Monthly Archives: June 2009

You are browsing the site archives by month.

Ten Achievements As I Turn 30

How do you even try to summarise ten years of your life into a list of ten? As I look back into my life in preparation for a retrospective moment as I marched into the unknown realm being 30, I spotted so many memorable moments, both big and small, worth mentioning in my list.

Yes, in mere hours I will bid farewell to the carefree gang of 20s (you lucky bastards!) and hope to be welcomed by the community of 30s. And yes, my life in the recent years have been colourful indeed, interwoven with beads of memory and strings of nostalgia made up of people, places and moments.

I thought it will only be fitting for me to blog my thoughts of my achievements in the past ten years of my life as my 30th birthday approaches.

Are you ready for a stroll down memory lane with me? Here goes:

#1 Coming to Singapore

The Singapore Flyer

Possibly the biggest decision I ever made in my life, and one that I have never, ever regretted. Yes, I did leave behind truckload of memories back home. But when the opportunity came knocking, offering me a chance for a better life in a country I never even dream of living in, I took a deep breath, took the plunge… and I never looked back. In a blink of an eye, I have spent ten years of my life in Singapore and grew up from a clueless young man to a slightly less clueless not-so-young man. I dare say my life would never be the same if I stayed put where I was in Malaysia.

#2 World Music Contest 2001

My life had always revolved around school bands. Without a doubt the pinnacle of my musical life was when, as part of the NTU Symphonic Band, I went to participate in WMC 2001 in Kerkrade, Netherlands, and emerged a First Prize winner in the First Division. After months of endless rehearsals, logistical nightmare (I was the band’s welfare officer) and fundraising effort, together with some of my dearest friends, I stood tall at the top of the (band) world. The feeling of being crowned a winner was truly euphoric.

#3 Getting a first class degree

NTU Convocation Ceremony 2003

I remember the endless nights when I braved the humidity and piles of lecture notes, trying to cram it all one month before the dreaded exams, in pursuit of something that even I myself have no clear idea of – a good degree. Truth to be told, I do enjoy studying. I enjoy stressing my brain into doing mental gymnastic and coaching my friends into understanding complicated algorithm. The day when my final semester results were announced, when I got my straight As and first class degree, was understandably the best day of my life. And as if that is not enough, I went on to do another diploma in a totally different field… just for the heck of it.

#4 Good career progress


After a month of frantic job hunting upon graduation (it was during the horrific SARS period when everyone was paranoid and the job market plunged), I landed my first job in a field that was totally unrelated to what I studied. My career kicked off in the recruitment industry in a small company which gradually expanded at dizzying speed, enabling me to literally sprint up the career ladder. Since then, I have dabbled in the conference sector, which saw good money but was wayyy too political, and then I was back in recruitment again but infused with the Internet. And now here I am in Hong Kong, paving my way to be a good web product guy. I have come a long way from the geeky mechanical engineering graduate who was hell bent on NOT being an engineer, to become a manager with a combination of knowledge and experience which, apparently, few candidates have. I call that a blessing.

#5 Staying on my own

The living room

Yet another decision I took which I have never regretted is to move out from a shared flat, stood on my own feet, sacrifice a big part of my income and rent a place to call my own. After years of sharing different abodes with different housemates, an opportunity came along in the form of a dirt cheap yet new flat in Toa Payoh, and I took it. Living alone has taught me a lot of things. Total freedom in building your home life comes with a price you might not be entirely willing to pay. But I learned, and preserved. And without these independent living, I would not be able to throw the endless small dinner gatherings and large birthday parties over the years.

#6 The Singapore Idol Fever


How could my list ever be complete without the mention of what was one craziest thing I ever done? What started as a past time watching Singapore Idol season 1 had quickly exploded into a flurry of late night blogging, furious debates on fandom rivalry, and eventually the birth of the official site of the first Singapore Idol, Taufik Batisah. Getting to know the man himself and running his fan site and fan club were no joke. Had it not been for a gang of die hard supporters, I would have fizzled out long time ago. After three years of toiling for the Fiknatics, I called it quit together with Cheryl and Shafik, my two BFFs whom, without, I would not have the blessing to be acquainted with. The three of us have sure come a long way from dabbling in that dreaded forum to be at where we are today. Aren’t you glad? I am eternally grateful.

#7 Losing weight

Shafik's 21st Birthday Celebration Night Out

It started at the start of 2008, when a date commented how I need to change my wardrobe, and I realised I have not been buying new clothes since, like, forever. The reason was that I told myself I will buy new clothes when I lose weight, which of course never happened. So I signed up at the gym, got myself a personal trainer, and worked hard. Coupled with my various diet plans (some successful, some not), I achieved what I wanted to do – to stop being a dumpling only a 40″ pants can fit. Today, I no longer tip the scale at 90 kg, and I can wear jeans of 32″ comfortably, and at times t-shirts sized S fit nicely too. I shudder to think if I ever go back to the way I was. Don’t believe me? Check this out. This was taken back end 2007. How time flies.

#8 Falling in love

Devilmisu @ TCC

Ahhhh… the four letter word. What can I say? Everyone fall in and out of love at some point of their lives, me included. Perhaps I am more melodramatic than most when it comes to affairs of the heart. I have had serious relationships before, as well as pseudo-relationship (you know, the ones you thought you are in one but the other person don’t). Flings and dates came and go, and through all the ups and downs, I have learned what it meant to be in love, and to know what I am looking for in life. And I can proudly say that, when the right person comes along, I will know. I am not a perfect person, but I hope eventually someone will see the imperfect me, perfectly.

#9 Joining Singapore Men’s Chorus

As I look back at my blog entries, I was amazed by the number of times I said I can’t sing. The truth is… I can’t. Yet I made it through the auditions for the Singapore Men’s Chorus joining the stellar line up of bass singers. Though the SMC I got to know friends whom are very dear to me. Despite my short five months with the lads, I truly enjoy the time spent singing and dancing with them. I was sorely disappointed for not being able to perform even one season with them, due to my relocation, but the friendships we nurtured, hopefully, will last for life.

#10 Travel the world

Excursion to Oia

After saving very hard during the first few months of my working life, I embarked on my very first holiday on my own terms – it was Bangkok – and the travel bug got me for good. Since then, I have been spending most, if not all, of my savings on traveling to places near and far. I relish the feeling of packing up for a trip, the journey to the airport, the facilities on the flight, and of course, the adventure in an unknown land where everything is new and foreign to you. Phuket was my favorite, having been there for seven trips in a space of 1.5 years, but nothing beat my winter holiday last year, when I spent three days at the magical Santorini, Greece. And yes, I will be back.

The Conclusion

So there you have it, the ten achievements of my life in the past ten years. Do I feel proud of myself? I do. I would not have done things any differently, given a choice. Through my years, I have my friends and family to thank for helping me shaping the person I am today.

As I move into the unknown future of the 30s, I know things will be different and exciting at a totally different level. Life will pan out in ways I could not imagine, and the road ahead will be paved with bumps and potholes I can’t be prepared for. It could only mean one thing – an adventure.

Happy birthday, me.

The Meaning of Being Independent

The Meaning of Being Independent

(Image by Capannelle)

Being independent means you study day and night to get good enough results to secure a scholarship for your own education

Being independent means the very first business shirt you own is the one you bought for the scholarship interview, and the one you still wear for years later

Being independent means putting up with staying in cramped dorms and with smelly neighbours at a god-forsaken place for four years, and not having a whole apartment to yourself

Being independent means your two legs are your main mode of transport, not a set of four wheels

Being independent means you go home to your family with nothing more than S$2 in your pocket, because you know if you tell them, they’ll worry

Being independent means you endure weeks enduring plain rice with luncheon meat and fried egg as you stretch your already-tiny daily budget of S$1.20

Being independent means getting As is reward enough for your own benefits, and not because your family needs to reward you for something that is not even for them

Being independent means you slog through your first month upon graduation trying to find a job because your survival depends on it, and not enjoying a long holiday like everyone else

Being independent means you wear your father’s office clothes when you do your attachment, and when you first go out into the working world (and get laughed at)

Being independent means you work hard, get a top degree from a reputable university, get a good job, impress your bosses, get promoted, provide for your family, travel the world, hang out with your friends, buy pretty things… on your own terms.

So stop complaining that you are being compared to me. You are NOTHING compared to me. You are given a chance to have a stab of being partially responsible for your own life, and you are throwing it away.

My patience is wearing thin.

First Two Weeks in Hong Kong

Today officially marks the end of my first two weeks in Hong Kong. I arrived in the land of Cantonese people a little apprehensive on what to expect from my new adventure. Little did I know so much can happen within days.

My Room @ Royal View Suites, Tsuen Wan

I am loving the hotel I am staying in. Or rather, the serviced studio apartment my company has put me up at. The studio is very well equipped despites its size, and the hotel even come with gym, pool, sauna, cafe, BBQ pit… what is there not to like?

My Room @ Royal View Suites, Tsuen Wan

Yes, there is. It’s location. My hotel is located at Tsuen Wan. Doesn’t ring a bell? I won’t blame you. Tsuen Wan is part of the New Territories, and it is at the extreme east of Hong Kong mainland, facing Lantau Island (where Disneyland and the airport are located at). In Singapore’s term, it is like staying in Joo Koon. The nice view out of my window – beach, bridges, mountains, greeneries – helped a little though.

Train Platform at Tsuen Wan MTR

Being at home is heavenly, but going home is a dread. The commute to work is rather alright. I have to be at the MTR station at eight every morning to catch the company bus, which will then make a 45-minutes journey to Taipo, where my office is located at. Where’s Taipo? It’s like… Sengkang. It’s still part of the New Territories, towards the northern bit. Apparently I can see Shenzhen from my balcony.

I am sure my colleagues are just jesting.

Night View of Victoria Harbour from Avenue of the Stars

Because of where I am staying, traveling out to town is not as simple as it seems. In fact, my office (Taipo), my apartment (Tsuen Wan) and town area (such as Tsim Sha Tsui) plot an almost perfect triangle on the Hong Kong map. The earliest I can be in town is after 7 p.m. Taking a cab home after a night out is a decision I have to make consciously, because one trip can easily cost HK$160+.

That’s more than SG$30. Considering the distance I have to travel, that should be reasonable. Just that it pains me to spend that much just on cab.

Roadside Food Stall at Mongkok

One of the few things you have to get used to while living in Hong Kong is the food. Undeniably the people of Hong Kong has very exacting demand on their food, so the plethora of cuisines available here can be mind boggling. That, coupled with my complete inability read Chinese, makes ordering food in Hong Kong a challenge.

Efren doesn't like Chinese Tea

The silver lining is that I can speak Cantonese, and I am used to Chinese food. It must have been an even tougher situation for my colleague Efren who, as a Filipino, is unused to such a barrage of Chinese food, food menus which he can’t read, and wait staff who can’t speak a word of English. But I must say that he showed incredible resilience in that aspect.

My new (and bare cubicle)

Work-wise has been a blessing after the period of trudge I went through in Singapore. I was put to work almost the moment I have settled down in my cubicle, and within days things got into motion. Which is the way I like it. Colleagues are generally very nice people and helpful, and I am really blessed to be surrounded by people who are genuinely nice. It makes the transition a lot less painful than it could have been.

Coffee at Habitu (Kowloon, Hong Kong)

You know the Chinese saying… “blessing of angels at the start of a journey”? That’s what happened to me. My initial venture into the somewhat complicated social world in Hong Kong was made significantly less complicated because several angel friends here. Online friends, friends of friends, new found friends… all have been very nice to me and shown me aspects of life in Hong Kong which… excite and terrify me at the same time.

I could say, staying in Hong Kong will definitely change me as a person!

And so, on to the two big questions:

Farewell at Changi Airport

Do I miss Singapore? Yes, of course I do. Everyday I am constantly reminded of what I would be doing if I am in Singapore on that particular day, at that particular time. I think back to the friends whom I would have met on weekends. And I think of the memories I left behind. It is unbelievably dramatic, I know… but had you stayed in a place for ten years, made some great friends, and called the place your home, you would have felt the same way I do now.

Views from Tung Street's Studio Apartment, Hollywood Road

Will I be staying in Hong Kong? At this point of time, I don’t see why I won’t stay. Everything is falling into place nicely. Of course I still have a couple of reservations – such as my employment terms here, the place I will putting up at for the long term, etc. – but I can see myself staying and adapting well to Hong Kong life. It is not going to be an easy journey, but given time and my adventurous self (hehe), seems like many of my friends and colleagues think I will be fine.

Tomorrow marks the third week of me living in Hong Kong. A friend of mine said usually the third week at a new place will open up cans of worms.

I wonder will the next week hold?