Monday, December 22, 2014

Winter Solstice Festival 2014

This year's Winter Solstice is extra special as I had the oppor-tunity to be part of four celebra-tions. The first was hosted by my friend Dennis early December. The second and third were with extended family last evening. And tonight, I enjoyed a quiet dinner with Mum and my sister Suk Harn.
My father instilled in me the importance of celebrating festivals with family and for many of Chinese descent, the Winter Solstice is one of the most important festivals that ought to bring families together for a meal.
Although my extended family have in recent years taken to eating out at restaurants on Chinese New Year eve, we have maintained the tradition of sharing a home-cooked meal every December during the Winter Solstice. My late grandparents used to cook the entire meal, but nowadays it tends to be a potluck. Nevertheless, the opportunity to come together for a nice dinner is what matters most.
Home-cooked dinner.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Surprise Celebration

I was recently invited to a surprise birthday party for my good friend Bunny. I am always game for a surprise celebra-tion and accepted the invite without any hesitation, after all, what better way was there to spend a Sunday evening.
I would have to say, the organisers of the party, Chris and James, accomplices of Bunny's other half Nabil, did a remarkable job, pulling off a spectacular surprise, but more importantly, a meaningful celebration for the birthday girl. From the biggest challenge of keeping everything under wraps to the tiniest detail, the party unfolded smoothly, giving Bunny the opportunity to mark another milestone with family and close friends.
For me, the success of a party very much depends on the guests and their relationship with the one whom we were there to toast. A celebration, whether big or small, sophisticated or casual, can only be a memorable one if friendship, love and camaraderie are in abundance. And on that Sunday night, all three were clearly evident.
Bunny, Nabil and I.

Sunday, December 7, 2014


While in Penang last month for our friends' wedding, a group of us had the opportu-nity to spend some time together savouring the culinary delights that the island has to offer. Whilst Penang food is always an attractive proposition, the companionship and camaraderie amongst friends certainly enhanced the experience.
For some, the busy lives that we lead sometimes result in friendships being neglected. I for one do not take friendships for granted. The ones that are worthy always get my attention. The ones that are not, well, I tend to let such relationships die a natural death. What precious time we have is best reserved for the worthy people in our lives.
As the festive season approaches, there will be many celebrations in store. This is the time of year where I feel even more blessed to have the circle of friends that have a played a part in shaping the life that I lead. Here's to all of you.
Beautiful view at the Golden Sands Resort in Batu Ferringhi, Penang, Malaysia.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Appreciating Good Friends

Suan Bee and C Hun always make it a point to catch up with me whenever I am in Penang. For a number of years now, they've been taking me on a tour to discover the best 'Hokkien Mee', or as we know it in KL, ' Prawn Mee', that Penang has to offer. It's a pilgrimage of sorts, and there are still many more to sample and taste.
To make the pilgrimage a little more interesting, we've recently added cafes to the list. This photo was taken at Budan's Brew Coffee Bar, right after having enjoyed a bowl of 'Hokkien Mee' at Jalan Kebun Nyior, a couple of weeks back. Don't ask me directions to all these places as I totally rely on these two good friends of mine. All I need to do is enjoy the food, and most importantly the companionship.
Here's to more trips to Penang in 2015!
With Suan Bee and C Hun, enjoying a late morning cuppa.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Chance Meeting

It is not often that good friends happen to be in the same place at the same time, and with that create an opportu-nity to meet and catch up over a meal. I was in Penang last weekend for a wedding, Ken Bin and Cordelia happened to be there too for work, and so we took the chance to have dinner with Penangites Ken Lin and Sally. Over the course of dinner, we sent photos to our close friends Yean Mun in KL and Elsie in Hong Kong, providing them with an avenue to be part of the gathering virtually.
As we reflect on our decades-old friendship, we have come to realise that our efforts to stay in touch throughout the years have indeed kept our friendship intact. Whether celebrating birthdays or festive occasions, going on holiday in groups or just mindless chatter on our Whatsapp group, we certainly have been part of each other's lives since our teenage years.
We have made plans for a group holiday next April, with all present, kids in tow. Though it's still quite a number of months away, the enthusiasm is very much already evident. Still, we'll be meeting for birthdays and festive occasions between now and the trip. And with each meeting, I gather the level of enthusiasm will indeed elevate in tandem.
Ken Bin, Cordelia, Sally, Ken Lin and I in Penang, Malaysia.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Stephanie & Faisaal

I had the privilege of being invited to be part of Stephanie and Faisaal's wedding in Penang over the weekend. Being on the guest list of such a milestone in a couple's lives is something I appreciate and am grateful for. Although I am in the wedding industry, I seldom attend such celebrations unless the soon-to-be-weds are relatives or friends of mine. But when I do attend, I always come away with an affirmation of love, that love in its many forms is possible for those who are open to it.
What made this wedding so special in my opinion was the friendship and camaraderie that were evident throughout the celebrations, pre and post too. The engaging speeches by my friends Han San, Kay and Kian, recollecting the past, regaling the present and prophesying the future, were thoughtful, amusing yet respectful, and more importantly moving, well-deserved tributes to a couple whose union we were there to toast.
As photos of the wedding continue to appear on my Facebook newsfeed, I find myself reflecting on the events of the past weekend with a sense of gratitude, that friendships, relationships and love are what brought us all together in celebration of one of life's most cherished milestones.
With the bride and groom at Shangri-La's Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa in Penang, Malaysia.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Hoi An Again

Repeated visits to a much loved holi-day destina-tion makes each subse-quent visit even more enjoyable. I recently made my third trip to Hoi An on the coast of Central Vietnam. A Unesco World Heritage city, it is charming and easily navigated on foot.
Familiarity is a plus when returning to a favoured holiday spot. I am a creature of habit to a certain extent and I like to head back to familiar food haunts, perhaps experience a tourist site from a different perspective. Seeing new attractions or coming across previously undiscovered gems are also something to look forward to.

Hoi An has been a wonderful experience each time I've visited. Some friends of mine who have never visited have suggested we holiday there next year. It won't take much to convince me to do so.

Riverside in Hoi An, Vietnam.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Primary School Buddies At A&W

It is pretty rare for childhood friends from primary school to still keep in touch regularly. Although social media has made it much easier to locate and re-establish contact with those whom we grew up with, some effort is still necessary to maintain those links. Still greater effort is required if we were to arrange to meet up for either a drink or meal.
On occasions where we do get together, it is always a pleasure to re-live the memories of our school days, more so if some who we may not have seen for a while happen to join us. The usual suspects, in a good way, always turn up most times. They are the 'backbone' of such gatherings so to speak, catalysts that drive the enthusiasm to meet.
We recently made plans to have an evening out at the iconic A&W in PJ State. Due to be closed for major redevelopment by the end of the year, we made it a point to meet there, a venue that we have fond memories of. Seeing each other in person is always much more rewarding that what social media has to offer, and we had a great time catching up as always. Here's to the next one.
Shamsul, Azlina, Airini, yours truly, Ranjit, Shahurain and Meng Cho at A&W, Petaling Jaya, Malaysia.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Mid-Autumn Festival

Every year, the extended family gets together to celebrate the mid-Autumn festival and this year was no exception. In fact, we had two dinners last month, one with my Mum's side of the family, and the other with my Dad's. This has been a tradition since childhood and I am glad that my Aunts and Uncles have kept it up after my grandparents' passing.
Other than a feast at dinner, I particularly enjoy the weeks leading up to the festival, mainly because I am a huge fan of mooncakes. Having said that, I only fancy the traditional flavour of lotus paste with salted egg yolk. I certainly indulge but was a wee bit more careful this year not to overindulge.
To satisfy cravings in the coming months, I have stashed some mooncakes in the freezer. In time to come, I shall be defrosting them and enjoying them on my own, bit by bit. And no, I shall not be sharing.
Steamboat dinner to celebrate.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

New Journeys

Embarking on a new adventure, be it a new job, an overseas posting, a change of career, a fledgling business venture, an upcoming holiday, a budding relationship, marriage, parenthood, the list goes on, is always a time of excitement and trepidation at once. The unknown is thrilling but also reminds us to be cautious as we take our first few steps.
Of late, a number of my friends, both here at home and abroad, myself included, have been in such a position. For me personally, I see such new journeys as an affirmation of the wonderful opportunities that lie ahead. While we may tread with a bit of caution as well as exercise some patience, the potential rewards are what makes the experience so exciting.
May we all be accorded with faith and positivity.
Photo shot in Hahndorf in South Australia. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Unexpected

Two wake-up calls in three days. On Tuesday, while relaxing by the pool on a public holiday, I received a message informing that a classmate of mine had passed on suddenly from a heart attack. Then yesterday came the devastating news that Malaysia Airlines MH17 enroute from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down in the Ukraine/Russia conflict zone, with all onboard perishing.
If there is a lesson to be learnt from both incidents, it is that the unexpected is very much a part of life. It makes us realise that life can be fragile, and that our journey is perhaps one that is linked to a life that we are destined to live. Indeed, we ought to love and appreciate those closest to us, we ought to live each day as it comes, making each day count, we ought to be open to new experiences, and be willing to take chances, we ought to have a positive outlook, be unafraid of getting hurt, we ought to take steps that we have always aspired to take but have yet to do so, we ought not to delay doing things that we can do today, instead of waiting for tomorrow. We ought to travel and see the world.
In times as such when we feel burdened by the sense of senseless loss, we are reminded to seize the day, carpe diem.
Photo shot in Bali, Indonesia.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Cosmic Forces

This weekend must be one of those where the cosmic forces teach me a lesson. An inspiring event, and advice gleaned from a seminar I attended, both seemingly conspired to serve up a great lesson in life. Who would have thought that these two instances, unrelated and positioned at differing ends of a spectrum, would be so impactful, leaving me with much to ponder and think over.
The ability to visualise and courage to ask for one's aspiration to be fulfilled is something that I have encouraged myself to do for some time. I was reminded today that for this to be more effective, one has to be more resolute, more focused, and to ask with a greater sense of purpose.
Such advice could not have come at a better time. An event which I experienced by association this weekend, has been an inspiration, serving up a large dose of the power of hope and faith. Coupled with the words of wisdom shared at the seminar today, they certainly act as a much needed catalyst to work towards a more fulfilling existence in the future.
Photo shot at Ku De Ta in Bali, Indonesia.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

A Spring In One's Step

I was having a rather thought-provoking conversation with a friend on how different people react to disappointment and how our different characters play a role in the paths that we take in the ensuing aftermath. Well, perhaps aftermath is too strong a word to use, but you get my drift.
Needless to say, we all have our varying degrees of strength, fortitude and tolerance, and how we cope and rebound very much depends on our personal resilience. Life comes with its share of setbacks and disappointments, some significant, others less so. The challenge really is to overcome the negativity that may arise from such unpleasant situations, and forge towards potentially better experiences that lie ahead.
I am by nature an optimist. As such, I mostly accept such setbacks as lessons to be learnt and mistakes not to be repeated. And once I come to this frame of mind, I am able to pick myself up and soldier on. Being cautious is a good thing, but throwing caution to the wind in my opinion is even more important as one embarks on a new path. Yes, we take baby steps initially, but my temperament is such that it doesn't take long for me to walk with a spring in my step again. So, who's up for a walk?
Photo shot at St Martin-In-The-Fields in London, United Kingdom.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Elaine's 40th

It's been a whirlwind of celebrations for my family of late, the most recent being cousin Elaine's birthday. Apparently turning 40 is a big deal in Australia, and Elaine made the decision to return from Adelaide to Malaysia to celebrate with the extended family. To paraphrase her, the intention was to mark this milestone in her life with the people who have been instrumental in her journey of the past 4 decades.
So with Dave, Nate and Matthew, as well as Lynette, Auntie Mary and Mel by her side, Elaine welcomed family and close friends at The Ming Room at Bangsar Shopping Centre for a luncheon to celebrate the occasion. It was also an opportunity to catch up with the extended family, as it is never easy to see everyone on a personal basis during such short visits back to KL. Well, a couple of weeks is not exactly short, but when there is so much to do, see and eat, and considering that we come from a rather large family, meeting almost everyone at one location, what more during a celebration, is the perfect scenario.
The highlight of the event was certainly Elaine's speech. Touching and genuine, she made it a point to relate how each and everyone of us, in one way or another, have been part of her journey in life. There were some teary eyes in the room, and most importantly a sense of family. So, as you embark on a new decade Elaine, here's to more fulfilling encounters to come.
Dave, Elaine, Nate and Matthew at The Ming Room, Bangsar Shopping Centre, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Kiat Ken And His Food

My cousin Kiat Ken was back in town from London for our cousin Honn Ken's wedding recently. Having grown up in Malaysia, he makes it a priority to enjoy as much local food as possible whenever he visits. A creature of habit, Kiat Ken often wants to head to places he frequented as a kid. We always plan ahead, and try to pack in as much eating as possible into his itinerary.
His trip this time was for a mere three days. Apart from the wedding festivities, pre-wedding dinner, lunch reception after the wedding ceremony and celebratory banquet, we managed to also sample fishball meehoon soup, steamed chicken, durian, roti canai, sweet meat, Famous Amos cookies, sago gula Melaka and teh tarik, not bad for a less than 72-hour visit. The only stop we missed was bak-kut-teh, so that's something to look forward to the next time he returns.
There is no shortage of Asian food in London, but I guess there is nothing like the food we have here in Malaysia. I for one, never take that for granted.
Kiat Ken and I at Prosperity Bowl in SS2, Petaling Jaya, Malaysia.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Mun Yee & Honn Ken

My cousin Honn Ken tied-the-knot with my then cousin-to-be Mun Yee on Saturday, 28 June 2014. As with such milestones and occasions of such magnitude, the entire extended family was on hand to celebrate. My cousins even came from as far as London and from across the causeway, Singapore.
The days and months leading up to the big day saw family members chip in to assist in whatever way possible, when requested by the couple. There is a fine line between helping and meddling, and all who were involved were reminded of this often, sometimes by yours truly. Managing a large family is never an easy task, and much effort has to be made by each and everyone of us. A close knit family should be able to handle this with aplomb, and this we did.
And so, we now officially welcome Mun Yee into the Thoo family. Congrats to the newlyweds.
The Thoo family, shot at Glad Tidings in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Dragon Boat Festival

The Wong side of my family recently got together for dinner to celebrate the Dragon Boat Festival. It is a tradition that we have upheld for as long as I can remember. Those of us in the Klang Valley make it a point to gather for a good meal and to catch up.
When my grandparents were still around, all such festivals will be celebrated on a big scale in terms of the food served. A minimum of 8 dishes would be on the menu. We still try to keep up, although sometimes what is served now may lack in a bit of sophistication when compared to before. Still, I can't complain since I don't cook. Instead, I appreciate and am grateful for the effort that my extended family makes.
There are a number of festivals to celebrate yet this year, and I certainly look forward to each of them.
Dinner during the Dragon Boat Festival.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

C'est La Vie

I have lately found myself at a crossroads and once there, my instincts tend to lead me to a quick decision on which route to take. I am never one to spend too much time on weighing the pros and cons, or on the potential outcomes and consequences that my decision may result in. That has never been part of my character and it never will be. Whether rightly or wrongly, my innate trait of being decisive often makes the journey to come an exciting one, with the hope that it will be more of a pleasure rather than a challenge.
A friend I was having lunch with recently commented that I seem to move on rather quickly when a situation warrants it. I would have to agree. Life throws us curve balls, at times enticing us with the prospect of a promising endeavour and wonderful outcomes, while at other times disappointing us with circumstances that we all wish we never had to experience. C'est la vie seems to be the best attitude to adopt, with faith and hope our strongest allies.
I had the opportunity to re-connect in person with a friend of mine in Stockholm recently. At a café one evening, we had a chance to reminisce about the time we spent in Switzerland working a ski season and how our lives have evolved over the past two decades. We live in different parts of the world, work in different industries, he has two kids, I have no such responsibility, but as friends share some common interests. And of all the commonalities, the one that universally binds us all together is the desire to be happy. And for me, being happy means to always move forward, leaving the unpleasant behind, arms outstretched to welcome the good that is to come.
Cycling is very common in Stockholm, Sweden.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Busy All The Time?

Someone told me recently that I seem to be busy all the time and that it must take a lot of energy to keep up with my schedule. It was an interesting observation. I suppose I am fortunate to have good energy levels but I don't necessarily agree that my life is terribly busy.
Let's just say I see it this way. Life is meant to be lived, and I certainly enjoy living a full life. Whether it is work, friends, family or travel, I make the most out of my time. Sure I do enjoy lazing by the pool or tanning on a beach, sitting at a café with a good magazine, but by and large, I am not one to while away my time doing nothing. There is much to experience in life and too little time.
Of all that I fit into my schedule, the most important is time spent with family and friends, more often than not over a nice meal. Personal relationships need to be nurtured and maintained. Those who know me well would know that I do not store phone numbers of those who do not keep in touch regularly. Time is precious, and attention ought to be given only to those who reciprocate. Indeed, there is too little time to waste. So as I continue on with my journey, fast-paced at times, languid at others, I shall look forward to more interesting encounters along the way.
Shopping on Oxford Street in London, UK.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A Lesson

I recently posted a remark on Facebook that I had some-how learnt a lesson from a somewhat frivolous TV show. The post elicited a number of comments. Some were positive, others ridiculed my statement in jest, perhaps.
For the most part of the past year, I have had to summon quite a bit of patience on my part. It is certainly not a commodity I have in abundance, in fact, a good friend lamented that I may have used up two lifetimes' worth of patience, an observation which certainly holds some truth. Whether taking such a route - akin to sailing into unchartered waters when it comes to being patient - was worthwhile, is arguable. However, I am not one for regret. I appreciate the good, and accept the not so good as lessons in life. It added some dimension to my journey, that is certain.
So, what was the lesson I learnt from that particular TV show, some have asked. Well, it goes somewhat to the tune of when all that can be done has been done, and there is nothing more for one to do, then perhaps it is time to turn the page. And when one has done one's best, then there is no reason to look back on circumstances that one has no control over.
I appreciated Stockholm's serenity.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Family Holiday

My sister Suk Harn recently gave my Mum and I a treat, a two week holiday in London, Stockholm and Istanbul. Having been based in London for almost a year, the plan was for us to spend some time travelling as a family towards the end of her one year working stay in the English city.
For me, it was a return trip to London after two decades, to Istanbul since 2000, and a first sojourn to Scandinavia. For Mum, it was a trip down memory lane as she read law in London, with her most recent visit being a business trip with my late father many years ago. The other two cities were new places of interest for Mum, and all of us certainly looked forward to the trip.
An all expenses paid trip, other than shopping money, is something no one can refuse. All three cities provided wonderful experiences, sights to behold and food to savour. Most importantly though, traveling together as an immediate family allowed us to strengthen our bonds, even more. We look forward to my sister's return next month. Rest assured, more holidays will be in our plans.
Photo taken at Drottningholm Palace in Stockholm, Sweden.

Friday, May 16, 2014


I am thankful for my family and friends with whom I cele-brated my birthday earlier this month. Numerous meals with great company are the hallmarks of a wonderful birthday.
Whether it's dinner at a restaurant, coffee at a bistro or a home-cooked meal, each has its own merits and I appreciate the thoughtfulness of those closest to me. I am not one to initiate my own birthday celebration, in fact, there have been years where I just let it pass quietly while on holiday, but when close friends invite me out, I tend to say yes. With my inner circle, there is no pretence, and most importantly no need for small talk.
This year, I need to mention Tze Han, Leticia and Tjun Hong, who together created a home-cooked dinner to mark the occasion. Much effort was put in, and the resultant celebration was indeed a meaningful one. To one and all, much thanks again and here's to lasting friendships.
Tjun Hong, Tze Han, Debra and Leticia.

Friday, May 2, 2014

2 May 2014

I am thankful for the birthday greetings that have flooded my phone and Facebook wall today, plus the phone and Skype calls too. I've tried to respond to each one individually but if I have missed anyone out, do know that I appreciate your well wishes and kind thoughts immensely.
As I reflect on the past year, I have learnt much. To live life to the fullest, to always be in a positive frame of mind, to appreciate the good in life. The most important lesson of all, to value oneself. Ever so often, we try to accommodate others and put them first, whether in our personal or professional lives. Sometimes this is warranted, but at other times, not. We, well I, need to be more discerning. This I will be conscious of as I begin a new chapter in life.
As I embark on a new year, I will take all your well-wishes with me. To appreciate good health, to be grateful for family and friends, to experience joy and happiness, to love and be loved, to embrace work and career, to travel the world and much, much more. Cheers to all of you!
Birthday lunch at Oriental Pavilion in Jaya 33, Petaling Jaya, Malaysia.

Thursday, May 1, 2014


Strike when the iron is hot. Get a move on quickly when one is inspired and when ideas are freshly minted. Sometimes a casual catch-up session with a long-time friend over coffee and chit-chat can lead to inspiring ideas being formulated. And when enthusiasm for such ideas is a motivating factor, an opportunity to realise a long-held aspiration can indeed be possible.
I am not one to write business plans. Neither is my buddy David. We rely on gut-feel and our instincts. Our approach is always based on the adage 'no harm trying'. If we succeed, great. If otherwise, at least we tried. Suffice to say, we are putting things in motion to give our ideas a go.
Here's to an exciting adventure ahead. Fingers crossed!
Photo shot at Chapel Hill Winery at McLaren Vale in Adelaide, South Australia.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Simple Advice

The strong often tell us to keep the faith when things do not go our way. It is their strength of character that brings forth the promise that dark clouds will eventually part to reveal a clear sky. The optimist in all of us ought to steadfastly hold on to this positive attitude. Sometimes however, we fall by the wayside when uncertainty continues to brew with no resolution in sight.
The roller coaster that is life can certainly bring with it times of emotional upheaval. And when situations are such that they are beyond our control, it takes an even greater effort to remain positive. Sure, we may allow ourselves to wallow in self pity for a bit. Then, we pick ourselves up, take small steps and move forward as faith slowly returns as an ally we count on.
To maintain a happy disposition and take one day at a time. A friend said this to me today. It could not have come at a more opportune time. When one's mind is clouded and in need of some clarity, a simple piece of advice from a kindred spirit acts not only as a pick-me-up, but also as a means to lift one's sentiment with the hope of better things to come.
A Glenelg morning in Adelaide, South Australia.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Boarding House Mates

Mates at the boarding house in Immanuel College decades ago, we made it a point to get together for a meal to catch up when I was in Adelaide last week. Although it is typical for us to remark 'you have not changed', and I am by far the most guilty of doing so, we certainly have. In a good way.
We have grown wiser. Our conversations are more meaningful, not necessarily serious, reflective somewhat, more impactful. We have moved with the times. Our dressing is on trend, capturing the essence of the times we live in. We have matured not only in thought but in appearance. I'd like to think like fine wine, we are getting better with age.
What hasn't changed however, is the bond that we share as schoolmates, living together as boarding students, away from our homes. Friendships that have been cultivated many years ago, and maintained by virtue of the wonders of modern technology. Here's to many more years of friendship.
Ken Lin, Mike, Tom and I having dinner in Glenelg in Adelaide, Australia.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Reunion Trip To Adelaide

More than two decades of friendship requires effort from all parties involved, in particular when such a friendship revolves around a group of four. And when such a relationship survives the test of time, it ought to be celebrated. So, to Adelaide we returned.
Buddies at university, called a clique even by some, we made plans to return to the city that brought us all together. A week flies by too quickly, considering planning for the trip had been in the works for a year or so. Nevertheless, we had a great time. Reminiscing, creating new memories, strengthening our ties, nurturing the bonds that have kept our friendship intact all these years.
Ken Lin, Yean Mun and Elsie, thank you for making the travel plans, even without much input from me. Most of all, thank you for the long-lasting friendship that will undoubtedly be one to remember.
With Ken Lin, Elsie and Yean Mun at the bridge on campus at The Flinders University Of South Australia.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Company Trip 2014

We've just returned from our company trip, well a combined trip for teams weddings-malaysia and That Special Occasion. To Ho Chi Minh City we went, and as always, had a good time, albeit with a little stress thrown in for good measure.

Travelling in a group is seldom a piece of cake, but over the years, we've learnt to compromise and regardless of whatever stressful situations that may arise, we tend to end up having an enjoyable experience. So for four days and three nights, we ate, we shopped, we saw the sights, but most importantly we communed.
Till the next trip, here's to working hard and meeting those targets we've set ourselves to achieve this year.
Photo shot at KL International Airport, prior to leaving for Ho Chi Minh City.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Taking Chances

'In the end we only regret the chances we didn't take'.
I think this sums up much of what I've been going through for the past few months. Although I am very much a practical person, I've found myself taking decisions that I would not normally take, embracing calculated risks that I would normally avoid. This adage therefore, certainly strikes a chord.
What I've come to realise is that when taking such chances, it is best to let situations unfold naturally. Whatever the outcome, whether in my favour or otherwise, needs to be accepted graciously. Be eager for success, yet be ready for failure. When one's mindset is prepared in such a manner, one appreciates the positive outcomes more, and is able to face the disappointments better. And as always, fingers crossed for the best.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Yei-Yei's 6th Anniversary

The 'Wong' side of my family very recently got together to have dinner, in honour of my paternal grand-father, on the 6th anniversary of his passing.
We make it a point to do this annually, as we remember Ah Yei and celebrate his life. The one trait that I will always remember my grandfather for is that he was a very giving person. Always putting others first before himself, it is a trait that is very hard to live up to. More than that, Ah Yei showered the entire family with unconditional love. From my childhood till the day of his passing, he played the role of grandfather to a 'T'.
As I recollect the many memories I have, I too shall try to put into practice some of the very positive traits that he embodied.
Dinner with the extended family on 17 March 2014.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Doing Our Best

Doing our best is what is most important. Whether our best is good enough or otherwise, having made the necessary effort validates our initiative to make our aspirations come to fruition. We of course always hope that our efforts result in positive outcomes but there are times when our best somehow falls short of what we hope to achieve. Having put our best foot forward, one ought to come to the realisation that perhaps it is just not meant to be.
I try not to think that we need to become resigned to the fact that our efforts were not sufficient. On the contrary, I believe that fate must have a different plan. And if so, we just need to carry on, walking the new path that is before us, still putting our best foot forward, with faith and hope as our best allies.
For those facing challenges, improvements are in store, as difficult situations can only get better in time. Sometimes when answers are not forthcoming, all we can do is keep the faith and continue on the journey that unfolds as we take a step at a time.

Incense at a temple in Hoi An, Vietnam.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Trend Of Thought

Uncertainty is definitely not something that I wish upon anyone. In fact, it puts a damper on one's life. For the most part, uncertainty isn't an issue that I face too often as I am very much a decisive person. Unfortunately there are instances where certain things are largely beyond our control and it is during these times that I feel extremely challenged and in more ways than one, rather stressed. I suppose when faced with such a situation, the only thing that one can do is let fate take its course. Indeed, time will ultimately determine the outcome that fate has in store.
I actually wrote that first paragraph a couple of days ago and had it saved as 'draft' whilst I contemplated how to continue. In light of today's disturbing news about MH370, the very idea of what fate has in store comes to the fore. I have come to realise that whilst fate has certain plans for us, we too ought to play in role in charting our own destiny. Throw caution to the wind and live each day as it could be our last. Plan for the future yes but live in the present too. And make those decisions that need to be made!  

Food for thought indeed.

Photo shot at Intercontinental Samui Baan Taling Nam, Thailand.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Charting One's Path

I've taken a fascination to quotes of late. One that caught my attention recently goes like this ...
If you really want things in life to happen, you have to make them happen yourself. You can't sit around and hope that somebody will help you, you have to make your own future and not think that your destiny is just going to happen.

I truly believe in charting one's own path in life. Sure, there are things that are largely beyond our control but for the most part, I do feel that the decisions that we make ultimately shape our destiny. I am very much a decisive person. In fact, many have said that I take a stand too quickly. I tend to weigh the various perspectives presented and I generally make a quick decision. I seldom second guess myself and I very seldom look back at what might have been. Patience has never been a strong suit of mine but I do try when the situation warrants it. Life throws us curveballs every now and then. I don't avoid them. I face them head on and make the best of it. Although the path ahead is not always clear, therein lies the adventure.
Prayers at Pura Ulun Danau Bratan in Bedugul, Ubud, Indonesia.

Sunday, February 23, 2014


Chinese New Year is always a time for my extended family to get together, enjoy food, talk lots and have a good time. Indeed, it is a time to renew ties and further nurture our already strong bonds as a family. Such strong relationships require effort to build and maintain, and my family members, from the older ones to the much younger, continue to do so on an almost daily basis. We communicate often, we even have a Whatsapp group to keep each other updated on the latest happenings in our lives.
My inner circle of close friends too are very much part of my Chinese New Year celebrations. Gathering for meals and chit-chat is very much the norm, and such a tradition has been maintained for as long as we have been good friends. This I am grateful for too.
As we now truly embark on a fulfilling Year of the Horse, may all our relationships flourish and may we continue to have a supportive network to lean on when in need.

Good luck from a lion on the 8th night of Chinese New Year.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


Chinese New Year is a time for traditions. And no tradition is more meaningful than having meals with the entire family, both immediate and extended. Sometimes we tend to complain that we consume too much during the festivities but it is during meals with the family that one truly experiences the celebration that Chinese New Year entails.
My family and close friends share this sentiment. We gather often during the 16 days of celebration, from the eve till Chap Goh Mei, eat ourselves silly and enjoy the company that we keep. It is a time to strengthen our bonds and nurture our relationships as we start a new year.
Here's wishing all of you much merriment and love during your time spent with family.
Vegetarian on the 1st day of Chinese New Year.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Year Of The Horse 2014

As we embark on a new year, may the Year of the Horse bring us all that we dream of, all that we aspire to achieve and love in all its many forms.
I for one will be welcoming the Chinese New Year with renewed faith and hope, grateful for all the good in my life and even better experiences to come. I shall leave the hurt and disappointments behind, and embrace the joy and happiness that the new year promises.
Gong Xi Fa Cai and good health to all!
My Chinese New Year greeting for 2014.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Dad's 4th Anniversary

Today is the 4th anniversary of my Dad's passing. Time really flies come to think of it. This year, we are marking the occasion by simply having a vegetarian meal that my Mum cooked last night. I believe my cousin Kiat Ken in London will be having a drink in honour of my Dad as he does every year, from a bottle of either cognac or whiskey that my Dad gave him some years ago.
Come this time of year, I will be reminded of my Dad's teaching of having to maintain family ties and kinship as well as to keep traditions alive. Very apt indeed as Chinese New Year approaches.
Here's a photo taken during our last holiday together in Phnom Penh to celebrate his 68th birthday.
Photo shot in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Friday, January 17, 2014


My mother's side of the extended family has a tradition of getting together just before Chinese New Year to make pineapple tarts and kuih kapit en masse. My cousins, aunts and uncles would show up and take turns, with a short break for a sumptuous lunch cooked by my mum.
My cousins Siew Yoong and San are trying to pass on this tradition to their sons, Tian and Jin. So they made the drive up from Singapore last Friday night, did the tarts and kuih kapit on Saturday, and then headed back down south with their share of the goodies on Sunday. That is what I call commitment to a cause. 

Well, a trip as such wouldn't be complete without visits to some of their favourite haunts for local food. I was happy to join them at Raju's as well as beef ball noodles in town. We can always find a reason to indulge. More indulgence to come when they come back again for Chinese New Year proper.

With Tian, Jin, Tai Yee and Auntie Nancy.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Making Time

A few industry colleagues recently asked me why I often respond with 'I am not interested' rather than 'I have no time' when approached to either undertake a certain venture or participate in a particular project. They claim that the latter is more of a polite way of turning down a proposal. I tend not to agree.
For me, one can always make time if one has interest. The 'I have no time' excuse is not one I readily accept. Whether in work or in my personal life, I always believe in prioritising. Everyone is busy, and everyone has their own time constraints to face. If there is interest, one will find a way to find the time. I certainly do.
So, I am honest when I say 'I am not keen', because if I am keen, time is never an issue with me.
Beautiful view from Intercontinental Samui Baan Taling Nam in Koh Samui, Thailand.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Taking Stock

Sometimes it is a good thing to take some time out to reflect and consider the various routes that one can take when at a crossroads. A new year is a catalyst to take stock and decide if one is content with the status quo or if there is more to be achieved.
For some, the status quo is a good place to be; stable and comforting, no rocking boat to manouvre. For others, there is always room for growth and betterment.
I am of the latter camp. Whilst appreciating what I have in my life, both in career and on a personal basis, one can always work towards becoming a better person, be in improved relationships, attaining new experiences that life has to offer. Taking stock I am.
Photo of Tumon Bay in Guam.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

1 January 2014

My wish for myself, my family and friends for this year is for all of us to be blessed with love in all its forms. Familial, platonic, romantic, and all those in between.
I embark on 2014 with a sense of optimism and hope, with faith as my strongest ally. Whether in work or personal relationships, the aspiration is for this year to be the most fulfilling yet. Add to that the desire for more travel and good food, the year ahead is poised to be an exciting and rewarding one.
Let us all have the faith to dream big, the courage and will to take the necessary steps to make those dreams a reality. May 2014 be the best that it can be. Happy New Year y'all!
Afternoon tea in Hoi An, Vietnam.