National Day fireworks story 31 July, 2009Posted by dear1dear2 in Dear1, For Him For Her, Slice of Life.
Singapore National Day is just round the corner and we really getting excited. The 9th August has always been a special public holiday for us. And it also partly contributed to our small obsession for fireworks displays. Here’s why.
We started dating during our school days, JC time to be exact (that’s about 11 yrs ago), around June. At that time, things were very ‘raw’. We were each others’ first dates and we weren’t really sure about the whats and hows of a relationship. We were young, we were shy and we were in love.
I tried to think of romantic things to do together with Dear2, but young as I was, I didn’t have many ideas nor money, so that ruled out candlelight dinners and such. Large bouquets of flowers was also pretty much out of the question. It was several weeks into our relationship and national day was drawing near. “It is going to be our first public holiday together, gotta do something special.” That was the thought.
And all of a sudden, a light bulb went off in my head. Romantic national day fireworks! Yes, yes, that’s a great idea. Gee…
It was too late to try to get NDP tickets, so that meant we needed to find a good place to watch fireworks from outside the national stadium. But there were some hurdles. First, internet wasn’t that widespread at that time (we were still using 56k dial up plans), so there was no information about fireworks viewing sites. And also, at that time, we still weren’t very public about our relationship yet, still worried that parents might scold us for getting into relationship while schooling. Options were limited. We just have to make a guess about the best place to view the fireworks. Eventually, we decided on the broad outdoor open-air stairways from Marina Square leading to Esplanade (note that Esplanade was nonexistent back then).
So on national day, we went on our date, our romantic date. Gee… We arrived early at Marina Square just to hold hands and window shop. I liked holding Dear2′s hands, the simple joy of courtship. And I still do. We went for an early dinner so that we could catch the fireworks later.
I remember bringing Dear2 to Macdonalds for dinner. It was considered quite a luxury spending for us because we had very little pocket money then. But still, we wanted a mini celebration for our first holiday together. I remember Dear2 ordered a McNuggets meal that day, and it made me a little unhappy, almost angry. It was because I felt that McNuggets was the most not-value-for-money item in Macdonalds, so little meat and no bread nor vegetables. It was not until several years later that I found out the reason why. Dear2 had wanted to leave a good impression with her new boyfriend (me!) and she felt that biting into a burger would look unglam and not girly enough. Eating bit-size chicken nuggets would be much more manageable and feminine. Dear2 is so vain. Gee…
After dinner, we started to look for a place where we could sit down and wait for the fireworks display. To do that, we would first need to know the direction of the national stadium. So we went to Pan Pacific Hotel, took the outdoor capsule elevator up as high as we can and looked out of its glass walls in search of the national stadium. There! Now we knew which direction the fireworks would come from.
We went back to the open-air stairways we decided on earlier and sat down. Lots of people had already gathered to view the fireworks. This reinforced our decision that this must be a good place to catch the fireworks display. We even spotted some people with pocket televisions and they were monitoring the situation at the national stadium via the live broadcast of the event.
Boom-pok-pok-pok… The fireworks had started. We were very excited. We could hear the explosions but couldn’t see the fireworks itself. Clouds lit up in shadows of red and green. “Wahhh…” we went. So far, we had only caught glimpses of coloured reflections off the clouds, but not the real fireworks yet. “No worries, the first few shots are usually small and low. The finale will be the big ones high up in the sky, surely we’ll see those. Surely…” I quietly hoped.
BOOM-POK-Pok-pok… The explosions were getting louder. The reflections off the clouds were getting brighter. Yes, yes! So exciting. BOOM-Pok-BOOM-BOOM-Pok-BOOOOOOOMMMMMMM…… Silence. It’s over??! But we haven’t seen anything yet. Wasn’t the finale supposed to be high up in the sky where everyone could see? It couldn’t be over. All we had seen was coloured clouds. Maybe there’ll be a second round of fireworks, let’s wait. Minutes passed. Nothing happened. Had we missed it all? The crowd had started to disperse. Clearly, everyone was disappointed. We were too.
We went back into Marina Square shopping mall. Our romantic date was ruined. I still couldn’t believe it. I decided to seek confirmation. There was no handphones at that time, so I went to a nearby public phone and called a classmate who I knew was at home. “Hello? Are you watching the national day parade on tv? Is the fireworks over?” I eagerly asked. “Huh? Finished quite long ago already leh.” The painful truth replied over the phone. :’(
It was getting late, so we decided to set off for home. I was dejected. I guess I didn’t speak much along the way. I didn’t want our romantic date to end like this. We were merely a few weeks into our relationship and I didn’t want to disappoint Dear2. I liked Dear2 alot and I wanted for us to continue building wonderful memories together. I decided to make a promise.
“Dear2, I’m sorry we couldn’t see the fireworks today. I promise I will find a better place next year… Will you be my girlfriend for one more year? I want to bring you out again on national day next year.”
I knew Dear2 was the one for me and I wanted to give her the best I could. I wanted to bring her out again year after year, to watch fireworks together, to spend every national day together. I glanced over at Dear2, she looked slightly hesitant. After all, I am asking her for a long commitment. Shyly, she nodded.
“Yeah…” My heart cheered. I broke into a wide smile and gently held Dear2′s hand. We happily chatted on the long journey home and talked about better viewing spots for our date next year. I walked Dear2 home and kissed her goodnight. That was our first romantic national day date. Love you my dear. Muck!
Cough Cough Week 4 29 July, 2009Posted by dear1dear2 in Baby, Dear2.
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Dear2 wrote about week 3 sometime back, and as emphasized on de importance of water, Dear2 really fell ill de following week. Gosh. It was a coughing week 4 thru out.
With baby in de womb, there’s a lot of constraints in what mtb (mum to be) can eat or take. So doctor prescribed a milder form of cough syrup which Dear2 dutifully finished (2 bottles in all!) and plenty of sleep and water, and Dear2 is still not yet recovered from de cough. Sigh… More water and more plenty of rest is necessary in this natural fight against de cough…
Dear2 has also started visiting some forums to keep up with de on-goings with other mtbs too. Such support groups are actually very useful for new mtbs, cos u know that all de discomforts and sudden change in preferences are nothing unusual at all. But readers may have to beware of forums that talks nothing much except what de mtbs have for daily breakfasts and lunches. Just gossipy…
There seems to be more pregnant ladies on de road nowadays, is it de effectiveness of de government’s 4 months maternity leave incentive (applause please!), or are Singaporeans taking de opportunity of de economic downturn to be more ‘productive’? If it’s de former, (applause again!) to our government’s successful efforts in raising birth rates (now we dun have to wait for dragon years, haha). But Dear2 has de feeling that it’s probably due to us wanting to be more ‘productive’ in de not-so-distant past’s ‘gloomy’ circumstances. Of course de added various carrots did spice it all up a bit, haha.
Jiayou jiayou, let’s quickly recover from this irritating cough soon.
Week 3 – Fluids Deprived! 29 July, 2009Posted by dear1dear2 in Baby, Dear2.
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Pregnancy has made Dear2 experience bad frequent urination, plus de un-appetizing taste of plain water (remember, Dear2 loves water!) caused Dear2 cut down on her water intake dramatically over de week. Bad habit, cos de work week has barely ended, and Dear2 was seriously dehydrated.
No, no drama of putting on drips and such, haha, but de illiquidity of fluids in de body means that toxins and heat cannot be effectively dissipated from de body. De result: reduced body resistance + accumulation of body heat = beginnings of sore throat which spells signs of bigger ills at large.
On Sat, Dear2 sprang into action and gulped down cups and bowls of juices, flavoured drinks, herbal tea (opps, can drink herbal tea?), soups and porridge and fruits to desperately increase the body’s fluid intake. Plus lots of sleep and rest, Dear2 and baby managed to restore de body’s liquid level to healthier levels, yeah.
Our body requires water to take away de waste that we produce, as well as the heat in our body which is especially abundant during those hot months. De irritating haze seems to be looming around as well, hence we need to keep our respiratory system well hydrated to perform its natural cleansing process.
So take heart – water is life, so gulp down lots of water now!
PS: Baby went for a second photoshoot (aka scan) this week. Oh, it is 3 times larger than 2 weeks back, now at 2.1 cm. Haha…
Joint Account for saving purposes 26 July, 2009Posted by dear1dear2 in Around the House, Dear1, Dollars & Cents.
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Let me start with a bit of background information to motivate the need for a joint account dedicated to the purpose of savings.
Some time back, when we were just starting our family, we started to feel the extra burden of having to pay household bills. Yes, those invisible blood sucking creatures that drain ur finances without you even realizing. Read more here. We didn’t notice the impact of these monthly expenses when we were young becos we’re living under the protective wings of our doting parents. It’s a bit different now that we’re living on our own…
To make accounting more systematic and transparent, we started a joint account for the purpose of keeping track of all these expenses. This account is termed as a joint expense account. But therein lies the problem. It’s an expense account. Meaning that, we draw our food and grocery expenses from there, pay our household bills from there, pay our credit card bills from there, buy investments from there, service car loan, etc.
The big problem with this is, how much are we actually saving on a month to month basis? It is difficult to answer such a question using solely our expense account which has a constant cashflow.
The solution, we needed to open another joint account, dedicated to the purpose of saving. Saving money is both a good habit and also necessary, just read any personal financial guide.
There is actually another motivation for opening this new joint account. That is, with the recent economic turmoil and uncertainty, with big name companies such as Lehman Bros collapsing, we wanted to be on the cautious side of things. And knowing that it is under MAS policy that each deposit-type account in Singapore is insured for up to 20k per account (I think it’s called the Deposit Insurance Scheme), we decided that we needed to diversify our bank deposits and not keep everything in one basket. Yes, not just investments, bank deposits need diversification too.
And so, after a lazy effort of searching for the best yielding deposit account, we decided on the Citibank Step Up account. It’s the second bank we surveyed, the first being HSBC. The attractiveness of this deposit account is that it increases your interest rate for every month that your balance is higher than the previous month. Actually, it’s more complicated than that, please read more details from the Citibank website. So, the basic idea is, if your minimum account balance is consecutively highly than the previous month for 12 months, you will receive the maximum possible interest rate of 0.75% pa (as of 26 Jul 09). And once you have accumulated the maximum 12 ‘Step-ups’, you just need to maintain a minimum of 20k in that account to continue enjoying the maximum interest rate. For comparison, DBS Savings Plus account gives 0.25% pa for balance above 50k (as of 26 Jul 09).
This suits us perfectly. Since what we wanted was a joint account for the purpose of saving money, that meant that from our perspective, we will only deposit money in and will not withdraw any money out (except for really really rainy day situations). So, we’re all set to receive the maximum interest rate after 12 months if we make a disciplined monthly contribution to this account. Thereafter, we can top up the amount to 20k at the end of 12 months to continue enjoying the benefits. And since it is insured up to 20k, we’ll withdraw any excess (0.75% of 20k = 150 per annum) and put it into another deposit account with another bank. This way, no worries about bank failures.
So that’s our plan. And it was put into action since Oct 2008; that’s about 8 months ago. Yeah! Since we started, we have been very disciplined and contributing monthly to this account. In addition, we also deposit all our government gifts (Growth Dividend, GST Offset Package, etc) and our stock dividends into this account to make it grow faster.
Now, it is about time we start sourcing for another savings account. We’re currently quite keen on the OCBC Monthly Saving Account. The currently promotion is 1.08% pa with a monthly contribution of 800 for 24 months, which works out to be 19200 in principal amount, just shy of the 20k insured mark. Looks promising.
Our Kia Forte 24 July, 2009Posted by dear1dear2 in Baby, Dear1, Shop till you drop, Vroom Vroom.
You may have seen this commercial on TV recently. It’s the new Kia Cerato Forte, launched in Feb 2009, in Singapore. Yes, we bought our first car! And this is the car we bought, the Kia Cerato Forte. :D
The front view of our handsome car. Yes, we bought a red plate Off Peak Car. The colour is ‘Sweet Orange’.
Here’s a look at the interior. Audio controls on the steering wheel and also factory fitted audio system. USB slot for music too, spot the thumbdrive in the lower left of the picture.
And the Cerato Forte logo at the rear. I would very much like to remove the word Cerato. Just Kia Forte would be cool.
We started sourcing for a car since last year. The basic idea is that we want to prepare to start a family soon. It would be more convenient if we have personal transport so that we can bring Dear2 around to visit the gynae, and next time we can bring baby around for various check ups. And secondly, it would improve our lifestyle, such as staying out late and not worrying about transport home, visiting hard to reach eating places, driving to our frequent running events early in the morning, etc. Yah, it’s a luxury and a depreciating asset, so let’s try to keep the cost down as much as possible.
The first trigger came when the Certificate Of Entitlement (COE) dropped to $2 in November 2008. Of course we knew that the opportunity was already missed as the $2 COE will not occur again in the subsequent months. But it was a sign that car prices are going down. Sure enough, COE remained under the 10k mark for about 6 months following that until the quota reduction in April 2009. We had to grab this opportunity to get a cheap car. After all, poor economy leads to lesser car buyers and cheaper cars. It makes sense to buy big items when the economy is down.
We also wanted an Off Peak Car (OPC) and that placed another constrain on our search. The 17k rebate must be deducted from first the COE and then Open Market Value (OMV) of the car. So the combined value of the COE and OMV must be at least 17k for us to take full advantage of the OPC scheme. But with rock bottom COE prices, we need a car with high OMV. But high OMV means expensive cars in general. But we just wanted a small and cheap car for our small family use. Our requirements were conflicting and the search was tough.
As for why OPC? Dear1 has a direct bus from home to work, so there’s no need to drive on a daily basis. Dear2 works in CBD area so it doesn’t make sense to drive to work. So, OPC seemed to suit our usage requirements rather well.
Long story short, we initially wanted a hatchback car becos it was younger and more trendy looking. We looked at Kia Picanto, Hyundai Getz, Hyundai Avante, Toyota Yaris, Honda Fit, Suzuki Swift and Daihatsu Sirion (and even the Chana Benni). But none of them was really able to convince us to commit…
It was around early March that we caught sight of the Kia Forte. It was a sedan, but every other feature about it was good. Stylish looking, modern, lots of safety features, enough head room for Dear1, spacious interior, 1.6L engine, and it was value for money. Its OMV was high enough (around 13k) and COE prices were hovering around 5k. The selling price of the car for the entry level EX (A) version was 44999, which was within our budget.
By late March, the price had dropped to 42999, making it an even more attractive buy. At that time, there was some change in the specifications of the EX. The newer batches had hydraulic power steering, 1 air bag and 2 disc brakes, 2 drum brakes. Whereas the older batches had electronic power steering, 2 air bags and 4 disc brakes. Both versions were selling at the same price during the transitional period. However, there was limited remaining stock for the older (better) version, and limited choice of colour (only Sweet Orange left). So there was a bit of urgency if we wanted to get more value for money from our car purchase.
After 2 sessions of discussions with our Sales Executive (SE) and a quick test drive, we decided to sign on the dotted line and place an order for the Sweet Orange Auto-transmission EX version with the better specs (4 disc brakes) at 42999. We put our lousy bargaining skills to the test and only managed to get reverse sensors, remote and alarm, Rikecool solar films and full leather seats for an extra 1000 dollar top up.
So the final cost of our car was 42999 (original cost) + 1000 (top up) – 17000 (OPC rebate) = 26999. We paid up 3999 and loan 23000 (2.85% pa) from Maybank for 84 months which works out to be 329 per month. Still a manageable monthly amount.
Credits: Retrieved from www.sgcarmart.com on 24 July 2009.
On retrospect, it turned out that 42999 was the lowest ever selling price for EX (A) since launch, other than the even more ridiculously priced pre-launch special in Jan 09. The latest price for our model as of 24 Jul 09 is 49999. So we’ve really got quite a good deal for our big ticket purchase.
The entire process was rather smooth for us. We got our COE at our first bid and the car was already sitting in the Singapore warehouse ready for delivery. We ordered in late March, collected our car in late April (only 1 month waiting time) and have been driving around for the last 3 months. :D
Our favourite TV show for the past weeks was Driving Miss Foodie becos we can now drive to all the many inaccessible food places around Singapore. We also visited many parks around the island for mini picnics. Meanwhile, Dear2 had passed her driving test (2nd attempt) and is now pregnant, so things seem to be falling in place nicely for us.
Goodwood Park Coconut Pandan Durian Cake 22 July, 2009Posted by dear1dear2 in Dear1, Food & Beverages.
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Coconut flakes as topping, followed by a layer of durian, then pandan cake, then durian again, and bottoming out with pandan cake. Glimpses of durian skin can be seen in the layers of durian pulp. Yum.
There it is! The famous Coconut, Pandan, Durian cake from Goodwood Park Hotel (GWP). We ordered the 1.3kg whole cake for my sister’s birthday; from GWP @ $45 before 7% GST & before 15% discount for take away orders using Citibank card. It’s ‘branded’ and it is also cheaper than the household name durian cake (ATC) which we bought some time back.
Now, the big question, is it better?
Round 1: Price
GWP $40.93 vs ATC $46.22
Round 2: Size
We do not have the actual dimensions nor weight here for direct comparisons. Neither do we have side by side pictures. So, let’s evaluated this from the personal experience.
GWP was long and very dense, so it felt heavier in both weight and taste but we think it has a smaller volume.
ATC was a classic round shape and had a bigger volume but the cake and durian both felt a bit loose and hollow.
Round 3: Taste
GWP taste great. Now, this is what I call a durian cake! The durian pulp has a strong flavour that melts in the mouth. When we ate it, the cake was still frozen but there wasn’t any icy feeling. Plainly, I think the durian is of high density and not mixed with excessive water. Much like how expensive ice cream taste less icy than cheap ice cream because of lower water content.
The best was yet to come. We kept the leftover overnight in the not-so-cold section of the fridge so as to thaw the durian pulp. The next morning, we had the cake again for breakfast to see if there’s any difference. There is. The thawed durian pulp tasted just like real durian, very shiok. And the pandan cake section is considerably softer and fluffier. The conclusion is, thawed durian cake taste better than frozen durian cake.
Round 4: Service
The service personnel at GWP gave verbal instructions as to how to properly enjoy the durian cake, that is to thaw for about 2 hours before consumption. The ATC cashier only show us a sianz look.
Hehe… So after a somewhat biased review, we proclaim that GWP durian cake is the best durian cake that we’ve eaten thus far (albeit a rather small sample size :P). We would recommend anyone who wants a taste of real durian cake to try the Coconut, Pandan, Durian Cake from GWP Hotel. Remember to thaw first. Also, if you want to eat in, there’s the durian dessert buffet @ $19.80++.
Dear1 is technically a student 17 July, 2009Posted by dear1dear2 in Dear1, Slice of Life.
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No doubt that Dear1 is already in his late twenties, married and living in a lovely 3-room nest together with Dear2. But, I am still a student, with a still valid student matriculation card. Haha… :P
I know of some of my friends who would keep their matriculation card even after graduating so that they can continue to enjoy student discounts everywhere they go. For example, at Sakae sushi buffet, Cafe Cartel, Burger King, etc. It’s definitely a very good deal. But guilt caught up with them pretty quickly. This affects Dear2 too.
I remember Dear2 used to order student meals at Burger King using her expired matriculation card for a year or two after graduating. But then, being well dressed, earning income, and in company of her colleagues, Dear2 slowly decreased her use of her student card and started paying ‘adult’ fares. The same goes for my other friends as well. Gradually looking more mature in dress sense as well as body language (read 岁月的沧桑), they eventually stopped using their matriculation card. Paiseh to use.
Not for me. Hehe… Becos I am still legitimate! :P But, I only use the student card very sparingly these days. Frankly, I don’t look very student anymore and may draw some stares from service personels every once in a while when I flash my matric card. Sigh… Age is creeping up on me.
Nevertheless, I still use my valid matric card whenever I can to save money for our young family. For instance, I still pay student rate of $10.80 at my favourite Shirley Mah hair salon. And just today, I treated Dear2 to sundaes from Swensen using the student promotion: Any 2 sundaes for $9.80, valid 2.30pm-5.30pm on weekdays. We ordered a Coit Tower and a Chewy Sticky Chocolate and paid just $11.53 after taxes. So worthwhile. Gee…
It’s good to be a student. :D
The Joy of Writing 16 July, 2009Posted by dear1dear2 in Dear2, Slice of Life.
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Dear1 and Dear2 blog have this ‘Randomly Dear1 Dear2‘ function and Dear2 happened to click on it one day. To my surprise and horror, Dear1 and Dear2 had been writing so much last time! Unknowingly, we are now in de third year of our blog writing. What is more amazing is that, there was even a period of time when we tried to post daily. Talk about habits and perseverance, haha.
Nope, I’m not going to lament on why Dear1 and Dear2 cannot post daily nowadays. What I’m going to say is, how, if u’d just push yourself to do something, u’ll almost certainly be able to achieve it, once de momentum gets started and things just become easier.
“When u have to write a post everyday, u start to see things on a more refined manner, becos u need to generate new ideas!” That was what Dear1 commented. True. Just try writing a post everyday, and u’ll find yourself looking at things more closely, and u’ll also ponder on things which u’ll normally not notice at all. Amazing!
Our thots and emotions are just like a machine, one that u need to lubricate occasionally so that it can function better. Stimulate your mind with new things by writing consistently, and u’ll realise that there’s actually a lot of beautiful things which u have missed out. We Singaporeans have been living a too-boring life, and it’s time that we look up (from consistently looking down at our phones, ipod, DS, PSP, sudoku, or even de ‘pretending to sleep on MRT’ pose) and start to look at and ponder on what we can do to make this place a better place for all.