ve gone on to make a mark for themselves (Koufu’s Pang Lim) and as well as of a UX designer.
I have an interest in the future of our local F&B culture and there are actually a few articles on the site that I read with enthusiasm. DBSInnovates has successfully persuaded me that there is a future in our local F&B culture by incorporating innovations such as cashless payments. In the words of Koufu’s Mr. Pang Lim, in one of his interview with the site, “Embarking on technology and automation to improve productivity helps not only in reducing operating costs, but it also improves our value creation ability.”
In another article, DBSInnovates interviewed a hawker who has been selling ngoh hiang for the past 30 years. Mr. Ng Kok Hua seizes the up and coming trend of cashless payments and allows his customers to scan QR code via their PayLah! application for payment.
These are the kinds of examples that are close to reality, which many of the other mainstream articles lack. This is definitely in line with the bank’s motto to ‘make banking joyful’. I definitely looked forward to more of such kinds of articles from the site in the near future.
Here are some of my favourite articles from the site:
- Koufu founder Pang Lim on how tech solutions can help in preserving Singapore coffee shop culture
- Bringing traditional food and technology together the PayLah! way
- DBS Hack2Hire: Can developers really be hired through a hackathon
Like most Singaporeans, I’ve been living in the concrete jungle for all of my life. At least up till this point in time. Living in the concrete jungle means that I am constantly surrounded by urban pollution. Although there are initiatives by the government to make sure that we build a ‘green city’ despite all the urbanisation, the replication of the serenity one experiences in the forest is still a challenge.
I admit I am a typical urban boy. If you throw me into the middle of the forest alone for a few days, I’ll probably not be able to survive. Yet, my love for nature is evident. Maybe one reason is that I am easily tensed up and stress, so embracing nature is perhaps one of my outlets to de-stress. Furthermore, it is a healthy outlet.
I remember mentioning to Vivian quite a few times during our run how much I yearn to go for a hike. There are people who took time off, get a few friends, and off they wander among the wooden skyscrapers. I never have the chance to do that, though the last time I hiked in one of our nature parks was when I went out for a photography trip with Henry. Man, carrying gears up the sloppy paths and around the long, never-ending route was tiring. But hey, nature photography is my favourite kind of photography. I never like to take photos of human being anyway, because you never know if the smiles behind are genuine. In addition, we tend to read too much into a portrait – every smile, every wrinkle, every emotion. I like nature photography – birds, streams, river flows – for whenever you take a look at it, you could somehow feel nirvana running through you. Life could be as simple, just like how our ancestors once experienced.
One day, we decided to go hiking. Both of us together with Kheng Yin. I was frantically looking forward to it because it was like a dream came true. It was early in the morning, I woke up at around 0600 to get myself prepared for the journey to the west. I met with KY at Ang Mo Kio before taking the train down to Beauty World to meet up with Viv.
We came out from Exit A and walked along the perimeters of Bukit Timah Shopping Centre. There is a bridge that leads us to the Church of Singapore. From there, we walked down Hindhede Drive.
Up We Go
I was shocked as I came face to face with the steep slope at the start of the trail. The hilly elevation is much steeper than the photo I took above. It looks more like a Satan’s creation than a hiking trail. The moment we started walking (more like climbing), we could feel our heart rates increase over time. There was one point that we did not have enough energy to talk anymore. The only sound coming from us was the sound of our panting.
We met several middle-aged uncles along the way. It was slightly before 0900 on a weekday morning and these people were already on their way downhill. I came up with two conclusions: Either they are residents from the nearby estates or that they actually made the effort to wake up early for a morning workout.
I was thinking to myself, would we still be as active when we reach their age in a few decades time. I’d probably refuse to drag myself up early in the wee hours. Their dedication to personal fitness is motivating. Every time when I was having my jog, working out at the gym or just strolling in the park, I always meet these uncles (and even aunties) who will put a lad like me to absolute shame. Despite the age, their level of activeness and, for some, fitness level, are way ahead of me. I told myself that I shall make a continuous effort to keep myself fit and by the time I become older, it will become a habit naturally.
There was an interesting trend amongst those who were coming down hill. Most of them are walking backwards. We gave them a curious look as we walk past them. We were equally amazed by how almost everyone was walking in an unusual way.
Apparently, this is called ‘retro walking’. Guess what? There are actually health benefits to this kind of walking. Retro walking differs from normal walking (like duh). It involves totally different sets of muscles. It helps to reduce the shear force on the knees by reversing such force. Hence, it is extremely beneficial for people who encounter joint pain. Retro walking also helps to reduce strains on your hamstrings. This is
Retro walking also helps to reduce strains on your hamstrings. This is because it reduces the overall range of motion at the hip point, therefore limiting the extension and the stress on the hamstrings.
As for those who are looking at some cardio exercise to incorporate into your routine, retro walking could well be able to serve your requirements as well. You will require more energy to walk backwards as compared to forward. The reason is that the electromyographical (or muscle) activity of the lower extremity (the part between your hips and your toes) appears to be greater when you walk backwards.
Greater energy burn without straining your joints. Sounds like a good deal.
Sense of Achievement
Everything felt so calm around here. The tranquillity allows me to put all my burdens at the back of my head. I took a deep breath. I smell one of the freshest air I’ve ever inhaled. The last time I could enjoy such nice air was during my jog from Marina Bay to East Coast Park. There ain’t many people, except for a group of students from a local girls’ school.
To be honest, it did not take us long to reach the peak of Bukit Timah. The journey started off tough, no thanks to the elevation gain right at the start. I think we took less than 30 minutes? Or was it less than 45 minutes? The slope became gentle as we went on.
Despite the hill was just slightly more than 163m in height, I actually felt a sense of achievement right there. This is the highest hill I’ve ever climb so far. There are people of my age who have gone on to conquer Kinabalu, Fuji or other legit ‘mountains’. I might have the opportunity to head up to Kinabalu one day but for now, I guess Bukit Timah will do too.
A Piece of History
The short route up the peak of the hill was not enough for the three of us. Hence, we took another route to undercover more parts of the reserves. We ended up at the Hindhede Quarry.
When we reached the quarry, there was a group of people doing pilates there. I think it is a smart move to hold pilates or fitness classes in the middle of a forest or a nature park. There is no artificial air, everything that you are inhaling are fresh air. The oxygen is freshly supplied from the surrounding plants and trees.
It was evident that by the time we reached the quarry, we felt more refreshed. Our bloodstream are supplying haemoglobin filled with fresh oxygen to all our body organs.
It is difficult to imagine how deep this quarry is after water from run offs and rain filled the empty surrounding over the years.
Located within the Hindhede Nature Park (located next to the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve), it was built around the quarry which was bustled with mining activities between 1900s and 1980s. Named after Danish civil engineer Jens Hindhede, the abandoned quarry was eventually reverted into a proper park in 2001. It is said that the quarry stretches 18m below sea-level with the water level reaching at least 10 storey high. I couldn’t imagine what would happen if I fell into the lake.
By 1100, we made our way out of the nature reserve and back to civilisation. I think I will need to return to nature soon.
The 5th of May, the big day that I’ve been looking forward to since 2014, has finally arrived. The day of when I finally donned on the graduation rope, stepped into Ngee Ann Polytechnic for the final time as its student and mingle with the majority of my coursemates and friends for the last time in school.
3 years of hard work, blood, sweat and tears culminated in the Diploma that I’ve always wanted. Life might have not gone the way I wanted it to be, but at least, at the end of the day, I managed to enrol into my dream course and graduate from it.
I spent the past few months gearing up for this day. Going to the gym, going on diet and planning my #ootd, just to make sure that I looked my best – the best I have ever look since birth.
On that momentous day, I woke up just before dawn, feeling rather excited and looking forward towards the day full of activities. I’ve enthusiastically invited most of my friends down – because I want to share my proudest moment with them. Although it’s merely a graduation with a Diploma certification, yet I’ve never felt so accomplished in my life. From hell to heaven, back to hell and bouncing back again, I realised I really have experienced the most depressing downs, downs and ups in the past 21 years of my life.
Of course, as sentimental as I am, I decided to put on the SR collar pin on my collar. I admit it did look a little out of place but that’s my last tribute to Serangoon JC – the JC that I’ve gone to, failed and realised that there might be another life path for me to consider. In the light of the recent MOE merger exercise, SR was one of the unfortunate scapegoats schools, due to low birth rate and dwindling enrollment, that ends up in the fate of mergers. I had quite some explaining to do whatever people asked me about the badge. Oops.
It took me a good two hours to get prepared – from washing up to hair styling (although doesn’t look much of a difference) to putting on minimal makeup to re-ironing my shirt. I made it look as if I was about to get married instead of graduating.
‘Grab’-ed down with my parents to school on an electric car. That’s really rather coincidental and made the ‘last journey down from Ang Mo Kio to NP’ a more momentous one.
We had breakfast before my anxiety problem acted up. I locked myself in the toilet for a good 15 minutes while Sijie whatsapp-ed me where I was. I thought I was late until I saw Iphi still at Munch with her mum as I came out of the toilet. I directed my parents towards the Convention Centre – the venue of the ceremony – before proceeding to my reporting venue at LT68.
Met up with Nicole along the way – to let her deposit her makeup case into my bag. HAHAHA.
For the last time, I get to see everyone from my course, seated down at the Lecture Theatre. It kinds of reminded me of the very first time when all of us met each other. It was awkward and everyone was adjusting to the new environment. Some were more vocal than the others, while some were sitting all be themselves quietly. 3 years on, friendships are forged – some of which are strongly because of common interest and also, because we literally eat, sleep and struggled together.
People who do not matter to you 3 years ago, becomes a core part of your Poly life. Sometimes, I am just amazed by the uncertainty and the unexpected in life. You don’t know who will be there for you at a certain point in life. You don’t know who will continue to be there with you at the end of every journey.
Taking a last look at all of them, I know I have no regrets. They are the best coursemates I could’ve ever ask for.
We waited for quite a while because it’s finally our turn to be on the stage. I was waiting eagerly for Nic’s appearance on the stage to receive her cert from the Director but I was ushered out from my seat to get ready for my 5-seconds of glory.
Credits to Papa See (Nic’s dad) for the footage!
I was telling Ying Xuan a week back that I was planning on some antics on stage before receiving my cert from the Director. Yet, I backed out on the plan to do so because firstly, I can’t think of a creative antic (despite graduating from a creative course) and secondly, doing antics on high heels will probably put my already injured ankles in danger.
Okay, thirdly and the most important reason, I pussy.
So I ended up walking like a celebrity on a red carpet.
You could hear Dr. Kang shouting “CMC 古天樂” at the background towards the end of the clip. Quite fit the atmosphere. They used to say I am like Louis Koo – maybe because I am quite tanned, that’s it. HAHAHA.
Apart from that, you could also hear that sharp scream from the audience. Thanks Nic!
We went back to our seats after receiving our cert and the graduation gifts from the school. Colin and Rebecca (not Minzhen but the other Rebecca, but Minzhen was awarded a Diploma with Merit, it’s a credible achievement as well!) were our top 2 students – and they really deserved the honour bestowed upon them. To be able to stay consistent through the 6 semesters, one requires to be very dedicated to every single assignment, regardless modules it is.
One thing about being in mass communications is that you get to study a variety of things. And being in a Chinese-language based mass comm course that broke away from Chinese Studies means that there are modules that involve the cultural and language aspect of it. It is not easy for students to be that consistent in the various aspects. For people like me, I can be very strong in some modules, yet scoring Bs and Cs for the others. I struggled with those examinable modules like ‘Introduction to Mass Comms”, “Chinese Literature” and “Media Ethics, Law & Policies” (in which I was expecting myself to ace in it), etc but scoring relatively up to expectations for “Video Production”, “Web Design & Applications” and “News Reporting & Feature Writing”, etc. I really marvel at the kind of consistency they’ve portrayed and the discipline that they exercised. It could be because of talent, but talent wouldn’t be visible without working hard and working smart.
Our recognition of them was evident. Once their names were announced, we were shouting and screaming because we know – they are the pride of CMC and we are proud of them. 🙂
To those of you who’ve achieved honourable mentions, you guys really deserved it. I will be more motivated – but hopefully, this motivation will linger on when I returned from NS two years later. HAHAHA
The entire ceremony lasted about slightly over an hour before it we strolled out of the Convention Centre – most of us for the last time. As I walked down the stairs, I looked back and noticed one thing: Three years ago, I walked up the stairs alone, not knowing anyone else (okay, except for you Nic). Three years later, I walked down the stairs, bringing away with me the memories, knowledge and friendships. Most of us came here alone, but when we leave, we leave together.
Made my way out of the Convention Centre as quickly as I could before the entire crowd of people started flowing out of the place. The last thing I want on my last day is to be suffocated to death.
The first group of people I met up with immediately after I came out of the CC is my peeps from Pedoro! We graduated together 4 years back and since went on different paths. Yet, we make sure that we continue to stay in contact and hang out whenever we could.
Throughout the years, you peeps have been really supportive of me. Pedoro is the clique that I’ve stuck to for the longest period of time, and that being said, y’all have seen me through my darkest time and also, my best times. Although most of our members graduated from JC, yet never had I felt out of place before – just because I decided to drop out of my previous school to focus on my dreams. As I put on my graduation gown that day and received such a beautiful bouquet from all of you, I teared a little inside. I admit that for a guy, I teared a little too easily, but I was really touched. It was the first ever bouquet that I’ve received in my life.
Without the mental supports, there wouldn’t be the Eddy today.
This is the bouquet of flowers that Pedoro got for me!
My kids from A Bunch of Morons were also present (okay, although Kaihao wasn’t really considered my ‘kids’ HAHAHA). Kaihao and Auds were there very early and were helping me to take photos with my Pedoro buds. All of these were happening while Trish was still on the way rushing from home. HAHAHA
A Bunch of Morons will always be a bunch of morons. Thank you guys and kiddos for the antics every time we meet up and all the stupid jokes we crack. Back then, some of us were merely batchmates, some of us were just in that junior-senior kind of relationship, I didn’t expect our friendships to blossom and last so far. You guys never fail to cheer me up every time and always lifted my spirits – especially when we do retarded stuffs.
Must also thank Kaihao’s mum for this very beautifully assembled bouquet!
Very pretty right?
JCFC were also there to share the moment – together with Nic and I. They are my best takeaway from SRJC. It is hard to imagine that a guy like me can be accepted by a group of girls eventually. Even though I was in SR for just 10 months, I didn’t get the A’ Level cert but what O got are friendships like this that I treasure a lot.
“Everything happens for a reason.” Hence, I never regret taking that JC path. For without it, I wouldn’t get to know these pretty ladies and will never know a group of people who likes Jay Chou as much as I do (hence JCFC hahaha).
NIC: Happy Graduation to this bitch hahaha. We went SR, left SR and came NP (and the same school some more), and now we graduated together. FINALLY. The road has been tough for both of us, perhaps even tougher for her, yet I am proud to see how far we’ve both come.
A stalk of sunflower from Nic – and still got a small note some more. 😀
Featuring the bouquet the girls had gotten for me.
Apart from JCFC, another ‘best takeaway’ and my favourite minah, Ratna, dropped by as well – for her best friend Nic.
Of course, I did not forget to take photos with the clique that I’ve went through thick and thin with over the years in CMC. Turtle Shadow defined my CMC life and provided me with a lot of wonderful memories – like rushing for projects and the day out at Sentosa (and many many more). They see me through this chapter of my life, tolerating all my PMS. NP always market itself as “Always that Something Xtra”, I guess Turtle Shadow is that something xtra-ordinary.
And also, really thankful to Xueni and Adam for dropping by and giving me a small bouquet and a stalk of sunflower respectively. Xueni was from the same secondary school (Huayi Sec) as Jon and Reb and I knew her when I volunteered to help their council with their camp in 2015 (damn how fast time flies).
Susien 老師 – one of the best teachers and mentors I’ve ever encountered.
(This post is part of a series. You can read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.)
Advisory: This is going to be a very long post.
This post was supposed to be uploaded last year but I realised that it will be more appropriate if I post this after my graduation. This will somehow briefly document my past three years in Ngee Ann Polytechnic as I was embarking on the journey to attain a Diploma in Chinese Media & Communications (CMC).
While I was considering my future after Promos in 2013, I had a dream in mind – that is, to be a film director. I used to imagine myself being nominated for the Golden Horse Award (the Chinese equivalent to the Oscars) – either as an actor or as a film director. I was hoping that one day, I will have my own feature film, filmed according to those storylines that interest me.
During the Joint Admission Exercise (JAE) the following year, I stuck to my dreams. As much as I wanted to be a filmmaker and a media personnel in the Chinese-speaking world, I opted CMC as my first choice. As to my other 11 choices on the list, I couldn’t remember much about them.
I was accepted and I arrived at NP for the first time to purchase my laptop and install the software which I would develop a love-hate relationship with eventually.
I am thankful for all of you – Huiqi, Peiyi, Reb, Yoke Yeng and Jon – to be by my side for most part of my Poly life. No other group of people in my circle would have able to tolerate by childishness, stubbornness, moodiness and my unpredictable personality. You guys have made my Poly life interesting and given me memories to take away from from this phase in my life as I hit 20.
I couldn’t be more appreciative for all the fun we had over the short span of time we’ve known each other for.
I took part in CSOP 2015, helping with the introductory video (both as a cinematographer and the narrator), as well as a skit during induction – which gave the freshies a rough overview of what to expect during their next three years with their respective course.
It has been a fun time working with these bunch of people, as well as HMS Society. A few collaborations with HMS Society, especially during Orientation, allows me to contribute to HMS in a more ad-hoc manner. My stress level is lower in comparison, which allows me to contribute fully and with enthusiasm.
The skit marked my brief return to stage and theatre. It was also during this time when I returned to SRJC to help out with Thespian 2015. In 2014, I moved towards acting on-screen but it didn’t really turn out well for me. I was disappointed with all my actings to be honest. Maybe I am still suited for theatre plays.
We had roughly a month to work on the plays before putting up a show in front of the hundred-odd audiences in LT5. I eventually helped co-direct the remake of “Seven Deadly Princesses” with Kheng Yin and Zhi Rong (of course, also with the help of other alumni at times as well).
It turned up to be a very successful performance. I always believe in one thing:
After Thespian, I also took up a calefare role at Love 97.2 21st birthday play. (Don’t bother finding me in the photo below because I was doing other stuffs when they took the photo HAHAHA)
I wasn’t exactly my past self, or I should say, I wasn’t exactly myself at all. My mood disorder exacerbated as the days passed by, it was to the point when everyone around me was so cautious not to trigger me. No one knows when I could transform from a jovial person to an irritable and petulant person, neither do I.
I eventually returned to running in search for a better self. I thought, maybe taking up sports will help me to regenerate my cells and makes me feel better overall. Eventually, I ended up participating in 4 runs (3 10km runs and 1 half-marathon). I trained whenever I had the time to and every time I see progress, I would feel extremely satisfied. I somehow used that sore and pain to divert the attention away from my mental health-being.
2016 marks my first overseas trip (not counting Malaysia) since 1998, and my first trip to Hong Kong. I was at Hong Kong for a school trip and it wasn’t a relaxed one. I’ve got an integrated project awaiting to be completed. And for that project, my team and I basically had to rush all over the place and made a few visits to the Legislative Council Complex to conduct our interviews and filming.
We really worked very hard towards our final group project in our CMC life. I always tell myself this one thing: As long as you’ve given your all, there will be no regrets. You will embrace whatever results that you are given because you know, it’s the experience and life lessons that count.
On 23 October 2016, I finally reached the big 2.