Monday, November 28, 2016

Jhen Ken And Ke Xin

On the weekend of 21 to 23 October 2016, we welcomed Ke Xin into the family. My cousin Jhen Ken exchanged vows with Ke Xin at Janda Baik and the entire Thoo extended family headed there for the celebrations. 

Having witnessed the wedding and tea ceremonies in the morning, the evening reception was where we let our hair down. Typically, the former required us to be at our best behaviour, respectful of the significance of this milestone in life for the newlyweds. The dinner in the evening on the other hand, provided an opportunity for us to be at ease and to celebrate the happy occasion with enthusiasm and free spirit. 

Be it dancing, participating in games or giving a toast, actually three toasts to be exact, we lived up to our reputation of being a happy, united and passionate family. I hear that there may have been some comments from some guests that we were a bit loud. Well, that is a Thoo family trademark that we hold dear to our hearts. After all, the purpose of a wedding celebration is indeed one where love, laughter and merriment bind us all together as one big, happy family.

The newlyweds, Jhen Ken and Ke Xin.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

PTSD Challenge

Recently my cousin San nominated me to do 22 push ups a day for 22 days consecutively, in support of the cause to spread awareness of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder among war veterans. I believe this originated from the USA but I suppose applies to veterans all over the world. 

I only swim and hardly do any gym work as part of my exercise routine, and as such, push ups are really not something that I would be able to accomplish with good form. I nevertheless decided to be a good sport and accepted San's nomination. 

I have completed 7 days todate and there is still much to improve on in terms of form and stamina. And that is the motivation, to get better over the remaining 15 days of the challenge. Come to think of it, I may just continue the push ups when the 22 days are over, taking a friend's advice to incorporate it into my exercise routine.

Cuz Shan, at Swensen's in Koh Samui, Thailand.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Cousins In Town

It's always great to have my cousins who I grew up with in town for the weekend. They came up from Singapore recently to attend my aunt and uncle's 40th wedding anniversary celebrations and we had a great time catching up. 

With these cousins of mine, nothing is off limits when it comes to conversations. Having been close since our childhood, it is a level of comfort that is hard to replicate in other relationships. And this is what makes such reunions so enjoyable.

Banter over food is our preferred choice of activity during such short visits, where time constraints are often a hindrance to an otherwise even better experience. Not to worry though, the next extended family celebration is just round the corner!

Breakfast at Grandpa Bak Kut Teh in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia.

Monday, September 26, 2016


I had a conversation with a friend lately where I brought up the subject of contentment, how some of us never seem to be contented and instead, continuously go in search of something better. Whilst there are times when something better does come along, more often than not we are left disappointed. 

There are those in a good job who decide to quit and take on a new challenge, despite already being in a good position career-wise. And those who are seemingly happily coupled but who may stray. Or those who feel that they are in a rut at a particular point in life and just want to breakout out of the monotony they seem to languish in. 

At the end of the day, I guess we really ought to rely on our gut to tell us what route to take. Being rational may or may not be plausible, and for me, trusting my instincts will always take precedence. Certainly, one of the more intense topics to chat over tea. 

Artwork in Beijing, China.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Merdeka 2016

What a great way to celebrate Merdeka, with good friends over an indulgent lunch followed by chit-chat over coffee. The original plan was to go for a walk in the morning prior, but that of course did not come to fruition. 

Sharing a meal and banter with friends on Independence Day has much meaning, particularly so when these are friends whom I first got to know during early childhood, in primary school in fact. Those were the days when our outlook in life was shaped, where we did not pay too much attention to our ethnicities, a trait I would like to think many of us still carry with us.

As we embark on a another year in our nation's journey, here's to peace, harmony, equality and happiness to all Malaysia! 

Lunch at Jaipur Curry House in Taman Tun Dr Ismail, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Champion In Our Hearts

Three times a silver medallist at the Olympics - Beijing, London and now Rio - one must feel for Lee Chong Wei, especially us Malaysians. To come so close to reaching the pinnacle of sport, it must be somewhat disheartening at times for the standard-bearer of Malaysian badminton. However, how many athletes can lay claim to winning three silver medals at three successive Olympic Games?

Sure, there will always be those who have done better, but there are many, many more who will never achieve the level of success that Chong Wei has achieved. He ought to be proud, and so do we. We certainly will him on during important matches, and go along for the emotional ride each time, as individuals and as a nation. 

A champion in our hearts, always.

Chong Wei at Rio 2016.

Monday, August 22, 2016

So Close In Rio

Two gold medal points, that was how close we were to getting our first ever Olympic gold medal. Not fancied to make the men's doubles badminton final, Goh V Shem and Tan Wee Kiong really played their hearts out throughout the tournament. 

The final was a pressure-filled affair which went to three games. Malaysians collectively held our breath when the boys took turns to serve during the two match points. It was not meant to be. Nevertheless, they did us proud by putting their best foot forward. The experience gained in Rio will certainly serve them well in time to come. 

A silver medal is an incredible achievement at the Olympic level. Well done V Shem and Wee Kiong! May the future hold much success. 

Tan Wee Kiong and Goh V Shem in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Another Historic Silver

Goh Liu Ying and Chan Peng Soon won a historic silver for the country in the mixed doubles in badminton at Rio2016. Although the entire country was hoping for gold, the display by the pair throughout the tournament is something to be proud of. 

Coming back from injury and beating pairs ranked much higher than them, Liu Ying and Peng Soon certainly brought much excitement to fans back home who were cheering them on. Winning silver when no one expected them to is very much the icing on the cake.

Here's to greater achievements in the future.

Silver medallists at Rio2016. 

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Historic Cycling Medal

Azizulhasni Awang became the first Malaysian cyclist to win a medal at the Olympics, capturing bronze in the men's Keirin at Rio2016. It is wonderful to see the strides taken by some of our athletes on the world stage, fulfilling their aspirations and bringing honour to the country at the same time. 

Doing well at the international stage, in particular at the Olympics, generates immense national pride that brings all of us together in celebration. 

Thank you Azizulhasni for bringing us such joy with your performance.

Bronze in Rio2016.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Silver in Rio2016

Pandelela and Jun Hoong earned Malaysia's first medal at Rio2016 and the entire country swelled with pride at their achievement. To see how the country's diving squad has evolved and improved over the years is a testament to the long-term planning and vision of those overseeing the sport. To be on the Olympic podium is a great achievement indeed.

It is during times of such success that the sense of pride and harmony in the country truly comes to the fore, bringing all of us together as one. As the rest of the Malaysian contingent continue to do battle in their respective sporting disciplines in Rio, we will be cheering them on in spirit. 

Malaysia Boleh!

Silver medallists in the women's 10m platform diving.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Smile Medal Winners!

Often at the Olympic Games, it is interesting to see the difference in the attitudes of some athletes when they win silver or bronze rather than gold. Sure, the ultimate goal is to be on top of the podium, but becoming a silver or bronze medallist is a pretty significant feat too I would think. But some of the glum expressions on the lower steps of the podium certainly do not attest to such a narrative. 

With that said, it is therefore extremely uplifting when we see second and third place finishers celebrate with pure joy, honouring the hard work that have been put in and sacrifices that have been made in preparation to be amongst the best in the world. Be it tears brought on by emotion or massive hugs with team-mates, the smiles on the faces of these athletes truly exemplify the spirit of sportsmanship, that having earned a medal is just the icing on the cake, and that the act of participation with one's fellow athletes is what matters more. 

Although no successful sportsman myself, I do believe that the joy of participation is under-rated and should be the focus, rather than just aiming for that Olympic gold medal. For the many who participate and who will never win a medal, I think this certainly holds true. 

Tom Daley and Daniel Goodfellow celebrate winning bronze for Great Britain in the men's platform synchronised diving at Rio 2016. 

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Olympic Park In Beijing

With the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympics coming up next month, it seems appro-priate to have visited the Olympic Park in Beijing a couple of weeks back. 

I remember vividly watching the 2008 Olympic Games, awed by the stunning images of the Bird's Nest and the Water Cube, venues in which the best in the world showed off their athletic prowess and revelled in their performances after much training and sacrifice. To see these architectural feats in person is indeed an experience that I am grateful for. 

When upfront with these innovative structures, one gets a sense of inspiration. Inspiration to move forward with faith and hope, embracing the challenges and rewards that life has to offer. Indeed, I see such inspiration as a catalyst to work towards greater things in life.

Trying to run at the Olympic Park in Beijing, China.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

The Great Wall Of China

When I first told my Mum about my trip to Beijing, she asked if a visit to the Great Wall of China was in the itinerary. I said I wasn't sure and made a comment that it would be fine with me if it was not, to which she replied how she couldn't imagine a trip to Beijing without seeing the Great Wall. 

Fortunately, it was one of the first few stops of the itinerary, and any hesitancy I had about the energy and effort required to trek the wall dissipated when its magnificence revealed itself and the fantastic views it accorded made the arduous trek, for me at least, worthwhile. 

The decision to head to the Mu Tian Yu section of the Great Wall was a well-taken one. Apparently less touristic and with much less of a crowd compared to Ba Da Ling, we were able to take our time on ascents and descents, with many a photo opportunity secured. As time goes by, I am sure I will appreciate even more the chance I had to see in person one of the seven wonders of the world. 

Mu Tian Yu section of the Great Wall of China.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

A First To Beijing

Travelling with friends for the first time, even good friends I might add, is a somewhat delicate expe-rience. Although we may know each other well, being in close proximity and having to navigate the decision-making process for almost a week, is a challenge that will either strengthen our friendships or otherwise. 

Having accepted an invite to visit Beijing with two friends leading up to the Hari Raya holidays, the intent to keep an open mind and to be flexible in terms of sightseeing and food was a wise move, resulting in an immensely enjoyable trip, and friendships that are now on an even more solid footing. 

With this visit to Beijing being a first for me, I appreciated the care and effort taken to introduce me to the city and its many attractions as well as its cuisine. Attention to detail is a boon when travelling with a hotelier amongst us, and the opportunity to experience the hospitality of two of the leading hotels in the city is something to remember. A progressive city that values the past, lovely weather and good company make for an enjoyable trip indeed. 

Johan, Brennen and I at Today Art Museum in Beijing, China.

Saturday, June 18, 2016


I have a friend who is turning forty in about a week and he is not taking it too well I suspect. For the past few months, he has been lamenting about this new approaching milestone and how age is catching up, too quickly I might add. 

Another friend and I have been trying to lessen the blow somewhat. LBAF we say! And we are fine examples of that, if I may say so myself. As far as I am concerned, age is only a number and how one chooses to live life is what matters. Mindset is also important, and one that epitomises a positive outlook and enthusiastic disposition will ensure that one remains young at heart, regardless of what the number might indicate. 

So, as my friend starts a new decade of life soon, we wish him all the finer things that his forties will bring. All he needs to do is to keep an open mind and embrace the wonderful experiences that will come his way. 

Photo shot in Koh Lipe, Thailand.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Extended Family

I was telling a friend a few days ago that I was just in Hong Kong to witness the nuptials of my cousin Faiman and Camil, to which this friend commented that I had an extremely large extended family. I think that for some in my generation, a sizeable extended family is not too uncommon. Both my parents have numerous siblings, my grandparents too. The question is whether we make the effort to nurture relationships with such family members. 

The truth is, there are many relations whom we have already lost touch with, otherwise, my family would be even bigger. My aspiration is always to keep in touch with those who I have established relationships. It is not always easy. There are time constraints, at times language barriers, there is the distance for some, apathy from others, well, we can make as many excuses as we want to. But for those who make the effort like I do, I reciprocate. And the nascent bonds at the onset hopefully develop into long-lasting ones. 

There are those who are averse to building such relationships. I am not one of them. And as time catches up with us, the more I realise how important it is to have such family in my life. And therein lies the promise. 

Camil and Faiman at their wedding at Tin Shui Wai in Hong Kong.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Guilty Pleasures

Sometimes it is the simple pleasures that offer us some solace from the stress that is part and parcel of our work day. I get irritated easily, especially when deadlines are not met, when co-workers or collaborators are lackadaisical, when carelessness leads to delays, when clients are indecisive ... that's quite a list, no wonder the irritation. 

Anyway, back to my point. In times of stress, the simple pleasure that comforts me is a snack, a guilty pleasure no less. I can always count on a teh tarik, or perhaps a bag of chips, or a bar of chocolate, even better a slice of cake or multiple handfuls of cookies. Not entirely a healthy habit in the minds of the health-conscious but I am more than happy to indulge myself.

I don't smoke, I don't drink, but I have my share of indulgence. And if it puts me in a better disposition, I think why not? A few extra laps at the pool later will have to compensate. 

Toasted bun with butter and condensed milk plus a milk tea at Tsui Wah in Hong Kong. 

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Catch Up In Hong Kong

I was recently in Hong Kong for my cousin's wedding. I made it a point to arrive a day earlier from Kuala Lumpur before other members of my family so that I would have some time to catch up with a few friends, two Malaysians who live in Hong Kong and two locals. 

I have always been one to realise the importance of nurturing friendships and keeping in touch, and whilst our busy lives may prove challenging to do so, a little effort and proper time management help. Some forward planning - locking down dates and times to meet ahead of my trip - made it possible to catch up over a meal. Food aside, the highlight is certainly the conversation. Updates on the latest changes in our lives, personal revelations and the like, you get my drift. 

In the age of connectivity via social media, such gatherings in person are catalysts for maintaining the momentum online. The trick is to find a few minutes here and a couple of minutes there of free time, to just send a short message to say hi. We can then take it from there.

Mong Kok MTR in Kowloon, Hong Kong.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Penang Fam Trip

I was in Penang recently for a fam trip organised by Penang Global Tourism. Happy I was to have been able to meet and establish new friendships with wedding planners from Singapore and Hong Kong who were invited to see for themselves what Penang has to offer as a destination for weddings. 

Though rather hectic, it nevertheless gave us the opportunity to get to know one another and to visit the many venues that can host weddings, be it beach weddings, heritage or cultural celebrations. I also took the opportunity to extend my stay by a day in order to catch up with our local wedding partners in Penang. Some of these vendors have been long-time partners of weddingsmalaysia, and many have become good friends of mine. Having said that, we also look forward to nurturing nascent relationships that we have recently established with our newer partners. 

Over coffee and cake, we had the chance to catch up on the latest happenings, both in our work as well as in our personal lives. Taking the time to connect is always worthwhile.

Afternoon tea at D'Fat Mona Lisa Cafe in Penang, Malaysia.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Koh Lipe

Going on a holiday for the first time with friends is a somewhat interesting experience. Although we know each other well, a trip abroad is a more intimate experience and it is when one really gets to know the other on a more personal basis. 

I normally take a laissez-faire approach when it comes to such holidays. I let my friends decide on the flight plans, the travel itinerary, the activities to take part in, the restaurants to go to. I just go with the flow. Too many cooks spoil the broth is an adage I adopt when it comes to group travel, more so when it is a virgin trip with friends. 

My recent trip to Koh Lipe with Laura and Victor was one such trip. A beautiful island, though a tad troublesome to get to, it provided us with an opportunity to unwind and to relax amidst natural surrounds, with good company. Lazing on the beach on most days, enjoying meals with spectacular views, what more can one ask for. 

Victor, Laura and I at The Cliff, Koh Lipe, Thailand.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Lucky, Grateful, Thankful

Every now and then, I hear comments on how lucky I am to still have friendships from my primary school days. A number of factors have played a role in this. First and foremost, the advent of social media, a catalyst that got us all reconnected in the first place. Thereafter, it is all about effort.
It is fair to say that for the most part, the majority of us keep in touch on whatsapp. It is much easier for those who are single to meet in person more often, either for meals or the occasional hike. Special occasions such as festivals are a greater incentive for those with families to find some time to join in the gatherings. Whatever the case may be, it is important to be grateful for such friendships.
For many, friendships that were formed as young kids are the longest relationships we have come to experience. And for that we ought to be thankful.
Ranjit, Sharon, Yee Li, Wendy, Shah and I.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Family Trip 2016

Every year I take a family vacation with my Mum and sister. This year we headed to Hanoi. Although I have been to Vietnam on a number of occasions, this was my first visit to Hanoi. 

Compared to Saigon and Hoi An, I found Hanoi slightly less progressive in terms of tourism infrastructure. Nevertheless, I am not one to be discouraged when on holiday and certainly had an enjoyable time. We left the planning of the trip to my Mum. Other than booking the flights and hotel, places of interest to see and eateries to patronise were planned by Mum. In a sense by doing so, it offered an element of surprise somewhat, always a good thing while on holiday.

Family trips as such allow us to bond, but it is not without its stress-inducing moments either. Varying interests and expectations sometimes come to the fore, as differing taste buds too. However, when all is said and done, a sense of family reigns supreme and a worthwhile trip is what matters most. 

Photo shot on the Aerotrain at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Culinary Skills Passed Down

Last Sunday, the extended Wong family gathered for dinner to remember my grandfather on the 8th anniversary of his passing. In honour of his culinary skills, some of the dishes prepared were from recipes that he passed down to my aunts and Mum. 

My 'Ah Yei' was an accomplished cook. Together with my late grandmother, they would whip up a feast during each festive celebration. We try to keep up this tradition as best we can, in most instances via a pot-luck, at other times, an aunt might take on the entire responsibility of cooking for the occasion. 

As we congregate to remember my grandfather, I hope that my family continues to cherish the times spent together, and that this practice will be kept alive well into the future. 

A favourite dish of my family's.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Say It As It Is

As I grow wiser over time, it has dawned on me even more than ever, that one ought to say what is on one's mind rather than hold back and later think what if. Sure, some things are easier to hear than others, but articulating one's thoughts clearly and communicating them precisely makes one's stand and position clear. The resultant outcome and reaction are then often beyond one's control. What is certain though is that I would not have sold myself short by not taking a stand.

Contentious issues, sensitive topics and the possibility of rejection often are a hindrance, and contribute to our cautious state of mind. Throwing caution to the wind is a good thing, and having the courage to speaks one's mind is a practice that ought to be nurtured.

The flip side of all this is the fact that if one can be frank, then one also needs to be able to accept honesty and bluntness in return. Something to work towards indeed.

8th day of Chinese New Year. 

Friday, February 26, 2016

Chinese New Year 2016

It has been a very memorable 15 days of Chinese New Year celebrations indeed. Time spent with family and good friends is always worthwhile, further strengthening our bonds that have been nurtured through the years. 

The central theme of this year's celebrations has been food, a lot of food to be exact. Each gathering has revolved around meals - breakfast, brunch, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner, supper - you name it, we did it. Banter and laughter made such meals that much more enjoyable. 

At the end of the day, Chinese New Year is about family and friends. It is about love and care. It is about doing what we can to preserve and celebrate our culture and traditions. Most importantly, it is about starting the new year with gusto and hope. 

Chinese New Year 2016.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Glasses Raised

I don't drink but this is a happy photo. It represents friends whom I have gotten to know over the past few years, who congregate every year just before Chinese New Year to celebrate the kinship and camaraderie that have been nurtured over time.
Mostly from the Klang Valley, but some from interstate and others from abroad, we make it a point to be present. Plans are set afoot early, venue booked, invites are sent out, travel arrangements are made for some and RSVPs collated. Kudos and appreciation go out to the organisers who despite their busy schedules, put time aside to ensure a memorable evening.
With many glasses raised, the well wishes that reverberated throughout the night will surely ensure a happy year ahead.
Annual reunion dinner, for 2016 at Oriental Viva, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Kuih Kapit Tradition

Keeping traditions alive requires some effort but the time spent doing so is very much worth it. Every year, my cousins, aunts and uncles get together to make kuih kapit, with the fruits of their labour being distributed to each family within the extended family.
I had been 'missing in action' for the past few years but made a return this time around. The camaraderie and chit-chat throughout make the heat and humidity bearable. Most importantly though are the memories that we will carry with us after all the hard work is done.
This year is extra special as cousins from Singapore and Melbourne made their way back to this get together. We look forward to congregating again come Chinese New Year proper.
Cousins kuih-kapiting in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Pours Toujours

A client of mine, LavieFlo, recently launched their Valentine's Day collection - 'Pour Toujours or Forever Love'. I was asked to do a brief introduction to the day's event, and I found it apt to articulate the following ... 'Pours Toujours' is inspired by 'A love that lasts for eternity. It is a love that many hope for and it is an aspiration that most of us go in search of in our lifetime'.
Whilst it is a given that not all relationships survive the test of time, those who are optimists in nature hold steadfast to the notion that keeping an open mind and heart may just lead to the love of one's life. The brave are those who try and try again despite having faced disappointments, and I'd like to believe they will be well rewarded ultimately.
Being part of an event that espouses such positive sentiments can only be a good thing, even more so at the beginning of a new year. It puts us in the right frame of mind to be open to possibilities and to be willing to take a leap of faith when the opportunity presents itself.
LOVE by LavieFlo.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Balance, Somewhat

All of us wear many hats in our lives, in our personal life and in our career. Some find the juggling challenging. Others seem to revel in the varied experiences. Whichever extreme we identify with, or even if we fall somewhere in the middle of both extremes, acceptance of our circumstance is a step towards leading a happy life.
I remember coming across this quote that was painted on some wooden planks in Bali ... The secret of being happy is accepting where you are in life and making the most out of every day. I would be the first to admit that being contented is not something I readily identify with. I always feel that life can be better, sweeter, you get the drift. So what I have tried to achieve is perhaps somewhat of a balance. Being happy with my lot in life at present, but always willing to embrace betterment when the opportunities present themselves.
It is with hope and faith that I tackle this new year and it is with open arms that I welcome all the good that the year has to offer.
Hats in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Streat Thai

The extended family was invited by my cousin Lye Synn to a New Year's Day dinner and little did we know that the venue, Streat Thai at The School at Jaya One, is his new venture. It came as a pleasant surprise and I am extremely excited for him as he embarks on this new entrepreneurial endeavour.
A new venture is always something to be enthusiastic about. It takes courage to take such a leap of faith, emotionally and financially. And the least we can do is to offer words of encouragement and support whenever we can.
So all the best Synn and here's to a successful endeavour.
Streat Thai at The School, Jaya One in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia.

Friday, January 1, 2016


It's the first day of 2016 and here's to a great year ahead in all aspects of life. The good wishes and optimistic sentiments that have been reverberating since yesterday I am sure will have a positive impact as the year unfolds.
Starting off the year with a healthy breakfast, a short stint in the gym followed by a swim, is my way of putting in place an aspiration to live a healthier lifestyle henceforth. Having said that, there is also much enjoyment to partake in and indulgence is still very much part of my nature. Let's just say I shall try to strike a good balance.
As we embark on a new year, I look forward to rewarding experiences and encounters, and I sincerely hope you will be a part of such memorable occasions. Happiness and good health to all!
A morning swim.