Let Romance Pop-Up with a Handmade Card

It was my first time making a birthday card, a pop-up one. I wanted to make it really special because love has the power to make you do things like that. And when the relationship is over, it’s the crazy things you have done or done together that will become a warm memory of this person you were once in love with.

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The recipient of the card has an artistic streak and has created several pieces of abstract and sometimes profound digital artworks. Since it is for a birthday, I picked this piece that was inspired by the recipient’s trip to Sydney and was enthralled by the fireworks at Darling Harbour, resembling angels of light bringing something good with them.

I spent a couple of sleepless nights thinking about how to make the birthday special and a few more getting excited about the idea of making a pop-up card, but more on thinking about how to do it. Thankfully, there are Youtube tutorials around.

So after an online crash course and picking the image, I set about conceptualising a pop-up card using elements in the image to form the layered effect and it’s off to Bras Basah to buy materials. Although it is a simple card, quite a bit of brain cells died to anticipate the number of cards and the combination of different types needed to provide a nice finish.

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I settled on 2 pieces of black construction paper, one to for the pop-up structure to hold the pieces of graphics, and another to form a backing so that when you look through the holes cut out from the top piece, you don’t see through them. I also got a thicker gold card to form the outer skin of the card.

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Side view of the pop-up card with 2 layers of black construction paper. The first layer if for cutting folded strips to hold the graphics and the back layer is complete the illusion of a night sky for the fireworks, else you will see through the cut strips.

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I’ve thought through and done the measurements but unfortunately, I didn’t take into account the fact that the full height of the centre graphic is taller than the height of the card when folded close, resulting in it jutting out of the card. *Panic!* To rectify the problem, I went back to the stationery shop to buy a bigger piece of gold outer skin as the first one I got was the same size as the black construction papers and extended the size of the card to fit everything in.

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Ta-da! The completed card. Not something exceptionally beautiful but it came from the heart. The envelope says “Celebrate”, the front of the card states the recipient’s name, and inside says “Happy Birthday” so they form sort of a 3-part greeting before the message. I know, the message I wrote is lame. LOL.

So that’s my little adventure into arts and crafts. I think there’s nothing more romantic than a handmade something because it says that that person is thinking about you through the conceptualisation, planning, and execution stages. It’s time consuming and a lot of work.

But when you see the person’s eyes really light up, it’s all worth it.

A Unique Do-It-Yourself Christmas Hamper

Hampers make great gifts but they’re usually rather costly and there’s no control over what items to include in the package. So this yuletide, I decided to assemble my own hamper to gift families of close friends and conceived what I call the Christmas Hat-per!

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Goodbye impersonal gift hampers… hello Christmas Hat-per!

The Christmas Hat-per is very easy to put together and this post will share how it is done. It took me only about 15 minutes to wrap the Hat-per but a lot more time thinking and shopping for the items to be included within.

To assemble the Christmas Hat-per, you will need 3 things – a Santa hat, a container, and streamers.

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Streamers for decoration, plastic containers to serve as a base and Santa hat to conceal the gifts within.

I got all the above items from Daiso Singapore at S$2.00 each (streamer, hat and container) but you can get them anywhere as long as you can find a container with a rim that fits the circumference of a Santa hat. The container acts as a solid base to stabilise and hold the gifts in place.

I put together 2 hat-pers according to what I know about the people I created the them for. One is gold and the other red.

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GoldHealth Hat-per… this hat-per was put together for a family who is very health conscious. It consists of a box of green tea, a pack of Nasi Lemak (yup, you read it right… nasi lemak!) tea, a small packs of nuts and a bottle of organic honey-vinegar.

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A tip about selecting items in the hat-per is that a tall bottle is a must to serve as the central pillar to hold up the Santa hat.

Start the assembly process by first securing the bottle with a lot of scotch tape to the base of the container in the middle. The other gifts need to be smaller and fit around the bottle. Scotch tape is used to stick the items to the bottle to secure their placements.

I then wound the streamer around the ensemble to fill up the gaps and twirled it around the bottle to the top (the streamer is secured with scotch tape at the top). This creates a visual surprise when the recipient pulls off the hat and see the sparkles inside.

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Red Adventure Hat-per… for a lively personality who has a penchant for pink / red (that’s why the gifts are almost all in those hues) and cute animal things. The curation of gifts includes a vanity set (from my mum), nasi lemak tea (I’m so enthralled by this exotic flavor that I bought 2), koala biscuits, lemon biscuits (gift from another friend), mocha almonds, and a bottle of bubbly.

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Because of the tight space, the items are held together easily with a little scotch tape at the back of each item. The great thing about assembling a personalised hamper is that you choose the items to include and control cost.

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After assembling the gift items and adding the streamers inside, slip the Santa hat over the packaged gifts and pull the hat’s brim over the containers rim. The container is a little larger that the hat’s rim so it forms a secure seal when the fabric stretches over the rim. No need for scotch tape or any other fasteners to hold the hat to the container. As a finishing touch, I stuck pieces of scotch tape rolled to form double-sded tapes at close intervals at the base and wrapped the excess streamers around it to add some bling. I avoided using double-sided tapes as they are hard to remove from the containers surface later.

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Ta-da! Specially made personal Christmas Hat-pers ready to bring on good tidings. Best thing is, the hat can be worn and the container used for other purposes so there is minimal wastage and a second life for the packaging materials.

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Wishing you and your love ones a blessed yuletide. Happy gifting!

Fangtastic Halloween at Singapore Turf Club

Halloween is a golden opportunity to horse around and I got a chance to literally do just that at Singapore Turf Club to celebrate this year’s hallow’s night. What an unusual venue for a heart-pounding Halloween party!

A good time up for grabs.

I’ve never stepped foot on Singapore Turf Club before this visit. Neither at its former racecourse located at Bukit Timah built in 1933 nor its current home at Kranji from 1999. The old race track has since been transformed into a dining and lifestyle venue known as The Grandstand while the Kranji club evolved to be more than just a horse-racing club but an exotic haunt for major events such as Singapore Symphony Orchestra concerts, lawn parties, ringside entertainment and holding private functions.

With the bubbly Fadilah who invited me to the Fangtastic Halloween party held in one of the Corporate Boxes with a 180-degree view of the race track.

马到功成,一马当先!Although I didn’t place any bets, it was quite a rush watching the horses and their jockeys try to out gallop each other.

Creative eats at the event… coffin-shaped salmon wiches that brings the carbo crave to the grave, crawlie sweets and spooktato mousse in beef stew.

The party’s theme was Halloween Glam and I don’t know how to mix glam and gore together, I was thankful make-up artists were on hand to add that spook factor.

Let me in!

Part of our night’s activities included a tour of the race arena and getting a close-up of the riders and stallions. I thought the ring would whiff of horse manure and wastes like most places that offer horse-drawn carriage or pony rides but it was thankfully stench-free.

Horse power on parade.

I’ve read that jockeys have a small stature so as to minimise load on the horses and maximise speed. It’s true!

一见发财!Looks like there’s an audition for sugar daddies going on. LOL.

We became the unofficial half-time entertainment for guests at the turf with our personas.

Halloween is the only time you can say that a horrific party is actually the best ever.

Having a fangtastic and ghoul time with new and old friends.

The thoughtful party was a cozy and intimate catching up session away from crowded clubs downtown and transportation was convenient as Singapore Turf Club is a short walk to Kranji MRT Station.

On the train, I finally revealed what had been hidden throughout the party…

Everyone can see the make-up outside, but only we know the devil within. Don’t let it eat you alive.

Happy Halloween!

Orchard Road Christmas Decor 2013

Some of this year’s happy lights along Orchard Road shot entirely with my aging Samsung Galaxy S3…

Plaza Singapura’s outdoor decoration looked anorexic this year.

One of the oldest shopping icon in Singapore, Plaza Singapura used to have such elaborate dress up that turned its main entrance into a playground. Now it’s just a small tree behind its acrylic version of the United Colours of Benetton. Money no enough?

Orchard Central usually have some statement pieces in its Christmas décor and this year, it puts the green into the yuletide season with decorations made by recycling the bottom of plastic bottles. Quite a neat idea.

Saw a narcissistic tree outside Orchard Central. The saying about narcissists is that they seldom have a good ending. Point proven with this photo? LOL.

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me, a partridge in a pear tree. Here’s the partridge. But where’s my true love? 😦

Louis Vuitton’s Christmas window display took a light-hearted ride on the wild side with geese pulling a sleigh of LV gift-things. But I suddenly have the craving to eat Lou (卤) 鸭.

It’s an unusual sight… Malays singing Christian hymns and Christmas carols. Singapore is so progressive!

ION Orchard erects a giant Christmas tree (yet again) to herald the festivities. Combined with huge screens flashing advertisements and a massive LED skin wrapped around its outer visage, the décor gave the illusion that there is a lot going on when there’s really not much. It has what I call the ‘Chinese Ghost Story effect’… a pretty maiden by night and a grave during the day.

Bring on the bling and celebratION!

The HIGHlight (no pun intended) is staring high up at the tower of lights inside ION Orchard’s gigantic tree. It makes the eyes dizzy.

When seen in focus, the inside looks like a Star Wars set.

Another spin shot of the lights created by simply turning the mobile phone while shooting. The lights change colours so each ‘vortex’ photo can look different.

Wheelock Place had Christmas decals in the shape of gingerbread men, snowflakes and poinsettias on its glass doors. We decided to turn gingerbread dude into a lass. Hahaha…

A peep into Wheelock Place’s Christmas decorations.

It’s an astrological Christmas with a constellation of lights.

Turning the Christmas cones into planets.

Forum Galleria had a novel idea to bring in the safari for Christmas with birds and beasts of the topics and savannah.

The concept was unusual but the zoo theme felt salah.

Let it snow, let it snow! Tanglin Mall always draw the crowd with its faux snow.

Better have fun and enjoy it as this could very well be the last year that Tanglin Mall brings ‘winter’ to Singapore.

Didn’t get to cover all the mall decors as I started shooting the lights this year pretty late.

But with this shots, I wish you and your love ones a Christmas filled with affection, happiness and good health! 🙂

Singapore National Day 2013 : Be the Firework

While the National Day Parade (NDP) attracted thousands to join hearts in the celebration of Singapore’s 48th birthday at Marina Bay, I joined limbs, torso and buttocks with fitness lovers at SAFRA Mount Faber for a mass kick-boxing and Zumba session!

The 2-hour non-stop adrenaline pumping workout gave me a high that was equivalent to the euphoria of watching the NDP fireworks ‘live’. But even better. The firework was brought within to torch calories and burn fats with the feel-good mood lasting the whole day instead of a mere 10 minutes at the grandstand!

Happy Birthday Singapore! 新加坡,生日快乐!Selamat Hari Jadi Singapura! இனிய பிறந்த நாள் நல்வாழ்த்துக்கள் Singapore! I love ya!

Put your hands up if you love Singapore! Regardless of race, language, religion and deodorant use, the theme this year salutes our unity in diversity through “Many Stories… One Singapore”. The many strands of fur under my armpits concur!

Fireworks can also come from the faces of people. The smile from this gungho nanny who kicked and grooved through the aerobic moves brightened my morning and showed that exercising is the fountain of youth!

A-cha! 李小龙俯身! High intensity kickboxing is one of the best calories burner with an hour burning up approximately 400 calories for women and 700 for men. How much calories one burns depends on age, sex, weight and muscle mass in the body so those numbers are just a gauge, but kickboxing is definitely one great way to rev up the metabolism. Plus, it is very cathartic to throw those punches and high kicks at the stressors of life.

Participants of the free aerobics session from 10am to 12pm were encouraged to turn up in red and/or white attire.

The sessions were injected with national songs such as “Stand up for Singapore”, “Home”, and this year’s theme song, “One Singapore”. I got goosebumps when they came on, feeling how lucky I am to call this little red dot home.

It may seem like psychological propaganda to exhaust the body and mind so that nationalistic messages may sink in, but I don’t think of it as propaganda because the fact is that Singapore, despite its faults and flaws, is truly a great place to be. So to any one who dislikes our nation, the above photo is for you *smile*

After an hour of kickboxing, the endorphin rush reached a crescendo with Zumba. Always game to try a new workout, I’ve perspired through almost all of them… step aerobics, body combat / kickboxing, body pump, hatha yoga, ashtanga yoga, pilates, and spinning, but I’ve never done Zumba. The reason? I have 2 left feet and 2 right hands. Need I explain more? My lack of coordination made keeping up with even the simplest of sequences in step classes a Charlie Chaplin act. So I’ve always regarded my participation in Zumba to be nothing short of being the joke of the town.

But I had the last laugh as the workout is really not as difficult as it looks and hips heaps of fun!

Zumba fans up in arms for their favourite aerobic workout.

What makes Zumba such an aerobic phenomenon is the hip (no puns intended) factor where it is not just a workout, but a freedom of self expression through fashion and dance.

Our Zumba instructress is a firecracker on stage with abs to serve ketupat on.

A 60-minute session of Zumba can burn between 500 – 1,000 calories depending on intensity. To make the aerobic moves more challenging, try strapping on some additional weight around the ankles and wrists.

Keep the fat off with a Zumba dance-off!

Bobee-bobee during Seventh Month (Hungry Ghost Festival)? LOL. The variety of Zumba moves is limited only by imagination and linked by enthusiasm. We all pray for continued harmony, prosperity and happiness for our nation as well as… world peace!

I made it through my first Zumba session and loved it!

We are the fireworks at SAFRA Mount Faber to celebrate Singapore’s birthday! Just realized I’m the only guy on stage with my extended Singaporean family. I don’t know any of them but I didn’t feel like a stranger after sweating it out together.

I used to think that the best way to celebrate National Day is to enjoy the parade ‘live’ with thousands of Singaporeans and our foreign friends. However, the NDP tickets are always so hard to get and traffic is a bane. But having participated in the unique mass aerobics session held in honour of our nation’s birthday at SAFRA Mount Faber, I felt it is really a great alternative or supplement to plug into the national spirit on this special day.

Moreover, what better way to enjoy a fantastic country like Singapore and all it has to offer by being in great health? So do more than just watch the fireworks, be the firework that builds our Singapore!

You can start igniting your body for better cardiovascular health with various fitness courses such as Kickboxing, Zumba Party, and Zumba Fitness at SAFRA. Check out safra.sg (Events & Activities > Courses) for more details.

Here’s wishing Singapore a very happy 48th birthday and excellent health to everyone so that we can continue creating more amazing stories to be told!

Day 360 : John 3:16

Although I am blasphemous and a terrible backslider in faith who constantly denouces the existence of God as much as I affirm the pressence of Him, I am grateful for the Word and lessons in grace, compassion, love, forgiveness, humility and courage.

Merry Christmas to you and I pray for health, peace and a bountiful of the most beautiful things in life to happen to you, your family, friends, and all who can be linked to you 🙂

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

Day 354 : Department Christmas Lunch

Our department had an early Christmas celebration this year to catch everyone before some of us go on leave. Just for fun, we decided on coming to work in red and green today. I wanted to suggest bling as the theme but most of my colleagues, although we are in the creative department, favour functional understatement instead of over-the-top dresscode so two-thirds of a traffic it is.

The year end feasting begins!

Day 252 : We Workout to Pig Out

Caught up with a gang of friends I got to know from the aerobic step class at Toa Payoh SAFRA in 2003. How time flies. We’d known each other for almost 10 years and kept in touch all this while over dinners even though the class had been disbanded.

Here’s our celebration of health, friendship and gluttony throughout the years…

Christmas themed class in 2003 where we bring on the festivities by wearing something green or red. I was all green like the Grinch.

Botak! That’s what the class instructress, Fiona, called me for the earlier part of 2004 when I went skinhead. This photo was taken during a Chinese New Year dinner gathering.

Christmas 2005 dinner gathering at The Vines restaurant at Novena.

Chinese New Year 2006 zichar dinner at a coffeeshop in Toa Payoh.

Dinner gathering to celebrate birthdays in 2007 at the bungalow of one of the step class members.

The feasting continues with a Chinese New Year dinner in 2008.

Spicing things up at a Thai restaurant along Kiliney Road in 2010.

2012 dinner gathering at Medzs, Millenia Walk.

Day 142 : Birthday

I have lost the excitement about my birthday a long time ago and am content to just let the day slip by without any fanfare. I don’t think I’m anything special so I don’t there’s a need to celebrate 21 May. As long as I am healthy, I have my loved ones with me and all is good, every day is already a celebration. As I grow older, I really appreciate the mundane and delight in normalcy. No change is bliss.

While I’m treating my birthday as a non-event, I’m so extremely, extremely touched by the more than 400 well wishes that came in on my Facebook and the presents I’ve been so lavishly given. It’s a warm feeling knowing people bother to celebrate you even when you’ve given up yourself.

I am so very thankful for all the Facebook friends, some of whom I don’t even know, for taking the time to post a birthday greeting on my wall and to Eugene, Siow Har and Juliana for the very thoughtful gifts that are not only heartfelt in what the presents are, but how they were given to me.

My most sincere thanks to everyone for making me feel so special, loved and blessed! 🙂

 

Day 132 : The Birth That Birthed Me

It’s birthday cum Mother’s Day celebrations tonight at Lai Huat Restaurant (17, Upper East Coast Road, Crescendo Building) and we had such a blast. Mum never seems to grow old and she’s such a big kid when it comes to singing birthday songs! Haha.

Words cannot express how much I love you, mum. You’ve gone through many devastating hardships but you are never defeated. Thank you for showing me inner strength, diligence, compassion, empathy and kindness towards others.

Happy birthday and thank God for you. You are forever beautiful in my eyes 🙂

Happy Mother’s Day!

The most beautiful smiles in the world are the ones that make us laugh on the inside.

Love you lots and lots and lots! 😀

Day 122 : The Celebrations Begin…

A dinner with my parents and relatives for my stepdad’s birthday marks the start of a month of feastings. I am very thankful to be able to celebrate another birthday together with them and I thank God for the many, many more celebrations to come! Thank you God for your grace, mercy, and blessings 🙂

Day 091 : Manrriage

Attended the wedding dinner of an ex-schoolmate at The Legends Hotel Fort Canning last night. He married his boyfriend of 10 years. Can you imagine? A gay wedding here in Singapore!

The couple has requested that no photos of them be posted so they are not in any of the pics here because after all, our progressive nation has decided to keep the age-old Section 377A of the Singapore Penal Code. We inherited this law under the British-drafted Indian Penal Code of 1862. Section 377A criminalises sex between men and anyone caught violating this law can be jailed up to two years.

It is interesting to note that India, where the Singapore Penal Code originated from, has removed Section 377A and decriminalised consensual gay sex in 2009.

Anyway, this post is not about the right to have sex but a celebration of love. The wedding saw friends and colleagues of the couple turning up to witness their nuptials. No family members from either side of the grooms were present and the couple’s church friends also didn’t show because it was “against their religious beliefs”. I didn’t know Christianity to be anti-love and I’ve been a Christian all my life.

Their union may upset some and is unaccepted by law, but love needs no approval. Love is simple, but staying committed is not easy. When the couple exchanged vows and cockrings, I almost teared. It’s just so sweet and touching to be in the presence of a love like that.

Especially since this kind of love is forbidden.

The wedding was a black tie event and I only have rags to wear. Thankfully Jimmy came to my rescue with this sharp grey suit and bow tie!

I shouldn't be in this photo because I'm the only one who is still single... *tear roll down cheek*

Who's that cub? With my ex-classmate Chap, a man of multiple talents and good grades.

Ying Wen and I having oral sex with the camera.

The Mass Comm gang from Ngee Ann Polytechnic.

Never a boring bunch! Here's wishing the couple more fun times ahead in their life's journey as husband and husband!

Marina Bay Singapore Countdown to 2012

Happy new year! Hope you had a great time welcoming 2012. I had my countdown at Marina Bay and had a chance to view the celebratory fireworks at an exclusive vantage point, atop the roof of One Fullerton!

Thanks to an invitation by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), I was very fortunate to enjoy the fireworks without having to jostle for space along the people-packed waterfront while sipping Moet champagne and being served exquisite houvre d’oeuvres from the Fullerton Hotel’s kitchen!

However, my countdown evening didn’t start out with such finesse. In fact, I was kinda disappointed during the earlier part of the night and was resigned to having a nondescript slip into the new year. I was ready to give up trying to have a memorable countdown, but thankfully, an angel by the name of Juliana came to rescue me! Here’s what happened…

Merry seekers queueing to get into the Countdown 2012 party on The Float at Marina Bay. The bay area was gorgeously dressed up in lights for the mega event.

My invitation was for attending the Countdown 2012 party at The Float. Frankly, I’m quite done with all these massive ‘national’ parties. I used to love them… love the open-air loud music, the outdoor party mood, the jollying with hordes of strangers, but now, I prefer to just hole up some place away from the crowd in the company of close friends over drinks. Or just spend it alone.

Nothing could quite motivate my ass down to the annual countdown fiesta at Marina Bay. Not unless it’s going there to shoot fireworks.

Don’t get me wrong, Marina Bay is the best place to be to get all festive and catch the spectacular year-end fireworks but I no longer have the stamina to survive the crowding. I’ve shot the countdown fireworks in 2008 and the thought of having to park myself at the waterfront from 3pm onwards again to secure a good spot doesn’t appeal to me.

The party starts at 8pm with performances till the midnight fireworks before morphing into an outdoor clubbing zone till 3am. Gates to The Float opened at 7pm and we queued for 1.5 hours to get in. My friend said his fingernails grew longer while waiting. LOL.

So when URA extended me the invitation, I jumped at the chance because it meant no more waiting from mid-noon to midnight just to shoot that few minutes of sky blooms. My objective was very clear and fixed. It’s to have this year’s fireworks in pictures. And to ensure that I have the best spot, I arrived as soon as the gates were opened.

The best spot, according to masters and photog friends, is right at the top corner of The Float’s sitting arena closest to Singapore Flyer. That’s the spot I was after.

A sea of people ready to party! But not me. I was only interested in photographing fireworks.

But when I got on The Float, I got a rude shock… access to my pre-determined spot was out-of-bounds! My heart sank.

不甘心 that I took the trouble to come only to be deined my prime shooting location, I tried to seek permission from the ushers and security personnel in-charge. I’m not trying to be difficult. You see, URA’s invitation came with an ‘appointment’ of me as a Featured Photographer. I don’t know what I did to deserve such an honour but it’s one I take seriously. If I can’t have access to good angles for the kind of shots I have in mind, my photos will be a disgrace to be featured.

I have an added mission so I was earnest in being allowed access. No luck. The reason given was that if I was allowed in, other members of the public will follow. The thing that gets me scratching my head was this… why cordon off the area? When I shot for National Day Parade, all the seats were open.

Even if it was closed, what’s the big problem with letting photogs shoot there?

The spot I eyed was right at the end. The ticketed Countdown show probably didn't manage to fill seats so about half of it was closed. The Float can hold a maximum audience capacity of 30,000.

At the corner that I wanted to shoot from, from photos I’d seen of photog friends shooting from there, I could get a nice wide view that includes the Art Science Museum, Marina Bay Sands and the CBD in the background. Being further out also allowed me more sky space to capture the fireworks. At the spot that I had to settle on, I couldn’t get much of the sky in because my lens was not wide enough.

Beautiful scene but narrow framing because I don't own an ultra-wide angle lens. At this spot, I could foresee that I won't be able to get the full height of the fireworks with the CBD in my composition.

I was faced with a dilemma. Should I go since I can’t get good shots of the fireworks? Else I’ll be sitting there for hours to get bad photos. The entertainment was decent but I wasn’t here for that. And there’s the added stake of being stuck in the crowd after the fireworks if I stayed on.

New year... time for some self-reflection?

I half-heartedly decided to stay because I'm already all the way here. Might as well make the best of a less than ideal situation. So I started observing my friend for photo opportunities. It's not often we can get a shot like this!

At my moment of self-inflicted despair, I received a new year greeting from Juliana, who invited me. Feelng bad that I won’t have photos to show, I replied with an apology and indicated my plan to join my friend’s countdown gathering instead.

I thought she was out of town, but she wasn’t and come to get me at The Float and brought me to the rooftop of One Fullerton in hope that it’ll offer a better shooting spot. The walk there was made much longer than usual because of road closures so by the time we reached, I had only 30 minutes to find a spot, set up my shot and remember the settings to shoot fireworks. I was so kan cheong!

This is the first time I'm seeing Marina Bay fully lighted up at night from this perspective. Fab view! Unfortunately, the wind direction was blowing our way and we got the gamut of smoke fog and soot. Debris was flying into my eyes to the point where it's hard to shoot.

Then the worst thing happened. I forgot how to get the Bulb mode working to shoot fireworks! So I emergency dialled Siow Har and problem was solved. But my shots weren’t saved. I didn’t get any half-decent photo of the fireworks that night. And the wind was blowing in our direction so halfway through the pyro spectacle, our view was obscured by smog. And black soot was snowing on us.

I felt kinda devastated at my incompetent photography skills. Not one usable shot. I totally sucked. Which meant one thing, I should shoot fireworks at Marina Bay every year to get better!

Met this South African family on One Fullerton's rooftop. It felt so good to see foreigners enjoying my Singapore.

I didn’t expect so much internal drama on the first night of 2012. Thankfully, the champagne numbed the disappointments a little.

In many ways, this Countdown was out of character for me. First of all, I wouldn’t be out on such a night where getting home is a pain. We walked to somewhere near Chin Swee Road from Marina Bay before we got a cab by a stroke of luck. The route we took was approximately an hour on foot.

Secondly, I would’ve spent it with familiar, long-standing friends, or alone. Not with people I’ve only just known.

And lastly, I won’t be sober.

Juliana and I shared a Waterfall. This alcoholic cocktail tasted more potent at Verve Pizza Bar. The eatery is really quite a nice chill out shot by the bay with delicious pizzas and pretty affordable drinks. It's housed by the side of the URA City Gallery.

No good firework shots? Never mind. Good company is the sparks of the new year!

Well, there’s always a first for everything and 2012 began with the unusual. A good kind of depart from the comfort zone. The unexpected is what makes one year different from the next.

May the unpredictable continue to infest my days in 2012 so as  to keep life interesting! Thanks for the company Michael and Juliana.

The Exaiting Package

A package came for me... What's inside?!

It's an Apple... I feel like Snow White. Or Eve.

Delivered by the people who move the world.

Open sesame! Let's look inside...

It's the thinnest notebook in the world!

The iconic logo was believed to be a tribute to the father of computer science and artificial intelligence, Alan Turing. The scientist died of cyanide poisoning with an apple found next to him. There was a bite on the fruit. Apple denied its logo is a tribute. Turing is a homosexual. Remember the rainbow-coloured Apple logo?

Ta-da! What a fantastic prize this is!!

11-inch, 64GB MacBook Air. Retail Price : S$1,288.

THANK YOU Exabytes!!

This MacBook Air is the prize for winning first place in a blog contest to celebrate Singapore’s 46th birthday. Called “Show Your Singapore Spirit to the World”, the competition was organised by Exabytes.

When deciding to take part, I had doubts about the credibility of the company and the contest. But since I wrote a blog post about the 46th National Day Parade anyway, I decided to try my luck (see my entry here).  I’ve taken part in quite a number of blog challenges and I must say that Exabytes really made it painless and very easy to join, communication was very responsive, and the company honoured all the milestones stated of the contest. Really appreciate the respect they showed contestants.

Before this contest, I’ve not heard of Exabytes. But through it, I found out that the company is one of the top web hosting companies in the region that’s been around for more than 10 years. And the company has a very established base for corporate and individual web hosting needs across the globe through its highly competitive hosting rates. Exabytes also offers the lowest price for .sg and other domain names in Singapore.

Through my email exchanges with the Exabytes team because of this contest, I must say I’m very impressed with their response time and service assurance. That’s very important for any internet service provider. I’ve never met them face-to-face but I felt I didn’t need to. You are reading this from a tech idiot who always prefers a face-to-face meeting to get IT stuff ironed out.

So one day, if you come to this blog and you see that it’s become celebratelah.sg or celebratelah.com,  you’ll know who I’m self-hosting with. You can ‘Like’ Exabytes’ Facebook page here to be updated with the latest promotions, contests and technology news.

Once again, I would like to thank Exabytes for the opportunity to show my Singapore spirit and having me as a winner!

Speed Train to 37

This entry is 3 months late. It’s so overdued, my motivation to compose it gets thinner by the day, which is what I can’t say about my waistline. But I do want this to be recorded because it has been a really special time for me.

I’m talking about my 37th birthday. It was celebrated onboard a train! Now, that’s a celebration that doesn’t happen often. In the 37 years of my life, that was the first and perhaps most unusual setting for me to blow the candles.

The surprise celebration happened during my photography trip to Hanoi where we took an overnight sleeper to Sapa Valley. Last year, my birthday was fell on a trip to Kuching and this year, it’s Vietnam.

Maybe I should make it a tradition to go somewhere I’ve never been to on every birthday. Keep moving and don’t let getting older stop me from exploring life right?

Siow Har masterminded the whole thing. To which, I’m very grateful. I can only imagine the trouble she took to coordinate this on a foreign land.

She arranged with our tour guide Melvin of SGTrekker.com to get a cake and got every one in the group to come to her cabin for the train party. Such thoughtfulness and a ‘scheming mind’!

It was a very simple celebration with the birthday song sung and cake divided but it was totally memorable for the fact of the exotic location and that most of the well-wishes were new friends I’ve only met on the tour that day.

One of our travel mates, Ivy also has her birthday in May so we did a doublebill and we received this very personalised gift from Siow Har… a customised cardholder engraved with our names and a camera icon. Very unique!

As I got older, I’m very lazy with celebrating my own birthday or the birthdays of others. But I think, it has to do with how birthdays are usually planned and celebrated.

When we are younger, most parents would hold elaborate birthday parties for the kids. But as we grow older and that ability becomes ours to yield a party, we get complacent… until a friend or parents arrange something for us again.

I think after my mid-20s, I no longer make an effort to mark my birthday because to me, it’s no big deal. I don’t mean anything to me.

But when others remember and make an effort to celebrate for you, even if it’s just a casual dinner and simple get together, it showed you meant something to someone and he/she wants to celebrate your birth.

I’m thankful for all the birthday wishes I received on Facebook, over the phone and in office. It is always very heartwarming to know that someone bothered to remember and celebrate you.

I don’t expect anything, but what we are willing to do for someone else, something as simple as dropping a birthday greeting, shows not what influence we have on the other person, but demonstrates the yolk he/she holds.

But of course, the merits of a person extend beyond whether they remembered to wish us happy birthday or not!

The irony is that I don’t even receive a birthday greeting from long-standing friends whom I’ve done much for but I got well-wished by people I hardly know.

The train celebration was 2 days before my actual birthday and on 21st May itself, we had another ad-hoc gathering to commemorate the day, 37 years ago, that I arrived here.

This year also marked the year that I received the most birthday presents… 4 in total. For a time when I no longer bothered much with birthdays, 4 is a lot. Even if it was just an underwear that I received as a gift, it’s no brief memory of having received it.

Got this very bright and cheery orange-chrome ORIGINAL Adidas jacket and card synchronised to my actual birthday a week before the trip from a very thoughtful person.

They arrived as a registered package to my office housed within a box file meant to hold my resume and portfoliio as I expressed an intention to seek other career opportunities to this friend. The jacket cost S$109 but it’s not so much the value compared to the thoughts behind it to make it a very pleasant surprise.

Even my closest long-time friends don’t spend this amount of money and effort on me so I was naturally cautious about getting such a high-value present. Excessive generosity usually comes with certain expectations, said or unsaid, to fulfill.

Perhaps of me being too careful or the insensitive guy that I usually am, I must’ve screwed up the friendship with this giver. To this day, I don’t know what went wrong but overnight, we turned from being confidantes to something worst than strangers.

But that’s how life is. Just as our age never stays the same, a relationship changes too and it’s up to the people involved how they want to manage it. If it flourishes and lasts a lifetime, fantistic. If not, the memories of the good times keep us warm for having been touched in our lives one way or another.

This birthday also marked the first time I’d ever received a present from a company… the branded name in slippers, Havaianas. Thanks a lot!

When I received it in the office, I immediately tried it on for size. It fitted perfectly and my first thought was how comfortable they felt. So I took a photo and posted it on Facebook to thank Havaianas and share my encounter with it.

Almost immediately, my FB posting drew the ire and criticism from a secondary school classmate who accused me of being a salesman of the brand just because they gave the slippers to me free. He said he could get similar looking slippers for less that S$5.00 in Jatuchak, a weekend market in Bangkok. A pair of Havaianas cost in excess of S$30 per pair.

I frequent Bangkok and its famous weekend market. My shoe cabinet has no lack of slippers bought from it and the countless pairs I threw before atest my belief that cheap slippers can be comfortable too. But when I tried on the Havaianas, it really felt nice compared too all those I’ve been wearing from Jatuchak all along.

It was really for me, just stating a fact. There are quite a few things I have the privilege to receive as gifts because the companies hope I’d blog or talk about them. And I do. If I like them, I’d say I like them. If I don’t, I either don’t post or I’d make it known my humble unfavorable opinion.

It’s funny how that classmate picked up only my ‘salesmanship’ but doesn’t talk about the other things that were given to me but incite a negative review. If he didn’t bother to look through the sum of my postings, then I think it isn’t fair to make an anecdotal judgement.

Gosh… this post about birthday and presents degenerated to so much ‘politics’. LOL. It seems the older we get, the more complicated life becomes.

Next year, I’ll be 38.

I wonder what adventures await.

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