Thursday, January 30, 2014

First Working Day of 2014

[Ok this post was meant to be completed a couple of days back, but I was so caught up in the work + gym routine (plus the lack of sleep) post travelling it resulted in a slight delay.]

Today marks my first working day for 2014, after a glorious one month holiday.

I thought I would feel the typical Monday blues that most people (I know, at least) do, but instead I felt eager to continue where I left off, excited to pick up new assignments. This must be coming from the goodness of my one month rejuvenation break. Now I’m feeling all gung-ho to be productive at work once again. Long breaks (& short breaks) are indeed good for the soul. 

So far 2014 has been a blast!

Went to Vietnam and experienced one heck of an adventure – from climbing the lime stone hills at Cat Ba Island to sitting on a tiny chair at a bustling Bia Hoi joint people watching. Of course, there are so much more in between and I must definitely find time to pen it down (before my memory slips away).

One particular thing I like about travelling is how it gives me the time to ponder over life, be it that 4-hour intercity bus ride, or up in the air, and when I’m simply waiting in transit. It is mostly during these times that I can do a self reflection and at the same time make mental notes for improvements. It’s something akin to picking yourself out of that tiny little box called daily routine and do a close examination of what went wrong / what needs maintenance etc.. all in all it’s very refreshing.

I thought I’d share some thoughts I gathered for 2014 while traipsing through Vietnam.

I am anticipating that 2014 is going to be an endurance year for me. It’s my 3rd year on the job, and expectations are only escalating, leaving minor room for slack and error. Pining for climbing the career ladder, there are sacrifices one has to make. The long hours, the accumulated stress, peer pressure to perform, brain scrunching work... I want to grace it with God’s strength. (:

Work aside, endurance also applies to the health aspects. Ever since joining the gym back in 2012, my fitness has improved positively, and the endorphins have indeed made my happier! I can now attest to the articles about the benefits of exercising / keeping healthy because it’s all really true! One of my resolutions for 2013 was to run a 21km marathon, to which I sadly did not (only ran a 16.8km). So this year is THE year for it.

Yes also to spend time with loved ones. Point to make more effort in catching up with the ones who matter, apply more care in the process of it all. Afterall, I want to simultaneously build my eulogy as well as resume. Too often I border being cold / distance, perhaps it's the lack of enthusiasm arising from the fear of rejection. Have to make mental note to learn how to cope with rejection, part of being an adult.

Here's to living it all out in 2014! Now, time for some CNY cookies!

(ahah, just note that more than half the content has no relation to my title)

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Vietnam Series (Part 1) – Getting from Hanoi to Cat Ba Island

Just got back from our 12 days of fantastic- tripping around Vietnam. It was entirely a DIY trip, so we mulled through tons of travel blogs / articles and also our trusty Lonely Planet to plan our journey. Travelling in the month of January in Vietnam can be quite tricky when it comes to packing for attire, since the misty cold winter lingers up North (average of 16◦ in Hanoi / Cat Ba Island) but the sun shines warmly at the South (average of 25◦ in Saigon).

As we were doing our typical pre-trip rigorous research leading up to our adventure, we faced a mini dilemma of sorts. We wanted to do some rock climbing on Cat Ba island, but wanted to cover Halong Bay at the same time. At the very end, we decided that Cat Ba > Halong Bay.

Since Cat Ba is the trip less taken, getting from Hanoi to Cat Ba requires a bit more transit as compared to Halong Bay. Z has taken the liberty to write the (nitty-gritty) details as reference below:-

Bus Company: Hoang Long

Departure Times: 5.20am, 7.20am, 11.20am, 1.20pm

Duration: 4 hours from Hanoi to Cat Ba Town (including transits and waiting time in between)

Cost: 210,000VND per person (covers 2 bus rides, 1 speedboat ride, and 1 final bus ride)
(some sources have claimed it to be 240,000 VND which might be the peak summer season price)

Bus Station Address:

Ben xe Luong Yen,So 1 Nguyen Khoai

1.      The bus station is a 15 minute taxi ride from the Old Quarter in Hanoi. Motorcycle taxi should cost around 40,000 VND per person while normal taxis should not cost more than 80,000 VND.

2.     Once you’re at the station facing the petrol station, the ticket office is to the left with a counter for Hoang Long inside. Show up at the bus station at least 20minutes before departure as the buses are punctual! You will board a red Hoang Long bus that is air conditioned with reclining seats and reasonably clean. Then it’s a 2 to 2.5 hour ride to Hai Phong City. The bus will most likely make many stops to let people on and off along the way. Just point to your ticket and say “Cat Ba” and you will be fine.

Note: Do not use the toilet at the bus station unless absolutely desperate. As in DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES use the toilet unless you are literally on the verge of pissing your pants. It is hands-down the foulest-smelling toilet I’ve been to! And I’ve been to many poorly-maintained Malaysian public toilets in my life!

3.       The bus will stop at a small Hoang Long office by a main road and you will need to disembark with all your luggage. At this bus stop/ office, you may get a toilet break/ buy some snacks and drinks as you wait for the next trip. You will then have to get on another similar bus which will take you to the pier which is approximately 45 minutes away.

4.      Once at the pier, you will board an air-conditioned speedboat that will take you to Cai Vieng harbor on Cat Ba island after 35 minutes.

5.        Once on the island, you will transfer one last time to another bus which will take you into Cat Ba Town in 30-45 minutes. The Hoang Long office/bus stop in Cat Ba town is along the main road facing the harbor where almost all hotels are so it should be just a few minutes’ walk to your hotel.

On your return journey, it will be the same thing but in reverse! Just buy tickets from the Hoang Long office/bus stop in Cat Ba town, or even from your hotel in Cat Ba.

Busses depart at: 7:15AM, 9:15AM, 1:15PM, and 3:15PM

Take note that once again, this depends on the season. When we were there during winter, the 7.15AM and 3.15PM buses were not available. There should be a sign board outside the office indicating departure times. It’s the same price for the tickets all the way back to the same bus station in Hanoi. Once at the bus station you'll need to get a taxi to your intended location in town. Prices for taxi are as stated above. You will get hustled by dozens of taxi drivers the second you step down from the bus, so brace yourself! We’ve been advised that taxis waiting at bus stations are more likely to be rigged, so try and walk out to the main road and hail down a Mai Linh taxi if possible.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

About time for an update

Am writing this while taking a short breather from researching for my upcoming Vietnam holiday. Stomach's feeling a bit wonky at the moment, could've been from the turkey ham and cheese sandwich I just had from Pickle and Fig a couple of hours ago. 

Meant to write a reflection post of how 2013 has been for me, but I've been merrily enjoying my month long leave basking in the festivities! That aside, there's the time consuming event of choosing housing stuff for the new house renovation... which I really hope we can finalise soon enough. 

Today has been a great day though. Woke up feeling all the aches from pump and spin class y'day, and decided that my body deserves to lay in bed for that extra one hour - whereby I updated self on all social media platforms. 

12pm - Toasted bread with parmesan cheese for breakfast, continued the remaining bits of About Time, worked a little, got dressed and scooted off to Serai to catch up with Jia. Ordered the Serai platter to share (cuz she had two servings of Klang BKT prior to this), and ended the session with a slice of Hazelnut Rocher (picture below), which was reeallllyy quite good except I wished it wasn't so crumbly. 

5pm - Watched Blackfish with Z, a documentary about killer whales in captivity. Sigh, am saddened by how humans would do anything just to make profits - sacrificing the life of animals and also human lives. )': 

8pm - Had dinner with Esther at Pickle & Fig. As usual, we talked about everything under the stars! Neverending conversations with this girl I tell you. :p We need to have a staycation where all we do is sit by the pool, sipping cocktails and chat all day! 

How long will I love you - Ellie Goulding 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Getaway @ Awanmulan

People often quipped that city people are busy people, with minimal time to spare. Born and raised in a city, I have unknowingly picked up the traits of a so called "city" person. Always having something on the to-do list, always too occupied. On rare occasions, I remind myself that it is essential to schedule ME-time to reflect, to ponder, and to plan. 

Today, I finally had some "me" time. Not intentionally scheduled, but definitely much needed. Had my glorious 8 hour rest - scrolled through pictures left in a folder named "to be sorted" for way too long, reminisce about the good memories captured on pictures - caught up on the latest episodes of Suits - read through some thought provoking articles that got me thinking - and most importantly, reflected on my priorities of late.

Time really flew by way too swiftly this year. One of my goals this year is to write more, in order to trigger my memory (be it good or bad) in future for reflection purposes. My effort to date is totally meh, so my new challenge is to improve the statistics before the year ends. Since inspiration and motivation striked the same note today, gonna write about the wonderful stay I had in Awanmulan on Merdeka's weekend. 

Was so caught up with work the last couple of months both Z and I were worn out, literally. After much persistence from my end, we were up, up and away to Awanmulan for a short weekend getaway! 

We stayed at Evensong, which has a pleasant jungle view. The room came with a spacious wood deck balcony, where we could just take in the sun while sipping our tea / read / breath in the jungle air / enjoy the scenery. Supposedly this room has the perfect sunset view granted good weather conditions. No sunset for us given that it rained heavily, but I actually enjoyed the rain tremendously. 

Gawd it was such an awesome getaway. 

Both of us were silly enough to actually lugged our heavy work laptops there, thinking we could get some work done in between relaxation time.. but decided otherwise once we were there. 
Awanmulan is a place for total rejuvenation. 

We cooked, swam, ate, lounge, read, laze and did all things stress-free. 

Kudos to Uncle Teng and family for creating such an cool breakaway space for city folks! 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


Milestones achieved in September / October 
1. Officially a CPA member 
2.Completed my inaugural 16.8km run

Ah, the satisfaction when you achieve something you've been working hard for.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

I love you, silly.

"Let's go for a date tonight, shall we?"

"Where to?" You asked.

We ended up in KLCC, somewhere we haven't been in awhile. Strolled hand in hand, walking into a few of our favourite shops, hoping to make a purchase. We people watched, exchange comments about them, sometimes nodding in agreement and occasionally laugh.

"Know the reason why I wanted to come here?"

"No, why?"

"Cuz I wanted to buy milkshake for you! heh " ;p

Although dating a boyfriend doesn't put butterflies in your stomach like how first dates do, I love how I am comfortable being myself with you. Being comfortable equates having unrestricted conversations over everything under the sky with you. No awkward silences, no false pretense. Just plain ol' fun. 

...and that's one of the reasons I absolutely love date nights with you. (:

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Feel this moment

Taking a breather from completing my seemingly impossible work deadlines. Time has been flying a little too fast this year, can't quite adapt to the fact that we're moving into the second half of 2013 already. 

2013 has been comfortable so far. I've learned that as much as I detest a routined life, my body appreciates the routine. I now have better sleeping hours, better eating habits, an exercise routine and have massively cut down on binge drinking. Being more selective at what I do, better control of time. I reckon if I were to ask any of my colleagues, they'll prolly agree that my lifestyle has taken a noticeably change, no more labeled the 'party girl'. 

I guess in many ways, the younger me would have thought my current lifestyle as boring. But what surprises me the most, is how I'm happier, somewhat contented (yea, I don't believe in being contented in life, because it fuels complacency), and more driven to achieve personal life goals. Perhaps the happy-go-lucky me is letting the goal-getter me take reign for a bit. 

Responsibilities aside, I still had lots of fun being young! Not much of a life documenter nowadays, but thanks to social media and smartphones there are snippets here and there. So, here's glimpses of what I've been up to in 2013.. 

Spent labour day atop a helicopter pad, sipping cocktails watching the sunset. My memories sometimes fail me, and I barely have recollections of special moments, like this one. Got to write these down and count my blessings, to remind myself that I live a blessed life and I should quit ranting / complaining. 


Inevitably, we all have to work.
Like I said, it has been a pretty comfortable 2013, even work wise. Yes, there are bound to be bad days, but at least there are the good days, and two cute company to brighten up my bad days. :p


Recently spent quite a bit of time playing board games at Meeples. So spoilt for choice when picking a game for the night. The above game is power station, think people in accountancy / finance would find this game entertaining, so much budgeting involved. Tsk. I love Saboteur more! It's much simpler and engaging!


Simple date night at Ikea.
Gorge down 20 meatballs and a plate of fried chicken wings.
Man, those chicken wings are to-die-for. Very delicious.


Ee Mey won us free tickets to Sticks, Stones and Broken bones @ PJLA.
It was a one man show, and this guy has brilliant body coordination.


The ever famous Lau Sa Pao at Jing Xuan Dim Sum.
Nope, I don't eat these lau sa paos, nor do I eat all kinds of pao (with the exception of those stuffed with meat filling) but I would happily pop siew mai and har gaos in my mouth.


On crappy work days, a good dinner salvages the day.
Gotta love the salmon sashimis from Rakuzen, thick cut, decently fresh.
Bottomless green tea to rant about work day, and make plans for weekends. 


Ahh, and on Fridays, tapas and wine! 


Whipped this up one random Sunday night. Spiral pasta with shrimps, chicken slices, mushrooms and sundried tomatoes. Sprinkled with all herbs found in my kitchen - oregano, basil, rosemary. Stir fried together with lots and lots of garlic.

I reckon I should spend more time in the kitchen. It has a therapeutic effect on me.


Ever since Z got me hooked on this game, we have been spending too much time on this sunk cost game. My best loot so far from one of the attacks!


Caught The Drums live in KL!


More food! Steamboat on rainy nights.
Friend staying in the vicinity of Old Klang Road recommended Coco steamboat to me, and it was so good I brought the family and the bf on separate occasions to try this. Think what attracted so many patrons is their very delicious milky pork bone soup, plus fresh ingredients to pair.

Must try the stuffed pork balls. SO GOOD.

Catch up session with colleagues at the newest cafe in Bangsar.


With the girls at Wei Sern & Jaymee's wedding.


Short escapade to Krabi!
We spent so much time sleeping / resting, rejuvenating self from the hectic city life.
This is us sunbathing at one of the random islands when island-hopping.

Divine tom yum at random restaurant.
They were so generous with the serving! 

Went kayaking at the mangroves too!


Nerdy weekends with nerdy bf.


"Abang, bagi teh tarik kaw, kaw, kaw ok?"

Haha I was pleasantly surprised when the order came. Proof that he actually take my request into consideration. Had good teh tarik catching up with high school friends in the end. An actuary, three accountants, an engineer and a doctor. All grown up. 


Went for random hikes. 
This one was at Apek Hill.

Pine tree trail @ Cameron Highlands
So good to hike in cooling climate!
Can't wait for the day I visit the national parks in US.

Heineken x Zecora at the peak of Bukit Kutu
My crazy friends decided it was cool to enjoy ice cold beer whilst enjoying the spectacular hilltop view, which in theory, sounds perfect. In practise though, it is crazy to carry so much weight for a 8 hour hike. Tsk, still got to salute Peter for being awesome like that.

Look at their happy contented faces!


Coffee and cake sesh at Artisan Roast. They say your closest friends would always be the ones you make during your student days. These friends are the ones I am always comfortable with. 

More coffee conversations at CSHH, Singapore
When separated geographically with your best friend, catch up sessions are precious time to update each other about what we have been up to.

 One of the very few pictures we took in Universal Studios. 
Brought out the child in us everytime we visit theme parks.  

Was introduced to Bak Chor Mee by the bf. Egg noodles with minced pork, pork ball, pork innards, wan tan and salted fish in vinegar infused sauce. I had mine non spicy and I liked it.

Laneway Fest!
So happy to see King of Convenience perform live. (:
Came back two tones darker because of the scorching sun.


Made a pact with Wae Lern that we will catch up once a month. Still ongoing!

Belated birthday treat.
Till today I can remember how good the squid ink pasta and wagyu beef were.
Cooked to perfection.

Top - Random shop from Singapore
Shorts - Cotton On
Bag - Sister's

and this missy here is officially a doctor.
crazy happy for her. (:


Bestie with her man!

..and us at Ippudo Sg.


(: My adventure buddy, never a dull moment with you!
Looking forward to more upcoming adventures. 


I love how thoughtful my bf is. (:


Valentines' at Rils.
Utterly spoilt by him.

Looking back, 2013 has been fantabulous so far.
Shall look forward to brighten and fill the remaining of my 2013 with more memorable moments! 
At the same time, count my blessings. (:

Running of for dinner date with a girl friend now!