Life is better than death. Love; greater than either…

12 Hours Of Travel: Sydney to Singapore
27 August, 2011, 4:47 am
Filed under: Holiday, Singapore, Sydney

Its almost 4am Sydney time. Its only 12 hours ago that I took the pictures above, as I waited to board SQ242 to Singapore from Sydney. I am tucked into bed with my MacBook Air on my lap, accessing the hotel’s free WiFi network; occasionally sipping freshly brewed tea. Alas, few parts of the past 12 hours have been this comfortable.

Yesterday started frantically for me. Half a day of work was spent briefing colleagues about handing over of my accounts for the next two weeks of my time away from work. I’m reluctant to call it a holiday cause in a sense it’s not. In my head, I have labelled it a “two week trip”. A holiday is where you visit a new country and get to relax and to not think about anything in particular. This trip is essential and purposeful, a meeting of the in-laws. Yes, yes, Meet The Fockers style. That is the sole purpose of this trip, to prepare for the next big change in my life. Marriage.

I wheeled my Samsonite up to King Street and remembered my body starting to warm up under my sweater. Winter is waning, I remembered thinking. I waited about 45 seconds in 3pm traffic and waved to a cab to enter the side street so I could load up away from traffic. He concurred and flashed a big smile and a big friendly, “Hi!” This is going to be a great cab ride I thought to myself. He was friendly and nice without being overbearing. We chatted about the airport and the trip and the conversation started to wane as I was focused on conserving the battery on my iPhone for the impeding 8 hour flight. The cab was getting exposure to the sun too and it heated up pretty quickly. I didn’t really mind it, bit of training for the tropical weather I put it down as.

28 dollars later, I was at Sydney’s T1, International Airport. I checked in within 30 seconds and enquired about the TRS (Tourist Refund Scheme). The friendly Toll contractor told me sometimes its busy, sometimes its not. 5 minutes later, I saw the verdict for myself. Another 5 minutes later, I was out of the TRS area, couple of hundred bucks credited into my credit card. Its smart that they don’t do cash (unlike Singapore’s TRS which gives you cash in hand) to cut down on potential fraud. Nothing in the Duty Free area really interested me and Airport salespeople are generally unmotivated at the best of times, in my opinion.

Anyway, because there was no queue for the TRS and I allocated queue time for it, I was left with about 45 minutes of playtime. I tried to people watch but there was really, no one interesting in the airport. Couple of middle-aged travellers, another group of business travellers and that’s about it. What did catch my eye was this 30-something year old couple. They had matching “Australia” branded backpacks, Amazing Race style! I afforded a chuckle to myself.

Soon it was time to head to Gate 53 for boarding and that was when I used my MacBook Air as an external battery pack for the iPhone. It works pretty well actually! Expedia also provided free WiFi in Sydney airport and I think that has definitely generated a big ROI for them, awareness wise. Love it when companies are smart like that!

Ah Gate 53; was entertained by a large group of young Japanese girls. Loud. Loud, young Japanese girls. Nothing like those kimono-wearing soft spoken geishas you see on TV. LOUD. Remembered also this approximately 28 year old guy who had a 90s centre-parting hairstyle. Bespectacled. Buttoned up shirt and jeans. And talking to someone on the phone via handsfree. Seriously, who are you?

Anyway, 20 minutes after the Business Class people parked their bums on the satin sofas of SQ242, I moved into the queue. See if you time it right, the Business Class lane will accomodate Cattle Class and fast track you into your designated pen on the plane. A high majority of the people on the plane were Muslims, on their way back for the annual Ed ul-Fitr, the celebration at the end of the fasting Ramadan month. I am not sure if I’m used to domestic no frills flight or what but I found the food service on SQ242 extremely slow. My finished dinner took them probably 30-45 minutes to clear. You know how annoying this is when you have limited space on the plane already! But no dramas, the food was as good as airplane food gets and service not really lacking in any department in particular, maybe except speed.

So the next important thing is how to kill time on the plane. The 3-inched size screen is probably in dire need of upgrading in the SQ242. Resolution was probably 600×400 at best and sound quality was dismal to say the least. That made my watching of “Water For Elephants” forgettable during some parts but somehow my mind filled in the gaps and I really liked the movie. I tried to watch another one but was just too distracted by the quality of the entertainment unit that I gave up. Watching something longer than 20 minutes actually took effort. Singapore Airlines if you are reading this, please upgrade your entertainment system.

The flight went by pretty quickly actually in between attempts of yours truly on iPhone apps – Paper Bridge, Incredible Machine and Simple Physics. Paper Bridge makes me think that I have a very low IQ, I couldn’t even get past the first level! If anyone’s an expert in it, any tips is highly sought after from you.

The plane landed with a jolt and the obligatory side-to-side force which almost always conjures images of the plane skidding on its wing and breaking apart in my head. I did think of standing up at one point in the flight just to see what the flight attendants would do but thought, what does that achieve? Yeah, precisely. Nothing.

I shot out of the plane and onto the travelators, floating past the majority of SQ242’s passengers, eager to get out of the airport. I was first in the line at the immigration choke point, I mean, check point and stood in line with the Business Class people to get my luggage off the carousel. I picked my luggage up and walked past the pilots, still waiting for their luggage. Remember George Clooney in “Up In The Air” and his tip about following Asians in airport queues? Yeah, that.

Taxi stand was my next port and as I looked back at the queue just before I boarded the taxi and 3 Business Class passengers were in the second row of the maze-like queue. Rough estimates would be that they were 10 customers behind me. I know I might seem like I’m picking on them but I’m not intentionally doing that, good on you if you want to spend thousands of dollars on an evening flight in Business Class on a Friday night. But honestly, what is the point? Wouldn’t that money be better off spent somewhere else? Starving humans in East Africa would be a good place to start.

Anyway, maybe they did and I have overthought and misjudged them. All I know is I’m checked in now in my favourite hotel in Singapore and it is almost 5am Sydney time now. Time for some shut-eye and hope you had fun reading my blog. I had fun recalling events in the past few hours and will continue do so as I afford the time for this activity called blogging over the next two weeks.

Thanks for reading and if you have any protips on traveling feel free to leave a comment.

God bless.


Aston Martin for Tinki
31 December, 2009, 9:15 am
Filed under: Car, Sydney

Another post for Pam Song a.k.a. Aston Martin aficionado.

First post which led to ‘best-buddish-bonds‘ is here. Heh!

God bless!

Optus versus 3 versus Vodafone
29 October, 2009, 6:56 pm
Filed under: iPhone, Sydney, TechTalk, Thoughts

So today 3 ( won.

I have stuck with Optus for so many years mainly because we had the Optus 20 minute free call time. It used to be from 8pm-8am I believe then 8pm-12am. Sok Leng and I have had many “timed” conversations where we would hang up after 20 minutes and chat again. I do that with a few other friends too but as the years passed and we’ve gone from ultra-free uni students who love to chat to busy young adults carving out our niche in the world, long conversations seem a distant past.

But I haven’t really had any problems with Optus. There was this phase where they kept calling me offering a new plan months before my previous plan ended but they just went shy on offering me the then new iPhone. That’s where I got irritated; anyone could have seen through that ploy. Lock you in for 24 months just before the darling of smartphones would be released and earn twice your money once you cannot resist the temptation to ACQUIRE the iPhone, OUTRIGHT or on a hefty plan change fee.

The iPhone was released and the calls immediately ceased. My plan was laid to rest last month. I thought it would just continue and be the same way; if it were that way; 3 wouldn’t have won me over as a new customer today.

Last month, my plan ended and subsequently, without my knowledge, Optus silently charged ALL my international SMSes, excluding them from my “plan”. Which was automatically reverted back to a “no-nonsense” plan but with the same name! I knew that my plan was ending but chose to ignore it thinking it will just be the same plan. But no, I was charged for ALL my international SMSes; which is obviously a lot being in a long distance relationship.

That was the last straw; Optus is infamous for confusing bills, workarounds and confusing plan names and “opt-out/opt-in” options instead of being defaults. So six years of loyalty to Optus has evaporated. My friend also commented few weeks back when he switched to Vodafone that loyalty to Optus didn’t mean a thing to them. The silent majority would be like what I would have been if this international SMS drama didn’t happen.

They would be happy with their plan and only change when drama happens. The noisy minority which I think Optus thinks has the “I will change my plan when I want to change my plan” mentality and “no one can stop me from doing that” is precisely that, the noisy minority. If only Optus would have awarded, acknowledged or even better REWARD our loyalty; I don’t think we would have gone the paths that we did. The iPhone plan is so much cheaper with either Vodafone or 3 (with 3 being cheaper) and Optus is seriously lagging behind this. Even its website feels so 2001.

Anyway, another thing is that both Vodafone and 3 shop assistants I visited today was more than happy to help me. Obviously, I spent more time with the guy at 3 but I remember the last time I went to Optus. They were too preoccupied to even care. But that’s the thing I guess, Vodafone just looks better in red and 3 is just young, hip and clean. To me Optus is infamously expensive, trying too hard to be perceived as “leaders” and yet use RACOONS and OSTRICHES in their ad campaigns? Confusion much?

Just look at Vodafone and Three. Do you see animals peeping out of their shop fronts? NO! They pass on their savings on to their customers! 😀

Anyway, it’s been a good 6 years with Optus. Oh yeah, forgot to mention also that their 3G has been stuffing up these past few months. It will drop out and then I would have to revert it back to 2G for a signal. I think that was also one of the main reasons I wanted to change. And deep down, I just feel Optus isn’t “cool” anymore. Their ad campaigns don’t work for me, their colours are boring and obviously their prices are too high.

I guess that’s the rundown of why I’ve chosen to switch providers. It might not be a big deal but I think a lot of people share some of the same sentiments as myself; if not all.

It’s time to buck up and target consumers where they are right now; everyone’s still trying to save and stretch their dollar; nothing in that sense has changed. And when people do want to spend more money; animals in ads don’t give the impression that you are serious. And with the fading away of the 20 minute Optus Yes time, Optus has nothing else to offer.

Hopefully everyone learns from this… Here’s to a good experience with 3 in the coming years…

God bless!

3 New Gems!
21 April, 2009, 12:06 pm
Filed under: Fashion, Sydney

So while browsing SMH today, caught eye of ‘Sophomore NYC’ on The Vine supplement website and then tried to get a search of a Sophomore store in OZ… Of course there’s none…

But found three new Gems instead!

The PR Store

Incu Store (Paddington) – Just realized that there’s an Incu store in the city (TGV) which I pass through EVERYDAY! lOl!

Pour Tous (For everyone)

They stock brands from the world (US mainly I think) and I don’t think they give big discounts like the big retailers can but if you want to stand out from the crowd and HAVE the money… Go ahead… Start browsing!


God bless!

The Night I’ll Never Forget…
11 March, 2009, 4:47 pm
Filed under: Online news, Sydney

had absolutely no dramas tonight… none whatsoever… Zilch! Nil! *yawn*.via Twitter 10:05pm

quiet night did I say? dealt with police n firemen at 340am… oh my!via Twitter 5:06am

just got home… I take back my proclamation of a quiet night two updates ago… Oh my goodness! 7:56am

That’s how it all started and ended… My three Twitter/Facebook updates in the span of less than 12 hours…

I finished work on Friday night, closed the shop and scooted into the night keen to spend the night resting as much as I could for what would be our traditionally busiest day of the year, Mardi Gras.

I got a phone call at 3:30AM.

It was from an unidentified number so I though oh OK, looks like my Dad forgot the three hour difference again! I didn’t answer the call, again forcing myself back to sleep in prep for the busy day ahead. The second time I got the call, I was a little bit worried. What now? Maybe Mom’s in the hospital? We got a health scare from her couple months back so I answered the call..

It was a male with an Australian accent. He identified himself as the police and that a car has crashed through my store. I asked ‘So the glass is broken?’ He told me ‘the whole thing fell down’. He asked for other people he could contact. I gave him the numbers as accurately as I could, my hands already trembling with the news I’ve heard. He said he’ll give them a call and if no one could come, I would have to go to the store to be a representative.

He called back 5 minutes later, I’ve got to go to the store. Anticipating insurance needs and a possible one stretching to to two hour trip, I packed my camera, wore presentable clothes and put on a cap. My mind was racing… The whole thing fell down? How long will it take to fix? A month? What would I do then? Paid leave? Unpaid leave? What if they decide to shut the store indefinitely? Will I lose my job?

I was definitely shaken and scared and tried to contact as many relevant people as possible. I got into my car and found out that one of my headlights wasn’t working. Oh great!

As I reached the halfway mark, I see blue and red lights behind my car. GREAT! Just what I need! I pulled over, rolled down my windows, grabbed my FRESHLY PASSED NSW Drivers’ Licence out of my wallet and turned my head so that I could have a good look at this policeman. He asked me have I been drinking I said no. He said where I was going, I was like work and I proceeded to tell him that a car’s crashed through my store. He said which one, I told him the location. He took one last look at my licence and let me go. I’m sure I was more important than a RBT (random breath test) at that particular moment! And I’m pretty sure he would have heard about the crash on his radio!

So I proceeded to find parking around the store and since it was gonna be Mardi Gras, a lot of the street parking are going to be clearways by 7am.

I walked to the store, crossed the police line and saw the damage… Water was everywhere, broken glass littered the street and the store and the debris and furniture of the accident was pushed IN to the store… Chairs were piled up and the debris, the brick wall that has collapsed was the scary part. There was no structural damage, the car seems to have careened into the glass wall just between two metal pillars. I reckon that if it did hit the metal pillars, the damage would have been considerably worse!

The driver was seriously injured and to see car doors in a coffee shop is just not natural. A self-made CD labelled Compilation #4 or something or rather was on the condiment bar. There was no blood on the cafe floor though, most probably washed away by the ruptured fire hydrant. My boss arrived after a while, there was a whole ‘nutha story regarding how she found out but its probably too personal for this blog… Not my story to tell…

Anyway, yeah, so the food man came and we had ordered a million food in preparation for Mardi Gras and the question boiled down to trade or not to trade. After a few hoohas and disappointed phone calls, we decided to trade and block off the area. It looked like a museum with the pile of debris on exhibition and the area cordoned off with black and yellow waist-high retractable fences. Sure customers had curious looks and we were all over the radio and online news.

A glass company was called in and the place was boarded up by 12pm. Our big bosses also came and managed to clear the debris away by 4 or 5pm and by that time, you couldn’t even tell what had happened barely 12 hours ago.

I thought that tradies and cleaners would have taken their own sweet time but I’m surprised, relieved and impressed that with a little help from people high up and with enough motivation, things seem to mysteriously happen VERY quickly.

Here’s to a night I will never forget…

God bless!

Mood Swings?
5 March, 2009, 8:20 am
Filed under: Sydney, Thoughts

I’ve been having a lot of mood swings as of late… I don’t know if its because of my own frustration of where I am at my age or just plain things that I cannot change. Work has been increasingly busy and because of that we can’t afford that much attention to one particular customer at a given time. This has caused some customers to go ballistic at the slightest mistake and in turn, it affects my perspective as well. Most of the time I’m OK with it after a while but I just wonder how much more I could take. There are some really ignorant, petty and not to mention rude people out there who do not understand what life in a high volume store is like and expect things to be like their owner-run suburban cafe…

But having said that, I like my job, 98% of the people who come through are genuinely wonderful but funny how the 2% will ALWAYS get to you. I’ve come to forge good ties with some of my customers and the most common event are hearing updates of a pregnancy, sport updates, concert updates, study updates… It almost always never fails to amaze me how open people can be in a conducive environment…

Which brings me to discussion in connect group this past week. Just attended Josh’s CG (as part of my attempt at the move to FrontLine) for the first time and being in a mostly working young adult group, it is relevant, in-depth, practical, intelligent and very Godly all at the same time. Just what I need! We discussed how if we could love everyone in the world. I said a resounding yes because I said loving someone doesn’t mean you have to be nice to them (like Jesus upturning the traders’ tables in the temple). But someone else said if he holds his standards to the 1 Corinthians 13 standard, he might not even be able to love his wife because the standard is just so high.

But I still procure to the notion that people can love everyone. Love is a decision, not necessarily just an emotion. And there is tough love, where you love the person so much you can look beyond them and see their future. Molding them and chastising them until their reach their full potential. And even if people wrong you, you can love them because loving your enemies is like heaping coal on their head right?

Like my boss always say, “Kill them with kindness”… Or what about this one “love them to perfection”?

Ey ey? Haha!

It’s good to be able to pour out my thoughts like this…

The sun is shining today and I have a full day of fun ahead with the sis and the housemate! Ikea and Bondi here we come!!! (Oh but I haven’t told them about the Bondi part yet haha!)

God bless!

Sydney Chinese New Year Twilight Parade
2 February, 2009, 12:27 am
Filed under: Canon EOS 50D, Sydney, Video

Hello all!

So mucked around with Picasa 3 and found it too easy to make a video out of photos…

And too easy to upload it onto Youtube… Although the quality is VERY bad…

But I think its good enough (very barely) in capturing the feel of the evening…

But will upload the good quality pix on my PicasaWeb

God bless and Gong Hey Fatt Choy! Yeeha!