Saturday, May 29, 2010

Kal's Wedding

Tonight is Kal's big day, well, one of his big days, as he has to go through the same stuff 3 times, in 3 different locations. 

The wedding banquet was at Civil Service Club at Bukit Batok.  Only 10 tables, so it was hosted in a very cosy room.  The waiters there somehow dresses like the gang member in ShanghaiTan.  What's more funny was the sitting arrangement.  Kal somehow mixed his poly friend with his colleagues.  You saw among one table, only one or two 'outsiders'.  At our table, only one couple from his poly friends. 

The food was just so so, not very fantastic.  Somehow they messed up the sequence, and we were scratching out head how come chicken looked more like duck, and tasted like duck ;P

The messing up of sitting arrangement had some positive effects too.  At our table, Kal's poly friend, Qian Long, is a very friend chap to talk with.  He spent 3 years studying in Japan and achieved JLPT1.  I was like a dwarf standing in front of a giant. 

A pleasant wedding banquet.  Wish Kal's & Lisa living happily ever after :)

Friday, May 28, 2010

Wine or Grape Spray?

I recently saw an advertisement at one of our famous local supermarkets.  The advertisement is about value for money wine, but look at the Chinese character for 'wine', there is one stroke missing.  With the missing stroke, the Chinese character changes its meaning from 'wine' to 'spray'. 

Haha...It is good humour, but it shows our bilingo education still has quite a lot of work to do :)

StarHotel Anderson, Milano

It has been our company's tradition to stay at StarHotel Anderson, Milan, which is conveniently located right next to Milan's central station.  There is a direct bus from Malpensa Airport to Milan Central Station.  And from Milan's Central Station, you can easily travel to nearby cities for a day trip or something.

The rooms are small, but very clean and neat.  The Milan subway passes by the hotel, so some of the lower level rooms may get a bit noisy from the passing trains.  Staff there are not too bad either.

However, all that good impression changed on one single day.  On my return to my hotel room one night, I found a lighter on a table in my room.  I don't smoke and I don't have any lighter with me.  So, where did this lighter come from?  The chambermaid?  Did she smoke in my room?  Or even worse, somebody sneaked into my room?  I checked my stuff, including the small safe in the hotel room, everything was intact. 

This lighter is also unlikely to be left by the previous guest as my room is a non-smoking room.  Do you see that non-smoking card? 

Well, next time when I visit Milan, I really need to think thrice before I decide to stay at StarHotel Anderson again. 

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Peach Garden @ Orchid Country Club

A company occasion brought us to Peach Garden Restaurant at Orchid Country Club.  The deco is typical oriental with strong Chinese influence.  Well, it is a Chinese restaurant in nature.

The food is not bad.  The presentation itself is very pleasing. 

Shark's fin is presented in an ivory white container.  It gives you a sense of cleanness & zen simplicity, whilst retaining the elegance of this delicacy.

Their shark's fin is cooked together with wintermelon, immersed in high soup.  The taste is on the lighter if you like strong tastes.  For me, it is just nice.  It suits my Cantonese taste buds very well. 

The fish is a mud-fish immersed in Tom Yam soup.  The Tom Yam is the clear-type of Tom Yam.  Wah, this dish is very mouth watering.  The strong taste of Tom Yam covers the mud smell of the fish, whilst still retaining the tenderness & freshness of the fish.  It is one of the highlights of our meal.

The dessert is also quite unusual.  I had expected something like yam, or mango pudding or something in that line, but the dessert they presented was mango with coconut slices, in some nice herbal soup, with a herbal jelly as the side.  The dessert is not too sweet, a slight sweetness but not strong enough to make you feel distasteful. 

Overall the food at this restaurant is pretty decent and suits the Cantonese patrons well, but to food lovers who like to have a stronger impact on their taste buds, it may not be a very good choice. 

Price-wise, it is on the higher end side.  We ordered a set meal for lunch, which already has some good discount for the celebration of NTUC's xx-th anniversary, it still came to S$60 per person after adding all plus plus. 

Monday, May 24, 2010

Singapore Coins and Notes Museum

The Singapore Coins and Notes Museum is a museum about money, money is treasure, so this museum is full of treasures.  As a result, it has to be well-hidden from the public eye, so it is. Can you spot the museum in this photo?  Probably not.  It is tucked in the 3rd and 4th floors of an old shop house in Chinatown's Pagoda Street.  To add more camouflage, the entrance is hidden inside a coffee shop.  If you don't look hard enough, you will never even notice there is such a museum in this busy touristic street.

There is a lift to the museum.  The lift's indicator is quite of a character.  It is big and looks like a clock face.  The second hand will move indicating which floor the lift is at now. Pretty unique.  Uniquely Singapore!  Yeah. 

The museum is very small, exhibits are few and almost all are from Singapore and contemporary.  In terms of content, this museum really lacks the rich content it should have.  23 May is international museum day and the museum is free of charge.  If it is not free, I don't think it is worth the S$10 admission.

The only highlight of the exhibits is probably the S$10,000 notes, which are rare.  Let's take a look at all the different versions of our Singapore $10,000 notes through the decades.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Private Driving Instructors

I had the opportunity to learn from some of the private driving instructors here in Singapore and would like to share with you my personal experiences.

I got two instructors, one is Mr Ng (Mobile: 97947250) while the other is his buddy Mr Liew (Mobile: 97372607), associated with Singapore Safe Driving Center (SSDC) at Woodlands. 

Mr Ng is quite a character.  He loves his car.  It is quite unlikely you will make mistakes such as hitting the kerb, or mounting the kerb, or bump into anything.  Mr Ng will secretly help you avoid all those mistakes.  He loves you and his car.  If you do make mistakes, his reaction can be quite fierce depending on his mood.  Mr Ng loves to talk too.  His talking can be non-stop from the moment you get into his car to the very moment you get out of his car.  He can talk about almost anything appearing on the Chinese newspaper headlines.  It is a perfect way to train you under real driving conditions.  Ask yourself, how often you are not talking while driving if you have friends or family onboard?  Driving with distraction is a skill, Mr Ng consciously trains you that skill. 

Mr Ng works in a team with Mr Liew.  Mr Ng only takes care of the initial phase of your learning.  The next phase, which is practising in driving school's circuit, and the final phase, passing the practical driving test, come under the responsibility of his buddy, Mr Liew.

Just like you may wonder how some husband and wife with drastically different personalities can live together for life, you may also wonder how Mr Ng and Mr Liew work as a team.  They are so different.  Mr Ng talks non-stop, whilst Mr Liew is a man of few words.  During the driving lesson, he will give you instructions to turn left/right, or go straight, he will give you tips and warnings, he will tell you what you need to do, what you should do, in order to drive safely and to pass your practical test, other than that, he seldom speaks.  The other voice in car comes from the car radio.  Mr Liew listens to Radio 95.8 for news and information. 

Mr Liew lets you be the decision maker behind the steering wheel.  If you make mistake such as hitting the kerb, he will ask you to do it again, practise more, so that you won't make the same mistake again.  Sometimes he will lose his temper too, but he can quickly control his temper.  When he corrects your mistakes, he will make sure you actually understand what he says.   He is very patient, very gentle, like a father teaching his son/daughter driving.

If you are looking for a private driving instructor in Singapore for auto gear car, you may consider the two instructors I mentioned here.  Happy learning.

Friday, May 21, 2010

First Goal for 2010 Achieved

Today is a very happy day for me.  I have been working on this goal since year 2000, of course, with an interruption of about 9 years?  Anyway, after all the efforts and the money spent for the past 8 months, I achieved this first goal for 2010.

Looking back, all the past failures back in 2000 and also earlier this year, it was not really that I am not good enough, or incapable or whatsoever reasons that I couldn't achieve that goal, rather, it was my mind.  My own mind was my arch-enemy.  My mind was full of negative thoughts and focuses on all the bad things.  What you focus on expands.  Somebody said that and so it will.  I focused on the failures and negative aspects and so they expanded in my life, snow-balling. 

I am very grateful to Cornelius who gave me the T. Harv Eker's book of Secrets of the Millionaire Mind, and also T. Harv Eker who wrote that book to share the secrets of life.  That small little book changed my mindset and so my results. 

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Spring 2010 Milan Trip - Part 3: Milan Central Station - A New Look

Milan's Central Station has one of the grandest buildings in Europe.  However, over the years, that glory had been somehow covered under centuries of dust, pollution and bird shit.  This time when I visited the Central Station, I was pleasantly surprised by its new look. 

It seems like the authorities had finally decided it was high time the station had a face lift.  They cleaned up the surface of the building.  The beauty of Italian white marbles regained their beauty and glory.  Modern lighting has been installed to make the interior of the building look spacious and cosy.  It gives you that warm feeling in winter. 

Facilities friendly to the disabled had also been installed, which include two wheelchair friendly escalators connecting the different floors.  In addition, the authorities, somehow, must have learned from their Asian counterparts to make full use of the building space.  They created an addition floor within building, setting up more shop spaces.  The building has been transformed from a single purpose building into a complex meeting both the essential transport needs and shopping. 

The automatic train ticket vending machines had been upgraded.  They are now located right in front of the central ticket office, neatly.  The century-old ticket office had also been upgraded to a modern glass panel office,

Plenty of improvement had been made to this grand building.  Kudos to the Milanese!

You can find all my blog entries about my trip to Milan here..

Food for Thought

Went to Food For Thought cafe tonight for dinner with Purple.  The cafe is housed in a chic building right next to the Singapore Arts Museum.  Looking out from the cafe's glass walls, you constantly see passers-by armed with their camera taking shots of the signage of  "The grass is always greener on the other side" on the museum wall. 

I ordered the 'Really good beef steak' while Purple orderd the "Szechuan pepper beef salad".  We are both beef eaters :P 

My 'Really good beef steak' turned out not to bad.  It is medium cooked, still juicy but not too raw.  The beef is tender, portion is just nice for one not too hungry guy.

The Szechuan pepper beef salad still has beef as its ingredient, but with a lot more healthy vegies to go with it.  Some kind of vinegar is used as the salad sauce.  The overall taste is quite pleasing. 

In terms of food, I think it is not too bad.  They are not too creamy or heavy on the taste buds, instead, it gives you a fresh feel, which is very nice under Singapore's hot weather. 

The sitting capacity of the cafe is quite small, on a Saturday night, be prepared to wait if you don't have a reservation.  The cafe is housed in a chic building surrounded by all the arts institutions of Singapore.  Very pleasant to just sit there and look out from their glass wall for all the hunks and babes passing by.  Perfect place for people watching. 

The price is quite reasonable and portions of the food is about right. 

It is a nice place and for sure, I will come back here again. 

Rating: 4/5

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Microstock: A Milestone

Finally, finally, the income from microstock for all these years has come to an amount that is enough to cover the cost of ALL my photography gears.  It feels good.  It is like you take out a loan and that loan is fully paid off.  You are debt free. 

Good though it is, the income is still not big enough to cover some accessories such as my two expensive camera bags, and also the course fees for my photography courses, let alone the big sums I spent on traveling. 

Anyway, anything from microstock from now on is extra money.  Actually I didn't do well with microstock, as it took me 5 years to just get back on investment, it is just return OF my investment, not yet return ON my investment. 

Ok, a milestone reached, time to aim for the next one...

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Spring 2010 Milan Trip - Part 2: An Interesting Encounter at Milan Central Station

We took the Milan Metro from Central Station to Duomo for lunch.  At Central Station, we were quite at a loss as how to buy Metro tickets. 

I stared at the ticket machine, totally confused, mind blank.  Then a finger creeped into my view and pointed to the right option on the ticket machine.  Following that finger, I looked up and saw a handsome Italian guy.  What happened next was even more shocking to me:  He spoke in fluent Mandarin Chinese to me! 

I opened my mouth wide, speechless.  Call me a mountain turtle who has not seen the world, but it is the first time a Caucasian talking to me in Chinese.  It was a pity that I was with a big group of colleagues and in the confusion of getting our tickets, in the whole mess, I didn't even have a chance to say "thank you" to that nice guy.  I hope he will see this blog and I want to say a big "THANK YOU!" to you. 

The world, somehow, has changed.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Spring 2010 Milan Trip - Part 1: Flight to Milan by SIA

In the past, there was no direct flight from Singapore to Milan.  To get there, you had to stop-over somewhere depending on the airline you traveled with.  It was a great hassle as many people lost their luggage during transits.  Now finally there is a direct flight from Singapore to Milan by SIA.  There is no more transit nightmares, the travel time is shorter, it is so much better.

Our flight, SQ378 to Malpensa airport, Milan, took off at around mid-night Singapore time.  The moment we were up in the air, the captain immediately announced we were expecting some turbulence ahead, which we did.  The turbulence lasts for quite some time.  After our first meal, the seat belt sign was on, and it remained on for almost half of our flight time. 

SIA's service has continue to go down over the years.  After the first meal, nobody from the crew bothered to offer any food or drinks to anybody until our 2nd meal.  Everytime that I needed a drink or something, I had to go to the galley to ask for them.  It was quite different many years ago that the stewardess would walk around, offering drinks and snacks, or instant noodle to passengers from time to time.

On my flight back, I asked for a cup of instant noodle, the reply from the steward was great.  We ran out of noodles :(

So much so for the deteriating service of SIA.  The timing of the flight is good.  You depart from Singapore at 2345 hours, you arrive in Milan's Malpensa airport at around 630 hours.  You can still have a full day for your activities. 

You can find all my blog entries about my trip to Milan here.

Spring Trip to Milan 2010

It has been almost 3 years since I last set foot on the Milan.  This time I am again paying a visit to this growing northern Italian city in spring time. I will use this blog entry as the summary page for all my subsequent blog entries of my trip, so stay tuned.  :)

Spring 2010 Milan Trip - Part 1: Flight to Milan by SIA
Spring 2010 Milan Trip - Part 2: An Interesting Encounter at Milan Central Station
Sprind 2010 Milan Trip - Part 3: Milan Central Station - A New Look

Big Brother Watching

Many people write about their experiences in their blogs without realising somebody, some big brother, may be watching. 

After I posted my recent blog entry about my bad experience at the food court in AMK hub here and the subsequent response from NEA here, I noticed some repeat visits to my blog from a certain shopping centre management company.  I am not sure whether they are the one managing AMK hub but for sure somebody is constantly monitoring the activities in the internet to prune out any potential bad exposures. 

Another example is once I mentioned some opinions about a particular stock photography website in my blog, and the site admin from that stock photo agency actually left a comment on my blog to clarify things. 

If you are writing about a particular business entity, you should have some due diligence before you write, otherwise, there might be some potential trouble awaiting.  Just my 2 cents to share...