Thursday, December 31, 2009

Best Times 2009

2009 is almost up! It's scary how time flies. I'll be having a quiet New Year's Eve, spending time with family at home after having gone for a massage earlier this morning and then a swim under the blazing hot sun at noon ... need to maintain 'em tan lines.

My across-the-miles shrink paid a whirlwind visit to KL the past few days and we had a tete-a-tete yesterday. The outcome? My new motto for the new year ... life is short, go for it! I also thought I'd share my 3 best moments in 2009 ... fave of all, spending time with friends leading up to and during Eileen and Richard's Bali wedding in August; 20-year partial reunion with uni friends in Kota Kinabalu, also in August; putting my new motto into action yesterday.

Happy New Year everyone!


Photo of Leticia, Debra, Tjun Hong, Eileen, Richard and I on the eve of Eileen and Richard's wedding, shot at Ku De Ta in Bali, Indonesia.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Year-End Chaos

Year-end is normally quite a stressful time for me. What I dread the most? The stocktake at That Special Occasion. Fabrics, work-in-progress orders, off-the-rack gowns and the like. The inventory is many pages long. I can't believe this is the 10th year that we are doing this annual ritual. It takes us at least 2 days and it is such a chore, but what needs to be done, needs to be done.

It is also that time of the year where we close our books for the publications under the weddingsmalaysia portfolio. There's a mad rush to balance the books, settle whatever debts we may have and chase for whatever payments owing to us.

It all gets a bit too much sometimes. Imagine doing all the above and also having to meet with prospective clients at the same time. I ain't complaining about the latter though. Such meetings are after all potential revenue streams and they should get their fair share of attention regardless of the chaotic schedule that comes with the territory come year-end. Now, if only I could go on a short holiday to get away from it all.


Photo of The Oasis, Kuta in Bali, Indonesia.

Monday, December 28, 2009

weddingsmalaysia 2010

wm 2010 is now on sale in leading bookstores and newsstands nationwide.

Much thanks goes out to our industry partners for their support and encouragement this past year. Inspite of the challenges faced by the economy and ultimately the wedding industry to a certain extent, they have thrown their firm support behind our publishing endeavours and promotional events. And this unwavering support has been instrumental in the creation of this, our 5th issue of weddingsmalaysia.

I am certain that the publication will be a constant companion to couples planning for their nuptials, and if that were the case, our objective of publishing this wedding planning guide would very much have been met.


Image of the cover of weddingsmalaysia 2010.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Movie At Christmas

I find myself watching this movie every Christmas, well, at least for the past few Christmases since 'Love Actually' was released. IMDb lists the plot as 'following the lives of 8 very different couples in dealing with their love lives in various loosely and interrelated tales all set during a frantic month before Christmas in London, England.'

It is the ultimate feel-good romantic comedy, perfect for this time of year. It tells us that when fate deals a hand on the love-front, one ought to let it take its course. It conveys to those who have suffered a loss to cherish the memories but to move on when a new love appears. It encourages us to be brave and take chances in matters-of-the-heart. It uplifts the broken-hearted with a sense of hope that a new love will come along. It celebrates friendship, loyalty and family ties.

Most of all, it is life-affirming, that love in its many forms, make our lives more meaningful and fulfilled.


Photo depicts the main cast of Love Actually.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas 2009

Christmas 2009 is one that is bitter-sweet. So much has happened since last Christmas, some for the better, some for the worse. Life throws us curve balls from time to time, and all we can really do is to deal with them. They make life interesting, offering us pleasant surprises at times, forcing us to summon up courage at others.

What I have learnt these 12 months is to hold on to wonderful memories of the past firmly and remember them fondly, to appreciate the present and those who lend meaning to my life, to look to the future with much optimism, to stay fit, healthy and to work towards attaining the many more goals that I have yet to achieve.

Last Christmas was one where I was contented and exultant. I may not be as elated this year, but I am hopeful. Hopeful that the new year which will soon be upon us will be one that brings much more positive sentiments, hopeful that my family and friends who have taken ill will be on the road to recovery, hopeful that my career and work will be on the upswing, hopeful that the missing links in my life will fall into place. In the meantime, here's wishing all of you a blessed Christmas and season's greetings for a happy new year.


Photo of Christmas ornaments on my friends, Cordelia and Ken Bin's tree.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

What It Means

I am one of the millions who have bought Susan Boyle's debut album 'I Dreamed A Dream'. Like so many around the world, I am a fan and I am thrilled that such success has come her way.

A fan, Ross Manarchy said, 'I think Susan means there is no time limit on your dreams. As long as you can dream 'em, you can do 'em. So don't give up, keep trying.'

That's certainly a good sentiment to take into the new year.


Photo of Susan Boyle as featured in Harper's Baazar.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Spirit

I think I am finally in the mood for Christmas. Having completed the last major event of the year yesterday, I am slowly getting into the festive spirit. 'Winter Solstice Festival' dinner with extended family tomorrow night; Cordelia and Ken Bin's annual Christmas party on Wednesday for starters.

Speaking of the latter, I think I have been invited every year since we all met at uni. That's a lot of Christmas parties but I always enjoy going come this time of year. Both Cord and Bin are extremely creative - food-wise, decor-wise, entertainment and amusement-wise - and I very much look forward to their Christmas celebrations. Having been friends for such a long time, I know their family pretty well, so it's always nice to fit in easily at such parties.

One admission though, I haven't been that enthusiastic at Christmas shopping this time round. Due to many personal reasons, I haven't been that 'gung-ho' in shopping for presents this year. I have my sister to thank for dragging me to the shops and getting it done, even more so when both she and my Mum willingly agreed to wrap the presents for me as in previous years. So, the gifts are ready, the party invites received, the only thing left for me to do is to really get myself into the festive spirit!


Photo shot at Sunway Hotel Resort & Spa.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Cyberview Fair

I was at the Cyberview Lodge Resort & Spa wedding fair last Sunday. We do an event there every December and June, the former to start off the weddingsmalaysia wedding fair season for the upcoming year and the latter to secure last-minute bookings for the September to December peak wedding season.

I've worked hand-in-hand with the team from Cyberview for 4 years now and it is a working relationship that has been nurtured well. We trust each other, we share the same vision and most importantly, there is loyalty and a sense of common purpose.

This time round, 22 vendors from the 'weddingsmalaysia family' participated and had the opportunity for some one-on-one time with more than 40 soon-to-be-wed couples in a casual yet intimate setting. I seldom feel stressed at events held at Cyberview Lodge Resort & Spa. I reckon it must be the pleasant surroundings that put me in a relatively relaxed frame of mind.


Photo of That Special Occasion's booth, courtesy of Creative Clicks.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Time For Reflection

It's that time of the year where I find myself looking back at the past 12 months and seeing how it has impacted my life. Yes, I tend to look back, when in fact, I should be looking forward. Nevertheless, looking back helps me evaluate and hopefully puts me in a better position to tackle what lies ahead.

I always tell myself to embrace the future, have a positive mindset, and all that is good will fall into place. Each encounter, each happy moment, each not so happy moment, they all happen for a reason I believe. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. And each wonderful circumstance that one comes across is a catalyst for greater opportunities.

So, I shall be upbeat in these last 2 weeks of 2009 and bring such optimism into the new year that is 2010. Living life to the fullest and experiencing the multi-faceted emotions that life's encounters elicit shall be my battle-cry. Yesterday evening, I overheard a doctor acquaintance urge his patients to read an article that he recently wrote. Do have a read. I shall be smelling the roses indeed.


Such a happy photo, shot in Bali, Indonesia.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Joe McElderry

I'm quite a fan of British talent shows, in particular Britain's Got Talent and The X Factor. The latest winner of The X Factor, Joe McElderry, phenomenal.

Some of my favourite performances ..........





Photo courtesy of The X Factor.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Yong Tau Foo

I seldom venture into some areas of Kuala Lumpur - Cheras, Pandan Indah, Pudu to name a few - largely because of my bad sense of direction. I had a meeting with Leticia of Events Wizard and Debra of Acadia Card over AWP matters yesterday however, and we wound up having a Yong Tau Foo and Chee Cheong Fun lunch somewhere in Pudu, at a restaurant called Yip Hup Kee.

I always enjoy a new food experience and yesterday was no exception. The stuffed Yong Tau Foo and Chee Cheong Fun with sweet sauce that I had were fab and the ambience of the eatery quirky. I was tempted to order another portion of Chee Cheong Fun in curry gravy which Debra had but decided against it eventhough encouraged by Leticia! You see, I am trying to lose a hint of a tummy.

Some of you will probably be asking for directions after reading this post but alas, I am totally clueless as to how to get there. Your best option would be contacting one of my partners-in-crime who under the guise of having a meeting, which we did have, got us to such a nice lunch.


Photo courtesy of Leticia Hsu.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Friendly Competitors

Industry friends who know me well know that I have good relationships with my fellow competitors, particularly those who compete with That Special Occasion in the wedding attire sector of the market. I have always been a proponent of friendly competition and professional ethics as I believe that the market is sufficiently large for all of us to strive and do well as a whole.

Having also a hand in publishing wedding magazines, my circle of wedding-related contacts is pretty extensive. I am pleased to note that most of those in the 'weddingsmalaysia family' of partners share my sentiments when it comes to working together instead of against each other. Those of us who subscribe to the former tend to do better, and are more happy in outlook.

I see it this way. When in a boxing ring, it is always good to have a strong support team in one's corner. That I have plenty and am very much grateful.


Here I am with designer Carven Ong.

Friday, December 11, 2009

French

I was at the Prince Hotel & Residence Kuala Lumpur Wedding Fair Media Preview the other night. As always, the team at Prince put on a good show with great food and fab company.

Among the participating vendors was a Frenchman, Daas Salim. Keen to get introduced to the local wedding practitioners, he made his rounds from table to table, making it a point to address us in halting but nevertheless pretty good English. Later that evening, I reciprocated in halting and struggling French. I haven't had much opportunity to practise since returning home from Switzerland in the 1990s but some verbs and grammar remain. I understand when spoken to and I can carry on a conversation if I concentrate hard enough. I was slightly amused by such an achievement that night.

'Knowing a foreign language is an asset' holds true in this case. It could just be the catalyst for me to pick up some of my old French school books and have a refresher. And perhaps when I next meet this new acquaintance and potential industry colleague, I will be able to carry on a conversation somewhat more fluently.


Photo of Alan Yun, Daas Salim and I at Prince Hotel & Residence Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Orang Utan

I was watching the National Geographic Channel. To be perfectly honest, I don't normally watch this particular channel. The only reason for doing so earlier this evening was to catch 'Among The Great Apes With Michelle Yeoh'. There has been quite a lot of press about this documentary of late and I always try to watch when it involves Michelle Yeoh ...... something about the 'Malaysia Boleh' spirit; yes, yes, I've been presenting the news for too long on RTM Radio! Ha!Ha!

I've been to Kota Kinabalu quite a few times but always end up in the city, the beach at Tuaran, Kiulu, the outlying islands and Kinabalu National Park. Have never been to Sepilok despite there being the world-famous Sepilok Orang Utan Sanctuary. My good friends will tell you that I am not an animal-enthusiast but I did learn a thing or two from the documentary.

Firstly, one must have a true calling and passion to be a vet, ranger, research assistant and the like for a cause such as the orang utan sanctuary at Sepilok. Secondly, we often overlook how beautiful our country is in terms of landscapes, as evident in the breathtaking locations that were featured. Thirdly, we seldom get to hear about the good work carried out by those trying to make a difference. I definitely have a better appreciation now.


Photo taken from Sabah Tourism.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Attention To Detail

In my line of work, be it publishing magazines or designing gowns, attention to detail is of much importance. We are dealing with one of the most important milestones of a person's life, and everything should be as perfect as can realistically be.

As someone who is naturally observant and a stickler for detail, I sometimes, correction, I almost certainly get extremely irritated when the people who work alongside me make careless mistakes. Don't get me wrong, as by and large, my team is great. However, sometimes, the silliest errors become catalysts for bigger, unwarranted problems. I have not been at my patient best the past week, and my staff have borne the brunt of my scathing dressing-down. I have been on the verge of throwing a massive fit; thank goodness for the weekend.

Tomorrow is the start of a new working week. I have told myself to be more laid-back and a wee-bit more patient. Let's see how long I can keep that up. First item on the agenda, getting my point across that doing a job well on the first attempt negates the necessity of re-doing it. Common sense, no?


Gown by That Special Occasion, photo courtesy of Andy Chin Studio.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Farewell Carcosa Picnic

Colleagues and friends from the wedding industry got together recently for a picnic at the Carcosa lawns to bid Carcosa Seri Negara as we know it, farewell. About 50 turned up bright and early last Friday, despite it being a public holiday.

So many of us have worked events at both the Carcosa and Seri Negara mansions over the years. Some of us lucky ones have had the pleasure of being guests as well, whilst others have not. I thought it was therefore fitting to have a little gathering to enjoy its surrounds one more time before renovation works.

Apart from sharing wonderful memories of events past, it was also an opportunity for us to catch up in a more relaxed manner. And the variety of food for the breakfast picnic? Well, need I say more?


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Pop Culture

OK, I have to admit I had no intention of watching Twilight until the huge buzz that came about prior to the release of New Moon. When a movie creates such a frenzy worldwide, it's time to take notice. I equate it to pop culture. Just like Star Wars, The Lord Of The Rings and Harry Potter, The Twilight Saga is a must see for me, not because I am a fan, but rather a need to have 'been there, done that'. Believe it or not, all these movies will at some point become representations of a time - our time, the time that we lived in.

So, I got the DVD of Twilight off my sister and sat through the movie. I'm no movie critic, I don't overthink the plot, I don't scrutinise the acting, basically, I just want to enjoy the movie, it's as simple as that. I seldom have anything bad to say about the movies I watch. For all intent and purposes, movies are entertainment, and I treat them as such. I therefore enjoyed Twilight, as many people have. In the same way that I went through its predecessors - Han Solo, Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia; Frodo and The Fellowship Of The Ring; Harry, Hermione and Ron - it was a natural progression to move onto New Moon, which I did last night. I went with an open mind, and left with an entertained mind.

I would say this though, The Twilight Saga is for romantics. Behind the trials and tribulations, the sappiness, the longing, the angst, lies a notion of love that all romantics hope to experience in their lifetime. I have not read the books, but I will see the future instalments, and I sure hope that there will be a good ending. For me, that's what makes great entertainment. A perfect ending that leaves one in a contented state-of-mind.


Image of New Moon.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Affirmative Traits

A friend recently remarked, 'you seem pretty sentimental nowadays'. Truth is, I have been sentimental most of my adult life. Over the past year, situations have been such that I've also been labeled the following - 'sensitive', 'petty', 'a stickler', and, I know it is a contradiction, 'easy-going'.

There is some truth in all of the above. But I always view such labels in a positive manner. Sentimental - yes, I reminisce often about good times past, I value relationships that have been forged. Sensitive - yes, I am sensitive to other people's needs, I am naturally observant and I pick up on others' likes, dislikes and idiosyncrasies. Petty - yes, I do not tolerate back-stabbers, and if I am the victim, I will hold a grudge, a lengthy grudge, but those loyal to me know full well that I am fiercely loyal in return. A stickler - yes, I am organised and I pay attention to detail. Easy-going? Surprisingly, I can be when I want to, particularly among those whom I am comfortable with.

I see all these as affirmative traits. Those who label me otherwise must certainly be those who have rubbed me the wrong way. An industry colleague and good friend told me not too long ago that she can easily tell from my demeanour if a person is in my good books. Again, that's probably true. I am not perfect, nevertheless, I do not suffer fools gladly when it comes to friendships, relationships and business dealings. Life is too short for that.


Photo of my cousins whom I share many fond childhood memories with.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Extended Family

See the photo? Yes, I have a pretty large extended family, and those in the photo are only from my mom's side of the family! Other than the locals, many flew in from Singapore, Auckland, London and Nam Tong in China to witness my cousin Lye Keat's wedding yesterday.

Some of my friends can't stand the idea of having too large an extended family. I have no such problem. It's probably because I've been brought up in such an environment, and for as long as I can remember, we've always come together for festivities and celebrations all the time. There is an imminent sense of excitement as such gatherings approach every time.

What so great about my relatives is the comradeship and our solidarity as a family. We keep in touch often, even when we are in different corners of the globe. Such is the advantage of modern technology that we are never too far away for a chat. English-proficient cousins of mine get updated on the happenings in my life via email or social networking sites, whereas I just pick up the phone when I want to catch up with those in China, 'broken Cantonese' being the communication medium of mine. Many ask me how I keep up with such correspondence. It's only a little bit of effort really, how difficult is it to pick up the phone?


Photo of Lye Keat and Mei Li's wedding at the Holy Rosary Church in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thought Provoking

About 6 months or so ago, an acquaintance asked me this question, 'How do you keep a positive perspective working in the wedding industry? You propagate 'happily-ever-after' unions, when in reality for many, the relationship goes downhill after marriage. The bubble bursts, the passion fizzles out and we are left in a mundane relationship.' If I had answered instinctively, it would have been, 'If you really feel that way about your relationship, you probably have not worked hard enough on keeping the spark alive. And if the thought of having to make the necessary effort to re-ignite the passion seems too daunting, then perhaps it's time to move on.'

I bit my tongue. Instead, I offered a lame response, something to the effect of hoping that the marriages that worked outnumbered those that didn't. The question nevertheless has stayed at the back of my mind for some reason. Now, I don't profess to be an authority on relationships, let alone marriage, considering my feeble track record. But from observing friends, industry colleagues, family and of course clients who have thrived on committed, long term relationships and marriage, I suppose I can draw a few conclusions. Putting your spouse or partner first. Yes, the principle of 'loving thyself' is important but equally important is putting your partner's feelings above one's own. The ability to compromise and the willingness to adapt. Yes, we get set in our ways but some give and take is necessary, finding the middle ground in dealing with contentious issues and positions. Spontaneity and being the romantic fool. Being stuck in a rut and in a monotonous routine spell trouble; everyone likes romantic gestures, little surprises, don't we all? Thoughtfulness, trust and mutual respect, the list goes on.

It's the wedding season. I've probably attended one too many a wedding, and my cousin's getting hitched this weekend as well. Perhaps that's why I felt the need to address this lingering question that was posed to me all those months ago. One thing is for sure, I still do hold steadfast to the potential of 'happily-ever-after'. I say so not because I work in the wedding industry. I say so because those around me who are blissfully coupled seem much more contented, even if it means having to work on all the above, when compared to the singletons. Sure, the latter have the freedom and independence, they can live their lives as they please without having to answer to anyone, but I do wonder if they feel that missing link from time to time. I do, but that's another story, for another time ..............


Photo of my friends, Leticia and Tjun Hong, at their ROM celebratory luncheon, after having been an item for almost 2 decades.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Jessie And Yoong

13 wedding industry friends attended the wedding banquet in celebration of Jessie and Yoong's nuptials on Sunday evening. A lot of us started as industry colleagues and over time have become friends, which makes attending such celebratory events together much fun. Incidentally, Jessie is the co-owner of favour company Xocolati.

We are also a fairly sporting bunch. In wanting to create a lasting memory for the bride and groom, the 13 of us serenaded the newlyweds, in Mandarin nonetheless, with only 5 in the group actually being able to speak Mandarin! We never even practised as a group, in fact, we only had 3 practice sessions with with less than a 50% turnout each time. But we pulled it off, thanks to everyone having practised at home to a 'minus one' provided by our friend and wedding chanteuse Janet.

Jessie and Yoong were touched by our gesture and seeing the expressions on their faces made the endeavour extremely worthwhile. Much congratulations again Jessie and Yoong!


Photo of our songsheet with lyrics in Chinese and English phonetics.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Aspiration And Purpose

Love the cover! Absolutely love it! It's festive in so many ways, evocative of the holiday season that's just round the corner. I've read about and seen videos of Ellen DeGeneres' campaign to fulfill her aspiration of appearing on the cover of O with Oprah, and it's great to see her part of such a joyful image. The only other person who has graced the cover with Oprah is Michelle Obama, another lady who needs no introduction.

I don't really read O but just had to buy it when the cover caught my eye on the newsstand. It may just become one of those iconic covers in time. Flipping through the magazine, I came across a feature article on Barton Brooks, the founder of Global Colours. His is an inspirational story. For those of us looking for a purpose in life other than work, it's a story worthwhile reading. It makes us realise how even the smallest effort can make a difference in a person's life. It reminds us to put our words of intention into action.

As we reflect on the past year come December, perhaps it is time to see how we can contribute to another's happiness, how we can lend a hand to someone in need, and in return reap the benefits of self-fulfillment.


Photo of the December 2009 issue of O.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Helen's Birthday

I make it a point to host a dinner whenever a team member's birthday comes along, be it a colleague from weddingsmalaysia or That Special Occasion. Colleagues from both companies are invited. At times all are able to attend, at other times we get a partial turnout. Whatever the case, we all have a good time over great food and wonderful company.

This evening, 10 of us got together to celebrate Helen's birthday. A sinful but hearty seafood meal was the order of the day. What so great about such celebrations is the opportunity to nurture and enhance the camaraderie that already exists among us. I have a terrific team. Yes, we do fall off the wagon from time to time, we do get pissed off at one another every now and then, I almost always have something to rant about, but at the end of the day, we respect one another and value the working relationship that we have cultivated.

We also did a count of the upcoming birthdays. Looks like there will be a feast once a month from now till May next year!


Photo shot at Pantai Seafood in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Concern

A friend called me up today checking to see if I was alright. Apparently I have been sounding relatively depressed in some of my blogposts. Must have been this post, or perhaps this, or maybe this.

Like most people, I have my ups and downs. Those who know me well can attest to the fact that I can be prone to mood swings. Just ask my biz partner Anna or some of my colleagues who work with me every day. I am not that an easy person to get along with at times.

To set the record straight, I am doing fine, could be better, but fine nevertheless. In any case, my 3 cousins, 2 spouses and 3 little nephews fly in from Singapore, Auckland and London for a few days next week, so that should cheer me up! Woohoo!


Photo of my cousins Kiat Ken and Wui Ken, my sis Suk Harn, cousin Siew Yoong and I, shot last year in Langkawi, Malaysia.

Monday, November 16, 2009

SSP

I had a good time rekindling friendships with my primary school mates, all 30 or so of them, at Sekolah Sri Petaling's 40th anniversary alumni dinner last night. True, only a fraction of us from our batch turned up but it was nevertheless an opportune time to catch up on what's been happening in our lives and to reminisce over our antics during our childhood.

What I realised was that whilst many of us are in touch via Facebook, it never really is the same as meeting in person. The camaraderie is what endears us to one another, still very much so after all these years. Yes, we may have grown apart somewhat, but the bonds that we sowed so many years ago, decades actually, are there for us to rekindle, if we make the effort. The challenge really is to keep the momentum of keeping in contact going. So often, we rely on the enthusiastic few to encourage us to do so; it's time for the rest of us to step up to the plate.

We shared great experiences in our childhood - we embraced each other when we knew not of societal norms and boundaries, we threw caution to the wind when it came to co-curricular activities. Come to think of it, the latter still holds true for some .... didn't I read somewhere about Lionel and Monitar representing us in the inter-batch badminton competition, crooked knee, sore muscles and all? And Ritz relating how he pulled a muscle during warmup and ending up as linesman during the inter-batch football tournament? Instead of relying on these wonderful memories of the past, it's perhaps time to create new ones in the present. Dinner at Lionel's cafe anyone? Soon too!!!

Photo shot at Dewan Perdana Felda in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Alumni

Student days are some of the best times for many. But how many of us stay in touch with those who shared in creating those wonderful memories? I have total respect for those who actively contribute to the running of alumni associations. It takes commitment, perseverance and enthusiasm. I've recently completed many terms as a committee member of the Flinders University Alumni Association Malaysia, including a stint as President. I however still offer moral support and try to attend as many alumni events as possible.

Having done my fair share of studying, I am also a member of the Malaysian Chapter of the Cesar Ritz Alumni Association. Local alumni chapters allow us to actively participate in get togethers and remain in contact with fellow Malaysian graduates. I also have fond memories of my time at Immanuel College and SMK Bukit Bintang.

What I am looking forward to is my primary school, SRK Sri Petaling's reunion dinner this evening. Celebrating the school's 40th anniversary, about 800 are expected to attend. My batch of schoolmates is pretty active and have kept in touch either in person or in cyberspace. It will be fun to catch up with old friends again. Kudos to the organising team.


Photo of me in Standard 5, courtesy of Nina Samad.

Friday, November 13, 2009

DiversiFy

It is a rewarding experience to witness the attainment of an aspiration. I was privileged to have been invited to the launch of DiversiFy, my friend and wedding industry colleague, violinist extraordinaire Dennis Lau's debut album.

Long have I heard Dennis talk about this dream of his. The long and challenging journey he has taken to realise this ambition must surely have been a fulfilling one. Here's to the start of much bigger and better things to come!

I shall end this post with a thought that Dennis penned ........ DiversiFy represents new chapters in life, new beginnings, new challenges to overcome, and most of all, creating and bringing to you a new wave of diversity in music.


Photo shot at the launch of DiversiFy at Starhill Gallery in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

New Horizons

I was watching Marat Safin bring down the curtain on his career at the Paris Masters, via Astro that is. I've never been a great fan of the gifted but temperamental Russian tennis star. Nevertheless, I found myself intrigued by what he had to say when the tributes began flowing post match.

The tough situations he faced as a sportsman will be an ally when taking on new challenges in the future, he surmised. He went on to say that when one closes a door, another opens.

I am often inspired by such sentiments. They motivate me. There are always new horizons to conquer........


Photo shot at the waterfront in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Comfort Food

I know I am stressed when I have cravings. Boy, I could really do with a toffee apple or two. The ones featured in the photo were concocted by Anizah of TrulyScrumptious! for a Halloween party which I attended.

Comfort food always comes to mind when I need a pick-me-up. A warm bowl of tau-foo-fah, sweet seedless grapes, Swiss chocolate, an A&W root beer float, vanilla flavoured cupcake topped with buttercream, teh tarik, New Zealand Natural ice cream, pavlova, the list goes on.

Sinful for the body, great for the soul. Have a look at this videoclip.


Photo of toffee apples, aptly named Forbidden Fruits.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

PIW@MIFA

The wedding industry was out in force last evening at Pavilion Kuala Lumpur, in support of Pretty In White's MIFA fashion show.

What I like about the industry, in particular vendors within the 'weddingsmalaysia family' is the camaraderie. There are ripples in the calm waters from time to time but we are a relatively close-knit group and lend support to each other whenever the opportunity arises.

The photo is only of a few of us among the many who showed up dressed to the nines. Much congratulations to Dennis and his team.


Photo of ZZ of Classic & Vintage, Allan and Ann of Just Heavenly, Patrick of Budget Brides, Louisa of That Special Occasion, Fiona of weddingsmalaysia, Kar Yik of That Special Occasion, Kris of weddingsmalaysia and Natasha of The Peak Xperience.

Friday, November 6, 2009

New Market

It is always exciting taking a new path in one's business venture. Ke Wynn of Whizarts Wedding Photography has taken such a step. Although offering wedding photography services nationwide and throughout the region, Whizarts is based in Penang and recently fulfilled an aspiration of setting up a boutique studio.

Housing photography, stationery, gowns, cakes and favours under one roof at Whizarts Wedding Photography Boutique Studio, it aims to offer soon-to-be-wed couples an all encompassing experience in sourcing for vendors. That Special Occasion is privileged to have been invited to be part of this grouping in Penang.

Apart from opening up a new market for our wedding gowns, it also gives us an opportunity to get to know our Penang-based industry colleagues better. Encouraging one another, taking the leap-of-faith together, sharing knowledge and exchanging ideas, I believe these are what great partnerships are made of.


Photo of the entrance of Whizarts Wedding Photography Boutique Studio in Penang, Malaysia.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Melancholic

'In one of those moods I am'. I don't normally phrase my sentences in such a manner. Must have been influenced by my cousin Wui Ken, who has lately taken to speaking like Yoda.

Anyways, melancholic I am. Ain't sure of the catalyst that brought about this state-of-mind. I have experienced much over the past year or so, in my personal life, family and work. Exhilarating moments, bittersweet encounters, challenges, occurrences that make one view life differently, wonderful travels with good friends, validation, the list goes on.

What a difference a year makes. Same time last year? Perfectly happy. At this moment? Not entirely unhappy but could be better. If I were to look for a silver lining, I suppose things can only get better. Now that's some much needed optimism!


Photo shot at Cafe Bali in Seminyak, Bali, Indonesia.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Greener On The Other Side

I was watching Whitney Houston's recent interview on Oprah. No holds barred, raw and honest, it brings to light that despite the enormous success that she has had, Whitney has to deal with issues just like everyone of us.

We often lament when we see others enjoying more success in their careers and relationships. Little do we realise that they too suffer from the same insecurities that we face, the same pressures at the workplace, the same emotional upheavels.

The thing is, we incessantly seem to think that the 'grass is always greener on the other side'. What we fail to acknowledge is that we too have it pretty good. We just need to focus on the positives. And no, the 'grass is not always greener on the other side'. We should instead be thankful for all the good in our life, work towards a purpose and lead a meaningful existence.


Photo shot at Passion Road in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Monday, November 2, 2009

I Have A Date With Spring

I first went to a production by Dama Orchestra a few years ago and have been going ever since. Along the way, I also ended up doing 2 feature stories about Dama for Heritage Asia magazine. If memory serves me well, a summary of 1 of the features was incorporated into the souvenir programme of a production as well.

This time round, I attended the last performance in the run of 'I Have A Date With Spring'. If helmed by Dama, one is guaranteed of a stellar production. An added incentive was that my friend and wedding industry colleague Janet Lee was in the cast; she played Lulu. As always, I come away from a Dama production with conflicting emotions. A sense of hope and faith on the one hand, melancholic on the other. The storyline and songs tug at the heartstrings, and when a performance arouses such sentiments, it has made its mark.

'I Have A Date With Spring' reminds us of the support we gain from strong friendships and the importance of nurturing and cherishing such relationships. It illustrates the fact that the varying decisions we make in life lead us to differing resultant outcomes. It encourages us to acknowledge and appreciate those who have helped us along our way, be it in our careers or personal lives. It tells us that if we let go of unrequited love, we can open our hearts to another. And being the sucker for good endings that I am, and despite the cynicism and skepticism that we face in these modern times, 'I Have A Date With Spring' celebrates the essence of true love, that if 2 persons truly love one another and are meant to be, fate will destine that challenges can be overcome and 2nd chances embraced. Food for thought ........


Photo courtesy of Dama Orchestra.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween

Twilight-vampire wannabe, Lady Gaga apparently, our host for the evening and a cross between Harry and Hermione - the team from That Special Occasion with Natasha from The Peak Xperience who hosted a halloween party in conjunction with the opening of her wedding gallery.

It takes quite an effort to dress according to a theme for a party. Luckily for me, Michelle, proprietor and makeup artist of Michelle Touche agreed to help me out. An hour was how long it took her to get me looking like this. I wonder how brides sit through their makeup and hair sessions, I was practically trying not to fidget after 10 minutes.

As they say, effort is always well rewarded. I had a great time at the party, and one only gets to really do so when one immerses oneself in the theme. I could have done more with the attire but having to work a full day, I guess sitting through the hour long makeup was effort enough. Thanks Michelle for getting me into the spirit and thanks Natasha for the party!


Photo shot at Natasha's Halloween party.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Pat On The Back

I seriously think all those involved in the Association Of Wedding Professionals Malaysia should give themselves a pat on the back - the outgoing committee, the incoming committee, members. It is a challenge running an organisation, what more a non-profit and an association that has had its share of skeptics and critics.

AWP celebrated its 1st anniversay today. As I reflect on how much I have contributed to the association, I find myself thinking 'adequate' but definitely not as much as some of my fellow committee members, past and present. It is a testament to the persevering nature of my colleagues at AWP that has enabled it to reach this milestone. The road has been bumpy to say the least. Getting the industry to support the association has not been easy, getting the fact across that the association does not 'belong' to its founding members even more confoundingly difficult. Members vote for office-bearers, plain and simple.

Whatever the case may be, and having given AWP a fair chance of proving its authenticity in its aspirations, I would draw this conclusion. It is about partnerships. It is about different vendors coming together, developing a certain level of trust amongst each other, nurturing credibility within the industry, and ultimately supporting one another in our business endeavours. To fully appreciate its objectives, one has to be open-minded, be willing to support its causes by contributing one's time and effort, be able to take criticism, be bold enough to give criticism and most importantly be confident enough to work as a team. Here's to a smoother ride in the year to come AWP! By the way, here is the Vice President's take on the day's celebrations.


Photo shot at AWP's 1st birthday bash.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Self-Belief

We come face to face with self-doubts every now and again. Life is not always a bed of roses, no matter how much we wish it would be. We just need to cast aside the negative thoughts, throw caution to the wind and look forward to the twists and turns that are part and parcel of life.

I was touched by this story. Bernard Lachance appeared in an episode of Oprah which I caught by chance.

Watch this first.

Then this.

And finally this.

Have self-belief. Here's looking at you!


Photo shot in Bali, Indonesia.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Holiday, Where Art Thou?

It’s that time of the year when we are closing next year’s issue of weddingsmalaysia. The 2010 edition will be our 5th issue and whilst we always contend that the work process will be smoother and easier to navigate, it never really is. Somewhere, somehow, something crops up that throws a spanner in the works.

Still, we soldier on. We take note of the errors, correct them. We acknowledge what is sub-par and elevate them. We receive last minute requests from advertisers, consider them and then politely remind them that deadlines are long gone. We check, counter-check and when we are finally as sure as we can be, the files are sent to the printer.

A huge weight is off our shoulders; for a while only. In a week or two, it will be time for the factory visit to inspect pages that have come off the press. And when all goes well, the pages will be collated, bound and the publication will be shipped to our distributor. And if all goes to plan, weddingsmalaysia 2010 will be in bookstores and newsstands early December. Come to think of it, I still haven’t decided on the cover ........ OMG! Definitely need a holiday soon.


Photo of Sapi in Sabah, Malaysia.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Chance Encounter

I first came upon the work of Anggun11 at a wedding fair recently. Their creativity caught my eye and I took a business card.

Fast forward a couple of weeks later and I initiated a meeting with the people behind the company to get a better foothold on the scope of services they offer. It's part of my job as the Editor-In-Chief of our wedding publications and it is rewarding when one meets industry colleagues who share a like-minded passion.

Introductory pleasantries aside, it is inspiring to gain insight into new ideas and visions. I look forward to future collaborations soon.


Photo of table setting by Anggun11, shot at the wedding fair at Hotel Nikko Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Last One Please

I am bummed that another friend has taken ill. The count over the past 2 months - 1 family member, 1 acquaintance and 1 friend.

Notice some of my recent posts on keeping healthy and embracing life? One can't help but be adversely affected to a certain extent when close ones are dealt a life-threatening blow. The only recourse though is to trust the doctors, believe in the medication, a change in diet, rest, maintain a positive attitude and have faith.

On the personal front, I've given up my favourite drink, ditched certain types of food and have gone organic in others. Weekly swims continue, sessions at the gym are now more regular and am trying extremely hard not to let the stress get to me. And of course, take everything in stride. C'est la vie.


Photo shot at Spa Bliss in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Stress-O-Meter

These are stressful times. Don’t get me wrong, it’s all good. The peak wedding season is no joke, even for seasoned wedding industry practitioners. One can sense the frazzled nerves when one meets an industry colleague, albeit one who is popular.

Other than it being the season for weddings, there is also a compounding effect – last minute orders. With all the preaching we have done in our publications and portal, it seems hilarious at times to see brides or grooms for that matter, placing last minute bookings. Seems that our preaching may have landed on deaf ears.

Whatever the case may be, we are always happy to have orders. Whilst the stress level rises, we are encouraged when clients appreciate the effort. We are afterall in the service industry are we not?


Photo of my client Katherine, courtesy of Zach Chin Photography.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Embrace Life

The passing of well-known and beloved public figures often results in an outpouring of grief from those whose lives they have touched. This year alone – Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, our very own Yasmin Ahmad and most recently Stephen Gately. Sadness aside, there is also the wish to celebrate the lives of these celebrities who have passed on way too early.

They have touched us in many ways; through their artistry, passion, craft, their personal achievements and struggles, the latter sometimes to a greater effect as the difficulties that they too face humanises them, that despite the celebrity, like us, there are challenges that need to be overcome. More importantly, their premature passing teaches us one lesson. Life is unpredictable. We need to embrace life, do the things that we have always dreamt of doing but have put on hold. Travel. Contribute to a worthy cause. Cherish that marriage. Tell our families that we love them. Take the plunge and start that relationship. Learn a new skill. Turn a hobby into a career. The list may be long but let’s just start by checking them off one by one.

As for the photo, I concede that Tjun Hong and I will never be models. At least we had fun with our stylist and photographer, Debra and Leticia. And we did get the setting somewhat right!


Photo styled and shot by Debra and Leticia at The Oasis in Bali, Indonesia.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

A Good Deed On Deepavali

I was reading my friend Eileen's blogpost today where she questioned if she made a difference by feeding a street kid. My take on it? Every good deed makes a mark, no matter how small.

Most of us enjoy a relatively good life. We are sometimes guilty of excess. At other times, we are deserving of the excess. But every now and then, we come across situations that make us reflect on how we have been blessed and how others are lacking in the basic necessities that we often take for granted. The solution? Do a good deed.

A good deed makes a mark. It makes a difference, however slight. It touches someone's life. We just need to remember to do so more often. Happy Deepavali.


Photo courtesy of Wedding Story.

ROM Celebration

I attended the ROM wedding lunch of 2 good friends yesterday at The Dining Room of Carcosa Seri Negara. Departing from the norm, it was a small and intimate gathering of 17 people over good food and great company. A few things struck me.

Firstly, I was very honoured to be the select few who were invited. I think this speaks volumes of our friendship which I hope will be further strengthened over time. Secondly, the bridesman’s toast (no, you did not read wrong, the bride had a bridesman and 2 bridesmaids). In a nutshell, he spoke of how the newlyweds had met 17 years ago in high school and how he had waited for this day to finally arrive, and in the process took a swipe at all those cynics and skeptics; that true love does exist and a long-lasting relationship isn’t that difficult to commit to if taken seriously.

And finally, I believe all those who were so lucky to be present would have left with one thought in mind, that love is indeed something to be cherished for those coupled, and love is indeed something to look forward to for the singletons. Much congratulations to the new Mr and Mrs Loh. Can't wait for the wedding celebrations next year!


Photo of my place card and menu.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Moral Support

In our service-oriented wedding industry, loyal and encouraging industry friends are a boon. Whilst we compete with on another for a share of the pie, we also share expertise and most importantly inspire one another to greater heights.

Moral support is a gesture I appreciate. An industry friend who epitomises the spirit of offering moral support is Wendy. She always shows up at our events. She continues to do so even now, after having taken some time away from weddings.

Keeping in touch and being supportive lay the foundations for a strong relationship. We can count on one another for advice, feedback and help. We can have a laugh when the going gets tough, we can work towards a common aspiration when the circumstances permit. Such bonds take time to nurture , what are you waiting for?


Photo of Ivy, Wendy and I.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Be Healthy

I have had family and friends face health challenges. One thing that I have always believed is having an affirmative attitude when dealing with illness. Most of them say that a positive mindset plays an encouraging role in recovery.

When a family member or friend falls sick, it is important to rally. Finding a good balance between offering support and giving the patient space is a delicate process but well-meaning advice should be appreciated by the patient as well as care-givers.

It is during such times that one realises how lucky one is to be healthy. It also reminds us to take care of ourselves, eat healthy, exercise and have a happy outlook in life.


Photo shot at Mount Kinabalu National Park in Sabah, Malaysia.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Keeping A Secret

It is not easy keeping a secret. Especially when it involves 70 persons. My cousin Lynette was planning on surprising her mum, my Auntie Mary, with a birthday celebration, and boy did she succeed. Months of hushed discussions and imaginative strategies worked to perfection as the extended family and friends gathered at Passion Road yesterday afternoon for the tea party.

To say my aunt was surprised is an understatement. And that's when the organisers and cohorts get the biggest thrill. The icing on the cake? Great company, good food and a beautiful setting.

Being caught unawares aside, it is the thoughtfulness of family and friends that make such a celebration a memorable one. The care taken to plot, the cooperation extended by all the guests, the effort of having to take charge of the event as a whole, all these make the occasion meaningful.


Photo of Auntie Mary and family at Passion Road in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Newfound Respect

I have always maintained, and it is common knowledge, that whilst the wedding industry is a pretty big one, the practitioners are relatively close-knit. In doing what we do, we cannot operate alone. The nature of the business is such that we will have to cooperate and coordinate with fellow industry colleagues at some point or another, be it vendors, publishers or any party who has an interest in our line of work. Being petty and narrow-minded is therefore a silly attitude to adopt.

I have had my fair share of spats with those in our industry. But once we iron out our differences and an ‘olive branch of peace’ is accepted, we put the disagreement behind us and move forward. There is no reason why we cannot work together once we see eye-to-eye again. I can attest to this as I enjoy good working relationships with most, even those whom I previously had rows with.

I have newfound respect for a business associate who earlier this year approached me to collaborate, someone whom I did not always concur with. We agreed to put the past behind us and we have embarked on an alliance to promote each other’s services, bundled together. Things have been going well and a recent incident was proof that we can indeed develop good working relationships if we are loyal to one another, hold true to reciprocal principles and business ethics, and practise common decency. Do unto others what you would have others do unto you. I think that says it all really.


Photo of ring pillows by That Special Occasion.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Prayers

I have a reputation of being long-winded when praying at temples. Just ask my travel companions and most of them will tell you so. When on travels, I make it a point to stop by a temple if there is one in the vicinity. I also forewarn those traveling with me for the first time that it will take quite awhile; those who know of this trait of mine just wander off and have a look-see until I am done. I try not to take too long but I guess when one is praying, one has to be sincere. I also have a lot to ask for!

I don’t face such time constraints when in KL. I normally visit Thean Hou Temple on my own, and I am often done in half an hour. Wesak Day and Chinese New Year are exceptions. The throngs of crowd aside, there is much to pray for and many deities to pray to. The sense of spirituality amongst the worshippers gives rise to a sense of hope and well-being.

Incidentally, I also see no harm praying at any other house of worship. I have no qualms stepping into a church, mosque or Hindu temple to offer a silent prayer when the opportunity presents itself. I believe in the universal faith.


Photo of the Silver Pagoda in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Sweets

I think I have latent stress. I am not sure if such a condition even exists. Of late, I haven't had the need to vent frustration as often as I used to. I feel that I am being a bit more patient with my colleagues, be it at That Special Occasion or weddingsmalaysia. Basically, there hasn't been that many outward manifestations of stress.

Having said that, I nevertheless feel that I am not 100 per cent. Subconsciously, I suspect there is some worry, some stress-induced fatigue. Good thing is, I am recognising the warning signs; and will deal with them!

Perhaps that explains my sudden craving for sweets, conceivably an antidote for the covert stress that I am experiencing. I had a slice of blueberry pie with vanilla ice cream for dessert during lunch yesterday. And now? I could do with the berries and meringue concoction in the photo ........


Photo of dessert shot at Alexis Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.