Monthly Archives: April 2009

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My Carbless Diet

To the amazement of some people around me, I have been on a carbless diet since a few weeks ago.

Now, don’t start to lecture me why a carbless diet is unhealthy. No diet is ever 100% healthy. Each individual has their own requirements when it comes to their nutrient intake, so you have to experiment and find one that is suitable for you.

For me, it’s carbless. And lots of vegetables and meats.

Grocery 090405

This is my latest grocery collection for the week. Since I started on my new diet, I find joy in buying, preparing and cooking three meals a day!

Meat & Vege – Always ensure that you have a proportion of 1:2 for meat:vege. That way, you’ll have just enough protein and fat (from meat) and have enough goodness of vege to counter any “meat overdose”

Meat – Unlike most people, I have equal preference between red meat and white meat. I like chicken breast, lean beef, seafood (I take them in controlled quantity). As far as possible I try not to get the minced variety, though at times they do seem to be cheaper.

Vege – Here’s where I can go wild. I take an almost equal amount of leafy and non-leafy types. I am impartial to most leafy vege, though I do seem to be inclined towards rocket leaves (they are expensive though), kailan and lettuce*. For the non-leafy ones, I go for mushrooms (they help the flavour a lot), soy bean sprout, celery, red/yellow peppers and baby corns. As you may realised, with this combination of vege, my meals are usually colourful, and that helps my appetite!

Lunch 090325

Eggs – they say eggs are a good source of protein, and I agree. But unless you are going for a muscle-building spree, a diet of 8-eggs a day will probably harm you more than it’s helping. I go for a balance, with vege in every meal. One meal will be egg-based, and two meals will be meat-based. The healthiest way to cook eggs is simply to hard boil it, but I would often succumb to the fried variety. Which brings me to…

Oil – In many instances, one teaspoon of oil is sufficient for cooking. Most of your ingredients, especially the meat, exudes their own natural juice to keep your meal from being burnt from cooking. If you need to use oil, go for olive oil. They are four times more expensive than your normal oil, but you should be using it in moderation anyway. Alternatively, your choice of oil can function as seasoning as well, which is my next point.

Seasoning – In all my meals, I refrain from using MSG, stock or anything processed. For flavour, I tend to use sesame oil. In small quantity, it is enough to help you stir fry your food, and to give it taste. Just be careful not to overheat your sesame oil, or else it will dry up and “burn” in your wok. Other alternatives I have tried to great success are tumeric powder, curry leaves, and sliced ginger. Occasionally I do use a sprinkle of salt if ingredients in my fridge is running low.

Processed Food – Contrary to popular beliefs, not all processed food is bad for health. You need to choose wisely. I go for canned button mushrooms (I don’t think there is a “fresh” variety) and tune chunks (there is a FairPrice type in which the chunks are in water, not oil). Even so, don’t substitute fresh produce with canned meat/vege. Personally I impose a 20% limit for canned meat. In cooking 10 meals, I allow myself to use canned meat for two meals. The other eight must be based on freshly cut meat.

Drinks – Of course the best option for drinks will be plain water. But I simply could not give up the freshness of orange juice. In particular, I like the Sunkist 2-litre bottle. Recently I found a FairPrice bottle of the same amount but S$2 cheaper.

To stick to this diet, the only hard parts are to wake up early in the morning to prepare and cook three meals every day, and to go to supermarket early on Sunday morning to shop. Other than that, you’ll be amazed how easy it is to control your diet and watch your waistline shrinking. It is very economical too. A week worth of groceries should not cost you more than S$50.

It is a long process, and it should be implemented together with an exercise regime and adequate rest. I am not perfect (my alcohol indulgence and erractic sleep pattern are to be blamed), but since I started this regime three weeks ago, I have lost two kgs. A little something to rejoice about? Heh.

Want to see what kind of meals I cook every day? Check out my food porn blog, heh!

What kind of diet are you on?

* A word about lettuce. They are about the most economical, healthy and easy-going vege you can have with your meals. Just put anything you cook on a bed of lettuce for that meat vs. vege balance. S$1.20 should get you a big pack from any NTUC.

A Journey with Shafik

My journey with Shafik started years ago… on a specific night dated 19th April 2005. He was only17 back then. We met because of a “common purpose” which (I think he will agree) I shall not repeat here.

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Yes, I know, he is a skinny little fella, isn’t he?

Fast forward a little, and there was my surprise 26th party organised by him and a few others… one whole month in advance. I mean, how can I not be surprised?

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End of 2005, when we paid a Raya visit to a certain someone’s house. This is my favourite pic of him. Of course, nowadays he looks nothing like that skinny fella he was before.

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For some reasons, I can’t find any photos of him and I taken in 2006. Whatever happened? Ah… that was the year I was working as a conference producer, when life was a nutcase of stress and late nights and… anyway. Fast forward to end of 2007, when we have our own Christmas party at my old place.

Shafik, Cheryl & I

Yes, I know, right. Such a big difference. But to me, he was still my skinny little fella.

Soon it was time to say goodbye to 2007 and welcome 2008. Of which we spent together at some countdown party at VivoCity.

Dinner @ Breeks, HarborFront Centre

Over the years, we went out together many, many times. Cheryl, Shafik and I spent many evenings together, like this one, when we laughed our collective assess off at Kumar’s show at Hard Rock Cafe.

The trio - Shafik, Cheryl & I

Being the party animal that I am, I threw a good many gatherings at my place. Every single time, I will invite him and Cheryl to attend. There was only one party they missed out, and that was because of a certain someone too… anyway! This one was at the housewarming party of my current place.

Shafik and I

As if I can’t get enough of him *puke*, I got Shafik working with as an intern in my company. No, not as an office boy – I have more respect for him than that! – but as a graphic designer. In which he excelled at. And, from what I told him, he got a perfect GPA mostly because of his internship with him. I am still looking forward to my big thank-you treat.

The Family Portrait

Shafik is always the epitome of style and consistently dress better than me… even when we were in costume. Like this Halloween party last year.

Shafik & I

But, nevermind. Despite that he always stole my limelight from me whenever we were out together, we still go out every now and then. He needs someone matured like me to keep him in check. Hur.

Shafik & I

Together with Cheryl, we even took oversea trip together. Singular. Yes, only once, and that’s only to KL. I am a lone traveler, and I can’t imagine going on a trip in a group, and it’s a miracle that we didn’t kill each other during our trip. Maybe the copious amount of alcohol helped.

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As we all grew older, we started to be nicer to each other. Birthdays were remembered, MSN conversations were meaningful, hugs and kisses were heartfelt. Like the time we pulled out all stops to throw the celebration of birthday celebration for Cheryl’s 2xth birthday. All black-tie and poshness and wine and steaks. We looked the part, didn’t we?

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Without meaning to, Shafik (together with Cheryl) started to impose his presence on many major milestones in my life. I didn’t really mind… they always beautify the photos I took in commemorating those events. Like at this time, when I was flying off for my winter holiday end of last year.

Camwhoring in the lift

And suddenly, Shafik turned 21. No longer a kid. An adult. Legal to do many things. I shudder to think of the possibilities. His possibilities. LOL.

As I look back at the past four years, I felt a mix of emotion for him. Sense of pride to see the man he is today. Tokens of gratitude thinking back to the time when he was there when I needed someone. Tingles of excitement when we were out sharing a jug, a joke, a smoke (not!).

Shafik's 21st Birthday Celebration Night Out

People come, people go. That’s a fact of life. Only a few significant ones will leave permanent marks in your life. That’s also a fact of life.

Shafik has left his in mine. This post is dedicated to him as he celebrates his adulthood. Thank you, brother, for your unconditional friendship and unreserved love. Friends are forever, eh?

Happy 21st birthday. Let’s hope we won’t kill each other in Seoul!

P.S.: In case you haven’t realise, many of the things I said in this post were meant to be cheeky! Go figure out which is which, hehe.

Winter Holiday 2008 – Istanbul, Santorini, Athens & London

I can’t believe it. I am done. Done with 22 days worth of blog posts for the holiday of a lifetime.

If you are reading this and wondered why my blogging has kinda taken a back seat recently – now you know. I am still blogging, but backdated. To document my 22 days journey to Istanbul, Santorini, Athens and London in December 2008. It took much longer than expected, what’s with literally 1000+ photos and memories of all the places I have visited.

But blog I did. And it is with great pride that I share with you my story of the holiday of a lifetime. Please show your appreciation for my hardwork by leaving comments! :D

Istanbul, Turkey (12th Dec 2008 ~ 19 Dec 2008)

The View of Bosphorus Straits... and the Black Sea in the distance

Day 1 (12th Dec)
Departure from Singapore. Spent the night with the lovely Cheryl and adorable Shafik.

Day 2 (13th Dec)
First day in Istanbul. Checked in to Bahaus Guesthouse (my backpacker accommodation of choice) before venturing aroun Sultanahmet area on my own, since Liping will arrive only in the evening. Night time was spent traipsing around the backpackers street.

Day 3 (14th Dec)
Second day in Istanbul. Visited the various famous landmarks: Aya Sofya, Blue Mosque, Arasta Bazaar, Hippodrome and Basilica Cistern, among others. Spent the night at the backpackers street again.

Day 4 (15th Dec)
Third day in Istanbul. Visited the extremely-touty Grand Bazaar, had my first Turkish bath experience at Cemberlitas Hamam, walked across the Golden Horn via Galata Bridge to visit Istiklal Cadessi. Spent the night having an aboslutely fabulous (if a little pricey) dinner.

Day 5 (16th Dec)
Fourth day in Istanbul. Spent the day doing an excursion to the lesser known Western District, and visited Mihrimah Sultan Camii, Chora Church, Sultan Selim Cami, Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarchate and Church of St Stephen of the Bulgars. Had the infamous “balik” (fish) sandwich along the Golden Horn.

Day 6 (17th Dec)
Fifth day in Istanbul. Spent most of the day at the HUGE Topkapi Palace, one of the most important Islamic Empire historic site in the world. The place easily takes up to six hours to explore fully. We didn’t, as we also took a ferry ride to the Asian side of Istanbul, to the town of Uskudar.

Day 7 (18th Dec)
Sixth day in Istanbul. It had been a tiring five days for us in Istanbul so far, so we did something a little different and took the Bosphorus Straits Cruise. The Cruisie ended at Anadolu Kavagi, where we hiked up to a fortress and saw, for the first time in my life, the Black Sea.

Day 8 (19th Dec)
Seventh, and the last day in Istanbul. We covered the last attraction spot of Istanbul and made a trip to the Princes’ Island. Got to know a Brazilian chap, Jose, together with whom we made an awesome threesome for the excursion. Spent the day ferrying from island to island, before spending the early part of the night at Galata Tower and Istiklal Cadessi, and finally a wild night of partying at Bahaus Guesthouse with fellow backpackers. They were awesome!

Full set of Istanbul blog posts here, full set of Istanbul photos here.

Santorini, Greece (20th Dec 2008 ~ 23rd Dec 2008)

Sunset at Fira

Day 9 (20th Dec)
Enroute to Santorini, where our flight from Istanbul to Athens was delayed, and hence we missed the connecting flight to Santorini. Had to take an evening flight instead, which was also delayed! By the time we checked in to Hotel Antonio (which was GREAT, by the way), it was past 10 p.m. We were dead tired, but still managed to check out the nightlife of Santorini. Good thing we did, because the town of Fira was alive only that particular night while we were there!

Day 10 (21st Dec)
Santorini Day 1 – Liping and I rented a car for a land excursion around the beautiful island of Santorini. Visited a number of places, such as the Perivolos Beach (a black sand beach), Akrotini (ancient city site), Red Beach (where I sang my heart out) and our first visit to Oia. Oia is so beautiful that I could cry.

Day 11 (22nd Dec)
Santorini Day 2 – Walked around the main town of Fira, where we stayed, before hitting the road to explore Kamari and Ancient Thira. Ended up at Oia again in the hope of catching a true Santorinian sunset (no such luck), but some interesting experiences awaited us instead. Involving an ancient wood heater and a bookshop.

Day 12 (23rd Dec)
Santorini Day 3 – Our last day on this beautiful island. We remained at Fira, where we finally, finally caught a heartbreakingly beautiful sunset, and got to know a friendly (and potentially stray) dog which we named Raki. We left for Athens the very same night.

Full set of Santorini blog posts here, full set of Santorini photos here.

Athens, Greece (24th Dec 2008 ~ 28th Dec 2008)

The Acropolis: A View of Lykavittos from Acropolis

Day 13 (24th Dec)
First day in Athens! Reached our accommodation of choice, Athens Backpackers, the night before. Had a 2-hour walking tour in the morning, before embarking on our journey to the famous sights of Athens – Acropolis, Ancient Agora and Roman Agora. We even witnessed Greek riot police in action!

Day 14 (25th Dec)
It’s Christmas Day! Despite being in one of the most scenic cities in the world, the day was less glamourous than it sounds. But fun nonetheless. Had a communal kind of Christmas lunch celebrations (involving some vege chopping and a 5-hour wait for a piece of turkey!), and some nice time with fellow backpackers. Certainly an interesting way to spend Christmas!

Day 15 (26th Dec)
It’s Boxing Day! But alas, the day did not start well when our plan to visit the nearby Delphi was foiled. The best part of the day happened at night, when I had a whale of night trawling the nightlift of Athens with one Swiss dude and two German lads.

Day 16 (27th Dec)
Once again, our attempt to go to Delphi was foiled by an idiotic cab driver who sent us to the wrong bus station. We thought all hope were lost… until we finally managed to visit the National Archaeological Museum of Greece. I also managed to get a winter jacket from Zara at Ermou Street (akin to Orchard Road in Singapore). The last night in Athens was spent in a drunken haze… oh, the drama! I like! Heh.

Day 17 (28th Dec)
Final morning in Athens was spent having a leisurely breakfast at Athens Backpackers, and an unhurried train ride to the airport. I had a nice 4-hour flight on EasyJet towards London. LONDON! I can’t believe that I am finally in London. By the time we reached Liping’s house in Maida Vale, night has fallen. After having an authentic British pub grub nearby, I decided to call it an early night.

Full set of Athens blog posts here, full set of Athens photos here

London, United Kingdom (29th Dec 2008 ~ 2nd Jan 2009)

Christ Church, Oxford

Day 18 (29th Dec)
London Day 1! I was still grasping with the realisation that I was in London. Spent the entire day exploring the famous sights of London, including Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, St. James’ Park, Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square and London Bridge. Met up with James and his friend. Also explored Soho at night. Had a wonderful time. I really, really like London!

Day 19 (30th Dec)
London Day 2. Made my way to Chinatown late morning and had a leisurely brunch. Caught an afternoon Matinee show of Les Miserables, in which I shamelessly cried my way through the three hour musical. Met up with Liping, Huisi, Huili and Melvin at night for a roast duck dinner and pubbing.

Day 20 (31st Dec)
London Day 3, and it’s New Year’s Eve! Decided to make a day trip to the university town of Oxford. My main purpose was to visit the shoot location of Harry Potter. Being at Christ Church was a heady experience – you have to see the photos (the Great Hall of Hogwarts, OMG) to have an inkling what I have seen. Also managed to go to King Cross Station for the famous Platform 3/4, before headed towards the London Eye to join almost half a million Londoners welcoming the new year in a celebration of fireworks, drinks (with videos!)… and rowdiness and huge human jam. Awesome and terrifying all at the same time.

Day 21 (1st Jan)
Happy New Year! Decided to cover two famous London landmarks on my last day here – St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Tower of London (which, to my utter disappointment, was closed). Managed to watch my favorite musical, Hairspray (I know, right!) before spending my last night here in Soho, getting to know a couple of Londoners in the process.

Day 22 (2nd Jan)
Final day in London. It was a long, long journey back to Singapore, with a 14-hour wait back in Attartuk International Airport (that’s in Istanbul) before finally touched down in Singapore on 3rd Jan. The end of a journey of a lifetime.

Full set of London blog posts here, full set of London photos here