Going down south

Friday, November 26, 2010

As the year end approaches, so is my vacation. This is the first time I planned for an overseas holiday with WL. To get things started, we decided to travel somewhere nearer - Singapore, our neighbouring country. Planning & reservations started 2 months before our planned vacation in Nov. It wasn't the shopping season then so the main objective was to visit Universal Studios which was opened earlier this year.

We could've took the flight to save time but our stingy bug made us opt for a bus ride. Instead of taking the ever popular & more premium Aeroline, we bought First Coach tickets which is, no doubt, very much cheaper compared to Aeroline. Well, the bus is only a single deck & don't expect it to be as exclusive like Aeroline. It's a decent bus - comfy & quite clean. Thank God we have in-bus entertainment or we could've been bored to death. Without that, an obvious alternative would be catching sleep or bring along your own entertainment gadgets. Just like him~

Five hours later, we arrived at Novena Square & boarded the MRT to Orchard Road. Wow, how much the street has changed. It's only been 4 years the last time I came here. There were new malls here & there. Our hotel is only 10 mins walking distance from the MRT but somehow we got lost while lunging our luggages around. When we finally arrived at our hotel, we were taken aback by its less appealing exterior. On second thoughts, we kinda regretted choosing this hotel cuz it looked a little rundown compared to other hotels nearby & situated at the end of the street.

Thankfully, the interior ain't that bad. Seen here is the lobby which looks a little old with strong air freshener but is well maintained.

First day was a free & easy one for us since my ex-colleague & his girlfriend went off for dinner to celebrate their anniversary. Me & WL met up with my cousin sis instead for a sumptuous dinner at Ion Orchard. This restaurant, Paradise Dynasty is popular for its 8 distinct flavours xiao long bao wrapped in 8 different colour skins as well.

The xiao long bao was tastefully done with only 1 or 2 not to our liking - the cheese & Sichuan ones. I'd have to admit that their la mien is awesome! Omg, I totally love it~ Hours of boiling pork ribs & some herbs resulted in such incredible, savoury soup base. There was no hint of MSG at all as I didn't not feel thirsty after the meal.

Since the night was young, we took a stroll along Orchard Road & enjoying the view of Christmas deco in the surrounding. Not that the deco was elaborate & grand as previous years. Ion Orchard - being the newly built mall at the street - is the "it" mall right now. Its architecture is pretty amazing considering the piece of land was once a mini park next to Wisma Atria. The lightings & glow outside the mall & the subway linking to Orchard MRT is uber cool & probably the main highlight which made Ion stood out from the rest.

On the 2nd day, we headed for sightseeing at Marina Bay Sands. It's not like we could afford to gamble at the casino nor buy anything from the luxurious shopping mall. Our purpose was to witness with our own eyes the magnificent architectural works of world renowned architect, Moshe Safdie. The mega-scale project was extraordinary, no doubt. Just look at the interior...

And the outside view of the ultra-modern hotel building.

I love how the water fountain flows slowly around the mall, giving an illusion of a crystal clear glass. Btw, the mall is called The Shoppes.

They have an unbelievably huge Gucci store which spans across 5 stores!

We hopped on a taxi to our next stop at Bugis Junction for a lunch break at the food court. Me & WL kinda regretted eating their chicken rice cuz it did suck big time. *sighs* What do you expect from Singapore hawker food? We can never compare to those back home.

Then, we ventured out of the mall at a nearby street & came across this VERY interesting shop. It's called...

Didn't know Thai food can be sexy & erm, horny? o.O

Dinner is at food court again - this time at Ion Orchard. I shall not elaborate on that cuz it wasn't a good experience too. Fast forward the next morning, it's the day we've been waiting for after months of booking. The day we're entering Universal Studios Singapore! Happy-nya~

After almost an hour bus ride, we arrived at Resort World Sentosa. We took the escalator, walked a few steps & ta-daa! The giant globe spinning on its axis. A haven for photo junkies especially those who don't intend to fork out a sum to enter the theme park & yet desperate to prove their existence. Just to show the world they've been there.

It was only 9.30am when the queue started to form in front of the entrance. By the time we got through, it was so crowded as everyone was waiting for their turns to collect meal & retail vouchers. And the journey begins starting from the Madagascar theme park. One glance at the entire theme park, you can easily judge that the surrounding is really small. When you start calculating the cost, you'll find that the ticket is not worth it cuz there weren't much rides to play. The land is limited & some rides are still under construction. In other words, there wasn't much to play. =( Nevertheless, the buildings & structures for each theme was beautifully constructed - perfect for pictures.

The much anticipated Jurassic Park Rapids Adventure ride which I missed back in US was surprisingly lacklustre. The ride was only 10 mins but waiting for our turn was a painful wait. It wasn't as exciting as the one in the US where the boat was supposed to free fall few storeys down the slope, splashing into a pool of water & getting all soaked up. As for this one in Singapore, not everyone got wet in our boat. Me & WL were the unlucky ones - who came unequipped with raincoats were soaked to our skin. I was so scared that I could've catch a fever cuz the weather was scorching hot in the noon & started drizzling towards late evening. I only brought an extra top but not bottoms so I was stucked wearing my stinky jeans all the way back to the hotel.

We were dead tired & woke up rather late on the last morning. Our initial plan to window shop at Ion Orchard as soon as opens didn't come about as we only arrived there late morning. Since we had limited time, me & WL spent most of our time at crafts shops which sell very unique notebooks, folders & stationeries. Those of you who are fans of Daiso, the outlet in Ion Orchard is crazy huge with so many items that you can literally think of is sold there. The shop looks classy too, unlike the ones back home.

Three hours later, we were on the journey back home. Passing through the Singapore immigration at Tuas was a breeze. However, getting through the Malaysian immigration was a pain due to the limited counters & large crowd. There were no proper queues & one old lady took advantage of her seniority by attempting to jump lines. I was fuming mad & literally pushed my luggage to block the rest of her bus mates from advancing forward & pushing me aside so as to secure better position. In the end, her attempts failed miserably as one of her bus mates criticised her so loudly that she moved away out of embarrassment. Kudos to you, uncle!

Earlier before we left Singapore, me & WL bought a pair of earphones each from Daiso as we were eager to try out the in-bus entertainment. The collection of movies were decent - some I've watched while some I haven't.

I took this pic of WL in deep concentration cuz I was bored.

Just two silly humans goofing around XD

The trip was pretty fun though it could've been more well planned. Oh well, it was my first time on a free & easy trip with WL. Definitely more to come & perhaps learn to lay down the travel itinerary better next time. Hoping for more, more trips this year!

Turning two

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Time passes by so fast without realising that I've stayed in my current company for 2 years. Working here makes you feel old in a certain way - like you've been here ages ago. There were both good & bad experiences during my tenure; meeting up with beloved WL, granted a promotion after I requested for an internal transfer & given the opportunity to co-manage the biggest portfolio in the food division. I've been really lucky & thankful that my superior is willing to offer this golden opportunity.

This year has been an eventful year for the entire organisation. Firstly, there was a major change in management which subsequently led to many drastic decision which includes restructuring, retrenchment & plant closure. Secondly & for the first time, we were granted an incentive trip overseas for achieving our CNY target. Thirdly, just like a domino effect after the management change, staffs from different departments across the country left one by one. It's sad to say that turnover is high in my company. All of us are losing the passion & motivation to work due to the many ridiculous demands & change.

It's close to the end of the year. I wonder what the new year brings - better prospect or another difficult year to endure. My brand is dying a slow death. As it is, only a few of us are walking the talk but what's the use if the key people are not doing the same. Now I can only cross my fingers & seek greener pastures elsewhere.

Yeo's Chrysanthemum Tea Month Media Launch

Monday, November 15, 2010

For the first time, our company had organised an event to commemorate our all-time favourite drink - chrysanthemum tea. Hence, a media launch was held to declare November month as the our Chrysanthemum Tea Month. Centre Court at The Curve was the chosen venue for the launch. Setup was pretty extravagant but sadly, it wasn't enough to fill up the empty gaps in between the various booths.

I volunteered to be on duty for the day & was assigned to the photo booth corner called Joyful Studio. Apparently, I'm supposed to be the content provider for our Facebook page & in charge of uploading all the photo submissions of the contest. Seen here is a pic of us hanging around the booth while waiting for the media launch to start.

Goofing around since the media launch was delayed. XD

After a long & tiring day, a few of us left for dinner at The One Cafe, Kota Damansara. The food is generally quite nice for its reasonable price. However, not all dishes were good though & you have to be selective cuz their Western food such as chicken chop etc is mediocre. The special thing about this cafe is that there is live performance from Wednesday to Saturday.

It was a hearty meal cuz we shared so many jokes together. We laughed our ass off & some of us were down to tears. Around 10pm, we left for home. What a day it has been...one day has gone. And we're looking forward to another day, a fun one hopefully. =)

My baby is leaving...

Friday, November 12, 2010

I'm counting the days left to my sweetheart's last day at work. Two more days...and he'll be officially "graduated" from his job. It was difficult for me as I got so used to having him around almost all the time - someone to share my joy & a shoulder to lean on when times are less cheerful.

There were tears of joy & sadness leading to this day. I was happy for him cuz he had finally found a better job opportunity. As predicted, I felt upset about the fact that he'll be leaving me behind. And I won't have anyone to turn to in the office when I'm feeling down or stressed. He has definitely become my security pillow or comfort zone.

But I kept telling myself that we need to move on. If not, how are we to progress further; whether it's career or relationship? I'll have to find ways to get used to the surrounding without his presence, no matter what. Whatever it is, I'll miss you baby. So, so much...=(

CNY 2011 Roadshow

Saturday, November 06, 2010

It's been hectic for the past 2 weeks & there was no time for a breather. I had been travelling quite extensively this time, only returning last Sunday. Being the only representative from Food team to present the upcoming plans in Q4'10 & Q1'11, our first stop was at Penang for the Northern team briefing. A few of us were arranged to carpool with one of my colleague who had no prior experience in outstation driving. Upon hearing this, I had cold feet & thought to myself that we will be in for a wild ride.

Thankfully, we arrived there safely. The rest of the 2 days 1 night stay was nothing extraordinary & I don't wish to elaborate further on that. The usual tradition for our CNY roadshows would be having lion dance to bring good luck to our business. The lion dance troupe hired to do the deed has quite pretty lion costumes due to its shiny, glamourous gold with no signs of dirt or stains.

Taken here is my colleagues from HQ team during the a short break from briefing.

It was somewhat difficult for me to conduct the briefing mainly cuz I don't speak Chinese well & my vocab was limited to conversations only. Even engaging in simple Chinese conversations makes me tongue-tied -.-". Anyways, we headed back to KL after the briefing ended. It was a little scary driving in the evening cuz my colleague has bad eyesight at night & it was drizzling throughout our journey. I heaved a sigh of relief the minute we exit the highway back to KL. We may have took the wrong way & travelled much further to reach PJ but most importantly reaching home in one piece. *phew*

Next stop was travelling down south to Ayer Itam for a one day trip. This time, the briefing was held at a so-called villas for tourists looking for a quiet weekend getaway. The location has a small hall for our gathering & next to it is a cafetaria. Despite the small venue, the team made an effort to decorate the hall.

I didn't take much picture during the event reason being there was nothing to shout about. But funnily enough, we spotted a rather unusual Christmas tree made assembled using plastic bottles filled with coloured liquid. So economical yet glows well in the dark when lit up. Interesting~

Just a day after we arrived back to KL, we had to bound for a early morning flight to Miri the following day - the last stop of the entire roadshow. I do have pet peeves on taking taxi to the airport alone, thus took the KLIA Ekspres instead. It was still dark when I boarded the train at 6.15am but I wasn't alone as there were other passengers too. The train is a little old & the seats worn out but it travels fast - merely 28 minutes to KLIA. All safe & good.

The good thing about flying with MAS is that the seats are pretty comfy & spacious; although I'm not too happy with the stuffy environment prior to take-off. And rest assured that you'll be well-fed. Just look at my mealbox!

I fell asleep quickly after meal as I was getting quite bored of the 2 hour flight. Makes me wonder how I did endured the 18 hours flight to LA 13 years ago...O_o When the captain announced that we'll be landing soon, I looked out of the window & was quite amazed. The seaside view looks beautiful up here. And those white foam must be the strong waves hitting the shore.

Upon arrival, we were in for a surprising visit to the Niah National Park which is 1 hour drive from Miri airport. Only clad in a t-shirt, jeans & sneakers - mentally unprepared & not suitably dressed for the occasion - we were only geared with a few bottles of mineral water & torchlights. And we had to endure a 3km walk along the wooden plank trails which lead us to the main cave. That trail is takes approximately 1 hour on foot. -.-"

The longest stalactites I've ever seen; observed just outside the Traders' Cave, 200m from the main cave.

The Traders' Cave looks equally stunning...

The insanely steep staircase to pass through before arriving at the main cave. There were several of these, mind you!

Finally, we arrived at the main cave. The hour long walk was pretty worth it considering the beautiful view right before our eyes.

Noticed the staircase to the deeper sections of the cave? It's the path leading to Kuala Gankira & the Painted Cave where pre-historic humans once inhibited millions of years ago. This part of the cave is pitch dark & requires a torchlight for better visibility. I was literally fumbling in the dark as I walked up the steps in total darkness, gripping hard for stability & avoiding the disgusting feeling & stench upon touching the guano droppings on the railings. It was only then I realised that I'm acrophobic & fear of the dark. Or rather fearful of the dangers within the darkness itself. My legs were numb & nearly gave way. I thought I would've the difficulty to climb out of the cave later.

Fortunately, I managed to & it was another hour long walk back to where we started. There ain't any shortcut back so it was indeed torturous~ Other than a bruise on the left knee due to a slippery fall, my inner thighs were awfully sore from the excessive steep climbing. No doubt the hike was a great experience, if only we were more prepared.

I shall not elaborate on the rest of the events cuz there were just too many. One thing to note - the annual dinner was interesting & the karaoke session was pretty cool. Everyone loved it! We got to see serious colleagues revealing their wild musical side. Oh yes, the local dishes that we had the opportunity to enjoy...it's called bidin, usually stir-fried with belacan. And I'm crazy over golok mee~ Looking forward to have them in my next visit. =D

This wraps up my entire journey & experiences during the roadshows. Travelling to all roadshow locations for the first time was both exhausting & fun. I'm not sure if I could endure another round of extensive travelling but at least I'm glad & proud to say that I've finally been to EM. =)