. the choice is ours .

PhotoGrid_1406916339527
The choice is ours.
An excerpt from the ‘Woman On Top’ book, a book written by 1 of my favourite person, Loretta Chen :) 

. around the world in 24 hours .

29.07.2014. Possibly the happiest day in my life for this year. The day when I received news from my spinal surgeon that my neck fracture has healed completely and I’m ready to start living my life without the neck collar (at home, for now) and move my neck again! :) However, there’s a joint between the C1 and C2 bones that didn’t fuse properly so surgery is not exactly out of the picture yet. Nonetheless, there is simply no words to describe the joy I feel to know that I can regain some sort of normalcy again. Finally, after an awfully long 4 months wait, things are slowly but surely getting back in shape – My fracture is healing well, hair is growing back in my bald spot, completed an express course of orthodontic treatment and am now proud to flaunt my straight teeth and finally, I underwent a cosmetic surgery to revise the depressed scars (aka halo vest scars) on my forehead.

The journey to recovery has been one hell of a ride, with way too many emotional outbursts than I could possibly handle. Some days, I mopped around in bed, constantly living off negative energy and wishing for the days to zoom to the time, when I can proudly proclaimed that everything has fallen back in place. Yet, by doing so, I realised that I was rushing through life just trying to reach to the destination. My goal when I can “get back to my old life”.  Joel Osteen mentioned in his book ‘Every Day A Friday’ that “Many people only live for the mountaintops.” This basically means that most of us are constantly so focused on big-ticket events, such as a job promotion, wedding and vacations/travels, that we put our lives on hold until those things happen. I’m very sure that many of us are guilty of that, aren’t we? Likewise, at the lowest points of my recovery, I was hoping and praying so hard to speed forward in time so that I can be normal again. Because I thought normal will bring me happiness. Yet, there was no denying that I felt even more demoralised whenever I spend a day idling around and doing nothing productive. So, I tried to make the best of each day while waiting longingly for that big day to come. Most of the time, I think I did pretty well for someone who had a broken neck. I have had strangers who came up to me and praised me for having the courage to embark on workshops or island-hopping trips despite my lack of tip-top condition. Looking back, it is the days where I filled my time with meaningful activities that made me smile with glee … And not the days, where I sulked in misery, in my bed.

I guess, what I want to share is that no matter how bleak you might think your situation is, always have faith and believe that it will always get better at the end of the day. It’s perfectly normal to moan and get upset because we need an outlet to release our emotions and feelings but don’t waste too much time wallowing in that dark corner. Attempt to enjoy each day as it comes because when you look back, you will realise that it is a pity to let those days go by without making it productive. And of course, always surround yourself with your support system because they will be the ones who will help get you to your destination eventually. :)

Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning how to dance in the rain.

disneyworld bdae title

On the many occasions when I’m feeling utterly depressed or paranoid, he never fails to remind me to think of the happy moments in my life. Because these unforgettable memories will be the catalyst to trigger happiness and positivism within me. And I did. While I’m not one who fuss around big birthday celebrations, I have been lucky to celebrate many birthdays aboard. Last year, I had my best birthday celebration (so far) at the happiest place on Earth, with the company of those dearest to me. It was that special day at Epcot, Disneyworld that I often thought of whenever I needed a morale booster. After all, I got to ‘travel’ to 11 countries in 24 hours! Pretty awesome huh! :)

 Canada: Learning about O’ Canada at Chateau Laurier and taking a stroll at the Canadian Rookies and Butchart Gardens
PhotoGrid_1406635365682
United Kingdom:
Taking in the sights of the quaint cobble-stoned streets, quintessential English buildings and cottages and of course, not forgetting the world-famous red phone booths!
PhotoGrid_1406635304381
France: Bon Appetit at Les Chefs de France restaurant, followed by a walk at the Seine waterfront and ending with a photo op at the romantic Pont des Arts bridge.
PhotoGrid_1406635211743

Norway: A ride on the viking boat at the Maelstrom attraction and we also saw why the film-makers were inspired by this beautiful country to produce the movie, Frozen.
PhotoGrid_1406635131942

United States of America: New York City. Boston. Philadelphia. Newark. San Francisco. Los Angeles. Anaheim. Buffalo. Orlando. I’ll be back for more.
PhotoGrid_1406634802314
Morocco: The Jewel of North Africa, the most exotic country in the world showcase in Epcot. Soaking in the ambiance of the bustling bazaar and intricately designed courtyard.
PhotoGrid_1406634650869

Italy: People-watching at St Mark’s Square and the Venetian bridges of Venice. Looks almost as real as the originals in Italy!
PhotoGrid_1406634925896
Germany: I’m not a beer person or any alcohol for that matter but when you are in Germany, you gotta do what the locals love! 
PhotoGrid_1406634979998
China:  Back to our roots. Checked out the Temple of Heaven in Beijing and the Terracotta Army in Xi’an.
PhotoGrid_1406635057222
Japan: The most popular and crowded country in the world showcase! Everyone seems to be so excited purchasing all sorts of knick knacks from the Mitsukoshi department store, from Hello Kitty merchandise to anime action figures to katana, to name a few. For me? I’m happy to satisfy my cravings for Japanese instant noodles!
PhotoGrid_1406634723874
Mexico: We joined Donald Duck and friends on a delightful musical journey through Mexico, passing by Chichen Itza, Mexico City and Acapulco! Love the lively energy and colours of the Mexico pavilion! 
PhotoGrid_1406634517561

. weekend: bits and pieces .

Weekends /  Wild meadows /  Glutton Spree, Let’s travel around Japan / An authentic Okinawan lunch at Nirai Kanai / The lure of sashimi  / Going RED with Ikkousha’s Spicy Takana Ramen / Catching one of my favourite musicals of all time – Sound of Music / Singapore Heritage Festival 2014 /A rare visit to 1 of Singapore’s oldest Millionaire Club – Ee Hoe Hean Club / Sunday at the Southern islands of St John, Lazarus and Seringat / Mesmerized by the marine biodiversity in our waters / The most adorable Simba looking cool and stylish with Ray-Ban

PhotoGrid_1406364171191PhotoGrid_1406364229289PhotoGrid_1406512180364PhotoGrid_1406512036202PhotoGrid_1406512225875PhotoGrid_1406355917590PhotoGrid_1406512070130PhotoGrid_1406512098820PhotoGrid_1406512124996PhotoGrid_1406099375543

. paragliding at coronet peak .

I’m so glad that I did it!” The same words that my little sister exclaimed once we landed on the ground from our first paragliding flight in New Zealand. The same girl who was hesitating about embarking on this flight of a lifetime just hours ago and needed much persuasion from her older sister. And, I’m extremely proud to say that she did it! To conquer her fear of heights as she took the plunge to run off the peak (the highest commercial take-off point for Queenstown paragliding) and soar into the sky. Proud of my baby sister! :)

As for me? Paragliding gave me my first taste of flying in the sky with nothing more than a parachute on my back, and a sneak preview of what is to be expected for my tandem skydive. Besides, it offers a unique way to enjoy the incredible views of Coronet Peak and its surroundings from above! Definitely beats the experience that one can get from a helicopter ride. And if you’re well-behaved and up for something to get your adrenaline pumping, why not request for the pilot to do some spins and turns which is set to add more excitement to your flight? Think of it as a roller coaster ride in mid-air!

Highly recommend anyone who’s heading to New Zealand to give either paragliding or hang-gliding (wanna try that someday) a try! Trust me, it isn’t as scary as it might look from pictures; If anything, it’s pretty comfortable and relaxing to fly majestically through the skies like a bird. The experience of a lifetime, coupled with the spectacular mountain views, is worth every single penny.

title
DCIM100DRIFT

DCIM100DRIFT
DCIM100GOPRO
The climatic end to our scenic flights – Where our pilots performed spins and figure-8 turns so that we could scream to our heart’s content! A must-do for any thrill seekers!

DCIM100DRIFT
DCIM100GOPRO
DCIM100DRIFT
DCIM100GOPRO

. people come and go: letting it go .

‘Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for a while, leave footprints on out hearts, and we are never, ever the same.” 
– Flavia Weedn

As I grow older (and wiser), one of the many life lessons that I have learnt is that people come and go in our lives. When I was still schooling, this concept was something that I found difficult to grasp because I chose to believe that when people enter your life, you will want them to remain in your life forever. You know, like “Friends Forever”?  Through the  years, due to various commitments and life changes, many of the people whom I have met and befriended and I have slowly drifted apart. Clubbing girlfriends, SIM-UB course mates, CJC clique, overseas friends from the various exchange programmes that I had attended, to name a few. In the past, it used to upset me a lot when friends drift apart because some of these friendships really meant something at one point of time but now, I have learnt to accept that it is just part and parcel of life. People come and go, but what that matters most is that you cherish the time spent together because some of these friends are the people who leave a lasting impact and helped to mold the person you are today.

Yet, when a friendship that truly matters to you start to disintegrate, it still hurts. Sometimes, it is through tough and difficult times when you start to see the true colours in others. I had a friend who once “promised” to always be there but when it came down to the crunch and when I was feeling the lowest point in my life, this “promise” turned out to be an empty promise. You might ask, am I mad? Frankly, no. Because anger is just a fleeting emotion, felt best at that point of time when it’s being triggered. However, in its place, is disappointment that sets in and that sort of pain sears you more than anger or frustration ever could. It makes you wonder, has all the past not matter to someone anymore? Is it so hard to simply show up for a friend when one’s in need? Perhaps, it’s easier to choose the easy route because it is safe and works to one’s benefit. Why bother to rock the boat when things are going seemingly perfect right? Personally, I usually give my best to things that matter and for this case, I tried my best and refused to let go of this friendship. But, after some reflection, it hit me that people who leave you in the lurch when you needed them, doesn’t deserve you. Introspection, it takes even more courage to stand up, let of of such unhealthy friendship and finally move forward. To be mature and sensible enough to see that some people might be holding you back in a way that is not what you want or need. When things are clearer, you realise that it is another’s loss and not mine, for I have always and will continue to live life in zest.

“Don’t take for granted the people in your life. They will not always be here.”

And with this, I’ll gather the strength to finally close this chapter in my life.

. The End   .

. let’s visit these offshore lighthouses .

As part of this year’s Singapore Heritage Festival, the National Heritage Board has organised a learning trail for members of the public to visit and learn about some of our country’s historic lighthouses. This educational trail takes participants to view the now-defunct Fullerton Lighthouse that is located at the top of Fullerton Hotel, sail past the pretty Sultan Shoal lighthouse (my personal favourite) and explore the Raffles Lighthouse that is dedicated to Sir Stamford Raffles. When I first learnt about the rare opportunity to view some of these offshore lighthouses that are usually out-of-bounds to the public, I knew immediately that I had to get myself onto 1 of those tours! However, who would have thought that there were thousands of others who shared the same idea? Apparently, there were over 6000 applicants vying for the few spots and lucky me got a slot! Seems like my efforts in staying up late into the night and refreshing the registration screen 101 times had paid off! :)

Do you know that there are currently 5 functional lighthouses in Singapore? 4 of the 5 lighthouses are located offshore – There is the oldest lighthouse, Horsburg Lighthouse on Pedra Branca island, Raffles Lighthouse, Pulau Pisang Lighthouse and Sultan Shoal Lighthouse. The newest and only surviving lighthouse on mainland is the Bedok Lighthouse, that sits on top of a block of HDB flats in Marine Parade. Here’s a map showing the locations of these 5 lighthouses!
PhotoGrid_1406181077040

lighthouse title
The Raffles Lighthouse, which was built in 1855, is located on Pulau Satumu, also known as the One Tree Island. Departing from Marina South Pier, it took us roughly an hour of boat ride to reach the shores of this southernmost island of Singapore. You know how the saying goes, life’s all about the journey, not the destination? Well, the boat ride to Raffles Lighthouse was certainly an eye-opener as it gave me the chance not only to view some of the Southern islands (St John, Kusu, Sisters’ Island, Pulau Bukom, Pulau Semakau, to name a few) but also to have a look at the frenzy of naval activities happening in our waters. Think large oil tankers and vessels carrying loads of containers and even liquid gas! 

PhotoGrid_1406181017963
At 29m tall, it takes one to climb a total of 107 steps to the top of Raffles Lighthouse. Hard work? Perhaps, but you will be rewarded with a breath-taking panoramic view of the blue waters and its surrounding islands. If you’re lucky, you might even get to spot a dolphin or shark in the distance (the lighthouse keeper has mentioned that he has spotted both marine creatures in the course of his work on the island)! 

PhotoGrid_1406181122727
Not many places in Singapore evoke such mystery and fascination as some of these remote and off-the-beaten-track tiny islands that are relatively unheard of. Over at Pulau Satumu, you will see that there are more idyllic and picturesque islands than the usual suspects, Sentosa and Pulau Ubin. If you are looking for a place of thrills and adventure, then this tiny islet (took us no more than 10 mins to walk around) will probably not fit your ideal of somewhere fun because there’s really nothing to do on this island. Best to simply kick back and enjoy the serenity.

Snapshots of Pulau Satumu :) 

PhotoGrid_1406181154247

PhotoGrid_1406218225952
PhotoGrid_1406181243203
PhotoGrid_1406218263558
PhotoGrid_1406181284747
PhotoGrid_1406181182096
Ever thought of what is it like to live a day as a lighthouse keeper? Over at the Raffles Lighthouse, there is a pair of lighthouse crew who works on a rotating 12 hours shift for 10 days. Which means 1 lighthouse keeper is required to live on the island, tendering to the needs of the lighthouse for 10 days before returning to the mainland for 10 off days and the cycle repeats. Some of their duties include: Cleaning of the light equipment, checking that the lights are working every 4 hours, grass cutting, removing rubbish from the beach and replenishing of the store. You get the drift. Frankly, a pretty boring and routine job but hey, you get to enjoy the whole island to yourself. Think of it as your own private getaway island. 

PhotoGrid_1406181336969
We were also given a short tour of the different lighthouse equipment and naval navigation tools that were used in the old days at the Lighthouse museum.

PhotoGrid_1406182020061PhotoGrid_1406220898172
I really do wish I could share with you guys pictures from inside the lighthouse and the stunning view from atop. Unfortunately, it started pouring right before my group could ascend the lighthouse so the trip was canceled due to safety reasons. Oh well, not-so-lucky me after all! On the other hand, we were stranded on a tiny island during a thunderstorm so that’s another unique experience on my list! :)

86 of these steps to the iron ladder that will bring you to the top of the lighthouse!

PhotoGrid_1406220926223
PhotoGrid_1406198816654
Happy me, basking in the fresh air and smell of the sea! My first “out-of-mainland” adventure in a really long time! :p

PhotoGrid_1406224226444

PhotoGrid_1406181381544

PhotoGrid_1405786862405
Following our departure from the Raffles Lighthouse, we sailed to our next destination – Sultan Shoal Lighthouse. Built in 1895, Sultan Shoal is the 3rd oldest lighthouse in Singapore and a stone’s throw away from Jurong island. Personally, this is my favourite lighthouse as it looks very pretty with its Victorian architecture influence. Besides the lighthouse, there is also a man-made lagoon (regulated by the sea tides) and 2 chalets for those who are looking for a remote island staycation. Unfortunately, the chalets are only available for employees of PSA so unless you have a family or friend working there, I would say don’t count on it.

Check out the ‘evolution’ of the Sultan Shoal from the 1960s to present day! :)

PhotoGrid_1406223206716
PhotoGrid_1406223142935
PhotoGrid_1406180830573
PhotoGrid_1406180894819
PhotoGrid_1406221770954
PhotoGrid_1406180966960

. a slice of mini rainbow cake .

Anyone who knows me well knows that I’m no domestic goddess. I find no joy in either cooking or baking but I have decided to give baking another try since many of my friends often spoke about how therapeutic it is. So, I wanted my first ‘solo’ attempt  at baking to be something exciting and fun! What’s more irresistible than a colourful rainbow cake? I love colours and a rainbow cake makes me feel like a happy kid all over again! :)

Being a total beginner, I searched online for an easy recipe that included a pre cake mix which certainly made it pretty hassle-free. The end results? The colours came out very pretty and vibrant and I daresay it looks quite spectacular! The taste? Well, can’t go too wrong with a Betty Crocker cake mix although one cannot expect it to be Le Chocolate Cafe standard either. My final verdict? I gave it my best shot but baking is still not my cup of tea. I’ll keep to sports and handicrafts. :p

Nonetheless, I’m very thrilled to share with you guys pictures of the first cake that I have ever baked! :) 

PhotoGrid_1405849676012
rainbow cake title
PhotoGrid_1405945654060
PhotoGrid_1405945733610
PhotoGrid_1405945912367
PhotoGrid_1405945597039

PhotoGrid_1405945526981
You can get the recipe and baking instructions from Table Spoon. Have fun!