August 24, 2011

High-tailed it to Ko Samui in early August despite having returned from Timor a month ago. My first time there and it was really nice and chilled out. What can I say, I’m a sucker for beachy hangouts.

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February 22, 2011

what a harrowing morning. the parents are in christchurch this week on holiday and to visit a friend. got a text from my dad before 9 saying there was a major earthquake, 6.3 on the scale. thankfully they are both ok, if a little shaken. but more aftershocks expected within the next two days and airport has been closed till further notice. i’ve just been scanning the local news and the damage seems to be quite significant, with multiple fatalities and casualties.


January 18, 2011

The parents are totally hooked onto that annoyingly long-running Taiwanese serial that airs every single day on the chinese channel. I don’t watch it but sometimes I’m held hostage when we’re visiting my aunt or my grandmother and it’s 7pm and everyone only wants to watch 爱. Plus Audrey is a freak who’s already finished the series by watching the original Hokkien version online. Yah, seriously?

Anyway my mum mentioned the other day that one of my dad’s friends approached him about investing in a boutique hotel project. And immediately I told her, “Then it will be like 爱! They can call it 世界饭店!” My mudder was quite amused hahaha.


February 12, 2010

Even though we’re not doing CNY, my mum has a whole stash of goodies all ready in her larder. Every year she makes all of this (multiply the number of bottles in this picture by about 10 and that’s about right) mainly for us to eat and some to be given to relatives and friends. So it usually takes us about half a year to finish everything she’s baked.

My mum is very methodical about her annual big bake. She plans weeks in advance when to take time off work and the all the baking is divided over a number of days over the weeks leading up to the new year. She buys butter and flour by the kilograms and cleans out Phoon Huat of pineapple jam. If my parents had been in the US on holiday in the last few months, she would have already bought her chocolate chips from Walmart.

She does great chocolate chip cookies, almond cookies and butter cookies but her pineapple tarts are the best.

I take very little credit for any of this because it’s not the usual fun experiment some other friends like audrey, popartgirl and sandy willingly indulge in in the kitchen. Before the actual baking, the mum tries to rope in as many people — my grandmother, the maids, my sister — to help roll the pineapple jam into tiny balls. These are then stored in ice cream tubs in a relatively cool part of the house. This speeds up the production line on the day itself so time isn’t wasted estimating and tearing apart the jam to be placed snugly in the dough cavity.

We usually get to eat the uglies but with my mum, there are no such specimens so we have to wait for leftovers that can’t fill an entire bottle. But this year since we’re not really celebrating the new year, we’ve already started eating everything.

So anyway every year I try and do as little as possible because it’s just so time consuming and I’m not really a baking person, if you know what I mean. This time I got away with just half a day of watching the oven to make sure the tarts are the exact shade of golden brown, letting them cool and counting how many go into each bottle. Yah she’s got little post-it strips on each bottle so she knows what her yield is from all the ingredients she uses for each batch.

I do feel guilty that I don’t help her out more but I think most mothers like experiencing the busy-ness and chaos that come with CNY preparations. I think they think of it as a privilege to work hard for such a joyous occasion. Thankfully it’s only once a year.


January 4, 2010

While in Jogja my reading material of choice was Invictus, by journalist and writer John Carlin. It was originally published as Playing the Enemy but the copy I bought had been retagged and was being marketed in conjunction with the new Clint Eastwood movie.

I had never heard of either book or movie until two weeks ago and when I read the blurb on the book cover, I hesitated briefly before getting it. I don’t really like buying into the hype and jumping on the bandwagon to read books that have been turned into motion pictures. But this time the story and characters were names I was familiar with. In a nutshell, Carlin narrates how rugby — more specifically the 1995 World Cup — served to unify South Africa in the early, fragile years after Nelson Mandela became president in the post-apartheid era.

It was great, Carlin himself makes no apologies for painting the role of rugby in such a jubilant and celebratory light. When we went to Cape Town we visited Robben Island and saw the cell and the areas where Mandela spent much of his 27 years in prison. But reading about all the inside details made everything so informative and vivid and really threw light into his personality. I thought the book would be a bit heavy on the political details but it was put in just the right context, interspersed with insights from key individuals so readers could get a full picture leading up to the World Cup.

I remember watching that final against the All Blacks. I remember rooting for the New Zealand team with the likes of Jonah Lomu, Andrew Mehrtens, Sean Fitzpatrick, Zinzan Brooke and Ian Jones.  I remember the nailbiting finish when both teams went into overtime and Joel Stransky kicked that decisive drop goal. And I remember very clearly the celebrations after, in that frenzied Ellis Park stadium, when Francois Pienaar lifted the Webb Ellis Cup together with Mandela, who was wearing a Springbok cap and jersey.

But I had no idea how much it meant to the country at the time, and the extent to which the sport had been used as a political tool. I remember listening to the team singing the anthem Nkosi Sikele iAfrika — my sister and I would chant along every time the Springboks played that year — but had no idea how significant it was for the nearly all-white squad to be singing the Xhosa song. All we cared about was spotting our favourite player, scrum half Joost van der Westhuizen.

Many years ago — a year after I was born in fact — my father went on a playing tour of South Africa as part of an international line-up called the Tokkie Dragons, put together by Tokkie Smith, the man who started the famed Hong Kong Sevens. When my dad came home, there was such a storm of controversy over the fact that he had ignored international sporting sanctions against South Africa because of apartheid. He was subsequently banned for life at home, although this was eventually reduced to a year and he resumed playing for, and then coached the national team.

When I was older, I read all the newspaper clippings about my dad that my parents had cut out and collected from all those years and I had a vague sense of what transpired. But reading about apartheid and rugby in Carlin’s book gave me a much deeper understanding of what was at stake. In the closing chapters, the book brought tears to my eyes at quite a few passages. I could just imagine all the torrid, tense emotions involved on the day of the world cup final and even more so, what these hulking men were working towards.

Now I’m really looking forward to watching the movie.


December 27, 2009

I dread going to work tomorrow. I’m even more exhausted than when I started this long weekend. Lots of socialising and eating and singing though. Thank you everyone who made all of it happen.

Am going to watch one episode of TBBT before going to bed.



August 8, 2009

It’s going to be a busy weekend! Originally meant to be overseas — topo reminded me this morning where we were supposed to be — but plans fell through. I was in Hong Kong not too long ago but I’m itching to go away again and my next trip in a month’s time seems tooo far away. Can’t wait to get out.

Anyway lots of stuff lined up over the next few days, hope everyone has a happy national day too 🙂

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