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.