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We are what we think & my blog entries reflect how I think. Have a sip of the poison of my mind.. It's not always lethal.

Friday, October 28, 2011

My 2011 Birthday Celebration

It's that time of year again when I had to add a +1 to my age - Involuntarily. I had to be dragged kicking & screaming past the dateline that made me older today. I've celebrated my birthday with family, friends & colleagues already before the actual official day, since my official hatch day is reserved for my Lioness, as always.

We started the celebration real early - at 5 plus in the morning, we went to Boon Lay Place for a dim sum and 小碗面 breakfast where we chatted for a couple of hours before heading back home to rest.

We had a mind to go out in the afternoon but it started pouring. So we extended our rest at home. My Lioness had a surprise planned for me for dinner. She does that every year for my birthday, cracking her head for places I've never dined at before. At the rate that we are going, I wonder if we might run out of dining places in this small country by the time I hit 100; unless the rate that they build new dining places surpasses the rate I grow older.

Just like I always do every year, I try to guess the surprise dining places my Lioness wants to bring me to. Based on her clues that I tricked her into letting slip, I guessed she would be bringing me to the Jurong Bird Park area this year. The look on her face told me I was right, even though she tried to side-track the issue.

So she admitted that her plan for the afternoon was to bring me to some place within Jurong Bird Park before dinner where the staffs were supposed to treat me like a king since it's my birthday. The poor girl has already booked and paid for the place but the rain ruined this Plan A of hers. So by the time the rain has subsided enough for us to go out, we had to go straight for dinner. For this year, she brought me to The Village just opposite the Jurong Bird Park over at Jurong Hill.

So the surprise dining place turned out to be Shiu Yakiniku within The Village itself. True that I've never dined here before. Despite the fact that they highlight mainly their Japanese dishes, they have Korean dishes too.

My Lioness knows I love BBQ hotplate food, so she brought me here. I was well prepared; I dieted for the couple of days before this. It's only during occasions like this that I allow myself to indulge in gluttony.

The food here was really not bad at all. When it comes to such food, the marination of the meat determines most of the overall taste and I could feel my taste buds tingle with delight. Still, I prefer Taiwanese BBQ hotplate and I think I can savor those again come March in Taipei, and in cold decent weather too. Yippee \o/

Inside Shiu Yakiniku

The prawning place

After dinner, we went behind the building where the prawn farm is located to have a look-see. Lots of peeps were prawning; something I can't quite understand the 'joys' of. So I came here out of curiosity to see if I would catch anyone having an orgasm the minute a prawn bites just so it might help me to understand why prawning can be such a fun activity for some folks.

No orgasm. Just lots of beer and barbecuing of caught seafood.

A Prawning pool

At El Barrio
And speaking of beer, I was looking for a nice watering hole to hole-up for a mug of after-dinner beer, so after walking around, we found this restaurant-pub called 'El Barrio' situated just behind Shiu Yakiniku. Judging by their menu and the food the guests were having at the central occupied table, El Barrio specializes in Ayam Penyet, a famous Indonesian dish. They even have an extra spicy version and the words 'try if you dare' or something similar written in the menu for it.

I like Ayam Penyet but I had to forgo it this time round and just settle for a mug of Heineken since I came with an already full stomach. I would love to try their Ayam Penyet if I have the chance to go back there again someday.

Well, so that was how we celebrated my birthday this year. Could have done lots more and visited more places if it wasn't for the rain. But we practiced Quality over Quantity, so it was still OK. I'm still wondering how I would have been treated like a king on his birthday if we had been to the place inside the bird park she wanted to bring me to that we have missed, though..

Until next year...

- De Lion Speaks

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Tang Ties The Knot

November Team.

That's the name given to the 'platoon' I was attached to during my National Service in 1995. Our unit is a classified one in the Air Force. Straight after our basic military training, we went to the military School of Transport to get our military driving licenses before being permanently assigned to our unit. We were called 'November Team' because our team was formed in, well, the month of November. Military Rocket Science.

Tang was my team mate and we went through our National Service and reservist trainings together. I said 'was' because most of us in November have already completed our reservist cycles and are no longer liable for any more call-ups. Meaning: we have completed everything for good, done our duty to the nation as citizen soldiers and our batch of November Team is almost already as good as disbanded, what with only 2 or 3 guys left who are still serving, but not for long. They themselves have like just a couple of reservist duties left and that's it.

We have already started to fade into military memory lane as remnants from the past. Boy, what a past it was. We were all at the prime of our youths.

And today, Tang tied the wedding knot with his lovely bride Suz. The wedding dinner was at Hotel Royal Plaza and just like the previous wedding dinners I've attended, I was late again for this one. They usually start at 19:30pm but I've been arriving at around 20:30pm and this time was no exception. Has it become a habitual thing? Beats me.

Anyway, when I arrived, the first person I saw was Tang, all dressed up in his bridegroom's outfit and after poking fun at him, I went into the ballroom to look for my team mates since we were assigned the same table. I had to pass by the pool area outside the ballroom and found myself thinking: "what a lovely place." I like the pool area and the fact that it's just outside the ballroom. The whole place kinda gives the impression that tells you to dine & wine and then go take a relaxing dip. Or simultaneously.

I haven't seen the guys for some time already and it was swell to do so again. Not everybody from our team could make it for the wedding and Hong, Tay and Ding brought their spouses along.

When I saw them and their wives, I couldn't help but be reminded again about how far we've come and how advanced in age we are all getting. The guys still look so young to me though. Could have been the food and water they've been feeding us in camp. Time has stood still for the boys. It was awesome seeing everybody still so young looking since that did help me feel better about myself too.

What denial? We all need a reference point to gauge ourselves and what better gauge is there other than the men who have gone through the prime of your youth with you together during your National Service? So if they still look young, it means I ought to look young too even though admittedly, I'm the oldest guy in the team, yes? Let's just leave it at that, tsk.

All those memories - the sleepless nights, the Rock & Roll & Heavy Metal music, the confinements, the defaulters parades, the partying, our haunted bunks, peeing along the drain outside our bunks at night at a certain camp because we were all afraid of the ghost haunting the toilet there, the FOS duties, the guard duties, the 23:59s, the first parade tasks, the exhaust and engine smells of our military vehicles, the bickerings, the military punishments, the mock rapes performed on mostly Lek, the perspiring and sufferings inside our vehicles during our trainings under the bloody hot as hell sun and the National Day parade duties with Tay all came flooding back when I look at their faces.

And oh, there were also the mini sand storms that engulfed us, the grease, the dirt, the dust and the sand that sticks on your skin, gets in your hair and into your mouth that you learn to ignore. Yup, we know how dirt and sand taste like.

It was awesome despite the military kinks and hiccups here and there.

The lovely couple

Shortly after dinner started, me & my team mates were invited to join Tang & Suz and their family for a series of toasts to the whole ballroom. I was standing just behind Tang and took a First-Person Shooter view of the scene from the stage.

Hong, who is the wise-cracking funniest guy I know, told us to start with a really low pitch shout of 'Yum' that slowly built up in crescendo and pitch before ending with a mighty 'Seng' to complete each series of toasts. The family members of Hong & Suz turned around, looked at us and chuckled. This was the most fun Yum Seng toast I've participated. Everything always takes a fun twist with Hong around.

So since we haven't had enough of the toasting, we did it again back at our table and again, I took a FPS shot of it. I've been having beer all along but this time round, I was toasting with a glass of Martell Blue Label. This was the first time I've tried it and what an awesome smooth liquor Blue Label is. I'm not a liquor guy but this one was just great.

Later, Tang & his bride got on stage to play a little game where he had to grab grapes with his mouth and transfer them to Suz's mouth without using their hands. Unexpectedly, when Tang grabbed the first couple of grapes, he began chewing on them and nodded to Suz while making thumbs-up signs at her to let her know how great they tasted.

Apparently, weddings are hungry business. That was a LMAO moment. After the grapes, they both had to kneel down to go for a bunch of strawberries strung together below the grapes. Through thick & thin, through grapes & strawberries & through the ups & downs, irregardless of height. Wedding vows are hardcore sweetness.

All these while, I've been fleeting around the stage as if I owned the place; standing and kneeling and angling myself to take shots of the couple with my iPhone's camera and Hipstamaticed them. They were great sport, catering to my requests to pose around for me.

After dinner, we went up to the couple's hotel room and I was finding the rooms quite cozy after using my imagination to zap everyone else inside the room out of existence temporarily and studying the ambience and furnishing. The bed looked pretty comfy too and I had to resist diving onto it.

Then Ding did a hilarious thing: apparently, there is this belief that if a virgin jumps on a newly wed couple's bed before they touch it on the night of their wedding, the newly weds will be blessed with fertility and have timely babies. So Ding whipped out his phone, put a picture of his young son on the screen and jumps his phone all over the bed. I think he did that because he believes that everyone of us present, not counting the bridegroom & his bride, are no longer virgins.. Man, he didn't even ask.

We chatted and drank a bit more before calling it a day and leaving the couple to enjoy the remainder of their wedding night alone.

And I cant resist myself here and so, i'm posting the following pic of what I saw on the table in the hotel room:

That must've been the handiwork of 'Colonel' Hong ✔ November Team, you guys are simply awesome. And delightfully hilarious. God bless every single one of you and may Life always treat you and your loved ones kindly.

Now fall in and have an awesome life, guys. Ode to November and cheers to Tang & Suz.

- De Lion Speaks

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Tickets To Korea & Birthdays

At the travel agent:

Me & my Lioness have decided to go to Korea after my dilemma about whether we should go there, or to Europe or America. She's leaning towards Korea and since Korea is on my gotta-visit list too, just as well. Korean dramas had a lot to do with influencing her inclination, why am I not surprised?

When we were in Hakodate in Hokkaido on the night of 25th March, 2010, I made a solemn promise that I will bring my Lioness & myself back to the snow some day again. So going to Korea in January next year will allow me to make good that promise. Might as well fulfill my promise at the place she wants to visit so eagerly. I wonder how many merit points I'll be scoring with my Sweetheart for that.

So today, we went to Hong Thai Travel Services in Chinatown to buy our tour package to Korea since we were quite impressed with their Hokkaido package and their tour guide who took excellent care of us during our trip there last year. I hope the tour guide assigned to our Korea trip this time will be just as great.

The Korean DMZ (Demilitarized Zone - the border between North and South Korea) has always been a must-visit for me. So it's just too bad that the Hong Thai staff who attended to us told me that that place has been banned to tourists since last year. Why? Because some fool of a tourist tried running across the border and got shot to death by the North Korean border guards. The stupid fool has ruined the market and lost his life in the process, bugger that.

I'm seriously pissed with that. That's one wish of mine I gotta scrap off now all thanks to some masochistic suicidal mofo. Anyway, just in case you didn't know already, North and South Korea are still technically at war with each other since no concrete armistice were signed between the two ever since the Korean conflict.

We bought the tour package and will be flying off to Korea on the night of 6 January 2012 on the 23:00pm flight and will be flying back home on the 13th. The temperature there then is projected to be -15 degrees. That's gonna be freaking cold and I gotta make sure to get an additional proper winter coat for my Lioness since she only has one. It pained me to see her wearing the same coat everyday when we were in Hokkaido. Perhaps I'll get an extra one for myself too, we'll see.

And the reason why we have chosen January was because initially, we had a mind to spend Christmas there but the price difference between December, which is a travel peak period, and January is a few hundred dollars per person, ouch. Well, I won't mind spending Christmas at home anyway, we have the Xmas tree at home for standby, which is a lovely thing anyway.

Birthdays celebration with the family:

Right after we bought our tour package, we went over to Bumbu Restaurant at China Square for Thai and Indonesian cuisine with my family to celebrate the birthdays of my brother-in-law, my 2nd sis and myself. My bro-in-law & my birthday is upcoming and today is the official birthday of my 2nd sis.

My 10-years old niece Andrea gave me a birthday present which she wrapped up oh so nicely for me.
*Sniff* So sweet :')
I'll be unwrapping it to see what's in store for me on the actual day of my birthday. This is the 2nd time Andrea has given me a birthday present. Gosh, come to think if it, she must be my youngest fan since she was just 9 >:)

We were having buffet dinner and Bumbu's buffet system is such that we placed our orders with the waiters and waitresses, after which they would bring the dishes to us from the kitchen once they were ready. We just had to sit tight and wait to be served.

And it's difficult to take snapshots of the different dishes together because each cuisine was served in small portions that were snapped up quickly by everyone and there were 9 of us. We were hungry, so I couldn't torture my family by telling them not to dig in until all the dishes have arrived, can I?

Still, I did manage to take a shot for this blog entry but it ain't perfect since one of the dishes you see in the pic had only so much food left on it. Every dish except for a couple were delicious. Loved their fried eggs and omelette.

I just wished they could serve the dishes in bigger portions for bigger tables like ours. Because they didn't, it explains why they always had to hustle back & forth to the kitchen since every dish was obliterated by our many mouths quickly. They could have saved themselves some repeated trips to the kitchen otherwise.

I could tell the waiters and waitresses were kinda stressed out, serving every table with forced smiles while suppressing dormant wrath within themselves like dormant volcanos. Can't blame them for such self-induced torture brought about by their management's decision regarding serving plate sizes.

And right after our dinner, we brought out the cake. 3 candles for 3 wishes for each of us birthday boys & girl. 2nd sis was the one who made her wish first and she accidentally blew out all 3 candles at once. I guess she has strong lungs on her. So we had to relight the other 2.

Happy Birthday to us :)

The ladies heading up to the house
Mum & Andrea then came over to our place to stay for the night. They visited us many times already but this was the very first time they would be staying over. I'm happy because I'm always telling my mum that the doors of our house will always be open to her and finally, she & Andrea had a chance to stay over, even if it was just for a night. Our guest room has always been well-prepared for my mum & family anyway.

And now that my mum & Andrea have had a chance to stay over at our house, our love nest now has a more defined 'Family Flavour'. The next day, the 4 of us, together with my mum-in-law, went over to 店小二 over at Jurong Point for lunch. Oh, and before that, Andrea surprised me by requesting me to make more vlog videos, of which I've stopped doing for some time since I can't stand watching myself talk on camera.

Her request really took me by surprise and I was actually stunned there for awhile before I could answer her that I will see what I can do. Looks like there's at least one person in the world who can actually stand my nonsense.

After we have finished our food, mum got up from her seat and using the pretext that she wanted to look around, she went to the cashier in stealth mode to attempt to pay for the bill. But she couldn't fool past my Scorpionic intuition with her Scorpionic stealth and so, I raced past her and footed the bill myself instead. The whole lunch was over a hundred bucks.

Mum is always having my interest at heart and places her children above herself. It's our turn to take care of her.

I love you, mum.

That night, I walked into my guest room and found myself missing my mum & Andrea badly. There was a lump in my throat that I had to swallow hard..

- De Lion Speaks

Thursday, October 6, 2011

In Memory of Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs has passed away. I'm drinking in his honor now. I'm not the only one grieving for the loss of this genius.

Why Steve, why leave us hanging like this? What's gonna become of the future for Apple and the gadgets we can hold in our hands because of your genius? My best friend whom you have inspired so much is nursing a broken heart and he shed tears for you today.

My iPhone 4 is the first and only Apple gadget I own, but I've never fallen in love with a gadget so much. No other gadget has been that involved with my life as much and closed the distance between the world & myself so much. And that's all thanks to you.

Today is a day of depression and uncertainty for the entire world.

Rest in peace, sir.

- De Lion Speaks

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Some Thoughts About The iPhone 4S

Pardon the Singlish:

Talking about the iPhone 4S with an Oxford-certified top-notch HaXx0r I wouldn't dream of offending. He also happens to be my best friend since childhood. He's a genius, which probably explains why he doesn't use Facebook.

When it comes to the iPhone 4S, they probably added an 'S' behind for good reason. I can't recall who told me that 'S' rhymes with 'ass'.

I suppose the only exception would be if the real 5 takes forever to become available.

The fun continues with a final word of kicks to the groin to add insult to injury.

*Drama Geek Mode Off*

It ain't all bad :) Will the real 5 please stand up & don't take too long to do so, otherwise, I may just recall whoever it was that told me '5' looks almost exactly like an 'S'.

- De Lion Speaks

Sunday, October 2, 2011

QoL Event - Final Day

Today was the final day of the Qualities of Life event at Suntec City. Tomorrow till Tuesday, I'll be enjoying my 2 days off-in-lieu. Was looking forward to that. Besides, my soles needed to rest from 3 straight days of standing around at our booth.

I was supposed to report at 10:45am but got there past 11:10am instead, heh. Had to get a cab too since I woke up late because of the previous night. Since it was a Sunday, we were expecting a better crowd. As things turned out, the crowd flow was just a tad above dismal, pffftt.

Lester was on duty today and since there was a branded goods sale on the 3rd floor by brands like Prada and LV, he & me went over there as we were discussing how we were gonna get belts and wallets but when we got there, we discovered that all they had on sale were ladies handbags and purses.

So much for belts and wallets, what an anti-climax for us guys.

Some boss of some company who was also having a booth at the event came over and talked to Jason about this petition he was organizing to demand compensation from the organizer of the QoL event since sales was bad due to the poor traffic flow.

He was gathering the signatures of as many participating vendors as he could to add more voices to the petition. So Jason & Luke added theirs. I would like to see how that one would turn out later in the day, heh. I couldn't help myself and joked with Jason that he better prepare us all to go on strike.

At Doctor Jason Hwang's talk
Some time during the afternoon, me, Lester, Jane and Luke sat in for a talk regarding nasal care and treatment conducted by Jason Hwang, an ENT (ear, nose and throat) doctor from Gleneagles hospital. Some of the nasal surgery videos he showed us made me cringe a little.

I was fighting off my sleepiness and tried with some effort to focus on the talk and look awake. The doctor struck me as really friendly and amiable and judging by what he said regarding his interactions with his patients, he seems to be a doctor with a great deal of ethics and care for his patients. After the talk, Doctor Hwang came to our booth later and I chatted with him.

Diagonally opposite our booth was the booth of Yun Nam, the company specializing in remedying balding problems. There was only this poor Chinese girl manning the booth all by herself today, unlike during the first day when there was a squad of them around. I wondered how she would be getting her lunch and dinner and so I went over to ask her.

This girl with a gentle demeanor told me she came from China to work here. She told me that I didn't have to worry about her lunch and dinner since she got to eat. I also saw Jerry, my friend and manager of Optopharm who was having a booth opposite Yun Nam's went over to offer the girl some food some time during the day. The poor girl looked kinda stressed out.

When it was near the end of the day for us, our neighbor the dentist decided to pack up and leave before we did and on their way out, his female sales manager who has caused my colleagues to raise their eyebrows told me to keep in touch with her. That caused my colleagues to raise their eyebrows one final time, heh.

The last thing I did before we packed up was me going over to Ayam's booth and buying cans of tuna and sardine for my Lioness and myself since they were on offer. Jason did the same when he saw me coming back with those cans. Before that, it was the fact that I saw Jane coming back with cans of tuna and sardine from Ayam's booth which prompted me to pop over there myself. Situations are usually just a series of a chain of mutually-influential events.

Remember that guy who went around collecting signatures for his petition for compensation by the organizer of this QoL event I mentioned earlier? By the time we packed up, ready to go home, there was no news from him. Ha, so I couldn't help myself again and made a joke to Jason that the guy probably got bribed to shut up about it.

No hanging out for me tonight; I had to go home to rest. I was beat and the soles of both of my feet were kinda sore. Standing at the bus stop waiting for the direct express bus 502 that would take me home straight, a young man approached me to ask for directions to the Esplanade. I asked if he was Japanese and he told me he's Taiwanese.

After giving him the directions, he left towards Esplanade and I suddenly found myself missing Taipei much. I've asked for directions from the Taiwanese when I was there at their turf and this time round, our roles were reversed. The guy gets to enjoy his holiday here while me, the local, had to make my way back home.

Well, at least my 2 days of off-in-lieu I've earned from these 3 days of work at Suntec has already started.

Things today didn't quite end on a jovial note though. After having waited for two 502 buses that were crowded and which I refused to take because it was gonna be a long ride home for me and so, I needed to seat down to rest but there were no empty seats on both buses.

Bus 502 used to be quite empty at the bus stop outside Suntec City because that was the point where it made a loop back the way it came but with the new Marina Bay Sands, it changed its route to cater for the crowd going towards the casino there from Suntec.

So I walked all the way to the bus stop behind Peninsula Plaza to take bus 174 which would take me directly back home too instead. It was quite a walk and with every step that I took, I muttered under my breath curses at the gamblers and the current overpopulation situation. Fuck them and fuck the current situation all brought about by just one thing in essence: greed. We have to endure and suffer because of all these fucking shit..

..and that's not inclusive of those locals who have condoned all these crap. I hope they enjoy what they have asked for. I hope they enjoy squeezing like sardines in packed buses and trains and having to tough it out through long rides (AND standing up) as well as the recent transportation fare hikes in the face of such deteriorating conditions. Or if they drive, I hope they enjoy the ever-increasing magnitude and frequency of traffic jams brought about by us running out of space like rats trapped in a claustrophobic box with 'Rat Race' written all over it.

I sometimes question if some people here have the capability to think ahead and understand the consequences of the things they wish for. The only thing that cheered me up a little was the thought of my 2 days break as I made my long walk to the bus 174 stop with tired feet and sore soles; paying the price of mass masochism.

- De Lion Speaks

Saturday, October 1, 2011

QoL Event - Day 2

Today was the second day of the Qualities of Life event and I made it there on time by direct bus instead of blowing money on a cab, yeehar.

And it seems like I don't have to be so long-winded about this day since the situation today was the same as yesterday's: not enough crowd flow, dismal sales and the continuation of us shooting the breeze. Jace was on duty today and Charmaine & Daxin came by later in the day to visit us (they were off duty) and it was great having them around.

The travel fair
There was a travel fair going on in the exhibition hall next to ours. Since me & my Lioness have planned for an overseas trip in January and I was undecided if we should go to Korea, Europe or the U.S. of A., I popped over to the travel fair and got my hands on travel brochures & free magazines about those 3 places.

Admittedly, looking at the brochures and magazines made me more undecided since there is always something exciting and places worth visiting and experiencing in every country. I was feeling really squeezed: so many places I wanna visit, too little time, limited paid leave days and too much work to commit to..

All these just to make sure I have the funds for my livelihood, funds for my hobbies and funds to go traveling to satisfy my wanderlust and be torn between having to make choices regarding which, among several countries, I should visit with my Lioness because of the lack of time, limited paid leave days and too much work to commit to.

What a lovely vicious cycle :) I like it and am thankful for it; it's great to have choices and the ability to travel once in awhile, thank the good Lord for that.

Lunch today was chicken rice and again, I propped my food up on the display shelves and me & my colleagues munched away with nary a care in the world in front of everyone else.

I came to know the dentist occupying the neighboring booth from ours and his female sales manager came over to chat with me several times. That drew some raised eyebrows from my colleagues, heh. Jane kept insisting that sales manager had the hots for me. Like I said, we had nothing better to do given the dismal crowd situation.

When evening came, I got hungry and helped myself to the last remaining box of chicken rice nobody ate and that reminded Jason that it was already dinner time. So he proceeded to buy dinner for everyone and told me he would get fresh dinner for me since he was feeling guilty I was feeding myself with leftover lunch but I declined his offer. The chicken rice still tasted good and I told Jane who was manning our cash register: "我很容易养的."

Once again, we packed up before 20:00pm and split. Charmaine & Daxin already left some time during the afternoon. When I reached the ground floor of Suntec City, Miss Psychedelic called me up and said she wanted to hang out with me at Tawandang. So we did and took the following pic there showcasing my camaraderie with my buddy:

It's a dangerous thing hanging out with Miss Psychedelic: we always end up going home at a much later time than planned since we always have too many things to chat about. This meeting up with her was no exception. Jason told me I can report at 10:45am tomorrow.

By the time when I thought I would miss the last bus if I still hung around with Miss P at around 23:20pm, I forced myself to tell her I had to split. So she drove me to my bus stop behind Peninsula Plaza and I managed to catch the bus home.

By the time I got home, it was already way past midnight. After I've showered, washed my hair and waited for it to dry before I could hop into bed, I only had a few hours of sleep left before I had to wake up for work at Suntec City again.

Yeah, I was late for work the next day, heh.

- De Lion Speaks