Monday, July 26, 2010

Remembering my roots...

I am often reminded that the best way to move forward in life is to call on my roots and to draw strength from my family and the generations past.

My grandparents from both sides of the family are immigrants to Singapore. I cannot imagine the sacrifices they have had to make in leaving their birth countries and giving it a good go in a foreign land. Their desperation and staunch determination for a better life would be the key drivers for this decision. Today, I know exactly how I have come to acquire those traits that have and will continue to see me through the waves of life. To them, I am eternally grateful.

Growing up as an only child, my parents ensured that I was harnessed with skills for survival in the big-bad-world beyond their 3 room HDB flat and imposed just enough constraints to ensure that I did not stray too far.

Assuring me of their support and acceptance in all the decisions I have chosen even if they don't agree with some of them must have been tough and necessary because they understand the need for me to make my own mistakes. Afterall, I am just as stubborn as they are!

Looking back on the holiday back to the country of my birth makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

I am full of admiration for my parents because they are constantly evolving and do not conform to the societal pressures, one bit.

Their beginnings like most people are very humble. They bought a HDB that they could afford and paid for it up front back in 1978 (no mortgage!) and decided to stop at one hence they were able to retire very early in life (one of the advantages of having a child).

This trip has been one of the best because we did not have a single argument (miracle!), listened without judgement and displayed actions that demonstrated love and full acceptance.

Even though we are a family separated by geographical locations, we continue to communicate weekly and I am grateful to have the means to spend time with them annually.

I am who I am because of them and the generations past. Their life experiences have given me the convictions required to move forward everytime I am being pushed back and to stand up tall everytime I am being knocked down. Thank you.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Post Holiday Blues

It's the same old sinking holiday blues! Getting back into reality mode has not been easy especially when:

  • the entire home shakes when the husband coughs like there's no tomorrow
  • one feels uninspired at the supermarket for the weekly grocery shopping
  • one is unable to sleep due to being overwhelmed with work deadlines
  • no one will fold and iron the clean laundry
  • the alarm clock rings its head off at 6:15am
  • one has to put up with 'slow' public transport 
  • etc etc
On the flip side:
  • I enjoyed the holiday - giving back to myself and to those who matter to me
  • I have a secure career with variety that sustains my lifestyle and enables me to keep planning for holidays
  • I understand what a truely bless and varied life I lead

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Review: TWG, Orchard Ion Singapore

(Photo Supplied by TWG)

This is one place that will draw your attention when you eyes descends upon it. It's gorgeous and oh-so-chic!

The attentive staff dressed in their all whites patiently answers all questions pertaining to the extensive tea menu which spans some 8 pages (if my memory serves me right) and the cakes cabinet just makes me wish I had a hugh belly to stomach all in.

Tea is served in an elaborate gold pot with exquisite fine bone china. When we were there, the music was a tat too loud for conversation but the tea and especially the delectable macaroons made everything right.

The Macaroons are absolutely to-die-for. Give yourself a treat at TWG!

Review: The Marmalade Pantry, Orchard Ion Singapore

One of the simplest pleasures in life when sharing an afternoon with one's best friend is without a doubt, High Tea.

We decided to check out this hip, modern and minimalistically decorated restarant located on the third level of one of Singapore's newest shopping malls.

We were greeted with gorgeous looking cupcakes covered with glass domes as we walked into the precinct and were seated in a lovely spot where we could people watch all day.

We decided with the High Tea menu which gave us the option to pick two cup cakes and it also comes with sandwiches, scones and choice of hot beverage.

The "Elvis" cup cake which I picked was RICH and oh-so-yummy and the "Apple" cup cake selected by my companion was what you would expect from an apple cup cake.

The sandwiches were petite and absolutely divine. The scones on the other hand were more like rock cakes and desperately dry.

Would I go there again? Probably not because there are so many choices in Singapore when it comes to dinning.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Eatery Review: Overeasy at One Fullerton Singapore

My annual cousins' get together was held last night at Overeasy located at One Fullerton in Singapore.

This is located in a gorgeous location flanked by Marina Bay Sands, Marina Esplanade and the Fullerton. This is the main reason why this restaurant / bar was selected for our gathering.

Besides the brilliant views and wonderful company, Overeasy was a disappointment from an eatery point of view.

The service was appallingly slow and the waitress was absolutely ignorant about the menu (granted it was her first day and evidently she wasn't given any training and her inexperience showed because she had no idea what the soup of the day /  burger of the month + what it came with / the "to-die-for" buger was, etc etc).

The quality of food was nothing to rave about either. Jared and another cousin ordered the " to-die-for" burger and both likens the Hungry Jack's Whopper is better than it! MY-OH-MY!

In conclusion, I will not be back there for the food or drinks and would preferring walking along One Fullerton to enjoy the view and go elsewhere for a good feed!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Hotel Review: Furama River Centre, Singapore

There are two Furama Hotels in Singapore. One is located along Havelock Road and the other, which we are currently staying at is located on Eu Tong Sen Street in Chinatown.

We are staying here for five nights due to Jared's work commitments and it was organised by the company based in Singapore so we have no other choice.

Initially, I was rather apprehensive about this establishment due to the conflicting feedback on tripadvisor. However, on this occassion, I am please to be somewhat proven wrong.

What works

1. Location Location Location
It's right in the middle of Chinatown and Clark Quay with two MRT stations within 5 mins walk making it very handy to get anywhere on this island.

2. Prompt service by hotel staff
As soon as we arrived at the hotel, a staff member greeted us - took our bag - lead us to the reception area. When the reception staff learnt that Jared was booked under a special reservation for business, we were primptly led to a private area where we were seated across the staff who processed the accommodation. Despite the official check in time of 2:00pm, we were given an upgrade to a King Size bed on the executive level at 1:00pm.

3. Room is quiet, spacious and clean
We are staying on the 17th level and our room does not face Eu Tong Sen Street hence it is quiet. The room is spacious and the bathroom, generous.

What does not work

1. Level 6 - stinks, literally
This is the level that hotel guests have to walk through to get to the pool and we believe this is the smoking floor (even though it is a non-smoking hotel).

2. Breakfast Buffet is very average
The quality and range of food is average. The selection of cereals and fruits, rather basic and the buffet caters to the Asian taste buds (stir fry vegetables, fried rice, stir-fry vermicelli noodles, beef bacon, chinese congee) more so than western. I find myself sticking to toast and jam with an egg done sunny side up!

3. The outdoor Jacuzzi fizzles
Located next to the small and refreshing waters of the swimming pool, the jacuzzi fizzles with lack lustre jets.

Tips for Travellers
  • Request for an upgrade to a King Size bed (for spacious room on a higher floor), away from the lift lobby and that it faces away from Eu Tong Sen street (if you desire a restful and quiet night's rest).

  • Have breakfast elsewhere.

  • This is a good hotel without paying top dollar (our rate is SG$170 +++) and it's location is good - room rates in Singapore are exhorbitantly high.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Singapore: My personal Recommendations

This time next week, I will be back in the familiar surrounds of the office and like holidays past, it will be as if I'd never left.

With that in mind, here's my take on what's been "worth checking out" in the 13 days I've been here so far:

  • For unique and good quality accessories, check out Mimco (an Australian Company) at Orchard Ion. I bought a stunning piece of chunky necklace yesterday. The normal retail price is S$430 and I bought it for S$199

  • For good quality sandwiches with delicious fillings, check out Cedele at Raffles City Shopping Centre (they have several branches and this is the only one I went to) and The Marmalade Pantry at Orchard Ion

  • For a stunning view of this island city with glimpses of Malaysia and Indonesia, you cannot go wrong with the Skypark at Marina Bay Sands. Priced at S$20 per person, it is well worth the visit. Bring along a bottle of water, wear a hat or carry an umbrella,  to shield the sun rays off your face

  • For yummy and uniquely flavoured ice-creams (e.g. Mao Shan Wang aka top quality durian, Lychee Martini), check out Udders at Holland Village or West Mall

  • For those who crave for a bit of adrenalin thrill, check out Universal Studios on Sentosa Island. It's on a small scale hence one can never get lost and because they limit the number of visitors to this theme park each day, one never has to queue up too long for rides / shows. Well worth a visit to form your own opinion

  • For shopping centres that carry a good variety of labels, you will not be disappointed with Orchard Ion, Ngee Ann City and Vivocity

  • For delicious Nasi Padang in the comforts of air-conditioning, check out the stall at Food Republic at 313@Somerset

  • For a good variety of local cuisines outdoors, check out Lau Pa Sat

Monday, July 12, 2010

Cedele: My 'Saving Grace' in Singapore

After my previous post about the over-sensory of food sights, smells and tastes, I found my 'saving grace' yesterday in the form of Cedele located at Raffles City.

It's a quaint little cafe that packs a lot of variety - they have a great selection of baked breads, sandwich filings, delicious cakes on display, soups, etc. What a gem of a find!

I have a bowl of Clam Chowder which was creamy and flavoursome + a sandwich of smoked turkey with mayoonaise, cranberry jam, lettuce and tomato. A smile was permanently plastered on my face from the moment I drank the soup and bit into the sandwich.

That will certainly not be my first visit and I intend on heading again in the next few days for another 'balance' to my palate!

*** After that taste balance which brought my palate back to basic, I had an enjoyable evening with friends over delicious Balinese Cuisine for dinner!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Taking a break from Food

Food is one of the ways in which affection, culture, nourishment and togetherness is being conveyed. It comes as no surprise that whenever we are back on the island, we are indulged to the max. Today's our 9th day and I am officially raising the white flag at dinner time. The mere mention of food suggestions from mum sends shivers down my spine!

Allow me to share with you what we've had so far:
  • Nasi Padang (Malay cuisine with dish choices)
  • Ice Kachang
  • International Buffet
  • Japanese Bento Box with a large variety of sashimi, tempura, etc
  • Assam Fish and Prawns with pineapple
  • Crispy noodles topped with seafood
  • Lamb chops with three types of vegetables
  • Sticky Honey Chicken Wings
  • Mee Siam
  • Kaya Toast with soft boiled eggs (typical b'fast meal)
  • BBQ Chicken Wings
  • Mao Shan Wang Ice-cream from Udders (pungent durian ice-cream)
  • North Indian Food
  • Won Tan Noodles
  • Mango sago dessert
  • Mango, pomelo and coconut dessert
  • Lychee and Martini Ice-cream
  • Stir-fry rice vermicelli noodles with soft shell crab
  • Thai Mango Salad
I am officially sick of food and detests coming across as being ungrateful. However, my taste buds, tummy, nostrils and eyes need a break from all the food! It's very overwhelming - everywhere one goes, be it on public transport or walking from point A to point B, different food smells permeates through the air and some combinations are lethal! hahahahaha

Welcome to the land of feasting. Singapore.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Singapore so far...

Today marks our 7th day in Singapore and much of our time has been spent with my parents. It has been great so far catching up with them, living with them and tucking into mum's home cooking!

I admire my parents on so many levels. They lead exciting and full lives, always putting others before themselves and are very giving and generous.

What have we done so far?

Orchard Road
We did a quick walk around in the new shopping malls and have come to the following conclusions:
  • There are way too many shopping centres located on Orchard Road
  • There's no point of difference in all the shopping centres as the same brand of retail stores keep popping up
  • Orchard Ion feels too claustrophobic and I prefer 313@Somerset
  • How many more 'Food Republic' Food Courts does Orchard Road require?!
Marina Bay Sands
I have shared my personal views on this establishment via my facebook profile

Resorts World Sentosa
Great destination for the family. Easy to navigate and oh-so-cheap to get to. $3 flat rate on the monorail from Vivo to Sentosa and back!

Universal Studios Singapore
I am glad we bought advanced tickets for this because it's practically sold out every single day. As compared to Universal Studios in LA, this is certainly much much smaller. However, that makes it incredibly easy to walk around - one cannot get lost, ever! Despite two roller coaster rides not in operation (which was very disappointing), we spent 6 hours exploring the park - going on 'The Mummy' Roller Coaster ride (twice), watched numerous shows (4D Shrek was brilliant), had a very cheap and yummy lunch at St Louis' and the many retail stores offer merchandise to suit everyone - we love the mugs and only bought 2 because of its weight!

Vivo Shopping Centre
I still love this shopping centre - it has everything I want and is only 20 minutes on the bus from my parents' home. They even have my favourite HK dessert - Honeymoon Desserts!

Shopping Update
So far, I have not bought anything other than the mugs from Universal Studios and a large bag of pop corn from Garretts for my parents.

I am disappointed with the quality of sales I have seen so far - a lot of 'junk' is being put out. For example, Zara. What's with the bad quality? I was so disappointed and asked a sales associate where the non-sale items are. They were just as blah! Oh well, at least I have not burnt a hole in my pocket!

What's happening today (Thurs)?
We will be heading to Marche for lunch before going our separate ways for a few hours. Jared will be checking out the sales at the numerous helicopter shops and I will be heading to Paragon and Tangs before heading back to my parents for dinner. (As we will be staying elsewhere next week, we are capitalising on our time with them as they work full time)

What's happening tomorrow (Fri)?
  • Quick lunch catch up with my dear friend of 25 years
  • Tea and catch up with another dear friend
  • Movie (the most recent Twilight) and dinner with my friend and our husbands
What's happening the day after tomorrow (Sat)?
  • Catch up with my ailing 84 year old grandmother
  • Dinner with 4 friends over Indonesian Food (Jared's favourite cuisine)
What's happening on Sunday?
  • Leisurely day with mum since dad's working
  • Pack our bags because we'll be moving to the hotel on Monday due to Jared's work commitments

Thursday, July 1, 2010

1 more day...'s 11:05am on Thursday and this time tomorrow, I will be on the aeroplane for an hour bound for the Lion City. What will I be doing? Most likely, watching my first movie - having a drink - not thinking about work (at all) - having the occassional chat with Jared, etc. It will be wonderful, I can feel it in my bones already!

Back to reality, I am in the office finishing up a few projects with the intention of leaving it all behind at 4:00pm. On my home way, I will head to the supermarket to pick up a few provisions for my parents at their request and then heading home to pack the luggage, cook the final dinner (for the next 19 days), clean the kitchen, ring for a taxi to take up to the airport tomorrow and hopefully, sleep without too much trouble!