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Monday, March 31, 2014

The Break-Up Songs

Music is a strange thing isn't it? Frank Ocean caught it in a perfect quote.

There are 2 male scents that is etched in my memory. The Valentino scent, because my high school crush sprayed it on every letter he wrote me. The Dolce Gabbana, because he never fails to replenish it.

However, there were songs which i assign to "men of the moment". I didn't do it consciously, but they were songs on the hit charts at the moment of break up and we (i & the music) connected. I guess if you're a neurotic, one could work out the periods/age i was dating :p

It was a long drawn break-up. It was my first relationship and we broke and we patched, then we broke again and we patched. Finally, we ended for good when this song hit the charts. I remember my last words to him was, "who knows, maybe we'll get back together again 10 years later." I must have watched too much dramas for such a dramatic last line.

This song was playing repeatedly in my head, and i wish it was him dedicating it to me (*cough* huge ego *cough*).

We were the best of friends, we were inseparable with so much in common but different life goals caused us to part. It's bittersweet to hear this song. 

This song, reminds me of he who was afraid of commitment. I didn't think too much of the song's lyrics when it hit the charts, until he explained to me his interpretation. He said that love is a toxic thing. It hurts so much but yet he can't have enough of wanting it.

The Chinese song that he would sing and we'd both end up in giggles. When we broke up, he explained to me how he was just not that into me. He who believed that in life, your true love will be the one whom you'll only realize after letting go.

I've been chasing the sunset, when it dawned on me. #sopunny

That Siri had the answer all along.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Best Staycation in Town: A Quincy Review


A staycation have been popular of late. Either for couples who are living with parents, or couples who can't travel because of pregnancy or with young kids. Most importantly, a staycation is essential to reconnect with your love ones if you can't afford extra days of travelling.

When hotels in Singapore are expensive, the bargain hunter in me surfaces.

Quincy, just behind Paragon shopping center in the heart of Singapore's shopping district offers a Qooler than ever weekend.

A staycation at Quincy officially starts at 2pm. Check into a stylish studio room with free mini-bar stocked with tea, soda, beer, chips and cookies! Get a Molten Brown rain shower or a sexy bubble bath with voyeuristic glass from the bed. Or simply lounge by the day bed by gorgeous city views.
The pool and sauna on the 12th floor is open 24/7, but we took a dip in the afternoon heat. Towels, bottled water, isotonic drinks and a coffee machine were at our disposal on this level. A considerate thought!

The highlight of our Qool weekend was the Art Jam (3-4pm) on Sat or Sun, the newest addition to the deal. One easel and a canvas per couple, the next hour was team effort. Before embarking on our art piece, i thought one hour was too short. Once we start, i realised two persons get much work done faster! Thus reinforcing the 'it is not good for man to be alone' thought. Art Jam at Quincy brings relationships closer, working on something tangible together. 
Not only getting our canvas, we got a sweet gift from the art jam session too
Us and our finished works
When our picture was done, without needing to clean up, we could saunter away to the cafe to enjoy all-day refreshments. We helped ourselves to the yummy vanilla soft serve, topped with chocolate or strawberry sauce, sprinkled with almonds or cashews. Cakes and coffee/tea were also available for your gluttony.
We took the ice-cream to go and walked down to Orchard Road, returning back in time in the evening for Happy Hour! Choose from a modest variety of alcoholic beverages and cocktails. Remember to line your stomach first with Dean & Deluca and Modesto's warm food. The menu changes every day i believe. The last time i had spicy tomato penne, cream mussels, spring rolls and others.
Gleeful smiles at happy hour, obviously.
As the city lights came on and night falls at 9pm, a Qool movie takes place at the pool. It would be better if they actually throw in some floats and popcorn for the occasion! #askingfortoomuch

The morning after, an American breakfast awaits us. A modest spread of pastries, cereal, cheese, yogurt, fruits, warm food like scrambled eggs, sausages etc. and beverages.
Not common elsewhere is also the late check-out available to prolong the Qool weekend!

Enough time to sneak uncorking a bottle of red (part of Qool weekend package) with a partner-in-crime in your hotel room by the window couch!
We rummage through the in-room complimentary mini bar for chips and cookies to complement!

Don't forget to do the #hotdog legs to complete your Qool weekend. There are discounts now!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Make Prata at Casuarina

Singapore has a long list of signature dishes, and the roti prata is one of them. Roti prata, an evolution of a Pakistan pancake, is a popular crispy flat bread amongst locals for breakfast, snack or supper. Pretty much an any-time any-day food!

Its a lightly flavoured dough commonly served plain with curry (i like to eat it with sugar too) but the local menus now feature a variety of eccentric variations such as durian (double whammy for a brave tourist, locals wouldn't eat it as it is a double whammy combi. Too heaty. ), ice-cream, cheese, chocolate and banana. All worth a try if you're adventurous but i'll stick with the safer variations like with egg or onion.

Prata stalls are easy to find but the more famous prata stalls are the ones who take up a few shop lots in a stretch. Usually to serve the night owls with their favourite after-party meal or where we catch up with friends in shorts and tees over a prata and milo peng (ice chocolatey drink) or teh tarik (pulled milk tea).

Between the many prata stalls, some places do it better than the others in texture. I prefer the light and slightly crispy than the soft and chewy ones. One of the better ones is found at Casuarina, off Upper Thomson Road.

Little did i know that, Casuarina offers a Prata Scholar Workshop on their premises at an affordable price of $15!
The prata chef took a break from flipping prata to come teach us. He was runner-up from last year's Singapore Prata Competition. A narrow shave from emerging champion in speed, size and skill.

If the runner-up is cooking at Casuarina, this would mean the prata there must be as big as it can get = value for money!

It may be a little difficult for some to understand the heavily accented Indian, but Mr. Babulal was extremely patient with us. The 2 hour session is conducted on dining premises, thus expect a little shuffling to and fro and some stares from diners. However, the atmosphere was bustling and as authentic as it can get. All staff were extremely tolerant, patient and friendly as we get in their way.
Entering the kitchen to understand what happens after all that flipping and tossing.
The 2 hour session includes learning how to flip and toss the dough, an essential preparation step before it gets pan-fried. As the kitchen is used for serving paying customers, we don't get to fry the prata we just made (i don't think my prata will be any ready for eating anyway!).

However, the good news is with the workshop, you get to gorge on unlimited plain prata with a drink. We even get a prata scholar certificate to boot!
The sight of the prata chef making prata is a sight to behold. With quick finger and hand movements; a toss in the air; and vigorous slaps and smacks just before serving are the steps to making prata. Try it for a unique Singapore experience.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

My Bucket List

I'm an adrenaline junkie and sportswoman if you haven't noticed. I have written somewhere (who am i kidding, its here, actually) of the extreme things i've done and would like to do before hitting 30. Reading an old post 4 years ago, i feel a sense of triumph to see that i've accomplished 2 out of 6!

Catching up with some girl friends, we talked about 2014's goals or what we hope to achieve in our late twenties. Amongst us was a 30-something year old who has a young child. She said she has zero goals or achievements she wants to make, pointing out that her life is so complete and content ever since her baby arrived. Then, another who has a baby on the way listed out travel destinations like Italy and other European destinations she want to visit as her bucket list. She then realised with the arrival of her baby, holidays may have to wait! The last one to comment obviously put more thought into her bucket list. She wants to live and work abroad, move in with her boyfriend and learn pottery to create her own furniture.

I haven't thought of a bucket list but when i heard hers, i got inspired and created one on the spot to share.

1) Live and Train Kungfu in an authentic temple
I grew up watching kungfu films on repeat while eating durians on top of newspapers on the floor. I've had dreams about Jet Li and fantasized about being one of those damsels in Wong Fei Hong. It is no surprise that training kungfu on royal architecture grounds would be like a kid's dream to visit Disneyland (which was already fulfilled by my dad when i was 12).
Mt Wushan Temple
After intensive research, i was pleasantly surprised to find many temples in China offering training courses ranging from days to months and years. They all have good English websites, comprehensive FAQs and even online customer service officers to chat with you! It must be a good source of income from all these foreign tourists with much enthusiasm as me. 

It is also very affordable from SGD 70 a day to USD 350 a week. A typical schedule would be waking up before dawn to train, eating vegetarian then training again before dinner. After dinner, it would be cultural lessons like Calligraphy, Mandarin or Chinese Medicine. Religious lessons are not compulsory. Some temples even take students to pick Chinese herbs in the mountain! It's exactly like the pugilistic novels / movies we normal Asian folk read and watch!

2) Check into a Love Hotel
Still fascinated with Japan and her obsession with kink (wrote much information as well as travel posts on Japan), a return visit for a different experience is definitely in the film making books.
3) Learn to Survive in a Jungle
While most would like to learn a new language or dance, i think spending 4 days in a jungle in Thailand learning the basics of building shelter, starting a fire and trapping an animal to kill would be useful. You never know when you need these survival skills in the event of an apocalypse facing zombies.
US military soldier drinking cobra's blood.
4) Live like a Monkey
Entering and exiting your Laos treetop accommodation via a zip line, 10meters above ground? I'm sold.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Review of Ecorganics: a Non Chemical Blowout


You know that feeling when you look at that girl with perfect hair in envy? I've been hair. 
It doesn't help that my mum always asks if i've combed my hair when i have!

She calls this 披头散发.

I'm super lazy, i never blow or iron my hair before going out. Neither do i use any hair products to manage the frizz. Hair's been on my mind, and while my hair is virgin to dye, it's been brutally violated by countless chemical sessions of rebonding.

I read in an article that hair loss is Singaporean's number 1 fear, but that's another review for another day.

For now, i try to treat my hair as natural possible. I hardly even go for a cut, hurhurhur.

Stumbled upon Ecorganics, opened by a husband-wife team, along Upper Thomson Road.
They recommended the new generation of hair smoothing, REALLISSE equivalent to the lately popular Brazilian Blowout but better. Better because it is CHEMICAL FREE.
I went home to research the Brazilian Blowout. After all, i'm a conscious money spender & for my hair length, REALLISSE is looking to be double the price. 

To my horror, while some rave about the hairtastic results of the Brazilian Blowout, many also said the process was "life threatening".

I went back to Ecorganics, convinced that paying extra is a wiser investment to hair health. 

First, my hair is washed with a smoothing shampoo that has no sulfates, parabens and synthetic fragrances. Then, dried and sprayed with a catalyst that is a hair smoother. It is a clear liquid, thin like water.
Stylists wear gloves and ear covers for the customer is used when undergoing a rebonding treatment.

However, i noticed the REALLISSE requires none as such. This treatment is indeed gentle (and harmless?) for the skin. It is not only colourless, it is odourless. Usually after rebonding, i would smell the chemical in my hair for days after.
A REALLISSE sealant is sprayed with the final touch of the ZERRAN flat iron. Why would i mention the brand name ZERRAN? What's special? It vibrates, unlike other flat irons. We reckon the vibration is gentler on the hair, and will not tug at it. Finally, my hair is washed with a masque and a balm was applied as a finishing touch.
My almost-waist-level hair cost $600 to be frizz free with Ecorganics Reallisse treatment. It comes with after-care products, like shampoo, masque and balm. The effect is said to last about 6 months.

Not all treatments and services at Ecorganics are with a premium price despite using 70-80% organic products. The REALLISSE is priced because the treatment materials are without perservatives, thus once opened, it has to be discarded. A new bottle every time for a new customer, its cost is high. 

Friends commented on my hair after. They could tell something was different, neater, without the flat effect rebonding usually gives.

Girls just wanna have hair.

From this
to this. Without the need for styling, blowing or ironing before stepping out. Chemical-free too!
Find Ecorganics here

Saturday, March 1, 2014

A Chateauform Stay in Champery

I've never stayed at a ski lodge and i was pretty darn excited when i checked into one last November.
It was an amazing home concept where The Homes of Katy and Jacques provides full board at premium quality and luxury.  

I had the attic room where the interior is decked out with heavy wood, exactly like how i envisioned a ski lodge would be!
With fur blankets!
Moving downstairs, there are common rooms where you can play snooker, sing Karaoke, wii and more. There is also a DIY cocktail bar with mouth watering Swiss bites. We took a leaf out of the cocktail recipe book on standby and created decent mojitos for everyone! Some had the alcohol content dialed up, teehee.
Breakfast, lunch, tea, dinner and snacks are served in Chateauform. There are self-serve stations at breakfast, but otherwise there are people who will help you with your omelette or pancake too. But where's the fun if you don't do it yourself!
Set against a backdrop you can't find fault with. Nearby are ski slopes and hiking trails, a winter destination.
We all squealed with delight when we found our keys attached with a yodeling beaver. You could buy them after your stay for 10 euro.
In the basement, you can find saunas, gym and a water massage bed! I didn't know such technology existed.
Quite frankly i haven't quite eaten orgasmic food in Europe, but here in Chateauform, every morsel of food was. You bring a plate into the kitchen to get food piled on.
Such is a memorable home concept in a ski lodge.

My Walk in Sachsenhausen

Getting a guided tour in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp was one of the sombre moments in Berlin (there was also another sombre moments when we we visited the Jewish memorial in the city with Sandsman free walks).

Arriving in Berlin,  you'll find plenty of brochures around that publicizes their walking tours. Pick any, they are all about the same rate, travel by public transport and they are usually conducted by history buffs so you can't go wrong. 

I'm not sure why i feel excited visiting a concentration camp. Perhaps it's because of my Scorpio inclination to all things dark, or maybe i'm only excited because i know i won't be suffering. 

Sachsenhausen was the administrative center of all concentration camps around the area in 1936 and was also a training center for the SS officers. People kept there are criminals, political prisoners and Jews. Among the prisoners, there was even a hierarchy. Rapists and murderers were at the top, becoming kapos (camp leaders) with the nice good men at their berating and torture. The SS made sure that by placing the worst of mankind as leaders, they could keep order and minimize risks of a revolt. 

However, in spite of all the enforced physical and mental primitiveness of the life in a concentration camp, it was possible for spiritual life to deepen, as written by some survivor biographies. 

The Death Strip
Guards were given rewards like extra leave or service by the brothel made of female prisoners if they successfully shot and killed any prisoner who attempts to escape. Female prisoners may sometimes volunteer to be part of the brothel so as to get better food and treatment. 

Sachsenhausen was the site of the largest counterfeiting operation ever. Inmates with profession and skill of a designer were forced to forge American and British currency, a plan to undermine thee economies. 
In Labour, we work to Freedom
Over 8 years, 30,000 prisoners died from exhaustion, disease, malnutrition and pneumonia etc. due to poor living conditions. Many others also died from brutal medical experimentation or made to go on death marches or gassed. However, 3000 inmates lived to see liberation. Was there a trick to staying alive in such dire states?

I believe man can only live by looking to the future. Holding on to the hope that he or she will once again be reunited with their loved ones. How a man who has nothing left in this world still may know bliss, be it only for a brief moment, in the contemplation of his beloved. I feel sorry for the friends who don't have the 'carpe per diem' attitude. They find their future bleak and they find no purpose in living. 

Humor is another of the soul's weapons in the fight for self-preservation. Humor, more than anything else in the human make-up, can afoord an aloofness and an ability to rise above any situation, even if only for a few seconds. I have been called names in online forums and i found them funny.

The inmates found simple joys in camps, like having fire to keep them warm. Finding tiny pieces of potatoes in their soup (1 per day) or just finding a piece of paper with Bible scriptures scribbled on (found in the pocket of a dead inmate's uniform). 
Most importantly, i think what these 3,000 surviving inmates did, they found meaning in life. They didn't ask themselves "why me" in a sorry way. Instead of looking inwardly and asking what they expect from life, like most people do, they asked what life expected of them. They stopped asking about the meaning of life, instead to think of themselves being questioned by life. Suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning, such as the meaning of a sacrifice. Some thoughts that ran through inmates' minds were, "i'm in here, so my wife and children won't be." I remembered once i wasn't feeling well and seeing the worried and concerned look my ex had, in that fleeting moment, i was glad i am the one lying in bed than it was he who is suffering. 

The more one forgets themselves, by giving himself to serve a cause or another person to love, the more there is to live. Life means taking taking responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfil the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual. These tasks, and therefore the meaning of life, differ from man to man, and from moment to moment. No one has the right to do wrong, not even if wrong has been done to them. Recently saw a video that reverbrated this message.

"He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how."

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