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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Last Post...as a single

Between the last post and now, we have had the formal betrothal ceremony (Guo Da Li) on 15 May 2011. And then, the days after flew by in a blur of wedding preps and house-related matters.

I am tired and look it but I believe that with the power of makeup and willpower, I'm still going to look like a radiant bride the entire wedding day. The trick I think, is to keep smiling. no matter what happens that day. And the trick to that trick I think, is to focus on what is really important - my CEB. Not our guests, our relatives, our friends or even, our parents. This day is about us - my CEB and his (insert his unflattering pet name for me).

If the past few days of living together with him in the place we are to stay after our marriage is an indication of our marriage life, I must say that we both are rather content without much adjustment problems. I tidy up, wash up and clear up after my CEB while he cooks, vacuums, mops and washes the clothes. He also irons and hangs up the clothes (occasionally).

The pic above is of the fridge magnets on our freezer. The wedding fridge magnet was empty when I put it up and my CEB surprised me greatly by cutting up one of the printed out wedding pics we had from the studio (they gave us 30 pcs of this pic to share with friends) and putting it in the photo frame. He even decided on the location of this fridge magnet after rearranging the rest of the magnets. Little acts like these from an unromantic buaya are oddly touching.

Everyone warned me that marriage life is tough - that isn't a surprise since there is a human element outside your control involved. I asked my CEB last night while lying in his arms, whether he was afraid and whether we would quarrel, and he said that fighting between a couple was inevitable. I like that my CEB doesn't lie to me. And as I once said before, there is absolutely no one else I would be happier to take the plunge with than with this buaya of mine. So please, wish us both the very best.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Just around the corner

Someone tell me why I agreed to marry THIS fellow out of all the people in my life, in this world:

Joke aside, I doubt I'll have time to update very much between now and the day that my CEB and I are joined as one in the eyes of God, our family and friends. When we went for the Engaged Encounter course back in Feb, we both wrote "Excited and Happy" when we were asked how we felt about the upcoming nuptials.

Now? Feelings and thoughts are irrelevant. Like a runaway train or out of control car, any attempts now to apply brakes are not only futile but downright foolish (tail spin anyone?). There is a time and place for everything - as my CEB tells me, "Let's just get through this wedding".

I am glad he remembers that the wedding is for a day but a marriage is for a lifetime.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Westin KL

Ever since being upgraded to a suite and clubroom a couple of times (@ Indianapolis and Sheraton Imperial KL) because of my SPG gold membership, I had assumed that I would be upgraded from the deluxe city view room I had booked with The Westin KL.

However, I was informed at the front desk that the next category of rooms - premier rooms - were all fully booked if I wanted a king-sized bed and since nothing beats a large comfy bed when travelling for work, I decided to accept what I had booked, which looked comfortable enough with a nice passage way and spacious room.

However, beyond those windows which had sunlight streaming in (it was about noon when I went up to dump my bags before heading off for another meeting), lay a sight that had me calling room service and asking for the upgrade.

This. A hideous large apartment block right opposite the window. Normally I wouldn't care too much about the view outside the windows because I keep the curtains drawn but I guess I wasn't quite prepared to have to endure this large monstrosity while paying good $ to stay here.

So, when the doorbell rang, I went with 1 of the staff to the premier room which had 2 twin beds and looked exactly similar to the deluxe room I had just left. Except that it was on a slightly higher floor (4 floors up with a common concourse to the other premier/lounge level rooms). I thought that the view would be much better but sadly, it wasn't. Instead, the huge monstrosity was still visible from the windows (although slightly to the left this time). So I lugged everything back down again to the deluxe room which had at least, a big comfy bed. I assure you, everything was exactly the same, even the bathroom.

And the complimentary amenities provided at the mini-bar. Now, I have to confess that this is the first time that I've been in a 4-5 stars hotel that has a box of condoms amongst the snacks. 4 Points by Sheraton in Bangkok also had a box which makes me wonder whether it is just the SPG hotels in the Asia Pac that provide these (the hotel in Indianapolis certainly didn't).

Anyway, disgruntled with the lack of upgrade, ugly view, I decided to go to the club lounge and use the internet instead of using the free wifi in the lobby. I probably could have charged the internet access to my room because I was using it strictly for work (an urgent email) but I figured that I wasn't going to have my company pay this hotel a dime more. So up to the club lounge I went and they did ask for my room number which I gave them but they didn't say very much when I told them I just needed to send an email.

Now, maybe it was the hour which I went up the lounge (about 2pm) but it was relatively empty and other than some cookies and 3 types of juices, it was a far cry from the club lounge of the hotel I had stayed in the night before. The problem sometimes about living too well is that it is relatively hard to adjust to something less, especially when the price difference is just SGD40. Anyway, I had problems accessing the hotel wifi on my computer laptop which had them send up an IT staff who confessed to me it was his second day on the job and he couldn't fix the problem. So I asked to use the 1 available computer in the lounge to send my email but it turned out that the computer was busted. The one other computer was occupied by another guest.

And the view from the club lounge isn't that great either. Even the view of the twin towers is a partial one. The Slog Reviews: 7/10. Other than its great location just opposite the mega upscale shopping mall, Pavilion, the friendly and helpful staff, there is nothing to crow about the experience I had with The Westin KL. And given the number of hotels in KL, I am not likely to ever choose this hotel again when I return to the city for work. With just a handful of stays left to maintain my SPG gold membership, I would rather stay slightly away from the malls at Sheraton Imperial where I had a much more pleasant experience before. Or Marriott which is one of my company's preferred hotels.

Monday, May 09, 2011

A getaway at Four Points by Sheraton (BKK)

Easy to tell where I've just returned from yesterday, given the latest addition to my new collection of fridge magnets, a collection inspired by the great experience I had at the Hard Rock Cafe in Indianapolis this year.

I would agree with the lot of you that going for a short holiday ThisClose to the wedding with so much left undone isn't the wisest thing. However, because of all the travelling the past 2 months, these dates were the only ones we both could work with. And in the end, the trip turned out to be one which we both felt was much needed - loads of rest and quality time together!

Having a very comfortable room with a nice big bathtub helped to set the atmosphere. Despite having stayed in far more expensive places like The Datai, my CEB proclaimed this hotel to be as good as the first hotel we'd stayed together as a couple (Hyatt in Hongkong) - an apt and fitting ending to our journey together as bf and gf.

After travelling with my CEB quite a bit, I knew better than not to book breakfast at the hotel - my CEB's idea of a good hotel includes somehow, the quality of the breakfast, and 4 Points didn't disappoint. There was a wide spread consisting of porridge, noodles, salad, fruits, noodles, rice and many other hot dishes. The food wasn't anything to shout about but it provided a satisfying filling breakfast.

The Slog Reviews: I would rate our 4 day stay at 4 Points in Bangkok an 8 out of 10. Location was pretty alright - a 7 mins walk from Asok station with its sister SPG hotels like The Westin and Sheraton being much closer. I wasn't wowed by the rooms, breakfast or service (and I hope it isn't because I'm becoming a jaded traveler) but I believe these were more than decent. There are a couple of places to get a drink at the hotel - the lounge on the first floor or the sky bar on the 8th floor (rooftop) where the rather smallish pool is located.

Other than lazing in the very comfortable bed the whole morning, we spent the rest of the time walking around, shopping and eating. MK, a local chain of restaurants was the first restaurant we went to and my CEB loved the food there, in particular the mixed meat dish which was all of about SGD 5 for a small portion. Talk about cheap and good.

We were also enticed by the aroma wafting from the other tables to try out the steamboat at MK, something which I had never done despite being here numerous times (the heat and humidity in Bangkok pretty much puts one off from having a steamboat meal). I think there must have been loads of seasoning in the soup because I ended up drinking loads of soap and eating almost everything in the platter (cost of which was about SGD12).

Of course, Fuji which I'd written about briefly before was not to be missed. My CEB and I had been to the one at Phuket, and the quality of the food and the local crowds at each Fuji outlet was pretty much consistent. I suppose it is because the food is very reasonably priced but that being said, there are loads of Japanese restaurants in Thailand, in particular at Central World near Isetan which all appear pretty attractive as well. Then again, one follows the crowd and the crowd is found at Fuji.

We also took a cab (a horror story as to be expected) to Chinatown to satisfy my craving for fish in lime soup - talk about sour heaven. My CEB and I also shared a plate grilled river prawns (about SGD 12) and a large bowl of sharkfin soup (SGD20) at T&K restaurant (just next to the famous Nam Sing restaurant). By the time we finished the meal, his mood was pretty much restored and we ended up walking around Chinatown and buying some snacks for the folks back home. There were many durian stalls around the area but he kept to his promise and stopped me from buying any. Bah.

We did some shopping (of course!) and to my surprise (he always claimed that buayas were ugly), my CEB picked up this creature at Central and insisted on buying the same for me.

On hindsight, I think it was more for the boy inside of him than for me. When we got back to the hotel room that night, my CEB headed straight for the bathroom. To run a bath for the little buaya toy. I kid you not.That's him putting my little buaya toy in the water, and enjoying the sight of the flat plush creature expanding slowly.

Guess who had to dry the buaya toy with a hairdryer and stitch up the bottom of the toy when all the fun was over? Yeah, that's right, yours truly. The little buaya toy is currently at home with my big nua nua buaya toy but my CEB has said that both creatures are to join us in our new home.

Which we will be moving into in less than.....days time. Wherever did time go?! I am somehow reminded how it was like 20 years ago when my teacher wrote the number of days to our PSLE on the corner of the notice board. First there were 180 days, then 90 days, then 30 days and finally...x days. I better quit thinking about the number of days left before I freak out. :D

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

SG Elections 2011

Everyone, and I mean everyone is talking about the upcoming elections. Even during the lunch which my CEB bought for the two emcees on Monday, most of the talk was about politics instead about our wedding. And when I met my external lawyer in a neighbouring country, he not only asked me to recite the Singapore pledge but also tried to sound out my views and allegiance.

Regrettably, I had little info or views to offer as I had not been following the news. Not just because of the travelling and upcoming nuptials, but because I know where my allegiance lies. Voting any other way simply isn't an option for me. The arguments I have heard for those seeking to vote otherwise have not shaken my loyalty in any way. There are many ways to express discontent or unhappiness with the flaws of the current system, some constructive and some non-constructive, but to gamble the future of my children by risking the stability of all that has allowed Singapore to prosper so far is one that I am not prepared to take just to show my unhappiness.

But to each his own view, his own right to vote. Working for a US based MNC which stresses that diversity ie bringing in foreign talent, is crucial to a country's growth (USA which welcomed immigrants with open arms at the turn of the century is cited as an example) has only strengthened my belief that there is no other way to avoid the tough medicine that the government has been doling out and some of us are whining about.

Protectionism has never bought much for the country's people in the long-run, especially in this age without borders. Even mighty China has had to allow its iron curtain. Countries compete on a global scale and the only resource that Singapore has its people. If Singapore adopts protectionist measures like its neighbor so as to protect its own people, then while the citizens may be satisfied temporarily, Singapore will lose out in the global economy to those other countries which have human talent.

I don't agree that we should set aside a number of places in our local universities for citizens to the exclusion of foreign talent for those places. The role of the government is to give the citizens a place to strive, to prosper, to ensure a sound and safe infrastructure which attracts MNCs which in turn means jobs for the locals, to give an equal opportunity to all.

If my child is unable to get into a local university, and the places there are taken up by foreigners who have scored academically better than my child, I wouldn't be blaming the foreigners. I would ask myself why is it that my child, of the same age, given all his privileges of studying locally, is unable to do as well as someone else the same age. If my child is simply not good enough, then that is the hard fact of life - that there is always someone else out there better. I would rather my child work for someone who took his place in university, then have my child with a degree but without a job because Singapore as a nation isn't growing. In short, I don't want a worthless degree for my child and that is exactly what the degree will be if it is a result of my child getting into university because of a place set aside.

Just like my friend is Pro-CommonSense, I am Pro-Equal Opportunities, Pro-Meritocracy, Pro-Competition. It is a tough WORLD out there, Singaporeans need to get TOUGHER for the NATION to compete. Sometimes people just don't appreciate what they have until they find themselves far worse-off, and in this tough world, Singapore isn't going to get a second chance.

Fast and Furious 5 (2011) movie

I realise that when there are issues I don't really want to deal with, or worse, when there is so much work to be done, I tend to procrastinate and do something else inside. Which really isn't the brightest idea because the issues or the work don't disappear into thin air. :(

With so few days to go to the wedding and so little done, I have to confess that watching movies with my CEB has not been a very good use of our time together. Not to mention me writing blog entries when I have yet to do a thank you speech, and the emcees's script. Go me! I had an unexpected call this morning, a call which I had been hoping for but the timing of which is alas, pretty bad. Which makes me wonder why it isn't possible just for once, to have everything fall nicely in place.

Truth be told, I am running pretty much on empty. Seriously. I either work really hard and get things accomplished snap snap or just wallow and lie in bed. I hope I never reach the stage where I get depressed, the kind of depressed that makes you stay in bed for days and then finally get a knife and stab yourself repeatedly to death. That's the latest CSI show I watched talking.

So, the Slog Reviews: 7.5/10. A show which is a nice departure from reality through how far fetched the whole plot and driving (the highlight of the show) are. A show without much point or purpose and filled with mediocre acting. Good if one needs an escape from the harsh day to day of living. Something which I kind of need right now, right here.

Thor (2011) Movie

The Slog Reviews: 7/10. Very good graphics (Frost giants, rainbow bridge) and an acting cast that more than appeals to the eye (think blue-eyed, blond-hair, chiselled face...) but nothing overly impressive which makes me really glad that I didn't buy gold class tickets for this movie!

The plot can in fact be summarised in one paragraph: Thor calls his father Odin the O Father, a stupid old fool for not going to war with the Frost Giants who breach their realm (there are 9 realms) and Odin banishes him in anger to Earth where he meets a mortal called Jane and falls in love with her. It is revealed that it is his adopted brother Loki who has let the Frost Giants into the realm and Loki lies to Thor that Thor is forever banished from the immortal world. When Thor offers his life in exchange for that of his friends, he is considered worthy to wield the mighty hammer again (which Odin had cast on earth with a charm) and he goes about to set things right in the realm where Odin has fallen into a coma and Loki is ursurping power. However, because Loki is bent on destroying the realm of the Frost Giants (he is a Frost Giant himself) and proving himself in Odin's eyes, Thor has no choice but to sever the rainbow bridge which is the only path that allows him to enter another realm (Earth, where Jane is).

Limitless (2011) Movie

The Slog Reviews: 9/10. Worth the RM10 spent watching the movie :) An exploration into an impossibility which hopefully may some day be a reality. A question though that occured to me - if everyone of us on this planet had access to a pill which would allow us to use 100% of each of our brain without any adverse effects, what would the world we live in today look like? Really. I mean, would there be people willing to do manual and menial jobs? What would the social hierarchy look like? Now that's a scary thought. Maybe that's why this movie remains a happy rags-to-riches fiction (stress on the word fiction).

The First Purchase

My CEB has somehow evolved into a wonderful buaya who knows how to make his (insert his unforgivable nickname for me here, and one that he mutated to a MacM...) a very happy girl.

He bought us a very nice 42 inch hard panel LCD TV at the Tech Fair on Sunday evening. Here is our first purchase for the place we will be staying together in, still in its box.

But not for very long. Right after the strong buaya had hefted it through the door, he made quick work of untying the strings and cutting open the box with his pocket knife.

It was about 9.40pm and we hadn't had our dinner but my CEB was determined to set the TV up in the living room.

So while I stood there taking photos (hah!), my CEB got busy with a screwdriver and putting everything together. I like a man good with his hands - nothing makes a guy more manly in my eyes, and also, it reminds me of my father who is good with fixing stuff.

Within minutes, my capable CEB had the TV up and functioning on the TV console found in the living room. That's him tuning the various channels on the machine.

And of course, before I could even get the dinner laid out on the table found in the living room (it was a legacy from the previous owner and not ours I assure you), he had the machine tuned and ready for us to use! I like the TV, I like the man, and I like that the man likes the TV he bought.

And that wasn't all we walked away from, from the Tech Fair. I got my CEB his very belated birthday present - a netbook! That's him playing with his new toy after we had dinner while watching Channel 5 on the new TV:)

As you can tell from the pic below my CEB is one really happy buaya with our new TV and his new netbook in the home we will be staying in after our marriage.

Although it is quite sad that I have not much choice over where to build a married life with my CEB, and worse, to have to use (hopefully just for a short time) things that I didn't select and don't even like (esp the tables and cupboards), I am grateful to my CEB for providing a place to stay for his MacM..., being so accommodating, supportive and decisive, and filling my days with so much love and happiness.

He makes me feel that indeed to have loved and lost is far better than to never have loved. :)