目の前にはたくさんの墓がありました。私は外国人として、日本人は墓地に対して楽しみの場所だと思うことがちょっと面白しかったです。しかも、会社の墓も存在あることにとてもびくりしました。お盆の時だけお墓に行く、 私の国の習慣 に 比べて違います。もちろん、会社の墓なんて全然聞きません/聞いたことが全然ありません。だから、そんな新鮮な景色はとても面白しかったです。
Recently, I have joined an online meetup group called Hikking, Trekking and Travelling Buddies (HTTB). It was fun and it solved a lot of problems that singles face whenever they want to go to a certain place, but they lack the numbers in order to realise their wishes.
HTTB allows you to sign up for free and organisers (you can be one too!) will send out RSVP after posting a particular event. I went to Mount Arong and Lambak for my maiden hikking trip with this group and it was extremely enjoyable (and it motivated me to practise stair-climbing and running on my own).
Anyway, I joined them for the second trip but this time I joined a leisure one that involves no steep slopes whatsoever. With 37 people, we took a bumboat to Pulau Ubin to look for butterflies, insects, plants and birds. It was an enjoyable trip as not only do I interact with new friends, I also get to know more about the nature itself. We had lunch on the summit of Pulau Ubin and had heater to heat up water for a nice cuppa coffee while staring out at the scenic views. As I do not have the permission of the buddies that I took picture with, my photo gallery contains only scenic pictures.
I fought hard to get a slot for this trip to practise my stamina in time for my November trip to Japan. Why do I use the phrase "fought hard"? It is because RSVPs are snatched within 30 seconds. YES, your eyes are not blurry, it is indeed 30 seconds or less (it was 10 seconds for this time round). The organiser initially planned for 22 pax for this trip. When I refreshed the page to click on the RSVP, it was ALL GONE. I cannot believe it!!! All GONE!!!!
Hence I wrote a nice reply on the board "looking forward to more slots opening up", hoping that he would consider more pax. Anyway based on his feedback after the trip, this event had FULL ATTENDANCE!!! hehehehehehe, and another one is in the works.. Can't wait for the next one to happen!
I have never touch a baking pan or mix any flour ever since I left secondary school’s Home Economics. Part of my journey to push myself out of my comfort zone was to pick up a baking activity. I chanced upon Bemyguest.com.sg and found that they have quite a few excellent workshops. Therefore, I was very pleased to be invited to a workshop on baking a chiffon cake on 20 July at the Baking Studio.
The moment I entered the studio, I was greeted warmly by the instructor Corrinn. She started the baking workshop by doing a demonstration. One thing that I enjoyed about her workshop was the way she explained to the participants. She used the scientific approach to explain some of the common mistakes that people make that caused the chiffon cake to collapse. It also made newbies much easier to get a hang of the baking process when ingredients are already measured and packed properly for you. I also appreciated that Corrinn took the time to tell us what substitute ingredients to use if we do not have ingredients A, B or C.
Folding has always been my problem when it comes to baking. I don’t really get the folding technique correct and this was very essential when it comes to baking really fluffy chiffon cakes. I like the fact that the class was kept to a small size. For public workshops, Baking Studio kept it to a maximum of 6 so that the instructor would be able to give individual attention to each participant during the process. Pointing out when we could stop whipping the egg whites by checking the stiff peak point, when to stop mixing ingredients to avoid over-mixing and ending up with a heavy cake, I was able to take note and remember what to avoid in my next baking attempt on my own.
It was fun to bake together because not only can you get to see each other’s cake, you get to share success and failures so you can learn from each other. The best part is we get to bring home our cake in a pretty cake box!
I casually chatted with Corrinn at the start and she told me The Baking Studio first started off giving corporate or teambonding activities. Ex-participants expressed their genuine interest in baking and a formal The Baking Studio was born! I would recommend this workshop to anyone who is interested in baking as the instructor was really patient and small class size, and to check out bemyguest.com.sg for other fun activities to do in Singapore.
Five years ago, I decided to explore and go out of my usual lifestyle by attempting new activities that I wouldn’t try when I was younger. A lot of such activities fall under the sports category as I wasn’t a very sporty girl. My bad experience with ball games (having a ball came smashing into your face at the age of 12 was a terrifying and mentally scarring experience) coupled with my poor hand-foot coordination caused me to avoid sports activity. Until I got fatter and thicker around the waist. Plus I want to challenge myself.
So I signed up for my first hike in my entire life through meetup.com with the organiser CK Tan. The group name is Hikking, Trekking and Travelling Buddies (HTTB) and I chose the Sunrise at Arong and stayover at Lambak activity. Held on 11 July – 13 July, I decided to sign up for this activity because it fulfills the following criteria: 1) at $85 it is unbeatable to have one of the two days’ meals covered 2) I get to stay overnight at a homestay, which is the closest experience to camping (I signed up for these groups because I was waiting for camping activity) 3) I get to do some exercise 4) it was over the weekend so no leave needed should I be working by then.
In the evening time, we met at Marsiling MRT Station and went on the coach. It was very comfortable. We slept and had two toilet breaks (one of them longer for a late dinner/supper treat) and reached Mount Arong at 4am. Then, the hiking began. I offered to carry a bottle of water and a packet of instant noodles. But boy was I wrong to do so. I began to pant till I was the last one in the group. The organisers were very patient and asked me to stop to rest if I feel giddy. Honestly, I was both shocked and embarrassed at that stage when I realised my physique was bad and dragged the whole group down. I was literally panting till I could only hear my loud panting sound throughout the wee morning. I was also practically grabbing to any roots, tree trunks and stones to lift myself up. Stopping for a few times, I didn’t dare to stop for long as I was afraid the poor organisers had to wait for me.
Everyone was fast so they managed to reach the summit within an hour. And they were merrily cooking instant noodles and making milo and coffee. I was totally zonked out when I reached the top, wondering how the descent would be like (more of whether I could make it downhill thereafter). While merrily cooking away and getting everyone to eat, I realised one thing – after cardio activity I don’t have the appetite to eat. And I forgot about that. The organisers thought that I was feeling a bit worried or too tired so they were discussing about the next day’s hike and my condition.
At the back of my mind I was worried as well. Too many negative thoughts and wobbly knees made me both physically and emotionally exhausted. I declined the food except for a piece of bread given by a fellow hiker. I must really be grateful to Mandy, Mala and the two organisers as they have been extremely kind to me.
Unfortunately the weather was cloudy and we couldn’t see the egg yolk-sunrise. The organisers decided to move the entire group to another higher spot to watch the sunrise. It was gorgeous but I was too preoccupied with my exhaustion. And constantly worried about the descent.
Then the descent started. I must thank another good hiker – Jasmine (same namesake)! She was in front of me, and I think another hiker May was behind watching my back. As usual, both of my hands were grabbing to whatever ropes, barks or stones available to make my descent. When the slope gets too steep for me, May would grab my backpack handle to prevent me from sliding down. Jasmine on the other hand would help to clear the path in front for me. And demonstrate which step to take. Very grateful to both of them.
After descending I thought I was going to die. BUT it was not over yet. We had to climb over BIG ROCKS. BIG HUGE BOULDERS. I really want to back out, but the only way to the bus was to get over the boulders. By this time every single cell in my body was screaming pain! But I had to pull through. Up and down we went and finally we reached the sea. Crossing the sea was the last obstacle. People who had been to this hike said the highest tide was knee level. This time, it was CHEST LEVEL! And I only brought one pair of bra!!!! Gosh! I was soaking wet, literally dripping wet when I crossed over. But it was kinda liberating…. Honestly. The cooling water soaking through your skin was darn great.
We finally reached the bus and I was worried again – I dunno why I kept worrying – because what am I going to do with a soaking bra?? How am I going to survive tomorrow? But by the time we had lunch at the kopitiam, it was already half dried and stank like hell. It was my first time (perhaps the last?) eating in a kopitiam in wet clothes. But I was pretty hungry and so I walloped the entire noodles pretty quickly.
We reached the homestay at 3pm and finally I could take a shower (albeit quick one). Changed into a new set of clothes and kept smelling my bra to ensure it didn’t have an odour. Night time was spent on free and easy activities in town where I had a cheap fringe trim and a pedicure to remove dead skin. Lousy but since it is cheap it didn’t matter.
The biggest memory I had was the night time activities. They played some games – I kept quiet and watched happily at one side as I was suffering from gastric (too tired I realised) and wanted to relax and observe quietly. This group was full of energy and fun. I love these guys but too bad my physique didn’t help.
The next day I decided not to join them but to participate in the easy part of Mount Lambak myself. I took 1.5hours to climb only half the mountain and descended by 11am. I was in charge of all the keys so I made sure I was back before the rest so that the early ones would be able to enter. It was a leisure hike and I talked to an uncle while resting. But my mood was visibly better as I had better time to enjoy the scenery around me, watched the plants, the birds, the monkeys and even played with the little puddles of clear spring water.
When I returned, I had the opportunity to bathe leisurely before the others were back. I decided to air my bra in the room and so I chatted with a cooking assistant who came early to cook for another client in the evening. After chatting a bit, the landlady finally came. I seized the opportunity to buy lunch from a nearby shop and then returned to find the first group back. Returning the keys was a big relief for me. Thereafter we rested and chatted while surfing on our handphones. We left the homestay after a group photo and headed for a good Cantonese seven-course meal before returning to Singapore. All in all, it was a very good experience for me. And I must thank my lucky stars that I met friendly and encouraging people along the way.
Singapore Airlines のチケットとホテルと半日ガイド・ツアーと６０分のマッサージを含めて、だから、私の友たちもよろこびました。飛行機で２時間かかりました。一日目はガイド・ツアーで有名な買い物センターに行きました。Platinum と Pratunam にいっぱい服があって、一日中ずっと買い物をしました。でも、この二つの買い物センターが大き過ぎて、一日では全部の店を見足りませんでした。
S$１ ＝ ￥81.63, US$ 0.80
After resigning from my job and a boss that doesn't give me much freedom to take my leave, I decided to take advantage of an unbelievable travel deal at just S$98 bucks for 4D3N in Thailand inclusive of airflight (mind you, it was a full-service Singapore Airlines flight), decent hotel, half-day city tour and a 60-min thai massage.
Before I did my online check-in, I was mentally prepared that it would be a scam. I mean, come on, how could anyone gain from such a low-priced deal? Inclusive of airport taxes, it was slightly under S$300. Unbelievable. However, it was true.
And so, I dragged my tired body and went to Thailand for a full recharge. Because we booked for the earlier flight in and the latest flight out (it was the only timing that we got for the week after I left the company), we practically had almost a full day on our first day! Naturally, my shopaholic friend was excited to charge to the famous Platinum Shopping Mall and Pratunam Centre to shop. We started off at 10plus and made our way there. Frankly speaking, Pratunam Centre was a bit of a disappointment. We had a quick lunch on the 5th Level, strongly recommended by my sister but I feel that this place was going to close down soon. Almost half of the food court stalls were closed. There were no tenants for these stalls. On level 4, it was totally vacant. Even when we returned on a Wednesday, level 4 was still totally vacant. The clothes at Pratunam Centre were of interior quality compared to Platinum Shopping Mall. If you have limited time, my advice is to go straight to Platinum Shopping Mall, which is just across the street. Take the bridge too. It is much safer to use pedestrian bridges than jaywalking in foreign countries.
Platinum stocked much better quality clothes at slightly higher price compared to Pratunam. However, because they do not allow us to try on the clothes, I found it hard to find clothes that fit me. I would say this place is a fashion paradise for petite girls. I even saw ladies lugging trolley bags with them in this mall. There are 5 levels and the top level is dedicated to accessories, food court, cafes and fast food chain (KFC). I am not a shopaholic, so when I returned on Wednesday with my friend, I found it too boring and tiring. But I managed to get some cute and cheap iPhone cases and a new belt.
We went to Wat Arun, a honey factory and a jewellery outlet on our second day in the morning. Wat Arun was gorgeous as you can see in the slideshow above. It overlooked the river and is magnificent especially at night. However, since the city tour was in the morning, I am able to climb up the pagoda (I am not sure if we can climb up during evening time but I think it is safer during daytime). Be warned if you have never practise on a stairmaster nor done any major hiking. My thigh muscles pulled when I was halfway on top of the view. The picture on the cover of the slideshow showed the view at midway of Wat Arun. However, the second half was way more steep. The staircase was roughly close to 90 degrees. It was ok to climb up but I could not imagine climbing down. It would be akin to walking down a slope close to 90 degrees. No wayyyyyyy.
However, I did manage to view Wat Pho during evening time on one of my business trips in the past. It was an amazing experience appreciating Wat Pho's beauty from the top deck of a private cruise cruising along the river during Songkran Festival. MARVELOUS. I highly encourage anyone who loves temples to vist Wat Pho twice - during daytime and evening time.
I feel that I need to highlight this incident that happened on my third day in Bangkok. My friend and I met with a four-car collision and right outside the Thai Royal Police HQ! We were seated in the yellow cab (hmm, I should buy 4D with that number) and the bloody asshole driver behind us was blind enough to bang against us. Thankfully, my right arm and the stronger one was in front of me as I was sitting facing my friend and perpendicular from the back seat, thus the impact was buffered by my right arm. Otherwise, I think my neck would break from the whiplash. My friend was facing me and thus her weaker left arm was in front of her. I literally saw my friend's face smashed right into the passenger seat in front of her. Scary..
There were two more cars in front of our yellow cab. After getting out and having some difficulty trying to cross the road to get another cab, the cab driver was really nice to bring us across and helped to hail another cab. We gave him a 20 baht tip for his kindness. Then we continue with our journey to Wat Pho (Reclining Buddha). It was huge and satisfied my desire to pray in the Land of Buddha. However, I must say that we have a lot of jitters taking cab that day as we need to go back to more shopping and an evening massage at Health Land Asoke (http://www.healthlandspa.com/asoke.html). At just 500baht for two hours, you get to enjoy a wonderful luxurious Thai massage! This is a must-go for me whenever I go Bangkok (which isn't often anyway).
I did pray not once but twice to the famous four-faced buddha when I went there. However, as much as I really really wish my wish could be fufilled, nothing has happened for close to a month (three weeks have past). But I knew my wishes were not easy to fulfill, thus I kept telling myself not to think nor pin too high hopes on it.
Overall, Bangkok is a place for shopping (hence no pictures on shopping malls), eating and some praying at the temples. But the sales staff and taxi drivers are really rude and that was a major downer for me. Sales staff ignore you and continue to talk (hello, we are customers??) but I accept the fact that clothes are cheap so we cannot complain much about service. With that said, I cannot get over the fact that taxi drivers who sped on the road and roared at us when we gave unclear instructions. Aren't they supposed to know the place better than us? Thus, if you already know where you want to go, it is highly advisable to stay in a hotel near the area you are going to visit frequently or have strong legs and a big map to walk there yourself as far as possible.
Fortunately, we left right after they announced the next election date. Even if the travel deal is now 20 bucks, I do not think I will visit Bangkok now. And the Land of Smiles?? It is already gone. To me, I think if this is the way the service staff are behaving, coupled with the political instability, they have a lot to worry about their economy. However, if I want a short relaxing trip for resorts and massages, I will return again to my lovely unbeatable Health Land!
I have studied Japanese for the past five years, with a hiatus of two years in between the first two years and the next three years. It was a long route to have a fairly average grasp of the language. I would say if one stops at the intermediate level of N3 it is a complete waste of time and effort put in because you cannot understand the daily conversations, radio programs, tv shows and news.
Somewhere during the pursuit of N3 I was feeling the weariness. It took me thrice to pass the JLPT N3. Prior to this, I also took the old JLPT 4 and flunked that too. Hence it was extremely demoralising for me for each failed attempt. Once I passed the July paper for N3 last year, I decided to try the N2 in December. Knowing N2 level is extremely difficult and a great jump from N3, I started six months before the exams and bought seven books for practice and revision. After taking several half days to revise for each exam (I have my own school’s exams, and the JLPT exam), I nearly died.
After passing N2 on my first try (and passing December paper which is thought to be harder than July paper), I questioned if I should continue with N1 paper. After thinking through in December, I decided not to since I am not planning to move to Japan and stay permanently, nor work for a Japanese company (and definitely NOT stay in Japan and work for a Japanese company).
Thus I decided to focus on brushing up a few areas that classroom style teaching and JLPT exams doesn’t teach nor test – speaking and writing.
For writing, I found a Japanese partner to converse with via email. It is going well at the moment with him writing to me in both English and Japanese, correcting my Japanese, while I correct his English. For conversations, my Japanese partner pointed me to Skype lessons. Hence I found one that is cheap at 500 yen per hour. This is so far the cheapest that I can find online for Japanese lessons.
With something so cheap of course you cannot expect good service. This was communicated right from the start, and it was full of hiccups as well. During the first skype lesson, the person in charge told me it was just for registration purpose (what??). Second lesson was a trial lesson and he found me one. Let’s call this person A. A’s computer suddenly crashed one hour before our skype lesson and the person in charge called to say it cannot be done. Then he said I need to liaise with the girl directly myself to arrange for the next lesson. However, she doesn’t reply to my email nor LINE message, hence I informed him. He got me a second person – let’s call the person B. B was prompt and ended up A and B both skyped me at the same time on the same day.
Frankly speaking, I am pissed off with A for not replying me at all. Hence I apologized to B and explained the entire incident to him (after getting a reprimanding email from the person in charge). And I also wrote an explanation email to A, but also pointing out the fact she didn’t reply me. After the first trial with A, I don’t find A that well. But one good point about A is she doesn’t speak much English, However, she did try to use English to speak to me.
Hence I hope B will want to speak to me again.. sigh.
I find this very amusing but at the same time, I found an organisation, a tourist information centre , who organised free skype lessons. Although the time is shorter (20min), but the past two lessons were very smooth. The second lesson even extended to one hour. The organisation received subsidy from their government and thus the lady was able to even buy the textbooks that I am using currently from my Japanese school. Looking forward to the next session. J
However, this question kept coming back to me. What is the purpose of learning Japanese and what can I use it for? Frankly speaking until now I cannot find any use for Japanese in my daily life, except activities that I consciously seek to maintain my exposure to Japanese, e,g. radio programs, TV shows and music.
COMM Pte Ld, the company behind J PLUS, a free japanese lifestyle magazine held a japanese fortune telling workshop in Singapore at their COMM office located in Liang Court.
Hoshi san from NOT FOR SALE conducted the free workshop. Based on http://www.animefestival.asia/afax/not_for_sale.html,
"NOT FOR SALE consists of 7 members including 4 fortune-tellers, 1 MC, 1 DJ, and 1 VJ. Each of the 4 fortune-tellers will read your fortune simultaneously in their own respective style: Western astrology, Eastern astrology, palm reading and Tarot cards. They tell the fortunes of many audience members at once, supported on stage by the DJ’s music and the VJ’s visuals. The MC plays the role of a translator between the fortune-tellers and the audience. They established a salon in Shibuya in 2009 and launched a mobile website in 2010. They have invented new approaches to fortune-telling in an effort to become “creative fortune-telling artists”. "
A little background on Hoshi:
"Fortune-teller Hoshi (Chinese astrology and Palm reading)
Hoshi gives one-to-one guidance to over 2,000 customers a year in areas of Tokyo like Shinjuku and Aoyama. His careful and simple way of speaking enables him to provide customers with ancient wisdom. He is the most popular fortune-teller in NOT FOR SALE."
I must admit my japanese listening skills is not that strong. But I was still able to follow during the workshop except when Hoshi-san explained in greater details on some lines on our palms. I just don't have the vocabulary in that area. However, it helped tremendously that Hoshi-san actually went to each and everyone of us after explaining each line. Each of us were also given a 3-page worksheet and explanation indicating the palm lines, an activity for us to work on, as well as what element we fall under based on our birth date. The activity consisted of two sections: fortune luck and romance. Each section comprised three questions on three lines and we were supposed to classify our three lines based on the tips given. Thereafter, we had to total up the marks to know our fortune luck and romance. For me it turned out I will have a great potential in fortune (in the future, alas, not now) and I am more passive in terms of romance. Hence my palm lines also indicate that I will marry late (no surprise there).
I was very impressed with Hoshi-san as he took the time and effort to go to each of us to check our palm line. Although the workshop indicated that only two persons will be given a full reading. However, he has pretty much helped everyone in the workshop. Hoshi-san also rounded up the workshop with an analysis of 10 elements - tree, grass, light, sun, mountain, earth, metal, gem, sea and rain - that described our personality. I am a mountain and it was pretty good :)
Overall, I enjoyed the workshop tremendously. The staff were fabulous in providing us drinks and refreshments (japanese crackers, sandwiches and muffins!). Not only does it helped me to maintain contact with japanese, I also get to learn something new. I got to know this workshop through SMILE WAVE radio and will definitely be looking forward to more japanese activities in the future.
The idea of transforming into a lolita for a day (well, actually for a few hours in reality) came as an impulse. Perhaps I was affected by a speech topic on cosplay presented by my japanese classmate one day back early last year, I decided to transform myself into a lolita while I can still (barely) pass it off.
I started looking for a makeup artist and a photographer online who have the experience in lolita makeup and photography, while my japanese classmate helped me to search for a lolita costume online.
It took me several months to nail down a date and time with the makeup artist and photographer - it was really difficult especially since they were doing it on a pro bono basis. However, the wait was worth it. Since the shoot could only take place in the evening, I rented a studio and had some pictures done.
When I first saw myself in the mirror with full makeup and in the lolita costume I was a little taken back. I seldom wear full make-up and this was full PLUS kawaii style.. hahaha, I really wondered if I could pull it off. The make-up artist who helped me was Germaine Tan. Based on our conversation, I understand that she had taken a make-up course at Cosmopolitan and have been doing lolita and special effects makeup for the past few years. She is a lolita herself but she follows the style of Gothic Lolita. My style is known as the Classic Lolita.
Gothic Lolita comprises darker makeup and costume. In terms of photography they tend to be cooler and do not smile. Classic Lolita is more mature/elegant and tends to be the in-between the Sweet Lolita (think of frills, ribbons, laces and PINK everywhere) and Gothic Lolita.
It was fun and a little nerve-wrecking for me, especially I realised my face tends to freeze within 30 seconds staring at the camera. The photographer, Xeno Tan, was superb and I must thank my lucky stars that he tried to shot faster to prevent taking the "frozen face" of me. He specialises in portraits - weddings, family, model and fashion. Lolita photographers are rare to find, and I am glad to meet him.
Visit my gallery to view my pictures.
For more information on these two wonderful people whom I have worked with:
HP: (65) 9335 2211
HP: (65) 8228 0703