Better lucky than rich

Someone said the funniest, or rather a very insightful thing to me earlier this evening. It was quote of the day for me.

We were reading about macroeconomics and how there is a link between household consumption and a country’s national income and expenditure.

So the theory goes that a worker is paid by a company and the worker would save some of the salary in a bank so the bank can reinvest the money on things that would make it rich (er).

Then the worker would spend most of the wages on perishable goods which would be profits for companies and pay taxes to the government which is how a country becomes rich. Are you seeing a trend here?

After absorbing the entire chapter, I finally said: “I wish the book would tell me how I can be rich and not how to make other companies, banks, governments and other countries rich.”

She laughed and said: “Why would you want to be rich? I rather be fortunate than rich.

“You see, what’s the point of being rich if you are not happy? Being rich doesn’t mean you’d be happy. Being lucky is so much better. Then you will always have what you need whenever you want them.

“You just need to earn enough and the rest will come your way. Then you’d be happy because you have all you need. Isn’t that better?

“When you are lucky, you will be happy. So I prefer to be fortunate than be rich.”

I sat there, staring at her in thoughtful silence. “You may be right. Being rich means having to pay more taxes and that won’t make me happy.

“So it’s better if I have a low income and pay little tax, then whenever I need something, good fortunate would show up and give it to me at the right time.”

We looked at each other and nodded in unison. “Mmmm…”

And we laughed. Life is indeed that simple.

P/S: I just had a brainwave. To frame our theory of (luck – income = happiness) in an economics formula, it looks approximately like this: L – I = H (Ok, maybe I have to refine it further but you get my drift.)

PP/S: I should have told her my nickname is Lucky. Bet you wish you could see how wide I’m grinning now.


Uno, dos, tres


There are three things you should know about me.

1. I love breakfast. I practically wake up thinking about eating breakfast or wondering what I should eat for breakfast or is there something I can eat while waiting to eat a nicer breakfast. Maybe I just wake up hungry all the time.

I love the idea of breakfast so much that I am willing to wake up early to prepare a nice sumptuous meal for myself (or for someone) or go to an exquisite cafe for brunch on weekends.

Nothing like a hot cup of coffee and an omelette (filled with ham, mushrooms and cheese) with nicely fried bacon to kickstart your day. (See picture above.)

I also love hotel international buffet breakfasts. The sheer variety of food and cuisines I get to sample in the morning makes me so happy I practically skip from my hotel room to the buffet spread in the restaurant.

Breakfast is, after all, the king of the meals and the most important meal of all since it’s your first meal of the day so if you get your first meal right, then you’re getting off to a superb start to the rest of your day. Agree?

I just love breakfast so much I wish I could eat it three times a day. And just the thought of eating breakfast already makes me happy, which brings me to the second thing you should know about me.

2. I like laughing and having fun. I am always up for an adventure or doing something different and exciting or out of the norm.

Tell me you want to try something new and you want me to come along, I’d be the first one standing beside you, all raring to go (even if I had tried it before). I am very enthusiastic like that. It helps that I’m very easygoing.

Likewise, I would be thinking of new adventures to go on and new places to try or new things to do or talk about so we will always have so much fun and laughter together.

What gets me more excited and absolutely bubbling with joy is when the person is as equally enthusiastic as I am. Together, we can rule the world.

3. The third thing about me is that I never think the worst of anyone I meet or know or even once knew. I know of people who would immediately assess any new person they meet and confidently decreeing that they are either good/bad/someone to be wary of/probably this and that type. You know, those who would calculate everyone’s motives so they can play this elaborate three-step ahead chess game.

Me? I’d probably say hi and try to have the usual small talk while my mind wanders off to what I should have for breakfast.

And when someone tells me so-and-so was not nice or did something unexpectedly bad, it usually comes as a shock to me because I always assume that everyone is genuine. Yes, I am the sort who would embrace (metaphorically) a person’s qualities and ignore the flaws and all.

I hardly talk bad behind people’s back or indulge in gossip. I mean sure, I do get annoyed and have occasional run-ins or disagreements with people about work or service standards or opinions and I would bitch about them to my friends to understand why would people behave differently from me but I have never once thought bad of anyone.

Even if my friends said these people deserve to rot, I’d always play the devil’s advocate and find reasons for their behaviour so I won’t fault them. Maybe I’d feel bad for them. Mostly, I’d be objective.

My friends say I am too nice, too naive, too empathetic, too silly and the world is not as kind as I had imagined it to be.

And bit by bit, I learn to stay away from people who are maybe not good for me and to be wary of similar behaviour in the future. I am, after all, too nice to be true and I need to toughen up.

So that’s it. Here are three things I thought I’d share with the world wide web this morning. Now… I know I just had breakfast three hours ago. But what should I eat later?


Long lost cousin


I never thought I’d find someone familiar thousands of miles away from home. And yet there it was, a golden cream dog hanging out nonchalantly at a bustling street in an Asian city.

It looked like it could be someone’s long lost brother or cousin or distant relative.

We used to say that not every stray mongrel dog would be lucky enough to have a luscious golden, cream fur coat, good-looking sharp features and proportionate markings on its face.

So this dog is one of the lucky few. Maybe it should start an exclusive club. I can picture someone’s enthusiastic wagging bushy tail already.


Living la vida loca


Guess I found the cure to lift the weight off my shoulders. Hot foamy joy in a tub. Not just any wooden tub, mind you. But one that is installed in a luxurious, amazingly beautiful, tasteful-looking five-star suite.

Every part of the suite has been so thoughtfully and exquisitely furnished that I feel like the king of the world and that I am pampered beyond pampered. A Chinese saying comes to mind: “BYT really is BYT.”

So loud dance music is blasting from the tv (Fashion TV has some of the best playlists, IMO. Hot people included), I have foam all over me, someone taking silly pics of me posing awkwardly with the bubbles, my aching limbs soaked in hot aromatherapy oil-filled water, and loads of fun activities to enjoy later…

You know what, I wouldn’t mind living like this every day.

And if anyone ever asks me what the best thing ever invented was, here is my answer:


Yes, mechanically-operated warm toilet seat is the next best invention after Internet, wi-fi internet, air conditioner and iPhone. My Xiaohei has never known joy like this before!!!

You know how your butt would automatically cringe when you are about to sit on a hotel toilet because it fears touching a freezing cold surface. You kinda expect to jump up anytime when faced with a foreign porcelain toilet but not at BYT.

It is always primly covered with a lid. When you walk near it, it’d sense your presence and welcome you by gently swinging its lid upwards. So you sit without thinking and the minute your butt hits the toilet, a warm cosy sensation spreads through, gently warming your butt cheeks and your butt feels pampered, cuddled, comfortable and happy.


Is this how a happy butt feels? I think so.

You can now poop and pee while getting warmed up cosily. What more can a little butt ask for?

This toilet also has an internal bidet that can cleanse your down there at any pressure and angle you wish. It can even oscillate and pulsate the water if you so desire. And all emitted water is set at a nice warm temperature so you won’t get a shock. The mind boggles.

You know what’s even more amazing? It has a dryer that can gently blow-dry your nether regions with a warm soothing breeze while you eat, snooze, watch tv on this toilet.

You know what’s more amazing than even more amazing? There’s no need to turn back and flush after you’ve done whatever you have done. It has an auto sensor that will flush whatever junk you left behind and close its lid nonchalantly.

How’s that for living a crazily awesome life?!

I’m getting so pampered by this particular toilet that I’m half-expecting all toilets to behave in exactly the same way from now. This toilet has set the bar so damn high it’s my dream toilet now.

It’s true. Once you have experienced something that treats you so so much better than anything you had before, it’s hard, almost impossible, to go back.

I’m so going to install the exact same toilet in my future home. I really can’t bear to get up from the warm comfortable toilet seat!

The only thing I have to do is to keep reminding myself to remember to wash my hands when walking away. As far as I know, that part isn’t automated yet.


Breaking point

(This post was typed halfway 14 Sep on my way home after yet a long exhausting day at work. I finally have time to finish it on 15 Sep.)


I was so close to breaking point working in the office alone tonight that when someone appeared out of nowhere with dinner as a surprise, I felt so blessed. Hehe.

Still, it has only been three/four days since I last blogged and I had to cramp in so many responsibilities in under 72 hours. I have never felt so drained my entire life.

I think about work before I sleep and the moment I wake up. I worry so much about failure that I have lost my appetite. I have dark eye rings and a permanent scowl on my face. I literally feel like I’m being pushed to a corner with nowhere to run. It is that horrific.

It has been an intense eight, coming to nine, days that I don’t think I can continue living/sleeping/working/studying with only 24 hours a day. It is impossible. And I haven’t even added in leisure time. Sad face.

I have also stopped logging onto ALL social networks for a very long time. I don’t even know if I am missing out on anything. Even if I did, I guess I couldn’t care less because I feel so liberated. My mind is so much clearer and I am more focused on the things that matter.

The only concession I made was on Saturday because people started adding me on Facebook and telling me they have added me so I couldn’t avoid not logging in. But I am proud to say I didn’t stay long and I wasn’t even interested to look at those new friends I added. (Actually I have never looked at new friends’ profiles. I don’t know why I don’t care! Maybe because I am more interesting than them. Ha!)

PHOOOOOO…. that was a huge long sigh of breath, not a fart. In an ironic way I have never felt more alive – having to cramp hours of revision, work in group project, conduct hours of research, show leadership, fulfil regular work tasks on top of understanding a totally new subject. All these things leave me with no space or time to think about anything else but survival and sleep.

I like sleeping. I miss sleeping. I enjoy sleeping. Which is why I’m going to enjoy my comfy, soft, fluffy kingsized bed now. Hehe. It’s almost as gluey as BTB.

See you.

Oh! I have to add this before I forget. A second, (and third and fourth) person asked if I was 21/22 years old on Sunday. I nearly choked on my drink.

“No, I’m not 22.”

“But you look so young. Are you sure? I keep thinking you are younger than me.”

Turns out that person was only 24. (again, this girl looked closer to 30! The other two people who asked me my age over lunch were much older and look old too. I feel young besides them!)

Which made me really puzzled because I was the unofficial leader for the team. And everyone was obediently following my instructions and listening to me. If they had all assumed I was only 21 and that they were much older and yet they were willing to be led by me, then WOW, I must have awesome leadership skills.

You can’t get me out of your mind now, isn’t it?

Also, a big decision was made yesterday… More exciting updates to follow shortly.


Sunday secret


So Sundays are usually the day where PostSecret posts its weekly list of homemade postcards on which people from all over the world would write and mail in their secrets anonymously.

Today is a Sunday and I too have a secret of my own.

Twenty-six days ago, 16 August 2011, I made a postcard for someone. It was meant to be a birthday surprise. I didn’t know if it would even be picked or if it qualifies as a secret for the website but I thought if it got published, it would make her day because she is a regular reader of PostSecret. Then again, she might not have known it was for her!

Anyway I went to print out a picture that had significance to us, created a tv set out of a cardboard, and wrote a cheesy message (which I shall not reveal here) at the back of the postcard to Frank.

The next morning, I was the first person outside the post office waiting for the staff to open its shutters.

When I got to the counter, I realised I had to send the mail by express courier if I want the letter to arrive by 21 August. I handed over $40 willingly, because getting the postcard to PostSecret before that Sunday had meant a lot to me.

Once the envelope was stamped and ready to be delivered, I half-ran and half-skipped out of the post office breathlessly. By the time I reached the bus stop, my heart was beating really fast, my face was flushed red and yet, I was grinning.

I was smiling the whole time I sat in the bus, so excited I was to have done something I have never done for anyone before. I even emailed to PostSecret about how I had felt – doing something that no one knew. The future was filled with unlimited possibilities.

And every day, I’d check the delivery schedule, wondering, wishing and hoping if the postcard will make it on time.

Then Sunday came around. I woke up excitedly, holding my breath as I waited for the webpage to load. I scrolled all the way down and the postcard was not among them. Unfortunately, Hurricane Irene had other plans.


In the same week, many cities that laid in the path of Irene lost their power, electricity, and were in a pitch-black state. The package was delayed. No one was around to sign for it when it was delivered. When it was finally collected, it was two days past Sunday.

So I waited. Another Sunday came around. And another Sunday. Today marks the fourth Sunday. I just checked PostSecret and I think the postcard might have missed the cut. It must have been too bold, too romantic and too open a display of love to be counted as a secret. Ha! If I were you, I’d fall in love with me.

So here it is, here is my secret on Sunday, on a date where it has so much significance around the world but none more so than here.

“Tonight the sky will blaze
with stars. Today, my love,
rooms bloom with flowers.”
– Clare Shaw


Low-hanging fruit


Tell me honestly that you don’t think the image looks like a huge dangling boob? RIGHT?

When I first saw it, I knew I had to post this pic up somewhere and expose all you filthy minds. The more I think about it, the more the phrase “low hanging fruit” makes sense to me now. Still sceptical? Go, look at the picture above again. Right?

Oh and just yesterday, I had an epiphany (I seem to get a lot of that these days). A stranger was walking in the opposite direction of me and she had a smile on her face while she was trying to beat the traffic light at the zebra crossing. When I saw her smiling, I grinned as well even though she wasn’t looking at me. That’s when I realised smiling is contagious.

That is why there is this phrase “Smile and the whole world smiles with you” (ok, technically I came up with this phrase myself years ago but hey, you have to admit it totally makes sense).

In that moment when our paths crossed, we unknowingly felt happier even though we have started heading into opposite directions. And we were just strangers. Think of all the lives you could have a positive impact on, especially if they were your family, friends or people you know… And all you have to do is just smile (or be happy).

See! I told you I was on a philosophical roll.

And I have met a bunch of really nice friendly, helpful people. I feel seriously lucky. One of them even said to me: “You have to mingle and socialise. If you want to get ahead in life, you have to start forming networks.”

PEARLS OF WISDOM. Are you busy collecting all these generous handouts? I don’t dispense these pearls all the time. Just so you know.

Mmm, I have been sleep-deprived these days. Waking up at 7am and sleeping at 1.30am for six days in a row? Exhausting.

Ooh before I forget, someone said to me earlier today that I looked like I was 22 or 23 years old. I nearly didn’t want to reveal my actual age when I heard that. Ahem. What? I like to take what I can still get.

But things got a bit awkward when she asked me to estimate her age in return. You have to understand that I’m your typical, blunt, “words can bypass my head sometimes” kind of person. I hemmed and hawed for a bit before I diplomatically said “25?” in my most hopeful voice. And she was crestfallen. Poor girl is only 22. (Psst… But she really looks much closer to 30.) Shhh… let’s keep this between us.

By the way, life was so much easier when SATC stood for “Sex And The City”, and not “Short Run Average Total Cycle”.


Sir Arthur Guinness


What is the best way to drink Guinness Foreign Extra Stout – chilled, at room temperature or should I crack an egg into it like how old macho men do?

Ok here’s the back story. Someone gave me a can of Sir Arthur Guinness’ finest from St James’ Gate Dublin brewery yesterday and told me to drink it.

Well, I do like Guinness draft beer poured straight from the tap a lot. Chilled and served in a pint glass – it’s one of life’s greatest pleasures, especially when you’re in an authentic Irish bar. Now stout on the other hand… I’m not so sure how my palate is going to feel.

Yet I’m always one to try new things and to learn new experiences. I mean I will never say no to things I have yet tried before.

So here I am, going to try stout beer for the first time. HOW EXCITING! Bet you’re sitting right at the edge of your seat now, silently cheering me on in your head.


It was satisfying to hear the crisp sound of the can ring being pulled open. There was a faint sizzle of bubbles from the can. As I poured the dark frothy beer into the glass, a beige creamy head of froth began to fill the glass up.

The sight of the black liquid settling into the glass was bewitching. This should not taste any different from the draft beer. Ok, maybe it will be slightly more bitter. But really, it should just taste like cold unsweetened black coffee. Which is similar to how I take my coffee – unsweetened and with some milk.

So I took a long sip of the tall cool drink. And it hit me. The first splash of stout onto my tongue had a sharp bitter taste but it was nothing I couldn’t handle. The rest just flowed smoothly down my throat, leaving a slightly roasted taste lingering in my mouth. I felt like I was drinking the draft beer but with a sharper bite to it.

My verdict?

It was great! I can’t believe it was much better than I had expected. I thought I’d hate it. I was even bracing myself to finish drinking it by force. But you know what, I think Guinness Foreign Extra Stout can be my new poison of choice from now.

Only hitch I see so far is that it has 6.8% alcohol volume and I have only taken three mouthfuls from the glass and my face is now as red as a fresh yummy cooked lobster. ALL WITHIN 10 MINUTES OF DRINKING ALCOHOL.

You can probably understand why I hardly drink any sort of alcohol during lunch. My face would light up like your favourite red Christmas lighting. And it would be obvious to everyone that I was drinking on the job. And we wouldn’t want anything bad to happen to me now, would we?

Well, I feel extremely hot all over now, with heat rising out from every part of me. It is as though all my quota for blushing in a lifetime has been set to unlimited tonight.

If you could see me now, you’d be wondering why there is a blood red tomato typing on the phone.

And I have about three-quarters of stout left. I think I could be drunk in another 15 minutes’ time. Then I can float off to a woozy lightheaded giggly paradise. What can I say?



Before I turn 30

(This was written on 11 August this year at around 12am or so and I finished it within 45 minutes because I was so enthusiastic about making a worthy list for myself.

That feeling of typing away non-stop and describing exactly what I felt inside into the written word gave me such a high that I can’t wait to experience it again. I daresay this is one of the best and most thrilling posts I have written in the past year.

The only reason why I didn’t publish it then was because I haven’t finished my list. It’s tough, you know, to figure your exact wants and needs. But I was very inspired tonight so here goes.)

So I’m turning 30 next year and I’m not freaking out or anything. Unlike some people/person I know who was so sensitive about it that they went into a silent strop. And decided that being emotional and ignoring me would make them feel better or stop their ageing clock or something. Go figure.

Anyway that happened about two years ago. And we are still friends so it’s all good. But it taught me a very important lesson. There’s no need to take out your unhappiness about growing old on anyone. It’d be far better and much more enjoyable to embrace what life has given you and smile. I find that it makes living more worthwhile and you get to create an annoyingly happy bubble around you that people can’t break.

So I thought about it and when I was 24, I created a “top 50 things to do before I die” list but unfortunately I forgot where I’ve placed that notebook otherwise I could see if I had managed to whittle any items off the list over the past few years. I know some things I wanted to do then involved travelling to some faraway places, owning a lychee farm in China, buying a house in Europe, becoming a gossip columnist. I know.

So since I can’t quite remember what else was on that list and I am not really in the mood to redo my top 50 list just yet, the next best thing would be writing a “top 10 things to do before I turn 30” list. Yes.

I’m like a cannonball rolling up the hill and storing up as much kinetic energy as possible before I reach the top so I can go full speed ahead for the journey downhill. See the clever thing I did there? And I do have to move a bit fast since I only have slightly more than a year to complete my list.

For those of you curious to why there are only 10 items, well, I want to have a balance between achievable goals and ambitious ideals. More importantly, if I have to spend money, then I want to spend it on experiences that I can relive over and over again in my memory.

Because according to research, splurging on material possessions such as an iPad, high-end branded leather wallet, a fancy new car or a studio apartment where you can finally decorate it however you like will only buy you happiness for a short time. Which is not a surprise really because gadgets and physical items get old and scratches and when something newer comes up, the pursuit continues. So you continue to work harder and longer hours, hoping to get a better-paying job to pay for all the stuff you think will make you happy. It never ends.

Then you become depressed, unsatisfied with life, envious of others who can afford the so-called finer things or become egoistic when you own more luxurious items than others. All which frankly make you a human being that no one wants to hang out with.

It’s far better to buy experiences such as a super yummy sumptuous dinner, a luxurious pampering holiday, a cruise, a three-hour soothing massage. Because if you had a great time doing all these things, the memory will always stay with you and over time, you will think of them as even more wonderful than they actually were.

Plus, I have a full-time permanent job so I have limited vacation time to fly around fulfilling my list. Anyway, there is always a list for when I turn 40. Shudders.

So here goes, Internet. The following items are chosen on these main criteria: satisfaction level from accomplishing it, depth of experience I will learn from it, novelty/excitement factor. Drumroll please. DRRRRRRUUUUHHHH…

Top 10 things to do before I turn 30:

1. Go skydiving
2. Go bungy jumping
3. Eat fugu sushi aka puffer fish and live to tell the tale
4. Gain five kilogrammes more and have a vertical line on my abs
5. Go to New York and spend at least two awesome weeks there
6. Take a holiday by myself (a luxurious, pampering stay in a penthouse suite would be fabulous.)
7. Flesh out the book idea that has been brewing in my head into a written draft.
8. Speak French fluently
9. Learn to fly a plane / surfboard (currently a toss-up between two because I can’t swim and I’m afraid of not feeling the ground under my feet.)
10. Save enough money to pay for the downpayment (and few months’ of instalments) of an apartment for myself

Once I have completed each item, I will come back here to review my experiences of each item in a new blog post with a link to this blog post as a virtual tick off the list.

I’m seriously so stoked that I can’t wait to get started on them. Because life is too short to sit around wishing you could have done this or that. Why not do something fun because when was the last time you did something for the first time?

Stay tuned.


Flying ninja stars


I had a wonderful evening in class today. First, we got to work in teams to create an item that would house and protect an egg from breaking when we threw it from the ceiling. Trust me, it was not easy when there are six people trying to weigh in with their opinions and settle on an idea and turn that into reality within 20 minutes. But it was fun to feel included and useful after such a long time.

Side note: Our idea consisted of using balloons to surround the egg as a protective shell. I never knew blowing a balloon was so damn difficult. For the first five minutes, I was essentially spitting saliva into the balloon. I don’t think I will be giving anyone balloons as a gift anytime soon.

Ok back to the main story. So we all got to put an egg into our “artwork” and drop it off the ceiling. A sense of trepidation spread through the crowd. We all half-wanted the egg to not break and yet we were nervously excited to see an eggy mess on the floor. By the time the last team threw their project on the floor, we were cheering on for every single egg that emerged unscathed from their short flight. Out of 12 contenders, only five survived the fall.

But really, what made me behaved like a giggly kid all over again was seeing the paper ninja stars (pictured above) in class. Someone had made the exact replica of the ninja stars I used to lovingly make when I was five years old. I’d make a bunch of them with square coloured papers (something that you don’t see in stationery shops these days) and start carrying a stack of multicoloured ninja stars around pretending to throw them like how a ninja would. They were my favourite toys.

Then one day, I grew up and like how most adults treat toys, I stopped playing with my ninja stars and soon I forgot how to make them. Over the years, I have always wanted to recreate them but I never remember the right ways to fold the paper. Until tonight.