Names your grandma calls you

Over lunch one day, my colleagues and I started talking about baby names as one of them was going to be a daddy soon. We started talking about mispronounced English names, courtesy of our grandparents who speak mostly dialect or Mandarin. We had a good laugh over these endearing mispronunciations. Here are some:

– “share-ret” (Charlotte)
– “lemon” (Raymond)
– “Bon” (Yvonne)
– “air-ter” (Esther – that’s mine!)
– “seh-lah” (Sarah)
– “end-zjee” (Angie)
– “joe-sir” (Joseph)
– “sai-mio” (Samuel)
– “share-loh” (Sheryl)
– “ee-nee-sher” (Ignatius)
– “zai-zai-ear” hahaha bet you can’t guess what the actual name is!

It is the name of my colleague’s little son, Isaiah and “zai-zai-ear” is how his grandma calls him!

Does anyone else have cute grandparents mispronouncing English names? If so, how are you being called?

The easy art of not listening (but pretending that you are)

I have learned a lot about listening from DR and my direct supervisor. They’ve shown me what it is like to listen, consider and respond accordingly. Not just hear and react.

Here, I would like to differentiate between “listen” and “hear”, as well as “respond” and “react” (for respond vs react, I will leave it to another blog post)

What entails active listening?

– Eye contact with the person talking (most basic requirement – our eyes are very telling. It can reveal you to be a faker trying to listen when you are actually not and more keen to express your views).

– Giving allowance for the other person to finish his/her point.

– Prompts.

– Clarifications to understand the person’s viewpoint or concerns.

– Leaning of the body towards the person sharing his/her concerns

– Expressions of the listener trying to internalise the points said.

“Hearing” is the opposite of the points mentioned above. There are many other cues that reveal whether a person is listening to you speak but I don’t think I can list everything down. I admit, I am not that great a listener… probably because I try to give a lot of advice immediately after hearing the issue instead of trying to understand the person’s perspective with empathy. Yes, I am a little bit like my mom. My mom likes giving advice for every single thing she sees as wrong or not ideal. It’s part of her that makes her endearing. However, I am trying to be better in listening though I still tend to be quite careless in listening when with my own family.

From my direct supervisor, I have seen how she has demonstrated empathy in listening, especially when my colleague and I share difficulties we face when doing our work. Not only does she empathise, she would offer solutions and take responsibility for the decision made. DR also told me before that listening simply means not offering your opinions first but internalising what is being said and figuring out the deep, real issues unknown to the one sharing.

It is really easy to make yourself believe that you are listening cos all you have to do is to keep nodding or lean in to pretend to be interested. However, a fake listener is revealed when he/she nods but also likes to pepper the conversations with their own opinions or “advice”. Yeah, sure… It could be great advice. But one thing I’ve learned about great advice is saying it at the appropriate time. And what is the appropriate time..? It is when the person indicates that he/she needs the advice. That’s when a person’s needs are met and thus an advice, timely.

I am still learning to listen… Learning to suspend my opinions when listening to others. Dear God, please grant me the wisdom and love to patiently listen and wait for the appropriate time to speak.

To be healthy, would one need to be rich?

I was contemplating about what to eat just this past Monday evening.

“Nasi Lemak. Boon Lay Power Nasi Lemak at Causeway Point. Go for the fried chicken and oh-so-yummy sambal chilli. It’s only $3 and dinner will be settled!”

“Hey…. There’s QQ Rice now at Woodlands MRT station! It’s healthier. Go for that instead!”

“But it’s more expensive… And the portion is small. Anyway, I’m really craving for a big packet of Nasi Lemak. I am hungrrrraaaayyyyy!”

“No, you shouldn’t let your taste buds be accustomed to such rich flavours. Otherwise, you will not appreciate simple, light and healthier food next time.”

“Nooooooo…. I want to be healthy! Okay, QQ Rice it shall be!”

In the end, I bought a QQ rice ball filled with 5 items (see picture below) which costs me $4.40.


I thought to myself, I’m paying 30% more just to go for a healthier choice. DR also told me once that during his 1.5-month stint in Australia, some vegetables were more expensive than processed food. Does this mean that those who are unable to afford may in the end up eating more unhealthier, processed food which would make them more susceptible to lifestyle diseases such as obesity, diabetes?

It boils down to my question: To be healthy, would one need to be well-off?

Food for thought (no pun intended).

Sharing my Taipei + Taichung six-day itinerary – in anticipation of my upcoming trip

I will be heading to Taiwan end of this August. Yup, people have been telling or rather exclaiming to me that it is going to be really hot and humid during that period. Roger that. Oh wells, for really cheap tickets (promotion from Scoot), I guess Sarah and I were ready to face any kind of weather. WHO CARES ABOUT THE HOT WEATHER! Ok, I am concerned about getting tanned 😦 BUT. I will bring sunblock and my trusty umbrella along. I have plans to buy Kose Sun Protect Gel (SPF 50) when I fly off to Taiwan, to protect myself, Sarah, Mum and Nainai against the merciless sun.

And yes, you heard it right. It is just going to be us – 3 generations of women holidaying together.

As I was surfing for some possible itineraries for our week-long trip, I recalled the wonderful trip I had with DR just late last year to Taiwan. Love the company and exploration we did together as husband and wife. He is a great travelling companion. He is meticulous and resourceful. I am very easy-going. In addition, we have similar interests (shopping and eating at the night markets, cycling, nua-ing in hotel room), so it’s easy to travel together.

Anyway, I shall share with my readers the itinerary of my last trip as I gear up for the upcoming trip. Hopefully you will find this reference useful if you are planning for a six-day trip to Taiwan in December/January.

MY TAIPEI + TAICHUNG ITINERARY (29 Dec 2012 – 4 Jan 2013)

Date Activities
29 Dec 12 (Sat) – Land at Taoyuan Airport at 5.45am

– Put luggages at Hotel 73 (near Dongmen station) – Check in only at 3pm

– Head to Ximending and have Ah Zhong Mee Sua

– Chiang Kai-Sheik Memorial Hall

– Walk 10 min to Raohe Night Market

– Raohe Night Market饶河夜市 (Houshanpi station)

30 Dec 12 (Sun) – Attend church service – Taipei Bread of Life Church 台北市南京東路二段139號B1 (near Songjiang Nanjing Station)

– Head to Shihlin station. Arrive at National Palace Museum (NT$160/pax) by latest 2pm

– Shihlin Night Market (Jian Tan station)

31 Dec 12 (Mon) – Travel to Ruifang station

– Shi Da Night Market (Must eat: Lu Wei, red lantern)

– Countdown near Taipei 101 (ideally…. but this did not happen cos we ended up nua-ing in our hotel room, watching the countdown on TV)

– *Cannot go wufenpu on Monday as most suppliers will be on leave

1 Jan 2013 (Tue) – Take 11.54am High-Speed Rail (Train No. 1147) to Taichung (book tickets through: (50 min)

– Arrive at Taichung TSR at 12.43pm

– Check in at Doris Home (near Sun Moon Lake) from 2pm onwards

– Go cycling around Sun Moon Lake


2 Jan 13 (Wed) – Check out of Doris Home at 11am

– Travel from Sun Moon Lake to Fengjia (~ 1 hour)

– Put our luggages at Beacon Hotel (estimated to reach at 12pm) as check in only at 3pm (For transport, we rented a cab outside the hotel for NT$2200 for the entire day from 12.30 – 6pm)

Carton King Creativity Park 紙箱王創意園區-大坑店: 台中市406北屯區東山路二段二巷二號〈大坑圓環前〉

Lavender Cottage (薰衣草森林), 20 Zhongxing St, Xinshe district

Summit Resort (Please don’t go there…. It was really boring and the food prices, exorbitant!)

Mushroom Garden (百菇莊)

Fengjia Night Market (try the Guan Zhi Ling 大肠包小肠 – I like it!)

3 Jan 13 (Thu) – Check out of Beacon Hotel at 12pm

– Take free bus from Fengjia to Taichung HSR – 45 minutes

– Board 1.35pm HSR (Train No. 652) to Taipei (1 hour)

– Arrive at Taipei HSR at 2.36pm

– Check in to iTaipei Service Apartment at 3pm.

Raohe/Shihlin Night Market

– Dinner at MALA YUANYANG HOTPOT 馬辣鴛鴦火鍋 @ Ximending


4 Jan 13 (Fri) – Travel to Ximending for Ah Zhong Mee Sua

– Be back in hotel at 12pm

– Be at Taoyuan Airport at 1.45/2pm; flight at 3.45pm