Another Year, Another Step, Thank you.

July has come and vanished before my eyes as if it were a firefly.  It’s my birthday month and now I am officially another year older.  (Hopefully a little wiser. )  Birthdays are one of those days you can’t wait for to arrive when you are a child, get a little anxious when it gets to a turning point, (like when you turn 30 or move up another notch), yet there remains a certain childish feeling of happiness one cannot quite put into words.  Though it dissipates over time, hints of it remain in the system as if it were a glowing glittering firefly that never dies.

Birthdays for me have always been one of those days to celebrate with friends and families.   Three decades on they still are but of course things have evolved. No more days of hot potato games, blowing out candles (that actually reflect your actual birthday), or  playing hide and seek.  Now it’s dinners and lunches in restaurants surrounded by those who matter most.   Now its facebook wishes from around the globe.  I have to admit it is something to “like” about facebook.

Nevertheless, looking back on this past year, I wonder if I am indeed older and wiser as the saying
goes.   I have to admit I do not know, for being “wise” depends on your  definition.  What I do know is this:

There are :
– many things I have yet to learn in this world
– many dreams waiting yet to be accomplished
– many places waiting yet to be discovered
– many prayers yet to be said
– many things to be improved upon (personal things like speaking louder, forgetting less…etc..)
– many things to forgive

Thinking about this, I hopefully still have several more decades ahead of me to work them out.  It shall be an interesting one and one that is still a mystery waiting to be explored.

For the moment though, I’d like to Thank You my family, Alex, my sisters, and my friends for always being there for me.  I thank you everyone for being who they are and for supporting me through everything 🙂  Thank you.  This is what makes life worth living.

Another year, another step, lets keep on moving together!! 🙂

Pray for Norway

The past weekend has been one full of tragedies.  All over the world, there were nothing  but news of deaths and sadness. In Thailand, a third helicopter crashed while on a mission to remove the bodies from two previously fallen helicopter missions.  The first fell due to bad weather.  It is presumed that the second one also fell to bad weather while attempting rescue the first.  The third helicopter fell from engine failure.  Lives were lost.  9 in total.  What a tragedy.  My prayers are with them.  A Chinese high speed train crashes. Then Amy Winehouse dies.  Worst yet, a lone man shooting spree occurs in one of the world’s most peaceful nations.  Norway.

This is the home to the Nobel Peace Prize and has a crime rate so low that policemen remain unarmed.
Most probably have only fired arms in training.  News of the shooting made my heart and soul drop. Literally.  I have to say that it is something you just don’t wake up thinking about.   You wake up with the sunshine hoping that today will be a good day.  It’s summer and you have to imagine how happy the Norwegians must be to have sunshine after months of snow and bad weather.  This is what children and families look forward to.  Summer holidays and summer camp.  It’s time for laughter and pleasure.

This little piece of utopia is then abruptly disrupted by a man with psychological problems and in need of help. Big Help.  Paradise turns into nightmare and everyone is left scarred for life.  For me, (although I have never been to Norway and know not any Norwegians)  I feel like this nightmare has probably changed Norway in a way that no one can imagine.  I feel like Norway lost a bit of its soul the day that .

A peaceful nation, who can imagine that such an event could happen.    No one wants it to happen. No
one wants anyone to be killed.  Although the police are said to have reacted slowly, who can blame them for not having tried their best?  Everyone was unprepared.

No matter what happens, I pray that Norway and its people recover.  I pray that they will get over this nightmare of an episode and once again reinvent the Utoya island into it’s former glory. I pray the children who survived will not grow up to be disturbed people.  I pray they grow strong and get over it.  I pray that it will not make people angrier as a whole.  I pray that those in need of attention or have psychological problems really seek out help in other none damaging ways.  Most of all, I pray that there be no more shootings, no more deaths, no more blaming.  What’s done is done.   We are all humans no matter what religion and what race.  In the end we all die.  Let it be a peaceful one.

Gone Bananas

Courtesy of Flickr

The world has gone bananas.  Bombings, shootings and phone hacking scandals are what dominate the headlines.  Everywhere I go, those are what people are reading about.  The world has indeed gone bananas.  If you can’t already guess by now, I thought today I’d write about how good it is to actually go “bananas.”  No, don’t take me literally and go crazy,  what I want to say is eat bananas.

The past few weeks, I’ve returned to my healthy snack routine at the office which involves daily does of fresh bananas.  I bring along two each morning.  One for my mid morning snack and one for the mid afternoon snack.  Some days if I anticipate long hours, I bring an extra banana.

They are great especially if you are looking for a healthy alternative to chips, fried chicken or the grilled pork skewers that set up shop outside the office building. Bananas are rich in fiber and so they keep you filling full.  If you notice, atheletes (especially tennis players) will have a banana during their short breaks.  Why?  bananas release energy quickly, keeping you full of energy during that race or workout.

Not only that, according to bananas are very low in saturated fact.  For a medium sized banana, it is roughly 104 calories with only 4 coming from fat. How wonderful is that?   Then for those who have high cholesterol, there’s good news.  Bananas have no cholesterol and are very low in sodium.  The high level of dietary fiber in bananas keep your energy level in check, regulates your bowel movements and since it is not acidic, it does not affect those with ulcers.   It’s high in potassium, and very high in vitamin B6 which is  supposedly good for your immune system and regulating hormones.  B6 reduces inflammation and has been said to help those with learning or developmental problems.  Oh, it also has a lot of vitamin C which we all know is good for us!!

So if you find yourself hungry, and don’t know what to eat (which isn’t french fries or other fatty foods) then grab yourself a banana to eat.  There are many different types of bananas out there, but my favorite is the chiquita style one. The big one 🙂

Have a happy banana day! (oh, don’t think that you can have Tokyo Bananas instead, or banana cakes, etc..those will be added with sugar which isn’t as healthy as having fresh bananas)

“I am” or is it “I intend?”

If you missed me the past few days, I have to admit I’ve been feeling a bit “under the weather.”   I suppose it’s a good phrase to use at this time of year  when the weather in Bangkok is just plain bothersome.   It’s extremely hot in the mornings and then in the afternoons, it’ll rain cats and dogs out of
nowhere.   Anyways, still a bit “under the weather” but determined not to let it stop me from doing what I love today (blogging of course!)  I thought I’d write a bit about “intention versus actions.”

This is something that took me awhile to understand and now that I do, I think it makes great sense. Thank you Alex.  Here’s an example I think many of you can relate to.  It’s something that’s happened to me year in, year out. (Thank goodness I’ve gotten it over with..)   Every year I’d make the same resolution and somehow as the year passed it’d fade away quietly.   It goes like this.

I want to lose weight.

I want to lose 10kgs in six months.   After six months, however, I weigh myself and realize that I had lost only 5 kgs.  That’s only half of what I aimed for.  Some years I don’t lose any.  My weigh scale is broken.

Upon looking back, during those six months it turns out I’ve been eating out with friends, I’ve been going to parties, having ice cream and cake or just enjoying my dinners out.  My “action” was not that of one who was on a diet to lose weight.     Interestingly though, during the entire six months since I made my resolution I say that I am on a “diet.”  I’m dieting.   I’d tell people I’m on a diet.  I’m going to lose that weight I gained earlier.

If you really think about it, during the six months when you say that you are on a “diet”, you are really saying that you are “intending” to be on a diet.  Your actions show that you are not really on a diet.  You still eat cheese (yes I love cheese especially the creamy kind), have ice cream and fried foods.  All the foods you shouldn’t be eating if you were really on a diet.  You “intend” to be on a diet, but your “action” is of one who is not on a diet.

What does this tell us?  That sometimes you have to read between the lines.  A person may be saying that they are “doing” something when in reality it means that they “intend” to do something.   Their actions might not follow through.  Upon understanding this, you’d be able to control your expectations regarding a person’s “intention” versus a person’s “action.”

To the person saying it, if you say ” I ‘intend’  to lose weight” versus “I am taking ‘action’ to lose weight,”  this is also a clear way of communicating to yourself.  You know that although you “intend” to be on a diet, you realize that you aren’t yet taking the actions.  This will hopefully provoke you into taking action.

Using language precisely is important.  It allows us to communicate clearly to ourselves and to the person around us.  What do you think?  Have you noticed how sometimes we mumble jumble the two?

Fitness Tip: Wear Pants

If you are like me, somedays the discipline just goes on holiday and it takes awhile to get it back.  You start on a series of eating out with friends, then more and more reunions come your way, and before you know it, you keep wanting to eat more.    For the ladies out there, here’s a tip on how to make sure you don’t eat too much:  Wear Pants.  Wear Jeans.  or Wear Skirts with waists that do not expand.

I’m a big fan of skirts and dresses and I love the ones without any waists.  They just flow over and then you tie it up with a little belt or a bow to finish the look.  They’re comfortable, they’re convenient and they are perfect for Bangkok’s hot weather.  However, they can be quite dangerous if you eat out a lot when your discipline has gone on holiday.  You don’t feel your stomach expanding and you can keep on eating till your heart’s content.  As long as the mind isn’t full, there is more room to grow (your stomach that is).

So the past two weeks, I have put aside the soft dresses and opted instead for jeans. (Not the loose ones, wear ones that are form fitting)  They’re great. They help remind me that I’m full.  Sitting on my waist, whenever my stomach starts expanding too much, it will start getting tight.  You know then that you’ve eaten your fair amount of food.  (Ideally it shouldn’t get too tight)  You know then that this is all you should eat.  This is enough for this one sitting.  It gets uncomfortable.

Of course it doesn’t only have to be jeans, but I think that they are the most form fitting pants and since they are tightly woven, they won’t expand too much. (They work great for me :))  If you wear soft cotton pants, the effect will be much less and you might end up eating more than you should.    Of course nothing beats being aware of what you eat, but this is a tool that can help you when you forget 🙂    What do you think?  What are other ways you can remind yourself?

The Chirping Birds

Since it’s the long weekend in Bangkok, I thought I’d share with you a funny story (or not) to liven things up.  This is a true story yet it is one that makes me smile everything I think about it.

It happened just the other evening.  Around my house there are lots of birds, and every evening they fly around searching for food to feed their young ones.  They’d fly around chirping and chirping to no end.  It’s wonderful to be surrounded by nature.   As I came home one night and walked pass a room, I thought to myself, “oh the birds are really having a round today!  They are chirping really loudly.”

I didn’t think much about it, and went into my own room minding my own business.  I went down to dinner and then came upstairs. Again I hear the sound of chirping birds, but it’s now dark outside and I start to wonder why the birds haven’t yet returned to their nests.  I walk around the room and realize that the sound is really quite loud.

It seems to sound like it is almost in the bedroom. I guess that it must be coming from under the ceiling. They sound so beautiful and fresh I even took my iPhone to record their sound.  I climb up near to the ceiling, give it a few taps and call the rest of household to listen.  We look outside, climb out into the balcony with a big spotlight and spot a gap under the roof with proof of a bird nest with twigs danging down out the hole.

It’s confirmed, the birds must have built a nest under our roof and somehow gotten near to the ceiling.

I suddenly feel sorry for the birds.  To chirp so loudly the poor little birds must be indeed hungry.  They must be waiting for their food but perhaps something happened to the mother bird?  Perhaps an accident? Perhaps it got eaten by a snake?  A thousand thoughts rushed through my mind.

We decide we’d call the roof man the next morning to fix the hole and get the little birds out before they die of hunger.  We debate whether they will come on such short notice…

We each drift off to our own business and a good evening rest.

Then my brother comes home.  He’s been told of the birds stuck under the ceiling and together we
go see the place of incident.

Can you guess what happens next?  Did we manage to rescue the lovely birds?

Yes we did.  The little birds are hungry no more.

He switched them off those chirping birds.  The chirping birds had been the alarm on the iPad!!!!   Yes, they were the iPad bird alarm.

My starving hungry birds were not real.  My brain had tricked me into believing the birds were coming from up above when in reality they were on the desk below.  I suppose we can never truly believe what we truly hear!!    Hahaha..that’s all folk’s!  Have a good evening 🙂

Take for grant not.

The other day whilst having lunch with my colleagues we discussed the issue of food stalls and their evolution from “hit” food stalls to one with hardly any customers.   What causes this sudden change?  The food is still equally tasty, but how come there are no longer any long lines where the food runs out?

Before I continue, let me give you a little background note.  My company canteen has a number of revolving food stalls that come various days.  For example, the famous rice with chicken topping comes on Mondays whilst the tastiest pork noodles come on Fridays.  Selected famous food stalls take turns coming to sell at our canteen along with our regular stalls.  These special stalls are always a hit and long lines form waiting to get a taste of the famous chicken rice, the pork noodles or the pad thai.  One day per week seems like it isn’t enough.

The chicken rice stall decides to come twice a week.

The famous chicken rice now comes on both Mondays and Tuesdays to meet customer demand.  Unfortunately, the customer base somehow suddenly dwindled and now the chicken rice stall stands lonely with but a few loyal customers. (I am one of them.  Some days I have two servings!)

What causes this sudden drop in customers?  The quality hasn’t changed and the chicken rice remains as tasty as ever. What do you think is the cause?

Upon discussion, we decided that this must be because we humans tend to take things for granted.  Now that we have a delicious chicken rice stall two days a week, it loses its appeal.  The chicken rice is no longer special.  It’s there always when we want it, on Mondays and Tuesdays.  We come when we want.  However, beware.  When its gone we will miss it dearly and wish we had eaten it a little more often.

The same case happened with another Vietnamese style noodle stall.  Though extremely delicious, it came everyday and the customers dwindled.  It eventually left and everyone was left wishing they had appreciated it whilst it was there.  Another case of taking good noodles for granted.

I suppose this is a concept that can be applied to everything in life, in relationships, and in work.  If you take the other person for granted,  that they will always be there for you, that they will always be there working for you the same as before, then perhaps you should take a step back and think.

Didn’t that chicken rice once before gave you great happiness and satisfaction?  Wasn’t that guy/girl the one you had appreciated so much when just a little gesture was given?  Now that you get it all the time, why don’t you appreciate it anymore?

Perhaps you have taken it for granted.  When that happens, one side most probably leaves.  Then it’s too late.

What would you do if that special somone were no longer there?  You would miss them dearly.  If only you not taken them for granted, they might have stayed.    Therefore, take not for grant the chicken rice, the people around you or what you have.  Let them still give you as much satisfaction as before.

Bangkok Dining: Brunch at “The Horse Says Moooo”

This past weekend, my friends and I went to try out a new restaurant. Thanks to one of my dearest friends, who always seeks out wonderful new places, we get to try out new restaurants and eateries which aren’t located in hotels and department stores. Those are left for the days when you need a safe option. This weekend we went to a Restaurant and Winebar on Sukhumvit Soi 33 called “The Horse Says Moooo.”

It’s a strange name that really catches your attention and has everyone asking “What is the name again?” the first time they hear it. That was certainly my reaction. It is also a name that once you’ve heard it and been, it’s hard to forget. I definitely won’t be forgetting it anytime soon (which I suppose is what the owners must want.)

We went there for brunch, but they are also serve wine and beer and have live music in the evening so
the atmosphere must be quite different. It seems to be a restaurant of many “moods” depending upon the time of day. Perfect for a horse that needs variety. The brunch mood was calm, cosy and I felt like I was eating in a private room. It was Saturday so the brunch crowd wasn’t too big and there were only a couple tables while we ate there. I loved it and thought it perfect for alittle mini-reunion because then you are sure to hear the person opposite you whilst just relaxing and taking your time eating. You don’t need to feel pressured to vacate the table for the next person in line.

What about their food? Starters was Grandma’s original pancake with butter, honey and maple syrup(200thb). The pancakes were crispy on the edges and the middle soft.  Just the way I like it. Maple syrup is always good and they provide it in a jug so you can have as much as you want.

We ordered the all time favorite brunch food of Eggs Benedict (350thb). It came out beautifully arranged and equally tasty. I loved the freshly poached eggs and the salmon. My only wish was that we had a little more of the hollandaise sauce. I suppose I also am a bit of traditionalist. I am not too big a fan of the citrus in the sauce, but it was still good nevertheless. Yes, I will go there and eat it again.

Next was the corned beef hash with potato slices and fresh thyme (280thb). This was one of my favorite dishes. I think it’s because for me it’s like comfort food. It simple yet satisfying with corn beef and potatoes. I feel like that food critic in the animation “Ratatouille” that gets pleasure from a dish that reminds him of home. (The only difference for me is that I don’t eat beef hash at home, but it is someone like one of those comfort foods.)

Crab cake salad with lemon creme fraiche (250thb) came next. It was good and seemingly more healthy than the beef hash, but the amount of fresh crabs they put into the crab cake might be enough to make anyone with high cholesterol scared. It’s good a good scare though, I love crab cakes which are filled with crab meat. You really taste the flavor and biting into it is very satisfying. I also loved the fresh greens they put on top. It complements the crab cake well.

Our final main dish was Toad in the hole with yorkshire pudding, italian sausage and onion gravy (300thb). It’s a large portion so beware when ordering. I loved the sausage (yet I always do) and the pudding was great too. Though, I think my stomach was just a little too full from all the other delicious dishes to really appreciate it’s flavor. You will just have to go and try it yourself.

For dessert, we ordered the Raspberry Tiramisu. It was out of this world. I love raspberries. In fact I love anything berry so it’s always a delight for me to eat. I have to tell you though that here you really get a full satisfying serving so make sure you have enough space to eat it all.

The pictures and the writing is once again making me hungry so I shall have to say my farewell. I know not who the owners are, but I heard that the name comes from the years they were born. A group of friends with some born in the year of the horse and some in the year of the pig (which in Thai pronounced “moo”) Wonderfully original isn’t it?

It’s accessible by BTS Phromphong station (the same one as Emporium) and they have 4 hours parking at the UBC building at the beginning of Sukhumvit Soi 33. The restaurant is just a short walk and is located diagonally opposite Novotel Lotus hotel.

Oh here’s their contact info: Tel. 02-662-0402 Fax. 02-662-0402 Website: they also have an FB page so check it out. I tried their website and seem to have trouble, but you might have better luck than me! Bon Appetit.

It’s a “Dao” Day today: Happy Birthday!

This year I’m celebrating friendships and today is one of those special days for it is the Birthday of my lovely friend Dao.  Yes, we love her and we’ve known each other since the days when flourescent Body Shop T-shirts were in fashion together with  the the L.A. Gear shoes.  Those were “must haves.”  Those were the days of high  bangs and oversized tees.  Now all that seems long gone, but our friendship remains and has evolved together with us. Our interests change, but still some things never change.

I remember hanging out together at our school by the Church in the white and teal uniforms.  Eating lunch at the canteen and playing around with the drinks, hiding from the “Kapi” behind our textbooks and walking around Central Chidlom after school.   You were always happy and ready with a comment with everything from the heart.

Then there was the time we went to your house.  I remember it like yesterday.  We had a great time playing around in room and singing.  (I remember that was what we were doing with your music I correct?)  Looking out the balcony and then you snapped this picture of me with you hat.  Awhile later I parted to live elsewhere and our paths diverged.

But faith would have us meet again.  We went to college and as it turned out we were only twenty minutes away from each other.  This allowed to see each other more often.  Holidays and weekends were spent together.  Dim sum lunches, walking on campus or going about town shopping for clothes and shoes.  I wished we had gone around a bit more, but we were young then.  Nevertheless, it was wonderful time spent together.

A few years after graduation we unexpectedly met. Yes, it was serendipity.  A happy coincidence.  Walking along in Paragon, we ran into each other.  I hadn’t known before that you had just returned from the US permanently and so it gave us the opportunity to exchange numbers and contact information.   A happy moment it was.  After years of absence, we were finally able to meet up and reunite again
with a good friend.

Since then, we’ve been having our regular “lunches” and it has always been great fun.  Good food, good company, that’s all you really need.  Everyone has grown to love your earring shop, but not as much as
we are happy to have you as a friend.  We have our very own original angry bird, who looks angry but isn’t really.  An angry bird with a good heart.

Happy Birthday Dao!!


Thinking about how technology has evolved over the years and how I’ve witnessed these changes makes me sometimes realize I’m not that young anymore.   I grew up in a world of Commodore 64 and 386 computers.  Now I live in a time of iPads, wireless internet and harddisks the size of name cards. I start to feel like a slave to technology. Everything is computerized and stored. Even my entering and leaving the office building is accounted for.

Computers back then were rare, we wrote school essays by hand.  It wasn’t until high school did computers start coming into schools, and then it was a computer lab for everyone to share.  Games were played on Atari and my Commodore 64 was then top of the line.  Monitors displayed black and green.  Color excited us, and then it only offered a nice blue screen. Printers were dot matrix.  This was already wonderful.  I loved it already then.  I had my extra joystick and information was stored on 5inch floppy disks.  I still have some of that in a box somewhere.

We listened to music on tapes and radios.  I remember going to the record store and getting my first LP.  I remember buying Pet Shop Boys “It’s a Sin.”  Now LPs are collectors’ item and only those really into music like to collect them.  The sound just sounds purer.  Then CDs came along and that was in itself amazing.  How did all that music fit into a small disk?  Now we have DVDs which hold much more.

Computers now are dual core, my Pentium III that I got in college is no longer in existence.  I
donated it awhile back.  The beautiful large 17 inch monitor which was beautiful back then is now large and clumsy.  I prefer slim flat screen monitors.  Yes, they are beautiful.  I wonder if it can get any better than this.

We sold things on newsgroups on Unix.  There was no ebay, no amazon, no online shopping store.

Now we have internet, speeds get faster but I am increasingly impatient.  I want my news, my information at a click of a mouse.  Any download time makes me feel like I am wasting time. I get upset when my internet disconnects me from the rest of the online world.   Yet I wonder how I lived before in a time of dial up internets.  Back then we connected on phones and mail.  That was a time when I still got real mail in the mail. Now all I get are invoices and advertisements.

I wonder sometimes about all this technology.  I love it, I use the entire time I’m awake. But are we all really learning how to use it properly?  We should learn to use it to help us, aid us in doing things more efficiently and faster, but we should also not become a slave to technology. We must also learn to live and enjoy all that nature has to offer.  Breathe the fresh air,  feel the breeze rustle your hair and look up
into the clouds.  When was the last time you lay on your back imagining what shapes the clouds could be?  Maybe now its time to try it a little now that it’s summer 🙂