About orionstar

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

The jittery feeling of receiving grades… once again…

The PSLE results were released today. The results were slightly better than last year. For this year, 98.3% of the cohort is able to enter secondary school.

Having been in that situation, I can totally imagine the anxiety these students are going through as they waited for the results. When it was my turn some gozillion years ago, we had waited in the school hall with racing heartbeats. I had a slight confidence that I will get into the Express stream but then again, you never know. Besides, the maths paper was tough so it’s hard to tell. Finally, it’s my turn to receive the result slip and when I saw that I qualify for the Express stream, a huge wave of relief just overwhelmed me.

It’s the same feeling as when I’d received my O and A Levels results. I was so nervous that my hands literally cramped up. Anyway, my A Levels results weren’t fantastic so there was some disappointment when I saw the grades. Whatever it is, those intense jittery feelings were a thing of the past.

Well, that’s what I had thought so once I started working until this year, when I become a student again!

But somehow, these feelings were much better controlled. However, there are also other factors in play. Like the final grade is usually comprised of a few components such as final project, quizzes other than the final exam though the latter usually constitute a higher proportion. The pressure does not seem as high or intense, though there still is, as compared to my primary/secondary/JC years.

Anyways, I am halfway into Term 2 so it’s that time of the term again where one rushes through the final projects and at the same time, tries to keep up with the lessons in preparation for the final exam. Unfortunately, we do not have any study breaks for this term, and likely the same for other terms, so it is really important to keep up week after week, lesson after lesson.

The jittery feeling will come again end Dec when the grades are released. It’s the holiday season too. Sigh… the feeling of enjoying the holiday season is kinda marred by these feelings huh… Hopefully, I will do ok..

It never gets tiring exploring Chinatown and Kampong Glam..

Oh man… my term break is coming to an end! Term 2 starts coming Mon. But I am not complaining cos it has been a REALLY good break. I’d never felt more relaxed and carefree. Most colleagues whom I had met for lunch in these 3 weeks (yes, 3 weeks!! Whhoooaatt!!) had commented that I looked rejuvenated and happy. Well, not for long cos term 2 is gonna erase all this radiance and bring back those furrowed brows!! Arrgghh!!

Had also managed to meet up with school friends whom I’ve not seen in years. When I’m working, it’s always about being too busy and when there’s spare time, I don’t want to do anything except my own things. Now that I have some spare time, there’s no excuse not to keep up with these friendships on grounds of having no time. Bleah… These are some things in life that matters and should not be taken for granted.

During this break, some of my coursemates had flew back home, some on vacation and there are some who remained here. Like 2 of my project group mates, Charlie and Denise. Being ever so hospitable (haha), I had offered to take them around Chinatown and Kampong Glam, both sites rich in the history, heritage and culture of Singapore’s past…

We started off with lunch at Maxwell Food Centre. I have been here several times but can you believe I have NEVER tried the famous Tian Tian chicken rice and Zhen Zhen Porridge?? There are other good stalls too but there are only 3 of us and are not big eaters.

Many would say that Tian Tian chicken rice is overrated. I think if the price of 1 plate ($5) is reduced to a more palatable (depending on how you view it) $3 plus or $4, maybe that view may change. I had read reviews that their chicken rice is preferred over the chicken. Perhaps the chicken was cooked well that day cos I’d find the meat tender and not dry whereas the rice is a tad too oily for my liking. I like chicken rice but not crazy over it so I typically don’t eat much of it. However, for a better price and good (some may say, better) taste, I would recommend the “Delicious Boneless Chicken Rice” at the basement of Katong Shopping Centre.

Zhen Zhen’s porridge has a unique texture. Quite similar to instant porridge. Of course, the taste and quality is way better than the instant processed version. Just that I felt the rice grains seem extremely fine, as if they were blended to smaller bits before boiling them.  Anyway, it is not a problem for me cos the porridge is still good and laden with ingredients.

After lunch, we walked briskly to Sago Lane where I wanna introduce them to my favourite egg tart shop. I can never remember the name of the shop except that it is along Sago Lane. Love the buttery flaky tart and the rich flavour of the egg tart. Thankfully, we didn’t overeat at Maxwell, otherwise no space for these tarts!

Maybe I had mentioned before in an old blog entry but anyways… I did a project on Chinatown for one of my history modules in university, and hence started my interest, and a soft spot (for nostalgic reasons) for this place. Even though much of it is very commercialised and many shops are selling stuff targeting tourists. Like those cheesy “Singapore is a Fine Country” T-shirts.

The weather was freaking hot that day. Actually, it has always been hot and worse, if hazy too. The “tourist guide” in me cannot take it. Need. ICE COLD drink. NOW. And air-con too, of course. #weakme.

After Charlie gets his shampoo from one of those toiletries shop in People’s Park Complex, we took a train to Telok Ayer, check out the Thian Hock Keng temple and then shield ourselves from the heat in one of the small cafes in that area. Too hot!!

It’s nice to just chill and have a cuppa and a chat. This helps us get to know each other better. Afterall, we had technically worked with each other, attended lessons together and even sat with each other in class for just 1.5 months. It’s actually not that long a duration but at least I do feel more comfortable with them now. To the extent of trying to be a tourist-guide wannabe and FAIL and end up hibernating in a cafe instead.. Haaa…

Ok…. it’s time to head down to Kampong Glam. It’s great that there’s a direct line from Telok Ayer to Bugis.

Had recalled the excitement upon discovering the street art by Ernest Zacharevic in Penang so I wanna relive that excitement again while checking out his artwork, even though not a lot, opposite Victoria Street. I especially like the ones with some accompanying props like supermarket trolleys stuck to the wall, which gives the effect of the kids sitting in them.

We had checked out more beautiful, most of them restored and repainted, shophouses along the small lanes nearby.

And then the magnificent looking Sultan Mosque (“Masjid Sultan”)…

We can’t miss one of my fave lanes- Haji Lane, filled with small cafes and eclectic shops. I love to browse through these shops but never buy anything. There’s a really cute pug in one of the shops. They have such worried expressions that it’s funny.

Dinner is at Zam Zam, famous for their briyani and murtabak. Vit, another project mate, had joined us after work.

If Tian Tian chicken rice is overhyped, so is Zam Zam.. Or maybe it’s because I do not really appreciate Indian food. But the fact is, I don’t find the briyani very flavourful. However, the biggest disappointment is the deer meat murtabak. It sounds cruel to eat Bambi but deer meat is really delicious and tender, and pretty common in the menus of Chinese zichar eateries. For this murtabak, the deer meat is minced and fried so the texture is rather dry so much so that I think it taste just like mutton except that the latter is cheaper. Hmm… I feel a little… cheated…

Well, we had compensated the lacklustre dinner with….3 scoops of Gelato and waffle!!! Initially, we wanted to check out some new Korean churros place but it was mad packed. Talking about the craze for novelty. But gelato and waffle are good too. Slurp…

What a day but it’s a good and fun one. Being local doesn’t mean we are familiar with some of these key attractions or heritage sites so it’s really nice to also visit them once in a while.


Across the causeway

Can’t recall the last time I’d been on a shopping spree at Johore Bahru (JB), our nearest neighbour linked by road. Well, I was there with some friends 4 years ago for a weekend getaway to some ranch but we didn’t do much shopping then. So when it comes to the latter, if I can’t recall when’s the last time, it must have been many years ago, possibly a decade or more ago.

It’s time we visit across the causeway to stock up on some stuff… I don’t wanna state the obvious on why we are visiting at this particular period. Go figure. :)

So a few days ago, my friend S and I had met early in the morning for our long-awaited shopping spree in JB. Another friend is supposed to join but was held back by work. Well, it’s ok cos we plan to visit JB again pretty soon.

It must have been a really long time since we’d last visited JB……. Cos this is the first time I had stepped into the revamped checkpoint at JB! Both of us were so engrossed chatting that after going through the immigration, we made a wrong turn and couldn’t find our way over to City Square! We had no choice but to ask the immigration officer for help. Aiyo…

Finally, we arrived at City Square. First thing first…… Book a body massage and foot reflexology in the afternoon. An apt timing since we will be done and I guess, pretty tired, from all that walking… Hee… At RM 120 (around SGD 40) good deal for both body massage and foot reflex.

City Square had changed quite a bit since the last time I was there ions ago. There was this shop that sells very lovely embroidery clothes though not all of them were made from very comfy materials so essentially, they are pretty to look at but may not be comfortable to wear. I’d always enjoyed checking out the dainty embroidered flowers on the blouses and skirts but had hesitated to buy any mainly cos of the price. Well, that shop is gone now. Not surprising… Sigh…

We bought some stationery from Popular and then took a cab and head for Holiday Plaza.

Holiday Plaza is a very old mall…The reason why we bother to come here is to get some kaffir lime body cleansing lotion which S swears by. It is a multi-purpose solution that serves as a shampoo, shower as well as facial cleanser. And according to the description on the packaging, it can *gasp* “exorcise spirits”!! Well, I just hope there is no need for that… But warding off negativity and cleansing one’s spirit sounds good to me.

[Trip afternote: I had tried the cleansing lotion and I felt like I am rubbing tom yam paste on me.. Not the spicy sensation lah… More of the strong lime smell.. Dang, makes me crave for some tom yam soup now… LOL… As a shampoo, it seems ok. My scalp felt cleansed and didn’t have that greasy touch for about a day.]

S must really love this lotion cos she had grabbed like 6 bottles of them… Wow…

Another surprise find is….. the Calbee Honey Butter Chips that are taking Korea by storm. When they are first introduced, packs of these chips were wiped off the shelves. Apparently, one of my friends was in Korea for a biz trip last week and she can’t find these chips. Seemed like there were others looking for them too. She said there were some people at the chips section, scanning the shelves…

Anyway, we were checking out the local snacks and tada, spotted a few packs of these super hot chips. But each pack is RM 18.90 (around SGD 6.30) which is pretty pricey for a rather small pack of chips.

[Trip afternote: I can’t resist trying the chips the night I’d reached home from JB. I would say the flavour is interesting. Part savoury with a hint of sweet, and then savoury again. S said they taste like potato croquettes.. Kinda if the croquettes are also a little sweet. To sum up, these chips are addictive and unique but are overhyped. They are just potato chips… I am sure the hype will die down in no time, or once people get over this fad and realised there’s no biggie about these chips]

What irony that we crossed over to JB and didn’t get a single pack of any Malaysian tidbits but chips from Korea. LOL!

Partly it’s also because I didn’t bring enough ringgit with me. Had miscalculated my supposed expenditure. Till the next time……

Think we didn’t really plan to have dinner in JB until we saw this sign at the Manhattan Fish Market at Komtar JBCC. How can we resist the RM 99.90 (SGD33) king crab platter that comes with one juicy meaty king crab, a slab of grilled dory, thick slices of calamari on top a generous bed of garlic butter rice. And this sizable portion is good for sharing so that makes it SGD 16.50 per pax. We will not get such a price for crabs like these back home… So no way we are missing this.

This offer will end sometime in Nov so if we are ever back in JB again next month, we may wanna go for this? :p

The massage had left us feeling really drained… For that price, I shall not complain much but to be honest, I had better massages. There are other massage shops in that corner of City Square but we had settled for the lowest price. Anyway, it wasn’t all that bad lah.

We plan to visit JB again next month…. And I’d already made a mental note of what I’m gonna get the next time round… :)

Term 1 Ends

It seems that I had just started school not long ago and Term 1 had ended. You know what… I’d really started school just recently. It’s just that each term is rather short (around 1.5 months) but very compact and intense.

Check this out… This is a pile of readings and notes just for one of my modules in Term 1. There are another 2 modules in the same term with some readings as well. But this large pile is for what I would consider as the most intensive module for this term. For every lesson (we have 8 in total), each group has to study a case before each lesson and submit our answers to a list of assigned questions to that case. There’s also class participation, which is graded, hence reading and preparing for the lesson in advance is required. So we don’t really have much breaks within the week.

Well, I have a couple more terms to go. So that means more readings, discussions, thinking and urgh, exams… I am so not looking forward to those finance modules but I have to muster the courage to face them cos that’s one reason why I chose to take up this course.

Anyways, I am starting to get to know my group members and some coursemates better. It’s been only a month and a half. We’ll have a couple more months together before we go on to our separate paths.

Here’s a class picture with one of our professors taken after the last lesson of that module. It is a huge and diverse class of different races and cultures.

Now we finalise all our final projects for Term 1 modules and get ready for Term 2!

Spice spice baby: Let’s make sambal chilli!

Had finally used a chunk of the belacan which I had bought from Penang a month ago! To use this rather pungent smelling paste, you need to toast or fry it till it becomes crumbly. To avoid the hassle of multiple frying, I had fried the whole block and kept the belacan “crumbs” in an airtight container.

Since I have belacan and a blender, why not create my own sambal belacan chilli sauce? There are many recipes online. Some are as simple as just pounding chillies with lime juice while some have many ingredients and also require frying. I had decided to settle for this recipe as it seem pretty decent. Let’s give it a shot.

Deseeding the dried chilli is horrible. I do not have gloves and tried enclosing my hands in plastic bags but found the handling to be clumsy and hence, ditch the bags and ended up with spicy hands. Ouch! Anyway, I had rubbed my hands with olive oil and washed it off with dishwashing liquid. The burning sensation had gradually subsided in the next few mins.

After blending the chillies, onions, garlic and toasted belacan, this paste goes straight to the pan for some serious frying.

If the haze isn’t bad enough, I am now creating a spicy haze in my kitchen. Be sure to open all windows when you are frying the chilli paste…. COUGH COUGH!!

After around 5mins of frying or until the chilli paste turns into a deeper colour and the oil had separated from the paste, remove from pan and leave it to cool before transferring to an airtight container. I prefer to use a glass container.

Next time, I will find a more efficient way to deseed the dried chillies. This time, quite a number of seeds had slipped into the mixture so the level of spice is pretty tongue numbing.

Other than stir frying vegetables like kang kong, sweet potato leaves and okra (ladies fingers), this chilli makes a good dipping sauce for belanjo crackers. Ooh sedap!


Haze + BBQ= PSI 500!!

During the Hari Raya holiday just 3 days ago, some of my coursemates had organise something which no one would consider on one of the worst days of haze for this year- A BBQ.

Actually, the haze situation was slightly better during the F1 last weekend and the few days after that but it MUST, of all days, worsened during a public holiday where the Muslims will go home visiting, and other families and their kids would love to have a day out at the beach or the park. Why oh why??

Anyway, my coursemates won’t have expected that, and since the plan is in the works, it is a little too late to cancel it. Also, most of them are foreigners so having a gathering, which a BBQ is actually quite a good idea, is a way for them to hang out with new friends (i.e. the coursemates). So I guess, nobody’s gonna let some damn haze ruin an evening of fun and food.

Since my coursemates had taken the initiative to invite us over to their place, I thought it would be apt to also bring something, and what else can I bring except my luscious rich brownies! Hee… Brownies are the easiest to whip up and who doesn’t like chocolate.. Am glad that they had enjoyed the brownies. Admittedly, it took me some trial and error to finally find a successful recipe.

The thing about BBQ is the long time it takes to start the fire so one shouldn’t go to a BBQ, before the fire is ready, on an empty stomach. Most of us had arrived around 6pm, some earlier but it was 8pm by the time the fire looks about right for the BBQ to start. For 2 hours, everyone was snacking on the brownies, chips and this really spicy but interesting dish that one of my Indian coursemates had made, called Bhel Puri. It’s actually a mix of rice puffs and crackers in a spicy sauce ample with raw sliced shallots. First time I tried this but being sensitive of spice, I am good with just a small bowl before guzzling Coke to douse the fiery assault on my tongue.. *Phew*

Some of my Indian coursemates are vegetarian so there’s a huge pot of paneer (a type of cheese) cubes in a creamy sauce, meant to be skewered with peppers and onions for the grill. Initially, I had thought that was potato salad. When I found out that it is paneer, I was reminded of a particular business trip in India some years ago where I had mistaken paneer for beancurd (silly me but they really look alike) and enthusiastically shovelled a large piece in my mouth (cos I luv beancurd) only to realise that it is cheese! Argh!! Think I had mentioned before that other than sharp salty melted cheese (like those on pizzas or in sandwiches), I cannot take any other cheese smell and taste. Lesson learnt so this time round, I’ll be sure not accidentally to bite into one.

While some are busy trying to get the fire ready, a few of us meat lovers started to skewer the pre-cooked wings (a good idea since raw wings would take a longer time to cook) and slice up the pre-marinated chicken legs. Ooh, there’re sausages too!

The haze was bad and with the BBQ, we created our own haze. *cough cough*. After 2 wings, some chicken leg and 2 sausages, I am done. For some reason, the bloody haze had kind of ruin my appetite for grilled meat. Or perhaps the several cups of Coke had also made me a little full… of gas, that is! LOL!

In between pockets of time while waiting for the food to be ready, these folks had entertained themselves with chatting and singing accompanied by 2 guys strumming the guitar and an occasional beat boxing if the song is right for that *putz putz putz” thingy. LOL… I just keep myself entertained by all these activities lah.

A few of them are into pop songs and aunty me is clueless over some of the bands or song titles. Thankfully, they had also talked about familiar bands like Backstreet Boys, N’Sync and singers like Britney Spears and so on… I tried to ignore the part where they said their childhood songs were songs like “Baby Hit me One More Time” and such. Childhood leh!! Yikes…

But no, I don’t find myself out-of-place lah. I am still quite young at heart, you know. In fact, I do enjoy talking to younger folks (not kids though), provided they do not irritate me with their strawberry generation “I can’t take hardship” and self-entitled bullshit.

The haze’s getting worse by the hour so I decided not to join them upstairs for part 2. Think the PSI was like 300 or something at midnight. What the …!!

The BBQ gathering was fun. It gave me an opportunity to know some coursemates better and see a little more of them in a social and light-hearted setting. Who says school has to be stressful and dreadful right? :p


Hmm… it looks like Facebook is working to create a “dislike” button. According to this news article, this button is meant for people to express empathy.

Oh ok, that would make sense for people trying to respond (without posting comments) on the many negative posts/news (tragedy, disasters, unhappy news and so on) being posted on Facebook. Sometimes I find it strange that people actually “like” such posts. Guess the intent is to show some support but the basic definition of “like” is definitely inconsistent with that.

Then again, “dislike” is such a strong negative term.

Yes, this button seems most fitting for negative posts. But if this button exists, it means it can be clicked for ANY posts as well. How would one feel if someone click on the “dislike” button for a picture of them (and it’s not one of those narcissistic selfies but a normal regular picture) against some natural scenery? I am sure there will be some jokers who, may for a laugh, just click on that button assuming that their “friend” will be cool about it.

Or when someone whips up a delicious looking meal and post a picture of it, and gets a couple of “dislikes”. I guess people are not that mean-sprited right? But… again, who knows?

However, to some extent, it’s kinda like a control of what you post in Facebook, ain’t it? Unless you totally don’t give a damn what people thinks, then yeah, those will carry on their errant ways in flooding the newsfeed with inane updates like “zzz” or “…..”.

Hence, will people be more self-conscious and take more effort to only post “safe” things that won’t earn them any dislikes that will hurt the ego? Hmm, which is more important? Ego/pride or personal freedom and right to post whatever they want? Tough choice huh…

In the first place, is a “dislike” button even necessary? What is the problem that needs to be solved by such a button? Frankly, I think it is a waste of time, money and resources, unless Facebook thinks they have too much free time on their hands. If someone wants to express some sort of empathy to whatever post, sometimes a simple one-liner will suffice right. There’s also something called “private messaging” if you don’t want the whole world to know your feelings.

A “dislike” button may cause more hurt feelings instead. So much for being “friends” huh…