Friday, December 25, 2009

A visit to "Quest for Immortality"

For those who are fascinated by the ancient Egyptian world, there is now a special exhibition held at the National Museum of Singapore (22 Dec 2009 - 4 Apr 2010). The exhibition "Quest for Immortality – The World of Ancient Egypt" is presented by the National Museum of Singapore in co-operation with Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna, Egyptian and Near Eastern Department.

As stated in the publicity, this exhibition "offers an insight to the ancient Egyptian’s attitude to life and the afterlife, and the preparations they made to ensure their transition from earthly existence to immortality."

There are 230 artefacts spanning from 4000 BCE to 950 CE on display. The exhibit shown in the photo right above is a statue of the god Horus and King Horemheb. According to the explanatory notes, "Horemheb was believed to be an earthly incarnation of the god Horus." On the other hand, "Horus, the god of the sky or sun, is depicted with a human boday and the head of a falcon". This statue has a stately aura that caught my eyes. Furthermore, I understand that this is the most expensive artefact in the exhibition in terms of its value.

In the exhibition, visitors will also get to appreciate the process of mummification. There are also mummies of animals and humans on display. I learnt that the English word 'mummy' is derived from medieval Latin 'mumia', a borrowing of the Persian word mūm, which means "bitumen". Because of the blackened skin, bitumen was once thought to be used extensively in ancient Egyptian embalming procedures (source: Wikipedia)".

Non-flash photography is allowed for this exhibition. My personal experiences at the exhibition reminded me that rather than being pre-occupied with taking photographs of the various artefacts, one could see and learn more by taking time to view the various exhibits with his/her own naked eyes. Attending one of the guided tours that will start from 4 Jan 2010 will also be a great help to give one a deeper understanding of the ancient Egyptian's attitudes to life and afterlife. I intend to visit this exhibition for at least a second time.

There is an activity section in this exhibition that will certainly entertain and keep children (and adults) occupied. At this section, one can write one's name using hieroglyphs, which was used in written communication during the Old and Middle Egyptian eras. One can even have a chance to play a few ancient Egyptian indoor games.

On the whole, I like the way that the exhibition was thoughtfully curated and organised. I had wanted to attend one of the Curator's Tours, only to find that all the tickets have been sold out! I reckon that this meant that this exhibition is one that is worth going for.

More information about this information can be found here:

Many thanks to the National Museum of Singapore and all the parties involved for making this exhibition possible.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Exploring Singapore with RL

17 Dec 2009, Thu:

This is a special post dedicated to one of my good friends, RL, who has so generously and graciously lend me her time to explore parts of Singapore with me. This kind gesture of hers has helped me put my skills in exploring Singapore to good use.

It was a day that needed a bit more sunshine. We decided to explore East Coast Road and Joo Chiat area. One of the first landmarks that we saw when we were in the area was the Red House Bakery, also known as the Katong Confectionery and Bakery. According to infopedia, the "bakery was a popular breakfast haunt among Singaporeans living in the eastern part of Singapore, dishing out its signature cakes and curry puff." I learnt that this building is put in trust to the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS) by the great grand-daughter of Hajjah Fatimah. 

Hopefully, one day the Red House Bakery could be restored to its former glory. This building may look humble yet it is precious because it holds the priceless memories of countless people who had made it once their favourite breakfast haunt.

When we were exploring for a shop that was selling pancakes, a drizzle started. We decided to use the opportunity to enjoy a nice bowl of laksa at 328 Katong Laksa stall located at 51 East Coast Road. The laksa tasted delicious, so was the chilli that was served with it. The best part was the hospitality of the gracious lady boss. When yours truly tried to ask if she could please take a photo with me and my friend, the lady boss very gladly agreed. I personally think that she has the sincerity and foresight as a business-lady.

After treating ourselves to Katong laksa, we strolled along the shophouses of East Coast Road. We visited Rumah Kim Choo and Rumah Bebe. Visitors to these two shophouses can clearly experience the rich Peranankan influences when they set foot into these two shophouses. Colourful kuehs greeted us when we were at Rumah Kim Choo.This place also sells nice Nonya dumplings.

There are lots of good food along East Coast Road and Joo Chiat Road. We stopped by the coffeeshop along 125 East Coast Road to treat ourselves to Mary's Corner's Tau Kwa Pau. Tau Kwa Pau is a dish consisting of fried beancurd skin stuffed with various ingredients such as minced meat, egg and cucumber. It certainly looked more delicious eating a Tau Kwa Pau than eating a plain beancurd on its own.

After the meal, we gave ourselves the challenge to walk the long stretch of Joo Chiat Road. One of my intentions was to accompany my friend to check out Kway Guan Huat at 95 Joo Chiat Road in the hope to see the traditional art of making popiah skin. We did not see get to see how the popiah skin were made, but I shall share a photo that I had taken when I was at Kway Guan Huat sometime last year. I simply think it is a fine art to make popiah skin by hand.

The making popiah skins at Kway Guan Huat.

When we were walking along Joo Chiat Road, we couldn't help but check out the various food establishments in the area. I was also admiring the interesting architectural designs on the shophouses in the area. There are some beautiful shophouses along Koon Seng Road that are worth a look.

What has made our tour of the Joo Chiat area complete for my dear friend was our stop-over at the Four Seasons Durian Cafe at 212 Joo Chiat Place. The reason is simply because my dear friend deems herself to be durian obsessed. It would be a challenge to resist fresh durians! Many thanks to my friend for her treat to durians. They were delicious and fresh.

On that very day, RL and I also visited Chinatown and Orchard area. What I appreciate about the day out with RL was the great company in her. We managed to catch up a bit on many things. The sights, good food and lovely places that we had experienced that day, were in my opinion secondary to sharing time to connect with a good friend.

Here, I thank RL for inspiring me in her own ways and for her generosity in exploring parts of Singapore with me. I salute her for her tenacity and endurance for walking hours with me. Thank goodness for wonderful friends like her. I wish her all the best in her endeavours.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Read: The Essential Spontaneous of Fulfillment of Desire

A few weeks ago, I read Deepak Chopra's The Essential: Spontaneous of Fulfillment of Desire - The Essence of Harnessing the Infinite Power of Coincidence.

In some ways, arising from a few personal encounters I have had, I would like to believe that every coincidence can serve as a message. To a large extent, I have reasons to infer that certain people come to our lives for special reasons.

In this book, the concept of synchrodestiny amazes me and makes me think deeply about some of the things that have happened in my live. The author stated that
the ultimate truth of synchrodestiny - (is) that the sum total of the universe is conspiring to create your personal destiny. To do so it uses "acausal nonlocal connections."

While I still need a lot of wisdom to understand the gists in this book, I am glad that I had taken the first step to read it.

What do you think about the coincidences in our life? How are we to make wise sense of them?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A quarterlife crisis related article

I came across this online article by Robyn titled A Restless Generation. I would like to share it here for the purpose of reminding myself that career wise, I wish for a career that allows me to use the skills I enjoy using most:

- integrating ideas.
- reflection
- analysing
- use of empathy
- self-expression
- learn while travelling
- write

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Words of wisdom from a client

This is a post to thank the many clients whom I have worked with as a social worker for sharing with me lots of their wisdom.

With respect to the privacy and confidentiality of a client of mine, I shall share words of wisdom that came from a client when I met this client for a discussion a day ago. This client has gone through many challenges (personal, familial, financial, health etc) in life.

By the end of the session, this client shared words of wisdom. Basically, the gist is that what may seem to be bad days are to prepare oneself for the much better days. The client reflected and shared that "Pain and struggles in life are to help one gain wisdom and knowledge".

My client's words reminded me to keep my personal struggles and challenges in a more positive and broader perspective. I hope I could find the ways to overcome the existing challenges at hand, and be wiser in self-knowledge.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Read: Learned Optimism

Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life
Martin E. P. Seligman, Ph. D. 

New York: Vintage Books

I have recently read the above-mentioned book. I was recommended to read another book titled The Optimistic Child and ended up reading Learned Optimism by the same author instead.

This website gives a very good summary of the various chapters from The Optimistic Child.

In brief, the author explained how he came about doing a research in the topic of optimism. He also outlined how pessimism may have a functional role to play. At the same time, he outlined how one's explanatory-style could contribute to making one more likely to experience learned helplessness compared to another person.

What I found was deep and am still mulling over was the author's attempt to address what he thinks could be contributors to the rising of depression in the American's society. He examined two trends: the waxing of the self and the waning of the commons, in his attempt to hypothesise what could be the contributors of rising depression.

This book can be an interesting read for anyone who is keen to find out how changing one's explanatory style could facilitate one to be more optimistic when the situation calls for it.

For those of you who would like to find out how optimistic you are, check out this link.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

I ask for care and guidance

In a time when directions and purposes need to be clarified
When much is unknown
Hope is there
Answers yet to be found
What brings a moment of relief to the day
Is being kind to oneself to find beauty in the daily mundane.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

My experiences onboard Invasion Singapore!

I went for the bus tour entitled War on Wheels, Invasion Singapore! during the weekend. This event gets its participants to discover more about Singapore's World War II history.

The bus tour brought the tour group to several important sites to better appreciate the significant events that had taken place when Singapore was invaded by the Japanese military in 1942. It also gave us a glimpse of the civilians' experience of the Japanese occupation and the end of the occupation.

Read more about my experiences on the bus tour here: Back to the time of WWII Singapore

There will be more of such bus tours on 21 and 28 Nov 2009 (Saturdays). Please see this site for more information:

Monday, November 16, 2009

Read: Refuse to Choose

The recent book that I have read is Barbara Sher's Refuse to Choose!: A revolutionary program for doing everything that you love.

This book is about people who are drawn to many interests in their lives. In this book, the term "Scanner" is used to describe a person who has multiple interests. In this book, it proposed that Scanners who are people with multiple interests aren't suppose to choose just one particular talent of theirs to get started on a career. They were designed to put their multitalented brains to contribute to the world. Each has his/her special gifts.

In this book, Barbara Sher described that there are various types of Scanners, each with their unique characteristics and needs. She also described some strategies for each type of Scanners to do everything that they love.

The types of Scanners that were described in the book were:
-Cyclical Scanners
-Double Agent
-Plate Spinner
-Sequential Scanner
-Serial Specialist
-Serial Master
-High-Speed Indecisive

Some of the things that were mentioned in the book got me thinking if I happen to be a Scanner described by Barbara Sher. I remembered that I had a very challenging time making decisions what to major in when I was deciding on my preferred course for junior college. My grades were good enough to have quite a reasonably wide variety of choices. I struggled between making the choice between Science and the Humanities.

Then when it came to choosing a faculty to study in university, I also had good enough grades to have a large number of choices. Even after the choice was made, I still wondered if I had limited my options by deciding on a particular course of study. There were many times when I had wished that the education system could allow one to take as many majors as they would like. Then again, if that was allowed, I wonder if I would have the means to pay for the tuition required to study so many majors.

Anyway, in short, I find it quite liberating to read and realise that it is actually alright when one finds it a challenge to make a choice between one's various interests. In fact, the book proposed that it is possible to refuse to make a choice so that one could do as many things as one loves. It is quite a worthwhile book to read especially for anyone with multiple interests who wish to make a career out of his/her various interests.

If writing down things could help me get closer to my dream career, I would like a career that would allow me to do the following:
- sketch landscapes
- perform on the double bass in either a chamber or orchestral setting
- the honour to serve others
- travel and see new places
- paint (acrylics or paint)
- use reflective skills
- use analytical and thinking skills
- generate ideas and implement some of them
- allow integration of large pieces of information

- read and share about culture and history of the world
- share with others about places in Singapore
- write, e.g. poems and travelogues
- refine my existing skills
- learn something new that would interest me

My personality profile also reminded me that my ideal work environment would preferably have the following characteristics:
- a place where I could produce work that helps people
- a place that puts minimal emphasis on office rules and procedures
- a place where I can work independently on my own time-frame
- a place the emphasis is placed on tasks that require routine or rote memory
- a place that emphasise harmony (versus competition)

Would 'refusing to choose', and finding the strategies to help me do as much as I love get me closer to the dreams? I ask that the answer be a positive one please.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Read: The monk who sold his Ferrari

Image source:

Robin S. Sharma's
The Monk who sold his Ferrari.
New York: HarperTorch, 1997
NLB Call Number: 158.1 SHA

I have just finished reading Robin S. Sharma's The Monk who sold his Ferrari (A Fable about reaching your destiny). I went to borrow this book from the library to find out what I could learn from the book.

This starts with a story of a very rich lawyer who had a wake-up call of his lifetime when he suffered a heart attack in a courtroom. The heart attack forced him to confront the condition of his life. In search of happiness and fulfillment, he sold his material belongings to travel about places in the world to find his answers. He learnt about a powerful system from the Sages of Sivana who live in a village away from modern civilisation.

This book offers a step-by-step system of how one could live an enlightened living. I like the way that this book strive to use symbols to help one better recall the seven timeless virtues of an enlightened living.

For those who would like to know, the book speaks of the following seven timeless virtues of enlightened living:

1) Master Your Mind
2) Follow Your Purpose
3) Practice Kaizen
4) Live with Discipline
5) Respect Your Time
6) Selflessly Serve Others
7) Embrace the Present

These virtues were represented by symbols. These symbols were the magnificent garden, the towering lighthouse, the sumo wrestler, the pink wire cable, the gold stopwatch, the fragrant roses, the path of diamonds.

Many of the concepts make sense after I understood the principles behind the strategies. The challenge would be to apply them on a consistent basis. This book has clear concepts just that I felt I was comparatively not as inspired by it. Perhaps it was because I could relate better to a book that is more intuitive in its style of writing.

Personally, I would prefer a inspiring fable such as Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist which speaks of similar topics. I find that while The Alchemist may not offer a clear step-by-step system on how one could live an enlightened life, it has a greater capacity through its story-telling to help to instill the hope and inspiration for one to fulfill one's dreams.

Nevertheless, it was still quite worthwhile to read The monk who sold his Ferrari for its clarity in presenting the various concepts to live an enligtened life.

Friday, November 06, 2009

More sketches

It was 1 Nov 2009, Nature beckoned me to be in its arms. I headed for the Singapore Botanic Gardens to enjoy the beauty of Nature. Here is one of the photos that I have taken. The structure in the center of the above photo is a gazebo. It used to serve as a Bandstand.

A few months ago, I saw a photo of the same gazebo and I sketched it for one of friends.

When I saw the gazebo in person, I felt I just have to sketch it while observing it in real life. Here's the sketch that I did on 1 Nov 2009 of the gazebo. I hope this post brings you simple delights. Nature is beautiful.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Sketching, sketching and more sketching

Posted by Hello I was sketching from behind the trees in the background.

I have bought for myself a smaller sketch book today. For the past few days and weeks, I have been needing a mood lighten very much. I would like to seek more care and guidance. I reckon it may be best to start off by lending care to myself by doing something that I like. I chose to sketch.

It was therapeutic to sketch. At the very least, sketching has helped to shift my mind to focus on creating a nice enough image.

Today, I did four different sketches in the early afternoon. Much of the time was spent walking. Hopefully I would feel better soon.

I wish I could find some guidance to the quest that I am now seeking. Wish me good luck please.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Sharing a snapshot from Singapore

On 24 Oct 2009, I was walking across Coleman Bridge. The weather was good that night. I managed to get a snapshot of Elgin Bridge. I hope you may like this snapshot from Singapore. I like the reflections of the lights on the waters of the Singapore River.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Read: In the presence of high beings: What dolphins want you to know

I have just finished reading the book In the presence of high beings: What Dolphins what you to know written by Bobbie Sandoz-Merrill. Lovers of dolphins and whales will especially find it a compelling and interesting read.

I have never seen a dolphin in the wild yet. After reading the book, I found myself hoping to have the opportunities to see dolphins at some point in my life.

In this book, the author shares with us about her personal experiences with the dolphins. In addition, she shared her thoughts about what she believes could be the dolphin's unique formula for rapidly attaining a high level of joy. To much extent, I think that they are indeed a number of ways in which we, human beings, can learn from the dolphins.

Reading this book reminded me how important it is to steer away from doubts, and to focus on our dreams, while being attractive to our dreams. One of the insights that I thought was most powerful was that of playing while we wait for our dreams to arrive. I suppose it was a reminder to myself to stay hopeful yet continue to find joy and to play while waiting for dreams to be realised.

The book also covers an important part to alert us mankind to the lethal harms of military sonar. We can do our part for the lives in the ocean if we could lobby for the use of military sonar to stop. I have found one link on this topic if you would like more reading:

Most importantly, after reading the book, I think we can learn from the dolphins to be more joyful and loving. I am still learning.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Breakfast with Mystic, Part 2

Friends open us to new experiences and learning opportunities. On 18 Oct 2009, about three months after my last breakfast with Mystic, Mystic drove me to Dempsey Hill for breakfast together. I went along with the flow and followed her suggestions to try out the breakfast at Jones the Grocer.

We ordered the English Breakfast Set and the pancakes. I can't remember the full names of the dishes. Whatever it is, I was delighted by the tall ceilings at Jones the Grocer. The outlet is located in a pre-war building. The building used to be part of a former British army barracks.

The concept behind Jones the Grocer is interesting. The cafe operates in the same premise as the grocery. I later found out that the use of the long tables at Jones the Grocer was intended to create a sense of community. Many of the ingredients used in the food served at the cafe are also available for purchase at the grocery.

The English breakfast set was good enough. However, I have been watching my diet to minimise my intake of pork and red-meat. As such, it is unlikely that I would go back to Jones the Grocer for more English breakfast set. The eggs and the tomato were good. I find the rest of the items to be average. Maybe it was because I just do not have an appetite for red-meat nowadays?

The pancakes tasted good and they have a nice puffy texture. I find it a little too sweet for my liking yet it was worth to try it at least once.

Whatever the food may be, it was the company of good friends that matter most at the end of the day. Many thanks to Mystic for having breakfast with me at Jones the Grocer.

Jones the Grocer
Location: Blk 9 #01–12
Dempsey Road
Open: Mon 9:30am - 6:00pm
Tue - Fri 9:30am - 11:00pm
Sat - Sun 9:00am - 11:00pm
Tel: (65) 6476 1512

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Five years of blogging

I had realised sometime ago that this year marks my fifth year in blogging. On a fine day on 16 Sep 2004, slightly more than five years ago, I was on medical leave to heal from a surgical removal of two wisdom teeth.

Along the way, I realised that there have been a few major changes to the topics that I blog about. One of my dear friends, Mystic, had commented ages ago that she had found my earliest posts in need to be more accessible to read.

Subequently, I have found joy in sharing about the various places that I visit. Sight-seeing was a pleasure. The joy is doubled when I could share some of the beautiful visual moments from my sight-seeing trips with people through the internet. I hope you would find some beauty through the photos from my trips that I have posted.

In the year 2006, I was honoured to be given the chance to be one of the Friends of In the hope to share the joy of visiting a museum and heritage places with the online community, I started making a little more efforts to pen my thoughts and experiences down through blogging when I write about such topics.

Thanks to blogging, I have the pleasure to meet a number of wonderful people. To all my readers and friends I've got to know through reading, thank you for enriching my blogging experiences through your friendship and encouragement.

Fast forward to the year 2008, a meaningful and rejuvenating visit to Australia got me to decide to be conscious to choose to spread positive energy through all my blogs that were accessible to others. The credit goes to one of my friends, XS, for she was the one who had inspired me to make this conscious choice.

Right now, I have blogged for five years. My priorities have changed over the five years and that in some ways show through my posts. Whatever it is, this blog continues to serve to be a window to part of my inner world. Of course, you would have realised by now that I have a liking for personality tests.

Last but not the least, I wish you good health and happiness. May you find joy in spreading some good-will and encouragement through your blogs too.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Enjoy a meal with live Chinese instrumental music

Last Saturday, I was at City Vibe located nearby the Clementi MRT station. Most eating places in Singapore that provide live music usually use performers of Western instrumental music. As best as I am aware, places that provide live music usually get the service of performers who play one or more of the following instruments: piano, guitar, and violin.

What if one would like to enjoy a meal while listening to live Chinese instrumental music?

I have one answer to the above question. At the Uncle Sam's Claypots restaurant at City Vibe, #02-11/12, one could enjoy Chinese cuisine and various meals cooked using claypots while listening to Chinese instrumental music played on the yangqin.

The yangqin is a Chinese hammered dulcimer. Its origin is believed to be from Central Asia. Mallets are used to strike the strings of the yangqin so as to produce the music.

The combination between claypot-meals and Chinese instrumental music worked pretty well. The balance of the music was good for a restaurant setting. One could enjoy listening to the music played at a moderate and comfortable volume. Having live music played by a Chinese instrument adds a refine ambience to the dining experience at the claypot restaurant serving Chinese food.

Claypot Ipoh Hor Fun

If you ask me what food I would recommend, I will be biased to suggest the vegetables and the claypot Ipoh Hor Fun. Firstly, I love vegetables and I must say that the vegetables at Uncle Sam's Claypots is fresh and tasty. Next, I personally prefer claypot rice whereby the rice has a crusty and hard texture. The claypot rice dishes at Uncle Sam's Claypots did not quite fit with my preferences when I ate there on a separate occasion. I am however not insistent for claypot Hor Fun to have a hard and crusty texture. That makes the claypot Ipoh Hor Fun and its nice tasting sauce win my vote.

My reliable source says that unless the restaurant decides to change its mind about providing live Chinese instrumental music, diners at the Uncle Sam's Claypots can look forward to listening to live music played on the yangqin at the following times:

From Mondays to Saturdays:
12.00 p.m. - 2.00 p.m. and 7.00 p.m. - 9.30 p.m.
Uncle Sam's Claypots
3151 Commonwealth Ave West
#02-11/12 CityVibe
Tel: 6778 3088

By the way, I had specially went to have my dinner at Uncle Sam's Claypots last Saturday because I was there to support my friend who was the yangqin performer.

If you would like to enjoy the experience of listening to live Chinese instrumental music while enjoying Chinese cuisine, I hope that this post points you to one possible place to check out.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Choosing Happiness, part 4

I have just finished reading Stephanie Dowrick's Choosing Happiness: Life and Soul Essentials, and I shall continue my humble project to blog about some of my learning points from the book.

This is a joy-inducing book to read, and I am grateful that I have found the time needed to read it from cover to cover. After reading the book, I have a better idea how happiness can indeed be a choice.

What does it take to be happy then?

The author, Stephanie Dowrick, gave a list of suggestions that can help make happiness easily available to anyone. I will attempt to list some of her suggestions that I have found worthwhile to share:

- Think well of ourselves. Give ourselves plenty of reasons to do so. When we let ourself down, learn something, make the change that's needed - and move on.

- Pay attention to what's uplifting - and be uplifted!

- Think and speak positively about ourselves and others.

- Choose work that supports one's integrity.

- Give time and attention to our close relationships.

- Be the friend we would most like to have.

- Practise kindness. Live kindly.

- On a daily basis, relish the wonders of nature.

Spread the happiness spirit. If you have anything you have found useful to make you experience happiness, share with us through your comments. Or, you could pick the book, read and learn.

And after reading this book, I could better realised what had made my dear friend, XS, experience joy from within such that she sang one of the most lovely and joyful tunes when she drove me about Sydney in her car. With this post, I pray for happiness to be with her each and every moment.

Best wishes XS. I thank you for being the friend who pointed out to me that happiness can be a choice.

Entries in the series:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Friday, October 09, 2009

Having Dunkin Donuts with Mystic

Thank goodness for good friends. They can make ordinary meals seem so full of cheers, joy and good humour.

On 5 Oct 2009, I went out with one of my good friends, Mystic, for dinner. After dinner, we had a tour about part of the Orchard area. Mystic was very kind to accompany me to look for a book at various bookstores. It turned out that the following bookstores, Prologue, Borders Singapore, and Kinokuniya, did not have any stock of the book that I had wanted.

Anyway, we ended up having dessert and a chat in the night at the Dunkin Donuts outlet at Ion Orchard. We ordered the following donuts: Apple, Nutty Chocolate and Boston Cream. Mystic liked the custard filling in the Boston Cream donut. I personally prefered the nutty chocolate for its nutty taste.

Both Mystic and myself agreed that the apple filling in the Apple donut reminded us of the apple-filling in MacDonalds' apple-pie. The taste of the apple filling was acceptable, just that it felt ordinary.

Mystic wanted to know who were the developers of Ion Orchard. If I have got it correct, Ion Orchard is a joint development by CapitaLand and Sun Hung Kai Properties.

Well, it seemed that Mystic has such a love for food, I would end up reviewing food when I am with Mystic. I may have to seriously consider if I should start a new series of posts entitled Meals with Mystic whenever I have meals together with Mystic.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Choosing Happiness, part 3

This post is part of a humble project that I had started a while ago. In appreciation to my friend, XS, who have introduced me to the concept that happiness is a choice, this series of posts is specially dedicated to her. May happiness and joy be with her.

I have been focused on reading Stephanie Dowrick's Choosing Happiness: Life and Soul Essentials such that I have managed to read about 90% of the book by the time that this post was written.

There is a chapter entitled Build Self-Respect, and I would like to share this section titled Turn a Difficult Situation Around. The author suggests that self-respect is gained when a person turns a difficult situation around.

I have found some of the questions that the author has suggested that we ask ourselves when we are in a difficult situation to be useful. Here's to share:
- What can I learn from this situation?
- What past experiences can I draw on?
- What values and qualities do I need to help me?
- How am I going to put those qualities into practice?
- What question am I not asking?
- What issue am I not seeing?

And if you have found some of these questions to be useful, do pick up this book and have a good read. I think it is better to read the various strategies in their proper context.

Entries in the series:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Saturday, October 03, 2009

The Mid Autumn Festival at Hua Song Museum

Many thanks to the National Heritage Board, I was one of the folks who were invited to the private party, By the Light of the Lanterns, held on 2 Oct 2009 at the Hua Song Museum.

Hua Song, means "in praise of the Chinese". The museum which is located in the new wing of Haw Par Villa, "offers visitors the chance to appreciate the spirit of adventure and enterprise of the early Chinese migrants around the world, who made countless sacrifices, seized opportunities amidst adversity, showed great fortitude and industry to make good in their adopted land." (source:

Participants of the party, By the Light of the Lanterns, could challenge their mind by attempting to solve the Chinese lantern riddles found on strips of paper that were hung from selected lanterns. Admittedly, I have found the riddles to be very challenging. Participants will find the riddles easier to solve if they were to have very strong knowledge of the Chinese culture and Chinese idioms. I managed to solve two of the riddles only and won myself two prizes.

Mooncakes seem to be the must-have for any Mid-Autumn Festival celebrations. At the party, one could find various types of mooncakes, from snow-skin to the traditional ones. There was even a demonstration of how to make snow-skin mooncakes.

The party also gave participants a chance to know a little more about the art of Chinese calligraphy. Participants could enjoy watching a Chinese calligraphy master demonstrating the art of Chinese calligraphy.

For the participants who want to get their hands a creative work-out, they could make their own lanterns using the colourful papers that were provided at the event. I wonder why people in Singapore associate lanterns with Mid-Autumn Festival. Anyone could please enlighten?

There was a special guided tour of the Hua Song Museum. I gave it a miss for I was feeling in need of some early rest after a demanding week. For the readers who have never visited Hua Song Museum and wanted to catch a few glimpses of the museum, do check out a post that I had written quite a long while ago: In praise of the Chinese.

In the meantime, have a joyful Mid Autumn Festival.

(Also see Seeing the Light (of the Lanterns) by peacefrog)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The porttrait of an INFJ

There are things I don't exactly know how to verbalise. I hope somehow I could better make sense of things with guidance. So I ask for guidance.

In the meantime, for anyone who loves to read about my MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) profile, i.e. INFJ (Introverted Intuition with Extraverted Feeling), here's a link:

I wonder, how could I better use my gifts, and to live with enthuasiasm in this world?

Monday, September 28, 2009

An evening at Sembawang Park

Nature can serve to be a healer and pain-relief remedy at times. I visited the Sembawang Park last evening to be nearer to Nature.

I took the bus service 882 from Sembawang Bus Interchange (nearest MRT station: Sembawang) to get myself to Sembawang Park. The ride took about 10 minutes.

There are a few things that I like about the Sembawang Park: 1) It is relatively quiet even on a Sunday, 2) there is a natural beach at one end of the park where I can enjoy the sounds of the tides and the waves, 3) I can spot a few pre-war houses at the park, and I generally have a liking for pre-war houses!

Here's sharing the tranquil and healing moments with you.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Green is for Gladful moments

A couple of weeks ago, I was in the midst of preparing for a music exams. In efforts to help myself feel at peace wth myself and to be inspired by the beauties of Nature, I had visited several parks in Singapore. One of my favourite places was the Singapore Botanic Gardens.

Admission was free. The park was beautifully landscaped. There were lovely plants and animals to be spotted at the Singapore Botanic Gardens. It is generally a safe place to visit even on one's own. My favourite was to be able see large open spaces of lush green grass. Enjoy the peaceful moments that Nature could bring. Of course, imagine unknown insects and birds singing away.

Wishing you soothing moments in the meantime.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Nature's therapeutic

This is a time when I have to ask for some care and soothing moments.

Nature is preciously beautiful, and I have found a recent photograph that I have taken at Swan Lake, Singapore Botanic Gardens. I've found it soothing and inspiring just to sit nearby Swan Lake watching the swans swim about gracefully. Here's sharing the photo with everyone here. May it soothe.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Hari Raya Open House at the Museums

Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri to Muslim friends and readers.

If anyone of you is wondering what to do today, on 20 Sep 2009, you may wish to know that the various National Heritage Board museums will be offering free admission to all the galleries.

You may wish to know that there is a special art exhibition at Singapore Art Museum, 8Q, Yellow Ribbon Community Art Exhibition “Vision of Hope”. Till 20 Sep 2009, this exhibition is part of the Yellow Ribbon Project, and it features the finest selection from the Yellow Ribbon Art Competition.

"Find out more on the journey of arts in prison and how it has affected many others in their journey to a successful reintegration through the eyes of one inmate artist." Check out the video below.


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Congratulations to Laokokok

The results of the Singapore Blog Awards are out. Congratulations to Laokokok of Times of My Life for winning the Best Individual Blog Award. Cheers!

Check out his nostalgic blog here:

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Read: Gracious Living in a New World

A week ago, I finished reading the book titled Gracious Living in a New World: Finding Joy in Changing Times by Alexandra Stoddard. This is the second book that's written by her that I have read.

Reading this book gave me a calm sense of ease and peace in general. I particularly find it inspiring to read the chapter "Lessons from a Village". It reminded me that many times we aren't after the greatest achievements on Earth, more than we yearn to connect at a deeper level with the significant people in our lives.

The chapter "Working with Grace" also reminded me not to become victim of the "efficiency trap". Time spent "not working" can also be a vital part of productivity. Just because we are not doing things that is highly focused, goal-oriented or deal-closing do not mean that the time spent is unproductive. Time spent writing a friendly card, saying a word of appreciation and so forth at work can be productive too in that they help us get in touch with our essence as human beings.

One thing that I appreciate about this book is that there are many lovely and inspiring quotations that are placed in various parts of the book. I enjoy reading these quotations as I read the book itself.

So I end this post with one of the quotations: "To cultivate kindness is a valuable part of the business of life" - Samuel Johnson.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Choosing Happiness, part 2

This post is a part of a humble blogging project that I have started off recently to pen down some of my learning points and reflections from reading Stephanie Dowrick's Choosing Happiness: Life and Soul Essentials. As mentioned, this series of post shall be dedicated to one of my friends, XS, to honour her for being the first to introduce to me the concept of choosing happiness.

Yesterday evening, I spent about an hour reading the book at the Singapore Botanic Gardens. I decided to find a spot away from the crowd to read the book. At the same time, the spot that I had chosen was close enough to the speakers from a nearby stage such that I could hear beautiful live music performed by the Singapore Symphony Orchestra while I read the book. My favourite piece of music that was performed was Mendelssohn's The Hebrides Overture (Fingal's Cave).

I realised it was nurturing to be kind to myself and to treat myself to fresh air from Nature. Somehow, the act of taking care of myself by going for an activity that would recharge me seems to coincide well with the topics that I was reading today: self-love, and soothing oneself.

Here are two strategies that I have found very useful from what I have read from the book thus far:
1) The strategy of emphasising and thinking of what had went well, what we appreciate and enjoy.

2) The strategy of telling ourselves "I can deal with this" when we recognise symptoms of panic, anxiety or fear in our body. I figured that this strategy can help us to shift the focus of the mind to something more positive, and hopefully we can look at the issue at hand more effectively.

So far, I have enjoyed reading the book. I am delighted to realise how enjoyable it can be to read a book out in the Nature. I've got to listen to the lovely sounds of Nature, breathe in fresher air and feed my mind with insights.

Entries in the series:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Choosing Happiness, part 1

I have just embarked on reading a new book titled Choosing Happiness: Life and Soul Essentials by Stephanie Dowrick. While writing this post, I have found out Stephanie Dowrick is the author of a number of life-changing best-selling books, and she has lived in Sydney since 1983 and is the mother of two children.

I wonder if it is by good grace and fate that I ended up choosing this book to read in the month of September 2009? To read a book on the subject of choosing happiness, by an author based in Sydney?

It is now spring in Sydney. It has been close to a year after my last trip to Australia. About a year ago, in Sydney, one of my friends, XS, shared with me a powerful insight that happiness is often a choice. That insight helped me be more mindful in my everyday choices and has helped me find the strength to face challenging situations with greater ease than I had in the distant past.

I am still practising how to choose happiness mindfully in my everyday life. Earlier this evening, I decided that I shall make an attempt to have a humble blogging project to blog about some of my reflections and learning points that I have had while reading Stephanie Dowrick's Choosing Happiness. To honour my friend who was the first to share this powerful insight with me a year ago, I shall dedicate this blogging project and all the related posts to dear XS. May she be blessed with joy and happiness every moment.

Entry No. 1:

For the past few days, I managed to read up to page 50 of the book. One strategy that I find helpful from what I have read so far from the book is that when faced with challenges, it can help by paying attention to the strengths needed for the situation. Stephanie Dowrick suggests that we could ask the question, "What does this situation need?".

Reflecting upon some of the past challenges that I had faced recently, I realised that when I had asked similar  questions, I was more able to face the challenges squarely and positively than to be paralysed by the challenges. I shall practise this strategy for now as I am facing the inner challenges preparing myself mentally and psychologically for the upcoming music performance exams.

I find it a useful move for the book to start its first chapter with the topic: Trust who you are. I suppose this reminds us that happiness starts from within ourselves, and the first place to start is with understanding ourselves.

So far, I think Stephanie Dowrick's writing is fairly accessible. I look forward to reading the rest of the book.

Other entries:

Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Read: Just Who Will You Be?

I continued my endeavours to read at least one book per month. Just a few weeks ago, I finished reading the book Just Who Will You Be? by Maria Shriver.

In this book was a speech that Maria Shriver has made during a commencement. It's a simple to read book and will probably be quite a easy-reading for anyone who needs to be reminded that we are each unique individuals. It encourages us to constantly seek to find ways to be our authentic selves. While I may not read this book again and again, it is still quite a nice book to read at leisure when one needs a reminder "Just who will I be?". I would think that anyone who is going through some life transitions searching for answers on who they are would find it useful to read this book.

In the meantime, I am still working in progress to answer the question "Who will I be?" and to be the person I want to be.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Thank goodness for good friends

Earlier tonight, I have had the pleasure and honour to meet up with one of my good friends, Mystic. We had dinner at the food court at Raffles City and we both agreed that the Korean food stall's bibimbap needed more improvement. We will probably not visit that stall in the near future.

Many thanks to Mystic for being helpful to help me with shopping. The company of a good friend makes the task of shopping much more bearable.

We rounded up the night with tea at Cedele. Mystic told me that the organic soy milk there is good! I had the Rooibos Tea for I was told that it could help to relieve stress. The cakes were lovely. We ordered the Real Dark Chocolate Cake and the Blueberry Hazelnut Cheesecake. My preference was for the former for I seem to prefer food that has a bittersweet and intense taste. Mystic has such love for food that she took lovely photos of the cakes with lots of care and love. She even helped to cut the cakes with lots of love for the cakes.

I thank Mystic for lending me her company, listening ears, support and encouragement.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Serene Centre: During my Junior College Days

My secondary school's building was previously located fairly near Serene Centre and so I had the pleasure to spend some memorable times there.

In some ways, it was a rather conscious choice for me to eventually study in a Junior College near my secondary school. That probably explains why I still occasionally get to visit Serene Centre during the times when I was a Junior College student.

To get to Serene Centre from my Junior College, I would need to take a bus. Serene Centre is about three bus-stops from my Junior College. I remember visiting Serene Centre several times with one of my friends who was also my classmate back then. The Mac Donalds at Serene Centre was a place where I had spent quite a number of hours studying with my friend.

Honestly, I can't remember what I had studied during those hours spent at the Serene Centre's Mac Donalds. However, I do remember it was the time spent at Serene Centre's Mac Donalds that helped me learn more about what good friendship is about: to be there for one's friends, in good times and bad.

It was those interesting times with friends that made my growing-up years as a Junior College student much more bearable. Those were also the years when I fold countless origami and doodle on most of my lecture notes. I am thankful that I have positive memories of those days thanks to my friends.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The exhibition at the Art House

On 29 Aug 2009, I visited The Art House @ The Old Parliament. There's an exhibition titled "The Dead Sea Scrolls & The Ancient World". This exhibition will be there from 27 Aug 2009 - 20 Sep 2009.

At the exhibition, I get to see the Hebrew Sefer Torah written in Hebrew language, and the Dead Sea Scroll Fragments of Biblical texts. I also learnt about the King James Version Bible and so forth. It was informative to learn about the contributions that Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus, Martin Luther, John Calvin and William Tyndale have made.

The best part I like about the exhibition was that there were guided tour given by the curators. That enabled me to grasp a few key historical ideas in a breeze.

Admission is $20 per adult on weekends.

Official website:

Monday, August 24, 2009

Serene Centre: During my secondary school days

I seem to have an affinity for the Bukit Timah area. My grandmother lives nearby Serene Centre, and my secondary school's premises used to be nearby Serene Centre too.

When I was a teenager, the indoor playground that used to be in the premises of Serene Centre's MacDonald's outlet was replaced by an area whereby people could hold birthday parties. I hope my memory got this right, did I? Anyway, during the teenage years, I won't have any fancy for the indoor playground even if it were to be there.

As mentioned earlier, my secondary school's building used to be located within walking distance from Serene Centre. If one were to take a slow stroll, it should take about 20 minutes or less to reach Serene Centre from my secondary school's building.

I used to be a member of my secondary school's Chinese Orchestra. If I look back, I think there was much enthuasiasm in me and my peers that we would actually take the trouble to go to school even on school holidays just to attend sectionals and orchestral rehearsals. One of the highlights for me during those school holidays was an occasional visit to the Serene Centre's MacDonald's outlet. We had to find a place outside the school-premises for lunch during the school holidays.

You see, during school holidays, none of the stalls in the school-canteen would be in operation. I can't figure out why during the school holidays, the Chinese Orchestra's sectionals had to be in the morning and the orchestral rehearsals in the afternoon. If I remember correctly, sectionals started as early as 9 a.m. Orchestra rehearsals would start by 2 p.m. Between the sectionals and the rehearsals, we would have about an hour or two for lunch. The lack of facilities selling food in school basically meant that we had to travel out of the school for lunch. Other than the nearby chicken-rice stall that used to sit along King's Road, the MacDonald's outlet at Serene Centre was the next popular choice.

Frankly speaking, I have no particular liking for the burgers or the fries. It was the spirit of camaraderie that I could enjoy when going out with my peers from the Chinese Orchestra that made the visits to Serene Centre one of the highlights of my school holidays. Firstly, it was a rare treat. Secondly, the place was one of the few eating-places in the area back then that was air-conditioned and fairly affordable to students. Thirdly, the people who were my companions added colour and fun to the visit and lunch.

Those were some of the memorable days in my life. The friends and folks who were with us during the growing-up years can in many ways make our lives so much more enriched. Thank goodness for peers who were with me during my teenage years.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Read: You are your choices

Recently, I finished reading Alexandra Stoddard's You are your choices. It is my resolution for the year of 2009 to read at least one book per month. I suppose this resolution could be my choice to ensure that my mind gets at least some nourishment for it to grow and to develop.

I personally find the book an inspiring and nerves-calming read. It was a timely read to much extent as I was hoping to learn more about how to make wiser and good choices for myself as I try to live life in a meaningful and joyful way that is true to myself.

I am hoping to read one or two more of her other books if I could get my hands on them.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Read: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

On 18 Jul 2009, I watched the movie Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince with a friend. Subsequently, in the hope to have a better appreciation of the plot to come, and to figure out who on Earth R.A.B is, I borrowed J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows from the library.

It took me a while to read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows as I was initially trying to figure out whom the various characters were. Frankly speaking, I find it much easier to read non-fiction books than fiction books. Nevertheless, it was quite an entertaining read, and I managed to find the answers to my questions.

Monday, August 10, 2009

My first visit to the Night Safari

I have been contemplating to visit the Singapore Night Safari for quite a long while, and I have finally got to doing so on 9 Aug 2009 (Sun). I have the honour to visit the Night Safari with one of my friends.

My body must have been timed to eat dinner at certain hour. While my initial plan was to catch a light snack while watching the Tribal Dance Performance that was to start at 7 p.m., I ended having dinner instead. My thanks to my friend for her treat to dinner.

The Tribal Dance performers enticed the guests with tribal dances, fire-eating and blowpipe demonstrations. I was pretty impressed with the blowpipe demonstrations for I think the marksmanship was great.

For the rest of the blog post, there will be no more photograph to see. I had decided not to take any photograph for the rest of my visit so that I could dedicate my energy to observe and to learn about the nocturnal animals in their various habitats. Furthermore, the Night Safari requests all visitors not to use flash photography. This is for safety reasons as flash photography may blind the nocturnal animals.

During our visit, I was impressed with one gentleman who stepped forward to remind a fellow guests not to use flash photography. Perhaps our society would have been more civic-minded if we each muster the courage to take responsibility and effort to remind gently yet firmly others of the important ground rules to respect?

Back to the Night Safari visit, my friend and I started off with the walking trail. Initially, it took a while for my eyes to accustom themselves to seeing in the dark night. Things got better as my eyes got used to viewing the animals in the dark. We saw animals such as the mousedeer, the otter and the Pangolin.

Interestingly, I had a pleasant surprise to see a photo of one of my ex-classmate when I was reading through the exhibition panels on a research about Pangolin. I found out that the Pangolin have large keratin scales covering their skin. As some Chinese believed that the Pangolin's scales have medicinal properties while others consider Pangolin's meat as a delicacy, the Pangolin have been hunted and their existence have been threatened. The various exhibition panels helped guests like myself gain a better appreciation of conservation issues.

During the visit, I had the privilege to get very close to a Slow Loris. It made movements that were slow and deliberate. Interestingly, I learnt that adorable looking creatures like the Slow Loris actually can produce a venom to use against its enemies.

I also saw porcupines live! It was fascinating to see how the porcupine appears to increase its size visually when it raised its needle-like quills.

After completing the walking trail, my friend and I took the 45 minutes tram ride. This tram ride comes with a live commentary and that greatly enhances our knowledge of the various animals. My thanks to msfeline for her tips and strong recommendations to take the tram ride. The tram ride took guests to parts of the Night Safari which would not be accessible to visitors who took the walking trail. The tram ride allowed guests to see animals such as the lions, the elephants, the Malayan Tapirs and the Flamingoes. I had the privilege to be pretty close to the Malayan Tapirs and a couple of deers while I was on the tram.

One thing that I have learnt from the tram ride was that the striped hyena is a scavenger, but the spotted hyena is a predator. Many thanks to the guide on the tram ride for her well-prepared commentary. Like msfeline had recommended to me, I too agree it will be a great idea to take the tram ride when one visits the Singapore Night Safari. Do check out the walking trails too. The walking trails enable guests to take their own pace to observe the various animals.

For more information on visitors' information, please visit the Night Safari's website: