National Cancer Centre Singapore – Happy Staff Delight Customers

National Cancer Centre Singapore

I have a few friends and family members who have succumbed to cancer, yet I’ve never been to the National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS) before. The NCCS is one of the finalists for this year’s Singapore Service Excellence Medallion Award, and I was invited to visit the Centre and discover for myself how the care for patients is their staff’s top priority. In the picture above, I am reading one of the many ‘thank you’ cards given to staff by their patients. I was also brought on a tour of the premises.

National Cancer Centre Singapore

Contrary to popular belief, it is not just patients diagnosed with cancer who go to the NCCS. Dr Terence Tan from NCCS shared with me that some people come here for genetic testing, for instance, so as to get peace of mind if they are at high risk of getting cancer. Early detection and early treatment helps save lives!

NCCS receives about 135,000 patient visits a year and provides purely outpatient service – there are no beds here. If patients have to be hospitalized, they go to SGH next door and the doctors go over to look after them.

The NCCS has the most advanced radiotherapy equipment in this part of the world and while Clinical Quality is important to them, they hold Service Quality close to their heart as well.

I was surprised to note that Patient Relationship Officers greet and welcome patients at the entrances to the clinics. In fact, the NCCS has an in-house service quality program ‘NCCS Cares’ which they developed together with the Disney Institute. The aim is to keep staff happy and satisfy their customers. Thus, their Service Quality mission is to provide the “Best Experience through Compassionate Care”.

Dr Terence Tan shared with me that patients are with the NCCS for life – they do not get discharged, and do still come back even after the end of the treatment cycle. “We have a unique opportunity to develop a long-term relationship with them, and that’s what our staff do.” For instance, patients who require radiotherapy come to the NCCS every day for 7 weeks, and develop a bond with the people who help treat them.

I also had the privilege of speaking with a Senior Staff Nurse, Audrey Quek, whose animated gestures and infectious bright smile, along with cheery chuckles, clearly helps lighten the atmosphere in any room. Audrey has 35 years of nursing experience!

My photographer pal, Max Clyne, sent me a hilarious caption for the photo below:

Nurse: “I know Kungfu ok”

Grace: “I note it down”

National Cancer Centre Singapore

Audrey was actually explaining to me about how doctors can sometimes get too taxed with the patient load (there is an increase in the number of new patients year on year) so nurses help spend time with the patients, befriend them, share about surgical procedures, let the patient know what to expect in the operation, and also how to cope with the pain after, etc.

The aim, she says, is to help the patient feel relieved and assured of getting good service and anything else they may need during the course of their treatment, e.g. financial assistance or counselling. There is also a Cancer Helpline they can call.

National Cancer Centre Singapore

[Me, Audrey and Dr Tan]

The NCCS sends the top 3 or 4 staff each year to Disneyland to see a world-class service organization at work, so they can come back and infect the rest, according to Dr Tan. Audrey was one of the winners of the annual trips.

She shared…

“I asked myself why is everyone so happy there? I compared the two different clientele. Disneyland is for pleasure; people go there to enjoy themselves. Patients here hope somebody can help them in all aspects – finance, mental and emotional support, and hope that they can get comfort and assurance. The principle is the same – find out what is the client’s objective.”

~ Chemotherapy Unit ~

There I met another two of NCCS’s staff: Chia Chor Hoon and Simon Chen.

Chor Hoon shared with me that the place can get quite cold sometimes so the staff will offer patients some warm water and blankets – “We cannot take away the pain, but we can give them some comfort and reassure them that we will take good care of them.”

Simon, who has worked in NCCS since 2010 shared…

Our mood can influence our patients’ mood. Why not make a difference in their lives by suggesting ways they can cope with the disease, how they can lift themselves up? Bring in their family members to encourage them e.g. by sharing about the positive things in their prognosis. Whenever I see any signs of good news, e.g. a decline in cancer markers, straightaway I will tell them so they have something to look forward to… A glass can be seen as half-filled or half-empty. Even if the doctor tells you there is only 30% chance of recovering, tell yourself you are 1 of the 30% instead of focusing on ‘oh dear, the odds are against me’.

Simon’s belief is that besides treating patients, staff have to help give them hope too.

~ Radiotherapy Unit ~

At the Radiotherapy unit, I got to meet Yusnita Bte Omar, the Assistant Manager for Education and Training. She has been at NCCS for 19 years! She showed me how they prepare patients for the treatments.

National Cancer Centre Singapore

In radiotherapy, patients have to be immobilized, e.g. for treating brain tumors and such. The sheet she is holding has to be warmed up, and quickly placed on the patient’s face, and contoured to the shape of the patient’s head, and made into a “mask”. This is especially tricky when the patient is a child or is claustrophobic. Yusnita says they have to first understand the patient’s fear and demonstrate to them the procedure first – either on other patients who have given their consent, or on one of the medical officers.

Mask-making takes 20 minutes and patients have to wear the mask every day of treatment. Yusnita shared that during training, they have all undergone the mask-making procedure and know that the contouring around the neck region feels like someone is strangling you. This helps them empathize with patients, and they will sometimes hold the patient’s hand, put him/her at ease, and once the mask hardens, cut it open around the eye region so the patient can ‘see’ and feel less afraid.

With kids, they use play therapy. They will wrap a piece of the material around the child’s wrist first, “like a Ben 10 super watch”. They will also print cutouts of the cartoon character and paste them over the “watch”. This process helps the children feel how warm the mask will be, and how it “grabs your skin”. Only as a last resort will general anesthesia be used.

Because they have made what is a usually-scary procedure fun for the children, Yusnita shared that “some run in and say I’m ready. Can I have my mask today?” as it makes them feel like superheroes.

Radiation Treatment Room:

National Cancer Centre Singapore

The radiation treatment room has in-room music, and sometimes patients bring in their own music selection too. Each treatment room comes with a ceiling in a special theme – garden, waterfall, sky, etc.

The beautiful ceilings play a role in helping to calm them down. One of their patients was a diver. Before starting her treatment, she went on a holiday then she came and laid down on the treatment bed and made the comment that “oh, I’m still holidaying”. :)

Yusnita shared with me about the importance of Passion in her job – “Know why you are here, who you are working for, keep on track. Burn that passionate flame. It’s important to love what you are doing.”

And because her department is located in the basement of the NCCS, colleagues who work at level 1 and above joke about not knowing they exist. Yusnita shares with a smile:

“There’s no sunshine so we bring along the sunshine with our personality. If not, the place will be cold. We need warm people around.”

Indeed, the staff that I met at NCCS are warm, cheerful and optimistic people. Like Dr Tan shared, “it takes a special kind of nurse to work here”.

Key Takeaway: I found the visit an eye-opening experience. I had expected an atmosphere of ‘doom and gloom’ but what I noticed was an upbeat, cheerful atmosphere. And staff selection is so crucial for organizations handling patient care – you need motivated, friendly, and optimistic people to spread a message of hope among patients who could be feeling very helpless. Thus, the company culture of care and respect among the staff, and the shared mission of delivering the best experience through compassionate care, has resulted in a situation whereby happy staff continue to delight and serve patients every single day.

Would You Pay S$260 For An airweave Pillow?

airweave singapore

I attended the official launch event of the airweave futon earlier this week, and was given the airweave pillow you see above as a gift. It also happens to cost S$260. *gulp* Gracing the event that day was the gorgeous Paula Creamer, the golfer who won last year’s HSBC Women’s Champions. (Sadly, after this event, she did not go on to defend her title, losing out on the US$1.4million prize)

[ Paula, Mr Takaoka and the media folks :D ]

airweave paula creamer

This company ‘airweave’ was founded in 2004 by Mr Motokuni Takaoka who was inspired by his uncle’s company which made injection moulding machines to produce fishing lines and nets. The 3-dimensional resin fibres in the airweave products helps you to “turn over easily whilst sleeping and promotes a deeper sleep”

airweave singapore

Also, it “helps to dissipate heat and moisture generated by the body during sleep…[and] helps keep you cool in the summer and warm in the winter.” The cover is machine-washable while the core can be rinsed with water.

My old pillow (which probably cost less than S$20) and the S$260 airweave pillow:

airweave singapore

The Verdict: I slept on the airweave pillow for one night, and woke up not noticing very much of a difference. My old pillow is more ‘squishy’ and I’m obviously more used to sleeping on it than on the airweave which is firmer and offers more ‘bounce’. The airweave doesn’t get as warm as regular pillows so I guess it is great for people who are bedridden, whether in hospitals or otherwise. I’ll need to spend more time with this pillow before I can tell if I’ll shell out S$260 for one. The boyfriend borrowed it for a night too and did not notice any difference in sleep quality. Perhaps it takes time.

There are also other airweave products. This next picture contains the pricing of the individual items. They are available at Isetan Scotts (Level 4) and at Takashimaya (B1).

airweave singapore pricing

http://airweave.sg

Get Some Cash After The Train Breakdowns

Have you noticed how the trains in Singapore tend to break down pretty often during rush hour? Could be due to a signal fault, train fault, track fault, whatever fault.

The silver lining to this is the possibility of making some cash out of taking off-peak trains. I, for one, LOVE avoiding peak hour (human) traffic and I travel off-peak pretty often. Hence, I’ve taken full advantage of the Travel Smart Rewards program which rewards commuters for taking off-peak trains.

Here’s a screenshot of my actual CASH earnings:

Travel Smart Rewards

Yup, I’ve made a total of S$58 so far. Not bad eh?

Here are the Frequently Asked Questions:

1) How do I earn points?

You earn points by taking train trips using the CEPAS card registered in Travel Smart Rewards. You will automatically earn 1 point for every 1 kilometre you travel on the train all day during a weekday, Monday through Friday. Weekend and bus travel does not count. If your trip on the train begins during a designated decongesting hour on a weekday you will receive 3 points per kilometre instead of 1 if you are Bronze, 4 points if you are Silver, 5 points if you are Gold and 6 points if you are Platinum! Decongesting hours are between 6:15 – 7:15am and 8:45 – 9:45am.

2) What are “decongesting trips”?

Travel Smart Rewards targets peak-hour commuters by offering them additional credits for shifting their schedules to less congested trains before or after the morning peak commute hour. Specifically, a “decongesting” trip is initiated between 6:15am and before 7:15am, or between 8:45am and before 9:45am on a weekday. You will receive 3, 4, 5 or 6 points per kilometre travelled if you are Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum respectively, when you tap into the train station during one of these decongesting hours.

3) What are “peak” trips?

A “peak” trip is any trip Monday through Friday initiated between 7:15am and 8:45am. You will receive 1 point per kilometre travelled when you tap into a train station during this hour.

4) What are “off-peak” trips?

An “off-peak” trip is any train trip Monday through Friday, which is initiated after 9:45am and before 6:15am. You will receive 1 point per kilometre travelled when you tap into a train station during these hours.

5) How many points do I earn on weekends?

Train travel on Saturdays and Sundays are not part of Travel Smart Rewards at this time and no points are earned for travel on weekends.

In short, all you need to do is sign up for a free account, link your ezlink card with your account, and you will automatically start collecting points each time you travel by train on weekdays. You can have the system auto-spin the wheel using your points, and when you earn any amount of cash, you will receive an email to notify you to either get the cash credited to your ezlink card at any top-up machine, or be credited to your bank account. I’ll always get the $$ added to my ezlink card balance. Free travel. :)

Sign up here -> https://travelsmartrewards.sg/r/8Lv7vtMx/

What Does Your Ang Pow Say About You?

I don’t usually feel ‘old’. And even when people tell me things like “I know it’s not right to ask a woman about her age, so I won’t ask”, I say “No, it’s perfectly fine. I’m 28! :D” (And that’s my real age too – I’m not like some women who like to say they are “always sixteen” or eighteen or insert-some-other-ridiculous-figure.

But when I see how my cousin‘s son (aka my *ahem* nephew) is already in NS, hmm, yes I kind of suspect I might be ‘older’ than I think / feel. :D

And just so you know why this blogpost was put together, I was reading the book ‘The Reputation Economy’ during my CNY visiting yesterday. As usual, my family got to the eldest aunt’s place earlier than anyone else. I get my ‘punctuality streak’ from my Dad, I tell you. And since the book is a lot about predicting one’s behavior and trying to ‘make some meaning’ out of what people do, I thought I shall open all the ang pows I received yesterday (from my relatives) and see if there are any obvious trends.

[*This blogpost is meant to be all tongue-in-cheek good humor. Because it involves $$$, I KNOW some people may get all sensitive. So, if you don’t appreciate my humor, stop reading now and go juggle some mandarin oranges, or whatever else you want to do. :P]

Almost #SG50ShadesOfRed:

ang pow singapore

I received 15 ang pows; 2 were from my parents – I’m taking those out of this ‘study’.

And while I’d thought that people would have stopped giving out 4 dollar ang pows, I’m wrong. Of the 13 remaining ang pows, 6 contained 4 bucks each:

ang pow singapore

Interestingly enough, the only 2 DBS ang pows I received are in this 4-dollar category, together with 1 from TNT, one from StanChart, 1 from Sheng Siong and 1 from OCBC.

Do the places you shop at and bank with have a correlation with how much money you’ll put into ang pows?

The 4-Dollar Ang Pow says “What? Cannot put 4 dollars only?! :P”

*Important Note: I don’t really mind the amount of money in an ang pow. I pay more attention to the person giving out the ang pow. Some of my relatives keep a straight face, say nothing, and just hold out an ang pow to me.

I don’t say ‘no’ to money gotten through legal means. Despite the (obvious) lack of any kind of blessing, I’ll just take the ang pow. Why not, right? Even if I’m 30, if you give me an ang pow, I’ll take it. I’ll just give your kids ‘bigger’ ang pows after I get married, so no need for that obviously black face ok?

And there were those 6 dollar ones. Just two red packets. 1 from UOB and 1 from SPC.

ang pow

The 6-Dollar Ang Pow says “I’m not kiam siap enough to put just 4 bucks but 8 is too much. Compromise. 6 is just nice.”

And yes, despite how some people might say the number ‘4’ is not auspicious or whatever, I think it is fine lah.

People who give 6-dollar ang pows probably have a tough time in trying to take the middle road as much as possible.

And then there are those who give me 10-dollar ang pows…

ang pow

These people also bank with StanChart and UOB and are customers of Caltex and Union Gas. I obviously don’t have enough ang pows to say I have a significant sample size. But this is just for fun ya?

The 10-Dollar Ang Pow in 10-dollar denomination says “Aren’t you lucky I’m so generous?”

The 10-Dollar Ang Pow in 2-dollar denomination says “Ha! You thought it’s another of those 4-dollar ang pows, right?! But it’s not 4, it’s not 6, and it’s not 8 either! It’s a perfect 10!” 

[In other words, these 10-dollar ang pow in 2-dollar denomination givers like to make your heart skip a beat. These cheeky fellas have a good sense of humor]

And I received just ONE 12-dollar ang pow, with my name on it as usual. Well, if you give out an ang pow that has the words “Infinity” and “Treasures” on it, you get people’s hopes up.

The 12-Dollar Ang Pow says “I don’t disappoint.”

ang pow

Some might ask me why I’m still accepting ang pows at the grand old age of… 28?! Firstly, I don’t say ‘no’ to money derived from legal means. Even if I find 10-cents on the ground, I pick it up. Learnt this from Warren Buffett. (And all that one-refusing-and-the-other-insisting nonsense is just that – nonsense)

And secondly, I gave my Dad a decent sum of money before CNY, so he could get them changed into smaller denominations for ang pows that he’d give out to our relatives. So, if my Dad gave your kid an ang pow (with money I gave to him), I see nothing wrong with taking an ang pow from you too. :D It’s the same with those mandarin oranges, right? Just a way to exchange blessings.

In previous years, I used to give my Dad all the ang pow money I’d collected from my relatives too. Because he’s been a retiree for a while, with no obvious active or passive income streams, I did not feel it is right for him to have such a huge ‘expenditure’ every year at Chinese New Year. Some people have 3 kids, you know?

So yes, I’d take all the money out of the ang pows and give them to my Dad. I ‘collect’ the blessings (intangible) and give him the cash.

This year, I thought I’d take it one step further and give him a decent sum upfront, and after deducting the ang pow money he gives out, he can keep the rest. And I’ll keep this stack of *ahem* two dollar notes.

And if you are wondering how much money I’ll put into ang pow packets in future, after I get married…

I’m not telling. But anyone above the age of 12 will get an ang pow like this one:

Durex ang pow

Marina Bay Singapore Countdown 2015: Things To Note

Marina Bay Singapore Countdown 2015

(Photo credit: Max Clyne)

It’s New Year’s Eve!!! :D Will you be heading to Marina Bay for the Countdown? Here’s what you can look out for, and some things to note:

1) Video Projections on the facade of The Fullerton Hotel and the Merlion. Look out for images from the past and the present, such as the kampongs, samsui women, MRT, etc. The final showcase is at 11.55pm, followed by a countdown showcase to midnight, culminating in a special 8-minute fireworks display. Tune in to 92.4FM to listen to the accompanying music while watching the display.

2) 5 Buildings with Themed Lighting: Catch the lightup (5 mins) every half hour from 8pm to 11.30pm – Ocean Financial Centre, OCBC Centre, Maybank Tower, One Raffles Place, Millenia Tower.

3) Plan Your Route: Note the road closures and plan your route beforehand!

4) Stay Safe: The police will be conducting random bag checks. Still, the onus is on you to keep your belongings safe – don’t leave them unattended.

For more information: http://www.marinabaycountdown.sg/

Do You Know How Much Our Security Officers Are Paid?

Sari Pan Pacific Jakarta

I stayed at Sari Pan Pacific Jakarta over the weekend and was amazed at how security is pretty tight at the hotels and malls. Apart from the metal detector everyone has to walk through outside my hotel, they also have the handheld devices to scan your bags, sniffer dogs and more guards at the gate who will check the taxi’s boot and also the underside of the vehicles!

Have you ever thought about how much our local security officers are being paid to guard our homes and offices? I recently had the opportunity of finding out what their job and salary is like…

~

If you’re offered the option of working full-time six days a week in Singapore, and you’re only going to be drawing a salary of S$800 – S$900 a month, would you take the job?

Your answer might be an outright “no”, like mine was. But this is a reality for over 30,000 security officers in Singapore. How does one survive on an S$800 monthly salary? The truth is, we can’t. And therefore these officers work up to 12 hours a day to get overtime pay.

So that’s 12 hours a day, 6 days a week. And their jobs are not as simple as just sitting behind a desk and staring at CCTV monitors.

Security Officer in Singapore

What Do We Think Security Officers Do?

When I enter buildings, the security officer is the person who gives me a pass in exchange for ID. And when I need directions, whether I’m in a mall or trying to get to one, I ask the security officer. And at the airport, they are the ones who decide what I can or cannot bring with me.

But beyond that, what do they really do?

What Does A Security Officer Really Do?

Before he retired, my Dad was a security supervisor in one of our major hospitals. And it was quite a stressful job. Sometimes, there would be ministers coming for their checkups, other times scuffles between anxious relatives of patients and hospital staff, and the occasional unreasonable person who lost a bag or phone and demands that Security finds it, like that doctor who brought $10,000 in cash and placed it in a bag in the locker room and has it go missing. (Why bring that much money to work anyway?!)

In general, security officers screen the people and vehicles seeking entry into a property, they patrol and prevent thefts, checks for leaks and signs of fire or smoke, prevent unauthorized entry, check that the security system is working and not tampered with, manage vehicle parking allocation, check lighting is working, operate gates / doors / barriers, do traffic control, maintain access records, and escort visitors, among other things based on the company they work for.

~

Security Officers

I had the opportunity to speak to a condominium’s security supervisor about what his job really entails, and what job hazards come with it.

It seems that residents staying in that condominium expect much more from him and his team than what is stated in his job description. In cases of encroachment, e.g. if someone’s bicycle is left in what another resident thinks is his space, then a security officer will be called in, when it should come under the condo’s management’s jurisdiction.

To make matters worse, security officers have been accused of taking bribes and damaging property. Some (crazy, maybe?) resident has accused officers of accepting a bribe and damaging his/her car, without any incriminating evidence.

I can only imagine how upsetting it would be if I’m working 12-hour shifts just to earn a decent wage to support my family, and doing my work as best I can, and yet be wrongly accused of damaging property when I would never do something like that.

Too Little Pay, Too Much Work

Security officers are definitely not paid as much as they deserve.

As it is common for service buyers such as condominium and building managing agents to choose the cheapest quote, security agencies compete on price and depress wages as a result.

[Read: Minimum Wage Disaster – Cheap Sourcing Risks Security Officers’ Pay]

Security agencies should think of ways to make the jobs of security officers easier, safer and smarter. For example, instead of making the officer walk throughout the premises five times a night, why not install motion-sensor CCTVs that the officer can monitor?

Service buyers who choose the security agency shouldn’t look at security officers as an expense and choose the cheapest, but learn how to best-source based on quality, experience and good service level, for example.

The good news is that things are about to change. The Progressive Wage Model (PWM) for the security industry was launched in October this year, seeing a good number of security agencies jumping on the bandwagon, but for the laggards, they have up still September 2016 to implement PWM within their company.

According to NTUC’s Zainal Sapari, “PWM would ensure there will be a baseline for wage-setting when security firms bid for contracts. The model will also offer a career path for security officers where the salary earned will commensurate with level of responsibility, productivity and training received”.

In its efforts to protect low wage workers, the Labour Movement has established that security agencies who do not comply with the requirements may not have their licences renewed. While it may sound harsh, but for the benefit of the workers, I am glad that something is being done at least to protect them.

Security officers can expect to earn more as they undergo training and greater opportunities for advancement to Senior Security Officer (min. S$1300), Security Supervisor (min. S$1500), Senior Security Supervisor (min. S$1700) and eventually Chief Security Supervisor.

PWM Security

Also, let us also stop taking these security officers for granted. It’s a tough job. Most of them are on their feet much of the day, not all have the luxury of working in an air-conditioned environment, most don’t have a proper pantry to rest their feet and get a much-needed coffee break, and many are thrown challenges daily by demanding “customers”.

If there is a security officer whom you meet daily but have never really spoken to or thanked for a good job done, why not speak with him or her today, or even take it one step further and give the person a thank-you note or a cup of coffee? You know you’ll love it if you’re in his/her shoes. :)

LEGO-themed Cafe: Bricks ‘n’ Cubes at The Cathay

image

I had dinner with some members of my Blog Club at Bricks ‘n’ Cubes Cafe yesterday. :D I love the decor though the food and service leaves more to be desired.

image

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Thankfully, I had some food before leaving home and all I needed at this cafe was some ice cream. Each scoop of ice cream costs S$4.50. I ordered the Belgium Chocolate ice cream – it was a fairly large serving but served to me with a plastic fork. I have never eaten ice cream with a plastic fork before! (@_@)

The rest ordered pasta which took really long to be served. Half an hour, to be exact. Even though there were few customers at that time.

(The quality of the food is not quite consistent. Steven ordered the wild mushroom pasta and found it wildly flavorful. But Flore showed up late and when her mushroom pasta arrived, the sauce was at least 2 shades lighter than Steven’s)

And strangely enough, the iPads on each table were *not* for ordering food. They are just for customers to play games on. What a waste.

image

image

I think kids would love coming by and building LEGO creations here. I thought the play area was, strangely, rather big. It would have made more cents to convert this into a dining area to serve more customers and keep the till ringing.

Pricing: $10.90 to $12.90 for mains

Address: The Cathay, 2 Handy Road, #02-12

Tel: 67357571

Hello Kitty Run – The Best and Worst Run EVER!

Hello Kitty Run Singapore

[Picture Credit: CNA fb]

I took part in the 5km Hello Kitty Run on Saturday and can safely say it was the best and worst run I have ever taken part in. It was a Hello Kitty fan’s dream come true and a runner’s worst nightmare. Let’s start with the horrifying bits first:

1) 17,000 runners of all ages and varying levels of race experience

I was in the second ‘wave’ of runners and it was frustrating having to wait till 8.14am before I could finally move. Flag-off for the first wave was at 8am, then the emcee tried to “entertain” us while we waited and perspired.

I could not see what was happening on the stage – I could hear talk about cupcakes and Kitty and Daniel and whatnot, but it was such a pity. I did not see any of it!

And when we were FINALLY ready to go, some people with their selfie sticks and phones and cameras were just refusing to budge till they took their photos with an inflatable balloon kitty.

THEN, when I finally get my chance to escape from that sauna among a throng of people, there are kids and inexperienced runners getting into my way. Someone running in front of me would suddenly stop and turn around to look for a friend/family member/Kitty(?!) and I have to do my best not to run straight into him/her.

2) That ambulance

I have never been in a race whereby an ambulance suddenly comes from behind, with sirens blaring, and I have to give way to it. Utterly ridiculous. And those fans with their selfie sticks were definitely not going to give way till they had gotten their pictures.

It was definitely not a good time to have a heart attack or some life-threatening injury, because by the time the ambulance reaches the person, he/she would most likely be gone.

3) Hello Kitty balloons, sculptures, arches, distance markers, etc

Hello Kitty Run Singapore

People were just stopping for pictures at ALL of these “attractions”. I have NEVER seen anyone stop for a picture with a distance marker before, but it was commonplace at the Hello Kitty Run. There was definitely no way to clock a personal best timing for running, and I was doing more running sideways, by trying to dodge people who suddenly decide to turn around for a selfie.

4) Really icy cold water

I stopped at both water points. And was given really cold water. I pity the folks with sensitive teeth.

5) Inexperience in handing out medals

The organizers have absolutely no clue as to who has taken a medal and who hasn’t. I am not surprised at all that some runners had the chance to take more than their share of medals.

In other runs I’ve taken part in, someone would put a tick on our race bibs to signify that we have collected our medals. For the Kitty Run, you can take a medal, then go queue again for another. No way that could be stopped. ;)

~

I managed to complete the run pretty fast, even overtaking some of the people in the first ‘wave’. I collected my medal without a hitch. There were kitty cookies and mineral water and a canned drink for each runner too.

When I emerged from the (portable) toilet, it started to drizzle, then it really poured. I decided to just run back to the bus bay where there were shuttle buses to take us back to Vivocity.

I got totally drenched and decided not to wait for the bus, and to take the tram back to Vivocity instead.

~

What was amazing about the Hello Kitty Run:

1) The tee, the Hello Kitty plushie and the medal

It is definitely the prettiest, cutest and most treasured medal I have in my collection. I think the only thing the organizers got wrong was the naming of this event. It should have been called the “Hello Kitty Big Walk” or something like that.

It was definitely not a “Run”. It was a massive gathering of Hello Kitty fans in celebration of Kitty’s birthday with many photo opportunities along the route.

2) The amazing decorations!

Hello Kitty Run Singapore

I have never taken part in a more ‘kawaii’ run. There were kitty balloons, bubbles and even some (Japanese?) Kitty song being played. And there was supposed to be an awesome Beach Party, which I did not stay for because of the rain.

Hello Kitty Run Singapore

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And now, for the millionaire dollar question: Will I take part again if there is another Hello Kitty Run / Walk?

Sadly, yes. I’m a sucker for these things.

What would I do differently next time?

1) Get to the starting point as early as possible so I am ahead of the pack

2) Carry a bag to contain all the Kitty goodies at the end, and include a poncho in case there’s bad weather

The Purge Prank by MerlionTV – Utterly Immature & Absolutely Repugnant!

I’ve only just watched the 2-minute clip called “THE PURGE PRANK!!!” by MerlionTV and found that it is absolutely distasteful. People who find the video hilarious are quite frankly, sick in the head! And the producers should definitely spend some time behind bars for this stupid prank.

For those who have not watched the video, don’t! Adding to the number of views will simply inflate the egos of the producers, and spawn similar pranks. In essence, a masked person wearing a hoodie and wielding a long knife AT NIGHT scares a couple at a busstop, a worker chatting on the phone at the entrance to a construction site, a woman seated a short distance away from an escalator, and a man seated at a void deck (he runs away upon spotting the masked idiot).

I am upset with this video mainly because of two things:

1) It reminds me of the murders on the Taiwanese subway this year. I could have very nearly been on that same train, and probably ended up dead after that Taiwanese undergraduate went on his slashing spree. I’ve watched the videos regarding that incident and I really DETEST this prank one. Seriously, the people behind MerlionTV should NOT be celebrating how their video went viral; they should be ashamed of the unnecessary fear they have caused to the people they scared in their video.

MerlionTV

The producers are crazy – “support” from your fellow Singaporeans?! The video has 395 thumbs up, and 1067 DOWN! The overwhelming majority hate this video. And I hope their “CRAZIER pranks” get them locked up. I, for one, will be happy to throw the key away.

2) Even if it’s Halloween, you don’t have the right to scare people who did not sign up to be scared. If you love scaring people, go work in one of those horror house tourist attractions. Don’t scare that unsuspecting lady – she might already have had a really tough day. Don’t alarm that worker – he’s probably on the phone with a loved one back in India or wherever. Just don’t scare all those innocent folks!

If I’m in that horror house ‘cos I paid to go in, and knew exactly what I was “signing up for”, then yes, you have every reason to try and scare me. And yes, I might (accidentally) punch you in the face because I freak out easily. BUT, I will not sue you. If I was one of the people in that prank video, I’d definitely sue the producers for every cent they have (or don’t have).

Singapore is generally a safe place to live and work in. Singaporeans do have a good sense of humor. There are some pranks which do scare people, but in a good clean fun sort of way. For example, I’ve seen a clip from ‘Just For Laughs’ in which people reach for a doughnut in a shopping mall, thinking they can sample it for free since no one is at the booth, are pranked. A hand pops out from under the table and smacks their fingers just as they are reaching for that doughnut. Scares them, but no one was in any danger of dying from fright. But if a masked man comes towards me at night, and he’s wielding a long knife, that would truly be scary.

And if one day, we do have a knife-wielding murderer, like the guy in Taiwan, and the public here just laughs it off and thinks “Oh it’s the guys from MerlionTV”, then what the hell is going to happen?

MerlionTV, don’t screw with us ok? It really isn’t funny.

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And If Anyone Still Thinks It’s Just A Silly Prank / It’s Halloween / Take A Chill Pill, No One Was Hurt

Well, let me just say that the producers, if fully confident that this prank would hurt no one, is likely not against the law, and is just for fun, would not have picked those victims. That masked idiot should not have tried to scare an unarmed worker at a construction site, he should have gone towards the guards outside the Istana, or a bank, or even walk right into a police station.

You have the balls to scare unsuspecting, defenseless people, but dare not scare an armed police officer? Why? ;) Because you look freaking scary and they’ll shoot you on sight?

So the public become sitting ducks for your stupid pranks, right? And you humiliate them further by putting the video on YouTube!

You know who are the real cowards? It’s not those people who ran away in fright.

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But you know what really sends a chill down my spine? How most of the people in the video were oblivious to that masked fella’s presence. It’s like he needed a loudhailer to tell them “Hello folks! Masked guy with a knife coming towards you! HELLOOOOOO”. If it wasn’t a prank, those people would have definitely been slashed at. Only the guy in the void deck would have gotten away in time.

It definitely is a reminder to always be aware of our surroundings. Yes, Singapore is safe. But no, it is not 100% safe. We have people who mutilate cats and other animals, murders once in a while, and stress levels in this country are not exactly low (some people snap just like that). So, watch out for yourself and your loved ones. Don’t be so preoccupied with that stupid phone all the time, look out for people behaving strangely and make sure you exercise regularly so you can run whenever you have to.

I think the police really need to take this more seriously. A warning to the producers will not suffice. They have tasted a bit of popularity (I wouldn’t say ‘fame’), they are unrepentant, and I believe they will be back for more. Mark my words.

100 Doraemon Secret Gadgets Expo: JB City Square – Now Till 4th Jan

I went to City Square last week to check out the 100 Doraemon Secret Gadgets Expo. I have been to the one in Hong Kong some time back, but I still enjoyed this expo in JB (actually, I enjoyed this one more than the one in HK! LOL!).

Located on level 1 of City Square mall (a favorite of Singaporeans), it is easily accessible via public transport into JB; very near the checkpoint. Or if you’d like to drive there, it’s a bit of a roundabout to get to the carpark but still fairly easy to find.

Tickets are at RM25 for adults and RM15 for kids. Really young children and senior citizens get to enter for free; do check at the ticketing counter. You can buy tickets when you get to the venue. The best part is, there is free re-entry on the same day. You get a stamp on your arm when you leave the exhibition so you can head for some food and come back again! :D

Beyond the exhibits, there is a gift shop, a whole area dedicated to Doraemon merchandise and even a cafe on level 5. Don’t miss the game booths too – they are really difficult but offer loads of fun!

Here’s a sneak peek…

Doraemon Secret Gadgets

Doraemon Secret Gadgets Doraemon Secret Gadgets

And guess what, I never knew Doraemon was originally yellow in color. I’d thought he was blue all along…

Doraemon Secret Gadgets Doraemon Secret Gadgets

The exhibition offers more than just photo opportunities with the many Doraemon figures on display. There’s also a gift shop and a lot of Doraemon merchandise waiting for you at the end.

Doraemon Secret Gadgets Doraemon Secret Gadgets

You’ll definitely enjoy visiting because there is something for everyone! There are photo opportunities at every corner, and kids and adults alike will be sure to find something they want to get a photo taken with…

Doraemon Secret Gadgets Doraemon Secret Gadgets

*My Fav Pic*

Doraemon Secret Gadgets

You can also approach the official photographers at these two booths to get a photo within these homes – RM 25 for 1 photo, RM 40 for 2 photos:

Doraemon Secret Gadgets

Doraemon Secret Gadgets 15

And for some Doraemon-themed food, head to the cafe:

Doraemon Secret Gadgets

Doraemon Secret Gadgets

Here’s what I purchased that day at the expo:

Doraemon Secret Gadgets

An eyemask and some postcards which totally made me smile! :D

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For more information:

FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/DoraemonMY

City Sq: http://www.citysqjb.com/index.php/component/content/article?id=337