Saturday, November 24, 2012

A short breather (part 2)

OK, I will not let my work woes prevent me from life outside of the office and so I will continue blogging. I need to reinforce the idea that it is only a job and it is not worth it...

Well, here is the second installment (first one here) of the highlights of my nine-day trip to Singapore/KL last month.

The food I had during this trip back was not very impressive mainly because it was such a short stay. A notable exception was something I had at the Gardens—the most expensive xiao long bao I have eaten, at close to $13 a pop. It was filled with goose liver and came in a broth of shark's bone cartilage. The strange things we put in our mouths.

 Though I like fine-dining, hawker fare is what I really go for whenever I make the trip back home. And Indian rojak is a dish that is quickly disappearing on the island. It took me quite a while to hunt it down but it was worth the effort. This is something you will NEVER find in Australia.

 I can't help but take this picture. And my bibi is such a good sport too!

 A sobering reminder that regardless of how much Singapore progresses, the island can never escape its nanny-state image, at least not for a long time. Here are the latest samples of the uniquely-Singapore signs and national campaigns. The bottom left picture is a classic WTF example.

 My trip also included a short stay in KL, which also has its own fair share of WTF signs and rules. The sign in the top picture was on the door to a restaurant. I think the middle icon meant to tell people not to bring outside food in but still I had a chuckle. The guard in the bottom picture seemed to be there solely to prevent people from treading on the tiny patch of carpet grass. Ision knew firsthand what it feels like to be shooed away by a grass-guard.

 The famous Petaling Street night market. It was so disappointingly small! As with all night markets, more than 75% of the stalls seemed to be selling the same thing. And in case you are wondering how can one further ruin an already bad LV-fake? I have just the right picture for you.

 A remake of the classic popiah (my favourite food in the world) wrapped in egg as well as in lettuce! And who could pass off an opportunity to savour the famous So Kee BBQ pork? Ision considers it a sacrilege when I remove the fatty bits. I think many would too.

 This is truly a dessert you can only find in Southeast Asia. Creamed durian flesh coated with chocolate with the apt title "Durian Bomb". I thought the two flavours wouldn't go well with each other but I was wrong. If only Ision knows how to appreciate this prickly fruit.

 The top picture features a really small section in a large supermarket. I have a friend who swears by all things pork and I think he would die if he were living in Malaysia. As for the 14 ringgit pack of snacks in the bottom picture, that same bag costs only $2.99 here. Talk about the cost of importing a product! Note: the current exchange rate is 1AUD = 3.2MYR.

 I hope this trend doesn't spread. To me, buying expensive clothes for someone who will only grow out of them in a matter of months is crazy. For that matter, having kids in itself is crazy but that is a separate issue. By the way I have never come across sections in department stores dedicated to designer clothes for kids, this is the first time.

My spoils from my rounds at the shops. I am quite happy with my buys especially the almost knee-length asymmetrical cardigan I got from H&M (third piece from the left—I have been wearing that a lot), a brand that is not available in Australia. It is so hopeless here when it comes to popular foreign labels like H&M, Zara and Topshop.

One of my main reasons for going back home is to spend time with my mum and come Christmas, she is coming over to stay with me for at least a month (yay!). With this one less reason to go back home in the short term, I am not sure when I will next drop by Singapore/KL. Also, there is quite a good variety of Southeast Asian food here in Melbourne city (albeit nothing truly Singaporean) so my food craving doesn't ever get so strong to make me want to go back often (unlike my time living in Sydney). Plus the weather there really gets to me now and I never fail to get heat rashes every time I travel to that region.

But you never know... Jobs in my industry are drying up fast in Melbourne and so I have to consider new locations in my current job applications. My department has just announced that 12 people will be axed before the Christmas break and the current 55-strong team will shrink to 15 by May 2013. All that doom and gloom is predictable in this economic climate but on top of that, I am fighting to not get unfairly dismissed so that I can have my retrenchment package. I am NOT going to let the company get away with denying me my package so easily by just citing petty examples to justify poor work performance. And if I do get fired in the end, I am going to lodge a complaint with Fair Work Australia. Yes, it will get messy and that is why I desperately hope that I do not have to cross that bridge.

Right now for job locations, I am looking mostly at Brisbane (where all the new positions are, not counting Perth) but will not rule out Singapore (and countries even further away) if the job pays well. In the mean time I will continue to enjoy the good spring weather here in Melbourne and hope that the work situation does not deteriorate and further affect my health and well-being.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

A short breather (part 1)

I finally have some time to tidy up the pictures from my recent trip back to Singapore and here is part one of what happened during those nine days.

This is the first time we have flown on business class together on a budget airline (more like a premium economy). For the price, I think it is not too bad food-, seat- and service-wise. This is the meal we got on the plane.

Hmm… Looks like Grindr is working fine in Singapore. And don't let the suburban location I was staying at fool you, it is chock-full of gay boys, just like the rest of this tiny red dot. Looks like I am still pretty popular in my home country.

 My main purpose of the trip was to attend a wedding and it was such an unconventional one (retro-themed). I guess it makes sense seeing the bride has performed in so many wedding gigs that she must be quite sick of traditional weddings. Here are the words of the yet-to-be-composed song I wrote for this special occasion.

 It was my first gate-crashing experience and I must say it is not something I would like to do often. In fact, I think once is quite enough as I really do not see the point of it all. The one we were involved in was considered very mild by local standards apparently.

 The mandatory family get-together. We used a Groupon thing which I paid $100 for a 4-person deal that was supposed to cost nearly $160. As there were five of us, one person had to pay full price and guess what? The full price was $25! Bloody hell! I have heard a lot of horror stories with this Groupon thing but I never thought it would happen to me! The dim sum a-la-carte buffet we had was good though and Ision will never pass up an opportunity at dim sum so no complaints from him!

 As a tourist, visiting new local attractions is a must. So Gardens by the Bay was one of my stops. I was there with my mother and Ision on this hellishly-hot day. Poor boo couldn't take it and left before it got cooler. This is the view from inside the two conservatories. I really like the one called "Cloud Forest". The air-conditioned environment with the lush tropical greenery all around was really a refreshing experience! I feel that the Halloween theme (bottom picture) of the second conservatory called "Flower Dome" spoilt the whole environment though..

 As expected, there would be lots of rare plant species that will never see the light of day once out of the conservatories. These were just a handful of the numerous pictures I snapped of the exotic delights.

 More unusual flora. I know Singaporeans are stingy and I understand their reason for not wanting to go to this attraction because of the "hefty" admission fee of $20 to both conservatories. But I really think everyone should give this place a go.

 Thanks to the hardworking cheap foreign labour, we have this amazing attraction. In fact we should thank these workers for the entire country as it was them who helped transform a marshy fishing village into the high-tech concrete jungle we have today in just several short decades.

The eight-storey tall indoor waterfall in the "Cloud Forest" conservatory. The entire site has been built with a state-of-the-art sustainable design and I was pretty impressed with it. But I still think the resources it takes to air-condition such large spaces in a tropical country must surely be rather environmentally-unfriendly!

 My mum really enjoyed her time at the Gardens. This was a shot atop the Skyway where we were only allowed 30 minutes on. However we dragged it out by evading the "authorities" from dusk all the way to night time so we could experience views in different light. What can I say, we are rebels!

 The Gardens at night captured by my crappy camera. Well you get the picture. All in all it was a good day but what made it super was I got to spend it with my mum.

I am still in the process of tidying up the rest of the pictures and selecting the more interesting ones to blog. I will post the rest next week. See you then.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Musical journey (29)

In my recent trip back to Singapore to attend my dear friend's wedding, I intended to go on stage to perform a piece that I have written for the occasion but hesitated because there is no tune to it, just words. I finished the lyrics a long time ago but just did not have the inspiration and energy (especially with all the woes at work I have been facing all these months) to put a tune to it that is up to my standards. But even though it is essentially a poem, the emotions I want to convey in it are still are as strong, as real and as valid. In this month's musical journey, I shall share with you the words to the song with the hope that someone would help me add a nice tune to it.

To my dear dear friend, thanks for an amazing (and non-traditional) wedding. A roller-coaster ride of a journey now lies ahead of you but don't worry as love will be by your side all the way. Love from all of us.


/ 词 : 锦泉

有了爱, 世界才会完美
用心爱, 明天不再漆黑
唯有爱, 让我们不断往前推
没有爱, 拥有一切也无所谓

因为爱, 你不再掉眼泪
所以爱, 缠绕在你周围
为了爱, 尝尽酸甜苦辣滋味
你的爱, 找到能栖息的双臂

你面前的路, 纵然崎岖但不再孤独
他会用一生, 换取你每分每秒的幸福
让爱的幼苗, 在你细心灌溉下长成树
今天的祝福, 来自我内心最真最深处

为了这一天, 我可是等了好久好久
今夜你的脸, 让我不再有任何要求
你所给的爱, 不单潇洒也毫无保留
但从今以后, 换他来爱你直到永久

为了这一天, 我可是等了好久好久
今夜的美莲, 让我不再有任何要求
你所给的爱, 不单潇洒也毫无保留
但从今以后, 换他来爱你直到永久


Only with love, the world can be perfect
Only through loving, we can chase darkness away from tomorrow
And love is the only thing that can keep us pushing ahead
Without love, it does not matter if you have everything else

Because of love, you no longer weep
And so love surrounds and protects you
For love, you have tasted both the sweet and the bitter
And now your love has finally found a shoulder to rest on

The road ahead of you though bumpy will no longer be lonely
He will use all of his might to fill every single second of your life with bliss
Let the young shoots of love grow into a tree under your care
My blessing for you today comes from the truest depths of my heart

I have waited so long for this day to arrive
With the look on your face tonight, I have nothing more to ask for
The love you have given has always been unreserved
But from now for a change, let him love you forever

PS: When I get the time, I will tidy up the pictures I took during my short vacation and post them here.