29 March 2006

T-shirt Slogans

Due to the protrayal of mature themes in this post, parental guidance is advised.

The words on a T-shirt can make a strong political statement:

Or convey a firm anti-terrorist message:

Or even give you a tip or two on what lucky 4-D number to bet:

But mostly, t-shirts messages are just harmless and humourous:

To save old people from straining their eyes to read the words, the above T-shirt messages are reproduced below:

1. (This one is dedicated to, erm... I better not say, wait kena clubbed.)

"I May Be Fat, But You're Ugly, And I Can DIET."

2. (This one is dedicated to VT, the only sucker smoker in our BAGUS lunch team.)

"If you think you are a Smoker, you are NOT. It is the cigarette that Smokes, you are merely the Sucker at the END."

3. (This one is dedicated to myself, hehe.)

"When I work, nobody cares. When I rest, everybody stares."

4. (This one is dedicated to Chris.)

"I'm not loafing. I work so fast, I'm always finished."

5. (This one is dedicated to MJM.)

"Your story has really touched my heart. I've never met anyone with as many problems as you. You have my deepest sympathy. Now! F@*K OFF AND STOP BOTHERING ME!"

6. (This one is dedicated to all men who feel inadequate. As I am too paiseh to transcribe the words, please read the words yourself in close-up photo below.) It is the T-shirt that takes the cake because it is not only graded triple-X but also triple-H as well - humorous, harmful and humsup, wahaha:

Although I am sexually liberal and dare to put this T-shirt photo on my blog (as I am on the subject of humsup posts anyway), I am not so sure if I dare to wear such a T-shirt to office or even around town. Chris, throw me the challenge.

26 March 2006

Speak No Evil, Only Heritage and Nostalgia

The first paragraph of a recent news release about the setting up of yesterday.sg is reproduced below. It gives the background to this post:

"Come 1 March 2006, a new virtual space for heritage and museum enthusiasts - yesterday.sg - will enrich the blogosphere. An initiative of the Museum Roundtable (MR), yesterday.sg is an interest-based blog on Singapore's heritage and museums. With a rich repository of posts by heritage enthusiasts, museum aficionados, and nostalgia fans, visitors can tune into heritage happenings, explore Singapore's close to 40 museums, and indulge in personal tales from the past. They can share their adventures, discover quirky facts, and offer insights on never-before-heard nuggets of Singapore's history."

Early this year, I was invited to be a Friend of yesterday.sg. A Friend, as I understand it to be, is one of the 'founding members' of yesterday.sg who has written or will write articles about heritage or nostalgia concerning Singapore for posting on yesterday.sg. I have accepted the invitation to be a Friend. In connection with the launch of yesterday.sg, the media have interviewed a few Friends, including yours truly. However, no details of my e-mail interview made it to print. I would like to think that the reason for not publishing any details of my interview was more due to (newspaper) space constraint rather than what I said was not newsworthy. (Haha, for once, I am being positive.)

Fortunately in this blogging age, who needs newspaper space to air one's opinions? Readers may disagree with my opinions but nobody can gag me on my own blog. My interview still gets published. Besides, my posting of the interview on my blog is to prove that I spoke no evil of anyone. (Alright, if I did, it was only in jest.) Instead, I gave credit when credit is due. Moreover, I spent a few hours preparing my responses to the interview so it would be a waste to let them vanish without a trace. So here goes:

1. How did you get started in blogging? Was it difficult, technical-wise?

In May last year, my good friend and colleague Chris started a blog and challenged me to start one too. At first, I was reluctant to do so but Chris was very persistent. (He must have used the same dogged determination to woo his wife too.) I relented eventually. That is why my blog is titled 'Taking Up the Challenge' and the banner reads, "My answer to Chris' challenge for this old dog (that's me) to blog. I am intent on showing Chris that 'every old dog could do a good blog'." More details on how I get started in blogging could be found in two of my earlier posts on victorkoo.blogspot.com. (Sorry, I cannot resist doing some commercial.)

I would not say that it was a piece of cake when I first started blogging. However, it was also not so technically difficult that I could not overcome it. In the next few months, I attended courses such as Web Design and Digital Imaging. These courses taught me how to use HTML codes to enhance my blog and how to add special effects to my photos. My employer sponsored the courses as I needed to use quite a bit of IT skills in my job. Of course, Chris gave me some pointers too.

2. Did you get roped into contribute to yesterday.sg, or did you offer your help?

In a way, I was recruited to yesterday.sg. In October last year when I was writing a series titled 'Vanishing Scenes of Singapore', Mr Lam Chun See (of goodmorningyesterday.blogspot.com fame) discovered my blog. Since then we have become good friends in blogosphere. Then early this year, Mr Shaun Wong of National Heritage Board commented on my blog to request for my e-mail contact. After some further discussion, I was convinced to join yesterday.sg. Based on these circumstances, I believed that it was Chun See who 'squealed on me' but I had no proof.

3. Are your posts on the yesterday.sg blog similar to the posts on your personal blog? If not, do you have to make a specific effort to write something different for the yesterday.sg blog?

I write on a wide range of topics in my personal blog. Besides writing stories on old Singapore occasionally, some examples of topics on my personal blog are grouses about service standards, Unscrupulous Ways of Doing Business, Sexpo 2005, Pulau Ubin, Striving To Be More Positive, and so on. Hence the posts on my personal blog are more varied than my posts on yesterday.sg. It would be correct to say the latter is a subset of the former. I am an incidental heritage blogger and not a full-time one - this was made known to Shaun and he accepted this occasional sleeping partner, without regrets I hope.

4. So far, your posts on yesterday.sg have been titled 'Vanishing Scenes of Singapore'. Why have you chosen to write on this, and are you planning to continue in this vein?

Actually, 'Vanishing Scenes of Singapore' was a 6-part series which I wrote in October last year to fill a void when there was no issue to blog about. At that time, I had not written for some time and Chris was hassling me to 'remove the spider webs from my weblog'. I struck on the idea of writing about vanishing scenes to buy me some time and some reprieve from Chris' pestering. This series of posts would last me quite some time. I will continue to write about old Singapore as long as I still have stories to tell. Besides posts about vanishing scenes, I have written other old stories like my school days, my first car and my first camera.

5. From your blog posts, your tone is quite different from what I'd expect from a 50-year-old blogger (if you don't mind me making such presumptions :) ). It's very different from the usual tone of sombre recollection that other, older bloggers have. Do you intentionally want to set yourself apart from them?

I take that to be a compliment, that is about being different and not about being 50. I like to write humourously and accompany my posts with lots of photos. I hope that by doing so, my posts will be more interesting to read. I try to make my posts light-hearted as after all, I believe that one of the purposes of a blog is to entertain and not just to inform. This is not to say that I need little effort in writing my blog that way. I put in quite a lot of effort and time to write my posts and frequently work into the wee hours of the morning. Some of my posts also described how I 'risked life and limb' to take some of the photos, not unlike an investigative journalist.

6. What are the kinds of responses you've received for your blogging, and who usually reads your blog - youngsters or a more matured audience?

I realise that the kinds and ages of readers attracted to my blog depend very much on the topic of the post that I am writing about. These readers probably found my blog by using a blog search on their topics of interest - when I wrote about old Singapore, Chun See commented; when I wrote about Pulau Ubin, Ms Ria Tan (www.wildsingapore.com) commented; and when I wrote about my car, I was invited to join a car club. However, I do get younger regular readers too. Etel and Evan are two of them, probably due to the credit of Chun See again as they mentioned that they blog-hopped from Chun See's blog.

7. Why do you want to be a part of the yesterday.sg project?

I feel that getting the younger generation to be more interested or at least more aware of our heritage is a very worthwhile cause. I am glad to do my part.

8. How do you think people - both young and old - will respond to it?

I think that the initial response has been very encouraging so far. Within a few days of the official launch of yesterday.sg, the site has already garnered more than 30,000 hits which is no mean feat. Quite a few members of the public have been encouraged to blog on yesterday.sg. (I hope that they are not just attracted by the prizes but have a real passion in blogging.) I believe that most of them are middle-aged bloggers but I cannot verify their ages as I do not have their personal details. Older readers may be more reluctant to blog because they may lack the technical skills to do so but this will not hinder them from accessing yesterday.sg just to browse.

24 March 2006

After The Fad, It Always Turns Bad

I read the following article in the New Paper of 20 Mar 2006:

Just months ago, the situation was very different - there was a long queue of people waiting patiently to get their hands on the buns (and their teeth in them). The buns were literally selling like hot cakes. The half a dozen or so staff could not churn out enough buns to satisfy the demand:

But the situation lately was a stark contrast to those happy times. In fact, I had a premonition of sorts when I took this photo on 12 Feb 2006 at 6.10 pm at Parkway Parade:

It was a Sunday. And if a foodstall did not have a single customer during peak hours on a weekend, its days must be numbered. So I was not surprised to read the above article. There were only 2 staff manning the stall and they seemed to be busy... finding something to do. The ovens were empty and the familiar fragrant roti-cum-coffee smell in the air was absent. The only tidy queue in front of the counter was formed by the 4 guide poles (at left of photo) that were ironically used previously to ensure that the human queue was tidy. I knew immediately that this business was in trouble - the till was not ringing and the scene was chilling. The poster behind that said 'Oh Boy, The Taste' seemed to be saying 'Oh Boy, The Waste' instead. The Rotiboy did not have a chance to grow up into a Rotiman.

Rotiboy's website said that all outlets in Singapore would be closed 'due to unforeseen circumstances'. (Sure, sudden loss of customers due to no apparent reason is unforeseen.) The company further reassured customers that Rotiboy coffee buns were still available in Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand. So next time you have a craving for the coffee buns, you know where to get them.

The above story brought back memories of the bubble tea craze some years back. Bubble tea shops were then sprouting like mushrooms everywhere and there were queues at some of the more popular outlets. Then suddenly some months later, the inevitable happened - the bubble burst. But some outlets miraculously survived, like this one in Marine Parade Central:

Look, people are still queueing for the drinks. Does this shopowner know something we don't?

Is there a problem with the businesses or is there a problem with us Singaporeans? Why do we always form queues to try out something new (especially food and beverage) and then when we are tired of them, we simply ditch them like a boyfriend or girlfriend whom we can't stand? If it is not us Singaporeans, then why are Rotiboy outlets still surviving in other countries despite some outlets having opened longer than those in Singapore? Could this Singapore psyche have something to do with the high divorce rate in Singapore? Go figure.

Read 'Coffee buns: Headed for the Exit?' dated 1 Dec 05.

20 March 2006

A Not-so-traditional Shop in Chinatown

Note: This post is rated NC13 - Parental guidance advised for children below 13-year old.

I know that this post is almost 2 months late but it is always better late than never.

I was around Chinatown just after Chinese New Year (CNY) to soak in the CNY atmosphere. Like Chun See, I also didn't like crowded places. Chinatown post-CNY was like a ghost town - most of the shops were closed for about a week, which suited me just fine:

While looking through the closed shops' windows, I spotted this shop:

A sex shop right in the heart of Chinatown? It was a business I least expected to find in an area so full of history, culture and heritage. (By the way, this shop was located quite far away from Keong Saik Road, one of few 'officially sanctioned' red-light districts in Singapore.) I could understand if similar shops like 1836 Fantasy or Secret Affair popped up in vicinity of Geylang, another 'officially recognised' red-light district. But in the last few years, such shops are being set up in places such as swanky Orchard Road, heritage-rich Chinatown and even HDB heartlands such as Woodlands.

It is a well-known fact that prostitution is the oldest profession in the world. It certainly has been around in Singapore even before Sir Stamford Raffles founded the country. So in that sense, it can be considered as part of our heritage too, although I am sure that it is not one that we love to shout about. In any case, the proliferation of such shops here is proof that our society is becoming less conservative, which is not necessarily a bad thing depending on how you look at it.

However, when I searched the 2005/06 edition of the Buying Guide aka Yellow Pages, I was surprised that I could not find any listing on Sex Shops. In fact, there wasn't any listing under Sex. It was as if sex didn't exist at all in Singapore. (Ahh... perhaps I should have looked in the C or Commercial Guide instead and not the B or Buying Guide since this type of sex is supposed to be commercial in nature, hehe.)

I may be advanced in years but I am a lot less conservative than you may think. Therefore I actually do not disapprove of the establishment of such shops in appropriate locations. However in my humble opinion, Chinatown is not an appropriate location for such shops.

And as I found out, one positive side of such shops is that the products that they sell can be quite saucily humourous too:

Note: The above photos have been deliberately blurred for those who are conservative or for those below 13 who are reading this post anyway, without parental guidance.

Chun See, bet you didn't know about the sex shops, just like you didn't know who started the 360° revolution?

17 March 2006

Who Started the Revolution?

I first heard of the term 360° from my primary school maths teacher in the 1960s. As most of us know, this is the mathematical term for one revolution or one round. It is the angle covered by say the moving second hand of an analogue clock in one minute.

Mr Kenny Sia also mentioned in one of his recent posts that the 360° suffix was one of the marketing monikers which he found annoying. As Kenny so eloquently put it, the term was made famous by Microsoft for its new Xbox to mean 'a new revolution':

It was then shamelessly abused by Yahoo:

In the last 2 weeks, I found out for myself that the 360° suffix was indeed ubiquitous for product naming even in Singapore. A certain insurance company had used it in its tagline:

Even a self-improvement book carried this magical figure in its title as if it would move sales:

A well-known brand of shaver was also quick to jump on the bandwagon:

Hence when I visited Singapore's first cable-ski park in East Coast two Sundays ago, I was not surprised by its name:

The ski park was opened early this year. It was certainly not the first ski park in the world - the first one was opened in Spain in 1966 and closer to home, there were already similar facilities in Batam and Thailand.

The man-made lagoon of the ski park had been there since the early 70s. The lagoon had undergone several transformations in the last 3 decades. It was first built as a swimming lagoon. (I had a swim with my first girlfriend there in the late 70s.) Due to the dwindling number of visitors, the swimming lagoon was later converted to a fishing pond some years later. Even the fishing pond did not survive for long. For the last several years, the lagoon had remained closed to the public. The only visitors to the lagoon were the occasional migratory heron scouring for food in its shallow waters and sometimes the errant cyclist who strayed into the lagoon via a hole in the fence.

However when I visited the ski park 2 Sundays ago, the lagoon was a hive of activity. There was a queue of people waiting for their turn to ski:

You would have noticed that the majority of the skiers are Ang Mohs (Westerners). Most Singaporeans are not game for such a sport which can be considered as extreme by local standards. And at $8 for a single ride i.e. 360° which lasts only slightly more than a minute, the sport is also considered extreme in another sense - extremely expensive. To make your money worth, you should consider the 1-hour pass ($40) or the 2-hour pass ($60) but only if you really know how to ski, like this guy:

But if you ski like this:

It is going to be very tiring to fall like that for one whole hour.

And if you spend most of your time in the water like this:

Then you might as well do it in the nearby sea which is free.

If you are a novice at skiing, you are probably better off with a single round ride for which you are allowed a maximum of 3 failed attempts to ride off, after which you are considered to have wasted your ride. I would strongly suggest that you take up in-line skating first. It's cheaper and it would train your sense of balance which would come in handy should you decide to take up skiing later.

I spoke to the staff at the ski park. He said that business was alright during weekends but was 'a bit slow' during weekdays. It remains to be seen whether the ski park is sustainable in the long term or will it be transformed to yet another facility, i.e. undergo yet another 360° change in due course.

12 March 2006

Joo Chiat - Past and Present (1)

I lived in Haig Road from 1975 till about 1980. As a young man at that time, I used to wander around nearby Joo Chiat area with a chopper.

To the younger readers, a 'chopper' here does not mean a type of kitchen knife. I was not going to participate in any gang fights which were frequent occurrences in Joo Chiat in that era. They still are and I am not referring to the famous neighbourhood squabble in Everitt Road. Fights still break out every now and then mainly because of the many bars and massage parlours that have sprung up in that area recently.

A chopper was a small bicycle with its rear tyre slightly bigger than its front one. It was very popular at that time:

Riding my chopper, I discovered many interesting facets of Joo Chiat. Sad to say, most of them are no longer there today. Today, Joo Chiat is more well known for its food and food-related businesses, besides its bars and massage parlours, of course.

I am writing a series of posts about Joo Chiat and this is the first one. Today I will describe one of Joo Chiat's more popular and well-established businesses which is still in operation today. I do not have a habit of advertising for a business (especially since I do not earn anything from this). However this time I am providing the name card and detailed instructions on how to get there because my blogofriend Evan requested for them:

This popiah skin manufacturer has been around since 1938 although I cannot confirm whether it has always been in Joo Chiat since I was not even born yet at that time. So this shop has survived World War II. Whilst other local popiah skin manufacturers like well-known第一家(Tee Yih Jia) have fully automated their operations and even gone global, this one in Joo Chiat has chosen to stand still in time but yet has stood the test of time. 'Tee Yih Jia' literally means 'the first (company making popiah skins)' but since the company was established in 1969, it is definitely not the first homegrown company making popiah skins - Kway Guan Huat (郭源发) was established more than 3 decades earlier.

At Kway Guan Huat, the popiah skins are still made the traditional way. Each piece is made by hand, hence no two pieces are exactly alike. A worker holds a lump of very soft and pliable dough high and swings it skillfully with his hand. He then very deftly touches a large flat heated pan (the kind used for cooking roti pratas) with the dough. The worker must do this with just the right touch, literally. If done correctly, a round thin piece of dough is left stuck on the pan to cook. After about 10 seconds, the cooked dough is then scraped up from the pan and stacked with earlier cooked ones. The whole process may seem very easy to an onlooker but I am sure that in reality it is not.

In the olden days, there used to be a row of about half a dozen workers all doing the same routine as described above but on different pans, of course. It was quite fun to watch so many of them doing the same action simultaneously. It was like they were doing a military drill. But last Friday when I visited the shop, there was only one worker doing his thing. I suspected that perhaps business had not been as good as before.

There was another reason why I had the impression that their popiah business might not be doing very well. One of the shopkeepers peeked out and saw my car parked by the roadside. She then promptly handed me a pamphlet that extols the virtue of a $460 air cleaner for my car. But at that price, I really felt that it would clean out my wallet more effectively than the air in my car. That sum of money could buy a popiah feast for about 100 people! So I replied politely that I would read up the pamphlet first and then revert if I was interested. Why the need to diversify to a totally unrelated product if the popiah business was thriving right?

Below are other details of Kway Guan Huat:


1 kg of plain popiah skins – S$16 (pro-rated charge for weights less than 1 kg)
1 kg of egg popiah skins (available on Sat, Sun and PH only) – S$18
Vegetarian popiah ingredients (toppings not included, enough for about 10 rolls) – S$22
Crab meat popiah ingredients (toppings not included, enough for about 10 rolls) – S$20

So how do you get there? Most conveniently by car or taxi, of course.

Photo 1 - The shop is at 95 Joo Chiat Road. If you are coming from Geylang Serai, the shop is on the left-hand side of the road, just after the junction with Joo Chiat Terrace.

Photo 2 – The shop front

Photo 3 – The 'Popiah Dance'

Photo 4 – Stacking up the finished product

Evan, do remember to invite Chris and myself if you are cooking a popiah feast, alright?

08 March 2006

Barbarous Gift For A Civil Serpent

Our office recently presented each one of us with a gift:

It may not look like one but it is actually an auto-scan radio which doubles as a pen holder (obvious, right?) It also has a 'magnetite' left foot to which you can stick paper clips so that they could be close at foot hand.

As usual, the moment I realised that the radio was made in a certain country, the first thing I did to get entertained was not to switch on the radio but to read the user manual. The manual said, 'Please change the batteries in time if the quantity of broadcasting station decrease, or the radio voice is faint, screaming or barbarous.

After all, a screaming or barbarous voice does not go very well with a civil serpent. I had a really good laugh. Many thanks to the office for a very entertaining gift.

07 March 2006

What? Another Crime?

Last Sunday, I bought a digital clock from a kiosk located beside Marine Parade Central Food Centre. When I read the English User Manual on how to set the time, I nearly fell off my chair. You see, this clock came with features which no other clock had:

per petual calendar;

sound of one team;

dripping alarm (I thought I bought a digital clock and not a water one?);

But this one certainly took the cake:

embezzling sleep.

My goodness, the English was simply atrocious - four glaring errors in just 3 points. Or was it intentionally disguised humour? Needless to say, I ended up even more confused than before I read the manual. The author had failed miserably. No prizes for guessing which country this product was made in.

It has come to a point where I purposely choose to buy this country's products just to have a good laugh reading their manuals. Maybe that is part of their marketing strategy. Now I have committed two crimes in the past week - one for corruptly accepting a lavish lunch and now for embezzling sleep. Book me Danno.

05 March 2006

My Favourite Toy As A Kid - The Mech Sumo Robot

I would like to share with you how I made one of my favourite toys which I used to play as a kid in the 1960s. But first, the following were characteristics of most toys of that era:

a. They were self-constructed, simple but yet highly creative.

Every part was made or assembled by hand, just like a Rolex or a Rolls Royce, except that I had to use my own hands. The toys were simple to make but yet highly creative, with much attention paid to little details.

b. They were very cheap to produce.

Not that I did not whine and pine for expensive toys (I was never that well-behaved as a kid) but my family was not well to do. Like most families at that time, we were living only at or near subsistence level. To aggravate the situation, I had 4 siblings and all of us were of school-going age. Both of my parents had to work just to keep us living from hand to mouth. Hence most kids never got anywhere with their whining and pining anyway so they made use of recycled and waste materials to make their own toys. The toys were extremely cheap to produce, costing next to nothing.

c. They were highly treasured.

The toys were highly treasured by their owners - I would carry them wherever I went. The toys provided many hours of endless entertainment and excitement for me.

d. They promoted social interaction.

We brought the toys to school to play with classmates and brought them back home after school to play with neighbourhood kids.

I did not have a name for the toy then. Now I am giving it the modern name 'Mech Sumo Robot' in keeping up with the times. Alright, I have kept you in suspense long enough. Here's how you make it:

Step 1 (Photo 1)

You will need the following materials. (If the photo bears any resemblance to anyone dead or alive, it's only coincidental.)

a. Wooden empty thread reel. It is crucial that the thread reel must be made of wood otherwise you cannot proceed. I know that it is extremely difficult to find wooden thread reels nowadays since nearly all of them are now made of plastic. However you must understand that this is a 40-year old antique toy. I managed to find one last wooden thread reel in my possession.

b. A satay stick. In the olden days, I used a joss stick end which was a waste item. (As my family practised ancestor worship, there were many joss stick ends left sticking in the urn.)

c. A triangular file. You can buy this item from any hardware shop.

d. A pen knife.

e. A large (3/4-inch diameter) candle.

f. One or two rubber bands.

g. One hair pin or stiff wire.

Step 2 (Photo 2)

This is the most tedious step. You will need to put in one or two hours of relatively hard work. (But who was afraid of hard work in the old days?) Get an adult to help you if you have a problem doing this properly. Using the triangular file, file notches all round the two ends of the thread reel as shown. Try to evenly space out the notches. Each notch should also be cut to about the same depth.

Step 3 (Photo 3)

Break the satay stick into 2 as shown. The shorter portion should be slightly shorter than the diameter of the thread reel end. For the longer portion, break and discard the sharp end.

Step 4 (Photo 4)

Using the pen knife (be very careful or ask an adult to help you), cut a half-inch section of the candle as shown. (The purpose of the candle is to slow down the unwinding motion of the rubber band.) Using the hair pin or stiff wire, make a small hole through the centre of the candle. Then thread a rubber band through the hole as shown in the photo.

Step 5 (Photo 5)

Put the longer stick through a loop of the rubber band which is sticking out from one side of the candle section as shown. Using the hair pin, thread the other loop of the rubber band through the centre of the reel. After the other loop of the rubber band is threaded through to the other end of the reel, secure the rubber band by putting the shorter stick through the loop of the rubber band.

(Photos 6, 7 and 8)

There you have it - the finished product. Wind it up and watch it go. If the shorter stick slips, stick some sticky tape over it. It the longer end of the stick slips, cut a v-groove into the candle so that the stick sits in the groove. If you have made the toy correctly, it should move slowly and it should be able to climb over small obstacles. You can even have a sumo robot duel if you make two of such toys - place them facing each other on a wooden ruler and see which one pushes the other one out of the ruler. View the video of the toy climbing over an obstacle here:

Have fun.

04 March 2006

Hawaii 5-O Here I Come And Hawaii 13 Here I Go

On 3 Mar 06, 3 days before my actual birthday, BAGUS celebrated my 50th birthday for me. (BAGUS is an acronym for our informal lunch group of colleagues. It stands for Blitheness Always Gets Us Satisfied, a term coined by the ever creative VT who is of course a member of BAGUS. The other 4 members are JO, MJM, Chris and yours truly.) But today we had a gatecrasher distinguished paying guest – OKD.

Going Hawaii 5-O is a nice euphemism which I coined for people turning 50. People turning 50 would be familiar with the popular TV series in the 1960/70s of the same name. Last year I used the term against VT. This year, the term came around and hit me like a boomerang and like a ton of bricks too. Crossing 50 is a significant event and a major hurdle in anyone's life. Hawaii 13 is another term which I coined for the new section that I just joined. My colleagues will know what I am talking about. So I take it that this lunch was sort of a double celebration for both occasions. However, I was not so sure if Hawaii 13 was worth more celebration than Hawaii 5-0. In any case, if someone celebrated when you left the section, you would know that you were probably not very well-liked.

Aw, they were all so awfully sweet. They presented me a birthday card which Chris obviously spent a lot of time hunting around for. Because it was extremely appropriate for me. Just look at the words. Weren't all those things what Chris used to do unto me on normal days without batting an eyelid? And I was born in the Year of the Monkey too. Not only that, I also liked to monkey around.

After presenting me the card, they gave me a miniature cake of, you guessed it, a monkey face. They put one candle on it because that was all the space it had, and proceeded to sing me a Happy Birthday song.

To top it all, they insisted on buying me an elaborate lunch at Manhill Restaurant despite me saying that there was no need to make a Manhill out of a molehill. Frankly speaking, having a birthday is no big deal and I would still be more than happy to have an ordinary treat at a hawker centre or coffeeshop. After all, it's the company that mattered most and I must add that BAGUS and OKD had always been great company that I enjoyed regardless of the occasion.

The lunch started with a cold dish (yes, the same kind served at wedding dinners!). Then we had (not in order) the pork rib king (排骨王), paper-wrapped chicken (纸包鸡), fried king prawns, apple soup, stir fried vegetables, long-life noodles (长寿面, a must have for birthday celebrations). The piece de resistance was certainly the braised whole duck with sea cucumber (海参鸭). And to end it all, we had longan almond bean curb curd (龙眼杏仁豆腐). Now if you had been counting, that was a nine-course lunch with a nine-course bill to match too. The damage came up to more than $200! This amount was by far a record sum spent on a lunch by BAGUS. I felt really pampered like a king (no wonder so many dish names had 'king' in them). At the same time, I felt very paiseh that BAGUS members and OKD had to fork out so much to buy me lunch. However, they assured me that it was alright and if I wanted to feel better, all I had to do was to blog about the lunch. That's why this post was written. Now I know why Chris says that blogging is therapeutic and why they say that nothing is for free. Despite all that, I would like to say a very big THANK YOU to BAGUS and OKD from the bottom of my stomach heart.