Sunday, December 16, 2012

Garden or Hospital?

This is what I see daily as I savour the short walk into my new workplace. The grounds are exquisitely peaceful and uniquely different from any other places I have worked in. I'll give you a few glimpse of this grand old dame of a hospital in the following few pictures (I must say that my handphone camera doesn't do the beautiful grounds much justice).

In its' verdant gardens, there are also a lot of huge stately trees beautifully preserved. You can see the flora and fauna as you walk into the hospital, from the bus stop on Alexandra Road all the way to the 'grand' entrance.

Looking across from the main entrance, we could see a neo-classical fountain with a Grecian figurine and a myriad of flowers - lilies, bougainvilla, etc. Apparently, there are various birds spotted in this garden too..This is truly a place for people to recuperate, recover and get well in.

And as you approach the information counter in the foyer of the main entrance, there is this refreshing, wonderfully-scented Christmas tree that is made of a real pine tree. Quite a beautiful place to work in, I must say... The only downside is that the open grounds made it quite difficult to leave the hospital for food/home/shopping during this rainy season.

Next stop, I'll intend to take more photographs of the colonial building itself as this hospital used to be a British Military Hospital followed by a Japanese military headquarters during the World War 2 before being renovated to the well-equipped, clean and beautifully-designed AH. Hopefully, I will unearth a few of the colourful history (maybe even discovering some lurid/grisly tales from the past) in this hospital before they move to the west in a few years' time. Wondering what is the status of the building then. Cross my fingers and hope they will not alter it too much or destroy the heritage preserved within.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Parco caffe-new favourite hang-out

One of the newer cafe to hit town in the Tanjong Pagar area is uniquely called Parco caffe (no it's the actual name, not a typo). The concept is quite good - tuck a nice little cafe in a quiet cul-de-sac called Raeburn Park and voila, you have customers streaming by word of mouth. And also a feeder bus from the nearby MRT station for those without a car. Yes, it is THAT quiet.

YY found this place and brought me here..more brownies points for him for unearthing this favourite new place of ours. The ambience is cool and quirky, with a lot of importance placed on the quality of the food and decor. Moreover, the price is affordable considering the ingredients they used. So let's get to the main topic of discussion : food.

Now the staff serving us are really attentive and quick to action. We sat down and upon ordering, there was this wonderful breads and flat-bread complete with the usual suspects of fine olive oil and tomato-based pesto. This is courtesy of the house (we love freebies!)

The range of appetizer is quite good for a small-ish place. We tried the tempura-squid rings and vegetable with mayo dip and it was a winner. We liked it so much, we ordered it again the next time we went.

On our second round, we added an exotic-sounding appetizer called cold angel hair pasta with tobiko, bottargo and truffle oil...

This dish was truly unusual as it's no the typical savoury pasta - you have got to taste it to enjoy the explosion of different flavours. Definitely one dish to share with your dining kaki..

For some unknown reason, I've uploaded the dessert before the main course not because of my sweet tooth. I'm hardly a dessert person..serious...anyway, methink it's because it's so darn good. We chose to end the enjoyable meal with the pavlova with wafer and vanila ice cream and strawberry. The extremely soft and light pavlova is made of whipped cream (as what I learnt from Australian Masterchef last season) and I truly loved it because it ain't too sweet. Perfect foil to the crispy wafer and strawberry. The portion is just nice for a small eater (that's what I claim to be...)

Main course during my first visit was this awesome juicy steak and surprisingly tasty foie gras laced with truffle oil and sides of rosti and mushrooms. Being a highly ethical person, felt a slight tinge of guilt as I bit into the goose liver. Strangely decadent and probably went straight to my was a delicious combination nevertheless.

Free 'dessert' courtesy of the cafe. Macaroons, berries and cookies. Kooky and tasty..just the way I remember Parco Caffe...looking forward to exploring more of its exquisite menu.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Changes I love

Now, I mentioned before that a rolling stone loves transitions and changes, just like how a tiger can't change her stripes. Starting from tomorrow, I'm moving on to another hospital for a few months - an exposure essential to a specialty like surgery as amalgamation of skills, experience and knowledge from a wide range of sources makes a versatile and resilient surgeon. We have to be able to cope in different scenario and events. hopefully, this will bade me well if I were to work in an austere condition in the future.

it's also an opportunity for an extrovert to befriend new colleagues and encounter new adventures, albeit just a few kilometres down the road. as i make a brief visit to my new workplace a few days ago, it brought me back to memories of my childhood. the building is just like the old St Mary's or St John. Oh, such warm feelings. i guess if I feel bored, I will just wander in the hospital's expansive gardens or capture photographs of its exteriors. not bad...

and then exams was over! Hurray..time to relax and resume a lot of planning - massive projects in store for 2013-2014. meanwhile, my recovery was in a charming resort somewhere on the island. this is what I see when I open my door for this weekend:

btw, I'm not in Bali - although I wish I was. more ideas for my dream home...still not in existence but I am optimistic God is good and gracious. I'm sure YY and I will be able to find one soon. Thus after a wonderful rest in this resort by the beach, I'm now ready to be deployed in a new workplace. Gambate!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

And then I was a bridesmaid...

When one of my oldest friends ever, YH asked me to be her bridesmaid, I said YES! We practically grew up together and I've known her longer than a lot of people, and vice versa. What is most poignant is that although we are living in different countries now, we still keep in touch thanks to whatsapp, facebook, emails and chats. 

Thanx to our amazingly busy schedule, rehearsal was pushed to the last day before her wedding. The rehearsal itself was heartwarming and communal..everyone from her family, church mates, cell group people, YY and I..we chipped in and helped with the practice and decor. She shared my firm belief that marriage is a simple, happy celebration of love and not something that is impersonal or materialistic. Every bride-to-be is rightfully excited about her own wedding...after all, it's a once-in-a-lifetime thingy. After helping out in YH wedding, yours truly is :
1. More than ever committed to stamp the hallmark of YY and LL on my own big day - quirky, interesting and unconventional.
2. To invite as many people that I love as possible..and with a healthy headstart ( I have 10-12 months to plan!) so that it'll be a big FAT GREEK, (oops, I mean) a BIG FAT MALAYSIAN-SINGAPOREAN wedding.

As for wedding personnel, YH was super-blessed - I think it comes from her gracious heart, heart of a servant of Christ. So many lovely souls played a role in her big day. Even the flower girl starts early nowadays..look at the cutie posing for us during the practice. She is adorable..however, the moody ring bearer went on strike. So we couldn't capture him in action.

Another culture which is peculiar to few countries in Asia and especially popular in Malaysia and Singapore is the 'jip san liong'..don't really know how to translate into English...some people described it as 'gatecrashing' but seriously, we are all civilized people here. I mean, we only want to have some fun and 'orientate' the groom's contigent. No crashing of gates here ok. Of course we do open the gates and doors willingly after they passed the 'tests'. (Pssst..remember the angpows hor).

I love the colourful wigs. Can I inherit them? By the way, the cute skirts? These are handicrafts from YY and I. we made the hula skirts for the grooms' men (heng tai) the night before. Some people say that we are imported free labourers..well, I think our skirts are quite pretty aren't they? For those interested in getting a set, these skirts are only available in pink, while stocks last.

Another almost-permanent fixture in these events are the prerequisite breakfast and drinks for the hard-working men. The international cuisine provided is astounding to a wide-extent, it's a fusion of Japanese, Indian, Chinese and Malay food. Wasabi is a very popular ingredient nowadays and check out the generous toppings on these biscuits. I brought along some Lomotil for the brothers, you know....thankfully, none of them needed it :-)

The happiness extended to the 2 bridesmaids who got engaged within the past 3 months. There is definitely love in the air! All thanx to YH and CW...

By the way, I started a new blog with but realized that I don't have the time to concentrate on 2 blogs. I think I'll just talk about my preparations for the big event in Sep 2013 on this site. I'm sure you guys don't mind right?

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Exhaustion and existence

Somewhere and sometime between being a surgeon, researcher, teacher, fiancee, student, daughter, sister..I lost myself in the buzz of things. I was totally drained out at one point this week, so much so that I almost fell asleep during a dinner on Friday with a group of new friends. It it almost unthinkable for a surgeon to doze off during company, but shamefully, I did on Level 33 overlooking Marina Bay.

Brings me to the topic of exhaustion and rest. Rest is so important to me right now at this point of the year that I couldn't think of anything else but to lay my head down to rest. It reminded me of days in HKL as a houseman, where I existed from day to day. The past 2 months seem to be a whirlwind of activities as I completed my daily tasks and wondered on when I could really slow down...I told myself that November. November will be the month that I could relax, after my semester exams. But then again, is it true rest? What am I truly achieving in the long run?

This morning's sermon by Pastor D. Yeo woke me up to reality self worth is not equivalent to performance and others' approval. Self worth is God's truth about us. We are co-heirs, royal priesthood. When I operate, teach, study, talk..I must feel God's pleasure upon me. I guess with that in mind, I cease to put this self-imposed pressure upon myself and learn to rest in His presence.

On an interesting note, my house hunting has been put to hiatus due to the inopportune timing of the bull market and the extreme greed in the housing market. Then this morning, one of my relatives reminded me that I couldn't have gotten a resale HDB so early before my wedding anyway. This proves to me that God knows the best timing for me and His awesome plan comes to my rescue again. I don't need to worry but He is my provider and shelter, my help and comforter...

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Day My Life Begin to Change..

It was one of the happiest days of my life. Surely, this is the biggest blessing to come from God this year, thus far. For me, it was an extremely pleasant surprise..

On 9th Aug 2012, the National Day of Singapore, I went to Mandarin Oriental Hotel expecting the best (air-conditioned) seats in the house for the grand National Day Parade at the floating platform downstairs. I went home the next day being so transformed and blessed...I was almost speechless. And it wasn't the luxurious hotel suite nor the wonderful show that took my breath away. Rather it was the sweet, romantic and personal proposal from my darling fiancee, YY...

I guess YY arranged the whole event for a long time - looking at all the effort he has poured into the P.R.O.P.O.S.A.L project and I have never seen him more nervous. My logistics maestro was extremely stealthy and steady in executing the entire event. As for the unprepared me, I am glad I said the right answer to the most important question in my life - YES!

So, amidst grand fireworks bursting behind us at eye level, it was a truly memorable evening. Of course I am glad he recorded it all on film..although strangely I moved out of frame (considering how much I love the camera) and I didn't shed a tear in the beginning (I guess the idea was still sinking into my thick caput)

It was only when we kneel on our knees and prayed for God to shine His light upon us and lead us to right decisions in the our walk together that I begin to cry tears of joy.

And from thereafter, I was grinning from ear to ear at my new 'status' - upcoming new bride in Autumn 2013 and praying that the preparations will allow us to begin our new life together in a meaningful, memorable and loving way!

Monday, April 16, 2012

A Foodie's Pilgrimage up north

 So what happens when you have a serious craving for 'original' Malaysian hawker food? You pack your stuff, grab your passport and hit the trail. Time for a road trip up north on the awesome NSE of course! Eat till you drop!!

After spending a brief sojourn in my lovely 'hometown' KL, we continued driving on a very sunny weekday all the way up past Perak, into Kedah and then finally Penang!

Entering Penang from the mainland (whether by the ferry or on the bridge) is always a thrill, as the beautiful island glitters in the bright sun beckoning all food lovers near and far. Aaaah, the beloved Pearl of the Orient. Does it still lives up to my memories of various food-trips to this city?

Amazingly, it does. Coming from places with utilitarian hawker food, Penang is a breath of fresh, cheap,cheap,cheap fresh air. Did I mention cheap? Ok, I shan't spoil market here as I know inflation hits hard everywhere but the price is kept at an ok pace despite the great ingredients used.

Now back to the food....

Penang great food No 1: Cnn Kway Chap.
We named this after the broadcasting network as apparently, news about this fabled dish has been reported on international news multiple times. We were very skeptical & reluctant as we feel 'innards and internal organs' are things we remove on daily basis in the theatre, not something to be munched on...

However, we were very pleasantly surprised at the wonderful balance of flavour. The fine nuance of spices in the meaty broth mixed with smooth kway chap ties with the next dish as the no 1 hawker food found in this trip. Even the 'organs' became elevated to some sort of creative delicacy akin to those found in top 'celebrity restaurants at MBS'. At 1/100th of the price.

The shop doesn't even have a name as the uncle cook from his stall which has a motorbike attached. All I know is that it is near Kimberley Street. I am sure the locals will point you to it if you ask.

Penang great food no 1: Char Koay Teow.

Now I was told : Once upon a time, there was a great food war brewing in Penang. The legend was that 2 brilliant CKT artisans set up shop within close vicinity to each other..there was indeed great rivalry for CKT greatness. Eventually, one of them lost the war and the person moved out. Presently, the stalls are situated quite apart from each other.

Due to some unknown reasons, we found this goggle-auntie CKT at Lorong Selamat before we could visit her other great competitor Ah Leng CKT and we were instantly hooked. YY reached culinary paradise. I was smitted again as I remembered that I tried the food from this stall a few years ago. It still taste the same..equally wonderful with large fresh crunchy prawns and that 'wok hei' that is thoroughly missing in all SG street food. The most interesting selling point of this stall must be the stylish old auntie with communist red beret and curt manners. Service is minimal but food is awesome. We are still hooked. Food-dreams are made of this...

Penang great food no 3: Nyonya food.

Due to the tie for no 1, this wonderful gourmet wonder was bumped to number 3. I think it's slightly unfair because the whole meal was graded (as compared to the single stand-alone dish previously)....I couldn't decide between all the dish served at this Nyonya place at Quayside by Seri Tanjung Pinang. IMHO, 2 dish: Fish Belanda with fried fish that was fresh and crunchy and jiu hu char - a shredded cuttlefish dish that was unforgettable. This place was humming with happy diners on a Sunday night as we stuff ourselves crazy....

Penang great food no 4: Various Western restaurant throughout the island

Now, Penangites are really blessed. Not only there are wonderfully balmy & clean beach that they can escape to easily on weekends (even Langkawi is just a stone's throw away)...the range of international cuisine is of very high standard at much cheaper prices than the other 2 'Strait's Settlements' as well!

One of my perennial favourite is this place called David Brown's at Strawberry Hill atop Penang Hill. Part of the allure goes to the breath-taking scenery and well-manicured garden. Next and most importantly, I have to give credit to the food served too. The trout was very good - fresh, well-cooked, savoury and simply scrumptious. As we dined al fresco, birds and butterflies drifted past us on this lazy, hot Saturday afternoon made bearable on top of the 2000ft high Penang Hill. Not too bad eh?

To be continued.....