Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Two Sides Of A Coin

This poster at Dorasan Station at the DMZ in Korea caught my eye. I love the positive spin to the copy ... 'Not the last station from the South, but the first station toward the North'. To the non-politically-affiliated, it spells hope, hope of reunification despite the many challenges that the two Koreas have to overcome for it to eventuate.

It reminded me that there are always two ways of looking at things. Invariably there are times when negativity gets the better of me but for the most part, I am getting rather good at looking at the positives. A silver lining is easier to locate when one is in a positive frame of mind.

Letting go of the bad and embracing the good is something that has taken me years to cultivate. I am still a work-in-progress, albeit one that is heading in the right direction, a good direction that is. A friend recently told me to throw caution to the wind. To live in the moment, to enjoy the process, to appreciate the journey. Another told me to live vicariously. Sound advice indeed. I've always known so but sometimes it takes a nudge every now and then to remind me to do so.

Photo shot at Dorasan Station in Korea.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Good Things

Some say that good things come to those who wait. I'd like to believe so. But it's the waiting that can sometimes be nervewracking and stress inducing. The waiting can also test one's faith.

So what do I do? I take comfort in my friends' encouraging words. I say a prayer when I come across a house of worship. I throw a coin and make a wish. I try to think positive. I place hope on the law of attraction.

When all is said and done, I reckon it all boils down to belief. The will to make it happen. Believe I shall.

Success on my third try at the Cheonyecheong stream in Seoul, Korea.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Siang Lin

I shall remember you for your impromptu calls and lightning quick visits to my studio for fittings.

I shall remember you for your trust in me whenever you needed a gown designed.

I shall remember the many birthdays that we celebrated together, especially the one last year.

I shall remember the numerous parties I was invited to.

I shall remember the many dinners you shared with my family.

I shall remember the ongoing joke about you addressing my father and mother as brother and sister, and me as brother too.

I shall remember you and my dad encouraging each other as you bravely fought illness.

I shall remember the times that we worked together when I was in media sales.

I shall remember your laughter.

I shall remember your sarcastic comments delivered in an affectionate manner.

I shall remember your generosity.

I shall remember our friendship.

I shall remember you as 'Ah Che'.

Rest in peace Siang Lin.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Trip With Godparents

I try to go on an annual holiday with my godparents. Actually we missed last year but were in Ho Chi Minh City for Christmas in 2010. This time round, we headed to Seoul, right smack in winter no less. I normally don't go on winter holidays despite having spent four years in Adelaide, South Australia and almost two in Le Bouveret and Leysin, Switzerland. I very much prefer the warmth of summer. But this holiday was planned last year and coincided with my godparents' trip from Adelaide, so headed to Seoul we did, with bags filled to the brim with warm clothing.

Seoul was cold! Temperatures rarely above freezing did not prevent us from seeing the sights and shopping the streets. We even made it to the demilitarised zone for a half day look see. When faced with freezing weather, one takes the opportunity to indulge in food. Street food, family run restaurants, cafes, tea houses, intimate joints to more fanciful establishments, we made it a point to sample as much Korean cuisine as we could, some we enjoyed more, others less, but nevertheless all interesting experiences.

I had actually been to Seoul before in the warmer months and whilst I am no fan of the cold, it did give me an opportunity to experience the city from a different perspective. Barren trees, frozen ponds, lakes and rivers, remnants of snow, Koreans and visitors alike dressed in winter finery, all made for a different Seoul, but one that still warms the heart and urges a return visit in the future.

Photo of mum and my godparents at Hanok Village in Seoul, Korea.

Sunday, February 12, 2012


A good friend of mine sent me a text in reply to mine ... 'good you found the zest again'. Sometimes we lose sight of something important and let it languish. We find reasons to explain our apathy - work, stress, excuses really. And soon we find ourselves in a mundane routine, fervour relegated to the recesses, passion kept in check.

Yes, the relish and enthusiasm are back. I haven't felt so in a number of years. Bit by bit, little by little, the road ahead seems more exciting to navigate. Emotions are set free, eagerness a catalyst towards embracing life with gusto.

With a positive mindset, life seems much more interesting, opening our eyes to many experience enhancing paths. Faith and fate shall be my allies.

Photo shot at Echo Beach in Canggu, Bali.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Tea At The Ritz Carlton, Hong Kong

Whenever the opportunity arises, I would make it a point to meet with friends if I happen to be in the city where they live. With their busy schedules and my relatively tight travel itinerary, we would always plan ahead and block dates and times, determined to catch up on the latest goings-on in our lives.

My good friend from uni, Elsie, invited me to tea at The Ritz Carlton when I was in Hong Kong last month. Kudos to her for taking the time to queue up in the morning to make reservations, an effort which I much appreciate. A leisurely afternoon tea amidst elegant surroundings, soothing musical notes from the twinkling of ivory keys, a perfect setting to reminisce about the past, chat about the present and plan for the future.

The tasteful ambience, the slightly hazy but still arresting view, the stylish fare and the company of a good friend, all make for a wonderful tete-a-tete. Certainly a memorable part of the holiday.

Photo of Elsie at The Ritz Carlton, Hong Kong.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Dad's Old Time Favourite

Sek Yuen was one of my father's favourite restaurants. I think it is fair to say he visited very often, enjoying almost weekly lunches or dinners with his good friends. He always used to tell us about how good and authentic the food was; for him it was an institution. I never went all those years. I seldom even ventured to Pudu where the restaurant has been located for more than half a century I believe.

Ventured there I did a few days ago. My friend Han San had organised a Chinese New Year feast for a few of us and I finally found my way to Sek Yuen, courtesy of a hand-sketched map that my mother had equipped me with. Suffice to say, my Dad's great praise of the food was not unfounded. The retro setting was a highlight in itself, the restaurant seemingly stuck in a time warp.

Our exclamations of delight at the dishes served probably echoed those of my father and his friends. Such old time favourites, signature dishes that were and still are held in high regard, have survived the times and elevate the gastronomic experience, particularly for first-timers like me. After seven courses, we left satiated and happy, promising to return in the not too distant future.

The famous waxed meat rice served at Sek Yuen during Chinese New Year.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Chinese New Year Visit

Cousin Nicole came all the way from Fresno, California for a visit during Chinese New Year. An opportune time to visit since it was her first time meeting the extended family. Food, tradition and culture come to the fore during this festive season and boy did she do well. Respect for the elders in our family - check. Some knowledge of our customs - check. Bright red on the first day of the year of the Dragon - check. Serving tea to the elders - check. Auspicious greetings and wishes - check. Ang pows for me - check. Homemade dessert for 'hoi nin' lunch - check. Game to try almost any type of food - check. Interest in our way of life in Malaysia - check. Thousands of photos - check.

It was a pleasure having Nicole as part of the celebrations. Easygoing and fitting-in easily made the initiation into our large family a smooth process. We did our best to explain the nuances of our family dynamics, we suggested she try every conceivable food that we held dear to our hearts. We proudly showed her round the city that we call home, we even gave her a scare when we were stopped by cops after an illegal U-turn. We cajoled her with tales and anecdotes, and were in turn at the receiving end of witty comebacks.

Welcome to the family Nicole. Hope you had a blast here in KL. And since you have thousands of photos, I wouldn't bother putting any up in Facebook. We shall all await yours and no doubt will have a little laugh at the captions, good luck!

Suk Harn, a happy recipient of ang pows from Nicole.