Back By Popular Demand: Books Warehouse Sale 5 to 14 August

Books Warehouse Sale

If you don’t already know, the books warehouse sale is back!🙂 I was BLOWN AWAY by the selection of books – everything from children’s books to business titles to cookbooks. I got my hands on 30+ titles! LOL!😀

If you want to know the opening hours for each day of the sale, head over to SG Book Deals’ facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/sgbookdeals/?fref=nf (I recommend that you check the FB page often to know when they’re all sold out, as I’m sure they’ll be before the actual end date ‘cos the sale is wayyyy too awesome!)

*TIP: The warehouse sale is at 438 Ang Mo Kio Industrial Park 1. Do not key in ‘438 Ang Mo Kio Ave 10’ into your GPS / Google Maps or you’ll end up at HDB Blk 438.

Books Warehouse Sale location

5 – 14 Aug 2016

Mon-Fri : 1pm to 6pm, Weekends and PH : 10am to 6pm

No. 438 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10, Industrial Park 1, Singapore 569619

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Books are going at 1 for $8, 3 for $20, and box sale at S$50 each!

Some books at the main hall may have price tags; ignore the price tags.

*TIP: GRAB a box as it’ll give you the best deal. You can easily stuff it with 20+ books, and pay just S$50. Each book will cost you just S$2 maybe? (@_@)

 

Range:

Quality books, mostly brand new – Fiction, Baby and Toddler, Readers, Young Adult, Professional and IT, Business, Lifestyle, Cookbooks, Crafts and Hobbies, Travel, Christian.

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Take public transport as parking lots are limited; get to the sale by bus/MRT from Bishan.

*Do not queue overnight as the facilities will not be open till operational hours the next morning.

*Bring your own trolleys as the books can get quite heavy.

*Please leave the children at home if you can as the warehouse can get pretty crowded!

Marriott Hotel Dinner Buffet: AWESOME 1-For-1 Promotion!

Marriott Hotel Buffet

If you don’t already know, Marriott Hotel‘s Marriott Cafe serves up a pretty decent buffet. I’ve eaten there once before, so I knew what to expect when we popped by again yesterday evening. Our table of 4 ate till we had food babies, and we walked out with bulging bellies, satisfied. In this post, I’ll share my thoughts on what remained really delicious since my last visit, and what I’ll probably not put on my plate next time.

If you love seafood like we do, then you’ll love the fresh OYSTERS, CRAYFISH, PRAWNS and the sashimi at the Marriott buffet. The oysters were delicious and I lost track of how much salmon sashimi I actually ate!😀 The tuna sashimi wasn’t very good though; they included certain cuts of the fish that were tough and stringy (It was the first time I spat out sashimi because it was just too difficult to chew and too big a piece to swallow anyway). (@_@)

There are also many cooked dishes to try. The chefs are really good with beef, I think. The beef cheek and beef rendang were simply sedap! I didn’t eat the roast duck and other meats though. (Anyway, I only seem to like the duck from London Fat Duck)

I thought the highlight of the meal would be the Singapore Chili Crab dish when I spotted it. However, it was a major disappointment. The sauce was lacklustre, the crabs weren’t that big anyway (no Sri Lankan crabs here, I guess) and the mantous were tough, dry, and probably not that well-cooked in the middle (I suppose they went from freezer to fryer without being thawed properly).

Looked good, but didn’t taste so great:

Marriott Hotel Buffet Singapore Chili Crab

I hope foreigners don’t try this dish and think Singapore Chili Crab doesn’t live up to the hype. *sigh* But as my pal said, the chefs cook multiple dishes for the buffet spread so you can’t really expect them to be awesome at everything, unlike chefs elsewhere who (perhaps) specialize in cooking just one dish.

We didn’t touch anything at the salad bar, and we didn’t take any of the breads available. Also, I noted that the cut fruits didn’t look all that fresh, though perhaps they might have been.

There’s a pretty extensive dessert bar at the buffet. Many different cakes to choose from. But we ended the day with ice cream. There were 5 flavors: Chocolate, Mango, Cookies & Cream, Strawberry and Vanilla. You can go ahead and decorate your ice cream cone with some of those yummy chocolate pearls.😀

Singapore Marriott Hotel buffet dinner

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The dinner buffet costs S$70++ per person. And the 1-for-1 promo is for those with DBS credit cards. You’ll have to make a reservation in advance via the Chope site. Hopefully, you’ll manage to get a table as I won’t be surprised if the restaurant’s fully booked till the end of August because of this fabulous promotion!😀

老火汀 @ Waterway Point: Buy-1-Get-1-Free Soups

Waterway Point 老火汀

I had lunch at Waterway Point today as there’s a promotion going on at one of the new eateries. 老火汀’s soups are on offer now till 31 August – order one bowl of soup and get another (of the same price or lower) for FREE! We picked ‘Buddha Jump Over The Wall’ or what the Chinese call ‘äœ›è·łćą™’ as it’s easily one of the most pricey soups on their menu, getting the most out of the promo!😀

Of course, you can opt for any of the other soups, such as Pork Rib with Apple & Snow Pear Soup (S$9.80), Sea Coconut Chicken Soup (S$14.80) or their herbal chicken soups (S$14.80 – S$16.80).

We ordered Pumpkin Rice and Brown Rice (S$2 each) to go along with the soups. I like having both kinds of rice mixed together.

As for the ‘Buddha Jump Over The Wall’ soup, I liked that it doesn’t have a ton of MSG in it (so we didn’t actually feel thirsty after the meal) and that the ingredients seem pretty fresh. There was chicken, fish maw, mushrooms, wolfberries, scallops (really small ones), etc. Really good comfort food on rainy days, I believe. But today’s weather was horrendously hot.

If, like me, you’re wondering why this soup comes with such an interesting name, and since when did Buddha actually jump over a wall, well, Wikipedia says it’s because the dish is so yummy that it’d entice vegetarian monks to jump over temple walls to get to it. LOL. Not sure if it’s true, but that’s an interesting story.

老火汀’s business sure was brisk today, no doubt due to their 1-for-1 promotion. Staff give out flyers at the mall’s entrance daily, I believe, so I’m sure many shoppers popped by to try the soups. Meanwhile, Rong Hua Bak Kut Teh just next door clearly suffered. While 老火汀 had few unoccupied tables, Rong Hua’s were largely unoccupied at lunchtime with perhaps only 2 pairs of diners. Since their clientele is largely the same, I’m sure Rong Hua’s boss won’t be pleased a competitor is right next door.

Another thing I noticed was how some diners leave a mess behind. There was a middle-aged man seated at the table next to ours, and after he was done with his meal, he left behind lots of chicken (or pork?) bones and bits of cartilage and all on the table, and the poor waitress had to pick them up one by one with the pair of chopsticks he had used. Clearing his one table took a while. Hopefully, more of us can learn to leave those bits and pieces we don’t want to eat in a separate bowl or plate so it makes clearing the dishes that much easier for staff. #beagoodcustomer

~ How To Enjoy The Buy 1 Get 1 Free Promo ~

The promotion is available from now till 31 August, only from 11am to 430pm on Mondays to Fridays, excluding weekends and public holidays.

Address: Waterway Point #B1-22 East Wing (between Rong Hua Bak Kut Teh and Uncle Leong’s Signatures). Tel: 6386 0830.

*There’s the usual 10% service charge and 7% GST – it’ll be added to your bill.

3 Reasons To Pick AGI Singapore For Your Motor Insurance Needs

Motor Insurance Singapore

When a motor accident happens in Singapore, most drivers try to settle it among themselves without involving the insurers, so as not to lose their NCD or ‘No Claim Discount’. With up to 50% NCD, your motor insurance premiums become much more affordable. Someone I’ve worked with before recently introduced me to AGI (Assure General Insurance) for the best rates for motor insurance (There’s 20% discount right now). I’ve included a referral code at the end of this blogpost, which you may use during your signup process. But first, here are three reasons why you might want to get your motor insurance via AGI:

#1: “Free NCD protector for 30% NCD and above”

Some insurance companies offer NCD protector only to those who have 50% NCD. But why wait till then when you can get NCD protection for free with just 30% NCD?

#2: “Premiums as low as $589 with 50% NCD”

Depending on your car model and other factors, premiums can be as low as 500-odd bucks. Of course, you have to secure a quote first, after keying in all the relevant details like driver’s age. The link’s right at the end of this blogpost.

#3: “Pay by 6 or 12 months installment plan with POSB/DBS credit cards”

In case you don’t qualify for any NCD at the moment, or if your car insurance premiums are hefty, installment plans help relieve some stress. Check with AGI for more details!

20% Discount Happening Now. No Better Time To Sign Up:

Motor Insurance Discount

*Use my referral code AGIGT+5 when you sign up*

To find out more and to receive a quote for your motor insurance, click on the link below:

http://assureinsurance.com.sg/motor-insurance/

+ Like AGI’s FB Page here: https://web.facebook.com/assurein/

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.

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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.

5 Best PR Firms In Singapore

As a business and lifestyle blogger, I get to work with many PR agencies in Singapore, and I’ve found that there are some PR firms which I absolutely adore and there are others I cannot wait to erase from memory.😀 In this particular post, I’ll be sharing about why some PR firms are awesome, and why companies (whether large or small) should consider working with them, and no, I’ll leave out those firms which I wouldn’t recommend to anyone (if you want to ask for my opinion before engaging a firm not listed in this blogpost, feel free to drop me an email). Please note that this is a non-exhaustive list. I might share about a few more firms I enjoy working with in another blogpost.🙂

Here, in no particular order of merit, are 5 of my current favorite PR firms to work with:

#1: Dunbar-Jones & Associates 

BRANDS Essence of Chicken

I’ve worked with them previously for campaigns for clients such as BRAND’S and Capri by Fraser. I love agencies / people with integrity. If they run a blogger contest, for instance, they give out the prizes they said they’ll give out. And bloggers are happy collaborating with them, and hold their clients in even higher regard. On the flipside, I have encountered one particular PR firm with a lack of integrity – a blogger contest was run for a candy store’s new outlet; 3 winners were supposed to be picked, but they secretly chose only one person and refused to reveal who the winner was. I eventually found out. I started out loving the brand (before working with the PR company) and now I wouldn’t go near it at all. The brand became, by association, as repulsive as the PR company. So, bosses, if you’re looking for a PR firm to manage your campaign, and possibly engage some bloggers / youtubers / social media influencers along the way, look for one which bloggers actually love and trust.

#2: DEVRIES GLOBAL

SK-II Festive Party 2014

I’ve worked with them for articles about brands like SK-II, ACUVUE and Pantene. If you have a decent budget, and want to create an experience (perhaps at a launch event) that will absolutely blow bloggers (and the media) away, and have them remember how awesome it was for a long time after, then DEVRIES is pretty good. I have them almost top-of-mind now anytime someone asks me for a recommendation. Because they’re so awesome though, I suspect they aren’t cheap. As you already know: good, cheap, fast -you can only pick 2 out of these 3.

#3: SPRG

My Little Pony Run 2016

I’ve worked with SPRG on a number of events, including the NTUC Income RUN 350, Pocari Sweat Run, My Little Pony Friendship Run, etc. The most recent one was the Pocari Sweat Run and I must say that one reason I deem the run THE most enjoyable one out of all the runs I’ve taken part in is because the PR folks are really nice, and helpful! Their staff are also pretty and capable young women – really easy on the eyes.

#4: Hill+Knowlton Strategies 

Hello Kitty Run Singapore

I think I’ve worked with them on at least one occasion, for the Hello Kitty Run, I believe. I don’t know if they approached many female bloggers, or if they did their homework and found out I LOVE hello kitty!😀 In any case, it is very important when you’re picking a PR firm to engage, that you find one which knows its stuff, does all its homework, and doesn’t end up sending invites and information to bloggers who don’t even like your brand, products or services.

#5: PR Communications 

Deliveroo Plain Vanilla Cupcakes

I worked with PR Communications on articles for Deliveroo and very soon, a mooncake brand as well. I like how open they are to ideas from bloggers. I think this is very important as sometimes we might have pretty good ideas that could help achieve the brand’s aims. So a PR firm that listens, and empowers, is one that could give companies an edge over their competitors.🙂

*BTW, I have a S$10 discount code for Deliveroo – order HERE

All in all, I think there are many good PR firms in Singapore, and there are some GREAT ones. I wouldn’t say I’ve worked with them all because there are way too many of them around. But I do hope this list helps people who are thinking of engaging a PR agency!🙂 If you’re gonna spend good money, you might as well spend it wisely. *wink*

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*For each successful referral leading to a sign-up

FestivalForGood 20-21 August: SG’s First Social Enterprise Festival

Festival For Good 2016

Mark your calendars because August is gonna be pretty exciting!🙂 Among the many events I’m looking forward to is the FestivalForGood, which is Singapore’s first social enterprise festival! Over 40 social enterprises will be showcasing their goods and services at Timbre+, JTC Launchpad, Action Community for Entrepreneurship (ACE) Ideation Centre, and across social enterprises island-wide!

I’m particularly interested in these ones which I’ve not come across before:

Flour Power is a social enterprise bakery that trains people with special needs in baking and across various other functions so that they have relevant skills to find jobs in commercial F&B establishments. Flour Power’s baked items are all lovingly made by hand without artificial ingredients.

Flourish Culinary is a social enterprise bakery, which provides employment to graduates from special education schools.

PlayMoolah enables young people to afford the life of their dreams by developing a positive relationship with money. PlayMoolah designs and delivers educational, digital, and community experiences that activate responsible decisions through cultivating daily practices.

Sustainable Living Lab is a social innovation lab that aims to build a Sustainable Future through community building, technology experimentation and social innovation. Sustainable Living Lab runs projects that address sustainability needs such as combating the buy-and-throw away culture, develop sustainable technologies and raise awareness on sustainability.

The Animal Project is a social enterprise started by a group of parents and friends who want to celebrate, showcase and support the abilities of persons with special needs. The Animal Project’s artists earn royalties from the sale of products embellished with their unique illustrations and artwork. 50% of profits are donated to charity.

Ugly Cake Shop is a bakery cafe and online cake shop that bakes delicious, artisanal cakes in Singapore and helps to feed hungry kids in Timor-Leste by giving part of its profits to the nutrition fund of a school.

Zureli.com combines a global eco-commerce marketplace, search directory and socially conscious community to link manufacturers, distributors and sellers of eco-friendly and green building products with buyers and end-users around the world. It aims to plant at least 10,000 trees annually, and provide meaningful employment to persons with disabilities in its research, sales and liaison departments.

Edible Gardens aims to champion local food production so everyone across the financial and social strata has access to fresh and safe produce while re-connecting with nature, health and sustainability. Edible Gardens offers design-and-build consultancy to businesses and private residences, and funded a community garden to support and build a ready resource pool of like-minded individuals to help propagate the Grow Your Own Food movement.

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To find out more, head over to raise.sg/festivalforgood🙂

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!🙂

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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

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SG Lit Prize Winner: ‘The Sound Of Sch: A Mental Breakdown, A Life Journey’ by Danielle Lim

The Sound Of Sch by Danielle Lim

The Singapore Literature Prize handed out 22 awards recently, and a co-winner of the English Non-Fiction Prize is Danielle Lim. I borrowed her book from the library, and I found it really deserving of the award. ‘The Sound of Sch’ is the true story of Danielle’s uncle Seng, who suffered from schizophrenia, and how her mother, Chu, became caregiver to both Seng and their mother.

Danielle has both an M.A. and B.A. from Oxford yet she writes in such a way that ordinary folk like myself can appreciate her recollections – Singapore between 1961 and 1994, the Singlish, the dialects spoken, the irrational fear people have towards those they deem mentally ill (‘siao’).

This 165-page book is indeed one of those rare literary gems that may be fully devoured in one sitting. I was close to tears reading about how the Ah Ma (the author’s maternal grandmother) tried to kill herself twice, succeeding on the second attempt. What would prompt an old lady to drink detergent?! Is it the daily agony of severe rheumatoid arthritis? Is it the guilt of delaying her son’s medical treatment at Woodbridge Hospital (now IMH), preferring to go to bomohs based on other people’s ill advice? Is it seeing her son daily and feeling this inextinguishable anguish at how this former top student could have had a bright future (career, wife, family) but ended up as a sweeper at the Police Academy? What (literally) pushed her over the edge when she threw herself out of the flat? If her main concern was about who would take care of her mentally ill son when she’s gone, and who would remind him to take his medication daily, why would she kill herself?

This book deals with so many interesting themes, but I’m not sure I’ll want to read it again because there’s so much pain within those pages…

  1. Love and loss: Seng’s would-be wife left him for his friend. I wonder if this was the trigger for his mental ailments. But can we blame this woman for what she did – choosing who she wanted to be with?
  2. Guilt: A mother’s guilt for not giving her son the treatment that might have ‘saved’ him from this terrible illness, and possibly guilt too at burdening her daughter with the need to care for Seng. Also, there’s the author’s own guilt for not spending a bit more time (and a few more loving words) with Ah Ma before heading off to school, which may or may not have changed Ah Ma’s mind about committing suicide.
  3. Desire to escape: The author’s mother ‘left home’ for a few hours but we’ll never know exactly why she did that, where she went, what she did. But it’s clear her love for her family keeps her going, and she says she came back so she can tie her daughter’s hair before school the next day.
  4. Meaning of life: What’s the meaning of life for someone like Seng? Someone who supposedly had a bright future, someone who excelled in school, someone whose classmates came to for advice… who became the one whom people forgot about, who was relegated to being a sweeper, whom people shunned because they think he might be crazy and violent.

It is clear, to me, that this book has helped achieve the author’s aims. I do agree with her now that not all mentally ill patients are violent, and we don’t necessarily have to be afraid of them. I do constantly bump into one weird guy at Hougang Mall. He has a small build, it’s hard to tell how old he is (but he’s probably above 40) and he talks to himself a lot. People generally let him be as he doesn’t cause any trouble. Though sometimes I wonder why he’s carrying so many NTUC FairPrice plastic bags with seemingly empty detergent bottles in them. I do give him a wide berth each time I see him. I know not why. Maybe he’ll hit me with an empty bottle? Hmm.

Perhaps he’s just like Seng. Perhaps something bad happened in his life, just like something bad will happen in all of our lives. But perhaps something changed for him after that. And there’s no real need to be afraid of him. He’s likely someone’s son / brother / uncle who’s just out for a walk. And if our society is to be truly accepting of all peoples, then let’s start at home with the sons and daughters of Singapore.

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!😀

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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