2019 Reflections

2019 went into 2020 too fast. When you have a baby to take care of, there’s not much time to stop and think and reflect. You’re always catching up on sleep, if not waking up in the middle of the night to soothe the baby to sleep. Thank God for coffee.

The year of the latter rain definitely did bring a lot of rain in Singapore in December. Haha. Thank God for the many provisions that are demanded when you have a baby – hospital costs are not cheap, plus all the baby accessories that you have to buy. Thank God for providing more than enough for baby Samuel and also everyone who has blessed us monetarily and non-monetarily.

The earlier part of 2019 was a bag of mixed feelings. First, it was dealing with the shock that Liz is pregnant, cos we sort of started planning and stopped trying. The funny thing is, it seemed like the moment we stopped trying, God took over. I guess God had a sense of humour, and his plans are definitely better than our plans. I was a little sad, because that meant that I can’t go overseas for the work tour in October, cos that’s the exact month in which baby is going to arrive. It was a battle between my spirit and flesh again. My spirit knows that God definitely has better plans than our human plans. My flesh was asking, why God, at this time. It seemed like I’m going to miss the most exciting thing of the year that’s going to happen at work, and the FOMO was real. The joke was that we were the best planners, but we didn’t manage to plan Samuel’s arrival well. Haha. We were probably the least joyful parents at the first gynae visit. Lol.

The first trimester was not as bad as I thought. I didn’t have to rush to somewhere to buy supper for Liz in the middle of the night. There were a lot of new food cravings nevertheless, but it wasn’t that hard for me. Liz had to deal with nausea definitely.

When second trimester came, I have more or less accepted the bundle of joy that is about to come. We went for our babymoon in Fukuoka, and we shopped for a lot of baby things, went to 2 baby fairs in Singapore plus 1 baby fair in JB, did all the things that we want to do in Singapore as a couple, went to Legacy Camp, walked many parks, ate alot, and waited for October to come.

Towards the end of the third trimester, we did many various things to try to get baby Samuel out. We did pilates, went to a lot of walks to many parks especially in the 2 weeks before the EDD, but nothing happened. The water bag didn’t break. Haha. So in the end we went for induction.

Thank you Daddy God for a great year of patience, endurance and joy. Thank God for a smooth delivery and healthy and strong baby.


If you had not been to a place for some time, when you go back 10 years later, it feels like you have travelled through a time warp. That’s what I experienced the past few days. The road used to be tiny, but now it is huge. There are new signs for the roads. The colours of the buildings look different. A lot of trees are gone. Some shops are still at the same place, while others no longer there. The place don’t quite look the same as before. Not much seems to look familiar.

What is more interesting is that it seems as if the outside has changed a lot, but the inside has not changed much. This inside is not the physical, but the intangible force of culture and the unspoken rules. The exterior has changed, the interior has not. The memories of the place lingers.

What else have changed over the past 10 years?

Well, at that time, there was no iPhone nor smartphone yet. I was using my trusty Nokia E61 with a Blackberry-like keyboard, and then I switched to a Sony Symbian Walkman phone that had a fingernail (not fingertips) touchscreen and supported hours of offline MP3 playback. There was no 3G/4G nor WhatsApp nor Instagram. Facebook was just starting to be popular. The main mode of communication was SMS as almost everyone had unlimited SMSes. There were no endless group chats. Facebook didn’t have Messenger yet, but we just started to add people has friends. We were just being disrupted by this new world of this thing we now call “social media”, but we do not know the full effects of it yet, as it was restricted mostly to our ADSL/Cable Internet connections. Yes there was no fibre to the home yet and we couldn’t surf the internet on our “dumbphones”.

So then, what did we do in our free time? What did we do when we have idle time during our daily commute? It took me awhile to recall, but most of us would try to read books/magazines, stare into space, or fall asleep. If you had an iPod, you would listen to music. Nobody walked around with our eyes glued to our phones (since most people can SMS without looking at the screen, haha).

What did we do in our idle time at work? Perhaps, some doze off or watch TV in the lounge. There was no Facebook newsfeed for people to be distracted with, except for MSN Messenger or ICQ, perhaps? But even with those instant messaging tools, there was no concept of an “endless scroll” of a “feed” or “stories” that you could be consuming. Things were not really viral. “Sharing” funny comics only happened in the form of email forwarding. Oh yes, there wasn’t Youtube or Buzzfeed either, the only video content that you’d watch is on your TV or in the cinema. And those are longform content, not cute cats and dogs.

I remembered the days where my school friend would call me and ask for directions. Google Maps didn’t quite exist in our Nokia phones definitely, and there was no app for you to check your next bus timing. You simply wait patiently at the bus stop. These days, the moment we reach the bus stop, we check our phones impatiently to see how long is the next bus coming, and then decide whether to feel anxious or not. Not sure if that exactly is a good thing. Booking a taxi also requires you to call the taxi hotline, which is often jammed and useless during peak hours. No one shared their private cars or offered to pick you up, since GrabHitch isn’t really a thing!

Camera phones were not as popular too. Even if your phone had a camera, it is probably less than 1 megapixels. I think there was no selfie camera too. Taking group photos used to require a tripod or someone else’s help. You can’t use your phone to scan the QR code to unlock your Mobike because neither of them exist. Now the thought of not being able to whip out my camera to capture the sunset in front of me and posting it immediately on Instagram makes me feel somewhat “handicapped”. What?!

Our attention span was a lot longer. (If you have read this far, good job!)

By chance, I am now reading a book titled The Church of Facebook by Jesse Rice. In the book, he talks about how Facebook has brought about a new norm, and because of that, people had to spontaneously adapt to it and find new ways of living and connecting. As a result, the lines between acquaintances and close friends have blurred, and there is less distinction of what is considered real community. Following the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman, he proposes that we should conduct our online and offline relationships with intentionality, humility and authenticity. Food for thought: how much of your Instagram/Facebook communication is intentional or authentic? How many of your friends do you have real and authentic relationships with in the real world?

The other side effect of being “hyperconnected” is that we are constantly distracted and we feel the urge to check our phones every other minute. We are seldom “in the moment”, in the present and the now. Our feelings of now is being affected by endless notifications and newsfeed. These causes our relationships in the real word to be less intentional and authentic. Not that being online is totally a bad thing, but occasionally, we need to touch base with the present.

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

2017 Reflections

2017 passed by in a blink! The most amazing that happened this year was that we travelled 4 times! To Israel, which is life-changing, to Cebu, during Liz’s birthday, to Korea, which was unplanned, and finally to Hokkaido with Lizzy’s Mom. Israel is where we experienced where Jesus walked in real life, especially on the Sea of Galilee. Cebu is where I realised I don’t like holidays that do nothing but I sacrifice for Liz. Haha. Korea is when I realised I missed Liz after she went USA for two weeks. And Hokkaido was like our dream road trip.

And of course, this year marks one full year working in a new place. Working here is like family, where there’s no politics, no gossip and not much red tape. Although there’s some ups and downs when I feel bored, it’s also a year with alot less meetings compared to my previous work place, and where I learnt a lot more programming stuff than ever, getting to play with PHP and Laravel. Some of the things I learnt this year include:

  • Playing with different HTML5 video players (Azure, Haivision, VideoJS)
  • Interaction between React, AJAX and Backend Laravel
  • A bit of DraftJS
  • Basic Laravel collections and routes and views
  • Building Single Page Apps with React and Material UI and Firebase
  • Best practices for webpack/mix/scss/BEM/CSS compilation and JS frontend loading order
  • Best practices for Google Analytics and Enhanced eCommerce + advanced event logging + Data Studio
  • Best practices for responsive image loading with Imgix
  • Testing of meta tags / schema.org
  • Design Thinking process and research
  • Sketch App

Ministry-wise, one of my wishes was greater ownership from the youths that they can run the service themselves. This was certainly fulfilled as the graduating bunch of Sec 4 is the best batch so far, with many great leaders like Daniel and Dominic who can run the lights board themselves, design and programme their own songs without much guidance. The best thing that happened was I managed to pair up Dominic and Ivan from Arrow together for the Christmas service, and they managed to learn and sharpen each other. It’s always the teacher’s honour to be able to train someone who becomes better than me! A very proud moment indeed.

The last two days of 2017, we had the privilege to spend time with two unofficial caregroups – one is a “dream” cg with a bunch of awesome people from work. All married couples, but our lives intertwined together by a common calling, not by coincidence, not by chance, but by divine appointment. It was a great moment just to share openly without our titles or responsibilities. During the interaction, we also realised that as a couple, Liz and I achieved a pretty healthy rhythm in the 2nd year of our marriage – having home-cooked breakfasts almost every morning, and going to work peacefully everyday. I’m glad our marriage dynamics are not very complicated, although Liz is a complicated person 😉

The other fun thing that happened at the end of 2017 was we hosted a random bunch of “lonely cg-less” people for watchnight at our place. We had fun watching a documentary “Christ In Me”, spending time in worship, eating ice cream, and playing Secret Hitler. Jesus visited our humble living room during the worship and declared that 2018 shall be a year of His-Presence-With-Us. It has been raining the past 24 hours and we wanted to go cycling initially, but this was so much better. I think Liz and I have kinda settled that our CG is not really an official CG per-se, but random bunch of people whom we hang out with in and out of office. Along the way, we also have couple friends whom we can walk this journey with. Praying for more to come!

Praying that in 2018, I will have no more strain in my wrists as I continue to use the mouse and computer!

Hokkaido Trip Diary

We went to Hokkaido in end-October for the first time to chase the autumn foliage. Our itinerary was heavily inspired by BumbleBeeMum’s (https://bumblebeemum.net/) with some alterations. Hokkaido is too big to go everywhere in 7 days, so we decided to concentrate our drive in Central Hokkaido, from Sapporo to Otaru, Niseko, Lake Toya, Noboribetsu and then back to Sapporo again. You could pretty much go through these places clockwise or anti-clockwise, depending on your preference and accommodation availability. Also, we made a wise decision to start and end the trip in Sapporo. In this way, you can leave behind some unneeded (empty) suitcase in your hotel without lugging them in your car, and you can spend the last days shopping to your heart’s desire before heading to the airport! Also, you save money on the car rental as you don’t really need the car in the city itself.

Day 1 – Sapporo

Upon arrival at New Chitose Airport, we took the airport Chuo limousine bus (http://www.chuo-bus.co.jp/highway.en/airport/index.cgi?ope=sap_pole&trjc=8044&trjs=29) to Susukino. We stayed in Mercure Sapporo Hotel, which was recommended by BumbleBeeMum. There are two main areas in Sapporo: the area around the JR Sapporo station with many malls, and Susukino, which is like their equivalent of Gangnam/Osaka with many restaurants and shops in the vicinity. Mercure is in a pretty good location – 1 junction from 2 train stations and the airport bus is diagonally across the road. 

The first day we took a walk to explore the main street linking from Susukino, through Odori Park, passing by the green yards of the European-inspired Former Hokkaido Government Office, before ending up at our first lunch stop – Bariki-ya (Hakata-style) Ramen. It’s a tiny shop under the bridge with only counter seating very similar to Ichiran, and you’ve to order from a vending machine. The noodles were amazing. 

After some shopping at Yodobashi and Daimaru, we wanted to catch the sunset colours at Mount Moiwa but it was too cloudy. So we decided to go to the Sapporo Beer Museum. There are two main ways to get there: take the train and walk a long way, or take the “Factory” Bus 88. You can self-tour the small gallery area, before you can try some samples. 
For dinner, we wanted to eat some Hokkaido Waygu beef, and found Beef Impact along the Tanukikoji Shopping Street. (Our trick to eating when we are overseas – eat early at 5 or 6pm before the main crowd comes, and sleep early to wake up early, to follow the sunset and sunrise timings.) The restaurant allows you to choose beef from local farms or American or Australian. All tastes really good on a hotplate and quite affordable for good steak!

After dinner, we walked down the street with mostly souvenir shops, and we tried the amazing Cremia ice cream made with Hokkaido milk. So creamy and good!

Day 2 – Otaru

We woke up earlier at 5.30am, adjusted our sleep according to the earlier sunrise (6am) and earlier sunset (5am). Unfortunately, nothing much is open yet at that time, but we managed to find a random Udon kiosk in one of the underpass towards Odori station. It’s one of those stand and eat by the side soup Udon with fried tempura, comfy for a cold morning.
We picked up our car, a Nissian X-Trail, at the Nissian Odori rental shop. We began our drive to Otaru via the scenic way – visiting the Hoheikyo Dam first. We were a bit too late to view the autumn foilage, some of the trees were barren, but it was still a nice view nevertheless. You’ve to park and ride the shuttle bus through 2 tunnels to the dam as cars are not allowed at the end. Some people chose to walk through the tunnel, but it seems like a long boring walk. We also took the little funicular lift up the hill for a nicer view.

After that, we drove through Sapporo Lake and stopover for a short break and photo opportunity. The skies and the lake was very blue, and it was beautiful. The road is also quite fun to drive as it curves in a hook down another dam, pretty cool.

Once we reached Otaru, we were hungry and decided to park near the Otarusankaku Fish Market for lunch. It’s a short street with many small shops serving various kinds of kaisen (seafood) don. I learnt that salmon is actually a lousier cut of fish, and tuna is more premium. That’s why most places don’t serve salmon. We had tuna, shredded crab and grilled abalone, everything was very fresh and delicious, and worth it!  

After that, we drove to Otaru canal. I found a 600 yen per entry parking lot, which is more worth it than paying per hour. It’s a short walk from the Otaru Beer Warehouse and the rest of the canal. The canal was shorter than what I expected, a little underwhelming. We stopped by Kita Northern Ice Cream, which has strange ice cream flavours, but we thought it wasn’t that fantastic. 

Once we reached the Sakaimachi street, that’s when the real shopping begins. The street is filled with shops that sells little glassware, figurines, cute things and of course, LeTao cheesecake! In fact, there’s not 1 but 3 LeTao stores along the street. Pop in for samples of everything, and buy a double fromage cheesecake home for breakfast. (The other biscuits and souvenirs, you can buy from the airport when you go home.) We also found a store selling Choux Ice Cream puff and at the end of the street is the famous Music Box museum. The LeTao store at the end of the street also has a small viewing tower, you can climb up the stairs to the top for a nice view of the area. We were too full for dinner, so we ate amazing various kinds of fish cakes at a local fish cake factory called Kamaei. It’s like takeaway yong tau foo – they have fishcake wrapped with various things. 

We ended our day early at an airbnb sea overlooking the street and the sea.

Day 3 to Niseko

This was my favourite day and the day which we did the most driving. After eating LeTao cheesecake for breakfast, we set off for a drive to Otaru Shukutsu Observation deck, a small turnout where we could see the sea and the town.

Next stop was Yoichi, where we visited the Nikki Whiskey Museum. We were early birds, arriving just at 9am when it opened, so there was no other tourists yet. The low rise warehouses where the whiskey are stored gave it a European charm. You can also try whiskey here if you’re not one of the drivers. 

After that, I found a random tiny hipster coffee place called Coffee Stand by shizuku. It’s very near the whiskey museum but it’s really in the middle of nowhere. It’s so hipster that the coffee and the milk was brewed fresh on a stove kettle – no machines at all. So cray. 

We then drove an hour or so towards Cape Shakotan, where we had lunch at Osyokujidokoro Misaki, which was recommended by many bloggers. There were two bike gangs who was riding in front of us and they arrived there as well. This place was known to have the best sea urchins and it didn’t disappoint. First, at 1pm, many items were selling out and they were going to close for the season in end October. So we only could choose the sea urchin don with roe and crab. But you know what, it was the freshest sea urchin I’ve ever tasted, and the biggest and roundest roe I’ve ever seen! It’s so fresh and amazing, no wonder this place is famous. 

After the awesome lunch, we are pumped enough for our first real hike at Cape Shakotan. We walked through this long tunnel which was really windy and cooling, and was rewarded with an amazing view of the ocean and the rocks below. There was a path leading down to the beach. Thinking that this was the hiking path, we descended down. We were WRONG! The steps are like 10 storeys down and the only way up is the same way down. Very tiring to hike back up. We only realised that the actual hiking path wad was the tarmac road before the tunnel. By then, we were too tire already. The beach was nice though and filled with many pebbles. Took us an hour to go down and up. 

Next stop is Cape Kamui, which is my favourite place on earth after Point Reyes. I wanted to come here because it looks so similar to Point Reyes – a combination of the deep blue sea, high cliffs and cooling breeze. Perfect creation of God. It was a nice hike uphill and downhill to the tip, almost looking like the Great Wall of China at certain vantage points. The steps are not as steep as Cape Shakotan’s, but the path is longer and more scenic. At the end, you’re rewarded with the ocean and a few odd rocks. There was also a cute little shiba that actually made it all the way there and Liz managed to carry it to take a photo, although the dog was a bit reluctant. Haha. Noodle wouldn’t have made it out here. The whole walk to and fro was about 90 minutes long, 2 hours if you take more breaks. 

Next stop, Niseko. But before that, supermarket shopping first! Haha. I was trying to find where’s a nice place to take a break from the long drive other than a petrol kiosk. I found an Aeon Maxvalu supermarket on the map and we decided to check it out. Indeed, it looked like those small groceries strip in rural America, but Japanese version haha. We went a bit crazy and managed to stock up enough food to cook breakfast in our apartment the next day! 

Day 4 to Lake Toya

In the morning, it started to drizzle, which turned into a wintery mix of rain and snow, and then snow for real! We drove out of our nice apartment and I had to brave the snow to the checkout counter. The winds were pretty strong from the tychoon that affected Tokyo. We drove to the famous Niseko Milk Kobo to have some nice desserts. The wind was so strong that one of their glass doors broke! We could even see the cars outside wobbling. 
It was actually a good day to snow as the drive to Lake Toya wasn’t too far. Just that it was so cloudy that we couldn’t really see the lake when we approached it. We reached our luxurious Lake Toya Nonokaze, abit too early for check-in. We sat around in the lobby which has a nice view of the lake and the cute island on it but it was too rainy to see Mount Yotei. After much waiting, we finally could check-in and go check out the onsen! It wasn’t very big, there were about 5 different small pools to choose from. 
The highlight of the hotel is the buffet dinner and breakfast. It was a sumptuous spread with top quality sashimi, seafood and more. 

Day 5 to Noboribetsu 

We woke up early to make use of the onsen again. I’m not really into it so I always take a shorter time than the ladies haha. But we managed to try the rooftop outdoor one in the cold. It’s quite an interesting sensation, and the view of Mount Yotei in the morning was clear and therapeutic. 

After checking out, we drove to the nearby volcano eruption site, where there’s a museum of buildings that survived the previous eruption. With the support of Mom, we went on a short hike to the nearest crater. It wasn’t too steep except for one small part, but the view was quite scenic as we went higher. The lake was super blue and the surrounding autumn foilage was beautiful. The crater was a bit too steep for mom, so we climbed out ourselves. Not very big. We managed to go up and down in about 2 hours. We ended up at the volcano museum for a toilet break before we set off. 
We drove to another building that was preserved after another eruption. This one was more interesting as the roof collapsed. Plants started to grow around it. Looks like an apocalyptic scene.

Next stop was the bear museum. The reviews for this particular one wasn’t that great so we skipped it. We took the cable car up Mount Usu. The weather was really really amazing. It was clear skies with no fog and we could see Mount Yotei in the north to the sea in the south, and the surrounding autumn foilage on the mountains. Breathtaking! We did a short hike up along flight of stairs to have a view of the crater area on top of Mount Usu. 

After a quick snack, we drove to a small final overlook of Lake Toya, before proceeding to the fruit farm area. It’s apple season and everywhere has apples! The rest stop / visitor’s centre also doubles up as a supermarket to sample all the different apples. We drove up to the one that bubblebeemom went. We decided not to waste money picking since you have to eat everything you picked and have to pay to dabao the rest. We chanced upon this interesting honey apple that has an exterior of a Washington red apple but an interior like soft peach. Extraordinarily tasty and sweet! 
We began our longer drive to Noboribetsu via the Ofuro Pass. Unfortunately after a short ascent the road was closed, probably due to the snow yesterday. Alas, we have to take the less scenic route via the expressway. We stopped by a bridge which is supposedly nice for autumn foliage but was a bit disappointing. We arrived at Hell’s Valley at sunset. 

After checking in at the Dai-Ichi Noboribetsu hotel, we went to check out the hot springs again! This hotel’s one is ginormous! It’s like the old school roman-style public bath with like 10 different pools and a few outdoor ones. The pools all have different temperatures and coloured spring water. The experience here, although older, is more fun and the hot spring is better. The hotel itself is pretty old and tiny though, our rooms were made of old wood and we slept on futon beds on the floor. 

Day 6

The hotel’s buffet dinner and breakfast are quite comparable too. Less pretty, but alot of variety. After breakfast, we took walk down to hell’s valley which is just a stone’s throw away from the hotel, so save money on parking haha. The autumn leaves on the edge of the cliffs were beautiful. We also went for a short hike into the forests to a place overlooking another sulphur lake. After that, we decided to hike back and check out. 

We started our last day’s drive around Lake Kuttara, which is as recommended by JK. The windy road had nice autumn foliage around it, and the lake was quite scenic too. After that, we stopped by a souvenir/snacks shop just at the corner of the expressway. It sold a lot of local sweets and we managed to buy some nice bean puff thingy. 

Finally, we embarked on the drive back to Sapporo. On the way, we tried to stop by a cow ranch, but the restaurant there wasn’t open and it was very ulu. We also stopped by another small park and decided to take a detour to Lake Shikotsuko to eat cheese mochi! One of the roads towards there was initially closed, so we had to take a longer route. But it was a worthwhile detour. The park at the foot of the lake is beautiful with many trees and autumn foliage and even a little bit of snow. The cheese mochi was so good that we bought two. The drive out of the lake was also impressive and wet and snowy. 

Just before returning the car, we stopped by the Royce Chocolate factory on the outskirts, which we realised wasn’t really worth it since you can buy all the snacks elsewhere at the same price. We also stopped by an Aeon supermarket, which was located in a very American-like strip mall. It felt like I was shopping at Walmart haha. 

Day 7
It’s the last full day in Sapporo with alot of shopping ahead. In the morning, we went to a coffee in a hole in the wall (Baristart) and it was one of the best coffee I’ve ever had. You could choose from 3 different kinds of milk, and they all have different sweetness and richness ratings, and they really tasted different. The coffee was so good that Liz was willing to drink it. Wow. So life changing. 

Mom had a mission to buy cheese, and liz wanted to shop for other stuff. Meanwhile, I still wanted to take the cable car to Mount Moiwa. Hence, we had abit of a dilemma, should I sacrifice my wish so that I can be my wife? Should my wife sacrifice her shopping? She decided to do so, reluctantly, which was the worst decision I let her make. Cos she didn’t feel like going and she was impatient during the journey. I was perfectly fine to go alone actually..In the end the view wasn’t that fascinating after all, missed the sunset timing. 

We still managed to eat black pig, Ippudo for dinner as we couldn’t decide where to go. The waitresses were quite funny, they wanted to take photos with us cos we were tourists lol. 

All in all, it was a very fulfilling Hokkaido trip!

The Cyst Removal

It’s two weeks into my new job! However just before the company retreat, there was a slight attack by the devil as the sebaceous cyst at the centre of my back suddenly became infected. It was actually harmless for many years, no idea when it was first formed. I had to sleep on my side as it’d hurt if I sleep flat. I went to see the GP who gave me some antibiotics. After 5 days, the cyst was still infected and became slightly painful. I went back to the GP and he gave me a letter for me to go to A&E for a saucerization day surgery to remove the carbuncle. I became slightly worried and troubled, and now I know how those people feel when they receive a bad report from the doctor. I took a while to decide whether to go to A&E immediately or not, since it didn’t seem super serious. Called my insurance agent for advice and he told me to go to a private clinic instead, since I have coverage. But have to wait till the weekday.

So I decided to wait till the weekday and call the private the clinic. The doctor from the clinic told me to wait till the infection subside, so that it is easier to just insert a needle, poke a hole and remove all the stuff. Anyway, it was starting to get less painful so I decided to wait. Finally on friday, my mother-in-grace asked me to go to my wife’s uncle, who is a doctor, to take a look. He and everyone else there convinced me to poke a hole immediately and remove all the pus on the spot. Haha. I took a while to decide and I said yes.

So we began the procedure in the clinic and I could see the whole process through a camera and a large TV in front of me. Thank God for local anaesthetic, for I did not feel much pain when the doctor inserted the needle. Apparently, the hole was too small, so he decided to cut a small 1cm hole so that it is easier to squeeze the stuff out. Then he had to insert a scraper of some sort into the hole and try to dig stuff out. It was gross. It took a lot of squeezing and manipulating to squeeze everything out. He had to cut the hole slightly bigger as the cyst tissue was quite complicated. Lots of yellow smelly pus and thick blood came out. He also used a special vacuum tube to suck everything out.

After about 30 minutes, the procedure was complete and my wife had to continue to press on the wound to squeeze any remaining blood out. It was alot. Over the next few days, she has to repeat the same pimple-squeezing-like procedure whenever we change the dressing. She enjoys it though.

After 1 week, the cyst finally disappeared and my back is almost flat now. Praise the Lord.


Jesus didn’t have any local anaesthetic when he went to the cross. At the cross, he took the full effect of the pain experienced when the nails pierced through his hands and his feet. He experienced all the pain when the soldiers strike his back. And by his stripe we are healed, without pain and without shame.

The most exciting week in my job

The past two weeks were like one big event. It was a huge adrenaline rush over the two weeks as I got together everyone in workshops for an external agency from overseas. It felt like the most exciting week of my career as everyday was purposeful. It was meeting after workshop, workshop after meeting non-stop. I brought the agency around the various eating places around my workplace, and gave them a tour of pretty much everything. Everyone participated in the workshops, although my greatest fear was no one would attend them. But it all turned out to be good, and one of the directors even said ‘good job’ in putting everything together and wanted to nominate me for an award. Lol. I also fed the agency folks with regular snacks and tidbits, bought them some local malay kuehs and also organised some user interviews.

The Londoners asked me if there was some packed snacks which they could bring back, but I couldn’t think of any. In the end, I bought some tao sar biah and hong biah from Q Bread which are imported from Malaysia, so somewhat local. Haha. I offered kaya and bak kwa too but they were not interested.

On one of the nights, we went for a drink at the roof top of hotel jen, where there’s a poolside bar with a nice view, kinda like a mini-MBS rooftop. It was quite chill and nice view. My first time having drinks with ‘corporate clients’. After that, I even brought them to gluttons bay and introduced them to satay and carrot cake. I felt like a tour guide. Maybe I should be one lol. 

While Singaporeans complain about our MRT, they tell me that the tube is worse, has more break downs, and is not all air-conditioned. While we complain how hot the weather is recently and we love aircon, they say our weather is perfect and the office is too cold. Haha. Makes me appreciate my country a little more.

Death, where is your sting? Your power is dead as my sin.

Even though I did  not participate in the epic queue for the wake, Lizzy and I decided to volunteer when our church decided to give our drinks and snacks to the people lining up the gun carriage route today.  The crowds started forming up 3 hours before the carriage was scheduled to pass Bouna Vista. We were giving out water, bread, biscuits and umbrellas alongside Sheng Siong who were giving out drinks and snacks as well. We used their trolley and helped them give out their bottled water. Bread was more popular than biscuits because biscuits were too dry.

It poured like crazy as if heaven was mourning as well. Everyone braved the rain for a few hours for a few seconds of chanting as the carriage passed. This bigger-than-NDP-and-Chingay scene probably would not repeat in our lifetime.

Later when we attended service, they interrupted the sermon so that we could join the live broadcast and observe the minute of silence with the rest of the country. When the national pledge was recited and the national anthem was sang, I have never felt so emotional singing Majulah Singapura before. For one, I have not sang the National Anthem for some time. Images of National Service and various NDPs which I attended flashed through my mind. Even attending the NDP ‘live’ was nothing compared to this. Suddenly, I never felt as appreciative of Singapore as I was before, with tears in my eyes.

There was a photo of a rainbow appearing on Instagram. A new beginning for the future of Singapore. After Moses, there is Joshua.

Thanksgiving for 2014

Thank you Jesus for 2014 has been a blast! Thank You for:

  • A year of greater glory with Lizzy in which we got engaged on 7 October 2014 and we have secured a wedding venue and now looking for a house =)
  • A few enjoyable overseas trips to Bali, office retreats to Bintan and Batam, and of course, Taipei where I proposed
  • A few amazing church camps, such as Legacy Camp which I had the privilege to serve alongside Lizzy; and Genrev Camp which was short but good
  • Learning many things in my career and being able to try out different roles from business, interaction and innovation, and to be involved in cool projects like F1. Grace grace to more career satisfaction and fulfilment
  • Answering our prayers of finding friends in the same season who are also planning to get married.
  • Expanding the Zone/Dare lights ministry and allowing me to play a bigger role. What a privilege to serve in this house!
  • Keeping us safe from virus and accidents and the darkness of the world
  • An awesome future in-grace family to be in future
  • And above all, Your goodness which will abundantly provide more than we can ask or imagine when we find a house



Taiwan 2014

Day 1 – Taoyuan to Cingjing

Due to a typhoon in Japan, our scoot flight was delayed by 9 hours which was actually a blessing in disguise because I had more time to practice and fix some bugs in my game the night before the flight. Haha. Can’t sleep well anyway.

We arrived and took a bus and then the high speed train to taichung. We dabao 7-eleven for lunch. The 7-eleven here is qjite cool and different, they have some pasar malam tea egg and loklok kind of food which is quite good standard. Their drinks variety is awesome. We love the milk tea and giant size yakult bottle! The train is pretty cool, looks pike a variation of the japan toys I played when young. It travels at 230kmh but it doesn’t feel like it. Reaches our destination in half hour. Pretty awesome. We then got touted by a lady cab driver to take her cab, a toyota wish, to cingjing. She’s actually a very nice chatty lady and said she came to Singapore before 20 years ago. Haha. It was a longer 1.5-2 hours ride up to about 1600m above sea level. By the time we reached, it was almost sunset, but the mountains around the villa relax was beautiful and scenic. It’s a little bit like California, but not as beautiful I reckon. There are some pine trees but mostly mixed vegetation. After checking in, we walked uphill to a small complex with a few shops and ate 7-eleven (again yes) for dinner. We then played bridge and slept in early for the sunrise the next morning.

Day 2 – Sunrise and The Thing we came here for

Couldn’t sleep well again as usual as I was nervous. Haha. The next day we woke up at 3am to go watch sunrise lol. It was a 30min ride up the mountain and we had some stargazing tour (albeit in Chinese which liz couldn’t understand most of the words) but fortunately the Google Sky Map helped. The stars were amazing, splattered across the whole sky, more than Bali, reminds me of the night I had in Utah. It reminds us of how Abraham saw the stars in the bible. We could see constellations like Sirius, Gemini, Orion, Phoneix and many more. We even saw a few satellites flying past. It was breathtaking.

After that, the van drove us further uphill to hehuan mountain to catch a better angle of the sunrise. Along the way, the driver gave alot of commentary in Chinese of which we could only understand half as the accent was quite thick lol. Finally, we stopped and it was pretty bright already. The green grass on the rolling hills in the golden hour look like the shire, reminds me of the sunrise I saw in Malang. The sunrise wasn’t as impressive as Bali, but it was still amazing nevertheless.

After sunrise, we have simple toast and eggs breakfast at our villa. One of the initial plans was to execute the proposal after breakfast but I decided not to as it was too hot and not conducive with so many people around. Besides, we were quite tired after waking up so early. So we all went up to take a nap for an hour or so, before we go to cingjing farm. We wanted to take the public bus up, but one of the private bus decided to tout us and charge us slightly higher. Lol. But it was a comfortable big Mercedes transporter. We ate some random lunch at the hawker area, with fried vermicelli, vegetables and some salty chicken. After that, we started our hike in the farm with the meh meh. It was quite a nice mild weather with hot sun. The sheep are not that white, pretty yellow. Haha. We strolled around the north section and sat under a shade to chill for a bit while lizzy drew. Then we hike downhill back towards our villa. Stopped by thr carton king shop in front of the swiss garden to look at cute things. They didn’t want to go into the garden though, too cliche. After that, kaiwen had to go back earlier to use the toilet, while me and lizzy strolled back slightly later.

And here’s how the plan began. When we reached back the villa, zx said the electricity and the water supply for the villa is down, so lizzy decided to stay at the front patio to play with the cats. I then deceitfully told her that I’m going up to the room to put our bags down, and then I took this opportunity to tell zx and kw that now, now is the perfect timing to execute the proposal! I declared success in prayer and kw put some anointing oil on my back, and we agreed that they will appear at 3pm sharp with the balloons and the ring. Meanwhile, I brought the ukulele down as a distraction. Hahaha

And so, I went back and Lizzy was sitting on the red chair. We sat at the patio for a while and worshipped, with some random songs Broken Vessels, Whom Shall I Fear ans Magnificent. At about 2.55pm, Lizzy went to picked up another cat and we changed seats and I pretended to take some selfie with her on my phone. After that, I said, I’ve something to show her on my phone. So I began to show the interactive story – The Adventures of Lizzy the Blobosaurus on my phone. She thought it was just a random thing I do every month. When we reached the fake ending, I saw zx and kw hiding behind the bushes. Although we were facing them, Lizzy wasn’t noticing. The fake ending was to say “Happy 11 months” and Lizzy would think the game was just a monthiversary thing. I’m supposed to give the decoy gift: a pair of dino necklaces at this moment, but I forgot to bring it down. So nvm

Next strategic move was to put my phone on my table and start tapping my feet, hopping zx would notice. They approached us and I told lizzy, now for the real ending, and showed the real ending on my phone which ends with “Will you marry me” and as the text scrolls and she saw them approaching, on retrospect, she was thinking, oh no, is this for real? Is this the moment?

When the dinosaurs came, she was like, what is tizzz?? Haha. I took the ukulele and started singing the medley of songs – I choose you, You and I, and All of me.
However, just before the chorus of I choose you, I suddenly became very emotional and couldn’t control myself, and burst into tears. I was balling apparently, and crying louder and more than Lizzy. Lol. She’s crying of course. After trying to regain my composition, I attempted to sing You and I, and then burst into tears again, and then sang thru the tears for the remainder of the songs. Zzzzzz. So embarrassing. Not sure why I became so emotional either. I surprised myself. The only other time I’ve cried so much in my life was during my mum’s funeral. Tears of joy I suppose. All the while while zx and kw were videoing. Lol.

At the end of the songs, I was looking for the ring box, didn’t notice kw put it behind me lol. I knelt down and opened the box, and said, nothing else to say already. So Lizzy, will you marry me? After a few seconds of contemplation and disbelief, she said yes. She didn’t dare to look at the ring cos she had a dream about her not liking the ring. Haha. I slipped the ring unto her finger, it barely fits, slightly too small then I stood up and smiled. Zx say, hug and kiss! And so we did. Haha. Then I ask her to look at the ring. And oh there’s a dino on the ring! Haha she liked it a lot, and no one else would ever appreciate a dino on a engagement ring except her. It’s cute, it’s so her, and it had all the leaves thing she like. The diamond is not important (although it was shiny).

We sat on the patio for a little while to recover and talked. I told her about the inception of the idea. In July, deacon Sam met me after service and asked me when is my turn. He asked me to ask God for a specific verse. And so I did. The next morning, I randomly flipped open to Isaiah 61 and verse 10 popped out with the jewels word. Ring!

After all is said and done, we waited for the electricity to come back and then googled for a nice place to eat dinner. We ended up at a yunwu villa where there’s some yunhua chinese food. It’s not too bad, some cabbage, fried fish, beef and herbal soup. Then it’s 7-eleven again. We love the giant bottles of yakult with the huge variety of flavours and kw loves the malt milk which tastes like horlicks. Hahhaa.

Day 3 – Out of Cingjing to Taipei and Wufenpu

The next day we all woke up early cos of the early morning sunrise light, like aftee 6am. After breakfast we boarded the van/carpool which brought us to the HSR station. Along the way, I sang the medley of songs again haha, and we just spent the journey singing praise and worship songs, and time flew. HSR to taipei takes about an hour, and our awesome H132 hostel is within walking distance of taipei train station.

After checking in, we took a train to houshanpi and started our shopping at wufenpu! It’s like a giant bugis-like area but much better. After the first alley, I already bought a few shirts and a pair of shorts and shoes lol. However, the place was very dusty and I kept sneezing. We took a teabreak at a nearby bubble tea and familymart, took a short walk and started our 小吃 adventure at raohe night market! It started with fried yam with duck, beef cubes, bbq chicken like a sausage, true blue Taiwanese sausage, oyster egg, quail egg fried with prawn (amazing invention), touhuey, and many more. It was also a day buying a lot of socks (all 4 of us bought 32 pairs in total lolol). It was a day with a lot of 收获。

Day 4 – Jiufen

On Thursday we have a day tour with a taxi cum tour guide driver Phyllis. She drove us in a toyota wish to Yehliu geopark, which is a nature park with a lot of sedimentary rocks with holes and many many tourists. Too many. My friend was right, nothing beats utah. But nice breeze and waves of the pacific ocean.

Next stop is jiufen. The driver was nice enough to bring us on a short heritage walk and showed us the first old school theatre in Taipei. Then we climbed up the steps and walked the old street. The best find was a shop full of cute cat things! From postcards to stickers to souvenirs to tshirts. Lizzy bought many many things of course and she was truly amazed. Everything was ‘so nice!’ Hahha.

We walked down, bought some yam pastry and ice cream popiah and pineapple tarts. All super good.

I asked the tour guide if she could bring us to the small town with many cats which I read online, and she said sure, 30 minutes of cats! Lol. So she drove us to houtong train station, a small town named after monkeys but now famous for cats. It started to rain though so there weren’t many. But still, everything in the station was cat-themed, from the toilet signs to the maps to the shop and statue. There were a few molest-able cats. And even cat-themed penny coin machines. #toomuchcutecats

Our last stop was Shifen where we get to release the lanterns, or tian deng. It was actually drizzling quite badly but people were still doing it anyway. The strange thing was the activities were conducted on a live train track where a train passed by every now and then. Lol. We chose a multi-coloured one and drew some bible verses on it, Liz drew Psalm 23 while I wrote Isa 61:10. We let it go after taking some photos. After that, we had the great idea of getting a white one and writing No Other Name and Jesus on it, along with Chinese characters. Haha. It was quite funny. Alot of people were staring at it too, some probably know what it is, some of them even read it out. Pretty cool moment. Still raining though.

All in all, Phyllis was a very friendly and great driver. I’m also amazed how she has wifi in the car, a tablet to showcase maps and photos, and also a little GPS which she also uses to watch TV (while driving, yes). She even tried to print out photos that she took for us, but that day her printer went out of ink. It was supposed to be a surprise gift. Haha.

At night, something happened at home and kw needed to fly back one day earlier.

Day 5 – Design week and shida

The next morning we walked around to hunt for breakfast again. Ended up buying 蛋饼 and carrot cake from a roadside stall. After that the plan was to find a cafe to chill. Couldn’t really find any as everything only opens after 11. We decided to go to 101 and see if we can go to the secret starbucks, but alas, now they need reservations. We then started shopping around at Eslite, which is like a giant departmental stall with very well curated cool brands and a huge bookstore. They even have a enormous food court with alot of Jap style food. Amazing place which Lizzy found a lot of ‘nice’ cute things again haha. After that, we walked to songshan creative and cultural park for the taiwan designer’s week (twdw2014), which is held in some old Japanese tobacco warehouse building. There was a young boy who sold us early bird admission tickets, so we saved some money. Quite a number of cool stuff inside the exhibition, which includes furniture, print, cloth, interactive and many more. We spent a couple of hours looking at the nice things and the adjacent exhibitions on industrial universal design, social design, creative expo etc.

After sunset, we took a train to shida night market. We walked along the main road and then realised the night market is in the alleys. There were many people queuing for this fried yong tau foo like things, which I later found out it is yan shui ji and yan shu ji which is fried or salty chicken with many other side dishes which look like yong dau foo. Haha. But we ended up eating porridge instead as we were will quite full. We shopped around and found out that there’s more dresses and clothes suitable for Liz here at Shida. We also found a very well designed taiwanese bag brand – rite. We were sold by the promotional words of the salesgirl, with pretty prints and many ways of carrying the bag. Of course, Liz bought one haha. It was drizzling though, which wasn’t very pleasant for walking.

Day 6 – cafe and ximending

The next day, they wanted to go to a floral market. So we decided to find a cafe to chill for abit. Went to dongmen area, found another random place for breakfast. Breakfast here is mostly beancurd, or sandwiches and hamburger, or egg crepes thing. Later we found a rooster coffee place and sat there. There are so many hipster cafes in different parts of taiwan. They’re everywhere we went and everyone seems so legit. We chose this one cos it seemed to have nice beans. Over the next couple of hours, she drew while I read the bible.

We met them for lunch at Daan where I found some tainan claypot ee mian, which is slightly different from ours but still pretty awesome. We then walked to New Life church and took a peek.

After church, we went to ximending. The drizzling rain kinda dampened the moods but it was still super crowded on a Saturday night. We didn’t really shop as most of us already shopped enough. So we hunted for food (again). First was the most legit mee sua with big intestine. Then was 大肠包小肠 which is a sausage wrapped with some rice roll. And also some cheese potatoes and egglets. Fooooodddd. We walked around a bit but we all felt tired and decided to go home early.

Day 7 – creative markets and tonghua

Today is the last day. In the morning we went for a breakfast hunt for some beancurd I found online but the queue was like hundred people long. Ridiculous. Seriously. Fortunately there was the famous Yong he across the street (which singapore has a branch but is not as good). We had super awesome you diao, beancurd drink, fried egg crepe wrapped around a you diao, fried biscuit, onion egg pancake (like prata), and xiao long bao. Super awesomest breakfast ever.

Zx had to send kw off, while liz and I went to fuzhong for this Fz15 animation and art gallery. It’s like a small museum space which they showcase films and some art. Nothing much though. We walked around the smaller eslite there before going to this Maji square at Yuanshan, which is somewhat like their turf city pasarbella equivalent. There was a lot of angmoh food, lots of hipster stuff, and a small creative market. A good find online the night before for taiwanese night markets. Even the chairs at the food court are vintage hipster chairs. We walked around, lim kopi, and then found out that in the expo area inside the old stadium, there’s a beef noodle festival going on! Another accidental find. And so of course we joined the longest queue for beef noodle which was pretty awesome and had yummy soup. We also bought a egg crepe that wraps around some beef and bbq sauce. Super delicious as well. Great detour.

The sun came out and we walked out of the car sales area into the park and sat under the tree for a while. Talked about our future. It was a nice chill afternoon in the park. From afar, the elevated train station looked like almost like our chinese garden station.

Next, we took a train back to 101 area for simple market, which is like their public garden equivalent. It is held in an old military barracks kinda courtyard, with vintage hipster-looking concrete and brick walls and doors. Plus a cho cafe that sells bagels which are supposedly so good that they are sold out. Fortunately we came this second as the things at maji were cuter and money was spent there. After walking a short round, we just sat on the grass slope and watched the sky turn dark.

At 6pm, we walked to tonghua street for the smaller night market there. Finally ate the fried chicken and fried sweet potato plum fries which were really awesome. And we also queued for some jian bao (fried dumplings in bao shape). Also bought some clothes from a shop which was surprised that we tourists are there because tonghua is not as popular as the other markets.

Our last stop was to go to Yong Kang st near Dongmen station for the mango slush ice at the famous Smoothie House. It’s super big an awesome, the snow flakes are more flaky and less icy. We even managed to dabao some for zx.

Day 8 – home

The last morning, I found another tau huey place within walking distance. We tried the salty beancurd for the first time, which tastes like chanwanmushi (beancurd + soy sauce + spring onions) and also tried soya bean drink with egg (wow?), peanut drink (like the peanut paste back home) and the awesome pork chop egg fried biscuit (shaobing). Super delicious. We bought our final round of snacks before heading to the airport.


It felt like a super long trip, especially in taipei. A good mix of both countryside and urban shopping. Taiwan is better than Hong Kong because it is easier to communicate in Chinese than Cantonese (albeit with traditional chinese words which are hard to read), less hustle and bustle, and less crowded. Food is awesome and transport is similar to ours in many ways. No wonder many singaporeans like to come here. We can totally fit in here!

One year in my job

Today officially marks one year of my job in ST. Time flies always when in retrospect. I still remember the struggle last year when searching for a job, and I came onboard this team as an eager new kid on the block, trying my best in every task I was assigned in. It has been a journey with ups and downs as always. The first few months in the BE team was a little trying, doing things which I’m not used to, such as account management, business competitive analysis, stakeholder management etc. I still remember sitting into a board meeting with a lot of senior people whom I don’t really know and feeling overwhelmed, and then transiting to representing my team in the meeting myself a few months later. I learnt a couple of useful tools, such as Lean Canvas, User Stories, the two-by-two matrix, and apparently did one of the better opportunity briefs that is still looked upon as a benchmark.

The few months of the p-project was trying, as managing different vendors and contractors was not an easy task, besides it wasn’t exactly my area of speciality. It was a few grumpy months, attending many check-in meetings with not much outcome, and mostly just being an assistant typing meetings of meeting and task lists. Not very productive and those were the few months which I dread coming to work. But when finally the project is over, it was a sigh of relief. And we also moved into a new office, which introduced hot desking, free coffee, me as the facial recognition expert, among other things.

6 months in, I transitioned to another team, this time doing more of the interaction design work. I was tasked on one of the bigger projects to design the forms flow and wireframes for it, as well as structuring the user journey and information architecture of the app. It was a pretty enjoyable time as I probably learnt the most on-the-job during those few weeks from the senior designers. They are brilliant in problem-solving. Although sometimes when there are too many chefs baking a cake, nothing gets decided or takes forever to be baked. Too many decision makers spoil the fun. We completed the project and presented to our clients and it was one of the more successful projects.

4 months later, I moved in to the current innovation team, which is probably the most fun time so far. I got to come up with a new idea, presented it to the “angels” for funding, and it was pretty successful. After that, I got to be involved in F1, building a dashboard and editing a video. Finally I’m really touching my grace zones and it was good to be back in doing front-end coding again. It was also a good chance to do some video editing in collaboration with an external party for a short showcase at F1. And it was an honour and privilege to be on-site at the F1 suite, entertaining guests and enjoying the endless flow of food. I think I really like this team, because it is small and we can execute fast like a lean startup, and we get to see the fruits of our labour faster than designing apps.

It was also an apt timing today to be invited to a nice dinner with my boss’ boss. It’s not too bad, not too bad. Thank you Jesus for your unmerited favour for this new kid on the block. It’s not just a job, it’s a position of influence.

In other news, I think I really need to learn app programming.