Friday, December 31, 2010

Thanks 2010

2010 has been a year that made me realise the important things in life. I lost my father in January to cancer and his passing reinforced some of the lessons he taught me - the importance of family ties and kinship, integrity and to live my life as I deem fit as long as I am happy.

2010 has also been one where I have traveled much. Bali twice! Hong Kong, Singapore, Penang, Kuching, Ho Chi Minh City and the most significant, my solo trip to Turkey for my birthday. To see the world is something I always find inspiring and I hope to see more in the year ahead.

2010 also made me understand that some friends are more worth having than others. I appreciate the good ones, and I will certainly discard the ones that have done me wrong. It's the time of year to say 'good riddance to bad rubbish' and to be truly thankful for those in my inner circle who accept me for who I am and who put up with my nonsense.

2010 has made me a stronger person, one who faces challenges head on, who embraces the opportunities to scale new heights, who relishes new experiences, who tries a little harder to find the missing pieces in life.

2010 has been a milestone in more ways than one. Thanks for the good times and the not so good.

2011 beckons!


Photo of Suk Harn, mum and I at Pho 2000 in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam over the Christmas holidays.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Spoil Yourself

We deserve to spoil ourselves sometimes. We work hard, we suffer from stress, we take on challenges that life throws at us. So, we certainly deserve some spoiling every once in a while.

Spoiling oneself does not need to be extravagant, although extravagant indulgences from time to time ain't too bad either. Hanging out in a nice cafe for a couple of hours with a good book or magazine; a shopping spree; a weekend getaway; it's all about being relative. As long as you feel pampered, that's all that matters.

I've spoilt myself quite a bit this past year, particularly in the traveling department. And I do intend to continue to do so come 2011! So go on, indulge a bit, appreciate yourself more!


I had chocolate at Emporio Armani Caffe in Ho Chi Minh City a couple of days ago.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas And New Year Lights In Saigon

The festive lights have been shining bright in Saigon. This is a photo of the Christmas and New Year decor on Dong Khoi street, the main shopping thoroughfare in the city. The lights definitely add a festive dimension to the atmosphere and for visitors like us who are spending the festive season on holiday here, it very much contributes to our experience of the city.

One can see many whipping out their cameras, posing on the streets, snapping pictures. Not only tourists, the Vietnamese too seem to get caught up in the euphoria of the celebrations. I guess it is a season that generates happy vibes, a sense of hope and faith. A positive mindset for all of us to take into the new year.

This is my last night in Saigon and the experience has been a pretty good one. I am sure I will return at some point and there is certainly much more to see and do.


Photo shot on Boxing Day in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas In Saigon

I wasn't particularly in the Christmas mood before leaving KL earlier in the week but am definitely in the spirit here in Saigon. The streets have been dressed up, the restaurants have been fully booked and the people have been coming out to celebrate.

I would say that witnessing the Saigonese come out onto the streets and celebrate with such gusto has been a highlight of my visit. Horns blaring, the chaos of people on motorcycles jostling with people on foot, the way they party with reckless abandon, is an experience not easily forgotten.

We had a seafood Christmas lunch at Ngoc Suong, recommended by Leticia and Tjun Hong, and then a Christmas dinner of Hue cuisine at Mitau, the professed choice of Eileen's and Richard's when in Saigon. I ended the evening with a hot cocoa at the rooftop bar of the Rex Hotel, enjoying the retro songs crooned by the resident band, backed by the sounds of horns as well as the hustle and bustle of the surrounding streets below. As I took a slow walk back to my hotel, I marveled at the colonial architecture of City Hall, beautifully lit up, a perfect backdrop for photos of both the locals and tourists alike. And I said a little thanks for the opportunity to be here at this time of year. Merry Christmas Ho Chi Minh City!


Photo shot at the lobby of the Rex Hotel in Saigon, Vietnam.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Saigon On Christmas Eve

To say that it was an experience is an under-statement. I was told beforehand that Christmas Eve in Saigon could get pretty crazy. Well, I suppose the photo says it all!

It was truly a bit overwhelming being crushed in a crowd of Vietnamese and tourists alike. The photo was shot slightly after 9.00pm in the vicinity of Lam Son Park, somewhere between the Caravelle and Rex hotels as we made our way back to our hotel on foot. I had had dinner at Vietnam House on Dong Khoi before heading to the rooftop bar of the Caravelle Hotel and decided to head back as the crowd swelled.

On hindsight, it is ironic that I would get packed like sardines as I don't even bother heading into town for such celebrations when in KL. I suppose this is what holidays are all about - new experiences. Merry Christmas everyone!


Photo of a sea of people at Lam Son Park in Saigon, Vietnam.

Great View In Saigon On Christmas Eve

I was enjoying a hot chocolate on the balcony of the rooftop bar of Caravelle Hotel this Christmas Eve and was mesmerised by the views below.

There were throngs of people converging near the Opera House to celebrate Christmas but I particularly liked this scene of the Hotel Continental Saigon. This photo was taken slightly before 8.30pm and by the time we hit the streets at 9.00pm, we were packed like sardines. That experience I will leave to another post.

Having enjoyed chilling at the Saigon Bar balcony at the Caravelle, I am making it a point to visit the rooftop bars of the Rex Hotel and the Majestic Hotel respectively in the days to come.


Photo of Hotel Continental Saigon, shot from the Saigon Bar balcony, on the rooftop of the Caravelle Hotel in Saigon, Vietnam.

Saigon

I am spending this Christmas in Ho Chi Minh City, or as the locals still affec-tionately call it, Saigon. It is indeed a bustling city, in fact, bustling does not even begin to describe this metropolis in the south of Vietnam.

The first thing one has to learn when in Saigon is how to cross the street. The sheer number of motorcycles as well as a myriad of other vehicles make it a challenge and it is definitely not for the faint hearted. Once such a skill is mastered however, Saigon is pretty easy to navigate, in particular District 1, where most of the pertinent historical and architectural monuments are located as well as shopping, cafes and restaurants. Even a casino, not that I gamble.

Having been in the city only a day and a half, there is lots more to explore and experience, and even much more to sample with regards to food. There is certainly a buzz here in Saigon, and I hear that Christmas Eve will see jam-packed streets in District 1. That's something to look forward to this evening.


Photo of Rex Hotel and the traffic at the intersection in front of the property, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Appreciation

It's nice to be appreciated. It's also good to be appreciative. This past year has been a roller coaster ride for me. Exciting travels, fulfilling achievements, melancholic spells, the full works. Despite the ups and downs, I truly appreciate the experiences that the year has presented.

A miniature Christmas tree from a wedding industry friend, a handmade thank-you card from a client whom I designed a prom dress for, a framed photo from a bride depicting the wedding gown we made for her, these are all appreciative gifts and I in turn appreciate them wholeheartedly.

To learn to appreciate life even more next year, now that is something I look forward to.


Photo shot at That Special Occasion.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Crazy

The crazy things we do sometimes. Here is a photo of me together with Eileen and Richard, stripping and then jumping into the pool during Leticia's and Tjun Hong's wedding in Bali. We had of course come prepared with our swimwear and had been willing to add to the merriment if the opportunity arose. To get others into the pool, some need to dive head in first, but in our case, we just leapt.

It is moments such as this that makes life fun to live. 'What the heck' is a motto that I sometimes live by. Those within my inner circle know how I can let my hair down if I want to and I only share such situations with those whom I have come to know well.

What is life without a little mischief now and then, don't you reckon?


Photo by Jim Liaw, courtesy of Leticia and Tjun Hong.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Inspired

Don't ask me why but I suddenly feel very inspired. I was supposed to wind down work these last two weeks of the year, spend some time with my godparents who are arriving from Adelaide in a few days, my mum and my sister. And what do I do? I accept an offer to work on a writing project.

Thing is, I always relish a challenge. The challenge was to pick up where someone left off. Actually, not quite so. I'd be starting from scratch as I never like to clean up someone else's mess. There are good foundations though and it's always easier to take on a project that has some good content in place, in this case, pretty good photos. I'll just have to put on my thinking cap to illustrate the images through words.

Of course, the fact that a friend asked, tipped the scale in favour of my participation. Now, I've set myself a goal of completing the text before Chinese New Year. That's quite a tall order but as long as I keep myself motivated, I seldom miss deadlines. Fingers crossed!


Photo of my congratulatory message to Leticia and Tjun Hong on 10.10.10.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Variety

I often get asked why I do so many things. Be it work, leisure or my personal life, I seem to pack a lot into a day. Perhaps it is some form of escapism. I suppose if I were to go to a shrink, he or she may be able to pin point my necessity to always be on the go. Don't get me wrong, I can certainly spend a day lazing by the beach or pool doing nothing, but I seem to be always on the lookout for new experiences, new challenges to conquer, new paths to venture into.

Variety is the spice of life. I suppose that sums it up. I have been very lucky and fortunate in some aspects of life, not so in others. In that respect, there is still much to improve on, many more aspirations to fulfill. That's what keeps me motivated and looking toward the future.

This time of year always gets me into a reflective mood. I look back at what I have achieved in the past year, what I could have done better. More importantly, I look forward to embracing the new year and the potential it offers. To have a greater variety of experiences, to fill in the missing links, to complete the jigsaw puzzle with the missing pieces so to speak.


Being interviewed by Patrick Low and Jason Victor during the first Photographers' Chillout in November; photo courtesy of CK San Photography.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Encounters

My friend Eileen describes herself as MARCOMS chick, wedding planner by day, writer by night, triathlete on the weekends and soon to be crusader of those in need. By and large, that certainly is an apt description.

Currently residing and working in Phnom Penh, we keep in touch via Facebook, email and during her periodic trips home. Most of all, I keep track of her musings in two of her blogs. Her newer one entitled 'An Encounter With ........' is an honest take on the lives and perspectives of everyday people. I find it an immensely interesting read. Her other blog 'Messages At Midnight' is more personal in nature but no less riveting.

We share a common bond in expressing some of our thoughts through words.


Photo of Eileen, her other half Richard and I in Bali, Indonesia.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

A Good Guest

A good guest is one who doesn't complain. Instead, he or she appreciates the effort put in by the host, and makes it a point to enjoy the food, the drinks, the atmosphere, the company. You've been invited to a party, so why complain when you can have a good time. It's all in the mindset if you ask me.

From a personal standpoint, the rule of thumb that I advocate is that if you have nothing good to say, then don't say anything. And if one is deserving of a compliment, then I offer words of appreciation and encouragement. As a guest, I often put myself in the shoes of the host. Wouldn't you want your guests to have a good time, wouldn't you want them to love the food you've prepared? If one sees it from this perspective, then one will be more likely than not, more appreciative.

And my golden rule? If the host has personally cooked a meal, I never ever ask for salt and pepper or any other condiments for that matter, if they are not offered to me. We ought to respect the chef's culinary skills, don't you think?


Photo of a sidewalk tea house near the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, Turkey.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Good Host

A good host is someone who makes the effort to ensure that his or her guests have a good time. Take a dinner party for instance. Sure, good food is always appreciated. Drink too for that matter.

For me though, I look at the other little details. An sms reminder a few days before the party with a teaser of the planned menu. A text of the address so as not to lose our way. Pairing drinks with the appetisers and main courses. Coffee for the coffee drinkers, tea for the non-coffee fans. A variant of decadent chocolate after another for dessert. Most of all, does the host give up the best seat in the house? Does he or she forgo place settings if there aren't enough to go round?

I may be in an industry that celebrates special occasions but I readily admit that I do not necessarily have the required patience to host a party that pays so much attention to detail. That's why I love working with my industry friends who are event planners for they are the ones who can carry out such functions with aplomb. But going back to why I am writing this post. Well, I had the pleasure of being invited to a dinner party last week that inspired these musings. Here's to that perfect host.


Dining alfresco in Istanbul, Turkey.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Catching Up

I met with Ken Lin and David over the weekend. Ken Lin was in town from Penang for a function and David arranged for a get together over a leisurely lunch. The three of us have known each other since 1988, when we were in boarding school at Immanuel College in Adelaide.

We always make it a point to meet, be it in Penang or KL, depending on who's travelling. The only one who seems to be missing at these gatherings is Ken Bin, but I shan't dwell on that. What matters is those who turn up.

It is always good to catch up, share news of the latest happenings in our lives. Of course we are in touch on Facebook, but it is never really the same as chatting in person when the opportunity arises. Kudos to us three ... self praise is indeed well-earned.


Photo of Ken Lin, David and I in El Meson in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Character

Two events that played out in the past few weeks have made me realise how important character is. Apart from integrity, class in character is also something to value. I suppose this subconsciously explains why I only have a small but close circle of friends.

If I were to think it through carefully, I guess I can categorise my close knit groups into those from boarding school and uni in Adelaide, from hotel school in Le Bouveret, a colleague from Genting, a couple from the advertising industry, some from the wedding business and a few personal friends, even a previous client or two. These are the people whom I can trust. To what extent I trust them varies of course, and they reciprocate in the reflective proportions. What I do know is that these are the ones who will stand by me and who will stand up for me. I would do the same for them. Such relationships are a blessing and I am grateful for them.

The aformentioned events basically left a somewhat bitter taste. I would just say this, when I treat people well, I expect to be treated in the same manner. When I offer someone respect, I expect respect in return. When we do a good job, a 'thank you' would be nice. As for the nasty ones, well, I don't tolerate them, and I certainly don't have time for nonsense. Most of all, for those who betray my trust, well, what is there to say except that I should have known better. And of course, there are new and better friends to be made. And by the way, you definitely need to trust those around you when a photo such as the one above is captured!


Photo shot in Bali by Janice Chan.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Integrity

We, well most of us anyway, look for meaning in the work we do. It is so important to have fulfillment and personal satisfaction in our careers. Many would know that I do a lot of different things when it comes to work. I am a publisher, editor, designer, news presenter. Each offers me a different perspective, different challenges.

Relationships are also crucial in our careers. Some are purely business related, others are more personal in nature. I tend to associate with people who are like-minded. Colleagues and friends who are just as motivated as I am, who set high standards for themselves, who appreciate the hard work put into the creative process, who always aspire to seek knowledge so as to become better, who strive to do the best that they can, and most of all, who value integrity. Granted, I can be difficult at times, but aren't creative people allowed some leeway? Of course, not everyone shares the same values, and we will certainly come across those who do not subscribe to what we hold dear. It is really not something that we have control over, so I suppose the best thing to do is to remain cordial and move on.

I keep reminding myself that the ultimate goal is to enjoy one's work. Some days may be more disappointing than others but on the whole, I think I'm doing fine. My motto for 2011? Work to travel! I am hoping for a trip every two months. That's a huge goal to achieve and I shall definitely work towards that. Enjoy, that's what I intend to do.


Photo shot in Kuching recently, courtesy of ShenSnaps Photography.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Leap Of Faith

Sometimes one finds oneself in a situation where one has to decide whether to take a leap of faith. In instances where facts and figures are part of the equation, it is an easier decision to make. The level of uncertainty rises when one has to only rely on gut feel and instinct. And the reality is that when the resultant outcome will be of a big impact, for better or worse that is, then whether to jump or not takes on such bigger proportions.

It's true when people say 'you only live once'. And if you subscribe to that motto, then perhaps a leap ain't such a big deal. That is if one is willing and ready to accept the ramifications.

Yes, I am rambling, in the hope that by rambling, I may find some light at the end of the tunnel. Perhaps I should just bite the bullet and hope that the outcome is a pleasant one.


Photo shot at Yoros Kalesi in Anadolu Kavagi, Turkey, with a view of the Bosphorus meeting the Black Sea.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Emotion And Passion

I am in Kuching to attend the dedication of ShenSnaps Photo-graphy's gallery. What struck me most at the ceremony was the emotional testimony that Shen Yeo shared with all present. I am certain that my fellow industry colleagues - Louis Pang, Jim Liaw, Ning Liaw, Alvin Leong and John Seah - would share my sentiments. We all felt the passion.

In his speech, Shen spoke of the milestones that marked his journey so far, the people who helped him along the way, the support of family and friends, the unplanned coincidences that opened doors. For the faithful, like Shen, the latter are the work of God. For others like me, we may think of it as fate. Whatever the case may be, the lesson to be learnt is that when opportunities are presented to us, we should seize them.

Thanks Shen for inviting me to be part of this meaningful day. I look forward to exciting times ahead for ShenSnaps Photography.


Photo by Shen Yeo.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Visit By Martin Kisseleff

It's been a number of years since I've seen Mr Kisseleff of Cesar Ritz Colleges in Switzer-land. According to him, the last time he was here in Malaysia was probably 5 or 6 years ago. So, it was a pleasant surprise when I received an sms from a fellow alumni inviting me to a dinner hosted by Mr Kisseleff Monday evening.

I always make it a point to attend alumni functions when I can, be it primary school, university or graduate school. And whilst none from my batch attended on Monday, I also enjoy mingling with those from other years. These are the friends whom you can count on to show up.

Some are still hoteliers while others like myself have moved on to other things. But we share a common bond. A link to the happy times as students in Switzerland.


Photo of Cesar Ritz Colleges alumni, shot in Penang Village, Great Eastern Mall, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Hope And Faith

A friend was lamenting the lack of success in finding love despite having tried very hard. Having seen so many other friends happily coupled, it has been rather disheartening for this friend of mine. More so when it seemed so easy for those who are married or in long term relationships.

Well, I am certainly not qualified to give advice in matters of the heart. So all I could muster was 'it'll happen when it happens'. Not that comforting words I must say. But I definitely do believe in fate and I suppose that response was based on this belief.

I also feel that while trying is important, trying too hard may be counterproductive too. I would think that it is necessary to be aware and sensitive to one's surrounds, and when an opportunity does appear, then act on it. Of course, this is easier said than done most of the time. To my friend, I would just say this, keep the faith. Hope is what keeps us going. And when fate finally does deal its hand, I hope that it will be a card of hearts.


Photo shot at Ku De Ta in Bali, Indonesia.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Linda And Derek

I came back from lunch yesterday to a beautiful framed photo of the wedding gown we created for Linda. Linda had dropped by while I was out and left me this thoughtful gift plus an even more thoughtful hand-written 'thank you' card.

Although I work in an industry that many regard as a happy one, it is not without its downsides. I often rant, and stress is an all too common everpresent pest. But a thoughtful act from an appreciative client does make it a bit more worthwhile.

Having seen some of the photos shot by Fiona of FIFOTO Photography, I must say that Linda and Derek do know how to pull off a great wedding. My best wishes again to you both.


Photo courtesy of FIFOTO Photography.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Doors And Windows

I don't watch that much TV. Correction, I don't watch that much TV on TV. I watch some online. Grey's Anatomy. Brothers and Sisters. 24. Britain's Got Talent. The X Factor. Small Space Big Style.

It's funny sometimes what one can learn from watching such shows. Sure, it's entertainment, but when one can relate to the dialogue, that's when one gets hooked, that's when I reflect at the end of that particular episode.

Here's what I learnt very recently ... when a door is slightly ajar, perhaps we should open it fully; when there is a window in a room, let's look out and see what the world has to offer; when someone comes through the door, pay adequate attention; leaving the curtains drawn means that we don't get the opportunity to look through the window; sometimes we should close the door to a chapter in our lives and at other times walk through the door into the unknown; open the window and breathe in fresh perspectives. Valuable lessons indeed. Now to put them into practice.


A quote I shot from a wall in Seminyak, Bali, Indonesia.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Working Together

I am happy to say that for the most part, my friends and industry colleagues within the weddingsmalaysia 'family' get along well and are always willing to cooperate and lend a helping hand when the need arises.

In an industry such as ours, we can seldom work in isolation. There are too many components of a wedding for us not to be intertwined in one way or another.

Here's a photo of decor by My Bridal Florist, shot by Andy Chin Studio during the recent wedding fair at Crowne Plaza Mutiara Kuala Lumpur. Us non-photographers often rely on our more artistic counterparts to capture our work in a stylised way only they can. A fine example of how cultivated relationships are a boon in our line of work.


Photo of flowers by My Bridal Florist, courtesy of Andy Chin Studio.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Sound Of Music's 45th Anniversary

As you may be aware from my 2 previous posts, I am in reunion mode. It came as a pleasant surprise then that I read online that the entire cast of The Sound Of Music was reunited on an episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show very recently to mark the movie's 45th anniversary.

I remember watching The Sound Of Music as a young kid and have since rewatched it countless times. For me, it remains as my favourite musical movie of all time. It is a classic, appealing to generations, and the songs are timeless, catchy tunes within which some valuable lessons can be learnt.

Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer as well as the rest of the cast who portrayed the Von Trapp children were on hand to chat with Oprah and watching the show definitely brought back many wonderful memories.

Here's the interview on Oprah :




And of course the beautiful song Edelweiss.

Enjoy.


Photo of the Von Trapps in The Sound Of Music.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A Personal Touch

How important is the personal touch? I'd say very important. We receive gifts all the time - I may be prone to exaggeration but you get what I mean - but if you think about it, what we remember best are the gifts that have a personal touch.

From something as simple as beautiful wrapping to a present as priceless as a painting, I admire the effort taken to make it extra special. When I receive such a gift, I appreciate it. If handmade, I don't look for flaws, instead, I marvel at the artistry, the originality. Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder so they say, and for me, the beauty lies in creativity, inventiveness and the personalisation. The effort.

Here's a photo of Izlyn, just having won the lucky draw grand prize at our primary school reunion recently, a painting of acrylic and crayon by our friend Shazlina. When I first suggested at one of our organising committee meetings that Shazlina do a painting to be offered as a prize, she was hesitant. Who would want her painting she contemplated. I said I would. And my other friends concurred. I am really glad that our tacit coercion and gentle persuasion worked. And when the time came for us to allocate the prize, the committee at once decided that it had to be the grand prize. Afterall, what could be more meaningful than winning a painting created by a childhood friend? We're happy for you Izlyn, we notice that the painting is now proudly hanging on a wall in your office. As for Shaz, well, she's deluged with demands from the rest of us ... we want a painting too!!


Photo of Shazlina and Izlyn at the SSP82s @ 40 birthday party and reunion.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

SSP82s@40 Reunion And Birthday Party

Months of planning by the organising committee, over in one night. But what a worthwhile endeavour it was. The last such major exercise was 7 years ago where we managed to round up 150 or so of our Standard 6 schoolmates. This time around, we got 50. The organising committee were a wee bit disappointed at first when we concluded the ticket sales; we should have managed more, but perhaps age and the passing of time had played a role in the smaller turnout? Over many sessions of food and banter at Nina's as well as Nik Azhan's and Shazlina's homes, and nasi lemak at Khairul's and Zamri's at Forum 19, we looked back at our time in school, we lamented at those who did not seem to be as enthusiastic as we were, we rejoiced at those who confirmed their attendance, all these over a couple of months. And in the end, we pulled off a mighty awesome birthday and reunion bash. In a sense, the smaller numbers made the party more intimate, where we could mingle better, reminisce more fervently, tease to our hearts' content, laugh and cackle without a care for the world, sing with much gusto, snap photos as though the cameras were our first, and most importantly rekindle the bonds that held us together as childhood friends.

We caught up with some whom we had not seen in 28 years, showered appreciation on those who were just as supportive when we last held such a party 7 years ago. And for those who have been meeting up and keeping in touch more regularly, we still shared in the excitement of those who were swept up by the euphoria of meeting long lost friends. So precious are these moments, so cherished are these emotions. For the organising committee, this is why we do what we do. Time passes so quickly - decades have flown by - and we don't see each other as often as we should, for most of us anyway. A milestone such as this is a catalyst to remind us of those we may not have thought of for many a time, to jog our memory of the wonderful memories we had as primary school kids, to prompt us to re-establish friendships with those who were once our best mates, our pre-teen crushes (as was evident with all the teasing that took place last evening during the karaoke duets), our friends with no pre-conditions.

As we bade our farewells at the end of the evening, we promised each other that we would do teh tarik, perhaps hang out at Khairul's and Zamri's 'Nasi Lemak Mak Lang'. The enthusiasm was infectious, the challenge is to maintain the momentum. More often than not, we hit a high at such reunions only to see the passion wane thereafter. I know for one that those of us in the organising committee will continue to get together often. Here is an open invitation to join us whenever such an opportunity arises. Think of the fun you had last night, reflect on the rush you felt when greeting your friends. That's reason enough for you to stay in touch, don't you think?


Photo shot at the Terrace of Saddle Coffee House in Bukit Kiara Club, Kuala Lumpur.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Doubletree by Hilton, Kuala Lumpur

I was at the launch of ExKLusively Yours, Doubletree by Hilton, Kuala Lumpur's announce-ment of its bridal month in November.

With me at the event on Tuesday were members of the weddingsmalaysia family who are participating partners for the bridal month. They include Kid Chan Studio, My Colorful Memories, Bridal Glam, That Special Occasion, Pretty In White, Acadia Card, Wicked Wax, Wishing Tree and TrulyScrumptious! among others.

It's going to be an exciting month come November, particularly for the soon-to-be-weds who are still looking for a venue to host their wedding banquet. Upgraded wedding packages, weekly wedding workshops and the chance to win a free banquet with the inaugural Brides Race - these will certainly add to the excitement.


Photo of participating partners with Ian Barrow, General Manager of Doubletree by Hilton, Kuala Lumpur.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Crowne Plaza Mutiara Kuala Lumpur

The season for wedding fairs has started and we co-organised the first one this past Sunday at Crowne Plaza Mutiara Kuala Lumpur. There will be more to come as each of our hotel partners (by 'our' I mean weddingsmalaysia) vie for banquet bookings for weddings in 2011.

It is always a challenge organising such events. There is lots to do but thankfully, we have a large pool of industry vendors to work with, most of whom are quick to respond to invites to participate. And we are always appreciative of their support.

There are more interesting things to come, in particular in November. I'll save that for another post.


Photo shot at the Grand Nirwana Ballroom, Crowne Plaza Mutiara Kuala Lumpur.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Culmination

Saturday evening was the culmination of Leticia's and Tjun Hong's wedding festivities. Stretched over 2 weeks or a year if we were to include the ROM luncheon last year, and straddling 2 countries, I would have to say that it has been a thrilling experience. So much attention to detail, so well orchestrated, so much emotion, so many surprises, so many well executed plans, so many unexpected twists and turns, but most importantly, so much love - passionate love, romantic love, family ties and friendship.

I suspect that having put so much effort into celebrating this milestone in their lives, Leticia and Tjun Hong may experience some withdrawal symptoms soon enough, but having said that, I think all those so lucky to have been part of the experience would feel privileged to have been included in the journey.

To have been a couple for 18 years, and now officially Mr & Mrs, gives many hope, myself included, that love is definitely here to stay. I, like so many of their other good friends, look forward to the good times that lie ahead and the many anniversary celebrations that are to come.


Photo of Leticia and Tjun Hong at their Chinese wedding banquet at Thean Hou Temple in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Feelin' Good

The past few weeks have been pretty good. A great holiday with good friends and witnessed the wedding of Leticia and Tjun Hong in Bali. A relaxing 6 days definitely. Here's Eileen's day by day account of the trip :





I've also been reconnecting with childhood friends of mine as we plan a reunion party, scheduled for next week, for our primary schoolmates. Although we only see each other more often as events such as the upcoming one approach, we still have everyone in our thoughts every now and then. The challenge is to rekindle and strengthen such bonds over time.

On the work front, things are going relatively smoothly. Being in Bali has cleared my head somewhat of irrational sentiments, perhaps the giant waves of Double Six beach knocked some sense into me. I have decided on what lies ahead as the new year beckons. And once I have made a firm decision, I am normally in a better frame of mind to tackle what is to come. It's exciting times. What needs to be done, has to be done. It's been a few good weeks yes.


Photo with Leticia and Tjun Hong after our rendition of 'The Moon Represents My Heart' at their wedding in Bali, Indonesia, courtesy of Lester Hsu.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Work Hard, Play Hard

By most accounts I work pretty hard. In fact, some would say that I am a workaholic. That's true to a certain extent. One tends to work longer hours when one is self-employed. I've learnt one very important lesson the past few years and that is to reward oneself when it is deserving.

Work hard, play hard. The latter for the most part would mean travel, sometimes a meal in a good restaurant, often retail therapy, from time to time a massage or reflexology. What is life without little pleasures along the way? Some would liken it to 'stop and smell the roses'.

I caught 'Eat, Pray, Love' the other night. How nice would it be to be able to take a year off work. I guess it is important to be contented with one's lot. I should not have much to complain. Having said that, human nature would have us want more, to fill the missing pieces so to speak. I came across this quote in a travel magazine ... 'He who seeks does not find, but he who does not seek will be found' - Franz Kafka, born in Prague.


Photo of me, Leticia, Debra, Tze Han, Tjun Hong, Richard and Eileen in Bali, Indonesia.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Whatever

When travelling in a group, I try to adopt the 'whatever' attitude. Too many cooks spoil the broth as they say and as such, if I am not responsible for the itinerary, I normally just go with the flow.

Lately, for the past 2 years to be exact, I've taken a liking to travelling with Tjun Hong, Leticia, Debra, Richard and Eileen, good friends of mine who happen to be in the same industry in which I work. We share similar interests, a wicked sense of humour, good taste; we all love to spa, though Eileen would need some cajoling to join the rest of us.

I've done Bali with all of them, twice. I've done Phnom Penh with Eileen and Richard too. I look forward to more sojourns. No firm plans as yet ... after all, Leticia's and Tjun Hong's wedding celebrations ain't over yet, there's still the big party in KL on 23 October. A possibility would be June next year for the Bali Triathlon. No, I am not competing, but Eileen may be, and we'll be there to cheer her on ... an excuse for the rest of us to go eat, go spa and go shop, in the guise of being supportive friends!


Photo of Tjun Hong, Leticia, Eileen, Richard and I at Ibu Oka in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Dressing The Part

I think it is important to dress the part when one is invited to a wedding. The couple would have spent much time deciding on a theme, spent much funds creating an appropriate ambience to reflect the chosen theme, spent considerable fuss over their bridal party's attire to ensure that they too complement the setting. In short, most couples want a perfect wedding, and as a reminder of this milestone in their lives, perfect photos as well.

Which is why, we as guests should dress the part too. I do not mean having to splurge on attire. What I do mean is making an effort to look as best as one can be, in the spirit of the wedding one is attending.

I always feel privileged to be invited and if I make it a point to attend, then I embrace the role of a good guest wholeheartedly, and that means appreciating the good, ignoring the not so good, be willing to go the extra mile for the couple if requested to do so. Only then do we really become part of the wedding. And as for the dressing part ... well, a little vanity goes a long way!


Photo of me shot by Eileen at Leticia's and Tjun Hong's wedding in Bali, Indonesia.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Leticia & Tjun Hong 10.10.10

What a fab wedding it was. There was much anti-cipation, there was much suspense. And boy were emotions running high. All amidst the beautiful backdrop of Villa Pushpapuri in Ketewel, Sanur, on the beautiful island of Bali.

I came away from the wedding with one thought in particular, and that is, regardless of the circumstances, whether within our control or out of our hands, a wedding is really all about the power of love and friendship. Nothing else really matters. It is the experience for the newlyweds and how they share it with all present that makes a wedding memorable.

I take my hat off to Leticia, Tjun Hong and their planning team. The attention to detail was impressive. Their effort to make all of us feel comfortable and part of their big day was clearly evident. And I'd like to think that all of us also reciprocated in our own little way in making it a little bit extra special for the couple too. Much congratulations again Leticia and Tjun Hong. And yes, it was a truly wonderful experience.


Photo of Richard, Eileen, Debra, Leticia, Tjun Hong and I.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Sate Lilit

Arrived in Bali yesterday where Eileen, Richard and I are spending a few days eating our way round Ubud before heading back to Seminyak for Leticia and Tjun Hong's wedding this weekend.

Here we are savouring sate lilit at the Gianyar Night Market. Yup, we can go high end, we can also do street food, plus everything else in between. Same thing for accommodation. We've been in Ubud for two days and we've stayed at two different resorts. Ubud Inn which is more affordable and the luxe Maya Ubud Resort & Spa.

A few more friends arrive tomorrow. And more eating beckons, in particular Seafood BBQ at Jimbaran Bay tomorrow evening.


Photo of Eileen, Richard and I at Gianyar Night Market, Bali, Indonesia.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

R & R

I am heading to Bali for some rest and recreation, and of course to attend a wedding as well. Some of us are arriving ahead of the wedding in order to have a little holiday ... laze by the pool, do a spa session or two, indulge in the food, some shopping perhaps.

Leticia and Tjun Hong's wedding? On 10.10.10. It'll be exciting and it'll all begin with the rehearsal dinner the night before. Definitely looking forward to that.

Post wedding? I'll be staying on for a couple more days for more rest and relaxation. Bali here I come.


Photo of the Gulf of Antalya, Turkey.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Reminder

A friend just lost a loved one to an accident yesterday. Another reminder that we should live life to the fullest. This sad news is compounded by the fact that my uncle also left us last month in an accident. Fate shocks us without any warning.

We always remind ourselves to make every minute count. In reality, we seldom do that. Most times, we get bogged down with work, with the schedules we have to adhere to, with the deadlines we have to meet. Only when we receive shocking news do we take a step back and reflect.

My friend Lee Kuen posted this on my Facebook wall in response to my reminder to live life to the fullest ... to make time for people whom we hold dear in our hearts, and to pursue dreams that we have long cherished. Hear ye, hear ye.


Photo of a minaret of the Aya Sofya in Istanbul, Turkey.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Decisions

I am pretty decisive by nature. Be it in business or my personal life, I seldom pro-crastinate, I generally am quick to take a stand. I make firm decisions and don't normally waver.

These past few months however, I have been going back and forth, back and forth, back and forth about one particular issue. It's business-related and I think I am guilty of letting sentiment get to me. Mixing sentiment with business is not what I normally advocate and therein lies the dilemma now that I've let it creep into my decision making process. I now seem to have conflicting emotions about which route to take. It varies depending on my state of mind at a particular instant. Which is why I am going to make it a point to take some more time to think it over.

Perhaps Bali will knock some sense into me ... while lazing by the pool, watching a sunset perhaps or maybe during a relaxing massage, common sense will prevail I hope.


Waiting for dinner to be served in Istanbul, Turkey.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Countdown

The countdown has begun to my trip to Bali. Attending Leticia and Tjun Hong's wedding on 10.10.10 plus a little pre and post wedding holiday.

I am of course looking forward to the wedding. It's been the 'talk' among our gang for the past year. I am also in desperate need of a little r&r. Let's just say that the past few months have been challenging. I am clearing as much work as I can prior to the trip so that there are less tasks to tackle when I return. I ain't a fan of the first day back at work after a holiday.

While relaxing by the pool at Maya Ubud Resort & Spa (one of our stays), I'll be contemplating, in particular what I'd like to achieve, what I'd like to experience, what I'd like my life to be like in 2011. Of course, what travels are in store too.


Photo of one of the pools at Maya Ubud Resort & Spa in Bali, Indonesia.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Pre-Wedding : Leticia & Tjun Hong

This photo was taken on Friday, 16 October 2009, the day Leticia and Tjun Hong legally became husband and wife (you can read about it here). I was really honoured to have been invited to the ROM lunch then and am again honoured to have been invited to Bali for the wedding next month.

A year has passed since that fateful day and I am grateful to have been part of the wedding plans of these good friends of mine. The bride has even given me permission to slap her if she becomes too much of a bridezilla, and I say this with much love! Being a wedding planner herself, Leticia is one for perfection, well, as perfect as one can get to I suppose. I designed her wedding gown, as I did for our other good friend Eileen last year, though they are polar opposites when it comes to what they want (yes, you can read about it here). For Leticia, let's just say I did what I was told, she's that adamant, and even I have to admit that the gown turned out really well, though I did have my reservations at the onset about whether the design would be suitable for a beach wedding in Bali. Now, I love it and I can't wait for the reaction of all the wedding guests when they see her in it. I also did the bridesmaids' dresses, a pocket square for the bridesman (you did not read wrong!), altered both fathers' shirts to fit better, as well as designed outfits for the mothers, not to mention attire for industry friends who've been invited to the bash too. That's a whole lot of work, and that's not counting the bride's additional outfits. Having said that, it was a total pleasure, and I am not saying that just because that's what one does for good friends. Ask Debra about the invites and I am sure she will say the same (that in itself warrants a post as long as this).

This is by far one of the most enthusiastic weddings I've been involved in. There's the wedding proper in Bali, and there's the bigger bash back home later. And boy, do Leticia and Tjun Hong know how to get us all excited. We have received in total, 6 newsletters leading up to the big day, keeping us informed of developments and whetting our appetites for what is to come. For now, our attention is all focused on Bali (read Eileen's take here). Thanks to Richard, our itinerary (by our, I mean Richard, Eileen, Debra and I) for our pre and post wedding holiday is all set, thanks to Leticia, our spa sessions are all booked, pre-thanks to Jim in the hope that he'll capture some great shots of us and not only the bride and groom (since we've made a huge effort to dress according to the theme!). To Shirlyn and Leonard, good luck to the both of you when we land in Bali, you'll both be responsible for perfection to say the least! And Shirlyn, we have received strict instructions to refer to you for all our needs haha! And to Cindy, just make Leticia look beautiful and all will be good!

When all is said and done, I am writing this post purely because I know Leticia and Tjun Hong will appreciate it, in particular Leticia. She is one sentimental person, much like me. I will not be surprised if she prints this out and files it in her scrapbook. Then years down the road, she may just whip it out when we're all having one of our 'makans' and we can have a good laugh.

For now, here are some thoughts of the bride herself, and yes, I do have to remember to bring along the customised passport the soon-to-be-weds designed and printed for every guest, now that's what I call making sure your guests are well prepared and taken care of.

Leticia's thoughts :






Photo shot at The Dining Room of Carcosa Seri Negara in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

I Choose

I was watching an episode of Grey's Anatomy Season 7 in which a patient tells Meredith what led to the choices she made in life. The choices are ours really, and though I believe in fate, I also believe that we control our own destiny in some way through the decisions we take. We choose.

So ................

I choose to put my best foot forward in all aspects of my life.

I choose not to settle for second best, it's all or nothing.

I choose to be as much of a perfectionist as I can be.

I choose to appreciate and be grateful for the little pleasures in life.

I choose to stop and smell the roses every now and then.

I choose to work hard and play hard.

I choose to reward myself from time to time.

I choose to put family and good friends high on my priority list.

I choose to travel and see the world.

I choose to be difficult when the situation warrants it!


Photo of the Season 7 cast of Grey's Anatomy.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Something To Look Forward To

I, like many of my friends work hard. I'd like to think then that we deserve to play hard too. And nothing epitomises that more than a holiday.

I'm privileged to have been invited to a destination wedding next month, a beach wedding to be exact. I've been looking forward to it for quite some time for a number of reasons. Firstly, the couple in question of course, both friends of mine, both caring and with much integrity. Secondly, the guest list which includes some other good friends of mine, all great travel companions. And thirdly, well, I've managed to work in a little holiday pre and post wedding, with said travel mates.

I'm counting down the days and as with every impending trip, the anticipation grows daily. There's still a bit to be done - finalise itinerary with transport at the destination, currency exchange, sort out my camera which is currently being serviced, consider attire and pack, you know the drill. Anticipation ........


A beautiful sunset.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Food With Dave And Elaine

Cousins Elaine and Dave are back in town with their kids. And like we always do, we've been getting together for 'makan's. Dave would concur that it's good food whenever we catch up, not shopping, not sightseeing, but food.

We've had a couple of meals together these past 2 weeks; I never paid attention before, but I gather that perhaps 'kangkong belacan' is Dave's favourite Malaysian vegetable dish, not bad for an Aussie. So 'kangkong belacan' was on the menu tonight. So was claypot chicken with salted fish, sweet and sour pork, fried crispy pork in dark soy sauce, four 'heavenly king' vegetables with dried shrimp and chilli, deep fried 'wan yue' fish in soy sauce, braised tofu with prawns and vegetables as well as sizzling venison. We were eight adults and two kids, and we literally swept the plates clean. It is extremely enjoyable having a meal with these cousins of mine, they really appreciate the cooking that we sometimes take for granted.

Elaine summed it up best. When I said, "We always say that the servings are too large but yet we 'sapu' everything", she replied, "See who's eating with you lah". Need I say more. Next 'makan', Wednesday evening! Fuiyoh!


Photo of Dave, Elaine, my sis Suk Harn and I shot last October during Auntie Mary's birthday celebration.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Reflect And Learn

I find myself in one of those moods. Looking back at what might have been, what could have been. What if I had chosen another route when I reached that particular crossroad? I find myself in such a temperament from time to time.

Some say it is not healthy, since we cannot change the past. I think it is good to reflect, re-think it through, and hopefully realise that there is no right or wrong. Whatever decisions we make in life, we live with them, we learn to live with the resultant outcomes, good or not so good. That is the lesson to be learnt.

So as I sit here and brood, I'd like to think that I'll be in a better frame of mind tomorrow. There's much to be savoured in life.


Photo shot at Taksim Square in Beyoglu, Istanbul, Turkey.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Hiplist : Wedding Photographers 2010

Message From The Publisher & Editor-In-Chief


This 4th issue of The Hiplist : Wedding Photographers is an interesting one, with a variety of photographers featured, each offering a different perspective, at different price levels. It is heartening to see that despite the at times soft economic climate, couples are still placing a premium on independent, specialist photographers to document this milestone in their lives.

This publication will serve as an introduction to a number of our wedding industry colleagues, not only photographers but also designers and makeup artists, eco-venues even that are perfect locations for pre-wedding shoots. We hope you find your preferred vendors here.

Explore, enjoy and be inspired ........

Kris Wong


Sunday, September 12, 2010

Mini Facelift

We recently had a mini facelift at That Special Occasion. We've always tried to avoid having to do any renovation works; the thought of having to move stuff and pack is very much off-putting.

However, after being in business for 10 years, it was time for a badly needed touch up. A fresh coat of paint, new carpeting, retro drapes.

It's funny how minor accents can reinvigorate the senses. We feel a bit more creative, the place feels more cosy. Come by for a visit!


Photo shot at That Special Occasion in Desa Sri Hartamas, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Selamat Hari Raya

My wish this Hari Raya is firstly for all to be safe on the roads and secondly for all Malaysians to be as one. These are lofty aspirations, easier said than done, but I shall keep the faith that they are possible to achieve, hopefully sooner rather than later.

I always feel that come Hari Raya, Deepavali, Christmas and Chinese New Year, it is time for renewal. Time to shed the wounds of the past and start afresh. To look forward to better things ahead. To see what life has in store for us. A new chapter so to speak.

Selamat Hari Raya to all!


Photo shot in the beautiful Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey when I visited in April this year.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Uncle KC

I shall always remember Uncle KC as someone who lived life to the fullest. We often shared tales of our travels, of interesting encounters, more so of late since his retirement and recent travel exploits. An adventurous spirit is what he had in abundance. Although sad at his passing, I think it was fitting that he left us doing what he loved best, riding his superbike. No amount of cajoling would have gotten him to give up this passion of his, that strong was his conviction. I, like all my other family members, feel a deep sense of loss, and it was a privilege having him a part of my life.

A devoted husband, a loving father, a doting grandfather, a good friend ... kind words of an eulogy by his lifelong friend. I would add - a wonderful uncle. Someone who always had a kind word, an enthusiastic disposition, an affirmation of the importance of family ties.

We did not have the chance of a proper farewell, so sudden was his passing. We seek comfort in the personal goodbyes we bid in our hearts. Rest in peace Uncle KC.


A game of Mahjong with Uncle KC during this past Chinese New Year.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Plan To Have No Plans

Some friends have been asking if I have any plans for the Hari Raya break. Here's the deal, I plan to have no plans. Actually, that's not quite true. I do plan to sleep in. I have a dinner firmed up.

I seem to be sleep deprived. Working late nights has caught up with me and I intend to sleep as much as I can during the long Raya weekend. I am going to make it a point not to pack too much into the couple of days other than having a dinner with family friends whom I haven't seen in a while.

Of course there's always the pool. Deck chair, magazine, sunglasses; bliss. It will have to do for now if I can't get to a locale as seen in the photo above. A silver lining? October is not too far away ... a week-long holiday beckons.


Photo shot in Antalya, Turkey.