Singapura May trippin’

By now you must be wondering…just how often do you go back to Singapore?! Well, about once a month actually. One of the things I’m most thankful for about Agent D’s posting to Jakarta is distance. 🙂

A one way trip to Singapore takes slightly under 1.5 hours by air. When you factor in the taking off and landing, toilet trips, announcements, etc, it is hard to even complete one movie in the plane (!). In fact, travelling 5km within Jakarta (with macet) would take 1.5 hours or more heh.

IMG_3114[1]

Hello there, sunny island!

So anywayyy…I went back this time mainly for Adeline’s wedding but also to spend time with family and friends. Here are some pictures from the beautiful union of #Shaunade:

IMG_2935[1]

Their Holy Matrimony was held at the charming Arts House (formerly Old Parliament House).

IMG_2943[1]

Managed to steal a shot with the glowing bride before her first march in.

IMG_2948[1]

A sacred moment. 😉

IMG_2944[1]

Team Bride! Before rushing off to the hotel to set up.

Props & Crafts transformed the entire hotel reception area into the prettiest botanical garden EVER. They do customized props rental for all occasions/settings — bridal showers, baby showers, proposals, photo shoots, dessert tables, and of course weddings. Perfect for lazy people like me who cannot DIY for nuts.

IMG_2960[1]

Together is a beautiful place to be. Aww.

IMG_2951[1]

Photo table.

IMG_2950[1]

Well wishes table + letters from the couple to their guests.

IMG_2949[1]

Walking down memory lane with #shaunade.

As with all weddings, I was really happy to see and catch up with friends (some of whom I haven’t seen since I moved to Jakarta).

IMG_2961[1]

With the whole bridal crew.

IMG_2963[1]

awkwardzzz.

IMG_2969[1]

Team Groom.

IMG_2972[1]

Serene’s getting married in June and I’m counting down to that one.

I also managed to see lil’ baby Asaph for the very first time. He’s such a sweetheart, with such tiny toes and fingers. Congrats Josh and Cheryl – may God grant you both wisdom and love in raising Asaph. x

Weddings and friends aside, I managed to satisfy some of my many food cravings. Time spent in Singapore is always so short and I take my meal planning very seriously.

IMG_2980[1]

Fried carrot cake (Chai tow kway) is an all-time favourite.

IMG_8038[1]

Photos don’t do this justice. Fried hokkien mee from Tian Tian Lai, which I waited 45 minutes for.

IMG_3004[1]

So simple yet so good. Economical bee hoon from Sembawang Hills Food Centre.

There definitely was more food that went into my tummy but I was either too hungry to take a picture, or my hands were oilyyy (some food simply tastes better with hands).

Not forgetting, precious time spent with my favouritest family + savouring every bit of home cooked meals. ❤

IMG_3110[1]

Continue staying healthy and happy, Mama.

And before I know it, I find myself bidding farewell to Singapore again. Did the weekend just pass me by?

IMG_3113[1]

Singapore Changi Airport.

2nd March Trip to Singapore

This March, I flew back to Singapore on two consecutive weekends with only 4 days in Jakarta in between. Bad planning on my end. :/ As usual, there is always so much to do but so little time to spare in Singapore.

My first trip back was mainly to celebrate the love of Pam+Hon Inn as well as welcome new beginnings — Adeline’s hens party and Cheryl’s baby shower. (You can read more about it here: Back Home)

For keepsake — some photo memories of my second visit home:

IMG_2282

Got super excited seeing Singapore in the near distance!!

IMG_1910

Home at my favourite airport.

IMG_2284

First meal upon landing – steamed chicken dipped in ginger sauce and wrapped in lettuce. PURE YUM.

IMG_2135

The entire stretch of Orchard Rd has pretty much changed except #1 TANGS.

IMG_2130

and #2 Takashimaya (please stay this way forever!).

IMG_2138

Old school ice-cream cart against modern Ion.

IMG_2286

Catch up with friends I’ve not seen in ages #1 Hazel. Its been a year (??!) since we last met.

IMG_2285

and #2 Shumin. I think its been 1.5 years. 😦

IMG_2294

Lunch with Agent D at Candlenut – the world’s first Michelin-starred Peranakan restaurant. 

IMG_2314

Mama Lee (93 y.o.) working on her daily colouring. Although she no longer recognizes me, I am thankful that she’s healthy, eats well, and ever so cheerful. 

IMG_2317

Steamboat on a cold rainy night with great company.

IMG_2318

L Dearest – circa 2004.

IMG_2316

Last meal in SG with mom before heading to the airport.

“What i like about photographs is that they capture a moment that’s gone forever, impossible to reproduce.”Karl Lagerfeld

And I find myself back in Jakarta again battling the intense traffic. 🙂

Back Home: Of Wedding Festivities, Bridal and Baby Showers

Of Weddings

Many of my good friends are getting/have gotten married in the first half of this year. Last month (Feb) was Greg’s wedding in Miri. This coming April will be Adeline’s union with Shaun. In June, Petrina and Serene are getting married two weeks apart. And just last week (March), I flew back for Pam’s wedding.

Pam and I go a long wayyy back to primary school days. We went on to the same secondary school and junior college and have been in close contact ever since.

IMG_2169[1]

18 years of friendship and counting.

Many fond memories flood my mind as I think back on our growing up years —  going to school and coming home together (we were neighbours), hanging out after school at each other’s homes/nearby malls, wearing cool baggy jeans with belts hanging out (gross!), experimenting with make-up for the first time, exploring IRC chats with weirdass nicknames, playing snake on our Nokia phones while waiting for the train, riding on our skate scooters/bicycles around the estate, playing futile badminton in an open-air space, the list goes on.

XHFS3652[1]

From primary school…to secondary school…to JC…to now. What a long way we’ve come.

I still find it hard to believe that 18 years on, we are now at the stage of getting married and having kids. Where did all that time go?!!

It was a real joy to witness a good ol’ friend walk down the aisle with the love of her life and I couldn’t help but get all sentimental. Here are some photo memories captured on the day itself:

IMG_2155[1]

Bridesmaids duties – THE GATECRASH.

IMG_2154[1]

Three ‘fun’ tasks for the groom and his boys.

IMG_2223[1]

Hon Inn and his bros in full force.

IMG_2153[1]

United by our polka dots. 🙂

The groom and his friends were super sporting and everyone had a good laugh. After the eventful gatecrash, we proceeded to Bishan Park for photo taking.

IMG_2228[1]

Pam in her beautiful gown.

IMG_2163[1]

Bishan Park – one of my favourite parks in Singapore.

IMG_2156[1]

Sharing a moment together.

IMG_2168[1]

3/10 of L Dearest.

IMG_2229[1]

Whoooop.

At the hotel, we had some time to freshen up and help with the decor. Everyone was tired from waking up at 5+am in the morning but adrenaline kept us going.

IMG_2177[1]

Decor for the main table.

Hon Inn and Pam handcrafted a paper flower wall for their guests to take photos against. Each and every wallflower was painstakingly cut, folded, and threaded into its intricate shape. Isn’t it absolutely gorgeous?!

During the Holy Matrimony, Hon Inn couldn’t hold back his tears as Pam walked down the aisle and when he was saying his vows. I’ve never seen this softer side of him and it was really sweet.

IMG_2230[1]

Mr. and Mrs. Hon Inn. Congrats you two!!

At the dinner banquet later in the evening:

With all of us in different parts of the world, a wedding somehow helps to bring everyone together. I was really happy to be a part of Pam’s big day + catch up with friends that I’ve not seen in a long while.

Once again, congrats Pam and Hon Inn!!! Wishing you nothing but the best and lots of love and joy in this marriage! ❤ ❤ ❤


Of Bridal and Baby Showers

As I mentioned earlier, Adeline’s wedding is going to be held in April, just one month from now. Coincidentally, Cheryl will also be popping around that time.

As such, we decided to hold a 2-in-1 celebration for the two of them: Adeline’s bridal shower CUM Cheryl’s baby shower.

IMG_2199[1]

So much to look forward to in April for GSF+1.

Both Adeline and Cheryl were not expecting it…Adeline was informed that it was going to be Cheryl’s baby shower whilst Cheryl was told that we were hosting a hens party for Adeline. BOOOOOM SURPRISSSSSE! ❤

IMG_2206[1]

With our Mrs-to-be, last one of GSF to get hitched.

IMG_2203[1]

Congrats my dear! Really looking forward to flying back for your big day.

Adeline and Cheryl were both my cell leaders back in Singapore and have a special place in my heart. I’m really excited for them as they move into a new phase of their lives — as a new wife and a Mom.

IMG_2201[1]

With our Momma-to-be, can’t wait to meet your lil’ one!

Over good food, we talked about their hopes for the future and discussed girly topics. Everyone had a good belly-laugh, an awesome remedy for the soul.

IMG_2200[1]

Till our big reunion in April again. 🙂

“In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.” — Khalil Gibran

Friends forever. xxx

Straits Times Feature on Our Volunteering Journey in Jakarta

It’s been exactly a year since I first wrote about Volunteering in Jakarta: Kampung Kids (dated 26 Feb 2016). And today, one year on, an article was published on Straits Times Online titled ‘Singaporean volunteers bridge education gap in South Jakarta‘.

Working with the children from Kampung Kids has been a wonderful learning journey for both Dianne and myself and this write-up is a lovely keepsake of our time spent there.

I will be sharing it with you here:


Singaporean volunteers bridge education gap in South Jakarta neighbourhood

Singaporeans Deborah Lee and Dianne Goh sat on tiny chairs, with half a dozen curious preschoolers at their feet. Their eyes widened and narrowed and their voices rose and fell as they recited each line from “The Three Friends”, a children’s story about animals.

In a smattering of English and basic Bahasa Indonesia, the volunteer teachers tried to make themselves understood.

Unsure of the Indonesian term for elephant’s trunk, Ms Lee resorted to using hand gestures. She balled one hand into a fist, put it in front of her face and extended it outwards.

“This is elephant’s trunk,” she said. Ms Goh chimed in: “Trunk. Not nose, OK? Trunk.” The children nodded.

After the story-telling session, they played videos on their i-pad and led the class in singing and dancing to simple tunes such as “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes”.

Ms Dianne Goh (short hair) and Ms Deborah Lee (long hair), volunteer teachers from Singapore, teaching Indonesian children English. They are among 20 volunteer teachers at the Yayasan Kampung Kids, a foundation in the poorer neighbourhood of Pejaten in South Jakarta. PHOTO: SHELBY GARLICK

Ms Lee, 29, and Ms Goh, 28, are among 20 volunteer teachers at the Yayasan Kampung Kids, a foundation in the poorer neighbourhood of Pejaten in South Jakarta which has been running free educational, as well as food and nutrition programmes for the underprivileged for nearly two decades.

Ms Lee has been volunteering there since 2015, shortly after moving to Jakarta where her husband is stationed for work. Ms Goh did the same last year.

In a country where pre-primary education is not compulsory, and most of the kindergartens and nurseries are privately-run and expensive, volunteer teachers like them are much welcomed.

Ms Dianne Goh (short hair) and Ms Deborah Lee (long hair), volunteer teachers from Singapore, teaching Indonesian children English. PHOTO: SHELBY GARLICK

The government has been increasing funds gradually for early childhood education and plans are afoot to build an education centre in every village across the country. In the meantime, foundations like Kampung Kids are helping to fill the service gap.

Housewife Sumarni, 45, said she would have to fork out anywhere between one and five million rupiah (S$105-S$526) to enrol her five-year-old daughter Nurita in a regular kindergarten, and another 300,000 rupiah every month for school fees.

“All parents want the best education for their children. But not everyone can afford that,” she said.

The biggest challenge for the Singaporeans, as expected, is the language barrier. But they say this has only spurred them to get creative.

Ms Lee, who holds a Master’s degree in Child Development and Education, had taught English and Mathematics to primary school pupils in Singapore and wanted to continue helping the local community.

Ms Dianne Goh teaching Indonesian children English. PHOTO: SHELBY GARLICK

“The children hardly understand or speak English while I’m not very fluent in Bahasa Indonesia,” she said, adding that she conveys her messages by drawing pictures and playing charades. Sometimes, the mothers who sit in during the lessons will help her explain to the children.

Struggles aside, they aim to make lessons fun through songs and get the children “used to listening to English”, Ms Goh said.

“We have to use very simple and short stories. We also get them to repeat the sentences after us,” she added. “I can see the importance of giving young children a good foundation in education as it gives them self-confidence, and a love for learning.”

The parents say they appreciate the efforts of the foreign teachers – including those from Singapore, India, Australia, Britain and the US – and do not mind that they are not fluent in Bahasa Indonesia.

“They could be doing something else with their time, but choose to come here to teach our kids. I’m just grateful,” 30-year-old Fitriyah said.

Ms Deborah Lee teaching Indonesian children English. PHOTO: SHELBY GARLICK

Agreeing, housewife Nenah, 32, said that her daughter would sing English nursery rhymes at home and tell her that she looks forward to going to school.

“I hope my child will be able to master English so she can interact with people other than Indonesians,” she said.

For the Singaporean teachers, sharing knowledge goes two ways: The pupils and the parents have not only expanded their Indonesian vocabulary, but have also given them valuable life lessons.

“They taught me so much more beyond the four walls of the classroom,” Ms Lee said.

“Despite not having much, the children are very content and carefree. I’ve also learnt to be content in life, in various situations and circumstances,” she said.

“They constantly remind me to have a bigger and more generous heart towards the poor.”

aarlina@sph.com.sg


The original article with the video can be found at this link: http://str.sg/4nxg.

If you have any questions about volunteering in Jakarta, feel free to drop me a note here! 🙂

Closing the Year with Dad and Mom in Jakarta

I’m finallllllly back to writing. And oh GOODBYE 2016, HELLO 2017!!!

Time seems to pass even faster than normal around year end with all the ongoing festivities. Agent D and I were back in Singapore the week before Christmas (I’ll leave that to another post). And then we had my parents over for Christmas and New Year.

Jakarta gets very quiet during Christmas and New Year because many Indonesians travel out of the country during that period. This is reflected in the road conditions — our car can actually travel at >50km/h for long stretches and we can get to destinations in one-third the time. Ahh-mazing, ain’t it? 🙂

Thanks to dad and mom, we had a less lonely and more colourful Christmas and New Year in Jakarta. Here are some bits and pieces of their 11-day stay with us:

3b

Lunch stop at KOI Kemang, after hunting for household treasures in Kemang.

2b

Exploring the alleys of Ancol Art Market, Pasar Seni.

3

Christmas lunch with Wes, Steph and baby Sophie at Keraton at The Plaza.

Over the past two weeks, we’ve been bingeing A LOT on all things rich and fatty. I feel like my face has widened an inch horizontally *horrors*.

Food aside, we’ve been shopping quite a bit too. I brought my parents to ITC Mangga Dua, the Indonesian equivalent of Bangkok’s Platinum Fashion Mall. We were there the entire day but still could not finish walking all six levels of the wholesale fashion hub.

6b

Honing my bargain hunting skills (the shopkeepers don’t look impressed at all heh).

7

STAR WARS exhibits at Pacific Place Mall.

Mom’s birthday falls between Christmas and New Year and we got to celebrate it together. Dinner was at Kembang Goela, a lovely restaurant with colonial interior serving traditional Indonesian food. My parents loved the place.

8

Blessed Birthday Mom!

“A mother is she who can take the place of all others but whose place no one else can take.” — Cardinal Mermillod

Wishing you many more years of good health, love, joy, and peace as you walk this life with God!

15

Thanks for everything and for always having my back (literally!).

This was our first New Year in Jakarta (last year we spent it in Singapore) and the fireworks were pretty spectacular. Five minutes before midnight of 1 Jan 2017, fireworks started going off all over Jakarta from people’s houses/backyards/gardens. It was a really beautiful sight from my balcony.

10b

Sparks of light all across Jakarta. Pardon the really bad picture – the blurish white/orange specks are actually fireworks.

11

New Year’s lunch at Meradelima Restaurant.

We spent a fair bit of time at home too, watching DVDs and playing with Freckles the kitty. It was dad and mom’s first time meeting Freckles and they became fast friends.

13

Freckles sitting up to watch a movie with us.

12

Such a baby!

I just sent dad and mom off at the airport this morning and am already missing their presence at home. Looking forward to seeing them again in February!

P.S. I will write about some of the places we visited in greater detail in separate posts. Till then, xoxo.

A Sunflowery Weekend in Jakarta

Agent D added some colour to the weekend with a bouquet of my favourite sunflowers. He used to gift me with flowers every few weeks when we were dating but it has become more of a rarity of late. So the flowers same as a lovely surrrprise! 🙂

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Saturday Flower Power.

Apart from me, someone else took an interest in the pretty flowers.

Freckles could not stop sniffing at them. I guess she’s still a girl at heart too (although she’s been recently spayed – oops sorry Freckles!).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Taking a selfie with the flowers.

We caught Allied this weekend and it was my first time watching a movie in the Premiere XXI studios (yes, super belated I know!). Paying to watch a movie in premiere class is somewhat similar to paying for first class air tickets. For IDR 150k (verus the usual ticket price of IDR 40k), we sat on luxury leather seats that could recline, had special access to a VIP lounge as well as had our lunch delivered to our seat. #OnlyInJakarta

All in all, it was a nice experience. But I think I still prefer the regular cinemas. 🙂

“Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow. It’s what sunflowers do.” ― Helen Keller

Have a blessed Sunday everyone! xxx

Singapore and 3 Fs: Family, Friends & Food

This is a super delayed update on our two weeks in Singapore (late Sept – early October)…but oh well better late than never I guess! For most of the SG visits so far (to settle the house, attend weddings etc), I’ve been going back alone. So it was really nice that this time round, Agent D and I could head back together. 🙂

For this year, we actually made a decision to forgo a long holiday elsewhere and spend more time in Singapore instead. And I’m glad that the ‘sacrifice’ was worth it – we got to satisfy food cravings, spend quality time with family, and catch up with various groups of friends.

Here’s our SG trip summarised in pictures:

1) Family

“You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them” — Desmond Tutu

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Day out at Sentosa with dad and mom.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Both our parents! Such a cute picture.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Tourists at Madame Tussauds wax museum.

Its been a while since I last visited Sentosa Island and it has changed so much! Singapore’s landscape is constantly evolving…after a couple of months away, new buildings seemingly sprout out of nowhere and old buildings are suddenly gone.

2) Friends

“True friendship multiplies the good in life and divides its evils. Strive to have friends, for life without friends is like life on a desert island… to find one real friend in a lifetime is good fortune; to keep him is a blessing.” — Baltasar Gracian

Agent D was a happy boy because he spent an entire day board gaming with Shane (pretty sure 1 day wasn’t enough actually) — something he was really looking forward to leading up to the trip.

I even indulged him in a game of Eclipse one of the nights, which left me pretty much brain-dead thereafter. #wifeyduties

IMG_0411.JPG

Eclipse!

Get–togethers with friends are always great, as usual.

img_0423

Half of L Dearest, missing the other 5. When will we ever get full attendance with us in FIVE different countries?! 😦

img_0459

Congrats on your lil’ one, Hannah and Fred!

img_0432

GSF +1 + unplanned blue coordination.

img_0462

Agent D’s church mates.

And more pictures…meeting baby fatty is always a highlight of my trip! Ain’t he so adorable *pinch cheeks*.

3) Food, food, and MORE FOOD

“Eating is not merely a material pleasure. Eating well gives a spectacular joy to life and contributes immensely to goodwill and happy companionship. It is of great importance to the morale.” — Elsa Schiaparelli

Singapore’s hawker food is one-of-a-kind and irreplaceable anywhere out of Singapore (at least to me). Usually after landing, the first thing I do is eat a delightful plate of hokkien mee. #comfortfood

Time allowing, I always stop by Melben Seafood for some good crabs.

So happy we finally got to check out the seafood buffet at 10 at Claymore, Pan Pacific Orchard. During my last SG visit, when they were having Oyster Occasions (1 June to 31 July 2016), I called to make a reservation 1 week in advance but they told me they were fully booked EVERY DAY for the next 3 weeks. :/

Oceanic gems aside (fresh lobsters and sashimi included), their other food like the premium New Zealand Grass-Fed Organic Beef and Penang specialties such as Char Kway Teow, Bak Kut Teh with Kurobuta Belly Ribs, Assam Laksa with Barramundi Fillet were good stuff too.

Agent D and I also got to spend time chilling at cafes with a book. Simple pleasures I’m missing now.

img_0387

High tea at Saveur.

Korean Bingsu (consisting of ice shavings and various ingredients) is currently all the rage in Singapore. I saw about 10 new Korean Bingsu shops during my short time there. Reminds me of the bubble tea/froyo/salted egg yolk anything craze, which have all more or less died down by now.

I just had to try one…

img_0445

Green Tea Bingsu at O’ma Spoon.

Ending off this post with my all-time favourite salmon sashimi bowl from The Sushi Bar.

img_0444

Thick, fresh pieces of salmon sashimi. #sogood

OH I WANNA GO BACK TO SINGAPORE SOON AGAIN! ❤ ❤ ❤