Friday, December 31, 2010

Squeaks sleeping (2)

Here's how you know the TwinSqueaks are best friends.


Forgiveness is like peeling an onion, with all its layers of pungency that sting and prick. You can't help shedding tears with every layer of hurt that comes off, leaving behind tightly closed leaves, each more raw and vulnerable than the previous, until you finally reach the heart. Then there is no more to peel, nothing left to make you cry again.

Then you know the forgiveness is complete.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Fair Deal

Would you be willing to work 12-hour long night shifts, 7 days a week, for $2000 a month?

In the coffee shop near my former home, there was an exceptionally friendly waiter who confided in us the terms of his employment. Leaving his wife and daughter behind in China, he toiled here for 2 years, under these conditions. For every $0.80 worth of coffee, he made the trip between the counter and the customer. God knows how many miles he must have walked in that coffee shop every night. One year we invited him to church for a Christmas event, he was so touched that he treated us to coffee the next day, and considered us friends ever since.

Why are we surprised that there is acute shortage of workers for such jobs as these? Singaporeans, fortunate enough to have experienced better living standards, naturally baulk at these harsh jobs. And so bosses turn to foreign workers hungry enough to put up with Dickensian employment. But I can't help thinking that even if there are willing takers, there is something distinctly exploitative in jobs with these conditions. Is it morally acceptable to suppress wages to maximise business profit margins?

Recently I saw a report on the living conditions of some foreigners here, who rent only bed space, not rooms, and share a room with up to 6 people. They remind me of the coolies, aka '猪仔' of my history textbooks.

Offer fairer terms, terms under which a worker can actually have an acceptable quality of life. Perhaps then we could find ourselves less dependent on foreign labour.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Squeaks sleeping

Here's how you know that TwinSqueaks are best friends.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

In my hands

It never ceases me to see how trusting these critters are. They simply throw their entire being into your hands and waited to petted and fed. Then they nibble you, and expect you to put up with the nips and not drop them. It's a good thing they are cute, because I don't see how else they can survive.

Here is Ninja, refusing to go back to her cage:

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


 One morning I woke up, looked out of the window and thought, 'what happened to the river!' Why are there white patterns on the water surface?

Then I realised that the water is actually reflecting the clouds in the sky. Wow...what a lovely sight.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

TwinSqueaks Feeding

I'm sorry to say that I can't still exactly tell which Squeak is which. How can two hamsters look so alike? They are best friends, in this picture, both are squeezed into the cube I've fixed onto their cage. One of them is feeding greedily, so she is probably Friendly. The other one, Ninja, is sleeping beneath her.

The Squeaks are fat and lazy in the day, but at night, our home turns into a circus, with hamster wheels turning at full speed, and Squeaks doing flips :P

It is so hard to carry out post-operative treatment for PipSqueak. The antibiotics probably tastes foul, because she refuses to drink it. Our hands were bitten (not nipped) repeatedly :P Now she is firmly convinced that we are her enemies, and won't play with us anymore :(

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Herbalife Day 02: A Hungry Woman

A hungry woman is an angry woman.

It doesn't matter if I weigh myself a thousand times a day. The scale refuses to lie. But I'm so hungry that I'm sure I have lost some weight already! Then V reminded me that it is only Day 02 of the meal replacement program. NOOOOoooooo!!! I can't imagine going on and on like this.

The powders come in different flavours, like dutch chocolate, french vanilla and tropical fruit. What does it matter to me? Even if they have Martian elixir flavour, there is no getting away from the fact that we are imbibing powdered shakes. How shall I put it? There isn't the aroma of hot food, its salivating anticipation, and the chew and the crunch of REAL substance. The shakes fill you up, but it's hard to bear the sensory disappointment. Then I get hungry and dream of braised pork belly on steaming buns.

This is Herbalife Day 02. The consolation is, I lost 0.4kg already.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Educational disorders

If I were a child in this age of psychological analysis, I might very well have been diagnosed as autistic. I hardly played with other children, but it wasn’t because I didn’t like them. They just never registered on my consciousness. Then again, I could also have been identified as dyslexic, because I couldn’t remember which way ‘C’ faces, and had similar problems with ‘5’, 'S' and a few other words. 

Luckily for me, my parents were too preoccupied with their large brood of 5 kids to bother with phantom ailments, and I was allowed to outgrow the developmental pains on my own. Of course, I’m somewhat misanthropic and am still reclusive, but that didn’t stop me from having a reasonably healthy and happy life. As for normality, is there anyone who doesn’t struggle with weaknesses or insecurities of some sort?

So people consult me about their children’s lack of concentration, I am perturbed. Firstly, I had no 'technique', no magic trick to help a child concentrate. Secondly, isn’t inattentiveness natural if the subject isn’t interesting? Which healthy active child prefers to sit still and pore over homework, when he could be gamboling around and making noise? Do you think inattentiveness is a disorder?

Of course, parents’ anxiety over their children’s results is understandable. But don’t problematize the natural inclinations of youth, and worse, seek treatment for them. As if tuition concentration camps (pun fully intended) are not bad enough, we are now resorting to fringe practices. Instead of hypnotherapy or other New Age psycho analysis, how about trying a little old fashioned discipline, aka self control, failing which, the stick?

Incidentally, the reason for the inattentiveness could simply be the lack of rest. Bomb the mind with stimulation without a break, and still expect it to function constantly in tip-top condition?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


I'm sure, having pets is rather like having kids. I mean, they are cute and cuddly but have a will of their own. When you want to play, they would rather sleep, but when it is your turn to rest, they want to play. Plus, the inevitable heartache when they fall ill.

Alas, poor little PipSqueak. She had to go to the vet because there was a tiny lump on her foot. We were horrified! It was diagnosed as an abscess, and the vet squeezed it out. And the naughty hamster gave the vet a good nip *ouch* :P At least, it isn't a tumour. Sigh, we have to clean the wound on our own until she is well. It is dreadfully difficult to forcefeed her antibiotics.

TwinSqueaks gave me a fright when I noticed some wet erm...animal litter in their cage. Hauled them from their beds to check their tails, just in case.

It isn't always a bed of roses, this pet-owning affair.

Monday, December 13, 2010


Friendly is having a good snooze. Isn't it cute, the way she exposes her stomach without a care in the world?

We let the TwinSqueaks play with PipSqueak, and disappointingly, it wasn't such a success after all. The Squeaks were inquisitive about one another at first, but when it came to sharing food and favourite spots, it's every Squeak for herself. This is actually the first time I've seen PipSqueak take an aggressive stance. Poor little PipSqueak, placed side by side with the babies, we suddenly realised that they have outgrown her. She is, once again, the tiniest of them all.

In the meanwhile, the TwinSqueaks are now on a weight-management programme. We must have overfed them, because they have become so chubby! Too many sunflower seeds :P Now it's time for them to eat more alfafa and carrots instead, haha.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The good side

Oh well, I must be fair. Sebana Cove is lovely, with luxuriant greenery stretching along calm blue waters.

And here, you can almost believe that this is the Carribean. 

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

A smashing time

 You have been warned, so why wonder that there are swarms of mosquitoes everywhere? On our way into the resort, we encountered road signs that said 'Elephant crossing', 'Beware of Wild Boars', but our troubles were mainly with animals of far smaller I'm still scratching dreadfully from all the bites I got, and mind you, it is despite using a number of repellent stickers :(

Then, inspired by the Chen Zhen dvd we brought, I exercised my gongfu chops. Vengeance is sweet...and painful. (Warning: gross sight below)

I felt slightly guilty for dirtying their wall, but as V pointed out, that this wasn't the first insect smashed on the wall anyway. 

Monday, December 06, 2010

Always 2009 and never 2010

Going to Sebana Cove is like stepping into a time warp, where all developments stopped a year ago. Even the newsletter displayed on the bulletin board is dated 2009. It promised that under the new management, there would be major refurbishment and renewal. Something must have happened since, or rather, nothing happened since, and there are signs of half finished work everywhere. It was a little like being the main characters of a Hollywood ghost story - wandering around lovely architecture, now crusted with mold, and shuddering a little at the fine layer of dust that cover the elegant fittings. Restaurants are shuttered. The gym and other facilities lay unused. There are mysterious rooms that are boarded up, though they once must have been intended to be function rooms. What had happened in the time between V's first visit and our present one?

It is as if the resort is fighting a losing battle with the Nature it is hewn from. Monkeys stroll insolently in the golf course and along the marina. Squirrels dart around our balcony, not that I mind them. Mosquitoes attacked in swarms, which is why the lizards are so fat that I wonder how they even managed to stay on the walls.

We asked to rent bicycles, which were advertised. After a phone call, we were informed that all bicycles are broken. All at the same time? Is there no one in charge who cares anymore?

And these, besides the fabulous food, are my main impressions of Sebana Cove.

TwinSqueaks - Friendly and Ninja

We still can't tell who is who. They are so perfectly alike! But they exhibit different personalities, and this is how we named them. One shall be named Friendly, because she is such an extrovert. Offer her food, and she would hug your finger instead. She runs everywhere, and when she met PipSqueak, she happily groomed her.

The other is called Ninja, for her ability to slink around and her preference for dark corners. She is also a docile little thing, but tends to be shy. TwinSqueaks get along well with each other, betraying no hint of bullying behaviour. We are going to let PipSqueak play with them soon.

Greedy Squeaks they are. It seems that they are much bigger already, though we barely had them for two weeks.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Farewell to a bit of history

Was shocked to hear that the Royal Copenhagen tea lounge would be closed down soon. Apparently the parent company in Denmark intends to halt its operations in Singapore. For the uninitiated, it used to be a place where tai tais sip tea out of fine china and enjoy elegant open face sandwiches. Over the years, I did notice a gradual fading of the lustre from its cushioned chairs, and signs of slipping standards. They didn't even serve us with matching crockery that day. Guess, it is all over now. We have to find another place for high tea.