Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Eve

2011 has come and gone and I am in a reflective mood this New Year's Eve. Instead of braving the crowds downtown, I am spending the evening at home, after having just returned from a Japanese dinner with my Mum and sis. I suppose I can consider last night's dinner at Bunny and Nabil's as the party to end the year, with much merriment and good friends. Tonight is more about spending quality time with my family.

2011 has been good to me. I've been relatively successful on the workfront. There were some hits and misses, but I can't complain when I look at the bigger scheme of things. There is always room for improvement and that's what I shall be aspiring to do next year. This year has also been good to me travel-wise. Seven holidays in all - Chinese New Year trip with my family to Koh Samui, company trip to Hatyai, celebrating Mum's birthday in Seoul, participating in my first triathlon relay with good friends and cousins in Bali, surprised my cousin Siew Yoong on her 40th birthday in Bangkok, returning to the family village in China, trekking in Nepal with my cousin Lynette to mark her milestone birthday. I hope to top that in 2012, or at the very least equal it.

Most of my resolutions and aspirations for the year have been met. A few, I did not attain. These are the ones to work harder towards from tomorrow onwards. Yes, there are still goals to achieve, dreams to realise. As the curtain comes down on 2011, I am grateful for the good times spent with family, friends and industry colleagues. I am thankful for good health. I appreciate the experiences life has accorded me. Here's to an even better year in 2012.

Turning prayer wheels to cast away sufferings, at Boudhanath in Nepal.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Eve

We haven't hosted a Christmas Eve party for a number of years now, more than ten years according to my Mum. So she gave notice earlier this year and last Saturday, forty of my extended family gathered at our home for a Christmas Eve supper.

I told Mum not to cook, eventhough she is capable of singlehandedly catering to a party of sixty. Despite her initial resistance to the idea, she caved and agreed to keeping things simple. We ordered nasi lemak from Gerai Kak Ya in SS2; some of my aunts brought keropok, cakes, jelly and rambutans. Simple fare. More importantly, camaraderie among the extended family.

We caught up on the latest news, planned for holidays next year, exchanged gifts, sang carols. We had lots of laughs. We had fun. We enjoyed each other's company.

Photo of Mum and my cousin Honn Ken leading the caroling session.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Winter Solstice Festival

My family, both immediate and extended, celebrates the Winter Solstice Festival 'Kor Tung' every year. Since we were kids, we were told by our grandparents that 'Kor Tung is bigger than Chinese New Year', in terms of significance that is. So we gather, have a good meal and enjoy each other's company.

This year, like in years past, we gathered at the family home. When my grandparents were still around, they would cook up a storm, up to ten dishes no less. Since their passing, 'pot luck' has been the norm, with still a pretty good variety of dishes to savour.

Cultural traditions are very important in my family. These are the occasions where we can strengthen and maintain our family ties. We plan to keep this up.

Photo of dishes served last night.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Annual Christmas Party

My friends Ken Bin and Cordelia host a Christmas party every year, some years at their home, more recently at their cafe The Olive Tree in Petaling Jaya. I always enjoy this annual ritual. I get to re-connect with their extended family and also celebrate the festivities with our friends Yean Mun and David who are also perenially on the guest list.

This year was no different and we gathered at The Olive Tree on Tuesday evening. I was a tad late as I had a staff birthday dinner to attend first but still had a wonderful time nevertheless. It is always meaningful to enjoy the Christmas season amongst good friends. My friendships with Ken Bin and David began in 1988 at Immanuel College, with Cordelia and Yean Mun in 1989 at The Flinders University Of South Australia. That's more than two decades and whilst our busy schedules have resulted in us meeting less frequently, we still make the effort for birthdays, Christmas and Chinese New Year.

Among all of us, Cordelia does best when it comes to wrapping gifts and decorating the home. I always look forward to Christmas parties at her home. Great food enhanced by beautiful table settings, thematic decor creating a festive ambience. A smaller, more intimate crowd. Next year perhaps.

Photo of me, Mei Lin, Yean Mun, Cordelia, David and Ken Bin at The Olive Tree in Petaling Jaya.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Pre-Christmas Visit To Veralyne's

Veralyne and I go back a long way. I first met Veralyne when she was a client of mine at That Special Occasion. We designed a prom dress for her when she was in college years ago; which college I forget. When she later told me that she'd like to study fashion, I suggested a school which perhaps she should consider. Upon graduation, I recommended her to a wedding industry colleague who happened to be looking for a designer for his studio at that time. Now years down the road, she is the proud owner of Estudio de Veralyne.

Here's a photo of the both of us at her studio which I visited yesterday for a pre-Christmas lunch. She has certainly made an effort to infuse some festive spirit into her studio - decor, carols, the whole works really, and most importantly presents!

It is always exciting to witness new entrepreneurial endeavours take off, more so when it is a friend's fledgling business venture. We are now friendly competitors, sometimes sharing clients even. Thanks for lunch Veralyne and here's to a great 2012!

Photo of Veralyne and I at her studio.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Greetings

My festive greetings to my family, friends and industry colleagues this year ...

As Christmas draws near and the New Year beckons, I wish you many journeys in the year ahead!

Smooth sailing careers ...

Vacations every now and then ...

Reunions with loved ones ...

Weekend jaunts to rejuvenate ...

Trips of a lifetime ...

Voyages across continents ...

Here's also to a year of good health, great fortune and much happiness.

Photo of Lake Phewa in Pokhara, Nepal.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas Dinner

I was privileged to be invited by The Westin Kuala Lumpur last evening for a dinner celebrating the festive season. With their new Director of Kitchens, Garth Welsh at the helm, the hotel's chefs created a spectacular menu that had the ten of us spellbound.

The evening started with canapes and wine at the Chairman Suite, after which we headed to EEST, Qba and Qba Wine Lounge. Here's what we enjoyed after the canapes ........


EEST Wok-fried Szechuan Spiced Free Range Chicken in Flower Bun

Hong Kong Crispy Fried Imperial 'Har Kok'

Signature Prawn and Hand Picked Chicken Floss, Wasabi Lotion

Secret Oven Baked Cheese and Fresh Stone Crab Roe Roulade

Chardonnay Long Neck Western Cape, 2010 and Merlot Concha Y Toro Central Valley, 2009


Master Kobe Oyster Blade, Mushroom Confit

Clare Valley Rib Eye, Salsa Roja

Australian Wagyu Eye Fillet, Roast Sweet Onion, Cabrales Blue Cheese Sauce

Mango and Avocado Salad, Lavender Vinaigrette, Shaved Chocolate

Malbec Terrazas Mendoza, 2009


Cherry Cheese Cake

Chocolate Truffle

Passion Fruit and Meringue Tartlets

Pistachio and Almond Florentine

Pink Macaron

Cheese Selection

Macabeo Moscatel Mesta Menudo, 2009

A great evening with good company and fabulous food indeed.

Photo of the Christmas Tree at The Westin Kuala Lumpur.

Friday, December 9, 2011


A good friend of mine recently asked me if I had any regrets. My instinctive response was no. That is because I don't believe in regrets. Sure I've had my fair share of bad experiences, and an even greater share of mistakes. I re-visit these not so fond memories from time to time. They are a part of my past which I cannot change.

And because they are in the past, I seldom ask 'what if'. What if I had taken another route. What if I had been more patient. What if I had played another card. There is really no point in dwelling on what might have been if the circumstances were different. Instead, I keep on looking toward the future. I keep the faith in my aspirations. I hold on to hope. I search for better experiences.

To my good friend who has been down in the dumps of late, I would say 'when the dawn breaks, a new day beckons'. It is up to us to make it a good day. It is our chance to seize the opportunity to make better choices in life. It is up to us to improve our lot. We ought to be thankful for what we have in our lives as there are others who are much worse off. A new day marks a new beginning. A fresh start. Every little positive step is one which will lead us to a better circumstance. Have faith my friend.

The coming of dawn at Nagarkot in Nepal.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Christmas Mood

I am finally in the mood for Christmas. I've been so busy of late due to the peak wedding season that I haven't felt the Christmas spirit like in years past. Well, after attending Sheraton Imperial Kuala Lumpur's Christmas tree lighting last evening, I am truly in a festive mood. All it took was some egg nog, a few carols by the children of the Lighthouse Children Welfare Home, two servings of stuffed turkey with cranberry sauce, a big, huge, beautifully decorated tree and of course good company.

In keeping with the spirit of giving, and because I can be a prolific shopper on occasion, I hit the shops after dinner this evening and did some inspired Christmas shopping. I am keeping things simple this year. Practical, affordable gifts. I am still waiting for delivery of another batch of gifts which I ordered earlier and when they arrive, I'll be ready for the gift giving. I would confess however that I am terrible at gift wrapping. Fortunately, I have help in that department.

A large extended family plus a small circle of close friends mean that my shopping list can be pretty long. Still, I find it an enjoyable and rewarding experience, although I admit to stressing out those who assist me in wrapping by sometimes leaving things to the last minute. I hope to be better prepared this year. So far, so good. I'll just have to chase for the remaining order to be delivered soon!

Photo of the choir from the Lighthouse Children Welfare Home at Sheraton Imperial Kuala Lumpur.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Cesar Ritz Colleges Alumni Gathering

It is always a pleasure to meet up with fellow alumni of Cesar Ritz Colleges. The Malaysian chapter of the alumni asso-ciation, in particular those residing in Kuala Lumpur and its surroundings, get together a couple of times a year, mostly doing what Malaysians love most, over a meal. We have some drinks, enjoy a hearty dinner, share some laughs, get some updates about the colleges and reminisce about our time spent in Switzerland.

Whenever possible, we dine at an alumni member's restaurant as a measure of support. This time round, we gathered at Songket, a fine-dining establishment specialising in traditional Malay cuisine. Despite the evening downpour and traffic, more than twenty of us made it to Tony Wong's restaurant located at Jalan Yap Kwan Seng. Other than our friends, there to greet us was also Quoc Phong Huynh, Regional Manager of Cesar Ritz Colleges Switzerland. We had the pleasure of getting to know Phong's predecessor Viwan Opanukij over the past few years, and this first meeting with our new friend was a pleasant and informative encounter. Pleasant because of Phong's easygoing and personable nature, informative as we were briefed on the goings-on in Switzerland with Cesar Ritz Colleges having been acquired by SEG Swiss Education Group not too long ago. As always, we also ask of Mr Kisseleff's well being, and are happy to hear that he is now enjoying his well-deserved retirement. Our strong bonds with the school are very much a reflection of the strong bonds we have with Mr Kisseleff, nurtured over the years from our college days and his visits to Malaysia from time to time.

Over fine food and drink, we re-lived our time in Lax, Brig and Le Bouveret. Graduates of 1984 through to 2002, although varied in our experiences at Cesar Ritz Colleges, share a commonality, that is an affection for our alma mater. An affection arising from a memorable phase of our lives where we were nurtured in the hospitality trade, where we cultivated our gentlemenly and ladylike ways, where we were instilled a sense of professionalism, where we forged lifelong friendships. Alumni relations and participation require effort and commitment, and as we look forward to the next such gathering, here's hoping more will be on hand to banter the next time round.

Group photo shot at Songket in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Equality 2

Last month I did a post entitled 'Equality'. Encompassing so many aspects of our lives, our inherent aspiration is to be treated fairly, as an equal.

Everyday, we see and hear cases of discrimination, abroad and at home. A foreign worker who gets treated badly. The lack of women's rights in some countries. Suppression of democratic ideals in others. In the midst of all this, advocacy groups work to bring attention to these injustices. It is lawful to do this in some countries, unlawful in others. Some do it with class while others not so.

I came across this ad in a friend's Facebook page. The status said ... 'A short film about marriage equality. Donate to put it on TV. Sign the petition. Or just watch it'. So I watched. A beautifully created ad really. An engaging way to get the message across.

Football field in the mountains of Nepal. Equal access to football I guess.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

weddingsmalaysia 2012

Message from the Publisher and Editor-In-Chief of weddings-malaysia 2012 which has just recently hit leading bookstores and newsstands nationwide.

The past year has seen numerous weddings take place and we expect the same for 2012. To those recently engaged, we look forward to being your constant companion as you start putting in place plans for your wedding day.

The ideas featured in this wedding planner through imaginative photography, act as catalysts and our artistically-inclined wedding partners will be on hand to offer you advice and expertise in their respective specialisations. It is the personal service and interaction that will make the planning process a smoother one.

Complementing this publication is our portal Here is where you will find wedding tools to help you along, highlighting areas where attention is required and ensuring that you stick to budget. Our monthly feature stories will also provide you with new ideas whilst each vendor is only a click away via our directory listings.

Here’s wishing you an exciting journey towards tying the nuptial knot.

Explore, enjoy and be inspired …

Kris Wong

Cover of weddingsmalaysia 2012.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Shirlyn & Albert : Melaka

I was in Melaka over the weekend to attend Shirlyn and Albert's wedding ceremony and dinner reception. The bride, a friend of mine in the wedding industry, a wedding planner by profession, had put in a lot of thought into the preparations and things went well. The weather held up, the entourage from both the bride's and groom's camps were sporting in spirit, the attention to detail was evident. I had a good time.

Sometimes when an industry practitioner ties-the-knot, he or she may find it difficult to relinquish the role of wedding professional on the big day. Some of us jokingly reminded Shirlyn that she was the bride and not a wedding planner on this special day of hers. Let your team execute your plans we told her. That she did, well almost! Her exclamation 'Where is the technician?' was classic and drew laughs from many of us.

Being in the bride's entourage and having been privy to the challenges planned for the groom when he came to get his bride, I would admit to giving a few tips to Albert on the side, just one or two, and it was hilarious seeing how all of us joined in the merriment of the occasion. So congratulations again Shirlyn and Albert. Wishing you both every happiness. And by the way, I had way too much candy at the candy bar during the banquet!

Shirlyn and Albert at A Famosa Resort in Melaka, Malaysia.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


I try my best to pay attention to my health. As my family has a history of non-commu-nicable illness such as cancer, diabetes and high blood pressure, I make it a point to lead as healthy a lifestyle as I can. I swim at least thrice a week, gym a bit too.

I have my vices though. I love eating out, be it at nice restaurants, mamak stalls or fast food chains. And I don't restrict myself to what I eat. I recognise that in many instances, what tastes the best may not necessarily be the most healthy. Now that my cholesterol level is borderline, I am attempting to cut back on some of my indulgences, especially the oily, fried stuff. I also used to love Coke which I have refrained from for a number of years. I still love my teh tarik, original, nothing doing with kurang manis!

I do twice-yearly check-ups. A complete, major one in April and a less rigorous one six months, more or less, thereafter. I haven't been feeling hundred per cent of late. Not one to shy away from medical consultations, I've been paying visits to my family GP to see what's been brewing. Hopefully, it's nothing too serious and I am religiously taking the medication I've been prescribed. Despite being in slight discomfort, I still made my way to Melaka over the weekend for Shirlyn's and Albert's wedding ceremony and reception. Although I wish I could have indulged more food-wise, I nevertheless had a fab time.

Photo shot at Double Six Beach in Bali, Indonesia.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Shirlyn & Albert : Penang

I was fortunate to be invited to Shirlyn's and Albert's wedding reception in Penang two weekends ago. Held at Chin's Stylish Chinese Cuisine, it was a cosy and intimate celebration.

Stylish setting, stylish cuisine and a stylish couple. I think I was a stylish guest too, haha! It was indeed a memorable celebration. Memorable because of the unique venue. Memorable because of the creative menu selected by the couple. Memorable because I was amongst good friends.

I made an impromptu speech. So did Debra and Tjun Hong. Leticia made a teary one. We sang a song off-the-cuff. We toasted Shirlyn and Albert. I think the bride got her wish of a celebration filled with much warmth. Coming up this weekend? The Melaka celebration! I'll be there too!!

Photo shot at Chin's Stylish Chinese Cuisine in Penang, Malaysia.

Monday, November 14, 2011


For the past couple of years, much has been said on various issues in the country, with many arguing for and against a variety of thoughts. From electoral reform to how some states are being administered, from the national budget to meritocracy, from the right to protest peacefully to non-discriminatory practices in relation to gender and sexuality, from the perceived influence of Western culture in our society to the state of our unity as a people, and a whole lot more.

At the core of all these sentiments is the inherent issue of human rights and equality. Everyone wants to be heard. We have a voice and we take a stance on each particular issue. And as such, we want our opinions to matter. We want a level playing field. Fair and transparent administrations. We want to move forward, not back. We prefer to be open-minded rather than take a narrow view. We want all our countrymen and women to be treated as one.

There are many boxes to tick. Optimistic is what we should be.

Our common love of food is evident.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Pit Stop

On the way up to Penang last weekend, we made a pit stop in Ipoh for brunch. A laid-back itinerary is always a boon as it allows us to take a detour, a detour with the aim of sampling as much a variety of food as possible.

The trip to Penang, whilst primarily to attend Shirlyn's and Albert's reception up North, was also very much a food trip. Here's a photo of Tjun Hong and I enjoying Tau Foo Fah. I forget the name of the stall but apparently it is rather famous in Ipoh. Notice how we also took away bottles of Soya Bean Milk, for me a much better option compared to bottled water.

Good food and drink shared amongst good friends. Certainly an important part of any journey.

Photo shot by Leticia in Ipoh, Malaysia.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Click When Travel

I went on a trip over the long weekend with my friends Leticia, Tjun Hong and Debra, a trip to attend our friend Shirlyn's wedding. One thing I have learnt from my travels is that when traveling with a group, it is important that you click with your travel companions.

The four of us have traveled together on a number of occasions and we know our respective habits and idiosyncrasies sufficiently well in order not to piss each other off. We always enjoy good food and the great company. We share similar interests and are always in the lookout for a good massage. We are comfortable enough to banter without hesitation, on almost any topic.

Such trips are relaxing and stress-busting. Leticia plans the itinerary, detailed to a 'T', and the rest of us just tag along. What's there not to enjoy?

Photo of the four of us having dinner at Lone Pine Hotel in Penang, Malaysia.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


You know a trend is taking shape when one gets frequent requests for wedding attire in black. It takes a confident and fashion forward Asian bride to consider this option.

Of late, we have been getting such requests at That Special Occasion. Here is a photo of my client Ee Leng, who recently donned this creation for her pre-wedding shoot in Australia as well as during the wedding banquet here in Kuala Lumpur. Made of organza and duchesse satin, this pleated and ruffled gown certainly made a statement.

The good thing about made-to-measure? We get to collaborate with the bride to come up with a gown that truly reflects her tastes and stylistic leanings.

Photo courtesy of Jenny Sun Photography.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Hiplist 2011

This is my message in The Hiplist 2011.

We are happy that you have purchased a copy of The Hiplist : Wedding Photographers. We believe that you will find inspiration from the many photos in this, our 5th issue, and hopefully the photographer who will document this milestone in your lives.

Complementing the photographers are gown designers, makeup artists and floral designers, components that are a must in any wedding. Pair them with accessories, eco-venues that are ideal for pre-wedding shoots and intimate wedding ceremonies as well as photobooks that will be keepsakes, and you will be well on your way to attaining that dream wedding of yours.

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

Cover of The Hiplist 2011.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


I always need something to look forward to. Be it a celebration, a holiday, a sporting event or just a casual dinner with friends. I like the anticipation. Come May 2012, I hope to be participating in the Singapore triathlon. My wedding industry and RTM colleagues, friends, cousins and I have managed to put together four relay teams for the event and we plan to register soon. Hopefully we're not too late and there are still spots left for us.

I do the swim leg and the Bali triathlon last June was my first foray into swimming in the sea. I enjoyed the camaradie with my teammates and fellow competitors, that is after I got over the initial apprehension about swimming in Jimbaran Bay! Since then, I've continued swimming regularly just to keep in shape. Now that we have plans for the next race, I've stepped up a gear in terms of training. I need to get my team off to a good start. In Bali, I raced with Richard and Lee Kuen. This time round, my partners will be Bunny and Lee Kuen. Our other three teams would comprise Chin Lai, Kok Ang and Ai Ling, Siew Yoong, Nigel and Katherine, as well as San, either Richard or Nabil and Soorya. We just need to sort out the biker for the last team and we'll be ready to register.

An event such as this provides me with a goal to work towards. It keeps me disciplined in terms of exercise. It keeps me motivated and energised. When I am doing laps in the pool and boredom starts to creep in, I think of the transition to my teammate for the bike leg and how well I need to start off the race. My friend Ray who does the half-ironman tells me that the sea in Changi is choppy. That's certainly another challenge to conquer.

Photo of Richard, Eileen, Lee Kuen and I after racing the Bali Triathlon.

Monday, October 24, 2011


Nothing good comes easy. To see the view, a better view that is, one must climb when in Nepal. And despite the fact that I am not much of a trekker, ascend I did, 4 hours on the first day, 6 hours on the second, before 5 hours of descent on the third. My cousin Lynette is much more well trained and she had little trouble with most of the trek. I struggled at times, well most of the time, but still managed to complete the 44km, 3-day trek.

Although we only reached an altitude of 2800m, the views were already stunning. Every time I stopped to admire the landscape, I was awed, and slightly inspired to continue on. Thin air, legs giving way, a heavy backpack as we had no porter, only a guide, it was physically, probably the hardest thing I've ever done. I am happy to have met the challenge.

Will I do it again? Or perhaps take on a longer, more arduos trek, with the promise of even more breathtaking scenery? Ask me again in a year. Never say never is what I've learnt. A friend of mine can certainly attest to that.

Photo of Lynette and I on the second day of our trek, from Choukibhanjyang to Chisapani in Nepal.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


The main section of Lake Phewa in Pokhara is often abuzz with activity. Tourists on row boats. Street kids performing hoping to earn some money. Locals having a BBQ on its shores. All this activity against the backdrop of hills and mountains, with the sun reflecting off the water.

I much prefer the serenity at this far end. This section of the lake is just across the road from the hotel where we stayed. In fact, this is the part that we first set eyes on when we arrived in Pokhara. Calm, peaceful and serene, I took a moment to take in the panoramic view.

This is why I travel. For moments like this. A bit of solitude in such beautiful surroundings, admiring the work of Mother Nature. A prayer of thanks was certainly very apt.

Photo shot at Lake Phewa in Pokhara, Nepal.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Village Life

When in Nepal, I had a chance to visit two villages and stay in another two. The first two were in the Kathmandu Valley - Bungamati and Khokona. We toured both these Newari villages one afternoon with our guide Prem and had a chance to witness the rural Nepali way of life. The latter - Choukibhanjyang and Chisapani - were two stops during our three-day trek. We stayed a night each at these mountain villages, a truly authentic and eye-opening experience indeed.

Rural life in Nepal has made me more appreciative of the lifestyle I lead. Whilst I always try to be grateful of the comforts I enjoy, first hand experience of a more rural nature makes one even more acutely aware of how lucky some of us are. The mod-cons we so often take for granted are luxuries that are beyond the means of many a Nepali.

We complain of traffic during the balik kampung rush. Some of the Nepalis have to walk for days to get home for festive celebrations. Just one of the many comparisons that came to mind during my recent holiday.

Photo of women having a chat in Khokona, Nepal.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Breakfast With A View

Breakfast always tastes better when there is fresh air and a beautiful view. Cool, crisp morning air, lush greenery, a hint of mist over Lake Phewa, the mountain range partly hidden by clouds, the sun peeking through.

Here we are enjoying breakfast in Pokhara, Lynette and I with our guide Ram and driver Raju. We had risen early, 4am to be exact, and had experienced sunrise over the Annapurna range and valley below, from our viewing point at Sarangkort, not far from Pokhara. A leisurely breakfast to satisfy our hunger pangs and an opportunity to reflect on the spectacular views Mother Nature had to offer earlier in the morning.

What a wonderful way to start a day.

Photo shot at Fewa Paradise Restaurant & Bar in Pokhara, Nepal.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Prayer In Nepal

I always make it a point to pray when on holiday. For the opportunity to visit. For my family and friends. For business. For my personal life. For health, good fortune, love and happiness. To express gratitude for the good things in my life.

This I did at Swayambhunath and Boudhanath, two Buddhist stupas that are part of seven monuments in the Kathmandu Valley that together form one of two World Cultural Heritage Sites in Nepal. One feels spiritually uplifted at these places of worship, sharing a common bond with the throngs of pilgrims who have come from near and far. We may speak in different tongues, but prayer is a universal language.

My visits to Swayambhunath and Boudhanath have given me greater faith, stronger belief, that all will be well.

Photo of Boudhanath in Kathmandu, Nepal.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


Today is my cousin Lynette's birthday. It is a milestone in her life and to celebrate, she invited me along on a trip to Nepal from 24 September to 3 October, that's 10 days in a country that was not high on my travel list.

The planning started last year. Actually, all the planning was done by Lynette. I told her I'd just tag along. I came away from the trip with a sense of wonder - wonder because of the breathtaking landscapes and beautiful architecture, wonder because of the artistic creations that satisfied my retail cravings, wonder because of the inner resolve I displayed to complete a 3-day, 44km trek up to an altitude of 2800m.

Nepal brought out the best in me - having a go at completing the trek, physically the most difficult thing I've ever done. It also brought out the worst in me - swearing almost all the way, particularly during steep ascents. Most importantly, it made me appreciate what I have in my life, what we have in our country. The Nepalese are a resilient people, yet they have so far to go in terms of opportunities in life, infrastructure, social development, you get what I mean. I have so much to be thankful for. So, I hope to complain less, appreciate more. I come back stronger in spirit, more resilient in faith.

Photo of the Annapurna range and valley, shot from Sarangkort in Pokhara, Nepal.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

HK Family

A visit to Hong Kong would not be complete without a get-together with my extended family - a grandaunt, uncles, aunts and cousins from my father's side of the family. Whilst some of us keep in regular touch via Facebook, it is always more meaningful when we meet in person.

We had dinner in the vicinity of Kowloon Bay when I was visiting last month. I forget the name of the restaurant, although I've been twice, but the food is sumptuous. Good food and even better company, that's a great combination.

My relatives in Hong Kong are generous, to the extent that my sister and I had an extra box to check-in; 17kgs worth of mooncakes, Chinese sausages, XO sauce and tidbits from Ichi-Ban. I am embarrassed to say I only brought them pre-packed ingredients for Chicken Rendang from Raju's. Still, it's a novelty considering they enjoyed the roti, curries and condiments at Raju's the last time they were in town. I am going to have to pack more come January next year.

Photo shot in a restaurant in Kowloon Bay, Hong Kong.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


OK, patience is not one of my virtues. Nevertheless, I got up early, headed to Mongkok via Yau Ma Tei MTR, and was first in line at Tim Ho Wan at 8.40am. Yes, I, together with my sister Suk Harn and cousins Honn Ken, Ming Ken and Ai Peng, were first in the queue, which meant that we would be in the first seating when business commenced at 10am. By 9am, the line was thirty deep, the approximate number of covers available in the restaurant.

I first read of Tim Ho Wan, a one Michelin-star restaurant in a travel mag, probably either Travel & Leisure South East Asia or Destinasian and since then had made up my mind to brave the crowds. This aspiration did waver slightly as I had contemplated heading to Tim Ho Wan's branch outlet in Shum Sui Po, apparently larger, with more seating and much shorter waiting time. Suffice to say I was vetoed by my cousins, and so to the original we trekked. The verdict? The wait was well worth it. A tiny, cosy restaurant, simple seating, all attention on the dim sum. The five of us shared sixteen plates of gastronomic creations, some familiar, others a new experience. An hour and twenty minutes' wait, an hour of great dim sum at an affordable price. What's there not to love?

My cousins and friends in Hong Kong would you believe, have never been to Tim Ho Wan. They know of it but have never tried the dim sum, largely due to the long lines. In fact, I have a friend who stays on the same street. She tells me that the daily lines are a deterrent. I suppose this is where the adage 'the early bird catches the worm' rings true. Nothing good comes easy I guess. I am happy to have made the effort.

Photo of baked Char Siew Pau, crusty on the top, flaky in the middle, moist in the centre.

Saturday, September 17, 2011


I seldom shop when home. Maybe it's because I am so busy all the time. But come holiday, especially if I am visiting a destination that is big in shopping, I do pretty well. Places that I've been to this year that fall into this category would be Seoul, Bangkok and most recently Hong Kong. There's a retail vibe in each of these cities and one can easily get into the groove of hitting the shops.

One principle that I always adhere to when on vacation is to enjoy. Sure, I have a budget which I try to stick to when it comes to shopping, but by and large, I buy whatever that catches my fancy, provided it doesn't burn too big a hole in my pocket. For me, retail therapy is at its best when on holiday.

This time next week, I'll be in Nepal. Ain't sure if there'll be much shopping available but am sure as hell going to try!

Photo shot in Hong Kong.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Bike Ride

My Malaysian cousins and I were treated to a bike ride around the rural countryside in our home village of Lamtang during our recent visit. Unlike our Chinese cousins, we rarely ever get on bikes here, so, it was a bit of a thrill for us pillion riders.

When in rural China, do as the rural Chinese do. No helmets! As we wound our way through hilly roads, one could not help but marvel at the beautiful landscapes, picturesque views that no camera can capture in its entirety.

After an hour's ride, a massage awaited. Certainly a good way to spend an afternoon.

Our small convoy in Lamtang, China.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


Here is a photo of the old family home of some of my relatives in Lamtang, Huizhou, China. They of course now live in slightly more modern dwellings, a contemporary-styled 3-storey building built right next to these structures of yesteryears. But up to a few years ago, these age-old cottages were home.

When touring these cottages, I feel a deeper appreciation for the lifestyle we have in Malaysia. The simple comforts we so often take for granted are a luxury to many rural folk. It is therefore comforting to see that some of these modern conveniences are now accessible to my cousins, aunts and uncles, nephews and nieces, in our little Chinese village.

As a touristic visitor, we always look out for an authentic experience. I encountered a few during my recent trip to Lamtang. And these experiences certainly offer a different perspective of life, urging us to truly appreciate the good things that we enjoy in our lives.

Photo shot in Lamtang, China.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Family Ties

It is perhaps apt that my family's trip back to our village in Lamtang, Huizhou, China coincided with the impending Hari Raya holidays. Such celebrations are times when family ties come to the fore.

I think it is fair to say that nowhere else in the world are extended family relationships more evident than in Asia. Whilst we have embraced some influences from the West, our Asian upbringing has somehow ingrained in us the value of familial kinship.

Some say that distance makes the heart fonder. I would say that this is true. Although I keep in touch with my mainland Chinese cousins every now and then through sms-es and phone calls, there is still much joy and enthusiasm when we meet in person, be it during their visits to Malaysia or our recent trip back to the village. We have fun, enjoy each other's company and often remind ourselves how lucky we are to have such bonds, family bonds.

Photo shot in the family home in Lamtang, China.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Balik Kampung

I've never experienced 'balik kampung', even during Chinese New Year, as most of my extended family live in Petaling Jaya where I live. Well, I am happy to say that I have finally experienced the anticipation and rush when eighteen of us, seven from my generation, headed back to Lamtang in Huizhou, China, last weekend.

My mother's side of the family in Malaysia still keeps in touch with many relatives in the village, with each clan making reciprocal visits over the past few years. I too am friendly with my cousins in China, despite my not being able to read nor write in Chinese. Fortunately, those from my generation speak Cantonese and I am able to converse in my limited Hakka to the older relations.

One thing I know for sure is that the extended family in Lamtang are extremely warm and affectionate. They go out of their way to make us comfortable. And we can sense their pride when we make the trek 'home' so to speak. When we arrived by chartered bus from Shenzhen on Saturday, they welcomed us with a 50-metre firecracker display which lasted a whopping eight and a half minutes. It was certainly a exciting way to start off the festivites of our visit!

Firecrackers at the family home in Lamtang village in Huizhou, China.

Sunday, August 21, 2011


The past few weeks have been crazy in terms of work. Apart from having to meet editorial deadlines for The Hiplist 2011 which is due out next month as well as weddingsmalaysia 2012 which is in pre-production, orders have also been streaming in at That Special Occasion. These are good developments and I am thankful, but it also means that I am a tad more stressed than usual.

Being on holiday thrice since June adds to the chaos of the work schedule but it's not something I should complain about. In fact, such trips help me recharge and I often come back ready to tackle the challenges on the workfront. The upcoming Hari Raya and National Day holiday is something I am looking forward to. A chance to catch up with the extended family and have some R&R.

In the meantime, I could do with a badly needed reflexology and massage. If only I could find some time!

Photo of Elemis Spa at the St. Regis in Bangkok, Thailand.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Oscar Bailey

I am always on the lookout for new experiences and new challenges. Together with Veralyne, at first my client, then my industry colleague and friend, and now business partner, we are soft-launching Oscar Bailey today, 18 August 2011.

To be perfectly honest, the desire to embark on this venture came as a whim. I saw a beautiful pair of shoes by the late Alexander McQueen and I thought it'd be fun. My business partners would already know that I am not one to prepare business plans, not one to do much analysis. I just go with my gut feel and rely on my instincts most of the time. At most, I create a financial spread. For Oscar Bailey, I didn't even do that. I just called up Veralyne, invited her for a tete-a-tete over coffee one afternoon two months ago, and by the end of our chat at Backofen, we had agreed to give this endeavour a go, with me taking care of the business side of things, and her the creative and production aspects.

We are taking things one step at a time, with the premise being limited edition ready-to-wear designs. We are starting with six designs, with four sizes each, available at The Wedding Hub. And when one design sells out, we create another. Repeats are unlikely. We have also decided against custom orders. Let's face it, we are already up to our necks having to fulfill custom-made wedding gowns for our clients, and won't need the extra stress. It started just as a whim of mine and I hope it will be an enjoyable endeavour. A small albeit interesting endeavour. Fingers crossed!

Photo of one of our soft-launch designs in ivory with black trim.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Nella Fantasia

I first paid attention to this song when I was watching a clip from Korea's Got Talent. Since then, it has been playing in my head over and over. An Italian song, 'Nella Fantasia' or 'In My Fantasy', composed by Ennio Morricone with lyrics by Chiara Ferrau, is a beautiful and uplifting song.

In my imagination I see a fair world
Everyone lives in peace and in honesty there
I dream of souls that are always free
Like the clouds that fly
Full of humanity in the depths of the soul

In my imagination I see a bright world
Even the night is less dark there
I dream of souls that are always free
Like clouds that fly

In my imagination there exists a warm wind
That breathes on the cities like a friend
I dream of souls that are always free
Like clouds that fly
Full of humanity in the depths of the soul

Enjoy this performance by crossover singer, Im Tae-Kyung.

Photo of a palace in Seoul, Korea.

Monday, August 8, 2011


How time flies and how we sometimes let friendships lie dormant for years. Paul and I were school-mates in boarding school at Immanuel College in Adelaide two decades ago. Over the years, we lost touch. Facebook got us back in touch a couple of years back. And today, we reconnected in person. Paul and Karen, with three kids in tow, were in Kuala Lumpur on a 9-hour transit on their way back to Adelaide from a holiday in Phuket. A few emails plus numerous text messages later, we made arrangements to meet to catch up over a couple of hours during their layover.

It's funny how having not met for twenty years or so, friends can just reconnect so easily. I can't put a finger on it but perhaps it was because of the bonds we formed all those years ago, living, studying, socialising in a closely-knit school community. I was initially apprehensive as to whether we would have much to talk about after having not met for so long. The apprehension was unnecessary. I had a great time. Five hours is not exactly sufficient time to really catch up on twenty years' worth of news but I came away from this encounter with a sense of renewal, a renewal of a friendship. The few short hours I hope, will be a catalyst towards this renewal. Karen, who I was meeting for the first time no doubt, believes that our years in high school are the times when the strongest bonds are formed. And even after having not met for some time, those bonds can be easily re-established with friends whom we shared that phase of our lives with. There must be some truth to that.

Two fond memories come to mind. Paul a.k.a 'Father Jericho' was the one who gave me the name Kris when at Immanuel. And of course the force feeding episode where Paul force fed me Vegemite while the others held me down. Suffice to say, I have till this day not acquired the taste for Vegemite, no matter how much our friend David, an accomplice of Paul's during the force feeding, sings its praises. I hope to visit Paul, Karen and the kids in Loveday, South Australia someday. The vistas of their vineyard already has me thinking of a return trip to Adelaide and its surroundings soon.

Photo of David, Paul and I, once dorm-mates at Immanuel College in Adelaide, South Australia.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Remembering Dad

'If you know someone who fought cancer and won, or fought cancer and died, or someone who is still fighting, please add this to your status for 1 hour as a mark of respect and remembrance'. This request was asked of those who are on Facebook. I did my part.

It's been 20 months since Dad passed away from complications brought on by chemotherapy. I remember the doctor visits I accompanied my father to, the chemotheraphy sessions. It is indeed an illness that affects the entire family, not just the patient. Much perseverance and a strong will are required of the patient, much patience and strength are required of the patient's support group. Sometimes circumstances turn out good, other times not. Dad's fight lasted only 5 months from diagnosis. He was in fact responding well to the drugs as the tumours were shrinking, it was the side effects of the treatment that caused him to succumb.

Time heals and we have moved on with our lives. We think of Dad often, I do almost every day. When I encounter an amusing situation, I would chuckle at what his response would have been. When the extended family gathers for a celebration, I remember his commitment to family ties. I try to have his compassion but I do not always succeed. I say hello to his friends whenever I run into them; I made it a point to have lunch with his good friend and colleague when I was in Bangkok recently. And when I feel a bit discouraged, I remember his words 'It is your life to live, live it as you deem fit.'

Here is an inspiring story.

Photo shot at Prambanan in Jogjakarta on our second last holiday together.

Sunday, July 31, 2011


I am often game to try out new things. My cousin San, being the outdoor-type guy he is, arranged for a Segway tour for us in Bangkok last Sunday, with a little help from a Bangkok-based friend Shin.

It's a pretty cool experience once you get the hang of it. Two and a half hours flew by quickly. We took in some sights, had a bit of a race in a park and navigated quite a lot of traffic, both human and vehicle. We had a good time.

For me, a new experience is always enticing and enthralling. Whether I ultimately like it or not is not the point. The point is to have a go. So many fall into the trap of a sedentary lifestyle. Sure, I have routine in my life too but that hasn't stopped me from exploring new horizons, participating in fascinating activities. I try to live life to the fullest. I may not succeed all the time but I sure as hell try.

Photo shot in the streets of Bangkok, Thailand.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Surprise Birthday Trip

I am always game for a surprise and it is pretty rewarding when the surprise comes good. My cousin Siew Yoong was celebrating a birthday and her hubby San had planned for some of us to show up in Bangkok to celebrate.

Siew Yoong and I practically grew up together during our childhood and we've remained close over the years, despite us living in different countries for the past two and a half decades or so. We were in fact competing against one another during the swim leg of the Bali Triathlon in June but there was no talk about this trip to Bangkok; I made sure that I would not be the one to let the cat out of the bag if it ever were to happen.

The long weekend in Bangkok was great. Good company, good food, group activities, some shopping, massages. I designed Siew Yoong a cocktail dress as a gift and was pleasantly surprised that it fit almost perfectly; for this I have to thank San for the size measurements he scoured from her closet. In return, I got a little surprise myself. Siew Yoong set me up for a session at Elemis Spa at The St. Regis Bangkok on the last night of our trip. Certainly a wonderful, relaxing way to end an enjoyable holiday. Thanks San for the invite and planning!

Photo shot at Erawan Tea Room in Bangkok, Thailand.

Thursday, July 21, 2011


I often get asked how I manage to afford time off for regular holidays. Here's the deal. I still work while on holiday. I allocate at least 2 hours a day to answer emails, write and so forth. I am not one who likes to be deluged with work post holiday, so I would rather get some cleared while away. I am disciplined in that way.

Since beginning of June, I have been working for approximately 3 weeks followed by a week's holiday or thereabouts. Seoul done. Bali done. This cycle will run through beginning October and I am certainly looking forward to another 3 trips. The downside to all this is the intense work rate during the 3 work-weeks. Although I still have my off days, I do work half the time. I've noticed too that I am even more task-oriented and those working with me have had to roll up their sleeves and pull up their socks even more, so to speak. I am pretty sure they like the peace and quiet when I am away. They can then work on the list of tasks I leave them with peace of mind, without my constant scrutiny and demands, though I still keep in close touch via email.

Even though rather stressed at times, I ain't complaining, as I still manage to find time to swim at least 3 times a week, gym twice, read, network socially on the internet, coffee and dinner with family and friends, even a movie every now and then, plus 2 blocs of newsreading per week at RTM. Suffice to say, I have no time to waste. And there is always that upcoming holiday to look forward to. This I know for sure though, a 3-week-1-week cycle may be a tad ambitious. Well, come November, perhaps I'll have a re-think and see how a more reasonable cycle may be attained. In the meantime, it's full steam ahead.

Working in the coffee house of Ubud Inn in Bali, where I am joined by my friends Shirley and Richard.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Journeys For Two 2011

Here are some of my thoughts as Publisher and Editor-In-Chief of Journeys For Two - Destination Weddings For The Stylish And Chic 2011.

It's been two years in a row that I've attended a destination wedding. Both were beach weddings and both were in one of my favourite holiday destinations, Bali. Naturally, the venue plays a big part in any wedding. However, what I've learnt from these past two weddings is that the crowd is just as important.

Excitement and anticipation are definitely in the air once the bridal party and their guests arrive at their destination of choice. An easy-going group, one with an adventurous streak and a sense of fun, all add to the merriment. They complement the exotic and serene surroundings, they somehow make the beautiful landscapes come even more alive. Most of all, these are the people who are most dear to the couple. When such a perfect combination comes together as one, we can be sure of a meaningful, loving and memorable occasion. Now, isn't that what every bride and groom hopes for?

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

Kris Wong

Cover of Journeys For Two 2011.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Do As The Locals Do

When in Rome, do as the Romans do, so they say. When in Bali, do as the Balinese do. With this in mind, we headed to Pasar Senggol night market in Gianyar one evening to sample Babi Guling and Bakso.

Gianyar, not too far from Ubud, reputedly has some of the best Babi Guling in Bali and whilst I am not particularly a fan of pork, some of my travel friends are. I settled for Bakso at a nondescript stall and this I have to say - it is important to have a diverse travel experience. Being willing to try streetfood is often rewarded with a memorable experience.

A simple but tasty meal, good company and an authentic atmosphere, what's not to enjoy?

L to R : Our guide Putu, Richard, Eileen, yours truly, Uncle Lui and Auntie Lillian. Photo kindly shot by Shirley at Pasar Senggol in Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

A Bit Of Work In Bali

I tend to include a little bit of work whenever I holiday in Bali. We have a number of partners in Bali with whom we jointly promote destination weddings and it is always good to catch up with them and share new ideas.

This time, we made the rounds to Kayumanis Nusa Dusa, Kupu Kupu Barong Villas & Tree Spa as well as Furama Xclusive Villas & Spa in Ubud. These properties are featured in the latest edition of Journeys For Two - Destination Weddings For The Stylish And Chic and we had the opportunity to tour their venues and chat over tea with our collaborative partners.

I don't really mind mixing business with pleasure when such pleasant opportunities arise.

Photo shot at Kayumanis Nusa Dua in Bali, Indonesia.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


My friends and I always head to the same places whenever we are in Bali, so we made it a point this time round to stay a few nights at some place which we haven't visited before. So to Canggu we went.

Quiet and laid back, a little rural, but that will all change soon with the massive construction going on. Apparently the new commercial development will be ready by next year. I suppose we are lucky to have been able to experience it as it is now, rather than its more touristy incarnation in the future.

Echo Beach in Canggu is a surfers haven from what I witnessed. Great surf. Too bad I don't surf but am inclined to learn soon. I've been to Bali 8 times and have still to surf. It's on my 'to do' list for sure. Echo Beach has inspired that in me.

Photo shot at Echo Beach in Canggu, Bali, Indonesia.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Bali Triathlon 2011

I have always believed that if I put my mind to it, almost anything is possible. Case in point, the Bali Triathlon. What started as casual banter with my friend Eileen, an enthusiastic triathlete, ultimately turned out to be an extremely enjoyable and satisfying experience.

My team-mates, Richard (bike) and Lee Kuen (run), and I (swim) combined to race our first triathlon relay in Bali last Sunday, 26 June. Granted, we only participated in the sprint distance, it was an achievement nevertheless considering it was our first try and we did reasonably well, finishing in 16th place among all the teams taking part.

I had taken the effort to train for the past six months in the pool but no amount of training would prepare one fully for a swim in the sea. In fact, I only had one training swim in the sea the afternoon before race day but that allayed some of my concerns as the waters of Jimbaran Bay were relatively calm and not as cold as I had expected. I had a great time during the race per se. Apparently I came out of the water in 12th place, and we definitely swam more than the original distance as there were claims that the transition buoys shifted positions. What I didn't train for was the run on the beach from the water to the bike transition area. Although only 800m in distance, I struggled as I don't normally run, not even on the treadmill in the gym. I'll have to be better prepared next time. Yes, next time. We are already planning for our next race, so exciting and fun this experience was.

Photo of Richard, Eileen, yours truly and Lee Kuen shot by Shirley Hoo at Jimbaran Bay in Bali, Indonesia.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Countdown To Bali Triathlon

Here's a photo of Eileen, Richard and I the last time we were in Bali last October. This time round, we will have to take another photo, including Lee Kuen too, as the four of us will be participating in the Bali Triathlon this Sunday.

Team Journeys For Two @ Eileen, will be racing the Olympic Distance whereas Team weddingsmalaysia @ yours truly, Richard and Lee Kuen will be racing the Sprint Distance Relay. The event will be a first for Lee Kuen and I, and together with Richard, we just aim to enjoy the experience and complete the race. As for Eileen, well, let's just say she is ultra-competitive despite having fallen ill due to overtraining. Knowing her, she will still put up a good race. And to document it all, we are happy to have Shirley joining us on the trip and we've asked her to just snap away as she likes.

I am also particularly looking forward to the few days of R&R after the race. Good food, good company and pleasant surrounds, Bali is always a favourite of mine.

Photo shot in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia last year.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Myeongdong Cathedral

Some find it surprising that although a Buddhist, I also visit houses of worship of other religions and say a prayer, when the opportunity arises. I believe in a universal God.

Here's a photo of me on the steps leading to Myeongdong Cathedral, the oldest Catholic church in Seoul. I admired its architecture, had a look round the grounds, said a prayer and blessed myself with some holy water.

And as always, I leave a house of worship renewed in faith and hope.

Photo shot in Seoul, Korea.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Those who know my travel habits would be aware that whenever possible, I will pay a visit to a temple in the city which I am visiting to say a little prayer. It was no different when in Seoul and I made it a point to include Jogyesa Buddhist Temple as one of the 'must see's in my itinerary.

I often give thanks for the opportunity to travel. I pray for success in business and fulfillment in life. Good health for my family and friends. When at a place of worship in a foreign land, I pay close attention to what the worshippers do and try to follow suit. And more often than not, the locals will offer advice through gestures, particularly if they do not speak much English. This I very much appreciate.

Here is a photo of the many wishing lanterns at Jogyesa.

Photo shot at Jogyesa Buddhist Temple in Insadong, Seoul, Korea.