Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Festive Season 2015

This festive season has been a whirlwind of activities, mostly of the eating kind though, with the extended family and close friends. Communion over food makes such gatherings more meaningful, enhancing the festivities with a sense of belonging and camaraderie.
As the year draws to a close, I am grateful for many things. A relatively good year in terms of business and career. Friendships that have been nurtured and strengthened. Even closer family ties. Some travel. Strength of character when overcoming challenges.
Most of all, I think I have over the past year, become more comfortable in seeing life in a wider perspective. And perhaps have even taken to embracing the adage que sera sera. Let's see what 2016 has in store.
Christmas decor and presents.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Childhood Buddies

This year has seen me spending more time with my friends from primary school. Having kept in touch on social media, we are meeting more often in person, and for a good cause too - exercise.
Morning and evening walks from time to time when the weather permits, have enabled us not only to stay fit but also to rekindle friendships that were nurtured when we were kids. It is one thing to say "let's meet up for a walk and another to actually do so". It takes motivation and a conscientious effort to cajole each other to participate.
Meaningful conversations during the walks and meals after have given us the opportunity to carry on from where we left off decades ago. In a way, our friendships have taken on a new perspective. There is a sense of appreciation, a stronger camaraderie. A purpose to understand each other better and further enhance the relationships that have been rekindled.
With Shah, Ranjit, Yee Li, Sharon and Wendy in Taman Tun Dr Ismail, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Inner Resolve

Being optimistic is something I was having a chat about with a friend last week. I'd like to think that I am an optimist by nature, and for the most part, having a positive outlook is a trait that I very much nurture.
The ability to stay upbeat, assured and affirmative is a good thing. As life throws us challenges and obstacles every now and then, the inner resolve to continue moving forward instead of letting apathy set in is essential. Hope and faith are allies that we ought to count on to help us through trying times.
And whenever I sense a hint of negativity creeping into my psyche, I always remind myself that the best is yet to come. Indeed.
The London Eye by the Thames, United Kingdom.

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Road Ahead

Sometimes one can get disillu-sioned when the road ahead seems unclear and one's positive outlook begins to dim. It is during such times that wise words from a good friend are much appreciated.
Apart from comfort and encouragement, such words reverberate with what we have known all along, that we must stand by our principles, our somewhat high expectations and remain hopeful despite the current absence of light at the end of the tunnel. To put oneself in a position of compromise whilst may work in some situations, it is best avoided if it affects one's mental well-being.

So I came away from a supposed business meeting yesterday with something much more personal. Thank you my friend for the wise words.

Drottningholm Palace in Sweden.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Mooncake Festival At The Wongs

During the recent Mooncake Festival celebra-tion with the extended Wong family, my aunts and uncles invited their former neighbour during their time living at Eberwein Road in Kuala Lumpur in the 1950s, over to dinner. I believe they used to hang out as teenagers and now decades later, it is good to see the rekindling of such a friendship.

As time passes and as we age, we tend to value relationships much more. Be it with loved ones or good friends, we tend to make more of an effort to keep in touch and spend time together.

Perhaps it is because we reminisce more often as we grow older.

Family and friends during dinner in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Weekend Catch Up

My cousins Siew Yoong and Kiat Ken were in town last weekend for the mooncake festival. Despite it being a whirlwind visit, we did manage to spend time together, much of it catching up over meals.
Having grown up together in PJ as kids, there isn't a need to do any sightseeing when they visit. The plan is always to indulge in as much food as we can. Case in point, having arrived from the airport close to 11pm, we headed straight to Kepong for a midnight Bak Kut Teh supper.
Here's a photo of the 3 of us, happy to be together, happier to be sharing a wonderful meal.
Photo shot at Restoran Ka Ka in Kepong, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Friendship Rekindled

Tom, a friend from my days at boarding school at Immanuel College in Adelaide, was in town with his family recently for a holiday. I believe the last time he visited was more than two decades ago. Time flies.
Having kept in touch on Facebook and having caught up last year when I headed back to Adelaide, a continuous effort to keep the friendship intact despite the distance has enabled us to keep abreast of developments in our lives from time to time. And the opportunity of a get together as such always acts as a catalyst for rekindling friendships.
As in most things in life, effort results in returns. The apathetic will see relationships fade. In fact, they often fall off the invite list to such gatherings, not by intention of the organisers, but by lack of top-of-mind recall. Essentially, those who make the effort will reap the rewards of long-lasting friendships.
Dinner with the Browns in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Keeping The Faith

'A meaningful and heartfelt party that celebrates a milestone reaffirms one's faith that the best is indeed yet to come. Grateful to have been on the guest list'.
That was my post on Facebook yesterday. Sometimes we, or rather I, need a reminder that there are better days to look forward to. Although we are oftentimes advised to be content with all the good that we already have in our lives, there are certainly areas that can be improved upon.
This year has been a contemplative one, and whilst thinking things through can be a good thing, overthinking can put a damper on one's outlook. So, I shall continue to embrace the optimist in me, reaffirm my commitment to keeping an open mind, and always be willing to take a leap of faith.
Sunrise on Cua Dai Beach at Palm Garden Beach Resort & Spa in Hoi An, Vietnam.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Colourful Experiences

A reminder to self, to lead a colourful life. Having as many experiences as possible in life is something that I always remind myself to do. Despite work commitments, it is necessary to make the time to partake in other experiences.
Exercise. A good magazine in hand by the pool. Tea with friends. Dinner with family. Alumni functions. Travel. Reading. The list goes on, and in many permutations.

Doing so enhances one's appreciation of the good that life has to offer. It piques our curiosity, it stimulates our senses. It reminds us to set goals, have aspirations, and to work towards fulfilling them. Most importantly, it gives us the opportunity to meet people along the way, some of whom will contribute to the wonderful lives that we lead.

Lanterns of Hoi An in Vietnam.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Hoi An

When one returns to a desti-nation repeatedly, one gets to experience the nuances of the place better each time. I recently returned to Hoi An in Vietnam for my fourth visit. A part-work, part-leisure trip, the visit was enchanting to say the least.
As one gets to know the streets better, the appreciation of the sights and sounds is enhanced. As one gets to know the locals better, the gastronomic experience is elevated, particularly when one takes heed of their recommendations. And when one patronises an establishment so frequently that the proprietor serves you personally and banters, it makes a return visit so much more inviting.
Of course, how much one enjoys a trip also very much depends on the company. Laid-back, easy-going and adventurous travel companions are catalysts for a memorable journey indeed.
By the river in the ancient town of Hoi An, Vietnam.

Sunday, August 2, 2015


I am not a great fan of durians. I do eat them but normally only do so if friends or family organise a durian 'makan session' or party. For me, the company and fellowship are the incentives, rather than the king of fruits per se.
This past year, I've probably only had durian four times. The first and second when Mum and Auntie Anne packed some back from the market and pasar malam respectively. The third when my friends Shirley, Bunny and Nabil suggested we do durian for dinner at Donald's Durian in SS2, and the fourth when Auntie Linda and Uncle Jeff treated the extended family to a durian party of 30 fruits.
Whether the durians are of supposed top-notch quality or at a bargain of RM1 each mean little to me, as I always enjoy them as they are, with the people whose companionship make such gatherings memorable occasions.
Nabil, Bunny and Shirley at Donald's Durian in SS2, Petaling Jaya, Malaysia.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Good Times

Of late, I have been looking back at some of my travel photos of the past year and the many experiences that I have encountered during those travels. Re-living some of those memories often brings a smile to my face. It brings me back to moments when life was carefree, a point in time where one is in a happy disposition, appreciating all the good that life has to offer.
This is a photo of this past New Year's Eve dinner I shared with friends in Taipei. Though the food was good, it was the company that made the evening such a memorable one. It is often said that the people whom you travel with, make the journey. How very true. Common interests, differing views, camaraderie and banter, all add up to a holiday that enriches one's life and outlook.
As I continue to re-visit some of these photo albums, I look forward to flashbacks, memories that have made a mark, some exciting, others serene, some somewhat sentimental even. Good times indeed.
New Year's Eve dinner at Orange Shabu, Da-An, Taipei in Taiwan.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Harvest Low-Hanging Fruits

I've spent the best part of 2015 so far, reflecting. Reflecting on how I can make life a little less stressful and a little more happy. The process has been slow and cautious, but absolutely necessary, a point driven home after having had to deal with extremely stress-inducing situations for the past three months or so. Some of my colleagues who work with me will attest to that as they too were embroiled in the fiasco of sorts. Well, we are now at the tail end of the unrewarding experience, and I can't wait for it to be over. It has also reinforced my decision to really only work on enjoyable projects and with like-minded people henceforth.
The second half of the year will be spent streamlining the work that I do, with the aim of making life easier and allowing me more time to appreciate the pockets of free time that I so rarely have. More importantly to strike a better work life balance.
As a good friend of mine often reminds me, time to ourselves is a much precious commodity.
Photo shot in Tegalalang in Bali, Indonesia.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Childhood Memories

For most, childhood holds many wonderful memories that we reminisce whenever we get together with those who we spent much time with growing up. From being an infant to mid-teens, I would spend many a weekend and school holiday with my cousins Siew Yoong, Wui Ken and Kiat Ken. We would spend entire days at Lake Club - swimming, playing imaginative games that we created, reading in the library, watching Sunday movies. We would spend time at our homes playing board games - Fun Fair, Sorry, Monopoly, Cluedo and a host of others that I can no longer remember. At one point, we were crazy over the Decathlon computer game. We would hangout at A&W in PJ State.
These memories in a way have played a big part in helping us remain close over the years. The relationship that we enjoy today is testament to the effort that we have put in throughout our adult life, but is certainly amplified by the bonds that we nurtured as children.
Here's a photo of Siew Yoong, Kiat Ken and our friend Tsu Shien at A&W recently. Both my cousins were visiting and as per normal practice, a visit to A&W is always a must. We got particularly excited when a photo opportunity arose with the A&W mascot. Despite our age, not that we are very old, such an opportunity was met with much enthusiasm and great laughter. Young at heart we shall forever be.
Photo shot at A&W in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Chang Festival

For my extended family, Chinese festivals are a time to get together to feast. The tradition of gathering for a meal has long been inculcated since the days when my grandparents were still around. If we delve deeper, one would realise that the food is really secondary to the company. 

When my Dad was alive, he would always insist that we attend such gatherings as a family. We would mark down such dates in our diaries at the beginning of the year and make every effort to be present. The same still holds true now. I diligently pen down the dates every January 1st, upon receipt of an annual email from my Aunt that spells out the various occasions - festivals and commemorations alike.

Sometimes the thought of whether such a tradition will continue over time does cross my mind. What I have come to realise is that there needs to be a member of the family who will 'champion' the practice. I hope that in time, my cousins and I will share this role. But for the moment, we shall happily let our elders do the necessary.

Dragon Boat or Chang Festival, celebrated on the 5th day of the 5th month of the lunar calendar.

Saturday, June 27, 2015


Visits from my cousins are always something to look forward to. We grew up together as kids in Petaling Jaya - we spent many weekends and school holidays together at the Lake Club, we went on trips, we celebrated birthdays, we went to piano lessons - and we have remained close through the years, despite us living much of our late teenage and adult lives in different parts of the world. The bonds that we formed as children are intact and now with my nephews in tow, we still manage to enjoy our time together
We are pretty good at keeping in touch; whether through phone calls, Whatsapp messages or Skype, we update each other on the goings-on in our lives from time to time. We make it a point to attend milestone celebrations, even if it means flying thousands of miles. We plan holidays together as a group, despite it being stressful at times with the kids.
At the end of the day, it all boils down to one word ... effort.
Siew Yoong, Tian, me, San, Jin, Suk Harn and Mum at No.7, Petaling Jaya, Malaysia, mid June 2015.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Many Birthdays In June

June is really a month of birthdays. I've been to quite a number of celebrations. Each one is a milestone. Each one is a chance to appreciate the presence of the birthday boy or girl in my life. Be it friends or family, being invited to a birthday party is something that we should never take for granted. Similarly, if one is given the task of organising such a party, one ought to take it as a privilege, and no matter how much effort is required to set a date or perhaps gather the necessary guests, the end result is always worthwhile.
We had a dinner in honour of Mum's birthday slightly early this year, actually only two days early. It was the weekend which made it easier to get into the heart of town, and Mum had travel plans on her actual birthday. A nice dinner in nice surrounds, with a custom-designed cake to boot.
I view being part of birthday celebrations as an opportunity to be bestowed and to bestow good vibes, the former from the person we are honouring, the latter to the said person in return. The positive energy is shared amongst all present, uplifting our spirits and putting us in a happy state-of-mind. Happy birthday again to all those celebrating in the month of June.
Mum's birthday dinner at Dynasty Restaurant, Renaissance Kuala Lumpur Hotel, Malaysia.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Bin's Birthday

Bin and I have been friends since boarding school in Immanuel College, Adelaide. I then became friends with his other half, Cordelia, at Flinders University of South Australia a year later. I was the best man at their wedding. So we go back a long way.
Every year, we get together to celebrate birthdays, be it pre, post or on the actual day itself. Each year is a milestone, for the one celebrating the birthday, and for the rest of us too, as we mark another year of a friendship that has been nurtured for more than two decades.
Friendships such as this take effort to maintain but the resulting relationships are worth the while. Our perspectives and priorities may change over time but we will always have a bond that is testament to an enduring friendship.
Bin, Cordelia, Brandon and Bryan at The Red Olive, Jaya Shopping Centre, Petaling Jaya, Malaysia.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Belated Birthday Breakfast For Yoke Choo

22 years is a long time. Yoke Choo and I have been friends since our days as colleagues at Resorts World Berhad. Yes, we got to know each other when we were working at Genting Highlands Resort all those years ago. We were colleagues in the Finance Department, I in F&B Cost Control and Yoke Choo in Admin.
Working and living up in Genting Highlands meant that our colleagues soon became our friends, and the ones we got along better with became our good friends. Spending so much time together, we became somewhat of a family, often having meals and enjoying social activities as a group. Sadly, most of us who left the highlands and in particular the company, have also lost touch with the many friends that we spent so much time with during our tenure there. As of now, Yoke Choo is the only one whom I am in contact with.
Our somewhat busy lives means that we don't often see each other. But every now and then there is the occasional phone call, and we stalk one another from time to time on Facebook. We remember to call and wish each other happy birthday without fail. And when the stars align and our schedules permit, we meet to catch up in person. Although our conversation revolves around the present and the future, there will inadvertently be flashbacks to our time up in Genting, a period of our lives that created an opportunity for us to initiate and subsequently nurture a friendship. Perhaps it is also time for us to try to track down some of the others. All it takes is a willingness and a little effort.
A belated birthday breakfast for Yoke Choo at Dome Café, The Curve in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Solitude At Sunset

Whenever in Bali, I always try to experience at least one sunset on Kuta Beach. Despite there always being a throng of people, I find it an opportune time to admire the changing colours of the sky, to do some reflection and to appreciate the chance of just being there. Being amongst the crowd also offers a sense of belonging, an intriguing thought considering it is a crowd of strangers, but with the shared experience of a beautiful sunset a uniting factor.
Although I have witnessed such a sunset on many an occasion with friends, the ones that stand out the most are those when I have been on my own, albeit with strangers all around. Some solitude is good for the soul, especially when enhanced by the beauty of Mother Nature. Often I find myself going through a range of emotions - gratefulness, joyfulness, sadness, melancholy, hopefulness. More importantly, I typically leave the beach with my faith intact, that there is much more good to be experienced in time to come.
Yes, the best is yet to come.
Sunset on Kuta Beach, early May 2015, Bali, Indonesia.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Birthday 2015

The last time I celebrated my birthday with Ken Bin, Cordelia, Ken Lin, Yean Mun and Elsie was during my 21st in Adelaide, when we were in university. If my memory serves me, I think my friends from boarding school, Mike and Ching were also present then. Fast forward to 2015, and in Bali no less, I had the good fortune of celebrating another birthday with the same friends from university plus Ken Lin's wife Sally and their kids Leticia and Lenora as well as Ken Bin and Cordelia's children Brandon and Bryan.
I am not one who typically celebrates with a party and cake, and for the past many years, I've kept it to quiet, intimate dinners with family and friends. In fact, I am prone to being in denial when it comes to aging, something that my close friends will attest to. Truth be told, I had the candles on the cake removed before this photo was taken haha! And although a different version of this photo exists, a version with the candles intact, it shall remain safe in my hard disk drive, away from prying eyes!  
The company of these 'old friends' during my birthday this year was indeed a blessing. We grew up together during some of our most formative years, and have had enduring friendships. For the most part, there is little of each other that we don't know, and little that we don't accept. Here's to longevity of friendships and many more years of celebrations.
At Villa Heliconia in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Reunion Trip To Bali

In recent years, my close friends from boarding school and university have tried to vacation together once a year. A couple of years ago we were in Kota Kinabalu, last year we returned to Adelaide where we first met, and a few weeks back we were in Bali.
Having been friends for more than 25 years, we have become accustomed to our various habits as well as idiosyncrasies and traveling as a group is pretty much a well-coordinated affair. Of course we now have 2 teenagers and 2 kids in the group too, which requires some compromise, but good friends will often make the necessary adjustments.
Spending a few days together on holiday always cements the friendships that we have nurtured over the years. It gives us the opportunity to talk and hangout without the distractions of work and our busy daily lives. It is also a testament to the strength of our relationships that individuals from Petaling Jaya, Penang and Hong Kong can commit to time off, converge in Kuala Lumpur and then head to Bali together. Here's to more holidays in the years to come.
After dinner at Bebek Bengil in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Drop Spectacles

There is this Cantonese saying which literally translated goes something like this 'I dropped spectacles'. Basically, it means that one's perceived good judgement didn't turn out to be that good after all, in my case, particularly in relation to one's relationship with another, be it in business or on a personal basis.
The month of April was not particularly kind to me, though it should have been according to my horoscope. Two persons, one a business associate, the other a supposed friend, were a let down, of epic proportions I might add. I haven't had such bad judgement in quite a while. The optimist in me will take such situations as a lesson to be learnt. Having said that, being taken for a ride can also sting.
In any case, the month of May is a new month. And I shall look forward to better encounters. More fulfilling ones I might add.
Sunset on Kuta Beach in Bali, Indonesia. A new day beckons.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Danny Collins

Going to the movies for me is very much about entertain-ment. I seldom critique a movie and I seldom ponder too much about the juxtaposition of reality and fiction that is inherent. I am there for all intent and purposes to have an enjoyable evening out.
Having said that, there are at times, lessons to be taken away from a movie. The optimist in me will always appreciate a redemptive message, if there is one. I may also entertain the thought of what might have been, if different circumstances had led us to make decisions that might have resulted in us having taken a different path in life. One thing I know for certain though is that we are masters of our destiny. Sure I believe in fate, but I also believe that the choices we make in life are very much within our control. We are responsible for our actions and we ought to accept the resultant outcomes of those actions. There is however much life ahead to be lived. For me, the aim is always to embrace the good that life has to offer and to discard the baggage that hold us back.
Danny Collins was indeed a pretty good watch. And a meaningful conversation over teh tarik after the movie isn't too bad either.
Danny Collins, the movie.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Catching Up In Penang

Whenever I go on a work trip to a locale where I have friends, I always try to make it a point to meet up, either for a meal or even if it is only for a quick coffee. One can always find some free time if one really wants to. So I ended up having supper with Suan Bee, C Hun and Andy when I was in Penang last month.

Without fail, Suan Bee and C Hun will always bring me to a 'Hokkien Mee' stall that I have not been to before and this time was no different. I can never remember the names of the places, and I leave it to these buddies of mine to keep track. This time round, we were joined by Andy and we adjourned for coffee and cake after supper.

Great conversations are the hallmark of great friendships. Effortless bantering and multiple topics of interest make such catch-ups much enjoyable and refreshing after a day of work meetings. Indeed, such gatherings make work trips that much more pleasant.

Andy, C Hun, Suan Bee and I at China House in Penang, Malaysia.

Monday, March 30, 2015


I headed down to Melaka with my friends and wedding industry colleagues Cindy of Beauty Haven and Calvin of Mphotoo, for work early March. Having recently secured Hotel Equatorial Melaka as a client, we were there for a brainstorm and to get to know the hotel's team. An added bonus was the opportunity to catch up with my Melaka-based buddies Ming and Mayang.
I first got to know Mayang in either 2000 or 2001 when she was a journalist with The Star. In fact, it was Mayang who gave That Special Occasion our first major feature in the papers, a catalyst that helped propel the business at the onset. As for Ming, I first met her when she was with Hilton Petaling Jaya, a few years after I became acquainted with Mayang. I remember presenting weddingsmalaysia's credentials at our initial meeting. We kept in touch over the years and developed a friendship.
Both Ming and Mayang had been pestering me to visit and when work finally provided an opportunity to do so, I had no excuse to delay the trip any longer. Indeed, great conversation over good food was the perfect way to end an evening in Melaka. I should visit again soon.
Dinner with Ming, Mayang, Cindy and Calvin at Restoran Pak Putra Tandoori and Roti Naan Melaka, Malaysia.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Happy Birthday To All

Making a small effort of ordering a cake for the 7th day of Chinese New Year created an even more festive atmos-phere when the extended family got together for a dinner to celebrate 'the people's birthday'. Indeed, we even sang ourselves a birthday song.  
Sometimes, a little gesture as such is what makes a celebration that more memorable. Having worked in the wedding industry for 15 years, I have learnt to appreciate the personal touch. The little things that one ought to appreciate and be grateful for.
Most of the time, we go through our days at a blurry speed, trying to accomplish all that needs to be done in the vastly stretched amount of time we have. Perhaps we ought to make a conscious effort to stop and smell the roses sometimes and to do a little good deed every now and then.
Dinner on the 7th day of Chinese New Year in Sea Park, Petaling Jaya, Malaysia.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Chinese New Year Together

After having been friends for 27 years, it may come as a surprise that lunch on the 4th day of Chinese New Year this year was the first time all of us have spent the celebration together. This would not have been possible had Ken Lin and Sally not come down to KL from Penang. We then managed to convince our Hong Kong friend Elsie to fly in for the weekend from Kota Kinabalu where she was having a holiday.
As this was only decided in the week leading up to Chinese New Year, thanks also has to go to my friend Emily who secured us a table at Oriental Pavilion, Jaya 33. Suffice to say, the restaurant was extremely packed but that made the festive atmosphere even more enjoyable. Most importantly, it gave us all the opportunity to embark on the Year of the Goat together, carrying with us the aspirations that we hope to attain individually and as friends.
It is pretty rare for a friendship to have survived almost 3 decades. Much effort has been put in to nurture the relationships that we all share as a group, and while we may have gone our separate ways somewhat after completing our studies, the dedication and commitment to keep in touch have enabled us to remain good friends. And this one ought to appreciate.
Group shot at Oriental Pavilion, Jaya 33 in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Chinese New Year - 1st Day Movie With The Thoos

My extended family on my Mum's side is a sporting one. When a cousin suggested we head to the movies on the evening of the 1st day of Chinese New Year, all gladly accepted the invite. Tickets were pre-bought the evening before and eighteen of us gathered at the just-opened TGV at Jaya Shopping Centre.
I am not an avid TVB serial fan but some of my aunts, uncles and cousins are. So they chose 'Triumph In The Skies', a movie based on the same TVB series. Four love stories that end well, what's there not to like about the movie, especially when we wish for all good things in life during this festive season.
The last time we went to the movies as group was five years ago, also during Chinese New Year. There may be more such regular movie nights just yet haha.
With the Thoos at TGV, Jaya Shopping Centre in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia.

Chinese New Year - 1st Day At The Wongs

We always start the first day of Chinese New Year with a gathering at the Wong family home serving tea to our elders, exchanging auspicious greetings and sitting down to a vegetarian breakfast. It is a familiar practice but no less enjoyable year after year.
This year's celebration is made extra special with the return of my cousin Suk Leng from Sheffield, England, for the festivities. She has been away on studies and work for a number of years but made it a point to come back at an opportune time to join us in the celebrations.
There has always been talk of getting our other cousins who are scattered in Singapore, Australia and the United States to return en masse for a Chinese New Year gathering in the years to come. When that eventuates, it will indeed be a celebration to be reckoned with. Here's to that happening sooner, rather than later.
Wong extended family in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia.

Chinese New Year - Reunion Dinner

I always look forward to the extended family reunion dinner on the eve of Chinese New Year. Although my family gathers practically every other month for some sort of celebration or other, the reunion dinner still has special meaning as it is a tradition that I have enjoyed since childhood.
Typically, my Mum, sister and I will have a simple reunion lunch at home, and then later join my late father's side of the family for dinner, followed by a visit to my Mum's side of the family thereafter. Since my grandparents' passing, the reunion dinner has been a potluck, ensuring that the tradition of having an abundance of dishes remains intact. My late grandparents, particularly my grandfather, were great cooks and would cook up a storm every Chinese New Year, but nowadays, a potluck seems a much better way of contributing to the merriment.
In all, twelve dishes were had, testament to the Wong family's penchant for food.
Reunion dinner at the Wongs.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Chinese New Year Greeting

May the 'Year Of The Goat' bring you all that you dream of, all that you aspire to achieve and love in all its many forms. May we all also enjoy happiness, prosperity, good health, success, good fortune and peace.
Gong Xi Fa Cai!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Annual Chinese New Year Reunion

For the past seve-ral years, I have been privileged to be invited to an annual Chinese New Year reunion dinner among good friends that is always held at Overseas Restaurant in Imbi. Ranging from 3 to 4 tables, it is a very merry affair, with good food, a copious amount of drinks and most importantly the company of a group of wonderful, accepting friends.
Kudos needs to go out to the recurrent organisers, who year after year, without fail, send out the invites, manage the RSVPS, make the reservations, order the food, purchase the drinks and remind us with periodic updates of the impending celebration. Testament to the friendships that we have forged throughout the years, other than those of us living in the Klang Valley, some came from as far as Penang, Singapore, Hong Kong and Shanghai for this year's get together. A boisterous crowd we were, with happy sentiments set to last us throughout the new year ahead.
As the Year of the Goat beckons, I plan to dedicate the new year to nurturing and cementing friendships, particularly ones that have brought much meaning to my life.
Reunion dinner on 14 February 2015. Photo courtesy of Lim Han San.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Pre-CNY Dinner

Shirley, Bunny and Nabil have been friends of mine for a long time, particular the former two, who were my colleagues when I first started my career in advertising. Through the years, our friendships have become stronger and more personal. We have each other's back and no topic is off limits.
We make it a point to meet as often as we can, a meal at least once a month or at the worst once every two months. Other times, we keep ourselves updated on each other's lives via a Whatsapp group. And with Chinese New Year just round the corner, a dinner was of course a must before we went our separate ways to celebrate with our own extended families.

As always good food was the perfect complement to great company.

Photo shot at Noble Mansion in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Alan Hong's Visit

27 years is a long time. The last time we met was that long ago, in Adelaide. So it was great to have been able to catch up with Alan during his whirlwind visit to KL last week. An hour over coffee to catch up on 27 years' worth of news. Facebook has made reconnecting much easier but it is never the same as meeting in person.
I am glad we had the opportunity to meet despite Alan's visit being such a short one. Hopefully KL has made a good enough impression to warrant future holidays, and perhaps with a longer stay, it may be possible to round up our other friends for a reunion of sorts.
It is always reassuring to know that friendships that were developed years ago can still be nurtured despite the distance and the lengthy absence of personal contact. Suffice to say, effort is required, but the rewards are worthwhile. As the Chinese New Year celebrations beckon, I look forward to reconnecting with many more friends and indeed, perhaps the Year of the Goat is one that I should dedicate to nurturing friendships.
Alan and I at Espressemente at Pavilion KL, Malaysia.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Company Trip 2015

This year I decided on Bangkok for our company trip. Easily accessible, affordable, great food, wonderful shopping and most importantly, hassle free planning. The group was smaller this time round as some members of our team are expecting and wisely made the choice to opt out of the trip.
Colleagues travelling together provides the opportunity to bond and nurture relationships as well as to mend fences if feathers have been ruffled over the past year. A relaxed atmosphere also allows any grievances to be raised, addressed and taken care of, ensuring a smooth-sailing year ahead.
May we all work harder, earn more, and enjoy another great holiday next year.
Prior to departure at KLIA2, Malaysia.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Godparents' Visit

My godparents from Adelaide were in town recently for a visit. As they both love Malaysian food immense-ly, scrumptious breakfasts and dinners were in order on a daily basis. We started each day and ended each evening enjoying each other's company over wonderful meals that our country is so well-known for.
My godparents have been friends with my parents since I was a kid. And when I was studying in Adelaide, they opened their home to me during holidays and took me out for meals so very often. I am glad that we make the effort to nurture a relationship that has evolved over many decades of our lives.
There are one or two more visits planned for the year. Having retired from their jobs, they spend their time travelling the world and make Malaysia a pit-stop if routes permit. And when they do drop by, there will be more feasting in store.
Dinner at Double Happiness Restaurant in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Baby Shower For My Buddies

The second cele-bration of the year which I was honoured to be part of was the baby shower for my good friends Leticia and Tjun Hong. Held on 4 January, the party was one that required much planning in advance, as schedules of all the guests had to be coordinated. Kudos must go to the organising team who pulled off an intimate and meaningful brunch.
As Leticia and Tjun Hong prepare to start a new chapter in their lives with the impending arrival of baby Laena, we were there not only to wish them well, but also to acknowledge the friendship that we have forged and nurtured over the years. Over food, drink and hilarious banter, the moments captured both through photos and our memories will further enrich our lives as friends.
May the next chapter of your lives be an exciting and fulfilling one Leticia and Tjun Hong. And please remember the note I left on the wishing tree ... 'Please make sure baby doesn't cry when I am around!' Have fun you two!
Smiling for the cameras.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Remembering Dad

My cousin Kiat Ken in London sent me this photo this morning. Every 23rd January, he has a drink to remember my father. They used to enjoy drinks together whenever he was in town visiting family. If I am not mistaken, this annual commemoration is with a drink from a bottle of either whiskey or brandy that my Mum gave him from my dad's collection 5 years ago. Another cousin of mine Lynette, does the same every year, with a shot of brandy. Apparently, it is the only time of year that she drinks.

I guess we all have our own ways of remembering our loved ones who have passed on. Most importantly, the fond memories that always remain in our hearts are what matter.

Remembering dad on the 5th anniversary of his passing.

Photo courtesy of my cousin Kiat Ken.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Uncle Nga's 80th Birthday

The first cele-bration of the year was indeed a milestone to be appre-ciative of, Uncle Nga's 80th birthday. Having only returned from New Year's in Taipei on the 2nd, I was honoured to be part of the guest list on the 3rd, a gathering of extended family and friends on a memorable evening.
I think I've known the Ngas all my life, and although not blood-related, we've come to consider them family. Indeed, we are bound to get together for extended family meals during festivals and birthdays, where good food and banter are perfect catalysts for cementing relationships.

Here's to many more birthdays Uncle Nga. Good health always!

The Ngas.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

A Shared Enthusiasm

Having a common interest, a shared enthusiasm and a bit of compromise make travelling with friends a pleasure. Kay, Marcus, Han San and I decided to spend New Year's Eve exploring Yehliu Geopark and combing the narrow lanes of Jiufen prior to joining the rest of our friends for a grand dinner and countdown to welcome the New Year back in Taipei. Although I sometimes travel solo, more often than not, trips that I take are usually either with family or friends. Whilst the former allows some measure of independence, the latter on the other hand provides an opportunity to share experiences that one encounters during the journey.
Sampling a variety of food, posing for photos, exchanging thoughts on shopping, good-natured banter and most importantly enjoying each other's company are some of the pros of group travel. And when plans are made in advance and made well, a pleasant and memorable trip is more or less almost a guarantee.
Here's to more travels in 2015.
Kay, Han San, Marcus and I in Jiufen, Taiwan. Photo courtesy of Kay.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Cousin In Taipei

My cousin Lincoln, originally from Hong Kong, has been based in Taipei for a couple of years now, as he is a co-owner of Artista Perfetto, a café which I managed to visit when I was in Taipei for the recent year-end holidays. I often make it a point to catch up with friends and relatives, when they happen to be in a city which I am travelling to.

I am one who values family ties and when that is reciprocated, then I will make every effort to meet whenever possible. I surprised myself at the relative ease of locating Lincoln's café, considering that a sense of direction is not one of my strongest suits. And having decided to drop by impromptu, I was lucky that he was at the café, despite it being his day off.

After having taken the obligatory photographs documenting the visit to be sent to our extended family, we had a good chat, among others, on life in Taipei and its attributes that appealed to him, prompting the decision to set up shop in a city away from home. Though only a short visit, it definitely gave us an opportunity to share news on the latest happenings in our lives and those of our families.

With cousin Lincoln at his café Artista Perfetto in Taipei, Taiwan.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Year End Holidays

Year end holidays are always a time of enjoy-ment, especially when one is travelling with a group of good friends. Friends who share similar interests and yet who are comfortable enough to go our separate ways from time to time to explore on our own. Such flexibility and understanding make group travel a pleasure.
Spending the last few days of 2014 and ringing in the New Year in Taipei was indeed a memorable experience, where camaraderie and fellowship were the main ingredients that ensured a festive atmosphere. It is at times like this that one is reminded of the great value of friendship that we sometimes take for granted.
As I embark on a new year, I take with me a reminder to always make time for friends. When the opportunity arises, take it. Otherwise, create opportunities instead. A good motto to live by indeed.
New Year's Eve dinner at Orange Shabu in Daan, Taipei in Taiwan.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Catching Up In Taipei

One of the highlights of my year-end trip to Taipei last year was the oppor-tunity to catch up with my friend Felix. The last time we met was at his wedding in Guam in April 2013. Since then, he has become a father, and it was a pleasure to spend some time with his family.
I was travelling with a group of friends and decided to stay on in Taipei for the first few days of the trip while the others headed straight to Tainan upon arrival in Taiwan. Other than having the chance to meet with Felix and family, it also provided me with some time to explore the city on my own, having not visited since I was eleven.
Felix and I became friends while he was studying and I working, in the ski resort of Leysin in Switzerland many years ago. We used to cook up a storm and enjoyed many meals together that reminded us of home. At times we would invite our Swedish friends Johan and Tom to join us too, and the former is one who I have kept in touch with as well. As always, we had a good time reminiscing about the past and sharing our plans for the future. Most importantly, such meetings cement ties and strengthen friendships that have been nurtured over the years.
With Felix, Ting and baby Elena, enjoying Ting's birthday lunch in a village in Daxi, Taiwan.