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.


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


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


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


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


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


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.