More than meets the eye


Snapped this photo during my weekend on beach – what looks like a completely normal photo of East Coast beach on a sunny day right?


Now take a closer look.


I took this photo due to these two reasons:

  1. The couple on the left is from China. They walked past me while posing for lots of photos along the beach. Then there was a group of paddlers who just finished their training and just came back on shore with their canoes and left it on the beach. The Chinese lady just saunters right up to the canoes that were left on the beach, sat on one of the canoes and begun to pose. And naturally, the photographer proceeded to take a couple of thousand shots in various angle, standing, half squatting, squatting, squatting on one leg, portrait with raised elbow, landscape … half landscape….!?!
  2. Then on the right, there is this caucasian lady who looks like she is 6months pregnant, plonking herself on the beach and started to suntan her belly. Maybe that is one way of avoiding jaundice on the baby in her tummy?

One thing for sure, East Coast Park is never boring!

Fei Zhai cycles

In my pre-fatherhood days, I used to tell people is,” I run so that I can eat”. This phase stemmed from the fact that I enjoy my food (a lot!!!) and because of my upbringing and parent’s influence, I would rather overeat than to see the food goes to waste. But that’s a separate story for another time.

Like many of my peers, when priorities took over the free time I have to exercise, those extra kilo piled up over the years. And when fatherhood kicks in full time, part of the problem has been finding the time and energy to fit in a fitness regimen.

Reality is a bitch. And the truth sets in when my office tea lady started to call me “fei zhai” (cantonese for fat boy). And so does the motivation and commitment to squeeze in that extra time in my packed schedule.

I ’ve also tried various workouts  and various timing— waking up extra early to run (failed – not a morning person). Hitting the gym downstairs after work (failed – rather go home to spend time with family). Going for a run after work (failed – unstable work hours, unable to create a routine of any sort).

So I figured the best way to fit in any workout routine is not by squeezing an additional slot into that already established and packed schedule but to integrate workout into the routine.  And by that, it means replacing the journey to and from work with a workout. Cycling is the easier option since it is an approximately 9 km journey (30 min at comfortable 18 km/hour speed) one way.


Don’t get me wrong, it is a easier option but it is by no means an easy routine. This means that on a cycling day, I have to pack all my work clothes and start my journey. I arrived at my workplace sweaty, after  umpteen attempts at not running over people or cars trying to run over me .Then I have to cool down and shower and changed into my work clothes. And reverse for the journey home.

I soon realised that the motivation that has guided me for so long has changed and I no longer hold the mantra of ” I run so that I can eat”. Now, I don’t really care how I look in a swimming truck. I’m married to the most beautiful wife,  a active 2 years old boy and a need-to-walk-daily 9 years old dog , any pride based on narcissism evaporated when we change our two doors car to a practical family carrier.

So wait for it ….




The current motivational mantra is “I exercise so I can run after my boy.”

As a dad, I have a lot of jobs I have to do for my boy— feeding him, playing with him, bathing him, bring him out for a walk, reading bedtime stories and all the other parenting stuff we do each day without even thinking about it and I know there is one job I have in my future as a dad  that I simply cannot miss. And it involves being there for him.

For me, the phrase is about being there for him every day I can, for as long as I can: For the walks along the river, for the strolls at the park, for the random moments I cannot yet imagine.

I want to be there, walking through it all with him, until it’s not my job anymore.

person, walking, young

Note to SIA

Dear Singapore Airline,

I do appreciate this nice little touch of sending me a reminder email on the previous flight search I did on your website. But you do know that one email is more than adequate right? Why do you keep sending me the reminder everyday?

If you are using technology to increase your marketing effectiveness, maybe you should also make sure the technology is smart enough to check that I have already made the booking on later session (via the same Krisflyer log in). What makes it worse is that I cannot hit the reply button to let you know that you have crossed the line.

SIA TaipeiAnd by the way, I have been flying with you for at least 10 years and being the member of your Krisflyer program for the same period and you still calling me “Miss”??

I do think this is a huge miss on your part, Singapore Airline..


Your irritated customer






The Monday Syndrome

With a view like this, you will wonder why not more people cycle.
Why is the bus/ train/ road so packed every Monday?!?

This is one situation that I don’t get. Everyone goes to work/school Monday – Friday, but of all the weekdays, Monday is the worst. Monday is the day that I can’t get on the bus/train. Monday is the day that the road’s traffic is so heavy. Monday is the day that everyone looks grouchy (ok, this I know why).

That is why I love to be able to cycle to work on Monday. It is tough to get those muscles going after a weekend, but think about it:

Everyday,  I arrived at work suitably refreshed from the workout and clear-minded after the journey cycling to office. I can leisurely breath in the fresh air and take in the scenery.  And I don’t need to stress on the bus arrival and whether I can get onto it.

I have observed more and more cyclist on the same route to CBD and glad to see the trend toward cycling is picking up traction.








Cycling route

I try to keep up with my fitness regime  and keep down my weight by cycling to work every alternate days. My usual route to and from work will take me past the Geylang river, Sports hub, Bay East garden, Marina Barrage, Gardens by the Bay, Marina Bay Sand and Marina Bay promontory.

Impressive route eh? It is my 30mins/9km journey to work.

So I suppose I should be numb to all the beautiful architectural and scenary along this route. I thought so too, but every time I cycle down the same route, I will still slow down at some parts to admire Singapore’s beauty – it is always the same but still somewhat different.


Different hue of colours everytime I cycle by.

It is moment like this that I am grateful that I’m staying in Singapore – until the humidity and the heat hit me.

Triathlon – Strike off the to-do list please.

I was never particularly active or sporty growing up – I attribute it partly to my quiet character and partly to the way my mother brought us up – emphasis on reading habits and academic.

My earliest recollection of anything vaguely sporty was learning to ride a bicycle. Instead of learning to cycle at East Coast Park, or any park or open space, I picked up my bicycle riding certification in my own house (a 4 room HDB flat!!!) living room attempting to cycle up and down with my training wheels taken off.

So never in my wildest imagination that I will be physically and mental be able to do a triathlon one day.

Last Sunday, while The Girl was napping, Elliott, Moon  and myself trooped down to the nearby park. I cycled around the neighbourhood with Moon running alongside and ended with Elliott doing the swimming segment of the triathlon. So there you go, with my two trusty sidekicks ,we cycled, ran and swam – the full triathlon.

Now I can strike it off my to-do list.


The swimmer refuelling for his gruelling swim later on
The swimmer refuelling for his gruelling swim later on
Swimmer doing his warm up
Swimmer doing his warm up

No sign of mystery man?

The biggest news today,  a particular Mr Tam Chua Puh, finishing first in the Standard Chartered Marathon, finishing some seven minutes faster than Singapore’s top marathoner Mok Ying Ren.

According to the news ” Tam did not launch an appeal following the disqualification and Mok was subsequently confirmed as the official winner of the category, a spokesman for Spectrum told The Straits Times. According to official results, Tam was also disqualified in the 2011 Singapore marathon, when he ran in the 40-49 age group. Attempts to contact him through his mobile phone and e-mail have been unsuccessful.”

He admitted he took shortcut and only completed 6km. But he ‘wanted to cross the finishing line and never thought of quitting” … I am speechless.

Further reported, “According to the event’s live tracking service, he took 58:46 to reach the 5km mark – the only checkpoint he registered at.

Based on the time at which he crossed the finishing line, he would have completed the remaining 37.195km in 1:48:11, or at a pace of 2:55 per kilometre.

To put that figure into perspective, Kenya’s Luka Chelimo Kipkemboi won the Men’s Open race with an average split of 3:12.”

My conclusion: He took a taxi/bus after the 5km mark and continued his run at probably 40km mark. Little did he knows that he will be finishing first and have his photos all over the media the next day. I am pretty sure he just wanted the easy way out to get his finishing medal and T-shirt. The news have been polite and not accused him of cheating, but this is really a case of:


Journey from a Boy to a retired NS man – Part I

“Nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience wisely.”

– Auguste Rodin

15 November 2013 marks a very important day of my life so far, it marks the end of a journey spanning 16 years and some of the best/worse time I have had.

It all started after my GCE A Level, I was enlisted into the army in July 1998. I was at Bukit Merah CPMB with my parents in tow to sent their second son into the army. I wasn’t in a very good mood that day, none of my close friends were enlisted on the same day and my then-girlfriend was busy working so she didn’t make it. Best of all, I was mentally and physically unprepared for what Army had in store for me, nobody had shared with me what was expected of me and what I should be expecting. It is on this wet morning the Boy in me started his National Service (NS) journey.

We all loaded up a bus that drove us to a industrial-looking area to pick up our equipments (boots, PT kits, helmet, duffel bag etc). It all seems rather fun when we have to walk down in line to grab our stuffs laying out there in the tables set out. Once done, we were driven to the Hendon Camp jetty (olden times, that is the jetty to go to for ferry to Pulau Tekong. It was chaotic there and all I remembered was a group of men in army uniform shouting out instruction to us, some people taking turns to have their head shaved and others were trying out the equipments that we collected earlier. In what seems a eternity, we were told to load up a small boat (nothing like the fancy fastcraft they have now) that bought us to my home for the next three month, Pulau Tekong.

I was enlisted in period where army was undergoing tremendous changes and the new BMT training centre was being built at that time. This also means that I was one of the unlucky few who served the BMT in the old Tekong BMT training camp or attap huts. For the benefit of those who have no idea how the attap huts look like:

Straight out of the scene of Supernatural
Straight out of the scene of Supernatural

Can you imagine how creepy it is at night, surrounded by dense jungle and scared to shit by evil instructors telling us horror stories of the past. Anyway, that is a story for another time. My time in BMT was really a discovery of myself and my ability to cope with physical and mental stress in BMT and life in general. My fitness and mental strength improved tremendously and before I know it, three months BMT was over and I was posted to the defining period of my NS life.


“Keep a good attitude and do the right thing even when it’s hard. When you do that you are passing the test. And God promises you your marked moments are on their way.”

– Joel Osteen

School of Infantry Specialist (SISPEC) – training to be a sergeant. Another group of new friends and a new environment at Pasir Laba Camp located in obscure western corner of Singapore. This is where I picked up advance military skills and  various weapons proficiency, it is also the period when my ex-girlfriend left me for another when she started her studies in the local university. It was tough for me emotionally but what I lost, I found solace in the tough training and the new friends  that I have made. As the training progresses along the way, I soon excel in almost everything we do. Don’t get it wrong, training was still tough as hell, I just cope with it much better than my peers. Halfway through the training, I was given a choice to crossover to Officer Cadet School (OCS) which I flatly decline for various reasons. So the training went on and I graduated top 5% of my cohort with the silver bayonet awarded for my performance.

Alongside many of my peers, I sat at the shed with my packed duffel bag, waiting for the next posting which I undergo the toughest training in my entire life and the fittest period of my life.


“Courage isn’t having the strength to go on – it is going on when you don’t have strength.”

– Napoleon Bonaparte

The best of my cohort has the misfortune fortune of posting to  Guards unit  as Guards leader where we undergo another(!) three months Guard Conversion Course (GCC) to “convert” us to Guards leader. So what exactly entails being a Guards leader? Well, you must be about to do 5km ( i believe) coastal swim, 10km run in under 50 mins , no fear of height as we are heli-borne unit that requires us to be proficient in heli-rappelling and posses a unbreakable mental strength as tough as iron. The first three attributes are easy, it just mean training , training and more physical training to be as fit as a fiddle.

The last one is the difficult one, how does one train the mental strength?

The answer: Exactly just like how you strengthen iron. You put the iron in smelting process and cool it as part of the differential process to strengthen the iron. And repeat it over and over again to obtain the toughest iron.

We were thrown into hell (quite literally) repeatedly; we were not allow to book out for the initial two weeks, activating us in the middle of the night to assemble and go for training without warning is a norm, we were frequently turned out just when we thought training has ended for the day, more often than not, a 24km route march becomes a 32km route march without warning, everyday we run at least 5km – 10km, fast march was so fast that most of us have to run to keep up rather than march.  Nothing was routine  as we were constantly on our toes on new missions, extended training. Throughout all these tortures trainings, the instructors constantly encouraged us to give up and we can go back and rest or promised us dry clothes and fresh hot food. Proud to say where it is so easy to give up,  not many did give up and many of them remain my close friends who shared these bonds.

The 3 months long training culminated in a 5-days mission trip at Pulau Tekong. 5 days of non-stop missions; trek to objective, attack objective, defend objective, evacuating casualties, repeat and repeat and repeat. We hardly have any food or time to rest/sleep. Heaven was not very kind to us too as it rained the moment we landed and continuously for the next two days of the mission. We were all drenched and our bodies were all full of abrasions and our fingers and feet were winkled from the continuous rain.

I don’t know how did I survived the 3 months but I did and I graduated a Guards specialist, got my khaki beret and posted to 3rd Battalion Singapore Guards.

[to be continued]

Guards Khaki Beret
Guards Khaki Beret