Happy New Year from Chicago! (Day 1 & Day 2)

This new year was pretty special for me as i got to travel out of Singapore, to a place with falling white snows!

It was considered a fully sponsored work trip, more of a yearly kick-off event at the company headquarters, so i was travelling with a couple of my colleagues too.

Most of us were first timers travelling to US, so we did quite some preparations especially clothing concerns, we have never been to cold countries before, we can’t imagine how cold it would be and had to consult those who went before. We had to figure out the culture differences, type of clothing they wear for business formal and business casual.

I bought most of my winter clothing from Uniqlo, just buy everything that is heat tech.

Stayed at Love’s house as his house is so much nearer to the airport and just when everyone finishes the new year countdown, i had to arrive at the terminal by 3.30am.

our flight, stop over at Hong Kong before proceeding to Chicago.

Excited on what’s coming next for us!

We sat United airline throughout, initially we thought the airline is of SIA standard, but we realized it’s probably just Tiger airline standard. I’ll whine about it later.

Transfer at Hong Kong airport, 6 hours of flight is still bearable for us.
The next flight is totally unbearable, although i slept throughout the journey, but that’s the only thing i could do (there’s no in-flight entertainment except the shared big screen at the front).

The seats were super cramp even for a small-built like me, i really pity those big-sized Americans who have to squeeze into the tiny seats for about 15 hours? I slept and woke up umpteen times, only to realize time has not pass fast enough and i am not going to land any time soon. It’s like when we look out of the window, sometimes it’s daylight, sometimes it’s night time, we couldn’t even figure out when was when already.

My butt hurts! Sitting at the window seat does not even help especially when i have to head to the toilet, the two person beside me have to stand up and get out of their seat so that i’m able to move out. Therefore, i had to control my water intake to ensure i don’t have to head to the toilet so many times, even though i’m super thirsty.

Speaking of thirsty, it’s very inconvenient that each time i had to press the button to order for a tiny cup of water and then wait for a long time before some steward walks pass to clear the cup, they should have designed a cup holder so we can close the seat tray.

can you see the ice? so pretty!

some in-flight snacks

the best in-flight beef cube ever eaten! Throughout the journey, i ordered beef dishes, all tasted pretty good.

and finally we reached Chicago O’hare airport! We quickly went out of the airport to have a feel of the cold temperature, super chilly, we talked with smoke coming out of our mouth! It was the first time we saw falling snows, the snows just started falling, we’re so lucky to catch that!

Headquarters had arranged for people to pick us up at the airport and to our hotel

Marriott Schaumburg

The company is super generous, one room for each and every one. I couldn’t figure out how am i suppose to utilize the other bed. Luckily we got connecting rooms, Janet’s room is right beside mine.

First and second day were free and easy while waiting for other colleagues from different countries to travel to Chicago.
Although we were pretty exhausted and jet-lag from the long ride, but we didn’t want to waste time resting, so we headed straight out to Chicago’s largest shopping mall, Woodfield Mall. The hotel provides complimentary ride there!

spot my Coach paperbag! We were really too exhausted to continue further.

Their shopping malls closed super early, 7pm! We had no choice but to head for dinner, most dining place were also closing soon, except a few, so in the end we decided on fast food. Their onion rings are super large, even Kok was wondering how we are able to finish it. In the end, we packed most of our orders back hotel and no one even touch them as all concussed after reaching hotel. hahaha!

After dinner, we headed out in the open to enjoy the snows…it was really too cold for me to take, i was shivering mad, i was the first to run indoors for warmth LOL!

Next posts, our full day free and easy..it’s really exciting!

Company Outing – Malacca Trip! (Day 2 & 3)

We had buffet breakfast at the hotel, it was quite a good spread, love the sauteed mushrooms!
After breakfast, we went back to our room for some games ourselves before meeting up with the rest of the company colleagues for team bonding games.

My first time playing Pictureka, i think i really sux in playing games, after multiple times,i kept snapping at the wrong pile of cards, so irritating!

and i actually linked this huge horn with nose. hahaha!
Getting ready to head out for the team games session.

First there was one

Then two

then three!
First game – Beer Pong

You can read how to play it here
Second game – Picking up as much marshmallows as possible without using hands but any other body parts and drop them at the other end of the point

and we caught Arthur cheating on camera
Third game – To keep your balloon floating up in the air and within the area, win by making other people’s balloon out of the area while still juggling your balloon in the air.

and we caught quite a few unable to multi-task, when they tried to sabo other people, they keep their balloons on their hand instead of in the air!
Fourth game – Try to get the two hanging tea bags to lay on the cap without the use of hands.

Warning: Extreme swinging of heads can cause dizziness
After the team bonding games by our recreational team, we still had another amazing race, hired professionals to organize.

Stickers to write our names on
The Geocaching Challenge – Each group was given a GPS set, we were supposed to get all our answers for the list of questions given to us by going around the areas of Malacca town.

Since all of us were not familiar with Malacca, our only hope was the GPS system to guide us.
I was tasked as the “navigator” of the team so i held the responsibility of working the GPS system and guiding the team to the correct destination *stress*

We were supposed to fill up the answers in this sheet of paper
The weather was overbearingly hot with the scorching sun, we had to run as we proceed to the next destination, everything by foot!
We were really tired halfway and we decided to just head straight for the bonus questions to get more points. LOL!
Two destinations we went and it was the signature of Malacca which tourist would not miss.

One of the chicken rice ball

Everyone had one, some said it doesn’t taste good, but i think it’s quite ok
Next one was my favorite, this is really the first time i ate a really nice Chendol!

Jonker 88

Really must try!

Too bad we were in rush for time, else i will definitely have a second bowl!

Best Chendol Ever, i’m still craving for it now!
Our group, despite our best effort, we were one of the last few groups that reached back the hotel and did not complete all the destination (i think we were not even halfway there) but some of the groups managed to complete all destinations, our team were really puzzled on how they managed to do it!

Nevertheless, it’s the team bonding that matters, i get to know and interact with colleagues whom i seldom talk to.

With the usual cliques! Yeah, we have completed the challenge!
Dinner was at the Nyonya restaurant in the hotel. Nyonya dishes is something which you would not want to miss when you visit Malacca, where most of the Babas lives in the past.

After dinner was free and easy, we went to shop around the Malay night market near the hotel and not forgetting our A&W again. LOL!
Next morning, we woke up super early!

I can’t believe that we were actually the first patrons of the restaurant, like we are the hungry ghost =X

Different color juices! I like the pink guava!

And it’s time for us to say goodbye Malacca, i will be back for the cendol!

Company Outing – Malacca Trip! (Day 1)

It’s the annual company outing! Last year was a StarCruise trip to Redang, this time round, we still have the opportunity to travel out of the tiny red dot and venture north to Malacca!

It was a half day on Friday, so after lunch, all of us traveled on a coach all the way from Singapore to Malacca, which was about a 2 – 3 hour journey.
We were glad that the seats were pretty comfortable with in-coach entertainment!

Pardon me for my makeup-less plus acne outbreak face which you will see for the entire posts =(

We had our stay at Hotel Equatorial. Heard that it is a 5-star hotel, but don’t anticipate too much, because it’s not as grand as we imagined and it seems a little run down, but overall still considered comfortable.

When we got the room access, everyone was running around visiting each other’s room. Some is facing the sea with a balcony! Too bad mine does not have, but the room is generally more spacious!

Bathtub together with shower head =(

Me trying out Diana’s geeky specs

Heading out for dinner next!

The hotel was pretty nice to display our company event under their Today’s event on the lobby’s TV.

And nice tags on the reserved tables (thou company name was spelt wrongly)

It was a buffet dinner and there is my favorite flowing chocolate fondue!

The fruits were really mini sized, smallest strawberry i’ve ever seen

My favorite bread and butter although it’s a waste of stomach space for buffets.

After dinner, it’s free and easy time, i love free and easy so we can stick with our cliques and hang out freely.
All of us decided to visit Jonker Street, something like pasar malam (night market) but it’s way larger than Singapore’s.
I have been there a few months back when my grandma passed away, so i remembered the stalls location quite clearly.

Brought them to this place where previously i ate the Penang Laksa

super spicy but very nice!

Kok finally found something that is larger than his head. LOL!
We were elated when we saw that there’s actually A&W!!

Although it’s almost closing time but we still went in to get our root beer float! A&W FTW!

Day 2 will be a full day event with team bonding games, stay tuned!

Batam Trip

Love’s ex-colleagues clique decided to go on a Batam trip after several discussions.

Although Batam is considered the nearest island of Indonesia to Singapore, which is just one hour boat ride away from Harborfront Center, but it was my first time visit.
We booked a free & easy plus half day guided tour package. When we reached Batam, we were assigned to a tour bus with the tour guide to bring us around the different attractions.

There are a few attractions which we did not visit because we were not at least interested such as the temples, while others went to pray, our group went to the nearby stalls to eat =X Ondeh-ondeh is one of my favorite pastries, originated from the Peranakans.
We were also brought to a hotel (i guess it’s some 3 or 4 star hotel) for massage which was already included in the tour package.

Don’t be mistaken, it’s not those kind of atas (high-class) private room with pleasant soft music playing at the background. I’m surprised that when our tour group reached, there’s another tour group who came earlier than us but all of us were able to have a masseuse/masseur each without waiting. I wonder how many staffs were hired. Yeah and everyone were in a “hall”, each of us with a bed and a curtain for some privacy. You can literately hear most of others’ conversation while having your massage. I was a little concerned about the hygiene & cleanliness, but heck, since we are already here, don’t think so much.

That’s Esta with her gigantic shorts hahaha!
It was a Thai massage, at the end of the massage was super shiok, the masseuse managed to “crack” my neck which makes me felt relieved much!

We were given some ginger tea (my fav) after the massage

After massage, everyone was hungry, we were brought to the famous Golden Prawn 933 seafood restaurant

Upon entering, the fishy smell has already decreased my appetite by half, you can see that the waters around the restaurant where they rear the seafood are green in color, how can you expect their seafood to be fresh and clean?

While waiting for our dishes to be served

Just as expected, the seafood were of “low” quality and doesn’t really taste delicious, i didn’t ate much. Disappointing lunch, we never want to go back there again.

Next we were brought to watch the cultural tradition dance with some stunts like eating of glass, jumping over fire etc. We were bored much, youngsters don’t really enjoy such performances or appreciate it, but still, we did gave the performers some tips for their effort.

Then we were brought to a shop that sells Batam’s famous thousand layer cake, not sure if this particular shop is the famous one thou. I doubt so because the tour guide keeps promoting and “psycho-ing” us to buy. We didn’t bought any.

Then we proceed to our very anticipated famous Factory Outlet.

Which came as a huge disappointment. Their so called Factory Outlet was just a normal size shop?! I still imagined it to be huge, selling countless varieties of branded apparels. We finished “shopping” within a few minutes, there’s nothing to buy or even nice to begin with.

Next we finally got to a decent shopping mall, the guys were hungry so they went to have ayam penyet

while the girls went to do mani & pedicure!

The tour guide gave us about an hour free and easy to shop around the mall so we were rather time-tight. We asked the manicurist roughly how long it would take us to do both mani and pedi and she said around 45 minutes, so we agreed and went ahead.

In the end the whole process took almost an hour! #$%^&*
The guys were waiting patiently outside for us and the both of us were panicking that we couldn’t make it.
Lucky we managed to get to the meeting area in time and our group was not the last! *heng*

my first overseas manicure!
Our accommodation was at Harris Resort, i like the vibrant color of the resort, makes one feels happy.

The suite was really comfortable, with a mini living room
If you’re going to stay at Harris, I would suggest that you bring along some tidbits/maggie mee to eat at night because in order to travel to town, you will need to hire a cab and the cab cost freaking expensive! Even the minimart snacks at Harris are expensive.

We asked around the resort staff if there’s any places nearby where we can have our dinner with seafood, they were kind enough to recommend a really near place without costing much for a cab ride. I think we can even walk there ~10mins but because the streets were dark without much lamppost, we decided to take the cab. Please do not trust the staffs outside the resort whom helps to hire you a cab because when we asked them if there’s a place nearby that serves seafood, they said the nearest is the 933 seafood restaurant or town. (which obviously they earn commission out of it) *angry*

We ordered several dishes, probably famished from the deprive of good food for the whole day =X Finally we get to eat some decent and cheap seafood dishes!
After dinner, we went to the nearby mart and purchase a bottle of Vodka and tidbits for our later “night activity”.

All 5 them managed to bottoms up the whole bottle of Vodka!

and everyone was really tired, almost falling asleep before we decided to call it a day.

This drunk guy went to sleep earliest and he woke everyone up at freaking 6am! He got the meeting timing wrong! LOL!

Look at Love! He fall asleep when i finished bathing and he slept in this position throughout the whole night, causing him stiff neck the next day haha! He asked why i didn’t wake him up to correct his position, seriously i didn’t thought of waking him up =X

Breakfast buffet in the morning, not very sumptuous but still edible.
We had no programs planned for the day and we were really bored while waiting for our boarding time back to Singapore, so bored that we went to played the entertainment available in the resort.

We played two rounds of bowling and got bored. (photo bombed by Bryan)

Photo bombed by Kai

Finally two of us, but photo blurred lol

Me with my bowling ball

We even went to the extend of playing ping pong, the couples challenge. LOL!

Finally it’s time to check out and leave!!

Not forgetting a must-eat A&W treat before heading back to Singapore

Favorite root beer with ice-cream, waffles with ice-cream and fries!

Love and i shared and bought the whole box of Indo Mie back, it’s really cheap and delicious! Must buy!
We were so glad that this Batam trip is over, thankfully that we went with a group of great company, else the whole trip would be so much boring given the boring attractions and transport inconvenience. I guess i will not be stepping into Batam, not for at least these few years. LOL!

Tribute to my dearest grandma

I always remembered how she told us about her stories of her younger days, how she really love to sing and perform in front of the stage at school. (i guess my interest in singing is inherited from her)

She used to travel back and fro between Singapore and Malaysia as her sons were all staying in Singapore while her daughters and her house is in Malaysia. She’ll be sleeping at my house for a few days in my brother’s room and sometimes a few days at my uncle’s house.

Whenever she come to Singapore, she never fails to bring me and my brother’s favorite snack 香饼!She loves singing and will sing whenever she feels like it and sing along when my dad is having his KTV session at home.

That was all before she had Dementia. Slowly, she’s unable to recognize everyone, even her own children. It came to a point that she was too weak to walk and was wheelchair bound. And she never could come to Singapore anymore. We only got to visit her during CNY and every CNY, we can clearly see that her condition deteriorated.

As much as we knew that her day is coming soon, but didn’t expect that the last time i saw her was going to be on CNY. I remembered that day i was at work and i got the news of my grandma’s death through my cousin’s fb status. I tried to call back home but my house phone was engaged, i called the second time and my mum picked up. She asked me to get back home as soon as i can, we’re going to head back to M’sia.

Now, i hate scenes where there’s impromptu, sudden and urgent decision to head back M’sia because it’s always due to some bad news. The same scene happened during my grandpa’s death.

When we reached the funeral parlour, it was already night time and all my relatives have arrived. It was really a very quiet night.

My family took over the burning of incense papers, all i can do was to keep folding as much as i can, for grandma to have as much to “travel” with.

I believe grandma will be alone and afraid on her “travelling” way, so probably with more “money” she can feel safer.

Something i learnt from the elders, the different types of incense folding represents different values.

This type which is super easy to fold, represents like “$1”?

While this type which requires some skills and patience to fold, and looks like an ingot, represents “$5”!

Not sure how true it is, but of course, no harm trying! Here are the steps:

Take this bigger incense paper, it’s much easier to fold than the normal small ones.

Fold the lower left hand corner

Do the same for top right hand corner

Next, turn over the paper

Fold the paper into half, top parallel to each other

Fold the sharp side corner into the “pocket” of the other side

and you get the end result, just push out the bottom and it becomes a 3D version.

Every night, we have to go through the rituals and the continuous standing and kneeling totally made my legs go jelly and shaking!

Surprisingly, my parents’ legs were all fine except me >.< probably i’m the one who exercise the least.

Different color uniform represents different generations and relationship to the deceased.

White = Children / Spouses of children
Dark Blue = Grandchildren
Green = Great Grandchildren

Seriously, i just hope that i would never need to wear the white color ones. =(

My little nephew is very obedient, he did the things we told him to,

like folding of the incense paper

and taking the joss stick for praying…love him max!

On the last day of the funeral, we had to burn all the incense paper and all other things like “houses”, “cars” etc

and we have to shout for grandma to come and collect them, “婆婆快来拿” !

Since my grandma love music, her children decided to hire a band to sing for her, my dad and uncle also sang a few songs for my grandma. Last glance of my grandma, which was very disheartening seeing all my relatives crying. This is seriously one of the most difficult moments at a funeral.

sending grandma on her last journey..to the crematory
Another difficult moment was when the coffin was pushed into the cremator and we have to shout for grandma’s spirit to run as not to get burned by the fire. “婆婆快跑,快跑啊!” We kept shouting and as loud as we could so grandma could hear us.

It’s a feeling indescribable that after living on earth for years and just one day, a person’s life can just stop and the body can be burnt into ashes within a few hours and vanish from the earth totally.

After collecting grandma’s ashes, we brought them to Malacca and placed it at the temple where grandpa’s ashes were. Bidding the last goodbye to my grandma, may you find a better life and happiness at the other world.