Wednesday, August 27, 2008

december 2008 - taiwan

it will be a hard earned graduation trip for few buddies leaving NUS this semester.

planning will be done after exams, i suppose. But there is no time for that, since my last paper is on 1st Dec.

due to cost consideration we will split into 2 parties, kelvin and i taking SQ. Zhanhong, our non graduating friend will hopefully join us in SQ too. The rest will take 3K (JetStar), since the price differs by $270.

Looking forward to another experience!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

SingTel acquires SCS

- source: New NCS-SCS 'a force' in Singapore

we see another local acquisition, which i can safely say left hand buying right hand.

Computer Systems Holdings, a subsidiary of NCS, which in turn is owned by SingTel, has acquired 60% of SCS from Green Dot Capital (another local firm). SCS is expected to be fully taken over and delisted subsequently. The benefits to the telecom giant has been highlighted in the news article, so i shall not list them.

what does this mean for the current employees and potential job seekers of both companies? There might be job duplication, so what happens next will be a good guess. A deeper guess - while SCS is taken over by NCS, it doesn't mean job restructuring goes in a single direction, as you read. There are implications for the IT services market, which we can only tell when the takeover is completed.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

ayam penyet ria, c. nai hong kong cafe, coastal park connector

giving a mega update since i'm just back from a strenuous walk. It was darn strenuous, more on this later.

tried a well known indonesian restaurant at Lucky Plaza on friday evening. The highlight is smashed chicken, which we tried. Plus my favourite tahu, but it's made differently over here. The chilli is the same - overpowering. The chendol provided some relief to the heat.

another fellow blogger commented on the chicken - too dry. But it's the way the chicken should be done, so there are no complaints from me.

The table next to us

The nice spread

had the opportunity to try mooncakes really early too. It is from Cherry Garden.

My niece was excited about it

Clockwise from top left -
Double yolk, pu-er with chocolate, tie guan yin with chocolate and champagne

had some adventurous fun just now, by taking the Sentosa cable car for the first time. There was some uneasiness because my friend was scared of heights. My presence didn't help much either (i'm naughty).

Raining lah.

Harbourfront Cruise Centre

Looks worn

adding on to the adventurous streak, i proposed having dinner at C. Nai HK cafe (师奶茶餐厅), the East Coast branch. It's really better to drive here than to take a bus and find the right stop. The food is nice, ambience pleasant. They are open from 6pm to 3am.

C. Nai or Shi Nai

A page from their menu

Bo Lo Bun, complimentary serving (i ate 1 before taking this shot)

Macau Spicy Seafood fried rice

Carrot cake, XO sauce

Portugese style Mixed Mushrooms

left this cafe with good impression and value, hope to try other branches.

now it's time to talk about the most adventurous thing - walking from the cafe (East Coast Road) through ECP areas C, D, E, F, G and H and the Coastal Park Connector to Changi Beach Park.

WALK. mrbrown cycled through the area, and now i understood why he did that.

why do i say so? We walked and walked, saw hundreds, if not thousands of lamp posts, bbq pits, croaking frogs, at least 20 aircraft taking off. It ended well too excitingly - we walked 18.3km (according to excluding Changi Beach Park. The latter was dropped because i couldn't feel my legs already.

since we couldn't move any further, we stopped at a junction between Changi Coast Road and Changi Ferry Road. The place is really a 鸟不生蛋 place. Called the 65521111 hotline, yet no Comfort cabs were found in the area. Luckily, 65558888 (SMRT) was better - a nice new cab came in 10 mins.

the good out of this excrutiating walk was the observation of planes taking off in stages, from the runway, engine acceleration, lift-up and full take-off. From 11.30pm to 1.30am, countless planes took off. Lost count of everything.

We walked this distance FROM ECP (that excludes Area C,D,E,F,G and H)

Er.... still another 0.75km to go.

The total distance was beyond this signage.

Had to book a cab from this building. ALPS AVE.

Friday, August 22, 2008

korean food - togi

had korean food with my classmates today. Location? Mosque Street in Chinatown. Ironically, we were having korean food along a muslim related street in a traditionally chinese town.

i paid the most - $30. I paid $10 more, since i ordered a plum drink ($4) and my bean paste seafood soup was $15.50. A whopping $6 more than the ramen. It was a restaurant, thus the price was around the standard mark. But i feel i could get more value with my favourite Simlim stall.

This is the signboard. Opposite is CTC Travel

The appetizers including the usual kimchi. The latter is less sour than the simlim counterpart.

My friend's seafood ramen

We shared BBQ pork dish. The staff came to cook for us.

My bean paste seafood soup. $15.50+$0.50 for rice. I feel it was overpriced.

even was the recruitment talk at NUS Business School. There was an administrative problem where SoC students didn't get registered into the reservation system. Thus, i had no name tag. The crowd was unbelievable too, the whole LT was full of unemployed people. Many of us had to sit along the aisle.

there was a year 1 student who asked a question at the end. I truly felt his presence was unnecessary, because he still has 4 years to go. Asking why Citibank had this or that policy is just inappropriate - it is a recruitment talk, for god's sake. Don't be a smartie and show off your eloquency and knowledge of financial affairs at the wrong time, dude.

Full of unemployed talents

And... yes. The brimming crowd.

in the buses world, i read another SMRT bendy bus caught fire in Marsiling. It was reported in Shin Min, then scanned into SGforums. The trailer section which houses the engine was badly burnt, including parts of the windows and ceiling. From the damage, SMRT may have to scrap it. However, they may reconstruct the bus due to severe bus shortages throughout their depots.

according to past sources, the bendy buses burnt were:

- TIB 900K (2001, scrapped)

- TIB 1110S (2003, burnt from head to toe. Scrapped, and it burnt so badly near the present RP site, that the bus stop beside it was gone too)

- TIB 1118X (2007, slight burns outside NUS SDE, repaired)

- TIB 1063U (2008, last 2-3 rows of seats burnt away, reconstructed and back to revenue service)

- TIB 1113J (2008, reported to have caught fire recently)

- TIB 1105H (this current case)

there is something obviously wrong with the maintenance and fire prevention design. During the last breakdown i witnessed, there were 2 fire extinguishers mounted internally, that are designed to douse fires in the engine compartment. The extinguishing agent is channeled through tubes lined across the fanbelts, etc. In burning cases like the current case, the extinguishers failed in their purpose.

it's interesting to note these points:

- The burnt bendy buses use the ZF 4-speed gearbox, instead of Voith.

- The same burnt ones had gear slippage in the past, but repaired. So far gear slippage problems are limited to ZF gearboxes. Voith gearboxes will simply stop working in the worse scenarios.

- May be a batch problem (as seen by their registration plates), so better maintenance in terms of monitoring and frequency is needed. Otherwise these buses become burning chariots again and again.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

busy busy

have been trying to adapt to another pace since school started. Had lots of ailments last week, now it's so much better.

i lost two things since a few days ago - my 3G modem dongle, and a pair of tickets. My heart is full of pain now, argh. Especially the tickets. I feel like banging the wall.

suddenly, smaller things don't seem to be blog-able (for) now. My focus is on something else. Alvin, i think your words after reading my private blog are true. I must set the pace right.

good night.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

CS3267 - first lecture

i thought this was worth a mention, so posting up some pictures.

the lecturer, Dr. Klarissa Chang promised an interesting approach to the module, which focuses on a managerial view on social systems in the corporate setting. Social systems simply mean Web 2.0 solutions - the popular local picks include Friendster, Facebook, Flickr, Google Maps, etc.

the expectations can differ, depending on why we took the module for. For us, it was a new module and we wanted to fulfill elective requirements. So we were pretty speechless on hearing the seemingly high expectations. But still, we'll try to give whatever we can.

Team Building game

Playing lego, of some sorts

Monday, August 18, 2008

The high price of saying 'I do' (Straits Times)

Do you really need a big wedding when you've already found true love?
By Fiona Chan

'LOVE don't cost a thing,' Jennifer Lopez once famously sang - but she neglected to mention that weddings are quite another matter.

Over the past few years, I have marvelled at how my peers managed everything from custom-made animated videos to sunset yacht parties for their unions, while still qualifying only for an HDB flat on a combined income of $8,000 a month.

My own wedding next year will be fuss-free: just the traditional hotel dinner and a simple solemnisation on one day. Even so, it will probably cost my entire year's salary.

That cost is, in fact, delaying some of my friends' walk down that aisle; they say they have not saved enough for their big day.

It is a practical consideration given today's inflation. Even a small wedding can be costly, and every time a bride-to-be hears wedding bells, there is also the background ka-ching sound from the bridal industry's cash registers.

According to my extensive - but unscientific - research, the average cost of a weekend hotel banquet will go up 5 per cent to 10 per cent between this year and next, crossing the $1,000 per table mark just in time for my dinner.

That does not include wine, now a wedding staple, which will set you back another $1,000 or so. Another $3,000 will go to photographers and videographers to document the special day.

Then there is the dress.

Even at one-stop heartland shops, bridal gown packages now cost upwards of $2,500. I have not even dared to ask about the designer creations I drool over in magazines.

Wedding rings - just those little bands - do not come under $1,200 a pair. My fiance and I have taken to walking into jewellery shops and demanding to see their cheapest choices.

And we didn't get very good service, let me tell you.

So I tell myself not to get carried away - who says you have to have it all?

Although 'mandatory' banquets may be blamed on parents, it is the couples themselves who order personalised videos, devise themes and plan three entrances with accompanying dramatic outfits.

Problem is, most of their friends are also new to the workforce, which means their well-meant dinner hongbao probably cover just the appetisers.

Couples swallow the exorbitant mark-ups on purchases for their wedding, telling themselves it is a once-in- a-lifetime event worth every cent to celebrate their love.

One friend even toyed with the idea of having her bridal photos shot overseas for an extra-special touch. The cost: $15,000.

My question is: If you have true love, do you really need the big wedding?

After all, you could get married for as little as $26 - the fee that the Registry of Marriages charges for a marriage licence.

That does not seem enough for young starry-eyed couples just starting their careers, who seem to want the splashiest weddings.

But I know of a couple in their late 30s who did away with the pomp and had a simple church service and dinner, happy enough to have found love when they least expected it.

Lopez's wedding, to singer Marc Anthony in 2004, was a low-key affair which cost US$50,000 (about S$70,400 in today's rates). The couple, both acquainted with failed marriages, spent a relatively modest amount on their celebrity wedding, compared to say, Liza Minelli, whose 2002 nuptials topped's most expensive wedding list at an estimated US$3.5million.

Me, I am lucky enough to have a partner who constantly reminds me that it is the marriage, not just the wedding, which really matters.

Lopez is still married. Minelli is not. With the right person, love won't cost you much at all.

do you think this is oh-so-true? I ever dreamed of i doing away the dinner and taking a super long holiday round the world. Will that be possible?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

faizah's birthday

happy birthday to a friend of 12 years!

had western dinner at breeks, causeway point. The service by their crew seemed better - careful placement of cutlery and dishes of food.

Cajun Blackened Chicken - had sore throat, avoided deep fried stuff

Me, gw and John

Trina, sj and Faizah

Tom and Jerry cake!

had a wonderful saturday. Career fair + SPM + SAM + PS + Cathay + Central + lunar eclipse at hougang. I was so tired, not sure why. Maybe it's my cough and throat. Got home at 7am, slept all the till nearly 4.

an excellent photo of the eclipse can be found here.

Friday, August 15, 2008

meal at union farm (between maju and SIM)

have not been updating my blog, because of new happenings in my life. Life matters are more important =)

anyway, school started without much ado. My timetable is light for these 2 weeks, except for the CS1280 assignment 1 due next monday (yes, so soon). Had sore throat for few days, thus skipped CS3266 lecture to visit the wellness center on campus. Talking about CS3266, the system to be developed is interesting and challenging.

earlier, we updated each other on the happenings, and my classmates were unsure whether i can cope with everything. I think i can do it, since i have the full support from them and of course, she.

fast forward to this union farm restaurant. If you drive or take 184 from Clementi Road, it is located after Maju Camp and before SIM. Have only one comment:

it sucks.

i can probably sing some praises about their highlight, the paper wrapped chicken. But there are big problems too -

1. quantity too little. We ordered Set B, which is $138. For $138 i can have a nice zi char with my family, nieces and nephew. Yet for the dishes that came, the quantity simply did not match the price.

2. high price of other items. The wheatgrass and barley drinks we ordered cost $14.00+ in all. That works out to $2.00+ per pax, which is daylight robbery. Pickles cost $6. Mind you, the pickles were simply cabbage that were processed to taste somewhat sour. I can buy 1kg of cabbage with $6.

3. no plain rice. The set included fried rice, which comes from plain rice. So when the man told me there wasn't plain rice, i thought i wasn't in Singapore. This is the most absurd moment.

Very old and ancient place by Singapore's standard


There were more dishes - fish and prawns that came later
Steve doing the photographing

Kelvin and zw

Kenny, wx and wk

i guarantee i won't go back to the restaurant.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

home sweet home

just to let everyone know, i'm back!

sorry if i didn't reply your texts or calls. You can bomb my phone from 12 to 6pm today.

i've added travel pictures to the previous posts. The private blog is also updated.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

surabaya - day 7

a casual visit to one of the local banks to update passbook took 2 hours. Utterly shocked beyond words...

had dim sum at Ah Yat, with 2 of her aunts and two sister friends. Still, the best place for dim sum is in Hong Kong itself, although the restaurant is good.

celebrated her brother's birthday at pizza hut in the evening.

be back tomorrow!

Friday, August 8, 2008

surabaya - day 5 and 6

day 5
went to see my driving instructor get her replacement licence from the local authorities. Their circuit is so simple - i saw only a high ramp.

went past G-Walk, which is like our Holland Village and Jalan Kayu... a mix.

day 6
woke up at 1.45am, 3 hours+ journey to the scenic Mount Bromo. Passed by the mudflow area and the never ending 2 lane road before turning into a road up the mountain. Towards the end of the journey, we had to change to another jeep to go to the volcanic plains. Thus there was a small delay, but in the end we got to see the sunrise.

the morning was outright cold. Yes, it's as what wikitravel mentioned.

Mt. Batok in the background - a sleeping volcano

Looked like a page taken out from movies...

Up the steps to Mt. Bromo

Looking down to the caldera

Sulfurous smoke

my first time seeing a volcano and riding on a horse!!!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

surabaya - day 4

it was a slow day, nothing on.

had the most memorable experience so far - driving a Honda City. My instructor was speechless, because i drove on the wrong lane (i was afraid of cars being parked on the left), never signal when turning (totally forgot because i was too kanchiong) and didn't steer properly. The list goes on...

i need more informal (read: free) driving lessons before i start burning money away at SSDC...

after that, went to Supermal again for a quick shop, while her mum went to do her stuff. Wanted to watch movie in the evening, but the tickets were sold out. So went to another shopping centre, a giant one (Tunjungan Plaza) to have coffee.

Cinema 21 - very nice design for this branch

Avocado ice cream

looked at integration before sleeping, and surprised i totally returned everything to the teacher.... *die*

Monday, August 4, 2008

surabaya - day 3

had a long sleep, i'm so guilty of slacking in a foreign land!

a brief stint of my job, trying to fix RAM for two machines. I'm starting to get accustomed to local foodfare - not exactly spicy, but quite nutty, beanly and almost all the time, fried. Quite a change for a person who likes soupy stuff. But still it's a refreshing change =)

went to their HI-TECH Mall too, but very briefly. Don't want to be a nerd even out of Singapore...

Hi-Tech Mall

played bowling after dinner, with her cousins. My score, hehe....

Sunday, August 3, 2008

surabaya - day 1 and 2

day 1
as usual i took a cab to the airport, for flight number MI226.

Going up up up

Beautiful clouds...

the airport is simple and good enough for everybody's needs, and shortly i was whisked off to my host's place!

after dinner, it was a bit of shopping at Supermal. What's special was the snakes for sale in some shops - no need to go to the zoo to see them.

day 2

as ivana says, it was a tiring day! Most of the time was spent on the road - being driven to places.

1st stop was the Sidoarjo mud flow. Really sad to see the mud oozing out...

On the right were houses. Now submerged by mud

Mud oozing out. The concrete wall beside is actually a roof

2nd stop was to a java chip plantation - lots of tomatos, chilli and etc besides the real stuff.

The best retirement place

What colour do you want?

Da Yan

3rd stop was the Taman Safari. Singapore's zoo or night safari can never compare to this, lah.

Nice! Just beside our car!

Nice skin.

Why the junior likes to pull the other's tail?


Very sleepy ones

Secret communication?

From the right side...


dinner was at 3-6-9. Nice chicken soup!