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Touring Around Singapore: Gardens by the Bay

Every year, we only visit my grandmother’s place during Chinese New Year. After this, we would just cross the road to go back home, and make up for lost sleep, having 守夜 the night before. This year, I’ve decided to shake things up a little by planning a trip to one of the tourist attractions around in Singapore we have yet to pay a visit to – Gardens by the Bay. We went home to change into more comfortable clothes before we set off. I am glad we did so because it was so crowded in the train. Having never taken public transport to go 拜年 during 大年初一 since all I need to do is just to cross a road, I was somewhat surprised, though I shouldn’t be. What should and did surprise me was the number of locals we saw at Gardens by the Bay, when I expected most to be 拜年-ing. I was happy about the blue skies but less so about the humid heat when we first reached the gardens.

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However, it was a long walk between this^ and the conservatories, arguably the main attraction of the Gardens. We stopped during our walk for a quick family photo. It was the only photo that my brothers would let me post anywhere, not that I would post one here anyway.

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After some more distance, we finally reached the conservatories. But before we do anything, I had to get the tickets. I had wanted to buy them online the night before but it turned out that I couldn’t get the Passion card or SAFRA discounts if I had bought them online. Luckily the long queue was a fast moving one. We took the route recommended by the older of my two younger brothers (both had been there before), that is to go to the Flower Dome first before the Cloud Forest. My brother took so many photos of the flowers but there are too many to upload. I’ll post two photos of the impressive Cloud Forest though:

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The first is a photo taken near the entrance; the second from one of the walks. It was beautiful but my mum and I were too scared of heights to fully appreciate it.

We rounded off the trip to Gardens by the Bay with Texas Chicken for dinner, forgoing our usual 初一 steamboat dinner at home because we were too hungry. I then took the parents to have a quick look-see of the MBS and the façade of Art Science Museum before heading back. I certainly hope that this 初一 family outing would be a family tradition for many years to come!

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Birthday Cake for my mother

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This is my first attempt at baking a cake. I baked this for my mother’s birthday with a recipe I got from the instructor of the PA course for Variety Baking. Looks ugly but is deliciously chocolatey. I really have to brush up on my skills for food presentation and cake decorating though. Never had a decent photo of what I’ve cooked. I can’t even save this with good photography skills or photoshop.

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My Reading Journey

Be prepared for verbal diarrhea. This is what happens when I write about one of my passions. I wrote this for an assignment and had to control myself before I wrote a 3000-word essay on it when it was only meant to be a reflection.

I love reading for leisure. I read many genres but my favourite genres have to be the romance genre and the thrillers. It was fun to trace my reading history and look at how I have progressed as a reader in this exercise. Of course, I had help from Bookjetty.com, a useful site for checking availability in the public library and keeping track of titles I have read. Let’s begin!

I started reading actively in late 1997 when I was in Primary 1. I had access to only fairy tales and Enid Blyton short stories owned by my classmates. In Primary 3, I finally got a library card and proceeded to make up for my earlier deprival. I read countless books from series such as Enid Blyton’s Malory Towers, The Naughtiest Girl, Fantastic Five. I read Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew and the Animorphs series by K.A. Applegate. I read abridged versions of classics such as Robinson Crusoe, Sherlock Holmes, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. I read books by Roald Dahl. The list goes on. I loved reading so much that I never had enough time to finish reading what I wanted and carried books around with me everywhere and even read them under the table during lessons.

I finally got around to reading Harry Potter in Primary 5, after all the hype from the movie had died down somewhat. As a result of that, I began reading paranormal themed books from the Young Adult shelves such as the Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Angel and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.   I also read other paranormal/thriller series such as Elizabeth Chandler’s Dark Secrets series and Violet Eyes and Silver Eyes by Nicole Luiken. Luiken’s novels introduced me to the world of speculative, dystopian fiction, which never failed to disappoint me, even when I don’t actively seek out novels in this genre.

By the time I was in secondary school, I grew tired of the books on the Young Adult shelves. I began to gradually move on to books on the Adult section shelves. I started reading romance novels – contemporary and historical – and thrillers, moving from author to author. From the school library I picked up the Anne of the Green Gables series, the Chalet School series, and Julian May’s Diamond Mask. I read the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I read Stepping on the Cracks by Mary Downing Hahn for literature class in Secondary 2 but never read it again after the year ended. This was unusual since I have a tendency to re-read books that I own. Looking back, I realised that it must be because I saw it as a school text.

I read more literary texts in JC since I was taking H2 Literature in English then. I had gained a better though rather superficial appreciation for literature then. The syllabus took me through Dickens’ Great Expectations, Joyce’s Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man, Shakespeare’s Othello and King Lear. Meanwhile, outside of school, I continued to read the romance novels and thrillers that I am still reading today. I still saw them as separate domains – one was reading for school, another was reading for leisure.

In university, I took a couple of modules which exposed me to texts such as J.M. Coetzee’s Disgrace, Kazuo Ishiguro’s Remains of the Day, Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children, Jeannette Winterson’s Oranges are Not the Only Fruit, Harold Pinter’s The Birthday Party, Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie, Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse, Luigi Pirandello ‘s Six Characters in Search of an Author, Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of being Earnest. University broadened my worldview and helped me appreciate these literary texts more fully – something I was unable to do in JC. However, I still had a tendency to read such texts deliberately, looking out for themes and literary devices. This hampered my enjoyment of the texts and I continued to see reading literary texts as reading for school. I never read them again after the module ended. On the other hand, for books that I read for leisure, I often re-read them. Reading for leisure was a treat during semester breaks – I read without deliberation but critical awareness still creeps in. This was especially obvious for novels that I was re-reading. However, it did not affect my enjoyment of the books.

For a long time, I always saw reading for school and reading for leisure as two separate things. I realised that it does not always have to be so during my Enhanced School Experience. My CT and I had selected an extract from Survivor in Death, a novel from my favourite thriller series by J.D. Robb, for a lesson on unseen prose. It was fun and exciting to be using a text that I love and I was familiar with. Using that extract actually allowed me to see why I enjoyed that particular series so much. I realised then that there was no need for to draw a line between reading for leisure and reading for school/work.

Reading The Giver by Lois Lowry for my micro-teaching session was also rather enlightening. Since it was short, I chose to read it for leisure without being overly concerned about literary devices and themes first before analysing it. To my surprise, I enjoyed the story. I know that I need more exposure to the classics and the canons as a literature teacher but had always felt inertia in reading them. Hopefully, by reading these texts for leisure first with some unavoidable critical awareness before analysing them, I would be able to overcome this inertia.

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Chaos ensue from Ring Ding Dong

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I played Ring Ding Dong by Shinee over Youtube when doing my work. Sos clams her hands over her ears. Brother picks up phone and start playing Ring Ding Dong. Whining from Sis. Ma starts singing Baby…….. (This is amazing coming from her). Sis complains.

In other words, chaos whenever there is Ring Ding Dong being played. Ring Ding Dong = Torture. Reason being, she set Ring Ding Dong as her alarm ringtone. Lesson learned: Don’t do anything like it, or you might just end up detesting songs that you used to enjoy.