Timing.

That is what most people have offered up, mostly of course fellow believers in Christ, when I lament about the state that I seem to be stuck in.

It isn’t breaking news, in fact it is extremely stale, that I have almost always been looking out for a new job. Maybe not all the time like 100 percent, constantly kind of always, but somehow it appears like I do not seem to be able to break out of that cycle of, I don’t know, momentum? which gets to me after a couple of years into a job.

It explained why I had decided to seek professional advice in the form of a coach, although with life/career coaches, they work pretty much like therapists in psychology or psychiatry, where a lot depends on the individual, to face up honestly to what the other party tries to get you to acknowledge, despite that it often gets very, very uncomfortable. It isn’t just with psychologists and psychiatrists that we are made to confront our inner demons, even with life/career coaches, there is quite a fair amount of uncomfortable feelings that need to be dealt with in the sessions, as much as we always tell ourselves to go into it ‘with an open mind’.

So anyway, that aside, it has been frustrating when said person, yours truly, is frequently prospecting for that elusive job that would perhaps provide me with a greater sense of satisfaction or even just an inkling of not constantly considering the prospect of leaving. Maybe the crux of it lies with me not knowing exactly what I want or seek – do most of us do anyway? Ok, actually some people do know quite clearly what they want in a job, but for me, it’s just a giant mess inside my mind. Probably that is why my professional trajectory has been so ‘choppy’ or tumultuous.

Back to timing. I get unduly and unnecessarily annoyed when I share my thoughts and someone patronising tells me that ‘Oh, maybe everyone is waiting for their bonus’, which in retort I would tell them that I have gone through MANY rounds of bonus payments but somehow the job is still not forthcoming?

One of the things that I look for in most job searches is the feature of ‘travel’. It is something that is both a pro and con. There were times I enjoyed it in my past jobs but there were also times where that has resulted in me wanting to leave because of the circumstances of the travelling and as well the fatigue that it caused me to experience.

So I didn’t know if it is God’s will not for me to travel, because somehow things are not moving along, and with what happened recently on a global scale, is that His hand protecting me? I would wish to think of it that way, but then again, it wasn’t just travelling jobs that I applied for. Sigh.

Then there are those who would tell me ‘Your work/job (there) is not done yet’, so what is it that needs to be done? ‘Ask God.’ Duh.

Ok, this post is just getting very ranty and laced with disgruntled feelings.

Back to timing. Being the indecisive person that I am, I had been vacillating on booking vacations. It had in the past caused me to pay much higher prices for airfares and hotels, not in the spirit of spontaneity but more so due to inability to decide and resolutely make the plunge to book when prices are low and attractive. But this time, I guess it has turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because the 2 places that I would have most likely booked my holidays to are under the areas where we are advised not to carry out non-essential travel to. Nobody knows how it would develop and if it would be, if and when I was there, the situation takes a turn for the worse and I would be served with a SHN when I return, or perhaps not be able to cancel my trip and get a refund if I had booked fares and accommodation that are saver rates.

So again, is this His timing at work?

Sometimes, there are people who would say that we do not need to fear and we can just go ahead because God’s favour and protection is on us. But thing is, there are also times when we are being led by the peace (or lack thereof) and wisdom from the Holy Spirit to not go ahead – because we don’t need to intentionally throw ourselves into harm’s way if the Holy Spirit is leading us away from it.

An unusual order and it felt artery-choking because of how much oilier it is than my usual crispy toast. But French toast with the rich eggy taste and a swop for PB instead of kaya… divine!

right believing leads to right living

This is something that my pastor usually talks about. I’m not about to go into my belief, which I think is something personal and I don’t need to share it publicly. But rather I thought this is a very apt phrase – “Right believing leads to right living”. Simply put, it just means that believing in the right thing(s) will cause you to lead a life that is.. right and good. What is right and good, is of course debatable and subjective depending on person. But it generally corresponds to something like, not doing the wrong/illegal things, and also perhaps in terms of mind set, not thinking the ‘wrong’ things?

I don’t know if I were a born pessimist. But I would admit that for the most part of my life so far, I have become sort of a pessimistic person. It is not chronic, for I still do see the good in some situations and I am not constantly in a state of depression as there are still bursts of optimism, hope and sunshine in my life. It’s just that, my life and my emotions often go through a crazy roller coaster ride, which can happen many times a day. It is tiring, to say the least, but whatever option it is that I am going for, whether it is believing in God for everything and letting God chart my life, or seeking tangible professional help, at the end of the day, it is still my mind that needs to be controlled. My mind needs to see the hope, believe in the hope that God has a great plan for me in life and that whatever it is that I am going through now, it is a way for me to grow, to learn whatever I need to that I am currently lacking in, to be protected from a path that I would otherwise have taken that might have put me in harm’s way.

I am trying very hard. With His grace, I want to believe that this is possible and every single hurdle that looms up in front will be cleared and overcome, and I will come out stronger and better.

As I was going through some files, I saw a lot of my travel photos from the past, when I was in my previous job. I remembered complaining about the fatigue from travelling to places far away, not the glitzy, glamourous cities that we associate with business travel. I remembered complaining about the lost weekends and personal time because of the need to start the business trip before the work week begins, and after it has ended. The discomfort of not being able to get proper and quality sleep due to the different time zones, being stuck in cattle class, the need to take red-eye flights, suffering from jet lag.

But I also remembered and reminisced the peaceful and happy moments when I managed to squeeze in some form of sightseeing in those nondescript places that these trips led me to, enjoying the wonderful cuisines of these countries and marvelling at the magnificent sights that Mother Nature had created there. The euphoria of heading home after a trip and the real feeling of ‘being home’ when the flight touches down in Changi. The anticipation of seeing my family again, of being able to feel the familiarity of Singapore and having my favourite local food, being dressed comfortably in our national ‘costume’ of shorts and T-shirt, not needing to be all wrapped up for the cold, wintry climates overseas.

Was that meant to be just a phase of my life that has passed and become another chapter of my life’s history? I don’t know. I do miss travelling, but I don’t know if it is not God’s plan for me to continue a life of frequent jet-setting. I can still travel leisurely, and it definitely beats business travelling. But there is always a difference, because I can’t afford to travel as often on my own expense, and I won’t be going to some places that I won’t travel on my own.

My last business trip was to Shanghai.

shanghai_nov2013

I am thankful that I didn’t have bad memories of Shanghai. In total, I think I have been there 4 times, and they were all business trips, and always in times of generally fine weather, either March or November. I didn’t have to go through the nastiness of summer in Shanghai, and on several of those past trips, I had the opportunity to meet up with friends or family who work/live there. It had been kind to me, and on that last trip, it was good as well. I was even given a farewell gift by my German colleague, which although small, was a really nice gesture that touched me, despite that we were not exactly that close since I only meet her when I go on business trips. She knows how much I visit Starbucks, which we usually also do when we travel, so this was what she gave me.

shanghai_nov2013_1

Happy Friday!

I really wish to rediscover my love for and interest in writing. I feel sad when I visit the blog sometimes and after logging in, just proceed to log out because I just don’t feel the inclination to write and I am just not inspired to write anything. Writing used to feel so easy and effortless and nowadays it seems to be one of the furthest things from my mind. Focus is hard to grasp with apparent brain fog most of the times, and I just feel that whatever is typed out is somehow just meaningless banter.

But still, it is a Friday after all! Best day of the week because there is no work tomorrow. Isn’t it sad when on a day-to-day basis, the only thing worth looking forward to is the lunch break and end-of-workday, and then to Friday? When Friday comes around, there is already that impending dread that the weekend, though here, is too short and Monday already seems to loom around the corner. Well, I know this is all negative talk that I should refrain from and instead learn to ‘live in the moment’, enjoy each day for what it is rather than look ahead to something that we can’t control, or that only seem to make us feel bad. There really isn’t a point to be at this moment now, harbouring regrets about yesterday and worrying about tomorrow. And ok, I know that most people would say that everyone is exactly the same, in looking ahead to the meal breaks and then the going home part. We are all alike in that aspect but we all react and respond differently because of how differently we are wired internally. It’s just like how eating a humongous sandwich can make me experience heavenly bliss but to another it is just… food.

So anyway… with 8 months of 2016 gone and the last third of the year to go, I was thinking if I should, scratch that, I was thinking of where else I should visit. The last few years have seen me taking quite a number of vacations in the span of a year, at least 4 or more. This year, I have been on just 2 holidays.

In May, I visited my favourite city, Tokyo, once again. I already lost count of the number of times I have been there but yet there is always that desire to visit. There never really is an itinerary or reason for visiting each time but somehow I just look forward to going there. This time, I revisited Gotemba Premium Outlets. It’s the second time I’m going there and it’s so different from the first. Weather-wise it definitely felt different and also in terms of the crowd. It was so empty when I first went in 2009 and freezing cold. This time, it still wasn’t too hot because the seasons were changing, but the crowd size was visibly larger. Also, the people I went with on this trip, to Gotemba at least, were avid shopaholics.

tokyo_may2016

This was the situation at Gotemba, where we were crossing from one part to the other, after having a very un-Thai version of basil chicken rice at the food court. Personally, as I don’t shop as much these days, I only bought some casual clothing from GAP (the typical go-to shop for most people at these outlets I think). My Gotemba companions scored big though, with one of the most value-for-money buys from Loewe for most of them.

Just recently at the end of July, I took a short trip to nearby Hong Kong, another of my favourite cities, but which is starting to lose its shine somewhat. I still enjoy it for its familiarity and proximity to Singapore that is such a boon in terms of the relatively short flight time, but circumstances seem to have began to cast shadows on these. Nevertheless, I tried something new this time! Craved for char siew and my friend brought me to this Michelin-starred eatery. We actually queued (albeit a short while) to enter even though it was past lunch hour. Verdict? I think it’s ok, not bad but not fantastic that I would want to queue for again. It’s the same as Tin Ho Wan, not bad but not worth the kinds of queue that we see.
hongkong_aug2016

Other than this, the only other local thing I had on this trip was a small cup of Hong Kong milk tea from Tsui Wah that I ordered at the airport while waiting for my flight that was delayed for a couple of hours due to the the typhoon that set off the island on a Signal 8 Typhoon alert the night before I was due to depart. I also chanced upon a Gerard Dubois patisserie in Causeway Bay and tried the lemon curd tart that was pretty nice and zesty!

passion_lemon_tart_aug2016

There were so many things there that I would have liked to order to try but I could only choose one because I think that’s the maximum sugar load I could take at any one time. Or so I would like to trick myself into believing.

So if I take Hong Kong and Tokyo out of the equation, what are the other plausible choices? Should I venture a revisit of either?

Change – the only constant

Over the last few years, it seems like so much has happened since when I started working. Although it’s been more than 10 years, in the whole scheme of things, comparing it against the number of years that I would be in the workforce it isn’t such a long time. Yet, everything feels surreal and like in a drift.

When we were in school, there were always milestones to reach and goals to achieve. These were set for us by the academic system, to enter primary school, pass the PSLE and go on to secondary school, clear GCE ‘O’ Levels and either go to a JC or Polytechnic. From there, it could be onward to University or for some, they decide to enter the workforce. For most part of that schooling journey, exams are sort of the climax of each phase, and there is a fairly fixed time frame to work with. But the game changes entirely when we enter the working world. There are people I know who have set goals to retire early, as in reaching the stage where they choose to work, and not work because they need to. Then they work tirelessly towards that. I am not so ambitious, because simply put, I don’t know how I can work towards that, and I don’t know what would be a realistic age to set. As it is, I am not exactly young but yet not that old to look forward to retirement.

Sure, given a choice, I would rather not be working in a job where the only thing worth looking forward to is the monthly pay-check, and sometimes the bonus, or lack thereof. I would also want to arrive at the self-actualisation stage defined in Maslow’s hierarchy where work no longer feels like work, and that I actually enjoy what I do day-to-day. Then again, the lack of spirit just makes me think that is myth. Or it boils down to the fact that I don’t really know what I like to do. And if what I sort of enjoy doing can become something that could earn me a livelihood, or if I could even motivate myself to work so hard to be so good at it to make it a revenue-generating activity.

Some people have set other kinds of goals outside of the corporate life. To them, they accept that work can only be something that pays them to do what they like to do beyond it, so their goals are defined in their personal lives, such as getting married, owning a property (and more thereafter maybe), having children, and so on. The moment the kids come along, the milestones also change to revolve around their growth and development, and finally their own retirement. This is not something that I have considered or thought of at this point.

I don’t know where I am heading with this entry. It was just motivated from my internal rumination as I went through some photos and thoughts that surfaced when I considered the people around. Sometimes, life feels like a tiring and tiresome journey. We try so hard to keep things going yet it always feels so one-sided and pointless. At some point, it almost becomes that things I used to enjoy, I don’t really do and I don’t know what is it that I enjoy anymore and what is it I would enjoy at all. Everything just feels meaningless – life, people, things. Even travelling doesn’t seem appealing anymore because there just is no point in it.

Collated a set of food pictures from more than 3 years ago when I went to Tokyo, and as I looked at them, I realise that I no longer enjoy some of them, and don’t eat most of them anymore. Have my taste buds changed or do I just don’t get enjoyment from eating anymore?

Tokyo_Jan2012a

Merry (belated) Christmas!

This post concludes the series of posts of the Hong Kong trip, which spanned a week until Christmas day. I flew back in the afternoon, which usually wouldn’t be the case for HK because it doesn’t make sense if it were a 4D3N trip, but since this was a week and because I had originally thought that I would have shifted to a new place by December, I had planned to arrive in SIN in the early evening to allow myself time to… well, settle in and get home.

Anyway, short post with fewer pictures since there wasn’t as much eating done as compared to the past days.

Headed out early in the morning to get a box of biscuits from Kee Wah for mum, even though I know she isn’t that big on all those traditional biscuits. She finds them too sweet, and will usually complain that they are too much to finish (on her own). I guess that’s also where I inherited my calibrated sweet tooth from, because I admit that I have a sweet tooth, but it isn’t all sweet things that I like and can take. So I just bought a box of their 老婆饼, which she kept only 2 and gave the rest away to my aunt, which was really fine. I am trying to not sweat this; if it’s bought for her, she can decide who she wants to gift them to.

After buying the biscuits, I headed back to the hotel, and after our last minute packing, we went to a nearby local cafe for a last local breakfast. This was what my friend ordered, which seemed like the full works – macaroni soup with ham, luncheon meat, sausage, fried egg and spiced beef! Oh wow, this would have been perfect, though if I were ordering it would be instant CQYD noodles instead because I am not a macaroni fan.I think I ordered yuan-yang. But I can’t remember.
Close up of all that awesomeness in a bowl.

This was mine – which as an after-thought, reminds me of McDonald’s big breakfast. It’s a breakfast platter of sausage, ham, fried egg, sausage patty, and a slice of toasted thick toast. I LOVE this thick toast, because even though it’s white bread, it was pretty well toasted so that the bread was nicely-crisp and crunchy to the bite!
Not so keen on the sausage, ham and patty though. They are not bad, but just not ideal because I do hope to cut down on processed stuff. If I can!

That kind of concludes the eating in Hong Kong, for a week. On our flight back, since it’s Christmas day, SQ actually served up a mini log cake as part of the meal, a nice gesture! 

Christmas Eve.

Spent Christmas eve and part of Christmas day in Hong Kong. I shall just let the pictures do the talking, most of it anyway, because I am lazy to write. 🙂

Met the cousin early for local breakfast near his apartment. This is the Hong Kong milk tea, which I find is so much nicer than what we have locally, i.e. teh-c.

The standard breakfast fare, to me at least – soupy instant noodles topped with some ingredients like pork / chicken chop, sausages, eggs, or the likes. Or maybe everything! Order a noodle and add-on the other stuff you fancy, sunny-side up, sausages…
Yummy.
Problem with Hong Kong’s local cafes is that they don’t usually do bread the way I like it. Mostly, when I order a sandwich or toast, it is just 2 slices of plain white bread that is of the soft variety, totally not how I like my bread to be. Even when this is toasted, at an additional charge (!), it still doesn’t cut anywhere close. The smooth, creamy scrambled eggs help to make it a bit better though, but then the processed meat in the form of ham probably isn’t too great an idea.
After we had the milk tea and the breakfast, we still went for the next round of caffeine at a hole-in-the-wall cafe near Jaffe Street.  After parting with my cousin, I went to meet my friend and we decided to check out this soft-serve that was highly-recommended by the cousin. I really love this, because the matcha flavour was very distinctive and strong! And best of all is that it doesn’t feel like it’s too sweet. They have a few outlets, but we went to the one at Fashion Walk. There’s one in the basement food hall of SOGO at Causeway Bay too and if I’m not wrong, near City Super in Harbour City in TST.
Went to meet another friend thereafter, who halted her gym-time to accompany me for the Christmas eve afternoon. We popped into a random cafe where she decided to have lunch, and I ordered a salad which was a total disappointment. Where’s the ‘salad’? This looks more like dessert than salad.  It’s actually a few slices of apple cooked in some sauce I presume, topped with egg mayo and a sprinkling of some powder (don’t ask me what because I forgot), plus 2 sticks of buttered toast, very lightly-toasted might I add. I was then busy scraping away the egg yolk and mayo obviously, and left it in a mess.
After the decidedly-unsatisfying meal (for me at least), we proceeded to Lee Gardens’ Starbucks, which was also very crowded despite that the mall was almost devoid of other customers. Either everyone is out and about in their last minute rush for Christmas gifts, or this mall is just too high-classed to see many patrons. We dropped by the supermarket at Hysan Place first though, to get ourselves a pot of yogurt each to go with our coffee (my third caffeine for the day). Love the variety that is available overseas but again, I’d think this is from the vantage point of being a foreigner and seeing things with a fresh pair of eyes.  Last year, when I met my friend in Hong Kong, we ordered the Christmas orange cranberry loaf cake/bread and since they have it this year again, we ordered it again! We enjoyed this because it’s more bread than cake, meaning it’s a bit drier and crumblier,and not so oily to boot. Wished they had this on our local menu too but so far, it has only made an appearance in 2014.
Headed back for a short run at the gym thereafter, before heading out for Christmas eve dinner. We settled in at an Italian eatery in SOHO, which somehow felt like we were obligated to dine at, because the host-cum-owner was rather pushy and we felt bad walking away after reading the menu. It was probably a wrong choice, because we ended up not ordering the huge Christmas meal that came with 6 courses per person (at quite a reasonable price actually). We didn’t think we could have finished all that food so we opted for a-la-carte, which to them meant ‘budget menu’, and we were being treated as ‘budget customers’. They changed the table setting, removing the napkin and replacing it with a paper serviette!? It wasn’t even like the eatery was some fine-dining place because each table was within an elbow’s width away, even if you are paying for the so-called Christmas set menu. Bleah. What a big downer.

The food was pretty decent though, to be fair to them. It’s just that service sucks, or rather it’s dependent on how much you pay for your food.
  After dinner, we took a short walk to PMQ, where most shops were already packing up. But they had pretty interesting Christmas decor, including a holographic Christmas tree instead of a real physical tree.
  And finished off the evening with dessert near our hotel, sweet soup with lotus seeds! 🙂

Enjoying. Holidaying. Eating!

Planned to meet my friend for an early breakfast at Cupping Room but got into a bit of delay due to a miscommunication. I thought there were only 2 Cupping Rooms, but apparently not so. She went to the one at Wan Chai, and realised I wasn’t there, and after a while, we found out that we were at different outlets – I was at the original Cupping Room in Sheung Wan. My bad.

We ordered our respective dosages of coffee, and a portion of egg white scrambled on sour dough to share. It was amazing! I love egg white scrambled, even if they are probably not as protein-packed as regular scrambled eggs, but as I don’t really like the ‘eggy’ taste of egg yolk that much, I find egg white scrambled easier on the palate somewhat. But it comes at a premium, always.After breakfast, we took a slow, long walk, and ended up at Pacific Place, where we each bought a pot of yogurt (which has become something we do all the time now) and looked for a next place to plonk ourselves at. We settled at Pret-A-Manger at a mall linked to Pacific Place, where my friend got herself a second coffee and I ordered a log cake, just because it’s Christmas and I have not had a single slice of log cake!
We didn’t finish this eventually because she didn’t seem to really like it and I certainly did not want to have it alone, so unfortunately it went to the wastelands.

We walked a lot more after that, strolling all the way to Wan Chai, where I spotted the Cupping Room she was at this morning, some other interesting cafes that I could consider visiting in the next trip perhaps, a local bakery that she frequents where we bought some buns and had it at the seating gallery overlooking a track and field, the Joel Buchon bistro where she bought some breads, and which had such a delectable array of baked stuff that I would totally want to have… then she had to leave, and I went to meet up with my friend, who had sadly, fallen ill. I walked back to Pacific Place where she was at, and we went to Simply Life bistro for a late lunch or early tea-break. One tea-time set costs about HKD58, which is pretty decent and value-for-money, because it was a rather substantial sandwich and coffee/tea. I got myself a long black and an open-faced sandwich, that also came with a serving of cajun fries! *big love* Check out that layer of melted cheese draped over the grilled mushrooms and spinach, on a slice of very chewy multi-grain/seed toast. I love this and finished every single thing, yes I know it’s a lot of carbohydrates and what I see is that females having the same thing just left the bread there or a good part of it. But! That’s the whole essence of this open-faced right? To me at least, the bread (and maybe the fries) were the highlights!
My friend had the quesadilla or flat-bread; I can’t remember what’s on the inside, but it came with the same cajun fries too.After so much eating, of course we need to do some walking right? So we hopped over to Kowloon for a small spot of sightseeing. I’m sorry to Kowloon dwellers, but I really do not enjoy being there. Although Hong Kong is known for being an overcrowded city not unlike Singapore, Kowloon seems to be more so than say, Central. Causeway Bay can also be a big mess of people, especially tourists who usually walk in haphazard fashion, but being in Kowloon never fails to give me a headache at some point and it makes me feel claustrophobic and frustrated.

We visited the heritage place in Tsim Sha Tsui, where not surprisingly, tonnes of tourists were packing the place and taking selfies.
It wasn’t dark enough for the lights to look pretty but then since it would probably take a while more for it to become dark, we went over to the harbour front area.  It was cloudy or foggy day despite that it didn’t start out as being very cold. In fact, it was a considerably warmer day as compared to the day before (i.e. winter solstice). We couldn’t even see much across to the other side.
The laser show was only scheduled to come on at about 8pm, which was really a bit too much waiting for us to do, so we headed back to Hong Kong island, and decided to have dinner at the Ukrainian restaurant that we spotted on Sunday near the Lebanese place we had dinner at that rainy night.

Our drinks – kefir. I totally love this because it’s a yogurt drink and it reminded me of the milky drink I had in Helsinki years back when I was there on a business trip. It was really quite filling but I could almost just bottoms-up the glass!We ordered a soup to share, a pumpkin soup that seemed a little too salty.
My friend ordered a stew – with lots of meat (chicken I think), mushrooms and carrots. It doesn’t seem like a huge pot but the serving was again quite substantial, and it came with a puff pastry covering it!  Close-up.
Compared to Sunday, this weekday night seemed so much busier. Perhaps we couldn’t really tell from the outside, but I suspected that Sundays are generally quieter in SOHO, or perhaps it was raining that night so the crowd was thin. We were lucky to get the last available table, as others had to wait, and the wait time for food to be served was also pretty long. However, the food quality was relatively good and looking at the menu, it resembled what I saw when I was in Moscow, which makes sense since they are so near to each other. But I remembered having the borscht soup and didn’t like it. But stuff like skewered meats (whites please) are ok with me!

This was the plate of grilled vegetables that I ordered, which were a little oily but on the whole, I really liked it too because it’s such a generous portion!We were totally stuffed by the end of the night that we couldn’t finish every single thing on the plates. Almost did. I guessed the kefir filled us up, at least for me it did, but it was quite a good meal and maybe in future I could consider coming again!