No Smoking in Singapore

That’s probably one of the things I take for granted in Singapore – no smoking.  Every time I go away, I get reminded.  Smoke doesn’t just affect me just coz it doesn’t smell nice.  At best, it gets in my throat and lungs and physically makes me uncomfortable like I can’t breath.  At worst, when my immune system is weak, it actually makes me can’t breath and have an asthma attack!!  Despite the fact that some of the people I love to bits smoke, I’m really not use to it.

So I’m not a happy camper in KL because they smoke indoors.  YES, indoors.  You read me right, they smoke I.N.D.O.O.R.S. here.  Even the French are starting to figure this out and smoke outdoors but here in KL, I can smell smoke in buildings.  I have to say, it drives me slightly crazy and impatient.  Needless to say, most smokers find me rude :p  It is hard to be chippy when I’m nursing a headache and a scratchy throat, like I am right now from being in smoke filled buildings all day.

I’m not saying you can’t smoke but can you please just smoke outside?  It isn’t just a pet peeve, it makes me physically sick.  I’m happy to share space with you if you can share fresh air with me.  Thank you.

KL in the Dragon Year

We’re officially in the year of the Water Dragon and my first work trip is to KL.  It’s not a great week to be away from the office, lots of things happening but we do what we got to do 🙂  Apparently, this year is not good for my health.  I have to take care of it, eat properly and rest well.  That means I have to take more effort with these work trips.  So that means stocking up on water and making sure I eat right … both things I rarely do when I travel for work … glup O_0

That’s the cue for me to go get some water and get into bed early.  Till then, here’s my little Ox Goddaughter reminding me what’s important.  She’s growing so fast and talking so much now.  Miss her and can’t wait to see her next week when I’m back home.  Thank goodness for little people 🙂

Back from Taipei

Taipei is definitely on my list of top 10 favourite cities to live in.  In no particular order, Singapore, Perth, Vancouver, San Francisco, Chicago, Munich, Shanghai, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Taipei.

It’s been a while since I was last in Taipei.  After this trip I’m happy to say, it stays on the list, despite the fact that I didn’t have much time outside of work.  Actually precisely because of that, I know I can live in this city.  It’s easy to get around.  I speak the language.  English is not too foreign and vegetarian food is yummy 🙂

Cost of living is slightly lower than Singapore.  Buses and trains system works as well as it does in Singapore but it’s their architecture that I’m not crazy about.  That’s my one beef with this city.

What’s with the little tiles that only belong in a bathroom covering an ENTIRE apartment building?  I do like retro but there are some design concepts of that time that should stay in the past.  Exterior walls actually any wall other than a bathroom, covered with little tiles are one such concept.  Who wants to live in a building that looks like a toilet?  I guess the Taiwanese do :p

Other than that, I could live in Taipei 🙂  In the past 37 years, I’ve only managed to live in 2 out of those 10 so I can’t really say if the rest are as great as they are in my head.  Nowhere is perfect but I’ve been to each and know there’s enough for me to want to live there if the opportunity ever came up. We’ll see how life goes.

Meanwhile, from my family to yours enjoy the little that is left of the Bunny year and may the year of the Dragon be filled with wonderful fantastical dreams coming true!!


It’s just one week to the new Dragon year and as luck would have in, I’m in Taipei.  Talk about sucking in the mood 🙂  It has been a while since I was back in Taipei.  The weather is not too cold  and I’m planning to make the best of this work trip.  Here’s the view from my room.

Between meetings and work meals, I plan to check out Taipei’s vegetarian buffet.  They’re yumms and it has been a while since I went to one.  Getting hungry just thinking about it.

Meanwhile, hope you’re getting into the Chinese New Year mood as I am here in Taipei, Taiwan.

The Tides Will Change

It’s so hard to think that when you’re going through a hard time.  I’m not that old, all of 36 years but I guess, long enough to know for sure, suffering just like joy does not and will not last forever.  I had a long chat with a friend who just had a miscarriage.  She’s sad.  Her second in less than 6months.  The topic soon covered her sharing stories with me on how she’s actually in a better shape than most people.

She lost her nephew 2 years ago to cancer.  He was but 8 years old and battled a rare form of cancer for 2 years.  Her sister, she told me, understandably, still struggles.

Her good friend lost his daughter a couple of months ago.  She was 13 and taking a walk with her friends.  A guy planning to kill himself ran into her and off a cliff along the Pacific Coastal Road in California.  She died instantly.

Four years ago, her colleague lost her mom, sister and two children in one plane crash.

What is a miscarriage?

And in my case, what’s the big deal about plans not going as planned?

It is so easy to get sucked into our suffering and feel that there’s no hope.  It’s all about perspective.  Granted, it’s something hard to hear when you’re struggling but whining certainly isn’t my style.  Internally, I hear enough of it already … yes, you have no idea what a day is like in my head on some days, so every now and then when I do get a little down, I choose to be happy.  I remember hearing that line somewhere, “when you’re sad, just choose to be happy” and thought, damn, that’s lame … now, I reckon it’s not only possible, it’s true.  One can choose to be happy, some days it’s easier to do and other days, it takes a whole lot of effort.

Today it’s one of those easy days and why I’m writing, it’s for the hard days when even getting out of bed seems hard.  Time will pass and the tides will change, like it has for million of years, it’s not for eternity 🙂  So if you are having a bad day, here’s a little hug from me to you and I hope that gets you through today.  It’s probably Friday the 13th jinx too 😉  Everything will be better tomorrow!!

Parenting is Tough

I was reminded again when I read this article, which I’ve replicated here:-

We all want our kids to have a better life than we did. These days, that’s more challenging than ever before. You’re overwhelmed, your kids are distracted, and schools don’t do a very good job of preparing them for the real working world.

You need to be involved in their education, make sure they get good grades, and send them to a decent college, but that’s all more or less a given. The most important factor in how successful your kids are in their careers comes down to what they learn from you.

Some of it comes from lessons you intentionally teach them, but even more comes from observing what you do. Your behavior may very well have more to do with how well your kids do in the real world than anything else. Here’s what you can do to give them the best chance of making it on their own:

Support what they love to do; don’t push them to do what you want them to do. It’s a common refrain from parents: “I don’t want them to make the same mistakes I made growing up.” Well, you can’t fix your mistakes through them. You’ll only succeed in screwing up their lives as well. Success comes from doing what you love to do, what you’re passionate about, not what you’re forced to do or pushed into doing.

Teach them to take risks. If they succeed it’ll give them confidence, but if they fail they’ll learn even more. Let them make their own mistakes and learn to take responsibility for the outcome. I know it’s hard to watch them try new things and fall on their faces, but to be honest, it’s really important that they get used to that. Don’t coddle them. Hold them accountable. And let them see you do the same. Let them see you as you are: Human, genuine, flawed. (emphasis is mine)

Teach them about the value of money and financial responsibility. If they see you treat money like it grows on trees, they’ll emulate that behavior. If on the other hand you teach them self-reliance, not to expect handouts from anyone, that’ll pay off in the long run. They need to know that their success and happiness depends solely on them.

Let them be kids. Social skills aren’t just important for kids to be kids; they’re critical for adults to be successful in the business world, as well. Sports, friends, relationships, parties, being out and about, it’s all good. Sure, they’ll have accidents, get into fights, and do things you wish they wouldn’t, but if you’re open and encourage them to come to you with their problems, then you can mentor them on how to get along and learn from their mistakes.

Treat them like adults. When children are little, they have giant egos. Growing up is all about learning that the world doesn’t actually revolve around them. For that transition to work, they need to feel safe and confident enough to take chances. You can help that along by giving them information and encouraging them to make their own decisions. Treat them as much like adults as they can handle and makes sense at the time — people don’t learn lessons from hearing them, they learn from living them. (again, emphasis is all mine)

Teach them about competition and team play. One of the great dichotomies in life is that success is very much about competing and winning, which by nature means others have to lose. That said, there are times when an individual is competing and times when it’s a team effort. Knowing the difference is important in the real world, but it’s a nuanced lesson, that’s for sure.

Encourage their natural curiosity. Children have a natural thirst for knowledge and understanding of how things work. Encourage them to seek that out in books, games, puzzles, whatever interests them. But here’s the thing: The modern world of ready-made toys and electronic gadgets is too easy, too spoon-fed, if you will. They’ll learn more by creating and using their imagination.

Teach them self-reliance. The sense of entitlement that’s becoming a national epidemic is success limiting and a career killer. The real business world doesn’t work that way, and the sooner kids learn that, the better. Sure, life is too short not to have fun, but you can’t let them take things for granted, either. Their drive to work hard and succeed has to come from them, and the only way that’s going to happen is if they learn it from you. (one last emphasis)

It’s hard enough to make sure the logistics of managing a family is running smoothly but we do want our children to not only have better lives but be better people than we are.  So when it’s my turn, I’ll try and remember all this.  Meanwhile, my munchkins nephew and nieces will get the brunt of my love 🙂

You so gotta love that cheeky little face of Rachael 🙂

Innocent Crushes

I just found out a friend from HK and I share the same hobby – innocent crushes.  He has as many of them as I do and changes them as quickly too.  The office building crush, the elevator crush, the bus crush, the barista crush, if they have something that is a little of my type, they could be someone I have a crush on.

Why I love crushes?

Well, simply because they never get a chance to go bad 🙂

It’s been a while since my last crush.  I’m going through somewhat of a crush dearth at the moment.  Between work and the holidays, I haven’t had the time to seek out any … is it me or where have all the cuties gone?


If you’re living in Singapore, you know that 2012 is going to be a year for accountability.  At least that’s what the signs point to for me.  I’m talking about the ministerial pay.  Everyone has an opinion about it and at first I thought there’s enough opinions out there already and mine wasn’t any more different.  Then I read this in Today today so this post like most of my others, is to remind me when I forget.  Today it is why I take the democratic voting process so seriously.

I’m sure this article is meant as a balance but seriously, I don’t think any sane and logical person thinks politics is charity work.  Maybe some people do and it’s good to have an article about it … timing though … reading this article made me thing Mr Cheng is a little brown noser who had plans on being a minister but is rethinking his options.  I’m definitely not saying he is one.  It’s just an impression from one article. If I ever got the chance to know him, I’m pretty sure he’s a nice guy who cares both for his family and the country but it’s quotes like “To expect someone to sell his primary residence to enter or stay in politics is an idealism detached from reality”  that simply adds to my initial impression.  No, Mr Cheng, I don’t expect anything out of ordinary of them.  I expect the government be like everyone else sell their primary residence when they have failed to do what I have entrusted them to do on my behalf.  Many Singaporeans every day have to do what they have to, even sell their ONLY homes (mind you, not just primary residence) because they didn’t make the cut at work.

That is exactly why I appreciate PM, the clean wage approach and here’s my personal take on the pay cuts – accountability.  If you work in a big organisation, you have that annual review where your bosses and sometimes your peers give their 2 cents about you.  Your promotion, salary increment, bonuses all hinge on it.  Sometimes it’s fair, sometime it isn’t, sometimes you get lucky and other times you don’t.  The election was just that – the government’s review and by most standards, PM took the results to heart and is moving in the right direction for me.

On being the highest paid government in the world, here’s my bit to my fellow Singaporeans.  The clean wage approach is truly beneficial to the common man.  We don’t have to look at other governments.  Just look at MNCs that pay people well and have all kinds of benefits.  I’ve seen it first hand myself how unnecessary trips are made to chalk up points that the executive uses for personal purposes, entertainment expenses that simply pays for friends and family to enjoy, official car to pick up the family.  In the private sector it’s somewhat accepted but in the public sector, where practical any opportunity for abuse should not exist.  That is why I think Singapore has succeeded, the clean wage approach works with no extra fat that can be abused.

I have no issues for paying people very well in a transparent manner and if they keep delivering, keep increasing the pay and reward them equally.  For me, the private and public sector should be the same in this regard.

My constituency is Bishan-Toa Payoh.  I voted the opposition not because the ministers are paid too well but because I needed the government to understand that anyone that is paid very well has to be equally accountable for mistakes.

I voted for the opposition simply because our highly paid government were not delivering on things that were important to me .  Sure, no where is perfect but I would like to try to make Singapore as perfect as it gets.  Most Singaporeans own homes, have enough to eat, access to education, what else should we complain about?  If this was the 1950s, nothing very much.  A lot has changed and besides the basics, I want to live in a home where people are safe with fair opportunities.  Beyond that I hope that we become a nation where we are compassionate, competition is heathy and empathy is a rule not an exception.  Idealistic?  For sure, but without ideals we, as a society will never progress and be no better than some other democracies that we make light off.  Which brings me to the point of the article about not overplaying the ethos of public sector …  I did say empathy is important to me and should be apparent both in public and even in the private sector … this actually requires a whole other post so I’ll leave it at this.  I am idealistic and want a balanced level headed leadership who dares to make tough decisions with empathy for the every people they are serving.  In my humble opinion, we are not there yet but my vote made its tiny say and we’re on our way 🙂

Post 2011 GE, PM has shown me that his heart is in the right place, moved very specific people, as the leader be willing to take a pay cut and be accountable.  The buck stops has to stop somewhere and it is quite clear that the PM is taking his vocation seriously.  Nothing is perfect, you can’t please everyone and there will always be someone complaining but to me, he has taken the steps in the right direction.

To simple ‘ole me, Singapore is a true democracy at work, that’s why your vote is important and every Singaporean does make a difference.  Whatever your opinion, vote that way.  Don’t just complain and expect someone else to be accountable for your excuses.  Just like the government has to be, so must each citizen.  Talk is cheap, whether in parliament or in your everyday life.

Meanwhile, I’ll keep plodding along, doing my part as we keep evolving as a nation and one day, I hope my home gets as close to my ideal one as humanly possible 🙂

p/s: on a separate note, I actually do know of Singaporeans who cannot afford housing … or like me, can’t find it in myself to pay over a quarter of a million dollars for a resale 3 room HDB flat … that begs the question, if I can’t buy, how can lower income household do it?  So I just wake up every day and keep moving in the right direction.  That’s the best we can do and all I can ask of our leaders, incumbent or otherwise.

Hello There, 2012

December came and went.  Before I knew it, it’s a BRAND NEW YEAR 🙂  Like every new year, I’m hopeful and excited about what the year could possibly bring.

Yes, if you know me, you know I’m a hopeless optimist.  The sun will always shine, my problem in perspective is not a real problem and life is actually good.  That doesn’t mean things don’t get me down and I don’t make mistakes.  For the people who really know me, they know I’ve been sucker punched more than once by life and stumbled with my own life choices.

2011’s main life lesson, it is human nature to get complacent, suffering is the sucker punch life throws at you when you need it the most.  I did say I was a hopeful optimist 😉  It’s a lesson I try and get my head around every year.  And every year, I think I seem to have it figured out but nope, in the past 36 years I’ve yet to have a deep appreciation of why bad things happen to seemingly good people.  I don’t know if I ever will figure it out in my lifetime but I’ve come to realise that big lofty goals aren’t quite my style.  Some time last year, I decided that everyday with everything that I’m faced with, I want to try my best and make decisions from a good and honest place filled with love.  It may not make me the richest or the smartest but I’ve come to realise relationship with people are much more important to me than material possessions.

To the cynic in me, I know I can only say this because I have enough.  In 2012, it’s no different from other years, I hope to continue growing so much so that when the day comes that I do not have enough, I will still be able to do my best and make choices from a good and honest place filled with love.

Hey, no one is perfect and evolution is a daily journey.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I’m a little better today than I was yesterday 🙂

Happy New Year everyone and may it be filled with lots of memories that will keep you warm when you most need them 🙂