Changi Airport / Staying the Path

I love this place. Changi Airport has been a huge part of my life. My memories of it as a child aren’t that clear. But the memories I have of it when I was still in Anglican remain vivid.

I remember dashing into the train after school at Tanah Merah, and doing silly things at quiet areas with my friends. Lying on the stairs, pretending we were mannequins are among the many things we did there as teenagers. Many of those spots and now gone but I’ve kept some in photos for my personal viewing pleasure. Camera phones had just come out then and though the quality isn’t good, it’s at least a preservation of the stupid things we did.

I remember studying at the airport. McDonalds, TCC, viewing galleries, Burger King, staff canteens, and I’ve lost count. All the food options made it so convenient. Students in Singapore study here all the time. It’s the one airport that I’ve seen people actually come all the time to do non-airport things. As an adult, I spent countless nights here marking assignments at Krispy Kreme and again, the viewing gallery.

I remember all the flights in and out of the country. The several short trips with my friends and the rare long one to Italy. I remember crying the entire flight back from Paris, and leaving with joy in my heart for my honeymoon in Japan. Trips are always something I look forward to but coming home to the warmth of Changi Airport cushioned the disappointment of coming back to real life in Singapore.

I remember all the good meals I’ve had with my family at the airport – from fast food, to cafes, to ramen, sushi and tonkatsu, to hawker fare, to Penang cuisine, and our ever delightful Aston’s. It’s the one activity that we all enjoy and living near the airport made it our favourite ‘mall’ to go to.

As I write this, there are countless families hanging out here, children running around or scooting while parents watch them knit these memories into their childhood.

Today, the airport has served as my place of refuge again. I come here whenever I don’t know what to do (both in the lost and bored sense). I brought a book that Immanuel got for me from Hillsong. Bobbie Houston’s Stay the Path. I listened to the audiobook before but as I’m reading it now, it seems pretty fresh to me. Which should be a sure sign that I should terminate my audible subscription.

I love how Ps Bobbie talks about being convicted of who I am, where I’m headed, and what I am about. Because these are the exact questions I’m trying to answer in this season. Through journaling and blogging, I’m hoping to pick up the many pieces of my life – scattered thoughts, rushing too much too fast in my career, and the next transition I’m facing. By no means do I consider myself a leader, but I do desire to be a servant. Many times I’ve struggled with pride and self-righteousness, and beating myself hard over things that don’t even matter to others. With 90 years left, I want to live my life clearly. I may not always have clarity, but I want to be clear about the person I am about.

And that bit on ‘what compels you’ got me. To know the things I stand for and care about, and know the things that I can let go. Not everything is meant to be put in such deep focus, and for me in this season I know my focus isn’t working in a school and teaching large classes, and handling all the responsibility that they zap my energy, drain my mind and take time away from my family. Did I do exceptionally well? No. I’m not on that track. If I wanted it, I guess I could slog even harder to get it. No guarantees though. But I think I did a fairly good job, considering that my rankings were decent. I genuinely cared for some students, got along well with my colleagues, and did many things for the school. But none of what I did compelled me.

I enjoyed parts of my job but rather than energise me, I was perpetually drained. One can get drained on a job but I couldn’t deal with being drained and being in front of my students. What a role model I would’ve been if I continued next year?

I made the decision to leave now so I wouldn’t have to find out.

So many thoughts on just the first 2 chapters. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of it.

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Kuala Lumpur

The last time I was at KL was in 2011. With a bunch of 10 fellow CNM honours friends, most of whom I’m no longer in contact with. And another trip just a few weeks or months down with a group of girlfriends whom I fondly call the MSG/HDL girls because of our common memories made over food.

This time, its with my NIE batchmates, an amazing group of foodies who are a great support in this difficult profession.

Three noteworthy food places to visit if you’re there:

1. The breakfast thieves

2. Shin Kee beef noodle specialist

So good, I had 2, while the friends shared a 2nd bowl of beef ball soup.

3. Village Park Restaurant Nasi Lemak

So glad I announced that I was” not gonna share”

Others worth noting:

4. The eatery our Grab driver recommended when we asked him what was good at Jalan Alor. Turned out really yummy but not special nor mind blowing like the others above. It was a typical good zichar. We scrambled for seats and sat precariously under a tree. Witnessed bird droppings landing right on our table but was quickly cleared away by their excellently efficient cleaning staff. We waited about an hour for our food and while it didn’t disappoint, we don’t think we’d wait for it again

5. The view from our Airbnb apartment at Platinum Suites (The Face)

We didn’t manage to swim as we fiercely went about having good food, but it sure was a well needed time of relaxation.

Back to work tomorrow though its the September holidays, and I hope it all pays off with this batch of students.

Perth: food

(All in Aussie $ and portions for 3 really big eaters)

Petition

Total: $101 (5/5)

The pork knuckle was initially really yummy until. The sauce got a little icky and the end. However, the cabbage dish more than made up for it. I’ve been referring to it as the best cabbage I’ve eaten in my life. The buckwheat puffs were the cherry on top.

The beef tartare was exceptionally fresh too – all mixed up and eaten with toast. Amazing. I’d definitely return if I had the chance.

*So I did return on the last day of the trip for breakfast!


Francoforte Spaghetti

Total: $71 (5/5)

I read about this place on TripAdvisor and came here on our first night. They do spaghetti and do it perfectly!

*It was so good that we went back another night and had more.


New Moon

Total: $83.50 (4/5)

The porridge and hor fun were strange but the dimsum was excellent.

 

Gong Cha

This was the most expensive Milk Foam Alisan Tea I’ve had @ $6.30 – but worth it since all the Gong Chas in Singapore have closed down.

 

Honeycake

We had honeycake for tea today. Since I’m not a fan of cake, I guess my review for this isn’t accurate. We had 2 small slices for $10. A small box costs $20 and a bigger one costs $29.

I got some back for family and friends but I’m still unsure if it’s known to be from Perth.



Seoul Korean BBQ and Steamboat

A good respite from all the western cuisine that we’ve been having. $39.90 per pax for the buffet BBQ and a steamboat. Nothing special and I still prefer what we can get in Singapore, but it was nice being one of the only 2 groups of customers in the big restaurant. Also, while the meats and sides weren’t particularly appealing, the kimchi was exceptionally fresh and salty, the way I liked it.

Total: $140, including drinks (3/5)



Le Vietnam 

Read about this Banh Mi and it does live up to the hype. The owner who did the sandwich for us showed us a photo of how crowded it gets at lunch time. Clearly someone who takes pride in his craft without being overbearing. Perfect breakfast!

Total: $40+ (4.5/5) 

*And… As usual, if something was good, we went back another time.


Kailis Seafood, Fremantle

We had seafood for lunch at Fremantle. The lobster was exciting, and scallops perfectly barbecued. The fish and chips were fine and the oysters were disappointingly tiny.

Total: $135 (3.5/5) 



Little Bird Cafe

We had such colourful, wholesome meal here. I never thought steak could work as a breakfast dish but it worked out fine! The toast in the other two dishes were great too. So glad we managed to squeeze in a brunch here as it closes at 3pm. The first time we tried to pop by, the kitchen was closed already and we sadly walked back to our hotel.

Total: $79 (5/5)

 

Arirang Korean Restaurant 

We had this on our last night there. It was really yummy and could match up to the average Korean BBQ restaurant in SG and in Korea. The family next to us (mainly the dad) kept looking over at our table and asked me about the Kimchi Stew. I heard that dish being mentioned time and again. He really enjoyed his food and looking at him eat in swift movements made me enjoy my meal a little more 🙂

Total: $120 (for the three of us)

 

So it seems that a 5-day trip to Perth was possible without any driving. We took two trips out of the city centre and it was just right. Mommy was initially very unsure of what she had done – considering that she had been to Perth many times before. But with google maps and tripadvisor, she managed to try so many new things. Good job to me!

Bangkok 2017: Day Four

Today’s breakfast at Cabochon was the tops!

I’ve never seen a more delightful looking breakfast that’s the perfect blend of east and west. I love bacon and I love fish sauce. The ‘mueh’ or rice in soup fish was perfect. Just like the fish soup we have back home, with the freshest tiny little oysters I’ve ever had.

The pork soup was fantastic, with small intestines and fresh lean pork. The vegetables in it was fresh too – looked like kangkong and some exotic looking textured leaves which had a crunch to it.

The sweets were exceptionally pleasing to my tastebuds too. The butter must’ve been some high quality brand or simply used generously – the cakes were so dense and buttery. Even the sliced bread with butter tasted flavourful.

After packing our bags and taking a look at the pool,

(nothing to shout about but its Cabochon’s pool so I’m biased) we went off for a long walk to Ekkamai. Underestimated the walk there – especially since we were in the hot sun for a long while. Gave up 4/5 of the way after we passed by Suppanigga Eating Room and took a cab down for the remaining 1/5 as we got a bit dehydrated.

We found this place, Unfashioned Cafe, which was a tiny little establishment next to its vintage/international shop.

Refuelled by the cakes and drinks, we walked on to Ekkamai Macchiato, and then to One Ounce for Onion.

We skipped Macchiato as it smelled of cooking kitchen oil, and skipped the pricey products at Onion.

The exterior of Macchiato looked like a house. We had to squeeze through many cars to get in – strange.

The coffee, according to Immanuel, had a smoky flavour to it. I can’t drink coffee so all I could do was admire the store layout and takeaway cup design as usual.

We promptly made our way to Suppanigga Eating Room for lunch after this. It was wonderful. The prawn wanton I wanted had run out so we had these crabmeat and pork cakes stuffed in crab shells.

The rice with crispy fish was yummy but the pad thai with crab meat was dry and too tomato-ish. The Tom Yun Kung was the winner and the beef shank salad was delicious as well. We paid around 1400B+ for this meal – expensive by Bangkok standards but worth it in my opinion. I would have traded the Pad Thai for more crabmeat pork cakes though.

We ended our day with a foot massage at Health Land Ekkamai as it was near the cafes we visited. We wanted the therapeutic massage but the only slot was at the time we had to leave for the airport. So we settled for the foot massage at 350B each for an hour.

Immanuel said that the technique for Health Land and Watergate spa was on par, but Health Land won for ambience. I still preferred the Watergate spa as the aunty was so loving – She put my head on her lap as she did the head massage for me. That said, its an unfair comparison as it was two different massages.

So our preferences:

1. Health Land – for ambience, price and comfort with technique

2. Watergate Spa – for technique, price and convenient location just opposite Platinum Mall

3. At Ease – would not go back again, perhaps it was the timing and just our masseuse. Very popular amongst Japanese tourists though.

Bangkok 2017: Day Three

We started the day with the hotel breakfast. Today, I decided to jazz it up and make my own Thai fusion bacon sandwich. It was seriously on my mind when I woke up.

Toasted bread, loads of butter, cucumbers, fish sauce, a sunny side up egg and BACON. Loads of BACON. We had the porridge again, this time a more watery version with shrimp.

After lazing a little more, we checked out and made our way to Cabochon.

This hotel is just breathtaking.

We got the simplest room available but that itself was amazing. The little features – the vintage tub, sleek bed, burlap blinds, made the whole place so quaint.

There was also a shared living area which was just so pretty.

We decided that we had to come back the next time.

I even managed to squeeze a manicure at Rain Hill before checking in. And Immanuel spent some quiet time at Pacamera, also at Rain Hill, which is about a minute’s walk from the hotel.

Just a few minutes walk from Phrom Pong station, this place has the quietness of a hipster hotel, yet is extremely convenient.

Our trip to Chatuchak was pretty fruitful with some sandals. But these were the highlight:

The spicy glass noodle salad was soooooooo refreshing and delicious! Slightly spicy as I didn’t want another case like the mango salad I had at Platinum. Tears at a food court – embarrassing.

It rained quite a bit but we managed to take cover indoors. We lost interest very quickly and took a train to the New Rot Fai market at Ratchada. Quite an easy route from Kamphaeng MRT to Thailand Cultural Center MRT

We didn’t really buy anything but this was worth the trip down 🙂

Immanuel loves seafood done this way and we had this ‘All Sea’ small set at just 399B. Not really cheap but definitely far cheaper than options at home.

So inspired to eat like that in our new home!

We ended the night with a massage at At Ease, very conveniently located near Phrom Phong BTS. We both did a 1.5 hour foot massage + foot scrub + head massage for 680B each. However, we both felt it paled in comparison to Watergate Spa. Maybe our masseuses were too tired.. We ended our massage at 11pm. Nevertheless – ending a long long day of walking (in the rain no less) with a foot and head massage is an awesome thing to do 🙂

Bangkok 2017: Day Two

Today was so much better!

We started our morning with breakfast in the hotel. There’s something about hotel breakfasts that excite me. The free flow bacon, eggs, and porridge. What’s even more exciting this time is that there’s fish sauce. That smelly, salty, deceivingly light-coloured sauce that tastes so good with rice or porridge.

Immanuel came back with a bowl of his own porridge and after confirming with me, had put spoons of vinegared chilli into his instead. He even told someone else that it was fish sauce… We quickly spammed some fish sauce and all was good again.

After lazing a little in our room, we set off for Platinum Mall.

We walked through MBK mall (which Pathumwan Princess is part of) and Siam Discovery mall (a super hipster looking mall which we thought was some kind of discovery center) to get to Siam Center and then Siam Paragon.

The stuff at Siam Discovery really tempted Immanuel and I. Loft was there. Need I say more?

Actually I do. Everything about the mall was our #housegoal. There was this section where DIY workshops are held. I totally imagined my home to look like that. I was already toying with the idea of overlaying the white tiles, raised, on top of the wood in the room we plan to knock down.

Our decision to check out the Siam Discovery led us to all the awesome links to the various malls.

Siam Paragon (gourmet hall)

We got 450ML cold pressed juices at 220B each. That’s about 9SGD. A similar one in Singapore would cost at least 15SGD! So we went back to get another bottle each at night 🙂

Though we could’ve walked all the way from Siam to Platinum Mall, I forgot how to so we ended up taking a BTS to Chitlom and walking back. But that led to us discovering Gaysorn and it was a comfortable walk with a clean toilet pitstop.

So much has changed in just a few years! Apart from the Siam/Chitlom walkway, there’s now one connecting from Chitlom to Platinum mall. Almost the entire stretch has an overhead walkway that’s so much more spaces than the overhead bridges.

Avoiding this mass of cars and not having to walk on the pavements below really made the entire experience so excellent.

Nothing to shout about, shopping at platinum. A few years ago I went crazy. A year after that I tamed down. And now I have no taste for the things there. It also helps that many of the clothes there don’t fit me. (not bitter). Totally going #konmari and buying only the things that spark joy, such as this:

My pull and bear sling pouch at work has been tearing and I think this would make an excellent replacement. Perfect for my card, stationary, and spare cash. What’s more, it perfectly summarises my mood, being there.

Apart from this and a pair of locally designed leather shoes that Immanuel got at 1500B, we went straight up to the foodcourt

The oyster omelette turned out too starchy. It was practically slime and oysters. Barely any egg. So I would give it a miss the next time and stick to the claypot sharks fin (it should be just cartilage) soup (195B) and mango salad (70B).

On our way back, Immanuel had his coconut pudding fix. Something that I still can’t appreciate. It took me many years to finally accept coconut juice…

We also managed to squeeze in a massage before heading to mookata. While doing my research before heading over to Bangkok, I read good reviews about Watergate Spa. It’s just in the building next to Amari and a tiny door in between random stalls shows its menu and signboard. Its just opposite Platinum, Zone 2 I think. You can’t miss it along the stretch as it faces the main road.

We each did a 1.5 massage. Immanuel’s was the foot massage + spa. Mine was supposedly an upsized head and shoulder massage to match his 1.5 hour duration. But it was more like a Thai massage with more focus on the parts that I stated. It was firm without being too painful, except for the leg stretches which I’m totally horrible at. Full works! The total was 1050B for 1.5 for both of us, I didn’t get the breakdown but I guess mine was 550 after the ‘upsize’. She also rubbed oil on my back though it didn’t seem part of my package.

Our masseuses were so motherly and strong even though they were smaller sized than us. Compared to the much raved-about Healthland, this place doesn’t pale in comparison – in terms of technique. Can’t fight the ambience though.

After our lovely massage, it was time for our long awaited mookata!

We took a BTS from Chitlom to Victory Monument. As most blog posts write, it’s just straight down from Century Movie Plaza, just further down from Eat Am Here.

Verdict: Shiok as it was so cheap, but food could have been tastier. All the meat weren’t labelled so I just followed what the teenage girl in front of me did. Good choice to copy her. But I wouldn’t go back again. Many more mookata options, especially at New Rot Fai market.

A train ride back to Siam, and our day ended with more shopping at Paragon. These pork strips were so savoury even though they were cold.

Downed with a gold gassy drink, perfect.

Bangkok 2017: Day One

We are currently stuck in a cab on the way to our much-craved dinner destination: Yoktalay & BBQ

I did some research about two weeks before our trip and have been thinking about buffet mookatas since. On our plane ride over, I gave Immanuel a choice: between the approximately 6SGD normal mookata buffet at Pla Tong Mookata, and this one that costs about 20SGD. He went for the latter that has A LOT of seafood, and even a charcoal grill.

We’ve been on the taxi for more than an hour and we’re really hoping that our first meal since the cup noodles on Jetstar would be worth the wait!

Feeling so sorry for our grab guy.

— 2 hours later —

And feeling sorry for ourselves…

We took another cab from where we were because the Google pin was wrong/outdated. After asking the sweet ladies at 7-11, we were pointed towards another direction with the number 7 – we assumed they were directing us to Yok Talay. But we walked a few more steps and found this.

Having spent a total of 200B (pricey in Bkk standards) getting here after 2 hours, disappointed would be an understatement

We settled for a pizza joint nearby and shared a small Tom Yum Kung pizza with 7-up.

Even though the pizza was really tasty and warmed our stomachs, I was still greatly disappointment… I was so looking forward! So many cab rides so far out and back just for that.

I’m going to decide to think that this was for our good and I absolutely can’t wait for tomorrow!

Lesson learnt: don’t venture too far out by taxi especially for lesser known establishments. They could have moved or closed down – I really don’t know after all that! Having been to Bangkok a number of times – I got overexcited on web recommendations. I must remember that food joints here don’t last as long as back home. And that I can’t read Thai.

Ps. We had Burger King for dinner. Seems more expensive than in Singapore – but there was REAL bacon in the burger! That salvaged everything…

Pps. Here’s our beautiful hotel! Pathumwan Princess Hotel turned out more classy than I expected. While it’s a 1-for-1 night deal including breakfast, we were charged a much higher rate than if we were to book through Expedia or Booking.

We’ve yet to take advantage of the excellent location (because we cabbed all the way out to huay kwang) so I’m pretty excited to utilise the BTS tomorrow.

Our second mini-moon