Surprise, I’m back!

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The last time I planned a surprise home trip, Tracy accidentally let the cat out of the bag.
So this time, I warned her the night before my flight not to disclose anything. Guess what, I bet she behaved oddly during her daily chat with my son. Despite keeping the cat deep inside the bag, my son smelled a rat and told my wife he sensed a “surprise” heading their way. 45 minutes before I arrived at their doorstep, my wife sent me this terrifying message “Elkan asked me if I am planning any surprise. Are you planning a surprise?”

Staring blankly at her message in disbelief, I almost nuked Tracy for the leak. However, it wasn’t her fault this time. It was simply the telepathy connections between both father and son. The “Force” in him somehow sensed me nearby. Unbelievably amazing!

Despite their intuitions, I managed to give them a pleasant surprise at the door. The second I stepped out of the lift, Stella spotted me! Luckily, she remained calm and composed. I waited for a few seconds before Felicia and Elkan walked past the door. They froze the second they saw me standing by the gate. What a delightful scene!


It was a very short and packed 3-day business trip.
 I had a few meetings to attend and also came back to check out Singapore’s latest “not-so-friendly” self-checkout supermarket. Guess we are still not ready for “Smart Nation”. Stop wayanging and move faster, Singapore!

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Managed to spend an evening with my parents and a short reunion with my Wahbiang Clan. I was longing for durians but it wasn’t the season. Felicia urged me to try the McDonald’s incredibly crazed Nasi Lemak Burger. Thankfully, the craze has subsided and I didn’t have to queue to buy one. Verdict – there wasn’t any rice (Nasi) but the authentic chilli flavour with the tendering juicy chicken made it super yummy! No wonder it drove Singaporeans crazy months ago!

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Just before I took off for Hong Kong, Elkan gave me a nice treat at the airport’s arcade centre. For once, I beat him in electronic games. Of course, he cried foul because that was a very very old classic game we played! And yes, his old dad topped the score on the board!

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Now, back in Hong Kong for almost a week. Looking back, it was a sweet surprise after all. That “Kodak moment” was indeed priceless and memorable.

Last night, I received a sweet moving note from Felicia. “Every time I walk past the doorway, I am hoping to see you again.”

See you guys very soon. In exactly 2 weeks!

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A Strange Day of Messages

Today is Valentine’s Day and my social media feeds were bombarded with tons of mushy photographs and public declarations of love. I was stuck at home, down with a really bad flu, feeling miserable.

I was out of office for 2 days. The medicine I took was extraordinary strong and it made me so drowsy that I slept through the day. Later then I realized I took a lot more dosages than required. It was supposed to be once a day for 3 days. I took 3 times a day! No wonder my head was spinning the entire whole day.

This morning, I greeted Felicia “Happy Valentine” but she didn’t reply “Happy Valentine”. Instead, she replied me with a pictorial message.



Those were the first 2 messages I received at 8:22am. Geee, that’s the first watch I bought for her back in 1993! My gosh, she kept it so well!

At 9:02, I received another message.



This was taken back in 2009! Our first Valentine DIY breakfast! So appetizing and yummy!

At 10:02am, Felicia sent another message. 

Hahah, it was an old photo of my mischievous boy! By now, I spotted a pattern in today’s messages. They were all old photos/items from the past. At 11:02am, she sent me another photo.


And another photo at 12:02pm.



“Wow, so many printed love today” I replied. “Yeah. You should create a blog full of his funny moments and your layout. Each a day.”

“Hope they keep u company since u r home alone :)” she said.

At 1:02pm, another pictorial message popped up on my screen. This time, it was a video link.



At 3:12pm…4:02pm and 5:02pm (when I was dozing on my bed), more pictorial messages popped up on my screen.



“Heheh. Nice. You can published a book on all our stuffs..” I wrote.

“That a full time job! Haha.., I can do that when I retire. Compile for our grand children. “ Felicia replied.

At 6:02pm, 7:02pm and 8:02pm, she sent me a photo every hour. Those were old gifts and photos of yesteryear.



By then, I realized her photographs were sorted and synced with the timing of the day (breakfast, lunch and dinner).

At 9:02pm, 10:02pm and 10:22pm, Felicia finally wished me “Happy Valentine” with the last 4 images. It was at 22:22 when she revealed the most important detail that I missed. All her photos were sent on either the second / twelfth / twenty-second minute of every hour.



“Heheh… Happy Valentine’s Day!!😘” Felicia wrote. “I hope you enjoy a long day with me today :). From 08:22 to 22:22!”

My wife outsmarted me again with another surprise. It was another creative version of her very long Valentine Greeting (read Longest Valentine Card). Except this time, it wasn’t inscribed on paper, it started digitally this morning at 0822 and ended right on the dot of my favorite magical number 2222.

Thanks for brightening up my gloomy sick day with all these sweet surprises. Thank you my lovely, creative Valentine!

CNY Reunion in Batam – The Rain Goddess Strikes Again?

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9 days ago, I flew back to Singapore to attend our annual family reunion tradition. Seemed like a long week of break but good times passed by so fast. There was never enough time for everyone. Just when I was done with all the CNY formalities and was about to settle down well into my holiday mood, it was time to pack and leave.

 

This was our 5th Staycation CNY reunion. Auntie Amy started this tradition back in 2013. Since then, we have gathered at Sentosa (2013), Desaru (2014), Kukup (2015), Bintan (2016) and this year, the Wong and Chua families gathered at Batam Island. I am sure the location for our 6th Reunion (2018) will be an interesting one since we have covered all the nearby resorts. I wondered where will we go next year.

Infamously known as the “Rain Goddess” (雨神), Auntie Amy’s wet spell seemed to have worn out this year. For the first time ever, we got to enjoy a slightly normal reunion (it rained only for a short while this year!). All our past reunions were cursed with dreadful stormy weathers whenever Auntie Amy was around. Last May, when she visited me in Hong Kong, the city experienced its first ever typhoon in spring. That’s how she got her notorious divine nickname.

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We stayed at Batam Turi Beach Resort. Built along a long stretch of rocky beach, cascaded on the slopes of a quiet hilly forest, there was so much room for everyone. It was a wonderful place to relax as it wasn’t over-crowded with noisy travel groups. The pool was pretty quiet throughout our stay. There were 2 long jetties that stretched out to the sea where resort guests can enjoy a relaxing breezy scenic stroll.

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During the day, the families spilt out to enjoy their own personal activities. The old folks took afternoon nap while the kids played in the pool. Leon and Chester went out for a run and Elkan and I explored the forest nearby. Without so much free time to spare, I flew the drone around the resort to stalk my relatives.

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At night, the Wong & Chua Bar opened outside my old folks’ chalet. Thanks to Chester’s recent drinking spree, this year, we were “highly motivated” and bought many bottles of red wine and whisky. Most of them were drinking red wine, I had to clear most of the whisky by myself. By the end of the first night, I found myself e-scooting dangerously in the dark down the steep slopes back to my chalet. Thankfully, I made it back without a scratch. I certainly made my dad worried when I failed to reply his message that night.

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The second night, the bar doubled up as a small family makeshift gambling den. The gambling table was so small that we kept dropping cards through the floor of the slitted chalet. It was pretty hilarious when we had to stop the games and sent a few of us under the chalet to recover the cards in the dark. 5 Wongs vs 3 Chuas, outnumbered but not beaten, dad and I emerged as big winners after 24 rounds of disruptive blackjack. (Thanks to the blessing of a wild trespassed fruit bat (蝙蝠=变福) which showered my seat with droppings 5 minutes before the game.)

The families spent a good relaxing 3 days 2 nights at the resort. Other than the usual, costly beach activities, there wasn’t much to do. Felicia and I chilled out by the balcony, looking out to the sea. Elkan was lying on the bed, inside the chalet, glued to his games and online chats. Dining at the resort was expensive and limited, so on our last evening, the families hired 3 cabs, took a long 45-minute ride to the nearest shopping complex (Nagoya Hill Shopping Mall) for massage, shopping and dining.

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Strangely, the old folks seemed to enjoy this year’s reunion, citing it as the best gathering ever. I guess it must be due to the unusual good weather and the endless liquor-sessions. For me, this was certainly the prettiest and coziest resort we have stayed so far. The food was decently good and the environment was even better. No overcrowding during morning breakfast buffet and at the pool, it was all peaceful and calm.

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My only complain – the stay was too short for us to explore the island. Another 2 more days would be better. At least, I will have more time (and opportunities) to convince my 2 gadget-hungry cousins to buy my spare drones. After all, the Rain Goddess was weak on her spell this year.

 

Wahbiang Melaka Trip (Blog by Felicia)

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BLOG BY FELICIA. VLOG BY ELKAN (31st Dec 2016)

Wahbiang have been planning for many years (at least 10 years!) to go for an overseas trip together. But it was never fulfilled due to work and family commitment. Timing was an issue as we needed to plan way before for applying leaves and making sure our kids could join us too. And we also needed to make sure it fits everyone’s budget.

Finally during Sam’s birthday gathering, just a comment from Joanne who missed the chendol in Melaka, we decided we should just all go to Melaka! With a long weekend, favourable currency exchange for Malaysia Ringgit, and such a nearby destination, it was the perfect short getaway. We were all planning to have lots of yummy food. There were requests for chendol, Peranakan food, chicken rice balls, Hokkien mee, wonton noodles, chilli crab, etc. Basically it was all about food!

Gareth, Sam and Lionnel came alone with no kids, no hassle. Joanne, Karen, me and our two boys, Alston and Elkan. Thanks to Sam who gave us a morning call at 5:48am which was way too early for a 9:15am coach. He was really excited about this trip!

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Many travelers were taking the coaches to Malaysia. There were almost 1-2 coaches arriving at the deport every 15 minutes. Our coach was delayed. By the time we cleared the long queues at both the customs, it was already 12 noon. We were all very hungry by then and it made us look forward to our dinner! Gareth was drooling at the thought of food.

Finally, we arrived at Melaka at around 4:30pm. After checking in and dropping our bags, we headed out to find the dinner place (Restoran Tong Sheng) which was very popular in Melaka. Indeed, there was already a queue by the time we made our way there. From the Singlish we picked up from the conversations around us, it was obvious that the queue was mostly made up of Singaporeans. So typical to see Singaporeans in long queues especially for great food! And we were part of it too. Haha… 😀

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It was a long one hour queue before we could get our seats. Our tummies were rumbling, our legs were sore and tired, and the boys were bored waiting. But the spirits were high! We had in mind what we wanted to eat, mostly imagining the satisfaction after this mouth-watering meal. I must say the food was really tasty, especially the cheese bee hoon with prawns and the dark soya sauce hokkien mee. The otah with steamed egg and fried sotong were our favourites too. We were so bloated after the heavy dinner but it was satisfying! Especially the bill was way below what we expected. Worth coming back again, definitely.

After such a heavy meal we still couldn’t resist the temptation of desserts…. we had to have waffles with chocolate, chocolate molten cake, hot chocolate drinks, coffees and teas. Simply sinful!

The next day, most of us got up early for breakfast at the hotel. The food was good but we were still hoping to get out for more local food. Unfortunately, Gareth was not feeling too well. He was disappointed that he couldn’t seem to eat too much now. So much food, not enough time to digest. His mind wanted… But he’s stomach didn’t allow! We had to give him a boo as he was the one who excited us with plans to eat, eat & eat!

Right after breakfast, we took a stroll to Jonker Street. Surprisingly, the weather was quite cooling and windy too. The azure blue sky was dotted with fluffy white clouds and the trees swayed gently. Very unlikely to be so pleasant. Usually it was very hot and humid in Melaka. We were definitely enjoying the good weather. As we arrived at our destination, we see long queues at the chendol hawker stall by the river and the chicken rice balls. The street was busy and bustling with food vendors and the colourful trishaws.

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Our first stop – wonton mee. At 12 noon, they have already sold out their noodles! Thankfully the stall aunite said she could buy some kuay teoh from the neighbouring stall if we were ok with that. We were more than happy. The wontons were very yummy!

Next stop – Chendol. This chendol stall was what brought us here on this trip. Joanne was looking forward to it. As usual, there were long queues in the shophouse. We managed to get a small table and ordered 4 bowls to share. Standard not as good as before, probably due to the overwhelming orders from the customers. Some of the diners had to stand outside the shophouse to eat.

Along the way back, we were still munching Nonya kueh, Chinese cookies, cheese tarts and egg tarts. Bought lots of goodies for our families back home.

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After a long day of walking and eating, time to rest. While some of us went for a massage, Lionnel & me bought the boys back to the hotel for a relaxing swim. The boys had lots of fun at the pool and in the hotel room too. Sorry Auntie Karen they destroyed your whole bathroom 😛

Dinner time! My Melaka Auntie recommended a more home-cooked style dining place to us. It was a small shophouse near a bridge over the Melaka river. Very friendly folks. The elderly lady boss was very kind to help us save cost, afraid that we might over ordered our food. A boy who looks barely 12 years old was helping serving dishes to us. Needless to say, our boys are so fortunate.

The oyster omelette was not up to expectation as it was a slightly different style from our Singapore version. But the rest of the dishes are very good. The boys loved the dark soya sauce hokkien mee. The steam pomfret was very fresh. Another happy meal for our tummies with couple glasses of beer for Sam, Joanne, Karen & Lionnel. Unfortunately, Gareth was starting to feel unwell again. He was feeling heaty and feverish. But he was still determined to have his Corny Dog and root beer at A&W after dinner! Way to go! Buuuuurp…..

And yes, we all did had a quick meal at A&W. We were so full that we had to walk around the mall to help with the digestion. We took a long walk across the mall and went to a snack store and bought more goodies for the folks back home. After that Sam spotted a Bak Kut Teh store and suggested we go for it. But we were too full, so we decided to add that into the next day’s food itinerary.

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It was indeed challenging to have a hotel breakfast and Bak Kut Teh and a Peranakan lunch, as planned before we board the Coach that travels back to Singapore at 2:30pm. We managed the first 2 but had to forgo the Peranakan lunch as there was a long queue and we didn’t have that much time left. So we headed back to our hotel for a simple meal at the cafe. Bought lots of egg tarts and bread for the long journey. Afraid there might be long queues at the customs again. But thankfully, it was a smooth ride back home and no traffic jams or queues too!

By now, Gareth is feeling much better after a good night’s rest. And since we returned back to Singapore early, he suggested that we should have dinner before we go home. Haha… not letting go any chance for a good meal! And we were happy to have Charlie, Lusia, Jacob & Christy join us for dinner! It was another nice steamboat meal. Feels like a Lunar New Year dinner.

Such a joyful and fun food trip! Thanks for all the spontaneous response and fun jokes we had throughout the trip. We missed our other Wahbiang friends. Looking forward to another trip soon! Enjoy the Video! 😛

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Wahbiang birthday bash @ Hotel 25 (Blog by Felicia)

Our monthly gatherings for Wahbiang birthday buddies has always been a great get-together and catching up with everyone in the clan. It gets tougher each month as we are constantly looking for suitable venues. From a small group of secondary school friends, we have multiplied to a big clan!! At the moment, we have about 17 kids and one more on the way, coming in Sep!

In the good days, hangouts were often at the coffee shops along East Coast Rd, Dunman food center or prata along Changi Rd. As we all settled down and started our families, our Eunos flat eventually become and weekly gathering venue. Simple activities of potluck dinners, gaming, mahjong session and most of our guest also stayed overnight on our sofa! That’s how eventually we called our flat, Hotel 25 (our block number). The good old times!

After we moved out of our flat, we catch up more often outside our homes. This month, since our flat was empty, being our usual haunt way back almost 20 years ago, I tot would be a great place for the Wahbiang clan and the kids too! Thanks Joanne for kick-starting and helping to organize July’s birthday gathering! The date was set, venue picked and food delivery ordered and the party starts!!

Elkan and me were excited about the party and that we were staying over for a night! It’s like a staycation for Elkan. He gathered some toys, clothes and his sleeping bag while I prepared the cutleries, snacks and toiletries. All packed in a luggage and off we head to Hotel 25!

With the convenience of online food delivery, everything happens in a click! We had DIY popiah and kueh pie tee, laksa, the famous Golden Pillow and side dishes. The clan came and the whole house was blasted with activities! Our kids were running around, lots of laughter, petty quarrels among them and our strict Auntie Karen at the top of her voice to keep the kids well behaved! Guess Hotel 25 is too small for the kids to play.

Good to have Erny to join us. We have occasional guests who often due to work or taking care of the younger kids, couldn’t make it to our gatherings. She mentioned that the last time she came, I was just pregnant with Elkan! How time flies! We were boys and girls, turned man and woman and now daddies and mummies.

Goodbyes at the end of the party was reluctant for Elkan. As we walked out with Lionnel & Joey, Duuk & Juliana, and the kids, he was looking a little upset. At the carpark, he kept sneaking into Duuk’s car so that he could hold up a few more minutes and play with the boys.

It was a great evening and a big thank you to all that came and made our home so cozy and filled with life and energy again!

Happy Birthday to the July babes, Juliana, Joey and Edelynn (MC’s younger girl)! Joanne, we missed you!!

Wahbiang Vlog 2016/09 – Hate going to the airport

Last day in Singapore. Hate waking up early to say goodbye to my son at the bus-stop. Hate packing and moving. Hate messaging goodbye-notes on Wechat. Hate SQ for for not overbooking their flights. Hate pandan-cake trafficking. And really really hate going to our world-class Changi airport for all the wrong reasons. 24 days in Singapore – This is my longest home-cum-working trip ever! And it is without doubt, the best!

The annual Chinese Feasting Festival is back!

I am finally off for Chinese New Year! No more work and meeting, just having great reunion time with my family and good friends in Singapore! This year is a little bit special, I get to stay in Singapore for over 20 days!

Fate has been very kind to me too. Over the last 3 days, I bumped into 2 very old friends – Stella and Rosline (aka Baoxuan) who were coincidently my secondary school friends! I also managed to gather all my dear Katong friends for a small reunion breakfast at my favourite joint. I really miss the old days when we ran our small boutique agency. Time flies, Caffeine has been in Katong for over 1 decade! Amazing!

I would like to thank Karen and Charlie for hosting such a wonderful Wahbiang Gathering! It was nice to meet a couple of friends who I haven’t seen for over a year – Duuk, Yifu, Charlie, Ivy and Kalinda! It was a great party but the reunion time was too short for me to connect with every single one of you! We miss the presence of Lusia & Sam (who are now recovering in USA), Mannc, Joey, Lilian, Serene, Tracy (in KL with family) and Joanne! Despite the heavy downpour, we had a great time! The kids were pretty well-behaved too!

While I enjoy all the reunion with my families and friends, I don’t really like the ritual of eating/drinking at every CNY meeting. It does seem awkward and rude if we do not offer or accept any food/drinks during the gathering. It is really difficult to keep my weight down during this fattening feasting season. Perhaps I should just restrict myself to 3 gatherings per day. It is not even CNY yet and I felt my tummy bloated already!

I wonder, how many more Yusheng (鱼生) I have to consume before the end of this feasting season?

Enjoy the Vlog below:

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