About orionstar

Easily amused, easily interested, easily bored. Always looking out for new experiences..The world is so vast...

Give Blood…

I did something for the first time just last Wed. It was actually unplanned. In fact, it didn’t cross my mind until my colleague walked around asking if anyone wants to donate blood.

Every few months, there would be a blood donation drive held in the recreation centre at the airport. Usually, I would ignore on excuses of being busy and all that. More likely, I am freaked by the thought of a large needle stuck in me for a few minutes and draining my blood away. Anything to do with needles just sounds painful. Oh, and what if I faint? What if this and that… So you see, excuses excuses…

So when my colleague asked me today, I’d actually give some thought, that maybe I should try donating. It is for a good cause. You never know when emergency hits and someone is in need of the same blood type as me. So I agreed. Together with 3 other colleagues, we walked towards the venue of the blood donation drive.

First, we had to fill up a form full of questions ranging from whether we are using this drive as a way to find out if we have HIV to whether we have any health problems, taking any medication, in contact with anyone with Ebola and so on… In the registration list, there were around 30 people or so who were before us and all of had donated before. I am the only one who is a first-timer.

Next, we had our blood pressure taken. Holy moley! My blood pressure was much higher than usual. That’s unusual and the medical assistant thinks it’s because I am nervous. Guess so… Anyway, my blood pressure was normal just a month ago during my health screening so it’s unlikely (?) that it would spurt that fast.

Lastly, the iron-level test. Mine was just nice at 12.5. Any lower means I can’t donate, otherwise I run the risk of anemia or fainting from that amount of blood loss. I was given a stress ball to squeeze while they check for a visible vein. No problems there. Then, I was given a shot of anesthetic to numb that area. That bit is a little uncomfortable but it’s only for a quick second.

Finally, that thick needle was inserted. Most people I know avoided looking at this part of the process. While I don’t look forward to injections (seriously, who does???), but there’s something fascinating about watching a needle jabbed into my arm. Same goes for when blood samples were taken during the health screening. For this, they had to take multiple test-tubes of blood too. Obviously, they had to test the blood to make sure it is suitable.

Since I am not very small-size (heh), around 450ml was drawn on top of some 40-something ml into a smaller bag, so that’s almost half a litre. My blood seemed to flow pretty fast and the bag was filled up in the next 10mins, I think. Thankfully, I felt fine after that.

And I got a bright yellow bandage with smiley faces… hahaha… Had to keep this on for 2 hours and made the nook of my elbow itched.. Urgh…

Am glad I went through it. It wasn’t as scary as I’d thought. Think I would wanna donate again when the next blood donation drive comes along…

Orchard Road Closure… Christmas Lights!!

Despite the crowd, there is a certain allure about going to Orchard Road during the Christmas season. Must be the Christmas lights along the street and the decor by the respective malls, enhancing the overall festive mood.

Yesterday, Orchard Road was closed for 5 hours and the crowd took to the streets to admire the lights and generally bask in the ambience.

It’s my first time walking along the main road of this shopping belt without any vehicular traffic!! It’s definitely crowded but not as bad as on the eve of CNY at Chinatown, a place which I will never go on the eve after being literally stuck in the human traffic some years ago.

Programmes included a giant screen featuring some cartoons and performance by local band, Jack and Rai.

Overall, it’s a good feeling…

Another 3 weeks to Christmas and then the new year… *pensive*

Eastpoint Mall Revamped!!

2 YEARS!!

That’s how long the residents of Simei had waited for the renovated Eastpoint Mall!! In early 2013, I had lamented about the closure of Eastpoint and back then, 2 years seemed so far away. *Sob* No doubt this mall needs a rejuvenation badly. So, no choice, the whole place needs to shut down for some major rework.

The initial month or two took some time to get used to. The temporary 24-hour NTUC supermarket had helped address the basic essentials like groceries and stuff. After that, I’m pretty much used to walking past the wooden boards that served as barriers around the mall for the renovations. Until some months ago, I’d started wondering if the mall would be opened before Christmas.

The day had finally arrived!! 2nd Dec was the first day which Eastpoint had re-opened. (Yes, this is a backdated entry). I was already excited just walking past it on my way to the MRT station for work.

In the evening, after work, the same feeling of excitement welled up as I had alighted from the train and walked towards the long-awaited re-opened mall. I am obviously not the only one. Place’s swarmed! Looks like half of Simei had flocked to Eastpoint too. I don’t recall Eastpoint having such a large crowd ever!

Ok, let’s check out what’s new…

Firstly, the flooring had changed. The original beige square tiles (boring!) are replaced by smooth white tiles. Not sure the material type. The central foyer seems less spacious, now that the elevators are located inside the building and the shop layout configuration had changed, of course.

I’d checked out the basement floor first. There’s a “Daiso”. Yay! The layout of Daiso is like walking through an aerobridge but with the shelves of stuff at the side. Oh! There’s “Yamazaki Boulangerie Chaude”. I love their mochi cheese bread. Now I don’t have to go to Tampines just to get them. There’re some eateries. One selling fishball noodles and across it, sells some local dishes like chicken curry and “mei cai kou rou”. It’s very much different from previously where the layout was more rectangular and the only establishment in the center is “Hans”.

There are definitely more restaurants and food choices in the revamped mall. “Eighteen Chefs” is back and the queue is mad long. Don’t recall “Eighteen Chefs” is ever that crowded. There’s “Nene Chicken” (Had bought their fried chicken yesterday and waited for 30mins for these damn chicken!! Eh, you cooking or killing the chicken?? WTF!!). 

I am looking forward to check out “Juk Story”, supposedly first in Singapore. Oh crap! That means long queues are expected. Had tried their porridge in Incheon Airport last Dec when we had first arrived on a red-eye flight. It’s not too bad but pretty pricey for a bowl of boiled rice with condiments. For this branch here, there are other Korean dishes like their spicy soup, hot plate grilled meat and stews. Quite a variety here other than the porridge.

The food court “Food Junction” is on the 4th floor. Only half the stalls are opened for now. Should be fully opened by end of this month, I think.

I’d browsed through every floor. Still quite a bit of empty spaces waiting to be leased out. Shops, restaurants and other retail, that are supposed to be here, are unavailable yet. Soon, I guess. The “Watsons” store is smaller than before. It’s ok lah. For medication, there’s the NTUC pharmacy at the 5th floor.

Ah, 5th floor, that’s where the NTUC is now located. It used to be at the basement. Actually, I really like the temporary NTUC that was previously next to the mall before everything is shifted to the mall. The NTUC is bigger than before (it occupies the entire floor) and it’s 24-hours! The supermarket is likely the only place with people throughout the day. It is an essential place for the neighbourhood, so it would make sense to locate it at the highest floor, where like it or not, people would still make their way up. No other shops or even restaurants can command that kind of effort and need. Maybe in town but here? Hmm… quite unlikely lah.

The mall is now all clean and new. Hopefully, it would maintain this standard for a while. I’d recalled the restrooms in the old mall was qute eeky. The floors were often wet and there’s a perpetual dank stench that’s a mix of damp cloth, cloying air refresher and ammonia. *puke*

Well, now that the mall is back. We don’t have to travel to Tampines, which is the nearest neighbourhood, for other necessities. Speaking of which, there is no alteration service. Hopefully, there’s one soon?

Reviving those Curls…

Earlier this year, I had decided to revive my limp and flat looking hair by digital perming the ends. Was pretty pleased with the outcome even though it’s just some slight curls at the end. The curls lasted for a few months, sometimes accentuated by hot curl rollers when I am in the mood, otherwise it’s just twirl-around-the-finger blow-drying. Slowly, the curls began to lose their shape and much of them were gone after a trim 2 weeks ago. Scraggy and stringy hair ain’t the way to go for this festive season so I’d decided to go for another digital perm. This time, at a different salon.

There were several positive reviews about “Cleo Hair & Make” (Clarke Quay Central). All the hair stylists are Japanese. One of the stylists called Sio seems to be adept at perms and colours, so I had made an appointment with him this afternoon. Sio is rather quiet but very polite and affable. He understood what I want, like, some curls but not too curly. He did suggest snipping off about 3 inches. I know that might define the curls better but I’d like my current length so I said no. Thankfully, he wasn’t insistent and respected my request of “no cutting”.

After the hair wash, the ends of my hair were rolled into these rollers and attached to a machine. I can feel a little heat but it wasn’t severe. Can’t remember how long this part took (30mins?) cos I was watching a show which I had downloaded into my phone. Haha… But the entire process from the start till the end of the blow drying took more than 2 hours.

I must say, the price at “Cleo” is higher than the previous salon. Like more than $50 higher. But I am pretty satisfied with the perm. To compare with my first digital perm, I’d prefered the current. While I am pleased with both outcomes, I’d find the curls of the current perm more defined. Anyway, my hair was longer then, so maybe that’s also a reason why some parts of the hair seem rather flat especially the right side.

Anyway, the curls from a digital perm are supposed to be looser, and possibly look more like loose waves, which is what I like, than very tight curls (think instant noodles). Well, will assess again after one week after a couple of washes and self blow-drying. Hopefully, the curls wouldn’t fray so fast. *cross fingers*

“Beauty in the Pot” (One KM Mall): Beauty Collagen Soup Hotpot

I do love a good bowl of nourishing soup that is full of flavour. Make that a few bowls. Other than Tsukada Nojo, think we had just found another place that sells such hearty soup with collagen as a key element. Collagen is the essential protein that gives one’s skin that elasticity and firmness. Consuming collagen-rich food would supposedly help reduce the formation of wrinkles, which I am not sure if that is truly proven.

Anyway this new place we had discovered last weekend, goes straight to the point on the association with collagen. Aptly named as “Beauty in the Pot“, this hotpot restaurant is a newly-opened in the also newly-opened One KM Mall, just opposite City Plaza.

There are only 2 types of soup base available- the dense and rich “Beauty Collagen Broth (shark cartilage soup)” and the tongue-numbing “Spicy Nourishing Broth (pork bone soup)”. I’d never like 麻辣 (ma la) soup but for the sake of the hubby, who probably enjoys spewing fiery poop from his ass, I agreed to go with 鸳鸯 mode. In the second half of the image below, the 4 bottles of cloudy white liquid is actually the collagen soup, to be added into the hotpot if more soup is needed.

Almost milky white in colour, the collagen soup has a creamy consistency and comes with a couple of ingredients such as wolfberries, red dates, shimeiji mushrooms, beancurd and bamboo pith which resembles some sort of thin sponge. It is also less salty than Tsukada Nojo’s.

The pricing is alright. Would say it’s comparable to other hotpot places like “J Pot” and “海底捞”. I like both hotpot places but what I thought had stood out here are some of their specialities like the home-made paste, meatballs/fishballs and these amazing fish tofu, shaped like a koi (I think). We were advised to only cook the fish tofu in the collagen soup (not the spicy one) for around 10 mins until the “fish” had expanded slightly.

At the end of the meal, we were served a small jug of zesty yuzu drink with crushed ice to make that drink extra refreshing. It’s supposed to cleanse your palate. Not sure if that is part of the meal, just like the rice and tea are free-flow.

One thing I must commend is their service level. The wait staff are extremely polite and attentive. But they have a habit of bowing as they are about to leave your table, be it after taking your order, serving your food or refilling your water. Don’t get me wrong. I really appreciate what they do. Just that, it’s quite hard to get used to. Some had done it quite subtly so it’s ok. There’s one guy who bowed as he reversed backwards. Ermm…

Anyway, we had a very fulfilling hotpot meal and I am sure we would visit this place again. The next time, no mala soup please.

Being health conscious…

Went for health screening this morning. Our organisation would arrange for a health screening for staff, usually held around this time of the year. There is the complimentary standard package as well as other packages which include more tests and analysis at the staff own cost.

As age creeps up, I am trying to be more conscious about my health. The usual, like exercising, though can be more active than my current weekly cycling, and diet, which can be more disciplined but I’m still weak for chocolates and occasional junk.

Strangely, drawing blood samples doesn’t freak me out as much as before. Yes, that’s my arm in the picture below. Fascinating to watch the crimson liquid fill up these little tubes. Ha, I don’t have a blood fetish k… Guess I am trying to take my mind off the fact that there is a bloody (pun unintended) needle in the nook of my elbow! It also depends on the person doing this squirm-inducing job. A heavy hand definitely leave bruising and a bad experience. Thankfully, this assistant is quite swift and honestly, it felt just like a little prick. You would be a baby just to bawl over this. LOL!

The full report would be out in around 2 weeks time.

For now, let’s see… at least my blood pressure is back to normal. It was normal-high last year which got me worried for a while. Hope it stays consistently normal. Guess I should try and avoid stressing myself too much. When crap hits the fan, first 深呼吸… Being a quick-tempered person, keeping calm is a rather arduous feat for me. Sigh..

Oh goody, my fat % had dropped by 17% but my weight still remains the same!! I’d read that it is possible. Guess this “fat” pertains all the fat in my body which includes those around and within the internal organs, so a reduction does not automatically result in a weight reduction. It could also due to conversion of more flabby bits to muscle? Think the exercising helps so let’s keep that up.

Honestly, I think i may have lost just some teeny bit inches off. Hopefully, I am not deluded to think that way. Haha… At least, I am a little more active now than compared to last year where I was a total slug. .

Had expected my cholesterol to remain borderline high again. It had been this way for the past 10 years. It’s not as if I had gorged on prawns and squid everyday, and I do watch what I eat except on weekends and during vacations. I dunno lah. Maybe, it’s more than just diet and I should exercise more. Argh!! Hopefully, the cholesterol level will be reduced this time round. We’ll see…

Chill out and Christmas Lights…

Couple of days ago, I had bumped into my colleague “M” along the corridor and started chatting, and somehow that led to a catch-up over lunch on Saturday. “Artistry“, which was featured in the papers recently, had popped up in my head instantly. Their Nasi Lemak burger sounds interesting.

“Artistry” is located at 17 Jalan Pinang, one of the streets at Kampong Glam. Quite a few of the traditional shophouses – a common architectural style for shops and residence of pre-war Singapore – are still around. To preserve their original form and structure as much as possible, these shophouses had been re-painted with likely some repair works done. Throw in some creativity and you get some pretty cool murals too. My favourite is the pair of kids sitting in a supermarket trolley, which the trolley is real but cut into half and affixed to the wall to give it a 3-D effect.

“Artistry” is part cafe and part art gallery. Actually, we had dropped by some nights ago, hoping to try the Nasi Lemak burger but was disappointed to know that it was only sold during lunch on weekends. The space inside the cafe is very small so seating indoors is very limited. There are more seats outdoors but it can get pretty hot in the afternoon or miserable when it rains. We’d almost couldn’t get a table inside and sitting just for a couple of minutes outdoors is enough for me to break into a sweat. Might help if they can install more fans. Luckily, we’d managed to get a table inside shortly after simmering in the heat outside, made worse after a short drizzle that afternoon.

Without hesitation, I had ordered the Nasi Lemak burger. According to the menu, it’s “an interpretation of our coconutty rice: crispy chicken cutlet and a sunny-side-up between pandan buns covered in toasted coconut, with sambal chilli, peanuts and ikan bilis on the side.” How can that not make one drool?

The chicken thigh is a chunky succulent slab coated with a spicy peanut sauce with a hint of turmeric (thought that was pretty distinctive) that packs a punch. And served with a sunny side-up lying comfortably on top the chicken! This combi is the best! The pandan buns with the toasted coconut might be delish on its own but the chicken thigh and the peanut sauce are clearly more overpowering in flavour and do these buns no justice. Frankly, the burger would still taste good if the buns are just plain o’ buns. You also don’t want to overwhelm the burger with an overly strong coconut and pandan flavour till the whole thing might end up tasting very jelak.

“M” had ordered the Salted Caramel and Bacon Waffles. Looks good too. Except for the bacon. Firstly, I don’t like bacon and for me, waffles should either be all sweet or salty. You can’t have it both ways. I guess some people don’t mind that mix. Not for me. Same for those chocolate-coated potato chips. Not my cup of tea, mate.

Naturally, I had dug in the “sweet” side of the waffle and avoided the bacon.

We had chatted till 5pm and “M” gotta leave for another appointment. I have another 2 hours to spare before meeting the hubby in town. Had decided to take a stroll within the vicinity and Haji Lane.

Ha, I didn’t know there’s deer meat murtabak (like a stuffed pancake or bread). Clearly, I don’t frequent these eateries often.

A sundry stall along the walk-way- You don’t see a lot of these around anymore.

I love checking out the shops along Haji Lane. Many are decorated in a quirky and eclectic fashion. Some of the fashion are a little too… erm… hip for me? But I’d still enjoy browsing through the racks. Maybe I might find something I like someday.

Another reason to meet the hubby in town is to catch the Christmas lights along Orchard Road- Largely gold lights adorned with psychedelic-coloured christmas trees and stars. Quite an odd merger but the overall effect is lovely nonetheless.

Was at the central part of Orchard Road where 313 Somerset and Orchard Central (OC) are. The OC is all pink and green. Will probably come by again next weekend to check out the Christmas bazaar at Triple One, just across the road.

Christmas is my favourite time of the year… How I wish it lasted a little longer…. Hmmmm….