Look at the city lights, the city hearts in Singapore.
You know how, sometimes, people feel the need to get away from the bustling city life, leave the rat race, vacate the concrete jungle, take a break from the neon lights wilderness, have a recess from dog-eat-dog corporate world and retreat to some nature somewhere to “clear the mind”?
Yea, I’m not one of them.
I love the city. I love skyscrapers; I love bright lights; I love shiny glass windows reflecting even shinier metallic structures that grow from clean structured tar roads and reach mightily into the sky. I love the energy you get from just walking down the sidewalk amidst people of a place that never sleeps.
While growing up in Penang, I always dreamed of relocating to Kuala Lumpur — the nearest biggest city to my sleepy little island hometown — and I’ve not regretted it one bit. Now that I’ve been here 8-going-on-9 years, I still have not bored of it, although I am beginning to hear the distant calling of bigger, shinier, more advanced cities elsewhere.
I returned to sunny Singapore for a weekend recently for work and got just the exact dose of “metropolism” as I like to call it. Ah the smell of productivity, the taste of purpose in the air emanating from people with places to go and things to do.
How can anyone not like big cities? I get so bored it hurts in small towns.
Singapore was reinvigorating to me much like how a vacation to Bali might be for some people; refreshing full of purposeful air much like that of Tibetan mountain air for others.
Our latest obsession these days are ribs — beef, pork, what have you, take it we will. There’s something about the juicy smokiness of a rack done proper made doubly satisfying when eaten with your hands like our ancestors did hehehe.
After trying out a few places, I think we may have found our favourite one yet in Iberico Kitchen at Oasis Damansara.
I rate them better than Naughty Nuri’s because the ones here let the natural flavours of the meat speak for itself; Naughty Nuri’s is overly sauce dependent. Plus the pork of choice here — Iberico pork — is the wagyu equivalent of pigs so I think that says all there is to be said.
We tried all 3 flavours of their pork ribs — original, honey-glazed and yuzu — and loved them all. My favourite is the original where the marbly meat glistens in thick chunks on the bone before melting in your mouth once you bite into it. The Ninja however loved the yuzu, a specialty at the restaurant that sees a special Japanese orange sauce drizzled over the ribs, resulting in a lovely caramelised texture that starts off citrusy but melts off into a nice bitter-sweet ending.
We indulged a little by popping a bottle of wine, ordered many other sides that stood in the same league as the ribs (oh those cheeseballs!) and spent the afternoon in the best way imaginable — with lots of good food, fine wine and great friends.
A week late, but Happy Easter everyone! Hope all of you had a restful Sunday of sweet things and solace.
We celebrated it just how I’m sure the good Lord intended it — with copious amount of wine. The guy did turn water into wine after all and why would he had done that if he had not wanted us to drink it?
With wine you have to have some cheese and fruit and that’s what we had too, all in a beautiful private bar in Belinda’s even more beautiful home.
I am in love with the entire place, personally designed by her brother. It’s great design meets functionality and I love how ample sunlight poured in from the huge skylight so everything is bathed in natural light. I know now who I’m calling for my future house hehehe.
It was a warm night but the heat outside could not compare to the camaraderie inside, where we laughed, ate, drank and danced to the merry tune of good food and even better company.
Thank you Belinda for having us that wonderful evening.
Rejoice, they said, because our Lord has risen, and rejoice, we did.
The weather has been all kinds of bad lately, scorching hot one minute and crazy thunderstorm the next.
Having grown up here all my life, that is honestly no big deal to me until it had to spoil one of our most anticipated weekends in a long time — the Putrajaya Hot Air Balloon Fiesta 🙁
We had planned on a glorious picnic complete with champagne to be had on a warm blanket in one of Putrajaya’s sprawling fields while over 20 hot air balloons lifted to the skies before us. All was well until we reached the location — rain poured down on us like it was the end of the world and everything turned into a slushy muddy mess.
I was dejected, upset and sour, but my favourite Ninja managed to convince me to still make the most out of the picnic we had packed. We headed home and set up shop by our poolside instead and I must say, it was just as fun. We had our pool lulling us to a numbing calmness, this spectacular sunset framing our dinner and the cheese, sandwiches, nuts and wine tasted 3 times better because we had had to put off eating it.
Trust the guy to always try and put a smile on my face in the worst circumstances.
It was one of the best Sunday evenings we’ve had in a while where I didn’t stop smiling at the serenity that was washing over me, nor could I stop giggling at his endless jokes, and it didn’t have anything to do with the wine.
Out of sheer boredom one weekend, we decided to go bowling but because we’re not just anybody who can just go bowling anywhere, we ended up in a completely glow-in-the-dark alley.
How super cool is the entire concept of this place, and how much cooler is it that my camera actually managed to capture the effects of the black light? Hahaha.
Everything glowed a neon pink, green, blue and yellow and while you can hardly see what the other person looks like in there, there’s no missing the balls, the pins, the lanes and even the seats. Even the bar at the the entrance glowed — super convenient in helping us determine if their glasses were clean or not, hehehe.
Needless to say I came in last — or was it second last? — at the end of our game because that’s just how bad I suck at bowling but at least this trip was well worth my money, if only for the novelty.
And just like that, we are done with Chinese New Year.
There goes 15 glorious days of food, angpaus, precious family time, not to mention time spent catching up with friends, maybe a round or two too much of poker and sam ban luck and, of course, countless rounds of lou yee sang. And what a glorious season it was!
Amidst all the celebration, one night that really made my celebration would definitely be this night at Ruyi & Lyn when we got to have dinner with power woman Lyn Siew, owner of said restaurant. We got acquainted when I interviewed her for a column on the magazine for Bright Young Things where we feature rising stars in various industries. She is incredibly deserving of the title if I may say so — young, beautiful, successful and supremely down to earth.
This CNY she even remembered me enough to spare an invite for me and a plus one at her restaurant’s media appreciation dinner and I got to taste perhaps one of the most indulgent yee sang I’ll ever taste in my life — yee sang with Moet & Chandon champagne sauce, among other luxurious things. The 8 course dinner that followed was equally as magnificent, with my favourite being — naturally — the prawn dumpling with avocado sauce above. Crispy and crunchy on the outside and creamy and chewy on the inside, mmm!
Happy Chap Goh Meh everyone and may the rest of year continue to be a series of celebration for all! Don’t forget to also check out Ruyi & Lyn for your next Chinese food craving. It’s only the first-of-its-kind modern fusion Chinese restaurant in Malaysia, with a bar and restaurant space that spans 22,000 sq ft, equivalent to the size of six standard restaurants!
So aside from precious family time, this Chinese New Year was also incredibly good because of the time I got to catch up with my best girl friends.
These are girls with whom I literally grew up with, having gone to same school since Standard One. Some I only got closer to in the later years and Marisa, in particular, only after we entered secondary school, but if I were to select a bunch of people who would know me best, it would be this bunch without question.
We’re scattered across many different places now but keeping in touch has never been a problem, something I like to think is a sign of true friendship.
There’s steady and rational Li Ying, who I can always count on for adult reason of voice. Fun and frivolous Madeline, who has held my hair up while I threw up after too much drink one too many times. Assuring and never judgemental Yuh Ting, my number one candidate for maid of honour solely for all the shit we’ve been through together, be it heartbreaks, uncertainties or plain old boredom mistaken for rebellion back in the day. And adventure-hungry and opinionated Marisa, the one person who introduced me to some of the best books that shaped my character when we were wee teenagers and who today still remains the first person I run to to share my best news with.
Today, I like to think we’ve grown up to be rather successful individuals in our own rights and in that accord, are all busy. Amidst the reality of adulthood and growing up, we get it that we can’t always speak on the phone or get on FaceTime all the time, but deep inside, we all know when things get bad and we need each other to be there, we will be.
We’re independent like that and I wouldn’t have it any other way. We live separate lives, but at the end of the day, we make it to meet up and it’s like not a single day has passed since we last met.
Friendship isn’t about who has known you the longest. It’s about who has said “I’ll be here for you”, and proved it.
Hope your time with family was a good solid one like mine was!
I was fortunate enough to to get the whole week off this year and chose to spent the entire bulk of it at home — in Penang. It was so good from start to finish, except for a small problem I seem to be facing with Penang air that left me breaking out all over and triggered more than a few allergies, sigh. But all in all it was a great trip that had all the key ingredients — good food, lots of angpau and more than enough family time.
It was a double celebration, may I add, because this year is also my grandma’s 80th birthday! The timing couldn’t be more perfect as it allowed family members from near and far travel back to celebrate the auspicious occasion together.
It was a grand do and not at all half bad for an effort literally put together through WhatsApp messages and emails hahaha.
The lady of the hour herself, my maternal grandmother. I’m often told I look a lot like my paternal grandmother but if there’s one thing I sort of take after this grandma, it’s my feisty nature and sometimes not-so-temperate temper, hehe. And hopefully I’ll also be as strong and healthy as she is at the ripe old age of 80!
But first, angpau!
Even the littlest one knows her priorities, hehehe.
All my pretty yee yee’s, the 5 sisters of the family. OK I call dibs now: in 30 years time, I want Tai Yee’s grace and kindness, Zi Yee’s wit and intelligence, Sam Yee’s nurturing and encouraging spirit, my mum’s will and strength and Xiao Yi’s grit and drivenness. With all the powers combined, I will be a superwoman who can take on anything and anyone, just like these ladies. Thank you very much!
Entertainment was also taken care of by one very pretty little Miss Chloe dressed complete in a red cheongsam.
Of course, the boys wasted no time in taking up station at the bar the moment it opened.
A toast to the birthday girl, without whom I think is fair to say we would all not be here.
No good party is complete without a few special words for the birthday girl. Everyone took turns to share their favourite tales and anecdotes about the woman who brought them up, although some anecdotes were shorter than others hahaha.
On top of grandchildren, she has quite a number of great grandchildren as well. Most all of them there are those I now call nieces and nephews. Way to feel old…
I must say I have never seen her smile so wide and for so long as that night 🙂
Back to business — more angpau! Because no one ever complains about angpaus hehehe.
Look at Por Por just making it rain cash hehehe.
One for good luck, another just because it’s her birthday!
Food and angpaus aside, CNY will always be up there on my list of favourite time of the year simply for the special bonding time we get to reconnect with cousins. More than just cousins, actually — aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, friends. Is there a more inclusive celebration? I think not!
But most of all, it is the best special time for family, which I am beginning to realise with a heavy heart, is getting more and more scarce the older I get. Growing up takes away a lot of the fun we’re accustomed to as kids; it steals away very precious time that used to flow freely when we were still in school.
But that’s not going to stop us from still making the most out of whatever little we can squeeze from our busy schedules.
Responsibilities and life obligations are aplenty but we only have one when it comes to family. And I’m glad I have this one and that everyone in it is healthy and happy. (Missing you Benny but you’re always here with us in our hearts until you return home next!)
Happy Chinese New Year again everyone! Hope you’re having a great one thus far. If it’s not quite meeting expectations yet, not to worry, there’s still about a week more of it!
I have come to the conclusion that sometimes, a good time doesn’t mean everything went well or that you had all your senses overloaded with only the good, happy stuff (although I will still welcome all of the above!).
Sometimes, a good time comes disguised with bad traffic, overpriced drinks at the venue, a not-so-great band and leaving the venue deaf in one side of your ear only to drop your phone and have your screen shatter, rendering it unreadable (sigh!). It wouldn’t seem like a good time then, but then you go home, have a few laughs with friends about what a shitty night it was, pop a a fresh bottle of wine and drink to bad luck in an attempt to drown that misery.
That’s when you realise sometimes, a good time is going through the bad as well as the lovely with people who matter.
People who will be awkward with you in the face of bad music; buddies who will lament with you how preposterous prices of beer in KL are yet still order one anyway; pals who try to help you look on the bright side when your phone dies on the sidewalk (“Hey, time for a new phone!”); true friends who help make sure the wine keeps pouring and the good times keep rolling even in your lowest of nights.
I’ve known it for a while now but one fateful Wednesday night cemented my belief that every moment, every memory worth reliving, is made more by the people you’re with than anything else.