I am going to planet Mars – again!

Seriously!*

My boarding passes:

I went in 2014 for the Orion Flight Test.

Orion Flight Test

And I will be going again next year (2018) for the InSight Mission!

Insight Mission

Martian-status since 18 October 2014 – exactly 3 years ago.

FF

Frequent flyer yo!

ff2

The Mission Patch for both trips:

orion-test-flight-mission-patch

Orion test flight mission patch, 2014

insight-mission-patch

InSight Mission patch

SO EXCITING!

“What this is about?” you ask.

Well, the gist of it is:

In 2014, the names of 1.38 million people were encoded in a chip and loaded on the Orion spacecraft on its first spaceflight test – including mine. ūüôā

See the chip here: https://mars.nasa.gov/resources/6752/

And now, applications were opened on October 2 and until Nov. 1, 2017 for the InSight Mission in 2018. Again, the names will be loaded into a silicon microchip which will fly with InSight for its mission to Mars. I have just submitted my name for this mission! ūüôā

Here is an image of the chip mounted on the InSight Lander. They will put this second microchip next to this one.

I may not have “physically” been to Mars, at least I can legitimately say I have (even if it’s just in the form of my name in a microchip) gone where not all names have gone before. ūüėÄ

(You can read more about the mission here.)

So, are you going to join me?

Submit your name here: https://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/participate/send-your-name/insight/

Let’s go to Mars!!!

P.S. NASA plans to develop Orion into a vehicle that could one day carry astronauts into space. Who knows, maybe “frequent flyers” will one-day get to call shotgun on a trip. ūüėČ

Advertisements

How To Make Pempek

Almost 3 months ago, I was in Indonesia.

Palembang was my first port of call before I went on to Jogjakarta.

Part of what I love about travelling is learning about the culture of a place. Indonesia is rich with that!

For Palembang, specifically, one such item is the food!

Now, ‚ÄúPempek‚ÄĚ (or ‚Äúempek-empek‚ÄĚ) is a savoury fishcake delicacy from Palembang, made of fish and tapioca.

Fortunately, I was able to learn how to make authentic Palembang Pempek while I was there!

IMG20170801155836

The basic ingredients are pretty simple – fishmeat, water, monosodium glutamate/MSG and salt.

But I’d rather show you how to make it rather than type it all out so, here is my video recording of some aunties from St Stefanus, Palembang, teaching us how to make authentic Palembang pempek!

(Don’t worry, all the important stuff are subtitled in all my videos – remember to click the “CC” button to activate subtitles!)

Pempek is served with rich sweet and sour sauce called kuah cuka or kuah cuko or just “cuko”. And this is how to make cuko:

The above is the basic Palembang Pempek. For other variants, you can check my other videos below as well:

Pempek kulit/Fish-Skin Pempek:

Pempek kapal selam/Submarine Pempek
Pempek telur kecil/Small Egg Pempek
Pempek pistel/Papaya pempek

Good luck! Let me know if you succeed and how it taste yeah!

Even better, let me try your creation too! =D

How I accidentally climbed a Mountain

Yes, you read that right.

How can one accidentally climb a mountain? Well, let me tell you!

I was in Kuching for the Sacerdotal (Priestly) Ordination of a friend, Rev. Fr. Galvin, over the weekend. We used to go to the same University, were of the same intake and was part of the same community, called Young Catholic Undergraduates (YCU), so of course, his Big Day (Ordination to the Priesthood) was bound to be a reunion of old friends.

IMG20170923090355But on the day after the Ordination, some friends suggested we head up to the Catholic Memorial Pilgrimage Centre (CMPC), located at the Slope of Mount Singai, Kampung Tajong Singai, Bau. It is a venue for the Catholic Community to organise retreats, training and religious related events. CMPC was an integral part of our group of friends as we would go up to CMPC at least once a year back in the day. Some of them still do even now, but the last time I went up was 10 years ago, so of course, I agreed to join them.

The Ordination was all I packed for this trip (read: ill-equipped), ¬†but since it was plank-walks and staircases all the way up to CMPC, I wasn’t particularly concerned. Everyone insisted I not use my ladies’ sandals though so I took up Nico’s offer to wear his crocs sandals instead, sans socks. And up we went…

As I recall, going up to CMPC had always been quite a challenge – even back in the day – as some parts were pretty steep. For those who have not been to CMPC, there are Stations of the Cross along the way up that also double as rest-stops. I have gone up without any stops years ago and I have gone up by stopping and praying at each Station as well. But I have never had my knees feel like jelly, which was what happened this time (the difference 10 years make). Lest my knees fully give up on me, I had to stop at almost each Station after the first five, but I still made it up, Thank God.

But that’s where things started to get really interesting.

After a brief picnic (we brought some food with us) at CMPC, Nico suggested, “Hey, shall we go to the top (of Mount Singai)?”

IMG20170923130044

A jungle path leading to the top of Mount Singai is located just beside the Longhouse.

There were 6 of us in the group – 2 (Syl and Nick) have been to the top before whilst the rest of us (Nico, Ted, Edwin and myself) have not. Prior to this, I never knew it was even possible to go to the top. Needless to say, in excitement, it was a unanimous YES from all of us, although I was starting to feel concerned. I mean, having only brought dresses, dress shoes and a handbag for the weekend (and jeans, tshirts and ladies’ sandals for “casual wear”), I was in no way equipped for climbing a mountain!

“It’s not that high,” said Syl, who had been up a few times.

“How many minutes or hours is “not that high”?” I asked.

“Depends. Some parts are quite steep.”

IMG-20170923-WA0021

And so we started… There was also a group of foreign students from a local private university that coincidentally started their ascend the same time.

IMG-20170923-WA0011My knees were fine during the climb. I wish I could say the same for my feet. Wearing crocs (sans socks!), my feet was starting to blister. And my hands as well, from the rope we use to pull ourselves up along the steeper parts… My handbag – that was just an inconvenience. I was just thankful I could sling it across my shoulder.

 

After a considerable amount of time and climbing a steep part, I asked Syl, “This is the steep part you mentioned?”

“There’s more.”

Internal gasp.

“It’s still a long way up.”

Internal sigh.

We continued our ascend. The group of students earlier had started to split up as some were faster than the others. At one point, our group of 6 became 4 as Nick and Edwin were left behind. When Nick rejoined us, he reported that Edwin could not go up any farther and would just wait for us where he was. And so were 5…

IMG-20170923-WA0052

But one steep slope after another, it became 3 – 2 as Syl, Nico and Ted went up faster, leaving behind myself and Nick who was kind enough to keep me company. My feet was really uncomfortable but there was nowhere to go but up. Fellow climbers (a few from the student group and others) were also taking their own pace (some above us, some below) and Nick would be cheering us all to continue: “Almost there!” “You can do it!” “I can see the sun!” “5 more steps!” “5 more minutes!”

In reality, we were nowhere near the top yet.

Small talks with fellow climbers along the way was interesting though. It made the climb more bearable.

One of the students exclaimed (dramatically): “Someone should make a documentary of me, before I die!” as he huffed and puffed up a steep slope.

Another climber retorted to Nick’s “5 more minutes!” cheer with a “That’s what you said 5 minutes ago!!!” and to his “I can see the sun!”, “I can see the sun from my room, man!”

Funny exchanges happen when people are exhausted. Hahaha.

I passed a climber who was taking a break on the way up.

“As you can see, I am in no way prepared for this climb.” I said, as I motioned to what I was wearing.

“Neither am I”, he agreed. “Just got back from the club and my mate was like, ‘Hey let’s go for a climb!'”

“Doesn’t sound like a great idea now does it?” I quipped.

“No! And I’m tipsy to boot!” he exclaimed.

I chuckled as I considered the next slope…

There were also a few climbers who were on their way down as well and passed us by. I was tempted to ask them how much further we had to reach the top but decided not to, for fear they would say it was still a long way to go.

The most interesting thing that happened on the way up was when one of those on the way down locked eyes with mine as I climbed up a steep slope. It was a familiar face that I had not seen for almost 10 years.

“Fancy bumping into you here!” both Kevin and I agreed. We had a brief catch up as his group was catching up and Nick helped take a photo of us.

IMG20170923111651

Turned out Nick in turn, knew one of Kevin’s friends.

“I’m with him,” she said, pointing at Kevin.

“I’m with her,” Nick pointed at me.

“So is it still far up to the top?” Nick asked her.

“I turn back halfway,” she replied.

My heart stopped beating for a second. We’re not even HALFWAY up???

Fortunately, she laughed and continued, “I finished already lah. It’s not much further…”

My heart started beating again.

After what seemed like ages and after I don’t know how many “5 steps” and “5 minutes” later, we finally reached the top!!!

Was the view worth it?

Actually, I don’t know.

It was hazy and we couldn’t really see much.

But considering how ill-equipped I was and I reached the top anyways (and it was my first mountain!), I was really pleased.

And that my friend, was how I accidentally climbed a Mountain!

IMG20170923115910

At the top of Mount Singai, 562 metres above sea-level

For the record, it took me 1 hour and 20 minutes to reach the top – not bad for an ill-equipped first-timer hahaha!

 

33 Reasons I am Thankful today

keep-calm-and-be-crazy-laugh-and-love-and

  1. I am alive – for the past 33 years and counting
  2. My parents; Mom for giving birth to me and Mom&Dad for raising me
  3. My older brother, for being my first friend and confidante, my advisor and supporter even until now.
  4. My younger brothers for always making me laugh (and occasionally cry)
  5. My family for always being there for me; for loving me unconditionally.
  6. Loved ones, for the opportunities to sacrifice myself and to die to selfishness
  7. The Catholic family: for the continuing guidance in this journey of life
  8. Close friends (who are practically family) for accepting me as I am – and loving me even then
  9. Friends who are with me through the good and the bad: I am who I am because you are/were a part of my life
  10. Mentors/Advisors/Elders who are there to guide and support me when needed
  11. People I see on a daily basis (colleagues/housemates included) for making life pleasant and peaceful
  12. My studies; for equipping me with the necessary knowledge/skills to survive in the world of adults
  13. My hobbies, for making me into a more well-rounded person
  14. My travels; for teaching me humility and appreciation of all of God’s creation
  15. My health for not making life difficult to live
  16. My finances for giving me enough to live a comfortable life but not excessively
  17. My job for the opportunities to increase my set of knowledge and skills
  18. My career for giving me a sense of duty and teaching me life lessons
  19. Church ministry for the opportunities to love and serve others
  20. Ministry for giving me a sense of ownership and responsibility in my local church
  21. Fellow ministers in the church for teaching me how have a Servant heart
  22. The innocence of my childhood, for allowing me to develop trust in humanity
  23. The adventures of my youth for showing me that a big world lies ahead of me
  24. The mistakes of my younger days for teaching me rights from wrongs
  25. The experiences of more recent years that continue to grow and shape me into the person I will become by the end of life’s journey
  26. My fears, for preventing me from making bad decisions in life
  27. My worries, for teaching me to surrender it to Him
  28. My hopes for giving me something to wake up to every day
  29. My dreams, that I may learn to trust in Him
  30. My joys and my pains, for making the journey worthwhile!
  31. God’s love and grace¬†that He deemed me worthy of saving from the start
  32. God’s providence for all the good and wonderful things he has blessed me with in the past – and will continue to provide for me till the very end, and last but definitely not the least of them all:
  33. GOD: for all that I am thankful for written above (and all those unwritten as well)

Thank You Lord!!! – for the past 33 years of my existence, and for the many more years to come…

Getting paid to shop

I used to be the type who don’t “do” shopping. I only buy what I need most of the time – plus¬†the occasional (impulsive) I-must-have-this when I spot something as I browse around in the malls. That meant for so long as I wasn’t physically at a mall/shop, I wasn’t spending on anything.

Now, with everything at the tip of our fingers (thanks to the interweb) I can arrange my travels, order food and even get that dream dress that is on sale – all without leaving the comfort of an airconditioned room while it is sweltering outside.

online-shopping

Yes. Of course I am talking about online shopping. But before that,¬†Disclaimer: This post is in not encouraging you to spend billions of dollars online or be swamped in credit card debts. It’s purpose is to share with you how you can actually SAVE more money when shopping online. Just make sure you pay your credit cards bills on time! Or pay using cash. We good? Alright, continue.

Now, I recently came across a website that actually pays you when you shop online. Actually, it gives you back a percentage of an amount that you spent when making online purchases. This is called CashBack.

But, before I direct you to that website, allow me to answer the questions that are in your head right now.

1. What do you mean by CashBack?

CashBack is getting back (in cash) a¬†percentage of an amount that you spent when making purchases on an online Seller’s website. For example, if you spent $100 on the purchase of an item online and if cash back for that Seller¬†is 10%, that means you will get back $10. The nett effect of that is that you actually spend only $90 (ie. $100 minus $10) instead of $100 on your purchase.

2. How does it work?

Using the above example, you pay $100 when making the purchase as per the normal online shopping procedure. The $10 cash back will be credited into your CashBack account, which you can then get transferred into your banking account after a certain period.

3. Where does the cash come from?

Good question and an important one. The $10 that you “get back” in the above example, is actually a part of the commission that the CashBack site receives from the Seller for bringing sales/ie. you (a paying Customer) to the Seller’s website.

4. Why would the CashBack site give me cash back?

Well, since you are buying from the Seller and¬†earning the CashBcak site Commission, why shouldn’t they NOT be giving you at least some of that commission? Seller gets Sales, the CashBack site gets Commission and you get the item you paid for PLUS cash back. Everybody wins.

5. Who should be register on the CashBack site?

People who make online purchases from the following sellers are highly encouraged to register for CashBack:

  • Zalora
  • Lazada
  • Groupon
  • Ebay
  • Agoda (hotels)
  • Booking.com (hotels and hostels)
  • Expedia (flights and hotels)
  • AirAsiaGo (flights and hotels)
  • Hotels.com (hotels)
  • Foodpanda (food)
  • and many many more eligible sellers

Honestly, if you are going to be spending that $100 in purchases, why not spend that but get $10 returned to you in cash back and thereby only spending $90? That’s $10 saved!

Okay, now that you’re clear about the basics – let’s get you sorted to saving up with cash back. If you¬†would like to register for a CashBack account, leave me your email address so I can invite you and you will automatically get FREE $10 (RM10 for Malaysia) cash back credit in your account: RM 5 when you sign-up/register and another RM5 when you make your first purchase.

Happy shopping and Happy savings!

What happens when you do not eat rice?

At the beginning of this month, I decided to do the #31NoRiceDays challenge. This meant I had to NOT eat rice during those 31 days (ie. the whole month of October) Рand I had to do it CONSCIOUSLY. Gulp!

Rice was a staple in the main meals everyday in my life so just the thought was quite unimagineable.

But you won’t know what you can do, or in this case, can do without, until you try it.¬†And I am pleased to say that I DID IT!

So, what happens when you do not eat rice?

1. People look at you funny

When you decide to do something that is not “normal”, be sure that people will react. And the reactions vary widely:

Some will insist you eat “at least just a little” – though they mean well, you have to be firm and politely insist that you will not.

Some will tease/tempt you with it – again, you just have to be firm

Some will scoff/doubt that you can do it – more than ever, these should make you more determined

Some will encourage and support you – this is the best kind of reaction:

When I started the challenge, only 1 other person was doing it with me. At the end of the challenge, there are at least 6 of us altogether encouraging and supporting one another along the way. 1 of the them has even stated that he would go on to do the Atkins diet next! This would be a lot more challenging than not taking rice so I wish him the best of luck!

2. You learn something about your eating habits

I learned that eating on time or not being hungry was important. As it was during these “very-hungry” moments that I would be most susceptible to forget it and “fall-back” on what used to be the “norm”. There were a few occasions where I thought of having rice. There was once where I very nearly took some onto my plate! But fortunately, I remembered and I was able to consciously decide to eat something else. Thus I survived a month without a single grain.

I learned that not eating rice was relatively easy – in comparison to eating clean/eating healthy! I documented my eats¬†using the #31NoRiceDays hashtag on instagram¬†and there were a number of meals there I wasn’t so proud of. While I indicated up-front at the start of the challenge that it¬†was NOT a low-carb diet, I did try to reduce the amount of carbs I took as well as processed foods. There are some days I succeed. There are some days I successfully failed.

I learned that vegetables and water are my bestfriends. It just became natural to eat more vegetables and drink more water when I did not take rice. Not quite sure why, but both are good stuff so at least that’s one eating habit that I’ve happily acquired in the process.

I learned that I can survive without rice.

3. It will change you

While I didn’t expect to have a bikini body by just not eating rice, I did hope to lose some weight in the process. And I am pleased to note that I did lose about 1.5kg and 1 inch off the belly. Nothing much to shout about but it’s still a change that I happily accept. Also, a slower weight loss is more healthier and sustainable compared to a sudden one – the latter means something is very wrong somewhere.

Coincidentally, I also went for a medical check-up towards the end of the challenge and written off with a clean bill of health plus an average BMI, so while there’s loads of room for improvement (like exercising!), I am healthy and that’s what is most important.

Apart from the physical changes, there is also¬†a general¬†sense of feeling more “lighter” and healthier. I don’t get as sleepy or tired after non-rice lunches compared to when I had rice for lunch. And there is just a positive feeling about life overall.

Thus,

As I approached the end of the #31NoRiceDays challenge, I kept asking myself: Will I go back to eating rice again or would I continue with the non-Rice path? Or will I go completely low-carb? Or will I only eat real food (no processed foods)?

I can conclusively say that I will continue to reduce the amount of carbs I take (including rice) as well as processed foods. And it will not be a one-month challenge; it will be a lifelong one.

Cheers to healthy eating!

Solivaganting Singapore

The first time I went to Singapore was 6 years ago (Wow…it has been that long?!).

Since then, I have been back for a few more times: for a Conference in 2009, on a Company trip in 2011 and I once spent 10 hours on transit at Changi International Airport in 2014.

That said, I never planned nor expected to be in Singapore (or any other country for that matter) ON MY OWN.

Nor had I ever expected to be in Singapore FOR WORK!

And that’s the beauty of life…it’s full of unexpected surprises…

Well, the past few days being in Singapore by myself has really made me appreciate solo travel.

Getting confused at the airport…

figuring out the public transport…

figuring out how to get from point A to point B, C and D…

trying out apps like Train Maps and Grabtaxi…

and the adrenaline rush of every escapade out and about…

I had always wanted to backpack across the world (on my own if need be) but just never got the guts to do it.

Could this be the trigger that set me on the path to my solivaganting adventures?

While I cannot definitely answer that question yet, I am looking forward to my next solivaganting experience in a few weeks.

Until then,

Signing off from Changi…

Mar

Note: Solivagant is a word which can either be a noun which means “solitary adventurer” or an adjective which defines someone who wanders or travels alone without company.

Posted in Personal | Comments Off on Solivaganting Singapore