Friday, September 19, 2014

Read: Switch

Title: Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard
Author: Chip Heath and Dan Heath
Publisher: Broadway Books, New York, 2010.

In this book, the authors shed new light on how we can effect transformative change. In essence, for things to change, somebody somewhere has to start acting differently.

I like the analogy that each of us has an emotional Elephant side and a rational Rider side. The authors explained how in order to make a switch, it is essentially to reach both sides. It is also needed to shape the path.

So in a nutshell, I learnt that in order to make a switch, the three things to do are:
1) Direct the Rider:
- Follow the bright spots
- Script the critical moves
- Point to the destination

2) Motivate the Elephant
- Find the feeling
- Shrink the change
- Grow your people

3) Shape the Path
- Tweak the environment
- Build habits (e.g. using action triggers or using checklists)
- Rally the herd

This book is generally easy to read. This book offers useful ideas on the topic of facilitating changes.

The book's website also offer more resources:

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Read: Brand Mastery

Title: Brand Mastery: How you can build a winning brand and be #1 in your niche!
Authors: Ken Chee and Adam Wong
Published by Intellectural Marketing Pte Ltd (2011)

To learn a new topic, I read this book. This book is suitable especially for anyone who is interested to start a one-man-operation or run a small business. The book illustrates with clear examples and concepts how to use effective branding strategies to build a winning brand.

The section on discovering the soul of one's business is deep yet powerful.

Overall, this is a practical and insightful book to read.

For more information on Brand Mastery, you could refer to this URL:

Friday, August 22, 2014

Places: Singapore Night Festival 2014: Bold and Beautiful

This year's Singapore Night Festival is set to impress! Please find a write-up of my personal picks for the Singapore Night Festival here: Places: Singapore Night Festival 2014: Bold and Beautiful.

Singapore Night Festival 2014
22 and 23 Aug 2014
29 and 30 Aug 2014
8 p.m. - 2 a.m.
Free admission

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Read: Pink's Drive

Title: Drive
Author: Daniel H. Pink
Publisher: Riverhead Books (New York, 2009)

I went to the library to borrow this book because this title was a recommended book to read.

Essentially, this book illustrates that when it comes to motivation, to harness the intrinsic motivation of people, it is necessary to look at three elements:
1) autonomy - the desire to direct our own lives
2) mastery - the urge to make progress and get better at something that matters
3) purpose - the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves

The book includes what is called the 'Type I Toolkit' to guide readers to take the ideas in the book and put them into action. An interesting book to read. I took about a fortnight to read this book.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Read: Value Investing REITs

Title: Value Investing in REITs
Author: Attlee Hue
Publisher: Candid Creation Publishing (Reprinted in 2011)

This book was a recommended reading so I went to the library to borrow a copy to read. The author gives a clear introduction what makes REITs (Real Estate Investment Trusts) a way to invest in property without having to deal with down-payments, mortgage loans and expensive fees.

The terminologies related to investing in REITs are explained in a clear fashion. Perhaps I have yet to understand what has been shared between the lines, after my first reading, I am in the opinion that I have yet to fully understand how to go about doing a valuation of a REIT. Perhaps this is a sign to learn more about the subject matter?

This book is said to be the authoritative guide book in Singapore REITs. I suppose it was a blessing for me to have read this book as my first book on the subject of REITs.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Places: My Queenstown Heritage Trail: The charms of the Queenstown

Tanglin Halt.

On the last Sunday of the month of July, I took part in My Queenstown Heritage Trail to explore parts of Queenstown, Singapore's first satellite town. Looking at the various types of public housing found in Queenstown, I caught a glimpse of the evolution of public housing in Singapore.

Here's a blog I have written after attending the guided tour: Places: My Queenstown Heritage Trail: The charms of the Queenstown

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Places: An exclusive roof-top access during the Ramadan Trail 2014 at Sultan Mosque

This year, the Ramadan Trail at Sultan Mosque is one of the more meaningful tours I have participated in that has enhanced my appreciation of the significance of Ramadan. This year, the Ramadan Trail include an exclusive roof-top access. Find out more about my experiences of this year's Ramadan Trail here:

Places: An exclusive roof-top access during the Ramadan Trail 2014 at Sultan Mosque.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Places: Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall Open House Weekend

The refurbished Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall. Jul 2014.
This weekend, on 19 and 20 July 2014, the general public can look forward to free performances and guided tours at the Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall. Here's an account of a visit to the Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall during the Open House Weekend: Places: Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall Open House Weekend.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Read: Emotion-focused Therapy: Coaching Clients to Work Through Their Feelings

Title: Emotion-focused Therapy: Coaching Clients to Work Through Their Feelings
Author: Leslie S. Greenberg
Published: American Psychological Association, 2002

I had the honour to attend a seminar conducted by Greenberg several years ago and it took me a while to get my hands on a copy of one of his books from the local library. It took me more than two weeks to read this book.

This book illustrates Greenberg's ideas about the role of emotions in life and in therapy. Written in a systematic and clear fashion, the author drew references from his clinical experiences and insights to discuss how individuals, couples and parents can more effectively deal with difficult emotions in everyday life.

For parents who would like to learn to be effective emotion coaches for their children, there is a chapter in this book that discusses the topic of emotion coaching in parenting. It was stated that in Gottman's (1997) (The heart of parenting: How to raise an emotionally intelligent child.) study, emotion-focused mentoring of children's feelings was found  to have a soothing effect on children and led to a change in their parasympathetic nervous system responses.

A book to be added as a resource on the shelves of anyone interested to learn to deal more effectively with one's feelings.

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Read: Nick Ortner's The Tapping Solution

Title: The Tapping Solution: A Revolutionary System for Stress-Free Living
Author: Nick Ortner
Publisher: Hay House, 2013

Through various sources and through a friend of mine, I have heard about Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT). When I came across Nick Orner's The Tapping Solution at the library, the instinct was to borrow it. This book by Nick Ortner provides an introduction to Emotional Freedom Techniques especially in dealing with negative emotional state such as stress, trauma, phobias and more.

As best as I have understood, tapping seems to deactivate the brain's arousal pathway. The act of tapping on the meridian endpoints sends a calming response to the body.

The book offers several examples of how one could practise the Emotional Freedom Techniques for a variety of situations such as to relieve anxiety, release physical pain and more. This book may be an alternative approach to healing that is worth learning about.

For more information, you may like to refer to

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

12 Jul 2013: Exploring Munich

12 Jul 2013: It was free-and-easy time in the morning and early afternoon. With the guidance of a few friends, I was able to tag along to visit the city area of Munich yet again. We visited Bauer-Hieber which essentially is a place to find various sheet music. I wondered why we could find musically inspired rubber ducks there too?

Another destination was the Neue Pinakothek Museum in Munich. The museum has a post-modern architectural style. For a distance, the museum blended very well into the surrounding picturesque landscape.

Neue Pinakothek Museum. Photo courtesy of Terence Low.

In this museum, visitors would have the privilege to view Van Gogh's Sunflowers (1888) and Claude Monet's Water Lilies (1915). Van Gogh's Plain near Auvers (1890) is also a part of the museum's collection. These were the paintings that I had used to study in art-history class when I was a teenager. Somehow, I felt comforted to see the original works face-to-face. The flowers in Van Gogh's Sunflowers looked alive!

Van Gogh's Sunflowers (1888).

I was attracted to a sculpture, The Fallen (1915/16), by Wilhelm Lehmbruck. It seemed to connect with me at some level. It was also an interesting piece of art compared to a museum that was dominated by paintings.

The group of us had lunch nearby the museum. Our meeting place was at the train station at Marienplatz. On my way to the train station, I met a local who had generously showed the way about Marienplatz and the nearby areas. That was an unexpected surprise.

Then time seemed to pass so fast and soon we would on the train that took us from Marienplatz to Haar, where the hotel was located. We were on the roads again to get to Munich airport. We were on our way back to Singapore. In the meantime, a number of the orchestra members chose to extend the trip.

Bye Europe.
A memorable journey.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

11 Jul 2013: An evening at Munich

Munich. Hofbrauhas. Photo courtesy of Terence Low.

11 Jul 2013: After some travelling on the coach, we reached Hotel Acom Munich-Haar. Dinner was held at Hofbrauhas. The guests at Hofbrauhas were treated to a series of performances while having our meals.

At Hofbrauhas. Munich. Photo courtesy of Terence Low.

I did not get any alcoholic drink even though Hofbrauhas was possibly best known for its beer. In fact, I learnt that Hofbrauhas is the must-visit beer hall in Munich.

After dinner, I could not resist the temptation to treat myself to ice-cream. The ice-cream is delicious and much more value-for-money than those I could get in Singapore.

There was some time to explore the streets of Munich before heading back to the hotel. One of the mesmerising sights was the new town hall at Marienplatz. This building of Gothic Revival architecture looked magnificent. By the time when I was in Munich, I was possibly having over-stimulation of new experiences and was no longer taking information on the names of the buildings in Munich very well. Nevertheless, that did not stop me from admiring the beautiful architectural styles found in Munich.

New Town Hall. Marienplatz. Photo courtesy of Terence Low.

I felt grateful to be exploring a different part of the world, learning about different cultures and different ways of life. A mesmerizing evening it was.

Friday, May 09, 2014

Laksania, for Hearty Food made with Love

I had a memorable birthday treat to a delicious meal at Laksania a day before my birthday thanks to one of my very kind and generous friends, Belinda. We had an enjoyable dinner at one of the Laksania outlets located at Bugis+ at 201 Victoria Street.

It was my very first time dining at Laksania. What makes Laksania special is that it serves an innovative menu of dishes that are based on the flavourful herb that is commonly known in Singapore as the laksa leaf. I took a quick glance at the menu. Other than serving variants of laksa from South East Asia, Laksania also serves fusion dishes like Laksa Lasagna and Laksa Burgers at Laksania.

My friend and I ordered a regular bowl of Kelantan Laksa, a regular plate of Laksa Goreng and a serving of Chicken Satay (3 pcs) to share.

Kelantan Laksa.

The Kelantan Laksa is served with thick rice noodles and generous amounts of mackerel fish meat. For $4.90 for a regular serving of it, I think it was pretty reasonable priced considering that it is being served in a restaurant setting. As I ate it, I could tell that the food was made with care and love. The Kelantan laksa is not spicy and has a taste that is mildly gingerly with the fragrance of laksa leaf. Home-made fresh chilli paste was served on the side to compliment the Kelantan Laksa. I later learnt that the spices and herbs used at Laksania are free from preservatives. I am willing to come back for more Kelantan Laksa at Laksania in the near future. It is an interesting and novel alternative to the more common Singapore Laksa that we can more easily find in our tropical home-town of Singapore. I thought the Kelantan Laksa was pretty yummy and could be upgraded as one of the "Must Try!" items in the menu. Check this out if you prefer a mild yet novel type of laksa.

Laksa Goreng is one of the innovative dishes is served at Laksania. A plate of regular Laksa Goreng costs $4.90 excluding GST. My friend commented that it reminded her of the taste of Char Kway Teow. Then again, I beg to differ. This dish has a flavourful and distinctive laksa-leaf taste. In fact, it tasted like Singapore Laksa that is fried and served dried!

The menu suggested that the Chicken Satay is one of the "Must-Try!" dishes. It was priced at $4.20 for a serving of three pieces of satay. I was happy with it. I could not figure out yet what makes it so tasty. Could anyone care to enlighten please? Perhaps it was the way that the chicken meat was marinated with herbs which include the laksa leaf? The non-spicy yet flavoursome laksa cream sauce that was served on the side with the chicken satay made this dish completely delicious.

For our beverages, I ordered the hot lemon-grass tea ($3.00 per glass) while my friend ordered the iced lemon-grass tea ($3.50 per glass). Each sip of hot lemon-grass tea tasted heavenly. I learnt that the lemon-grass tea was freshly prepared using hand-pounded lemon-grass and pandan leaves. The hot lemon-grass tea is a hearty and healing beverage to consider when dining at Laksania.

In summary, I have enjoyed the dinner at Laksania that evening. I was left with the experience that Laksania is one of the places in Singapore to enjoy delicious and quality laksa in a restaurant setting. The food there is considered value-for-money.

Service was generally prompt and friendly. Although there was an occasion when the waiter brought a bill which was meant for another table to our table, he discovered the mistake promptly with our promptings, and gladly sent the bill to the right table subsequently.

Laksania offers a range of interesting food that could cater to people with specific dietary requirements. It is a halal-certified food establishment serving quality laksa and other dishes. For the vegans, Laksania serves the Vegetarian Laksa that is suitable for vegans.

I have a lot of respect for the team at Laksania who takes pride in serving hearty food made with love and service from the heart. What impressed me more is that Laksania is a social enterprise that aims to create opportunities to provide employment for people with disabilities and for people from marginalised groups. Employment enables the people to earn a living using their own efforts. I think employment also gives these people the sense of achievement and belongingness to the community.

The next time you are nearby a Laksania outlet and crave for laksa-leaf inspired dishes, consider the option of walking yourself into the outlet to enjoy the food. Your patronage will not only reward you with hearty food that is made with love and served with pride, it will support Laksania in fulfilling its social mission to help persons with disabilities to earn a living using their own efforts so that they can become financially self-reliant eventually. A win-win situation for all.


201 Victoria Street
Singapore 188067

50 Jurong Gateway Road
Singapore 608549

Laksania is a halal-certified restaurant.
Other than dine-in, take-away is available for most of the food except the Laksa Hotpot.