Monday, February 23, 2009

A 'fine' week

2 days in a row, I had 2 fines! This coupon system needs upgrading urgently. Like my friend said, it's my contribution to the Singapore economy.

Went to Mann Hong, intending to get some medication for the frozen shoulder, ended spending the night at SGH. What a week!

Besides the necessary physiotherapy for the frozen shoulder, I also delighted myself with retail therapy. Good for the soul!

What a contrast to my experience when I came back just before the CNY. There are so many great discounts all over Singapore. How could I resist! I better get back to Brunei soon, someone may be panicking already.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Embarrassment vs Pride

A friend was at the HSBC CNY open house last Sunday. The 2 emcees for the event were Fiona Xie and Michelle Chong from Media Corp. Predictably, I should feel a sense of pride to hear that my fellowmen (women) were popular to be invited. But as I listened to my friend's recount of the event, I was embarrassed. I guessed you know what I mean.

I was actually quite surprised by this friend's criticisms because she is often a very polite and gentle lady. She works for the French embassy here and knows her diplomacy. She was very apologetic but stressed that she was very disappointed with the 2 ladies' performance. She is a great fan of Singapore, especially MM Lee.

By the way, MM Lee is coming to Brunei as a guest-spearker of the University. Now, this one I'm proud of as I overheard this lady-friend advising our Kenyan friend not to miss the talk. I quote her "You MUST listen to Lee Kuan Yew, he's worth listening to. I've great respect for this man." I may not be related to MM Lee, but I felt that sense of pride when a foreigner praised a fellow citizen. We're Singaporeans.

Aiyah! I got an invite to MM Lee's talk but I'll be in Singapore. So sad!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Laugh it off

Ha, ha more funny encounters.

Experience 1:
I sent a dress to the laundry for dry-cleaning last week. when I went to collect yesterday, I was told it was lost! How many of us have our clothes 'lost' while in the hands of the laundry? Even my driver laughed in disbelief when I told him.

This is the laundry's explanation:
It could have been given by mistake to another customer, who decided to keep it. How convenient an explanation! Always blame someone for your mistakes: the essential skill Adam passed on to us.

But the counter staff told me the dress was missing even before the dress was ready for collection, because when she tried to collate all my items, she discovered it was gone. Did someone like my dress so much?

The owner of the laundry called me personally to apologise and offered a full compensation for my dress. I went shopping after that and bought myself 3 new outfits. Thanks to the 'kind soul' who kept my dress. Enjoy wearing it.

Experience 2:
My sister-in-law visited us and I brought her to an 'upmarket' home decor boutique, wanting to show her some real expensive stuff in Brunei. I visited this shop 4 times, but have yet to buy something, and on all 4 occasions I was the only shopper. Guessed what? While we were busy checking and commenting on the exquisite displays, HRH Princess Sarah walked in with her ladies-in-waiting and we did not even know! We crossed path but she was so casual in her attire I did not even take a second look. On the contrary I noticed the ladies-in-waiting and thought something was unusual. We only knew she was shopping in our midst when our driver told us. How I wished I had taken a look at her instead of the displays because this Princess is very pretty. Her casual attire misled me! She is a real beauty and can easily robbed the tiara off any beauty queen!

Now, our driver is not a nosy person. He told us only because we saw the convoy of HRH Crown Prince Billah (husband of the Princess) on our way back to the embassy. Really chu meng yu gui ren for my sister-in-law. Her first visit to Brunei and both the Prince and Princess were out to 'receive' her.

And yes, dear friend, thank you for reminding me that I hold a pink not red IC. You see, I only need to use my red passport here.

Monday, February 2, 2009


Crazy! I was literally shocked out of my sleep by the explosion of fire crackers. Yes, early in the morning. With this strange tendency, I am eternally grateful that fire crackers are banned in Singapore. You have to experience this sudden explosion to know what I mean. After 911, Mumbai, Hard Rock in Bali... these sudden explosions can send imaginations wild, albeit Brunei is a relatively safe place.

All things said, Larry and I could not resist this opportunity set off a few explosions. We paid $8 for 2 packets of fire crackers and a box of 'rockets'. We must be the most stingy players in the neighbourhood. Our neighbours set off fireworks, which cost $90 for a small box and $140 for a big one. We were dabbling with kiddy firecrackers.

For a country with more than 80% non-Chinese, the CNY celebration is large. There are more lion-dance troupes, more media coverage in the press. The Crown Prince together with his princess and little prince attended some open houses, mainly homes of the more established Chinese here.

Some friends I met back home while I was back for the CNY had this misconception that I'm living a 'tai-tai' lifestyle here. Honestly, nothing near it. Into our third month now and still no live-in maid. I do all the housework everyday. A part-time help comes once a week to help with the 'big' jobs. It helps to have a husband who is an expert in ironing clothes. If everything works as planned, our maid should arrive next month. Praying.

One concerned Chinese friend asked why I had so many complaints in my previous entry. Take heart, 'hao peng you', I'm still a Singaporean deep in the core. Even if prices hit the roof, Singapore is still my home. I read Dr Lee Wei Ling's column last Sunday, and I think those who have spent some time living in another country will appreciate Singapore more. And by overseas, I mean it includes the 'much sought after' USA.

During our stay in the US, that 'Singaporean' feeling was stronger and deeper. Of course, in the enthralling US the urge to travel was stronger then. I remembered we visited NYC, Boston, Orlando, New Orleans, Arizona, Seattle, Denver, Salt Lake City, New England, St Louis, SF, LA, Washington, Niagara Falls... I can't recall all of them but I do remember traveling at least half of the time we were there. We were brave enough to venture to Switzerland and Israel before we finally flew to the US. Then Larry was a student and we had more time. (maybe even more money to have done all those places!)

Now, I don't even want to go to Miri, a few hours drive from home or KK (only 25 min flight). Perhaps, we have learned the pleasure of simple leisure. In fact, I'm not keen to go anywhere except back to Singapore. I missed my sons, very much. Singapore is always home because my family is there. I will never willingly give up my red IC.