Welcome to our website !

Many people find Singapore as a country to be too sanitized and too structured. To a certain degree, I agree with that assessment. It’s true that Singapore is probably the most Westernized and developed of the Southeast Asian countries. The streets are perfectly clean, systems run efficiently like clock-work, there are clear-cut rules and regulations on everything, and there is an air of predictability around most things here. But what’s wrong with that??? I for one like living in a society that runs like a well-oiled machine. It makes life easier and less stressful. 

Then there are naysayers who complain that Singapore is too dull to live in. Not enough culture and personality, they say. My take is that it’s all about perspective. Your experience is what you make of it, anywhere you go. I find that there are plenty of pockets of culture stashed all over Singapore, some obvious, some more hidden. It’s just a matter of you venturing out and discovering what lies beyond your front door. For example, I love the murals you’ll find around Tanjong Pagar and Tiong Bahru, the hustle & bustle and temples of Little India, the pastel colors and unrestrained use of colors of Perenakarn shophouses, the crazy graffiti-covered walls of Haji Lane, the undulating Henderson Waves Bridge, and the list goes on...

Then there are complainers who say that Singapore is too small. It’s claustrophobic, they say. Well, I consider myself immensely fortunate to live in a country where travel to surrounding countries is only a short distance away. If ever I want to break the monotony of daily life, I can easily hop on a plane to places in Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Cambodia – all within 3-4 hours of flying time. Isn’t that great?

Clearly I like living in Singapore. But I also loved living in other places in my life, such as New York City, Austin, and Bangkok. My bottom line is basically this: Embrace the city (even the world) you live in! There’s so much to see and discover and learn, no matter the place. Never stop being curious. Always keep that sense of wonder. Do things that excite you. You’ll be so much happier in life!

Dress by Morning Lavender | Purse by Ammos Accessories |
Shoes by Charles & Keith | Bracelet by Accessory Concierge

Travel to new destinations offers us a mental escape from the everyday routine we have in our lives. Why not break free and do something daring in the physical sense too?

With so many great places and unique locales to explore in the world, I have become a big fan of combining sight-seeing with fitness challenges. This, my friends, is my new hobby. It’s exciting, it’s adventurous, it’s fun!  I’ve been doing it for the past 3 years now and I love it.

It all started when I did the vertical race, climbing over 86 flights of stairs up the Empire State Building in New York (read here). I got such a high from taking part in a unique fitness challenge such as that. It was so atypical from the usual races one does. From them on, I was hooked! The next one I did was a run through an ancient archeological site steeped in history, the Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Soon after, it was a run through the Singapore Zoo where we got to whiz by wild animals. The most recent one I did was the Vietnam Mountain Run.

The Vietnam Mountain Run is no ordinary race. It takes place in Sapa, a small town that sits among mountains in northern Vietnam. You might imagine that a race in a mountainous region might include lots of rocky dirt roads, winding trails, and steep inclines. You’re not mistaken.

My 10K race started at central Sapa town with the rest of the race taking me past local minority villages, through scenic ricefields, jungles, and streams. I had trained on flat, pavement roads in urban Singapore. In rural Sapa, I was greeted with the rocky-studded dirt paths, dangerously narrow trails, slippery muddy paths, and steep slopes along the way. I had prepared for a tough race, this was even tougher than I expected. I realized early on that this race was going to be a test of endurance and agility. I had to keep going through a combination of running, climbing, and walking. It was no doubt the hardest race I’d done until now. The first 3 km were essentially downhill but the last 7km were entirely uphill to a height of 1500 meters. Talk about pushing yourself against gravity!

Despite all of that, I made sure to pause every now and then to taken in the incredible scenery in front of me. Yes, I had a race to complete but that didn’t stop me from taking my iPhone out multiple times during the run to take gratuitous selfies and panoramic shots of the gorgeous landscape. I also felt lucky to have gotten the chance to see the quieter, hidden corners of Sapa and access some of the more remote parts of this locality through this run. As I crossed the finish line, I felt a great sense of accomplishment. I had pushed myself to complete a very strenuous race but the journey had been incredible. Now, I’m already thinking about where my next destination and race will be. 
Only the beginning of the run. All easy downhill turns at this point. 
Quick photo to capture myself along this side cliff, and then getting on with the run!
"What's up with these foreigners wanting to run through our village? We do it every day,
it's no big deal."

In case you're wondering - yes, I stopped a fellow runner to ask if he could take a picture of me as I stood panting like a dog...against this backdrop.
Waving the Indian flag at the finish line! Oh, so victorious! Haha!

Whether you're a first time mom or a seasoned one, a working mom or a stay-at-home mom, it is something that haunts you wherever you go. It happens when you’re staying back late at work, when you are out longer than expected with your girlfriends, or when you take time out to do something for yourself. Oh yeah, you know what I’m talking about – that constant need to be the ideal mother, the perfect parent who selflessly dedicates all their time to their child. It’s a condition I call the mother’s guilty complex. Please be warned that you may experience the following symptoms: lingering self-doubt, bouts of emotional rather than rational decision-making, feelings of maternal inadequacy, and moments of guilt when having fun without the presence of your child. This condition comes in different forms and afflicts mothers of all ages and sizes.

I may be making a grand generalization but you get the drift. Perhaps this guilty complex is an evolutionary mechanism of maintaining long term maternal instincts or perhaps an artifact of society’s unrealistic expectations of mothers…whatever it is, it’s not going away unless we as mothers learn to deal with our internal conflict and emotions better when it comes to our children.

As a working mom, I often have to travel for work, which takes me away from my family. But I love my job and didn’t want to give it up. Early on, I decided that I could choose to either punish myself and feel bad for working and traveling, or I could take on this “working mom” role without the emotional baggage. I chose the latter. Of course, I have my moments of weakness where I feel I’m not able to give oodles of time to my son. But I do believe that I can be a good mother without constantly being by his side. In fact, I’m of the opinion that he’s better for it. Because it teaches him to be independent and it makes him realize that parenting is a shared responsibility. They say it takes a village to raise a child, and there were no truer words. If Mummy cannot be there, someone else who loves my son and can care for him is always around. That could mean Daddy, grandparents, a caring teacher, or a loving helper, etc. A child will always need his mother but when we aren’t around, we are ensuring for his care, happiness, and safety. Isn’t that an ideal environment after all?

The mother’s guilt is also destructive because it comes in the way of being true to yourself. I know that I’m a better version of myself when I make time to nurture friendships and follow my own pursuits, be it work, hobbies, or leisurely activities. In fact, we need it to be sane and feel fulfilled. Motherhood doesn’t have to be all-consuming. When I’m good to myself, I’m even better with my child because I’m in a happier state of mind. Somehow, I’d like to believe that I’m setting an important example to my child about the importance of family while balancing the emotional needs of oneself.

Lastly, when I do spend time with my child, I make sure it counts. When I’m at work, I give it my full focus. Why then shouldn’t I owe my child the same amount of attention? The one-on-one time I get with my son is something I value. Whether it is exploring new places together in Singapore, visiting a park, going for a walk, or reading books at home, I know he’s happy just having me with him.

It’s great that we want to dedicate as much time to our children as possible. But I try to put things in perspective and not overthink it. Raising a child is a long term undertaking which should be given its due priority. But building a career or pursuing our passions does not make us bad mothers. If anything, it makes us Super Moms…the kinds our children can look up to.
Mention Tiong Bahru to an older Singaporean and most would find this downtown neighborhood synonymous for its historical relevance to times dating back to the Japanese occupation during World War I and also as one of the oldest residential areas in Singapore. Mention Tiong Bahru to a younger local and what you might hear is that it's one of the coolest neighborhoods in town with hipster coffee joints and indie bookstores. What I love about Tiong Bahru is that it's a refreshing confluence of new and old. Alongside the modern stores that have popped up in this area, you'll find old shophouses with colorful doors and perhaps even an elderly auntie peeking out through the window. In the same neighborhood, the trendy yoga studio and cozy brunch spots coexist with the local market and hawker centers with seating spilling into the sidewalk. There's a laidback charm to this place you can't deny.

This past Sunday, we decided to go for brunch at Tiong Bahru. There are about 3-4 restaurants on Yong Siak Road alone, all of which are good! I particularly recommend Open Door Policy and 40 Hands. Plain Vanilla was a delicious-looking bakery I happened to walk by and made a mental note to visit next time. After brunch, I always like to browse through the bookstores on that street. There is one bookstore for grown-ups (Books Actually) and one for kids (Woods in the Books), both of which are just so cute that I could get absolutely lost in them forever! Once I'm able to pry myself away from the books, then I usually have to repeat the same for my son. Oh, he's a book lover alright!

If you enjoy exploring, there are even murals painted by local artists Yip Yew Chong depicting idyllic times from the artists' childhood days in the Tiong Bahru estate. These murals are utterly charming in their depiction of how things used to be in the olden days - street vendors selling laksa,  or someone's old-fashioned living room with rattan chairs and an old television box set. There are also animal murals by another artist Earnest Goh, which my son loved seeing and posing in front of (see below!). All in all, a lazy Sunday brunch and stroll through Tiong Bahru is highly recommended!
Tassle off-shoulder top: Morning Lavender | Jeans: Gap | Sandals: Express | Purse: Coach | Sunglasses: Cole Haan | Neclace: Stained glass locket from Venice (purchased years ago) 
Mural by Yip Yew Chong
Mural by Earnest Goh
Singapore seems to have no shortage of candy-colored buildings. I had blogged about the rainbow-like building of the Ministry of Culture, Community, and Youth previously. Today, I visited the Rochor Center, a set of government housing blocks each painted a different primary color. These buildings are a landmark of the Bugis neighborhood and hard to miss whenever you drive past them. Unlike the glitzy new buildings that seem to have taken over downtown Singapore, the colored buildings of Rochor Center are iconic of 1970s Singapore. Longtime residents of different ethnicities have lived here harmoniously for generations. Walk around the shophouses on the ground floor and the old uncles at work, and you can feel the character of the place and the stories behind it. 

Unfortunately, nothing last forever and later this year, the Rochor Center will be torn down to make way for new developments and an expressway. Before that happens, I made a visit to this place and soaked up the view of the city from its rooftop. While there are still some residents there, most seem to have moved out along with many of the stores. It's sad indeed as this iconic landmark will be missed once it's been removed from the ever-changing cityscape.

Top: ESP (Bangkok) | Pants: Zara | Purse: Rebecca Minkoff Round Sofia Crossbody Bag
Shoes: Mumbai street shopping | Sunglasses: RayBans (Nordstrom Rack) | Bracelet: Nakamol