Joan Bowen Cafe: The Cafe That Feels Like Home

joan bowen cafe pork belly

Since reading about Joan Bowen Cafe sometime back, I’ve been wanting to visit. As it’s not located near one of my frequent haunts, I postponed the visit indefinitely. As luck would have it, a new friend was willing to visit the cafe with me so yay! Joan Bowen Cafe is ‘known’ as the cafe which employs youths with special needs, but I won’t want to introduce the cafe as such. This is because I watched a video on Facebook recently, in which a lady with Down Syndrome was explaining that people who are labelled as having “special needs” don’t actually have needs that are “special” – their needs are the same as everyone else’s. Things they need are those such as love, opportunities, employment, etc. It’s exactly what everyone needs. So what’s so “special” about their needs? I agree with her.

Still, I think cafes like this one deserve to have more people come by and try the food, and know that people whom society thinks have “special needs” can actually be trained in industries like F&B, and they can excel in their jobs too!

The cafe is a little out of the way if you don’t drive, or aren’t familiar with the Sennett estate. But you can take the train to Potong Pasir MRT station, and head out of exit B. Then turn left (following the direction of traffic) till you see a tall, dark condominium block. Take another left and walk straight till you see the cafe. It’s located at 9 Jalan Wangi.

Joan Bowen Cafe location

Joan Bowen Cafe is very cosy, just as if you’ve walked into someone’s home. Near the glass window is also an armchair and a study table where you might find a middle-aged lady working on a computer. I didn’t ask for her name nor inquire if she’s one of the owners (but I’m guessing she is). And just like a mother, she told us to tuck into the food (instead of talking and taking pictures) before it gets cold. And she even offered to heat up the mushroom soup (that we had yet to touch) if needed, but that we should eat the mains first.

joan bowen cafe jalan wangi

I love how the cafe works around the preferences of the staff. Many are used to their particular routines, so if you have guests ordering from an extensive a la carte menu, it might be a very stressful situation. Hence, it’s a simple set lunch menu with 5 options for mains. It’s great for the staff and great for guests who cannot make up their minds about what to eat either! 🙂

joan bowen cafe menu

For just $20, you get mushroom soup, your choice of main dish, and dessert (oreo cheesecake). The motherly lady recommends the Pork Belly Confit and the Chili Crab Pasta – they’ve been serving them for 8 years apparently. My pick was definitely the pork belly, no doubt about it. If I see beef cheek or pork belly, I’d always go for them. Interestingly, to help my new friend in selecting a main, she said that salmon is salmon (however it’s cooked) so why not try the pasta or pork belly? 😀 I found that remark pretty hilarious.

Anyway, my new friend ordered the pasta. I think the sauce looks legit. I’ll try it next time. I don’t usually ask to try food that people I’m not familiar with have ordered. If it’s my darling I’m dining with, I’d just go ahead and swop plates. Haha!

joan bowen cafe chili crab pasta

The pork belly I ordered was a little too salty, but I liked the crisp on one side – so sinful and so delightful. Some parts were a little dry and tough, but overall, pretty satisfying. The pineapple salsa was yummy, and I enjoyed the salad on the side too. A pity the mashed potato was a little dry and flaky.

joan bowen cafe pork belly

As for dessert, we had the tiniest oreo cheesecake I’ve ever seen. I took it out of the mini cupcake liner and balanced the tiny confection on my fork…

joan bowen cafe oreo cheese cake

While it may be small, I have to say the portion is just right. After a substantial lunch, the last thing you want is a huge portion of dessert to deliver you straight into a food coma. This one was perfect. It was the size of a mini icecream mooncake. And it tasted like vanilla ice cream between two oreo biscuits.

If you haven’t been to Joan Bowen Cafe before, why not schedule a visit soon? Visit their website, note the opening hours, and make an online reservation. 🙂

Advertisements

Need Help With Your Website Or Blog? :)

blogging coach singapore

There’s nothing quite like a lovely testimonial to brighten up my day. 🙂 I’ve been very fortunate to have some really cool students from all walks of life, who allow me to coach them in setting up their blogs and/or websites. And Natalie’s one of them. She’d initially approached me saying she’s a “tech-phobic doctor” but I’ve known all along that just about anyone can learn to get comfortable with WordPress. In the past, I’ve struggled with learning how to blog and trying to set up a website (the horror!) and so I want to take the pain out of the learning for the people I meet. I wished I had a guide back then, but I didn’t, so the best thing for me right now is to condense the years of learning and picking stuff up on my own, and transferring that knowledge to my students in a matter of hours.

In this post, I’ve put together some tips for people who have signed up for classes or coaching regarding blogging or website creation (it doesn’t even have to be with me), so we can all maximize the time spent learning and get the most out of each session:

(1) STRUGGLE BUT DON’T PROCRASTINATE

And don’t simply struggle with the ‘idea’ of creating a blog or website. Actually do something. You might want to start with wordpress.com as it’s free! Natalie spent some years thinking about starting her own site but happily contributed articles to various publications. The number of backlinks she could have gotten is astounding. And if you’re going to invest in a domain name, web hosting, etc, you might also want to invest in hiring a coach to help you get up to speed quickly. There are few things more frustrating than spending money on a site and not knowing how to use it.

(2) MAKE SURE IT’S ALL HANDS-ON LEARNING

Doesn’t matter if you’re learning about Blogging or about Internet Marketing, it has to be hands-on, and you have to be given the opportunity to repeat each step multiple times until you get it. I detest demo-only cooking classes, which I find to be of no use to me. When I get home, I don’t know how to ‘fold the dough’ or judge if it’s of the right consistency. Similarly, if you attend a class, and head home with only a thick manual, of what good will that be? You HAVE TO get your site up and running during the class, not after.

(3) TAKE THE INITIATIVE, DO MORE THAN EXPECTED

Natalie truly impressed me with the prep work she did beforehand, in ensuring she had three drafts so we could post them immediately during the session, after a few tweaks. Because she had done the work, we were able to work on aspects like SEO, photo uploads and (basic) editing, among others.

(4) STAY IN TOUCH, CONTINUE THE LEARNING

Be persistent, not pesky. Stay in touch with your coach or trainer. Email is best so people can reply at their convenience. Phone messaging can get a little intrusive at times. But if you keep in touch, the learning never stops. I’m both a coach and a student. So each time I learn something new, I can pass on the knowledge.

If you need help with a new blog or website, feel free to contact me via the form below:

How To Organize A Great Product Launch With Influencer Meet-N-Greet

National Gallery Singapore

I attended an event this week not as a blogger but as a fan of one of the influencers they’d flown in (from Jakarta, Indonesia). I’ll not name the brand in this blogpost. Instead, I’ll share about what the organizers could have done better so that we could all call the event an indisputable success. Admittedly it wasn’t an actual launch event per se, but since the latest collection of jewellery was on display, it did feel like one. This post is mainly for educational purposes, so people who are planning on engaging influencers for events and/or hosting meet-and-greet sessions for influencers can learn something from this.

Background: A fashion blogger I follow on Instagram mentioned that this globally-famous brand was hosting a tea session and she was inviting 5 of her followers to join her. All we had to do was send an email to the marketing department, with our particulars, and see if we get picked. I did that and was selected. I received a call from Marketing, and a follow-up email with the details. 6 influencers would be present (3 from SG, 1 from Indonesia, 1 from Thailand and 1 from Malaysia). The tea session would be held at the National Gallery Singapore, from 3.30pm to 5.30pm on a weekday afternoon.

Influencer Marketing Singapore

I arrived early, as usual, and found the Padang Deck (take the lift up to level 5, then some stairs) very warm. While there was a breathtaking view of the Padang, CBD skyscrapers, MBS, Esplanade, etc, the weather was really HOT! And it almost felt like we were in a greenhouse. The Deck was not air-conditioned and people crowded around the one working mobile ‘fan'(?)

#1: Food and Drinks

What’s a “tea session” without something to snack on and something to drink? Well, it started with rather tasty finger food and tea in champagne glasses. Unfortunately the tea was at room temperature, not icy cold as I would have liked it. After some time, they brought out chilled (canned) apple juice.

#2: Location

I liked their choice of location. I’ve never been to the National Gallery before so I relished the opportunity of visiting. It’s also centrally located and very convenient to get to (Take Exit B from City Hall MRT, two left turns and you’re there). It would have been so much better to pick one of the air-conditioned venues within the Gallery instead of the almost-totally-exposed-to-the-elements Deck right on top. The Padang Deck would be great for any event that takes place after the sun has set and the weather is much cooler.

#3: Event Timing

At 3.30pm on a weekday, I don’t think many people would have been able to attend. As another attendee shared with me, it’s probably for people who “don’t work” (she’s a stay-at-home-mom). I do LOVE the timing though. Because you won’t encounter a traffic jam getting to the venue. Thankfully, the event ended really early, before 4.30pm (though it was supposed to end around 5.30pm), and it was a breeze getting home. However, time management-wise, I think the organizers might want to put better thought into it. Getting everyone here just for that one hour was a little odd.

#4: Setup

I thought it would have been better if there were seats. So many ladies showed up wearing heels that I felt sorry for them. Also, the lighting (or lack of it) on the Deck did not do any justice to the pieces of jewellery on display. They probably cost hundreds or thousands of dollars each but without the right lighting, they looked like 5-dollar pieces of costume jewellery. And they want us to Instagram that?

Social Media Marketing

#5: Objectives

I’m not sure what the objectives for this event were. The influencers (especially the one from Thailand) already looked bored at the beginning of the event. And she was hovering near the exit after just a couple of pictures had been taken towards the end. Us in the audience were just puzzled, I guess. You have 6 influencers here, with lots of pretty jewelry they can show us how to style with different kinds of clothing, and you don’t do any of that? You tell us to play around with the flatlay display and Instagram it, and include your “3 hashtags”, but there’s no prize for the best picture? Who’d bother then? (Ok, maybe a small minority would) Why not have a competition in which each influencer’s fans learn from their favorite influencer how to do great flatlays, then submit a picture for a ‘contest’? Give the best group some prizes! This will also bring out the competitive side of these influencers and they’ll want to share their best tips and have their team win. And everyone will be uploading pictures onto social media. Win-Win-Win.

#6: Gifts, or the lack of them

I was very surprised that there were no door gifts of any kind. And there weren’t even any seats. We stood around, listened to a “moderator” interview the influencers, and we were free to leave. Most of us left with the “I have no idea what just happened” feeling. We weren’t given the opportunity to ask questions (but we could take pictures), there’s no door gifts for all these selected attendees, and all they wanted was for us to play around with the flatlay setup and take some pictures for Instagram? Weird.

~

As I see it, the event represented one big WASTED OPPORTUNITY. It could have driven so much (online) conversation about the brand, brought influencers and their fans so much closer, and everyone would have walked out having learnt something. As I’ve stated in a previous post regarding the Best PR Companies in Singapore, brands need to pick their PR and marketing folks wisely.

Pocari Sweat Run 2016: The Most Enjoyable Run Thus Far

Pocari Sweat Run 2016

Last Saturday, we went for the Pocari Sweat Run at the Marina Bay Floating Platform, and though we haven’t been running for a while now, we had such fun at this particular race. I signed us up for the 5km race and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Allow me to share with you the highlights of the event 😀

First up, I LOVED that the race started at 6pm. If you’ve NEVER gone for a race before, try signing up for one that starts in the evening. I’m rather terrified of races that start early in the morning when the sun’s not even up yet. You have to drag yourself out of bed and you’d most likely have to shell out good money for a taxi to get to the venue on time because the trains and buses aren’t in operation yet. You COULD, however, save some money by taking the official shuttle buses (if any) that could cost something like 6 bucks or so per pax. Unfortunately, that means you may have to wake up even earlier to make it for the pickup time in your estate. (Tip: Sleep while on the bus OR just sleep earlier the night before)

Secondly, I loved how well-organized the 2016 Pocari Sweat Run was. There were signs to tell us where to go, where to wait, where baggage deposit was, etc. The waiting ‘pen’ was not unpleasant and we could very orderly make our way to the start line. I liked also that we could get drinks before the race. That’s something that has rarely ever happened at other races. But since it’s the Pocari Sweat Run, OF COURSE you get to drink your fill of Pocari Sweat! 🙂 The downside of this generous gesture was that I had to complete the race with a full bladder, so I couldn’t run as fast as I would have. LOL! But I felt very fortunate for picking 5km instead of 10km! 😀 (Interestingly though, after the first water point around the 1km mark or so, there were no other water points. Hmm)

Also, for the first time, I had such fun during the pre-race warm-up session that the organizers had planned. Three very muscular fitness instructors got up on stage (I think they are from Fitness First) and they led us through a quick warm-up (think jump rope on the spot, stretches, rotations, etc) and they did this… to the tune of the POKEMON theme song! LOL! So so enjoyable, and so relevant to what’s going on these days, i.e. the Pokemon Go craze. It really got us into a good mood for the race!

What was really cool though was the love the organizers had for their media friends. We got wristbands which supposedly gave us special access to photo spots…

Pocari Sweat Run media invite

AND that VIP corner:

Pocari Sweat Run Singapore

At the VIP section, there were tables (with Pocari Sweat) and food provided by Emporium Shokuhin! 🙂 There were chicken and unagi kebabs, and pastries including tarts and slices of cake. I was taken aback by the spread (and calories) but I guess there’s no better time to feast than after a run when your body’s gonna burn those calories faster than usual. Woohoo!~ Such a treat!

Finally, I was pretty impressed by the rather hefty finisher’s medal. It looked and felt like a medallion. Upon completing the race, we were also given bottles of Pocari Sweat and really fresh bananas. I’m so looking forward to the next installment of the race. And yes, I think 5km’s gonna be good enough! 🙂

~

If you haven’t been training for a particular race, then what you need right after would be a good massage / foot reflexology session. I was so fortunate to have a loving better half book a massage for us post-race. It was a good deal via Groupon for Urban Spa located in the City Hall area. The foot soak and massage helped relieve sore muscles and ensured we didn’t have aches and pains the next day. The staff were attentive, the session went well, and there was no hard-selling. Only thing that prevented them from getting “full marks” was the weak air-conditioning. Pity. But I might pop by again if I’m in the area. 🙂

Urban Spa Singapore

~

Refer A Business Owner & Receive S$500*

Refer A Friend Successfully For $500

*For each successful referral leading to a sign-up

Blogging Workshops / WordPress Coaching: What My Former Students Say :D

Blogging Workshops Singapore - Students

[ My students featured on the TEDx stage and on radio ]

I’ve received a number of testimonials from former students so I felt this post would be necessary, and a good way to reflect on my blogging journey thus far. When I started blogging in October 2010, there were no books about blogging in the local, Singaporean context, and there were no blogging workshops I could sign up for. Thereafter, I wrote my book ‘Blogging For A Living’ in 2013, and I’ve been sharing the joy of Blogging with students since. And when I say “students”, most of the time I’m referring to working adults, usually older than me. In this particular blogpost, you’ll read the testimonials from my students who come from different occupations: housewife, art teacher, engineer, business owner, etc!

This particular one is an unsolicited email from my student, Alvin:

Blogging Workshop testimonial from Alvin

Sometimes, apart from going into the technical bits of blogging, I do also offer suggestions like a life coach would. If I think a particular book is really awesome for helping someone through a particular phase of life, I give him/her that book. Alvin, like many of my other students, are worried about issues like job security, retrenchments, and what other careers they can pursue. I gave him a book I thought would be most useful. 🙂

I do believe that as much as 90% of the things we want to learn can be found in books already. This is why reading is such an important hobby to cultivate in young children! Besides recommending great books, I do also share tips with my students, such as how I blog while on holiday (and without mobile data). If you’re keen to know, I simply use my phone to snap pictures, and I use the WordPress app on my phone to craft a post and add notes each time I purchase something, savor something yummy or have a traveler tip to share. And throughout the day, I usually won’t have any Internet access. When I’m back in the hotel or hostel, and get connected to wifi, then I hit on ‘Publish’ and the post is uploaded to my blog. 🙂 Doing this is crucial because we tend to forget what’s located where, and how much something cost, when we get back to Singapore. And then when you want to upload a post about your awesome holiday in Korea or Taiwan, you feel upset that you cannot remember how to get to that amazing food outlet, or how much the airport bus cost. And that blogpost may not materialize because of that drop in motivation thereafter.

Also, you won’t want to give yourself ‘homework’ after your holiday, would you? Instead of posting about that holiday MONTHS after you got back, why not just hit ‘publish’ while you’re still overseas. After all, you and I both know that a deluge of emails (and work) awaits you when you return, ya? 😉

This next testimonial is from Christine:

Blogging Workshop testimonial from Christine

Sometimes, people have been blogging for years and yet very few people read their blogs. It could be due to something as simple as the titles. If you are savvy enough to use the right titles for your blogposts, you can get way more traffic than you are getting now. And this is especially crucial if you’re writing a post about your travels. And I do love encouraging people like Christine, who have a heart for sharing, to press on and reach a wider audience. Just a few, simple tweaks will do. Nothing major. And you don’t have to sit through an entire course.

This one’s from Mae-lee:

Blogging Workshop testimonial from Mae-lee

If you’re starting a website or a blog for the very first time, it can get extremely confusing, and in some cases, frustrating too. What’s a widget? Do I need a Jetpack? What’s the difference between a ‘widget’ and a ‘plug-in’? Why do I have to pay so much money for a theme?

*Fauzi’s one of my ex-students too. And I had him teach Mae-lee together with me. And yes, he got paid. What he actually told me via email was this: “Wah that would be the first time somebody pays me for my knowledge.. other than my job. Thanks for the opportunity”. Indeed, I love helping my students see a world of opportunity. Not too long after this session, Fauzi got himself featured on radio – 938LIVE – just like I have in the past. I think it is so cool that an employee can have a hobby outside of work and get himself featured on radio because of that hobby. I may have done it before, but I feel even more pride and satisfaction when my students get to experience this themselves. And I didn’t even have to arrange the session for him. He secured it on his own. This is in line with my teaching goals: to inspire leaders, and not to gain followers. And if my students end up “outshining” me and doing even better than I could have imagined, AWESOME! It makes me so happy!

Once in a while, I have people emailing me about workshop pricing and saying it’s out of their budget (it’s all less than 400 bucks, by the way), so I’ll tell them they can simply get a copy of my book at S$22 or better still, borrow a copy from the library for free. The book offers you a “snapshot” (so to speak) of a particular period of time in my blogging journey, back in 2013. But if you were to meet me in person now, you get to learn about all 6 years of my journey and the lessons I’ve distilled from these years. I do not actually think my classes are expensive. I’d say the fees are too low. Because that’s what most bloggers earn for doing just one advertorial (of course, there are bloggers who earn 5-figure sums for their advertorials #justsaying). There are other students like Victoria, who consider their “money very well spent”…

Blogging Workshop testimonial from Mae-lee

 Victoria had wanted to attempt blogging (and make it work) on her own. After reading many books, even mine, she finally decided that it’s best to just meet up with me. I’m very proud of the book I wrote, and so far all the feedback has been 100% awesome. But where the book falls short is that it cannot evaluate YOUR blog and tell you what YOU are doing incorrectly. You need an actual human to tell you. In this case, Victoria picked me. And she’s also a student I am very proud of. Not too long after our coaching session, she got featured on radio, and she also became a TEDx speaker, sharing the stage with her teenage daughter who helps out in her planting and blogging adventures.

I don’t spoonfeed, I don’t handhold but I definitely help provide that fertile ground for my students to become more confident about themselves and what they are doing so they can go on to have adventures that they never dreamed was possible beforehand. 🙂 And I haven’t even spoken on a TEDx stage before! 😀 😀 😀

I do have a heart for young people, and their struggles, so when J (*name withheld to protect my young student’s privacy) emailed me, I offered her a special discount. Her (unedited) testimonial after the session:

I contacted Grace after finding her blog online and realised she was providing coaching lessons. I was at the time quite lost with my blog and the direction it was headed. I couldn’t quite seem to figure out SEO and how to get my blog noticed. As I’m still a student and couldn’t afford the normal workshop fee, she kindly offered a personal 1-1 1hr coaching session at a student discount.

When I met her she was really warm and friendly. She helped me to conceptualise my blog scheme and how I should progress from here on. On the technical end, she also gave me great tips to help my SEO and organise my blog better. Really looking forward to the growth of my blog from here on and am thankful I have someone I can look for for help in this area 🙂

I think that to be able to teach is truly a privilege. Of course, it doesn’t mean I would teach for free (unless it’s for charity, which I’ve done before). But I love being able to see people grow, blossom and take flight. I guess it’s like parenting without actually having to give birth to a baby! 😀

~

Find out more about my blogging workshops here. Feel free to drop me an email and tell me more about your blog and/or blogging objectives before you sign up too. 🙂

*Main Image for this post is courtesy of SGStrawberries and Fauzi

That L’Oreal Paris Ad Featuring Hot Mommy Blogger Tammy Tay

If you’ve yet to watch the ad featuring hot mommy blogger, Tammy Tay, click on the video embedded above! 🙂 It’s definitely an attention-grabbing ad especially when she says “I felt like giving up my life”. Why would a really pretty, very hot mommy blogger who’s probably inundated with ad requests every month, and who runs a popular online clothing store, ever feel like giving up her life?

L’Oreal Paris’ second wave of ads involves Pan Ling Ling. Once again, it’s touching, and probably tear-jerking too. But this one with Tammy Tay will likely resonate with many young people. Though it’s a rather concise ad, nothing long-winded, she touches on a number of points…

#1: Self-esteem issues and that “constant need to be well-liked, to be accepted and to stand out”

I think this is something everyone encounters at some point. And then we might realize that there are other things which are more important to us. For instance, the love from family and friends is more important to me than fame and fortune. So many people are famous, rich, surrounded by fans who adore/respect/stalk them, but they go through divorces, depression and some even kill themselves. So is there a real need to be well-liked by all, accepted by the “cool” folks and to stand out so you don’t feel left out? What if you already have all you need to be happy?

#2: Nice comments = affirmation = feel good. Mean comments = defeated = feel everyone is against me

I guess everyone with some kind of online presence will encounter negative comments at some point, whether you are a blogger, youtuber or instagrammer (or what have you). But I guess what people say about you is not a description of who you are, but a reflection of who they really are. If their hearts aren’t pure, there’s nothing nice that they can say about you. In which case, you have to pay no attention to what they say or think of you. Because what they think of you is really… none of your business. 🙂 Often, what people dare to say about you online, they don’t have the balls to say to your face in person.

#3: Stay true to yourself

Tammy is a single mom who caused quite a stir online when she first revealed that she was pregnant (with her first child) and that she was going to have the baby but not marry the baby’s father just yet as they hadn’t known each other for a long time and she wasn’t sure if he’s the right life partner for her.

I think she’s super courageous, and I do support her decision. Other people might think that the child should not be brought up without a father figure but wouldn’t it be worse if the man is pressured into marrying her but they eventually split up? It is never easy for children whose parents get divorced, especially when the split happened while the children are still young. If they are already adults, then it’s not as traumatic, I guess. But I’ve yet to meet an adult who’s well-adjusted after his/her parents split ways while they were still young.

And now, Tammy has a second child too. I feel very happy for her. I know that regardless of whether she has a husband or not, she’ll be a good mother to her children. After all, how many female bloggers would give up their blogging career just to protect their family from the mean people online?

#4: Positivity begets positivity and good things will come your way

I like that this ad comes with an inspiring message, kinda like Dove ads in the past. 🙂 If you can choose to be anything you want today, choose to be happy. 😉

Why You Should Allow Your Man To Play Mahjong

Benefits of playing mahjong

If it’s Friday night and you’re home alone (or perhaps, with the kids) and your boyfriend or hubby is out playing mahjong with his pals, I feel you. We had dinner together and before he left, he asked me (for what was perhaps the millionth time) whether I was REALLY ok with him going for a mahjong session with his pals. They jio-ed him yesterday. But yes, I’m fine with it. Go… with all my blessings. As he’d said, 6 years ago, I might not have been so happy about being “abandoned” on a Friday evening for a stupid mentally-stimulating game of mahjong. And I do know of wives who are quite pissed at their husbands for loving mahjong so much.

However, woman to woman, here’s why you should allow your man to go for that occasional mahjong session:

#1: It Makes Him Happy

Just as you’d want your own “me” time for a spa, facial, bubble bath, whatever, he needs his own “me” time as well. And besides, everyone’s out on Friday evening. So why add to the crowd? Unless you really need him to be around such as if you have a new piece of DIY furniture to assemble, or if a child is ill at home, let the man go have some good, clean fun. Yes, he might lose some money at mahjong (it’s both about strategy and luck) but most things in Singapore cost money anyway. If it makes him happy, why not? (*Only for the occasional game. If your man has a serious gambling habit, then call the National Council for Problem Gambling at 6354 8154, ok?)

#2: He’ll Tell His Mahjong Kakis What He Won’t Tell You

At some point during an all-nighter game of mahjong, he is bound to share some ‘secrets’ with his pals, maybe due to fatigue or they’ve run out of topics for small talk after so many hours. Perhaps he made a HUGE loss in the stock market or some lady at his office has been hitting on him. He won’t necessarily tell you these things, but he might tell his mahjong kakis and if they aren’t tight-lipped, their wives and girlfriends/boyfriends will know too. If you’re friends with them, you’ll probably find out what he’s hiding from you.

#3: There ARE Benefits From Playing Mahjong

Firstly, a lot of focus is required – if you’re not careful, you could end up losing a lot of money. Conversely, if you’re good at the game, you’ll win a lot of money too. Also, it keeps your mind really active – figuring out who’s waiting for which tile, which combinations of your existing tiles can help you win, and which tile to discard to foil someone else’s attempt at winning the game. I think mahjong also trains players to ‘read’ the body language of others – who’s getting frustrated, who’s trying to suppress excitement at having a really good set of tiles, who’s faking confidence despite getting really ‘lousy’ tiles? If your man is the kind who doesn’t notice a thing when you come home really excited after getting a new hairdo / hair color / you’ve shaved your head bald (I’m kidding), then he obviously needs some training.

#4: He’s Finally Out Of The Way

Perhaps there are things you find difficult to do when he’s around. Say, you want everyone out of the house so you can clean the house. Then, great. Send him off to the babysitters *ahem* I mean the mahjong kakis. Or maybe you want to go paint the town red with your girlfriends, then great, have fun separately for one evening. Or perhaps, you just want some peace and quiet so you can finally catch up with some reading, without anyone wanting to share with you about how his day went, grumbling about how the stock exchange was shut much of yesterday or which CEO has to apologize for whatever lapse, then mahjong actually sounds like a good idea. Go! 😀

~

So, as you can see, you can take the sting out of what used to really piss you off. All it takes is a little reframing. For instance, “flooding” can be thought of as “ponding” (which is kind of cute; like maybe we can rear some koi in the “ponds”). Our government is really good at reframing; perhaps you can list many more examples. 😉 And then you’ll happily send him off for mahjong too.

Now… a good book awaits. 🙂

Most Hilarious Responses to Lottery and DHL Scammers

Singapore DHL Scam

There are now so many scams in Singapore that we can probably call our country “Scammed City”. Hot on the heels of the DHL scam is the SP Services Scam. And I guess we are absolutely helpless when it comes to these scams; call police also no use ah! If nabbing a bank robber (who’s physically in Singapore) already takes a while, then it’ll be next to impossible to catch a scammer who is likely overseas. While some Singaporeans have fallen prey to these horrible scammers, others have come up with interesting ways to “con” those scammers too. Here are some of the hilarious responses I’ve read about online. Take that, you Lottery and DHL Scammers! 😀

*This first one’s not from Singapore*

Lottery Scammer: We will wire you the 50,000 pounds you’ve won. We need your bank account details. What is the name of your bank?
Lady: Ok sure. The name of my bank is PIGGY BANK. The account number is 5432…

Piggy Bank Lottery Scammer

*And for our favorite scammers from “DHL”*

DHL Scammer: You need to go immediately to…
Lady: But I’m in the middle of killing someone. Can this wait?
DHL Scammer: We need you to transfer…
Lady: Ok can. But I need to kill this person first!

DHL Scammer: What’s your full name?
Guy: (*comes up with a fake Chinese name)
DHL Scammer: How do you spell that?
Guy: Erm… *sound of crickets* (Singaporeans are really quite bad at Chinese spelling)
DHL Scammer: It’s ok, I got it. There’s a package here with your name on it.

DHL Scammer: You have a package…
Guy: Wo Bu Zhi Dao (meaning ‘I don’t know’)
DHL Scammer: blah blah blah…
Guy: Wo Ai Ni (meaning ‘I love you’)
DHL Scammer hangs up.

~

There’s really no point calling the police with regard to these scams, especially if you did not lose any money to these scammers. Let the police first try to find the robber who brazenly walked into a bank, revealed no weapon, but managed to walk out with S$30,000. If banks can be robbed so easily, I think we’re all just sitting ducks for more scams coming our way. If cyber security is enhanced when civil servants get no internet access, then perhaps we will be safe from scams if we just keep our phones on silent mode the whole day. Woohoo!~

SAFRA Punggol: Probably The Best SAFRA Club in Singapore

SAFRA Punggol

SAFRA Punggol had its soft launch on Sunday, 24th April 2016, and I was shocked at the huge turnout. From morning till evening, it seemed like the crowd never left. There were booths giving out all sorts of freebies – there were the usual suspects of popcorn and candy floss, but there were also truffle fries, churros, etc. I didn’t queue for any of them because I was more interested in the bike rental promotions (more on that in a bit). But first, here’s why I say Punggol SAFRA might be the best SAFRA club in Singapore. I love how pretty it looks at night. My pictures don’t do it justice, so do pop by after the sun has set…

[ The eve of the launch ]

SAFRA Punggol night view

[ Launch day itself. From across the Waterway, where we were cycling… ]

SAFRA Punggol at night

The dome in the middle is super pretty. And it looks it’s ringed by diamonds when it’s all lit up…

SAFRA Punggol pretty night view

What can you do at SAFRA Punggol? There’s yoga, cycling, bowling, darts, gym, karaoke, spa, more restaurants, and of course, enrichment classes for children! I do want to check out the Kidz Amaze indoor water playground, but I’ll wait till it’s less crowded. LOL!

As part of the opening celebrations, the bike rental shop at SAFRA Punggol, which is called Bikes @ Waterway, gave away one bottle of PLENISH isotonic drink and one ice cream cone with every bike rental! 😀 ON TOP OF THAT, there was a 50% off promotion. So it was bike rentals at half-price PLUS freebies! If that’s not a good deal, I don’t know what is.

Bikes @ Waterway

Here are the usual bike rental rates:

Bikes @ Waterway

The free drink and ice cream I claimed after 2-hours of cycling:

Bikes @ Waterway freebies

~

SAFRA Punggol is located across the road from Sam Kee LRT station. You can also walk to SAFRA Punggol from Waterway Point (8 minutes or so, depending on your walking speed). 😀

January 2016: Over 130,000 PageViews, Upcoming Blogging Workshops

January 2016 stats

Let’s just say that 2016 has gotten off to a really good start for me. 🙂 The start and end of each year is usually VERY quiet, blogging-wise. I usually take off for the holidays and so do many other people. But I guess it’s true that when you do good, you do well. In Dec/Jan, I went for more volunteer trips, and also put in more effort in blogging about my adventures, and the stats are very encouraging. I don’t usually get 6-figures (not $$$, but traffic) but in January 2016, this blog received 134,457 hits! I did not make the news, got no media attention whatsoever, but with good ol’ hard work and grit, I’m pretty pleased with the results.

And best of all, I’ve had the opportunity to continue coaching and teaching interested individuals regarding the art of Blogging, and sharing with them my passion for writing and meeting inspiring individuals. 🙂

Here’s Fauzi, who met me for one coaching session, and whom I’ve kept in touch with ever since. He says that it was “time and money well spent” and I think that’s the highest compliment I can receive as a blog coach. And note how he mentioned time first. Time, to me, is more important that money, because you can lose (and earn back) money, but there’s no retrieving time.

Blog Coaching Testimonial

And the coaching never stops after the class. I do still catch up with Fauzi and find out how he’s progressing. I even took time off to help him out (as his “assistant”) during an interview with Josephus Tan, a lawyer, and also to meet Chew Chor Meng, whom Fauzi wants to interview for his podcast series on people who ‘bounce back’ after encountering obstacles and ‘failure’.

Me Fauzi and Chew Chor Meng

Blogger Grace Tan meets Josephus Tan

I don’t charge thousands of dollars for any of my classes and coaching sessions, but my aim is to deliver thousands of dollars in value to my students, whom I consider my friends too. But let me be clear that not every one of them will automatically become a friend of mine if we have a clash in values. For instance, I value punctuality. So people who turn up late for my classes are blacklisted for eternity. Likewise, I value hard work and creativity, so people who just want me to constantly spoonfeed them with my ideas, instead of bothering to come up with their own (preferring to watch TV and eat ice cream instead), will never become close friends of mine. If you’re a decent person who is willing to work hard, loves to write and share ideas, and wants to learn more about Blogging, then do get in touch with me: https://workingwithgrace.wordpress.com/blogging-workshops/

And now a shameless plug for Fauzi’s upcoming podcast launch: On 28th March, which happens to be next month, Fauzi will be launching a series of podcast interviews he has done with very inspiring individuals. I sat in for the one with lawyer, Josephus Tan, so I know that the quality of Fauzi’s podcasts is really good. I’m definitely looking forward to the 28th of March, and I’d recommend you to mark your calendars too. In the meantime, do check out Fauzi’s blog at http://reboundstronger.com/ 🙂

And as I tell all those who purchase my book, “Happy Blogging!”