Friday, 20 May, 2011

Back in Zurich - Part 2

5.30am.
The sun was up real early for daytime hours are longer during spring/summer time. After a not too good sleep the night before (partly also because we slept at around 7.30pm when the restaurants around the hotel were filled diners), we woke up early to begin our first trip to St Gallen. As it was still way before breakfast time, we took a walk around Zurich Old Town which is near our hotel.

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The quiet street was a contrast to the night's crowd.

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My favourite hobby in Switzerland....duck feeding :)

Photobucket Taking a shot in front of our hotel, Platzhirsch. A small boutique hotel which just started its operations 2 months ago. Staff were very friendly & have allowed us to deposit our luggage while we walk around town before the check-in time. It has a reasonably-sized room with LCD-screen TV with cable channels. Bathroom is a little small but is common in Europe hotels. Toilet is shared by about 4 other rooms & is located outside. Not much inconveniences since we woke up quite early. But if you're a light sleeper, hotels in Old Town may not be suitable as it can get quite 'happening' at night.

Yup, I didn't know Zurich has such an exciting night life. I thought it's all peaceful & quiet by night time since shops close early :)

Photobucket Drinking the cold spring water from the fountain. Ahhh....so refreshing :)

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No matter which angle you take, the photos somehow turn out to be postcard perfect.

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I somehow always look weird in most of Uncle Tan's candid shots so this is a decent 'candid shot' of me :p

The weather was terribly dry. Fortunately, Uncle Tan brought a lip balm over. It tasted good - olive & lemon. But it resembled more like the green tea biscuit Mr Bean used to sell.
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Time to go back for breakfast @ 7am.

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Photobucket Breakfast was reasonably good. There were 3-4 choices of bread. Croissant is good!! Ultra crispy & light unlike the ones I've tasted which sometimes tends to be a little oily. Eat it with the jam & butter or ham & salami or Brie or Raclette cheese (this cheese is a bit too overpowering for me). The usual coffee/tea, fruit juices and must try their yogurt & muesli. Absolutely refreshingly delicious and not to mention, healthy too =)

Thursday, 19 May, 2011

Back in Zurich - Part 1

After 2 years of yearning...we're finally back in Zurich!

The familiar crisp cool air, the sound of cow bells, church chimes, passing trains & the smell of alpine trees & blooms. The thought of visiting old friends excites us too =)

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The familiar alps view from the plane.

Uncle Tan and I smiled uncontrollably in unison as we stepped out of the plane, taking our first breath of cool crisp air. Almost like how it was 2 years ago. But...well, less cold this time......

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Looks like we've brought the S'pore sun here.

Apparently Spring this year happens to be surprisingly warmer than expected. But somehow the Swiss love it and said it's hard to get such good weather. A year ago, it was raining throughout May and just a week ago, it had rained too. Hmm....not exactly what we'd have expected. We're here to escape from the heat wave in Sg afterall.......

Went to visit Uncle Tan's colleagues (and to shop there @ the same time). Spent quite a bit of time there as they treated us to coffee at the cafe there.

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Seems that there are more people now @ Sihlcity.

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They also gave us a tour round the office and guess what we saw......
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Shiokadoodoo!!!

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They have all the popular soccer teams & the players' faces are attached to each figurine! So cool!!


Took a stroll @ one of Uncle Tan's favourite site near his office. Didn't manage to walk any further due to the hot weather. So......off to Bahnhof Strasse to shop for a while before we went back to our former residence to reminisce the good old times.

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Oooh....H&M!!! But was a little disappointed with this season's selection. Had to buy some basic pieces due to the warmer weather... ;p


For the purpose of remembering the dates for the vacation, I've adjusted the post date to coincide with the actual dates of the various trips made.

Sunday, 8 May, 2011

GE 2011

Now, who says Singaporeans are politically apathetic?


From the emotionally-driven rallies, the buzz on mainstream media and pulsating online discussions over the past 9 days, the entire nation has almost instantaneously become concerned with our nation’s affairs. Perhaps we ought to thank the opposition parties for creating this phenomenon in local politics.


As the ‘virgin voter’ voting for the first time in my entire 33 years of life (yes, Auntie Tan ain’t afraid to reveal her age to anyone :)), it is indeed an exciting moment, especially when the stakes run high for this GE. I suddenly feel that my vote matters and I, as a Singaporean, can make a difference.


There have also been some ‘hot’ discussions among my colleagues where we had 2 camps – those voting by merit and those wanting an alternative voice. The Merit Voters (MV) are more inclined to support the ruling party while the Alternative Voice Voters (AV), well you know who they are inclined to root for. The AVs are trying to get the MVs to ‘see the big picture’ – to look beyond upgrading, beyond property value and having an alternative voice for the people. The MVs are trying to get the AVs to see a bigger picture – the need for strong credentials and track records and can deliver. While MVs also agree that there can have the alternative voice, it has to be solid, backed with facts and not merely just ‘creating noise’.


It’s a friendly debate and it’s interesting to hear views that are different from mine.


Well, I’m the undecided MV and Uncle Tan kept bugging me to cast my vote early to get it done and over with. I was still struggling to decide on the polling day for one party, or rather one person, speaks to my heart while the other party speaks to my head.


I can’t discredit what the ruling party has done over the past years in bringing stability, peace and progress to the nation albeit the mistakes made along the way. Hey, everyone makes mistakes, just that they could’ve acknowledged it earlier and for some, to be more sincere. At the same time, I’d like to give the other party a chance to prove themselves and I’d like to experience the kampong spirit (for personal reasons, I don’t want any more upgrading in my area and I don’t mind the drop in property value as it means I may have a quieter town thereafter) and personally, I do respect the man who loves Singapore and has done a lot over the years with steadfastness. I admired his resilience and I feel his dedication.


We are brought up in a meritocracy country and I am thankful for that, otherwise I wouldn’t be where I am today. Just that sometimes I’d stop to wonder if we are too concerned with results and KPIs that did we lose something along the way? I asked myself this question – what truly matters to me?

I want to make my vote count, and it did. Well, up to you to decipher how it did :)


It is interesting to observe the behaviours of the voters – the pro-PAP supporters, the undecided, the tenacious opposition party supporters and the ‘any opposition party will do’ folks. Thou I haven’t been to any rallies since Uncle Tan has been down with a bad sore throat for more a week, thanks to YouTube that I’m able to catch some of the actions and the classic much-talked-about moments and getting to read the comments and have a sense of the ground sentiments.


In mainstream media, you can find more media coverage on the opposition parties compared to the past although some still felt that the reporting was skewed towards to the ruling party’s advantage. In new media, it’s a different scene altogether. Pro-opposition and anti-ruling party sentiments were evident. The views were personal and were censored. If an undecided voter were to read the online comments and discussions, perhaps he/she may get swayed to the other side. I felt it was a ‘venting’ channel for the discontented.


Just to share one example which I thought was rather interesting other than the 2 ‘Lings’.


I’ve read on Yahoo news about one opposition party candidate being involved in a scandal with a young girl during his vocation as a teacher. I scrolled immediately to view the comments and strangely, there wasn’t much chastising or firing. Instead there were comments which questioned the victim’s integrity and intentions for revealing the incident at this moment, with some speculating if this was a tactic engaged by the ruling party. One comment “It takes 2 hands to clap; the girl must have done something...” Imagine if the person involved were to be a PAP candidate. If you were to read any other ruling party’s related news, you’re sure to see tons of comments, mostly criticizing the party. Somehow people seem to be more forgiving towards opposition party candidates.


Well, I am one of those who are upset, frustrated and angry at the sudden huge influx of foreigners. While I understand it is a global phenomenon and we need foreign talents to help us further boost our economy, I thought at the rate which had greatly taxed on our infrastructure makes me wonder if the agency is merely concerned about meeting their KPIs at the expense of the social cost.


I recall that 2 years ago, I felt displaced upon my return from Switzerland. It was a mere 6 months of absence and suddenly, I felt I was like as a foreigner in my own country. The neighbourhood had grown to be very crowded even on a weekday. Many sales staff were speaking in English/ Mandarin with foreign accents. The MRT was packed during off-peak hours, with many foreign faces so I noticed. It took me months to adjust and getting used to living in my own birth land. Is this the price we have to pay in order for us to be economically sustainable? I recently read something about how we recruit foreign students and was disappointed and upset at how low we go to ‘sell’ our Institutions of Higher Learning – full fees paid, including lodging. Adding to that, the calibre of the students to be selected was not what I’d expect although those who couldn’t meet academic KPIs would be sent back home, eventually. But imagined the amount of money wasted nurturing these so-called talents who some have become arrogant, claiming that they are welcomed by our government.


Now that the results are out, it’s time to move forward. While it’s good to have some alternative voices now and I believe and hope it would be a powerful voice for the people, this election has also somewhat made the ruling party sit up and start to listen to what its citizens want exactly. Time to take a serious look at engagement in the social media platform. It’s not just another channel to push out info to show people that you’re ‘in’ by having one but ended up like another ‘webpage’.


While it’s not easy since I must admit that we can be a bunch of complainers and spoilt brats sometimes, I hope the feedback and comments would contribute to the betterment of the nation and to our lives, fundamentally rooted to what we believe and what matters to us ultimately Besides the local bread and butter issues, don’t forget that we still have the bilateral ties with our neighbouring countries to look after with great care and the potential threats to look out for. Mistakes in these areas can be disastrous. Where we are today is not by chance or luck and we shouldn’t take these for granted.


I believe the ruling party has heard us and we have the next five years to know if they truly listens.


Just my 2 cents of tot :)

Sunday, 7 February, 2010

It never rains but pours

Just as I thought I could lead at least a more a normal life again with the medication, waking up early, doing stretching exercise and even a brief jog around the neighbourhood, just when I am eating quite ok, I had a gastric attack. A long time since I last had one.


What exactly did I not do or have I done wrong? I exercised, I eat regular meals, I avoid spicy and oily food, I started to take Yakult...


Upon recollection, then I realised what I had done. I had missed tea-break cos the bread I bought was kinda spoilt. So I ate CNY goodies instead to fill the hunger pangs. At home, it was dinner as usual and I took just a teeny weeny bit of archar that my neighbour had made for us. The next morning, I woke up early, did my warm up exercise, then a short jog and it was then that the gastric attack began after the jog. So I took a few mouthfuls of bread before going to the polyclinic for the medication.


Ended up queuing for 2.5hrs to see the doctor to confirm that I can still take the TB medication. According to her, the medication is not supposed to cause gastric pain. To play safe, I took the medication after my porridge lunch. It came again...and I had no choice but to take the syrup that the doctor gave to ease the gastric discomfort.


I should not have exercised without breakfast thou that was my usual routine. I should have taken a proper tea-break instead of the CNY goodies which probably have caused the discomfort. I shouldn't have taken the archar...gosh...why am I so weak?


One of my colleagues said I had too many inhibitions and am like a protected flower that can't weather harsh conditions. Indeed. If I could turn back the clock, I would never never take cold drinks every morning. I would never ever finish a can of coke when I was young. I would not take ice-cream or cold drinks during recess. With my current weak constitution, I have no choice but to be extra careful.

So if you have young children, as far as possible, keep them away from cold drinks until they are much older.

Sometimes I do wish that I would never wake up from my sleep. Of course life isn't that bad if compared to those who are struggling, but it's still a long, weary and in fact, torturous process for me. Imagine having to struggle to eat despite feeling nauseous. I envy those who can eat despite feeling unwell, those who binge whenever they are stress. To put on 1kg for me is like asking someone to reduce 10kg; and to lost 1 kg all it takes is eating a few mouthfuls of breakfast and lunch.


I'm tired. I tried so hard to put on weight but somehow some thing will happen and I'd be back to square 1. If I'm really fated to be of this weight so be it. But don't make it so torturous for me to lose appetite and make each day a drag to go on.


Anyone can share any miracle recipe to cure the gastritis and improve my appetite? Or at least get my appetite back?

Monday, 25 January, 2010

I don't swallow




The new nurse was intrigued by this little useful tool I've brought along with me since the day I've started medication at the polyclinic.

Bought from Guardian a few years back, it has been a very useful tool for people who can't master the skill of pill swallowing.

It has 3 functions - it grinds (pic 1), cuts (pic 2) and stores pills (pic 3). It's amazing how a simple action of twisting this little tool, a pill can turn into the powder form quite easily. And I'm very grateful to the person who has invented this little useful tool. Otherwise, I'd be carrying a mortar everyday to the treatment room.

Because of the numbness of my right leg, I was given additional pills to counteract the side effect. Fortunately it was the tiny vit B pills and not the yucky white pills.

2 months......I wish it could be over with a blink of an eye.
Would be going for a review this Thurs at this little TB Centre located near Novena...still holding on to that liiiiiitle glimpse of hope that it could be a wrong diagnosis......

Tuesday, 19 January, 2010

一路的思绪

我, 病了。
世界还 在旋转,而我的步伐
放 慢 了。

想了很多, 听了很多,
反思了很多, 也体会了许多。

害怕,恐惧,焦虑,担忧
失望,感伤,无奈,接受

过程中有许多感触。
看到了家人的爱与关怀, 是无私, 无条件的。
明白了朋友的鼓励与慰问,不是理所当然的。

无声的责怪,厌烦,懊恼,恐惧...
我了解.
我还在学习如何放得下,看得开。

走着,走着,
复杂的思绪随着慢慢的脚步逐渐清晰了。
原来自己其实也可以安慰自己。
回家的路,虽然自己走, 但还是开心的。

Friday, 15 January, 2010

Medication time...

It’s been 3 days since the diagnosis. The news is still taking time to sink in. I do feel depress occasionally and having mixed emotions. And I’m still holding on to the slimmest chance of a wrong diagnosis.


Maybe I’d receive the good news 2 weeks later from the doctor that it is actually not TB. The skin test result isn’t a 100% indication as a person with low immunity would also have a skin reaction. The doctors may have made a mistake in observing the x-ray film and that the little spots are actually scars which could be an indication that my antibodies have won a TB war much earlier. My sputum test is negative so far.


Though non life-threatening (provided I obediently and conscientiously take the medication), having to go through a 6-month treatment sounds a long time to me. I’ve to report to the polyclinic daily to take my medication under the supervision of a nurse for the next 2 months daily. For Sun and PH, medication will be packed for me to take from home. It’s tedious, especially to a non-pill swallower like me, it’s tough having to take 7 pills everyday. I don’t blame such a system as I know there will be people out there who will ‘default’ taking their medication which would cause the bacteria to become resistant to the medication and new medicines have to be taken for a longer period of time with more side effects with a lower chance of cure. Worse, the person might also spread the drug-resistant TB to others.


Fortunately, the nurses at the polyclinic have been helpful and patient. My first medication took place at the TB Centre. The social medical worker helped me pound all the medicine into powder form which I estimated it to amount to 3 tablespoonfuls. You can imagine the taste of the concoction. If only someone would try to make all medicines taste better, then patients at least would be more willing to take them.

Day 2, I took about half an hour to finish. The nurse helped to cut the pills up whilst I cut them smaller with my pill cutter. Still it took 2 glasses of water and several attempts to get those smaller pieces of pills down. The bitter aftertaste lingers…


Today, I strategized by grinding them into powder one at a time instead of mixing all up. It sped up the process a little with less aftertaste. I’d feel a little lethargy after medication and am experiencing numbness on my left leg which I’ll have to alert the doc of this side effect if it continues. No alcohol and TCM for me now as the medication might affect the liver. Well to lighten things up, my pj now is like Fanta Orange, due to one of the pills I’m taking.


Looking forward to the end of 2 weeks so I can be back at work, and looking forward to 14 Mar – the end of the daily torture. After which, I would only be required to go for medication on a thrice a week basis for the next 4 mths and hopefully, with fewer medication.


I suppose when I get back to office, probably some colleagues might feel uncomfortable of my presence. Can’t really blame them for I too had the stigma when I visited the TB centre. Face mask, no using of hp in the premise, went back to bathe to sanitize myself right after the visit and even disinfecting my bag with dettol disinfectant spray.


The social medical nurse explained to me that the TB bacteria can stay inactive in a person and become active later especially when one’s immunity level is low. It’s airborne and it’s hard to tell who, where and when you catch it from such as my case. I can only presume that I may have caught it at crowded shopping malls in town as these are the last few places I’ve been before I was down with the flu. But then again, I could have caught it earlier- in the lift, in the trains, in the taxis… Well one word that probably says it plainly -- “Suay”……


A healthy person who is infected has a 10% chance of developing TB disease in his/her lifetime. The chance is higher if one:

  1. suffers from diseases such as diabetes or HIV infection
  2. is a drug addict
  3. is on steroids
  4. have poor nutrition


And well, it’s obvious I belong to the last category. For now, I just have to avoid crowded places to reduce the chance of me catching some other bugs esp a flu or a cough bug which might distress my lungs further.


Apparently, TB seems to be back here and has seen a rising trend according to reports, probably partly due to the increase of foreign workers. With almost 5 mil people living on this small island, it's really tough to find places without the crowd and the noise...

Thursday, 14 January, 2010

Unforgettable 2010

The results are out - I have contracted TB.

Before you get freaked out, the doc said there aren't cavities and from the first sputum test result which indicated that I was not contagious. She also said my colleagues need not go for screening when I asked if it's required. Surprisingly, the medical social worker told me that I don't need to separate utensils from Uncle Tan, even thou I had been doing that since I caught the flu last Dec which is a usual practice for us whenever either of us are unwell.

How does one get TB?
Based on the article from MedicineNet.com, a person can become infected with tuberculosis bacteria when he or she inhales minute particles of infected sputum from the air. The bacteria gets into the air when someone who has a tuberculosis lung infection coughs, sneezes, shouts, or spits. People who are nearby can then possibly breathe the bacteria into their lungs. You don't get TB by just touching the clothes or shaking the hands of someone who is infected. Tuberculosis is spread primarily from person to person by breathing infected air during close contact.

So next time I see people spitting illegally, they are sure gonna get it from me.

Treatment is a long process and a tedious one as it requires daily visits to the nearest polyclinics to take medication (fortunately only once a day and unfortunately 7 pills in all) for the next 2 months followed by a visit to the TB centre for another xray and sputum test. Thereafter, treatment will reduce to 3X a week for the next 4 mths.

So goodbyes to my Switzerland holidays in May...I won't be able to travel until I have completed my course of medication which will take 6 mths if I'm doing well, if not 9-12 mths. Am hoping I'll have no side effects from taking the medication and perferably it will make me eat more :)

Ah Kin initially was scared especially when told she had TB by the doc, she could not believe her ears. But I guess at least there's a closure now. At least I know why I'm still not completely recovered from my cough.

To my family members, friends and colleagues who have showered me with their concerns, Thank You :) I really appreciate your prayers, well-wishes, support, encouragement and advice.

I still have 2 crownings and one potential filling to be done...I wonder when it will end......

Indeed, health is very important. Can't stress more on that and thou Ah Kin has been eating healthy food and avoiding unhealthy ones, healthy lifestyle is one habit I haven't quite picked up yet.