I Had So Much Fun in the Last Five Days

My job revolves around many weekends of work. Close to half of the weekends in 2019. During weekdays, there are numerous monthly forums and meetings that I have to attend. In short, it is rather hard to find a good day to go on leave. I am happy that both my wife and I were able to take Monday and Tuesday off. And the last five days – counting the Friday evening – have been amazing. Here is a list of random recollection.

It all started here.
  • Nov 1st (Friday) was a very significant date for the fans of Blizzard. It was Blizzcon 2019. Now, of course, due to time zone difference, it would only officially start my Nov 2nd at 2 a.m. in the morning. So let’s rewind a bit.
  • Nov 1st was All Saints Day. It has been a while since I have visited a Church. I was happy that my wife could join me for a lunchtime Mass at the Cathedral. Fun fact. I was trying to get my buddy Jeremy – also a fellow Catholic – to join us. The response was: which Cathedral? I was like … dude, there is only one [Catholic] Cathedral in Singapore (I didn’t feel the need to specify)! He responded, “St. Andrew”? I face-palmed. Ours is Cathedral of the Good Shepard. St. Andrew’s Cathedral is an Anglican Church. “Does it really matter?” asked Jeremy. Long story short, eucharistic intercommunion is not possible. So yes, you may. And no, the communion doesn’t count.
  • Hero’s is a bar in Singapore CBD that has a lovely live band. I have been there so many times that the band knows me. Miraculously, my wife has agreed to visit Hero’s on a Friday night with me. Her first at Hero’s.
  • The 10 p.m. party was amazing. Way better than the one we have attended earlier on. We stayed close to the very end (past 2 a.m.).
  • My wife and I watched the Blizzcon 2019 opening ceremony live via YouTube on my wireless phone while we were partying at Hero’s. It was our first time tuning into the event live. The announcements and the trailers were amazing. Diablo 4 – a game we care about a lot and will buy when it eventually releases. Overwatch 2 – a game we had fun with and since O2 will have PvE content, it is a sure buy. World of Warcraft new expansion Shadowland – love the trailer but for sure we will not play that game again.
  • I have finished reading The Ninth Hour by Alice McDermott. After returning the books at the library, I have borrowed not one but six books! All six books are from the same author called John Straley. Some Alaska bizarre private investigation. I have to finish all the books within six weeks. That means I should not spend more than a week to complete one book. Uh oh.
  • It was my wife and my first time trying out Mbar Mini KTV. It is a small Karaoke booth charged by 15-minute blocks. The booth comes with one TV (duh), two stools, two microphones, and two headsets. English song choice is so-so. Pretty decent recording and sound system. Clean environment. We sang for half-an-hour and we had fun.
  • Talking about being spontaneous, after Sunday’s dinner, I have suggested visiting a real KTV and my wife gamed for it. There was a promotion at Party World. Twenty-odd dollars per person for not one but FOUR hours of Karaoke. We sang from nine till one in the morning. Again, we had fun.
  • And we have finally mastered the art of not-over-ordering at a Korean restaurant. Celebrated our 19th wedding anniversary at Big Mama (in actual fact, we celebrated our anniversary throughout the entire long weekend). We had BBQ boneless beef short ribs and ginseng chicken soup. Yummy.

2019 has been a fun year. Some asked if we are doing something special for our anniversary. In our own way, we are trying to make every day special.

A Recovered Travel Journal of Spain Holiday in May 2011

Imagine this. It took me 8 years to process the photographs I have taken during our family holiday in Spain back in 2011! Again, the results are always very rewarding. It is as though my wife and I get to relive a holiday day-by-day. To see the pictures, check out my photography page.

13 albums in total for our Spain holiday in 2011!

Again, I have managed to recover my travel journal. Unlike the one from Tasmania (see my previous post), this one was handwritten. So, I am trying my best to type out what I wrote, which may not make sense for sentences that I can’t read. My handwriting is notoriously horrible.

Day 1 – May 16 (Mon) – Barcelona to Gran Canaria

Direct flight [from Singapore] to Barcelona. 3 hours transit to Gran Canaria. 24 hours door-to-door [from home to our first stop]! [We rented a car from] Eurocar. Took us a while to get GPS working. [The volume of the navigation was ] very soft.

The hotel was Meliatamarindos by the beach. A nude beach! Dinner at Playa der Inglés and we had tapas. We rested for the day. The sky was still bright at 10pm! Windmills (note: huh?). I have finished reading Wild Sheep Chase [by Murakumi].

Day 2 – May 17 (Tue) – Gran Canaria

08:50 Las Pasadilla

Woke up at seven but since Gran Canaria is one hour behind Madrid so it was still dark outside. And it was too early for breakfast! No wonder the staffs were not too happy.

Roque Nublo – a volcanic rock in the island of Gran Canaria. It was quite a walk up and it took 40 minutes to come down.

10.00 Pico de las Nieves (ball ball, aloe vera car) (note: huh?!)

13:30 Artenara. We had lunch at a restaurant inside a cave!

Tapas: (1) cuera de Molino and (2) morsilla de teror (black in color!).

After lunch, we returned to our hotel and called it a day. We walked by the beach and had paella at a restaurant near our hotel. The waiter was chatty about Android phones!

Day 3 – May 18 (Wed) – Gran Canaria

Woke up at 8am because Cynthia was not feeling well. Breakfast was so full of people. And Cynthia had her tea this time around. Deliberating on where to for our camal ride, we have decided to visit the one at Maspalomas because of the dunes. At Maspalomas, we were approached by three Spanish students. A short survey on where we came from, how long we planned to stay in Gran Canaria, and what we liked about the place. The interviewer was a girl and she spoke in English. My wife replied in Spanish. Both were trying to practice a foreign language.

After our interview, the young boy showed us the way to the camel farm. The ride cost us 12 euro for 30 minutes. The camel behind ours was hallowing in pain. Perhaps because the passengers were large in size and heavy in weight. It was a pretty funny sight in a sad kind of way. Camels are docile animals. It was hard labor for them, unfortunately.

After our camel ride, I took an hour’s walk to the dunes under the sun (note: my wife must have been waiting in a bar or a restaurant avoiding the sun). The weather was lovely. Cool breeze. Some women sunbathed without tops as I got closer to the nude beach.

We had pizza and salad at Maspalomas. After lunch, we drove to Las Palmas. There were many narrow and confusing streets. I did shopping (Zara) and bought two books (boxset) by Mathias Malzieu (the version we saw in Barcelona was in Catalan). We dined at Las Palmas Pollo Kiev. I had a revelation at the diner. Perhaps my purpose in life is to take care of this woman in front of me.

Day 4 – May 19 (Thu) – Gran Canaria

  1. Caldera de Bandama / crater / school kids.
  2. Arucas / cathedral / Mountain de Arucas / lunch / paellas and apple tart.
  3. Cenobio de Valerón / dig site / craters / racing blue car / staring (note: huh?!) food similar to Northern Africa not preparing women for wedding (note: what?!).
  4. Gildar / walk the town.
  5. Agaete / Dedo de dios / raining / lost but saw the cliff.
  6. Back south / Puerto Rico / scenic.
  7. Puerto de Mogán / seafood with wine / best chocolate cake with 3 layers!
  8. Drove in the dark / slept just before midnight.

Day 5 – May 20 (Fri) – Sevilla

What a hard day! Woke up at 5.45am for the 8.45am flight to Sevilla. We miss Gran Sevilla already. Such familiarity. So tourist-friendly compared to Sevilla.

Sevilla is a big city. Roads are complicated outskirt. In town, the roads are unforgivingly narrow … so many traffic lights. Rested a bit in the afternoon. But we managed to tour the palace (7.5 euro). Things are expensive in Sevilla. Parking was 2 euro per hour or 14 euro a day in the hotel. So many cars on the street. Late at night, we walked out to buy bottled water and have resisted the temptation to dine at Burger King. We didn’t feel safe … “The Time is Now” (note: I believe I was referring to a Spanish song).

Day 6 – May 21 (Sat) – Córdoba & Camona

This silly song kept on playing on the road … or that Rihanna song.

I wanna boom bang bang with your body yo
Were gonna rough it up before we take it slow
Girl lemme rock you rock you like a rodeo
(Its gonna be a bumpy ride)

A song by Mohombi

New hotel and no breakfast. It cost 14 euro. What a joke!

Bought pastry at a petrol station. Fuel needle not working. Car smelled like banana cake inside (note: what?!). Dented. Golf VW. Engine stopped at the junction (ps. clutch down to start engine). Rather easy to find parking space in the morning.

Misty. But a clear blue sky in the late morning. The temperature went up from 24-degree C to 35!

Next, drove to Camona. Wedding! Lots of wedding.

BK for lunch. Oxtail/fish for dinner.

Day 7 – May 22 (Sun) – Andalusia Crazy Driving!

  1. Arcos de la Frontera / Cynthia asked the policeman where the church was and the policeman asked the local instead! Lol. Managed to park before the hill up to the church. San Pedro / Santa Maria.
  2. Ubrique / nothing!
  3. Zahara / lake / lunch time / a ruin up the hill but we did not go / driving in the town was tedious enough.
  4. Ronda / city on a cliff / we didn’t park inside / had icecream and coke – 7 euro.
  5. Gibraltar / can see Africa from here / unpaved road / Cynthia has to open the gate! (note: huh?)
  6. Jimena de la Frontera / tried to drive […] / had dinner by the mountain / see the horse!
  7. Took us 2 1/2 hours to return / through the mountain area / small road / pitch dark / not a soul nearby / nearly hit the cows / reached the hotel at 00:40.

Day 8 – May 23 (Mon) – Cádiz

Woke up late (10.30pm). Had coffee at the cafeteria. Cost a fortune. Didn’t take long to drive to Cádiz. 1 1/2 hours. Cynthia missed the pharmacy by 1 minute. 3 hours lunch break. I think I like working in Spain.

Plaster = tirita.

Bought sandwich and ate at the cathedral (windy!). Beer is cheaper than juice. We walked through the beautiful city. One old lady spoke to me in French. Throughout the day, people were very friendly to me. Cynthia wondered why.

Day 10 – May 25 (Wed) – Baeza & Úbeda

Bubble bath with milk?! Think of the number of calfs deprived of milk makes me fizzy (note: the young me did not make sense at all!).

Breakfast at the hotel was a bit costly. But it was a great way to start the day. I am quite excited by the trip. A UNESCO site with lots of history. Baeza is about 1 1/2 hour drive from Granada.

During lunch, we have decided to visit a UNESCO site nearby as well called Úbeda. Úbeda has more life in it.

Not sure why GPS took us back through small roads. We got lost in a town called […] Dinner at the hotel. We just wanted to take things easy.

Day 11 – May 26 (Thu) – Las Alpujarras

  1. Lanjaron / spice town.
  2. Orgiva / Thursday market / parking was insane / millimeter away from hitting the cars on the side.
  3. Capileira / lunch.
  4. Pórtugos.
  5. Trevélez / had coffee and dessert.
  6. Cadier.
  7. Yegen.
  8. Válor / met an old man in a pub and he was with a dog / quarreled with pub owner because he has a dog inside the pub / the old man offered to buy us a drink / he said Spain is not only beautiful but also marvelous.
  9. Puerto De La Ragua / rain / condition of the road was quite poor / electronic road sign that said, “drive with extreme caution” / drove up to a mirador / saw the snow capped mountain (and a caravan).
  10. Guadix / ruin & church / McDonald’s.

Day 12 – May 27 (Fri) – Barcelona

Woke up at 6am. Drove to the airport. If not for Cynthia asking the receptionist, we might have missed a turn. 5 hours it took to reach the hotel in Barcelona. The airport was just so far away. Headed directly to Picasso museum (had Subway lunch). Most of his work in the museum were unsigned and undated. More like work in progress. Next, we headed to Plaza Catalunya. Tons of people protested on government. We shopped and had Hard Rock Cafe for dinner.

Day 13 – May 28 (Sat) – Barcelona

Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya. We have been there two years ago but it was closed. This time, we got to visit the museum. Spent five hours inside. Most of the artworks are from the local Catalunya artists.

Next, we took a bus to Park Güell. We boarded the bus at the wrong direction. An old woman was kind enough to speak to the driver […]

Park Güell is huge. We took the [momument] path. “Museum” cost 5.50 euro per person. Rather expensive for a two-story house.

Next, back to Plaza Catalunya. Walked through Las Rambla. Had dinner there.

Day 14 – May 29 (Sun) – Barcelona

Woke up ridiculously late. Attended the 1pm Mass because Cynthia so wanted it. Made up of mostly old people. The Mass was in Spanish of course.

May 30 (Sun) – On an SIA plane

Hola! We are back from Spain. Spain again, you may say. Haven’t we visited Spain like 2 years ago? True. But since we have been dipping in and out of the language for three years – to me the word ‘soaking’ would have been a vast exaggeration – touring Spain thus becomes one of our favorite choices. Fortunately, there are lots to see in Spain. This year, we have visited one of the Canaria islands so far off that could well be part of Africa. But they are significant enough to be printed onto the 50 euro banknote. We have also visited the southern part of the country where the territories were lost to the Islamic Moors from Africa and were re-conquered by the Christian Spaniards. Majestic Islamic influenced architecture can still be seen in Spain today. And since we flew direct from Singapore to Barcelona, we have spent some days to cover the points of interests that we would love to see but did not manage to in our last trip. To my avid readers, after failing to visit the museum of Picasso in Barcelona with two attempts in 2009 and the museum of Picasso in Paris in 2010 (under renovation), we have it covered this time. On top of it, we have added three more UNESCO sites to our travel list.

To be totally honest, while I always look forward to a long break, I seldom look forward to the physical demand of traveling in Europe. Maybe I am a lazy traveler. A cruise would have been my ideal holiday. The planning and logistic arrangement of the itinerary and hotel and car, the rather long traveling time – traveling from Singapore to Gran Canaria took 24 hours – getting used to the left-hand driving and to drive through the narrow roads in around the city area and through the mountain (one time at night we nearly banged onto the cows and deers, hiking the mountains, and that heavy photography gear of mine … my body ached throughout the trip. Less so on the second week as my body was conditioned for the physical demand. Having said all of the above, every trip to Europe has always been a rewarding experience – both in the culture and nature departments. I hope to share the journals and the photographs soon. Preferably a faster turnaround compared to our last trip. (note to the 2011 me: it took 8 years in the end).

Spent My Holiday in Sentosa Island

I took leave on a Friday and the following Monday was a public holiday. Naturally, with a four days long break, people would think that I have taken the opportunity to visit overseas. When I replied that I planned to visit Sentosa Island on Friday on my own, they thought I was joking.

I wasn’t.

The merlion looks a bit old.

Most of the time my wife and I take leave together. We would likely end up chilling in our new home. Since my wife had to work on Friday and the weather was nice – not too sunny and no rain – I have decided to take public transport and visit Sentosa Island.

I always end up having a meal and a drink in this bar next to the beach.

Two train stations from my home and I have reached Harbourfront. Directly above the train exit and on the third floor of Vivocity is the monorail station to the island.

I thought of doing Bungee. Maybe next time when my stomach is not so full.

The difference between driving to the island and taking public transport is that when we drive, we tend to visit the area not too far away from where we park (and there ain’t that many parking facilities in the island). Since I was taking a monorail train, I had the opportunity to explore the island.

Those are the stairs I did not take. Instead, I took a lift to the rooftop.
Up at the rooftop is a view around the island.
A lovely bridge that is quite similar to one of those in Mount Faber Park.
The island is full of cannons!
I am not sure if you could call this wildlife. But this one is not shy around people. We were really close to each other!
I wonder if this one is real.

There is an exhibition at the Siloso Breach. A history of Singapore back in the WWII era. The exhibition is well above my expectation. A strong recommendation for those who visit Singapore. The indoor exhibition ‘Surrender Chamber’ is amazing.

In the outdoor, these are engine wreckage from the Japanese warplanes.
There is a tunnel to the gun post.
Yet another cannon.

Leaving Siloso area was a nice walk by the beach followed by a short hike to the Sentosa Imbiah trail.

The cable cars that shuttle people between Harbourfront and Sentosa Island.
There are mozzies in the trail. It is good to bring insect repellants.
Nice artwork.
Did you see a … dragon?

I could have taken a monorail train from Imbiah Station back to Vivocity. Instead, I walked towards the Resort World and took the monorail from Waterfront Station. That concludes my visit.

Those must be hotel rooms.
And I was looking for a bar to quench my thirst.
A bird flew by as I took this picture.
From a distance, there is the Merlion.
Happy Hour at Hardrock Cafe!
What a contrast to other parts of the island, this area was full of visitors.
I had fun. Looking forward to bringing my wife back to Sentosa in the near future!

Are You Happy At Work?

Most of us spend a vast amount of our life working. How many of us are happy at work? Are you doing it day in and day out on a job that you don’t necessarily enjoy but you need to because someone needs to pay the bill?

I have worked for decades. There are moments when I enjoy what I am doing. Majority of the time, I don’t. Looking back in all the years of working, I wish I could put more emphasis on looking for a role that makes me happy at work. Rather than focusing on job security.

Take me as an example. My last role was horrible. My career back then was stagnant. I was not learning and hence, not growing. The team was not supportive. I just did not enjoy my work at all. I left in the end. Never look back.

My current role is very challenging and demanding. Long working hours. Lots of stakeholders. But I enjoy the work. I don’t have anyone that I dislike interacting with on a daily basis (unlike my last role). The only time I feel unhappy at work is when I let myself down, when I knew I could do much better but I did not, and when I felt humiliated by my own mistakes.

But that is a good problem to have. It is not about falling. But how fast one is able to get back up.

The key to happiness at work, I believe, has got to do with the people around you. Are they cooperative? Are they supportive? Are they good people to be with?

And when you are surrounded with good people, naturally, you are happy. Bottom line is, when you are surrounded with not so good people, do yourself a favor, find another job or role and do something else. Life is short. There is no point in dwelling onto the negative vibe.

So I’ve Finally Watched Taylor Swift’s Reputation Tour on Netflix

I have been a fan of Taylor Swift since her very first country album – a self-titled album released in 2006. Back in those days, there were listening stations in HMV whereby discovering music was one of my favorite pastimes. That was 13 years ago when she was 16 and I was … let’s not go there.

I have always enjoyed watching Taylor Swift live. Every word seems to be carefully crafted and rehearsed. Every dance and every move down to the very facial expression seems to be meticulously choreographed. My wife was used to find her kind of fake. I see Taylor Swift as someone who puts in lots of hard work to be the perfect performer.

She has a few concert or film recordings.

  1. CMT Crossroads: Taylor Swift and Def Leppard (2009)
  2. Journey to Fearless (2011)
  3. Speak Now World Tour – Live (2011)
  4. The 1989 World Tour Live (2015)
  5. Reputation Stadium Tour (2018)

CMT stands for Country Music Television. I have #1 on DVD. I used to like Def Leppard and I like Taylor Swift. Putting the two together – the old (or legend) and the young, the rock and back-then country – seems like a weird choice. But it works. I love the live performance. I love the interview pieces even more. Taylor Swift received her education from the road as she toured. And it was fun to watch Def Leppard giving her the advice to life.

I do not have #2 but I do have #3 on Blu-ray. She was 22 when the concert was recorded. It was an amazing performance. I struggled to recall what I have accomplished when I was 22. I was one year away from graduating for my Master degree. When I was 22, I debated the existence of alien with my friend over late night study. We had toast with butter and sugar. We would go to bed in the early morning. Our favorite place in college would be the pub. 50 pence for a pint of beer. When Taylor Swift was 22, she had held a concert!

Fast forward to the Reputation Tour, many have changed. She is no longer a young girl but a grown woman. She is no longer the country artist that was introduced to me back in HMV. She embraces different genres of music. At the age of 29, she looks healthy on stage full of energy (you know how some artists these days look really slim and unhealthy). Still the same artist that gave an amazing performance from start to finish. So I have finally watched her Reputation Tour on Netflix. And I am loving it!