A Father’s touch

Having been brought up in a relatively conservative Singaporean Chinese family, love is rarely expressed through hugs, and ‘I love you’ is rarely verbalized. If it has to be, it often carries a tinge of restrain.

I have often had misunderstandings with my father, largely due to differences in our personality and outlook of life.

I have always entertained thoughts of moving abroad to create a life of my own, not just to get a respite from the typical rat-race Asian way of life, but also to experience and immerse in Western culture, which has fascinated and enchanted me deeply. I love the way how a white guy can approach you in a cafe just to strike up a casual conversation just because the the flowers look gorgeous in full bloom, or that he thinks your dress is pretty, with no strings attached. Okay, my fascination goes beyond such superficial points.

Bottom line is, I want to work abroad and I need to learn to take care of myself, be independent, cook and do laundry myself, and even be my own handyman and plumber if the bulb blows or if a cockroach flies through my window. And yep, practice begins right at home.

Yesterday, my bulb had blown and I thought to myself, “Time to fix the bulb yourself”.

I dragged the ladder out of the storeroom, got my father’s help to steady the ladder and support my back as I gingerly unscrewed the two spoiled lamps, handed them over to him, and replaced them with the brand new ones. So he was there to Quality Control (or rather, Quality Assurance) the whole process, my first attempt at a seemingly easy task, aged 25.

A father’s touch. It reminded me of the time he taught me to ride a bike. He steadied the bike seat and had my back, and gradually let go as I tried to focus on cycling straight, wobbling hopelessly from left to right till I finally found my balance to cruise ahead.

He has been doing that ever since in life, supporting me, through the heartbreaks, the trash dates, the happy times, the peaks, the valleys, and has never let go.

I have never doubted his love for me; I don’t think he would bear to let me go, even when the time comes for him to walk me down the aisle.

Here’s a post for you, Dad. In honor of Father’s Day, in a week’s time.

I love you.

We may be very different in the way God made us; our views, our temperament and personality. But your unconditional love for me has made me understand that a Father’s love is something very special and to be cherished, beyond any kind of romantic love any guy can give me, or will give me.

College – Does it really make you valuable in today’s economy?

Let me first chronicle my personal experiences in transiting to the working economy after graduation. I had graduated with a degree in Chemistry, pretty general track of studies I would say. The school I had attended was relatively new, and modules were disorganized; and very much related to the respective professors’ field of research and had little related to real world industries. Education quality was very clearly the least of the dean’s concerns, as they were more drawn to the prospect of jetting up the school’s rankings through the route of mass publishing of research papers.

So yep, armed with a general science degree, I wandered about aimlessly navigating the swamped job market with little advice or direction. Needless to say, that vague sense of hopelessness began to overwhelm me. Sure, there were a myriad of jobs out there, but when I scrolled through the requirements section, it seemed that my resume failed to fit the bill. Chemistry related industries requested job specific skills and certs, which my educational background did no justice to. Clearly something had gone wrong with the Singaporean educational system. How could I fork out thousands every semester, slogged like a nocturnal creature to get through the exams, and end up so ‘unemployable’ in the sight of a prospective employer? This did no justice to the pain and sacrifice I had endured through the journey of nailing exams. In such a paper nation, traditional universities seemed to have failed in their purported duty to educate and skill the workforce in an ever changing work environment.

While I do not condone the personal duty of seeking self improvement by exercising vigilance to reskill as acording to the changing work trends, I see that universities really need to buck up in answering to students who pay copious amounts for school fees, that the end product of an university education justifies its cost. We are talking about legit, usable skills that people need to have before they leave school, not just the ability to take exams well and get first class honours.

After decades of shortsighted emphasis on paper grades, society has finally awoken from its slumber, seeing massive powers like China charge ahead with original innovations, technology and even space programmes. This is a true mark of a first-world nation – the ability to identify and solve problems by self-inventing technology, engineering solutions that will be sought after by the world. Clearly not borrowing and buying foreign technology, and importing ‘foreign-talent’ and giving them the leeway to leech off funds to innovate just for them to leave eventually, and neglecting citizens. What a silly way of governance.

With the emergence of learning programmes that aim to fit workers into industries more seamlessly, yes, I agree that finally, some work has been done to plug the skills gap in the local economy, albeit a little too late. Yep and of course, I capitalized on such opportunities and am currently being trained for a specialized role in a high-value manufacturing industry. Eventually I have plans to move abroad to learn more and solidify my career, as I feel that learning can plateau in such a tiny place.

Just some personal thoughts. Why not Singapore borrow a leaf from Germany’s book, and invest more in analyzing trends in the economy to come,? And work closely with universities to tailor degree courses that prepare students to go straight into industries? It saves a great deal of time, stress, and money. The students will thank you for it, which will translate to loyalty to your government, which is what you have been dying to buy since the wave of ‘political dissent’ that has emerged in recent years?

 

Biologics in the world today

I think it’s about time I started a blog on biologics. I’m currently enrolled on a programme to train me for the biologics sector locally, and I am so excited about the prospects of where this would take me. It’s quite closely related to my college major in biological chemistry, and learning about the power of proteins in curing and preventing diseases is incredibly meaningful and exciting. I have to say, I’ve been living thus far just for this job. Everyday I wake up grateful, knowing that it can only be the Lord who opened this door in the backdrop of an economic malaise.

Roche has a big presence in Germany and Switzerland in the biopharma sector, so do major pharma firms like GSK and Novartis and more. Working overseas has always been a lifelong dream. To girls whose chief aim in life is to get married and settle down, I say, dream bigger, think higher. There’s just so much life has to offer; you just have to get out there, throw yourself out into the unknown and be brave to get into the thick of things without carrying too much baggage. Be steadfast, mentally resilient and quick on your feet.

Yep, I’m currently halfway through a book; ” The Vaccine Race ” by Meredith Wadman. My current scope deals with the quality of Vaccines before manufacture, and I thought this book would fit me really aptly. So yep, I’m off to mug for a pharma cleanroom module test. Wish me well, till my next post 🙂

 

Croatia & Slovenia – Eastern Europe

Yep, I am having tangible withdrawal effects from Croatia and Slovenia. The men are terribly gorgeous – after you’ve seen and talked to them, you would be immune/ indifferent to local men. I remember this impossibly hot waiter from a Ljubljana cafe, Robba, helping us with menu choices. His features were so gorgeous; he was tall, well-built with a high nose and a 5 o’clock shadow.  I would have been content gazing into his dark brown eyes for a minute.

On the plane back home, some British guy winked and nudged at me. Thought that was pretty cute zomg!!

Flirting aside, I was truly mesmerized by nature and scenery that Eastern Europe had to offer. Old Yugoslavia is quaint, charming and one-of-a-kind. You see the imprints of Communist rule and Western occupation in their architecture, infrastructure and food. Weather during spring is beautiful and crisp; the temperate breezes made walking on the street worth relishing. Colorful blooms were everywhere; by the streets, in bouquets in a lady’s arms, at farmers’ markets. The Postojna Caves in Slovenia were completely breathtaking in every sense of the word. Magnificent rock formations from many years of limestone erosion- through rainwater and lakewater – created artfully-shaped spikes in all shapes and sizes throughout the cave. Reddish hues of iron oxide and grey touches of manganese covered those half-a-million-year-old stalagmites and stalactites. Chemistry never felt so meaningful to me before.

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The Piltvice National Park in Croatia was just as magical- mighty waterfalls gushed endlessly. Ducks were seen waddling around in pairs, presumably in their mating season. I have not seen a prettier shade of aquamarine and turquoise as the sun shone into the waters, creating temporary diamonds dancing across the rivers.

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Temperatures were on the chilly side, but all that stood out was the immaculate scenery laid out before my eyes; almost sacred to behold. These two attractions overshadowed the many cathedrals and castles that I had visited in this trip. Baroque architecture and their history is charming in its own right, like Zagreb Cathedral and Bled Castle, but nothing beats the beauty of Mother Nature.

Kids in Europe looked happier than Singaporean ones. I saw them running around uninhibited, cheeks red and chubby, their peals of laughter embellishing the night air. Women and men looked gorgeous; as if they had just steeped out from some runway catalog.

Why Lord why? The proportion of handsome men are simply unfairly distributed. 24 hours ago, the land I stepped on had men that looked like they had just descended from some celestial realm. Hot men were everywhere. Sexy sexy ones.

It has always been a dream of mine to work overseas and settle there for good. Preferably to marry some German or Austrian, or even Slovenian or Brit. To make gorgeous mixed-race babies and live happily ever after. To study in an European university.

While entertaining these grandiose fantasies and walking through the arrival hall, reality hit as a wave of warm air tingled by skin. Silly Singlish accents, faces buried in their phones posting away on Instagram, long immigration queues were all around me.

Well, fairy tales eventually have an epilogue. As I end of this post reflecting on my trip to old Yugoslavia, I tuck these precious travel memories into a secret pocket in my heart. Where would 2017 bring me to? Holy Land? Germany?

I would want to look forward to better things in life, more opportunities, open doors, friends, vacations and exhilaration. Travelling has enlarged my heart so much, and therefore that extra room has to be filled with more purpose and focus, such that I can keep on giving and going.

3 Days in Bangkok

As a Singaporean, Bangkok remains a place that charms in terms of cuisine, culture, lifestyle and price point. While prices for designer labels in upscale malls like (Terminal 21) are similar worldwide, the crowd-drawers are the night markets.

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Inside terminal 21!
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At Ratchada Night Market

steph at ratchanda

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Ain’t my manicure pretty heh

I am indeed fascinated my their modes of transportation. A tuk tuk ride costs more than a cab/grabcar ride. However, it’s worth noting that vehicular transport is inefficient as their jams are legendary. The subway is a better way to get to your destination on time. We had almost missed our flight due to a jam on the road, and thankfully managed to catch the check-in time by the skin of our teeth. Singaporeans may view Changi Airport as another mall in the east, but after stopping by foreign airports, I do appreciate the poshness and organisation of Changi. On the same point of transportation, while Singapore has only recently embarked on bikeshare as a complimentary mode of transport to walking, Bangkok already has an established bikeshare network. Also, people there get around via boats that stop at regular stops just like buses.

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En route Ratchanda Night Market via boat, we passed by rows of attap houses and element-worn parapets coated with graffiti. It was an interesting insight into a different way of life, one that metropolitan city dwellers are unfamiliar with. Pollution tends to be evident with the skyline sometimes muted with a hint of grey. Trees are sparse as well.

Street food stalls packed with locals are a must-try –  an authentic taste of local Thai fare like salt-grilled tilapia and Chang beer, which was rather palatable due to its subtle malt taste that does not overpower the senses, from a perspective of someone who does not fancy beer.

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Street Food!

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And more..

When I visit a foreign land, I always make it a point to source for ethnic garments that compliment my style. I managed to get a Thai print maroon wrap skirt, and I find the silk finishing so enchanting to look at. A very classy and artistic piece of fabric that offers my wardrobe some variation. I also got myself and my mum a jade-coloured cashmere shawl with gold threading. I thought the intricate patterns looked really regal and expensive, like something worn by royalty. I even had a chance to haggle prices with the ladyboys peddling these wholesale goods. Just a random thought; there are people out there who so badly want to be a woman. Perhaps I should embrace the beauty of being born as one, instead of secretly lamenting and gender favoritism that exists in today’s world?

All in all, it was an interesting eye opener. I don’t expect myself to visit Thailand in the next 5 years, but the hospitality of the people had genuinely warmed my heart. Good morals and consideration for the sphere beyond self are not entities that can be engineered by textbook education or instructions. I believe it comes from an observant, reflective and restful heart, which understands the beauty of enjoying the present and appreciating everything in life as a gift from above. This insight is the most valuable thing I have brought back home, an experience that surpasses manicures, massages, shopping or feasting.

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So long bkk

 

 

Coldplay A head full of dreams! Live in Singapore

One tick off my bucket list! It was such an honor to be part of Coldplay’s choir for 2 hours on 31 March 2017. Laser lights, a crazy hyper crowd, rainbow confetti and giant balloons bouncing across the ecstatic sea of flicker lights and pumping fists, and most importantly, music from the realms of heaven in the form of Chris Martin and his amazing band. While singing he pulled off stunts like darting across the runway to hysterical screams. O yes, there were fireworks too! The magic in the atmosphere zipped through my veins and I couldn’t help screaming my lungs out throughout the medley hahaha.

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Coldplay 1

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Here are some of my favourites! I believe everybody would agree; Coldplay’s music is a universal unifying force among people.

Every Teardrop is a Waterfall

Clocks

PARADISE

Hymn for the Weekend

Viva la Vida

A Head Full of Dreams

YELLOW

Here are the 2 beautiful girls whose company made my night perfect 😉

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So yup, they even punctuated the medley with the old hymn Amazing Grace. Beautiful stuff.  God bless them.

Beauty and the beast

A fairy tale romance never goes out of fashion.

To be swept off your feet by an unexpected prince and live on romance forever. 

Tale as old as time
True as it can be
Barely even friends
Then somebody bends
Unexpectedly

Just a little change
Small, to say the least
Both a little scared
Neither one prepared
Beauty and the beast

Ever just the same
Ever a surprise
Ever as before
Ever just as sure
As the sun will rise

Tale as old as time
Tune as old as song
Bittersweet and strange
Finding you can change
Learning you were wrong

Certain as the sun
Certain as the sun
Rising in the east
Tale as old as time
Song as old as rhyme
Beauty and the beast.

Tale as old as time
Song as old as rhyme
Beauty and the beast.

Beauty and the beast.

Signorina by Ferragamo

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Signorina is a very pretty fragrance. The pink liquid is beautifully bottled with a ribbon to top it off. Fresh, fruity, floral, young, playful, classy. Contrast it with the socialite who goes about her mahjong rounds doused in the unmistakably dominant Chanel No 5, or the prominently saccharine notes of Angelina Jolie’s new fragrance for Guerlain.