Christmas 2014 and New Years 2015

Well they say that if you blink you miss it, and this has certainly been the case of 2014, as it has certainly flown by. It has been a bit of a topsy turvy year – quite a bit of highs, but a couple of low moments.

The highlight has to be the bits outside of work, both my continued adventures in and around South East Asia (holiday), and the personal scene (romance). I’ve been fortunate to visit the UK in March this year – visiting my family, friends and ex-colleagues – and it was a great trip… I also decided to do a holiday in Phuket to relax and enjoy a bit of ‘me’ time, I went to Kota Kinabalu with a work colleague – which was quite enjoyable indeed, went to Hanoi on business, enjoyed an amazing adventure with some great friends to Myanmar (Burma) which was something I definitely wanted to do whilst I was in the region, a Bali holiday and then a final trip to Sri Lanka. Wow! What an adventure it has been. But the highlight has to be making the acquaintance with a special lady here in Singapore – she is one amazing lady, a great smile, a great character, great humour, great companion and a great body. This happened in late May 2014, and we have spent some enjoyable weeks and months since then with each other…I really wanted a great companion that I can chat too, have some similar interests and tastes, and more importantly share life’s adventure with…we went to the Bali together and then did a group=trip to Sri Lanka holiday together with 2 others.

The work side of things is pretty much same ol’, same ol’, it has been a bit challenging because of the projects and partnerships that I am leading – I’ve definitely got to really reflect on some of the issues that I directly or indirectly faced during a project – and observed how people dealt with these…I’ve definitely seen some interesting approaches, and personally some which I would say I am not that comfortable with – I have had to provide timely feedback a few times. I am still pushing for my new promotion, and feel that this is getting more tricky here in Singapore, especially when many opportunities dried up over the past few months…but lets see what 2015 has in store – there is always the opportunity to look outside, as I’ve now been in Amex over 11 years now (wow!).

It has been great to see my family twice, when I was in the UK, and around November/December, as both of my parents had the opportunity to visit me in Singapore. This was great fun, and I am so happy to have been able to spend some time with both of them. I am hopeful that I am able to visit the UK again in 2015, so fingers crossed it happens ūüôā

I really want to focus on the fun bit next year, and maximise the adventure whilst I continue to broaden my horizons during my Singapore adventure. The future is new, the future is unknown, the future is what you make of it – so lets make it even better than before!

Christmas Day Lunch with Mum at Da Luca

For Christmas Day this year, and to enjoy the time with my mum who was returning back to the UK on Boxing Day, we booked up a table at Da Luca Italian Restaurant – in Novena.

It is still a little surreal to enjoy Christmas in the tropics, but we knew we were in for a good meal. It wasn’t massively busy, but we had a nice meal of Beef Carpaccio, Pizza and a Mixed Salad which we shared – certainly different from the Christmas Turkey and the trimmings – but delicious all the same.

It was great to spend it with my mum, rather than eating on my own, so I am glad I was able to spend it with her, and to ensure she had a relaxing trip back (on a full stomach).

Da Luca Italian Restaurant
1 Goldhill Plaza #01-19/21
Goldhill Plaza
Tel: +65 6258 4846

Culina Dempsey Dinner (23 Dec 2014)

Dempsey is growing one me as an area. Not only is it closed to where we live, it actually has a number of enjoyable drinking and eating experiences.

This time around, we decided to book a table at Culina which is a nice restaurant establishment…one that has a butchery and fish bar (servicing a delightful selection of oysters) – the steak selection is very tasty, you go and select your cut of meat and then tell them which sauce from the menu you want with it – yummy indeed!.

So we started with a charcuterie board – it was a nice selection, but a wee bit pricey for what you get (like most Mediterranean food in Singapore!), then we had mussels, and crab cakes – all in all a nice selection of dishes to fill our bellies.

I certainly would recommend Culina – not only is it a nice and relaxing place, it’s not too pretentious or over the top – but is a delightful setting with a nice delicate mix of good food, good service and relaxing surroundings – and if you want to buy stuff to take home – they have a deli shop in-built within the restaurant as well.

Culina Dempsey
8 Dempsey Road #01-13
Dempsey Hill
Singapore 247696
Tel: +65 6474 7338

Paradise Dynasty at ION Orchard

To enjoy a cheapish (sorry I mean ‘cost effective’) pre-Christmas meal with my mum and girlfriend, I decided to take them to ION Orchard and to the Paradise Dynasty restaurant there. We intended to enjoy the fusion xiao long bao that they serve specifically at this restaurant. Paradise’s xiao long bao are quite different – as they serve a mixed plate of 8 xiao long bao of different types: original, szechuan, ginseng, crab roe, cheese, garlic, and the kings-among-kings – foie gras and black truffle. Delicious and very tasty!

We ordered a few dishes and enjoyed the fine and relaxing company – and it was a great meal and experience overall. It wasn’t too expensive and we were able to enjoy it with a nice discount – as I had some vouchers to use up. I think I managed to use $40 of the $50 I had, and provided the difference in cash – something like S$7 – not bad, hey?

Paradise Dynasty at ION Orchard
2 Orchard Turn
#04-12A ION Orchard
Singapore 238801

Tim Ho Wan Dinner with Mum (16th Dec 2014)

Another day, another eating opportunity – and this time, I found myself around Plaza Singapura in Dhoby Ghaut.

After some shopping in and around the shopping mall, I decided to walk by the Tim Ho Wan restaurant, to see if the queue was very long – unfortunately, it doesn’t allow bookings, and it is difficult to gauge how long the wait will be in the queue. Luckily, the queue was quite short – and so we decided to give it a shot.

It is a little bit over-rated, but with a limited menu selection – it is focused on quality (after all it is a Michelin Star place after starting in Hong Kong) and quick service – and it does meet this objective – just about! I wouldn’t say it is the best dim sum I have had in Singapore – or even in the Hong Kong or the UK – but it was still an enjoyable dinner with mum, and I can see why it remains a popular choice. The price is good though – so this ensures we can enjoy a Michelin Star experience, for very acceptable prices.

This place is growing quickly Рstarting with this first location, and now having 5 restaurants across the island.  Would recommend it Рbut it is going to be one of those places that you do it a few times or on special occasions only.

Tim Ho Wan
68 Orchard Road #01-29A
Plaza Singapura
Dhoby Ghuat
Singapore 238839
Tel: +65 6251 2000

Another great movie night – Night Crawler (4th Dec 2014)

Another night, another fun catch-up with Dheeraj – a great friend from work. We decided to watch ‘Nightcrawler’ – must admit I didn’t even read-up on the synopsis of the movie or even the reviews, but I was pleasantly surprised that it was a good movie, not amazing, but good enough.

It related to a chap that wanted to become a TV star, but without the fame, so it involved amateur video of accidents and the like which was then sold to the US cable networks for a fee. The irony is that I bet this is how it works in the US today, but sad that this is what people do to make money – make money of the misfortunes of others – especially when there is blood and gore…alas, we watch the news for this, I guess.

Anyway, a nice way to relax and catch-up with a great mate.

Early Christmas Pressie (for mum) – iPad Air 2

After much consideration, I decided that I should get my mum an iPad, as she was very keen to get one to use when she is on her travels, and also make it easier to read websites and digital newspapers etc…oh and to play her games ūüôā haha!

I was looking at the latest model and version – so it would be the iPad Air 2 – and I decided that the 16GB version would suffice.

I had done a bit of research and found that in HK, it would cost HKD 3,888 (about ¬£330), whilst in Singapore it would cost S$688 (¬£340), whilst in the UK, it was ¬£399. All of these prices were from the Apple website. So I decided to get it from Singapore, but used my Amex True Cashback card to get an extra 5% discount on top, which made it pretty reasonable ūüôā

Definitely worth the purchase, and I am glad that my mum has something ‘new’ rather than a pass-me-down, for a change.

Synology NAS Drive Purchase

Synology DS214 NAS Drive

Synology DS214 NAS Drive

I always wanted to get a NAS drive – as a way to ‘back-up’ the data (documents, movies, music and other files etc) that I don’t want to lose off my laptop, so I decided to succumb to the cost-effective way of achieving this, by getting a NAS drive.

I previously, did an adhoc data back-up, which resulted in buying standalone USB back-up portable storage drives, and using Norton Ghost or similar to create an image of the hard disk drive to the separate drive, but this has its own limitations. I didn’t do this often enough, and it was a bit difficult to access the files.

Whilst using a NAS drive, I would be able to connect it to my wifi and use the local network to store the personal files and data onto the NAS and then I could look to ensure it is saved with some level of redundancy (mirrored over 2 HDDs) and could then limit the storage on my laptop. In theory, I could also set it up so that I could access the documents from anywhere, securely. But at this time, I didn’t want to open up this function just yet.

I decided to get an Synology after a local electronics store suggested that this was a cost-effective personal storage device name that I could trust. Looking around, I decided to get the Synology DS214 – with a 2-bay storage – and I set it up to mirror across both – meaning that there is at least one back-up of the data each time it is saved. I decided to get two 3TB Western Digital drives – theoretically this means I can get 6TB of storage, but as I mirrored them, this means I only get 3TB storage but mirrored across both HDD for double protection – just what I need!!

I’m glad I did this now (albeit maybe later than i really should), and now should look to try to get the data copied across from my laptop. This should also ‘free-up’ the data on my laptop, and ensure I can clean-it up properly, as it is running quite slow with the limited amount of HDD available on it now.

Would highly recommend getting a NAS drive if you haven’t yet done so – and it’s easy to set-up and use ūüôā

The Mad Hatter Christmas Party (12th Dec 2014)

It is towards year-end, so¬†it is always customary to enjoy a festive party with the work colleagues. ¬†This year,¬†the team planned a party at Una Restaurant at One Rochester. ¬†It was a bit of a way out from the MBFC office. ¬†Luckily for me, it is not that far to my ‘other home’ – so it was easy to get home after the party (unless there is an after party – which is very unlikely in the current set-up).

The theme was ‘Mad Hatter’ (remember the Disney movie – “Alice in Wonderland”?) – well it¬†basically meant HATS HATS and HATS. ¬†With the customary theme comes the challenge of trying to locate something appropriate for the Party…¬†Last¬†year, I tuxed up, and won the “best dressed man at the party” – but this year, I thought I just go with¬†the flow and dress modestly…haha! ūüôā ¬†I decided to go with a cheapish hat, and managed to get a red top hat from a shop that had lot of glitter (yikes) – at least it had a Christmas-y feel!!

Also part of the celebrations was the classic ‘Secret Santa’ –¬†the person I picked opted with the easy option of selecting what they wanted…hmmm…spoils the fun a bit, don’t you think. ¬†I always go with the ‘anything’ option, to see¬†how creative the¬†gift-bearer is. ¬†So anyway, my option wanted a Gift card – so I decided to buy them a $30 Robinson gift card. ¬†That will do – quick and easy, as I hate¬†trying to find some suitable – very difficult indeed, when you don’t really know the person.

The buffet food was actually very tasty, the wine was nice, and the service very attentive – I really¬†enjoyed the place, and it turned out to be quite a nice party. ¬†The only downer is that is it should be a party – e.g. people should be letting their hair down, having fun, and partying hard…but here¬†the ones I’ve been too, is that people just eat, drink, do their stuff and then leave. ¬†And when I say ‘leave’ – I mean the party ends around 9-9.30pm – hmmm…isn’t that meant to be the start of the party. ¬†Anyway, I opted to go with the group, as I wasn’t aware of any of the folks I know were interested in staying or going somewhere else,¬†but managed to join a colleague and we went into¬†town to continue drinking and having more fun¬†elsewhere.

Una at One Rochester
1 Rochester Park
Singapore 139212
Tel: +65 6773 0070

Delicious Thai Food at Holland Food (and Reasonably Priced too) (2nd Dec 2014)

It was always enjoyable when you find a new eating establishing, and the best surprise is when it is near to your girlfriend’s place. ¬†This new(ish) Thai restaurant, is located at Holland Village, along Lorong Liput down one of the side roads of the main part of the eateries along Holland Village. I believe it is the fifth branch to have opened in Singapore, after Bedok North Avenue 3, Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10, Pasir Panjang Road and Marine Parade Central.

It is quite a nice place, no frills, simple in design and set-up, but the food is modestly priced, but the quality is top-notch. It feels very authentic, I even think some of the staff are actually Thai – but don’t quote me on this.

The variety is very nice, and the food delivery is very quick and pleasant. I would definitely recommend this place, especially if you find yourself near to one of their locations – or even here in Holland Village.

Nakhon Kitchen (Holland Village)
27A Lorong Liput
Singapore 277738
Tel: +65 6469 6862

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