Archive for June 2013

Eye Infection – Worrying!

It started around Friday 14th, when during the day, one of my work colleagues ask whether there was something wrong with my right eye – I said why, and she said because it seems quite red.  I didn’t think much of it, but washed my eye with water and hopefully whatever foreign object that was in the eye would wash away.

I continued to relax over that weekend, and I started to notice that the redness got quite sever on the Sunday, 16th June – so much so that it started to be quite painful to close my eyes and to blink.  I didn’t rub the eye, but I started to think something was wrong.  I went to the local pharmacy, and brought some saline eye drops to hopefully clear it up.  I previously had 4 bouts of an inflammation, in 2008 when I was working in Latvia, and 3 other occurrences since then, but those were in the left eye – this was the first time it was in my right eye – and I felt it was the worse occurrence this time around.

I then decided to visit the local GP at the Mount Elizabeth Hospital 24 hour Walk-in Clinic (part of their A&E department) – luckily for me this was in the vicinity of my apartment in Novena.  They advised me that it looks like a bad inflammation, and gave me a prescription of eye drops and eye ointment.  The GP also signed me off for 2 days on medical leave – providing me a medical certificate (MC) – she also told me that if things don’t improve to see an eye specialist – and she gave me a referral in case I needed it.  I went to work on Monday, finished off a few e-mails, and then decided to go home on leave for the Monday and Tuesday.  The Singapore Haze/Smog was getting progressively worse, so I knew I had to stay out of it to avoid any further infection to my eyes.

I returned to work on Wednesday, but the eye was not getting any better and remained very red and blurry.  I decided to visit the Eye Specialist on first thing on Thursday morning.  I visited the Eagle Eye Centre also part of the Mount Elizabeth Hospital complex – and saw one of the Eye Specialists.  The first reaction was quite worrying, in that it was not just a inflammation but a severe eye infection, which if left untreated could cause permanent damage to my eye and vision – it had impacted to the Corneo and Iris/Lens now, so it needed urgent treatment.  The doctor prescribed me a number of eye drops, tablets and ointments that I had to take intensively over a 2-day cycle, and then signed me off on MC for a further 2 days.

The treatment was as follows:

  •  GUT PRED FORTE – 5 drop each hour (1 drop / min for 5 mins ): Reduce Inflammation
  •  GUT CRAVIT Ophthalmic Solution – 1 drop every 3 hours: Antibiotics
  •  GUT ATROPIN – 1 drop 3 times a day: Anticholinergic and aids Dilation
  •  OCC MAXIDEX Ointment – apply once at night: Anti-Inflammatory
  •  IBUPROFEN – 2 tablets 3 times a day: Anti-Inflammatory
  •  FAMOTIDINE – 1 tablet twice daily for a week: Gastric Protection
My 2 Days Drug Store

My 2 Days Drug Store

He told me that there is no one cause of the infection, but likely to be caused by some other underlining issue – flu, food posioning, some other infection etc – and the eye just reacted to it accordingly.  But I didn’t have anything previously, so it was very strange.  He also said it was strange that only one eye was involved, as he would expect both to be affected (luckily it wasn’t, else I would be totally blind!)

Eye Comparison

Eye Comparison

I returned to see the Eye Specialist on Saturday morning, and the goodness that the intense treatment seemed to be making a difference.  The redness and inflammation had subsided, but the eye remained very blurry and he told me that I had to continue the treatment for the next 2 days, but if with a lesser dose of the eye drops – moving from 5 drops an hour to 1 an hour.

So hopefully, this treatment can really hit the spot and ensure the infection goes away.  I hope the blurriness stops – but it’s difficult to tell whether this is the infection or the eye drops causing it.

Either way, another visit on Tuesday afternoon – and hopefully I will know more.  The good news is that the infection is reducing – and I can return to the work on Monday (if you consider this good news), but the bad news is that he told me that the chances of a reoccurence in the future is relatively high – hey-ho, at least I know how to react if I start feeling issues with one of the eyes.

Singapore Smog and Haze – Dreadful

I had previously wondered why there was this burning smell and hazy feel about the place – for the past few weeks, but I didn’t think that much of it.  I knew that the summer heat and the Indonesian fires annually create a risk of haze floating across the Singaporean island, but this year it seemed to have been really bad.

At the beginning of June, the 24 hour PSI rating reached a range of 18-46 – which was healthy and relatively low – this was the normal rating that we would expect to see.  Since 13th June, the haziness and smog clouds started to come across and it got progressively worse each day until earlier last week when it went from “very unhealthy” (200+ PSI), to “hazardous” (300+), it even went past the magic 400 PSI market – which is “very hazardous” during a couple of occassions.  The previous worst smog reading was 226 PSI in 1997.

The worse thing is that we are helpless – we have to breathe, we have to go to work, we have to live – and unfortunately, we have succumbed to someone elses selfiness acts and performance.

Me and My N95 Mask

Me and My N95 Mask

In fact, it appears that all of the fires were manmade, including clearing forests and peat-land to create Palm Oil agricultural farmland.  The irony is that a number of the big customers and ‘land owners’ are from companies who have HQs in Singapore.  I guess, these are the ones to blame, but lets see what happens.

With all this talk about global warming, and environmental damage, I am amazed that our Indonesian friends are still have to get away with clearing land with this very poor and old agricultural technique!  It should be banned, they should be fined and they should be monitored to avoid it happening – it’s happening every year – so really makes me question, whether it is worth being in Singapore when my health is at risk!  Well I am stuck at the moment, so I just have to live and bear it…and hope it doesn’t cause long-lasting damage to my health!

Latest haze forecast are pictured here (live forecast – so will regularly update on this page).

Next 24 Hour Forecast
Source: NEA

New Standard Chartered Credit Card Application

Well if you are given the option to get a free S$80 (£40) cashback rebate just by applying for and activating a new credit card – no one would say no, right?

So I said ‘yes please’ – ha!  I previously had applied for a Manhatten Credit Card (Mastercard) from Standard Chartered Singapore – due to the 5% cash rebate, and I decided to apply for another one – this time a Visa Platinum card (it’s because Amex doesn’t have a Partnership with Standard Chartered Singapore – unfortunately).

I activate the card, and received another S$80 rebate – that’s $160 now – for doing nothing.  Nice!  Apparently, there is a loop-hole in that whilst the small print says you only can get a maximum of $160 cashback, you can actually keep getting more.  So I might apply for another card and see if this loophole actually exists or not 🙂

SCB Visa Platinum Secure Token Card

SCB Visa Platinum Secure Token Card

Anyway, after receiving the card, I went online to activate the card, and was offered to apply for a ‘token’ credit card – basically, you may have remembered that Visa embedded their 3D-Secure technology (a dynamic security token) within the credit card itself – a two-in-one card so-to-speak.  It’s amazing that the credit card has turned into a mini-computer in your wallet!  So I applied for this and just received it.

Have a look at the new looking technically-advance card here – http://www.standardchartered.com.sg/tokencard/

Sunday Roast with Chums at Retrospective Bar

Retro Cocktails!

Retro Cocktails!

A couple of friends wanted to attend a ‘Sunday Roast’ event with me, knowing that I’ve been trying out several places already, around Singapore.

I have already been Muddy Murphy (in Orchard), Penny Black (Boat Quay) and the Bank (Raffles Place) – and I think one other place – already.  So this time, having done a bit of research, I found another few places to try.

The website City Nomads already done the main bit of research for me, so it was quite easy to then choose one from here.  I didn’t want us to travel far, so I will probably check out some of the far reached places another time, so we settled for Retrospective – which is meant to be a retro bar with a great Roast.  As one of the guests doesn’t eat beef, I also ensured we chose one with another ‘roast’ option.

Roast Beef - Looks Bland, Tastes Good!

Roast Beef – Looks Bland, Tastes Good!

It wasn’t that busy – but they did have another table of 6 and 2 when I arrived.  The music and atmosphere definitely was pretty retro, and it was a nice setting.

The location is near to a family friend’s place of work, and Outram Park was just around the corner – which is where I was staying for a few weeks when I first came out to Singapore at the beginning of this year – so I knew the area pretty well already.

It was a short walk from Outram Park MRT, and there were quite a few nice bars and restaurants around – so I am certainly going to return and try out some of these again.

And my views of the meal, it was nice – definitely good quality of beer, nicely cooked (medium), but I must say the dish looked a bit dull and bland (but it was tasty), due to the colours featured.  They hid the veg under the meat, so it looked pretty brown throughout the dish.  I would say 7 out of 10 for the beef Sunday Roast dish.

 

Retrospective Bar and Restaurant
21 Keong Saik Road
Singapore 089128
Tel:            +65 6223 1334
E-mail:       info@retrospective.com.sg
URL:          http://www.retrospective.com.sg
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/retro.sg

Cycling Along East Coast Park

I haven’t been cycling for what feels like weeks (actually it probably is almost 2 months now!) so I knew this was going to be a good ride from the outset.

I met up a work colleague at 4pm at the local Burger King at ECP – we managed to stay clear from buying anything there though! – and we went to the bike hire company next door.  We went for the $8 per hour bike, and took up their $13 each for a 2 hour stint (they actually had an offer which was buy 2 hours get another hour fee – so it turned out to be $13 for 3 hours).  That’s pretty reasonable methinks.

We headed along eastward, and before long we arrived at the Food Court at ECP – we stopped off for a Sugar Cane and Chicken Wings break – which was delicious – and then we decided to head off further east.  After about an hour we had made it to the south-east edge – we then relaxed for a few minutes, before we headed north – towards the Changi perimter road – and we went on and on.  The good thing about this ride is that it is very flat, and the cycle lanes are nicely laid out, there is also less people as you move east, so it became a nice tranquil ride.  We reached about half-way up along the Changi Airport perimeter, and we then noted that we had to head back soon, as we had a house waming engagement at 7pm.  I think we could have easily continued – and another 10 minutes, we would have reached the top of Changi airport and then reach Changi Village.  I think we will eventually do that next time, because that would create another opportunity to relax and chill, before we head back to base.

It took us another 45 minutes and we finally reached back to the cycle hire shop near Burger King.

I think we did a 2 hr 30 minute ride (with 20 minutes worth of rest in-between) – a total of 25km round-trip.  Nice!  I worked out that if we went all the way to Changi village, it would be a 17km journey one-way, that’s a 34km round trip, so another 10km cycling – ouch!

Cycling Along ECP

Cycling Along ECP – Our Route

Cheap(er) Guinness from Cold Storage

During a recent grocery shop at the nearby Cold Storage supermarket, I decided to check-out the alcohol aisle – and noticed that there was one column of Guinness draught stout (normally it is the Guinness Foreign Export – which is much more bitter and a stronger taste – and personally so unlike the original Dublin variety).  Anyway, they had just 3 cans left, so I decided to buy them all.

Guinness Special Offer - Yay

Guinness Special Offer – Yay

I went to the till, paid and started to check my receipt and I noticed, to my surprise, that there was a promotion of Guinness – resulting in a small saving.  It was a buy 3 for S$12 (£6) offer, so equating S$4 (£2) for each can of Guinness, instead of S$5.35 (£2.70).  I did say only a small saving – lol!

And yes I know it is still expensive, compared with the local UK supermarkets – where you can get special offers equating to £1 per can – grrrr…. I miss those offers – haha!

Man of Steel Singapore Premium – Free Preview Ticket :)

Man of Steel Movie Premier

Man of Steel Movie Premier

Sometimes you can be in the right place at the right time.  Our Transit Partner card issuer in Singapore, EZ-Link, had hired out the whole cinema screening of the Man of Steel premium for the 7pm screening, and I was offered a spare ticket that was on offer in the office.

I think I was mainly chosen because 1) I was free and available, but most important 2) I worked on the EZ-Link account when I first started my new role in Amex Singapore.  BONUS!

I was joined with 7 other people (largely from work) – and their significant others (partner’s and kids), and was quite a nice session.  We went to the Golden Village at Vivocity in Harbourfront, and it was quite a nice gesture to extend the ticket to us by EZ-Link – I was very grateful in any case!!!

The movie itself was fabulous – very entertainment – lots of good movie lines and humour, although it went on a bit (over 2 hours 20 minutes), which seems to be the norm these days, but I think they could have reduced it by at least 30 minutes and it would still have been excellent.  The effects and fight scenes were pretty cool – and I am glad I managed to see it.

It certainly is going to be a year of comic-movies, iron-Man, Superman, Avengers, more? – I can’t wait to see them all 🙂

Drinks at Five Izakaya Bar, Chevron House

We wanted drinks, we needed drinks, we deserved drinks, so a few of us decided to meet-up and enjoy a Tuesday night at a local and reasonably-priced bar – at Chevron House.  It’s called Five Izakaya Bar – a Japanese bar that has such a great atmosphere.

It started with 2 of us, and then morphed into 5 people, then 7 of us at one point before a couple of ladies decided to give the last part of the drinks marathon session a miss (wise move – haha!).  We took it easy in the beginning with a bucket of 5 beers, we then went for the Asahi Tower, then we just kept ordering rounds of Asahi pints – with some finger food to keep our energies levels up.  I think we had quite a bit to drink by the end of the night.

The night ended with 4 of us going for Japanese food – always good to line one’s stomach with food before sleeping – haha! 🙂  One of the dishes gave us entertainment – deep-fried Aubergines with grated Cheese on top – a bit weird, as it looked likes worms moving around…very funny (and tasty!)!

The worry is I had an 8am call in the morning (which I would take from home, mind you), and one of the colleagues had to be in the office by 7.45am – also for an 8am conference call.  Ouch!

It certainly was a tough morning the next day…not necessarily a hangover, okay maybe it was!, it was certainly tough going 🙂  Now who’s idea was it again…?

Five Izakaya
16 Collyer Quay #01-05B
(Formerly Hitachi Towers)
Singapore 049318
Tel:       +65 6536 8955
E-mail:  collyer@fivebar.sg
URL:     http://www.fivebar.sg/

Holiday in Tioman Island, Malaysia

Well I decided that I needed a break from Singapore, so booked a spontaneous long weekend trip to Tioman Island. Tioman is renowned for being a Diving and Snorkeling location – so not being a diver, I would settle for a snorkeling session, as well as just eating, reading and relaxing in the sun 🙂 I know, I could probably do some of that (minus the snorkeling) in Singapore, but the view’s aren’t the same (if you know the Singapore horizon from the (man-made) beaches, you will know what I mean.

Anyway, I did some checks online, and decided that I would go on the 7th-9th June weekend. I know you can do a coach to Mersing and a short ferry hop across to Tioman, but I decided to go with the flight option – going with Berjaya-Air, which goes from Changi all the way to Tioman in 40 odd minutes – perfect! Compare that with a 6 hour journey each leg – which wastes the weekend really! I then went on booking.com, agoda.com, hotels.com, and noted that there was a couple of recommended venues on the West side – which seemed to have pretty good reviews from trip advisor. However, the sites were coming back with a pretty pricey mix, so I decided to check on the airline website to see if they had any package deals – I was going to give up the idea of a long weekend if the price wasn’t right, and then I found an okay bargain.  It wasn’t going to be a ‘cheap-cheap’ trip, but I just wanted a weekend away from the hustle and bustle of the Singapore city-life.

The website had a good number of packages, and there was a couple that were All Inclusive, but these were limited to coming from KL, rather than Singapore.  I looked up the Singapore and there was a “3D/2N Free and Easy Summer Package Weekend from Singapore” listing.  This seemed to be be perfect and exactly what I needed – it was a package but with some flexibility – so the flight and accommodation would be sorted at least!  the offer price for any of the weekends in June was 888RM / person, but as I was travelling alone, the single traveller rate was 1248RM for the entire 2 nights stay.  Then you add the 205RM for the airport tax and airline surcharge.  I then added Renggis Island snorkeling which was another 35RM (which turned out to be 10RM cheaper than doing it at the hotel).  There were only 3 resorts on offer which ranged in price – Berjaya Tioman Resort (4*), Japamala Resort (5*) or Tioman Dive Resort (3*).  I decided to go with the mid-range, as wanted to ensure I was ‘comfortable’ too, during my stay.  According to Trip Advisor, Berjaya Tioman Resort wasn’t too bad…and it was a B&B rate.

The plane was an adventure – it was a Turbo Prop plane – on a really old plane.  But it worked, even though it was quite noisy and ‘old’ (and only supported 48 people).  I was shocked to see I had seat 1A on the outward flight, and no this wasn’t first or business class – ha!  It was actually a funny seat as was right in front of the partition wall diving the pilot cabin and the main cabin – and I was reverse-facing, so facing all of the other passengers – which was a first.  It felt really weird, actually…and is how the steward seats are on the modern Jumbo’s.  Anyway, the arrival hall was small and basic, but did the job.  There wasn’t a “baggage belt” at all – the luggage cart just turned up and everyone just pulled their luggage from the cart’s cage…funny…maybe Heathrow should do it this way…probably quicker and more efficient.  There was a 5RM wildlife sanctuary ‘tax’ which you had to pay on arrival, which wasn’t too bad, I guess.  Once I arrived, the bus transit arrived about 5-10minutes – which ferries people between the Airport and Boat terminal to the Paya Beach Resort and Berjaya Tioman Resort.  It was a 10-15 minute journey, and I arrived pretty hot and wanted to cool off with a nice relaxing shower.  My room was available straightaway, and I was pleasantly surprised how comfortable the chalet was.  It was basic and clean, but met by needs – it turned out to be quite spacious for me.

I then ventured out to the beach area and founded a nice secluded spot when I could relax, read a book and sunbathe – well it was only 3pm 🙂  After a couple of hours, I decided to find somewhere to eat, I found out that there was 2 places just outside of the resort – so I tried the one that had quite a few people there, and the food and service was actually pretty good.  The price was around 18RM.  The price in the resort was over double the cost of this place, so it was cheap, tasty, and probably more yummy that the resort restaurant. The next day, I ventured early to the beach – and then walked down to the Dive centre where the Snorkeling would also take place.   The boat takes you across the water for 2 minutes before you reach 2 man-made floating pontoons where you can relax and then jump into the water to snorkel.  This was Renggis Island – and I was subsequently told by a Singaporean family that there used to me a lot of Coral in the reef, so it is true that you can see the reduction quite clearly over the years!  The coral reefs and exotic fish were delightful – full of colour and amazing sights.  Certainly enjoyable.  I need to invest in an under-water camera for my iPhone – as really need to take some nice video’s of the underwater sealife.   Truly mesmorising!!

I settled back onto the beach after an hour or 2, and chilled for the rest of the day.  For lunch and dinner, I went back to the place outside of the resort – it was a buffet lunch, which was tasty and only cost me 15RM for lunch, and about 19RM for dinner.  Very nice!

The next morning, I checked-out and the bus took us back to the Airport, where we waited for the plane to arrive before heading back home to Singapore.  I was in 6B this time.  Someone actually told me that the safest seat is right at the back – hey-ho…I felt safe enough…hehe!

All in all – a very relaxing trip and I thoroughly enjoyed the island.

HK Friend Visiting Singapore – BOGOF Guinness – and then Karaoke

The brother of a university friend, who is based in HK and I visited when I went there around Christmas last year, was visiting Singapore and we agreed to catch-up, have a few drinks and grab some food. It was a great way to catch-up with him again and see another fellow “Ang Moh”. We went to enjoy a nice evening drinks session starting at Overeasy at Boat Quay – always a good spot to meet and have a few bevvies before we move on. I always enjoy this place, ‘cos it’s a good spot to enjoy the night life, it’s got a pretty good atmosphere, it’s great for people walking and very central to meet in the middle – oh and they serve the black stuff 🙂 Haha!

The chap spoke very good mandarin (mega jealous!) and we went for Szechuan cuisine for dinner in China Town – and I was extremely impressed by his ability to converse well with the restaurant staff! This reminded me that I need to put myself them on a course of something…it has been 6 months already…my bad…grrr!!

The food was delightful – bit spicey, as Szechuan cuisine is, but delicious and very tasty. I think we just ordered the right number of dishes for the two of us – which can’t be said for the table of 3 girls next to us, who seemed to order for the world! Funny when you see them surrounded by all of the dishes (they were pretty large plates too) – lol.

I then got a message that a work colleague was heading over to Cuppage in Someset for Japanese, so we decided to join them. We met them at the J2 Bar – which serves as a KTV place – yup you can see where this is going! After continuing the whiskey bottle that we previously put behind the bar, the two ladies arrived, and it wasn’t long before we started singing our stuff. I did a few interesting tracks (or should that be ‘varied’ tracks) such as Oasis – Wonderful, Blue – Park Life, and then my choice of music went downhill when I sang Cheeky Girls and their infamous Cheeky Girls title track. Funny and memorably (whoops, not sure if that is a good thing). Hey-ho!

We then finished off and headed our separate ways at the end of the night – or should that be early morning. I think it had gone past 2am … and then we remembered that we had to work that next day. Yup the head hurt a bit…for some reason (I think the mixing of drinks probably didn’t help) 🙂

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