being alive.

Thank the Lord Saturday has rolled around.

For most part of the week in a second year radiography course thats working us all unnecessarily hard, the weekend appears as an oasis in a desert.

And also the weekend means work, and I do enjoy some casual interaction with customers (okay maybe I enjoy the pay packet a little more) as a good break from x rays of clogged up lungs and atherosclerosed vessels.

But today, I just wasn’t feelin’ it. It’s been yet another rough week, and not even the sight and smell of sweet, juicy Clingstone peaches could cheer me up.(in case you have’t read previous posts, i’ve recently started working at a green grocer, and i’ve found a new favourite specie of peach.)

I guess the lethargy I so carefully tried to conceal must have eventually seeped out a little onto my face, because a young customer, a cheery girl of probably no older than 17 stood to ask me how I was.

“Yeah.. i’m doin’ alright, how about you?”

“Well, i’m Alive!” 

And her reply was accompanied with a 100,000,000 kilowatt smile that just radiated optimism and energy and exuberance and all that positive vibes.

Heck, her smile was pretty much enough to blind away a spirit of discontentment and tiredness, which was what I probably hauled around with me.

…And it probably was no coincidence that she was decked out in a yellow ‘little miss sunshine’ tee as well.

Just being alive…

This made me pause to reconsider.

Such a simple, yet powerful reason generated her happiness today- 

by just being able to healthily ventilate clean, unpolluted air with her lungs, 

by being ambulant, 

by being able to biologically metabolise glucose, proteins and fats, plus all sorts of complex physiological compounds required for maintaining life- 

by being able to emotionally and intellectually connect with stimuli all around us, to understand and form relationships with other beings of the same species.

By just being alive, is a good reason in itself for not just the young customer, but for ALL of us to smile.

(And for that young girl, being able to purchase about 3 kilos worth of sugar bananas with her mum probably also contributed to part of that happiness. Because banaynays)

You are alive! Healthy and kicking.(which is what I hope for all of you). 

Take a look outside, wherever you are. Perhaps you’re faced with a hot, sunny summer’s day, or a cool, dark night sky flecked with stars. 

Maybe you’re looking at an autumn foliage, coated with moisture falling from the sky, or a front yard caked with inches of pure, white frost.

Aren’t we fortunate to be able to see these things, to hear the voices of our loved ones, to enjoy edible delicacies and the things we love to do.

Regardless of where you are at life right now, be it battling illness, struggling emotionally or feeling overwhelmed, stressed and fatigued- 

take a moment (and a deep breath) to just appreciate the fact that life in itself is a real miracle, and for you to be reading this right about now was no simple accident or feat.

You are a valuable and purposeful human being. We have much to smile about, even at the lowest of the valleys we may find ourselves trapped in.

And most of all, you are alive.

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a fresh start 

its been a while since i’ve just blindly written (or ranted) like I am about to do so now, 

So its somewhat disturbing that university is restarting again in just less than 12 hours after about 3 months, and I still am wired on holiday mode, living in denial that I will probably regret all my life decisions when I am forced to arise at 6am tomorrow morning. 

Aside from that disturbing fact, I also started a new job, which leaves me feeling a little bit uncertain, like a lone wanderer treading on uncharted premises. 

Okay its not some strange occupation or anything illegal.

So it’s pretty much the same retail deal, but instead of mindlessly scanning barcodes and tags for clothes, shoes and miscellaneous household items that one probably doesn’t really need (Target, you’ve treated me well but let’s be real honest here, our cupboards are already stuffed with enough ice cube trays enough is enough) , I’ve swapped it for checking out kilograms of peaches, apples, pears and vegetables.

Also not to mention i’ve swapped an office for a backroom with a HUGE commercial fridge, styrofoam boxes full of nature’s candy, and trolleys of vegetables.

Also hairy melon. Never forget hairy melons.

I mean, I didnt know tomatoes could be black and coming from Russia.

I’ve never noticed the segregation between orange and purple sweet potatoes…Or the fact that purple garlic, really isnt purple.

What is a lebanese cucumber? Why does it look exactly like a zucchini? 

White nectarines, or yellow peaches?

Oh look it’s me, a giant sweet purple potato.

Beetroot loose. Yellow squash. Leek.

WHY ARE THESE PINEAPPLES TOPLESS?!

what else ran across my mind in my first 4 hours of training? 

HUNGRY 

it probably didnt help that I was constantly surrounded by fruit, as I was ready as ever to eat the entire green grocer.

Nevertheless, it hasnt been too traumatic so far. I must say it was a pleasant surprise catching a whiff of the fragrant pandan leaves that I did not know this green grocer sold. So I guess it is one step closer to home (my heart aches for many things from back home in Singapore, and it includes pandan cake).

I was also one of the older ones of the young workers. I’d never thought i’d say this but it is strange and somewhat disconcerting when I do reveal that I am turning the big 20 this year to a 15 year old just starting her first job.

THIS IS CRAZY, ARENT I STILL 15? (sabrina living in more denial, refusing to live an adult life)

Nevertheless, I’m glad they hired this old fart anyway.

I have been blessed with not too bad a start, and hopefully smooth sailing employment ahead. Thank you Jesus who’s always got my back. 

I’m also looking forward to finishing off training, and eventually leveling up to the fruit ninja.

Hahaha only kidding, my goal is to one day seamlessly distinguish between nectarines and peaches. Or become the Apple queen. Who knows.

Anyway, over and out. Stay tuned for more juicy- 

Well the only real juicy things in my life right now are the watermelons that sell for 50 cents a kilo back at work, sorry to disappoint, but there really isnt much juicy gossip or news.

And if you’ve stayed reading this up until now, thank you so much and sending muchos love (and tasmanian cherries) your way.

Valentines’ 

February 14th.
The day for:

over glorification of red petal-y roses, 

over production of teddy bears, 

over use of pink, shiny plastic wrapping, 

over abuse of wallets, 

And over consumption of whatever couples choose to binge on together. 😂

Hokay don’t get me wrong, it sounds like i’m just an old fart blaming the world and the stars yet again for another valentine’s day spent single, but rest assured I am as single as one of those shiny, ‘Single roses’ being sold at $30 each in town today 😀

In all seriousness however, has valentines day become commodity day? 

I mean, roses- of all colours, not just the reds, are always beautiful, but are only very much appreciated on V- day.

Chocolate tastes great all day, everyday, especially 70% dark with a tinge of orange (hint hint), but are only really unselfishly gifted, savoured and appreciated on V-day.

Hand written cards, idyl picnics, letters, tokens, bracelets, rings, dinners, all these gestures are meaningful anytime, but are only really expressed and performed on V-day…and not without a 15 second snapchat or instagram video to show it off these days.

Happy valentines day,

but don’t forget to let your various loved ones (yes im going to say it includes friends and family) know they are loved and thought of everyday. 

Thank them for being part of your life, for tolerating you with patience, for choosing you and seeing the special in you when you didnt see so yourself.

and suddenly, being single on valentines’ day isn’t all that bad.

 I’m blessed with many great people in my life, and before the Big man up there brings Mr. Right into mine one day, i’m going to keep thanking Him for all the people He’s already crossed my path with, for all the people whom I can share great times,conversations and thoughts with.

To all you reading this, thank you for staying with me, 

Sending much love your way this Valentines Day.

大年初一 (the first day)

I was awoken by the sharp ringing of the home phone. The sun was shining in, and I stirred, pillow and blankets still piled atop of my face.

Still blundered in a slight food coma from the reunion dinner last night, and face heavy from staying up late, I peeled myself off from the sheets. 

..before it hit me. 

It was the first day of the lunar new year. And for all my fellow chinese out there, we all know what this means.

Red pockets.

A visit from that one grand uncle and grand aunty that we only see one time each year.

Air conditioning. (absolute necessity in singapore)

Bak kwa (singaporean glazed pork jerky).

More snacking.

Mandarins.

More snacking.

Grandma was still quietly snoozing this morning, her thin, frail engine slowly humming awake.

 The coffee table was arranged with multiple red-lidded plastic containers (the iconic chinese new year symbol) filled with all sorts of traditional new year cookies and snacks. In the middle sat a plate of golden orange mandarins, a symbol of wealth and prosperity.

If you ask me, the snacking and cookies (aside from the reunion of family and relatives), are by far my favourite part of Chinese New Year (i’d even dare say it nearly surpasses the red pockets!).

Almond crunch cookie (second favourite behind peanut candy)
Sunflower seed biscuit

These were some of my favourites this year, however my number one still being the simple peanut candy- made solely of crushed peanuts and malt, it is baked to a delectably crispy, nutty sheet, and then sliced into little bite sized crunchy squares, which makes yo’ girl here smile silly. 

As imagineable, any effort of clean eating and dieting during this festive season…Actually that doesn’t even exist in the Chinese New Year vocabulary.

 Most people speak in 4 syllable chinese idioms today, extending their happy and warm wishes for the new year, all while sipping on fizzy cherry and orange F&N soda, peeling mandarin oranges, and munching on yummy snacks. 

We are all not to sweep or mop the floors today, to make sure good luck and prosperity for the new year will not be ‘swept away’. 

We sit around the couch watching a classic Stephen Chow movie with grandma, awaiting our next visit from relatives.

 It is quiet, but homely and warm.

Chinese Gardens

It was an overcast, muggy sort of Saturday afternoon. The sun was trying, its rays muffled, reduced to just a dull,warm sensation by light grey clouds. 

There wasn’t much to do; I was just idling around the heartlands, mindlessly browsing through the Chinese new year bazaars.

“What awesome weather for a walk,” as you’d hear quite a few Singaporeans comment, relieved to take a break from the usual beating hot sun.

And that’s exactly what happened. It was a spontaneous decision, and now a race against time to explore the Chinese Gardens before the sky begins to pour. 

Conveniently located 5 minutes away from the train station (literally Chinese Gardens on the east-west line), I was able to arrive at the gardens in half an hour flat from the heartland of Serangoon.

As the train, which travelled above ground along a sky track, ventured out to further east of the island, tall buildings became fewer, broader, and land became more abundant. 

By the time I’d arrived at Chinese Gardens station, I was standing in the middle of a spaciously large, green field. Feeling a little bit disorientated, I followed the sign and headed towards the gardens, thunder very softly clapping behind me.

The Chinese Garden is a precious, 13- hectare piece of land, filled with intricate replica of Chinese architecture from the Sung dynasty (960-1279AD). Cleverly  designed by Taiwanese architect, professor Yuen Che Yu, this peaceful place allows one to be utterly whisked away to the Sung dynasty times- that is, the little corners of high rise HDB (government) flats peeking out behind picturesque scenery serving as the only reminder of reality and the 21st century.

I was greeted at the entrance by a long, wooden bridge lined with bright red railings, connecting civilised land and the other side over a large body of water, where the gardens lay. 

(Now this bridge really resembled the one in Miyazaki’s Spirited Away, where Chihiro crosses the bridge to the bathhouse. I also made the mistake of attempting to hold my breath while crossing the bridge as she did, and sputtering, gasping for air in front of the stall vendor selling drinks on the other side really wasn’t the best way to announce my arrival at the Chinese Gardens I tell ya)

I’d crossed the bridge into serenity. A 7 -storey pagoda stood  majestically in the middle of the garden, a standing emblem surrounded by lucious greenery.

 There was just something about this place that made your footsteps slow to a relaxing stroll, and your racing thoughts halt to a calm. 

I was slowly sucked in, feet carrying me further. Along my left was Ixora Land, also home to statues of the 8 great heros of ancient Chinese culture.

 I saluted Zheng He (郑和), navigator of the sea, whose wanderlust led to harmonious relationships between China and the West.

I observed Yue Fei (岳飞), loyally kneeled over in submission before the war, his mother burning words into the small of his back, a mark of courage on a soldier before his battle to come.

I smiled at MuLan (花木兰), the look of feminine determination and bravery in her eyes, her taut body disguised in bulky, masculine armour,  arms equipped with a sword that would lead her people to safety.

Behind me, the clouds were darkening, and thunder protested, a louder clap this time. The breeze blew a little bit stronger behind me now, rebelliously urging me further in its direction. 

I found myself wandering into an open door and into a courtyard of a wealthy, ancient Chinese teahouse. Its simple looking exterior was actually a maze on the inside; i’d crossed large holes in the walls into section after section, each showing me a different slice of Sung dynasty life- bonsais, plants, stone tables and chairs, ornaments.

I hadn’t realised how long it’d been since I had walked into the teahouse (was this how it was living in the past with little means of time keeping?) and it wasn’t until later that I came across what I assumed to be the main courtyard, holding a large pagoda suspended atop a stone waterfall. 

I could smell the wet scent of a threatening thunderstorm, and felt the first few dots of drizzle from the sky. Unwilling to submit to natural elements, I took cover under a little side shelter that over looked the languid courtyard, resting myself on a small seat. 

I watched as the clouds tinted the entire scene grey, powdered moisture beginning to fall thinly from the sky, leaving miniscule dark stains on the stone ground. 

From the safety of my little seat, I watched as photographers and cosplay models scuttled into shelter, annoyed at the disturbance of their outdoor shoot. 

Leaves rustled roughly in the background, huskily voicing the growing strength of the wind. The stone waterfall trickled rhythmically, it’s small, green bed of water rippling with drizzle from the rain. 

I absorbed tranquil in the cool air, savouring every rare moment of peace I had to myself. Every now and again a lone bird would chirp; a warning of the storm to come. The sombre scene was strangely splendid. 

I started awake, still perched on the little bench. The sky was angry now, turning darker with indignance. I was alone; everyone left to find escape from the oncoming storm. Feeling a tinge of sadness, I jumped onto my feet, finally deciding it was time to leave. 

Thick drops of rain began to pelt urgently as I tried to navigate my way out. The walls no longer worked to my favour, and the corridors became confusing. I moved as quickly as i could like a thief through the house, refusing to get drenched in rain.

I’d arrived at the mouth of the long wooden bridge lined with red railings again, only to find waterproof tarp and string covered across the mini fridge and stands of the small stall selling drinks. The vendor was busy slipping his arms into a plastic rain jacket.

I glanced over my shoulder for a last glimpse. Behind the tip of the 7 storey pagoda, a bolt of lightning flashed, boldly contorted. It was still beautiful.

Yong Tau Foo (娘豆腐)

One of my most missed Singaporean sensations  would most definitely have to be tucking into a simple bowl of steaming Yong Tau Foo.

I’m quite sure this delicacy can also be found in one of the Asian eateries in Melbourne (I love a good visit to Glen waverley whenever i’m feeling homesick), however for less than half the price, more than twice the size plus the mad hustle of lunchtimes in a humid hawker centre, I absolutely could not wait to stuff my face full of Yong tau foo here in Hong Lim complex. 

Albeit I probably made a huge mistake of visiting the store at around quarter to 1pm (peak period lunch time ouch).

I must say, there is a burgeoning culture of “choping” (meaning reserving in regular english) seats at a table before sauntering off to order food with almost anything- tissue papers, umbrellas, drink bottles, cats (okay I didn’t explicitly see one but I’m sure if someone did have a kitten on hand they’d use it anyway), plastic bags etc. 

This was ridiculous! The tissue paper could literally belong to any Tom, Dick or Harry- how is this legitimate????

But somehow or rather, no matter how inconsiderate Singaporeans can sometimes be (only sometimes okay),  when it comes to eating at hawker centres, it seems to be ingrained into the Singaporean lunch crowd that a seat which holds a flimsy little tissue pack is strictly off limits. Breaking this golden social rule would be unimaginable.

Anyhoo,

Weaving and low key elbowing my way through the people after a morning in the gym, the heat, loud noise and humidity was a slap across the face.

….Yo’ girl was again, hangry and craving.

I stumbled across San’s Yong tau foo store, with a line of customers sticking out like a sore thumb. 

And that’s how you know that there’s good food.

It was about a 20 minute wait before I could physically access the stall to choose from an adventurous selection of homemade ingredients- fresh vegetables, all sorts of plump, juicy fish cakes, chillis and okras stuffed silly with fish paste, deliciously fried wontons, bean curd puffs, tofus and much more.

Eating Yong tau foo is also all about the exeprience- it’s the salad bar of the Singaporean heartland.

Pick your ingredients with a small pair of metal tongs, choose your carbs of choice- bee hon (vermicelli), rice, hokkien noodles, and kuay tiao (flat rice noodles), and then choose the desired method of cooking- have your bowl of food blanched and tossed in spicy chilli and sweet soya sauce, or have it soaking in a smooth, umami soybean based broth.

This store sold 7 pieces of Yong tau Foo for 4 dollars,  inclusive of noodles or rice. I opted for no carbs (they’d ran out of thick vermicelli already), so I was granted another extra piece. 8 pieces for 4 dollars!! Not the cheapest, but still pretty darn cheap.

This was my selection today- a humble bowl of broth boasting with flavour, generously packed with fibre, protein and a plethora of nutrients, my ideal version of a post workout feed. 🙂 

What I love is also being able to garnish my meal with the soybeans that were used to boil the broth for hours on end (extra protein + flavour boost? HECK YES!).

I chomped and chewed contentedly, slurping with utter satisfaction. 

..And just for that moment, i’d forgotten the fact that I was sipping on boiling hot broth in 36 degree heat, perched uncomfortably on a cramped little table with 5 other grumpy office workers out for an afternoon graze.

Good morning Singapore

It was just shy of 8:30am. I awoke to see Singapore- suburban Singapore, in the light. 

I’m currently living with my paternal grandmother and she stays in a high rise apartment that overlooks a tame, placid river, where the morning breeze is cool and the rising sun is warm.

I stuck my face out of the window, absorbing some residue sunlight slanting in from the gaps of the foliage.

Okay I was tempted- I had to go for a walk. Slipping into a pair of shorts and a shirt, I stepped swiftly out of the door, not wanting to disrupt the moment of stillness.

Inevitably, the humidity enveloped me in its heavy, moist embrace. The air was rapidly warming- starkly different to what one would usually be used to in the dry, cool climate in Melbourne.

The river  was accompanied with a broad, concrete path, which was laced with a plethora of greenery, plants and iconic tropical fauna.


There were sounds, but it wasn’t noisy. Bird songs echoed; a bold crescendo of cawing and chirping, and cicadas squeaked mindlessly in the background. 

The winding path was full of activity- from health concious joggers drenched glossy with sweat to young children and the elderly leisurely strolling. 

As I sat on a stone bench contemplating my desicion of walking under the sun in this humidity, I heard the low purr of an electric bicycle, leaving a light breeze in its tracks as it whizzed past.

The river was a blend between emerald and blue, a sleek, reflective surface, gleaming with sun rays. Subtle movements of widlife beneath bracketed the water with small, fading ripples.

It was a genuine scene of serenity and simplicity, most quiet (and sweaty!) I’ve had in a while. 

Good morning Singapore.